amusing tongue of procrastination – Random gum of February 2019 soundtrack

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It’s been another city-to-city runaround for the last two months, and music has been one of the things fueling me as I overfill an endless to-do list, tend to my most basic needs and contemplate the impending doom of Brexit and Trumpdom. I know some of these are repeated of songs I’ve included in other mixes. At this point I don’t think it can be helped. I collect what keeps me going as I go… and that might be the same songs month after month…

amusing tongue of procrastination
Good Goo of Random Gum – January and February 2019

Follow along on Spotify.

01 Cameron AveryDance with Me …Sure, I’m a lonely fool and I ain’t that cool
But I’ll walk you through it…
Some Australian thing
02 PoliçaMarrow
Snowy walks in the dark
03 thanks – Your World
04 INXSKiss the Dirt (Falling Down a Mountain)
Hard to believe how long Hutchence has been gone; another Aussie representative
05 AlvvaysPlimsoll Punks
Sometimes things inexplicably and unexpectedly remind you of someone and you can’t figure out why they ever seemed so important
06 World PartyIs It Like Today?
World Party is one of those bands my best friend and I probably made fun of (no idea why) when we were adolescents. Now I listen to this during the snowy, dark morning walks and can’t separate it from the annoyances of public transportation
07 The CultFire Woman
The Cult was never my thing, and this song was something I suppose I made fun of in its heyday, but I recently sent it to my best friend when she offered to help me overcome my fear of fire in order to operate my dormant fireplace
08 LizzoJuice
Can’t get enough of this
09 U2Spanish Eyes
Another nod to adolescence and the old days when B-sides were so hard to come by
10 Phantastic FernitureBad Timing
Oh, how I love everything Julia Jacklin is involved in. “Maybe it’s not the timing/maybe we were never meant to be”
11 Lee HazlewoodPray Them Bars Away
12 Stone RosesMade of Stone
I think I include this song every time I am in a period of isolation and contemplation and walking long distances – since I first heard it in 1989, it has served this purpose
13 Bill CallahanJavelin Unlanding
14 Charlotte GainsbourgSuch a Remarkable Day
15 Townes van ZandtHigh, Low and In Between
16 Connie FrancisYou’re Gonna Miss Me
17 SantigoldCoo Coo Coo
18 Agnes ObelIt’s Happening Again
Denmark
19 Elvis Costello & The Imposters – Heart-Shaped Bruise
20 Julia JacklinHead Alone
“Come on, give me the room tonight/You know I’ve told you before that you hold me too tight”
21 Elvis CostelloThis Year’s Girl
Recently binged the second season of The Deuce – this was a perfect theme song for this season. “You want her broken with her mouth wide open cause she’s this year’s girl”
22 Clau Aniz, flávia cabral – Montanhesa
23 Dory PrevinThe Lady With the Braid
24 SwansBlind
25 Ludovic Alariewe’re a dream nobody wrote down

May I come in? – Random gum of May 2018 soundtrack

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Time again for another monthly random gum music mix; music for May 2018. To discover all my playlists on Spotify and follow me.

I don’t have any words of wisdom this month. I’ve been busy with my sudden students status, but nothing ever stops me from finding and listening to music. I invite you to listen, too.

