Back in Business (at least the blog business)

Been a few days since I last updated the blog, as I got sidetracked helping a friend out with a project. But I can’t ignore my public any longer, particularly with my list of songs continuing to backlog. (While I didn’t blog over the weekend, I did get to the gym both days, so the list continues!) So today’ list will blow through the week (or at least the Monday through Thursday portion) of 7/30 through 8/2, which featured a pair ofT gym visits sandwiched around hosting Indiana in-laws. The visit was great–everyone had a relaxed, fun time, so I didn’t mind missing the workouts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

3.10 miles at the gym on the elliptical machine:

  • Cotton Alley–10,000 Maniacs
  • Cough Syrup–Young the Giant
  • Could I’ve Been So Blind–The Black Crowes
  • Could It Be Magic–Barry Manilow
  • Could You Be Love–Bob Marley
  • Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4–Elvis Costello
  • Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4 [live]–Elvis Costello
  • Counterfeit Fake–They Might Be Giants
  • Countin’ On A Miracle–Bruce Springsteen
  • Counting Airplanes–Train
  • Country Comfort–Elton John

Monday began with a selection from 10,000 Maniacs (sort-of) first album. (I know they released Secrets of the I Ching first, but I tend to ignore that album, and I’d argue they do as well, seeing that they re-recorded three of the songs for inclusion on The Wishing Chair.) Things get a little more recent and trendy with “Cough Syrup”, although I dodged a bullet when I only had to hear the original and not the Glee cover. I then got to hear a song from the debut album of the Black Crowes. I’ll admit that for Black Crowes, one album is more than enough for me. I think I’m supposed to like the Black Crowes more, but they’re a group that a little goes a long way in my musical sentiments. That sentiment is also true for both of the next artists as well, although there aren’t many other reasons to group Manilow and Marly.

My next four songs come from three of the family’s most represented artists, starting with studio and live versions of an Elvis Costello number. I am trying to wrap my mind around the title of the They Might Be Giants’ song–is a “Counterfeit Fake” the genuine article? The only thing that might have improved the title was adding the Elvis Costello flair and calling it “Couterfeit Fake No. 4”. My trio of familiarity ends with the Boss and a song from “The Rising”. That’s not to say I’m not familiar with Train or Elton John–I just don’t own the same large percentage of their musical catalogue.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

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

  • Country Comforts–Rod Stewart
  • Country Darkness–Elvis Costello
  • Country Feedback–R.E.M.
  • Country Girl: Whisky Boot Hill/Down, Down/Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty)–Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Cousins–Vampire Weekend
  • The Coventry Carol–Alison Moyet
  • Cover Me–Bruce Springsteen
  • Coward Of The County–Kenny Rogers
  • Cowboy Killers–The Wonder Years
  • Cowboy Romance–Natalie Merchant
  • Cowboy Take Me Away–Dixie Chicks
  • Cowboy Take Me Away [live]–Dixie Chicks
  • Cowtown–They Might Be Giants
  • Coyotes–Jason Mraz
  • Crab–Weezer
  • Crackin’ Up–Paul McCartney
  • Crackity Jones–Pixies
  • Cracklin’ Rosie–Neil Diamond
  • Crank It Up–WWE

I closed the previous section talking about owning a percentage of an established act’s collected works, and my Rod Stewart ownership calculation would be tiny–1 over however many albums he’s released. And again, one is more than enough for me–Rod’s a .0001 on the Simple Minds Scale, particularly once he decided to subject the aural population to his interpretations of “The Great American Songbook”.  I think I’d be far more impressed with him delivering the Great Scottish Songbook. I also made particular mention of three artists in the last section that are significant parts of our library, and as if they wanted to further the point, each shows up again on this list, starting with Elvis Costello. The Bruce and TMBG songs that follow are more familiar to me, as the Springsteen song comes from the first album of his I ever purchased (Born in the USA) and the They Might Be Giants’ number is from their second album, Lincoln.

