a love supreme – anti-valentine – random gum of february 2018 soundtrack

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a love supreme – anti-valentine
february 2018 – the good goo of random gum

01 The Supremes – Love is Like an Itching in My Heart
“Just an itching in my heart and I can’t scratch it”
02 Cate le Bon – Are You With Me Now?
03 Margo Price – Hands of Time
“Turn back the clock on the cruel hands of time”
04 Nana – Menino Carioca
05 Mary Lou Lord – I’m Ahead If I Can Quit While I’m Behind
06 BC Camplight – You Should’ve Gone to School
07 Sandie Shaw – (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me
08 Sibylle Baier – Softly
Here’s to hidden women making their belated mark
09 Grizzly Bear – Losing All Sense
“Like a rogue wave you/Wash right over me/Losing all sense of what my body could feel/I was able to drift away from here/I have lost all control”
10 Gingerlys – Incandescent
11 BRONCHO – What
12 Sofia Freire – Canção da Bruxa
13 Dita von Teese, Sébastien Tellier – Bird of Prey
14 Marta Kubišová – Už se léto schovává
…Hang up the Czech habit. Love to Anne, to Martina, to Mr MI
15 Claudine Longet – Medley: Jealous Guy/Don’t Let Me Down
16 Belle & Sebastian – I’ll Be Your Pilot
All the Glaswegians
17 Nap Eyes – Delirium and Persecution Paranoia
18 Angel Olsen – How Many Disasters
19 The Supremes – Forever Came Today
20 The Barry Sisters – Vyoch Tyoch Tyoch
Can’t resist a Yiddish song, now can we?
21 Tommy Allen – Ghosts in the Walls
22 The Fall – There’s a Ghost in My House
RIP Mark E. Smith – who seems like the type to linger as a ghost in another dimension, tormenting people for all eternity from the beyond.
23 Jenny O. – Lazy Jane …I’m feeling blue/Cause I can’t have you…
“I’m never gonna be a cheerleader/I can’t do tricks/And I ain’t that sick”. For all those so far away now I will never get them back
24 Emma Gatrill – Odd Ones Out
“Don’t judge a book by its cover/Its façade is simple, simple to see/But by twenty pages in/You’ll find the story is not what it first seemed”
25 Over the Rhine – Latter Days
26 Al Masrieen – Men Awel Deqiqa
27 The Fall – Feeling Numb
One can only feel numb at the passing of Mark E. Smith (RIP), knowing the end probably could easily have come earlier. Still, the only good thing about his death is that I have learned about so many more people in my circles who are fans of The Fall, and I might never otherwise have known.
28 Hollie Cook – Desdemona
29 Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou – The Homeless Wanderer
Ethiopia
30 The Fall – Big New Prinz
I didn’t think much about how The Fall served as a soundtrack thread through most of my life until the recent passing of the cantankerous Mark E. Smith. All the way back to my adolescence, when my friend Terra and I would be sucked in by the aggressive sounds of “Big New Prinz” (and the rest of the songs from the same album), and not too long thereafter when my bricklayer pen pal Peter in the north of England would send me mixed cassettes that included loads of The Fall. And then how Naomi and I would share this connection and even see The Fall together many, many years ago. The Fall continued to help me forge surprising connections through the years.
31 Renata Zeiguer – Follow Me Down
32 Duke Garwood – Blue
33 France Gall – Laisse tomber les filles
34 Mattiel – Whites of Their Eyes
35 Yo La Tengo – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
36 Slow Club – In Waves
“You can’t tell me you’re not like this/Staring down the pages of the shit you’ve missed/Hoping you’ll find a way to change/Days spent waiting in my living grave”
37 Julia Lucille – Darkening
Such pretty sounds “As I’m darkening I must go alone”
38 Brigitte Fontaine – Une fois mais pas deux
39 Ofege – It’s Not Easy
Nigeria
40 Luwten – Pinball
“I am the pinball/I am the deer/I hear the shot/I disappear”
41 Mogwai – I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
“Jim Morrison… Van Morrison more like!” For S (naturally with an additional nod to Glasgow in Mogwai)
42 Wooden Wand – Mexican Coke
Martina! You know if it’s Mexican I will tag you!
43 The Fall – British People in Hot Weather
I had been an avid anglophile as a kid/adolescent, and I don’t really know what happened to make me so negative on the English. Still, The Fall has been something of a ‘negative soundtrack’ all along.
44 De Lux – When Your Life Feels Like a Loss
45 Ramona Lisa – Dominic
“Forgive me if I was too forward too fast”
46 The Fall – Powder Keg
And what else is the world today than a powder keg?
47 Sexores – Bluish Lovers
Ecuador
48 The Supremes – Someday We’ll Be Together
…but will we?
49 The Psychedelic Furs – Sister Europe
“Words are all just useless sound” … for all my Furs friends
50 Tori Amos – Josephine
51 Cowboy Junkies – Cowboy Junkies Lament
Memories of college-era road trip with my Russian class, all long disappeared, all of us singing together in that fleeting moment of closeness. And the long, lost Townes van Zandt, who wrote this song for the Cowboy Junkies. “There’s a hole in heaven where some sin slips through/Close your eyes and dream real steady/Maybe just a little will spill on you”
52 Al Green – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
“I could never see tomorrow/I was never told about the sorrow”
53 The Cranberries – No Need to Argue
RIP Dolores O’Riordan. I remember listening to this song on repeat one year during college – it had such a sad, resigned finality to it that resonated with me (as I greeted endings, particularly of relationships with this kind of sad resignation. I have never been the type to really “freak out” and go crazy). This seemed like the perfect anthem for that kind of sad acceptance. Much as we must go forward with sad acceptance when people die too soon.

