Letters to my Parents, God, the President, and The Man

Well, it hasn’t happened for some time, but nobody’s perfect, as I demonstrated by publishing this post with the placeholder [opening graf] before the exercise lists. So this is an edited second edition! Labor Day weekend is coming to an end, and hopefully so is my summer at home. I’d like to hear from prospective employers and I’m thinking that the odds of it increase after Labor Day as tons of people took the last week or two of August off and now places should be running at full capacity again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Deadbeat Club–The B-52’s
  • Deadly Game–Theory of a Deadman
  • Deadly Game (“Survivor Series” Theme)–WWE
  • Dear Agony–Breaking Benjamin
  • Dear God–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Dear John–Cyndi Lauper
  • Dear John–Taylor Swift
  • Dear John (I Sent Your Saddle Home)–John Prine
  • Dear Mary–Linda Thompson
  • Dear Mr. Man–Prince
  • Dear Mr. President–4 Non Blondes

Today’s list began with my last three “Dead… songs, with a B-52’s number from Cosmic Thing and two versions of the WWE theme song “Deadly Game”. I’d say that it’s nice to see a cover of a WWE song indicating it’s general success, but seeing that the cover also appears on a WWE album, that seems to be a bit of a stretch. Next up was the title track to Breaking Benjamin’s fourth album and another band my kids love, Avenged Sevenfold. (Although I will admit that in certain moods and situations I enjoy A7X–awesome abbreviation, by the way–songs as well, including “Dear God”).

The next three songs are “Dear John” numbers. I wonder if Dear John letters are a concept that kids today understand, or if they just think of it as a Channing Tatum movie. It was easier to know the concept when I was growing up when M*A*S*H reruns would occasionally hit the topic and Judd Hirsch starred in a sitcom named after the idea (and it had one of those “explain the concept” title songs). Of the three songs, I like the John Prine  number the most, although it was the only song from his In Spite of Ourselves that was not sung as a duet. After all the John letters (which is the name of my father), the next song was named after my mother, Mary, which is good as she would have been upset to be left out. After the personal letters, we get to letters to the people in authority, with Prince seeking out Mr. Man and flash-in-the-pan 4 Non Blondes reach out to Mr. President.

Monday, August 27, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Dear Old Man of Mine–Linda Thompson
  • Dear Old Shiz–Wicked Cast
  • Dear Prudence–The Beatles
  • Dear Sweet Filthy World–Elvis Costello
  • Dear Yoko–John Lennon
  • Dearest–Buddy Holly
  • Death and All of his Friends–Coldplay
  • Death of a Martian–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Death of Me–Crooked X
  • Death or Glory–The Clash
  • Death to My Hometown–Bruce Springsteen
  • Debaser–The Pixies

I was going to say that the letter-writing continues, but I believe the use of “Dear…” at the beginning of the first two songs is more a term of endearment that a salutation. The first is the second Linda Thompson number in this update (which is interesting as we only have one of her solo albums total) and the second comes from the Wicked soundtrack, a favorite of my youngest daughter. With all due respect to Broadway showtunes, but the list really picked up after that starting with a Beatles’ White Album track and then an Elvis Costello number.

I like to give my wife a hard time about Paul McCartney, and yesterday I was getting under her skin by referring to Sir Paul as the leader of  the Beatles. She angrily exclaimed that he was not the leader of the group, but then I continued needling by (I believe correctly) pointing out that if John was the leader, Yoko’s name would have been in so many more songs, like today’s “Dear Yoko”. I figured we would have had “Yoko’s Silver Hammer”, “Hey Yoko”, “Let It Be Yoko”, and more. She did not like that point. A great Buddy Holly song from the Juno soundtrack followed. I really liked that movie and if it helps introduce kids today to great music like Buddy Holly, the Kinks, and Sonic Youth, all the better.

After Coldplay, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Crooked X, I get the excellent bonus of  London Calling and Doolittle tracks with a Bruce Springsteen number in between.


