Where’s Waldo? (Exercising Dean Edition)

I have been horrible about updating this blog recently. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, for the first half of the month of September, my updating became horribly spotty, but I was still regularly exercising. So again, less than one month after I did a massive song list entry to clean out the queue, I’ve built things back up again (I am in the “Do’s, a bit of distance from today’s “Devil…”-starting list.) But at least I was still getting in gym time and that is the primary goal of this undertaking. But over the last week and a half, the gym time has started to fade (not completely disappear,just down to 3 times a week as opposed to 5 or 6). I’d argue that at least it slowed down the buildup in my song queue, but as I just stated, the first goal is to exercise, so this is bad, not good. If I’m looking for reasons why this happened, I’d probably point to my continued search for my next job. Although it’s probably better to categorize that as an excuse and not a reason. Calling it an excuse can push me to overcome it. Or at least, that’s the October plan!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3.28 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Devil in the Wishing Well–Five for Fighting
  • Devil Inside–INXS
  • Devil Song–Camper Van Beethoven
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia–The Charlie Daniels Band
  • Devils & Dust–Bruce Springsteen
  • Devotion–Indigo Girls
  • Dharma Lady–Geronimo Jackson
  • Dial Up–Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
  • Diamond Dogs–David Bowie
  • Diamonds in the Rough–Social Distortion
  • Diamonds and Pearls–Prince
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes–Paul Simon

The “Devil…” wasn’t done with me on Labor Day weekend, as Satan appeared on five final songs, starting with the Five for Fighting’s “Devil in the Wishing Well”. I think it’s a fair assumption that if the Devil got caught in a well, townspeople wouldn’t be lining up to save him–they’d probably leave him down there, unlike when a child gets caught in the well. Now if it’s a child devil, people might want to help, even if they knew the identity of the child. (Like when Bart got caught in the well in an early episode of The Simpsons (if I remember right, Sting was a guest voice that week, contributing to a benefit song for the “boy stuck in the well, halfway down to hell”. Of the remaining four “Devil…” numbers, my favorite is the INXS number, but far and away, the most iconic selection is from the Charlie Daniels band. I have to say a solid-gold fiddle would come in handy right now. I wonder how much the “Cash for Gold” mall stores would give for one of those–it probably would cover several month of living expenses, even with the addition of COBRA.

After the Boss and the perennially underrated Indigo Girls, I got a blast from my TV-watching past with “Dharma Lady”, a song and musical group (Geronimo Jackson) created for the show Lost. The song isn’t bad, particularly considering that it was free on iTunes, and it was always entertaining listening to the show’s creators try and convince the world that the band was real, an obscure ’70’s act that broke up after an album or two. Maybe twenty years down the road, people will again think the band is real, or at least as real as Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. After all, which of the two sounds more like a made-up band name?

The riches continue after Charlie Daniel’s golden fiddle, as I then hit a cluster of “diamond…” song, and a strong quartet at that. David Bowie tracks are just intrinsically cool, and worth repeated listens, and frankly I would also put the music of Social Distortion and Prince in the same category. I was always partial to “Diamonds and Pearls” by his royal purpleness as well. It has always been one of my favorite ballads by Prince.  The list ended with a strong number from Paul Simon’s Graceland album, a release that if it doesn’t make my desert-island discs list, is certainly in the honorable mention section.


Location, Location, Location

A couple days late with this second double exercise report from the weekend, but again, better late than never, and the key once again is to do the exercising every day, even if I don’t do the writing–I am not as concerned with the mental muscles and fat as I am the rest of my (lack of) muscles and my (abundance of) fat.