Follow me on Spotify to find all my random gum soundtrack playlists.

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

Sour Times of Summer – Random Gum, Summer 2017

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Yet another mix to get through the summer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow me on Spotify.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas – “Boney M Down”
No-No-No-Norway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 The Monochrome Set – “Eine Symphonie Des Grauens”

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

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

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

28 Le Couleur – “Femme”

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

30 Moon City Boys – “Rockets”
Swedish music ❤

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

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

33 Jay Som – “Rush”

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

35 Blue House – “I Found My Limit”


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

37 Amen Dunes – “Lonely Richard”

38 Chris Cornell – “Imagine”
More RIP sentiments

39 Yves Montand – “Sanguine
Ah, Jacques Prévert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

56 Michael Kiwanuka – “Falling”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

64 Trance Farmers – “Lone Star”

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

66 Ultimate Painting – “Into the Darkness”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death & all the little deaths preceding it

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Life, as we know, can be tedious and brief. What else is life? We think it owes us happiness and that our job is to strive for that. But is happiness the same thing as finding meaning? And how does one find – or define – meaning?

This tedium and brevity is illustrated, but also upended, in the S-Town podcast, which has been quite popular and quite… human. The man who is the focal point of the podcast is complicated. Early on he talks about sundials and how all sundials have mottoes engraved on them. He mentioned “Tedious and brief” as one of them:  “All sundial mottoes are sad like that.” And yes, sundial motto or clever tattoo, “tedious and brief” is what we experience, with temporary and memorable bright spots deposited throughout the otherwise tedious (and brief) journey.

sundial

Build your own sundial.

…When I returned from being away for a few days, I looked out into the field and saw that hordes of birds had gathered in a huge swarm in a field near the road, not far from home. Upon closer inspection, one could see the twisted carcass of a picked-apart deer. It’s more common to see a fox in this roadside state of non-being. But here, the picked over remains of a deer, a feast for avian life, made me consider life – in general. And how inconsequential its endings. To end up dead in a field for ravenous birds to pick at.

A realization that someone from high school had died some time ago, someone I did not know well but remember in the mind’s eye – these bright memories that form the spine of all the silly stories of youth and even inform the way I came to identify myself (the eternal, calm counselor to heartsick friends). I’ve reached that age when people either start to die or unspool the threads of their tidy lives into tangled knots of midlife crises. And then it’s the stark contrast between the graveyard (metaphorical or not) and the musical chairs game of midlife.

