#320: The Very Best Of Linda Ronstadt by Linda Ronstadt


The Very Best Of Linda Ronstadt by Linda Ronstadt

Favorite Track(s): "You're No Good" and "It's So Easy" and "Don't Know Much" and "Somewhere Out There" and "When Will I Be Loved" and "Different Drum" and "The Tracks of My Tears" and "After the Goldrush" and "Long Long Time" and "All My Life" and "Ooh Baby Baby" and "How Do I Make You" and "Desperado"

Thoughts: I'm sorry Rolling Stone 500, but Prisoner in Disguise needs to be on this list in its own right, separate from any compilation album. So I better see Linda again, ok?

My family used to listen to Prisoner in Disguise on road trips, to the point our CD got scratched and stopped playing! I remember my mom telling me that Linda picked the songs and had each composer send her handwritten lyrics. Or maybe I made that up.

So much to say! I adore Linda Ronstadt. I adore her for being a back-up singer with James Taylor (whose voice I feel like I hear in EVERY backing vocal from her 70s tracks) for Neil Young on "Heart of Gold", for being in Trio with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, for her portrayal of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and if for nothing else, her goddamn beautiful voice.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Yes.


#321: Slowhand by Eric Clapton

Slowhand by Eric Clapton (1977)

Favorite Track(s): "Wonderful Tonight" and "Lay Down Sally" and "We're All the Way"

Thoughts: Ok, how many of us have slow-danced to "Wonderful Tonight"? Or, how many of us have sat at tables watching other people slow-dance to "Wonderful Tonight"? It's a classic.

And raise your hand if you didn't know "Lay Down Sally" was 'lay down Sally'? I thought he was singing 'way down South.' Anyone else or is it just me?

The album as a whole was pretty good, but I was left feeling like it had some great songs and then one too many throwaways. The last song, "Peaches and Diesel" just sounded like a re-working of "Wonderful Tonight." If I had this album on vinyl, I would never listen to side B.

Is this better than Help!?: Not to me!

#322: Disintegration by The Cure


Disintegration by The Cure (1989)

Favorite Track(s): "Pictures of You" and "Closedown" and "Lovesong" and "Lullaby" and "Disintegration" and "Untitled"

Thoughts: This is my first full Cure album, having previously only ever heard their hits individually. [EDIT: Totally not true--we already had a Cure album on the list. Which I obviously remember really well. No, but seriously, I think I liked it.] It was sad and sexy and while not quite as good as I expected, I really liked it. I look forward to more Cure on the list!

Is This Better Than Help!?: Sure!

Song of the late evening. (Many late evenings.)


"Little Fire" by Patty Griffin (and Emmylou Harris).

all that I want is one who knows me
a kind hand on my face when I weep
and I'd give back these things that I know are meaningless
for a little fire beside me when I sleep

If those aren't perfect lyrics I don't know what are.

#323: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette


Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette (1995)

Favorite Track(s): "You Oughta Know" and "You Learn" and "Head Over Feet" and "Ironic"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I was definitely in elementary school when this album came out, and it was the coolest thing all the other girls were listening to, but I'm still pretty sure my dad owned it before I did (same goes for Alicia Keys, and maybe even Lauryn Hill).

I haven't listened to this album in a looong time, and while I enjoy it, I think it won't feel worthy of this ranking on the list. I predict it will feel too dated and one-note to deserve to be above so many other unbelievably good albums. But that's just bias because I grew up with it? We're about to find out.

(Post-Listening) Really, very good, but not #323 good. If I was hearing it for the first time perhaps it would have been more impressive/impactful. Or if this was the first thing I got to listen to after loads of rap and grunge, but with it directly following Liz Phair it didn't have much of a chance.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Nope.

#324: Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair

Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair (1993)

Favorite Track(s): "Help Me Mary" and "Dance of the Seven Veils" and "Canary" and "Fuck and Run" and "Divorce Song"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Full confession: the Liz Phair song I know best goes, "Chill out, whatcha running for? Lay back, it's all been done before..." No, wait. That's Avril Lavigne. The song I'm thinking of goes "Get a load of me, get a load of you, walking down the street and I hardly know you..." and is featured in lots of movies, specifically one with Mandy Moore called How to Deal (her haircut it amazing in it). That song is not on this album, which was Liz's debut work, supposedly a song-for-song response to the Stones' album Exile on Main Street. I've heard it cited by many a feminist as a formative album for them. Let's get angsty!

