Monday, June 30, 2008

A River Could Be Loved (Day 75)

Stephen Malkmus - "I've Hardly Been"
Beirut - "Cliquot"
Brightback Morning Light - "A River Could Be Loved"
Yup, I only listened to 3 songs today. Not because I now live 10 minutes from my office (I wish). Rather my wife had an appointment, so I came in with her to watch the baby (now 14 weeks), while she did her thing. Afterwards we hit a great Korean restaurant in midtown for an early lunch. And the short walk to my office allowed me to sneak in 3 songs. But that's okay, because now I have the space to list a few songs from the weekend. Our second wedding trip in a row took us to Massachusetts for N. and S.'s nuptials (good times!) and...the world's greatest wedding band. No joke. Full disclosure, the Dexter Lake Club Band played our wedding and I've since recommended them to several other friends. They bill themselves as the anti-wedding band which is true. These guys are not your average, boring Frank Sinatra-playing, horn-heavy wedding bands. They are dudes from Brooklyn (mostly, I think), with serious musical chops who crank out spot-on covers of 80s hits and classic rock. They even play a rocking "Horah," if you need it. Here are just a few of the many great songs they played Saturday night:
Bryan Adams - "Summer of '69"
Cars - "Best Friend's Girl"
The Kack - "My Sheronah"
The Cure - "Just Like Heaven"
Prince - "Let's Go Crazy"
Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"
Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl"
Van Halen - "Jump"
Nena - "99 Luftballoons"
The Kinks - "You Really Got Me"
The Pixies - "Here Comes Your Man"
This was actually our wedding song. We asked the band to play it, and I love that it's now part of their set. The other song we asked them specifically to learn for us - - "Cut Your Hair."
The Beatles - "I Saw Her Standing There"
The Rolling Stones - "Beast of Burden"
Bruce Springsteen - "Born To Run"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 3
Total minutes of music (approx.): 10
Song with the most previous plays: "A River Could Be Loved" - 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: See above.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Is What I Do (Day 74)

Galaxie 500 - "Victory Garden"
The Beach Boys - "God Only Knows"
The Clash - "Train In Vain (Stand By Me)"
The Apples In Stereo - "Same Old Drag"
The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Do Right Woman"
The Arcade Fire - "Antichrist Television Blues"
Another late post today, sorry. Again, the day job is really cutting into my blogging life. Honestly, I don't really have a lot to say about today's playlist. It was just one of those mornings where the music seemed to be going in one ear and right out the other. Hey, but how about this string of bands that use the article "the" in their name? Five in a row, that's got to be a record. (Stat unofficial - - no such records kept.) Did you know that "the" is the most common word in the English language? Naturally. (No. 2 is "of", No. 3 is "to", No. 4 is "and"...ok, I'm done.) I do like when bands are The *something*. It sorta sounds more punk rock to me. Although that theory doesn't exactly play out. See The Doobie Brothers.
Rhett Miller - "This Is What I Do"
Pernice Brothers - "High As A Kite"
Will Oldham - "Bolden Boke Boy"
Viva Voce - "How To Nuse A Bruised Ego (Back to Health)"
fIREHOSE - "Hear Me"
DJ Shadow - "Stem/Long Stem"
Nothing to do with DJ Shadow, but I saw this yesterday and I wanted to pass it on ASAP. It's a Bon Iver clip from their Take-Away Show. Amazing.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12

Total minutes of music (approx.): 49
Song with the most previous plays: "This Is What I Do" - 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Saw my first ad for the All-Star game on the subway today. It's at Yankee Stadium this year. And although the game is really a circus sideshow that usually showcases some terrible baseball (but was recently given some forced relevance with the whole home advantage for the Series thing); it suddenly dawned on me that it's kinda cool it's in town. Watching the game on TV gets pretty old fast, but it would be fun to see all those great players on one field. Of course tickets probably start at $1 million or so. In any case, Mr. Albert Pujols was on this particular poster, and it so happens he is also on my fantasy team. Um, or should I say my first place fantasy team?