Twin gym times two

So after two days of taking my daughter to the gym and one day of bringing my son, I knew there’d be days when both wanted to go with me. However, with my gym membership, I can only take one guest at a time, so what to do? The solution that keeps them exercising and is best for my health–two gym visits! So far, it’s only happened once (today), but it led to almost six miles of elliptical work for me! It also led to a real sense of pride in my kids–exercising for the sake of exercise is not something I did enough in my teen years, and if I had, I might not have the fitness hill to climb. (Although my devotion to eating extremely large portions of bad food wasn’t the smartest decision either!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

2.5 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Champagne Supernova–matt pond PA
  • Champagne Supernova–Oasis
  • Chances–Air Supply
  • The Change–Evanescence
  • Change–Taylor Swift
  • Change–Tears for Fears
  • A Change is Gonna Come–Neville Brothers
  • A Change is Gonna Come–Sam Cooke
  • Change It–Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Change My Needs–Scars on 45
  • Change Of Heart–Cyndi Lauper

Often it’s great to start with a cover of a signature song followed by the original, so you get the “this is how it’s really done” vibe, but matt pond PA does “Champagne Supernova” and Oasis credit. In fact, he does so well that I hope it helps his self confidence enough that he starts using capital letters on the first letters of his name in the band. Listening to the two versions clocked in at almost 15 minutes, taking more than a third of my gym time, and setting the tone for this entire list–soft rock. Almost all of the songs on this list cold easily be played on one of those “lite fm” radio stations. The next song, from Air Supply,  is one of those obvious exceptions (I kid! I kid!) Shameful confession time–in the early 80’s, when I was a young teenager, I really loved Air Supply (I still enjoy their music, but I was a big fan back then–by the way, why do I insist on these embarrassing revelations on this blog? This is a permanent record after all!). My uncle took me to Hershey Park in PA and I was so mad because Air Supply was performing at the park the following week–I was a teenaged boy upset that he was missing an Air Supply concert by a week. What was wrong with me?

Now if I was a teenager now, perhaps Evanescence or Taylor Swift could have played that Air Supply role. Frankly, with the attractive female singers both acts present, that would have been a better choice overall. But these are acts for my youngest daughter, not me. Tears for Fears is my act, and “Change” is a song I don’t think of when I consider their greatest hits, and that’s a shame, as it is an excellent song and it deserves more attention from me–and from you, readers! My opening remark about hearing the cover first and then proceeding to the superior original really hits the mark with the next two songs, and I don’t mean that as a slight to the Neville Brothers; I just don’t think anyone will ever come close to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. There’s a reason it’s such an appropriate close to my Sam Cooke compilation. The song had so much meaning when it first came out, and it continues to be timely.

The last three songs from my afternoon workout started with the blues of Stevie Ray Vaughn, followed by Scars on 45, a group who’s debut album I’m enjoying on a regular basis and who almost assuredly will make an appearance on my best of the year mix CDs I make for relatives at the end of the year. Things close with the pop queen of the 1980’s (non-Madonna and Whitney edition), Cyndi Lauper.

3.2 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Change of Heart–Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • Change of Season–Hall & Oates
  • A Change Would Do You Good–Sheryl Crow
  • Change Your Mind–The All-American Rejects
  • Change Your Mind–Camper Van Beethoven
  • Change Your Mind–The Killers
  • The Changeling–The Doors
  • Changes–David Bowie
  • Changes–Stars
  • Changes–Yes
  • Changes in Lattitude, Changes in Attitude–Jimmy Buffett
  • Changing of the Guards–Gaslight Anthem
  • Channel Z–The B-52’s

After the milder tunes of the first gym visit, it was nice to kick the evening session off with a rocking tune from Tom Petty, particularly when it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs (not my absolute favorite–we won’t be getting to that for another 12-18 months, as it starts with ‘W’–feel free to guess its identity. Hall & Oates was another favorite of mine in the 80’s. I remember starting my new high school and seeing a girl in a Hall & Oates H2O concert shirt and being so jealous that I didn’t get to see them live. I did correct that when a saw them play an acoustic show on Valentine’s Day my senior year in college (dateless, sadly–although at the time, I’m not sure taking a girl to see Hall & Oates on a first date would have led to a second date). It’s amazing the number of hits Sheryl Crow has strung together over the years, and I am a fan of almost all of them, including “A Change Will Do You Good”.

