Musical Statements of Identity

I’ve been working out and still listening to my alphabetical listings of songs, but not nearly as much as I should. My posting has fallen off a cliff…if a woman found out she was pregnant the day of my last post, she could be reading this entry holding her newborn child. But it’s a new year, and time for resolutions of improved activity. Both exercising and writing would be excellent choices for promises that I’d ultimately break, but I think I’ll settle for just exercising and writing today and then seeing how tomorrow goes.


January 4, 2014

1.75 miles of treadmill work plus upper arm weight work.


  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow–The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow–The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)–John Hartford
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)–John Hartford
  • I Am a Paleontologist–They Might Be Giants with Danny Weinkauf
  • I Am a Rock–Simon & Garfunkel
  • I Am a Scientist–Guided by Voices
  • I Am a Town–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • I Am Africa–The Book of Mormon Soundtrack
  • I Am an Animal–Pete Townsend
  • I Am Here for You–The Book of Mormon Soundtrack
  • I Am Mine–Pearl Jam
  • I Am Superman–R.E.M.

For Christmas, I got my wife the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis and we are just starting to get into it. I think it will ultimately be a successful release, particularly as the movie sees wider release. It is similar to me to an older Coen brother film O Brother, Where Art Thou? While the movie had a great soundtrack, four variations of the same song is a bit of a bother when you are listening to your entire music collection alphabetically. At least two were only instrumental versions. Back to Llewyn Davis; both my wife and I are excited to see the movie–it’s one of two “Oscar bait” movies we’d like to see, with American Hustle being the other. Those are it for theater needs; the rest can wait for Blu-Ray, Netflix, or TV as far as I’m concerned.

There aren’t enough songs that serve as effective job descriptions, but “I Am a Paleontologist” certainly fits the bill. It’s of extra interest to me these days, as my company is releasing two sets of Dinosaur-themed books, so the term is coming up repeatedly in manuscripts these days. They Might Be Giants went with the specificity of position, while Guided by Voices were more general, speaking only of the broad category of Scientist. Every time I get a Guided by Voices song, I try to remember how we added Bee Thousand to our collection, as I think it was a gift to my wife. I don’t have much time to think about it, as all the album’s songs tend to be a bit on the short side. I have no problem remembering how Simon & Garfunkel, who contributed “I Am a Rock” between the two job songs, got into the collection–they are all mine. I was hoping a new generation of fans would come to Paul and Art when the Rock Band video game released the aforementioned song plus “Sounds of Silence” as downloadable content, but I am guessing it didn’t ultimately matter.

After a song by the underrated Mary Chapin Carpenter, I got the first of my two songs from the musical The Book of Mormon. That soundtrack is from the Maggie wing of our musical museum. It’s an interesting path of parenting. When your  kids are young, they like and listen to either the music you expose them to or what corporate marketing machines like Disney serve to them. We tried to find music that we liked that also was accessible to youngsters, like the Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, and They Might Be Giants (and this was before TMBG smartly started releasing targeted children’s albums. However, this didn’t stop the occasional Jonas Brothers or Aly & AJ from sneaking through. As the kids get a little older (say middle school and early high school), pop music becomes the must-listen. Again, this is completely understandable, as all their peers are listening to the same radio- and TV- (and now internet-) generated content, and everyone wants to fit in. But for your children, at some point they will start listening to something just because it’s what they like, and not because someone in their family or circle of friends told them to like it. For my youngest, I think musicals got her there.


Strong ending with three great artists, including Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Pete Townsend. I think “I Am Superman” is a great song to push cardio to the next level of speed or incline, at least for a few minutes. After all, after doing some solid exercise, that’s exactly how I feel.




My Secret Icehouse Shame

Busy day today–well, as busy as a day where I’m not working can be. (I was hoping that now that Easter has come and gone, the job offers would come pouring in, but alas no. Perhaps HR departments are filled with Greek Orthodox types, and I need to wait until next week.) In addition to my first Red Sox victory walk and gym time, I went to our local mall and saw American Reunion. I liked (but didn’t love) the film–I think it was a little too busy as they had to give everyone (Jim and Michelle, Kevin and Vicky, Oz and Heather, Finch, Stifler, Jim’s Dad) their own story arc, so there were too many threads to be resolved, occasionally at the expense of comedy. But it did make me laugh, at I still enjoy the characters.

