marching on – random gum of march 2018 soundtrack

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Here we go… music for March, which is the most wintry month of all this year. Check out the whole playlist on Spotify.

marching on
march 2018 – the good goo of random gum

01 Saint Etienne – “Nothing Can Stop Us”
*For poor deported, beloved Ben, who will nevertheless not be stopped; love for Tara, as this was one of our signature soundtrack songs when we used to spend time together
02 Negative Gemini – “You Weren’t There Anymore” ...you didn’t care at all…
*For at least those Gemini souls among us who are as negative as we’re accused of being
03 Vanishing Twin – “Choose Your Own Adventure”
04 Claudine Longet – “God Only Knows”
05 Neko Case – “Star Witness”
06 Los Zucara – “Lamento de Febrero”
*Uruguay. Love for J, Billy and Travis
07 Gwenno – “Tir Ha Mor”
*Wales
08 The Fall – “Mexico Wax Solvent”
*Love for Naomi – everything’s gonna be okay. (Must play LOUD)
09 Them Are Us Too – “The Problem with Redheads”
*Martina: Maybe Joel was right about the internet obsession with redheads. Haha. Sadly, one of the band members was among the dead in 2016 warehouse fire in Oakland, CA.
10 Dear Nora – “To Fall is Not to Fail”
“It’s better not to cry/Or to look me in the eye/When you leave and you let it go”
11 Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – “False True Piya”
12 Nicole Atkins – “Darkness Falls So Quiet”
13 Sexores – “Berlin”
*Despite being from Ecuador, this is one of two “Berlin”s on this mix. Sometimes I’m still missing it. Hard to believe it was already more than a year ago that I dashed off to Berlin for an afternoon just to see a movie, returning home the same night.
14 Julia Lucille – “Beneath the Spring” …Can a woman love/and not lose herself?…
*The countless onslaught of talented Julias continues. “We’ve had some fun/We’ve had some good loving/On to the next thing/My conscience forcibly brings/So many things that I could do/One of them being you/The slow slide into lying/And here come endless apologizing”
15 Beach House – “Chariot”
16 Pérez Prado – “Mambo No 5”
*A curious, out-of-place thing that reminds me of the misery of being 19
17 Siobhan Wilson – “Whatever Helps” …you’re stuck in the break of a wave/you’re haunted by a line from a song/you’re beaten by the wing of a prayer/try to move on…
*Glasgow. “Whatever helps to pass the time/when you’re on the other side/Switch it off, switch it off, whatever it is/That bleeds out all your best thoughts”
18 Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – “The Evening”
19 Tennis – “My Emotions Are Blinding”
*Love to Esteban & Ana
20 Laura Groves – “Friday” …You never gave a sign of pieced together phrases that Ive heard…
21 Beach Fossils – “This Year” ...This year I told myself it’d be a better one/Try not to fall back onto the knife…
22 The Raincoats – “Lola”
23 Ramona Lisa – “Arcadia Reprise”
24 Franska Trion – “Empty Space”
*Sverige, Sverige, Sverige
25 Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood”
*Thinking more of Digit the gorilla, Mike, and Jesse Dude (another plastic gorilla, featured in the main image), but also Filbert/Ph’s fleeting flirtation with ‘fame’ via Clint Eastwood. The strange world of models and film extras…
26 Pink Mountaintops – “I (fuck) Mountains”
27 Charlotte Adigéry – “Senegal Seduction”
28 The Luxembourg Signal – “Laura Palmer”
29 The Fall – “Pumpkin Soup and Mashed Potatoes”
*When you need a dose of pumpkin soup to go with your fix of The Fall
30 Anika – “I Go to Sleep”
31 Jitka Zelenková – “Rád”
*Another Czech check-in, which means … love to Anne & to Martina
32 CCFX – “The One to Wait”
33 Katie von Schleicher – “Life’s a Lie”
34 Andrea Davidson – “Thank You Fuck You” …thank you for what we went through/and fuck you for something, too/I’m done with you…
