Monday, December 30, 2013

#30 Blue - Joni Mitchell

I am so bored with fiction.  

It dawned on me a few months ago that ever since we were very small children we wanted to know The Story; but every fiction book is the same story with endless variations and we are supposed to gain something insightful about the human condition through analysis/synthesis and maybe glimpse something divine about our own souls.  some sort of truth.  But we are looking outward; not inward; not presently.  The past and future are made up in our heads.  Our memories deceive us, always.  And with every conjuring of memory, we fabricate them unintentionally.  We are projecting ourselves, try as we might not to, onto the hero, the antihero, the archetype we are most alike to satisfy some obscure egoic need to live a better life, a more adventurous life, a more meaningful life than the one we have.  ex: "I am like Larry David because I have Larry David moments all the time."  It is frightening that we do this through all music too.  This is why we only care for music that reflect something about our past. Through Joni Mitchell, 99% of people relive some past encounter with a person who is no longer in our lives.  Not for Joni, although she might be appreciated, but it's an ego feed.  A self-identification that brings validation.

This revelation made me pause in the middle of my walk and clutch my chest while "Case of You" blared in my ears.  Like being unplugged from the ever present illusion I try to escape and realizing that its pervasiveness surrounds something I held so dear to my soul, my precious literature.  It was kind of like discovering that Victoria's actual Secret is that they don't make bras for people with large boobs, regardless of how tiny one's ribcage may be.

Or maybe it is because of my new yoga journey that I have started to think this way.  I am learning how to meditate and awaken the inward happiness we are born with, and I am reading the works of Osho and other unconventional great thinkers who have unintentionally made me feel like searching for meaning in fiction is a futile effort.  It feels almost silly to me now.  There is a quiet place between an inhale and an exhale where happiness and bliss wash over you in the present moment.  When you can shut off your mind, the way you can tell your leg not to move.  It was what I searched for when I escaped life to dive between pages of novels, but now those feelings exist within me at the pause after a breath.  And one must, as Yoda advised, learn to let go of all that you fear to lose (in each exhale).  Your illusioned and misguided goals, your silly desires, those you have left behind, those who left you behind, your memories, your wants, your attachments, your future.  And anxiety disappears, fear disappears.  It is like that amazing scene in "Gravity" when Sandra Bullock comes up for air out of what seems like a lifetime of terror and oppression. and I am beginning to realize that we were always here, will always be here, we will come back for another life or two probably with the same set of folks playing different roles in our lives, and only experience evolves the soul.  I feel prepared for a new level of consciousness; I am ready to leave this meatbag-shell of vibrating matter and try something out of my body.

I am so bored with fiction.

and now the discipline of yoga and Joni Mitchell.

These blissful thoughts and feelings, most ironically, came about while listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue album.  She didn't make me sad like I expected and dreaded, she made me fortified and resolved.  I couldn't really empathize with her like I could with others like Pink Floyd.  I had a different mind all those months ago.  It doesn't mean I didn't understand her; it doesn't mean I haven't felt like her before.  It means I don't want to dwell on past lives and wallow in sorrows of what happened or what could have been.  In order to achieve brilliant art like she created, she had to pull out parts of her soul through a trance and look upwards to grasp pieces of the collective unconscious to make it meaningful to others.  She succeeded.  I understand it, please don't misjudge me.  

But it felt like a turning point in my life absorbing this album I spent three months listening to.  It feels good to be cathartic, but then catharsis consumes you and you stir in it and stew in it and become all prunny fingered and wrinkled in it.  There is a time to let go.  Let go of all attachments.  She taught me a grand lesson.  I could appreciate her and not get sucked in with her howling regrets.  I was already learning to let go.

She is right that there are only pretty lies.  Your whole world is written and created around pretty lies.  Some you believe, some embolden you and feed your ego, others you disregard.  I walked my precious pomeranian through streets lined with Christmas lit homes, a frozen terrain from the wrath of Cleon, imagining a frozen river we were skating away on as "Case of you" followed in an ideal sequence.  It was a perfect moment.  And then it was no more.  The ice has since melted and we have breathed so many stillnesses since then.  And now my memory perceives it as a perfect moment.  Do you see?

Where do all those people go, these people who know intimate details about our souls but no longer have the right to?  Do they float away down Joni's river or are they all somewhere in between the fibers of a map of Canada?  

In yoga the other day, during the chanting after shavasana, a woman near me sounded like a wailing Joni Mitchell.  I smiled because I had been so infused in Joni it felt like the universe was joking with me.  Like energy was elbowing me in the side.  I was in a place of such peace and happiness that I have never found in this life until now, and here was this reminder of sadness.  It made me remember that tears and laughter start in the same place in the brain when we are babies.  But maybe that was a pretty lie I picked up somewhere.

And now for a new chapter in this fiction of life.  and the discipline of yoga.

The Mag says:
"The Blue album, there's hardly a dishonest note in the vocals," Joni Mitchell told Rolling Stone in 1979. "At that period of my life, I had no persona defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world, and I couldn't pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy." With song after song of regrets and sorrow, this may be the ultimate breakup album. Its whispery minimalism is also Mitchell's greatest musical achievement. Stephen Stills and James Taylor lend an occasional hand, but in "California," "Carey," "This Flight Tonight" and the devastating title track, Mitchell sounds utterly alone in her melancholy, turning the sadness into tender, universally powerful art.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

#20 Thriller -- Michael Jackson

I love Michael Jackson's Thriller album the way I love Lisa Frank artwork and this cat shirt: in absolute secret even further buried behind gay west texas baptist boys under piles of dirty rainbow bright clothing in the back-most corner of the universal closet.