Sunday, Jun 17, 2012

2+ miles (actually 3.25!) to commemorate Red Sox victory #32 of the 2012 season

  • Cajun Song–Gin Blossoms
  • The Calendar–Panic! At the Disco
  • Calico Pie–Natalie Merchant
  • California–Hollywood Undead
  • California–Hollywood Undead
  • California–Joni Mitchell
  • California–Metro Station
  • California–Phantom Planet
  • California (Hustle & Flow)–Social Distortion
  • California (Hustle & Flow)–Social Distortion
  • California (WrestleMania XVI Theme)–WWE
  • California 2005–Phantom Planet
  • California Dreamin’–The Beach Boys
  • California Dreamin’–The Mamas and the Papas
  • California English–Vampire Weekend
  • California Girls–The Beach Boys
  • California Stars–Billy Bragg & Wilco
  • Call And Answer–Barenaked Ladies

When they say music can take you places, it’s usually an emotional journey, not a geographical one. However, songs can take you somewhere a little more specific, and one state in particular dominated my walking list today. Before I got there however, I had a regional sidetrip thanks to the Gin Blossoms and their “Cajun Song”, although many probably only think of a style of cooking or an Adam Sandler SNL character when they hear the word Cajun. Panic! At the Disco sings about the entire year and Natalie Merchant follows up her ice-cream flavor festival last letter (“Bleezer’s Ice-Cream”) with another dessert-themed number, “Calico Pie”.

Now it’s time to go west. I’d assume that it’s a fair bet that more songs have been written with “California” in the title than any other state and probably by a wide margin. I actually had no idea that we had so many “California” songs in our library (and this list only includes songs that start with the state–other songs, like Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” will pop up later). In fact, when I heard the Hollywood Undead song “California”, I thought to myself; “Excellent, I’ll be getting “California Stars” soon, but I had to hear 14 other songs first, and I probably would have guessed 4-6. I clearly was way off, particularly when I have five songs just called “California” and only one is a repeat (we have studio and live versions of the Hollywood Undead track).

When I get two or more versions of a song that share a common title, I like to think about one artist covering the other’s namesake track.  Pairing Hollywood Undead with Joni Mitchell is a humorous combination in either direction, although if I had to pick, hearing Joni perform the Hollywood Undead song would be a surreal experience, as her musical themes seem to be the antithesis of Hollywood Undead’s,

Metro Station’s “California” has more of a pop sensibility before I got to the “California” I most enjoy. I loved The OC when it aired (earning me scorn and derision from an old boss–in a loving way, of course) and so the theme song was I loved as well. In fact, the music of the show was a big part of what made me love it, and we owned four of the soundtracks, as well as purchasing additional music from the artists featured in the show. As a side note, while I loved the original version of the theme song, I did not like the updated version from the fifth soundtrack (“California 2005”, which came later in the list).

I got to hear two versions (single and album) of Social Distortion’s 2011 return to the music scene–a fun number that is worth repeated listens. The last California only (with or without parenthetical) was the theme song from WrestleMania XVI (or WrestleMania 2000, as it’s also called). After that, it was time for California to become an adjective instead of a noun, starting with a classic rock anthem, “California Dreamin’ “. The Beach Boys remake comes before the far superior Mamas and Papas version. I love the Beach Boys, but this comparison isn’t close. I  think the male-female dynamic (as well as the outstanding vocal talent of the group) is what makes the song work so well, plus I have fond memories of the song from junior high when we performed the song in vocal ensemble. The better Beach Boys “California…” song comes two numbers later, with their stellar “California Girls”, a song that ironically also was later covered, this time by Diamond Dave, David Lee Roth. The remade song was good, but the video was over-the-top hilarious, a teenaged boy’s dream.

I finally got my Billy Bragg & Wilco song, the song that got me into both Mermaid Avenue and Wilco. Back when I had my first MP3 player, a Nomad that could store 100 or so songs, “California Stars” was a permanent part of my song-list. I wish Vampire Weekend would have taken the time to answer whether the Oxford Comma is a key portion of “California English”, seeing that they’re the only band to compose songs on the subject. The walk closed with a Barenaked Ladies song from the first of their albums we owned, Stunt. We originally purchased the album on the strength of their group-defining hit, “One Week”, but everything on the album is awesome.