35 Negative Gemini – “Ice Sluts”
*Lóa: Is an ‘ice slut’ a cross between a ice queen and a fuck mattress? 🙂
36 Pale Saints – “Half-Life Remembered” …It’s eating you away and some will never know it’s taste…
*O, emotional waves of late teen years. It’s like sitting in traffic-safety class in high school, the long drive to university, and more crying jags that I can count: “Biting off more than you can chew again/You’re just a child/And all you know is/That it’s sweetness brings you close to tears/Each time you can’t resist/And some will never know it’s taste”
37 Belle & Sebastian – “The Party Line”
*A spontaneous leap one day, deciding to go see B & S after many years of wanting to. And it was as lovely as I needed it to be. (And come on now, gotta love Glaswegian bands to bits.)
38 Gentle Hen – “I Wasn’t Looking for This”
*Thinking mostly about the use of “hen” as a Scottish term for a woman: “Gie us a kiss, hen“. “I wasn’t looking for this/I wasn’t ready for this/But it’s so convenient, I don’t have to do a thing/And I’ve always been lazy at best”
39 Meshell Ndegeocello – “Sometimes It Snows in April” …Springtime was always my favorite time of year/A time for lovers holding hands in the rain…
*Meshell doing Prince. For Anne, whom I must see in April.
40 Hanne Hukkelberg – “Berlin”
*Norway.
.. merci, Andreas
41 Madonna – “Crazy for You”
*Ended up here in some roundabout way after mentioning to S that Matthew Modine‘s daughter, Ruby, is in the US version of Shameless; he said he can only remember an 80s movies starring Modine that had this song in the soundtrack but couldn’t actually remember the movie (Vision Quest, of course, about wrestling… “God, you can count. See, I knew you had to be smart to be a wrestler.” –The Breakfast Club)
42 Kate Bush – “The Kick Inside”
*I fully, firmly believed I would never, ever appreciate Kate Bush. I have tried so many times over the years, and I just couldn’t hear it. Then suddenly in February, it was the right moment. More proof that we do change, and our tastes can in fact become more expansive rather than contractive.
43 10,000 Maniacs – “Trouble Me” …Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?…
*And with the inclusion of this song, which I have never liked, we devolve (further) into the world of adult-contemporary, near-easy-listening. I remember my anger in 1989 when this song displaced The Cure from some top-five-of-the-week on some MTV show. Seems hilarious that I cared so much. I thought of this again recently when someone said, “I’ll trouble you later” and I said, “You could never trouble me.”
44 Crowded House – “She Goes On” …Pretty soon you’ll be able to remember her/lying in the garden singing/right where she’ll always be/the door is always open/this is the place that I loved her/and these are the friends that she had/long may the mountain ring/to the sound of her laughter/and she goes on and on…
*RIP Margaret, who died on 16 February 2018; “til we see her once again/in a world without end…”
45 The Sundays – “When I’m Thinking About You”
*Remembering the varied tastes of Mr Watts when we used to talk and he remembered weird folks like me
46 Pink Martini, The von Trapps – “Rwanda Nziza”
*Dreams of, thoughts on Rwanda
47 Cowboy Junkies – “Come Calling (Her Song)”
*One of those songs that, catching me at the right moment, makes me cry, remembering exactly where I was when I heard it, repeatedly, in one of the worst times of my life
48 Jane Weaver – “I Need a Connection”
*Opening act for Belle & Sebastian – when deciding whether to go spontaneously to see them, seeing that Weaver was opening, that tipped the balance and made me decide to go
49 Sarah Klang – “Milky Way”
*Gothenburg love
50 Shamir – “Lived and Died Alone” …I resign myself to the fact/that I will always love/never to be loved back…
*A beautiful ending, sad sentiments

