Monday, October 31, 2011

#137 The Chronic--Dr. Dre

Newsflash- 12th grade English teacher gets arrested for brandishing a 9mm in her right hand and a .45 in her other hand in front of a stolen shelby on the $outh$ide on Halloween.

Except I had to take the picture in the garage because I don't have dooozzz kinda nutttzzzzz.  plus little kids were asking for candy outside my door.  All I had was chewing gum and lighters.  

So in case you've never seen a picture of me, this is me.  rat-a-tat-tat.  I had to make it black and white so I might look blacker than I really am.  but clearly that didn't work.  I'm black where it counts, mofo.  As irony would have it, I can't really quote anything from the album as a caption because it'll sound racist coming from a white biotch like me.  "I never hesitate to put a nigga on his back" is going to make this picture look white trash in less time than it takes that car to get to 60mph.

But regardless, this is how the album made me feel about 1/2 of the time.  Like I just got off an episode of gangland.  I felt like cruising around blaring "Ain't Nuthin but a "G" thang" but I didn't because I'm a whitey, fulla white guilt, white whines and I have no earthly idea what it would be like to grow up in Compton in 1992.  The closest I get to gang violence is the 17-year-old kid in the back of my class flashing a gang sign when he thinks i'm not looking.  and then drawing the latin king sign, or whatever, on a desk.  in pencil.  

The music is pretty infectious, empowering, and intoxicating.  While at the same time, it's degrading, racist, angry, and sickening.  The amount of little interludes where someone is getting effed in a Dr's office, snoop is asking a woman if deezzz nutttzzz have gotten at her, and kids about 15-20 years old are begging for their lives, only to be ended by the sound of a gun blast--kinda made me want to vomit after a while.  I really couldn't listen to the whole album at once.  I had to take it in short bursts because I'd start out all pumped up and ready to fight someone, and end up drained and exhausted.  Like, who the fuck can be that desensitized to murder, violence against women, and mediocre rap?

I feel completely inadequate to review this album.  Because the only angles I can take are the obvious ones: 1. white girl listens to rap music; 2. pseudo-academic discusses gang violence from up in her ivory tower and quotes different sociological articles about the influence of rap music on urban communities in the early 90s; or 3. Closet Wigger admits rap fetish.

So I thought I'd just do my best to be "real." So...Here are things I learned:
1. Black people think that the year '64 is the best year for the make of cars (**sarcasm disclaimer**)
2. Death row doesn't seem so bad if the alternative is living in Compton
3. The only word I'll always remember from this album is when Snoop Dog says "Dolomite" 
4. Fly Ass Bitches is not a description for a dog humping a donkey covered in flies.
5. Bitches ain't shit is a bad thing.
6. Black people use contraceptives too.

White person questions I honestly have:
1.  what is a chronic?
2.  Am I the only person who didn't know there were wild impalas in california?
3. ok, for real, what is this: rollin' in my '4 with 16 switches
And got sounds for the bitches, clockin' all the riches
Got the hollow points for the snitches?

And if you don't like this blog post, you can tell it to my 9.
What other white people said about "The Chronic" by D.R.E:
When George Clinton first heard hip-hop artists blending old records with new beats, he thought, "Damn, that's pretty tacky." Then Dr. Dre turned samples of Clinton's P-Funk sides into G-Funk, and Dr. Funkenstein approved, calling funk "the DNA of hip-hop and rap." Dre had already taken gangsta rap to the main-stream with his earlier group, N.W.A, but on The Chronic, he funked up the rhymes with a smooth bass-heavy production style and the laid-back delivery of then-unknown rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg. When Dre and Snoop dropped "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," there was no getting out of the way.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#293 Greatest Hits -- Simon and Garfunkel

This album evoked strange and melancholy feelings in me.  I had to force myself to listen to it, not because they bored me or anything, but because they made me feel so powerfully alone.  The album is haunting and poignant, even if many of the songs seem like upbeat, sing-a-long folk songs.  I recalled different stages in my life as I listened to this album on my drive to work and running in the evenings.

My fondness for the movie The Graduate came about when I dated a guy who looked almost exactly like Art Garfunkel. Sigh, unfortunate choice, I know.  I would put their pictures side by side, but I'd really rather not get sued.  Anywho-- When I saw the movie The Graduate, I was haunted by the music throughout the movie and had no idea that those songs (Mrs. Robinson, Scarborough Fair, and The Sound of Silence) I had heard growing up were a part of what would become one of my favorite movies of all time.  When I graduated from college myself, I, like Ben from The Graduate, suffered the worst bout of Post-Graduate-Stress-Disorder known to man.  I was the sad, directionless, liberal arts graduate.  I lived with my parents in their flaccid-dick house (lots of savvy technical equipment, awesome TVs and touch panel controls in every room for your entertainment...but none of it ever worked) and played "Paint it Black" on guitar hero for hours on end and read Proust in the evenings.  I watched The Graduate at least a hundred times that summer and hummed along in melancholy madness to the strange music I have recently revisited in this album...