So I guess I'll go ahead and come out now to confess that Michael Jackson is sort of amazing.  If I hadn't grown up always knowing who he was, I would not have guessed, based on its voice, that the singer was male.  And I might not have guessed that he was black either, the opposite problem Van Morrison has.  And if you don't believe me about Van Morrison, one of the ways people find my blog is by googling "Is Van Morrison a black man?"  But all those jokes about MJ have been belabored to death. (for those of you who just googled 'Is Van Morrison a black man and were brought to my page the answer is no.  He's Scottish-ish, but born in Belfast, Ireland and shares Harry Potter's birthday- not that any of those things could make him un-black.)

I'm not interested in discussing whether or not Michael Jackson was killed by illuminati, obviously he was.  Nor do I want to discuss the accusations that he diddled children.  I doubt he did such a thing.  People hate minds they don't understand, and MJ's was a bit hard to comprehend.  Believe me, I am empathetic to children who have been molested, but it usually comes from sources people don't suspect (priests, everyone's favorite uncle, etc.) and sorry MJ, everyone suspected you because you went cray-cray the way Britney Spears and the recent Miley Cyrus alien did too; only you were a man, despite evidence to the contrary.

So, now that those unpleasantries are behind us, let's discuss the music in my own meandering way:  Once I asked the husband what the shampoo bottles do when we are not using them.  He responded that the whole purpose of said shampoo bottles was that it meet my needs as a tool and it was created specifically for my use and perhaps they don't actually exist when we are not using them.  Good answer, because I am a leo and everything revolves around me.  Then I added, "Just like Michael Jackson."  And explained that Michael Jackson might not exist if we've never met him.  To which the husband responded, "Every time me and MJ tried to get together he was always busy doing his thing and I was always busy doing mine."  I began to laugh my maniacal laugh and said, "Michael gets it.  You know, he's one of the only people who actually beat the system.  Everyone is laughing at him, but really he's laughing at everyone else.  He got to sing and dance and have a chimp and live in a theme park and doesn't have to answer to anyone.  And being a child forever would be amazing.  Totally above the sheeple."  And that thought made me wonder if we are the crazy ones, living totally normal lives trying to make ourselves feel better by making fun of celebrates. *Miley Cyrus, aside - she nasty.*

Anywho- Obviously the best songs on this album are Thriller, Beat it, and Billie Jean.  It wasn't until recently that the lyrics to Billie Jean were cleared up to me.  I used to think he was wailing, "But Lu Chan is not my son." and thought he just had a thing for Blasian women like everyone else.

As a part of this Michael Jackson week, I also watched countless youtube videos to learn how to dance Thriller.  Which I am proud to say I know the dance, but nobody can move like Michael and so I will not provide the video of my experiences here.

What Rolling Stone Mag had to say about Michael Jackson's Thriller Album:

Epic, 1982
Michael Jackson towered over the 1980s the way Elvis Presley dominated the 1950s, and here's why. On Thriller, the child R&B star ripened into a Technicolor soulman: a singer, dancer and songwriter with incomparable crossover instincts. He and producer Quincy Jones established the something-for-everyone template with 1979's Off the Wall, a crisp fusion of pop hooks and dance beats. On Thriller, the pair heighten the sheen ("The Girl Is Mine"), pump up the theater ("Thriller") and deepen the funk. But the most thrilling thing was the autobiography busting through the gloss: the hiss of denial on "Billie Jean"; the to-hell-with-haters strut of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Jackson was at the peak of his art and adulthood.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

#266 Quadrophenia - The Who (now #267)

My husband told me the other day that he had heard a theory by Edgar Cayce who believed that everything we perceive as matter are actually vibrations - much like different frequencies give off different colors to our eyes-- but actually we can take it a step further and assume that animals, plants, water, and rocks all give off different types of vibrations.  That our very cells vibrate at different frequencies, all the time.

It was a very compelling thought, especially since I've read portions of The Miracle of Water by Masaru Emoto, where he asserts that our thoughts and intentions can actually change the structure of water molecules.  It's worth a google if you are a shitbag worthless naysayer; that's right I'm restructuring your water molecules as you read this, bitch.  And considering most of us, excluding the aliens from Signs, are made up of water, our thoughts and intentions can alter the vibrations of people, plants, and things.  Which is why it is so terrible that we allow people with awful personalities to become authority figures.  but, I digress.

Perhaps this is why when we listen to music it alters our mood so immediately; and perhaps this is also why music seems to be the grand equalizer.  It doesn't matter if you are the Queen of England or a homeless man sleeping in the gutter, it is very possible that both of these drastically different people could enjoy a band like The Who because these two people could happen to enjoy the way the band makes them feel regardless of class/age/race/gender etc.

Maybe people are so compelled to listen and create music because everything is a vibration.  And it's important to get lost in those vibrations.  There isn't a better band to get lost in than The Who.  This whole album gives off a majestic, epic Vibe (ration) that made me envision lions running down critters, people winning different competitions, people marching off to battle, and someone saying his last words before slipping back into the air.

