Renewing My Fitbit Vows (part 4 of 10)

OK, fact #1–I am overweight and badly need to lose many, many pounds. Fact #2–I love numbers. This combination of facts led me to purchasing a Fitbit a little more than a year ago. Before I did, I thought the concept of “wearable tech” was a stupid fad. However, my record of exercising has been spotty at best, and the idea of hitting a number on a daily basis appealed to me. Over the next twelve months, my Fitbit has pushed me to hit daily goals on a fairly regular basis. I even upped my thresholds from 10,000 steps to 11,000 steps and 5.0 miles to 5.5 miles daily. I was regularly hitting my exercise goals 5 to 6 times a week and even had 25+ day streaks on three occasions. My cardiac procedure in early April set me back a bit with the hospital time and the recovery, but I think I’m back in business, as yesterday was the fifth consecutive day I hit both step and mile goals.

I know the Fitbit and other wearable tech is not for everyone, but if you’re on the fence, I highly recommend it. There’s nothing more motivating to me than sitting on the couch at night, ready to veg in front of the TV, but looking at your step counter and seeing you’ve done fewer than 5,000 steps is a real call to action. Particularly if you add friends and family to your Friend list. It’s the reason I’d suggest Fitbit over the other wearable tech options–it has the biggest base of current members, so you can add people and then compete against them to see who can get the most steps in a day, work week, or weekend. So when I am nowhere near my goal, it pushes me because I want to do better than others and I am sure they are looking at my lack of activity and judging (which logically, I am sure no one is doing–but leave me to my self-centered paranoia, OK?)

Now the Fitbit isn’t perfect–for example, if the arm that the device is located on is locked, the steps don’t count. So if you are pushing a grocery cart around a store, it will not give you credit for your steps. You have to be moving arms and legs to increase the counter. So in my cart example, there are two workarounds. Push the cart with one hand while continuing to swing the other arm–don’t worry,  it doesn’t make you look like an idiot to all the other shoppers (actually, it does). It also makes steering the cart a bit of an adventure. That’s why the second solution, put the tracker in your pocket, a better workaround. This also works in other armlock situations, like riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill (if you plan on holding the heart sensors for any length of time). Speaking of heart sensors, my Fitbit model does not include a heart monitor in it–that was the next model up. However, I heard from a cardiologist that he does not recommend getting an exercise tracker with heart monitor–he thinks people obsess too much about the pulse numbers. He did like the idea of an exercise tracker–so if you want to get onto the wearable tech craze–save yourself some money and get a model without heart rate checking. And let me know if you do–we can be Fitbit friends!

On to part 4 of my 100 favorite songs list. There are links to parts 1-3 at the end, but now that I’m walking more again, let’s look at the next 10 songs that come up when I listen to my top 100 playlist:

  • Welcome to the Terrordome–Public Enemy
  • Around the Dial–The Kinks
  • Eminence Front–The Who
  • Scar Tissue–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Set Adrift on Memory Bliss–P.M. Dawn
  • Floating Vibes–Surfer Blood
  • You Can Call Me Al–Paul Simon
  • Invisible Sun–The Police
  • Your Love–The Outfield
  • New Year’s Day–U2

I will admit being late to appreciated the genius that is Public Enemy. I first heard them as part of the Do the Right Thing soundtrack. It was already a powerful film, but I got to see an advanced screening of it introduced by Spike Lee while I was at MIT. Of course, I was disappointed at how the Larry Bird Celtic jersey was used in the film, but the movie blew me away. A big part of that was “Fight the Power.” One can argue that with songs like it and “911 Is a Joke,” Public Enemy was the most effective act to fix popular music and politics since the protest singers of the late 60’s. However, the Public Enemy song I enjoy the most was a different release from Fear of a Black Planet–“Welcome to the Terrordome.” All of their songs have such raw power and anger behind the lyrics, and this one is no different. I know that Flavor Flav has become a punchline in recent years, but his work on “Welcome to the Terrordome specifically and all of Public Enemy’s work in total is amazing.

