Midseason Replacement

The fan campaign was an amazing success! For those that didn’t know, I haven’t posted a blog for two months because my blog was put on hiatus. The WordPress network wanted to give their new fall blogs a chance, so I got pushed off the schedule. But the legion of devoted fat-to-fit-with-music fans would not stand it. They wrote impassioned emails, staged sit-ins, threatened sponsor boycotts, wore their FTFWM apparel in signs of solidarity and finally had their voices heard, particularly when a number of the new blogs failed to get big ratings.

That’s the story and I am sticking with it…plus it makes so much more sense than I got lazy first on the writing front and second on the exercise front, right? So it’s great to be back–while gone, I finished up the D’s, so today’s gym visit featured some music early in the E-starting section.

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

3.40 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Earth Angel–Death Cab for Cutie
  • Earth Stopped Cold at Dawn–Hootie & The Blowfish
  • Ease Off the Liquor–Timbaland
  • Easier To Walk Away–Elton John
  • East Jesus Nowhere–Green Day
  • East Northumberland High–Miley Cyrus
  • East of Eden–Lone Justice
  • East St. Louis Toodle-oo–Steely Dan
  • Easy–Barenaked Ladies
  • Easy Money–Billy Joel
  • Easy Money–Bruce Springsteen
  • Easy on Yourself–Drive-by Truckers
  • Easy Silence–Dixie Chicks
  • Easy Skanking–Bob Marley
  • Easy There, Steady Now–Richard Thompson

What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a 50’s cover from my favorite obscure soundtrack! I’m fairly certain that I’ve shared the tale of my Stubbs the Zombie album, but as a quick recap–I was at a partner meeting at my last job and they took us into their sample closet and let us do some free shopping. There I found a single copy of the soundtrack to a video game I’d never heard of, but I was interested to hear what Death Cab for Cutie and the Dandy Warhols would do with rock ‘n roll standards, so it was the only item I took. It has been in heavy rotation ever since (and we’ll get to it later, but my favorite number comes from an artist that I did not know before, Clem Snide–although the Flaming Lips track is pretty good too.

I am not as familiar with the Hootie numbers from their second album, but I enjoyed today’s selection. All three of my kids are taking substance abuse classes this year in high school, and I think Timbaland’s “Ease Off the Liquor” would be an excellent addition to the syllabus. It is great advice, after all–and maybe the kids would listen to a music star like him as opposed to a teacher. Elton John followed with a deeper cut off his box set, and that was followed by a more recent track from Green Day, one that would have been from their most recent album until they released the 3 CDs of Uno-Dos-Tre in the past few month. While I admire the creativity of Green Day’s album-releasing strategy, it makes me sad as I lament the loss of the double (or in this case) triple album. Remember Sandinista by the Clash? These days, there seems like there’s no way a triple album like that will be released.

The packrat in me really needs to let up so I can remove some of the Disneyish music from our collection that I believe our children would no longer miss. I don’t mean to denigrate Miss Miley Cyrus, and I’d probably keep some of her hits, but the deep album cuts are not something I’d miss. If I got rid of any Lone Justice, I would miss them–they are another one of those bands that I tend to ignore, but really enjoy when I take the time to listen to them. My directional section ended with the long instrumental number from Steely Dan, one that reminds us how rarely you hear the term “toodle-oo” these days.

The list gets “Easy”, starting with old friends the Barenaked Ladies. I believe the Billy Joel song “Easy Money” is from the movie of the same name starring the late, great Rodney Dangerfield (in an acting stretch, Dangerfield plays a goofy slob who runs afoul of uptight rich people). The Springsteen version of “Easy Money” comes from his most recent album, and it’s a candidate for my “Best of 2012” mix CD, which I am in the process of creating.

The next two songs come from two of the musical acts I have been most excited to add to my rotation in the last seven years. I’m sorry that Shonna Tucker has left Drive-By Truckers, as I enjoyed her vocal additions to the band. But if I want country-themed music driven by strong women, I can always put on the Dixie Chicks. “Easy Silence” is from their (to-date) last album, Taking the Long Way. It’s a great album and I highly recommend it. Bob Marley followed and taught me that “skank” can be part of a gerund (Who Knew!) and my list closed with Fran-favorite Richard Thompson.

