Song of the day.


"Ain't It Fun" by Paramore.

Ain't it fun living in the real world
Ain't it good being all alone

#172: Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren (1972)


Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren (1972)

Favorite Tracks: "I Saw the Light" and "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and "Wolfman Jack" and "Cold Morning Light" and "It Takes Two to Tango (This Is For the Girls)" and "Song of the Viking" and "Black Maria" and "One More Day (No Word)" and "Torch Song" and "Little Red Lights" and "Hello, It's Me"

Thoughts: (Before Listening:) Straight talk: I've always sort of dismissed Todd Rundgren as a soft rock pop idol from the 70s. I didn't really think anyone took his music very seriously. Now, that's not to say I won't enjoy his stuff considering my other well-known love affairs with less-than-punk or widely respected musical artists. So imagine my surprise when the characters on That 70s Show wanted to go to a Todd Rundgren concert! They usually had such excellent music taste. So maybe Todd Rundgren was ok after all.  I'm glad he's on the list so I can decide for myself.

"I didn't think you'd be interested in Todd Rundgren. I mean, like you said, he's no Frampton."

(After Listening:) Many of the first few songs were soft rock love ballads (which I have a weakness for--particularly from the 70s), but some songs actually rocked out nicely, like "Wolfman Jack."

Amusingly, Todd opens the second side of the album with a track called "Intro", wherein he proceeds to walk the listener through various kinds of 'studio sounds.' His narration (I'm assuming it's him) reminds me of the voice of Jesus. This Jesus in particular:

"John, you drank too much wine the other night. Not way too much, just enough to make me angry."

Now, I am super impressed that Todd could create a 25 track album this good when he was only 24. I'm less impressed that he was 24 and thought it was ok to write a love song to a (real or imaginary) 17 year old with "Marlene." Eww.

But despite being in another universe than Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," Todd's "Song of the Viking" is quite fun. I really liked "Black Maria" but in fairness it should really be called "Black Mariah," considering that's how he pronounces the name. "One More Day (No Word)" reminded me of a less-Jimmy-Buffett-esque Jimmy Buffett song.  I was shocked to discover I don't actually recognize the biggest hit, "Hello, It's Me."  I'm sure I've heard it before, but for whatever reason it never took hold in my conscious or subconscious. I'd lay the blame on someone, but it's not that great of a song, so it's fine.

What's less fine is the final track on the album: "Slut." It has the charming lyric, "She may be a slut but she looks good to me." Charming. Also there's lyrics regarding someone 'putting up a fight' but 'losing tonight.' I reaaaaaally hope that this supposed 'slut' is not the person he's referring to. Yuck. Made the album end on a very sour note for me.

Is This Better Than Desire?: Nope, but I did like it. Most of it.

All Possible Pain


Feelings seem like made-up things,
though I know they're not.
I don't understand why they lead me
around, why I can't explain to the cop
how the pot got in my car,
how my relationship
with god resembled that
of a prisoner and firing squad
and I how felt after I was shot.
Because then, the way I felt
was feelingless. I had no further
problems with authority.
I was free from the sharp
tongue of the boot of life,
from its scuffed leather toe.
My heart broken like a green bottle
in a parking lot. My life a parking lot,
ninety-eight degrees in the shade
but there is no shade,
never even a sliver.
What if all possible
pain was only the grief of truth?
The throb lingering
only in the exit wounds
though the entries were the ones
that couldn't close. As if either of those
was the most real of an assortment
of realities--existing, documented,
hanging like the sentenced
under the one sky's roof.
But my feelings, well,
they had no such proof.

- Brenda Shaughnessy, Paris Review, Fall 2011

#173: Desire by Bob Dylan


Desire by Bob Dylan (1976)

Favorite Tracks: "Hurricane" and "Mozambique" and "One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)" and "Oh, Sister" and "Joey" and "Romance in Durango" and "Black Diamond Bay" and "Sara"

Thoughts: It's 2014! Let's get back on track! This is, I believe, our 5th Dylan album, and the last one we heard was at #288 with The Band and The Basement Tapes.

The first song on Desire starts out with intense energy: "Hurricane." With "Isis" we have another Dylan song where I could not recognize his voice. I've had the same issue in the past with "Lay Lady Lay"! "Mozambique" was also a less obvious Dylan song, with smoother, pop-style vocals. I loved it immediately.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Emmylou Harris doing backing vocals for most of the songs, particularly for the haunting "One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)" and the eerily-similar-in-sound-to-The-Band's-"The-Weight": "Oh, Sister." Did "Romance in Durango" remind me of ABBA's "Fernando"? Only a little bit! Strangely they were both released in 1976 and could have been recorded within days of each other.

"Black Diamond Bay" was fun and sweet--I loved the strings. The album ends with "Sara", one of Dylan's more personal songs about his then-wife. She filed for divorce a year later, and the song is just so lovely and sad. Over the course of the song he calls her (besides her name): sweet virgin angel, love of my life, radiant jewel, mystical wife, beautiful lady, Scorpio sphinx, AND glamorous nymph. Now I have no trouble believing she probably had excellent reasons for divorcing him, but oh my god can you imagine BOB DYLAN writing a song like that about you (and your children)? Loving you is the one thing I'll never regret.

Is This Better Than Fleetwood Mac?: Desire creeped right up into my heart. I was expecting to like it, but not this much. It's country-folk tunes lulled me to peaceful contentment, but it also felt like one listen was definitely not enough. So...yes, Desire deserves to be closer to #1 than Fleetwood Mac. I'm absolutely adding it to my personal music library.

Song of the day.


"Make Every Word Hurt" by Lori McKenna. This has been stuck in my head for the last 48 hours. So singable! And as usual her lyrics are killer.

Poem Without Forgiveness


The husband wants to be taken back
into the family after behaving terribly,
but nothing can be taken back,
not the leaves by the trees, the rain
by the clouds. You want to take back
the ugly thing you said, but some shrapnel
remains in the wound, some mud.
Night after night Tybalt's stabbed
so the lovers are ground in mechanical
aftermath. Think of the gunk that never
comes off the roasting pan, the goofs
of a diamond cutter. But wasn't it
electricity's blunder into inert clay
that started this whole mess, the I-
echo in the head, a marriage begun
with a fender bender, a sneeze,
a mutation, a raid, an irrevocable
fuckup. So in the meantime: epoxy,
the dog barking at who knows what,
signals mixed up like a dumped-out tray
of printer's type. Some piece of you
stays in me and I'll never get it back.
The heart hoards its thorns
just as the rose profligates.
Just because you've had enough
doesn't mean you wanted too much.

- Dean Young, Winter 2006, Paris Review