As I said when I first started talking about my 100 list, I refused to place artificial constraints like one song per artist on the list, and a few artists have more than one song from the same album. One such album is Give The People What They Want by the Kinks. I remember my older sister listening to the cassette tape of the album all the time when she got a boom box for Christmas along with it, Working Class Dog, Escape, and Candy-O. I enjoyed all four albums, but the Kinks release was the best. A second song from the album cracks my top 10, but “Around the Dial” has always been a favorite, right from its radio-tuning opening. I’d argue that the message of the song–the corporatizing of radio stations–is more apt today in the Clear Channel era than it was at time of its release, although to make it more timely, we’d have to change the lyric “FM, AM, where are you?” to “FM, XM, where are you?” as you only find political, religious, and sports zealots on AM these days.

After two Who songs in the previous group of 10, they are right back with a third entry on my list. There were almost two versions of this song on the list, as a member of Sons of Sam Horn shared with us a mashup of “Eminence Front” and “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)” by Digable Planets. He called it “Cool Front” and it’s an amazing combination of two distinctly different tunes. I would recommend it, but I know it’s unavailable and I shouldn’t share it for copyright reasons. The Red Hot Chili Peppers then make their first, and only, appearance on the list with “Scar Tissue,” which like many songs by the Peppers effectively mixes rock and mourning.

Remember cass-singles? When I was carless in graduate school, I rode with a friend from Bloomington, Indiana to Tampa, Florida for holiday break. Three of those cass-singles dominated our listening time during the trip–“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “O.P.P.” by Naughty by Nature, and “Set Adrift in Memory Bliss” by P.M. Dawn. The new age-i-ness of the song always drew me in, although the song was almost permanently ruined by the parody of it done in Fear of a Black Hat. By the way, if you haven’t seen the film, I cannot recommend it enough–it’s a rap version of This Is Spinal Tap, but it really nails the different song styles, the gangster culture, and more. The soundtrack is top notch and the parody/homage to the NWA Detroit situation portrayed in Straight Outta Compton is dead on. It’s a hard movie to find, but worth the effort.

I mentioned Sons of Sam Horn earlier, and for those that don’t know, it is a online community devoted to fans of the Boston Red Sox. However, the site is not limited to baseball talk or even just sports. The site has many members knowledgeable about a number of different topics, and thanks to some, I have received some great new music recommendations. It was on the site that I learned about an indie band named Surfer Blood. Looking at the name, I would have assumed they were some sort of heavy metal group, but their sound is more pop, more surf music than blood music. I’ve become a big fan, owning all three of their albums as well as their EP. I can listen to their music at any time, but “Floating Vibes” from their first album is still my favorite.

The list has multiple Simon & Garfunkel songs, but it also has a solo song from Paul Simon. Almost anything from Graceland could have made the list, but I chose the hit, “You Can Call Me Al” (with “Boy in the Bubble” being a close runner-up). Another 80’s group that could have had numerous songs on the list, but just got one, was the Police. I love their hits, but I seem to gravitate toward their odd, darker songs like “Invisible Sun” and “King of Pain.” I’d probably put “Synchronicity II” in that category as well. But the dystopian world presented in “Invisible Sun” takes it to the top for me.

The last two songs in this batch are also 80’s entries, and from opposite bands for a number of reasons. Most guys I know that went to high school in the 80’s loved the Outfield’s album Play Deep and their hit song “Your Love.” Unfortunately for the band, most guys I know did not buy any of their subsequent albums. However, their big hit has had a bit of a resurgence recently, as the Patriots play it in their stadium and the song was part of the soundtrack for Rock Band 4. That game also is the first game of its type to have U2 songs in it. Unfortunately, you can’t play “New Year’s Day” yet, but “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from the same album is available. This is the only U2 song on the top 100, a surprisingly small number, but when you’re this limited, you have to make some tough choices. Sorry “Grace”!