I went to Florence in February one year with my fiance.  We had been in Italy for over a week at this point and had simply run out of things to say to one another.  Everyone around the world had absurdly cold winters, and Italy was no exception.  We were in a plaza outside the Uffuzi one night wondering around on the cobblestone looking at statues while it began to sprinkle freezing rain.  Understand that we had decided to do this trip alone and without English speaking guides and very touristy hotels.  We saw a lot of "off the beaten path" Italy, and because of this, had a tremendously difficult time communicating with people.  I speak some French and had a very limited understanding of Italian although I practiced the language for months before taking this trip.  I noticed a young Italian man set up a little mic and began to play his guitar.  He played many covers in different languages, but as I stared at a marble statue of some giant Roman man with ripped abdominal muscles under a streetlamp, I began to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand on end as the musician began to sing "The Sound of Silence."  It occurred to me that this was the first time I had heard my language spoken from anyone other than my fiance.  I mean, besides very limited conversations.  I felt like he was singing directly to me.  And a song so powerfully metaphorical and symbolic, it was ironic that the whole song could be taken so literal in that moment:

For example:
In restless dreams I walked alone 
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.
 OR because of my limited Italian:
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share 
And no one dared 
Disturb the sound of silence.
My favorite was when I heard him sing this part and I watched all these people stare at statues of gods:
And the people bowed and prayed 
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls. 
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence."

And if you've ever been to Italy, you know that nearly every wall has some sort of graffiti on it.  I can only guess they are "words of the prophets" because I don't speak Italian slang.  And the graffiti isn't like fun or pretty graffiti.  It looks just like angry phrases from a counter culture that is sick of people looking at the country's past and living in the shadow of giants... but that is my personal opinion.

And when he sang "The Sound of Silence" I laughed like a crazy person because the universe is organized chaos.  I will also remember a song that makes me feel so powerfully alone now had ironically, at one time, made me feel less homesick.

What people who actually talked about the album said:
Released in the wake of a brief reunion for a George McGovern campaign benefit concert in 1972, Greatest Hits combines big Simon and Garfunkel hits and live tracks, and summarizes nearly everything great about the duo: intimate harmonizing, observant lyrics, innovative arrangements and singular tunes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

#65 Moondance--Van Morrison

Ever since I was a little kid, I thought Van Morrison was a black person because I couldn't imagine a world in which a white dood could sing with so much depth, meaning, and soul.  When I found out he was white a few years ago, it just freaking blew my mind.  no way; I envisioned him as this awesomely tall black man who held the mic with conviction while he rocked the gypsy outta everyone's souls.  

This album stirred up so many memories of my childhood that I hesitated even writing a blog about it because nobody likes childhood stories.  They are awkward on such venues, but I'm all for awkward so here it goes:

When I began listening to the album and it got to "moondance," I recalled being about six-years-old standing on my dad's feet encased in cowboy boots (yes, we're from Texas, you wear boots with work clothes) insisting he dance with me when he would come home from work.  I remember the smell of the office--an acrid dry cleaning smell mixed with paper, ink, sand-weights that hold down large maps, and sterile air perfumed with fluorescent lights--on my father's starched shirts and the color of this little red pen he wore in his front breast pocket.  

I remembered sneaking into mom and dad's bedroom while the album played so I could listen to "and it stoned me" alone under their bed while everyone else was in the living room.  They had "surround sound" back then and "OMFG" it would play in the back room if you hit the right button on the five disk cd changer.

I recalled "come running" and "crazy love" being played on the way to and from ballet lessons.  Everyone hated being around me when the album was on because I only ever wanted to hear "moondance."

When "into the mystic" came on, I recalled being 19 and watching my brother and sister-in-law dance alone together at their wedding reception.  and promptly downed two glasses of red wine because at that point in my life, love and marriage were illusions and stupid social constructions.

I think that Van Morrison is just good for the soul.  My new job has been very stressful and demanding of my time, emotional and mental stability.  It has required me to invent a personality in order to cope with the never-ending responsibilities and tasks asked of me.  The panic attacks and the utter terror I feel moments before I walk into the door, have been briefly subsided this week thanks to Van Morrison playing, "Brand New Day" on my drive to work; day in and day out as I bail out the titanic with a dixie cup, so to speak.