May I Come In? – Random Gum – May 2018

01 Nico – “The Fairest of the Seasons…Yes and the morning has me/Looking in your eyes/And seeing mine warning me/To read the signs carefully…
Love for and thanks to AB… “Now that I’ve tried/Now that I’ve finally found that this is not the way”.
02 Brigid Mae Power – “Let Me Go Now”
Heartbreaking. “It was just too hard to love unconditionally/you can let me go now, that’s okay/it was just too hard to love in that way”
03 Belle & Sebastian – “Nobody’s Empire”
Glasgow love. “There was a girl that sang like the chime of a bell/And she put out her arm and she touched me when I was in hell”
04 Feu! Chatterton – “Grace”
The French past. “Le tendre passé qui nous hante/Croît comme un jardin vivant/Un terrain vague/Peuplé de très vieux mirages/De fleurs sauvages”
05 Akofa Akoussah – “I Tcho Tchass
Tales of Togo and Togolese radio
06 Lower Dens – “Your Heart Still Beating”
“Your heart is still beating in all of my dreams/And I swore again and again/Never again”
07 The Helio Sequence – “Deuces” …now I’m gone/you’ve lost your hold on me…
PNW. “I don’t wanna be cool, I don’t wanna be distant/Or harbor grief for you/And I don’t mean to be cool, I don’t need to seem never like/I’m holding out for you”
08 Tortoise – “Yonder Blue” …Oh, I’ll fill the ocean with tears until I find you…
09 Gentle Hen – “The People You See Regularly Never Grow Old”
Hold them horses, hen.
10 Twerps – “Dreamin”
Australia/Melbourne
11 The Communards – “Don’t Leave Me This Way
Glasgow disco. SD
12 BC Unidos, Shungudzo – “Ouagadougou
13 Belly – “Superconnected”
Memories of driving-around singalong sessions with dear Tara in the mid-90s and our continued connection
14 Alberteen – “Infant Nation”
Thanks to inimitable AB
15 Silver Apples – “I Have Known Love”
16 Veronika Boulytcheva, Natalia Ermilova – “Ouj i ja li moloda”
A song that hurts most people’s ears – reminds me of college and my dad saying this sounds like ”wailing Chinese people”
17 Yo La Tengo – ”Pablo and Andrea” …someone came and took all the roses away…
“I’ll cover for you like a slipcover covers a chair”
18 Geowulf – “Greatest Fool”
Aussies in London. “Point at me and laugh, my love/’Cause I thought we were enough/Guess I make the greatest fool/Gentlemen, I’ll humor you”
19 Julian Cope – “Sunspots” …I’m in love with my very best friend…
Back to high school and the nightmare “environmental camp” I went to one year trying to make a friend feel better
20 Hoshi – “Comment je vais faire” (acoustic version)
21 Alabama Shakes – “Dunes” …Somewhere in me, a memory that I cannot gather anymore…
22 Delta 5 – “Mind Your Own Business”
Words of wisdom
23 Diane Coffee – “Hymn”
“So come on, walk to your house/You put a record on”. Afternoons after school listening to records, love to my school friends (Terra, Leighanne, Gary)
24 Sugar Candy Mountain – “Atlas”
25 Lost Horizons – “The Places We’ve Been”
Vocals by Karen Peris from The Innocence Mission
26 Cinerama – “Tie Me Up”
“You own me, you own me, and I’m not arguing”
27 Emily King – “Sleepwalker”
“I feel my body move without me again/Ooh, like a sleepwalker getting closer to him”
28 Tracy Chapman – “Smoke and Ashes”
Reminds me of the interminable summer of 1996
29 The Stone Roses – “Love Spreads”
I never cared much for this Roses song, but after seeing it live, it took on a different feeling
30 of Montreal – “Last Rites at the Jane Hotel” …These tears I cry for you must prove that I’m not the demon that I’m meant to be…
“Other people can be so disappointing/I need to spend more time alone”
31 A Taste of Honey – “Boogie Oogie Oogie”
For SD, as all danceable tunes are
32 Bam Spacey – “Avstånd och skog”
Malmö.
33 Heather Nova – “What a Feeling”
“Life is only half way in our hands/Years have passed while I was making plans/And I could never find the words/I always felt absurd, and always outside”
34 Kalbells – “Alonetime” …life can be so emotional/when you’re lonely…
Springtime. Here’s cheers to Annette, AB, SD, J, Anne
35 Fastbacks – “I Never Knew”
The old Seattle haunts and sounds; Oslo tunnels
36 Brandi Carlile – “Sugartooth”
Locals
37 Olden Yolk – “Cut to the Quick”
38 Low – “Let’s Stay Together”
Because yes, sometimes, people do stay together
39 Indigo Girls – “Kid Fears”
It’s like junior high school again, and somehow makes me think of Amie
40 Bedouine – “Summer Cold” …You say, ‘What have they done to you friend?’…
Armenian-American via Aleppo. “I’ve had enough of your guns and your ammunition”
41 Orange Juice – “Untitled Melody”
Glasgow. “You need me more or less, I need you more and more”
42 Belly – “Judas My Heart”
“Where I live/There’s a blanket of sighs and it covers the stars/In my heart, I’m as hungry as ever”
43 Madeline Kenney – “Signals”
A signal is what you use in your car, dude. Not a way of communicating with someone who clearly needs direct answers.”
44 Sevdaliza – “Amandine Insensible” …There’s a woman, she’s every fantasy/And no reality in one…
“How can I suffer without the pain?/Can we struggle without the shame?”
45 Dori Freeman – “Cold Waves” …There’s something bitter and it’s tyin’ up my tongue/My body’s restless but I’ve got nowhere to run…
“I’ve got a lover and he loves me very well/He took my broken heart and brought it back from hell/And with the slightest glance and movement he can tell/That I am lost and only he can lift the veil”
46 Deep Throat Choir – “In My Bed”
Amy Winehouse cover
47 Aidan Moffat, RM Hubbert, feat. Siobhan Wilson – “Cockcrow”
Scotland
48 Salad – “Warmth of the Hearth” …Here comes the hearth/We’re almost there baby/I’m on the path/Missing you already…
One of those bands that never quite hit (I loved them) but has reunited to tour recently
49 Julia Lucille – “Lie and Wait” …What do you think should we take it slow/Or go as fast as my body wants to go…
“Wrapped up in your loving arms imperfect as I am/You don’t tell me I’m beautiful, you tell me I’m a badass but/I hold back my love” … “What do you think was it too much too soon/I felt your mind just leaving when I walked into the room”. I like almost nothing more than I like Julia Lucille these days.
50 The Go-Betweens – “Dive For Your Memory”
“When I hear you saying/That we stood no chance/I’ll dive for your memory/We stood that chance”

Japanorama & penis power

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Back in the early part of the year I was contemplating an April return to Japan. Mostly because I thought I would like to see The Stone Roses again but also because April is the best time of year to go to Japan. I didn’t go for a handful of reasons but now I wish I had: I just found out there is a penis festival in April, which … seriously, who wouldn’t go to Japan just for that? (Well, and a side of ほうとう.)

I had been doing a lot of research into different things in Japan that might not have registered with me before – side trips and tours one could make to focus in on more niche things like Japan’s amazing pens, paper and denim obsession rather than just tourist traps, noodles and whatever.

In the end, I talked to my brother about going together, but it ended up being bad timing. I went on shorter trips – stuff like the PoPos and Czechia – will anyone ever get used to calling it that? And (little licks of – a term used just for London-based friend Karly!) London, which is never a delight, but sometimes necessary.

Mind clouded by Japan and penises now, I always forget that they have these strange fixations. Forgot checking out the VHS of In the Realm of the Senses from the public library as a teenager – probably not something they should have let a teenager have, but I don’t think the library staff was particularly familiar with the foreign language films. If I am not mistaken, the maniacal main character of the film cuts off the other main character’s penis; this is considerably more artful than, say, the made-for-tabloid-TV saga of John and Lorena Bobbitt.

Meandering memories with The Stone Roses

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Sometimes I fantasize
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars they burn below me
Don’t these times fill your eyes
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars, they burn below me
Are you all alone?
Is anybody home?

It was 1990, and I was in the full throes of my short-lived but passionate anglophilia. I tried to remake my suburban American life in the shape and form of something entirely different, and what better way to make anything new and beautiful – and most importantly – different – than through music? What different sound could I find that could firmly establish this otherness without the freedom to go be a part of some otherness? These were slow times when overexcited teenage musical discoveries were like hard-fought battles with near-exclusivity the spoils.

Lucky for me, I had been obsessed with reaching out into the wider world through my penfriendships, and exchanged letters with Peter, a bricklayer from Durham, England. I will never be able to express the mania, madness, joy that washed over me when his parcels would arrive, filled with cassettes (!) of exactly this otherness I had desperately sought. The first tapes he sent: The Stone Roses’ first – and in fairness near-only – album (the second could never live up to that debut). It transformed everything. He continued to send me more tapes of everything that characterized the ‘Madchester’ scene and other music from the same period. I felt like I had stumbled into a goldmine into which only I had access (it was a while before America was fully on board, and even if enclaves of people embraced this music, it was not as though it made its mark on my community).

I distinctly remember a day, walking home from a PSAT or SAT practice test (or something like that – a Saturday morning sacrificed to standardized testing, in any case), with “Made of Stone” playing on my Walkman. Is it overstating it to say that everything seemed different to me after that time? In some way, it was. It was – even if other friends adopted the music and we shared it – an assertion of my own tastes and identity outside of that of my friends. The first step toward something different. Sure, that something different did not turn out to be moving to England, which, in my youth, I long believed I wanted to do. But it was a big stepping stone to figuring out tangibly that there was a much bigger world out there with a lot of different kinds of people in it. Some of them were working as bricklayers and writing letters to fawning American girls. Some of them were making music and going to raves in a depressed late-80s Manchester.

Today, returning from Manchester, where I spent a few days with my brother seeing The Stone Roses reunion, seeing the iconic Haçienda transformed into apartments and generally taking it all in, I am starkly reminded of how I felt, how it was, to feel such intense feelings about music, about the sense of place (the sense of wanting to be in a different place). It’s been 26 years since I walked through the streets of the town where I grew up, overcome by and elated at this new sound – these new possibilities.

