Sour Times of Summer – Random Gum, Summer 2017


Yet another mix to get through the summer…

It’s fun to go back to old mixes – I have been doing these formally since 2004, so there are a lot of them. It’s extraordinary to feel so strongly the feelings felt at the time of selecting the songs. Even songs that did not have particular import at the time – now I can remember exactly the feeling associated with listening. The 2017 Moving On mix from the early part of the year, for example, included “Trouble” by Girl Ray, which was never a favorite, but now when I listen to it, I imagine this whirlwind trip to Stockholm in December 2016 to pick up my new car and the long drive home (5 hours), the strange feeling of it being snowy and wintry in Stockholm but not at home in the woods in western Sweden (really unusual reversal of winter fortune).

Or I look at the Halloween 2007 mix, and even though I had no idea at that point that I would be leaving Iceland the following year, there are all these hints scattered through everything that I would eventually move to Sweden. Not to mention the ongoing themes of melancholy and uncertainty (the entire 2007 mix reflects that). I can sense an almost palpable shift in the way the mixes were done and the mounting intensity of my music searches and listening as soon as I got my bearings in Norway/Sweden.

In 2008, I made a mix but was almost rootless, and I think I see that rootlessness in the ‘floating’ and almost lazy nature of the mix (even though I had connections to and reasons for the selections, but as a whole it remains one of my least favorite mixes). By 2009 I was deep into ‘discovery’ mode, and that has mostly continued ever since. In 2009, influenced heavily by a French guy, initials BB, dontcha know?? (When am I not under the influence of French guys?) I put a bunch of songs from Diving with Andy on the mix and promptly forgot all about this band until a few weeks ago when Mr Firewall mentioned he had seen the French TV show Maison Close and really liked some songs heard in it from a band whose name he misremembered, but which turned out to be Diving with Andy. Music is a bit like … puzzle pieces. They fit into place sometimes in more than one puzzle, sometimes many years after the puzzle is boxed up and put away.

I guess the truth is life shifted and became something totally different after I left Iceland. It has just taken me ten years to fully recognize and appreciate that difference. Now we are in the 13th year of these mixes. And every year, every time I think… why am I still doing this? But when I consider stopping, I just don’t.

Most parcels will contain some ultra-sour candy from Sweden (I have not included it for everyone, as I knew some people would not like it at all and others would be allergic or not able to consume one or another of the ingredients). I recognize that sour candy isn’t a lovely surprise to everyone (certainly not the way chocolate is welcomed), but sour candy is just about the only kind that I can’t resist. At least here you can appreciate the fun packaging. Rest assured, if I keep this up, I will probably revert to more universally palatable treats. Enjoy your summer!

Whole playlist on Spotify (except those songs that don’t exist there, of course)…

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The Good Goo of Random Gum: The Sour Times of Summer 2017

01 Flock of Dimes – “Semaphore” …What we cannot keep and we cannot kill/What we cannot communicate…

02 Mekons – “Ghosts of American Astronauts” …It’s just a small step for him/It’s a nice break from Vietnam…
“John Glenn drinks cocktails with God/In a cafe in downtown Saigon”

03 The Undercover Dream Lovers – “Good Luck” …Calm me down/we’ve both been here before…

04 New Order – “Thieves Like Us” …It’s called love/And somehow it’s become unmentionable…

05 Elvis Perkins – “Emile’s Vietnam in the Sky” …And do you ever wonder/Where you go when you die?…

06 Blouse – “No Shelter” …There is no shelter from this storm/Nothing in nature can make my body warm…
“Let’s be alone again, so far away/I’ll ditch all my friends/They won’t even miss me for a day”

07 Psychic Ills/Hope Sandoval – “I Don’t Mind” …Maybe we just can’t/Let it go…

08 Jason Molina – “Tower Song” …The end is coming soon, it’s plain/A warm bed just ain’t worth the pain…
The late Molina doing the late, great Townes van Zandt. “Your fear has built a wall between/Our lives and all what lovin’ means/Will have to go unfelt it seems/And that leaves only sorrow”

09 Chris Cornell – “Before We Disappear” …But there’s a door in every cell/A pearl inside of every shell…
RIP. Never my favorite artist but, my goodness.

10 Julia Holter – “Silhouette” …He can hear me sing/Though he is far/I will lose sight of him…
“No time to hesitate/I cede all my love and play your abandoned fool”

11 Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas – “Boney M Down”

12 Laura Marling – “Soothing” …I banish you with love/You can’t come in/You don’t live here anymore…
“May those who find you find remorse/A change of course, a strange discord resolved”

13 Robyn Hitchcock – “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” …Love is all we lay to waste/Now it’s only lips of loneliness that taste you…

14 Charlie Hilton – “Pony” …Get off my back/I’m not your pony…
For Martina ❤ & our dog and pony shows and all the unreasonable expectations of corporate life

15 El Perro del Mar – “Breaking the Girl”
For dear Ben ❤, whom I think of often and miss

16 Aimee Mann – “Poor Judge” …And I can see your light on/Calling me back to make the same mistake again…
“You might have found some other reason/To leave me in that dark ravine/My heart is a poor judge/And it harbors an old grudge”

17 Pumarosa – “Priestess” …It must be hard, you’re being so statuesque…

18 Kingdom of the Holy Sun – “Flown Away”
Yay Seattle. Thanks to Naomi ❤

19 Gun Outfit – “Legends of My Own”
Originally an Olympia band… “I looked familiar in a foreign land/I couldn’t speak, but I could understand/From another life I rode/Into a desert of my own/And when I put my blanket down/I’m going to dream all over”

