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Song for 2012 (Let's hope)

12.31.2011



The past few 'song[s] of the year' haven't been too hopeful (more like this than anything). Maybe this one will stick.

I'm always dragging that horse around...tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground.

(Though to be honest, I don't love the line: it's always darkest before the dawn. I prefer the The Mountain Goats' line in "No Children": Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises, we're pretty sure they're all wrong.)

Anyway, happy 2012.

Oz's Christmas Duties

12.29.2011

Oz had a lot on his plate this Christmas.

First, he had some spying to do on the family dog, Bubba.

He made sure the plants were properly watered.

And that the couch was structurally sound.

He tested out the softness of the tree skirt.

And searched for cobwebs in the high corners of the family room.

He spent HOURS checking in with the fish.

And preparing new hiding places from which to watch the dog's every move.

He overlooked the smoking of the turkey (from indoors).

And paused with my dad for a few moments to contemplate the meaning of life.

After all this hard work, he took several well-deserved naps.

This post is dedicated to Lisa, whose sister Laura told me she wanted more posts of my cat! Always happy to oblige.

I hope you guys like my cat.

12.28.2011

Because I got a new camera for Christmas, and he will be my main subject.
 

























This was the very first shot I took! More to come soon. (Thanks so much to my dad for bringing me into the world of SLR cameras!)

My favorite Christmas song for 2011.

12.25.2011

My Christmas was fanstastic--one of the best I've had in years and years. This song kept coming up on my iPod, and it's a new favorite, by local Oregon band Misty River, "Don't Take Down the Mistletoe."



I hope your Christmas was especially merry.

Song of the day.

12.23.2011



"Gospel" by The National.

Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden.

First Miracle

Her body like a pomegranate torn
Wide open, somehow bears what must be born,

The irony where a stranger small enough
To bed down in the ox-tongue-polished trough

Erupts into the world and breaks the spell
Of the ancient, numbered hours with his yell.

Now her breasts ache and weep and soak her shirt
Whenever she hears his hunger or his hurt;

She can't change water into wine; instead
She fashions sweet milk out of her own blood.




- A.E. Stallings



from Poetry, December 2011

#293: Weezer by Weezer


Weezer by Weezer (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "My Name Is Jonas" and the first 9 seconds of "In the Garage" and "Holiday"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I've only ever heard Weezer on the radio or in movies/TV shows, so this will be my first intentional listen. So it's nice that we're starting (and ending? Who knows if we'll see them again?) with their debut album (self-titled of course). I have to say though that what little I have heard of Weezer, I'm not a huge fan of. I could really take or leave it. Let's see if I've been missing out all this time.

(Post-Listening) Yeah, I didn't loathe it, but I think I still associate this kind of alt rock with Blink 182 and teenage boys. That's not a bad thing, it's just not music I take easily too. Listening to it felt like looking in from the outside to the world of an adolescent in the 90s, rather than actually transporting me there in first-person. I'd probably like it better the more I listened to it, but the chance of that happening is slim.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Nope.

All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life

12.22.2011

— where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.

- Miranda July, It Chooses You

#294: Master of Reality by Black Sabbath


Master of Reality by Black Sabbath (1971)

Favorite Track(s): "Sweet Leaf" and "Children of the Grave" and "Orchid" and "Solitude"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Another 1971 album! It's a good day. True confession: I used to confuse Meat Loaf with Ozzie Osbourne. I think it had to do with bats. Ozzie bit the head off one (right?) but Meat Loaf's album was Bat Out of Hell. Plus, they both had long hair. But I'm confused no more! I adore Meat Loaf. Let's see if Ozzie can match him. This is my first intentional listen to Black Sabbath, ever!

(Post-Listening) Well, if this is heavy metal, I guess I'm into it! The guitar solo halfway through "Sweet Leaf" was more than enough to convince me.

The lyrics to "After Forever" were quite surprising!

Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?
Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave
Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he's a fool?
Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light and I've changed my ways
And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
that God is the only way to love

Is your mind so small that you have to fall
In with the pack wherever they run
Will you still sneer when death is near
And say they may as well worship the sun?

I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ
I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced
Will you be so sure when your day is near, say you don't believe?
You had the chance but you turned it down, now you can't retrieve

Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late.

Right? I mean, I don't personally agree with all the theology there, but wow! Black Sabbath! If only more 'Christian music' sounded like this.