Today I am wandering the streets of Oslo, bound by sun and a few clouds, wondering in some way how I got here. In life, that is. Scandinavia was nowhere on my radar back in 1990, and yet this is where I feel happiest and at home. And listening to the Roses as I walked around the sun-dappled Oslo train station and opera house, I create new and very different memories around these same songs that carried me through suburban American streets and experiences. The songs are the same but are no longer the ones that made me feel lonely but understood – and held the promise of different ‘othernesses’ – and now hold this bittersweet nostalgia in every note and word.

Of course with nostalgia there is also the past – whatever happened to the northern boy bricklayer Peter, who introduced me to all of this and spoke in an accent I could not begin to understand? My best friend from that period, too, where has she gone? I thought of her so much as I wandered Manchester and saw this concert we would have killed to see when we were 15. I know neither she nor I are the people we were then, but the heartstrings were pulled. Hard.

 

The Stone Roses & other life misunderestimations

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An acquaintance, a somewhat disgruntled worker, who was shown the door in her organization recently went on a tirade, listing off all the magnificent things she had supposedly brought to the company. All were fabrications or deluded personal perspectives on tasks she had ‘accomplished’. In a fit of fury, she insisted, “I have been misunderestimated.” This, erm, “word” perfectly encapsulates who and how she is. Trying too hard to be articulate and coming out sounding like a babbling moron in the process. Mis – under – estimated? If that were a word at all, how would it apply? That as a native English speaker, you don’t know how to use English (despite working in a communications department)? (For what it’s worth, “misunderestimate” is a classic Geo. W. Bushism.)

Thinking this morning about these vainglorious declarations of “misunderestimations”, I grant that I underestimated how glorious indeed seeing The Stone Roses live would be. I’m just returning home from the UK, where my brother and I have spent a few days seeing the Roses in Manchester. What could beat seeing them on their home turf and taking a look around the stomping grounds of some of our favorite musical artists? For nostalgia’s sake alone, it seemed like a good idea. In fact I counted on it being primarily nostalgic. I don’t think The Roses were ever known in the old days for being consistent and reliable, and I did not think that that 20 years between their breakup and today would have changed that.

But it did.

Now, I have never been the kind of person who enjoys standing in huge crowds of people enduring drunken idiots. I have never stood in an English crowd of idiots (their weird herd-hooligan mentality comes out even in this musical environment). I’m tempted to blame my advanced age, but then I remember with some displeasure that I felt this way when I was 20 as much as today. I simply hate crowds, especially stupid ones, and adding alcohol makes it 100 times worse. I also do not find the same things “fun” as other people. This would be an endurance exercise, not one of sheer pleasure.

We went to the venue very early – hours before it opened – to ensure that my brother could get the merchandise he wanted. Then we wandered off in the industrial estate area where the stadium is and found the most strangely placed, overly ornate Thai/Indian restaurant right in the middle of it (Vermilion). We went inside and were the only ones in the place, being showered with the dedicated attentions of an overeager French waiter who was so excited to interact and show us the revolving table in the adjacent room that he nearly knocked over some wine glasses in the process (“spin that wheel!”). It was surreal, making the whole thing memorable and laughable. Also, it was a good thing we ate a bunch of food because once we did actually get inside the stadium, we staked out our spot and didn’t really move again for seven hours. (Our feet have not thanked us since.)

The day started with The Buzzcocks, followed by The Coral, then Public Enemy and finally The Stone Roses. From the moment they went on, the crowd was rapt and all their previous shenanigans did not matter (e.g. throwing half-empty cups of beer and cider and shit into the air, which half soaked me at one point and really pissed me off). There is something truly uniting? Transformative? about sharing the same experience with a massive group of people who are all there, living and loving the same thing with equal intensity. No one was indifferent. Everyone knew all the words to every song and freaked out in unison. The intensity never abated. I have been to many concerts in my life but none with that sustained intensity and fervor and sheer engagement at every moment, particularly not at a concert of that size (smaller gigs in smaller venues for bands with a small but passionate following will seem a bit like that but on a much smaller scale). I guess scale is what I am talking about – I have never seen and experienced something like that, being right in the middle of it.

It was amazing and well worth all the hassles. And I guess my doubts about the Roses’ efficacy and staying power were misunderestimated. 🙂 Haha.