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

  • Call And Answer–Barenaked Ladies
  • Call It What You Want–Foster The People
  • Call Me the Breeze–Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Call Me When You’re Sober–Evanescence
  • Call My Name–Prince
  • The Call of Ktulu–Metallica
  • The Call of Ktulu [live]–Metallica
  • Call of the Wild–Tom Tom Club
  • Call on Me [demo]–Elvis Costello
  • Call the Law–Outkast featuring Janelle Monae
  • Calling All Angels–Train

Just as I ended my morning walk with an awesome ballad from Barenaked Ladies, I get to start my afternoon gym time with the same song. When it’s “Call and Answer”, that’s fine by me. The funny thing about the song is that it was also on the soundtrack to the poor man’s Truman Show, the Matthew McConaughey vehicle EDtv (which I’ve never seen). Next up was one of the hits from last year’s sensation Foster the People.  That’s one of the rare albums that every member of the family loves and has added to their personal playlists. I’m probably the only one that has Skynyrd on regular rotation, while my youngest daughter is the Evanescence fan in the family.

The Prince song is from his 2004 album Musicology. I have to admit that I’m woefully behind the times with my Prince music knowledge, as I had no idea that he’s released four additional albums since then. It looks like none of the albums produced top 40 songs, so that may be why I’m so ignorant on the subject. After Prince, it was almost 20 solid minutes of Metallica instrumental glory in the form of live and studio versions of “The Call of Ktulu”, a Lovecraft-inspired title. I enjoyed the Tom Tom Club song from their underrated Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom album (in fact, it’s the opening track). After a demo track from Elvis Costello, I got an Outkast song from their Idlewild album that featured a little-known at the time, Janelle Monae, who blew up this year thanks to her participation in Fun’s everywhere hit, “We Are Young”. Speaking of hits, I got a 2003 Top 20 hit to close my list, courtesy of Train.

Plenty of Bad songs for a bad day

Can I just whine I bit here or will you hold it against me? Today was supposed to be a great day–my daughter was returning for her trip to Ireland, Wales, and England.  We’d all be together again, have a nice dinner, hear her stories, look at her pictures, and enjoy the weekend. Then the cracks began to appear on the dam–the check engine light came on in the car. We took it to the repair shop and it led to a $900 bill. It also took most of the day to fix so no gym (although I walked more than 4 and 1/2 miles to compensate). Then the Bruins lost. But at least the Red Sox reversed recent woes by taking a commanding 9-0 lead against the Yankees. No way they’d blow that right? 15 unanswered runs later proved that wrong.  Oh and to top things off, I’m still pitching the shutout in the job hunt. Awesome!

April 21, 2012

4-mile neighborhood walk

  • Back Luck–Social Distortion
  • Bad Man (Rikishi Theme)–WWE
  • Bad Man’s World–Jenny Lewis
  • Bad Medicine–Bon Jovi
  • Bad Medicine–Bon Jovi
  • Bad Moon Rising–CCR
  • Bad Moon Rising–CCR
  • A Bad Note–Outkast
  • Bad Obsession–Guns N’ Roses
  • Bad Party–The Dead Milkmen
  • Bad Reputation–Joan Jett
  • Bad Romance–Lady Gaga
  • Bad Romance–Glee Cast
  • Bad Side of the Moon–Elton John
  • Bad Sneakers–Steely Dan
  • Bad Town–Hollywood Undead
  • Bad, Bad Man–John Cena
  • Badge–Cream
  • The Badger Song–The Dead Milkmen
  • Badlands–Bruce Springsteen
  • Badlands–Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan
  • Bakersfield–Social Distortion
  • Balboa Park–Bruce Springsteen

1/2 mile walk to pick up my daughter and our car

  • Ball and Chain–Social Distortion
  • Ball of Confusion–The Temptations
  • Ballad of a Teenage Queen–Johnny Cash

Lots of doubles in today’s music mix from either two songs from the same artist, two versions of the same song, or two takes on a song. Things start with Social Distortion, which was a double on my long walk, and then became a triple when I walked to pick up my daughter. The songs alternated greatest hits, last year’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, and then back to greatest hits. “Bad Luck” is not only a fun song, it’s one I get to perform in Rock Band if I’m looking to embarrass my kids. “Bakersfield” is also one of the better songs on the new album. I also scored a WWE double with first a theme from Rikishi followed by one of John Cena’s tracks from his You Can’t See Me album. I actually think the album is underrated, and the video for “Bad, Bad Man” (an A-Team parody) is entertaining as well.

