February action

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February has historically been a month of inaction and hibernation for me – this one has been no exception. Last year I did jump on a plane to Berlin on a whim just to see a movie, and ended up in a mild debate with someone about the Holocaust while I was having lunch in a Jewish restaurant. Hmm. Seriously. It was a cold but bright day, and I was glad I had broken out of my routine to do something completely different, unexpected and spontaneous.

I had no intention of doing anything similar this year, but today I happened to see that Belle & Sebastian is in Oslo, so I quickly bought a ticket, got a train ticket and head over to Oslo in the afternoon. It’s not quite the distance of Berlin or somewhere further afield, but it’s still something (a band) I’ve wanted to see forever, especially as I have Glasgow so much on my mind these days. Bonus: Jane Weaver opens! Brilliant. Two birds, you know…

Any other day I might have ignored this urge to go, but I had a dream last night in which I kept wanting to do things but kept putting them off, and I started writing a poem in the dream, which I never had a chance to finish before someone would interrupt and drag me off somewhere:

If I light a fire, I will stay warm.
If I light a fire around myself, there will be no way back.

In dreams, never going where I want to go, but always with a fistful of melting popsicles.

Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

November came at last – Random gum soundtrack 2017

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Giving thanks: “November came at last…”
“Eight billion zeroes is still zero/If you got no heart” Random gum – November 2017

Listen on Spotify. Find some of the tracks below for download (which are not available on Spotify). Or request a physical copy – I’m not doing the large-scale CD burning/package endeavor en masse any longer, but if anyone wants a physical copy and a package with some random candy in it, please comment (will leave the comment private).

