Archive for July, 2007

Music makes the people come together

Isn’t music great? It will never cease to amaze me how much music can move me and get right under my skin. Here’s what I’ve been listening to obsessively lately:

The National: This is my new favorite band. “Boxer” and “Alligator” make me wonder how I went through life without those two albums. I’ve rewound two or three songs in particular from each album fervently. From “Boxer” (the latest album) these repeatable songs are “Fake Empire”, “Slow Show” and “Apartment Story”. “Slow Show” nearly turns me into one of those obsessive fans who thinks the singer is singer directly to them:

You know I dreamed about you
for twenty-nine years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for
for twenty-nine years

And from “Alligator” I’m addicted to “Karen” and “Mr. November”. The later includes the mantra “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders”. Who thinks of that? I’m impressed.

Paul Simon’s “Graceland”: I downgraded my cable to Standard/Basic only after I finally recorded the Classic Albums episode featuring this album. The album as a whole is not something I crave, but “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”, “The Boy in the Bubble”, “You Can Call Me Al” and of course, the brilliant “Graceland” are enough to designate this as an album classique. I even rewound the ten or so minutes Paul and others spent discussing the origins and recording of the song “Graceland”, how “I’m going to Graceland” was a throwaway line through most of the recording session. The riff always gives me chills which are amplified by this line,

She comes back to tell me she’s gone/As if I didn’t know that/As if I didn’t know my own bed/As if I’d never noticed/The way she brushed her hair from her forehead.

That line is absolutely perfect to me, and is indicative of Paul Simon’s casual, yet perfectly phrased, style. He says it’s his best song, and I agree.

My senior year of high school was soundtracked by Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits (and “Jesus Christ Superstar”), particularly “America.” That song and “Graceland” are very similar to me, not only because they are about roadtrips in the USA (and the metaphors that go with that kind of story), but they showcase how Paul Simon is one of the best songwriters for telling the truth. He simply says it like it is, and it turns out to be poetry.

What have you been listening to lately?

Trend Watch

It’s time once again for a trend update from your always a week behind the rest of the cool kids blogging buddy.

What I’m in To:

  • Cloverfield: This is what I speak of when I mean I’m always a week behind. I didn’t see “Transformers” and no one I know who did see it mentioned this pesky JJ Abrams trailer. I blame them. Granted, it took me a while to get in to “Lost”, and after nearly falling astray last season, I’ve regained all faith in those writers. This film, whatever it is actually called, will probably end up being less interesting than the buzz, but that’s more than you can say for most films these days.
  • The Redwalls: I saw them last Friday at the Triple Rock. One word—Britastic! These kids from Chicago are probably the biggest assholes in rock music, but their snottiness is perfectly forgivable due to their brilliant songwriting and performance talents. These kids (in their very early 20s) have got the British Invasion down pat. They have studied the formulas and carried them all out to the point where two of them (brothers) affect British accents. Then again, so does Robert Pollard.
  • Liz & Richard: I purchased a newish copy of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” on DVD recently, part of a box set of several Liz & Richard films. The extras for “Woolf” are spectacular, including not one but two commentaries. I was sort of surprised to hear Mike Nichols say that Liz Taylor is super nice to everyone. Anyway, they totally turn me on when they’re together. Um, I mean, I truly appreciate their fine acting.
  • Reading: Yes, I’m actually reading! It all started with Michael Tolliver Lives (a must-read for Maupin fans), and a really bad Paul McCartney bio, then a friend lent me the CD version of Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation. With that I discovered that books on CD aren’t so bad, and I got another one from the library—Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Which leads me to my next trend…
  • Creativity: I’m announcing it now. I shall write a play. It may suck, it may not be finished or even started for a while, it may never be performed; but I shall write a play. I received an invitation to collaborate, and now I’ve told a few people so it has to happen. So, uh, anyone got any ideas for a play?

What I’m Sick of:

  • Democrats and their lack of a spine: Bill Moyers had a couple people on his “Journal” show last week about impeaching Bush and Cheney, something I’ve never really been for. It just about has me convinced the other way now. Still, the idea of trying them both for war crimes after their terms are up was never mentioned, and I’d like to know more about that. And P.S., Bill Moyers is coolest man over 60. Take that, aging rock stars.
  • Paying bills: I know I don’t have much to complain about, but I would love more spending money. Like for a Wii. Because, you know, I’m a greedy American consumerist.
  • Work: I’ve been at my current job for about two and a half years. That’s longer than I’ve been at any job straight through. Luckily I’m not doing the same old stuff, but still, I need a change in environment or something. Again, I’m really reaching for things here, aren’t I? I suppose life is pretty good these days. Not “Every thing’s coming up Milhouse” good, but still…good.
  • Firefox/Google: For some reason, although I have the “latest version” of each installed, my Google toolbar and some Firefox features are different between my work computer and my home computer. My new Google toolbar at home is awesome with tons of new buttons and shortcuts to other sites, including ask.com. My work Firefox copy has a nifty arrow at the far right side of the tab area that when clicked, lists all of the open tabs. Maybe it’s a settings issue, but I can’t figure it out.