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)

Self Tributes, and the Reason for the Star Wars Season

 

Happy May the 4th! I do hate how commercialized this holiday has become. With all this starkiller base and pod-racer shopping, as well as Alderan key parties, people forget the true meaning of Star Wars Day–how many midi-chlorians you have in your bloodstream. Also, remember today is more than just Earth Day–remember that the Bluths also set it as Cinco de Quatro.

In honor of such a momentous day on so many levels, it’s time for the third set of songs from my top 100 list. If you missed the first two, well I’m making a sad frowny face in your direction, but I will help you overcome such an oversight with the help of the two links below to parts 1 and 2.

In Some Particular Order (part 1 of 10)

Mission Entirely Possible (part 2 of 10)

  • Mercy–TV on the Radio
  • Ruby Tuesday–The Rolling Stones
  • Smoking Gun–Robert Cray
  • Love, Reign O’er Me–The Who
  • Another Tricky Day–The Who
  • Mandinka–Sinead O’Connor
  • Days/This Time Tomorrow–Ray Davies
  • Man on the Moon–R.E.M.
  • Amie–Pure Prairie League
  • Silent Lucidity–Queensryche

The 2013 song “Mercy” by TV on the Radio is far and away the most recent song to make my list. It’s not even from an album–it’s a single they released that did not hit any charts. The song starts off great and intense, but it kicks it up a notch or twelve as the song goes on–the beat is relentless. I am not a big concert goer these days, but I think I’d go see TV on the Radio just to see this song performed live.

The British Invasion’s Fab 4 bands (the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and the Kinks) are a prominent part of this group of 10, with every group but the Beatles showing up in this list of 10. Of the four, the Rolling Stones is probably the group I listen to the least, but “Ruby Tuesday” is my favorite song of theirs (although I would probably have another three to five Stones songs if the list expanded to 500 or so–I just would be adding many more Beatles, Who, and Kinks songs).

When I first started listening to music, I was more about singles than albums. If I would listen to an album, it was often because three or more “hits” from the record had received radio airplay. The first album for me that was different was Strong Persuader. Sure, the song “Smoking Gun” first attracted me to the album, but it was the first album I remember liking from beginning to end. I think the fact that it was this blues sound I was not hearing in most pop songs that day. I loved listening to that cassette tape over and over, and would even say it was my first “Desert Island Disc.” It even resulted in me buying Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on its release date. I will admit that I did not enjoy that album as much as Strong Persuader, but I still love Robert Cray, with his cover of “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” being my favorite number from the Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll soundtrack.

Back to the standard bearers of the first wave of the British Invasion. I love the Beatles in total the most, but I think there’d be more Who songs on my favorites list in total. I know that I’ve said this repeatedly, but a longer list would be dominated by even more Who songs. A top 200 list would have 2 songs from Quadrophenia for example, but only 1, “Love Reign O’er Me”, made the top 100. (The other song that almost made the list was “5:15”.) I think most people would list Tommy as their favorite Who rock opera, but I am more of a Quadrophenia man myself. When doing some followup research for this blog posting, I was surprised that “Another Tricky Day” was never a chart hit. In my opinion, it is a much stronger single from Face Dances than “You Better, You Bet.”

Speaking of songs that weren’t hits, I was exposed to “Mandinka” through college radio airplay. I was the cliche kid who learned more about alternative music once I went to college. My freshman year in college saw the music acts 10,000 Maniacs, R.E.M., and Sinead O’Connor added to my musical rotation. After The Lion and The Cobra came out, I would have expected Sinead to be a much bigger artists, but her only big hit was the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

My Kinks entry in this batch is more of a Kinks-related entry. Ray Davies released an album in 2011 in which he re-imagined Kinks songs by performing them with other artists. The album has an eclectic batch of contributors, including Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Lucinda Williams, Black Francis [of the Pixies], Jon Bon Jovi, Paloma Faith, and more. But to me, the strongest pairing on the album is the work with Mumford & Sons on the medley of “Days” and “This Time Tomorrow.” Those that have been following this blog know I have a real soft spot for tribute albums (and my number two song of all time is from a tribute album–how’s that for a teaser?), and this is one of the more unique tribute albums as it seems to be an artist paying tribute to himself.