The whole playlist. Or follow me on Spotify to see all my playlists.

Image (c) 2018 S Donaghy

Bless the eyes and hands of experience

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“If thought is really to find a basis in lived experience, it has to be free. The way to ensure this is to think other in the register of the same. As you construct yourself, imagine another yourself that will one day construct you in its turn. Such is my conception of spontaneity: the highest possible level of self-consciousness that is still inseparable from the self and from the world.” –The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem

I cannot look at a lifetime of previous experience and find anything but something to be grateful for. How I could find fault with, judge or castigate someone for the things that made him who he is now, brought him to this point, where he feels, breathes, walks, runs, lives, sleeps, fucks, eats, moves in this way that is so precisely tuned to the ‘he’ that I know now?

What we should…

“You should never fall in love. Love will bring you unhappiness. If you must love, let it be when you are older, after you are thirty.” –The Setting Sun, Osamu Dazai

“The presence of a noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes the lights for us: we begin to see things again in their larger, quieter masses, and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in the wholeness of our character.” –Middlemarch, George Eliot

Maybe the door has been opened, maybe my middle age has made my brain into mush. But we must use the time we have to absorb what is in books, to touch each other, to eat or revile coriander, to hear our voices reach each other and rise above the hubbub and cut through the chaotic din of our other lives to be able to say, do and be only the most uninhibited of things, to walk through the forest or along the river, to nurture and coax the best of each other, to lighten the dark path we each tread sometimes, to dare to be silly or mundane and find beauty in it, to watch a lone cat sit patiently and alert in the middle of an overgrown field before pouncing on its prey, to sing – however dumb we sound – songs that come into our heads, to fall in love (after 30 or even 40), to give and give and give until exhausted, sore and dizzy, to transform and be transformed. We can blink our eyes, and find suddenly that it is over.

Suffering is sweeter still

“but on days when I fear disappointment, I prefer to look on the dark side of things, it pulls me together and keeps me one step ahead of suffering” –So Much for that Winter, Dorthe Nors

And how sad that would be if we didn’t render our own off-key renditions of “Lover Man” while lying entangled in bed or let ourselves cry in the joy of simple closeness, in the tenderness and care of bringing a cup of coffee in the morning, or in the loss of some small thing we barely noticed when we had it, or in the beauty of how glossy and liquid fountain pen ink can look on a page (I noticed this most of all in a recent episode of American Gods – not at all surprised by the tantalizing visuals there). And how empty life could be if we (or I) only grabbed cheap ballpoint pens, cast books aside to watch Law & Order reruns, or as I was recently cautioned against doing – discarded the best person I ever knew just because I don’t know how to be with someone who is undamaged.

But where, indeed, does experience end and damage begin?

“It feels like nothing matters in our private universe.”

 

Memoirs & McKagan

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In between the more grueling books I’m juggling, I make room spontaneously for “spot choices” – something that I am reminded of in the spur of the moment, something I would not necessarily seek out eagerly (Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, anyone?) but which might be interesting in some way. This is, as I have mentioned before, how I come to read most contemporary autobiographical memoirs. They share some background information about admired (or not) musicians or celebrities, but don’t usually set my brain ablaze. Sure, from the thoughtful writing of Carrie Brownstein and Kim Gordon, both seemingly effortlessly cool public figures, I glimpsed that seemingly universal truth that no matter how cool, aloof, nonchalant and in control we seem on the surface, there’s an insecure, wants-to-be-liked person underneath.

Even the memoirs of “regular” people (which, of course, all of these books underline: we all are regular people), such as the pleasant-enough Shrill by Lindy West and the charmingly self-deprecating All Over the Place by effusively expressive Geraldine DeRuiter (and I am dead serious here: if you don’t already read Geraldine’s Everywhereist blog, do. Also follow her on Twitter; one of my favorite Twitter feeds), forge this kind of ‘we’re all in the soup’ of humanity by sharing their everyday experiences. (Or maybe now that I look at this as a pattern, I read all of these because there is the Seattle connection to all of them but Kim Gordon.)

That said, these kinds of books are rarely ever deeply challenging, will be fast and easy to read. They may make us smile, laugh, nod in agreement and approval or even get angry or feel sympathy for the writer. These are very human books. It was in this way, in one of these palate cleansing frames of mind, that I came to read Duff McKagan’s How to Be a Man.

I don’t know how Duff McKagan ever ended up being someone on my radar, bookwise or otherwise. Somehow since junior high school in the Seattle area, he, despite my not being the Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘type’ (whatever that is), stuck out (probably being a local boy and all helped that visibility). Later, I think I was impressed by the fact that he went back to college after the heyday of GnR and worked on finding his sobriety and ways to maintain it. At another point in my life, I would not have picked up this book; in fact even if I had, I don’t think I would have taken anything away from it. But this time, having had the experiences of the last decade, I approached it differently.

