Archive for September, 2009

Top Ten songs by The Beatles

September 27, 2009

About a week ago I was “not really a Beatles fan”, but in the time since then I have come to realize that I am actually a huge fan and have been listening to them nonstop as of late.  So to celebrate my newfound Beatles fandom, I present my top ten Beatles songs! (sorry if I steal your thunder at all, Mayme)

10. “A Day in the Life”-Very psychedelic and ahead of its time.

9. “Love You To”-I love the songs with George on the sitar, and this one is the best of them in my mind.  Plus I really like the part where it goes “I’ll make love to you/ding-da-la-ling-ding-ding/If you want me to”.

8. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”-George plays a mean gee-tar.

7. “Tomorrow Never Knows”-This song is a trip, crazy to think anyone was making music like this in 1966.

6. “I am the Walrus”-Goofy and fun, began to make me a fan of The Beatles during winter break of 2004 while staying at Amy’s house and taking care of Yoshi.

5. “We Can Work it Out”-I don’t like most of their poppy songs, but this is one exception.

4. “Here Comes the Sun”-Never fails to cheer me up a little bit.

3. “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End”-Actually three tracks, but they flow so well together it feels like one song.  It is primarily “The End” that made me reconsider if I liked The Beatles, it is just an awesome song with guitar solos from George, John and Paul and a drum solo by Ringo.

2. “Let it Be”-The Beatles song with the greatest ability to bring a tear to my cheek

1. “Yesterday”-Just a beautiful, well-written song.

Listening on repeat: Pavement “Slanted and Enchanted”

September 24, 2009

Music is something that over the past couple years has become increasingly important to me.  I spend a large chunk of my time getting CDs, importing them, and then eventually listening to them as I go about my daily life.  I figure that music listening is a big enough factor in my life that it warrants more blog posts than just my end of the year top-ten lists.  So under the tentative name of “Listening on repeat”, I’ve decided to start up what will hopefully be a weekly column, but it is hard to guess how often I will actually get around to writing it.  The plan is that each week I will write about an album that I have been listening to a lot over the previous week, both old and new music, and then hopefully include a mP3 or two of my favorite tracks from the album.  The inaugural album selection for this column is an oldie that I hadn’t discovered until relatively recently.

s and e

Originally released in 1992, I didn’t hear the album or even hear of Pavement until late 2008 when I saw it ranked as the #5 albums of the 1990s on a Pitchfork Media list (if you want to see the four albums ranked ahead of it, check out this link http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/5923-top-100-albums-of-the-1990s/10/).  The first time I listened to the album I was riding the 358 bus to the 44 stop and then on to the U-district TJs.  I remember liking a couple of the songs and thinking the album was OK, so I listened once or twice more and then forgot about Pavement.

It is really amazing how much music distribution has changed since 1992.  Seventeen years ago if you wanted a copy of an album like Slanted and Enchanted you would have to go to a record store in a large city and hope that they had a copy.  Nowadays you can stream music all over the internet on various blogs,  watch music videos on YouTube, buy it from the Apple Music Store, or just import a copy from your friendly local library (although I guess they had libraries in ’92 as well…).  So while Pavement never achieved much commercial success in the 90s (I never once remember them being played on 107.7 The End growing up), over the ensuing years they achieved a significant fan base.  About a week ago it was announced that Pavement would reunite for a show (later changed to an entire tour) in late 2010, which resulted in a lot of excitement both on Pitchfork.com and KEXP, my two main sources of music information.  Because there was so much hoopla about them, I figured I had better give Pavement another listen.  I don’t know what had changed in the interim year, although I know my music taste has been widely expanded during that time, but this time Slanted and Enchanted really lit me up.  I found myself walking to work and home from work listening to Pavement and playing air guitar, air drums, and whatever air instruments I could get my hands on.

I’m pretty sure there are only two people who read my blog at the moment, and neither of you may like this album (too upbeat for Amy, some of the songs are too angry for Mayme) but I picked a couple of songs from the album that you may both like.

(Note: I haven’t figured out how to directly insert mP3 files into my blog yet, so in the meantime you can listen to the songs through these youtube links)

“Zurich is Stained”-Only a minute and forty seconds long, but my favorite song from the album.  I keep finding myself singing “You think it’s easy, but you’re wrong”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpoYNXrJfGM
>
“Summer Babe (Winter Version)”-There are a number of other good songs I could have chosen, but this one felt right.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-kHIsPe-Qw

 


I’m back!

September 15, 2009

It has been about 8 months since my last blog post, but I am finally going to just write one and hopefully others will follow on a weekly rather than annual basis.  Part of my delay has been that I never think anything that happens to me or my various ruminations are worthy of a post.  This past saturday I had a rather odd yet insignificant encounter that I just realized, two days after the fact, has stuck with me surprisingly well.  Since I found it amusing at the time and still do, I thought it worth typing up to the best of recollection.

 

“The Spiritual Guru”

Ugggh!  Why did I agree to go into work on a saturday?  It will only be for a couple of hours, but still, I would much prefer to sit at home and waste my time playing decade old video games and watching some Netflix DVDs.  

That is what was going through my head as I stepped out my front door into the afternoon heat.  It may have been our final blast of 80+ degree weather for the summer, but I had no intention to enjoy it that afternoon.  I had been in a poopy mood the previous couple days and would rather it be overcast and 50 with a bit of rain, to make it easier to stay inside and watch DVDs and play video games of course.  Regardless, the sun was shining overhead and it was hot as I walked down my stairs and into the road.  “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  I had been watching a lot of LOTR and reading “The Hobbit” at the time, so Bilbo’s advice came to me easily as I set off on my own adventure, although I highly doubted anything of interest would find me on the way to work and back.  One thing I was excited about though was a particularly keen haul of CDs waiting for me at the library.  Waiting for me I had a Daft Punk album, a group called The Antlers (who I had never heard, but Pitchfork Media gave them a pretty good review) and several other goodies.  After picking up my holds at the Greenwood branch of the SPL, I crossed the street to bus stop for the #5 which would take me downtown.  It was sitting at this particular bus stop that I met the central figure of this story, my spiritual guru.

I shall call him Xenobus the Wise for lack of his real name, although I do not doubt that I am very far off.  He had long hippie-ish hair but a well trimmed beard, reminding me somewhat of The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” but wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead of a bathrobe.  In his oddly swollen right hand he held a lit cigarette, in the equally oddly swollen left he was taking a swig from his Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  I thought I had noticed him watching me before I even crossed the street, but figured I was mistaken.  I pulled out my book out of my backpack and just had time to find the page I was on before he called out to me, “Hey brother, what you readin’, man?”

Is it necessary to use both “brother” and “man” in that sentence?  I thought before replying, “The Hobbit.”

“What’s that, brother?” he asked while stepping closer to me to hear better and simultaneously cutting off any chance of my escape.

“The Hobbit, by Tolkien, you know, “Lord of the Rings”.

“Oh, hey man, have you ever read anything by Tom Brown?”

“No”, I replied, searching my mind for any recollection of an author named Tom Brown, to try and verify if this guy was full of shit or going to suggest a good author that I might like.

“Oh, yeah, he has this story “The Tracker” that I think you would really like.  You know all those people who like this stuff like “Lord of the Rings”, I think they just like it, you know, because it is about nature and people really like nature.  And Tom Brown writes about nature, and you just get such a better appreciation for it from his writing you know, and you don’t have to pretend you’re off traveling in this fantasy world, because it is our own actual world.”

I could see his point, but still I had a different opinion so I told him, “You know, sometimes it’s kind of fun to get away from the troubles of the real world and read about a fantasy world for a while.”

Smirking, he asked, “How old are you man?”

“24.”

“Well, for your sake, I hope that doesn’t remain fun for much longer.”

What the fuck does he mean by that?  I was beginning to feel a bit irritated by this guy, but keeping things polite, I just said, “Well, I don’t know about that…”

And then he just got up on his soapbox of craziness and began to go off, “I mean, people can read what they want, I personally prefer Malcolm X’s autobiography, because it expands the mind and makes you think about how you identify with society and its influences upon you, but with all of these kids nowadays they just get reading this fantasy stuff and they don’t know anything about the world that we live in and they try to live meaningful lives, you know, and they just don’t even comprehend what that means…”

“Well I think it’s fine to read some fantasy on the side, as long as those aren’t the only type of book that you are reading” I managed to throw in while Xenobus was taking a breath.

Ignoring my comment, however, Xenobus continued on at a frenetic pace and his oddly swollen hands began to get increasing excitable, “…see with getting a job, especially with the economy bust and all, you know how they said it was going to be another “Great Depression” but thats just it, you know, it, like with Michael Jordan…(Ok, that is kind of a big jump he just took)… he just got up on the stage at the Hall Fame, and was saying how everyone is searching for the next Jordan, but that is just it, things are different, there can never be another “Jordan”, he was just somebody that did fantastic things on a basketball court, so with the Great Depression, there were so many particular things about that financial crisis that it makes it so it can’t happen exactly the same way again, you know its like say I lose my job, because I’m a drunk or something, I mean, I can’t just rely on these stories of the past to help me think about how I got to where I am at and how I can change that in the future so that I have a job, you know, I mean all these stories of the past, people want them to continue on the same, but they just can’t…(I’m kind of following you buddy, but you are starting to lose me)…but an old story I do like is “Star Wars”, you know why that was always so good man, because you know Joe Camel, (Joe Camel, the cigarette mascot?) he was writing these stories that influenced George Lucas, and Joe Campbell..(Joe Campbell? Or Joe Camel?  What is going on?)… he was like including all of these Tibetan Buddhist symbols in the Star Wars series, which is why it is so good, you know like when Obi Wan is fighting Darth Vader to help Luke escape, and Obi Wan lowers his light saber, he was doing this Buddhist symbol which is called the Rainbow Spirit Cross (or something like that, I can’t remember exactly what Xenobus called it) where he was essentially saying, you know, you may destroy my body but you are never powerful enough to take my mind, and you know there are all of these Tibetan aspects of Obi Wan, where he is like, you think it is just coincidence that you are on this desert planet and Obi Wan just happens to be there too, and you think that it is a coincidence that you grew up shooting Sand Rats when that is the perfect training to help you destroy the Death Star at the end?  No, all of this has a purpose and a meaning…(Alright, this Star Wars talk IS pretty interesting, but you are still talking way too fast and jumping around a lot and I have a hard time following)…because you know there are a lot of Llamas that have that ability, a spiritual connection with…(woah!  What are we talking about now, llamas?  As in the Dali Lama or South American mammals?)…a teacher and a pupil will study together in seclusion…(OK, I’m seriously lost now, where is my bus?  I wish this guy would just realize that I want to read “The Hobbit” in peace and no longer be lectured at.  There is no way to get away though…hmmmm…..what have I got in my pockets: my keys, ipod, a bit of paper…does he still think I am paying attention…If only I had Bilbo’s magic ring!)…so, you know, that is what the Corporations are always trying to do to you man…(Oh God, he’s into stereotypical stoner talk now, hatin’ on The Corporations or The Man always trying to get you down, maybe I will just zone out for a bit and think about something else…butterflies ARE nice, I was noticing some the other day, I like the colorful ones, but I saw some white ones and they were also quite nice, I liked the way two of them were fluttering about together.  Fucking?  Fluttering is a much prettier word, I will stick with that….Uh oh, how long have I been zoning?  Does Xenobus know I am zoning?)…so, you know, whenever you gets thoughts in your head, and the thoughts come in as words, and sentences, that is a guarantee that those words were put there by somebody else, trying to brainwash you, or at least that is what my llama taught me…(I still don’t know what kind of llama, but I am guessing not the South American kind)…so you have got to resist the messages that people are trying to influence you with, but shoot, I mean, really, I, I, I don’t even really know man…”

And with that he was done.  Spent.  Exhausted.  He sat down and took a drag off his cigarette and another swig of the Black Butte Porter.  All I could do was smile at him and then pick “The Hobbit” back up and try to start reading, unsuccessfully however as my mind was swirling with thoughts of our “conversation”.  While much of it made no sense to me, there were some were thought out ideas mixed in there.  I thought about the videos games I had been wasting my life playing way too much of the previous week, controlling imaginary characters as they hoisted overly large swords and smote vile foes, which is fun, but I am at a point in my life where I need to start moving forward.  I have been goofing around the past 6 months since I decided I no longer wanted to pursue a medical doctorate, watching way too many netflix movies and spending too much time performing routine that doesn’t make me happy, yet is comfortable and doesn’t make me unhappy.  These are all sorts of thoughts that I had been having off and on for who knows how long, but they all came flooding me at once and so strongly at this moment that it unnerved me.

“Oh look, the bus is here” I said as I saw the large green box come rumbling up the hill.  Xenobus, having finished his cigarette and his beer, picked up his backpack and started walking towards the slowing bus.  But apparently, our journey would not continue together, for he continue walking past the bus and around the corner.  Perhaps he decided that he didn’t want to ride the bus with someone who wasn’t a good listener, or maybe he just liked smoking and drinking at bus stops, or he just might have sensed some other young adventurer in need of a llama (Either kind of llama, for advice or simply to carry packs in the Andes).  Was it a coindence that we were at that same bus stop at the same time, or will that encounter some day help me destroy my own Death Star?