I only got one Jenny Lewis song (from her Acid Tongue release) today, so for thematic parallels, I can pair the song with “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett to give it a “girl power” theme. If you like Rilo Kiley, then give the Jenny Lewis CD a listen. Meanwhile, the Joan Jett song still makes me think of Freaks and Geeks (it was the theme song). While Bon Jovi sings both “Bad Medicine” songs, but they are different versions, as the second is a re-imagining of the original single (it has more of a slower, country feel to it). The two “Bad Moon Risings” are the same, but one came from the CCR album Chronicle and the other is from the John Fogerty greatest hits album I own. (side note–I think it’s wrong that that album lists the artist for the song as John Fogerty, when it’s clearly Creedence.

After hearing “A Bad Note”, the closing number of OutKast’s Idlewild album, I got the third Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion I song in four days. Things shifted to the goofy rock of The Dead Milkmen, first with “Bad Party”, and then things got even over-the-top later with the “Badger Song” (“I wanna make friends with the badger!”)  It was a pair of songs beloved by my youngest daughter when I heard both the original Lady Gaga and Glee versions of “Bad Romance”. A pairing of 70s rock acts followed with Elton John and Steely Dan songs. The “Bad…” songs closed with “Bad Town” from Hollywood Undead. It’s a song I hadn’t heard yet (the album belongs to my son), but I really enjoyed it.

I got another 70s hit (“Badge” by Cream), and then heard some Bruce Springsteen doubles. First I got to hear two different versions of “Badlands”, starting with the Springsteen original and the Light of Day cover. Bruce returned two songs later with “Balboa Park” (another double double as it was a second straight song named after a California location, right after Social Distortion’s “Bakersfield”), a cheery song about a drug mule that eventually loses his life.

On my mini-walk to pick up my daughter and my car, after Social Distortion song, I closed with a great Temptations song and a classic Johnny Cash number.


Tough to exercise when you eat yourself silly

Took the day off with family visiting for a nice Easter dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. Ham, potatoes, green beans, and a sugar coma from cake and Easter candy. It was  such a beautiful day that I intended to go for a walk, but it would have been rude to do my headphone-wearing power walk when we had company, it would have been rude to not have a second helping of my wife’s outstanding ham and from-scratch dinner rolls, and it would have been rude not to pilfer candy from my kids’ baskets and eggs. Not to mention that the Red Sox bullpen punched me in the groin twice yesterday afternoon.

The gym would have been impossible, as it was only open from 7AM-2PM yesterday (which I appreciate them being open at all on a holiday like that), so my streak of 13 straight days going to the gym ended. However, it’s nice to see that for the past 4 weeks, my pattern has been work out at the gym 13 days, get a Sunday off, work out another 13 days, get a Sunday off. It’s like I’m a pre-union American factory worker!

Hope today was Day 1 of another (at least) 13-day run…

April 9, 2012

3.31 miles on the elliptical plus upper arm weight work at the gym

  • Another One Bites the Dust–Glee Cast
  • Another Postcard–Barenaked Ladies
  • Another Postcard [acoustic]–Barenaked Ladies
  • Another Saturday–Stuart Murdoch
  • Another Saturday Night–Sam Cooke
  • (Another Song) All Over Again–Justin Timberlake
  • Another Spin–Barenaked Ladies
  • Another State of Mind–Social Distortion
  • Another State of Mind–Green Day
  • Another Tricky Day–The Who
  • Another Year Ends–The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
  • “The Answer Is No”–Dialogue from The Muppets
  • Answering Machine–The Replacements
  • Ant–They Might Be Giants
  • The Anthem–Good Charlotte
  • Anthem of the Angels–Breaking Benjamin
  • Anticipation [live]–Carly Simon
  • Any Colour You Like–Pink Floyd

I don’t have anything personal against Glee covers, particularly with how happy they make my daughter. I just feel that they do much better with pop and Broadway standards than rock hits, so it was probably good that I didn’t get the two versions of “Another One Bites the Dust” back-to-back. For Barenaked Ladies, I though “Another Postcard” was an attempt to re-capture the joy and charm of the hit “One Week”, and it was more successful that the previous album’s try, “Pinch Me.” In particular, I like the song bridges where he describes the different kinds of chimpanzee postcards he’s received.