"Children of the Grave" rocks soooo hard. "Orchid" is gorgeous and would work as a wedding processional. All in all, a fantastic album. I'm now a Black Sabbath fan!

Is This Better Than Help!?:

Yes!



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#295: Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton


Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton (1971)

Favorite Track(s): "Coat of Many Colors" and "My Blue Tears" and "Early Mornin' Breeze" and "Here I Am"

Thoughts: Yesssssss. I love Dolly Parton, and I hope this isn't the last we see of her on this list. I almost don't think of her as a classic country artist because her songs are all so different...unlike many classic country artists...is that rude? Oh well, I don't care. Give me Dolly over Conway, Merle, Hank, or dare I say it, even Johnny and June.

Obviously she's at the tail end of the classic era anyway, so I guess that makes sense, given my preference for folk-country over straight-up country. Wow, this got boring really fast!

Anyway, wonderful stuff. The album was over too soon.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Just as good, in my opinion!

#296: Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy

12.21.2011


Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy (1990)

Favorite Track(s): "Contract on the World Love Jam" and "911 Is a Joke" and "Welcome to the Terrordome" and "Pollywanacraka" and "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "Who Stole the Soul" and "Revolutionary Generation" and "Fight the Power"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Well, I really enjoyed Yo! Bum Rush the Show so since this is a whopping 193 spots closer to #1, I think I'm in for a treat. Unless of course by this point the group decided to go in a drastically different direction (which is their right). The album cover's a great start!

(Post-Listening) With samples from James Brown, Prince, Sly & the Family Stone, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Parliament, The Time, The Beatles, Hall & Oates, Bob Marley, and--people of all people--Esther Williams, how could I not love this album? It's just happening.

Clever, thought-provoking, fresh, creative, infectious, varied, and angry without being hateful. And "Fight the Power" is of course, a force of nature. I think I first heard it when I saw Do the Right Thing in my high school film class.

This album will be around forever.

Is This Better Than Help!?:



Just as good to me!

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#297: John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan

12.20.2011


John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan (1967)

Favorite Track(s): "John Wesley Harding" and "As I Went Out One Morning" and "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" and "All Along the Watchtower" and "I Am A Lonesome Hobo" and "Down Along the Cove" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

Thoughts: Thank God for Bob Dylan. And thank God for the harmonica. Why aren't harmonicas in more music? Someday I will do a post of my favorite artists who use harmonicas. (It's not going to be a very surprising list.)

We should all own this album.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Yes!

Laurence Olivier should have been in more musicals.

12.19.2011

Even without singing, he can charm your pants off. Or...some other item of clothing if that's too graphic for you.

Gloria Swanson sings "I Love You So Much That I Hate You" From Perfect Understanding (1933).



"You're frightening the fishes!"

In case you were wondering what scene of 50/50 made me lose my sh*t.

12.15.2011

It was this one:





(Just replace the greyhound with an orange cat and Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a sobbing pre-surgeries me, and the scene is identical to real life.


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Great Choices I've Made in the Last 48 Hours

- I decided I could make an important phone call regarding a bill that needed paying while I drove through the car wash

- I left the cap off my toothpaste, and left it right next to the almost identical cap for my prescription-strength rash cream

- I bought some super-strongly-scented bath salts along with food items and left them in a bag together

#298: The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem (AKA The Post I Hijacked In the Name of Meat Loaf and Goodness)

12.14.2011

The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem (2000)

Favorite Track(s): No favorite songs, but I did have some favorite lyrics that I think will be relevant for years to come: "I'm not Mr. NSYNC" and then in another song, "And by the way, NSYNC, why do they sing?"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) No, no, no, no, no, no. We JUST had an Eminem album. And it was tortuous. My heart is crying. My heart is crying. My heart. Is crying. I REJECT EMINEM AND ALL HIS WORKS.