“The interim is mine”

Never mind all the things we do in the interim before reaching death, fooling ourselves. (The word “interim” now always reminds me of a scene from Neil LaBute’s Your Friends and Neighbors. Jason Patric’s character boasts about something he had done, “The bitch deserved it. She never understood me.” “Don’t you think you’re going to have to pay for all this in the end?” “If there ends up being a God, probably so. But until then, we’re on my time. The interim is mine.”)

In this interim that belongs to you, or to me, or to us, we can live for the little deaths, whether it’s the small, crushing disappointments that erupt under all the surfaces of our smooth-going, gliding-along lives, or the orgasms we covet (la petite mort, in the purely French sense), or all the bad habits we accumulate but brush off until they kill or damage us, which we instinctively know but still act on, and literature chronicles for us:

“Nothing records the effects of a sad life so graphically as the human body.” -from Palace of Desire, Naguib Mahfouz

“My health was excellent. My daily consumption of cigarettes had reached the four-package mark.” -from Bend Sinister, Nabokov

“An alcoholic, his blood no longer able to clot, who bled to death into his joints and under his skin. Every day, the bruises would spread. Before he became delirious, he looked up at me and said, ‘It’s not fair—I’ve been diluting my drinks with water.’” -from When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalinithi

“In such a state, the philosopher and writer Friedrich Nietzsche remarked, ‘One cannot get rid of anything, one cannot get over anything, one cannot repel anything—everything hurts. Men and things obtrude too closely; experiences strike one too deeply; memory becomes a festering wound.’” -from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Gabor Maté

“A great deal of pathological drug use is driven by unmet social needs, by being alienated and having difficulty connecting with others.” -from High Price, Carl Hart

Real death

I’ve thought about mortality a great deal (it’s human to do so, after all) from so many angles. I am not sure why it comes to mind so often right now – maybe just as a counterbalance to pettiness. Maybe because there is frailty everywhere. Maybe because it seems meaningless to end up dead in a field (even as a deer), which makes me, as a person, think that even though I won’t leave an indelible mark on the world when I die, I like the idea of at least affecting or influencing those closest to me, which is not really possible if there is no one close to you during this fleeting, brief “interim” that belongs to me, to you, to us, to those who exist in this particular window.

Lately I’ve also read books specifically on the topic (Kalinithi’s aforementioned book as well as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal).

If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?“

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.” -from When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalinithi

Remembering the man, losing the details

I have written before about the passing of detail with the passing of people – how we don’t know what we will want to know from the people who have died before us. We don’t even preserve their histories and details when they live to a ripe, old age – so how can we hope to gather all the detail from people who die at 30, for example? My mom lost her brother last year, and she has come to realize that not only is she the last one left from her immediate family, her brother was the keeper of all the details. She had counted on being able to ask him about things from their childhood, or about things they had experienced ten years ago. When he died, she lost not just him but that last link to the shared history, to the details. And death looms over the life – and its details – that passed.

“It is curious how sometimes the memory of death lives on for so much longer than the memory of the life that it purloined.” -from The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

“What we remember lacks the hard edge of fact. To help us along we create little fictions, highly subtle and individual scenarios which clarify and shape our experience. The remembered event becomes a fiction, a structure made to accommodate certain feelings. This is obvious to me. If it weren’t for these structures, art would be too personal for the artist to create, much less for the audience to grasp. Even film, the most literal of all the arts, is edited.” -from The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosiński

Tedious and brief – and you are not to blame

“Death, of course, is not a failure. Death is normal. Death may be the enemy, but it is also the natural order of things.” -from Being Mortal, Atul Gawande

Yes, death is inevitable. It’s coming for all of us, some sooner than others. Life is “tedious and brief” – and does not care for you. But at some point, it is no longer seen as a game of chance or a hand you are dealt. It is no longer abstract. And if you don’t live to a ripe, old, senile age, somehow you are accused of moral failure. It’s your duty to try to stay alive as long as possible.