20 Matt Berry – “Take My Hand” …You could be the one for all I know…/…I can see the light, it looks like you…
For J ❤ “Everybody I know these days is boring me/Or ignoring me/But not you”

21 Martha Wainwright – “Around the Bend”
“I’ve been around the world and back again/I still can’t get those cards to win”

22 Mikko Joensuu – “There Used to Be a Darkness”

23 No Middle Name – “Fading Photo” …I didn’t fall in love to feel this bad…
“Got tickets for our favorite band/The original plan was just to hold my hand”

24 The Monochrome Set – “Eine Symphonie Des Grauens”

25 Shonen Knife – “Baggs”
Japan ❤ This reminds me so much of high school and searching Japanese music stores

26 Ibibio Sound Machine – “The Pot is on Fire”
Perfect for jumping around the kitchen, especially if the heating goes out in winter

27 Goldfrapp – “Anymore” …The power of you/Transforming me…

28 Le Couleur – “Femme”

29 Vorderhaus – “Love Finds Suffocated Blood”
Thank you, ML

30 Moon City Boys – “Rockets”
Swedish music ❤

31 Esin Afşar – “Zühtü”
It’s all Jill ❤ all the time. Thanks, love.

32 Jane Weaver – “Mission Desire”
Maybe I just love people named Jane ❤

33 Jay Som – “Rush”

34 Papercuts – “Future Primitive” …We are here and we’re gone/It’s our work that marches on…

35 Blue House – “I Found My Limit”

36 Heron Oblivion – “Rama”
Another glorious thanks-to-KEXP discovery

37 Amen Dunes – “Lonely Richard”

38 Chris Cornell – “Imagine”
More RIP sentiments

39 Yves Montand – “Sanguine
Ah, Jacques Prévert

40 Kevin Ayers – “May I?” …May I sit and stare at you for a while?/I’d like the company of your smile…

41 The Cure – “How Beautiful You Are”
For J, sparking my memories of Baudelaire and contemplations on humanity. Love for Gary and our junior high school obsessions

42 The Clientele – “Breathe in Now
43 Low – “What Part of Me” …What part of me don’t you want?…
“Can’t you see that I’m bleeding out here?”

44 Tim Darcy – “Still Waking Up” …Yeah you say I’m not awake, but still alive/Isn’t it funny how that happens?…
“Something about the way you blink your eyes/Tells me that you’re not ready/Tells me that you’re still waking up, alone/With too many years left to plan”

45 Novella – “Does the Island Know” …without consequence/is insanity…

46 Fionn Regan – “The Meetings of the Waters” …Meetings of the waters/Heartaches in the woods…

47 Dusty Springfield – “Wishin’ and Hopin’”
Just a groovy sound that reminded me of something – but definitely not admirable lyrics

48 Robyn Hitchcock – “Flavour of Night” …But who needs to talk when you’re caught in the flavour of night?…
“Eyes you don’t trust, but the fingers have beckoned/How long you got left? Well how long do you reckon?/But who goes to waste when they’re tasting the flavour of night?”

49 Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”
RIP. At this point the most cliché, overused song but oddly it was one I had not much heard until Cornell died. I was more likely to run into Soundgarden members at the Broadway/Cap Hill Safeway than hear their music

50 Charlie Hilton – “Funny Anyway”
“Put your arms around me/Tell me I’m ok, even though I’m not laughing/It’s funny anyway”

51 Kadhja Bonet – “Honeycomb”
“Beckoning – with fickle majesty/Your whims are always met/Honeycomb/And I lucky fool in courtly jest/But the jokes are all on me”

52 Maybird – “Big Sun Explosion” …I finally lifted my eyelids to see light/And when they were open, I saw the big sun explosion…
“Poor vision and poor health, what do you tell yourself?/Objects appear a little more clear when they’re nearer”

53 Yo La Tengo – “My Heart’s Not In It” …And there’s just nothing I can do/To get that feeling I had with you…

54 Cate Le Bon – “I Just Wanna Be Good”
For SD Firewall. “I don’t wanna be the cold cuts lying on your floor/I don’t wanna be the stray dog scratching at your door”

55 The Clean – “Anything Could Happen”
New Zealand ❤

56 Michael Kiwanuka – “Falling”

57 Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – “1,000 Times”
“I had a dream that you were mine/I’ve had that dream a thousand times”

58 Guided By Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain”
Alcoholic Mr Rogers! Love to Naomi. “Why is it every time I think about you/Something that you have said or implied makes me doubt you/Then I look into your cynical eyes and I know it/As if it never meant anything to me”

59 Bjørn Torske – “Hard Trafikk”
More (S)Norway

60 Pepe Deluxé – “Go Girl Go” …Ladies: You win…
For Annette and Tilda: “You’re at the party and it’s your show”

61 Electrelane – “The Valleys”
Taken from/inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s “A Letter Home

62 Tom Williams – “Everyone Needs a Home” …There’s nothing here for us any more…

63 Curve – “Ten Little Girls”
Still sounds as good today as when it was new. Curve still comes to mind often

64 Trance Farmers – “Lone Star”

65 Savoy Motel – “Hot One”
Another jumping-around-the-house kind of song. Keeps you awake and warm

66 Ultimate Painting – “Into the Darkness”

67 Julie Byrne – “Sleepwalker”
“I lived my life alone before you/And with those that I’d never succeeded to love/And I grew so accustomed to that kind of solitude/I fought you, I did not know how to give it up”

68 Portishead – “Sour Times”
Mostly just to accompany super sour candy

69 Karl Blau – “If I’ve Died on You”
From good old Anacortes

70 David Bowie – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” …Oh, no, love, you’re not alone…

71 Aimee Mann – “Invisible Ink” …I suppose I should be happy to be misread/Better be that than some of the other things I have become…
“Oh, I could get specific but/Nobody needs a catalog/With details of a love I can’t sell any more”

72 Low Roar – “Give Me an Answer”
“I know the time and the space that you need; it’s blurry but I’ll get on/It’s getting hard to tell day from a day, just say it and I’ll move on”. If only people would lead with actual answers

73 Piano Magic – “Closure”
“Let’s get this thing sewn up, let’s get this thing signed off, let’s tie up these loose ends/cause you say we can’t just be friends/All these people open wounds/the English always too polite to say what really must be said/They’d rather take it to their death/But you never get, no you never get…closure”

74 Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift – “Life is Change” …you don’t want to see that life is change…

75 Townes van Zandt – “If I Needed You” …And you will miss sunrise/If you close your eyes…

76 The Finn Brothers – “Last Day of June” …The city draws its breath in/I can almost hear it thinking/There are people within my walls/See their wild disorder/Driving their machines/Swarming like a million bees…

77 Meshell Ndegeocello – “Either Way I Lose”
It’s weird but this song and interpretation of it desperately makes me want to have sex. Haha.

Random Gum: Summer 2016 soundtrack


Random Gum – Summer 2016 soundtrack: Alive and Kicking
Latent Love and the Pre-Internet Days

The whole playlist (minus the songs that don’t exist on Spotify…) on Spotify.

01. Simple Minds – “Alive and Kicking” …now it’s all or nothing/cause you said you follow through…

Appeared twice in the same week on primetime TV (The Goldbergs & Fresh Off the Boat), proving 80s/90s nostalgia is alive and kicking – Simple Minds and John Hughes, always leading the charge. For S, for Amber

02. Vorderhaus – “Stepping Off the Ghost Train” …You tell yourself you’re in love/I tell myself I don’t care/I’m stepping off the ghost train/I’m tired of loving you in vain…

03. INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” …but if I hurt you, I’ll make wine from your tears…

A cover version of this with female vocal (Paloma Faith) appeared in L&O SVU and made me think of the original, and of the domino-like tragedy of HutchenceYatesGeldof. And after the “Alive and Kicking” appearances I also thought of former best friend Terra and her junior high crush on INXS’s Jon Farriss. She had gone to spend the summer in Aberdeen (Scotland, not WA), dreamt Farriss died and had written me a letter (yes – a real letter, as this all happened in the 1987-8 world before the internet) describing the nightmare, to which I replied, “Don’t worry – he’s alive… and kicking!” Which was only funny at all because INXS’s hit album was called KICK. For Terra. For S.

04. John Grant – “Geraldine” …we’re not like them, we’re not that strong/at least that’s what they have been telling us all along…

The gorgeousness of John Grant continues.

05. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure” …When it all breaks down and we’re runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain…

06. Glenn Frey – “The Heat is On”
This has been a particularly rough year so far for musical deaths. I’m no Glenn Frey/Eagles fan, but this song plays into 1980s memories as well as a more recent vignette when two of my colleagues and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday, and he commented on how I can possibly wear dresses in the cold, and I replied, “In the office, the heat is on…” The three of us old lady colleagues, in unison, burst into song, ‘The heat is on…’, which perplexed the youthful Spaniard.

07. AaRON – “U-Turn (Lili)” …you know there’s still a place for people like us…
Many thanks to my colleague, Laurent. This popped up at a time that everyone and everything seemed to be named Aaron, and as Key & Peele ended on Comedy Central, and I inhaled all five seasons in a few days, and keep going back to the “Substitute Teacher” clip in which the sub pronounces it, “A-A-Ron”.

08. Beach House – “Days of Candy” …I know it comes too soon/The universe is riding off with you…

09. David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”
I’ve never experienced anything like the collective outpouring of shared grief and mourning for a public figure – and felt a part of it – the way I did when Bowie unexpectedly died in January 2016. I had never been a huge fan, but his departure felt like the dimming of a bright light that guided our path through the modern cultural landscape. For weeks afterward, I cried if I listened to him (which I could not stop doing) or thought about him. In the end, mortality will come for the flesh, but the work, voice, sound and vision live forever.

10. Lush – “Lovelife” …in your concrete arms I adore you…
Celebrating the resurrection of Lush, their 2016 tour and (possibly) seeing them in London in May (which, sadly, I could not). For all my Lush-loving friends (too numerous to count!). “Every door conceals a dream and a nightmare…”

11. Karen Elson – “Who’s Sorry Now?”

12. The Chills – “Soft Bomb Part One” …I’m tearing all my hair out with my hands/I know what they will never understand…
For all the New Zealand-leaning ambitions and longing. For all the NZ friends (Trevor, Kimberley, Dan, Lauren)…

13. Los Blenders – “TJTQ”
Tijuana! For Martina, as everything Mexican is.

14. Tennis – “Mean Streets” …Stay on your own/Or leave it alone…
For Esteban and Ana, fellow Tennis fans.

15. KC & the Sunshine Band – “Boogie Shoes”
I don’t know how this fits into the soundtrack, really. I watched a documentary about the 1970s and thought we could use a pause here to groove on the decade

16. 88 ULTRA – “Oceans”

17. Christine and the Queens – “No Harm is Done” …I can follow/Wanna take the lead/but I roam all alone/With a heart so hollow…
With more thanks to Laurent.

18. Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”

19. The Ink Spots – “I’ll Get By”
For S the Firewall

20. Elvis Costello – “Sweet Pear” …But there’s a void without your kiss/I wake on the precipice above the abyss/And though the touch of your lips these fears dismiss/Make no mistake there is an ache I have to live with…
“Was my grip too loose, my grip too strong/That made you want to run away/And now you’re back where I pretend you belong/I wonder every night and day, how long?” For Roberto.

21. Dom La Nena – “Saudade” …E onde é que foi que vi voar aquele beija flor/Onde esta agora os restos de um amor que machucou/E o tempo passou, você não mudou/A quanto tempo foi que você não voltou…
Brasil, so much in the news, so much in the thoughts, this year.

22. Soapkills – “Wadih”
Many thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

23. Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now?” …is there someone else, am I too familiar, was it when I said I wanted to have children…?
I’ve always preferred Elvis Costello’s slower, sadder recording of this song. Every time I hear it, it seems to take on new depth and meaning. “What do I do now? Are we going under? What did I do wrong? I thought we had it sorted out the other day. Maybe I’m just stupid. Thought we’d try again. No one told me it was raining.”

24. Linda Mirada – “Lío en Río”

25. Crystal Castles – “Plague”
For and thanks to Roxane.

26. Saint Motel – “A Quick One While He’s Away” …It’s like a dream to be with you again…

27. Townes van Zandt – “Waitin’ Around to Die” …sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me…
Never get enough of Townes. “Now I’m outta prison, got me a friend that lasts. Well he don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie, well, his name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen, yeah, together we’re gonna wait around and die.”

28. Psycho Killer – “Road to Nowhere”
Stuff like this (the original anyway, and the Talking Heads in general) and The Pretenders – stuff I could not appreciate until on the cusp of being “aged” like cheese or wine.

29. Tom Jones – “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer”
Of course I’m inspired by Martina (another Mexican thing) here and how kind of comical this song is, but also thinking of multiple discussions on the dislike for Welsh people (haha) and the recent passing of Tom Jones’s wife (RIP).

30. Salt Petal – “Cumbia de Billinghurst”

31. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” …No comprende/it’s a riddle…
For Martina. “I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana”

32. Telefon Tel Aviv – “Helen of Troy” …Your face is the place/where it ends…

33. Clan of Xymox – “A Day”
This certainly takes me back in time.

34. Ezra Furman – “Body Was Made” …Your body is yours at the end of the day
and don’t let the hateful try and take it away…
Had not heard so much saxophone in a long time, and stumbled on this right after having multiple conversations about how the name “Ezra” isn’t one you hear often.

35. Lush & Jarvis Cocker – “Ciao!” …life is wonderful now that I’m rid of you…
This is 1996 for me, two of my favorites of the time, trying to break away from the grip of shitty relationships that seem to be the telltale sign of young adulthood.

36. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”

37. Mashrou’Leila – “Imm El Jacket”
Thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

38. Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”
Music my mom listened to a lot when my brother and I were children. My brother had an angry-looking, fluffy blue stuffed rabbit he named “Eddie Rabbit” thanks to our exposure to this. Wondering what happened to the little rabbit, as I made some of my last long-haul drives in the middle of the night between home & Gothenburg.

39. Irma Thomas – “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”

40. Townes van Zandt – “Be Here to Love Me”
“Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine/though you and I both know it’s only the warm glow of wine/that’s got you to feeling this way/but I don’t care I want you to stay/hold me and tell me you’ll be here to love me today”

41. Bertrand Belin – “Je parle en fou”

42. John Grant – “Down Here”
“Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing/And guessing games, and no guarantees/And you work so hard to be in control/And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go”. For Roberto.

43. Still Corners – “Beginning to Blue”
Lovely song anyway but its placement in the stunning second season of You’re the Worst, when you’re hit with the realization that the main character is descending into a deep, dark depression was perfect.

44. Philip Selway – “Coming Up for Air”
For Kyle. “You hafta come up for aih(s) sometime”. Ugh/puke.

45. Robyn Hitchcock – “1974” …And as Nixon left the White House you could hear people say/’they’ll never rehabilitate that mother, no way’…
Robyn is just a magnificent storyteller, master of verbal imagery and a genius. Love! If “Boogie Shoes” was a grooveable 70s moment, this is a philosophical rumination on that ruinous and ugly decade.

46. Elvis Costello – “What Do I Do Now?”
Had to include this version, too, of course.

47. Alex Vargas – “Till Forever Runs Out”

48. The Cure – “A Strange Day” …Held for one moment I remember a song/An impression of sound/Then everything is gone/Forever…
For Gary, with whom it’s great to be back in contact. Here’s to the best moments of our teenage years.

49. New Edition – “Cool It Now”
I remember enjoying this video as a little kid – and then the tune turned up in the soundtrack to Master of None and I just had to include it.

50. Happyness – “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”
“What do you do when you hate all your friends?”

51. Tobias Jesso Jr – “Without You”
“I can hardly breathe without you/There is no future I want to see without you/I just don’t know who I would be without you/There is nothing out there for me without you…”

52. Koudlam – “See You All”
I don’t know why, but this song is the right one for walking through the city and waiting in queues.

53. bigott – “Baby Lemonade”
“Like in the movies, she wake up dreaming/nothing is hiding/if you can find it…”

54. Giant Sand – “Stranded Pearl” …every girl is like a pearl/hearts strung along and then left stranded…
A great, visual, wordy song. “I lost me my eye in a battle/went there to rattle their cage/lost sight of the big picture/now this permanent fixture is my rage”. (Made me think a bit at the end of a Derek Walcott poem, “Codicil”, which ends, “All its indifference is a different rage.”)