(Post-Listening) Eminem's music and career thrives on negative attention and how much he thinks people hate him (and I don't hate him, I just don't think about him, period). I could get nitty-gritty into all the issues I have with Eminem's music, but I don't want to waste that energy on him. So you know what I'd rather talk about? MEAT LOAF. I just got his albums Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell and Dead Ringer. And even though I should be listening to Christmas music, I'm driving around in my car screaming "A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age!" and "Come on, come on, and there'll be no turning back/ You were only killing time and it can kill you right back!" Or this gem of a bridge:

Somebody bless all the girls in the sand on the beach
They're dreamin' of boys and staying just out of reach
Bless all the cheerleaders down on the track

They're glistening like diamonds with sweat on their backs

Bless all the girls in the gangs on the street

They're looking for danger and they're holding their peace
Bless all the girls staying late after school

They're playing with fire and oh they're playing it cool

And bless all the shy girls who're learning to dance

They stare in the mirror and they conjure romance

Bless all the girls who are always alone

They kneel down in prayer and they wait up by the phone

Bless all the homecoming queens of the night

They're looking for magic in gymnasium lights

And bless all the girls who know what love is about

They try not to cry and then they try to put out


I mean, COME ON. And don't even get me started on "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." It's currently on non-stop repeat in my car and on my iPod.

Jim Steinman wrote the songs for both the albums and Bat Out of Hell and the man's a twisted, poetic, talented genius. But Meat Loaf's voice is the main event. His voice, his voice, his voice. I think he must have been John the Baptist in a former life, because his is a voice crying out in the wilderness (is that sentence uber blasphemous or just kind of?). I want to cry this music is so full and alive and epic and gorgeous. The piano! The backing choirs! The changing tempos! It's theatrical rock.

So I'm PISSED OFF that there isn't more Meat Loaf on the Rolling Stone 500 list. And that every Eminem album IS. So to Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman I say, your work makes me do this:



And this:



And it's a fucking travesty that more people didn't vote the rest of your albums on the list.

To Eminem, I say this: people are always telling me that you're so talented and influential. That you can rap like nobody else. So if everyone thinks you deserve a round of applause for that despite your violent, misogynistic, homophobic, hateful lyrics, here you go:




Is This Better Than Help!?:



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Maryann's Top 5 Most Satisfying Uses of the F-Word in Folk Rock*

12.08.2011

Last night I got to see Mumford & Sons for the second time, and one of their songs uses the f-word so well, that I remembered I had been wanting to make this post for ages. It's time.

1.) "Little Lion Man" by Mumford & Sons


The line: But it was not your fault, but mine and it was your heart on the line, I really fucked it up this time, didn't I, my dear?

The f-word use in this song is so satisfying because it's sung in a bitterly angry and bitterly regretful way. The juxtaposition of the f-word with calling someone 'my dear' is very appealing. And the fact that Mumford uses very little swearing in their songs makes it feel more 'special.' The song is, as you might imagine, very cathartic live.

2.) "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole" by Martha Wainwright



The line: You bloody motherfucking asshole.

Oh, this song. All the lyrics are actually quite wonderful (poetry has no place for a heart that's a whore--ZING!), and this song is perfect for when you're feeling pissed off but would like to express it without using the music of a crazy, ignorant hateful person (*cough*Eminem*cough*). One time my mom and I were packing up my dorm room and this song came on. "This is a nice song!" she said. I responded, "Wait 'til it gets to the chorus." She was a bit shocked.

3.) "Come Pick Me Up" by Ryan Adams



The line: Come pick me up, take me out, fuck me up, steal my records

THIS SONG. To quote The Weakerthans, this song gave me new words for old desires. Ryan's 'fuck me up' line is so full of surrender and acceptance at the prospect of a broken heart, it's bordering on self-destructive.

4.) "Untouchable Face" by Ani DeFranco



The line: So fuck you and your untouchable face, and fuck you for existing in the first place

I'll let Tom McRae say why this is one of the best: "Not many songs can utilise the word 'fuck' convincingly, but this has to be one of the best. It's such a beautiful, lilting song with such a vicious refrain." This is--hands down--one of the top 5 best 'unrequited love' songs EVER. And it lets you be angry AND sad about it.

5.) "Keep Yourself Warm" by Frightened Rabbit



The line: It takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep warm

This song is, to borrow a different curse word, THE SHIT. Soooooo good. And the message is a great one: just sleeping with random people isn't enough to 'keep yourself warm'--physically or emotionally. Or, as they put it even more succinctly (and graphically), you won't find love in a hole.

Honorable Mention (Because a Top 6 list doesn't have the same ring to it): "Have You Forgotten?" by Red House Painters



The line: Shut out what they say, 'cause your friends are fucked up anyway

This version of the song, the original, not the weird Vanilla Sky version, is a soft blanket of comfort and reassurance and self-protection. It feels like it goes on forever, and you want it to. The use of the f-word is surprising in such a sweet, cozy song, but it totally works.

What are some of your favorite uses of the f-word (or any other curse word) in folk rock?