Three distinct artists look to “Change Your Mind”, and what an eclectic trio they are. I think the Killers are the most convincing of the three, but the unique sound of Camper Van Beethoven is an underrated candidate as well. I do think their band name is a classic “trying to hard” example, one that probably sounded like a excellent idea the first time, but got a little less cool each time they heard it (or maybe that’s only how I feel about the name). I enjoy the All-American Rejects “Change Your Mind” the least of the three, but this is an example of three different takes on the same title that I enjoy listening to at any time. Ironically, the same can be said for the three “Changes” songs that followed a little bit later on my list. The Bowie version is the most famous and rightfully so–it belongs on everyone’s iPods in my opinion. The Yes “Changes” is also a fun listen, one of the many hits from their 90125 album (which to this day I far more frequently mistakenly call 90210 for obvious reasons, but hey, I get 4 of the 5 digits right and two in the proper position, so I would get two white pegs and two black pegs if we were playing Mastermind!). The Stars song is undoubtedly the least known of the three, even to me, but I still highly recommend you listen to some of Stars work; you’ll be glad you did.

Between my two sets of three, I got a Doors track and after the second grouping, it was time for Jimmy Buffett. I think I’d enjoy his songs even more if they were performed by Warren Buffett, just to see him with a Hawaiian shirt on. I don’t have anything to add about the Gaslight Anthem song, but I was particularly happy to get another track from the B-52s’ Cosmic Thing album to close my workout.


Who ya gonna call? Dr. Love!

It’s a new week, and a big one–just two more days and my kids will be finished with school for the year. Then we’ll be together in the house, spending quality time in a house without central air with temperatures set to reach triple digits by the end of the week…good lord, will someone please help me get a job as soon as possible!

Monday, June 18, 2012

2+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #33 of the 2012 season

  • Calling All Nations–INXS
  • Calling All the People–4 Non-Blondes
  • Calling Dr. Love–Shandi’s Addiction
  • Calling For You–Iris DeMent
  • Calling You–Blue October
  • Calm Before The Storm–Fall Out Boy
  • Calm Inside The Storm–Cyndi Lauper
  • Calm Like A Bomb–Rage Against The Machine
  • The Calvary Cross–Richard Thompson
  • Calypso–Suzanne Vega
  • Calypso–Suzanne Vega
  • Came Out Swinging–The Wonder Years
  • The Camera Eye–Rush
  • Camisado–Panic! At the Disco
  • A Campfire Song–10,000 Maniacs
  • Campfire Song Song–Spongebob Squarepants

I own and enjoy both Kick and by INXS, but have never bothered to purchase the group’s earlier albums or the later ones before they tragically lost lead singer Michael Hutchence. I know the band eventually added a new lead singer thanks to the power of reality TV, but I never bothered watching the show or listening to the new band that resulted from the show–I think I’d like to keep them preserved as the lineup from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’ve spoken in the past about albums I’ve purchased on the strength of a first song, and whether it turned out to be a wise decision or not. I’d probably categorize the purchase of Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non-Blondes decidedly in the “not” side of the ledger. The look of the group and their sound feels like an early 90’s time capsule that has not aged well.

I like the “Calling Dr. Love” cover, but apparently the band, Shandi’s Addiction, was a one-time gathering, featuring artists from Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Faith No More. So don’t waste your time looking for that 20th Century Masters Collection featuring all the band’s hits–you’re more likely to find Dean Miller’s greatest hits (that joke doesn’t actually work because there is a country artist that has tried to steal my identity–I had it first, and just because I wasn’t doing much with it (and the fact that you were born four years earlier) mean that you can take it from me.