**I'm off again tomorrow. Second wedding in two weeks, although this one's a bit more local, in Massachusetts. See you Monday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going Through The Motions (Day 73)

Bishop Allen - "Coupla Easy Things"
Camera Obscura - "Come Back Margaret"
Sonic Youth - "Lights Out"
It just occurred to me that I remember hearing Sonic Youth was performing Daydream Nation in its entirety at some shows last year (I think)? Yet, I never wound up reading any reviews or blog posts. Anybody see it? I love the concept of a band doing an entire record, especially one as great as Daydream. A friend mentioned last night that he's got tickets to see Built To Spill perform Perfect From Now On later this year. Holy shit that is going to be awesome. (And, naturally, I probably won't see it.) Meanwhile, I like this song and I like all of SY's 2006 album Rather Ripped (except the title). In fact, they've quietly had a string of good records with Murray Street and Sonic Nurse before it. Daydream Nation is obviously the peak, but unlike, say, U2, I still think this band is vital. (See the comments section from yesterday's post if you don't have any idea why I bring up U2.) Although it's a hard comparison to make because I never liked U2 as much as I do Sonic Youth. And, although I see PCup's point, I don't think it's even Bono's personality that is the band's biggest problem. Mostly it's the irrepressible bombast and the Edge's boring as hell guitar playing. Can you believe "Where The Streets Have No Name" was named the 28th Greatest Guitar Song Of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine? Now I'm no expert (in fact, I don't even play), but is he doing anything more than holding a single note and strumming the guitar during the very long intro to that song? For a more in depth criticism of this stupid list, head over to Angry John.
The Books - "Tokyo"
Elliott Smith - "Last Hour"
Pavement - "Shady Lane"
Bishop Allen - "The Monitor" (live)
Bruce Springsteen - "Devils & Dust"
The National - "The Geese Of Beverly Road"
Track Star - "Payback"
Devendra Banhart - "This Is The Way"
De La Soul - "Take It Off"
Aimee Mann - "Going Thorough The Motions"
Radiohead - "Subterranean Homesick Alien"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 14

Total minutes of music (approx.): 53
Song with the most previous plays: "Going Through The Motions," "The Geese Of Beverly Road" (tie) - 10
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I have noticed that it has become socially acceptable for women to wear incredibly short shorts in public. What can I say, I'm observant.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Polly Wolly Doodle (Day 72)

Deerhunter - "Providence"
Tindersticks - "Her"
Los Lobos - "No Puedo Mas"
Jeff Tweedy - "I Got You (At The End Of The Century)" (live)
The live, acoustic version of this great song of Being There actually comes from a very cool recording I got from the blog I Am Fuel, You Are Friends. Despite her Pearl Jam obsession (sorry, could never get beyond thinking of them as grunge-lite), this avid music fan manages to get her hands on some cool live recordings (and if you don't already know about the site, it's definitely worth checking out). The set that this song is from was actually a benefit concert that Jeff performed in someone's living room! The whole thing was for charity, and the lucky winners actually got the Wilco frontman to play a great long set for an intimate gathering of friends (for only $17,500!). Besides some interesting acoustic versions of Wilco songs, there's also a lot of great banter between Jeff and the small crowd. And at the end of this song he starts talking about his wife and what a great musician she is. Also, remember the "Box Full of Letters Video"? About halfway through the clip there are some women dancing in some grainy footage on a TV. According to Jeff the woman in front is actually her. Take a look.

Jen Lekman - "Sky Phenomenon"
The Stills - "Fevered"
Brightback Morning Light - "Star Blanket River Child"
Dan Zanes - "Polly Wolly Doodle"
Viva Voce - "Bill Bixby (An Interlude)"
Pavement - "Ed Ames"
Feist - "Past in Present"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 11

Total minutes of music (approx.): 51
Song with the most previous plays: "Polly Wolly Doodle" - 25
Yes, this song's whopping 25 plays can be attributed to my daughter (and one fateful car trip). It's the second most played song on the iPod, after, naturally, Dan Zanes' "Bushel And A Peck". First non-Zanes song? The Flaming Lips' "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," with 24 plays. Guess I went through a phase...
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I dropped off some dry cleaning on the way in. Why is this noteworthy? Well, because I hardly ever drop off dry cleaning. In other words, my work attire does not require dry cleaning. That's right, I'm not an investment banker! Got that, Flacouto?

Monday, June 23, 2008

High Party (Day 71)

The Fiery Furnaces - "My Egyptian Grammar"
It may just be the result of having a few days away from listening to music on my iPod, but this first song this AM sounded fantastic. I mean, sonically. I've actually been meaning to revisit The Fiery Furnaces most recent LP, Widow City, especially after since Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon recently told the Times "it's really good driving music." She also, echoed my own thoughts about the band in general adding, "It's almost annoying and irritating to listen to, but it's also compelling." But, back to the sound. The recording is excellent and the programmed beats of this song (I'm pretty sure their beats are programmed) and the many digital flourishes are as dense as the lyrics (in a good way). By the way, I've never mentioned it but I use Etymotic ER 6-i Isolator headphones while listening to music on my way to work, which I'm a huge fan of. (Hey, Etymotic folks - - how about a nice new pair of ER 4's for this unsolicited plug?) They cancel out all that subway noise (including service updates that would have informed me the train is skipping my stop, unfortunately), and sound true and crisp. Now you know a bit more about my equipment...

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Song Of Joy"
Elvis Presley - "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"
Belle & Sebastian - "Family Tree"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "High Party"
Since it's today's Song With The Most Previous Plays, and since I don't think I've really mentioned him on this blog, I think it's time to praise Ted Leo. He's a real grower. The first time, I heard Ted it sounded to me like average pub rock. But over time I've really come to love his unique combination of punk, pop, guitar rock, soul and Irish folk. This is another great song from the awesome album Hearts Of Oak. Today's artist fun fact courtesy of Wikipedia: Ted Leo is a strict vegan. And yet I still like him.
Sloan - "Are You Giving Me Back My Love?"
Norah Jones - "Not My Friend"
Charlie Louvin - "Grave On The Green Hillside"
Johnny Cash - "Wayfaring Stranger"
The National - "The Geese Of Beverly Road"
Usually as striking as The National's music are the band's lyrics. But there's something a bit strange about hearing Matt Berninger repeatedly sing the line "We'll run like we're awesome" in this song. The word "awesome" is too pedestrian, or something. Maybe I'm just being sensitive. I actually think I say that word too much. It's, like, totally, like, a crutch or something.
Sonny Rollins - "Just Friends"
The Beatles - "I've Got A Feeling"
Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious Monk - "Decidedly (Take 5)"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13

Total minutes of music (approx.): 53
Song with the most previous plays: "High Party" - 9
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I saw someone wearing this T-shirt.

It's funny on face value, but I made a mental note because it was obviously based on some bit of pop cultural ephemera I should know about. A quick search revealed it's from the Simpsons - - awesome. [UPDATE: See, I just re-read this and I can't believe I used "awesome" in a blog entry where I mentioned I say "awesome" too much. Not awesome.] I always kinda wish I knew this show better. Obviously I think it's hilarious, but I haven't seen every episode, and I certainly can recite quotes. Am I culturally deficient?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Separate Ways (Day 70)

*Note: WILTOMWTWT is off for the next few days. I have a family wedding to attend over the weekend in Minnesota (a.k.a. Land of 10,000 Lakes). So, stop back next week....please. Also, I apologize for being so tardy today. It's been a crazy day at work, with a lot of loose ends to sew up before the long weekend. I wanted to blog quickly, but I also wanted to leave you with something to chew over while I'm gone. For that reason, I present WILTOMWTWT's first ever All-Video post. If it's shite, I won't hear about it until next week. Later!

Richard Buckner - "Numbered"
Not the same song, but you'll get the idea.

Rilo Kiley - "More Adventurous"

Tony Scherr - "Boxcar"
Again a different song, but here's Tony.

Violent Femmes - "Gone Daddy Gone"

The Shins - "Caring Is Creepy"
She loves nerds.

Emmylou Harris - "Here I Am"

Coleman Hawkins - "You Never Know"
Different song, cool video.

Magnetic Fields - "I Don't Want To Get Over You"

Teddy Thomspon - "Separate Ways"

Dan Zanes - "How Do You Do?"
Cover your kids' eyes, it's Dan Zanes first rock 'n roll incarnation, The Del Fuegos.

Ryan Adams - "Why Do They Leave?"

Neil Young - "Love In Mind"
I love Uncle Neil.