But this is what I will say about it: Despite the fact that it struck me as slightly disorganized (some parts more organized than others), slightly random (although some parts were considerably slicker than others, which made me think the editing was choppy), neither of these things made the book bad. It in fact inspired the feeling and sense of sitting and listening to the guy reel off stories and opinions about his life and his experiences. Maybe that was what he was going for – the relatable (well, in tone, perhaps, not in all the activities – although let’s be clear, as Duff most certainly is – all Seattleites DO live with the ticking-clock on summer, and the damn deck/lawn/painting/housework can only be done in rain-soaked Seattle in that limited window) and conversational.

The book was entertaining and perfectly served the need I had at this exact moment:

*It flowed quickly, even if, as I stated, the editing didn’t make the content flow all the time.

*I liked the random lists of stuff, particularly the diverse variety of recommended albums and books. I would probably add more must-hear albums/artists (today I am overly influenced by the songwriting genius of Neil Finn/Crowded House and the longevity and wild creativity of Robyn Hitchcock). I would also add many books, but who wouldn’t? There are too many books in the world to be able to do justice to a must-read list, which McKagan himself acknowledges, describing his propensity for populating his personal library both in digital and paper formats:

“But a bookstore is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in what’s new. You can browse, and you can ask around, something you can’t do as well in the cocoon of e-commerce. It can be the littlest hint or clue that sends people looking for a book and thrusts their life briefly in new directions. It can be gossip you hear in line for an espresso or a movie you see on espionage. The direction of your reading can very well influence your life for a while.” –How to Be a Man

Clearly he gets what most passionate readers get:

“This is every reader’s catch-22: the more you read, the more you realize you haven’t read; the more you yearn to read more, the more you understand that you have, in fact, read nothing. There is no way to finish, and perhaps that shouldn’t be the goal. The novelist Umberto Eco famously kept what the writer Nassim Taleb called an “anti-library,” a vast collection of books he had not read, believing that one’s personal trove should contain as much of what you don’t know as possible.” –My Life with Bob, Pamela Paul

*On addiction and sobriety, he didn’t have anything new to say that I haven’t heard or read from recovering addicts or specialists in this field. But it’s nevertheless key to see some of the resounding themes: resentment and regret; again, some of this same lack of self-esteem and assurance that the other memoirists listed above have expressed, e.g. learning to like and trust oneself; that, as cliche as it sounds, it’s a one-day-at-a-time process. And sometimes the things that pull you through are unexpected and maybe even the smallest things that then go on to have ripple effects. In his case it was his ‘latching onto’ Jim Rome’s radio show, and when he appeared on the show as a guest, this prompted other listeners to take steps to regain control of their own lives. This too could sound cliche, but the kinship of addicts, and the power of these small sparks to inspire, is the same kind of things I have seen in trying to understand and connect with recovering alcoholics in my own life:

“This life is crazy. It’s the little things that can be absolute game changers.” –How to Be a Man

*Seahawks, Seattle sports and the constant, indefatigable cheering for the (hometown) underdog. Need I say more?

*Seattle. Yes, Seattle. (Do I sound all homesick? I swear I’m not! I left so long ago for a reason!) That place that suddenly became visible in the 1990s, from which its veil was slightly lifted with the mania that surrounded Twin Peaks during its first go-around (even though this was not technically Seattle, you’d still have to go to Seattle to get to the real-world equivalent of Twin Peaks). It is hard to believe now that Seattle was ever this unheard-of place that McKagan describes.

But true story: in junior high, I had a pen pal in California (this was 1989) who phoned me once and asked not only what time it was in Seattle (says more about his ignorance of time zones and geography than Seattle’s invisibility). He seemed surprised to learn that I had ever heard of Depeche Mode and even that I had a phone. If I recall, it was the same year that Time magazine covered the insular nature of Washington state and its ire at “rich Californians” showing up to scoop up all the land. Hmm. (I did go back to see if I could find that issue of Time, and it was, as a side note, interesting to see the cover stories – Donald Trump on the cover in Jan 1989, taunting readers that we would all be “green with envy” about his wealth – or a headline: “The New USSR?” – or Kevin Costner, just releasing Field of Dreams, or Pete Rose, just being tossed for life from baseball. Oh, hilariously, there was a cover featuring the Rolling Stones, including a headline about “aging rockers”… and we thought they were aged then?)