 

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My racial obligation to Coldplay

I was on my own at the gym this evening as the twins purchased tickets for a Batmanathon at the local cinema. Their night started at 6:00PM with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight followed, leading up to a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I didn’t want to see the film at midnight, instead deciding to wait to see it at a lower-priced matinee and with my wife. I was just lucky enough to wake up at 2:45AM and drive to the theater to pick up my children. (At the time, I was blissfully ignorant of the Colorado tragedy–as it should go without saying, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims from that senseless tragedy.) The kids loved the movie and were so adamant that I needed to see it as soon as possible. I’ll get to my thoughts on the film in the next blog, so instead let’s jump into some exercise-fueled music!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical at the gym

  • Cliff Diving–+44
  • Climb Ev’ry Mountain–Peggy Wood
  • Climbing The Walls–They Might Be Giants
  • Clocks–Coldplay
  • Cloissone–They Might Be Giants
  • Close (To The Edit)–The Art of Noise
  • Close To the Borderline–Billy Joel
  • Closer–Kings of Leon
  • Closer To Fine–Indigo Girls
  • Closer To Fine–Indigo Girls
  • Closing–Danny Elfman
  • Closing Time–Semisonic
  • Closure–The Story So Far
  • Cloud Nine–Evanescence

I was pretty sure +44 is a band that my kids enjoy, and when I looked them up on the interwebs, I learned they were a spin-off from Blink 182, so that’s a big yes. That’s not to say I don’t like their music–in fact I found it a great exercise soundtrack, particularly when it is compared to the song that followed, a nun song from the film version of The Sound of Music. Luckily, the next “Climbing…” song was one I enjoy more and started a two out of three They Might Be Giants songs, with both coming from later albums, their last two “adult” studio albums in fact. It is amazing the long and distinguished career the band has carved for itself and I certainly hope the parents that purchased their kid’s albums decided to sample their other music as well. In between the two TMBG songs I got a Coldplay number. According to Donald Glover, I have to like Coldplay because I am white (it’s a punchline to a joke about people asking him if he likes Barrack Obama). Luckily “Clocks” is a pretty good song.

As I got close to the middle of my list, I heard my first “Close…” song, one that I used to listen to far more often in college. The Art of Noise doesn’t seem to pop into the nostalgia rotation nearly as much as other 80s/90s artists (like a proto-Spin Doctors–that’s not fair; I like the Art of Noise more than that and they don’t deserve the cheap shot). I’m not a big fan of the Billy Joel number, and after “Sex on Fire”, Kings of Leon got a little tired for me. I’ll never be tired of “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls, so having to hear it twice was not a problem for me.

After a short Danny Elfman instrumental piece from the Nightmare Revisted compilation, I got Semisonic’s biggest hit of all time “Closing Time”, followed by a Story So Far song my song loves and an Evenescence song my youngest daughter loves.

Friday, July 20th, 2012

3,00 miles on the elliptical at the gym

  • The Cloud Prayer–A.C. Newman
  • Clouds–The Jayhawks
  • Cloudy–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Clown Attack–Danny Elfman
  • Clown in Broad Daylight–Ron Sexsmith
  • Clowntime is Over–Elvis Costello
  • Clubland–Elvis Costello
  • Clubland–Elvis Costello
  • Clumsy–Fergie
  • The Coast–Paul Simon

Before I go on, I’ve got a bit of a confession. With my run of (now 10 straight days and counting) of gym visits leading me to falling behind on my song-list blog posts, I have started to forget the start and stop points of my list. I promise that I’ve listened to every song listed, but one or two may be off by a day. I’ve fixed the problem by creating a word document that lists the range of songs each day to keep me on target when I fall behind. That being said, this was an excellent run of songs (if not exactly an ideal workout playlist). My Cloud trio of A.C. Newman, the Jayhawks, and Simon & Garfunkel kept things ironically sunny, particularly the Jayhawks number. Like the earlier list, I got a Danny Elfman instrumental number, but this one was from the Batman soundtrack. After indy singer Ron Sexsmith, Elvis Costello made three appearances covering two songs, and Fergie’s pop hit Clumsy followed. The list closes with a bit of serendipity as I am sitting in my living room watching a tribute to Paul Simon when he won the Gershwin prize (it’s on Netflix instant if you’d like to see it), but I don’t believe the coincidence  will extend to the extent of “The Coast” showing up on the special as well.

 

Dr Dre’s Christmas Glaze!

It’s the moment (none of) you have been eagerly discussing and speculating about–I am going to catch up on a number of of exercise days by lumping a number of songs together–normally I wouldn’t do this, but the overwhelming majority of songs are “Christmas…” songs (great for working out!) and there really isn’t much to say about a dozen variations on “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”

The Week of 9, 2012

4 miles of walking to commemorate Red Sox victories #39 and #40 of the 2012 season plus several gym sessions