If you want to read any of the earlier parts of this series, the links are below:

In Some Particular Order (part 1 of 10)

Mission Entirely Possible (part 2 of 10)

Self Tributes, and the Reason for the Star Wars Season (part 3 of 10)


3-Day Workout Weekend!

I’m not saying that you can jinx yourself, but I should have known better. After my last post where I practically broke my arm patting myself on the back for gym visits on six consecutive days, I casually mentioned that I had to go Thursday in order to make it a solid week. Can you guess what happened? If you chose Dean worked out for a solid hour and felt great about himself afterward, well, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but unfortunately circumstances (a nice way of referring to my laziness) prevented me from getting to the gym. To make up for it, I worked out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. (Couldn’t get to the gym on Monday as it was only open until 1PM due to the holiday and those circumstances–sleeping in–reared their ugly heads again.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

(Before the Friday list, a miss from Wednesday’s list:)

  • The Democratic Circus–The Talking Heads

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Demon’s Eye–Deep Purple
  • Demons–Guster
  • Demons Are Real–Guided by Voices
  • The Denial Twist–The White Stripes
  • Dental Care–Owl City
  • Denver–Willie Nelson
  • Deora Ar Mo Chroi–Enya
  • Depending On You–Tom Petty
  • The Deportees Club–Elvis Costello
  • Derelict–Beck
  • Derezzed–Daft Punk
  • Descent Into Mystery–Danny Elfman
  • Desecrate Through Reverence–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Desecration Smile–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Desire–The Gaslight Anthem
  • Desire–U2

I have to admit that normally, if I realized that I missed a song, I’d probably just ignore it instead of calling attention to my error. However, I decided to mention the song due to its incredible timeliness over the past two weeks. I usually get to the gym at night, and so recent workouts have been accompanied by the Republican and Democratic conventions. I’m obviously listening to music, so I didn’t get to hear the speeches, which was almost perfect conditions for viewing the conventions. The only flaw was the presence of close captioning, so I did have to read the BS on occasion.

Deep Purple has played a musical role in my life longer than most other bands, simply because I remember when I was 7 or 8 that we had a family stereo with an 8-track player and a K-Tel 8-track with “Smoke on the Water” was one of the songs in the selection. Nothing seemed dumber to me than when a song was broken across more than one section of an 8-track, and you had to hear “duh-duh-duh-duh Click-Click!” and then the song would continue. Guster is a band that has seen my interest in them grow from my introduction to them (they opened for Barenaked Ladies at a concert) to the first album of theirs I owned (Goldfly, a Christmas present) through Easy Wonderful. Another gift album track came next as a work friend of my wife and I gave us a copy of Bee Thousand.

I’d like to see a triple bill concert featuring the White Stripes, Owl City, and Willie Nelson just to see the different fanbases interact. That’s always an underrated aspect of attending concerts live–in college I saw Squeeze open for Fleetwood Mac (this was in 1990 or 1991) and while I was a fan of both, it seemed like most had chosen one side and one side only. I’m not entirely sure why I own an Enya album, and I’ll be honest–it doesn’t get a lot of play. After a trio of song regulars (Tom Perry, Elvis Costello, and Beck), it was back-to-back instrumental soundtrack numbers, starting with a Daft Punk song from the Tron reboot and then some Danny Elfman.

Of particular note from the last four songs is my first number from the Gaslight Anthem, who’s album, Handwritten, is a new addition to the music library. So far it’s excellent, and I am sure one of their tracks will make my year-end sampler for sure.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

3.21 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Desolation Row–Bob Dylan
  • Desolation Row–My Chemical Romance
  • Desolation Row [Alternate Take]–Bob Dylan
  • Desperado–Clint Black
  • Desperado–The Eagles
  • Desperados Under The Eaves–Warren Zevon
  • Despertar–Aisha Duo
  • Destination Moon–They Might Be Giants
  • Destiny–Richard Thompson
  • Destroya–My Chemical Romance

It’s not Led Zeppelin-level, but half of my workout was devoted to one song, although it was three different takes on that number. We own two long versions of “Desolation Row”, at 8+ and 11+ minutes, and a more radio-friendly 4-minute version, and as you could probably imagine, the two Dylan takes are the long takes. We also have two different versions of “Desperado”, but as anyone who watched Seinfeld can imagine, that song is more of a punchline than composition to me these days. I don’t think “Witchy Woman” ever really stuck for Elaine.