The whole album felt like it was the end all to albums.  The band plays so vigorously and with such purpose it is hard not to like them or feel them and the power behind the instruments and the singing.  They used such interesting sounds in Quadrophenia that I couldn't stop listening to it.  Sometimes it felt like a little too much stimulation because they were playing so quickly.  My favorite songs were the last two, The Rock and Love, Reign O'er Me.  They both vibrated at such a frequency that made me feel overwhelmed with passion and love and helped me to appreciate the beautiful 105 degree day while out on a jog.

If you have to run away from the police and need some motivation, this album will do the trick.

The Who - Quadrophenia Album Cover
The album that brought back Vespa scooters, parkas and uppers: Pete Townshend drew on the Who's roots in the London mod scene of the early Sixties and composed this expansive, messy rock opera about a lonely teenage boy looking for love in the city. It gets even better when you check out the movie.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

#110 The Bends -- Radiohead (now #111)

The Bends awakens feelings that are only found in the extremely rare moments of simultaneous joy and sorrow.  Like when someone makes a comment at a funeral that the deceased person would have said, knowing that had he been there, he would have appreciated and laughed at the comment at his own funeral.  Almost like from the great beyond, he channeled that thought through a living vessel to convey the small silver lining to his friends that he still remains alive in many ways.  The weirdest thing is, I can't even give you an example of this in the music, but it is there, between the raw virgin vibrations of the sound that bring you both ecstasy and depression.  A place in your head you'd like to visit, but if you stay there too long, you could be lost forever in some dream you couldn't tell anyone about because nobody would understand you or believe you.

This was one of those albums where after I had listened to a song, I wanted so badly to play it over again before moving on to the next song; and while I was listening to other songs I couldn't stop thinking about previous songs I just heard--almost to the point where I wanted to listen to them all at once to quench the thirst this album creates.  And what a thirst this album creates!  The Bends isn't great like anything The Beatles, The Stones, or Bob Dylan ever created--it's so far out in left field, i don't know how someone has the balls to categorize it.  haha "alternative" can mean a million and one things.  

The Bends represented a milestone for me.  If you've ever fallen in love with something, like movies, literature, music, painting, for example, you begin to get all the little references, allusions, and inside jokes among the artists who created them; you can see between the lines, brush strokes, and vibrations to see inside the artist's mind, to his soul and see who influenced him, what he might have been feeling, who might have abused him as a child and so on and so forth.  This was the first album where I could really grasp that for this genre of art.  I could see that sometimes they sounded a little bit like U2, with a Pink Floyd undertone, but they created art so differently and taped into the kinds of emotions we don't really like to talk about.  I listened to OK Computer, already two summers ago, but I couldn't hear any of what I've just described to you.  Much of it felt like noise I couldn't place or decipher.  It was like finally being able to carry on a conversation with someone in a foreign language you've been studying.  I can't even read some early posts from this blog because I'm baffled at how ignorant I sound.  But that's what makes this project so beautiful and important to me.  The human mind has this exceptional ability to adapt.  It creates the paradox of the more you know, the more you realize you don't know, but simultaneously, your capacity to know continues to grow exponentially...

When I was a teacher, I could see into that rare student's soul.  The one who liked bands like Radiohead and while others ignored them, I got lost in an enigma of overwhelming helplessness toward them.  You just want to tell them, not everything sucks; life outside of this prison will get better.  But that might have been a lie.  They didn't have a choice to be there like I did, and in the end, I quit that job.

When I listened to "Fake Plastic Trees," I couldn't help but think of the college I graduated from.  I remember my first encounter with other students that led to a crying, frantic, phone call to my parents in a panic, "I picked the wrong school!  I'm not like these people!  Can I change it?" Just weeks before I was due to start classes.  I had never seen so many blond and orange skinned people in my life.  I had this overwhelming urge to scrape my fingernails across their faces to see how much make up I could remove.  I thought about this, not because of the amount of fake people who attend TCU, but because of the first friend I made there.  We had to play one of those highly infantile "Icebreaker" games wherein, everyone says something about herself when she is thrown a ball and then she throws the ball to another person who in return reveals some greater truth about her person and so on...

We heard things like, "I love volleyball," "I once met Brad Pitt" "I'm a Chi-O legacy" "Fashion Merchandising major!" and then it was passed to a guy who said, "Radiohead is my favorite band and I was an extra in Big Fish," who passed it to me and I had to awkwardly say the only thing I could think of, "I've never eaten a hamburger because they smell really bad to me."  He and I struck up a conversation later on, where based off of the things we talked about (mostly being the only two people in our respective high schools who read all the novels we were assigned like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 etc), he promised me that I would really like Radiohead if I gave them a shot.  We bonded over the fact that we were not orange and we could talk about things other than bullshit.  He was totally right about Radiohead, and now that memory will be forever framed by the sounds of Fake Plastic Trees, a name which TCU should strongly consider adopting.

FPT University has a nice ring to it.