55. The Staves – “Black & White”

56. Jordie Lane – “Fell Into Me”
Sounds very reminiscent of Neil Finn. Thanks to Nicki.

57. Ra Ra Riot – “Foreign Lovers”
“Well the one in Chicago wasn’t there anymore, and because that thing in Berlin wasn’t anyone’s fault… I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before – you got foreign lovers”. An insanely fitting song, stumbled on by accident. All the foreign lovers (and hilarious that Chicago and Berlin are the cities referenced…).

58. Niyaz – “Beni Beni”

59. Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “No End” …I guess it’s useless to say/I want you to stay…
The Guardian described Jaakko thusly: “tram driver in Helsinki by day, weird-pop maestro by night”.

60. All We Are – “Keep Me Alive” …I hear nothing at all but your breathing…

61. Fairport Convention – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

As an adolescent, my friend Terra and I ‘discovered’ Fairport Convention, and it’s still something nice to listen to. When I listened to this again and reflected on the time that’s passed by since we were friends, and particularly since we were close and finding new music together, the song was particularly poignant and bittersweet.

62. Núria Graham – “Dark Past” …everybody’s got a dark past/but mine is just about to start…

63. David Bowie – “Cat People” … Just be still with me/You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through…

64. Cousteau – “Last Good Day of the Year”

“When the summer’s light is fragrant/with scents of returning/you relent, you resent, now you’re burning/for nothing to change…”

65. Wire – “German Shepherds” …it’s beginning to and back again…

Song title made me think, in a very roundabout way, of the Paris attacks of November 2015. Following the attacks, the French government went on the offensive and a Belgian shepherd (like the one in the TV show Person of Interest) was killed during a raid, prompting the Russians to give a new dog to the French. Hmm. Then in March, of course, Belgium fell victim to yet another terror attack.

66. Pet Shop Boys – “Love is a Bourgeois Construct”

No sentiment could be truer. November 2015, driving around downtown Tacoma, with thanks to my brother, Kyle, on relationships: “That phase of my life is over.”

67. Vorderhaus – “Venus in Retrograde” …how do you really love/the truth is happening/it’s venus in retrograde/the dark affair within…
You know you want more:

68. Townes van Zandt – “For the Sake of the Song” …nothing’s what it seems/maybe she’ll start someday to realize/if she abandons her dreams/then all the words she can say are only lies/when will she see that the gain is only to lose/all that she offers me are chains/and I got to refuse…

For ML. “Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song/who do I think that I am to decide that she’s wrong?”

69. The Paris Sisters – “I Love How You Love Me”


70. Blur, Françoise Hardy – “To the End”

71. Primal Scream – “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” …I betrayed you, you trusted me, and I betrayed you…

Sometimes you realize that even when something is ostensibly done, you cannot fully move forward until you have let go completely of past things and people. The sad reminder of the last conversation, last realization/S.

72. Amanda Bergman – “Vintersaga”

For many reasons I put this here – it’s a Swedish story full of Swedish place, but it is also choice for its connection to dear Andreas, the value of musical recommendations, and to our many talks about ad copy and the fraudulent feeling of writing stuff without meaning, pop culture stuffing of ads & such.

73. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

Constant striving for Berlin, which represents a constant striving for change.

74. Prince & the Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

What can I even say? If Bowie was a loss and a shock, the loss of Prince was an even greater shock. For me, Prince is always freshest, best and alive in the Purple Rain period. I fell in love with the first time I heard this one as a child. RIP.

75. Johnny Cash – “The Beast in Me”

A fitting ending, in many ways. For S. “God help the beast in me.”

Dig if you will the picture… RIP Prince


This year began with the impossible-to-accept and still sometimes breathtakingly sad news that David Bowie had passed at age 69. I can only refer to him as “David Bowie” because no single word or descriptor (artist, musician, entertainer…) can encompass what and who he was or the legacy and influence he left in his wake.

Throughout the year, we’ve been hit with big – and horribly early – celebrity deaths. “Early” in the sense that people are passing away at younger ages, before their time. Of course there are the notable deaths of older people, such as the actress Doris Roberts, who just passed away at 90, or Abe Vigoda, long the subject of internet death rumors, at 94. But in the first four months of 2016, we’ve seen death come for much younger people. Some are shocking, like actor Alan Rickman (who was 69) or The Eagles’ Glenn Frey (67), but others are devastating in a rare and almost profound way. I don’t think any celebrity death can surpass the transcendent and lasting loss of Bowie, but if there’s a rival passing, it’s that of Prince, who is dead at 57. (Strange that Prince’s one-time protege, Vanity, also died this year, also at age 57.)


To describe what these artists meant would be a fool’s errand. They meant so many different things to so many different people. It’s enough to write that luminaries like Bowie and Prince were beyond description – and formed the backdrop of and soundtrack for the lives of millions. Most people have some – or many – connection(s) to the music, bound tightly to their individual memories. My entire childhood is peppered with aural and visual memories of both Bowie and Prince. The visuals of Ziggy-era Bowie or the entirely different aesthetic of “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” that flashed onscreen in late-night music video shows; exuberant pairings of Prince’s “1999” and “Let’s Go Crazy” and the altogether different seductive power of “When Doves Cry” (which pretty much always has been and always will be my go-to Prince anthem).

It’s not that Bowie or Prince, either one, had been the bedrock of my musical life or tastes. But they had been there, as foundations and influences for everything else, pulling the past (their influences) into the present, and dispersing their own influence across the depth and breadth of the musical spectrum. Losing them is losing forces to be reckoned with in the way that losing most artists just isn’t.



