Random Gum – Anti-Valentine Signs – Spring Dump Soundtrack 2014

Standard

As to what I think of the void that is Valentine’s Day

I and Thou
Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia)

Your lips have never kissed me, you’ve never
drunk snow. You melancholy moment, frigid
under these snowdrifts. Let me ask a cruel question –
do you still heat your igloo? I cast a spell on you

and tore your limbs off. And those creases deepening
in what was once a godlike brow, perhaps you’ve even lost
your right to them. You haven’t hurt me more, you haven’t.
Little mummy, aborted flower, the memory of you fades.

Oceans divide us, and you’re jaded. The hard stone
hopeless, smeared with silicate. We shall yet make love,
and I shall grease those beehives yet. My desire has weakened

now, you’ve won, you are indeed a void. And I,
the tree-lined path of countless others, contain your red heart,
gone rigid, too. I have gurgled with happiness only in you.

Valentine Signs – Spring Dump
Random Gum – Winter/Spring 2014

The complete Spotify playlist – where the songs exist (not all are available on Spotify)…

1. Brenton Wood – “Gimme Little Sign” …if you don’t want me/don’t lead me on, girl…
A great way to start. Driving the icy roads of the Swedish 172

2. Bill Withers – “Ain’t No Sunshine” …ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone/and she’s always gone too long…
My friend Terra and I used to laugh at this one for the repetitive “I know I know I know I know I know” lyric.

3. Robyn Hitchcock – “My Wife and My Dead Wife” …and I can’t decide which one I love the most/the flesh and blood or the pale, smiling ghost…
This has a bittersweet quality – does one’s long-lost love keep appearing after they’ve passed on? “You know I don’t take sugar”. Somehow makes me think with love of my friend Jared, and his late wife, Hulda. RIP

4. Mojo Nixon – “Elvis is Everywhere”
After writing about people’s tendency to quote Bill Gates (“content is king”) I set the record straight; “Elvis is still the king”.

5. Primal Scream – “Country Girl” …Country girl take my hand/Lead me through this diseased land/I am tired I am weak I am worn/I have stole I have sinned/Oh my soul is unclean/Country girl got to keep on keeping on…
January day in Oslo: mistakes, forgiveness, love. Thanks to Stephen. My Oslo-based Primal Scream connections.

6. The Legendary Pink Dots – “I Love You in Your Tragic Beauty” …You always wore the same dress/always bore the same expression/It’s a loveless world/So what’s the point of looking?…

7. Neutral Milk Hotel – “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” …and one day we will die, and our ashes will fly/from the aeroplane over the sea/but for now we are young/let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see…
Letting go of trying to control things that logic has no hand in. For SD, ZM

8. Cass McCombs – “Sooner Cheat Death than Fool Love”
“I wish I never met you, of that I’m sure, I ain’t any better off than I was before…”

9. Laurie Anderson – “It Tango”
For my dear Jill.

10. Amanda Palmer – “Runs in the Family” …business is business/and business runs in the family…
With love for Roxane.

11. Hot Chocolate – “Every1s a Winner”
Something relentless about the sound of this song that makes it impossible to stop listening. It is an “activity song”, whatever that means.

12. Liz Phair – “Fuck and Run”
Thinking about Lóa, and “Fuck Mattresses Anonymous” (an imaginary AA-like organization)

13. Calvin Harris – “Acceptable in the 80s”
As my brother wondered, what was acceptable in the 80s? Shoulder pads? Cocaine?

14. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love”
“All the weekend/Boyfriend was missing/I surely miss him/The way he’d hold me in his warm arms/We went insane when we took cocaine.”

15. Grace Jones – “Pull Up to the Bumper” …just pull up to my bumper baby/drive it in between…
We can blame Grace Jones for the fact that Dolph Lundgren has/had an acting career.