* These are my favorites as of December 8th, 2011. My top 5 lists change constantly because I always remember more songs AFTER I've made them.

"Happy songs are rubbish. All of them."

12.04.2011

"True happiness can only be experienced by small children, dogs, and the insane. For the rest of us there are the songs of Patty Griffin. She understands."

- Tom McRae



Patty Griffin, the 'rest of us' need you to release a Christmas album, stat.

Murmuration

12.02.2011

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.



Saw this on Moorea's blog and I just had to share. It gave me chills!

#299: Grace by Jeff Buckley

12.01.2011


Grace by Jeff Buckley (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "Mojo Pin" and "Grace" and "Last Goodbye" and "Hallelujah" and "Lover, You Should've Come Over" and "Corpus Christi Carol" and "Dream Brother"

Thoughts: Hey! We made it to the 200s! Remember when I thought that I would finish the list by New Year's 2012? HA! I haven't even made it halfway! I'm not worried about it though. There were some albums on the list that FORCED me to take a hiatus here and there. But let's get to Grace.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is the best version ever recorded, with Rufus Wainwright's as a close second. And I didn't know he covered "Lilac Wine"! I've only ever heard Nina Simone's version, but Jeff's topped hers, in my opinion. DIVINE.

Jeff's voice often reminded me of Robert Plant, and oh how I wish more music that came out of the 90s had sounded like this album. I mean, the lyrics alone are incredible (from "Love, You Should've Come Over"):

It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her
It's never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It's never over, she's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

UNF. And don't get me started on the beauty of "Corpus Christi Carol." This whole album is so worth the hype--definitely recommended.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Yes.



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#300: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams

11.30.2011


Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams (1998)

Favorite Track(s): "Right in Time" and "I Lost It" and "Greenville" and "Jackson"

Thoughts: First of all, Lucinda wins all the awards for the album name. BRILLIANT. Evokes, at least for me, a very particular place and aural experience. And the cover art! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Well, the album starts right off with "Right in Time" which let's just say is a very sexy song. Good lord. But from there, the album sort of got disappointing to me. I mean, it's good music, but I expected more from it. I expected it to be more like Emmylou or Patty Griffin or Linda Ronstadt, and it just sort of felt...forced or cliched or contrived. I guess my expectations were too high, or just on the wrong track. My favorite Lucinda Williams' songs are "Minneapolis" (apparently I like her 'city songs' since my two favorites off this album were "Jackson" and Greenville") and "Are You Alright?" so I was probably expecting a chiller collection of songs on Car Wheels.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Not to me, but I can see why it would be to others.

#301: Odelay by Beck


Odelay by Beck (1996)

Favorite Track(s): "New Pollution" and "Jack-Ass" and "High 5"

Thoughts: Nope, nope, nope. I totally preferred Sea Change. The parts that I liked of this album were the country bits, and to hear that I could have just listened to Lynrd Skynrd. And I'm sorry youtube commenters, but the fact that there are so many 'great songs to get stoned to' on the album really isn't enough for me.

Is This Better Than Help!?:

If it is,



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#302: Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra

11.29.2011


Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra (1956)

Favorite Track(s): "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "It Happened in Monterey" and "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me" and "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Old Devil Moon" and "Pennies from Heaven" and "Love is Here to Stay" (or "Our Love is Here to Stay" as I, and supposedly Ira Gershwin as well, prefer it to call it) and "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Makin' Whoopee" and "Anything Goes" and "How About You"

Thoughts: I don't know, I think Frank Sinatra is kind of overrated.

Ha! Just kidding. That's impossible, of course. He's Ol' Blue Eyes! The Chairman of the Board! The Voice! To know Sinatra is to love him.

Well, except that back in 2009 I read a semi-decent fiction book called The Song is You by Arthur Phillips, and at one point the narrator's 'dream-girl' says: “...I will say that people like me think he wasn’t any good as a jazz singer—he couldn’t swing. And he wasn’t any good as a pop singer—he couldn’t arouse. He was a court minstrel for thugs. He could scarcely carry a tune. A visual artist, not a singer.” After reading that, I knew I could neither trust the music opinions of the character, nor the author, for the rest of the book, for they were clearly deaf to one of the best voices the world will ever hear.