Back to the point. Seattle was on no one’s radar. Not in any appreciable way, at least. Not until Nirvana came along:

“I used to brag to anyone who would listen that these guys were from “my town” and that soon the rest of the world would realize that people didn’t live in tepees in Seattle!” –How to Be a Man

While McKagan framed the singular Seattle “way” within the lens of sports (and a bit in music), it is on the whole accurate about the city’s attitude and evolution.

It is a place of some stoicism, insularity and a bit of an outsider’s “fuck ’em” attitude. Claire Dederer posits in her own sort of memoir, Love & Trouble:

“Seattle is not a big city for crying. Seattle, in fact, is famously emotionally stoppered. There are many theories as to why this is the case; some say it’s because of our dominant genetic and cultural heritages: Norwegian and Japanese. Whatever the reason, Seattle is a place where you are not supposed to emote. You are supposed to endure. In Seattle, where rain and traffic are two snakes twining, choking the body of the city, forbearance is an art. We don’t cry, we just put on more Gore-Tex or maybe use the driving time of our commute to listen to a self-improvement book on tape. Though “driving” is a strong word for what happens when you get into a car in Seattle. And yet suddenly there were these crying hot spots.”

“When you visit other cities, get asked about Seattle. The people you meet want to move there. No one used to move to Seattle except aeronautical engineers and, like, rabid fishing enthusiasts. No one used to know where Seattle even was. They thought maybe it was in Oregon.”

And this obscurity from which Seattle was lifted has made it a too-hot, too-desirable place, in which most mere mortals cannot afford to live.

So… bottom line, I don’t know if I would recommend that anyone read McKagan’s book. I will, though, be giving a copy to one person who will be able to relate, and I think in that way it will help him. And perhaps that is the most one can hope for: reaching one person, especially when they need to hear your particular message, one day at a time.

“No one else can touch us/While we’re in this place”

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This popped up in a couple of Neil Finn feeds online today, and I realized I had not listened to him, Crowded House or Split Enz in a long time. This song…

“I don’t want to say “I love you”
That would give away too much.
It’s hip to be detached and precious,
The only thing you feel is vicious.

I don’t want to say “I want you”
Even though I want you so much.
It’s wrapped up in conversation,
It’s whispered in a hush.

Though I’m frightened by the word,
Think it’s time I made it heard.

No more empty self-possession,
Visions swept under the mat.
It’s no New Year’s resolution,
It’s more than that.

Now I wake up happy
Warm in lover’s embrace.
No one else can touch us
While we’re in this place.

So I’ll sing it to the world
This simple message to my girl.

No more empty self possession,
Visions swept under the mat.
It’s no New Year’s resolution,
It’s more than that.

Though I’m frightened by the word,
Think it’s time I made it heard.

So I’ll sing it to the world
This simple message to my girl.

No more empty self possession,
Visions swept under the mat.
It’s no New Year’s resolution,
It’s more than that.

Oh there’s nothing quite as real
As the touch of your sweet hands.
I can’t spend the rest of my life
Buried in the sand”

-“Message to my Girl” – Split Enz (1984, as if you couldn’t hear that already…)

Locked out on ice

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Nothing like -5c outside and being locked out of a place in the middle of the night. Luckily my car is equipped with blankets and extra coats and all, but still, it was, let’s say… an irritation.

I like driving at night, quite the opposite of daytime driving, which I hate more than anything. At night, there are seldom any other cars. Just darkness and an occasional wild animal springing into the road. I stopped for petrol (and yogurt) at 3:30 and a man came in and seriously ordered a hot dog. Firewall and I once went to this very same petrol station (in one of its bathroom stalls it even has a rectangular metal plate on the back of the toilet, which looks like it’s been set up for people to do cocaine or something. With the way the youth of today hang out at this place on weekend nights – don’t ask me why – maybe there’s more to that theory than I’d have imagined), and he ordered one of these dubious dogs and spent the next 36 hours miserably ill. Even the woman working there asked him, with great concern creeping over her face, “Are you sure? These are kind of old.” No such caution in tonight’s transaction. Just a man who seemed like maybe he eats these gas station hot dogs all the time.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life… and I was locked out.

