Gleðilegt nýtt ár


The fireworks where I live are few and far between (and I only hear them, do not see them). I am in a pretty remote place, after all. 2011 has arrived, and I feel fairly positive about it. Soon I will go back to work and resume baking. Happy New Year.

Meanwhile, though, I am thinking a lot about philanthropy and music. Both topics, as disparate as they seem, make me think of someone who contributes a great deal to both, Paul Allen. It seems a very strange thought to suddenly occupy the mind but oddly it's logical for someone like me (who jumps from thought to thought in rapid-fire succession).

The new year, like it or not, causes reflection on the past and the future… on the idea of success, how one will be remembered and legacy. Allen, who has twice battled types of lymphoma, has gone on living and doing a lot of the things one might expect from someone like him — spending his wealth freely on things that seem frivolous to debt-ridden people who struggle just to pay their bills. He is free to indulge. A big kid in a candy shop with an unlimited budget syndrome. Some vanity projects, I suppose, but also a lot of good. (This ties into music somehow because Allen is responsible for the Seattle eyesore, the Experience Music Project. Great concept, hideous building.) One might have room to scoff at this if he never did any good with his money (although even then it IS his money).

But he is one of the world's most generous philanthropists. And this, I suppose, is where the idea of legacy and what one leaves behind comes into play.

I start the new year listening to Seattle's amazing non-profit, independent radio station, KEXP, but apart from urging you to listen to it, I also provide my Halloween/2010 year-end music compilation list (I put together an annual mix), commentary and links. Unfortunately most links will be Spotify links, and I know most of the world can't access this great service. (Unfortunately not all the tracks are readily available to listen to free on Spotify or otherwise.)

Random Gum 2010 'the voice of reason is one I left so far behind'
“I remember everything as if it happened years ago/probably it did, so I remember it.”

01. Alsatian Cousin – Morrissey … so came his reply/but on the desk is where I want you…
“Were you and he lovers/and would you say so if you were?” Looking forward and back, this song gets me every time. Cannot separate the song from memories of T and current thoughts of BB, RS and even JKL.

02. Dunno Much About Life but I Know How to Breathe – AC Newman
“The truth is, honesty was never my scene”

03. Tar Kisses – Throwing Muses …you put cake down my throat and in my face…
“On my knees, I can see all your better qualities…”

04. My Sentimental Melody – The Magnetic Fields …cool and unfazed, you’re always amazed when someone gets hurt…
Heartbreak. “I live on the blue planet/that I saw in your eyes/but now I can’t stay/knowing it’s made of beautiful lies”

05. The Party – St Vincent …licking the ice cube from your empty glass …
“I’d pay anything to keep my conscience clean/I’m keeping my eye on the exit sign steady”. O, my unclean conscience!

06. Måndagsbarn – Veronica Maggio
Brief snapshot of Oslo mornings, hearing Annette singing in the shower while I made coffee in the kitchen.

07. Broken Love Song – Peter Doherty
No fan of Pete Doherty, but this album surprised. Thanks once more to Catherine.

08. Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die – The Indelicates
I don’t care for Pete Doherty or his antics but after the previous song, it seemed fitting to follow with this one.

09. Summer Rain – Anna Ternheim …all I could hear was you hammering in my head…
“You said I was a hole of desperate need/and no love in the world, not even yours, could satisfy me…”

10. Sleep All Summer – St Vincent and The National …Will I ever fall out of love? …
“…Strange ways we use each other/Why won’t you fall back in love with me?”

11. Laura – Mates of State …you’ve been a bitch/and I’ve been an ass…
I love the ass brothers! (This also makes me think of the ridiculous song “Tell Laura I Love Her”.)

12. Ever Fallen in Love – Nouvelle Vague
Thanks to Esteban, finally found in Oslo after mounting a worldwide search for a fictional Esteban; we’ll always have “fruity cake”. On an entirely unrelated note, don’t I always fall in love (or lust) with people I should not?