Now we’re getting closer and closer to Friday, and my daughter’s departure to Europe. She’s getting so excited, and so am I (with a dash of nervousness thrown in).

April 10, 2012

1st 2-mile walk to commemorate a Red Sox victory in 2012:

  • Anybody’s War–Icehouse
  • Anyone Else But You–Michael Cera & Ellen Page
  • Anyone Else But You–The Moldy Peaches
  • Anyone’s Ghost–The National
  • Anything But Ordinary–Avril Lavigne
  • Anything For Your Love–Eric Clapton
  • Anything Goes–Guns N’ Roses
  • Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do–Glee Cast
  • Anytime You Need a Friend–The Beu Sisters
  • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere–The Who
  • Anywhere But Here–Rise Against
  • Anywhere’s Better Than Here–The Replacements
  • Apache Rose  Peacock–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The Apartment Song–Tom Petty

Icehouse is my primary guilty pleasure. I love Man of Colors, and listen to the album in its entirety at least once a month, but it’s not something I admit to publicly (at least until this blog. Now my half-dozens of readers know, and it is sure to spread like mildfire through the internets). Two versions of the same song from the Juno soundtrack follow, with actors Michael Cera and Ellen Page acquitting themselves nicely, although musically, The Moldy Peaches are not the highest bar one needs to clear. DOn’t get me wrong–it is a fun song (both versions).

I then got a National song from High Violet, before another guilty pleasure showed up. I think Let Go by Avril Lavigne was the first CD my oldest daughter ever owned, and it turns out that it’s a great album, and I enjoy listening to every song on it. So Icehouse has a little company today. Eric Clapton and Guns ‘N Roses helped me reclaim my man card before songs from Glee (a musical theater mashup, no less!) and a Disney collection threw things in doubt once again. To make matters worse, it was about at this time in my walk that it started to rain.

Luckily, I would get a tremendous 5-song run to finish my two-mile trek. I started with a classic Who hit, and then got Rise Against (one of the better bands of the past few years, in my opinion), The Replacements, RHCP, and a Tom Petty track from Full Moon Fever. Also nice was the fact that the rain tapered off during this run and allowed me to enjoy the end of my walk.

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

  • Apartment Story–The National
  • Apeman [live]–The Kinks
  • The Apologist–R.E.M.
  • Apologize–Timbaland featuring OneRepublic
  • Apple Tree–Wolfmother
  • The Approaching Curve–Rise Against
  • April After All–Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello
  • April After All–Ron Sexsmith
  • April Come She Will [live]–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Aqualung–Jethro Tull
  • Aranjuez (Mon Amour)–Herb Albert
  • Arbor Day–10,000 Maniacs
  • Arc–Pearl Jam
  • Architects–Rise Against
  • Architects & Engineers–Guster
  • Are We Ourselves? [Live]–The Fixx
  • Are We The Waiting–Green Day
  • Are You A Man or a Muppet?–Dialogue from the Muppets
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl–JET

I always know what is going to start my next run of music when I shut down my iPod at the end of an exercise period. And when I know I’m getting a song like a National song from Boxer, it gets me really excited for my next gym time. I believe “Apartment Story” was the first time I heard the National and it eventually inspired me to get the whole album, a decision I continue to be happy with to this day. I then got “Apeman” a great classic Kinks song, and an R.E.M. offering, making me think my 5-song lucky streak to end my walk was now at eight. It went to nine with a Timbaland song from the Shock Value album (sue me, I like Timbaland). Wolfmother is a band I think my son is into more than me, and I didn’t know this song very well, so I felt the streak ended before it hit double digits.

I did get another great rock anthem with the second of the three different Rise Against songs I heard today, and then the mood and tempo changed dramatically with first a cover of Ron Sexsmith’s “April After All” by Anne Sofie van Otter and Elvis Costello and then Sexsmith’s original (How cool would it be to become a musician because of the influence of some great artist, only to have that artist eventually cover one of your songs. That would have to be the peak, bigger than any award, right?)