  • Chorale–Richard Thompson + Danny Thompson
  • Chow Down–The Lion King Cast
  • Christ for President–Billy Bragg & Wilco
  • Christian’s Inferno–Green Day
  • Christie Lee–Billy Joel
  • Christine Sixteen–Gin Blossoms
  • Christmas–Blues Traveler
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)–U2
  • Christmas All Over Again–Tom Petty
  • Christmas At 22 (featuring Laura Borucki)–The Wonder Years
  • Christmas Bells–the Rent cast
  • Christmas Canon–The Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Christmas Day–Dido
  • Christmas Don’t Be Late (Chipmunk Song)–Powder
  • Christmas Eve Montage–RJD2
  • Christmas Eve Without You–Glee Cast
  • Christmas Everyday–The Temptations
  • Christmas in Hollis–Run D.M.C.
  • Christmas in Hollis–Run D.M.C.
  • Christmas in the City–Mary J. Blige
  • Christmas Is–Run D.M.C.
  • Christmas Is All in the Heart–Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Christmas Is Coming–Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Christmas Is My Favorite Time of the Year–Kenny Rogers
  • Christmas Is Now Drawing Near at Hand–Stevie Winwood
  • Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You–SR-71
  • Christmas Pics–Barenaked Ladies
  • The Christmas Song–Christina Aguilera
  • Christmas Song–Dave Mathews & Tim Reynolds
  • Christmas Song–Dave Mathews Band
  • The Christmas Song–Hootie & The Blowfish
  • The Christmas Song–Luther Vandross
  • The Christmas Song–The Nylons
  • The Christmas Song–Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)–Celine Dion
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)–John Denver
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)–Martina McBride
  • Christmas Time–Smashing Pumpkins
  • Christmas Time Again–Extreme
  • Christmas Time Is Here–Toni Braxton
  • Christmas Time Is Here–Dianne Reeves
  • Christmas Time Is Here–Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Christmas Time Is Here–Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • A Christmas To Remember–Amy Grant, Beverly Darnall, Christopher Eaton
  • Christmas Wish–Stacie Orrico
  • Christmas Wrapping–Glee Cast
  • Christmastime (Oh Yeah)–Barenaked Ladies
  • Christmastime Is Here–Sixpence None the Richer
  • The Chronic (Intro)–Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg & Colin Wolfe
  • Chronomentrophobia–Andre 3000
  • Chump–Green Day
  • The Church of Hot Addiction–Cobra Starship
  • The Church of Hot Addiction–Cobra Starship

It’s not all Christmas, all the time–there’s a handful of songs at the beginning and end of the list that fall out of the category. The starting song was a reminder of my messed-up “fun fact” from yesterday, as I got another Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson collaboration. With a title like “Chorale”, you’d think it was from a Broadway show, so it served as a bit of a harbinger for the next song, which comes from the Broadway version of The Lion King. 

Before we get into a whole bunch of songs celebrating his birthday, Christ gets a little political love from Billy Bragg & Wilco, who suggest Christ should run for president. I’m assuming he’d have to run as an Independent, as his “actually helping the poor and not bombing the country’s enemies” would run counter to the Christian Right’s platforms and Christ seems like a man of action which wouldn’t jive well with the Left either. But the song does give me a chance to once again implore you to get any of the Mermaid Avenue releases. The song was the first of four to name someone in their title, as it led to a Green Day song about “Christian…”, a Billy Joel song about “Christie Lee” (it must be tough to have a song in your musical catalogue that you wrote about a love, only to have that love go bad. Does the song become unplayable?), and then the Gin Blossom’s excellent cover of “Christine Sixteen”.

But then the multi-day run of Christmas songs began. The first three songs come from my favorite series of holiday albums, the Very Special Christmas series. I loved the first few, as it was current artists giving their spin on classics or new songs (like the Blues Traveler, U2, and Tom Petty selections that start this run), but I haven’t given volume 7 a listen as it seems like a collection of Disney/Kids Bop artists. That may not be fair–after all, they’re just looking to support the Special Olympics as well. But it will be hard to top that first album (which produced the U2 track) and the second (Tom Petty). The Wonder Years song is a recent addition (post holiday 2011), so I haven’t given it a listen yet. I had never heard the Rent song until recently–we rotate who gets to pick the films for family movie night, and my youngest recently chose the film version of Rent. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I did find the Christmas scenes moving.

It’s strange that I own as many Christmas CDs as I do, and do not own a single Trans-Siberian Orchestra release (this track is from a compilation). It seems like in recent year, TSO (do people use that acronym?) is the go-to group for holiday tunes–probably because the instrumental pieces are good background music as you’re doing something else. The Dido song would also do a nice job filling that role of unobtrusive tunes. Powder did an excellent job covering the Chipmunk’s signature song, although it wasn’t grouped with the originals because when the Chipmunks perform the song they get the main title and the “Christmas…” portion is the parenthetical, but for Powder the two were reversed. The “Christmas Eve Montage” number comes from my favorite Christmas/not Christmas movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, a film my youngest has grabbed and completely run with. She’s also the Glee fanatic, as mentioned before, but I did enjoy their cover of “Christmas Wrapping”, but it makes me sad that I don’t own the original version by the Waitresses.