The additional crap I failed to mention about this album ( I thought I connected U2 all on my own, bastards): 

The first half of Nineties rock was shaped by Nirvana, and the second half was dominated by Radiohead. Their second album married a majestic and somber guitar sound to Thom Yorke's anguished-choirboy vocals, drawing on the epic grandeur of U2 and the melancholy of the Smiths.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

#464 The Blueprint -- Jay-Z (now #252)

Recently, I have been completely obsessed with Jay-Z's soundtrack to The Great Gatsby, which I think was brilliantly assembled, constructed, as poignant, eerie, and melancholy as the movie, and full of color and life in its limitless imagination.  Getting Jack White to cover "Love is Blindness" was the icing on the cake.

So, I decided to try Jay-Z's album "Blueprint" out for size.

I don't know what I was expecting, but this whole album felt like one big self-serving ego stroke.  I've never heard such blatant narcissism before and wondered how anyone could perceive this album as anything other than a giant stroke-off session.  But, most rap is like that, right?

If we could translate portions of his album into Icanhascheezburger language, its synopsis would be something like this:

1. thx 4 buying my albem, becuz it is da only 1 in existence. Next time buy 2 of them. kthxby
2. I gets all the females all over the world.  none 4 you, muhahaha.
3. I is the 8th wonder of the world.
4. I have piles of moneyz taller than you.
5. all other rappers suck. cept Eminem and someone named ROC

But, if I'm being completely honest here, I couldn't get some of the songs out of my head and while playing it to and from work it made me somehow feel important--like I too, was on a vast ego kick.  To his credit, he doesn't talk about murdering bitches or really hurting anyone.  So what do I care if he wants to talk about how great he is and how much everyone else sucks?

My husband warned me before I began to write this blog.  He said, make fun of all the whiny white retards from the 80s all you want, but don't fuck with Jay-Z because he's liable to show up here and make you disappear.  And you know what, the funny thing is--I totally believe that.  Because whether I want to contribute to his ego or not, there is something so mysterious about Jay-Z, so mythological, that you think-- this is a guy who can make anything happen because he sees through the threads of the system and in his own way--he's a bit like Gatsby, no?  (well, someone did fuck with Gatsby, but whatever)  The man has more money than God, he freaking married Beyonce, was able to buy a barbie doll with a dress made out of REAL diamonds for his one-year-old, self-made billionaire, rags to riches all the way...

And, although there were many rumors about Gatsby, you can't deny all of the strange mason, secret-society shit Jay-Z has locked up in his albums.  Even NPR did an "all things considered" about his eerie occult symbolism that you can read or listen to RIGHT HERE.

All in all, the album was fun to listen to although I tired of hearing about how great he thinks he is.  At least Gatsby was somewhat humble.  Humility goes a long way, methinks.

What Rolling Stone had to say:

If Frank Sinatra had been born a Brooklyn rapper, The Blueprint is the album he would have made. It's all flash and bravado, with Jay-Z dissing rivals, talking smack about his troubles with the cops and flossing hard with ladies all around the world.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#41 Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

I tried.  I tried.  I tried.  I tried so hard to like the Sex Pistols.  I really wanted to.  I thought I could fake it too and pretend to be in love with the Sex Pistols.  Deep down, I thought a part of me will emerge and love Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.  I know they are important.  I know they are a raw awesome punk band who called it like they saw it, expressed anger for a generation, hooray they were controversial and banned, they lyrically bitchslapped the queen, etc.  All good things I thought I'd enjoy, but when it got right down to it, it all sounded the same to me.  I thought I was on the same song for 20 minutes and then I realized I was halfway done with the album.  And by the time I forced myself to listen to it for a fourth time, I was so impatient for it to end.

And there is a language barrier; laugh all you want, there really is one.  Besides having to look up "Bollocks" which, I'll have you know has six different definitions, I couldn't understand a word of this rubbish (that means trash, Katy, in case you want to look it up).  And what I could understand sounded so juvenile and silly, I was embarrassed to listen to it very loud--and it being punk music, I suppose listening loudly comes with the territory.  *shrug*

Meh, all in all, not my cup o' tea.

I think I wrote a poem about a teacher once who was not a human being either (not as noteworthy as the queen).  But I was in the 8th grade.  I also recall writing a short story about Fetus Fajitas that was way better than their crappy abortion song.  Mine had a point to it too.  I didn't just throw darts at the dictionary to come up with phrases.

This album made me feel like one of those creepers who never leaves their high school town the more I listened.  Or like when Blink182 toured in their late thirties and were making poop jokes and fucking someone's mom jokes and shouting "boobies" for the squeals of delight from thirteen-year-old girls.  Just constantly stuck in an adolescent brain and angry for no reason.  Bitching at things just to bitch and blaming everyone else for their made up problems.  You get to do whatever you want and not work a real job?  You can't name the Prime Minister but you're wealthy as hell because you can make one song sound like twelve and call it an album?  You get drunk and make money off of angry retards who buy your albums just because they got banned?  My friends, you have first world problems.  This is not something to be angry about.  Drop your little anarchist act and go home.  Wash your gimmicks off and  take a nap or read a book or something.  Jesus H.

The Clash totally kicked your asses, Sex Pistols.  I don't think any punk band will impress me after The Clash rocked my world.

And none of you sound intimidating enough for me to think you're anarchists or antichrists.  FAIL.

In truth, I don't have anything to say about this album.  I seriously couldn't think of a single thing that would make this entry interesting or worth reading in anyway.  Or even funny in putting them down.  The album was so far removed from me that it had nothing to do with my life whatsoever.  It didn't spark any brain waves or remind me of anything important enough to write down.  It kind of made me feel like being stuck in a shitty dream where everyone is yelling in a different language; and I don't have too many of those dreams, thankfully.