1. This is the Kit – “Les Plus Beaux”
2. I Was a King – “Frozen Disease” …November came at last…
Discovered while seeing Robyn Hitchcock in Oslo in October. Lovely Norwegians
3. Michou – “Maloya ton tisane”
Maybe the only time I’ll include a singer from Réunion…
4. Jessie Ware – “Selfish Love” …why do I do these things/I break you down just to get my way/darling you do it too/you tell me lies and I bend the truth…
5. Marjan – “Kavire Del”
In Iran again
6. Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”
Nothing I thought I would ever include, but – as he does – SD randomly added it to his ‘repertoire’ and started singing it on the regular to make me laugh… and well, here it is. And it truly is the right song for him.
7. Robyn Hitchcock – “The Abyss” …I don’t know what is true/but my compass points to you/when it’s quivering like this/in the abyss…
For J. Finally got to see Hitchcock in Oslo in October after 30 years of waiting and wanting…
8. Vorderhaus – “Minor Activity” …love and regret I’ll never truly forget… 
9. The Cry – “Alone” …With a piece of paper as blank as night and the words don’t seem to come out right and you ask yourself again is this for me?…
10. Mai Lệ Huyền – “Có Ai Trên Đời Mà Không Yêu
Seems to go along with all the Vietnam-related stuff around me now (the Ken Burns documentary, the fiction I read just before that by Bao Ninh and the memoir by Tim O’Brien earlier in the year)
11. Chastity Belt – “Caught in a Lie” …I’ll take a shot of whatever you’ve got/But it’s not going down that easily…
Walla Walla. Thoughts of M
12. Laser & bas – “Spela Shoreline”
Sweden, of course
13. Orange Juice – “Rip It Up” …I hope to God you’re not as dumb as you make out…
Glasgow classic
14. Velvet Condom – “Samt und Stein”
15. Throbbing Gristle – “Hot on the Heels of Love”
16. The Sonics – “Psycho” …Tell me baby/Am I just your clown?…
1960s Tacoma. For SD, cut-out marionette
17. Crybaby – “I Cherish the Heartbreak More than the Love that I Lost” …a happy ever after, well, baby/it just wasn’t us…
18. Ariel Pink, Weyes Blood – “On Another Day” …now the soft attraction has gone…
“She’ll swear some weak excuse/To gain more time/Changing sides like friends/To satisfy her quicksand ego/When life falls short again/She’ll crawl away”
19. Promised Land Sound – “She Takes Me There” …it seems she’ll never let me in/like emotion is a sin…
Nashville
20. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Asshole” …she’ll do anything to make you feel like an asshole…
RIP Tom Petty; always think of the scene in the old sitcom Wings when the character Lowell claims that Tom Petty is the world’s handsomest man…
21. Cults – “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” …Still I lead on the days/like a loaded gun…
“But I know you’re not the one or the only/But we both know what it’s like to be lonely”
22. Jean-Louis Murat – “À mendiante rousse”*
I can never get enough of these musical treatments of Baudelaire
23. Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve – “Diagram Girl”
24. The Pastels – “Nothing to Be Done” …I’m ready for you, sweetheart/Now my mind is open wide…
More Glasgow, of course, and truth: “Remember what was meant to be this year/The past is a disaster/And the future’s coming faster now”
25. Otis Redding – “These Arms of Mine”
I dare you to not love Otis
26. Cigarettes After Sex – “I’m a Firefighter”
Wandering Oslo with Annette on a day when firefighters were everywhere; joking about chasing fireman cock for lunch, remembering Yoga Fireman from so many years ago
27. Alex Chilton – “Hey! Little Child”
28. Men I Trust – “Tailwhip” …I’m happy as I am/cause I’m leaving…
Montréal. “This country dog won’t die in the city”
29. Lia Pamina – “Cards on the Table” …I hide away from close encounters/I never let my feelings be known/I’d rather burrow deep into my hole…
Spain! What in the hell is going on in Spain? For J
30. Roy Orbison – “The Comedians” …it’s always something cruel that laughter drowns…
An Elvis Costello tune recorded by Roy Orbison; my mom and I have always joked about this song (especially the “who held the lever that could bring me down” lyric) even though it is quite sad
31. Bedřich Smetana, Wiener Philharmoniker – “The Bartered Bride, JB 1:100: Dance of the Comedians”
Czech Czech Czech. Love for Anne, Martina. Reminds me so much of Academic Decathlon in high school – love for Mike, Amanda, Terra, Leighanne, etc.
32. Nahid Akhtar – “Dil To Kya Cheez Hai”
33. Bubblegum Lemonade – “The Only Constant is Change”
Another constant: Glasgow
34. Camper Van Beethoven – “Sweethearts”
Like a slice of junior high school: “McDonnell-Douglas olive drab/They bear the names of our sweethearts/And the captain smiles, as we crash/Cause in the mind of Ronald Reagan/Wheels they turn and gears they grind/Buildings collapse in slow motion/And trains collide. Everything is fine”
35. Front 242 – “Tragedy >For You<” …With that skill that was hers alone/She drove her clutches into me/I was dumbfounded/She was hungry/She required me entirely…
Belgium. Reminds me of sophomore year in high school though I like this much better now than I did then. It’s great for staying awake during long, late-night drives
36. Danielle Dax – “Tomorrow Never Knows”
37. Jane’s Addiction – “I Would For You”
Another brand on the brain – junior high school, getting this album from my old friend Jeremy as a gift and not really appreciating it until much later, but isn’t that always the way?
38. LCD Soundsystem – “One Touch” …Complicated people never do what you’re told to…
39. Radial Spangle – “Patio Furniture” …it’s not gonna matter in a couple of days/it will all melt…
For my beloved, hardy, robust patio furniture
40. Aimee Mann – “Disappeared” …Somehow I wound up on your bad side/Til now, I guess I had a free ride…
41. Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2 – “Star Stuff” …I could be wrong in saying/Everything falls into place…
42. Bunny Girls – “Why That Person?”
Korea
43. Hot Chocolate – “Heaven is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac”
I think this song is ridiculous. Right after I stumbled on it, I was at one of the Norway-Sweden border malls and saw this weird dude drive into the parking lot in a Cadillac (not a common car in Sweden) and then kept running into him inside the mall where he made a point of smiling creepily at me… ugh
44. St. Vincent – “Fear the Future” …In our bed, in our room/I come for you, come for me too…
45. Dolly Parton – “I Couldn’t Wait Forever”
46. Happyness – “Surfer Girl”
47. Kevin Morby – “Beautiful Strangers”
48. Martha Wainwright – “Ayoye”
49. On Dead Waves – “California” …The sun sets in California…
50. Monika – “Take Me With You”
51. Lea Porcelain – “Endlessly”
52. Onuma Singsiri – “Mae Kha Som Tam”
Thailand
53. Saint Etienne – “Out of My Mind” …Is this the end? I need to know/If it’s the start of something, where does it go?…
Love for Ben, Naomi
54. Jo Stafford – “The Gentleman is a Dope” …He’s somebody else’s problem/she’s welcome to the guy…
I do indeed enjoy cooking/baking while singing this at the top of my lungs
55. Jeremy Jay – “Airwalker” …Where can we go where the lights are low?…
56. Cabaret Voltaire – “Spies in the Wires” …ingenuity my secret rival…
57. Beck – “Up All Night”
Another good one for driving in the middle of the night
58. Heron Oblivion – “Beneath Fields” …Dreams from the days of suffering…
59. The Apostles – “Don’t Huzzle for Love”
Nigeria
60. Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention – “Trouble Every Day”
Timeless, thus timely, spot-on shit
61. Vincent Delerm – “Super Bowl”
Because who doesn’t pretend to like Joe Montana with ulterior motives?
62. Delicate Steve – “Don’t Get Stuck (Proud Elephants)”
For the dainty SD
63. Jessica Lea Mayfield, Dan Auerbach – “(David Bowie I Love You) Since I Was Six”
64. Laibach – “Sympathy for the Devil (Time for a Change)”
Another take on a classic… from Slovenia
65. Death in Vegas – “Dirt”
66. Dent May – “Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love”
67. Oumou Sangaré – “Koukoun”
Mali
68. Fiji Mermaid – “Lipsticked Lips of Yore” …transfixed by the lipsticked lips of yore…
For J.
69. Arik Einstein – “Beit Ha’arava”
Israel: the mystery man uncovered
70. Y La Bamba – “Orca”
Portland, Oregon
71. Jacky – “Dog and Pony Show”
For Martina; hoping she is not in a new dog-and-pony show
72. Eleftheria Arvanitaki – “Ta Schoinia”
Greece
73. Keren Ann – “My Name is Trouble” …My game is endless I tend to obsess/No game is up to my need to possess…
Worldly: Paris/New York/Tel Aviv
74. Echo & the Bunnymen – “Seven Seas”
Always loving the way “tor-TOYZ” gets pronounced; pretty sure this song will remind me of Halt & Catch Fire and Gordon Clark for the rest of my life
75. Death and Vanilla – “Moogskogen”
It will not surprise you that this is Swedish/from Malmö
76. Tropic of Cancer – “Distorted Horizon”
77. Maysa – “Vai Via Malinconia”
Brasil
78. Eivør – “Silvitni” …og eg gloymi mína óró/minnist aftur mína eydnu…
It won’t be often you’ll get something Faroese
79. Goat – “Talk to God”
A strange one from Sweden
80. Insecure Man – “Subaru Nights”
81. Mehrpouya – “Soul Raga”
Persian pop time
82. Part Time – “Honey Lips”
83. Googoosh – “Talagh”
Quite the mix: Iran-Azerbaijan
84. Robyn Hitchcock – “I Want to Tell You About What I Want” …I want a non-invasive kind of telepathy…
“You think I’m un-generous? Really? In what way?/The more you give someone the more they want from you”. “We’re replacing ourselves with artificial thought/And that could be our legacy/Before the feline dynasty/Scampers over history”
“Eight billion zeroes is still zero/If you got no heart”
85. Marching Church – “King of Song”
Denmark. Somehow this song also seems ideal for driving
86. Kleenex/LiLiPUT – “Die Matrosen”
Switzerland all-girl band, late 70s/early 80s; sadly the guitarist died last year
87. Jim James – “Same Old Lie”
Seems to be a social protest song of sorts; good timing
88. Reigning Sound – “Never Coming Home” …Upon each broken part of my heart/is the wear and tear of many years…
The American South. This sounds like something from many decades ago, maybe not only because of the sound but because of the reference to a “long-distance call”, which used to be such a big deal
89. Eleftheria Arvanitaki – “Fysa Psychi Mou”
One of those random discoveries in college
90. Holy Shit, Ariel Pink – “Written All Over Your Face” …Truth, it never really came between us…
“Keep every little scrap of paper/You never know what you’re gonna need/Your memories are sad distractions/Get so bright you can’t even see”
91. Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” …Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire…
92. Jack Cooper – “North of Anywhere” …Too scared to say the wrong thing…
93. Takako Minekawa – “Fantastic Cat”
The Japanese and their cat love. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like cats
94. Rotary Connection, Minnie Riperton – “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun”
95. Natalia Lafourcade, Los Macorinos – “Mexicana Hermosa”
For Martina
96. Robyn Hitchcock – “Light Blue Afternoon” …and there’s no derailing destiny/she’s a single-minded girl…
“If you were not so aggressive/I’d feel pity in my heart/but your rage is so possessive/I just don’t know where to start”
97. Martina Topley-Bird – “Valentine” …they release you then you turn to see/Make it feel all right/The only thing is that I didn’t…
Somehow always makes me think of dear Jane. “I feel around and still you’re here”
98. St. Vincent – “Slow Disco”
Perfection: “Am I thinking what everybody’s thinkin’?/I’m so glad I came, but I can’t wait to leave”
99. Jean-Louis Murat, Morgane Imbeaud – “Héautontimorouménos”*
“Pour abreuver mon Saharah/Jaillir les eaux de la souffrance/Mon désir gonflé d’espérance/Sur tes pleurs salés nagera”
100. Broadcast – “Echo’s Answer …the message sent was of discontent/from incline to incline…

*Amazing songs but not available on Spotify.