Lunchtable TV Talk: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll


On the surface, I don’t think Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll would appeal much to me. But then, when have I limited my TV viewing to things that appeal to me?

The show is ostensibly about trying to keep the washed-up drug addict former lead singer of a band called The Heathens (Denis Leary) off drugs long enough to write a few new songs. It turns out he has a daughter he never knew about, and she turns up with money and the intention of putting the band back together – with her as the lead singer. Leary created the show, and more than anything, it showcases his fast-paced, smart-ass, sharp humor better than anything I’ve seen him do lately.

Leary as Johnny Rock: “Bowie had this haircut in 1973, this is an iconic look.”

John Corbett, as Flash, one of Johnny Rock’s old bandmates: “Bowie’s been drug-free since 78.”

Johnny: “Talent-free, too, bro. Let’s dance… let’s not, David….”

Johnny: “Name one great band or rock star that doesn’t get high.”

Rehab, former bandmate: “Coldplay.*”

Johnny’s daughter, Gigi: “Morrissey.”

Bam Bam, another former bandmate: “Radiohead.”

Johnny: “I rest my case. Every time I hear a Radiohead song, I feel like I’m failing the SATs all over again.”

This coupled with a few zingers about Pat Benatar and her husband, Mr. Pat Benatar had me chuckling through the first two episodes. Sadly that’s all that’s been broadcast so far.

Of note, the band manager, Ira, is the actor Josh Pais… who is one of those unafraid to be non-descript guys who shows up everywhere. He is the quietest, pent up and most unassuming dentist in the indie film Touchy Feely but then is this angry, volatile, perv, Stu Feldman, in Ray Donovan. I love actors who blend in but deliver wildly and widely varied performances, and Pais is great at this even if he is upstaged here by Denis Leary and John Corbett. He may always be upstaged because he blends in well and does exactly what his character is there to do.

Overall, it may be that you have to have a soft spot for Denis Leary to like this in the first place, but I suppose I qualify even if I have no fondness for the kind of selfish, ne’er-do-well character he represents.

*I would argue that Coldplay is NOT a great band, whatever their reach and popularity. Agree there with Leary’s resting the case.

Random Gum – Soundtrack from Halloween 2012


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the sounds of summer


The Good Goo of Random Gum
Wooded Summer 2011 (playlist on Spotify, where the songs actually exist on Spotify)

01. “Time Never Dies” – Anastasia (Before the Rain soundtrack)
When I think of the film Before the Rain, I will always think of how my friend Mike and I always used to spend our 1990s Friday nights together watching films. This one was told in a roundabout way that still does not totally make sense. The film starred the late Katrin Cartlidge and one of Hollywood’s favorite “eastern European villains”, Rade Serbedzija.

02. “Sometimes” – Beach Fossils …We get lost sometimes/But the reality will keep us sane…
Lost but not lost, a lot of goodbyes, bad byes, telling people off but also enjoying good, new beginnings.

03. “Sun Demon” – Stereolab Actually I like the title “Sun Demon” more than I like the song.

04. “Sorrow” – The National …I don’t wanna get over you… 🙁

05. “The Oh So Protective One” – Girls …And if by now he doesn’t see/Maybe it wasn’t meant to be…
An irresistible, early-Elvis Costello-ballad feel to it. Here’s to unexpressed feelings and how they can tear one up inside.

06. “Ring Ring” – Sleigh Bells …click click saddle up see you on the moon then…
“You’re all alone friend…” Yes, you are all alone, and you might as well be on the moon.

07. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” – Arcade Fire …Living in the sprawl/Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains/And there’s no end in sight/I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights…
“These days my life, I feel it has no purpose/But late at night the feelings swim to the surface”. Continued thanks to Gabriel for the intro. Addictive song, addictive album.

08. “Home” – Glasser …The clouds were dust, raining on us/There was a phantom me in a bed of love…
Reference to a ‘bed of love’ brings to mind an Ingeborg Bachmann poem I have long loved that states, “fearless in religion, for our bed was the church”. For A-x, who gave me hope, titles, dreams, support and then sort of took it all away.

09. “Photojournalist” – Small Black …rise up again/like a ghost…
Like a sexual apparition always haunting for years after the fact, I apparently rise again and again like a ghost.

10. “Swim” – Surfer Blood …swim to reach the end…
SWIM (someone who isn’t me) recommends this song. Thoughts of Jennifer and Esteban!

11. “Ed-Ucation” – Dr Dre …what happened to just fallin in love with a niggah with a bus pass?…
Thank you, Annette, for quoting this for me while waving a bus pass around on a cold Oslo morning.

12. “Core of Nature” – Midlake …I’ll remain no more than is required of me/Until the spirit is gone/I will long to see all that waits to be known/And all that will never be known…
Midlake makes me think of Aurélien and also DB, former colleague and Annette’s “adopted son” in Stockholm.

13. “Wind Me Up” – Eux Autres …Needles and pins/Wait to wind me up again/Summer’s making me late…
Love for my mom and for Annette: Getting late? Needles and pins-uh. 🙂 “Winter’s making me wait/and then”

14. “We Can Get Together” – The Hold Steady …Heaven is whenever we can get together/Lock your bedroom door, and listen to your records…
Remembering the close intensity of youthful friendships and how they all fell apart. The intimacy of pure and simple things being like heaven back in those days (love to GL, LH and TP).

15. “Golden Haze” – Wild Nothing …wild heart surrender to me/what does it take to be like you? …

16. “Up and Down” – Chad Valley
New Year’s Day 2011 and simply struck me for its sound and idea – things really are up and down.