After an R.E.M. song, I get a visit from CSNY and the appearance of  one of the 70’s more pretentious musical trends–the long songs with multiple parts (popularized by Yes, but then taken to new heights by Rush with songs having multiple parts that straddled different albums). You don’t see that as much these days. That’s not to say artists aren’t self important–they just express it in other manners (Thanks social media!). As I’ve mentioned before, but each Vampire Weekend song I hear mixes my enjoyment of their music and my anticipation of their upcoming third album, which I’ve heard is releasing before the end of the year. The end of the year would have been a better time to hear the Alison Moyet song, but when you listen to an entire list alphabetically, Christmas comes year round!

Do you ever think about memory–specifically, what stays in your mind and what you’ve forgotten? I ask because when I was a child, we didn’t listen to a lot of music, but one album (actually, 8-track to be precise) that received heavy rotation  was my mother’s Kenny Rogers album (one of his many greatest hits collection). Now I’m not the biggest fan of Rogers, but his story songs were easy to follow to be sure. Now, here it is, decades later and when a song like “Coward of the County” comes up (one I can honestly say that I haven’t heard for years), and I can sing along with it, remembering all the lyrics. I just have to wonder what important dates, facts, or issues have been pushed out of my brain so that “Promise me son, not to do the things I’ve done” can stick around. Moving on, it seems fitting that a Kenny Rogers song would serve as prologue for my “Cowboy…” section of songs, although truth be told, if I’m thinking about artists doing songs about the profession, the Wonder Years and Natalie Merchant do not come to top of mind. Dixie Chicks? They make more sense.

Not a lot to add about the Jason Mraz and Weezer that follow, and the Paul McCartney number almost shouldn’t count as a song–it’s more of a 45 second sorbet from his live album. Now getting a Pixies song is always a treat, particularly when I close the list with Neil Diamond and WWE.

 

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The Narcotic Powers of Cocaine, Coffee, and Disney

Always a good weekend when you get two workouts in! A nice bonus was my wife made a few extra bucks making some deliveries for a business run by a friend and she used the found cash to treat me to a matinee of The Dark Knight Rises. Despite my Marvel leanings, the Nolan Batman trilogy is, without a doubt, the finest set of superhero movies in terms of consistency and enjoyment. (I feel both Spiderman and X-Men went off the rails in their third installments.) I did find Bane’s voice difficult to understand at times, but I thought Anne Hathaway was incredible at Catwoman. I’d like to see it a second time to better formulate my thought, but while I enjoyed the film, I preferred the second film more and enjoyed the Avengers more as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

3.10 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Cocaine–Eric Clapton
  • Cocaine–Jackson Browne
  • Codes and Keys–Death Cab for Cutie
  • Coffee Eyes–The Wonder Years
  • (Coffee’s For Closers)–Fall Out Boy
  • Cold–Crossfade
  • Cold As Ice–Foreigner
  • Cold As You–Taylor Swift
  • Cold Brains–Beck
  • Cold Cold Heart–Colin Raye
  • Cold Dark World–Weezer

It’s an illicit and illegal start to things with both Eric Clapton and Jackson Browne singing songs named “Cocaine”. As an FYI, one is not a cover; they’re two different songs sharing a same title (to be completely accurate the Clapton song is a cover, but it’s a cover of a JJ Cale song). The Clapton song is the far more famous of the two, but I think I prefer the melancholy of the Browne number.  The title track from Death Cab For Cutie’s 2011 album followed, and then it was time for two songs about another drug–this time a legal one. The Wonder Years number comes from my son’s collection, and Fall Out Boy is the band of choice for his twin sister. The latter makes me happy because the title refers to Alec Baldwin’s awesome rant from Glengarry Glen Ross. Before that film, I found myself tending to find Alec Baldwin the weakest link in films I otherwise loved (for example Beetlejuice, Married to the Mob, and The Hunt for Red October). To be fair to Alec, if I’d seen Miami Blues (which came out a year before Glengarry Glen Ross) first, my opinion of the man’s work would have already started to change.

Things get a little “Cold…” for the second half of the playlist, with Crossfade making their first (and I think only) appearance in our library with their hit “Cold”. I am more familiar with Foreigner song that followed and my daughters prefer the third “Cold…” song, one sung by “T Swizzle” as my oldest girl likes to call her. (Apparently that’s a legit nickname for Ms. Swift–learn something new every day!) Beck’s “Cold Brains” is an entertaining number, even if the title makes me think of a zombie heading home with a doggie bag for the next day’s snack. The Colin Raye song is one of two covers we own of the Hank Williams classic, but they’re separated because one title uses a comma between the two “cold”s and the other does not, again pointing to the need for a song title style and conventions guide. So instead of hearing another artist cover the song, Saturday’s list closed with a Weezer track from their Red album.

Sunday, July 21, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Cold Day in July–Dixie Chicks
  • Cold Day in July [live]–Dixie Chicks
  • Cold Desert–Kings of Leon
  • Cold Hearted–Paula Abdul
  • Cold Kisses–Richard Thompson
  • Cold Tea Blues–Cowboy Junkies
  • Cold Turkey–John Lennon
  • Cold, Cold Heart–Lucinda Williams
  • Collapse (Post America)–Rise Against
  • Collection of  Goods–Collective Soul
  • Cologne–Ben Folds
  • The Colonial Wing–10,000 Maniacs
  • Colors and the Kids–Cat Power
  • Colors of the Wind–Vanessa Hudgens
  • Colors of the Wind–Ashanti

I wouldn’t describe my interest in the Dixie Chicks as a “guilty pleasure”–after all, they are an extremely successful musical act. I would instead use the term “unexpected” as there aren’t many country artists in my favorites, but I proudly own five of their albums and eagerly await new material from the trio. The other day I mentioned that my interest in Kings of Leon has waned recently, and “Cold Desert does not turn that tide at all. Now in the “what was I thinking” category, buying a Paula Abdul CD in college fits just fine, but I do enjoy her hits off the release (even if someone else ultimately sang them), including “Cold Hearted”. The next two “Cold…” songs were brought to the collection by my wife, the Richard Thompson and Cowboy Junkies fan. She’s also a John Lennon fan, but I think “Cold Turkey” came from me. The last “Cold…” song was our second Hank Williams cover, and I’d argue the stronger of the two–I think Lucinda Williams is an underrated talent.

Nothing like a good Rise Against song to cheer you up. I’d argue that Rise Against sings about the end result if we don’t heed the musical warnings of Bruce Springsteen. The Boss tells us things are getting bad and then Rise Against sings about where the country ends up. I wasn’t overly familiar with the Collective Soul song–they’re a band I am content to only own their greatest hits (a sold 1.0 on the Simple Minds Scale). The Ben Folds song “Cologne” is one of his great story songs, including  a verse about the killer astronaut from a few years back. After sold 10,000 Maniacs and Cat Power songs, we end with a pair of Disney covers. For your children than can’t drink coffee (and should certainly avoid cocaine, the other drug covered at the beginning of today’s lists), what addictive substance can they enjoy? Disney, right? I remember my children, particular my youngest, wanting to watch various Disney movies again and again, and that glazed look they’d get when they did. I don’t mind the Disney movies–the soundtracks are usually excellent, but I’m not the biggest fan of the covers of the originals (such as the two “Colors of the Wind” versions today), and hearing them puts a glazed look on my face, but for a far different reason.

 

 

Angels, Angels everywhere!

We are just a day away from one of the best days of the year–opening day. Technically, it happened last week in Japan with two games between the A’s and Mariners, but come on! If first pitch is 5AM Eastern (or 2AM for fans of Oakland and Seattle), it doesn’t really count, right? And another technically is that there’s a game tonight, but I mean the first full day of games (and can someone explain why they’re not on a Monday this year? Is it another example of the commissioner seeing some awesome tradition and saying “we’ll fix that!”) and the first Red Sox game. I think the plan will be a morning workout and then lunch at a local sports bar in order to enjoy the first few innings on a larger screen. In order to help push my fitness regime, I am pledging to walk an additional 2 miles for each Red Sox victory on top of that day’s regular exercise. So here’s hoping for 200 extra miles in 2012!