It’s good that I had excellent Warren Zevon and They Might Be Giants songs sandwiched around “Despertar” as I hadar no idea where that song came from or even who Aisha Duo is. Every time I hear “Destination Moon” I think it has been too long since the last listen–sometimes I wish iTunes had a feature that would allow you to mark certain songs on your larger playlists to increase the probability that they would show up in a shuffle. Richard Thompson make his seemingly daily appearance on my list, followed by a poorly spelled, yet enjoyable, My Chemical Romance number.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

3.30 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Destroyer–The Kinks
  • Destroyer–The Kinks
  • Destoyer [Live]–The Kinks
  • Details in the Fabric–Jason Mraz featuring James Morrison
  • Detroit Rock City–Kiss
  • Detroit Rock City–The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Deuce–Lenny Kravitz
  • Devil’s Arcade–Bruce Springsteen
  • The Devil’s Been Busy–The Traveling Wilburys
  • Devil’s Dance–Metallica
  • Devil’s Haircut–Beck
  • Devil in the Eye–Big Country

Nothing gets you pumped for exercising like the Kinks’ “Destoyer”, so hearing it three times in succession was just fine by me. It does remind me that I need to get some older (60s and early 70s) work by the band, and it’s not the easiest task if you’re lazy like me–none of their earlier albums are on iTunes and it’s not like modern stores carry a deep selection of older albums.   I love when I get a song that “features” a performer I’ve never heard of in my life–that is, assuming that Jason Mraz didn’t do a song with the long-assumed diseased singer of the Doors who is using a formal first name to throw us off the track.

I actually don’t own much Kiss, which is funny as they were the first musical act I ever saw in concert. I was in sixth grade at the time, living at the National Asthma Center in Denver, Colorado. A bunch of us talked the councilors into letting us go. We didn’t know the music that well–it was the makeup, breathing fire, spitting blood, and the rest of the performance art that hooked us. (I do believe the councilors that took us got into a lot of trouble for letting us see the band. For that, I am sorry.) In a rare coincidence, I then got back-to-back Kiss covers from the Kiss My Ass compilation album, and I love them both, particularly the Lenny Kravitz version of “Deuce”.

The Devil continues his musical run thanks to the Boss, the Wilburys, Metallica, and Beck. The last song today (another “Devil” number) comes from the Big Country compilation shared with me by a friend this summer. It’s quite a treat as the only work I had by the band before was their seminal “In A Big Country” (which is still my favorite), but the music in the A to Z sent to me is very different and shows the band’s range.


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.

Weekend Worrier

The weekend’s theme was twofold. First it was father-son gym time as on both days my son went to the gym with me. Ironically, the Saturday visit was a shorter one (less than 45 minutes), and it was conceived of to “beat the heat”, as my son wanted to get in an air-conditioned area for some time before he had to go to work, and my gym has excellent AC. The other piece was this weekend saw the calendar turn from June to July and my next-job anxiety increase accordingly. While I do understand the need to be patient and that things will happen in their own time, but I can’t help but wish things would speed up a bit–I don’t do well with uncertainty.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

2 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Chanson Pour Les Petits Enfants–Jimmy Buffett
  • Chapter 13–+44
  • Chapter Four–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Charge of the Batmobile–Danny Elfman
  • Charlie–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Charlie, The Methadone Man–Fastball
  • Chase The Fire–The Fixx

I tend to not listen to much Jimmy Buffett in English, so putting a song title in French, and completely out of my area of knowledge and understanding, really ups the degree of difficulty. Through Google and consultation with my daughter, I think the title of the song is “Song for the Children”, but don’t hold me to that please. Through the magic of Apple’s alphabetizing, this is one of the few places where chapter 13 will come before chapter four. If ranking those two chapters by artist, I’d probably split my vote in two, with +44 being a preferred choice during normal listening situations, but Avenged Sevenfold receiving the nod when working out, particularly when going for some intensity to my cardio.