Nice run of The Temptations and Mary J Blige surrounding three tracks from Run D.M.C., including “Christmas in Hollis”, a favorite new Christmas classic for me, particularly for the line “But I never steal from Santa, cuz that ain’t right…” which seems to indicate that stealing from others is a-OK. I think Run D.M.C. was the first repeat artist in the Very Special Christmas series, as they came right back for Volume 2 with another great new holiday number that probably gets overlooked because of just how awesome “Christmas in Hollis” is.

The next batch of six songs contains mostly innocuous numbers that again serve as excellent background music for Christmas parties and gatherings, including the first of four appearances on the list from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the composer and group responsible for the instrumental score for the Charlie Brown Christmas special, including the great original number “Christmas Time Is Here”, which is covered later by a few artists, including Toni Braxton and Sixpence None The Richer. One of the more rocking Christmas songs is in this section, the SR-71 cover o f Billy Squier’s “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You”.

Then we get our run of Mel Torme’s classic song. Now when I edit lines of books, it’s important to have a style guide in order to maintain consistency. Clearly Christmas songs could benefit from this as well. There’s three different titling styles for this song alone, as some use the parenthetical, some do not, and for some reason Dave Mathews is not a fan of the definite article as a title opener (I guess that is consistent with his band name at least). I didn’t realize I had two versions of his cover of the song and wasn’t paying complete attention while I was exercising to it, so at one point I thought he had done an 8-minute version of the song, which seemed a bit excessive. I think the Hootie version is my favorite cover of the song.

After all these Christmas songs, I knew whatever followed was probably going to be a bit jarring, and having Dr. Dre’s opening track from The Chronic is about as jarring as you’re going to get, and it served as a perfect way to move on from the Holiday run. Andre 3000 stayed in thematic line with Dre, and then I got a little punky with Green Day’s second appearance on the list (both non-holiday related) before closing with two copies of the Starship Cobra hit.

Who wants to go to Wurttemburg?

Here’s a sneak preview of this, the last full week of June. Not only did I go to the gym every day from Monday through Saturday (and twice on Friday!), but my twins have expressed an interest in getting fit as well, so six of my visits (every visit since Monday night) has been me with a guest (hence the two visits on Friday, as I can only bring one guest at a time, so I went twice to accommodate both of them). The good is that it’s allowing me to fly through my list, but I really need to get music discussing here! The other good is that not only are my kids getting into exercise, but having them want to go is adding inspiration to my exercise effort.

Monday, June 25, 2012

2.5 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Careful What You Pack–They Might Be Giants
  • Careless Talk–Billy Joel
  • Carey–Joni Mitchell
  • Carla Etude [Live]–Elton John
  • Carmen–Paula Cole
  • Carnival–Natalie Merchant
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Birds–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Cuckoo in the Woods–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Finale–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Fossils–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Introduction and Royal March–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: Kangaroos–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: The Elephant–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra
  • The Carnival of the Animals: The Swan–Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra

This blog is really starting to invade my subconscious. Last night I dreamed about writing this particular blog entry, and in my sleep had worked out an incredible paragraph talking about “Careful What You Pack”. I don’t know about you, but when you have a brand new idea or insight about an existing idea or project while you’re sleeping, it can go one of three ways when you wake up. The first (and far and away the best) scenario has you awaken, remember your excellent dream thinking, and use to launch or improve your idea. Some times when you wake up, the thinking has already started to fade and is lost to you. That stinks, but it’s almost preferable to the last option–waking up, remembering the idea, realizing how stupid it is, and getting mad with how excited you were about the idea. I was going to write a witty entry about how different the song would be if the word “what” was replaced with other interrogative pronouns, comparing “Careful Where You Pack”, “Careful Why You Pack”, “Careful When You Pack” and so on. Some times I think sleeping is like being drunk–ideas that seem so incredible just do not hold up to the harsh light of sobriety or morning.

The next five songs fall into two categories, with two coming from piano-driven enduring rock superstars, and the other three from powerful female vocalists. Ironically, the two songs can be further grouped as they are each not exactly indicative of the artist’s body of work. “Careless Talk” comes from Billy Joel’s 1950’s themed An Innocent Man album and the Elton John song is an instrumental piece (one of my favorite instrumental pieces) and perhaps served as a sneak preview of the run of lyric-less selections to come. The three girl power songs come from Joni Mitchell (no doubt a role model for the other two), Paula Cole, and Natalie Merchant. Now of the three, I enjoy Natalie Merchant’s total body of work the most (thanks to her 10,000 Maniacs works), but when it comes to the individual albums that spawned these selections, I enjoy Paula Cole’s This Fire.

The bulk of my musical accompaniment in this gym session was classical selections from a children’s CD that we must have received from a family member when our kids were at the toddler age. Now I may not have properly appreciated the tracks because they were re-arranged into alphabetical order instead of the original order of the suite. Or perhaps I couldn’t truly appreciate the flow because only 9 of the 14 of the pieces in the total suite were included (according to Wikipedia, I’m missing out on the wild asses, the tortoises, the swan, and more), or maybe I’m just not in the mood to listen to classical music when I am working out.