Good goo of random gum: Halloween 2015 – Nearly lost you

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Random Gum 2015: Nearly Lost You

The full soundtrack (minus those songs that don’t exist on Spotify.)

1. Screaming Trees – “Nearly Lost You”
This year, I nearly lost, and in some cases, lost, so much. The nostalgia brought on by the song and that period in time makes the case for the centrality of loss as a recurring theme.

2. Dark Blue – “Hanging from the Chandelier”
A bit over-the-top but the dramatic sound evokes dark images of last-second glimpses of giant moose on the prowl during my long, wintry, middle-of-night drives. Every dark object in the distance a deer or moose – or a mailbox.

3. Hunx & His Punx – “The Curse of Being Young”
I used to curse my youth – now I wish I could have stood still at 33 forever.

4. Metronomy – “The Look” …you’re goin round in circles/and everyone knows you’re trouble…

5. Phantogram – “The Day You Died” …And I don’t care to say goodbye, cause you’re feeling nothing/I dug into your heart, we got nothing at all…

6. Matrimony – “Giant” …Does it feel good to leave me on my own?…

7. MGMT – “Electric Feel” …shock me like an electric eel…
“All along the eastern shore/Put your circuits in the sea/This is what the world is for/Making electricity/You can feel it in your mind/Oh you can do it all the time/Plug it in and change the world/You are my electric girl”. With love from the sea’s ugliest creature, the wolf eel

8. Cold War Kids – “Mexican Dogs” …flashlights go out/stars will light the way/like Mexican dogs/nobody gave us names…
For Martina, our love for top dogs, piñatas and the endless dog-and-pony show

9. Cowboy Junkies – “Lost My Driving Wheel” …I feel like some old engine/that’s lost my driving wheel…
The sense of losing your bearings, and having nowhere to fall, nowhere to turn, nowhere to rest. Calling out for love, for support, for something, but finding no one, nothing, there.

10. Sam Cooke – “You Send Me”

11. Charles & Eddie – “Would I Lie to You?”
“Ohhhh noooo!” I somehow managed never to know that this song existed until recently. S mentioned it, thinking it was common knowledge. We had a lot of laughs over it and my “death notice delivery” nature (every time he mentioned something, I had an, “Oh and I just found out he’s dead” moment). Suddenly, once I’d heard it, it was everywhere – even the Norwegian radio, perpetually stuck in the 80s and early 90s as it is. Check out the video if you get the chance: 90s music video amateur hour. And it’s all taken on a new life with my friends and me laughing at it. And poor Charles, RIP. For S, for Hayley my former colleague, for Alfa

12. Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me”
RIP Lesley Gore

13. The Boomtown Rats – “Diamond Smiles” …love is for others, but me it destroys…
1970s: was it the coke that led everyone to sing about space, sparkles, glitter, diamonds and satellites? For S, for Angelika

14. J.D. McPherson – “Bridgebuilder
Another discovery sitting in a dark, cold parking lot in the middle of the night.

15. Spiritualized – “Soul on Fire”

16. Bebe Rexha – “I’m Gonna Show You” …tired of trying to be normal/I’m always overthinking/I’m driving myself crazy…
One of those annoying, cliché-filled songs- the whole “I’m such a crazy bitch you can’t handle me” trope… but still, here it is. It caught me off guard until it became catchy (one of the perils of listening to Norwegian radio…)

17. Garbage – “Push It”
Reminds me of the summer I spent dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m. daily to go running – one of the songs that carried me through it. College days. And who in the world can get enough of Shirley Manson? Not me!

