The write up for yesterday’s music listening is going to be different from Monday’s. This is partially because I’m balls at following my own set guidelines and partially because I did something yesterday that I almost never do. I took my iPod off shuffle and listened to two albums through to the end for two very different reasons.
Tuesday, May 8
The first song I listened to yesterday is the only song I noted (read: not playing over the speakers at Panera) that didn’t belong on one of the albums I’m going to talk to you about. That song was
- David Bowie (w/ John Frusciante and Maynard James Keenan) – Bring Me the Disco King (Loner Remix)
I really like David Bowie and the various characters he portrays in pursuit of his art, but I don’t spend a lot of time listening to his music. I didn’t even know this song existed until a few months ago when a friend put it on a David Bowie birthday mix. (She called the mix Major Tom’s Ambient Noise Strategy, which I think would be a really cool name for a book or a film about dancing with men from Mars. If I ever finish that story about dancing with men from Mars, maybe I’ll bum rush her and steal it.)
Anyway, I started with this song because I didn’t know how I was feeling yesterday morning and this song is perfect for every mood. I’d venture to say that it’s just about perfect for everything. To me anyway. It would be fatuous of me to try and describe it, so you should just go fill your ear holes with it. I’ll wait here for seven minutes. Take your time.
And now that you’re back it’s time to shake off the unassuredness and malaise with some good old fashioned folk storytelling.
- (Album) Go, and Sell All of Your Things by Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets
Damion Suomi and most of his band of misfit boys are local-ish to me (Cocoa Beach is about an hour away from Orlando), so I’ve seen them play many, many times. There’s something about his voice and his diction which has drawn me to his songs for a few years now, but it wasn’t until the pre-tour show where they played all of Go, and Sell All of Your Things live that I really fell in love with them.
This album, as he discussed it, was based around his interpretation of Joseph Campbell’s understanding of the hero cycle. As if that, mixed with the romping, stomping folk exuberance of his entire band, wouldn’t be enough to hit many of my buttons, there is a song on the album devoted to Bukowski, whose poems are another love of mine. This song, called ‘A Dog From Hell (And His Good Advice)’, beseeches its listeners to remember that ‘if you’re gonna try, then go all the way‘. It also contains the lines:
We’re here to unlearn the teachings of the church and state
We’re here to drink beer, we’re here to kill war
We’re here to laugh at the odds, live our lives so well
That death will tremble to take us.
Those lines, as you may notice, are the words of Bukowski himself, tied together in a tight little anthem that we can carry around with ourselves when we forget what is really important. What is really important is living the hell out of life. It’s a thing I have to remind myself of sometimes, when I get bogged down in the details. That was why I listened to this album for half of yesterday. I needed to remember what truly made me happy.
I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. There are groupings of verses on the album that I love much more than that one, but that song is the one I put on if I just want to sing at the top of my lungs and defy the universe to get me down. Usually, it works.
My second favorite song on the album is called ‘Holy Ghost’ which has a taste of old west in it and lets me sing the words that my mother fears: there ain’t no holy ghost inside of me.
The next album I’m going to discuss I listened to for a less compelling reason. While I was sitting at lunch in a busy sandwich shop whose overhead music I could only hear intermittently, I caught a few bars of Matt Nathanson’s ‘Faster’. So when I finished with the Damion Suomi album and I was feeling thoroughly picked up and maybe a little too rad for my own good, I put on
- (Album) Modern Love by Matt Nathanson
Modern Love is Matt Nathanson’s latest studio effort, having been released last June, and the one I had been paying the least amount of attention to. I really like Matt Nathanson, even though he doesn’t really sing music that I would ordinarily listen to. It’s folk and it’s rock and sometimes it reminds me strongly of Ryan Adams (in my head they’re totally bros, even though I have no idea whether or not they’ve ever met), but mostly it’s about relationships, and I am not traditionally a lady who really wants or needs a lot of songs about relationships. It’s his live shows that really draw you in though.
That man can be raunchy. He will sometimes talk about how you should let the music mount you like a wolf. And he can be hilarious. And sometimes even a bit sexy. Mostly, he just emits this aura of relaxation and fun. It is almost impossible to not enjoy yourself at one of his concerts. He came through here on his spring tour, and even though a lot of his set was made up of songs I didn’t know because I hadn’t given this album a thorough listen, I still danced and sang and rocked the shit out of my wee little heart. He’s just that good live.
This album isn’t my favorite of his–I much prefer Some Mad Hope–but I still enjoy listening to it quite a bit. The strongest song is ‘Queen of K(n)ots’. It struts away from the other tracks and forces you to pay attention as it goes. Just be glad that you don’t live near me and have never seen me rocking out in my tiny little red car. It’s best for both of us really, if I can continue to look you in the eye. But if you had seen me last night, it would have been an incredibly earnest sort of rocking, because that’s the sort of thing that Matt Nathanson does to me.
And that was yesterday in music for me. Come back tomorrow when I will no doubt spend more space than I should rambling about Steam Powered Giraffe. Because seriously, guys. Steam. Powered. Giraffe.