Image (c) 2017 Stephen Donaghy

Robyn Hitchcock in Oslo: “Yesterday it seemed so cool, and everything was fabulous”

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How do you tell a musician you’ve admired for more than 30 years how much their music means to you, how much it means that you were finally able to see him perform after 30 years of waiting for and wanting to? Providing the soundtrack to my nomadic life, he (Robyn Hitchcock) too has wandered, touring a host of unusual places, often landing in places where I should have seen him (Seattle). But I was always somewhere else – wrong place, wrong time. Finally, finally, I was able to catch him last night in Oslo in a small venue called Cafe Mono. Against all logic or reason, standing there in a small crowd, I found myself getting choked up with the emotion of the moment, and thought, “Ah yes,” because I do tend to forget this, “This is why we go to concerts and participate in these kinds of experiences.”

After the show, I had my 15 seconds to say hello and thank him, but I found it difficult to be able to find the right words in that moment. How can you convey something meaningful without being a babbling idiot cliché? I am not a ‘lingering’ or manic/maniac fan type (and I needed to jump on the subway to get back to my car for the long drive back to the woods) who sticks around to talk to musicians, but this time I felt such a need to say thank you (and the place was so small and all the Norwegians swarmed out quickly when the show ended). But feeling a bit tongue-tied, I managed only the thank you I intended (maybe that was enough) and the mist (“whoever remembers only mist – what does he remember?“) of his mild incredulity that I came from Seattle (“Viva! Sea-Tac”) but had somehow never seen him in the 30 years I had wanted to. Of course, touring musicians are not the only ones who wander.

What I felt like saying was some combination of the impersonal and personal. I never would have because I’m not that person, encroaching on other people’s space and time. It was rough enough to say ‘thank you’.

More impersonally, that Hitchcock is woven into the fabric of influence (he has been influenced by and has had influence on). And yet, when one talks to people and mentions Robyn Hitchcock, the majority are at a loss. Access to the surrealist ache of Hitchcock’s music is open but still somehow limited. As J put it: “I wonder how it is that I’m not familiar with Robyn Hitchcock? I did some cursory googling at 2:30 AM… and I can see that he has more than left his mark on the contemporary music scene. And yet… I have somehow failed to make him part of my musical culture.” I feel as though I have for 30 years enjoyed a gift modestly few people have embraced as they should. At times I wish more people knew him, but then I suppose the vague intimacy of what he does would be lost.

More personally, I remember first hearing songs from Fegmania! when I was little more than a child, but then Robyn Hitchcock really registered with me (it’s all about timing, I guess) upon seeing the video for “Balloon Man” one evening, and a visiting cousin expressed that the music ‘scared’ her. Of course “Balloon Man” felt like a novelty – it endures still because it is catchy and somewhat accessible, but in a way served only as a gateway to the more potent, mysterious and absurd Hitchcock work I know and love. Globe of Frogs became a constant soundtrack (and always springs to mind when I am driving in rainy Swedish summer weather, and the roads are covered in frogs, alive and dead), and Queen Elvis was transformative. I shared it with my best friend at the time, and we delighted in singing “The Devil’s Coachman” loudly while wandering around our suburban neighborhood. (We were children; we imagined we were scaring our neighbors. I am sure we were noisy nuisances.) “Autumn Sea” remains one of my favorite songs.

None of these impersonal or personal accounts would make a difference; the musician certainly hears variations on these every day. I thought about that while attempting to find the right words, and ultimately, only sincere and basic gratitude seems as though it could offer any meaning or value.

Since then the music has been a constant presence, accompanying me through every stage of this nomadic life. As I have spent time hopping from one country to another and then another, this growing, glowing, gorgeous, amorphous musical catalog follows. Grounding it, even if only once in my whole life, in the same place, same time, space-time moment, in face-to-face reality (and all reality is only reaction and interaction, of course – “the universe is based on sullen entropy – It falls apart as it goes on” – “The Devil’s Coachman”), as I was at last able to do, was worth the wait.

Random gum: Halloween 2017

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The Good Goo of Random Gum – Halloween 2017
The Last Toast to the World & Cosmos

So, even though we are a full month out from Halloween, I have been extraordinarily organized and have finished putting together my Halloween CD mix for this year quite early. The mailings have begun going out in the post.

And, as I have written in the note that accompanies the CD, the time has come at last – this will be the last of my random gum CD mixes. At least of the physical, postal-mail variety. As technology has rendered the CD a useless would-be Frisbee, I am looking for another solution for sharing music (other than Spotify playlists at least). I may still send cards/greetings by post because I’m still old-fashioned like that. But continuing this effort is fruitless. It has been a roller coaster of randomness these 13 years that I’ve been making and sending these mixes. And to reflect an end as random as this gum has always been, I’ve chosen fittingly strange and random music.

Although I have not expressed these sentiments in the letter I included with the CD, I do feel like I am shedding a skin – or some kind of layer(s) – again – as though I am preparing for something else. I don’t know what it is. But I have largely left behind my TV addiction, my baking addiction, and now this (and most of my postal letter writing in general). I don’t know why these things no longer interest me the way they used to, except to say that my disconnection from feeling and indeed, often, from actually living, has dissipated. The end of the embargo against living, I suppose, means that new things and new people occupy my time and, more importantly, my heart.

Until I do find a better and personal sharing solution, you can follow me on Spotify and also find the full track listings and descriptions on my blog. Normally I seek out and post the YouTube video of these tracks, but instead… here is the list.