Van and I are the only people on the road at 6:30 am, and the only people leaving work around 8:00 pm, and I know I am lucky to have a job; and it could be worse, I have nothing but white-whines to share with all of you-- but for seventeen glorious minutes of my 24 hour day, moments of panic subside; for however brief, by the sound of a saxophone, a piano, a steady beat, and a voice that transcends my mind to places where the responsibility was not yet mine to fulfill; the weight of the world not yet on my shoulders, and the joy of dancing, of watching people dance, of hiding under a bed, of living in moments when life was not yet full of panic and terror begin to flashbulb into my head.  And then I pull into my parking space, take a deep breath, turn off the ignition.  The music ceases and whether I'm ready or not, I force myself to begin a Brand New Day.

What the people with less stressful jobs and all-you-can-take potty breaks have to say about Moondance:

"That was the type of band I dig," Morrison said of the Moondance sessions. "Two horns and a rhythm section — they're the type of bands that I like best." Morrison took that soul-band lineup and blended it with jazz, blues, poetry and vivid memories of his Irish childhood, until songs such as the title track, "And It Stoned Me" and "Caravan" felt like a lucid dream. On the sprightly "Everyone," Morrison turns the title over and over in his mouth, not scatting so much as searching for the sound of magic. One song, "Into the Mystic," serves as an apt summary: To listen to the album is to get your passport stamped for Morrison's world of ecstatic visions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#230 Night at the Opera -- Queen

If I haven't defined my term epic awesomeness, this album is a good definition for that phrase.  Although classified as Rock, methinks it is more of a mock-a cappella full of glam, gayness, piano and badassery (which are all synonyms, i know, god, stop reminding me).  Enough to inspire the Queen of Epic Awesomeness (Lady GaGa herself, my darling mother monster) to steal her name from the song "Radio GaGa" which is NOT on this album, but Queen needs to be recognized for inspiring the greatest artist ever.  But I'm biased.  I'm totally straight and I'd f*ck gaga even if she were wearing an outfit delicately comprised of ragged razor blades (not my original joke- I stole this from someone accusing me of obsession).

However, If Queen and Lady GaGa were to have sex, it might look like this amazing youtube video (if you inserted a piano and globs of mascara made from baby seal brains:
Totally Brill, I know.  But anyway, back to Queen.  So Night at the Opera JERKS you all over the place.  from driving cars, to dying on two legs, to lazing on a sunday afternoon, back to 1939, like you lived it and then--to this amazing song anyone who has seen wayne's world has a hard on for: Bohemian Rhapsody.

What is so AWESOME about Bohemian Rhapsody only applies to the percentage of people who dig Camusian shizzle.  Which is generally too many unhappy people in a population.  and mostly comprised of worthless liberal arts majors who can't understand Nietzsche well enough to dig harder core philosophy, like myself, or those in their last year of college who hope not to be a self-deprecating eff-tard who can't get published anywhere else but on a blog only her mother reads.  I digress...

The WHOLE song, in case you haven't noticed is a retelling of the stranger, i personally think.  So for all those people who sing along and think it's funny, you are misled.  totally sad song.  about a guy named Meursault who sucks at life like you do because you have nothing better to do than read this blog and await your death.  Now, I'm about to pretend to get really pedantic but not put a lot of substance into my thesis, so you can go ahead and leave all you non-english major peoplez. Your ignorance and lack of arrogance isn't welcome here.  and all you "gender studies people" can leave too.  but not because you're not ignorant or arrogant; but because nobody likes you.  and women just don't write as well as men.  in general.  so get over it and read some faulkner or proust.

but back to Queen and Albert Camus:

The song opens up like so:
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go, Little high, little 
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to 
me, to 

Alright so you can't really tell at first, but the chorus lets you know that it's someone who just goes with the flow... not sure if he's living or dead, doesn't seem to care "doesn't really matter. etc.  So prepare for captain obvious:

MAMA just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, 
now he's 
MAMA, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away
Mama, ooh ooh oooh ohh.., Didn't mean to make 
you cry,
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

So in the stranger, Meursault kills this arab guy on the beach and his excuse is that it's kinda hot, and the sun was in his eyes.  and he's all like "mama, blah blah" and in the book, i mean his mother is dead on the first page and all, but when he's tried, he's more or less convicted for not crying at his mom's funeral. so his conviction is tied to his lack of sympathy for his mother's death.  and carry on, because, yeah, nothing really matters.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all 
the time
Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooh, I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all

pretty into the "physical"  shivers down spine, body's aching all the time.  he says goodbye to everyone because he's going to go to jail and be on trial.  whether he's living or dead, it doesn't really matter, might as well not have been born at all.

And here is the trial:

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the 

Sent a bolt of lightning, very, very frightening 
(Galileo) Galileo!! (Galileo) Galileo!!, Galileo!! 
Magnifico I'm just a poor boy nobody loves 
He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let me go) Will not let you go
(Let me go) Will not let you go (Let me go) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
(Oh mama mia!!!, mama mia) Mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub!.. has a devil put aside for me, for me, 
for me
People in the trial are jabbering back and forth about nothing having anything to do with the murder.  let him go, don't let him go.