One of the other college alternative artists I began listening to as a freshman (thanks to my record album purchase of Document) was R.E.M. I have come to love their early work, but the two songs that make this list are later releases. The one in this group is from another desert-island disc candidate for me–Automatic for the People. Every song on the album is phenomenal, but “Man on the Moon” is my favorite. I also loved hearing it on the trailer for the movie by the same name. That’s a movie I have not seen in years, but I think it might be worth revisiting with my kids this summer when they are home from college.

When making these kinds of lists, it’s always interesting to think about when I first really connected with a song. For the Pure Prairie League’s “Amie,” it was thanks to Freaks and Geeks. (If you have not watched that show, go an do it RIGHT NOW, and not just because it launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Siegel, Busy Phillips, and Linda Cardellini. Every one of the 18 episodes is so powerful and raw–it was the first show that got the high school experience perfectly down. I believe it is on Netflix instant, so go and watch it. One episode featured them going to the local planetarium for a laser Pink Floyd show, but show up on the wrong date and end up seeing a country and western show instead. Sorry for the spoiler, but I promise it will not lessen your enjoyment of the entry. Over the closing credits, “Amie” plays–by the way, the acting and writing are the best thing about the show, but the soundtrack is also pitch perfect.

The last song on this batch is a power ballad and one of three songs that makes me think of my father. I already mentioned “My Way” by Frank Sinatra in part one, and “The Living Years” probably the most on-the-nose choice, by Mike + the Mechanics, did not make my 100 (but would make the 200). “Silent Lucidity” in specifics and the album Empire more broadly, feels like the closest another band got to re-creating the Pink Floyd sound. This song is one of my go-to numbers if I want something to help me drift off from a stressful day–it is the perfect capper to a tough day, and the perfect ending to a group of ten songs.

 

Who wants apple spit in their face?

The two days covered today represent the 10th and 11th days of consecutive gym visits–one of my best runs in months. And I feel fine with the reason the streak ended, as my wife, kids, and I got to visit my parents, sister, and nephew on Sunday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Contact–Rent
  • Contagious–Avril Lavigne
  • Continental Drift–The Rolling Stones
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill–The Beatles
  • Contrecoup–They Might Be Giants
  • Control–Metro Station
  • Control–Glee
  • Controversy–Prince
  • Conversation 16–The National
  • Cook’s County–The Who
  • Cooksferry Queen [live]–Richard Thompson
  • Cooksferry Queen–Richard Thompson
  • Cooksferry Queen–Richard Thompson
  • Cool–WWE

If you ask me the best way to start a workout playlist, “Broadway showtune” is not high on my list of options. Now my youngest daughter would strongly disagree with me, particularly when said track is from Rent, one of her favorite musicals (and she’s into them enough that she could do a top 10, and really have to consider all the candidates). I don’t know much about “Contagious” but I should give it more of a chance because I do find myself enjoying most Avril Lavigne I hear. That is also true of Rolling Stones content, including today’s song from their Steel Wheels album. Now while all Beatles songs, particularly their later works, are awesome, some are less useful as workout numbers. Luckily, “The Continuing Adventures of Bungalow Bill” works well in that capacity.

Once again, They Might Be Giants has me looking up information on a song title of theirs. Apparently “Contrecoup” is a head injury, specifically an injury that occurs on the opposite side of the injury’s impact. What a great group–one that entertains and educates! Two different “Control” songs followed with Metro Station giving their own version of the song, while the cast of Glee covered the Janet Jackson hit. I then got to hear a trio of artists I love, starting with an early Prince hit, “Controversy”, which is now more that 30 years old, which I consider the true controversy. Next up was one of my favorite more recent acts, The National, with a track from their most recent album. This trio closed with the Who, which is always welcome. Speaking of trios, I got a trio of “Cooksferry Queen”s from Richard Thompson, with one live and two studio versions. The song was originally on Mock Tudor, a favorite album of the family. When he was young, my son loved “Crawl Back” in particular, which I’ll be visiting soon enough. This list closes with one of the most baffling WWE theme songs ever, that belonging to Carlito. The song opens with Carlito speaking and he states “I spit in the face of people who don’t want to be cool.” Here’s my question. Who doesn’t want to be cool? Particularly if the consequences are getting chucks of pre-chewed apple spat at you? I never got that at all. Wouldn’t it have been better and made more sense if he just said “I spit in the face of people who are not cool” or something like that?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