01 Aliza Gabbai – “Mimigdal Shalom”
Israeli pop from the 1960s. Too cute
02 Rola Saad – “Min Bein Alkoul”
Because Lebanon
03 DIANA – “What You Get” …Echo comes back to your lonely room/Said my head, my heart, I can’t take it anymore…
Stuck so much in 2017 on the concept of place – real, imagined; in the world or in the mind
04 Savoy Motel – “Souvenir Shop Rock”
Nashville is for dancing
05 Tindersticks – “My Sister” …Here I am, this is me/I am yours and everything about me,/everything you see,/If only you look hard enough/I never could…
Had this spun up but was unsure til I talked to a Norwegian in the mountains who was listening to Tindersticks. “Our life was a pillow fight…”
06 Trio Esperança – “Filme Triste”
Yummy 50s-60s Brazilian pop. Can you see where we’re going here?
07 Dean & Britta – “Night Nurse” …I am the night nurse, I am the most/I am the visitor, you are the host…
08 Blouse – “1000 Years” …I move the furniture around/And trick you into lying down…
“I would never hurt you/Or disappear/I’ll love you for a thousand years”
09 Jillian & the Giants – “Mr Airplane” …I don’t even mind…
Up in the air. “Here we go again, sure was nice for a little while/That rosy pink glow/turns red hot when you go/Too high into the other side”
10 Aquaserge – “Virage sud”
Vive la France
11 Connie Kim – “Lý Luận Tình Yêu”
Vietnam. The 70s. What more can one say?
12 Snail Mail – “Thinning” …I don’t think there’s anything wrong…
13 The Horrors – “Sea Within a Sea” …So you might say/The path we share is one of danger/And of fear/Until the end…
For J, the sea within my sea – a sea of constant gentle waves interrupted with the occasional giant waves
14 Lindstrøm – “I Feel Space”
For me, it’s Norway meets Chicago
15 Melike Demirağ – “Hasret”
Türkiye!
16 Meshell Ndegeocello, Sinéad O’Connor – “Don’t Take All Night”
For the love of all that is good in the world
17 Weyes Blood – “Names of Stars”
Places like beauty, simplicity and the cosmos
18 U.N.P.O.C. – “Beautiful to Me” …From time to time I think I must be going blind…
The dear, green place that is Glasgow
19 Evinha – “Vou Seguindo”
Year 2000! Goin’ to Rio! (Naomi)… and our ears take us back to some other time (SD: “I’ll get a job some other time!”)
20 Palace Winter – “Soft Machine”
Not frequent that I get to include Denmark (especially with a dose of Australia). “Acting so obscene/Well by all means/Now that you and I are free/And I’m off my knees”
21 Kristin Hersh – “Nerve Endings” …We’re idiotic optimistics/Rubbing salt into my wrists/Till I feel almost nothing…
So far from soft-eject beige
22 Damien Jurado – “QACHINA”
Seattle. “I lost my mind, so I stepped out for a time/Went for a walk on a long road to unwind”
23 Khruangbin – “Ma Be Ham Nemiresim”
Texas, if you can believe it
24 Destroyer – “Hey, Snow White” …When the company goes public, you’ve got to learn to love what you own…
Oh, Canada…
25 Solar Bears – “Cosmic Runner”
Ireland
26 First Hate – “The One” …You treated me so carelessly/You kept imagining the one…
Copenhagen… another Danish set… so much like the 80s
27 Lea Porcelain – “Out Is In”
My sort of cities (Berlin/London)
28 Moon Duo – “Cold Fear”
Portland
29 Monomono – “Tire Loma Da Nigbehin”
Nigeria… and memories of Billy, Travis and me in happening Årjäng
30 Luna – “Chinatown”
Winter 2017
31 Suburban Lawns – “Flavor Crystals”
Sounds sort of fresh but is almost as old as I am; everything old is new again
32 The Breeders – “Fortunately Gone” …I wait for you in heaven/On this perfect string of love…
It’s so good those days are gone. The past, too, is a place. Both distant and near
33 Richard & Linda Thompson – “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”
34 Mary Timony – “Return to Pirates”
Lost in the particular Mary Timony sound. “I cannot love you more/Said the doctor to the whore/I wanna be in the garden of love/Led by a lamb and a little white dove/I know you can/But I don’t think I can/Swim in your river/And sleep on your sand”
35 Miss Universum – “Fertilize” …I need a man, I need him quick/I need his sperm, I need his dick/I do not need to be seduced/I just need to be reproduced…
When I first heard this, I didn’t really expect it to be Swedish.
36 Hand Habits – “All the While”
“Bring me to the deepest pit/You can push me right off the edge/And when I show up in your dreams/You got away with it”
37 Eefje de Visser – “Ongeveer”
Dutched up. Almost convinced Dutch could be pretty…
38 Mark Eitzel – “The Last Ten Years” …Spent the last ten years/Trying to waste half an hour…
39 Aimee Mann – “Labrador”
“Daisy, you/shouldn’t do the things you do/but you’re just so incapable of changing/you lie so well/I could never even tell/what were facts in your artful rearranging”
40 Joel Alme – “The Way We Used to Beg”
Göteborg. “You were a cold hard stone/But how does it feel to be alone”
41 Teleman – “Glory Hallelujah” …However do you haunt me…
42 San Mei – “Until You Feel Good”
Thank you to Travis
43 Mallu Magalhães – “Culpa do Amor”
Gone back to Brazil, yet again
44 Mazzy Star – “Blue Flower”
Kitchen singalongs and traumatic high-school-era memories
45 Wooden Shjips – “Everybody Knows” …The longing for home/We’re only alone…
46 Aamina Camaari – “Rag waa Nacab iyo Nasteexo”
Bet you couldn’t have guessed I’d take us to Somalia?
47 Blonde Redhead – “Where Your Mind Wants to Go” …If it’s not me or you, then why?…
48 Jane Weaver – “The Architect”
Be the architect of your spaces and places
49 The Bombay Royale – “I Love You Love You”
Melbourne
50 Yma Sumac – “Karibe Taki”
51 Feist – “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” …I was so disappointed I didn’t know what to do…
52 Young Marble Giants – “Brand – New – Life”
Cymru am byth
53 Eerie Wanda – “I Am Over Here” …And I found you and we make/Sweetest memories/Now I’m here and you are overseas…
We are the world: Dutch band, Dutch-Croatian singer
54 Hater – “Cry Later”
Malmö
55 Richard Hawley – “Tonight the Streets are Ours”
56 Tennis – “Night Vision”
Can’t listen to Tennis without thinking of Esteban
57 Guided by Voices – “Game of Pricks”
“Prick with fork” – love to my mom and to Naomi
58 The Novacs – “Found”
Airdrie! (The Scottish one, not the weird, middle-of-nowhere Airdrie in the Edmonton-Calgary, Alberta corridor)
59 Haifa Wehbe – “Albi Habb”
もう少し Lebanon
60 The Kills – “Monkey 23”
61 Big Thief – “Shark Smile” …she said woo/baby take me…
“She held us, gunning out 90 miles down the road of a dead end dream
she looked over with her part smile, caught up in the twinkle it could take awhile”
62 Linda McCartney – “I Got Up”
Getting up is also a place, a real place
63 Haley Bonar – “Kismet Kill”
“I was impossible when I was beautiful and now/Cartoon deaths just don’t seem so funny”
64 Blouse – “Trust Me”
Famous last words: “Trust me, I’m the one who loves you”
65 Globelamp – “Washington Moon” …I want a California sun/And a Washington moon…
66 Jessica Pratt – “Bushel Hyde” …Words mean more that they did before/In that other place…
67 Robyn Hitchcock – “Sayonara Judge”
October in Oslo
68 Linda Perhacs – “Chimacum Rain”
Lichen. Lichen. Lichen. Oh, dear T’Pow
69 Amália Rodrigues – “Abril”
I love Amália Rodrigues and was surprised to see that that particular tune was one of the least-ever listened to on Spotify. I decided to remedy that all on my own
70 Life Without Buildings – “Sorrow” …Difficult people slip away…
Glesga Glesga Glesga (Glasgow for those not in-the-know)
71 J&L Defer – “Hard Fiction Road”
For SD: Refer to theme song of Canadian children’s show “The Littlest Hobo” at this time. How’s that for random? Even though this is a band from Winterthur, Switzerland, y’know?
72 Wand – “Melted Rope”
“Desire, I barely thinking/In the dark/And life, life is what you wanted/It’s what you are”
73 Koncz Zsuzsa – “Keresem a szót”
Hungarian. And had to choose… for the name Zsuzsa. Just for Martina.
74 She-Devils – “I Wanna Touch You” …can you read my mind?…
Montréal
75 Kikagaku Moyo (幾何学模様)- “Kogarashi”
Tokyo
76 The Limiñanas feat Peter Hook – “Garden of Love”
To France and beyond
77 Yasmine Hamdan – “Samar – Oriental Skeee Remix”
No escape from Lebanon
78 Cold Beat – “62 Moons” …It’s cold but I don’t mind/I’m accustomed to ice…
The Bay Area…
79 Kerem Güney – “Sicak Bir Sevda”
Istanbul grooves
80 Alvvays – “In Undertow” …You made a mistake you’d like to erase and I understand
“What’s left for you and me?”…
On, on Toronto – pulled in and pulled under
81 The Magnetic Fields – “Strange Powers”
Song is so New York, so Las Vegas, so outer space
82 Cults – “Go Outside” …I think I want to live my life and you’re just in my way…
83 ShitKid – “Sugar Town”
Sweden remakes
84 Santo & Johnny – “Pineapple Princess”
Aloha from this arctic hula doll
85 Sam Cohen – “Kepler 62”
“Strange neighbors as you know/They come and go/They live in a world without you”
86 Imarhan – “Assossamagh”
Algeria/Tuareg
87 Whyte Horses – “The Snowfalls”
Manchester
88 Rana Alagöz – “Vah Bacim Vah Mehmedim”
That’s nobody’s business but the Turks…
89 EL VY – “Paul is Alive” …Nobody stays above/Out in the waves of love…
90 Carla dal Forno – “What You Gonna Do Now?”
Aussie. Transcends
91 Sanisah Huri – “Joget Malam Berinai”
Singapore/Malaysia. I said I’d show you the world, baby. I just didn’t say it’d be through your ears
92 Monument Valley – “Dear John Letters”
93 Lea Porcelain – “The Love”
94 Grizzly Bear – “Mourning Sound” …Let love age/And watch it burn out and die…
“I stare at the face/Looking through my eyes/I move at a pace/That I cannot survive”
95 Marjan – “Kee Seda Kard Mano”
Iran
96 Heavens to Betsy – “Axemen”
Like being in a high school gym pep rally (as in the song) or first miserable year of uni
97 Mia Doi Todd – “Pancho and Lefty”
A pretty version of best-songwriter-ever (and now-near-ubiquitous) Townes van Zandt tune
98 Pridjevi – “Ako Je”
Hrvatska
99 Widowspeak – “When I Tried” …I was more alive when I tried…
100 The Proper Ornaments – “Cremated (Blown Away)”
London. “I would like to be cremated and blown away…”
101 Věra Příkazská, Plzeňský lidový soubor, Lidová chodská, Zdenek Blaha – “Ó radost má”
Czech check. Love to Martina, Anne
102 Cigarettes after Sex – “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby”
“Whispered something in your ear/It was a perverted thing to say/But I said it anyway/Made you smile and look away”. Lovely but also sounds like it belongs in an 80s John Hughes romance
103 Adia Victoria – “Mortimer’s Blues” …Heaven help me how it hurts…
Back to Nashville
104 Patti Smith – “My Madrigal” …You pledged me your heart/Till death do us part…
“We waltzed beneath motionless skies/All heaven’s glory turned in your eyes”

