A random bag of music, part I

Welcome to A Random Bag of Music- the first installment. This is just a place where I can randomly list (oxymoron?) some favorite songs/albums/artists and talk about them a bit. I’m going to number the entries for clarity, but there is no order. It’s like asking me what’s my favorite color- really? I like all colors for different purposes, in different moods, at different times, in different shades- there’s no favorite. Same thing with music (though a bit more stratified- there’s definitely genres of music that I care for less and more). Anyway, here goes. I’d be happy for any comments pointing me to more like these- or just whatever you like. These are a few from awhile back. I’ll post more current stuff in the next installment.

1. John Vanderslice, “You Were my Fiji”. This gem is a haiku of love and loss (no, I know it’s not REALLY a haiku- it’s just short and to the point). I’ve worked up a version of it that I sing and play that I’ll post here sometime when I get it together. This live version isn’t as good as the studio version IMHO, but it gives the idea. To me it captures a brief, simple love affair that has lasted in the singer’s mind as a shining moment, even though he had to leave and go on the road.

2. The Mountaingoats, “No Children”. The most amazingly hopeful depressing song about a bad relationship EVER. This song is full of so many great lines and so upbeat in the way it’s sung and so depressing in the lyrics. The amazing thing is that the song is all about hope. The singer hopes about many things and it’s clear that even though he’s miserable he wants to be in the situation in some way and he’s aligned with his partner in misery. It’s a very odd song, but I recognize the feeling of being so entangled with someone that is so bad for you that you can’t see beyond them and you together, even though you hope to.

3. Built To Spill, anything off of “Keep it Like A Secret” or “Perfect From Now On”. Possibly my two favorite albums of all time. This was when I realized the true nature of shoegazer rock. But that’s really selling it short. The soaring guitars, the building jams, the interesting and sometimes inscrutable lyrics. This is the pinnacle. I probably listened to these two albums more than any others while finishing up my graduate thesis (with the possible exception of the next entry). Here’s the lead-off song on Keep It Like Secret, which I currently have as the wake-up song on my cell phone. One of the comments on this YouTube video, “The best part starts at 0:00”. Agreed.

4. Modest Mouse, “The Lonesome Crowded West”. Where do I start with this album. It’s gritty, hooky, weird… and connects on some level that I don’t quite understand. Most of the songs on this album are great, but some take a little breaking in (like, listening to them over and over). I’ll point out Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine because for the life of me I don’t really know what its _about_ but it is very familiar territory somehow. “The malls are the soon to be ghost towns, well so-long, farewell, goodbye. Let’s all have another orange julius, thick syrup standing in lines.”

That’s all for now! The first two songs I’ve worked out my own (very, very rudimentary) versions of that I’ll post soon. It should be an interesting contrast.