3.15 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Cool, Cocky Bad–WWE
  • Cool Dry Place–Traveling Wilburys
  • Cool For Cats–Squeeze
  • Cool Front–Digable Planets mashup with The Who
  • Cool Jerk–The Go-Gos
  • Cool Places–Sparks & Jane Wiedlin
  • Cool the Engine–Boston
  • Cool Water–Talking Heads
  • Cool, Cool River–Paul Simon
  • Cooties–Hairspray
  • Copacabana (At the Copa)–Barry Manilow
  • Corporate Ministry–WWE
  • Corrina, Corrina–Bob Dylan
  • Corrina, Corrina–Pete Townshend
  • Cosmic Love–Florence & The Machine
  • Cosmic Thing–The B-52’s

It’s another paired bracket as I get another WWE theme to open this list after one closed the last. It’s actually the first of two WWE theme songs I heard today, with the Honky Tonk Man’s Elvis tribute coming first and the mashup of Vince McMahon and Undertaker themes coming later in the list. Speaking of mashups, a message-board friend created (or just shared, I’m not entirely sure) “Cool Front”, which mashes Digable Planet’s “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” with the Who’s “Eminence Front” (easily one of my top 10 Who songs).  The combo is outstanding. The two songs before the mashup were great as well, as I will never tire of the Traveling Wilburys or Squeeze.

I love the Go-Go’s (saw them in concert my senior year in college), but “Cool Jerk” is my least favorite song by the group. If I want to hear a “Cool…” song involving a Go-Go, I’d much prefer the next track “Cool Places” with Jane Wiedlin of the group teaming up with Sparks. I loved the song when it first came out (the only year of junior high/high school that I had MTV), and was happy that I was able to add the single to my collection thanks to a compilation album. “Cool the Engines” is probably one of the biggest “no duh” songs for the group Boston as it seems like all their album covers were built around giant guitar-shaped spaceships. Coming back to Earth, the Talking Heads sang of “Cool Water”, and if you were looking for a location for such a thing, Paul Simon would correctly suggest a “Cool, Cool River”.

After things were cool for such a long time, I guess the antidote would be some “Cooties”, which arrived courtesy of the Hairspray soundtrack. I think my wife would argue that the list continued moving in a non-cool direction with “Copacabana” (she is most assuredly not a Fan-a-low), but I do find the song fun and will sing along whenever it comes on. If my singing has the chance to embarrass my wife and kids, well it’s always nice to get a bonus like that, right? While most of the Chimes of Freedom cover artists are newer acts, some of the album’s tributes come from stars as revered and longstanding as Dylan himself, and on “Corrina, Corrina”, Pete Townsend provides one of the best of those pairings. I may have to borrow Boston’s guitar rocket for the last two songs, as things get a bit “Cosmic…” with a Florence & The Machine number and the title track from the B-52’s album.

What? Who said I saw Twilight at midnight?

QUICK MOVIE REVIEW FOR A MOVIE THAT I CAN’T ACTUALLY REVIEW FOR FEAR OF RUINING THE MOVIE:

I saw Cabin in the Woods with my oldest daughter today. What a great movie–we both loved it even though we’re not fans of horror movies. I do recommend that if you’re going to see it, see it sooner than later because the less you know about the movie, the more you’ll enjoy it. It’s a unique mix of horror, humor, and sci-fi, and if you’ve loved any of Joss Whedon’s previous work (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, etc), you will recognize and enjoy the well-written dialogue.