Danny Elfman’s Batman score was perfect for the film (I know, duh! that’s what he’s supposed to do when scoring the film, but his style of music and Tim Burton’s filmmaking vision is such a natural pairing) and I still enjoy listening to the soundtrack from time to time, even if Nolan’s Batman has surpassed Burton’s in just about every way possible. The Red Hot Chili Peppers tell us about “Charlie”, but I’m pretty sure that Fastball had another “Charlie” in mind, which is why they provided such a helpful qualifier, “…The Methadone Man”.  This short visit to the gym ended with a nice live track from the Fixx–not one of their big hits, but still a fun song anyway.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

3 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • The Chase, Part 2–A Tribe Called Quest
  • Chasing Cars–Snow Patrol
  • Chasm–Flyleaf
  • Chavito Ardiente–WWE
  • Cheap Day Return–Jethro Tull
  • Cheap Sunglasses–ZZ Top
  • Cheap Sunglasses [live]–ZZ Top
  • Cheatin’–Gin Blossoms
  • Check It Out–John Mellencamp
  • Check On It–Beyonce & Slim Thug
  • Check Yes Juliet–We The Kings
  • Check Yes Juliet–We The Kings
  • Check Your Time–Westbound Train
  • Checkout Time in Vegas–Drive-By Truckers

Strong start to the Sunday workout with a bit of A Tribe Called Quest. I only have one of their albums, Midnight Marauders, an oversight I need to correct. However, if I’m going to buy another 90s rap album, I will be getting De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising first. It’s frustrating that it’s not available on iTunes and I will have to get it through a used CD store to add it to my collection. The next song is a more modern number, the big Snow Patrol pop hit, “Chasing Cars”. As I’ve mentioned before, Flyleaf is a band that my kids like more than me, but like A7X, their tracks can be pretty invigorating when working out. The WWE song was the theme music for Chavo Guerrero; I think he would be better off with Jethro Tull in that role.

I only own one ZZ Top album–a greatest hits compilation, but that one collection produced two different versions of their classic “Cheap Sunglasses” (studio and live). I expect that more with dance/pop acts who fill an album with remixes of existing songs, but getting the same song (or variations thereof) twice by a classic rock act seems rare. Not that I mind that much–as ZZ Top songs go, “Cheap Sunglasses” is one of their better numbers. Speaking of better numbers, I love “Cheatin’ “, the final track from the Gin Blossoms’ New Miserable Experience. The entire album is outstanding and the country-flavored “Cheatin’ ” is a nice bow on the package. The lyrics like “You can’t call it cheatin’ if she reminds me of you” are a wee bit cynical, but that’s rock music, right? Rock with a tiny country edge continued on my list with John Hoosier Mellancamp’s “Check It Out”, a song that also continued the theme of cynicism as well as the theme of great songs.

A pair of pop hits cover the next three songs on my list, starting with the first Beyonce appearance. I’ve got to believe that no matter where your musical tastes lie, you have to enjoy the works of Ms. Beyonce Knowles. Her songs are so entertaining–earworms if you will. “Check Yes Juliet” also had a great hook and was worth hearing more than once, which worked out well for me as we own two copies of the song, obtaining it once when it was the iTunes Free Song of the Week and getting a second version when we got the entire album. I’m not sure who added the Westbound Train number to the family collection, but it fulfills the occasional need for Ska music. I do know the Drive-By Truckers came from me, and it helps fulfill my constant need for awesome music.


Pretending to be Zac Efron

Another month is here and it’s another opportunity to push my exercise routine and hopefully finish the “B”s. That’s actually my secondary wish. My primary desire is that I obtain gainful employment before the month ends, so I can go back to enjoying three-day weekends just in time for Independence Day (the holiday, not the movie).