Image by S Donaghy 2017

I hold no truck with your burning my goat

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Friday, I do believe, may have been a/the sobriety anniversary for someone I know/knew. At least that’s what my memory started telling me on Thursday – or actually Wednesday – while walking in central Oslo passing some of the things I had seen with him the last time I wandered through the city center. All those hi-fi stores – I will never understand how they all stay in business. And there was even a semi-sung rendition of “Just Like Christmas” by Low. Strange how far away all of that, and even winter itself, feels. Things that happen in the permanently dusky, fictive period that is December/holidays/early new year are like that: they happened but take on an almost invented quality later when looking back.

Yes, these spring days in cold but sunny Oslo: This time it was a work dinner (at a restaurant that seemed to serve little, other than ceviche). I winced my way through the whole day, hobbling through a good 28 waking hours by the end of it, despite feeling a kind of searing pain surging wildly in much of my body. I, however, was more annoyed at the complaints I voiced and the visible indications of pain I showed than with the pain itself. (Back pain, which has been on and off for weeks, had abated but came roaring onto the scene again after an ill-advised long drive coupled with other stuff.)

This drummed up different thoughts, none of which were linked.

For example, I wondered how one comes to realize s/he is an alcoholic in a country and culture that is technically full of them? Where is the line?

As David Sedaris writes: “Turn down a drink in the United States, and people get the message without your having to explain. ‘Oh,’ they say, ashamed of themselves for presuming otherwise. ‘Right. I should probably… quit too.’ In Europe, though, you’re not an alcoholic unless you’re living half-naked on the street, drinking antifreeze from a cast-off shoe. Anything shy of this is just ‘fun-loving’ or ‘rascally’. Cover your glass in France or Germany — even worse, in England — and in the voice of someone who has been personally affronted, your host will ask why you’re not drinking.” (from When You Are Engulfed in Flames)

I thought of a colleague who kept using the word “pivot” but pronounced it “PIE-vot”. The kind of guy who suffers from a kind of Napoleon complex, driven by a must-boast, one-up, must-be-right, I-was-there(-first) syndrome – but luckily only at first (he has to mark his territory when you meet him) because eventually this gives way to a smart, sarcastic personality that is also warm, competent and insightful. I recalled one of his humbler moments, “I fucked up. And from the fuck-ups of our lives, we learn a lot. Immense amounts.” Or another colleague (although that implies there is something collegial or cooperative about our working together) who said, “Let’s not rewrite the wheel.” What?