I don’t own a lot of Blue October (in fact, this song and “Into The Ocean” are it), but I do enjoy what I’ve heard. This song comes from the American Wedding soundtrack, and is one of my favorite tracks from the movie. The next two songs create an interesting debate–which would be better to be in–Fall Out Boy’s “Calm Before the Storm” or Cyndi Lauper’s “Calm Inside The Storm”? While in Lauper’s version you’re already halfway through the storm, you still have more storm to go. If you are in the calm before the storm, there’s always a chance the storm will miss you. I’d suggest the best is “Calm After the Storm” because you know that there’s no more storm to come. Of course, if your calm is “…Like a Bomb” as Rage Against the Machine suggests, there’s not much difference between it and the storm.

Richard Thompson goes and gets all religious on us, singing about the “Calvary Cross”. I remember playing Calvary Christian in basketball my senior year. I was the last player off the bench, going in when the game was way out of hand. Calvary Christian had a player who was bragging before the game that he was going to dunk on us, a rare talent in small-school New Hampshire basketball. He just needed the right circumstances, a breakaway, which he finally got in the last few minutes of a blowout. I was heading back on D, realizing the crowd was on the feet, knowing what was to come. Not on my watch–he wasn’t going to dunk on me. I knocked him dow from behind to prevent the layup, but really angered the crowd and the opposing team. And there I thought they were good Christians…

After two slightly different versions of Suzanne Vega’s “Calypso”, the tempo certainly increased, first to pop punk from The Wonder Years, followed by a track from the seminal Rush album Moving Pictures. After a Panic! At the Disco song, I got a track from the album that introduced me to 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe. Michael Stipe guests on “A Campfire Song”, and I guess early 10,000 Manic tours were with R.E.M. and he’d come out and sing it with Natalie and the boys. When I saw 10,000 Manics on their Blind Man’s Zoo tour, they were the headliners and Stipe was nowhere to be seen, so she picked someone out of the audience, and the idiot didn’t even know the lyrics. If you think I was bitter in the back, knowing how much I would have wowed the group with my musical stylings, you are way off…time for the next (last on this list) song…oh, it’s another Spongebob song, the “Campfire Song Song”. I just mentioned it to my daughter, specifically my 18-year-old daughter, and she immediately sang it to me. Ahh, to be young…


Listening to a musical 45 (songs, not a song)

Well, I told you in my last column that I had been walking, and that I’d just fallen behind in the blogging side of the equation. As I went to the gym on Saturday, I did a count of the songs that I’d listened to over the past week, and was shocked that it was 45, representing 8 miles of walking (which still puts me two Red Sox victories behind the pace, but that will be taken care of by midweek. So I could have engineered 4 mini-posts or one mega-post.  As you will see from the following list, I went big, partially due to the cool symbolism of the number 45.

June 5-8, 2012

8+ miles to commemorate Red Sox victories #24-#27 of the 2012 season

  • Breathe–Taylor Swift
  • Breathe–U2
  • Breathe [2AM]–Anna Nalick
  • Breathe Me–Sia
  • Breathing–Yellowcard
  • Breed–Nirvana
  • Breed [live]–Nirvana
  • Brian Wilson [live]–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brian Wilson–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brian Wilson [live]–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brick–Ben Folds Five
  • Brick By Boring Brick–Paramore
  • Brick By Brick–Train
  • Bricks–Rise Against
  • The Bride–Dirty Projectors
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water [live]–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bright As Yellow–The Innocence Mission
  • Bright Red–Laurie Anderson
  • Brighter–Paramore
  • Brilliant Disguise–Bruce Springsteen
  • Brilliant Disguise–Elvis Costello
  • Brilliant Mistake–Elvis Costello
  • Brilliant Mistake–Elvis Costello
  • Bring It (Snakes on a Plane)–Cobra Starship
  • Bring It On Home–Led Zeppelin
  • Bring In On Home To Me–Sam Cooke
  • Bring Me To Life–Evanescence
  • Bring On The Dancing Horses–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Bring On The Dancing Horses–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Bring On The Night–The Police
  • Bring Tha Noise–Public Enemy
  • Bring The Noise–Public Enemy
  • The Broad Majestic Shannon–The Pogues
  • Broadway–Old 97’s
  • Broke In Two–They Might Be Giants
  • Broken–Elvis Costello
  • Broken [home demo]–Elvis Costello
  • Broken Bicycles/Junk–Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello
  • Broken Glass-Cyndi Lauper
  • Broken Man–Boys Like Girls
  • Broken Mirrors–Rise Against
  • The Brokenhearted–Bruce Springsteen
  • Brompton Cocktail–Avenged Sevenfold