17. “The Dog-End of a Day Gone By” – Love & Rockets …In a city without a soul/Newspaper boys selling you the hard truth…
L&R is like being transported back to junior high school but sounds very different to me now than it did then. For some totally unknown reason, this makes me think of my friend Jill. May you finally escape Ithaca!

18. “Azt Mondta Az Anyukam” – Tamas Somlo & Omega
Strange Hungarian music that just had a cool sound in the resurgence of my love for Hungarian stuff.

19. “All Alone in an Empty House” – Lost in the Trees
What could be more apt? I am all alone in an empty house, lost in the trees, surrounded by deer licking my car.

20. “Love or Loneliness” – Math and Physics Club
“You say there’s only me/then you say it’s sweet/I still believe in monogamy/what am I supposed to think?”

21. “Everything You Wanted” – Kele …I see the pain written over your face/And I know I pushed you too far…

22. “Lille” – Lisa Hannigan
“I went to war every morning/I lost my way, but now I’m following/What you said in my arms/What I read in the charms/that I loved durably/now it’s dead and gone, and I am free…”

23. “Take ‘Em Up” – Shit Robot …Maybe it’s just a little too late/And when you’re close you’re just a little too close/But it’s just as far as you’ll go…

24. “Triumph!!!” – Shit Robot

25. “Own Stunts” – Breathe Owl Breathe …I’m walking down the path/Look down there’s a welcome mat/Over a trap door…
“Cross my heart and hope to live/My blood is boilin’”. This song, for some unknown reason, affects me deeply.

26. “Without a Doubt” – Isbells
With love to Arjen for another stellar recommendation. Belgium has more than just beer and chocolate!:)

27. “In Many Ways I Am Losing” – Joe Wilkes …you shoulda locked me out/when I came in drunk that time…

28. “Miner at the Dial-a-View” – Grandaddy …I’m going home someday…
Longtime friend David gave me this album an eternity ago. I fell in love with it again lately. Tack så mycket, David.

29. “Acid Reign” – Violens …I know I can be so critical at times/When you’re delusional/leaving your loved ones behind…
I somehow associate this band with A-x since his presence swirls around these songs.

30. “My Love” – The Asteroid No. 4 …South of London where the roses seem to grow through the cobblestones/I met my lover at the end of a winding country road…
Middle of the night drives, no other cars, feeling buoyed by this sound.

31. “My Oh My!” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis …fight until the day that God decides to wave us in…
RIP Dave Niehaus and… take me out to the ballgame… and to all my baseball-loving friends.

32. “You Can Count on Me” – Panda Bear
You can never actually count on anyone.

33. “Hey” – The Pixies
For Mathieu – very appropriate.

34. “Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M’En Vais” – Serge Gainsbourg …oui je t’aimais, oui, mais- je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais…
The driving song … my American days. Des adieux à jamais/Farewell forever.

35. “Marathon” – Tennis …we didn’t realize that we had arrived at high tide, high tide/barely made it out alive…
My immortal love for marathons. For JKL, the only capable marathoner I know.

36. “Cold Blooded Old Times” – Smog …the type of memories/that turn your bones to glass…
“How can I stand/And laugh with the man/Who redefined your body?”

37. “The Dawn of Your Happiness is Rising” – Violens …the dawn of your happiness still rising/Still rising, banishing the dark thoughts you have been hiding inside of you…
For A-x. “You lay awake/beside me troubled and afraid/Be calm, you’re safe/the light of day just hours away…”

38. “Pineapple Girl” – Mister Heavenly …I’ve heard you’re evil and I’ve heard you’re wicked/that you do bad things that would frighten children…
Is there anything the pineapple girl cannot do? No! “So be my little pineapple girl”.

39. “A Postcard to Nina” – Jens Lekman …don’t let anyone stand in your way…
I miss Nina! (Great lyrics with a great story. I always love the Swedes!)

40. “What’s In It For?” – Avi Buffalo …you are tiny and your lips are just like little pieces of bacon…
“I walked in on a plan to dissolve all of your wishes…”

41. “Boyfriend” – Best Coast …I’d love him to the very end/But instead he is just a friend…
I used to just think this sounded sort of cool, like something from the 60s. Now it just makes me sad.

42. “Fucking Boyfriend (Peaches Remix)” – The Bird and the Bee …Would you ever be my, would you be my fucking boyfriend?…
Thanks to Esteban in response to “Boyfriend”… should be more in keeping with my angrier, more demanding nature.

43. “It’s Alright” – Junip

44. “Gravity Feels” – Millionyoung
I love to play this LOUD in the car in the middle of the night. I love the shift from instrumental to vocal.

45. “Need You Now” – Cut Copy …hush darling, don’t you cry…
You were there at least once when I really needed you.

46. “Corporeal” – Broadcast …do that to my anatomy…
RIP Trish Keenan of Broadcast. “A thorny red heart/Around a thin arm/Inside a white bone/The love is inborn”

47. “More” – The Sisters of Mercy (Marilyn)
Nightmare experiences that diminish in horror over time: they are as bad as you remember. Never be fooled by the fallacy of a time-softened memory.

48. “Bone China” – 50 Foot Wave …last gasp nymphomania/somehow desexualized/gonna wash that man right out of my hair/soap him into my eyes… (For JKL)

49. “Motorbike to Heaven” – Salad …I don’t know why/but I got a good idea that we’ll meet again someday/it makes me cry/there’s a memory of you standing in the woods…
Thoughts of past (Kathryn, Beth, Olivier) and present (KKK) and memories of not getting what I want in the woods.