“Premature death, particularly if it’s due to terminal illness, is no longer seen as lucking out in the divine lottery, but as a personal failure, like a self-induced bankruptcy.” -from Karaoke Culture, Dubravka Ugrešić

And yet if you overstay your welcome in life, you are anticipating death, perhaps impatiently and angrily, while others either want to hasten your death or force you to keep living even when you don’t want to, falsely selling the idea of prolonging youth when in fact old age is all you can prolong at a certain point:

“The problem was her death: it simply wouldn’t come. If it had crawled in through the central heating system, she would have gladly given herself over to it. Death doesn’t smell. It is life that stinks. Life is shit!” -from Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Dubravka Ugrešić

“‘Why don’t you dream up a way of dispatching old people comfortably, instead of tormenting them by dragging out their old age?’ Pupa emerged from her slumber. ‘Forgive me, I don’t understand …’ ‘Crap! Prolonging old age indeed! It’s youth you want to prolong, not old age!’” -from Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Dubravka Ugrešić

“All primitive cultures knew how to manage old age. The rules were simple: when old people were no longer capable of contributing to the community, they were left to die or they were helped to move into the next world. Like that Japanese film in which a son stuffs his mother into a basket and carries her to the top of a mountain to die. Even elephants are cleverer than people. When their time comes, they move away from the herd, go to their graveyard, lie down on the pile of elephant bones and wait to be transformed into bones themselves. While today hypocrites, appalled by the primitive nature of former customs, terrorise their old people without the slightest pang of conscience. They are not capable of killing them, or looking after them, or building proper institutions, or organising proper care for them. They leave them in dying rooms, in old people’s homes or, if they have connections, they prolong their stay in geriatric wards in hospitals in the hope that the old people will turn up their toes before anyone notices that their stay there was unnecessary. In Dalmatia people treat their donkeys more tenderly than their old people. When their donkeys get old, they take them off in boats to uninhabited islands and leave them there to die. Pupa had once set foot on one of those donkey graveyards.” -from Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Dubravka Ugrešić

Waiting around to die

Also in this interminable interim: “As we grow older, we weep less and less. It takes energy to weep. In old age neither the lungs, nor the heart, nor the tear ducts, nor the muscles have the strength for great misery. Age is a kind of natural sedative, perhaps because age itself is a misfortune.” -from Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, Dubravka Ugrešić

Part of this indeterminate-in-length waiting room that is life – and it really is a waiting room, even if that makes it sound most mundane (but a lot of life is misery and the most mundane of dullness) – is the part where you are actively waiting to die. Perhaps the medical industry – kabuki that it can be – is trying to extend your life, but at whatever stage of the process you’re in, whatever age you’re at, it’s still kind of a ‘waiting around to die’ ride at the fair: ups, downs, twists, spins, loop-to-loops, and even some maneuvers that turn you right upside-down.

Aftermath

Yet, even with the knowledge of the expected end – that we and those around us will die – it is something we do not know how to handle or prepare for. I again use my mother as an example here – she lost both her parents, her sister-in-law and her three cats (each of which was over 16 years old) all within a short span of time. To say she was devastated by grief would be an understatement. It didn’t matter that her parents were in their 90s, that her sister-in-law finally didn’t suffer any longer or that, as many insensitive souls said, her cats were “just cats”, she was heartbroken, and the hits just kept coming.

It’s this aftermath that’s hardest to know what to do with. The people who remain: how should they move on? Should they? I mean, do you ever really move on? Are you the same person after you experience a major loss and the kind of grief it visits upon you? Of course it – death and grieving – is a part of life; do you come out the “other side” dramatically changed because, in fact, your world is changed so significantly (because of these absences/losses)? Or is grief the engine of being exactly the same person you were in a changed world (and you start to “let go” or “stop grieving” only once you start to change in facing the new reality)?

“Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.” -from Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter

Photo (c) 2008 Nathan Rupert used under Creative Commons license.

Random Gum: Summer 2016 soundtrack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gorgeousness of John Grant continues.

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

06. Glenn Frey – “The Heat is On”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCoP2W4v2v8
This has been a particularly rough year so far for musical deaths. I’m no Glenn Frey/Eagles fan, but this song plays into 1980s memories as well as a more recent vignette when two of my colleagues and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday, and he commented on how I can possibly wear dresses in the cold, and I replied, “In the office, the heat is on…” The three of us old lady colleagues, in unison, burst into song, ‘The heat is on…’, which perplexed the youthful Spaniard.

07. AaRON – “U-Turn (Lili)” …you know there’s still a place for people like us…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTKfrY4cQ9I
Many thanks to my colleague, Laurent. This popped up at a time that everyone and everything seemed to be named Aaron, and as Key & Peele ended on Comedy Central, and I inhaled all five seasons in a few days, and keep going back to the “Substitute Teacher” clip in which the sub pronounces it, “A-A-Ron”.

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

09. David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”

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

10. Lush – “Lovelife” …in your concrete arms I adore you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYzfT1zmAGg
Celebrating the resurrection of Lush, their 2016 tour and (possibly) seeing them in London in May (which, sadly, I could not). For all my Lush-loving friends (too numerous to count!). “Every door conceals a dream and a nightmare…”

11. Karen Elson – “Who’s Sorry Now?”

12. The Chills – “Soft Bomb Part One” …I’m tearing all my hair out with my hands/I know what they will never understand…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdI_xhB7bgY
For all the New Zealand-leaning ambitions and longing. For all the NZ friends (Trevor, Kimberley, Dan, Lauren)…

13. Los Blenders – “TJTQ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXPvHOJFSWk
Tijuana! For Martina, as everything Mexican is.

14. Tennis – “Mean Streets” …Stay on your own/Or leave it alone…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ei2gXl203w
For Esteban and Ana, fellow Tennis fans.

15. KC & the Sunshine Band – “Boogie Shoes”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m47EQtAMzI
I don’t know how this fits into the soundtrack, really. I watched a documentary about the 1970s and thought we could use a pause here to groove on the decade

16. 88 ULTRA – “Oceans”

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ6FYytu1pM
With more thanks to Laurent.

18. Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”

19. The Ink Spots – “I’ll Get By”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4YlBKNZso
For S the Firewall

20. Elvis Costello – “Sweet Pear” …But there’s a void without your kiss/I wake on the precipice above the abyss/And though the touch of your lips these fears dismiss/Make no mistake there is an ache I have to live with…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ9bVpGLego
“Was my grip too loose, my grip too strong/That made you want to run away/And now you’re back where I pretend you belong/I wonder every night and day, how long?” For Roberto.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG8cpJCl7Mk
Brasil, so much in the news, so much in the thoughts, this year.

22. Soapkills – “Wadih”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLA1tCLcBI
Many thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

23. Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now?” …is there someone else, am I too familiar, was it when I said I wanted to have children…?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSe3dV7dPYw
I’ve always preferred Elvis Costello’s slower, sadder recording of this song. Every time I hear it, it seems to take on new depth and meaning. “What do I do now? Are we going under? What did I do wrong? I thought we had it sorted out the other day. Maybe I’m just stupid. Thought we’d try again. No one told me it was raining.”

24. Linda Mirada – “Lío en Río”

25. Crystal Castles – “Plague”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx2lJIOTBjs
For and thanks to Roxane.

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

27. Townes van Zandt – “Waitin’ Around to Die” …sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbsMn476T2U
Never get enough of Townes. “Now I’m outta prison, got me a friend that lasts. Well he don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie, well, his name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen, yeah, together we’re gonna wait around and die.”

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

29. Tom Jones – “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvQHt5t7zkg
Of course I’m inspired by Martina (another Mexican thing) here and how kind of comical this song is, but also thinking of multiple discussions on the dislike for Welsh people (haha) and the recent passing of Tom Jones’s wife (RIP).

30. Salt Petal – “Cumbia de Billinghurst”

31. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” …No comprende/it’s a riddle…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCEexG9xjw
For Martina. “I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana”

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

33. Clan of Xymox – “A Day”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiJ3KU0bme0
This certainly takes me back in time.

34. Ezra Furman – “Body Was Made” …Your body is yours at the end of the day
and don’t let the hateful try and take it away…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkEkjxX_YrM
Had not heard so much saxophone in a long time, and stumbled on this right after having multiple conversations about how the name “Ezra” isn’t one you hear often.

35. Lush & Jarvis Cocker – “Ciao!” …life is wonderful now that I’m rid of you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Jvo5_IrlI
This is 1996 for me, two of my favorites of the time, trying to break away from the grip of shitty relationships that seem to be the telltale sign of young adulthood.

36. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”

37. Mashrou’Leila – “Imm El Jacket”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsablD8vu0w
Thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

38. Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tvEvBUG8mY
Music my mom listened to a lot when my brother and I were children. My brother had an angry-looking, fluffy blue stuffed rabbit he named “Eddie Rabbit” thanks to our exposure to this. Wondering what happened to the little rabbit, as I made some of my last long-haul drives in the middle of the night between home & Gothenburg.

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

40. Townes van Zandt – “Be Here to Love Me”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6NPj9M_p20
“Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine/though you and I both know it’s only the warm glow of wine/that’s got you to feeling this way/but I don’t care I want you to stay/hold me and tell me you’ll be here to love me today”

41. Bertrand Belin – “Je parle en fou”

42. John Grant – “Down Here”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eViyPYJ2okc
“Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing/And guessing games, and no guarantees/And you work so hard to be in control/And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go”. For Roberto.

43. Still Corners – “Beginning to Blue”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgEB3rY8ZGI
Lovely song anyway but its placement in the stunning second season of You’re the Worst, when you’re hit with the realization that the main character is descending into a deep, dark depression was perfect.

44. Philip Selway – “Coming Up for Air”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMxXmW1pqeU
For Kyle. “You hafta come up for aih(s) sometime”. Ugh/puke.

45. Robyn Hitchcock – “1974” …And as Nixon left the White House you could hear people say/’they’ll never rehabilitate that mother, no way’…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVDDXFpVjNU
Robyn is just a magnificent storyteller, master of verbal imagery and a genius. Love! If “Boogie Shoes” was a grooveable 70s moment, this is a philosophical rumination on that ruinous and ugly decade.

46. Elvis Costello – “What Do I Do Now?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJJBJHDUcY
Had to include this version, too, of course.

47. Alex Vargas – “Till Forever Runs Out”

48. The Cure – “A Strange Day” …Held for one moment I remember a song/An impression of sound/Then everything is gone/Forever…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4mym0EFKM8
For Gary, with whom it’s great to be back in contact. Here’s to the best moments of our teenage years.

49. New Edition – “Cool It Now”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZUq6N7Gx1c
I remember enjoying this video as a little kid – and then the tune turned up in the soundtrack to Master of None and I just had to include it.

50. Happyness – “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcwZ9EptZs
“What do you do when you hate all your friends?”

51. Tobias Jesso Jr – “Without You”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ybYYKBd_40
“I can hardly breathe without you/There is no future I want to see without you/I just don’t know who I would be without you/There is nothing out there for me without you…”

52. Koudlam – “See You All”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYu3Y7JT810
I don’t know why, but this song is the right one for walking through the city and waiting in queues.

53. bigott – “Baby Lemonade”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So7IharnjCs
“Like in the movies, she wake up dreaming/nothing is hiding/if you can find it…”

54. Giant Sand – “Stranded Pearl” …every girl is like a pearl/hearts strung along and then left stranded…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcUKHnrTXzg
A great, visual, wordy song. “I lost me my eye in a battle/went there to rattle their cage/lost sight of the big picture/now this permanent fixture is my rage”. (Made me think a bit at the end of a Derek Walcott poem, “Codicil”, which ends, “All its indifference is a different rage.”)

55. The Staves – “Black & White”

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

57. Ra Ra Riot – “Foreign Lovers”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unmaQzVS9lw
“Well the one in Chicago wasn’t there anymore, and because that thing in Berlin wasn’t anyone’s fault… I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before – you got foreign lovers”. An insanely fitting song, stumbled on by accident. All the foreign lovers (and hilarious that Chicago and Berlin are the cities referenced…).

58. Niyaz – “Beni Beni”

59. Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “No End” …I guess it’s useless to say/I want you to stay…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT6dDiQBPPI
The Guardian described Jaakko thusly: “tram driver in Helsinki by day, weird-pop maestro by night”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreamy.

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

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

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

72. Amanda Bergman – “Vintersaga”

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

73. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

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

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

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

75. Johnny Cash – “The Beast in Me”

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

High, Low and In Between: The Multiplying Gift of Music

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Capping off a week in which I was obsessed with thinking about, talking about and listening to music, I finished the work week (almost – still have Friday to get through) watching the film Les choristes. A perfect finale.

I thought about and discussed genius songwriters this week – focusing in mostly on the late, great Townes van Zandt and to a lesser degree, Robyn Hitchcock (whose duet of van Zandt’s well-known “Poncho and Lefty” with Grant-Lee Phillips I stumbled upon the previous week).

I met someone who has placed van Zandt (rightly) on a songwriting pedestal. A songwriter’s songwriter. The striking thing, for me, though, was in exploring how each of us – and by extension, how anyone – discovers music. Discoverability is a lot easier these days – easy to spread and share. Not quite so much in the “old days”. This led me to thinking about the web music weaves – the intricate web, unique to each of us – making up the soundtrack of our lives. The web also has a kind of reach – one piece of music or musician leads us to their influences or contemporaries. It was in this way that I discovered Townes van Zandt myself back in 1990.

I had fallen under the dreamy spell of the Cowboy Junkies’ album The Trinity Sessions and, being too young, could not attend their first show in Seattle. When they came back in early June 1990 (hear me let out a sigh here – I am 26 years removed from this – “who knows where the time goes?”), I begged my parents let me attend (luckily they did). The Junkies were touring with Townes van Zandt – my first introduction to him. Since then I’ve devoured his discography, and have seen its presence proliferate in film and TV soundtracks ever since.

The woven web was taking on new parts – the initial discovery of the Cowboy Junkies had first led me to the Velvet Underground (as the Junkies gained their biggest ‘fame’ from their remake of “Sweet Jane”). I had known of Lou Reed earlier, but mostly only having heard “Walk on the Wild Side” a few times and seen him a few times on a brief and more mainstream path in the 80s. And from the Junkies, things moved on to Townes.

Thinking about all of this, I reflected, and wrote to an acquaintance that “one of the most beautiful things about music is its ability to not just endure and bring people together or even its transformative power but its “introductory” powers. That is, you hear something that means something to you… but it does not stop there”. In fact, it never stops. The web continues to multiply.

Lunchtable TV Talk: Master of None

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Where can you hear Townes van Zandt, Bobby McFerrin, Lou Reed, “Cool It Now” from New Edition, Father John Misty, a Chinese song “Yue yuan hua hao“, Bollywood “Jap Chaye” and about a thousand other eclectic, off-the-wall, past and present hits and obscurities? Including “Africa” by Toto, which seems to be the anthem of millennial bar-goers – they freaking go nuts over this song (on TV and in real). Hmm.

Aziz Ansari‘s ace Master of None on Netflix. I am not sure I have ever experienced such a diverse and rich soundtrack in any TV show. Who is responsible for this magic?

And maybe the only TV show I’ve watched in which they mention boba/bubble tea! Haha.

I could ramble about how the show is slightly genius in its random observations and is also really funny, sweet and pleasant. I’ve loved it, even down to the background music.