The massive catch-up entry starts with pop country star Taylor Swift. I find it a bit funny that Swift is categorized as country, when to me she’s pure pop, just with a southern accent. My second “Breathe” song comes from U2’s most recent album release, No Line On The Horizon. There’s supposed to be a new U2 album, the follow-up to No Line, coming out this year, and with Danger Mouse the producer, I’m very excited to hear it. The Anna Nalick song is one I don’t really know, but that’s the consequences of not listening to current pop radio. For fans of the HBO series Six Feet Under, the song “Breathe Me” played during the series finale of Claire driving to New York intercut with the fates of each major character. I always thought it was one of the better and more emotional sequences to ever end a show, and it convinced me to buy the song.

Yellowcard apparently falls into a genre known as pop punk, and it’s a style I’m getting to know well, as it has become a favorite of my son. Other than the super obvious first choice, “Breed” may be my favorite song from Nevermind, so I certainly enjoyed hearing both the studio and live versions of the track. I loved when 2K sports used the song as part of their ad campaign for their baseball video game–any time a song like that is getting played for the general public is a great thing.

Thanks to our extensive collection of Barenaked Ladies albums, I got to hear “Brian Wilson” three times. It’s one of the rare songs that the live version seems to be more famous than the studio cut (as the live version is on the greatest hits collection we own), so I heard the song live, studio, live. I was looking up the discography of BNL when writing this entry and I was surprised to learn that they’ve only had one top 10 hit in the US (“One Week”), and only one other top 40 hit. Their music is so good? What is wrong with people?

After hearing “Brian Wilson”, a song about a man dealing with depression, three times, I sure needed a pick-me-up, and boy did Ben Fold’s “Brick” really deliver. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Brick”, particularly for the fact that it deals with a difficult issue in a sensitive manner, but that the song directly led me to purchase Whatever and Ever Amen. And my wife and I absolutely love that album. But it is a real bring down of a song and you need to be in the right mood to listen to it. It also is the only “single brick” song on my list, as the next three songs deal with multiple building blocks. Train is more interested than Paramore in masonry I guess, as they go brick by brick without editorializing that said bricks are “boring”. Meanwhile, Rise Against doesn’t believe in taking things one at a time, so they just go for all the “Bricks” at once. My load of bricks ended with a Dirty Projector’s song “Bride.”

Just as I recently had to hear a classic Simon & Garfunkel song “The Boxer” three times, I got it again, this time with three copies of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, two studio and then one from the classic Central Park show. I once read years ago that Paul Simon originally wrote it as a two-verse song, and that the third verse, the “Sail on, Silvergirl” verse, was added later. That final verse is nowhere near as strong as the first two entries, and while it would have been a shorter song, Simon maybe should have stuck with his original version.

A pair of primary colors follow in their “bright” form. First, I got yellow from the Empire Records soundtrack in the form of “Bright As Yellow” by the Innocence Mission, a fun alternative song from an awesome soundtrack. I tend to overlook some of the other tracks on the album because of my undying love of “Free” and “‘Til I Hear It From You” but everything is on the album is worth listening to over and over again. The red entry is part of a bizarre number from Laurie Anderson, “Bright Red”. Listening to her music leaves me with a “what the hell did I just hear?” feeling, and this song was no exception. Just as Paramore joined the brick brigade, they also wanted in on bright, with their song “Brighter”. It’s too bad they couldn’t add the color blue to their title, which would have given me all three primary colors. While they don’t have a color in their title, they do try to top the other songs by going superlative, and “brighter” than “bright”.