April 4, 2012

3.33 miles on the elliptical plus arm weight work at the gym

  • And You And I: Cord of Life/Eclipse/The Preacher The Teacher/Apocalypse–Yes
  • And Your Bird Can Sing–The Beatles
  • Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes and How!–The Dead Milkmen
  • Androgynous–The Replacements
  • Androgyny–Garbage
  • Andy, You’re a Star–The Killers
  • Aneurysm [Live]–Nirvana
  • Angel–John Hiatt
  • Angel–Natasha Beddingfield
  • Angel–Rod Stewart
  • Angel–Sarah McLachlan
  • Angel And The One–Weezer
  • Angel Band–The Stanley Brothers
  • Angel Dressed In Black–Warren Zevon

I do like Yes, and I admire the instrumental virtuosity, but sometimes I find their music a little ponderous and self-important. The 10-minute songs (like the one today) with long titles or multiple parts just feel like they want people to know how “important” their music is. This is in direct opposition to the next artist–The Beatles. “And Your Bird Can Sing” is a great little song, and you can listen to it 5 times in the same amount of time it takes to listen to “And You and I” once. This is not an indictment of either song–just an interesting observation.

Another interesting observation is that the next song is, from a titular standpoint, at least, mocking an offshoot of Yes. (And by the way, it’s clear that the Dead Milkman are more AP Style guys as opposed to Chicago as they choose to eschew the Oxford comma.) The thing about the song stylistically is that it seems to be more parody/tribute of/to Led Zeppelin, who the Milkman also tip the hat to on the title and cover of this song’s album, Metaphysical Graffiti. 

It’s nice to have multiple musical viewpoints on a niche topic like like of sexual identity, as both The Replacement and Garbage sing about androgyny. We even get both gender’s opinion, so that was a fun back-to-back, and both are clearly songs I laugh at thinking about them being piped over the Planet Fitness loudspeakers for everyone to enjoy.

Another song from The Killer’s Hot Fuss followed, and it’s almost getting sad thinking about how great that first album was, and how hard it’s been to match or exceed the quality of the release with their next two albums. That’s not to say the other CDs have been bad–it was just such a high bar set with the first album. I also then got a searing live Nirvana track, so today’s musical motivation was really going well, which was nice, as Angels were about to take over my iPod.

When you have multiple songs with the same title (in this case, four of them), it’s a little sad when you’re favorite of them all is the first you hear. If the favorite comes later in the list, things feel like they’re building, and you’ve got something to look forward to hearing. But when it’s first, everything’s all downhill. The John Hiatt “Angel” comes from one of my desert-island discs, Perfectly Good Guitar. It’s a great song about the loss of love. I’m not as familiar or interested in the Natasha Beddingfield, Rod Stewart, and Sarah McLachlan takes on “Angel”, but of the three, McLachlan’s is the one I enjoy the next most.

I think this was my first Weezer song to date, even though we have several of their albums. It’s probably heresy, but the Red Weezer album (which includes this song) is my favorite of theirs. Then I get a bit of a non-Christmas rarity for my list–a song with religious overtones. They’re not completely absent, as some of my Sam Cooke CD is gospel music and I think some Iris DeMent hits these themes as well. This one comes from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. I actually haven’t seen this Coen brothers film since my wife and I saw it in theaters, but maybe this will be my family choice soon–we are going to have a weekly family movie night and we will rotate who gets to pick the movie in order to include everyone and diversify our cinematic experiences.

Warren Zevon was another artist I was shamefully under-informed about entering our marriage. I wasn’t completely ignorant; I knew Werewolves of London. But thanks to my wife, I was introduced to a wider range of his catalogue, and for that I am thankful