16. Robyn Hitchcock – “Your Head Here” …I walk a thousand miles to be alone…
“Everyone you care about/say you’d never do without/walk away, forsake or doubt/see them fade and flicker out/faces on the phone/Everything that you rely on/tentacles of blood and ??/pillows that you want to cry on/promises that you get by on/Life is all I own…”

17. Pulp– “Pencil Skirt” …when you raise your pencil skirt/like a veil before my eyes…
For Stephen, who knows what a pencil skirt and heels are all about. “Oh it’s turning me on”

18. Lyubov – “Fire” …but forever was a day/and we just ran out of time…

19. Stevie Wonder – “I Don’t Know Why” …I never knew how much love could hurt til I loved you, baby…
“Always treat me like a fool/kick me when I’m down/that’s your rule…”

20. Robyn Hitchcock – “Sixteen Years…Sixteen calendars with nothing in the frame/you said you’d pencil me in/but you don’t know my name…
“You pegged me for a fool/but I’m the one to blame/I played a pretty neat fool for you/but you don’t know my name”

21. The Everly Brothers – “Bye Bye Love” …Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness, I feel like I could die…
RIP Phil Everly

22. Gary Walker & the Boogie Kings – “Who Needs You So Bad?”
Bittersweet end of the tv show Treme.

23. Pascal Pinon – “Ekki vanmeta”
Missing Iceland and my friends there. “Hann á heima nær en þú heldur/Ekki vanmeta fjarlægðina”

24. Os Kiezos – “Saudades de Luanda
For Kristie and the inexplicable “saudades

25. Minor Alps – “If I Wanted Trouble” …this growing up it never ends/the same mistakes come back again…
Last days as a tram rider, ending the Gothenburg period. And repeated mistakes!

26. The Bluetones – “Slight Return”
For Stephen.

27. Robyn Hitchcock – “Old Man Weather”
Madly in love with Robyn Hitchcock – as usual, as always, hence the elaborate presence here.

28. John Lennon – “Nobody Told Me”
Reflecting on the fact that the Liverpool airport is named after Lennon.

29. The Smiths – “William, It Was Really Nothing”
For the Smiths-quoting, dirty storyteller. “How can you stay with a fat girl who’ll say, ‘Would you like to marry me? And if you’d like you can buy the ring…?’”

30. Thin Lizzy – “Bad Reputation”

31. Robyn Hitchcock – “Ordinary Millionaire” …I don’t know where you’ve gone from me/I know you don’t belong to me/I only know you’re there…
“I always find a reckoning/always find you beckoning…” A nice song from Hitchcock & brilliant Johnny Marr. “I’ve got no love/’Cause it’s not in my DNA”

32. Mekons – “Sheffield Park
One of the nicer memories of junior high/high school.

33. Terakaft – “Imgharen win ibda”

34. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” …I’ve got a love that keeps me waiting…
For Stephen. “I’m so above you, it is plain to see, but I came to love you anyway…”

35. Girls in Hawaii – “Switzerland”
For Jared and the love for Switzerland.

36. Sam Phillips – “Pretty Time Bomb” …it’s easy to change your name/but hard to change your life…
“Start counting, everybody/it’s gonna blow/Pretty time bomb/You’re a mirror of your time”

37. Big Summer – “Do It Alone

38. Sarah RabDAU – “Self-Employed Assassin…you should have loved me…

39. The Male Choir of Valaam Singing Culture Institute – “Riga Advising Stockholm
I can’t explain the presence of this song. Its sound just overpowers.

40. Cowboy Junkies – “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
For Stephen and the sad, longing sound of old country & cover versions that are even sadder than originals

41. Robyn Hitchcock – “Harry’s Song”…Nothing wants you like tomorrow…/Nothing tortures you like how it could have been…
“But I don’t know anything about you/Anymore”. The end of the Gothenburg li(f)e.

42. The The – “My Heart Would Know”
Dug out my old copy of The The’s album of Hank Williams covers – the marriage of two greats.

43. Os Kiezos – “Muxima”

44. Dionne Warwick – “Walk On By”
Song for coming to work on a holiday without knowing it was a holiday (set off all the alarms). Happy new year to me!

45. La Luz – “Easy Baby” …but in the evening/how things change…

46. Tanga – “Eme n’gongo iami”

47. ABBA – “Voulez Vous”
For Gary and the uncomfortable sexuality of the 1970s.

48. Paula Cole – “Feelin’ Love”
Probably the first song S. told me to listen to and I did not do it for weeks afterward; it’s fitting.