Maybe if I am given a more interesting base material to work with, I'll write better.  For examples, please refer to all other blog entries.

Stones Website:
Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols --Album Cover

Warner Bros., 1977
"If the sessions had gone the way I wanted, it would have been unlistenable for most people," Johnny Rotten said. "If you want people to listen, you’re going to have to compromise." But few heard it that way at the time. The Pistols' only studio album sounds like a rejection of everything rock & roll had to offer. True, the music was less shocking than Rotten himself, who snarled about abortions, anarchy and hatred. But Never Mind. . . is the Sermon on the Mount of U.K. punk – and its echoes are everywhere

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#16 Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan

My first impression of this album was, oh man, Bob wrote this for girls like me.  And it kind of made me smirk because I think most people hear this album and they direct Dylan's anger, raw knife-edged emotions, and empty despair at someone else, someone they are trying to dehumanize try as they might, and can't; but I've never really felt that way about anyone because I always did the breaking up.

But I guess that's not even true either.  Sexy image, I suppose, but probably not realistic.  You see, to trivialize this album and call it a break up album, cathartic as it might be, seems to miss the point entirely.  The point is about perspective.  And we don't get to see his ex's.

To make it all more confusing, I grew up with this album deeply ingrained in my brain before I could understand what the lyrics meant.  My childhood was imbued in the sounds of Dylan's harmonica.  But I gave it a shot and did my best to listen with fresh ears.

It occurred to me that the reason Blood on the Tracks is so very successful, is because Dylan gets at the heart of human feeling without making it totally gay.  You can feel the universe's pain and healing process and all the simpering threads of memory from anyone else who listened to this album and felt their heart strings tug too much to be comfortable.  But the songs are so surreal, mostly Tangled up in Blue, You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome when You Go, and Shelter from the Storm they feel like they have always been here (and that's true for me in this lifetime) but Dylan found a vein in the collective unconscious and sucked it dry for the sake of this saturated star in a galactic sea of musical milky ways.

But did he puss out like James Joyce after Finnegan's Wake?  Or get worn out from whiskey dick like Faulkner did after Absalom, Absalom?  No fucking sir.  That man is still making awesome music because he GETS it.  He's here, probably like Shakespeare and Milton were, to make us understand ourselves better.  Yeah, Harold Bloom, I just made that comparison.  Get over it.

So shut the fuck up and stop whining about how he sounds like a belching pig and pick up this album before you die a miserable life without a glimpse of your own soul.

The new epiphany I had when I tried to listen to it anew was the idea that what makes Bob Dylan so dynamic are his perspective changes and paradigm shifts visible from album to album as he's grown up.  It made me think that, every few years we should shed our programming and start fresh.  Get some new values, be different people, start making different decisions, get some Descartes' Fireside action.  I think I do that, rather a lot and can appreciate things like Dylan's Christian album because I get it.  It's all about perspective.

And it's also weird to think that two people can be in the same car listening to the same song and have drastically different experiences and memories and day dreams.  Paradoxically, both are sharing in the music and are connected, but they are both disconnected from each other.

For example:

My Dad and I were driving through the dirt, rugged roads in northern Idaho a few days before my wedding with sirius radio cutting in and out through the forty foot tall pine trees and mountain interference.  We were singing along to "Tangled up in Blue" on one of the classic rock stations.  The song would cut out but we'd keep singing and Dylan would chime in and out to check on us to make sure we were keeping good time.

When we got to the end of the song, my dad said, "I never understood what he meant by that ending; "some are mathematicians, some are carpenter's wives..."

(don't know how it all got started
I don't know what they do with their lives
but me, I'm still on the road,
headed for another joint,
we always did feel the same
we just saw it from a different point of view
tangled up in blue.)

My interpretation came so naturally to me; I tried to control my excited tone.  I said, "well, you are a geologist.  Your point of view is to see the earth as a living organism on a timeline most people cannot comprehend.  You can see what it was and what it might be.  That's how you understand 'being,' thus, that's your perspective.  I see the world in poetic moments full of irony (like schooling my father on a song he's heard for 30 years), understandings, misunderstandings, human interactions, and philosophical ideas.  We can both listen to this song and take drastically different things away from it; yet we're sharing the experience together.  We can't see the world through other perspectives, but we all feel the same sometimes about the direction our lives are heading or the way we feel about people and each other; I guess, sometimes Dad, we all get tangled up in blue."

We continued to drive and I wondered what this song might have reminded him of.  Probably his days of living in New Orleans or further back in Kentucky, or sleeping on the floor in someone's house in Kalamazoo. or rocks, rocks, and more rocks.
But me, I'm still on the road...