(Post-Listening) If I only I had had this album when I was a teenager, I might have avoided that whole boy band obsession thing. This was just terrific. Moody and honest and kickass and sad and therefore varied, which I absolutely need in a teen-angst album. Don't just yell at me or make me feel like I'm sitting alone in a dark club with a bunch of drugged-out people. Do that for one or two songs, and then give me something else or it will all string together and feel like a mistake to listen to.

My favorite song was probably "Divorce Song" because I loved the opening lyrics TO DEATH:

And when I asked for a separate room
It was late at night, and we'd been driving since noon
But if I'd known how that would sound to you
I would have stayed in your bed for the rest of my life
Just to prove I was right
That it's harder to be friends than lovers
And you shouldn't try to mix the two
'Cause if you do it and you're still unhappy
Then you know that the problem is you

Definitely adding this to my music library. And I'd love to go on a road trip and listen to this album, and that is always a clear sign of a winner!

Is This Better Than Help!?:


#325: Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth


Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth (1988)

Favorite Track(s): "Teen Age Riot" and "'Cross the Breeze" and "Hey Joni" and "Candle" and "Kissability"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I think I heard about Sonic Youth a lot, but wasn't sure who they were or what their music was like. I think half the time I figured they were a popular Christian band, but that's Sonic Flood. Sonicflood? (Can't be bothered to check.)

In fact, the first time I remember hearing something about Sonic Youth that actually made me order their greatest hits from my library (and then never listen to it) was from a blog I read called Que Sera Sera. It's hilarious and I one time I went through the whole archive. Anyway, the author, Sarah, wrote a post about a guy who gave her a fail proof solution to nightmares:

One time in college, I had a nightmare that freaked me out so badly that I called him in the middle of the night, and he came out of a dead sleep to tell me to imagine that Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore were hanging out in my doorway, guarding my room, and ain’t nobody gonna fuck with them, so go back to sleep, baby. This was so totally and inexplicably one of the most heartwarming things ever that I think of it now whenever I have a bad dream.

I had no idea who Kim Gordon or Thurston Moore were, so I googled them. I have to say (as I always do) that any band, no matter the genre, can usually make me like them if they have both male and female lead vocalists. So I'm excited to take the time to actually expose myself to some Sonic Youth. I think this is their 6th album.

(Post-Listening) First, I love the album art. And the music was definitely...likeable? Gosh, that's an inadequate description. It reminded me of other 80s alt rock, and I liked it. But I didn't love it. I could see growing to love it more if I tried. I just didn't hear it and think, "Never leave my ears!" like I do with other albums I hear for the first time on this list. Though it wasn't unpleasant at all. I feel very good about this quality of this review.

Is This Better Than Help!?: No...

#326: In the Jungle Groove by James Brown


In the Jungle Groove by James Brown (1986)

Favorite Track(s): "It's A New Day" and "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing" and "Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved (Mono)"

Thoughts: I enjoyed this album, as I love some funk. But the songs ran together for me. Not bad for background music at a restaurant or party, but I don't think I want to ever intentionally listen to it again. Or maybe I will, because James is the king/godfather of funk/soul.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Not to me!

Return to the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital


Hey guys, it rained this weekend! Real, proper rain. I loved it so much I felt like I needed to blog about it. And then I figured that would be pretty boring, so I've rolled it into the other thing I wanted to blog about: M*A*S*H. But the rain! God, I missed it.

Have I written about my love of M*A*S*H before on the blog? I can't remember. If so, probably just in passing. This weekend I was buying my book club book (Gilead by Marilynne Robinson) and decided to wander into the DVD section, as one does. This gorgeous redheaded woman was working, and we got into this whole conversation about Doctor Who. A conversation I started! With a stranger! Not like me at all, but then she was a woman and not a man, so in other ways very like me.