Musical Candy and Commentary everybody wants

Nice to see the Red Sox reeling off some victories these days that have forced me to add two-mile walks to my daily routines, so that on days when I don’t get to the gym, I still get out and do something. It was particularly important this past weekend after I took Friday off from exercising and had to eat out twice in a row. I know what you’re thinking–“Had to? Right…” but it’s true. As I continue to look for work, I have applied for managerial work at Plan B Burger, an outstanding Burger, Beer, and Bourbon chain here in Connecticut (but coming soon to DC and Boston), and as part of the application process, I had to eat at two locations. I was so excited to do so that I ate both lunch and dinner at the chain Friday. I highly recommend Plan B–their burgers are outstanding, and everything else I’ve tried on the menu has been a distinct treat as well. In particular, you should get the Disco Fries–french fries covered in cheese and gravy (probably not the best thing to discuss in an exercise column, but treating yourself every once in a while is important in life, right?).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #36 of the 2012 season

  • Can’t Stand It–Wilco
  • Can’t Stand Losing You–The Police
  • Can’t Stop–Maroon 5
  • Can’t Stop the Rain–Cascada
  • Can’t Stop This Thing We Started–Bryan Adams
  • Can’t Take It–The All-American Rejects
  • Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You–Lauryn Hill
  • Can’t Tell Me Nothing–Kanye West
  • Canadian Idiot–“Weird Al” Yankovic
  • Canajoharie–They Might Be Giants
  • Canary in a Coalmine–The Police
  • Canceled Check–Beck
  • Candle in the Wind–Elton John
  • A Candlelit Dinner with Inamorta–Asking Alexandria
  • Candles–Hey Monday
  • Candles–Glee
  • Candy–Jackson Brown
  • Candy–The Presidents of the United States
  • Candy Everybody Wants–10,000 Maniacs

I mentioned recently that Wilco’s collaboration with Billy Bragg was when I first became interested in the band, and that initial spark grew when I started listening to my wife’s copy of Summerteeth. I enjoyed the album enough that I bought the next Wilco album, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, on its release, which turned out to be an excellent decision, if I do say so myself. But “Can’t Stand It” is from the previous album, and while I love the song, I do understand why it wasn’t a mainstream hit for the band, despite their record label’s best efforts. During this walk I would get two different early Police songs, with the first, “Can’t Stand Losing You”, being the bigger hit of the two, but as I get older in life, I’m finding myself enjoying the less-known “Canary in a Cole Mine” more.

I hit a run of pop hits starting with Maroon 5. One thing I’ve noticed about Maroon 5 songs is that they all sound like hit singles even if they were never released as singles. The Cascada song was a hit single, but one my kids enjoyed more than me. The last pop hit in the run was from Bryan Adams. In the 80’s I was a big fan pf the Canadian superstar, but as he released later albums, I was less interested in the songs. I think this was equal parts of my musical interests changing and Adams’ music getting a little more soft rock than it had been. The All-American Rejects broke me out of my top 40 run with an album cut from their breakout album “Move Along”. By the way, if you get a chance to see them live, I highly recommend them. In fact, they are the last act I’ve seen in concert.

While I enjoy Lauryn Hill’s version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (she gives it, like all her songs, an ethereal soulful quality), I still can’t hear the song without thinking of Heath Ledger’s performance of the song in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen romance version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, (see, learning the classics can be fun), which gives the song a sad edge. Kanye ends the “Can’t…” portion of my list with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, which is such a great song that I’m willing to overlook the double negative.

Things take a turn for the humorous and offbeat with a Weird Al parody of Green Day, and a They Might Be Giants song, “Canajoharie”, which I thought at first was a made-up name, but is in reality a town in New York. The Beck song reminded me of how much I like listening to Beck and that I let too much time go between album plays for the group. I’m glad the only version of “Candle in the Wind” that we own is the original version–I found the newer version tweaked for Princess Di a little bit tacky. I got to hear another Asking Alexanderia song (still not a fan), followed by original and Glee versions of “Candles”.

Three versions of “Candy…” songs closed the list, and each approached a different take on the subject. The Jackson Browne version is about a woman named Candy, while the Presidents of the United States are singing about literal candy. 10,000 Maniacs sings about metaphorical candy in their song (television), which was even better when the Kinks did it a decade earlier in “Give the People What They Want”.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #37 of the 2012 season

  • Candy Everybody Wants–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Everybody Wants [live]–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Everybody Wants [single version]–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Floss-Wilco
  • Candy’s Boy–Bruce Springsteen
  • Candy’s Room–Bruce Springsteen
  • Candy’s Room–Crazysloth
  • Cannibal Resource–Dirty Projectors
  • Cannonball-The Breeders
  • Cannonball–Supertramp
  • The Cap’n–They Might Be Giants
  • Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa–Vampire Weekend
  • Capri–Colbie Caillat
  • Captain Jack–Billy Joel
  • Caramel–Suzanne Vega
  • Caramel–Suzanne Vega
  • Carbon Monoxide–CAKE
  • The Card Cheat–The Clash
  • Careful–Paramore

After closing the Saturday walking session with the unplugged version of “Candy Everybody Wants”, I opened with three more versions of the song, including the album cut, a live version that includes Michael Stipe from a CD single for “Few and Far Between”, and the version from its own CD single. Hearing this song three more times reminded me just how much I loved 10,000 Maniacs in college and the first few years out of school. Seeing that I got into the Talking Heads to impress a girl, I feel like 10,000 Maniacs were the first band I discovered without radio airplay for me. And that run of In My Tribe, Blind Man’s Zoo, Our Time in Eden, and Unplugged was just spectacular. The other amazing aspect of their run was the CD singles, particularly those mentioned earlier. I’d buy them even though I owned the album with the hit because there’d be three other songs with each, such as the group’s cover of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” or their version of “Let the Mystery Be” done with guest David Byrne. I don’t seem to see releases like that any more.

I got another Summerteeth track from Wilco, and it helped me learn that candy floss is a synonym for cotton candy. My run of “Candy…” ended in symmetry as I got a final group of songs about “Candy…” that referred to a woman with that name. The first was from the Bruce Springsteen album The Promise, and was an earlier version of what would eventually become “Candy’s Room”, which we also own a cover version from the Light of Day album. After a Dirty Projectors number, I got to hear two different, yet both highly entertaining songs with the title “Cannonball”. If forced to pick, I’d choose the Breeders version, but I’d have no problem listening to the Supertramp song as well.  Things take a turn for the awesome with one of my favorite more recent They Might Be Giants songs and another travelogue from Vampire Weekend’s first album.

Colbie Caillet led into an early Billy Joel hit, “Captain Jack” (see how smart They Might Be Giants were to name their track “The Cap’n” so theirs came before “Captain Jack”!) Excellent close to my workout list with Suzanne Vega getting me hungry for dessert, a hunger that grew when I realized my next song was performed by CAKE–so tasty they should be in all capital letters. Any time you get a song from London Calling, one of the greatest albums of the Rock era, is a good time, and I also enjoyed the track from Paramore to close the weekend’s work.

 

I can “C” some progress here!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Hope your special day was as nice as mine. We had a delicious bacon-and-egg brunch, I watched a family movie with my wife and kids (Better Off Dead, which none of my children had ever seen, but it’s one that stands both the test of time and works on repeated viewings–I highly recommend it, although perhaps it would work better on Mother’s Day, because you would be wise to listen to Mother, as Ricky would say). On the exercise front, it was a great weekend, as I really feel like I started to get back on track, pulling a rare weekend double-double (3+ mile neighborhood walks both mornings and 45-minute gym sessions both afternoons). All in all, I believe I covered 12 miles in total over the two days–not bad at all! (In the “going against my healthy ways department”, I did eat my first Twinkie in several years, but I don’t see that becoming a habit, as even in my junk-food junkie days, Twinkies were a rare choice for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

2+ mile (actually 3!) neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #31 of the 2012 season

  • Bushleager–Pearl Jam
  • Business On You–Richard Thompson
  • Bust A Move–Glee
  • Bust Your Windows–Glee
  • Busted–Ray Charles
  • Busy Bees–Silversun Pickups
  • But It’s Better If You Do–Panic! At The Disco
  • But Tonight We Dance–Rise Against
  • Butterfly–Jason Mraz
  • Butterfly–Para Para Dance No. 1
  • Butterflyz–Alicia Keys
  • Button My Lip–Elvis Costello
  • Buy You A Drink (Shawty Snappin’)–T-Pain featuring Young Joc
  • Buzz Aldrin: Poster Boy For Second Place–The Wonder Years
  • Buzz Aldrin: The Poster Boy For Second Place–The Wonder Years

 

I hadn’t given Pearl Jam’s “Bushleaguer” a close listen, which is a shame as it’s one of my favorite groups making a song filled with baseball references (for those not familiar with baseball, a bushleaguer is a minor-league player. A mother/daughter combo followed next with Richard Thompson (the mother half of the equation), followed by two Glee songs from Season 1. When I get Glee songs, I now ask my daughter to guess which ones I heard, and she can generally guess correctly with few to no hints. She loves her Glee. When I first saw the song title for the Ray Charles’ number “Busted”, I assumed it referred to him being caught cheating on his woman;  however, Ray zigged when I thought he would zag and the song is about being broke (something I certainly get).

One of my most recent musical additions to the library is the new Silversun Pickups album Neck of the Woods. I’d only heard “Bloody Mary” (which did not make my list because I had passed its alphabetical position before getting the release) on the radio, but I’m liking the rest of the album, including this track “Busy Bees”. I know some people compare the band to the Smashing Pumpkins, which I get, I just enjoy the group on their own merits, style, and songwriting.  Panic! At The Disco had the next song, “But It’s Better If You Do” and frankly they (or just about any other band) seemed a more likely candidate to be the artist behind the song “But Tonight We Dance” as opposed to the actual artist, Rise Against. The title just doesn’t scream Rise Against, but then again, as my son says, once you listen to the lyrics, you think “yep, this is a Rise Against song!

I’m not sure how I feel about Jason Mraz in general and his song “Butterfly” specifically. I get that he’s got a great voice and some of his lyrics are pretty clever, but in this song, it feels like he’s trying too hard to be cool and sexy. Our second “Butterfly” track comes from the Dance Dance Revolution series, one that my youngest daughter liked enough to purchase the song on iTunes. Alicia Keys ends our session in lepidopterology with more than one butterfly, although she uses the not-so-scientific method of creating a plural noun by ending the word in ‘z’. It’s a good thing she’s got an amazing voice, otherwise I might hold that grammatical faux pas against her (which I’m sure she’d find crushing).

After an entertaining Elvis Costello number, I get T-Pain’s handy guide to picking up ladies in the club. I do have to say that I find the whole “shawty” term confusing, as it seems to possibly refer to both youngsters and hot women, so couldn’t someone misunderstand the context and think you are interested in getting with kids? Wouldn’t it just be better to avoid any potential confusion? The walking list concluded with two different versions of a Wonder Years song from my son’s almost complete collection of the band’s work.

2.75 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper-arm weight work

  • Buzzards And Dreadful Crows–Guided by Voices
  • By My Side–INXS
  • By Surprise–Gemini Club
  • By the Time I Get to Arizona–Public Enemy
  • By Your Side–Sade
  • Bye Bye Love–Simon & Garfunkel
  • C is for Conifers–They Might Be Giants
  • C Moon–Paul McCartney
  • C.O.D–AC/DC
  • C’Etait Toi (You Were The One)–Billy Joel
  • C’mon–Sonic Chaos
  • C’mon Girl–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Caffeinated Consciousness—TV on the Radio
  • Cage and Aquarium–They Might Be Giants
  • Caged Bird–Alicia Keys

 

Things started of with a Guided by Voices track from its Bee Thousand album (a gift my wife received from a family friend and fellow music afficianado). Normally I’m hoping for a good rocking song to start my gym workout off in a great direction, but the tempo and style of the opening song was fairly irrelevant on this occasion as the fact that my ‘B’ songs were coming to a close was pumping me up–I always get a charge when I know a new letter will be starting soon. “By…” started with an INXS ballad and continued with a Gemini Club release. Next was a great political screed from Public Enemy about Arizona’s (and to a lesser extent, New Hampshire’s) wrongheaded decision to not recognize Martin Luther King Day in the late 80’s. I lived in New Hampshire at the time and remember feeling a deep shame about the choice, but I also remember feeling annoyed that almost all the anger and protest was directed at Arizona. I get that it was (and of course, still is) the much bigger state, but it made me feel like New Hampshire wasn’t worth the attention and effort.

I got a blast from the past with Sade’s “By Your Side”, a track we own courtesy of the Japan relief album. I remember their hits from the 80’s, but apparently they kept making music through the next decade, but their sound was far more successful in the UK. ‘B’ closes with the most successful duo of all time (Simon & Garfunkel) covering a hit of one of the original great rock duos (The Everly Brothers). The song is a live track from the pair’s last studio album, which was an unusual choice that still stands out to this day.

They Might Be Giants manage to entertain and educate (edutain or entercate) with “C is for Conifers”, a song that teaches us all about pine trees. Thanks to their alphabet album, They Might Be Giants get to lead off several letters like this one. The ‘C’ silver medal goes to Paul McCartney for one of his less remembered tunes (at least by me) off his greatest hits collection. AC/DC sings about a concept that’s (other than food) virtually non-existent these days, “C.O.D”. For those that don’t know, “C.O.D.” stands for “Cash On Delivery” and I guess you used to be able to mail-order products and when the postman would deliver the item, you’d pay for it then. I remember as a kid, when I’d watch TV commercials for things like K-Tel records, they’d always clearly state “No C.O.D. please!” Frankly, as society becomes more cashless, I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more food options demand you pay via electronic payment when you order.

I’ll have to play the Billy Joel track for my daughters so see how much of the French they understand (I never took it, so the answer for me is none). Sonic Chaos sounds like a cool band name for an alternative or rock outfit, but the song comes from the Cheetah Girls soundtrack, so don’t get your hopes up–in fact, just stick to Sonic Youth in the Sonic band category. Things do take a turn for the alternative with the return of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and my first track from TV on the Radio. “Caffeinated Consciousness” is the last track from their 2011 Nine Types of Light album, which may be the group’s final album as a member of the band passed away from cancer soon after its release.