Coldplay - "Swallowed In The Sea"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 14

Total minutes of music (approx.): 50
Song with the most previous plays: "Separate Ways" - 8
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Met pain lingers...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Over The Rainbow (Day 69)

The Rolling Stones - "Dear Doctor"
Outkast - "Stankonia (Stanklove)"
Low - "Pretty People"
Neil Young - "Boxcar"
The Hold Steady - "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around The Bend"
The Silos - "Hook In My Lip"
Calexico and Iron & Wine - "Dead Man's Will"
Radiohead - "All I Need
The Roots - "Here I Come"
Low - "Hatchet"
I wanted an excuse to talk about it (not just because Pcup asked) and Low has provided the perfect segue. The hatchet did indeed fall on Willie Randolph today (or should I say last night?) via a 3:12 a.m. ET press release. [Before I get into it, this is a very cool song from the Minnesota slowcore trio. It's from their very good 2007 album Drums and Guns, and it brightens the mood of what is a mostly somber anti-war album - - thematically and musically. In this case the band's plea for world peace is caged in the funny line "Let's bury the hatchet like the Beatles and The Stones."] So... as a Mets fan I am not shocked that Willie was fired. However, I am shocked at how poorly the team handled the situation. Clearly Willie was already on the hot seat after last year's historic collapse. Add to that the fact that they have sputtered in the fir
st 60 or so games this season; and Willie's strange comments to the press about how criticism of him was race related. But letting him fly all the way to Los Angeles, manage the team for the first game out there (which he won, btw), and sending him back to the hotel only to then shitcan him and tell the world in a press release in the middle of the night?! Classless! Just a total botch job by the Mets brain trust. Now, I'm not sure if GM Omar Minaya really had total autonomy in this decision or not (we'll probably know more after today's 5 p.m. press conference), but didn't anybody realize there was a better way to go about firing the manager (who incidentally ends his tenure with the second best winning percentage of any Mets skipper)? It's just embarrassing as a fan. The Mets seem to specialize in boneheaded moves and it hurts their credibility and ultimately impacts the team on the field. Obviously nothing changed between the weekend series and last night, so why didn't they just fire him in New York? It boggles the mind. Listen, I'm not sure getting rid of Willie is such a bad idea. I mean it's ultimately the players who are not performing, but there does seem to be a culture of mediocrity over the past year that has to be shaken up. Unfortunately they guy that was named the interim manager, Willie's bench coach Jerry Manuel, is said to have the same laid back personality as Randolph. How will the Mets respond? Only time will tell. At least, they have Pedro back in the rotation. Church should be back in the lineup soon. And the bullpen can't get worse. Maybe with the distractions behind them, they can just go out and play baseball. I, for one, think they'll play well, get back in the race and finally be eliminated in spectacularly heartbreaking fashion late in September in one of the last games ever at Shea Stadium. Meet the Mets...
Dean & Britta - "Teen Angel"
Joy Division - "These Days"
Dan Zanes - "Over The Rainbow"
David Bowie - "The Jean Genie"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 15

Total minutes of music (approx.): 54
Song with the most previous plays: "Over The Rainbow" - 15
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I got a cinnamon raisin bagel with butter and coffee.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jesus Was An Only Son (Day 68)

Johnny Cash - "Orange Blossom Special" (live)
Why do I love thee, Internet? This is the perfect example: The first song on today's playlist is a great tune from Cash's classic At Folsom Prison. In an effort to find out if this is an original or not, all of the sudden I was thrust into an interesting rabbit hole. (Of course, it turns out it's a cover - - I feel like I should have known this since it's referred to as the "national anthem of bluegrass" and was recorded by luminaries like Bill Monroe. But, hey, you can't know everything.) So, Wikipedia alludes to a slight controversy over the song, written by Ervin Rouse and Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise, but doesn't really deliver the whole story. They write: "The copyright holder is solely Rouse, as Wise supposedly rejected credit, saying there was no money in fiddle tunes." Intriguing. The pair wrote the song in 1939 about a NYC to Miami passenger train that began it's run in 1925, just as south Florida was beginning a development boom. But what of the credit? A quick Google search led to an interesting (and timely!) item in a North Carolina paper called the New Bern Sun Journal that claims that the song is more often attributed to Wise than Rouse. Turns out the forgotten songwriter is being honored this June 28 with a ceremony as a marker is unveiled near his house. (At the intersection of N.C. 55 and Wintergreen Road in Craven County, North Carolina... if you're in the area.) Apparently Rouse sort of faded into obscurity and it wasn't until Johnny Cash tracked him down in the 60s that he was given his due.