It’s not that I don’t love Elvis Costello, I just don’t feel as passionately about his work as my wife. I have, however, noticed that if he’s singing a “Brilliant…” song, I am definitely on board. The first of these is his cover of “Brilliant Disguise” by Bruce Spingsteen, a song that came off the first Bruce CD I ever purchased, Tunnel of Love. I always liked the Boss’s version of the song, but I actually enjoy Elvis’s cover even more. He makes the song more mournful than the original. I also really like the Elvis original “Brilliant Mistake”, which I got to hear two times. It does remind me of a funny story. When the computer book company I worked for in the 90’s was originally purchased by Pearson, they had a consultant come in to discuss future direction. As I sat with her and told her of our publication plans, she kept saying “brilliant”. I thought she was really impressed by what I was saying–after all, “brilliant” is such a superlative term. I later found out she was saying it like I might say “ok” when hearing a long presentation. My ego, after being so pumped up, was popped like a child’s balloon.

After the Elvis section, the list began to zig and zag a bit, starting with a band my kids love, Cobra Starship. That’s probably not fair, to pass them off on my kids, where I enjoy them as well, but if you don’t think they’re cool, I can say “oh, they’re a band for my kids.” The new of Cobra Starship gave way to a couple of classic acts, first the hard rock of Led Zeppelin and then the classic soul of Sam Cooke. Both come from me, and I’ve got to say I tend to listen to the Sam Cooke music more out of the two. Then I got one of my youngest daughter’s favorite acts, Evanescence, contributing their biggest hit ever, “Bring Me To Life”, followed by two copies of the song that introduced me to Echo & The Bunnymen. The first copy came from an album I owned first on cassette and then replaced with CD, the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink. My interest in Echo was always limited to that song and their cover of “People Are Strange” from the Lost Boys soundtrack, but I recently added two of their albums thanks to my local library.

The Police’s “Bring On the Night” came next and this song was one I always associated more with Sting (as he named his live solo album this) than the Police. I love the two versions of the Public Enemy song, both Public Enemy on their own and with Anthrax. The pure Public Enemy version talks about “…The Noise” in the title, while the Anthrax collaboration is “Bring Tha Noise” so I have to wonder about the bad grammatical influence Anthrax had on Chuck D and his mates. It’s odd hearing “The Broad Majestic Shannon” as it was always a special song my wife sang to our youngest daughter at bedtime when she was young, so I identify the song more with her than the official version. Speaking of my youngest daughter, she’s such a big fan of musical theater that I need to take her to Broadway some day to see a show, but if that doesn’t work out, I can always play the Old 97’s song for her. I don’t think she’d find it to be remotely the same, however.

I believe we have more They Might Be Giants songs than any other musical act (if not, they are definitely in the top 2-3), but it feels like awhile since they’ve made an appearance on this list. “Broke in Two” comes from The Spine, an album that gets lost in the shuffle for me, as it’s not as beloved as the group’s early work, different like the children’s albums, or in the rotation like the last two albums. It’s unfortunate and it calls for an entire album listen sooner than later. After raving earlier about Elvis Costello’s “Brilliant…” songs, I get three more by him (well two by him and one where he’s like the supporting actor for an Annie Sofie von Otter. Of the three, Annie’s song is the one I enjoyed the most. I really enjoyed the Cyndi Lauper song “Broken Glass”, which was one I really hadn’t heard because I’ve given her third album, Hat Full of Stars, short shrift (well, technically, it’s her fourth album, but I got a three pack of Lauper CDs from work, and Lauper’s third album, A Night To Remember, was not included in the pack–so that album is really getting the short shrift from me.

Music my wife and children brought into our household collection closed the list, with the first selection coming from Boys Like Girls, an act primarily liked by my girls. Now all of my kids love Rise Against, and it’s a band my wife and I both enjoy listening to know, so that was an excellent reverse osmosis musical effect. (I think the musical education has generally traveled in  the opposite direction with the two of us exposing our kids to different styles of music.)  While I spoke earlier of buying Bruce Springsteen albums, make no mistake–my wife is the truer and deeper fan of the boss. I did purchase The Promise, the recent album that produced “The Brokenhearted”, but it was a Christmas present for her. After such a long and diverse collection of music, it is always nice to kick back and relax with a cocktail, although the Avenged Sevenfold song is many things, relaxing is probably not the best term to describe it.