When “Another Saturday” came on, I was a bit confused, as I didn’t remember purchasing that Belle & Sebastian song. It’s not, as it is a solo song for Stuart Murdoch from the AIDS benefit album Dark Was The Night, an amazing 2-disc collection that I highly recommend, as it has great Arcade Fire, Spoon, and so many more. Of course, when I think about musical “another Saturdays”, Sam Cooke’s contribution still comes to mind first, and probably always will.

I think my wife was really worried about me when I decided to purchase FutureSex/LoveSounds, but it’s a decision I defend to this day. We got it when visiting relatives in Indiana and listened to it several times on the ride back to Connecticut. Every song on it is enjoyable, and the smooth, effective transitions between them make it hard to dive in and out as opposed to hearing it all in one sitting.

I then got a BNL song sung by Kevin Hearn, followed by two versions of “Another State of Mind”–the original by Social Distortion and a cover by Green Day. The Green Day cover is fairly faithful, so I hope it gets more music fans into Social Distortion. One of my favorite Who songs (and the first Who song of the 86 I own to be heard on this project) really got me to up my speed on the elliptical. The “Another Year Ends” piece is from a Harry Potter movie–we borrowed from our local library a CD that contains instrumental score selections from multiple films. Speaking of films, a seven-second clip of dialogue from last November’s The Muppets came next. It was a great movie, and you don’t have to have kids to enjoy it.

I get two artists that I’ve already heard several songs from back-to-back, with The Replacements followed by They Might Be Giants. I love “Ant” and I do hope that someday that Ant will grow up to be President. “The Anthem” is one of two songs I heard today from the American Wedding soundtrack, a nice coincidence as I’ve watched all three American Pie films over the past three days in order to prepare for the fourth one in theaters. They all hold up well, and while the first led to some awful raunchy comedies, those films (like Tomcats) seemed to miss the point of mixing crude humor with characters you actually like.

Breaking Benjamin is more of an artist for my kids than me, but it was an excellent workout song. But then again, I enjoyed working out to “Anticipation” as well, so maybe my opinion has less value than I’d like to believe.

I knew my workout was winding down, so when I heard the beginning of a Pink Floyd song, I started to worry I was getting a 10-minute number. Luckily, it was one of their shorter songs, and I was able to finish my weight work and not have to put in an extra 10 minutes in order to complete the song.

1-mile walk

  • Any Man of Mine–Shania Twain
  • Any Other Girl–N.U.
  • Any Time At All–The Beatles
  • Any Way You Want It–Journey
  • Any Way You Want It/Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ Another–Glee Cast
  • Anybody Seen My Baby–The Rolling Stones

I took advantage of a nice day and walked about a mile outside as well (and as I’m writing this, I’m excited to report that tomorrow I will have to do my first additive 2-mile Red Sox win walk in addition to my regular exercise!). There’s the CDs you love and the CDs you regret buying, and then there’s the third category–the CDs you don’t remember getting.  Apparently, at some point we got a CD collection of 1996 Grammy nominees, including a Shania Twain song (she was up for Best New Artist that year). It’s not a bad collection of pop hits, and serves as a nice reminder of what was big that year. I then got my second American Wedding song and a Beatles release, before getting an awesome Journey hit and the Glee medley cover of the song. This one didn’t bother me as much as the Queen cover from earlier in the day–perhaps the mashing of the two songs is why. The Rolling Stones then led me to the end of Monday’s exercise, a day for undoing the overeating damage of the holiday.

CSN (and sometimes Y)

It’s a little odd being home this weekend, as for the last six years, I was always on my way to WrestleMania. I decided to make the most of my change by getting in two rounds of exercise, with both walking and gym time.