Blood on the Tracks Album Cover

Columbia, 1975
Bob Dylan once introduced this album's opening song, "Tangled Up in Blue," onstage as taking him 10 years to live and two years to write. It was, for him, a pointed reference to the personal crisis – the collapse of his marriage to Sara Lowndes – that at least partly inspired this album, Dyl­an's best of the 1970s. In fact, he wrote all of these lyrically piercing, gingerly majestic songs in two months, in mid-1974. He was so proud of them that he privately auditioned almost all of the album, from start to finish, for pals and peers including Mike Bloomfield, David Crosby and Graham Nash before cutting them in September – in just a week, with members of the bluegrass band Deliverance. But in December, Dylan played the record for his brother David in Minneapolis, who suggested recutting some songs with local musicians. The final Blood was a mix of the slow, pensive New York sessions and the faster, wilder Minneapolis dates. Together, they frame the gritty anguish in some of Dylan's most passionate, confessional songs – from adult breakup ballads like "If You See Her, Say Hello" to the sharp-tongued opprobrium of "Idiot Wind," his greatest put-down song since "Like a Rolling Stone." "It's hard for me to relate to people enjoying that type of pain," Dylan said after the album became an instant success. Yet he had never turned so much pain into so much musical splendor.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

#87 The Wall - Pink Floyd

"Look Mummy, there's a drone up in the sky..."  :)

My encounter with this album evoked the most surreal experience I have had yet throughout this project.  I should have expected that with Pink Floyd, but I'm not talking about the way my brainpiece processed their information the way they wanted me to perceive it.  I'm talking about something else entirely.

The first time I listened to it, I was invigorated and awestruck.  There were moments when I felt like crying--because (ironically) I thought, these people feel the same way as I do when they perceive an institution and those who wander around like zombies.  They also could understand the appealing nature of building a proverbial wall against all the other breathing thoughtless creatures who occupy my immediate space, or identify with how good it feels to just shut people out while scrambling to paradoxically not be alone.  Of course, Roger Waters and his friendies are in their box feeling just as alone as all those people plugged into their phones (listening to PF!) or those of you watching trash tv with a box of wine.  or two.  Ironically, we are all as alone as the next guy; try as we might to "stay connected."  Obviously, we can invert this entire paragraph and claim that no person is an island, try as they might to get away.  Like someone chatting with babes on the Interwebz is actually alone and not at the same time.

But this album resonated with me on such an eerie level.  God, I thought, I must really be screwed up to identify with Pink Floyd, of all the bands so far.  When I heard "Another Brick in the Wall pt 2" I immediately thought of my short-lived teaching experience.  Quitting teaching was sort of the best thing that ever happened to me; Roger would OBVIOUSLY agree.  I'm glad I don't have to indoctrinate people anymore or lie to them and tell them they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up as long as they work hard and try.  Or tell them college will help them get a job.  Or encourage them to take out student loans to go to school, which only enslaves them into the system to spend their lives paying it back with time at a soulless job under fluorescent lights that smell like burnt skin and fried dreams.  Whatever happened to teaching people to just grow up and be happy?  And why the fuck do they still make people respond to bells?  And when will people learn that time is an illusion and they've all been programmed to respond to clocks (thanks to the public education system!)?

This album made me realize that hopefully, I'm not the only person walking around so lost inside my own head that I feel like I can't function normally sometimes in social situations.  Maybe everyone feels so incredibly alone that they mask it with their own walls and distractions.  Like drinking or watching grown-ass men in colorful foamwear mount one another homosocially to fight for an oblong shaped brown ball with laces grunting over gained yardage.  My tactic for distraction is no better; I mask it with humor.  Like making someone laugh creates a semi-real bridged connection with another being to distract from the constant isolation.  So I just make people laugh and I think, is this normal?  Is this real life?  Am I interacting just fine with these people?  And then I just keep piling bricks upon bricks.  Or feeling at odds about things other people find to be so normal, like sleeping, eating meat, or old horror movies, for example.

"Is there anybody out there" made me recall the five minutes I stood frozen by the inundating waves of shock and fear when as a child, I walked into the living room while my brother was watching The Shining.  And something inside of me broke that night in those five minutes, and I felt so utterly alone for the first time.  I've never seen the whole movie, but there was an aura about being so helpless and alone that not even your parents could save you and it fed my childhood realization that maybe nobody is ever really connected to another person.  We are all so alone and I, at the time, was more alone than anyone else because the images in that movie built a wall around me that didn't allow comfort or compassion to enter when it came time to sleep.  Whereas, my brother processed the information like he was watching just another cartoon.  And that disconnected and unshared experience isolated me further and reenforced the terror that movie (and this album) creates because he was able to just blow it off when I wasn't.

And then, as an eight-year-old, the lights went out and I was in bed.  There were expectations of sleep.  And the suffocating anxiety about sleeping crept up, like a cloudy hand from under the bed to pin me down by the chest and force me to stare up at the ceiling in tears until dawn because sleeping was so unnatural to me.  We willingly shut down, like machines with dead batteries and give up all of our power to become vulnerable and exist in a mind state without senses.  On purpose!  (some crazies even take NAPS) And I thought, I might not wake up tomorrow.  I might not wake up ever again.  And then like always, I succumbed, after exhaustion took its toll and night after night, in a struggling battle against sleep--I would fail and as sleep took me into the night, I acquiesced to the fact that I was going to die alone again tonight like the night before and the night before that.

That feeling is almost as terrifying as being around a lot of people--because the more people that are around, paradoxically, the more alone one feels.  Like being at a concert, which I believe is the very idea that inspired the concept for this album.

Understand me a little better now, college roommates?  Childhood friends who I bailed on for sleepovers?  Sorry Mumsey for never napping as an infant.