How much Lai-Lai-Lai can one boy take?

Can I just say one again that it sucks not working? My latest reminder comes courtesy of Memorial Day. When you’re working full time, 3-day weekends are gold–you look forward to them, counting the hours and then everything about the weekend is awesome. Saturday ends and you remember that you’ve still got two more days! Sunday ends and you get excited because you don’t have to wake up early tomorrow to go to work, and after the bonus of Monday, you head back to work for a shorter week. To compound it, I’m getting sick (summer cold) so my exercise and blogging may slow down over the next few weeks. All-in-all, not a great Memorial Day weekend.

May 26, 2012

3.48 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper-body weight work at the gym

  • The Boxer–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Boxer–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Boxer [live]–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Boy Blue–Cyndi Lauper
  • The Boy in the Bubble–Paul Simon
  • The Boy is Mine–Glee Cast
  • A Boy Like That–Glee Cast
  • Boy With a Problem–Elvis Costello
  • Boy with the Thorn in his Side–The Smiths
  • Boyfriends, Girlfriends–The Byrds
  • The Boys Are Back–High School Musical Cast
  • Boys Boys Boys–Lady Gaga
  • Boys Cry Tough–Bad Company
  • The Boys of Mutton Street–Richard Thompson
  • The Boys of Summer–Don Henley

When you have  three copies of “The Boxer”, you get a lot of chorus, specifically the duo’s “lai lai lai, lai lai lai lai lai, lai lai lai,…” (well, you get the idea. It’s probably the second-most famous non-word chorus in music history, trailing only all the “na’s” in the “Hey Jude” chorus. (I guess you could make another “na” argument with the chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” because of how often it gets used in sporting events, but I’m still going with “The Boxer”). By the way, the live version of the song is from my The Concert in Central Park album and if you’ve seen the video, this song contains the second-most awkward moment in the show, when Art comes in a little too early with the second line of the song. (The most awkward of course is Garfunkel’s introduction to “A Heart in New York.”) The other cool element to the live version is the introduction of a new verse. Not many musical acts would put in the effort to update a standard like that.

Cyndi Lauper’s “Boy Blue” is a remarkably personal song Lauper wrote about a friend that died from AIDS. People (at least I do) tend of overlook the power of Lauper’s songs–I think I put her in a specific bucket thanks to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and never rethought things. After three “Boxer” songs, you’d think I’d be sick of Paul Simon and not be wanting more just yet. But when the more is “The Boy in the Bubble”, one of my favorite songs from Graceland, more is definitely not a problem. While I don’t want to upset my youngest daughter, I do have to admit that more Glee can be a problem, particularly when it’s two songs from episodes I don’t even think I saw, so I can’t make any kind of connection between the story and the music.

The Glee songs should have served as a bit of a harbinger as much of the rest of the list, as I mostly good musical acts I’m not a big fan of or songs I don’t enjoy by acts I do enjoy. The next three songs on the list, by Elvis Costello, The Smiths, and The Byrds, fall in the latter category, leading me to have little to add (as opposed to the quality I usually add, so sorry folks!)  I should have enjoyed these songs while I could as things took a turn for the saccharine when the boys from High School Musical sang of their return, followed by Lady Gaga, then Bad Company (not one of their greatest hits, but a single from my ill-reasoned CD purchase of their 1990 album Holy Water. I cannot honestly tell you why I purchased the CD except that I was enjoying their greatest hits and wanted to give them another shot. Back then we didn’t have iTunes, youtube, and music services to sample music; you had to take a leap of faith, and in some cases you were jumping into a swimming pool with no water. Richard Thompson and Don Heley closed this list, but there are still some “Boys…” to come in my next walk.



Is Anybody Out There? (Or Greatest Hits Guilt)

I know that I’m writing this to (1) push myself to exercise every day and (2) push myself to write every day, but it’s a little discouraging to see the daily views drop to the low single digits. Perhaps it’s a little misleading that I was getting more than a dozen views within the first week of starting this blog, but I can’t help but feel that people read the early blog and decided not to come back. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MAKES ME FEEL? (Sorry, just trying to inject some drama in order to keep readers interested.)