And now the rebellion, after he accepts his fate of death:

So you think you can stop me and spit in my 
So you think you can love me and leave me to 
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta 
Nothing really matters, Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me
Any way the wind blows 

nuff said.  then he dies.  any way the wind blows.

But here's what RS had to say:

"Queen will be the Cecil B. DeMille of rock," proclaimed singer Freddie Mercury, and this is where the band let its over-the-top tendencies loose, with heavy metal ("Sweet Lady"), pop ("You're My Best Friend)" and the most operatic of all rock songs, "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#42 The Doors -- The Doors

While sitting outside on the patio with my family my brother inquired what album I was listening to currently.  I said, "The Doors - The Doors."  He said, "ok, now tell me, don't you think Jim Morrison is over rated?"  My father chimed in with a laugh of total agreement and said, "of course he was."  Then they both looked at me for confirmation but I just said, blushing in my honesty--

"I love the Doors!"  and they both laughed.

I thought this album was upbeat and happy for the most part.  I also found it rather impressive for a debut album (1967) and shows the band's potential and skill.  Even if they are over-rated or cocky.  But, I'd be cocky too if I had luscious locks like Jim Morrison.

<--- Do you smell Pantene Pro-V?  Growl.....

Easily, the most memorable songs on the album are:

Break on Through
Twentieth Century Fox
Light My Fire
Back Door Man
Take it as it Comes

Those were my favorites anyway.  Their music sounds so unique with the organ that it makes for a very recognizable and original sound.  I loved it all the way through.  I am slightly confused as to why it made it so high on the list; but it was still a great album.  Even if music snobs everywhere think they were overplayed, overrated, or possibly too vulgar, cocky, and attention whores - It doesn't change the fact that they debuted a pretty excellent album.  So, hats off to you Jim, your hair, and your fellow Door members.

What the Rolling Stone has to say about that:
After blowing minds as the house band at the Whisky-a-Go-Go, where they were fired for playing the Oedipal drama "The End" (which was too explicit for even the Sunset Strip), the Doors were ready to unleash their organ-driven rock and Jim Morrison's poetic aspirations on the world. "On each song we had tried every possible arrangement," drummer John Densmore said, "so we felt the whole album was tight." "Break On Through (to the Other Side)," "Twentieth-Century Fox" and "Crystal Ship" are pop-art lighting for Top Forty attention spans. But the Doors hit pay dirt by editing one of their jamming vehicles for airplay: "Light My Fire," written by guitarist Robbie Krieger when Morrison told everybody in the band to write a song with universal imagery

Monday, August 8, 2011

#139 All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2

When I played this album bright and early Sunday morning it brought me straight back to the 9th grade.  It brought me back to my bathroom mirror getting "ready for school" and my adolescent morning rituals of listening to our local music stations "The Beach 96.5" and "The Planet 102.3" while applying make- up and taking it off because I felt too weird wearing it.  Awkward.  Glad I'm 11 years older now and suffering through my quarter life crisis and sounding like a real blogger by bitching about how terrible it is to be turning 25 on Sunday.  boo-hoo.  Not that you care.

Anyway, I loved "Beautiful Day" for the first month it was overplayed.  Then it was overplayed some more.  then it was overplayed more than that "Closing Time" song by Semisonic the year before.  Or Mambo #5.  And in case you forgot about Mambo #5 this song did actually happen; and the only reason I remember it is because of the line "little bit of Monica" and this was a year after our president taught all we *innocent* 7th graders what a blow job was.  Great man, that Bill.  He alone allowed us to ask our Social Studies teachers what "Oral Sex" was over and over and over and over.  Uncomfortable.  Anywho back to U2.

 "Beautiful Day" was so overplayed I STOPPED listening to the radio and graduated to napster like everyone else.  I'm always a bit behind on the music uptake if you haven't noticed so far.  And now nobody listens to the radio.  But around Christmas time, I used to call The Beach or The Planet and say:  "Hey, 'Beautiful Day' was awesome until you played it for the 3rd time this morning.  I can't apply and take off mascara to this."  and i'd get responses like "shut the f*ck up, you're 14.  You don't understand the epic awesomeness of Bono."

And I sort of didn't until now.

I really enjoyed this album.  After having not heard "Beautiful Day" and some of the other songs on there for many years it was great to hear them with fresher (albeit older) ears.  The album is upbeat, positive, and sends a message I found eerily similar to the one in Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" even though- U2 spins it and makes the world sunny and bright instead of "moony?" and "cratery?"  I could be totally pulling this out of my ass, but "Walk on" and "Eclipse" provoked similar feelings in me.  I can't tell if there are similarities, I mean, golly, it's a tough call:

The end of "Walk On" by U2:
Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress-up
All that you scheme...

A Portion "Eclipse" by PF:
All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say
And all that you eat
And everyone you meet
And all that you slight 

But, I mean, who would borrow or steal from Pink Floyd?  Isn't that like a sin?  So clearly they were both tapping into the lyrical genius in the collective consciousness.  Which now after hearing both bands, is totally possible.  Are you picking up on the sarcasm and the celebration of EPIC AWESOMENESS at the same time?  I hope so, because I'm laying both down pretty hard. And that's kind of a hard thing to process if you're not a fledgling music snob like myself. (I don't want angry emails, I kid.  and recognize that i made almost no real connection between the two bands.)

Some say that U2 is too generic or formulaic.  Others say that they are the best band of the last 20 years or so.  I have friends in both categories, and I think both have some truth in them.  At least in this album because "All That You Can't Leave Behind" provokes happiness that can't be ignored.  Kinda like what those people who listen to serious christian music look like they feel.  if you're in to that creepy sort of thing.

I liked it; And I'll save it for a day when I feel like I have just reached the Dark Side of the Moon.

Bono, I know that the Matrix was King in 1999, but you and your little band didn't have to go and steal Morpheus and Neo's outfits too.

"Our best work has been in our thirties," Bono told Rolling Stone in 2000. "We did some good work in our twenties, but it's getting better." U2's tenth album proved him right. Their previous effort, 1997's Pop, was under-realized; All That You Can't Leave Behind brought things back to essentials. The songs grapple with mortality — particularly the gospel-soul ballad "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" — and take on new resonance after September 11th. U2 bravely embraced those resonances the following October with a U.S. tour full of ecstasy, mourning and release.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#31 Bringing It All Back Home - Bob Dylan

Spoiler Alert: This post won't be very funny.  Seriously.  If you want humor check out the Transformer post.  If you want to oo and ahh about Bob Dylan, keep on a readin'.

I haven't posted on a Bob Dylan album yet because frankly, his albums are all so personal to me that anything I write about them will be like exposing a piece of me that's been so entwined with his music and too close to home to share.  I think a lot of die hard Dylan fans would agree.

However, Bobby D served as a recovery drink to the accidental Horcrux that was created when a part of my soul died listening to Liz Phair.  I've decided now that I will listen to a Dylan album after an album that has made me contemplate quitting this marathon.  You'll know all the albums I dislike by where a Dylan album follows.  I'm glad there isn't a shortage of Dylan on the list :)
This one is my favorite!!!

I'm also intimidated to post anything on a Dylan album because they are all so packed with genius that there is nowhere to begin and I could write a thesis on how important this album is, but I will spare you 50 pages of thoughts.

Instead, here are some album facts: Bringing It All Back Home came out in 1965 and was his 5th studio album, mixing rock and folk.  

and Here is the set list:

Subterranean Homesick Blues
She Belongs to Me
Maggie's Farm
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Outlaw Blues
On the Road Again
Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
Mr. Tambourine Man
Gates of Eden
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
As a kid growing up, I remember hearing "Mr. Tambourine Man" playing in the car on the way to school or in different rooms all over the house throughout my childhood.  I remember thinking that I wouldn't want a guy with a tambourine to play me a song because it would sound awful and that this song would do if he would stop trying to get someone else to sing a song.  But the tune stuck in my head for a long time, and when I went off to college, it was playing on the drive from Corpus Christi to North Texas and I remember looking out the window thinking I was going on an adventure and this song was sending me on my way.  The song has since changed more for me since and I hear it from different perspectives and view life differently through its lens each time it is played.  It is my all time favorite song, not to mention my favorite Dylan song.  It finds me when I'm alone, inside my own thoughts.  Like the time I flew across the country and had a few lay overs and I stopped at an airport book store in Tennessee and picked up "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and thought, meh, maybe I won't read it, even though I've heard great things, and I was about to put it down when I flipped to the dedication page and read what Hunter S. Thompson wrote:
"To Bob Geiger, for reasons that need not be explained here--and to Bob Dylan, for Mister Tambourine Man"

and like that I bought the book.  I read most of the book with Dylan singing in my ears.

Every song on this album has little lines of prophetic truths, moments of clarity, and it's not without a bit of silliness.  All and all, an excellent listen.

I'll leave you with a video:

Even though you'll never see this, I just want to say Thanks, Bob for making my life better by having you in it.

What RSM has to say:
It's very complicated to play with electricity," Dylan said in the summer of 1965. "You're dealing with other people. . . . Most people who don't like rock & roll can't relate to other people." But on Side One of this pioneering album, Dylan amplifies his cryptic, confrontational songwriting with guitar lightning and galloping drums. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Maggie's Farm" are loud, caustic and funny as hell. Dylan returns to solo acoustic guitar on the four superb songs on Side Two, including the scabrous "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and the closing ballad, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," arguably his finest, most affectionate song of dismissal.


Monday, August 1, 2011

#328 Exile in Guyville - Liz Phair

I knew nothing about this album when I started listening to it.  I wasn't even clear on the sex of the artist until about half way through the first listen because she has a deep voice and an epic monotone.  If I could get those hours back of my life from listening to this album that would be awesome.  If there is a market somewhere for memory loss, please find me that number.  

This album is nothing but Super angry fem-nazi confessionalist bullshit.  It is also, somehow, supposed to be a response to The Rolling Stone's Exile on Mainstreet.  Although I haven't heard that album from beginning to end yet, (and I am regretting my decision to listen to this crap over another Rolling Stone's album) I know of some of the songs on that album, and homegirl, I'm not buying it.

I was offended by the misandristic (correct man-hating term?  We don't really use one) tones and the way she described encounters with men.  If the gender roles were reversed honey, we have a name for the things you describe in your lyrics and it's called RAPE (well, it should still be called that, regardless of a gender reversal scenario but it puts it into perspective for those women who are still battling insecurities about not being "equal" for some reason.)  Can I also add that the number one rape victims who never come forward are men?  nuff said.  We all suffer now.  Men moreso than women now thanks to your backlash and others like it.

Example in the song "Flower":
"I want to f*ck you like a dog
I'll take you home and make you like it"

Creeper.  If you were a 40-year-old-man and you said that to anyone you would be a creeper.  This is not ok.  Because you have a vagina you think you can say these kinds of things and make it on the Rolling Stone's top 500 album list for being "honest" and "interesting?"  

This album just made me angry.  I know it came out in 1993 and what not, but fem-nazis, put down your ball cutting devises, we have reached a synthesis.  The more you alienate yourselves by making music with lyrics like:

"Because I take full advantage of every man I meet
I get away almost every day
With what the girls call, what the girls call
What the girls call, the girls call murder"

the more it is obvious that you are insecure and bitter.  Awesome, I hate you.  And good luck getting laid after writing that.  and thanks for making feminists (who should really now be called humanists because let's stop dividing genders already, everyone suffers) look awful.  I'm sure you never got to take advantage of a guy because he saw the teeth in your vagina and cut out faster than you could lie about having sex with him. elle oh elle smiley face.

What Rolling Stone's Mag had to say about this album- it looks heavily edited and lacking all the things they wanted to say that I went ahead and said for them:

A studio expansion of Phair's homemade Girlysound cassettes, Exile's frank sex talk caused a stir. But it's the lacerating honesty of tracks such as "Divorce Song" that sticks, and "Fuck and Run" is one of the saddest songs ever written about dreaming of romance and settling for less.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#43 Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd

This band, like Led Zeppelin, tends to get a bad reputation by we non-music snobs mostly because of the people we see wearing "Dark Side of the Moon" t-shirts.  These individuals look more interesting than those I talked about in the Led Zeppelin IV post; but nevertheless, their long stringy puke flecked dreads and the "just raped" look they give off (like models posing for Cosmopolitan Magazine) as they stare into space doesn't usually make me want to go buy a Pink Floyd album.  They tend to be mid-forties, strung out, with the permanent occupation of "looking for work."  No offense to a great friend of mine whose favorite band happens to be Pink Floyd; dood, you are soooo excluded from this category.

Having said that, I found this album very enjoyable.  It is all the things you've heard about it, if you've never listened to it before.  It's "weird."  "You might like it better if you weren't sober."  etc. but what I thought was so excellent about this album is for the first time since I began this project I really felt like it mattered that I listened to all the songs in the right order.  I've been very careful to make sure that my iPod is not on shuffle, or the cd isn't on random, just to make sure that I am hearing the album in the order the artists wanted me to.

With Dark Side of the Moon, man, the whole thing is one continuous EPIC song.  I loved it, from start to finish.  I listened to the whole album several times; two times didn't feel like enough to really attempt to comprehend what was going on.  There were so many existential themes like those found in "Time" "Us and Them" and other songs that pointed out illusions and bullshit like in"Money."  Not to mention that "Brain Damage" juxtaposes the sane vs the insane and I got the feeling that insanity is all about who is pointing fingers and who perceives who to be insane.  While at work in a courthouse in the middle of nowhere, with many people I don't know, I kept thinking "the lunatics are in my hall" but maybe that had nothing to do with Pink Floyd.

The album is very deep and in ways that are hard to pin down.  I could listen to the whole thing and miss it or have moments of flash inspiration only to be mistaken that those were my own thoughts carrying me away.  And although they were inspired by the music, I found those thoughts had little to do with the lyrics I was listening to.  Perhaps I was picking up on a general feeling the music instills.  It's an emotion somewhere between disquietude and inspiration.  So anything really, great range katy, jeez.

The music is not generally to my taste; the strange instrumentals, the noises, the sound effects, but after listening to the album over and over, I couldn't get enough.  The more little epiphanies of Camusian absurdity I realized they were talking about the more my respect for this band grew, exponentially.  "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" are so awesome, especially one right after the other, concluding this amazing album that flows from thought to thought through song through song to end in this great crescendo about nothingness.  or absurdity.  or life.  or something less profound.

"I think every album was a step towards Dark Side of the Moon," keyboardist Rick Wright said. "We were learning all the time, the techniques of the recording and our writing was getting better." As a culmination of their inner-space explorations of the early 1970s, the Floyd toured the bulk of Dark Side in Britain for months prior to recording. But in the studio, the band articulated bassist Roger Waters' lyric reveries on the madness of everyday life with melodic precision ("Breathe," "Us and Them") and cinematic lustre (Clare Torry's guest vocal aria "The Great Gig in the Sky"). Dark Side is one of the best-produced rock albums ever, and "Money" may be rock's only Top Twenty hit in 7/8 time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

#194 Transformer - Lou Reed

Drugs and Trannies anyone?  BEST DAY EVER!!

It takes a total badass to sing about trannies and heroin.  It takes an even bigger badass to get David Bowie to produce your solo album about gender-bending and usage after being in one of the greatest bands ever (The Velvet Underground).  Hypothetical Lou Reed smack down: *Oh, and I rubbed shoulders with Andy Warhol and you didn't Frank Sinata.*  Wear it.

But let's get down to business.

The first time I heard a portion of this album I was with my dear friend in Colorado Springs.  "If you like The Velvet Underground," she said, "you're going to love this."  And she turned up the volume in her car and we listened to "Vicious" and "Andy's Chest."  She was totally right.  Lou Reed has made his way into my heart wedged somewhere below Bob Dylan and The Beatles.  So prior to this marathon I only had room for three (noteworthy, 'good') artists and Lou Reed happened to make the cut.

So I cheated, I've heard this album before because I left Colorado and bought it immediately.

Lou Reed is most famous for "Walk on the Wild Side," although the song seems different musically than the rest of the songs on the album.  The beat is so catchy you might find yourself walking around your house with a new found swagger reserved for only the most beautiful drag queens named Jenna Tolls or something much more clever; not being a gay man myself, I lack lexiconal-sexual-cleverness.

"Make Up" is one of my personal favorites because who sings about make up?  Although it has a transgender-twist to it which makes it way cooler than some cover girl commercial- which I originally thought when I first saw the name of the song.

Also, you can't forget the haunting song "Perfect Day," which I vow to learn how to play on the piano.  The song became really popular in the movie, "Transpotting" when sexy Ewan McGregor plays a Scottish junkie trying to kick the habit.  He overdoses and while he's being dropped off at the hospital, "Perfect Day" is creeping you out as the most ideal background music.

I strongly recommend this album for anyone, even those of you who aren't keen on trannies and drugs.

Rolling Stones Peeps:

David Bowie counted the former Velvet Underground leader as a major inspiration — and paid back the debt by producingTransformer. The album had glam flash courtesy of Ziggy Stardust guitarist Mick Ronson as well as Reed's biggest hit, "Walk on the Wild Side" — which brought drag queens and hustlers into the Top Twenty — and the exquisite ballad "Perfect Day." It was Reed's first producer, VU impresario Andy Warhol, who inspired the lead cut when he suggested "Vicious" as a song title. "You know, like, 'Vicious/You hit me with a flower,' " Warhol elaborated. Reed took him at his word, penning the song and cribbing the lines verbatim.

Friday, July 22, 2011

#338 Cheap Thrills - Big Brother and the Holding Company/Janis Joplin

For a white chick, Janis has SOUL.  The whole album will blues you relentlessly.  For the first day I listened to the album I was angry with every person who had the opportunity to expose me to her and failed to do so.  Then I was angry with myself for having never listened to her before.  For the first time I am beginning to regret this blog because I want to go off and buy everything she's ever sung and listen to it non-stop (like I did with Bob Dylan in college) but I can't because I need to get through the list.  When the list is over, Janis will be waiting.  And then I will get to experience all the songs I haven't heard yet with fresh ears like reading one of the Harry Potter books for the first time after waiting a year or longer at 2 am in bed...