I remembered also all those times people said things to me that smacked of other motives than what they thought they were transparently offering, betraying true intentions that lurked just beneath the surface. Much like a child who draws attention to his transgression before there is ever any suspicion aroused. The, “Oh, I might have this Mexican woman move in as my new roommate. But she’s not my type or anything; I am not attracted to her.” Hmm. Did anyone say you were? But you just showed your hand, friend. Or, “Nothing happened. I just got her phone number because she has the right look for my photography.” Um, okay. All the things that illuminate without lights.

But then, just as quickly, the mind shifts to asking what the difference is between ceviche and poke. Or to figuring out if I can finish reading all 13 books I have going right now before the end of April. Or to how expressions get muddled – the aforementioned “rewrite the wheel” or, my favorite flubs from Mr Firewall (of which there are many), who at least can laugh at himself first and longest, saying “burns my goat” instead of “gets my goat” and “tans my hide”.

Many thoughts but nothing too coherent – that’s how it goes in the delirium of too little sleep. Often it comes back to Pessoa:

“All that was lost, all that should have been sought, all that was obtained and fulfilled by mistake, all that we loved and lost and then, after losing it and loving it for having lost it, realized we never loved; all that we believed we were thinking when we were feeling; all the memories we took for emotions” –Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Photo by Medena Rosa

Random Gum: Spring into Action 2017

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I never intended for this springtime playlist to grow to such massive proportions. It’s just that I was exposed to so much music – so much sound – so much joy – so much pain in the last few months, and this is the result. My experience and memory filtered into an auditory blueprint. Effortlessly. It’s long – so long – but I did not feel like censoring or making choices because I do that all the rest of the time in my life. You don’t have to listen or like this compilation of 110 bloody songs (although on the burned discs I’ve mailed by post, it looks like maybe only 109 of them actually worked – sorry)… but I am sharing all of it anyway because it’s just what I do.

I never imagine that very much happens or changes in my life, but then when I have an opportunity to reflect, I realize that major things have happened almost weekly over the course of the last six months…. I won’t go into the minutiae of that. I will only say that, as ever, nothing is settled. I am spending a lot of time thinking, reading and writing… and it’s all I feel like doing. It makes for a bit of an insular life that yields very little to tell/share (other than ‘insights’ or takeaways from the things I read and listen to…).

The postal versions (to those for whom I have postal addresses) are going out in the mail this week.

To move on you must move through… Love to all of you.

Random Gum: Moving on Again – How to live with a phantom: Spring into action 2017
(Almost) complete playlist on Spotify.

01. Ed Harcourt – Born in the 70s
Thanks to MP & chats on generational issues. “But can you count on me?/I might let you down/In a world that is so sensational/No you can count on me/I’m living for the now/Up against the older generation’s wall”

02. The Shacks – This Strange Effect …and I like the way you kiss me, don’t know if I should/but this feeling is love and I know that’s why I feel good…

03. The Associates – Love Hangover …I don’t need no cure…
Thanks to William

04. Psychic Twin – Hopeless …And I remain hopelessly alone in the heart/Like I’ve always been from the start…

05. Bubblegum Lemonade – As Dead as Disco …I’m San Francisco; you are New York…
Thanks to some random Glaswegian Twitter guy

06. Girl Ray – Trouble …I don’t want to win anymore, Cause honey, winning it just make me feel sore…
Trouble always finds me. Slight 70s sound; good lead-in tone and theme wise to “The Lonely Man”

07. The Incredible Hulk TV theme song – The Lonely Man
For SD

08. Howard Jones – Things Can Only Get Better
Planned to include this (thinking 2017 could only be better after 2016 – wrong so far!) and then realized dear Bethany also put it on a recent mix she sent – and even gave the mix this title.

09. Bill Ryder-Jones – You Can’t Hide a Light with the Dark …The way you fall apart/I still adore it…
“The light’s on in your backroom/Are you with him/Are you with him/The lights off and it’s darkness/You’re so heartless”

10. Maud Lübeck – Mon amourenboîte
Thanks to Laurent

11. Palehound – Cinnamon …Mellow, cringing ugly fellows/Mixing water into gin/And chasing it with cinnamon…

12. Minor Victories – Breaking My Light …Will these shadows lift/They’ve been breaking my light…
Thanks and love to MP, who once or twice helped lift some shadows

13. Rabbit is Rich – Kick Your Ass
More thanks to the incomparable William, king of Christmas cards and cool music mixes

14. Andrew Bird – Tin Foil …What is moving will be still/What has gathered will disperse…
“Evil Knievel shot up from dead grass/And I loved him better each time that he crashed”

15. Maria Andersson – The Girl Who Loved Islands
Probably just because I am nothing if not an island girl at heart

16. Bill Pritchard – Mother Tongue …They lived in separate countries, as we watched their future unfurl…
“What’s that you mean?/I don’t think I caught your tone/Say that again in your mother tongue”

17. Max Shrager – Thoughts of You …to hold onto my thoughts of you…

18. The War on Drugs – Red Eyes
Always a driving song… don’t drive as much as I used to but still need songs for the road

19. Boy & Bear – Southern Sun …You see I’m not gonna wait till the end of me/’Cause I got the burning fire in bed of my soul…

20. Crystal Stilts – The Dazzled …It can’t be saved. It’s already lost, it thrives on my resistance/We are bound and marching to an ever static distance…

21. Vetiver – Can’t You Tell …Look ahead where our future hides/But the world waits wide-eyed…

22. Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red …Oh my darling, you’re a dying red star…

23. Steve Mason – The Letter …could it be that you don’t know me any more?…
Was supposed to see this dude twice within a week (Gothenburg and Oslo). Canceled. It was not how I had imagined anyway, so just as well that none of it happened.

24. Cass McCombs – There Can Be Only One
“Like a master’s baptism of fire/I know you have your ways/And two masters at once, no man can acquire/You set my heart ablaze”

25. Japanese Breakfast – The Woman that Loves You …You should try to do as little harm as you can to the woman that loves you…

26. Neko Case, kd lang, Laura Veirs – Down I-5 …Driving down I-5/I don’t ever want to die/Cause I’d no more get to see/All this beauty passing by me…
How many fruitless trips down I-5 have I taken? “You know you’re living if you’ve sinned”

27. Thelma – If You Let It …lines are crossed of will and fear/it is ringing loud and clear…
“Feel the limits you put/on yourself and those around you/you deserve more, you deserve more”. Here’s to seizing more.

28. Chelsea Wolfe – Appalachia …like black diamonds, ash and light/like the mines and anthracite…

29. Timber Timbre – Velvet Gloves & Spit

30. Totally Mild – Christa …It doesn’t matter what you do/It only matters who you do it with…

31. Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama
For Naomi, who did not realize Donald Glover was Childish Gambino.