"Cash said in a 1994 interview in Life magazine that he tracked down Rouse and his brother in the Florida swamps in the early 1960s and performed the song with him on stage in 1964 before his recording, which gives Rouse credit. [Author Randy] Noles said Rouse's former wife told him before her death that Cash had quietly assisted the musician, who suffered from mental problems, in his late life and remembered him with flowers at his death."

It gets even better. Randy Noles wrote an entire book on the subject called Fiddler's Curse: The Untold Story of Ervin T. Rouse, Chubby Wise, Johnny Cash, and The Orange Blossom Special. My next stop was Amazon, and the full story was revealed in the book's blurb:

One of the most bizarre stories in all of popular music is the history of "Orange Blossom Special," arguably the century's best-known fiddle tune. The man credited with its ownership, Ervin T. Rouse, endured tragedy, alcoholism and mental illness. He spent his last years fiddling for tips in isolated taverns at the edge of the Everglades, and died all but unknown. The man who claimed co-ownership, Chubby Wise, achieved fame as the seminal fiddler of the bluegrass genre, but struggled to overcome personal demons and to heal the scars of childhood abandonment and abuse. Johnny Cash, the tortured superstar who made the song a mainstream hit, quietly championed Rouse and earned the enmity of Wise. This trio's disparate legacies are here told - and forever linked with the legendary diesel steamliner.

Is it me or is this just the coolest arcane musical discovery for a lazy Monday ever? Thanks, Intranets.
Magnetic Fields - "Zebra"
Beck - "No Complaints"
Bob Dylan - "Stuck Inside A Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again"
Smashing Pumpkins - "Luna"
Johnny Cash - "Delia's Gone"
Peter Sarstedt - "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)"
Bloc Party - "Where Is Home?
Bright Eyes - "Middleman"
The Shins - "Turn Me On"
Bruce Springsteen - "Jesus Was An Only Son"
Magnetic Fields - "If You Don't Cry"
Bob Willis & His Texas Playboys - "Bubbles In My Beer"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13

Total minutes of music (approx.): 49
Song with the most previous plays: "Jesus Was An Only Son" - 8
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I noticed a new ad campaign on the subway for Wise snacks that features the likeness of Mets SS Jose Reyes. Now I say likeness, because it's not actually Jose, but an animated version of the in-real-life already pretty animated shortstop. Kinda strange. Perhaps Jose was too busy booting balls in the field to take the time to pose for the photos. Or better yet, maybe cartoon Jose will replace real Jose on the field sparking the Mets to a second-half surge and a deep run in the playoffs. Anyone want to bet me a case of Wise Bravos Sweet Pepper Tortilla Chips that this will actually happen? What? No takers? Not even you, animated Jose?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sugar Magnolia (Day 67)

**Today marks a bit of a departure for the What I Listened To On My Way To Work Today blog. I did in fact listen to the following songs, but they were on the radio and not my iPod. I'm going out of town this weekend and a friend needed his car driven up north so I volunteered to take it. That means I needed to bring it into Manhattan this morning so I can head out straight after work. Now that's a lot of useless detail - - sorry - - but the basic upshot is that today's playlist comes courtesy of WFUV. It's a pretty cool public radio station from Fordham University in NYC that plays a lot of alt-country, folk and, gulp, adult alternative. (You can also listen to WFUV online. Meanwhile, they actually archive their playlists. To find out the exact names of the songs I heard this AM, all I had to do was go online and select the timeslot for a full list of the tracks. Do all radio stations do this? Amazing.)

The Grateful Dead - "Sugar Magnolia"
Love 'em or hate 'em, what a great summer song. Believe it or not, my friend's car is a convertible and this song had me wishing the top was down.
Gnarls Barkley - "Who's Gonna Save My Soul"
I really liked their Violent Femmes' cover "Gone Baby Gone" from their debut album, but I think I'm over Gnarls Barkley.
Iron & Wine - "House By The Sea"
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - "Answer Me"
This got a lot of love from the mainstream critics. Sharon has a big, bold gospel-like voice, but I'm not sure it's my cup of tea.
Chris Isaak - "Wicked Game"
Odd blast from the past. Of course, all I could think about was the video. Wonder why?