I LOVE Sinatra. Did you know? In the 90s (maybe 1995 when he died?) I had a 365 Days of Frank Sinatra calendar. I own 8 of his movies and have seen 15 (which isn't that impressive, because we all know he did a lot of acting). When I was in Vegas my mom and I saw a Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra impersonation act (a woman in the front row sobbed uncontrollably through "My Way"). His life/persona--while often troubling--is fascinating to me. Little things like the knowledge that he was Bing Crosby's biggest fan, and so even though he no longer wanted to make musicals, he starred in High Society (1956) just so they could work together. But ultimately, I think I have exactly 150 songs* (not that impressive either) of his on my iPod because God lives in his vocal chords.

Needless to say, when I saw that this was the next album on the list, I was a little excited.



In the Survey of Popular Music class I took in college our professor talked about Sinatra's musical genius; how he would take a piece of music and give it his own touches and changes that made it his alone. This album is--in short--perfection. So many unbeatable American songbook standards sung with a voice that is so rich and full and commanding but easy and light as well. GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH.

Props should be given to arranger Nelson Riddle (the music is at once tight AND lush), but this album proves that Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr. can try all they want, but we'll never hear the likes of this again. I mean, doesn't it make you want to put on a pair of heels and an apron and dance with someone in a kitchen while you make dinner? Or walk the streets of Paris at night with a stranger you randomly met in a museum? Or glide across a ballroom floor in a flowing gown, dizzy from the music and champagne? OR JUST FALL ON YOUR KNEES AND THANK GOD FOR FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA?

I will be sad if this is his only album on the list, but still pleased as punch that at least some voters remembered him and got this one to be at 302. You could listen to this album for the rest of your life and never be disappointed.

Is This Better Than Help!?: That's a yes from me.



*Gawd almighty, how are you still reading this gushy, un-ending post? I asterisked the 150 songs in case you were somehow possibly maybe interested in my favorite song of all 150. It's a hard question to answer. I have to split it up 3 ways: by film songs, live songs, and studio songs.

Favorite Film Song: a tie between his duet with Betty Garrett in On the Town, "You're Awful", his duet with Kathryn Grayson in It Happened in Brooklyn, "La Ci Darem La Mano", and his duet with Celeste Holm in High Society, "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" (that last of which, yes, inspired the name of the game show)

Favorite Live Song: hands down, "One For My Baby" from '57 in Concert

Favorite Studio Song: It's a tie between "All the Way" and "Young at Heart" and "Lost in the Stars" and "If I Loved You" and "I Concentrate on You" and of course "The Way You Look Tonight" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Come Fly With Me" and sheesh this got out of hand.

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#303: Avalon by Roxy Music

11.28.2011


Avalon by Roxy Music (1982)

Favorite Track(s): "More Than This" and "The Main Thing" and "To Turn You On"

Thoughts: Things Maryann was not aware of: 1) that there was any more Roxy Music on the list (score!) 2) that they sang "More Than This" and "Avalon"! I would never have guessed these were songs written/sung by glam rockers. But I guess it was the 80s.

I love the album cover art. It looks like it belongs in an epic 80s fantasy film (of which we know there were many). Large quantities of the music made me think of Bowie, circa the same year, so maybe it's just the 80s rock vibe.

Also, there was a song called "While My Heart is Still Beating" which was just ok, but kept making me think of "Bat Out of Hell" when Meatloaf sings, "And the last thing I see is my heart, still beating." The End. Great story, I know.

Is This Better Than Help!?: You know, I'm not 100% clear on why of all the Roxy Music albums, this one is so high on the list. Is it because more of the songs were bigger hits? I just didn't feel it. And I kept waiting for Stranded to be on the list because of the utter genius that is "Mother of Pearl." So as much as I love you, Roxy Music, I was not that impressed by this album, and therefore have to say 'no, you are not as good as Help!."

Happy Turkey Day!

11.24.2011



I mean, Thanksgiving.


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#304: The Sun Records Collection by Various Artists

11.23.2011


The Sun Records Collection by Various Artists (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "Rocket 88" and "How Many More Years" and "There's A Man in Jerusalem" and "Just Walkin' in the Rain" and "Make Room in the Life Boat for Me" and "The Gospel Train" and "That's Alright" and "Baby Let's Play House" and "Someday You Will Pay" and "Let the Jukebox Keep On Playing" and "I Walk the Line" and "Dixie Fried" and "Down by the Riverside" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and "Red Cadillac and a Black Mustache" and "Raunchy" and "Great Balls of Fire"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Yes, there are 74 tracks on this compilation album. And I am ready for THEM ALL. It's time for some musical healing after 306 and 305.