32. Houndstooth – Canary Island …it’s never been quite right/always taking things to dark inside/a restless mind is hard please/most of the time…
“Oh to be the dust that covers/everything”

33. Hefner – Half a Life …Life without my sweetheart is only half a life…

34. Stereolab – Ping Pong
Socialism in song… hitting the musical ball back and forth with MP

35. Beachbuggy – Japanese Radio Ad
More Japanese noise and more love to MP
36. AdriAnne Lenker – Jonathan …listen up, I’m a wreck I’m a mess, this is not the effect/Of a loss or a vex, this is you…
“Let me be the honest home where you can rest/Your tired mind”

37. Tinariwen – Cler Achel
A very Al Jazeera documentary-loving, Henry-Rollins-style travels kind of music

38. Chelsea Wolfe – Flatlands …I want flatlands/will you go there with me…
“When it’s said in the dark and you know it’s always there/when it’s dead in our heart but your mind is unafraid/when it’s said in the dark and you know it’s never coming back/when it’s there in your heart in your mind you set it free”

39. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker – I Never Learned French
Where have all my French connections gone?
40. Cats on Fire – It’s Clear Your Former Lover
Funnish Finns. “Now, it’s possible he may have been the one who loved you the most/I don’t want to compete and I don’t like the smell of his ghost”

41. The Horrors – Still Life (Connan Mockasin remix) …Slow down/give it time…
Preferred this remix to the original; sitting in a shopping mall parking lot waiting for a friend, listening and absorbing the message: “Don’t hurry, give it time. Things are the way they have to be.”

42. Baxter Dury – Other Men’s Girls

43.Morgan Delt – Some Sunsick Day …After the blast levels our town/We can relax and watch it come down…
“After we start over again/We’ll start to feel safe in our skin/Maybe we’ll be wrinkled and grey/Or maybe we’ll get new plastic faces/We’ll finally find what we need”

44. Vashti Bunyan – Love Song
Thanks to, love for MP

45. Space Needle – Before I Lose My Style …I tried to be it all/when I left you behind…

46. Galaxie 500 – Snowstorm
Thoughts of MP and an almost-snowless winter

47. Itasca – No Consequence
With love for Annette – plenty of consequences.

48. The Limiñanas – Down Underground

49. Jenny Hval – Conceptual Romance …I want to give up but I can tell/My heartbreak is too sentimental for you…
This song is everything. ”A sexual holding pattern/Stuck in erotic self-oscillation/This landmine of a heart/The only one I’ve ever had/I’ve ever had”; “So I lose my gaze to keep you/Creating a curve for the eyes/A rejected body/And losing it is constant, but such a lonely place/What can I say?/I don’t know who I am, but/I’m working on it…”

50. Psychic Ills – Mind Daze …I’m doing fine/when I’m out of my mind…

51. Suuns – 2020

52. Minor Victories – Give Up the Ghost …When you act like I’m nothing to you/Make me feel like I’ve been replaced/I could tear you apart/Leave a brand-new scar…
53. Amber Arcades – Constant’s Dream …It’s not different we’re just getting used to it/But we’ve always known what to expect…
“Our bodies are full and nobody is trying/It’s not like we don’t want to, we’re just not desiring”

54. Still Parade – Walk in the Park
Poetry, Wanstead Park and Denise Levertov’s ark-of-the-ache-of-it connection: “Wanstead drew me over and over into its basic poetry”. For MP

55. Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Something Familiar

56. Twin Limb – Don’t Even Think

57. Nice as Fuck – Door …All the shit that we talk is a smokescreen/It’s a waste of your time/A waste of my being…

58. Family Friends – Look the Other Way …I think there’s some things you forgot from when we used to talk a lot…

59. Chastity Belt – Seattle Party …Your life is so raw/You’ve been through so much…

60. Pixie Geldof – Wild Things Grow
Not anything I ever anticipated including despite lifelong weird obsession with Bob Geldof; thanks to Travis, this finds its way here
61. Lee Hazlewood – Hey Cowboy
Love to Naomi

62. Matt Duncan – 1000 Boys …This record’s skipping on a sigh… (but not an Eliot sigh…)
“That I’m smitten with my worries and my doubts/No lovelorn prince would ever dare to sing about”
63. Shintaro Sakamoto – In a Phantom Mood
Japan time!

64. Allo Darlin’ – Kiss Your Lips …Then I kissed your lips and for a moment it was heavenly/Because you found me, baby/Baby I found you…

65. Weyes Blood – Seven Words …I want you mostly in the morning/when my soul is weak from dreaming…

66. Julia Jacklin – Pool Party …Said you’re sorry you were drinking through the day then/Only stopped to let your lungs take the hit/Said I won’t blame you now but you lost my love somehow/Then you jumped right in…
I sort of misjudged this song when I first heard it – kinda fitting when I really listened

67. The Innocence Mission – Bright as Yellow …And I do not want to be a rose/I do not wish to be pale pink/But flower scarlet, flower gold/And have no thorns to distance me…

68. I Break Horses – Winter Beats …When your heart in winter beats/Don’t let that cold blood freeze/Cause frozen love will bleed…
Represent the home team (Sweden!) and other people’s Spotify playlists

69. Kim Jung Mi – Haenim
I read about “Korean folk” music, which is like 60s folk rock and nothing to do with traditional Korean music. And you can hear that when you listen to this interesting, if odd, song.

70. Vivian Girls – Where Do You Run To …It’s alright just leave the light on, I will never ask you why/Once you’ve gone remains the question baby/Where do you go? Where do you go? Why do you leave me all alone?…

71. Sam Patch – St. Sebastian
Another one of those whose sound I like…

72. Amber Arcades – Right Now …But we could go right now/We could have another life…
“I made my mind up long ago/The road is long and slow/So many things to leave behind/But everyone can live their lie/I’m not even sure that I don’t like mine”

73. “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice” – from Orphee et Eurydice, Gluck, Donald Runnicles & Orchestra of San Francisco; Dawn Upshaw, Alison Hagley, Jennifer Larmore

74. Wasuremono – Cuddling
As the dear Scots say, to mean ‘cuddling’, “coorie in”
75. Spain – Nobody Has to Know …Girl we’ve fallen so in love/It was just a year ago/And you’ve kept it to yourself…

76. Blake Mills – Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me …I was wrong to turn honesty against you/And sure, some of them could use a good talk…
Seems like a timely kind of song, with thoughts of trying to keep secrets about people “fucking up”

77. King Creosote – And the Racket They Made …And your words chased round and round in my head/Last night…
To the peaceful days that started the year and the endless discography of King Creosote, which droned on all morning and throughout our entire absence when wandering through the cold countryside. “And the tide shrinks back into its womb/And I hope the empty shells and bones of your stories/Will litter and clutter the shores/And I hope that when I find them/I’ll remember how they danced/And the racket they made/When they were alive”

78. William Onyeabor – Ride on Baby …You don’t know why you love me so much, baby…
RIP William, king of Nigerian funk… reminds me of a weird time in my professional career working with insufferable hipsters who spent much of their lives in downward facing dog pose (since they had to be posing somehow…)

79. Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb …The way I act don’t seem like me/I’m not on top like I used to be…
Acknowledging when you’re not on your A-game…

80. Nick Garrie – Can I Stay With You
Calm in the eye of the storm; love for MP

81. Cigarettes After Sex – K. …I remember when I first noticed that you liked me back/We were sitting down in a restaurant waiting for the check/We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached/But I could tell that something had changed how you looked at me then…
What a beautiful song… its combination of beauty and hope kinda makes me feel melancholy.