Many years later, I listened to a This American Life podcast about the Fear of Sleep, and someone else had an experience with The Shining that was similar to mine and I wondered how many terrified youngsters were out there unable to sleep for decades because of just FIVE whole minutes of the movie.  You are not alone, my fearful friends.  Get the mother fucking twins out of the mother fucking hallway.  nuff said.

So, in the midst of all this thinking, I asked my husband if he would watch the movie "The Wall" with me.  He looked at me, shaking his head and said that if I chose to watch it for this project, I'd have to do it alone because it really creeped him out and he'd rather not see it "or the marching hammers" again.

um, after watching the trailer, that's just out of the question.

After the dreadful recollection of my childhood hypnophobia, I relistened to the album but this time, I couldn't suppress the memories of my bedtime rituals that would help to stave off the anxiety I associated with sleeping (i.e. turning on and off the lights 15 times.  Kissing all of my stuffed animals over and over etc.  Like the little narrator in Proust's Swann's Way, begging Mumsey to come up and check on me before she went to bed) nor could I disassociate my reoccurring Zombie nightmares from the album--I forgot to mention those; I have them often.  So, take all that unnecessary baggage and top it with the idea of a fascist regime taking over a population, inspired by my husband's description of "The Wall" and watching the trailer and you probably wouldn't want to listen to Pink Floyd again either.

So I reached down and touched the pause bottom halfway through the song "The Trial" and left all that weight, bad energy, baggage, and bullshit lying in the middle of the sidewalk behind me as I changed the music to Bob Dylan, who pretty much makes everything better, and kept walking.

Leave the childhood fears behind.  We don't need no friggin triggers.

The album is amazing, literally seamless, flawless, and hits so close to home that I just couldn't bear it any longer.  I have nothing bad to say against the album but I don't think I can handle listening to a song from them again because I just get so heavy with angst and bad energy that I could never get "comfortably numb" to Pink Floyd.  The surreal experience was the drastic change in perception from the first listen to the last.  I went from loving this album to being completely unable to listen to it--and my fascist 1984 private room 101 hell would be at this concert plus Jack Nicholson, a sleepover and some hallway twins (and pickles).  Which was pretty much what they were going for, it felt.

I hate your Lonelier than Thou attitude, Pink Floyd.  I'm so creeped, I don't want to look up the album cover to put on this entry.

Columbia, 1979
Pink Floyd's most elaborately theatrical album was inspired by their own success: the alienating enormity of their tours after The Dark Side of the Moon [see No. 43]. As the band played arenas in 1977, bassist­lyricist Roger Waters first hit upon the wall as a metaphor for isolation and rebellion. He finished a demo of the work by July 1978; the double album then took the band a year to make. Rock's ultimate self-pity opera, The Wall is also hypnotic in its indulgence: the totalitarian thunder of "In the Flesh?," the suicidal languor of "Comfortably Numb," the Brechtian drama of "The Trial" and the anti-institutional spleen of the album's unshakable disco hit, "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2." Rock-star hubris has never been more electrifying.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

#3 Revolver -- The Beatles

Revolver is an intimidating album to cover, because I actually know a lot about it but don't really want to share the knowledge with you about how they came up with this or that name, or which song helped to influence the psychedelic movement, WTF is Yellow Submarine about anyway, yadda yadda ya.  That kind of music talk is so boring to me, and it's the only kind people even find anymore.  I'm more interested in what you felt when you heard the album.  Where were you when you heard Revolver?  It's like when people talk about authors and poets and not the fucking books.  Example: William Faulkner's life wasn't really that interesting, contrary to his novels.  He didn't know how to mail letters at his job and he had such alcoholism that he was often found covered in vomit passed out on toilet seats, he was short, he got old and wrote his nobel prize speech on the airplane on his way to get the award.  BFD.  Moving on.

Not to mention, everyone already knows everything about the Beatles anyway.  So if you want to learn that shit, go to wikipedia or find you a music blog that doesn't talk about the life that happens around the music.

I recently saw "Lars and the Real Girl" and that movie was so profound that I thought about it while I listened to Revolver over and over again.  The two meshed in my head and I came up with an idea about music that has probably been thought before, but probably nobody was inspired by the supporting actress in Lars and the Real Girl (she's a life size "love doll") to come to this thought.

So, in Lars and the Real Girl, Lars has had a difficult childhood full of abandonment and as an adult, he suffers from this delusion that he has fallen in love with a woman named Bianca, who is actually a life size doll.  About half way through the movie, there is a point where we begin to notice that life happens all around this doll, because of this doll, and in spite of this doll.  The town comes together to assist in the delusion, by having Bianca volunteer around town, hang out with church women, etc. etc. By treating her as a real person, Lars finally realizes that they care about and love him.  Thus, this hunk of plastic begins to bridge the gap between Lars and people.

And I believe that's what music does.  And not just music, but bands as well known as the Beatles specifically.  It doesn't matter what nationality you are, you've heard the Beatles, and they mean something to you.  Even if it's nothing.  My Venezuelan Brother, Daniel (long story) once told me that back in Venezuela, one of the songs they learned in their English class was "yellow submarine" and they had to learn to sing it in English.  It totally makes sense to use that song.  It distinguishes between sky and sea, and there are loads of colors to learn...(woot! go ringo!) but anyway,

Albums are tangible things; they are not alive.  But life happens because of the music they repeat, in spite of the music and all around it.  All the people who have heard Revolver will take that music with them and when they hear Eleanor Rigby, they will think of an old woman they once new, or the person they met in a car while the song was playing and wonder how those people are doing.  Maybe when people hear "Tomorrow Never Knows" they will think about that one time in India when they dropped acid or whatever.  who knows?  Probably tomorrow doesn't.