50. “Pneuma” – 50 Foot Wave …you know what? you know what? you know what?/SHUT THE FUCK UP!…

51. “Harold and Joe” – The Cure
Failing drafting class and listening to this while daily crossing the field from Japanese class. Thanks to Gary, 1990

52. “Big Wave” – Jenny and Johnny (Thanks to Aurélien)
“And my love’s a lie/’cause the snake, he visits me/When you are away/And your dreams don’t lie/I have been corrupted/’Cause all the lovers I take”

53. “The Chinatown Bus” – Bishop Allen
“And his gloves are pristine white just like the girls I used to know would wear to dance their first cotillion/Every single one of them named Jennifer”

54. “We Were Gonna” – Dengue Fever
I love the sound of this music – Cambodian lyrics remind me of Vietnamese karaoke circa 1996, lost time.

55. “Get Innocuous!” – LCD Soundsystem …to string you along with the pretense/and pave the way for the coming release…

56. “The Youth” – MGMT …This is a call to arms to live and love and sleep together…

57. “Povo Que Lavas No Rio” – Amália Rodrigues
“Pode haver quem te defenda/Quem compre o teu chão sagrado/Mas a tua vida não”

58. “The Dustbowl” – Everything but the Girl …am I flattering myself/or was I the one who made you cynical?…
Love to William who put this on a tape for me years and years ago!

59. “Going Blind” – The Go-Betweens …sometimes change is a dirty word/yeah, that’s what I heard…
I miss the Go-Betweens. Here’s to more change, which is never a dirty word in my vocabulary.

60. “Beginning to See the Light” – The Velvet Underground …some people work very hard/but still they never get it right…
Timeless, with passion. “There are problems in these times/but woooooo, none of them are mine!”

61. “Running from the Cops” – Phantogram …my dreams they never come true/and if they ever, ever do it’s never you…
For KKK, who has assumed an inexplicable amount of importance in my life

62. “Winter’s Ruin” – Ghosts I’ve Met …I never really knew you at all… (For A-x.)

63. “Dead Man Walking” – Sara Petite
Something peculiar for me. Ms Petite was one of my high school classmates (slightly reminiscent of Victoria Williams).

64. “Under Their Thumb… is under my thumb” – The Boomtown Rats …revenge is sweet/but it’s sugar free…
Love to Angelika, to Annette, and to long lost friends…

65. “The High Road” – Broken Bells …it’s too late to change your mind…

66. “Nobody’s Diary” – Yazoo …For the happy, the sad – I don’t want to be just another page in your history…

67. “Water Ran” – Lilly Wood & the Prick …it’s too early to say I would have liked to love you, I know…
For A-x. “It’s too far to say I would have liked to hold you…”

68. “Hourglass” – Squeeze

69. “It’s Working” – MGMT …no, it’s working…
“It’s working in your blood/which you know is not the same as love/love is only in your mind and not your heart”

70. “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC …and all the world is biscuit shaped/it’s just for me to feed my face…

71. “Pendulum” – Broadcast …Caught between the day and night/And a knot that pulls too tight…
“Logic offers no defense/Underneath this influence/While this puzzle of intent/Holds emotion in suspense”

72. “Little Marriage” – Lia Ices …I started minding not having it all/one little marriage or big love…
Here’s to all the things I just cannot bear to do anymore.

73. “I’ll Try Anything Once” – The Strokes (With love for Tara)

74. “No Surprises” – Radiohead …no alarms and no surprises…
Always the way things end. No alarms and no surprises…

75. “Sacrifice” – Sinéad O’Connor …Cold, cold heart/hardened by you/some things look better, baby/just passing through…
Driving I-5 away from Seattle in summer, 1996, aimless, restless, being torn apart. The sound of a busy signal.

76. “Flower” – Liz Phair (For JKL) …every time you pass me by, I heave a sigh of pain…
Lyrics are self-explanatorily graphic, “impure” and “unchaste”…

77. “Bad Luck Heels” – DeVotchKa

78. “The Night” – Morphine …You’re the night, Lilah/A little girl lost in the woods/You’re a folk tale/The unexplainable…

79. “Heroes” – TV on the Radio (RIP Gerard Smith of TVotR – one of David Bowie’s best is a fitting tribute…)

80. “At the Start” – Shelby Earl …I’m tired of letting go with a smile/when you kissed my hand and said, you’re all right…
“I am right where I’ve always been/at the start, I could see the end/I am right where I always am/at the start, I’m at the end”

81. “Don’t Shake It” – Cornershop

82. “Fly Me Away” – Goldfrapp …And I wanna be the/One that you call/When you get down/No matter where you/Are in the world I’ll be around…
This had a faintly Saint Etienne quality, made me think very much of beloved, illustrious Ben and of A-x. “Don’t wanna live a life/In a world that’s all the same/The crazy little things/That you do are magical”

83. “Flower” – The Charlatans …it’s time to say goodbye,/bye to the bad, bad girl…

84. “Make a Plan to Love Me” – Bright Eyes …some things you lose/you don’t get back/So just know what you have…
“When you are young the world is a ferris wheel/I know we will grow old it is lovely, still/Make a plan to love me…”

85. “Pretend I Don’t Exist” – Melody Gardot (For A-x)
“I waited for love to call/But got none at all/So I should stay/While you wander away/From the warmth of my lips/Just try to forget my kiss/Pretend I don’t exist”

86. “New Myth” – Lia Ices …say my name like it’s never been before…
Beauty, raw emotion. For A-x, for Jane. “New myth just been born has never felt so old.”