June 1, 2012

3.23 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper-arm weight work at the gym

  • Breakdown–Breaking Benjamin
  • Breakdown–Guns ‘N Roses
  • Breakdown–Scars On 45
  • Breaker Breaker–Peter Bjorn and John
  • Breakfast in America–Supertramp
  • Breakfast in Bed–Train
  • Breakin’ At The Cracks–Colbie Caillat
  • Breakin’ Up–Rilo Kiley
  • Breakin’–The All-American Rejects
  • Breaking Free–High School Musical Cast
  • Breaking Free [instrumental version]–High School Musical Cast
  • Breaking Point–Eric Clapton
  • Breaking The Girl–Red Hot Chili Peppers

Just as I closed yesterday with multiple interpretations of a single-word title, I open today with three (instead of two) versions of “Breakdown.” The first is the most obvious, as a group named Breaking Benjamin doing a song that begins with “Break…” (In fact, it’s so obvious that this is the second Breaking Benjamin song to begin that way, as I got one yesterday.) The Guns ‘N Roses “Breakdown” is a 7+ minute opus from the Use Your Illusion CDs, and once again, seemed like a no-brainer as Axl, Slash, and company seem like the type that would “break” things. The last “Breakdown” is the most recent and my favorite of the three, a Scars on 45 single from their self-titled album release this past April. This song was the free iTunes song of the week awhile back and I was already hearing Scars on 45 on our local alternative radio station and liking what I was hearing, downloading this song convinced me to get the entire album.

The Peter Bjorn and John song makes me think of my childhood. Not the sound–they are distinctly modern–but the title. I remember there being a bit of a CB radio craze in the late 70’s with music (“Convoy”), movies (the Smokey and the Bandit series) and TV (BJ and the Bear) among those contributing, and I remember if we’d play CB radio, you had to start your transmitions with “breaker, breaker…” (or “breaker 1-9…”). Keeping the 70’s theme was Supertramp with “Breakfast in America”, a song today’s kids more readily know as “Cupid’s Chokehold”. I hadn’t heard the Train song before, but really enjoyed it. The same can be said for just about any Colbie Caillat song–her voice is just soothing and enjoyable; it’s the embodiment of Light FM.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d read that Rilo Kiley is no more, which adds a level of sad irony to their song “Breakin’ Up”–it is clearly written about a romantic coupling, but there’s really no reason the lyrics cannot be about a musical bond as well. I guess that makes all of us music fans the children of this messy musical divorce.  I’d say that happily for my kids in particular, the All-American Rejects are still together, but currently none of them are into the band these days. That can obviously change, as we all have musical acts that, while I don’t want to say that we fall in and out of love with them, we do have periods when we listen to their songs intently and other periods where we ignore them.  For some acts, they are lost forever.

I’m guessing that “Breaking Free” was considered one of the big hits from the first High School Musical as our CD of the soundtrack had two versions. I got to hear the normal (with lyrics) version first before then getting an instrumental version (according to the description, it is a karaoke track, so if I ever want to break out the karaoke machine we got some years back as a Christmas present, I could do my best Zac Efron impersonation, and who wouldn’t want that? Luckily I got to close things with an Eric Clapton song from him Journeyman CD and an awesome Red Hot Chili Peppers number. Perhaps I should pretend to be a member of the Peppers, but then again, I think it would be better for everyone if I kept my shirt on.


I Guess the Red Sox aren’t interested in my Health (physical or mental)

So just one week ago, I proclaimed that I’d do an extra two miles of walking for every Red Sox victory this season. Since then, the Red Sox have played six games and only once has it led to me needing to spend more time on the exercise trail.  Making matters worse is how they’re losing, blowing late leads twice in one game and showing an utter lack of timely hitting. All this is leading to stressful whipped topping on my job search crap sundae. So thanks Sox! At least the Sox didn’t replace the greatest manager in their history (and bury him on the way out) with the biggest blowhard in baseball, someone to make the team even more unlikable…oh, right…

Some times I wish I could figure out a way to not care as much about the doings good and bad of my four sports teams. And I guarantee that my wife wishes I could figure this out as well.