49. Peggy Lee – “Waitin’ for the Train to Come In”
All the songs that sound ridiculous – as in, my life can’t begin til my man comes home from the war. Opening the door to my would-be 1950s lifestyle.

50. Elvis Presley – “Love Me” …break my faithful heart, tear it all apart, but love me…
Reminds me of Kevin circa 1996 but no longer makes me sad. Memories of other lifetimes.

51. Patsy Cline – “Crazy”
For SD my Glaswegian firewall

52. Cowboy Junkies – “Mariner’s Song” …The last of man’s great unchained beasts lies/lapping at my door/I would give it what it wants, but I do know,/it would just ask for more…
For Mark and all the things we could not be. “In the storm you are my/destination, in the port you are my storm/But I would weather you my love, if you would be my guide,/if you would be my stars in the sky tonight”. I am no one’s port in a storm.

Random thoughts and cookie dough

Standard

Grooving on loud music at 5 a.m. Hot Chocolate – Every 1s a Winner (not a whiner!)

I am going to make a bunch of cookie dough today and stick it in the freezer to bake next weekend. Time before the holidays is short. Must bake!

I am thinking about ways to give my 2014 the best possible chance for success, and more importantly, happiness and fulfillment. PLAY WITH BABY TIGERS! Build a treadmill desk! Knock down the superfluous upstairs walls! Fall in love with some lovely Parisian (even though s/he won’t have a Scottish accent!) and host next Thanksgiving in Paris! Go to more live shows – have more music in my life in general! Build my business up (either the web-based one or the bakery tank idea)! Find the perfect shade(s) of pink lipstick! (And I’m a sucker for the reds!) Learn more about wine! Finally take a real vacation somewhere far away that I often dream of! Get a Roomba! Take more walks in the forest, as gave me such joy two years ago! Enjoy every minute of being at home! When I worked at home, no matter how much I worked then, it always felt like I was on vacation – or at least that vacation did not matter. I was relaxed and organized. I miss that. I don’t know that all these things are possible, probable or even that they would contribute to elusive happiness. But they are fun ideas – it’s giving me some joy to think about it right now.

Soundtrack to giving in to the joy of now. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

 “And one day we will die and our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be in the arms of all, I’m keepin’ here with me”

-Neutral Milk Hotel

More randomness

A friend posted an article on her Facebook wall that encouraged a return to some old-fashioned dating practices. When I reposted the article on my own Facebook wall, I stated that I might not need all the old-fashioned stuff (“I want all that stupid old shit, like letters and sodas…” Liz Phair, “Fuck and Run”), but one of the points touched a nerve – that we should call what we’re doing by what it is. Calling dating/courting/a relationship “hanging out” is an act of clinging to a juvenile and awkward period of not knowing who you are or what you want. I am almost 40. I might not want, as the letter says, to define a relationship as “exclusive” or a “Greg Brady-going steady” thing, but I am not “hanging out”. I don’t know when the shift happened between steps progressing into a relationship to this casual, non-committal, “we’re hanging out” vibe (and yes, it does seem like a “vibe” more than something grounded in reality).

As I lament the winding down of my vacation, I watched a handful of movies – mostly not memorable. But it was entertaining to rewatch a few – I am not normally someone who watches the same movies over and over, but I decided to watch Wall Street again after… 20+ years. Charlie Sheen had a sliver of talent then, beautiful, hopeful, full of vitality – all flushed away long ago to give way to the troll/demon he seems to have become. I loved all the “high-tech gadgets” that look so laughable now – the briefcase-sized cell phones and the two-inch-screen portable tv. Let’s not overlook Daryl Hannah’s ridiculous wardrobe or the unthinkable way she decorated the Sheen character’s apartment. Oh, the 80s.