The best live album of all time is still Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park, and I got a track from that. Then things really got eclectic, with Jethro Tull’s biggest hit (and remember the words of Owen Wilson from Armageddon–Tull is a group, not a man), followed by some instrumental magic from Herb Albert, a wonderful track from the 10,000 Maniacs album The Wishing Chair, and some kickass rock from Pearl Jam. I then got one of the hits from last year’s Rise Against (and if you haven’t heard Architects, I suggest you do) and a catchy pop number from Guster.

My 80s needs were attended to today by the Fixx, and Green Day is always a welcome artist on a workout list. The dialogue from The Muppets is a little misleading, as it is just Amy Adams asking Gary to decide if he’s a man or a muppet, and not the Oscar-winning song, which I won’t get until I get to the “M” section, or to be more exact, some time in 2013. JET was a band that the first Rock Band video game allowed me to enjoy, and led me to purchasing the single. No guilty pleasure there, but then again Icehouse, Avril, and Timbaland is probably more than enough for one day, even a double-up day like today.


Gym plus one

I definitely wanted to hit the gym today, but it was such a nice day here in Connecticut that walking outside seemed like a viable option, so why not do both? It will get me further along on the list, and a little extra exercise is something I could always use.

March 18th, 2012

1 mile walking outside

  • Adam’s Song–Blink 182
  • Adam’s Song–Blink 182
  • Add it Up–The Kinks
  • Addicted–Kelly Clarkson
  • Addicted to Love–Robert Plant

Double shot of Blink 182, a favorite band of my son and oldest daughter. When people think of British Invasion bands, it’s the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Who primarily (and understandably), meaning the Kinks get the short shrift. Give the People What They Want is one of the first albums I remember hearing, as my mother gave my oldest sister a boom box with that tape (and Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield) one year for Christmas. I eventually got my own copy on CD, and it’s been in the musical rotation ever since.

I need to make my multitude of readers (a guy can dream, right?) understand that the Kelly Clarkson CD belongs to my oldest daughter. Please believe me. I think Robert Plant was an environmentalist before his time. I remember purchasing the Riptide CD in the late 80’s and it was the first CD I ever bought that did not have the hard outer plastic casing.

3.25 miles on the elliptical at the gym along with some weight training

  • Adia–Sarah McLachlan
  • Adore–Prince
  • Adrenaline–Crooked X
  • Adrenaline Rush–Obie Trice
  • Adrift–Barenaked Ladies
  • Adult Education–Hall & Oates
  • Adventures of Isabel–Natalie Merchant
  • Advice for the Young at Heart–Tears for Fears
  • Affection–Lisa Stansfield
  • Afraid of Anyone–The National
  • Africa–Toto
  • African Dance–Soul II Soul
  • After Hours–We are Scientists

You know what’s a fun game? Trying to remember the differences between Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin, and Sam Phillips. I have music by all three, but they tend to blend in my mind. Prince is such a talented singer and guitar player that we tend to either forget or forgive the sheer crazy things he’s done. I just wish the standard computer keyboard included the symbol that was his name for some time.

I love the video game Rock Band. We own all three versions as well as the Beatles, Lego, AC/DC, and Green Day versions. A former co-worker used to say I’d get all “sweaty”when discussing the game with others. One of the things I love about it is that is introduces me and my family to new music. Crooked X was a bonus band in the first iteration of the game and my son enjoyed it so much, he got their CD. I always only thought of Obie Trice from the beginning of the Eminem song “Without Me,” but it turns out we own on of his songs from the 8 Mile soundtrack.

I’m a big Barenaked Ladies fan, having seen them in concert twice, but I don’t see how they can exist as a band without Steven Page.  It just doesn’t work.

Who was the music executive that came up with the idea that you put one or two new songs on a greatest hits compilation, forcing the most devoted fans, those that already have all the other albums, to buy the release. “Adult Education” fit this bill on Rock and Soul Part I. I keep trying with Natalie Merchant, but it’s just my wish that 10,000 Maniacs were still together that makes me still buy her releases. “Advice for the Young at Heart” is one of my least favorite songs off the Tears for Fears Greatest Hits album.

I would have guessed Lisa Stansfield would have been a much bigger artist here in the US. She had a great debut album Affection, and her song off Red, Hot, and Blue was one of my favorites. But I guess she’s continued to crank along in the UK, and it’s just here that she’s lost steam. With the National, I didn’t feel that High Violet was nearly as good as Boxer. But I do know that I trust the rains down in Africa.