March 30, 2012

1-mile neighborhood walk

  • Almost Cut My Hair–Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Almost Hear You Sigh–The Rolling Stones
  • Almost Home–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • Almost Saturday Night–John Fogerty
  • Alone–Glee Cast (featuring Kristen Chenoweth)
  • Alone & Forsaken–Social Distortion

For this short burst of exercise, there was a “classic rock” theme, starting with “Almost Cut My Hair”. Back in the days of record stores (Hey kids! Not sure what a record store is? Ask your parents if they ever went to Tower Records, Strawberries, Record Town, or like store), one store created a backing card (the dividers between different musical acts) for this group that read “CSN (and sometimes Y)”. I always loved that, and if it had been the era of cell phones with cameras, I’m sure I would have captured the card for posterity. As it is, I have to settle for the memory, which I’m assuming I find funnier that anyone else.

I own the Rolling Stones’ album Steel Wheels. That on its own is not embarrassing, but the fact that it was the first Rolling Stones album I ever owned is. That’s sad, right? It’s also an indictment of my early musical taste.Truth be told, other than Tattoo You, I still don’t own any of the Rolling Stones studio albums, settling instead for the 2-disc greatest hits collection, 40 Licks. Clearly this ranks at least 6.0 Minds on the Simple Minds scale, as discussed in Wednesday’s post.

Like many teenagers, my life used to be about absolutes, and one of those absolutes was that I hated country music. Truth be told, I really didn’t even give country music a chance for years, but Mary Chapin Carpenter started to change that for me. I still fought the change, initially trying to rationalize that Chapin-Carpenter was folk music, not country, but I now know to listen to a song and judge it for its merit, not its category. The John Fogerty solo number is from his first run post-Creedence.

Then I heard a familiar opening instrumental run, and thought to myself,  “awesome, I forgot I had this Heart song!” As Kristen Chenowith’s vocals kicked in, I remembered that I didn’t own the Heart song, we owned the Glee version. Not disappointing at all! At least I was able to close my walk with a Social Distortion cut from last year’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes comeback album.

2.53 miles on the elliptical at the gym

  • Alone and Forsaken–Emmylou Harris
  • Alone at the Drive-In Movie–Grease Movie Soundtrack
  • Along Comes a Woman–Chicago
  • Alpha Dog–Fall-Out Boy
  • Alphabet Lost And Found–They Might Be Giants
  • Alphabet of Nations–They Might Be Giants
  • Alphabet Street–Prince
  • Already Gone–The Eagles
  • Already Gone–Tanya Tucker
  • Alright–Janet Jackson
  • Alright For Now–Tom Petty

My gym time started with the same song my previous walk ended with, just performed by a distinctly different artist (well, at least I see Emmylou Harris and Social Distortion as different artists–maybe you feel otherwise). The ironic thing about the Drive-in song from the Grease soundtrack is that the first time I saw Grease was at a drive-in theater. I fell asleep toward the end, so I didn’t get to enjoy the second half of the double feature, Saturday Night Fever.

Chicago is another one of those bands that gets me the glare from my wife when I put them on. She can almost tolerate the bluesy early work of the band, but not the sappy love-song festival of Chicago XVII. (You do have to hand it to the band for their attempt to help fans learn and master Roman numerals, but I think the Super Bowl and WrestleMania have that educational opportunity covered.) Some time soon I’m going to ask my oldest daughter to give me her 10 favorite Fall Out Boy songs for this blog, although I don’t know if I’ll every get a response–she hates having to make those kinds of decisions.

Parents that want to get their kids into rock music should pick up the kids albums of They Might Be Giants. They currently have 4, No!, Here Come the 123s, Here Come the ABCs, and Here Comes Science. The two alphabet songs come from the third album on that list (as you may have been able to guess). While my love of all things They Might Be Giants is likely to bias me, I think the songs are awesome for kids and adults, and I challenge you to listen to “The Alphabet Lost and Found” and disagree with me. The Prince song “Alphabet Street” is one I forget about, and then as soon as I hear it, I wonder why I don’t make more of an effort to keep it in active rotation.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I love artist tribute compilations. The country-music themed salute to the Eagles, Common Thread, is one of the first I remember seeing, but I didn’t add it to my collection until last year because of my previously mentioned blind disregard of all things country music. I don’t regret not having it earlier, as not much on the album stands out.  Speaking of standing out, this run of music ended with cuts from two of the stand-out albums of 1989, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever. Now those are two albums I would have regretted not getting sooner.