But at least I still went to the gym and got my elliptical on! And if I want to use the Sox as motivation, maybe I should slightly alter my pledge to days they don’t lose, so off-days like tomorrow can be rousing successes!

April 11, 2012

3.31 miles on the elliptical

  • Are You Lonesome Tonight?–Elvis Presley
  • Are You Ready–AC/DC
  • Are You Ready [Live]–AC/DC
  • Aren’t You The Guy?–They Might Be Giants
  • Arianne–The Neville Brothers
  • Arise–Flyleaf
  • Arizona–Hey Monday
  • Armatage Shanks–Green Day
  • Armor & Swords–Rush
  • Around And Around (Hail! Hail! ‘N’ Roll) [live]–Chuck Berry
  • Around My Head–Cage the Elephant
  • Around the Dial–The Kinks
  • Around the Dial [Live]–The Kinks
  • Around The World [Live]–Red Hot Chili Peppers

At some point, about a year ago, I realized that except for a single song (“Hound Dog”) from the Forrest Gump soundtrack, I didn’t own any Elvis Presley music at all. This is exactly the type of situation where the local library comes in handy, and a greatest hits collection is more than enough. (Elvis is .05 Minds on the Simple Minds scale–I have absolutely no need for any of his studio albums now that I have a greatest hits collection.)

In one of my earlier blog entries, I compared The Doors to White Castle. For another food analogy, AC/DC is a good all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. It’s awesome from time-to-time, but if I partake of it every day, it’s going to do some long-term damage to me. It was great to gouge on studio and live versions of “Are You Ready” with the second, live, version the first indication of one of two themes that emerged from this list–live songs. I would get three more live recordings before I finished my multi-mile trek.

With more than 300 songs in my library, it’s no wonder that most days have some sort of They Might Be Giants contribution, but today’s was a minuscule one, a short clip from the “Fingertips” section of their Apollo 18 album. (I started to write the “blink and you’ll miss it” cliche, but we’re talking aural, not visual. We need a listening equivalent of this metaphor.) I got a soulful Neville Brothers song before the second theme emerged from my list today, the educational theme as I’m calling it.

Six of the remaining nine songs that I heard were unfamiliar songs to me, but by bands I know and enjoy. So I feel that while exercising, I got to expand my musical appreciation of several bands, starting with Flyleaf. The next song, “Arizona”, (and I do love songs named after states) was additionally confusing because I couldn’t place the artiss, thinking it was Paramore, and not realizing it was Hey Monday until I typed the list above. While explaining this confusion to my daughter, she said that once I listen to more Hey Monday, I will start to recognize and identify the lead singer’s distinctive voice.

The unfamiliar songs I was most embarrassed to not know were the offerings from Green Day and Rush that followed next. I probably have not spent enough time listening to  the earlier work of Green Day (the song came from 1995’s Insomniac ) nor the later work of Rush (as “Armor & Swords” came from their 2007 album Snakes and Arrows). I was already familiar with the track from Chuck Berry’s live concert album Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll. I originally purchased the CD for the Robert Cray track with Berry, but came to appreciate the entire album. Speaking of growing to appreciate an album, the more I hear Cage the Elephant, the more I enjoy them, so I believe they will be a key artist in my collection for years to come.

I’m a big Kinks fan, and “Around the Dial” is one of my favorite songs by the band. It’s is also quite a prescient number, as I think it speaks even more aptly today to the homogenized corporate sound of radio stations and the loss of quality DJs. Owning both the studio and live versions of the song makes for a nice one-two punch. I then closed with a Red Hot Chili Peppers song I didn’t even know I owned, as it is on the Songs for Japan benefit album.


A Talking Heads Sorbet

21 posts in 22 days–not sure if I can keep this going, and I certainly hope that soon I’ll have the distraction of a job competing with gym and exercise time (with Easter this Sunday ending, perhaps my joke about giving up work for Lent will end up being prescient). There’s a “grass is always greener” thing going on for sure; when you’re working, you think “I’d love to take some time off” but when work is gone, you really want to be back in the grind (and I assure you I felt this way before today and the fact that my kids were off from school for Good Friday isn’t pushing me in this direction (although their April vacation starts next Friday, so I’ve got that to look forward to!)