(Post-Listening) Ok, in retrospect, 74 tracks is a lot to listen to, especially when a large majority of them are very similar. And some were highly disturbing, for instance: "I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" by Pat Hare. I think that title says it all. But then we got to Elvis, and that was glorious. Until he sang things like, "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than see another man with you." SO MUCH MISOGYNY.

But the main point is, there are so many of the greats here: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and B.B. King to name a few. PLUS, the song "Raunchy" by Bill Justis was supposedly played by George Harrison to John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1958 on the top deck of a bus, and he played it so perfectly that Lennon let him into their band despite the fact he was only 15.

Is This Better Than Help!?: "My Kind of Carryin' On"--especially the intro--sounded so similar to "Act Naturally." The Beatles would never have become the world's greatest band without hearing artists like these first, so yes!

Susan Blackwell is my new favorite person.

11.22.2011







Best. Interviews. Ever.

#305: Nothing's Shocking by Jane's Addiction

11.21.2011


Nothing's Shocking by Jane's Addiction (1988)

Favorite Track(s): "Standing in the Shower...Thinking" (it was catchy) and "Thank You Boys" (because it sounded NOTHING like the rest of the album)

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Who can guess on a scale of 1 to 10--1 being ready for death and 10 being stoked--how excited I am to listen to this album? I think it's cruel for the list to have this right after Red Hot Chili Peppers. I feel like my resolve to finish this list is being tested. I even picked a small image size for the album cover so I could fit this massive gif that describes my mood about listening to this (also because that cover's creepy):



(Post-Listening) It's over. I'm moving on.

Is This Better Than Help!?:




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She flossed so hard, her tooth fell out!*

Tonight (this morning? I never fell asleep...) while flossing my fake tooth popped out. I've had it since...high school? I can't even remember. My immediate thought was, "Oh hell no--I CANNOT go to a hospital right now!" And then I remembered I could just go to my dentist. Which is scary in its own right, because I'm afraid of the bill.

Also, I have weird missing-tooth issues. I currently can't keep my tongue from sticking out, and I've got an advanced lisp paired with a high, childlike voice. Add to that the fact that I'm wearing my mouth-guard all day to distract me.

I'm realizing I have deep prejudices against people with missing teeth, as I am now horrified that someone will notice one of mine is missing.

(In case you're someone who's super-into dental stuff, it was technically a fake tooth that was part of a Marilyn bridge.)

*Reference to Alec Baldwin as Charles Nelson Riley at Inside the Actor's studio (SNL sketch) where he's telling a story about Betty White where she "laughed so hard, her boob fell out!"

Song of the day.

11.18.2011



"White Wine in the Sun" by Tim Minchin.

#306: Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers


Blood Sugar Sex Magik by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991)

Favorite Track(s): "Under the Bridge"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I am crying on the inside AND outside that I have to listen to this album. No. No. No. Red Hot Chili Peppers, I REJECT YOU AND ALL YOUR WORKS. And 17 tracks? For the love of Zeus! Do. Not. Want.

(Post-Listening) I was bored or annoyed for most of it--and there was definitely TOO MUCH of it. Give it away, give it away, give it away, indeed--GIVE THIS ALBUM AWAY. Actual words I said to my co-worker: "I'm listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I want to die." We're at 306. This is unacceptable.

Is This Better Than Help!?:



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When I'm at work and I miss my cat, I look at this.

11.17.2011




And then I miss him more.

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#337 - #307: Personal Favorites

11.16.2011



The next two albums on the list are Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction. So to maintain my sanity, it seemed like time to do a 'best of' post! Because that sh*t can wait.

1. Help! by the Beatles
2. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
3. The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt by Linda Ronstadt
4. Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair
5. The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground
6. Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
7. Aqualung by Jethro Tull
8. Sail Away by Randy Newman
9. Wild Gift by X
10. Play by Moby

Honorable mentions: Pink Moon by Nick Drake and Burnin' by The Wailers

#370 - #338
#401 - #371
#432 - #402
#462 - #433
#500 - #463

Happy listening!

That time Oz lost his head over a Christmas tree. Not literally.

Usually Oz purchases his Christmas trees from Boy Scout troop 100. And by usually, I mean since he began living alone in 2008. But this year, he was feeling the need for the tree earlier than usual. December is going to be a hectic month for him, so he wanted the tree now while things were slower, and he could enjoy it. Plus, he has this weird thing where he needs to have the tree up before he feels like he can put up other decorations, and boy, was he ready to put up other decorations. It's his first time decorating his new condo! It's a special time where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

So over the weekend he used his little paws to look online to see if any stores were selling Christmas trees yet, but none were. However, on Monday night he left the gym, and stopped by Fred Meyer's to buy a few groceries. And with a waft of noble fir filling his tiny nostrils, he saw the rows and rows of Christmas trees lined up in the Garden Center. And he went to them. And he smelled them. And then he asked Customer Service if they were for sale yet, and THEY WERE.

So he called Maryann's mom to see if it would be crazy to get a tree this early. And she was very helpful, and said, "Maybe you should wait til the weekend, but do whatever you want!" (Paraphrasing). So Oz bought a 5/6 ft. noble fir, a new tree stand, and went home to decorate, full of hope and positivity.

But he forgot that when he went to the boy scout troop lot, it may have cost more money, but they would cut a ring off the trunk for you, AND put on the tree stand. So after making a MASSIVE mess in the condo sawing off parts of the tree, scattering sawdust and needles and dirt on every surface, he somehow managed to get the 75-100 lb. tree into the new tree stand. Which is impressive for a cat. OR A SINGLE HUMAN.

And he should have gone to sleep, but noooo he went forward and strung the lights, and then a garland on the tree, and then finally got to put on the ornaments! And Maryann was no help at all, the whole time trying to bat off ornaments and drink from the tree stand when Oz wasn't looking. But they had fun, and it was beautiful, so they went to bed, feeling like their little world was that much more magical.

The next day, Oz left work to get a coat because the library was freezing and when he got home, he noticed the tree was...listing a bit. So he was like, "Hey! I'll just fix it real fast before I head back to work!" AND THAT'S WHEN IT ALL FELL APART.

He adjusted the tree stand too much this way or that, until it couldn't stand up on its own anymore, and had to be leaned against a chair. And Maryann was super not helpful, getting right in his face and trying to nap under the tree while Oz was moving it. So Oz put her in the bathroom, because he was frustrated. And the tree would. not. go. back. into the upright position. But it was all done up with it's lights and ornaments! And it couldn't stay up on its own anymore!

And from the bathroom Maryann cried and cried, and Oz yelled, "I DON'T CARE!" Water got spilled from the tree stand onto the living room carpet, and Oz sobbed, "Why am I a homeowner? Why do I own this carpet? I'm too domestically impaired to not rent!"

So the ornaments came off the tree, and it was laid onto the carpet over a blanket, with the plan to move it to the old tree stand. But no matter how hard Oz tried, it wouldn't go on because of the number of branches. So it just laid there. On the floor.

After inventing 3 new curse word combinations, Oz slunk to his bedroom and sat on the floor in the dark. This is a sampler of his thoughts:

- "I should really call someone to come help me. But then that would mean needing someone for something. I CAN'T."
- "This is why no one believes when you say 'living alone is great!' Mom is TOTALLY gonna make me get roommates."
- "This is why my doctor prescribed online dating for me. She knew I would need someone to help hold my Christmas tree for me."
- "Just chuck the thing down a hillside, lights and all, drive your red-eyed, wet face to Target, and buy a fake tree. Then you'll really never need anyone. Never."

After these thoughts, Oz called Maryann's parents on every phone line they have, and reached her dad who said, "Put it out on the porch. I'm coming up on Thursday, we'll deal with it then."

And Oz did put that light-covered tree out on the porch. And put all the ornaments back in their boxes. And sopped up the wet carpet, and vacuumed all the needles. And made a smoothie. And felt much, much better.


(If you weren't aware, this post is entirely fictional. Oz couldn't do all those things. Well, one of these things did happen: Maryann cried and cried.)

Hilarious parts omitted for the sake of brevity:

- Oz lugging the tree from his condo parking space into his condo all by himself
- Oz inventing the term "f**kmuncher" and usually it repeatedly
- Oz trying to cut a ring off the tree trunk with a whittling knife

#307: MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana

11.15.2011


MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "About A Girl" and "Come As You Are" and "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam" and "The Man Who Sold the World" and "Polly" and "Oh, Me" and "All Apologies"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Me when I realized this was the next album on the list:



It's no secret that I am no fan of Nirvana, despite my--well, not my best efforts, but my totally decent efforts. Though if I have any chance of liking Nirvana, it's probably the most likely with an unplugged album, so I'm not put off by the grunge.

(Post-Listening) I wouldn't say this is how Nirvana deserves to be heard, but I would say this is how Maryann needs to hear them (well, and they need to do more covers). Instead of reminding me of grunge, many of the songs made me think of 60s classic rock.

I don't think I'll be rushing to add this to my music library, but I would listen to it again. I mean, I didn't love EVERY song, i.e. "Something in the Way" felt so bland and boring in world where "Something" by the Beatles and "Something in the Way She Moves" by James Taylor exist.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Not to me, but still so much better than I expected.

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What I Wore Today November - May

11.13.2011

Friends, I've reached full Warmfort. You know, that magical combination of warmth and comfort. The weather is now cold and wet enough for me to live in my sleeping bag coat for the rest of Fall, all of Winter, and most of Spring.

Last year when it got super icy all I had for my footums were my Fuggs (fake Uggs) that had nonexistent traction, and rain boots, which had zero warmth. So I decided to combine the best of both and find some sleeping bag boots to match my sleeping bag coat, and never wear anything else until the temperature reaches at least 70 degrees outside.



Close-up of the boots. (North Face, FTW.)



I love being heated and cushy.

#308: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

11.10.2011


The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill (1998)

Favorite Track(s): "Ex-Factor" and "To Zion" and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and "Final Hour" and "When It Hurts So Bad" and "I Used to Love Him" and "Every Ghetto, Every City" and "Everything is Everything"

Thoughts: How is this in the 300s? HOW? This record is pure gold. Am I personally biased because I listened to it non-stop in middle school? Maybe. The memories came flooooooding back.

First off, the album cover. IT'S HER FACE CARVED INTO A SCHOOL DESK. Pure brilliance. And the music itself? Proof of its quality: my dad loves this album and he hates rap. Ok, that might not be proof enough for you. It's just so funky and sharp and fresh but it's not about reinforcing her ego (Eminem) or trying to convince us what a *opposite-sex-genitalia*-magnet she is (almost every male rapper). It's about her life and personal issues and struggles, as well as issues facing society. Plus, she's able to talk openly about her faith without sacrificing the quality of the music.

"Doo Wop (That Thing)" gives me chills, it's sooooo goooood. And "To Zion" is so powerful and moving. "I Used to Love Him"'s beat is undeniable. There's so much to be found here: funk, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, classical. To know this album is to love it dearly. Lauryn Hill, come back to us and make another studio album.

Is This Better Than Help!?:



Oh HELL YES. But they should BOTH be in the top 100.

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#309: Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1979)

Favorite Track(s): "Refugee" and "Even the Losers" and "Don't Do Me Like That" and "What Are You Doin' in My Life?"

Thoughts: Yay! I'm so glad to have gotten to some Tom Petty on this list. He's always been an artist whose catalog I wanted to dig into, but never found the time. My favorite Tom Petty song (right now) is "Down South" which my dad introduced to me. It's a perfect road trip song.

Also, I think his song "Wildflowers" is the PERFECT walk down the aisle song if you're outdoors. And he's in the Traveling' Wilburys! J'adore.

Anyway, enough gushing about Tom. Let's get to the album! It was a joy to listen to. Full-bodied rock. "Don't Do Me Like That" alone will last forever.

Is This Better Than Help!?: I'm afraid so. So good!

#310: The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground

11.04.2011


The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground (1969)

Favorite Track(s): "Candy Says" and "Pale Blue Eyes" and "Jesus" and "Beginning to See the Light" and "I'm Set Free" and "That's the Story of My Life" and "After Hours"

Thoughts: Reminders: (because I need them--I don't know if you do) Lou Reed and Nico were in The Velvet Underground. This is a band I hear about often, but I've never been sure I could recognize their music. I tended to confuse them with Velvet Revolver. And The Verve.

But now I will remember the distinction! My favorite songs on the album were hands-down "Pale Blue Eyes" and "After Hours." Perfection.

Though I thought it was weird that they had a song called "What Goes On" that has the actual lyric, what goes on in your mind? and then in "Murder Mystery" they sang about "Mr. Moonlight." Beatles, anyone? And the beginning of "I'm Set Free" totally reminded me of the start of the finale to AD/BC: A Rock Opera.

In summation, this was an album of marvelous 60s pop-rock. Definitely recommend.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Yes.



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