18. Nortec Collective: Bostich + Fussible – “Motel Baja” …life is like a piñata/filled with candy to the brim…
Middle-of-the-night drives through Sweden listening to Seattle’s KEXP and its Latin music show, El Sonido. One of my favorite songs all year long. “The bottles are all empty/and I can see the border/Goodbye, Tijuana, where the party never ends…”

19. TV on the Radio – “Happy Idiot”
Another one of my favorites this year. “What you don’t know won’t hurt you/ignorance is bliss/I’m a happy idiot/waving at cars…”

20. Kinky, Beto Zapata – “Para Poder Llegar a Ti”
El Sonido! Another one keeping me sane on the long commute.

21. Squeeze – “Up the Junction” …she left me when my drinking became a proper stinging…
I can’t listen to this without losing it, bursting into uncontrollable tears, for what it reminds me of. For S. “And when the time was ready/We had to sell the telly/Late evenings by the fire/With little kicks inside her”

22. Queen – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
After a crazed listening and documentary fest digging into Freddie Mercury’s life, the history of Queen, couldn’t resist this. I was never a fan but no denying the unbelievable live charisma (see Live Aid if in doubt – pains me a bit to think of how long ago that was). For Roxane

23. Evans the Death – “Idiot Button …I’m an idiot for trying…
It is like there’s an “idiot button” that resets again and again, sending me back to the painful beginning, wringing out any last compassion I feel.

24. Dom La Nena – “Golondrina”
Too beautiful

25. Pond – “Holding Out for You” …I was only there for you…
The burden of sticking around to be there for someone, holding out hope…

26. Kevin Morby – “Parade”
“If I were to die today/Puppet in that great charade/The last thing that you’d hear me say/Is bury me in different shapes/Of the parade”

27. Mitski – “First Love/Late Spring”
“So please hurry leave me/I can’t breathe/Please don’t say you love me/Mune ga hachikire-sōde/One word from you and I would/Jump off of this/Ledge I’m on/Baby/Tell me “don’t,”/So I can/Crawl back in”

28. Courtney Barnett – “Dead Fox” …if you can’t see me/I can’t see you…
Love that the album this came from is called Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. For my S. the lone wolf.

29. Perfume Genius – “Queen”
A certain atmosphere

30. The Platters – “Only You”
Just one of those things you have to love.

31. Eddy Grant – “Electric Avenue”
Reminds me of the 80s, being a kid with my brother, Kyle, and enjoying this video on USA Network’s NightFlight (decades before original programming!) or TBS SuperStation’s NightTracks or some other video show in the pre-MTV era (or rather before we had MTV)…

32. O Terno – “Ai, ai, Como Eu Me Iludo”
For all my Brazilian friends and acquaintances.

33. TV on the Radio – “Trouble”
I am in love with this song no matter how many times I hear it.

34. Ultravox – “Vienna”
Dead cold city (Oslo) at the holidays. Coffees at Deli De Luca (only thing open). For S.

35. Las Ketchup – “Asereje”
For Sarah. Back when I had pirated Israeli MTV in Seltjarnarnes and this song was everywhere annoying the crap out of everyone. Marshmallow couches, trips to the few restaurants with booths – it was like some other lifetime. The song still annoys – was shocked to hear it on KEXP’s El Sonido radio show this past spring.

36. Ros Sereysothea – “Shave Your Beard”
Reminded me of the Vietnamese music I used to hear with a long-ago boyfriend (from youth). And of course… no more beards. Clean-cut, new passport!. Fresh start, fresh face. For S.

37. The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ USA”
To new career endeavors and surfing the choppy waves of love. Waimea Bay and Five-0!

38. U2 – “An Cat Dubh” …yes, and I know the truth about you…
A rabid U2 fan back in my youth, it’s all been downhill for me since Achtung Baby (with The Joshua Tree being the pinnacle of their achievement). But listening anew to the back catalog, nothing they’ve done thrills me more than their first album, Boy. It’s so exuberant, not trying too hard, fresh (certainly for its time) and still sounds exciting, exploratory. I love it and the way the musicians’ youth explodes in sound. For Terra

39. OMD – “If You Leave”
Nostalgia, if for no other reason

40. Robyn Hitchcock – “The Ghost in You”
One of my favorite Psychedelic Furs songs only performed by one of my favorite musicians, the wild Robyn Hitchcock.

41. Leon Bridges – “Better Man” …what can I do to get back to your heart/I’d swim the Mississippi River if you would give me another start, girl…
When one requires and asks for too many chances, you care less and less every time.

42. Berlin – “No More Words”
At first included as an homage to the 80s, the lyrics took on special meaning as I kept being fed the same empty words over and over – only to face the same results (insanity?)