April 6, 2012

3.30 miles on the elliptical plus arm and leg weight work

  • Angels We Have Heard On High–Glee Cast
  • Angels With Dirty Faces–Sum 41
  • Angelyne–The Jayhawks
  • Angie–The Rolling Stones
  • Angry People–Barenaked Ladies
  • Angry Young Man [Live]–Billy Joel
  • Animal–Neon Trees
  • Animal–Pearl Jam
  • Animal–Toto
  • Animal–Glee Cast
  • Animal Bar–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Animal I Have Become–Three Days Grace
  • Animals–Nickelback
  • Animals–Talking Heads
  • Animals [Live]–Nickelback
  • Ankle Deep–Tom Petty
  • Ann Song–Mouse Rat

Got to complete my “Angels We Have Heard on High” run with the Glee cast version, which may actually be my favorite of the 5. (I know! I’m just as surprised as you are.) It’s a nice change of pace to hear a Christmas song in April, particularly two days before Easter, but I don’t foresee me making a habit of it.

Now I’d like to clear up what is probably a common misconception. “Angels With Dirty Faces” is not the theme song from the 1938 Bogart/Cagney film with the same name; in fact, it would be 42 years after the film’s release that a member of Sum 41 was even born! Meanwhile, “Angelyne” is slowly becoming one of my favorite Jayhawks songs of all time. And the Rolling Stones may not be right for Heinz, but they are right for work-out lists, even the slower songs like “Angie”.

I tended not to give the albums Barenaked Ladies are Me and Barenaked Ladies are Men much credit when they first came out, perferring the band’s previous three albums, but now that they are effectively dead (as I’ve mentioned, I can’t enjoy them without Steven Page), I’ve been giving the albums closer listens, as they may be the last BNL I ever get, and some of the stuff, including “Angry People” has started to stick. Billy Joel is like meatloaf (the food, not the artist)–it’s almost never spectacular, but it is always solid and enjoyable.

The three different songs with the title “Animal” made for entertaining contrasts–with the Neon Trees version being a fun pop hit (one that I was initially introduced to thanks to Glee), while the Pearl Jam song is so powerful and angry. The 80s sensibility of Toto almost split the middle between the two, but then I got to loop back to fun pop original, as the Glee cast version of “Animal” closed the run (again, I may actually enjoy it to the Neon Trees version).

We don’t have a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers (I think just two albums), and this may be an undeserved short shrift as I love listening to both Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Stadium Arcadium. I have not given their most recent album a listen, so that may be my next move. Three Days Grace is a band my kids all love, although I think, like a toy from a few Christmases ago, their work is being pushed to the back of my kids’ musical closet these days. But there’s no denying the strong musical hook of “Animal I Have Become”.

Now I like to not judge the musical taste of others. I once heard a quote to the effect of “there’s no bad music, there’s just music you don’t like”, but some times Nickelback does push the line for me on this front. I’m not sure why–they haven’t wronged me in any way, and “Rockstar” is an enjoyable anthem, but hearing two songs from them, studio and live versions of “Animals” was fairly rough sledding. Luckily I had a delicious musical sorbet, the Talking Heads “Animals”, between the two. Now that’s a great song, and it’s high time someone had the courage to call the animals out on all their BS. I also was happy to have a underrated Tom Perry song, “Ankle Deep”, post-Nickelback.

Just as I opened today with music from a TV show, I closed that way as well, although from a very different TV show and artist. My love of all things Parks and Recreation les me to search the web for Mouse Rat, and it turns out that you can download for free a number of their songs. I actually put “5,000 Candles in the Wind” on my “Best of 2011” CD I made for family and friends, and the “Ann Song” is my second-favorite of their songs, as it is particularly instructive on where to look for someone if they’re missing.