82. Bubblegum Lemonade – This is the New Normal
Hoping that the world we live in right now is not the new normal…

83. Tenniscoats – Hikoki
Thinking of back when my mom expanded her vocabulary to include the Japanese neko and hikooki

84. Spinning Coin – Albany …When the weather comes/It comes in measures/When the pain comes/Instead of pleasure…
“I don’t know I thought I knew you but I was wrong/I was impressed by your love for complexity”

85. Wolf Alice – Bros …Are you wild like me/Raised by wolves and other beasts…

86. The Duke Spirit – Serenade …slow you remind me/how to be silent/and your story leaves me wanting/and the way I feel is changing…

87. Desperate Journalist – Distance …oh your heart/a hurricane…
How much I want to create distance. “I’ve lost you” – yes, you have.
88. Surface to Air Missive – Time Being …I don’t know where you are now/but it’s someone else for all I know…
The guilt of unanswered/unreciprocated missives. Bigger than surface

89. Billy Bragg – Upfield
“I’ve got a socialism of the heart.” Nothing describes me better at this stage in life

90. Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!
Thanks to MP and his mad, made-up music ‘game’/DJing a Friday night from afar, as ever

91. Slowdive – Star Roving
To made-up middle-of-night games pitting songs against each other and admissions of never cottoning to Slowdive back in the old days

92. Minor Victories – Scattered Ashes (Song for Richard)

93. Cat’s Eyes – Drag …Oh you’ve been dragging me down…

94. Grouper – Headache …why does love keep letting me down?…

95. Antonio Carlos & Jocafi – Você Abusou
Something from the Cerys on 6 BBC Sunday radio, listened at someone’s suggestion

96. Dirty Projectors – Up in Hudson
Love and thanks to Andreas. The sound here is not mine, but the lyrics… dear, dear heavens

97. Tasseomancy – Dead Can Dance & Neil Young …fade into folk song…
Enjoyed getting lost in the sound…

98. Valerie June – Astral Plane
Thanks to Travis

99. Princess Chelsea – The Cigarette Duet
Thanks to dear Gabe and of course love for New Zealand

100. Super Furry Animals – Hermann Loves Pauline
Gute Nacht, mein Liebling, Roscoe

101. The Proper Ornaments – Memories …memories will go/slowly float away/but I can see your face/from here…

102. The Saxophones – New Tradition
“But I haven’t shown you my best part; it’s too hard, and I’m quick to judge”

103. Sibelius – In the Stream of Life (Rautavaara)
104. Robyn Hitchcock – Goodnight Oslo

105. Spell – Stone is Very Very Cold …my hand may tremble now and then/but my heart can never break again…

106. Julie Byrne – Follow My Voice …To me, this city’s hell/But I know you call it home/I was made for the green/Made to be alone…
“I’ve been called heartbreaker/For doing justice to my own/I, too, been a fault-finder/But that life is broke/How I love you/You’re the one my heart chose/And so I will be here”

107. Ultra Vivid Scene with Kim Deal – Special One
Watching the video on a hotel room bed in Oslo, nearing the end of the five-day bubble, memories of high school for me, an intro to something new for him

108. Sheryl Crow – The Book …I didn’t know by giving my hand/that I would be written down, sliced around, passed down, among strangers’ hands…
A mainstream thing you won’t know, a lot like Friends, but still has its place in pop culture. And this song has always struck me – writers as “voyeur, the worst kind of thief” of such personal details; always be on the defensive. “I read your book/and I find it strange/that I know that girl, I know her world/a little too well”

109. Steve Mason – Hardly Go Through …I’ve never cried over someone I hardly know/But I can feel it/Can you feel it?…
“In my head I hear a voice, they say/You made the wrong choice/And you don’t need me, you’ll never need me”

110. Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate …Electric faces seem to merge/Hidden voices mock your words…
The musical definition of my earliest childhood, still resonating as I burnish in middle age. Isn’t that what memory, intellect, age and living do? Haha. One can hope. “Ooh baby I hear you spend night time/Wrapped like candy in a blue, blue neon glow”

Spontaneity

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One of the biggest reasons I live the life I do and have cultivated the lifestyle I have is its flexibility and the ability to be spontaneous. Do I often do anything with that? Not in my opinion. From other people’s regimented perspectives, maybe it seems like it, but to me, spontaneous is buying a ticket to Japan in the morning and leaving in the afternoon.

The other night, Sunday, the internet connection in my house stopped working. I was already half-asleep and it was 2 a.m. so this should not have mattered to me in the least. But somehow it made me irritated, and thus wide awake. And suddenly, after speaking for some time about the film La La Land earlier in the evening, and getting excited to see it (even if it had not registered in my head before this conversation), I thought at 2 a.m., randomly, “This would be a good time to jump in the car, drive to Oslo airport and fly to some city where the film IS playing!” (I had already checked to see that it’s not been released in Sweden or Norway yet.)

Exercising freedom and flexibility is always in my reach and I never take advantage, certainly not fully. This seemed like the right opportunity. Of course, is it rational to jump out of bed, where you’re already half asleep and dressed for sleep, get your things together, buy a ticket and go to Berlin (city of choice) just to see a movie that, even a day earlier, you would not even have given a second thought to?

No, pas du tout. But it was never about what is rational. Seems like lunacy, but it’s less about the movie and more about just doing something crazy and unexpected because I can. If I don’t have kids, complications, obligations (other than work, which I can do at any hour), should I not be taking full advantage of the freedom that that affords?

I didn’t do it when that middle-of-the-night urge struck – the internet connection started working, so my tiredness took over again, but I was halfway out the door and then spent the next day, Monday, debating whether I should go Tuesday instead. I was not as spontaneous as I might like to be – but now, sitting at the Oslo airport working for a few hours while waiting for a flight to Berlin, I can say that I was spontaneous enough at least to go for it the next day.

The last time I went to a cinema was in 2009; I had returned to Iceland to visit and saw whatever Star Trek movie was new that summer. And somehow have never returned. This seems like, if not a monumental way to break the dry spell, a novel and memorable one.