April 29, 2012

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #10 of 2012

  • Behind Closed Doors–Joe Diffie
  • Behind Closed Doors–Rise Against
  • Behind the Rain–Herb Albert
  • Behind the Sea–Panic at the Disco
  • Behind the Wall–Tracy Chapman
  • Behind the Wall of Sleep–The Smithereens
  • Behind the Wall of Sleep–The Smithereens
  • Behind the Wheel–Depeche Mode
  • Behind these Hazel Eyes–Kelly Clarkson
  • Beige Sunshine–The Dead Milkmen
  • Bein’ Green–Andrew Bird
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite–The Beatles
  • Being from Jersey Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry–Cobra Starship
  • Belfast Child–Simple Minds

My love of compilations and the Dixie Chicks led me to borrow from the library Tribute to Tradition, a collection of classic country songs as performed by modern artists. I have always enjoyed the Charlie Rich song “Behind Closed Doors” as I feel it’s a precursor to raps today that talk about how their woman is such a freak when the lights go out. As enjoyable as it would have been to hear Rise Against cover the song as well, their’s is a completely different song. The Herb Albert song is another instrumental piece from his Rise album.

I didn’t give Panic! at the Disco much of a listen when they first entered my house as I (wrongly) assumed they weren’t someone I’d enjoy. However, hearing more of their music, like today’s song “Behind the Sea” makes me realize how much their music is influenced by the Beatles and how that makes for entertaining songs. As up as it got me, Tracy Chapman brought me down with “Behind the Wall”, a mournful ballad about the tragic end of a domestic abuse situation in her apartment building that the police would not interfere with.

Chapman may have been talking about any wall in the title of her song, but the Smithereens decided to further specify things in “Behind the Wall of Sleep” a great rocking track that I was more than happy to hear twice. Depeche Mode is a band that owning a greatest hits collection would be more than enough, although I don’t know if they’ve yet to release a single comprehensive album like that as the hits collection I own is only for the years 1986-1998. Just a few days after getting one of her big hits “Because of You”, Kelly Clarkson returns with another, “Behind These Hazel Eyes”. Looking her up on the ‘net, it’s easy to forget that she’s had a consistent and impressive career with 10 top 10 hits.

The Dead Milkmen track is the opening number from their Metaphysical Graffiti album (a title that still makes me laugh every time I say it or see it). I think the title “Bein’ Green” is misleading as “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green” would make it more identifiable to listeners, although pithy is not always bad, it’s sometimes fun to have a longer and more twisting title, like the next track “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, which sounds more like a Victorian-era novel than a Beatles song. Not to be outdone, Cobra Starship makes an even longer and more involved title before Simple Minds goes back to the “brevity is the soul of wit” school.
3.49 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Belgium Polka–Bowling for Soup
  • Believe–Breaking Benjamin
  • Believe–Yellowcard
  • Believe Me Natalie–The Killers
  • Believe–The All-American Rejects
  • Bell Bottom Blues–Eric Clapton
  • Bell Boy–The Who
  • Bell Jar–The Bangles
  • Bella Notte–Glee Cast
  • Bella Notte—Los Lobos
  • Bella’s Lullaby–Carter Burwell
  • Bells are Ringing–They Might Be Giants
  • Belong–R.E.M.
  • Beloved–The Working Title
  • Beloved Wife–Natalie Merchant

I think Bowling for Soup joins Weird Al as the only current artists that perform polkas, although the Soupsters are rank amateurs compared to Al, as they have one and he does one per album. Three different songs named “Believe” and all were done by bands my kids love, including Breaking Benjamin, Yellowcard, and the All-American Rejects. (Technical note than no one probably cares about, but the AAR version of “Believe” is listed after the Killers “Believe Me Natalie” because for some reason when I imported all the songs from the All-American Rejects album When the World Comes Down, they end in the parenthetical (wtwcd), so the song in iTunes reads “Believe (wtwcd)”. I don’t get it either.