I have an anecdote for you though.  I had the music playing very low in the background behind me while I was finishing up something for work, and my fiance came into the room and he began to talk to me.  "Summertime" came on and Joplin's raspy voice began to wail, and my fiance stopped short and said, "Oh God, where are the cats?"

And I said "what?"

And he said "one of them is hurt, you can't hear him?"

Me: "no, I don't know what you're talking about."

Fiance: "Is that Socrates screaming?"

And I said, "Sweetheart, it's Janis Joplin."

I know this isn't a good sell for the album, but TRUST me, she's awesome. "Piece of My Heart" makes you want to scream it outloud and then replay it and then scream it again in the shower, and then replay it and then get mad at yourself because listening to that song while running doesn't allow you the lung capacity to run and scream it at the same time.

And nothing is better than listening to "Summertime" while soaking up the July sun in the backyard.  I'm really going to miss Janis as I move on to other albums.

What the so-called experts have said:

Janis Joplin said, "we're just a sloppy group of street freaks." But these San Francisco acid rockers, one of the first Haight-Ashbury groups, were the most simpatico band she ever had, especially when its raw racket backs her up on "Piece of My Heart," perhaps her greatest recording.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#315 Surfer Rosa - The Pixies

To be honest, sometimes I had a difficult time resisting the urge to turn off the noise.  Half of the sounds produced by the Pixies I had to keep convincing myself that it was music I was listening to and not an alarm system.

The Pixies seem hard to label.  They have merged so many genres of music into this album that it is hard to have a firm grasp on what "type" of music they produced.  I can hear metal, rock, indie/alternative beats, a dash of jazz, ska, and one or two interludes that try to be funny and fail at humor.  Although this description sounds a lot like The Clash, they really sound nothing like them.

"Where is My Mind" is easily the best song (BY FAR) and the most memorable.  It made me recall the closing scene of "Fight Club" where Edward Norton and the chick who plays Bellatrix LaStrange are watching Project Mayhem in action.  He's got blood seeping out of the two holes in his throat and you're thinking, damn brad pitt and edward norton, one person! Best Day EVER!  And this song fades out the best movie of that decade.  Maybe that totally wasn't the song.  someone correct me if I'm wrong (or don't).  I could look it up or pop in one of the 8 copies of that movie I have laying around.  I'm pretty sure the only music trivia I ever won was claiming it was the Pixies whose song played in the credits.  I remember drunk people screaming "nuh uh, totally Oasis man" "No way dude, 3rd eye blind" and then I sheepishly said, via divine intervention "Twas the pixies.  wear it."  anywho, back to the tunes:

I feel like they made the rest of the album just to release this totally badass song.  And then the director of fight club was like "omfg i have such an easy decision to make.  there is only ONE good song on this album! oh joy!  I choose you."

Kurt Cobain would totally disagree.  Rumor has it, upon my cursory web searchings, that The Pixies deeply influenced him.  So clearly, what do I know?  This band helped make Fight Club and Nirvana?  Score.  Can't say you accomplished that, can you Frank Sinatra, can you?

The Experts (notice they didn't know what to say about the pixies either):

Smack in between hardcore punk and alternative, it was impossible to deconstruct the Pixies' ferocious howl. Their secret weapon was leaping from sweet to screamin' (which Kurt Cobain admitted to boosting): On "Gigantic," Kim Deal sings like Peppermint Patty as the band drives a spike into Eighties rock.

Monday, July 18, 2011

#306 Songs for Swingin Lovers - Frank Sinatra

I don't really have much to say except this album was horribly predictable.  Everyone knows who Frank Sinatra is, even me, so that should tell you how overplayed he's been.

There is no denying that Frank's sonorous voice could moisten the granny-ist of panties but that didn't change how bored I got halfway through the album.

I'm probably being too hard on Frank, but he feels so cliched at this point.  I couldn't help but recall that ridiculous Mel Gibson movie "What Women Want" which was basically an excuse to use product placement every three seconds because the movie took place in an advertising firm.  Mel Gibson's character tries to win over Helen Hunt's character as they work together on advertising for the companies who sponsored the movie.  To make it cheezier, the soundtrack is Frank Sinatra (and most of the songs on this album).  I remember this terrible part where Helen tries to do turns around the office and her inability to dance made me as embarrassed for her as I was for Frank through about 40% of his terrible lyrics and easily identifiable euphemisms (1. I wanna go and bounce the moon, just like a toy balloon 2. I wanna go play hide and seek).  I felt like a freaking 8th grader wrote his music.

Anyway, don't bother.  If you've heard one frank song, you've heard them all.

The Rolling Stone People:

Here is an album that means to deny the rock & roll that was then changing America and succeeds. The songs were standards, most ten or twenty years old, and Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle were bent on jazzy, hip sophistication. "I've Got You Under My Skin" still stands as a Sinatra high point.