Day Six: All Made Out of Ticky-Tacky

Before I ever watched Weeds (something I’m kind of sorry that I ever did), I grew up in sort of a suburban hellhole.  It was the type of place that wasn’t really that hellish, either on the surface or in terms of having some sort of super-seedy underbelly.  The expansion outside of town, however, is pretty awful.

Day Six: A Song that Reminds You of Somewhere

Before the housing bubble burst, a neighborhood with its own yoga studio and coffee shop basically sprang up in the open space just west of where I live.  A brand new high school opened up, and it was quickly overcrowded (there was a wait-list—and it’s a public school).  A giant mall was built where there was nothing, and then hospitals, and then event centers, multi-plexes, and more houses.  I remember feeling like nothing old had value, and we would drop a 24-screen theater on every empty acre until we pushed right up to the Rockies.  And although that feeling has sort of declined with the economy taking a dive, I still feel waves of ennui.

I even have revised lyrics:

Giant boxes on the Front Range

Giant boxes made of ticky-tacky

Giant boxes on the Front Range

Giant boxes all the same.

There’s a beige one and a tan one

And a taupe one and an ecru one

And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky

And they all look just the same.


Day Five: Odds and Ends and Bric-a-Brac

Day Five: A song that reminds you of someone

“Higitus Figitus” from Walt Disney’s The Sword and the Stone:

I made this joke over winter break already (read: totally exhausted it), but I have a professor who is basically a kindly old wizard.  A really awesome kindly old wizard. He has book everywhere—too many for his shelves.  And he knows everything.  He really, really reminds me of Merlin.  Also Gandalf.  And sort of Dumbledore, I suppose.  He just is a wizard.

I wrote a paper for his class in December that I really liked working on, but it didn’t get to grow to its whole potential because I took far too many classes to really have a good semester.  I started his final the earliest of all my others, but I still turned it in down to the wire.  It was the third paper due in a five-day period. From Tuesday to Thursday morning of finals week, I literally slept for three hours.  I turned in a paper at 9am Thursday, then finished this paper after a three-hour nap.  I was completely exhausted and disappointed in the work, and I cried uncontrollably, dreading what he would think of it.

I got the paper back today.  His comments were not bad.  In fact, many of them were rather good, and he respected my ambition even if the execution wasn’t quite up the snuff.  But now I dread another semester with him far less!

And that’s what I was thinking about while picking a song for Day Five.

Day Four: While I Rot With the Rest

Last night I searched a couple other 30-Day Song Challenges/Music Memes/Song Memes/whatevers because this one is kind of dull.  Favorite song, least favorite song, happy song, sad song.  But they were even dumber.  Ergo:

Day Four: A Song that Makes You Sad.

I’ve picked a couple of songs, because I think they cover different types of wallowing.  I have a specific playlist called “Melancholy Piece of Shit” for just such wallowing occasions, and I realized as I was going through to pick the song for today that under normal circumstances, the self-indulgence of them can be kind of a turn-off.  Here’s an old standard for moments when you’re feeling so low you require a first-person narrator.

Johhny Hartman and John Coltrane, “Lush Life.”

There is sort of an empowerment narrative going on here.  “Empowerment” may not be the right word…it may be more like “to hell with everything.”  The penultimate verse even borders on hopeful, but I don’t really believe that Johnny Hartman is that hopeful about his romantic future.  So even if “Lush Life” makes you feel better for a bit, it just leaves you feeling worse—which, when you’re wallowing is all you really want, right?

Well, maybe.  Then we have Contestant #2:

Cat Power, “Names.”

This might be the most depressing song ever—or at least it’s the most depressing I can think of.  I guess, then, “Names” would be more of a song that makes me sad than “Lush Life,” which kind of needs a pre-existing sadness that it can amplify.  There is definitely a way to make “Names” about you if you’re upset, though.  You lose touch with people as you get older, you hear about how their lives have taken an unfortunate turn, and some were always just unfortunate to begin with.  “Names” presents a parade of adolescents whose problems are much greater than whether they can get a Hannah Montana backpack or watch rated-R movies—and by listening to Chan Marshall list off their falls from innocence, you’re reminded that we live in a terrible world.

Day Three: Shitkickin speedtakin truckdrivin neighbors downstairs

Day Three: A Song that Makes You Happy

Beck – “Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs.”

Beck gets better with age, it’s true, but I love Old Beck.  This is from his first major album, 1994’s Mellow Gold, which also brought us the indispensable alt-rock anthem “Loser”—a song so ingrained in the public consciousness that the public recently had to endure an awful cover version from Glee that made absolutely no sense in the context of the show.  And this is because the lyrics of “Loser” make no sense.

“Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs” has a fascinating history that basically involves Beck’s creepy neighbors getting in violent fights (perhaps one cutting the other’s arm off even?).  The song is more or less absent from Youtube, which is why I have included this weird animated version.  Sadly, it cuts off the opening two seconds of the song, which doesn’t begin with the neighbor (it’s actual recorded voice!)  saying “put your clothes on” but begins with an extra slur of “Come on, motherfucker!”

The link above to has it that this is a four-track song—two guitar tracks and two vocals.  And other than the hilarious fight recording and the even more hilarious lyrics (example: “whiskey-stained buck-toothed backwoods creep / grizzly bear motherfucker never goes to sleep”) , the listener gets the benefit of Beck self-harmonizing in a falsetto and a bass voice.  He might have had a career in the Crash Test Dummies.  Although perhaps the most excellent feature of this song is the complete deadpan tone.  I have no idea how Beck can use two different ranges to sing sarcastically, but my god it is absolutely genius.  Whenever the falsetto says, “Oh my goodness” and it’s echoed by the bass, I nearly always have the urge to lol.

In conclusion, this song brings me great joy.

Day Two: They All Do It the Same

(I know this is my second post today, but I officially started yesterday.)

Day Two: Your Least Favorite Song.

Dave Matthews Band – “Ants Marching”:

As a former Nirvana aficionado, it is my civic duty to abhor Pearl Jam, especially because Eddie Vedder’s signature incomprehensible bellow has been paved the way for countless, pussified, post-grunge others, most notably that asshole from Creed.  The late 90s/early 2000s also brought us Nickelback, Audioslave, and others that I have (thankfully) repressed.  But even these, though they are terrible, are no match for the master.

I’m from Colorado, which means that my alternative radio station is populated by those adorable acoustic guitar bro-magnets like Jack Johnson.  And while the song “Bubbly Toes” makes me want to club baby seals, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, and John Mayer are mere demi-gods in the Adult Contemporary Pantheon.  Their supreme ruler, their Zeus, their Jupiter, their Shiva, Yahweh, or whoever, seems to me to be Dave Matthews.  Using the saxophone of smooth jazz with the faux-folksy appeal of the contemporary jam band, and that whiny contemporary male rock voice singing about being unique when he is the very model of the adult contemporary cliché (not to mention kind of derivative of Eddie Vedder), Dave Matthews Band’s still-overplayed tepid hit always hits that special nerve.

I just…ugh.

Day One: Hang for Your Hollow Ways

Apparently, when it comes to blogging, I fear commitment.  Twilight didn’t pan out (I sent the books back to the friend who generously lent them to me for a year).  I let re-watching Mad Men fall by the wayside (although one day I’d like to pick it back up).  It’s, sadly, too much to watch the episode and write up a commentary.  So instead I’m going to bet back into it with the 30-Day Song Challenge, an idea I put on the back-burner until a friend of mine started it up on Facebook.  And ripping off her idea to write a blurb about music every day is a lot easier than trying to be Analytical.

Day One: Your favorite song.

Neutral Milk Hotel, “Oh, Comely.”

Currently, this song is in a three-way (embattled) tie, for most-listened to on my iTunes, along with “Well Well Well” by John Lennon and “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin.  I listened to the latter two mostly as a stress-release tool when I used to drive home from work during my last place of employ.  But “Oh Comely,” with its forlorn and surreal lyrics makes it a little bit more of an all-occasion song—or more occasions than lusty ones.

Although I’m a big Neutral Milk Hotel fan, I didn’t really know about them until fairly recently.  Something that probably would be a more accurate picture of a music-conscious self would almost by default be a song by Nirvana, who provided a soundtrack to my formative years (i.e., the years where my laundry consisted of 3 loads of black and a couple pair of jeans).  Although I no longer listen to Nirvana obsessively as I once did, I (alarmingly) do not tire of them.  It’s like a security blanket, and the simple guitar solo of “Sappy” still gets me in a head-banging mood:

And, finally, if one were to go way, waaaaay back, I continue to love this little number by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which I first heard in the first grade.  We had a very zealous music teacher who took the whole elementary school to the symphony every year, as well as a zealous art teacher, who had us paint to the pre-selected program every year.  I did a symphony painting to “Fantasia on Greensleeves”—but I think it was more of an abstract-expressionist venture (i.e., lines).  This video has the best arrangement, but if you get motion sickness, I advise you to listen rather than watch: