30 September 2010

Video of the Day: William Fitzsimmons - "King of Wishful Thinking" Cover

Originally a song by Go West off the Pretty Woman soundtrack, William Fitzsimmons makes it sound contemporary and much sweeter.

Picture of the Day: The National (and Obama)

Pussycats, Pavement, and J. Lo

Today I woke up at 7am. It's a disgusting practice and I pray every time it happens that it will never occur again. I'm the worst morning person in the world. I look, sound, and act like Walter Matthau before 12pm and it's not pretty on me. The one thing that makes any morning better is my iPod.

A few days ago after one too many homemade margaritas, I decided to go on Limewire and illegally download "feel good" songs. In my head these would be hip, cool songs that I could listen to when I'm home having a couple drinks, partying with my cat. Needless to say things turned ugly fast and good taste (Pavement, The Kinks) turned bad (Jennifer Lopez, The Pussycat Dolls).

I don't know what it is in my brain that likes absurd music that I know is created by machines and auto-tune but I can't help myself. I'm overly empathetic towards a lot in my life and music is no exception. After watching Jennifer Lopez's Behind the Music where she chronicles her first traumatic recording sessions, I liked her music even more - despite the fact that she was openly admitting to having a bad voice. When Usher sings about infidelity and gets on his knees to hug faceless women's legs in music videos, I chalk it up to unique artistry, certainly not scumbag-level arrogance. When Snoop Dogg is featured in every video with girls dancing around in skimpy clothes (i.e. Katy Perry's "California Girls", Pussycat Dolls "Buttons"), I figure it's because he needs to make extra dough to support his adorable family I grew to love on "Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood", the spectacular E! Entertainment Nework reality show.

It all comes back to this morning. As I was standing outside in the pouring rain I decided to put my headphones on and listen to Ms. Lopez's classic song "All I Have" with LL Cool J. I won't deny my history with this song - I love music videos. When I was younger they were all I watched. This particular video was on all the time. As a youthful teenager I thought Jennifer Lopez was utterly beautiful: she wore Jimmy Choo boots, furry coats, had those curves.. so much to look at. Indirectly, I'm sorry to say, this video, and others like it, are probably in my subconscious for the rest of my life. Luckily I think I understand the ironic humor within the lyrics and don't plan on dating any guys that tell me they're "cats that creep all over town" (you know I'd prefer to play that role). I never realized until today in the rain how insanely sexist the lyrics are or how good this song is. I don't think it's really trying to teach anyone a lesson and of course which of these artists is truly synonymous with power? The answer is obvious so there's no reason to feel too bad for the plight of females within this context. Although it's important to point out that it's dangerous to listen to songs like this when you're young. I do believe that personal relationship insecurities can be stirred by false images in pop songs. If I have children I won't let them listen to Neil Sedaka until they're at least 17.

The thing that bothered me most is my relationship with songs like this. I always thought I had a healthy relationship with music, so much that I could openly relay any of my interests to anyone who wanted to know. Standing there in the rain, with my black glasses, skinny jeans, and wannabe Rastafarian, maroon hat, I quietly listened to Jennifer Lopez... any time someone would walk by I lowered the volume as if I thought they cared or would even hear it over the raindrops falling on cement. I was embarrassed. I should be listening to something different, not Jock Jams from 2002 or something. Who do I think I am? It brought back memories of sixth grade when my friend Danielle told me I had no right to appreciate Selena's music.

"But I really love her."

"Why because you saw the movie?"

"Yes but I swear I have at least one of her cd's in my room."

"Please. You don't understand her."

I don't know why I always remember that. Danielle was actually one of my best friends at the time so I know she wasn't deliberately hating on my musical preferences but she felt a particular kinship to Selena that apparently I wasn't allowed to feel. I can't even express to you how much I really did love that crazy movie. I've always been a total sucker for all things Jennifer Lopez. I'll watch that movie with her and Matthew McConaughey about the wedding stuff anytime it's on and I usually hate movies like that. She has some crazy charisma that I'm drawn to - or as a drugged up male friend of mine once said, I'm just drawn to the "exotic ladies".

And it really doesn't end there. I go from 12 year old in 2002 to 45 year old in the '80's. "King of Wishful Thinking"? "Danny's Song"? Kenny Loggins? TOTO?! What am I doing?

Does anyone remember Joe? The song "Stutter" has always been a personal favorite. I relate a little too much to the lyrics these days but when I was a kid I just thought he was a pretty good looking cat with a great voice.

I'm also in love with Pharrell but I'm not too embarrassed by that.

I think that's all I'm ready to admit.

I actually believe Nicole Scherzinger is an excellent role model for young girls. I'm always an advocate for women taking control of their own sexuality and not leaving it up for the debate of the opposite gender.

20 September 2010

Video of the Day: The National - You've Done it Again, Virginia

All week I'll be posting about The National in one respect or another leading up to the concert on Friday. This particular video is a couple years old but I never get tired of it. I have an addiction and I love it. In this moment, there's nothing I love more in fact.

19 September 2010

The Sun Never Shines But That's Alright: Songs for Getting Older

I don't know why the tides have shifted in the past few days but something happenend and I can't get my groove back. I have at least two new wrinkles on my face and in honor of my rapid aging process in my early/mid-twenties, I'd like to share a little list of some songs. Sometimes I feel like the apocalypse isn't too far and sometimes this music helps.

I'm almost on the cusp of wanting to meet real people again and get out of my headphones for a few hours a day. I wonder what that will be like, actually wanting to answer the phone for people other than the few I do now. Imagine if I met someone like Cory Booker that was actually real and incredibly intelligent and perceptive. Someone genuine who wasn't afraid. Maybe that will happen at some point but all that is certain for now is the aging process.

"All of this around us will fall."

Here are 16 songs, along with some choice lyrics, about growing old.

Aerosmith - Dream On
The definitive song I think of when I see my reflection, unfortunately:

Every time that I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay
Yeah, I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it's everybody's sin
You got to lose to know how to win

Mary J. Blige - Work in Progress
Sometimes I get down, sometimes I want to cry,
Sometimes I get depressed,
No one promised there would be sunshine all the time.

John Mayer - Stop This Train
No I'm not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind but...
I just can't sleep on this tonight
Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly won't someone stop this train

Billy Joel - Vienna
You got your passion you got your pride
But don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on but don't imagine they'll all come true

Third Eye Blind - Wake For Young Souls
Well the wind that blows its blowing colder and the child that grows she's growing older
And the friends we know they'll turn a shoulder
The friends we know they are growing colder

Rod Stewart - You Wear it Well
Anyway my coffee's cold and I'm getting told
That I gotta get back to work
So when the sun goes low and you're home all alone
Think of me and try not to laugh and I wear it well.

Badly Drawn Boy - The Time of Times
Oh, sweet morning
And your head's not right
Did you hear my warning
This is the time of times
And your head feels like your body
Your mind is close behind
There's a teardrop on your shoulder
Says this is the time of times
It's the time of times again

Jackson Browne - These Days
And I had a lover
It's so hard to risk another these days
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it's just that I've been losing so long
I'll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

The Killers - When You Were Young
And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live
When you were young
They say the devil's water, it ain't so sweet
You don't have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while

The Strokes - Someday
In many ways they'll miss the good old days
Someday, someday
Yeah it hurts to say but I want you to stay
Sometimes, sometimes
When we was young oh man did we have fun
Always, always
Promises they break before they're made
Sometimes, sometimes

Death Cab For Cutie - No Sunlight
With every year
That came to pass
More clouds appeared
'Til the sky went black, and there was
No sunlight
And it disappeared at the same speed
As the idealistic things I believed
The optimist died inside of me

Silversun Pickups - Growing Old is Getting Old
We decompose
But we're not alone
So we all
Are growing old

and my favorite line: I memorized your smile lines from left to right.

Tracy Chapman - I Did it All
When they come to interview me
For my made for TV movie
Say I'm the bitch who was a bastard
Who did it all for the love and laughter
I did it all

Jay Z - 30 Something
I'm from the era where ni**as don't snitch
you from the era where snitchin' is the shit
I'm afraid of the future, why?
Y'all respect the one who got shot
I respect the shooter
Y'all go to parties to ice grill
I go to parties to party with nice girls

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey
All things must pass

LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge
I used to work in the record store.
I had everything before anyone.
I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan.
I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.
But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice.

18 September 2010

October Fires: Autumn Playlist 2010

Not only is autumn my favorite season, it also seems to be the time I find some of the best music - whether new or old. Every time I put together one of these lists I feel like I'm giving away treasure. I don't often share music one on one so the songs become really personal to me. I have reasons for loving every one of these songs but really their defining characteristic to make this list is fall appeal. I can easily envision someone in a tweed coat and hat enjoying a crisp leaf shower while playing any one of these songs. Autumn is a time of breezy coziness and the music has to match. I hope you enjoy.

01 Band of Horses – Blue Beard
I'm completely crazy about Band of Horses. If The National weren't so incredible, they would probably be my favorite band. This song particularly has a dark, Beach Boys vibe that I continuously come back to.

02 Blood Feathers – Don't Know You At All
I found this band last week and already I'm smitten. It's probably the most important song on the list to try out. If you like The Felice Brothers, Johnny Cash, or Buddy Holly, you will love them.

03 Sam Bisbee – Molecules
This song is ridiculous, full of talk-rap, incredible beats and real, authentic musicianship of the strangest kind - like the way Owl City would be if they were cool.

04 Sic Alps – L Mansion
Another recent discovery but one I'm so excited about. Sic Alps has a throwback appeal in a Kinks sort of way and I have iTunes to thank for finding them.

05 Wolf People – October Fires
Wolf People are an English psychedelic rock band that is fairly new but extremely interesting. Their sound sounds at once familiar and very different. October Fires is my favorite track so far.

06 Gayngs – Crystal Rope
I had been hearing about Gayngs, a rap/indie rock supergroup featuring Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, for a long time now and finally got around to checking it out a few days ago. I instantly fell in love with this song although I don't think the entire album lives up to its "mood music" reviews.

07 Ray LaMontagne – Shelter
The most beautiful song of the past several years.

08 Drake – Fancy
After his performance on the VMA's this year, I couldn't get this song out of my head. Although it's the least autumny of the bunch, it's a great song to dance around to with your pet.

09 The Ramones – I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
I had been listening to the Pete Yorn cover of this song for so long that I forgot what this version sounded like. I'm not typically into punk rock but this transcends the genre and what better time to celebrate a new romance than autumn?

10 Ambrosia – Biggest Part of Me
One of the bigger hits on the list, this song is so reliable yet I don't think it gets proper credit. Ambrosia is certainly not a well-discussed classic rock band in the same way as Boston or Journey but their songs are equally as classic. One line of this song and you'd know it instantly.

11 Foreigner – Waiting for a Girl Like You
This song has that eerie, sad/happy feeling that I always crave. It's equal parts nice ("I've been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life") and troubling ("Maybe I'm wrong, won't you tell me if I'm coming on too strong, this heart of mine has been hurt before").

12 Sting – I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying
This is probably my current favorite on the list. Instead of the usual lite-rock sound, Sting comes in with a country twang that rivals Ryan Adams and discusses how he's "so happy" about his significant other leaving him. I always appreciate a good double meaning.

13 Ryan Adams – Somehow, Someday
Off Adam's 2001 album "Gold", Somehow, Someday is one of the best tracks. It's classic Ryan Adams but also one of those songs that evokes its own mood instantly.

14 Wheat – Half of the Time
Although they're still primarily unknown, Wheat has been making music for over a decade and were featured on the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's film "Elizabethtown". This is a newer song off their 2009 album "White Ink, Black Ink" that perfectly portrays their sound. I'm in love with it.

15 Naked Eyes – Promises, Promises
This just reminds me so much of Hall and Oates that I'm drawn to it. Naked Eyes is probably best known for "Always Something There to Remind Me" (which is fantastic) but this is equally as good vintage synth-poppy music.

16 Rihanna – Only Girl
This is her latest single and basically it's really fun. Also I won't deny that I can relate to the lyrics.

17 Fitz & the Tantrums – Moneygrabber
One of my favorite bands. Their debut album "Pickin' Up the Pieces" just came out last month and this is the track I've been playing over and over again.

18 Pete Yorn – Velcro Shoes
Although his new album has yet to be released, Pete Yorn has been giving away individual tracks for free on various websites for the past several months. Velcro Shoes, a fast-paced rock song that strays slightly from Yorn's usual formula, is my favorite of these tracks so far. Full album available September 28th.

19 The National – The Geese of Beverly Road
What can I say? It reminds me of Halloween and makes me feel a longing for something indescribable. Perfect for fall.

20 Duck Sauce - Anyway
I take it all back, this is my favorite song on the list. Watch!

To sample some of the other songs go to: 8Tracks

And to relive last year's list: http://musicmavens.blogspot.com/search/label/Autumn%20Playlist%202009


Why I Should be a Roadie for The National

You didn't think I wouldn't talk about The National this week did you? It's been too long. I do have to say that I shouldn't even be writing right now with my thoughts so jumbled but the greatest thought of all is seeing The National six days from now. It's slightly bittersweet because there aren't any more National concerts lined up for the rest of the year after this (!!!) but that's why I'm going to milk this for all it's worth. For the next six days I might only write about The National in anticipation for it.

Right now I'm listening to the painful "Geese of Beverly Road". For the past two hours I've just been listening to The National. I woke up with a rather somber, strange feeling and somehow that transferred into the need for The National. Everyone gets a little lost sometimes, I think some people are forever lost and it's hard to know where to put that mess. Simple is rarely simple. The National is not simple.

The other day I watched a great interview with Matt Berninger where he said that a lot of his songs have dark humor within them that people don't get. They think songs like "Conversation 16" in which he discusses putting his head in an oven ala Sylvia Plath are real. The interviewer went as far as asking him if that song was based in reality. Berninger obviously denied it and said it's meant to be silly. He's not afraid of eating anyone's brains and he's never tried to commit suicide. I'm not sure I completely buy that answer - maybe not to that extent but he's writing based in his own feelings for sure. I'd put a lot of money on it. He writes about the same recurring feelings and themes consistently.

Lately I'm starting to get a little lesson in things masquerading as something else and realizing that everything that seems like it means something might not but I'm damn sure that The National mean something. I have it tattooed on my body that it means something. More importantly, I feel it. I have seen Matt Berninger destroyed on stage while singing lyrics that obviously mean something to him. My best friend and I have joked about being jealous of his wife - then concluded that he must be a handful to deal with on a daily basis. Yeah, but imagine how incredible it would be to know someone who is so truly intense.

I don't want to sound like a 15-year-old talking about Justin Timberlake and how "Like I Love You" shatters her world but I do like the idea of having an external sound evoke so much internally. If I were a scientist I'd do some research on my brain and find out why I go back to The National every time I need something to surround me, almost like gluing everything together. Whether we love work or school or our friends, there are always those days when we want to get away from everything. We need a break from life. Sometimes I'd prefer to live out a day as someone else, not because I want to be someone else but because I'm exhausted. I'm older now so things are a little different, when I want a break I know how to shut off my mind and not care about anything. It's a little heartless but it's also necessary in order to not break your own heart. The National helps me with this. I think about Berninger's lyrics and genuinely believe that there's another ridiculously, stupid intense person in this world that doesn't know what to do too.

That's why I think I should just leave everyone I know, drop out of school, quit my job and travel with The National as a roadie - I don't know how to tune a guitar but I know how to duct tape a setlist to the floor and roll out a carpet. I know how to put a few Poland Spring waters on the ground and ice a nice bottle of wine. I could buy towels or carry microphones or really anything. I'll work for free - just a place to sleep and some food. I don't need any more material possessions, I don't need anybody else in my life, I just want the music. I just want to stand on the side of the stage every night and listen. If life is about finding something you love and surrounding yourself with it then this is what I should be doing. I'd miss my cat but it wouldn't be the entire year, just a few months.

I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I'm serious. I seriously would just drop everything if ever this was a possibility. I'm considering going online right now and searching for how one acquires jobs like this. I am just tired. I'm tired of seeing people give up and give in. I'm afraid it will happen to me too. When I say out loud that I see myself being successful, I'm starting to hear myself sounding like a child. Don't I know no one is successful anymore? How did I hang on to these childish, whimsical dreams for so long? I'm the only one left.

I believe it even more when I hear Matt Berninger sing.

"I'll do what I can to be a confident wreck." - M.B.

The Geese of Beverly Road Lyrics

We'll take ourselves out in the street
And wear the blood in our cheeks
Like red roses
We'll go from car to sleeping car
And whisper in their sleeping ears
We were here, we were here
We'll set off the geese of Beverly Road

Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome, totally genius
Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome

We won't be disappointed
We'll fight like girls for our place at the table
Our room on the floor
We'll set off the geese of Beverly Road

Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome, totally genius
Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome

We're the heirs to the glimmering world

We're drunk and sparking, our legs are open
Our hands are covered in cake
But I swear we didn't have any
I swear we didn't have any

Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome, totally genius
Hey, love, we'll get away with it
We'll run like we're awesome

We're the heirs to the glimmering world

Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight
Serve me the sky tonight
Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight
serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon

We're the heirs to the glimmering world

Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight
Serve me the sky tonight
Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight
serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon

15 September 2010

Ray LaMontagne Makes Me Sick

The title of this post might actually be inaccurate if taken literally. When I see Ray LaMontagne something comes over me that does make me feel a little woozy but mostly because his beard is so intoxicating (added to that voice and his hat collection) that I can't feel my feet. On a quiet night at home, I find myself searching through Youtube videos trying to find something of interest that I never caught before and keep coming back to fairly recent live footage of Ray.

Not too long ago I was having a discussion with a friend about the song "Shelter" off LaMontagne's first studio album, 2004's "Trouble". As usual, it's one of those songs I'm in love with but can rarely listen to these days because of the feelings I relate to it - and the person. There was a time in 2006 when this song was the greatest piece of music my ears could choose. 'Person' and I would laugh about how we couldn't pronounce LaMontagne correctly and it was just all love and turtledoves. Today, I'm much more realistic (or jaded) and realize love like the kind Ray sings about in "Shelter" might not exist or at least not last forever. Love is god awful. That does put a damper on a lot of really good music but nevertheless, Ray LaMontagne's music manages to overcome that with the absurd craftsmanship of every track and the genuine soul in his unbelievably beautiful voice. I cannot say enough good things about him. His elusive nature also adds this interesting, mysterious quality that makes songs like "Old Before Your Time" and "New York City's Killing Me" off his new album "God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise" even more exquisite. I get off on his music like my cat does to catnip, you know what I'm saying?

Take a listen and a good, long look at Mr. Ray LaMontagne, whether you're already familiar with him or not.

This song is better than sex. Can I say that? Guess I just did. It is utterly, disgustingly, incredibly amazing beyond words.

"Held you in my arms one time, lost you just the same".... can you handle it? "I pictured you holding a picture of me. I still don't know what love means."....

Shelter Lyrics by Ray LaMontagne

I guess you don't need it
I guess you don't want me to repeat it
But everything I have to give I'll give to you
It's not like we planned it
You tried to stay, but you could not stand it
To see me shut down slow
As though it was an easy thing to do
Listen when
All of this around us'll fall over
I tell you what we're gonna do
You will shelter me my love
And I will shelter you
I will shelter you
I left you heartbroken, but not until those very words were spoken
Has anybody ever made such a fool out of you
It's hard to believe it
Even as my eyes do see it
The very things that make you live are killing you
Listen when all of this around us'll fall over
I tell you what we're gonna do
You will shelter me my love
I will shelter you
Listen when
All of this around us'll fall over
I tell you what we're gonna do
You will shelter me my love
I will shelter you
If you shelter me too
I will shelter you
I will shelter you

Evolution of a Song: Lindsey Buckingham - Trouble

I love Lindsey Buckingham. Not only is Fleetwood Mac one of the greatest bands to see live - and they continue to get better - but the first concert I ever worked in my life was for one of Mr. Buckingham's solo tours and it will forever stick with me. I remember seeing him before soundcheck walking around the entire perimeter of the venue making sure the sound was right from every angle. As I walked past him, we made eye contact for a second and I wanted to say something but his glare was so intense that it scared me off. I heard rumblings about him being really mean and slightly offended that his tour wasn't going as well as he expected but seeing him in that moment alone made me feel like I understood him a little bit. He's a perfectionist and wants his craft to be taken seriously and get the acclaim it deserves. I'm not sure why to this day people don't mention his name when discussing the greatest guitarists of all time. He is a visionary.

There's really a lot about Lindsey Buckingham to love but specifically it's been his solo song "Trouble" off the 1981 album Law and Order that has caught my attention in the past two days. I was in a coffee shop yesterday feeling kind of down when this song came on and at first I couldn't even recall who the artist was. It took me at least a couple minutes to recognize the voice as the entire song is sung in a high falsetto style that doesn't sound anything like his Fleetwood Mac days. I don't know if the song made me feel better or worse but I can't get it out of my head.

After doing some research, I found that this is the only song on the entire Law and Order album in which Lindsey doesn't play bass or drums - only guitar and vocals. Mick Fleetwood was asked to do drums and when things soured in the studio, a continuous loop of a four second drum track was used instead. I would never have known. In a way, I do find this song to have an interesting sexual quality to it but it's also really eerie and sad. I've heard several people say that perhaps Lindsey Buckingham is a little over the top both in concert and vocally (maybe even lyrically) but what's a musician without a little bravado? Interestingly, I found several clips online of this song that show how very different sides of a song can come out depending on the presentation of it. I think it takes a great piece of music to work in two completely different ways.

Check it out for yourself.

Most recent live, acoustic version. I think this is Buckingham's best vocals of the song (and okay, I've also always had a bit of a crush on him in this older man state he's in now, it just works.)

A live 1992 performance where not only does he look completely different but he's just so much cheesier and the song sounds completely different.

The official recording (I loathe the beginning, it is corn central).

12 September 2010

Video of the Day: John Mayer - Ain't No Sunshine (Cover)

Taken during his two night stint at Madison Square Garden at the end of February 2010, this video perfectly encompasses all that I love about a John Mayer concert. His recent addition of "Ain't No Sunshine" not only gives him an opportunity within the set to display what he's best at (guitar solos) but puts such a sophisticated spin on the entire concert. This song actually fits in with his usual collection of songs much better than his own earlier work does. Hearing "I Don't Trust Myself (Loving You)" and then "No Such Thing" never worked for me.

I was lucky enough to be at this performance with pretty much the same seat as the person taking this footage. This was the first time I saw him perform this live and over the summer he played it at every concert I went to - maybe even performing better than in this clip.

Below you can also find Bill Withers' best known version of this song that I have become obsessed with over the past 24 hours. After adding it to my "Lonely Mix", I can't stop listening. I don't understand how he fits so much into 2 minutes. His voice is breathtaking and the "I know, I know, I know" part takes up about 1/6 of the entire song. It almost feels like an inner monologue being played out in song. It's also interesting how much the delivery of the "I know" changes the song from one version to another. In Withers', it almost comes across as melancholy to me while Mayer's version is slightly breathless and darkly intimate. The balance of that is fantastic. I know there are tons of versions of this song and I definitely plan on finding more but for now I'm enjoying these.

Also: take note of the drummer in the second video. He gets so excited when the funky parts come up. I hope this guy is still alive and willing to be my friend. I want to borrow his striped blazer.

Ain't No Sunshine Lyrics

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she's gone,
Wonder if she's gone to stay
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And this house just ain't no home anytime she goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know

Hey, I ought to leave the young thing alone,
But ain't no sunshine when she's gone, only darkness everyday.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone,
And this house just ain't no home anytime she goes away.

Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.

Top 20 Songs to Be Lonely To

The weekends are always very strange for me. I'm an active person so anytime I'm left with as much as a little empty space in my schedule, it makes me nervous. I'm one of those people who doesn't want to be left alone with themselves. I like distractions and reasons to not think. Naturally, music is the perfect antidote. Since my closest friend had a severe accident, my best friends live in different states, and I'm a picky person, the weekends aren't what they used to be. I have friends that come and go, people I see from time to time but the person I spend the most time with is myself and my trusty iTunes catalog.

Just like everyone else, I have certain music that I feel at home with. There aren't any pretenses with these songs. They're not songs I have to get dressed up for or be with other people - they're songs that are mine. I am very musically sensitive in the sense that if I hear a song playing in someone else's car or in a restaurant or bar, I will instantly relate that song to that situation every time I hear it from there on out. Sometimes this is great and makes me love a song even more but occasionally it's the worst thing that could happen and I can never listen to the song again. Usually it takes a rather massive situation for this to occur but I always hate when it does. Take for example the gorgeous song "Dear Lord" by Joseph Arthur. I absolutely love this song - it could potentially be one of my favorite songs of all time. For a long time I didn't have it on my iTunes because I gradually tuned it out of my mind. Everything from the jangly, West Virginia sound of the guitar to the lyrics that so perfectly describe my ex-boyfriend, made me hate it. I hated the power it had over me. Every time I heard this stupid song I would cry like a maniac. With lyrics like "I'm sorry for the things I've done, I'm sorry for wanting to run" - when I hear it, it just brings back a time I want nothing more than to forget. Yes, this time was the basis of my personality today but I'd rather not think of the person that destroyed my youth (and shaped a great deal of myself). It's rough and I can't believe that a song could bring all that rushing back. And that's not even going into "Close to Me" - The Cure or "Your Eyes" - Peter Gabriel. They make me want to kill myself, figuratively. And for anyone that thinks I'm nuts, I dare you to consider your own personal history and tell me that there's not a song that does the same to you. I'm certain you'll find at least one if not a dozen others.

Finding old mix cds is like hell for me recently. The last two I found were from a person who committed suicide and the aforementioned lover. It's always great to hear love songs that now mean nothing - that are now probably on a cd for someone else. I love the art of a mix cd but the pain that comes after the initial rush is sometimes not worth it. I had a friend not so long ago who was making me a supposed mix catering to all my favorite styles - namely sensual tunes that he thought were more respectable than my more overtly sexy preferences. I saw on his iTunes that the list was named after me and everything. Great, I thought, I love new songs. I'm always more than ready to hear what turns other people on. Of course before I received said mix cd, we got into a musically charged fight and I will probably never receive it.

Music is such a strange animal. Music might be the biggest social tool - and lubricant - there is. More than sports and maybe even alcohol in some cases, music gets people talking and relating. I'm always amazed when I'm sitting at a dinner table and people start talking about music. Their eyes light up and they try to trade little stories that they think will make them sound impressive to the others, sometimes not even realizing that everyone at the table is trying to sound cool in one way or another. Sometimes I'm convinced that's the only reason people even talk about music. In some places it's almost taboo to talk about music in fear of sounding inferior. I had to delete a post on here one time because I spoke so inappropriately about a man I met at a bar that belittled me until I had no choice but to walk away. I had never come across such an arrogant person in my life. In my naivete, it was difficult for me to even believe that this man loved music as much as he was claiming. How could someone who was willing to sit with me for two hours discussing a single topic have such a strong disdain for music he didn't understand? He refused to even amuse the idea of someone like John Mayer having any talent whatsoever and bashed The National for becoming too mainstream. Unfortunately, the more I meet people who claim to be music lovers, the more I come across this same problem. It seems that every "music lover" of a certain age has the same opinions on what music should be. No young "hipster" guy ever openly admits appreciation for someone like John Mayer and any girl who likes him will bashfully say it or add the requisite "embarrassingly!" at the end. I've given up on trying to understand why this is. I continuously use the example that you wouldn't let someone else tell you what to eat so why do you let them influence what you listen to but clearly it's more important to be socially acceptable than - God Forbid! - like a pop artist. A band like The National could be making the greatest music of their career but if they're selling 300,000 albums in their first week doing so then all their "indie cred" is gone in certain circles. It's absolutely baffling to me. They're not working with Britney Spears' auto-tuning guy just because they're popular, they're still making the same album in their little studio whether they sell 1 copy or 1 million copies (clearly there's more to it than this but in theory they're still the same people with the same musical abilities regardless).

It has become so frequent that I hear music discussions I'd rather eavesdrop on than participate in that I have become very leery of ever discussing music myself. I don't like when people challenge me or try to test my music knowledge when they find out I want to be a music writer and I don't like having my own tastes on display in one-on-one conversations. I recently had a run-in like this on a Greyhound bus where I was suddenly put on the spot to discuss my "favorite genre". Granted, I'm a hypocrite because these are the kinds of questions I like to ask other people but when they come my way I try to avoid them. The person was very nice but my answer was incredibly jumbled. "Older R&B? Classic rock? Singer/Songwriter/'70's/folksy/country/twangy/quiet/dancy/hand clapping/hip shaking/short-type of songs"

Maybe I didn't say it in that way but I felt very strange. I felt like I didn't want to sound like an idiot and I didn't want to sound snooty at the same time. Somehow I almost felt like there was a right answer I should give. If you talk about music as if you know something about it, it comes across as pompous but in the same respect you can't act like you don't know anything. The thing I've always wondered is how anyone can judge someone else's taste when they probably know nothing about it if it's not their particular preference. There's an insane array of music out there! There's no way a single individual could be a master of it all in one lifetime. If someone told me right now that their favorite band in the world was Sugarland, I'd nod my head and really have no idea what to say. I don't know very much about contemporary country and therefore I can't tell you if they have great music or not. They could have some incredible lyrics, just because they're not my favorite doesn't mean they're not the best. There are patrons at the concert venue I work at all the time that are devout lovers of specific metal bands that I would consider awful at face value but really, have I given it a try? These people pray at the bottom of the stage these musicians perform on. They wear matching band shirts, get tattoos of their favorite lyrics, and sing along to every word. I am in awe of these people. I am one of these people. My outrageous love of The National is very often put into question among everyone from my friends to strangers. I have a tattoo dedicated to them, a half dozen National shirts in my closet, and listen to them absolutely obsessively. I don't think I'm weird so how could I ever judge another music lover even if it's not the kind of music I love? Actually, I tend to find that it's the people who really have an undying respect for the art of music that usually tell me they don't understand my particular interest but they love my passion for it. That's the attitude more people should have.

Sometimes it's even hard for me to believe that a few pieces of three minute works of art could have such a bearing on someone's life but that's the same kind of mystery that keeps me coming back. In my life, there have been some two hour movies that have made me feel intense things and I will watch them over and over again but are there ever any that I watch 100 times over again? No way. Are there songs I'll listen to over 100 times? Without question. In high school I went through what could only be considered the biggest singer/songwriter phase of my life. I would lay on my bedroom floor with my head up against a long, white dresser and just close my eyes trying to absorb every inch of an entire album by Howie Day or Josh Kelley or the great Jason Mraz. I'd listen to these songs so much and so intensely that they became part of the fabric of my being. I didn't necessarily intend for that to happen but they worked their way into my subconscious. When I hear Josh Kelley's "Home to Me", I am instantly brought back to that time. I guess now in some ways I wish they had been artists with a little more musical depth (I know some of my friends' high school experiences included Pavement, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, etc.) but for me these songs did have depth. I didn't know to listen to something because it was 'cool' or because someone was telling me to. I will certainly admit I had a slight *Nsync phase but I loved their acappela performances and still believe them to be rather decent singers (and dancers for that matter).

I kept a journal in high school and every entry would involve the music I was listening to. Of course I'm not the only one but I remember it was important to me to be very detailed. I would write down an entire album track by track and explain why it meant something to me. I'd use lyrics I knew by heart and write lists of all my current favorite songs. I'd look up similar artists everyday on AOL (the in thing at the time) and find interviews with my favorite musicians to see their influences and then look them up too. I'm not ashamed to say that through John Mayer I started loving jazz music. I guess the writers at Rolling Stone would probably laugh but I would never know who Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, or even Miles Davis was without Mayer's influence. Because I had such a desire to learn, I can actually recognize music from these people, not just know their name so if that's embarrassing then I'm happy to be embarrassed.

I'll tell people upfront that I'm not keen on Leonard Cohen, although I hoped I would be, and that I think Joy Division is overrated. I'm almost positive that somehow certain things got good word of mouth and people started to believe that to be taken seriously they had to go with the flow whether they wanted to or not. Something is not instantly cool because it's "lo-fi" and something is not instantly uncool because it's catchy and produced. I just saw Train - unintentionally - for the third time in two months tonight and although I'll agree that their music is over the top corny, I sort of love it. Pat Monahan gets on stage and not only gives his all but isn't afraid of looking like a loser. He's flittering around like a ballerina and he's having a great time in the process. He's also a great vocalist and songwriter - better in my opinion than a lot of indie bands that all end up sounding the same. It's the bands - in every genre - that take risks that end up coming out the victors.

I've been to over 30 John Mayer concerts and I'll tell you right now that besides some preppy girls that are too afraid to make fools out of themselves, everyone has a good time. At the 12 or so concerts of The National I've been to, I'd be hard pressed to think of more than a handful of people that looked like they were enjoying themselves. If you check out a video on Youtube of these people at the Brooklyn or Manhattan shows, they look like zombies while Matt Berninger is out there singing his soul out. It's almost like these people don't want to appear as if they're having a good time. Wearing their perfect pair of $200 vintage oxfords and their perfectly placed Urban Outfitters fedoras, heaven forbid they shake their hips a little. I am like this too sometimes, especially if I'm alone and a little worried of looking like the creepy, tall one, but by mid-show I tend to get over it whether I want to or not. I am taken in by the music I love more than most of my own family members. When someone's voice is in your ear every day for years you tend to get an attachment to them. I have been hearing John Mayer's voice in my ears for nearly 10 years now. That's longer than all my relationships combined and most of my friendships. When he's out having sex with half of Hollywood, it's not going to stop me from thinking of him as Uncle John. He's my poet. I don't care what the skinny guy in the bar with the tight "Ithaca is Gorges" shirt tells me, you know? I don't get it. And it's not just those kinds of people, it's much more than that. A lot of people preface their favorite music by saying they know it's "not cool" or something like that. I am a victim of this very often as well for some reason. I love Hall and Oates. Do you know how many people hate Hall and Oates? Neither did I until I started telling people I loved them. The game of music is very weird.

ANYWAY, I think this all started by explaining why I get lonely on the weekends. I used to have tons of people around me all time time. My friend and I would bring a bunch of people back over to my place after the bar or we'd get invited to a party or something and now that my partner in crime is otherwise detained, I'm left alone. When I'm wallowing the pain away in a drink or in someone else's company, the pain is easier but when it's a Saturday night and I know what I'm missing, it's a lot more difficult. I get a little sappy and start to feel sorry for myself and end up listening to The National or watching Chelsea Lately, depending on whether I want to get more depressed or pick myself up. In times like these I have my friendly musical voices to keep me company and I'd rather that than people I don't know - unless the people I don't know are the new songs I'm about to download on iTunes.

And as promised, here are the top 20 songs that I enjoy listening to while I'm all alone.

01 Amos Lee - Seen it All Before
02 Amy Winehouse - Wake Up Alone
03 John Frusciante - Song to Sing When I'm Lonely
04 Chet Baker - The Thrill is Gone
05 Band of Horses - Window Blues
06 John Mayer - Perfectly Lonely
07 Andrew Bird - Tenuousness
08 Buddy Guy - I've Got Dreams to Remember
09 Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
10 The Beatles - Norwegian Wood
11 Smokey Robinson - Tracks of My Tears
12 Sondre Lerche - Stupid Memory
13 Frank Sinatra - Glad to Be Unhappy
14 Sufjan Stevens - To Be Alone With You
15 Dave Rawlings - To Be Young (is To Be Sad, is To Be High)
16 The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
17 Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go to My Lovely
18 The National - Daughters of the Soho Riots
19 Pete Yorn - Don't Wanna Cry
20 Otis Redding - (Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay

09 September 2010

Song to Love: Give a Little More - Maroon 5

It's no secret that I love sexy songs. I don't know if you could categorize that as a musical genre but it's certainly my favorite musical grouping. I like to feel something when I'm listening to music and a strong sensual message is a great example of a simple sound transferring into an actual emotion. Of course the usual mix of sad sack songs and love songs can sometimes incite an emotion but it's just not as fun. For me personally it's a weird bag of random songs that captures that particular sensual essence for me. It's not really the standard Barry White songs (as seen in my eclectic prior posts on seduction songs not too long ago), it's much more the setting of any given song.

Take for example Maroon 5's new single "Give a Little More". I don't really find lead vocalist Adam Levine's voice to be enticing but if I were creating an image in my head of this song, it would be a bearded guy (of course) crawling on top of some well dressed girl on a leather couch - he doesn't want to give in but he does sort of thing. It's the feeling inside a song that I enjoy wrapping myself around, whether that song happens to be a poppy fluff piece or something with a little more substance.

When I came across the new music video for this Maroon 5 song, I was slightly disappointed - happy they didn't go the overt Christina Aguilera/Bionic way - but disappointed nonetheless. They could've roughed things up a little. This video proves Mr. Levine can give a knowing glance and the girls are definitely attractive but what happened to all his "This Love" sexual appetite? That music video was so over the top, VH1 had to censor some of the images and Youtube asks you to prove you're 18 before viewing. I miss that. Maroon 5 has always been rather open with their musical agenda and I commend them. In concert, Levine is not above gyrating against his guitar or bringing girls on stage to sing to. He'll tell you upfront that he wants to "dig" his fingertips into you and everything else. Based on prior knowledge, I expected more but the song is still excellent and better than anything else I've heard on the radio in the past few months.

 The mostly family friendly "Give a Little More"...

and the sophisticatedly risque "This Love".

08 September 2010

PING: Why Does iTunes Do This?

I really believe that I love iTunes more than anyone in the world. I know it's not perfect and I strongly disagree with the disgusting $1.29 a song plus tax garbage they've recently pulled on all popular (not just new) songs but it's like being in a bad relationship: you grow to love something and although it slowly stops being the thing you originally fell for, you can't stop the eternal flame (which is also coincidentally the name of a Bangles song I almost downloaded last night for $0.69).

iTunes for me has been a constant companion over the last four years. I would come home, put it on my lap, sit with it for several hours while it found me 'suggestions for similar music', and gently play 30 second samples of every song it wanted me to hear. When the Genius application came along, I would practically slit my wrists with blank CD's in excitement for what six song suggestions were going to put up after I hit the purchase button. I've probably spent $50 a month on that site just scooping up everything I think I'll potentially love.

To get up to date with the current transitional phase of iTunes, it has to be noted that every few months I start to dread the little pop-up box telling me a new version of iTunes must be downloaded. Recently I tried to rebel and would completely disregard these messages when they were sent to me but eventually my iPod stopped working and it became necessary for me to download the unnecessary new version. Why do I hate it you might ask? Because I get so used to the layout of the old versions and then there are suddenly more little sidebars to click, my computer becomes slower, and I feel like all this nonsense begins to take up too much space at a certain point.

iTunes 10 has probably been the worst of these transitions for me. In addition to the format completely changing (ELIMINATING the section for date last played!), the "social network" Ping has been added to bring iTunes in the 21st century I suppose? Honestly, I don't get it at all. At first I was really intrigued by the idea of connecting with people who liked similar music. I pictured it being a social version of the Genius bar or a more direct version of like.com. It advertised itself as a place where you could learn about your favorite artist's current listening habits and learn about stranger's musical taste (my favorite thing in the world).

The day I finally agreed to sit for 45 minutes and have this downloaded on my already archaic computer, I eagerly set up my Ping account. I thought the questions would include my top five favorite artists or have a chart of my most listened to songs for the week but instead it was a randomized display of a few album covers to songs I rarely listen to. "Cousins" by Vampire Weekend? I don't know where they're getting this from.

After setting up my own profile to the best of my ability, I set out to find other profiles to link to or whatever. I was only given around 20 options of people I might be interested in and really I wasn't interested at all. When I finally came across the real profile of one of my favorite musician's, it was definitely underwhelming. Basically the profile contained the amount of people following him and the songs he had recently "liked". That was about it. No list of what he recently purchased or listened to or anything of value whatsoever.

I've read other reviews of Ping that refer to it as a stepping stone to Apple's overall master plan of masquerading a social networking site into basically a glorified store but I don't even understand the purpose at all right now. I want to buy music and nothing on Ping made me crave any particular songs. The format is unappealing and I might be an idiot but I found it a little confusing, more so because I didn't understand the reasoning behind it. From what I've read, I think Facebook was originally supposed to be incorporated into the layout which would certainly explain it a little - if people are supposed to invite their friends and find followers from that, it would make a little more sense.

Nevertheless, I'm still disappointed.

04 September 2010

Music Video to Love: Cee Lo Green - Fuck You

There are some things, usually musically, that are so good they bring me to tears. This doesn't typically happen but when it does this blog definitely comes in handy. EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS.

I know this song is already all over the internet from music blogs to Perez to Facebook but this music video seals the deal on making this the greatest song of the year. I cannot believe how superbly executed this video is. It makes me ridiculously happy. I love Cee Lo's face and the crazy singing trio of ladies behind him and the nostalgic theme... everything! And I don't know if it's just me but he reminds me a bit of Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Overall though, it is pure perfection.

For some quick background, the song itself was released August 19th and quickly got over two million views on YouTube - even before this video was released. According to Wikipedia, the radio edit of this song is called "Forget You" although I have yet to hear that version - it has to be rather lame compared to this. Cee Lo co-wrote this track with Bruno Mars of "Billionaire" and "Nothin' on You" fame.

I know you'll enjoy this.

01 September 2010

Concert Reminder

All except one are tentative but I'm really hoping for all six among others.

Also: With an actual internet connection at my home base, I will definitely be updating at least four times a week, if not more. I'm very happy about this.

Jackson Browne - Sept. 2 - Monmouth University
Union County Music Festival - Sept. 11 - Clark, NJ
John Legend - Sept. 23 - Terminal 5
The National - Sept. 24 - Wellmont Theatre
Miike Snow - Oct. 6 - Terminal 5
 Pete Yorn - Oct. 5 - Bowery Ballroom (Sold Out as of now..)