13. Head Over Heels – The Go-Go’s … the voice of reason/is one I left so far behind…
Doing things that are beyond reason. Approaching Easter, pushing, daring, shedding one more skin to become something new. Valuing spontaneity but always paying the price and being misunderstood

14. Double Edge GeRM Remix – Emika
Another, different song was recommended by Jad (merci!) but this is what ended up here.

15. Los Angeles – Benjamin Biolay
A chain of influence: Bruno, Aurélien, Roxane, Nikki and Tara (the last two who are in Los Angeles).

16. Narino – Kazim Koyuncu
Thanks the ruler of my musical universe, Roxane, again… she included this on a mislabeled mixed CD, so did not know for the longest time what it was. Thanks to Aurélien for the identification.

17. Safari – The Breeders
This is like taking a step directly back into the hell of high school. The sound captivates me, but the memories don’t.

18. North by Northwest – Blue Scholars …we’re broke but not broken/cold but not frozen/lost but not forgotten…
Watching a documentary about how the Seattle SuperSonics were “stolen” from Seattle, this song featured in the soundtrack. Perhaps not my normal style, but if these mixes illustrate anything, it’s that I don’t have a style.

19. Mercy – Duffy …my morals got me on my knees/I’m begging please – stop playing games …
No, Duffy is not my normal fare. But it reminds me of Annette, and there need not be more reason than that. This still ignites memories from the February 2010 sales seminar and the people and illusion-shattering conversations there.

20. The Devil’s Coachman – Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians …if he treats you horribly/he’s probably a scorpio/he’s a long kebab through your ovaries…
Eighth grade, beloved lost friend, Terra, our teenage psychosis and bearing humiliating adolescence with her.

21. Bonkers in Phoenix – The Fall
You don’t gotta be in Phoenix to be bonkers, mis amigos. (Love to Naomi.)

22. New Jack Hustler – Ice-T
I found myself quoting Ice-T this winter; imagine my horror! Nevertheless, one cool guy thought my Ice-T knowledge made me eminently cooler than he thought. This spawned my new nick, Ice-E. Listening to the O.G. album, I am struck by time-bound references (to Tipper Gore, Geo. Bush, Sr. Who even remembers why he wanted to kill Tipper Gore?)

23. Electric – Madrugada
Who knew it was Norwegian? Another Roxane-inspired choice.

24. Crystalised – The xx …so don’t think that I’m pushing you away/when you’re the one that I’ve kept closest …
The xx makes me think of the winter, Stockholm people and being a “baking goddess”

25. Another Day – Spc-Eco

26. Istanbul – The Breeders
One of those travel dreams that never happens; thinking with love of Jill, of Shaz, of Bruno…

27. One Dimension – Simian
“Clarity is bliss/chemistry is what we are…”. Memories of my seaside Seltjarnarnes apartment in 2001-02.

28. Lahaha – Shugo Tokumaru
One of the craziest videos and happiest-sounding songs I have encountered in ages. Shared craziness with my brother.

29. My Exhibition – Catherine Wheel …I only let it out when people piss me off…
In April, reflection on secret loss, fantasy fulfillment, getting angry/aggressive and “meat flutes”

30. Snow Don’t Fall –Townes van Zandt …my love lies ‘neath frozen skies/and waits in sweet repose for me…
Winter driving in Värmland.

31. Lover Man – Billie Holiday …someday we’ll meet and you’ll dry all my tears/then whisper sweet little things in my ears…
For the man who would be my future husband; I put it in writing. For those legal minds, that’s a contract.

32. Fear and Love – Morcheeba …fear can stop you loving/love can stop your fear…/but it’s not always that clear…
Love for Annette, jumping in with both feet without fear again and again: no projecting (like the high school musical)

33. This Mess We’re In – PJ Harvey with Thom Yorke …I don’t think we will meet again…
So many messes made.

34. Lions – Samantha Crain …I’m always waking up screaming…
“We promised we would not/Be afraid anymore”

35. Grow Up and Blow Away – Metric …He wants to start a family/She always thought she would not…
“If this is the life/Why does it feel so good to die today?” (Since blow-up monkey faces think I am “suicidal”.)