Just a day or two after mentioning that I enjoyed the Blues-y power of an Eric Clapton song (“Before You Accuse Me”), I get a specific blues anthem from the man, although the title is a painful reminder of one of the many poor fashion choices I suffered as a child. Why did anyone think those flared-out pants were a good idea? The Who song is a rare release from the band that features Keith Moon as the singer, and the Bangles song is another one from the Everything album that is still in rotation for me.

I got all excited when I realized the next song was going to be “Bella Notte”, forgetting that I had to hear the Glee version before I got to the Los Lobos cover of it. Nowadays, if you mention Bella, most kids are going to think of the protagonist of the Twilight series, and the next song is from the score of the first movie, a piece that plays throughout it. (yes, yes, I saw the Twilight film…ok, even worse, I saw it in theaters…ok, ok even worse, I saw it at midnight with my daughter. (She needed someone to go with her. Luckily I didn’t feel creepy at all. It’s not like I was the oldest guy in the theater by more than a decade or anything!)

I got to close the day out with songs by three favorite artists (They Might Be Giants, R.E.M., and Natalie Merchant with the oft-repeated caveat on the latter that I prefer her 10,000 Manics work). I also heard “Beloved”,  a song that wasn’t inspired by the Toni Morrison novel, but was a part of the American Wedding soundtrack, although I’ve heard many say that the two share a number of underlying themes.

Carrie Underwood, Psycho Ex-Girlfriend

April 28, 2012

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #9 of 2012

  • Beer for Breakfast–The Replacements
  • Beeswing–Richard Thompson
  • Before He Cheats–Carrie Underwood
  • Before I Fall in Love–CoCo Lee
  • Before I Forget–Slipknot
  • Before The Deluge–Jackson Browne
  • Before The Lobotomy–Green Day
  • Before You Accuse Me–Eric Clapton
  • Before Again–Colbie Callat
  • Begin The Begin–R.E.M.
  • Begin The Begin–R.E.M.
  • Begin The Beguine–Salif Keita
  • Behind Blue Eyes–The Who

I hope the Replacements aren’t trying to be role models, because suggesting we should consume beer first thing in the morning is a poor suggestion indeed! It’s times like this that we really miss the Ed Sullivan Show–if the boys had to perform this song on the program, Ed would have undoubtedly had them change it to “Milk for Breakfast” and then we would have had a song that everyone could enjoy. Nothing against the Richard Thompson song (actually I rather enjoyed it), but the one word nature of the title disappointed me. I know now it is like a bee’s wing, but wouldn’t it have been a better song if it referred to a bee swing? How would you construct a bee swing and would the bee emjoy it, or would he just get irritated and sting you?

I know that “Before He Cheats” was a monster hit and is perceived as a bit of an empowerment anthem for women, but it more likely belongs in the category of misunderstood pop songs (with the king still being “Every Breath You Take” by the Police as some people still think it’s a love song because they don’t listen to the lyrics and realize it’s more about control and stalking). Look, I’m not going to defend the actions of the man she’s seeing–he cheated on her, and that is a despicable act. But her brand of escalating vigilante justice does not fix the crime. She goes from keying his car to knifing his seats to breaking both headlights to slashing all four of the vehicle’s tires. This way, she says, the next time he cheats it won’t be on her. I think the restraining order he gets against her is the more likely deterrent, right?

Back-to-back “who does this song—never mind, I don’t care” entries before I get a Jackson Browne number. All his songs sound so mournful and filled with regret (ironic as I was filled with the regret of hearing the Slipknot song right before this one). Things continued to pick up with Green Day and Eric Clapton. I enjoyed the blues-y Clapton song in particular. Colbie Callat provided a pop sorbet next, and I’ll admit I do enjoy her voice more than I would have guessed. I was excited to then get two copies of R.E.M.’s “Begin the Begin”, as it’s one of my favorite IRS-era songs by the band. The title is a play on a Cole Porter song, “Begin the Beguine”, which followed, as I own one version of it from the incredible Red Hot + Blue compilation. The version is performed by Salif Keita, a performer I knew nothing about until owning the album.