They Might Be Giants followed with a song from their second album, Lincoln, and I then got my second track today from Alicia Keys to close things out.

Would you give up a Hollywood career for a guy in a candy store?

We’re in the middle of a huge, well-timed rainstorm. I’m glad it came today and not yesterday so it didn’t interfere with my daughter’s plane flight. I’m glad it’s today to postpone the Red Sox game–maybe they can find some decent relievers in time for the replay. And I’m just glad for rain at all to help the greenery around here–I guess we’re way below the average rainfall year-to-date. I would have liked to walk outside again today, so that was one downside, but I did get to the gym.

April 22, 2012

3.50 miles on the elliptical plus upper-body weight work

  • Ballad of a Teenage Queen (alternate version)–Johnny Cash
  • Ballad of a Thin Man [Live]–Bob Dylan
  • The Ballad of Big Poppa and Diamond Girl–Cobra Starship
  • The Ballad of Billy the Kid–Billy Joel
  • The Ballad of Billy the Kid [live]–Billy Joel
  • The Ballad of Davy Crockett (in outer space)–They Might Be Giants
  • The Ballad of El Goodo–Evan Dando
  • The Ballad of Hollis Brown–Bob Dylan
  • The Ballad of Hollis Brown–Rise Against
  • The Ballad of John and Yoko–The Beatles
  • The Ballad of John and Yoko–The Beatles
  • The Ballad of Mona Lisa–Panic! at the Disco
  • The Ballad of Mona Lisa–Panic! at the Disco
  • Ballroom Blitz–Sweet
  • Bamboo & Cross (Interlude)–Outkast
  • Bamboo Banga–M.I.A.

I open today’s list with the demo version of the song that closed the list yesterday, an old Johnny Cash number. It’s so funny to hear how much pop music has evolved over the years, listening first to this Cash song and then a later single from him like his cover of “Hurt”. The song is sad in a way as well–it’s the story of a young girl who becomes a big star, but throws it all away to return to her one true love, the boy who works in the candy store. I know it’s supposed to be about the power of true love, but how pathetic is this guy? We’re not even talking about a guy that owns a candy store–he just works there. What’s his take-home pay a week–$300? And she threw away a Hollywood career for that? Yeah, she’s not looking forward to a life of bitter alcoholism at all.

I gotta be honest–when I realized that I was in the “Ballad..” section of my music list, I expected a bunch more Bob Dylan. I figured Bob’s great for ballads and “talking…blues” songs. The first is a less memorable song, but the second song, the Hollis Brown ballad, is far more powerful and sticks with you, but hearing about a South Dakota farmer killing his wife, five children, and himself will do that. The subject matter and themes of the song meant that Rise Against was a natural act to cover the song for the Chimes of Freedom compilation, and they do an excellent job effectively differentiating their version from the original.

I originally was going to title today’s entry “No one writes good ballads any more, do they?”, but there are a couple of modern acts with ballad on this list, starting with Cobra Starship. I kind of like their music, but their name, logo, and typography feel like throwbacks to 70s era bands, as though they should be touring with Boston or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. The other recent band is a favorite of my oldest (I even had to drive her to their concert in Hartford last year) Panic! At the Disco. Their ballad was the early single from their most recent album. I admit that I find myself enjoying their music more and more.

I then got to hear studio and live versions of one of Billy Joel’s earliest songs, “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” (self-referential much, William?) I know that Billy Joel has become a bit of a punchline these days due to his personal demons, but it has led to his music becoming underrated. Another real-life figure to have a popular ballad was Davy Crockett, but They Might Be Giants are not exactly covering the version Baby Boomers remember. Instead John and John set Davy in a new frontier, space. It’s from one of their kids CDs and it’s a delightful ditty (there’s a word that doesn’t get used nearly enough).

The Evan Dando song comes from the soundtrack to Empire Records, a movie that I freely admit is a guilty pleasure of mine, and it produced my favorite soundtrack of all time on the strength of two song that rank among my all-time favorites (“Til I Hear it From You” by the Gin Blossoms and “Free” by the Martinis). I also got to hear “The Ballad of John and Yoko” two times, and was surprised with how much it made me want to up the speed of my cardio work on the elliptical.

As a parent, you realize that while the big events (birthdays, graduations, first communions) will be important, it’s often the silly little moments that stick with you. Listening to my list today, I’m reminded of sitting in our family room listening to my son sing along to “Ballroom Blitz” on Rock Band, from his talking moment at the beginning (“Alright, Steve!”) through his high-pitched fast rattling off of the lyrics. Ahh, to be young and not self-conscious at all. The Outkast number is a short bridge piece from the the Idlewild soundtrack, before I got another M.I.A. song, this one from Kala.