36. In Particular – Blonde Redhead … everyone else is really boring/anyone else won’t be good enough…
All the sex-Alexes, Anna, and the never knowing when to stop.

37. The Only One I Know – The Charlatans …everyone has been burned before/everybody knows the pain…
Some Friendly came out 20 years ago; nothing like that kind of revelation to underscore the rapid advance of time.

38. Luz azul – Aterciopelados There is no such thing as a free lunch
Once upon a time, my friend Mike gave me an Aterciopelados CD. I accepted it but did not listen enthusiastically, skeptical of recommendations back then. If I recall, he bought the CD for himself three times, losing it every time to thieves breaking into his car (before eventually declaring that it was not meant to be his). A belated thank you to him.

39. Reno Dakota – The Magnetic Fields … Do not play fast and loose with my heart…
Boy-whores who don’t call… my quota of tears! How this song speaks to me. Pantone 292 = Janne and the endless branding guide. “Have I annoyed you/or is there a boy who/Well he's just a whore/I've had him before/It makes me drink more”

40. Couples on TV – Girls in Hawaii …I wish we were just a couple on tv…
Originally recommended by the briefly departed Aurélien, it also makes me think of dear Annette and instant families: “Now that the homework is done/Now that the kids are asleep…”

41. Like the River – Sun Kil Moon
“I was not yours and you were not mine/Our true love finds us when it is time”

42. My Skin – Natalie Merchant …I’ve been treated so wrong/I’ve been treated so long/as if I’m becoming untouchable…
We cannot help it when we do not share someone’s feelings. We have ALL been there in reference to someone.

43. Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel – Townes van Zandt
Townes van Zandt, one of the best songwriters of the 20th century…

44. I Hear a Symphony – The Supremes …I’m lost in a world/made for you and me…
For AD and PW; memories of the spontaneous drive to Göteborg and falling hard onto a McDonald’s floor.

45. Stay (Just a Little Bit More) – The Dø …He was a bore, a true chore and I still wonder why I ever wanted to see him more…
Perfect song for the guy who puts the J in Joker. “He was kind, polite and divine in public, tender as a sleepy child/But when we got slightly more intimate it wasn't that bright/Yes he was kind, polite, sound and sublime, in theory/But in practice believe me, there was a nasty fire burning”…; …“All the lazy boy could do was RUN, then I knew for sure/That he would never be the satisfying shag I needed”

46. Vision of Love – Mariah Carey
This song evokes a tremendous ache and disgust that catapults me to 8th grade gym class. The power of the memory is so hideous that I had to include it.

47. Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays …it’s that little souvenir/of a terrible year/which makes my eyes feel sore…
The ache of being 15. Memories of Peter in Durham, UK giving me so much new music. But that story, too, ended.

48. Thief at My Door – Karen Elson …the wind rattles my windowpane/he’s trying to find a way in…
The endless drive between work and home and all the music that populates it… “There’s a thief I can’t let in…”

49. It’s Easier – John Grant
“I wish that I could make you see, but clearly that is not to be, cause you will not be swayed by me. You made it clear/you must be free. I would have sacrificed for you, I would have been so loyal and so true…”

50. Rotterdam – The Wedding Present
“I stayed with you and my heart began to sink/I wanted you but not the way you think”

51. Entertain – Sleater-Kinney …1, 2, 3, if you want to take a shot at me, well get in line…
Memories of spring 2008. PF, Paris, wrecked heart, constant walking all over Reykjavik

52. Switch – Arsenal …What is the use of warning/when nothing can be done? …
“Switch the mood to sorry/sometimes I am faking/what is in between?” Endless thanks to Arjen!

53. Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder
Not an Eddie Vedder fan but do love Corin Tucker (backing vocals); this particular song has a certain beauty

54. I Told You Once Before – Mr Lucky and the Gamblers
Old music to fit my 77-year-old mind.

55. Instinct – Crowded House …separate the fiction from the fact/I’ve been a little slow to react/but it’s nearly time to flip the switch/and I’m hanging by a single stitch…
A headache and accompanying dizziness befell me and prevented me from seeing Crowded House live in June.

56. Tell It Like It Is – Aaron Neville …let your conscience be your guide…
“If you are serious/don’t play with my heart, it makes me furious/but if you want me to love you/then baby, I will…”

57. Rise – PiL …anger is an energy…
“May the road rise with you…”

58. Me and Armini – Emiliana Torrini …some people think I’m heading for a meltdown…
“When I need your body close/I burn up in smoke/And I swore I’d keep waiting…” (Needing something Icelandic.)

59. Some People – Goldfrapp
“What you thought you lost was just mislaid…”. As ever, I love my friend Ben.

60. Cotton Candy Land – Meat Puppets
To those for whom “panic” and “spinning cotton candy out of the ass” is a management style.

61. Candy Floss – Wilco …I live my life like I wasn’t invited…
“We slip and slide on the stay-together landmine/I make my mind up to never be myself.”

62. Twice – Little Dragon
For David, Aurélien… and the random lovers. “Thought I had an answer once/But your random ways swept me along/Colossal signs so I got lost/With so many lovers singing soft”

63. Goodbye Emmanuelle – Tricky
Reminds me of seeing Emmanuelle films as a child after my parents went to bed. Little did they know. The original Serge Gainsbourg version of the song stuck in my head throughout childhood even though I had no idea who it was.

64. Red Star – Musetta
Briefly talked to the guy (Matteo) in this band, to which he introduced me. Nevertheless, do not be fooled by Italy.

65. Used to Be – Beach House …it’s always good to see you again/even if it’s coming to an end…
My many thanks to Bethany.
66. Keep Me Warm – Ida Maria …believe me, I can play games cause I know all the rules…
Another Norwegian! Thanks to Shaina! And also a rock! No snowglobes here.

67. The Fox – O + S
Apart from beautiful red foxes crossing my lawn, this song reminds me how much I love living in the woods.

68. Queen of Denmark – John Grant …I really don’t know who the fuck you think you are/could I please see your license and your registration?…
"I hope you know that all I want from you is sex/to be with someone who looks smashing in athletic wear/and if your haircut isn't right you'll be dismissed/you'll get your walking papers and you can leave now…" For AP and JKL.

69. Montague Terrace (in Blue) – Scott Walker …but we know, don’t we/and we’ll dream, won’t we?…
“The girl across the hall makes love/Her thoughts lay cold like shattered stone/Her thighs are full of tales to tell/Of all the nights she’s known…” Including the “crooning Scott” rather than the “avant-garde Scott”, thinking of William

70. Mir Stanke Le – Bulgarian State Television and Radio Choir
The university-era me would have listened to this sort of thing, feeling sad and out of sorts all the awkward time.

71. If You Only Knew – Kathryn Calder …we’ll talk each other through the night…
“Home, I wanna be home. His eyes are bright/his head is clear/and he’s been waiting patiently/for me…”

72. Good to Be on the Road Back Home – Cornershop …leaving memories of what should have been/and wasn’t…
Dead-of-winter trips to the dentist in Iceland; memories of Alberta with Naomi; plans that ended up as nothing

73. Episode of Blonde – Elvis Costello …though she had the attention span of warm cellophane…
"It's such a shame you had to break the heart/You could have counted on…"

74. Fuck Shit Stack – Reggie Watts …here’s another little piece of advice…
I could analyze this in a lot of ways, but instead just profess lifelong love for Reggie Watts and his talents and gifts.

75. How to Fight Loneliness – Wilco …and the first thing that you want/will be the last thing you ever need…
And how exactly should one fight loneliness? “Just smile all the time…”

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