After our mutual geek-out and her recommendation of the Horatio Hornblower series (featuring 8th Doctor, Paul McGann), I wandered over to the discount DVDs and found the first season of M*A*S*H*. I'd been thinking for a while now about purchasing the whole series in one go, but the only complete collection available right now has the DVD discs in cardboard sleeves, and I DO NOT GO FOR THAT SH*T. I need my DVDs in keepcase plastic, thank you very much. And that's what this first season was in--and on sale!

I weighed in my mind whether or not I needed to own M*A*S*H at this very instant, but my needy emotional self stepped right up to the plate, flooding me with childhood memories. You see, as a child, I LOVED television, like most children. I wanted as many hours of it as I could get, but it was rationed out to me by my parents, which was probably a good thing. I'm still not sure.

In my childhood home our bedrooms were at one end of the house, and then the living room/dining room/kitchen were in the middle, and at the other end was my dad's office. In his office was a large old TV from the 80s that was only hooked up to local channels. At this point in my life I still had a bedtime, but I was also starting to stay up later. So I was what, maybe 10? 11? I'm terrible at remembering my ages. Anyway, I would go to bed, and then listen for when my parents had gone to bed--usually around 10 or 10:30. Then, right before 11pm, I would creep across our dark house to my dad's office and turn on the old TV.

I don't remember what came on the other channels at 11pm, I just remember that it seemed much more boring than this funny military show that had a really lovely but depressing theme song.* (It was probably all news and weird sex experts.) And so for nights on end I watched M*A*S*H, learning to love Radar and Klinger and Hot Lips and--due to the syndication of episodes--trying to decide if I loved Trapper better than Hunnicutt, or Col. Potter more than Col. Blake. I'm not sure how much I grasped about the show's setting--was it the 70s? The 50s? The Vietnam War? The Korean War? (The latter in both cases, if you didn't know...and it was probably an allegory for the Vietnam War as well.) But I loved it.

In fact, I honestly think that M*A*S*H was formative in turning me into a night person.** A night person who chooses TV over sleep on a regular if not nightly basis. It wasn't until fairly recently that my dad showed me the movie for the first time, and I liked it, but of course I prefer its TV spin-off, which is rare!

So on Saturday I decided to buy the first season and resume my childhood routine of watching an episode (or two) every night before going to bed, but this time in order. I hope that nostalgia and comfort will be the main result from this, but it wouldn't hurt if I also started having dreams about Hawkeye Pierce again. Because I totally did as a kid. Not Alan Alda. Hawkeye Pierce.

*So sad. But peppy and sweet! But so sad. LIKE THE SHOW.

**Like my dad, who I think on many occasions 'caught' me staying up late to watch M*A*S*H because he was staying up late to do work in his office, and then would end up watching the show with me.

I cried out when you were there; you were there because you're everywhere.


I've been listening to this song from The Adventures of Pete and Pete a lot. (Why is there no better alternative to 'a lot'? 'Often' and 'regularly' and 'frequently' just don't seem to cut it.) I think the song is supposed to be about missing someone you loved, but of course I have to relate it to something else.

I haven't blogged much about my trip to London, just a few photos. It might come as no surprise then that it wasn't all I had dreamed for it to be. There were wonderful moments that made it worth the trip, but I had a hard time. That's what the song makes me think of, that my problems--mentally, emotionally--are everywhere. London isn't a magical place that will make them disappear. And it's easy to say, "Not that I actually thought that, since it's ludicrous and naive!" but I think some part of me wanted to believe it.

So I'm doing what I've been threatening to do for ages: starting therapy again. I've got some referrals to look into. I've put it off for so long...but I think that was OK. My friend Leigh kept saying, "You'll know when you're ready." And I am.

I figured if I was going to start making appointments with people who have medical-ish degrees, I should finally get back to the dentist and doctor as well. The dentist appointment wasn't scary to schedule (I have it on good authority that they let me watch movies while they clean my teeth--WHY DOESN'T EVERY DENTIST DO THIS IN THEIR PRACTICE?). But the doctor appointment was harder to make. I even had to call a friend who has the same doctor to remember her name! It's been that long. Or, I've pushed that information that far away.

Fortunately I had a very sweet receptionist answer the phone. When I told her that anytime this month or next would work for me, she paused and then said sincerely, "Thank you for that." In fact, she was probably the kindest medical receptionist I've ever spoken to. Though I remember any I've interacted with in the past as Life-Devouring Goblins of Unspeakable Cruelty, so my standards might have lowered over the last few years.

