Thursday, May 24, 2007

Songs for Your Bean

Getting ready for a busy summer, I have decided, once again, to quit coffee. Jim probably thinks I am crazy, but really, I think it's what is keeping me up at night. And not in that great, James Mercer kind of way where I am brilliantly composing songs out of a bad situation with drug-addled neighbors. More in that "man, maybe I do have that restless leg syndrome I make fun of the TV for advertising"

But I dig the bean. One of my favorite things is sitting in my mom's kitchen and sipping coffee in the morning. That's the thing, it's all about habit, and partially to do with the gas-on-a-brushfire effect you get for the first month but goes away, leaving you with a phantom limb.

Oh yeah, I give up and take up coffee all the time. This last time getting into coffee was directly related to dad passing. Weird, eh? The man could drink some coffee. Once asking him how much coffee he'd drink in a day, he responded a whopping "up to 10 cups, basically it's all I drink in the morning." So I have used the bean to get myself out of bed, and to coax myself onto the train when I couldn't drive.

Get ready for summer, kids. Give up something you love to get something better in return. Puritan Self-Denial Beach Blanket Bingo anyone?

ps- this is Led Zep summer. does anyone remember love?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Am I depressed because I listen to pop music, or do I listen to pop music because I am depressed?

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I never really listened to lyrics in songs until recently. I heard sounds, which formed a vibe, but I never really paid attention to the actually meanings. It was almost as if I had created some sort of emotional security system. Going back through some of my favorite records, and I am going wayyyyy back, I am hearing things in technicolor.

Take for example. 1993's "Altered Beast" By Matthew Sweet. This record is brutal! How could I not have heard it before? Sure, there are the guest artists (Mic Fleetwood here, Nicky Hopkins there, Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, Ivan Julian everywhere!) most of which I wouldn't even recognize by name until recently. But when you hear the songs, man, put it away, it's bleeding! Perhaps I picked up on the black humor of "Someone to Pull the Trigger" and the rocking rockingness that is "Ugly Truth," but you think I would have heard the desolate obsession with a relationship that is to bad to keep, but too good to ditch.

And it doesn't stop there. Every song. Every. Single. Song. Funny, I don't remember being an overtly sad teenager. This being one of my favorite records, I need to re-examine. Let's go down the check list: suicide attempts=0, overdoses=0, runaway attempts=0. There you have it folks, I am certified oblivious. And Jody Stephens is on this record, given my latter day Big Star introduction (thanks to pd)… you'd think I'd have noticed the jangle.

The production is super-compressed, I guess to bring out the vocals, and you'd barely notice the guitars except for the fact, um, THEY ARE EVERYWHERE! But I think I appreciate this record more now that it's 14 years later. I actually had this one before "Girlfriend" which I technically never bought. Tracing it back, I think this was a record that an old girlfriend didn't get back. Strange, she got all the REM, but not Matthew Sweet. Score!

Funny how it works out. Man, I still love this record!