The final track was also a contribution from an amazing album that I think everyone should own, The Who’s seminal Who’s Next.

 

Adding a European Correspondent

Well, the reporter is headed for Europe, but we won’t have reports, anecdotes, and stories filed with the blog for a week or so.  My oldest daughter is on a one-week trip with her classmates to Ireland, Wales, and England.  As a parent, I am proud that she made this happen through her own hard work, excited that she will experience new countries (including two I’ve never visited), and nervous about her on her own (and that extra viewing of Taken sure didn’t help on that front). In order to take my mind off her travels, I hit the gym, and I’m already planning a bonus 2-mile walk tomorrow morning for the Sox (although the Ellsbury injury is brutal–tomorrow’s starting outfield will be filled with guys that the Mets point at and laugh about).

April 13, 2012

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

  • As The Disco Ball Turns–The Tom Tom Club
  • As Ugly As I Seem–The White Stripes
  • Ashes in the Fall–Rage Against the Machine
  • Ashes of American Flags–Wilco
  • Ashes to Ashes–David Bowie
  • Aside–The Wonder Years
  • Ask–The Smiths
  • Ass Man (The Billy Gunn Theme)—WWE
  • Assassin–Muse
  • Assassin–Muse
  • At Different Times–Ron Sexsmith
  • At Last–Robert Cray Band
  • At Last (The Christian Theme)–WWE
  • At My Most Beautiful–R.E.M.
  • At My Window Sad And Lonely–Billy Bragg & Wilco
  • At The Zoo–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Athena–The Who

At first I felt I had to like the Tom Tom Club because I loved the Talking Heads (sort of like when your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc. introduces you to one of their siblings or cousins and even though you find them a little off-putting, you have to like them for the sake of your loved one. But then something happens when you spend more time with them–they’re actually kind of awesome to the point that seeing them is a highlight of crappy holidays). Like that, I found myself buying more of the Tom Tom Club’s catalogue and enjoying it greatly, like “As The Disco Ball Turns”.

I have to admit to confusion concerning the whole worked controversy about the relationship between the White Stripes Jack and Meg White. Isn’t that gimmick the kind of thing you do if you’re not talented and therefore need the attention? Most everything Jack White does rocks, so he should have let his work stand on its own merits. Speaking of things that Rock, there’s nothing like the raw anger of everything on the Battle of Los Angeles album.

Just as I found the White Stripes and Rage Against the Machine to be excellent back-to-back musical partners, hearing Wilco followed by David Bowie was an enjoyable double, particularly when you lead with a track fromYankee Foxtrot Hotel. The Bowie “Ashes to Ashes” comes from a greatest hits CD, as does the next song from the Smiths. I purchased that CD last year with a birthday gift card, and I am so glad I did. The Smiths were a band I ignored during their heyday, and I’m now sorry I did.

Two of my next six songs were WWE theme songs–please don’t judge me, even though they are two of the worst theme songs ever. Ironically, I think the Christian one is worse because there’s something inherently goofy about a man singing “I’m an ass man!” in an earnest manner. And Billy Gunn was a bad singles wrestler, so he deserved a bad entrance song. Christian, on the other hand, was (and continues to be) a phenomenal talent and should not have been saddled with that song for even a day.

Another fun pairing with Muse (pretending I only had one version of the song) with Ron Sexsmith, as I think they are both artists with fervent fan bases who constantly wonder why their favorite artist isn’t loved by all. Then I got more Robert Cray blues and R.E.M.

Thanks to “At My Window Sad and Lonely” I’ve been given the excellent opportunity to remind you how awesome Mermaid Avenue is. Luckily I have 13 more chances to hip you to this fact, but you really should act on it now and buy this album. You won’t regret it. I got to close today with two lesser hits from favorite acts, including Simon & Garfunkel’s “At the Zoo” and “Athena” by the Who. Here’s where I could have taken advantage of my European correspondent. I’d tell my UK-bound daughter to report on Leeds or the childhood home of John Entwhistle, but the school thinks visiting the home of William Shakespeare is more important.

I don’t get it either…