43. Crowded House – “Help is Coming”
Beautiful, underrated and understated Crowded House. Hard to choose a song, really, and at the end of the year as the refugee crisis hit peak levels, their gorgeous, longing tune “Help is Coming” became the anthem of offering refuge.

44. Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”
One of my ill-advised Norwegian radio-listening experiences yielded this old gem. I wondered, driving along, whatever happened to Jermaine Stewart and his cherry wine, only to come home and discover that he died ages ago. More of my grim-reaper nature. Poor guy – RIP.

45. The Maccabees – “Toothpaste Kisses”
“With heart shaped bruises/and late night kisses/divine”

46. Falco – “Der Kommissar”
Nothing like memories of Lufthansa flight watching Falco biopic

47. Glenn Medeiros – “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”
I had never been a fan of this dude at all, this song or this style and had promptly, conveniently forgotten the existence of this. S heard it in a TV ad in Glasgow, proceeded to incorporate it into his musical repertoire, and this made me, ever-curious… curious. Glenn is now a wild-patterned-shirt wearing school administrator in Hawaii, where he grew up. We follow each other on Twitter. Strangely, lots of factors can change your love for someone.

48. Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”
I have always hated this song and find the name “Night Ranger” more than comical. But it sticks in the mind in a big way.

49. Lera Lynn – “My Least Favorite Life”
The only good part of the 2nd season of the bloated and pretentious True Detective.

50. Foreigner – “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Another cheesy piece of auditory crap, but I heard it as it closed out the most recent season of Orange is the New Black, and in my apparently weakened emotional state at the time, the song seemed to hit me rather hard.

**51. Vorderhaus – “Could I Run **bonus track**

the things that excite-sadden-inspire-create-suffering in us

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Meeting a guy who professionally sold office supplies and offered me an endless supply of different pens on a regular basis. Yeah, back then, that was fab. But not the kind of guy I was going to, say, marry. But back then fistfuls of pens would get me really excited.

These triggers for excitement change a lot… strange to think that nowadays I get really fired up talking about infection control or antibiotic resistance or cutting-edge plastic surgery techniques.

Or that I am excited when new web browsers come into the world.

And then the things that make us inexpressibly sad. US Vice President Joe Biden and all the loss he has experienced. Reading an MIT commencement address delivered long ago by former politician Paul Tsongas (before he died, young). Lachrymose, feeling this mortality and the grief unfolding. More nostalgic than normal.

Seeing that Duran Duran will play the WA State Fair… igniting Duran nostalgia, reminding me of a third-grade field trip back when chaperone parents were still allowed to drive kids in private cars – I went with a guy whose mom had a new Camaro or something like that and we listened to Seven and the Ragged Tiger over and over. I envied that her car had a cassette deck and could automatically reverse and play the tapes. My parents’ car, which eventually became my car, had nothing of the sort.

In junior high my best friend and her “former” best friend from elementary school went to see Duran Duran on their sort of “comeback” tour in 1988 – funny to think of it being a comeback since they had not really gone anywhere. They had just gone quiet for a handful of years. I imagine that I protested and pretended to like Duran less than I did because I was jealous that my friend and her former friend (just because their parents would buy them tickets, of course) were going to the concert.

I write about this former friend a lot, especially in the throes of nostalgia, because so many things remind me of her. Hearing U2, Robyn Hitchcock, Crowded House, being in Scotland, seeing Starburst candy (which is not the norm here in Sweden), making snickerdoodle cookies or cinnamon rolls (she was always the one to make the glaze).

We drifted apart long before we actually lost touch entirely. For so many years I wanted to have closure or to know that she was okay. She really just disappeared from the face of the earth and there was no way for me to find her. She is one of the few people without a discernible web identity/presence. It’s almost impressive. I went out of my way trying to find out for a really long time, making a nuisance of myself at times.

I have mostly let go of that, and I have come to understand the selfishness of that need. Maybe she wasn’t okay and my demanding to know she was could have been just another nagging thing for her. Especially because her well-being is and was not my business. Our past friendship creates no obligation for her to share any of it. I still hope she is well, regardless. Sigh – the intensity of youth friendship and that compact worldview of youth make it hard to imagine a closer friendship even if, reflecting, there was very little to it.