I thought about how Eleanor Rigby is one of the best songs they ever wrote.  They all supposedly contributed lyrics to it too (if you cared).  I had the string trio I hired play it at my wedding.  And it'll be at my funeral too.

And your bird can sing:

"I don't see too much difference between Revolver and Rubber Soul," George Harrison once said. "To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two." Revolver extends the more adventurous aspects of its predecessor – its introspection, its nascent psychedelia, its fascination with studio artistry – into a dramatic statement of generational possibility.
The album, which was released in August 1966, made it thrillingly clear that what we now think of as "the Sixties" was fully – and irreversibly – under way.
The most innovative track on the album is John Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows." Attempting to distill an LSD trip into a three-minute song, Lennon borrowed lyrics from Timothy Leary's version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and recorded his vocal to sound like "the Dalai Lama singing from the highest mountaintop." Tape loops, a backward guitar part (Paul McCartney's blistering solo on "Taxman," in fact) and a droning tamboura completed the experimental effect, and the song proved hugely influential. For his part, on "Eleanor Rigby" and "For No One," McCartney mastered a strikingly mature form of art song, and Harrison, with "Taxman," "I Want to Tell You" and "Love You To," challenged Lennon-McCartney's songwriting dominance.
Part of the album's revolutionary impulse was visual. Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles' artist buddies from their days in Hamburg, Germany, designed a striking photo-collage cover for Revolver; it was a crucial step on the road to the even trippier, more colorful imagery of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which would come less than a year later.
Revolver signaled that in popular music, anything – any theme, any musical idea – could now be realized. And, in the case of the Beatles, would be.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#35 The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie

What the fuck did I just listen to and why was it so awesome?

This album was easily one of the greatest musical accomplishments, ever.  Without hyperbole or sarcasm, Ziggy Stardust has it all: Great tunes, aliens, mentions of spiders, just someone named Ziggy gets like 250 points, and the imagery of a cat from Japan.  Kick. Ass.

I have spent the last two weeks totally married to this album.  We drove to Dallas together, drove to work together, whilst jogging to "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide," I stopped in the middle of the trail and vehemently exhaled, "Oh No, Love! You're not alone!" to the amusement of our village idiot, a Boo Radley of sorts who vagabonds around the park all day in the same clothing, staring at clumps of dirt or the sky for hours at a time...

and I shuttered and wondered; Hark, I am not much different from this being.  for I am the crazy shouting to myself and constantly constantly constantly living under the shadow of an impending doom of ongoing existential angst that began with my first heartbeat, anyone's first heartbeat, all of our last heartbeats and stand alone in the park channeling Eliot through the immortal vibe of Bowie:

I have measured out my life with music albums;
I know the singing ceases with an ending drawl
Bowie contemplates the limits of his ego.
  So how should I presume?*

Ahem.  I know how.  So, if I could ask David Bowie one question, it would be, "If you could go back in time and have sex with ANYONE, who would you pick?"

Many chew on the question, taking it rather seriously and try to come up with something clever like, "I'd be Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Rider" or "Watch out Audrey Hepburn, Holly doesn't come lightly" or what have you.

But Bowie would probably answer this question with the same force and vigor of a God answering the question of the meaning of life to a mere mortal.  He would stoically respond, "Why, I would of course fuck myself, my child."

While listening to this album, I was told by several people, "well, you know he and Mick Jagger had a thing, right?"  So, after careful pondering, I came to the conclusion that the closest thing our dear solipsist, David Bowie, could get to copulating with himself was to have sex with the only person on the planet cooler than him, gender be damned.  It probably wasn't even sex.  It was probably a way to call the rest of their alien brethren to earth for a jam session.

I was all on a cloud about this album until I watched the movie of the 1973 concert.  And it was like someone ripped the beating heart right out of my chest and ate it while I tried to scream.  As I watched a 90 pound creature prance around the stage in wallpaper, it occurred to me that the spread of the AIDS virus was not because of government experiments on monkeys in Africa, nor was it God's punishment to the gay community, but it was caused directly because of the Ziggy Stardust tour.  Every time Bowie flipped up his kimono, it was not for rapturous applause, but it was to secrete microscopic spore-puffs from his ballsack, thus gassing the virus out onto an enthralled community of coked-up unsuspecting teens.

I do not think that he will sing to me... *

Anyheum-- what the spiders from Mars have to say:

This album documents one of the most elaborate self-mythologizing schemes in rock, as David Bowie created the glittery, messianic alter ego Ziggy Stardust ("well-hung and snow-white tan"). The glam rock Bowie made with guitarist Mick Ronson on tracks like "Hang on to Yourself" and "Suffragette City" is an irresistible blend of sexy, campy pop and blues power. The anthem "Ziggy Stardust" is one of rock's earliest, and best, power ballads. "I consider myself responsible for a whole new school of pretensions," Bowie said at the time. "They know who they are. Don't you, Elton? Just kidding. No, I'm not."

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