Receptionist: "What will the appointment be regarding?"
Me: "Oh, just a standard check-up. It's overdue."
Receptionist: "Will you need a pap smear?"
Me: "...Um, yes? Probably."
Receptionist: "Have you ever had one before?"
Me (OH GOD, HERE COME THE TEARS): "Um, last time I had a physical, we tried to do one and found other issues, so we put it off."
Receptionist: "Well, it's really brave of you to come back, then."

And just like that, I felt so understood and cared for and spoken to with kindness about something she had so little information about. Which NEVER happens with medical receptionists! AND SHE MEANT IT. She wasn't bitchy or rude or even merely polite, I think she really meant to tell me I was brave to come back. And I felt like a million dollars. Until I hung up.

And then I felt really scared and nervous and stupid for making this appointment before finding a new therapist. 'You're doing this in the wrong order! You can't walk into a medical office, much less a hospital (where the clinic is now located--THE BASTARDS), without having been properly examined by a licensed counseling professional! Think of the poor people in that waiting room and exam room--the other patients, the nurses, your sweet doctor--who will have to witness the ungodly Emotional Instability Monster that you have gently sleeping beneath your conscious's surface, waiting for, say, the whiff of hand sanitizer or the sight of a lab coat before it awakes and kills you all in a cavalcade of anger and tears?'

And just--JUST as this thought went through my panicking mind, an e-mail dinged onto my computer screen. It was an Etsy converstation from my friend Bridget. Earlier today I had purchased from her shop a print of her watercolor painting, 'San Juan Mists.' (As you know, I love the San Juan Islands, and I had been itching to buy a print of the painting for ages, but hadn't so I could save money to spend in England. Well, I didn't spend as much money as I had hoped on the trip, so I decided to buy the print for my place today with some of my 'England Money.') Right when I got off the phone, Bridget wrote that she'd decided to give me the original painting, and wanted to know if that was alright.

Her message could not have come at a more perfect time. Now crying with joy, I wrote her back saying it would be an honor, and was she sure she could part with her original creation?

Her response was simply this: "Yes. You deserve wonderful, magical things."

#327: Tonight's the Night by Neil Young


Tonight's the Night by Neil Young (1975)

Favorite Track(s): "Borrowed Tune" and "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown" and "New Mama"

Thoughts: Remember that time when I was listening to all the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums of all time? It feels like it was so long ago. Actually, the last post was in July. JULY. After the shock of Help!'s ranking, I think I needed to take a break. And I did--for a month! But we're back, and all is well. And with Neil Young, so that's nice. Though this album name makes me think of Rod Stewart (and how much my mom hates that song). Gosh, Rod Stewart is sexy in such an uncomfortable way. He's like the Warren Beatty of music. Or something.

Anyway, Neil Young. Nils Lofgren plays on this album! (I can't stay focused on Neil too long, apparently). But I honestly think this album could have been improved with the mere addition of a few people, namely one Stills, one Nash, and one Crosby.

In the song "Albuquerque" (what a weird word/name) the song goes, "Aaaaaaaallll-be-quer-que" and the whole time I heard "Looooooove, love herpes."

Is This Better Than Help!?: It was very, very good. But surely, you must be joking.

I'm back!

I've been back for a while now, but I've been exhausted and sleeping like a madwoman. I had a great time, and wanted to share some photos with you, but I don't have all of them yet, so here's just a taster for you Doctor Who fans. Which you pretty much better be in order to enjoy my blog these days.

Here I am in the Tardis! Yes, that's right THE Tardis. Don't even get me started on the Matt Smith/Eleven hullabaloo at the Doctor Who Experience. But being next to that console was worth Matt Smith calling me a 'shopper' 8 times and saying that humans are 'rubbish.'

Outside the Wyndham's Theatre stage door! Hours before showtime, of course.

David: close enough to touch. Presumably signing my program than an ANGEL FROM HEAVEN passed to him for me, because I was too far away.

Me with my ridiculous t-shirt and autographed program!

And then of course we had to go back, and David was sick, but Catherine came out anyway and...

I'm still a bit shaky!