March 28, 2012

3.29 miles on the elliptical plus upper-body weight work at the gym

  • All the Shine–Childish Gambino
  • All the Small Things–Blink-182
  • All the Small Things–Blink-182
  • All the Things She Said–Simple Minds
  • All the Time–Green Day
  • All the Way Home–Bruce Springsteen
  • All the Wrong Reasons–Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • All the Young Dudes–Mott the Hoople
  • All These Things–Elvis Costello
  • All These Things That I’ve Done–The Killers
  • All This Useful Beauty–Elvis Costello
  • All Those Yesterdays–Pearl Jam
  • All Through the Night–Cyndi Lauper
  • All Through the Night [Live]–Cyndi Lauper
  • All Together Now–The Beatles

“All the Shine” is from the Childish Gambino CD my family gave me for my birthday last week, Camp. I am trying to figure out how much I like it, but it’s difficult to separate my feelings for the music, Donald Glover, Community, and just give an honest opinion. I’ve liked it the first few times through, but I wonder if it’s born out of a desire to see Glover be successful at everything he does and then hope that draws more fans to Community. Like the devoted fanbase, I’m hoping for “six seasons and a movie”, but for now I’d settle for season 4.

I’ve managed to trim some of the fat from my music collection, if not from me. Sometimes somebody in the family will buy a single off iTunes and then we’ll later get the CD, which led to multiple copies of certain songs. For the most part, I’ve gone back and deleted one of the copies, but I missed a second version of “All The Small Things”, which I then had to hear twice. That didn’t bother me too much; it’s when I had to double up on tracks from High School Musical or the Jonas brothers that got me a little cranky.

Actually, I really enjoyed the run of music today–nothing I needed to either sheepishly apologize for or blame another member of the family for obtaining. Simple Minds returns with a second song from Glittering Prize. Sometimes, I feel bad when I just own a group’s greatest hits–like I’m missing out on all the cool deep album tracks when I don’t get all their studio releases. I feel this stronger about some groups more than others, and Simple Minds might be a good midpoint, a baseline for all other groups. For example, my Jayhawks collection is a greatest hits album and I probably regret not having more of their albums 5 times as much as Simple Minds, or 5 Minds on this scale I am making up on the fly. On the other hand, my Air Supply greatest hits is more than enough for me, so I’d probably rate them 0.1 Minds on the scale.

Everyone in my family loves Green Day, but I do have a fundamental question about the group. They started off as a punk band and they rally against the system, but with their massive commercial success, their broadway musical, and their own video game, aren’t they an entrenched part of the system? And if so, does this cheapen their music and message?

Oh, look! A Bruce Springsteen song; how novel! We have 148 songs by the Boss in our collection, and I’ve already heard 7, with one more ‘A’ song to go. While looking this up, I also realized that we have Springsteen songs that start with 24 of the 26 letters of the alphabet, with only ‘X’ and ‘Z’ not represented, yo. Then I got a Tom Petty song from back half of one of my favorite two-album runs by an artist, although I guess it isn’t officially a two-song run when he left the Heartbreakers for Full Moon Fever. For me though, the second album, Into the Great Wide Open (which contains “All the Wrong Reasons”) is the better of the two.

“All the Young Dudes” is another strong entry from the Juno soundtrack which nicely blends newer songs with classics like this one and the Kinks. Then I got a pair of Elvis songs sandwiched around The Killers, a band that I introduced my kids to, and then they ran with them.  For fans of Pearl Jam that have Netflix instant, I highly recommend Pearl Jam 20, Cameron Crowe’s outstanding documentary on the band.

I managed to get a 3-album Cyndi Lauper set from someone at work a few years ago with She’s So Unusual, True Colors, and Hat Full of Stars. I love all three, but the amazing thing is how filled with hits that first album is. The deluxe version of the album also included a live track of “All Through the Night”. I then got to close things down with a fun Beatles song from Yellow Submarine.