A few weeks ago, a few women in my office and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday. The women and I are all in the late-30s age bracket; the intern was turning 24. On our walk to the restaurant, the intern was questioning me about how I manage to walk around outside without covering my legs or wearing a real coat – +5C is cold for him. I don’t “winterize” until -20C. I did explain that I don’t keep my house like an icebox, saying, “In my house, the heat is on.” My three similarly aged female colleagues and I, in unison, burst into song, as if on cue, “The heat is on… it’s on the street…” Way to date ourselves, relics of a bygone era! The intern had never heard the song, apparently, but when we got back to the office, he wanted a full education in 80s music and all things American because I am, in his words, “his American bible”. Hmm.

As if it were not abundantly clear already, I am one of those nerds who holds on to details. While my colleagues could not remember who performed “The Heat is On”, I could immediately “(dis)credit” Glenn Frey and rattle off his career history with The Eagles (who blighted – yes, I exaggerate – 70s music about as much as Frey and his Eagle partner-in-crime Don Henley inflicted their solo careers on 80s music). I suppose “The Heat is On” was only as popular as it was because it was also associated with the Beverly Hills Cop film franchise, which is also a quintessential part of 80s pop culture. While schooling this intern in 80s horrors for the ears, I also managed to share the dubious 80s songs/hits of Starship while also sharing the history of how they came about – rising from the ashes of the drug-addled remnants of other related 60s and 70s has-been bands, much like a lot of the stuff that filled the 80s music charts. All supposedly reformed (in both senses of the word) and “Just Say No” – HA. (Starship managed also to supply one of the worst songs, as well as churning out mediocrity for much of the decade – for one of the era’s worst movies – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Mannequin – highlight of Andrew McCarthy or Kim Cattrall’s careers? Almost no 80s movie could have been complete without Andrew or James Spader, who was in both Mannequin and the aforementioned Wall Street. Both also figured prominently in the 80s classic, Less than Zero, which was also a very true-to-life vehicle for the then very messed up Robert Downey, Jr. And both McCarthy and Spader were in 80s teen favorite, Pretty in Pink – along with Jon Cryer – who has not done much other than that and, of course, the role of the aforementioned Charlie Sheen’s brother on the dismal and crass TV show, Two and a Half Men.)

Nothing can make someone feel old like imparting all this “popular culture” knowledge – when the “popular” culture her reference points are attached to were popular 20 or 30 years ago.

The same young intern came and said to me, “Did you know they had a war in Croatia not that long ago?” when we were talking about football (my beloved Iceland was playing Croatia for a chance to get into the World Cup at the time. They lost, but at least my Icelandic underdogs gave it a go). Yes, Croatia did have a war, young man, when you were in diapers and learning to walk. I was there (well, in Bosnia anyway) monitoring post-war elections.

I can forgive a young boy for not knowing “The Heat is On” – but a major war that took place in recent history within Europe…? God save the Spanish education system?!

Then again, that is what life is for – you do learn something new every day. Sometimes totally useless stuff. I, for example, learned that Liverpool named its airport after John Lennon. I sort of doubt Lennon would have liked that (not that I know what he would have liked). I wonder what Yoko thinks. (Yoko’s Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland somehow strikes me as something both of them would have approved of more than an international airport that seems to primarily take British tourists to get drunk and sunburned in Spain.)

Anyway, I started that tangent to say that I was watching movies. I rewatched Brokeback Mountain again – this is probably the third time I saw it, and I am still moved by Heath Ledger’s performance. Actually all the performances were outstanding, especially when contrasting it with Wall Street, which I watched immediately before. Even the secondary characters in Brokeback seem to have some depth and reality – you can feel for the wives of the two main characters. They are more than just one-dimensional props. The girlfriend and wife – all secondary characters – in Wall Street are hollow.

I went in an entirely different direction after that – watching Rêves de poussière, a film from Burkina Faso – the cinematography was beautiful, the story simple and arresting.

As the remaining minutes of vacation tick by, I do laundry, get middle-of-night, belligerent phone calls and wonder how a drunken person I have not seen in a decade or more (but have known now for 20 years) thinks he misses me. How do you miss someone you have not seen in more than ten years? Especially when that feeling has always been a one-way street. You don’t. You’re smoking nostalgia, you’re drinking a memory of something that never was. It’s imaginary.

“What a beautiful face I have found in this place
That is circling all ’round the sun and when we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud, I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all”

-Neutral Milk Hotel