Ingrid Michaelson - "The Way I Am"
Hello, Norah Jones wannabe. Still, a very pretty song - - and she's from Staten Island.
The Subdudes - "(You'll Be) Satisfied"
Kathleen Edwards - "Six O'Clock News"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 8

Total minutes of music (approx.): 40
Song with the most previous plays: "Sugar Magnolia" - 7
Songs I heard on WFUV that are also on my iPod: 2; "Sugar Magnolia," "House By The Sea"
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I drove!

And I saw this on the side of a van. What the f*@k!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Abel (Day 66)

Joe Henry - "Parker's Mood"
This is yet another gorgeous song from the painfully underrated singer-songwriter and producer Joe Henry. Trivia buffs may know him as Madonna's brother-in-law (he actually wrote her 2000 hit "Don't Tell Me"). But he's really an ever-evolving artist who was once pigeonholed as an alt-country rocker, and now creates some really timeless jazz-inflected pop inhabited by characters and themes with the same emotional heft as Tom Waits. Seriously. The entire 2007 album that this song comes from, Civilians, is great. In fact, I can't believe I left "Our Song" off my Favorite Songs of 2007 list! That tune (with the evocative opening lyrics "I saw Willie Mays at a Scottsdale Home Depot. Looking at garage door springs at the far end of the 14th row..") is sublime. In addition to his own music, and producing albums by singer-songwriters like Aimee Mann and Teddy Thompson; Henry, along with Loudon
Wainwright III, composed the music for the Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up. My man is prolific. Incidentally that movie...totally holds up after repeated viewings. And it asks the age-old question: You can get pink eye from farting on a pillow?

Bruce Springsteen - "Erie Canal"
Lambchop - "The Rise And Fall Of The Letter P"
The National - "Abel"
Bill Evans - "My Romance (Take 2)"
Beck - "We Dance Alone"
Tony Scherr - "Daily"
Art Pepper - "Valse Triste"
Blonde Redhead - "Equally Damaged"
Palace Music - "Cat's Blues"
Tortoise - "Everglade"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 11

Total minutes of music (approx.): 53
Song with the most previous plays: "Abel" - 11
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: There was a guy on the subway that looked exactly like disgraced NY governor Eliot Spitzer. I was tempted to address him as Client No. 9.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quarter To Three (Day 65)

Hüsker Dü - "Beyond The Threshold"
The Velvet Underground - "White Light/White Heat"
Bishop Allen - "Quarter To Three"
The Shins - "Girl Sailor"
Fugazi - "Polish"
Shelby Lynne - "Track 12"
Grandaddy - "L.F.O."
The Killers - "Interlude"
T Bone Burnett - "Blinded By Darkness"
The Beastie Boys - "Jimmy James"
"This next one, is the first song on our new album..." And so begins the Beastie's great album Check Your Head - - with this sample from Cheap Trick's At Budokon. This album, like many great albums, brings me right back to that time and place when it was basically all I listened to. It was the summer after my sophomore year in college (1992, for anyone who wants to compute just how past my prime I am) and I was living in Philadelphia with some friends. With its anti-grunge rap and funk sound, along with the fact that it's such a great party record, Check Your Head really was the perfect soundtrack to that summer. And somehow I never tired of it, even though it was played literally non-stop where I worked that summer. Where? Okay, I'll tell you, but realize this disclosure is even more embarrassing than the fact that The Killers and Shelby Lynne appeared on today's playlist. I worked here. Don't knock it, I bought a lot of flannel shirts at a remarkable discount. (Please note: This was waaaay before the ironic T-shirt was hipster couture.)
Pulp - "Bar Italia"
Jim Noir - "Eanie Meany 2"
Devendra Banhart - "Queen Bee"
This song is dedicated to my daughter. Because the "Queen Bee" is a character in an episode of Dora she has watched three straight days in a row. And because I accidentally dislocated her elbow. Don't call child services. It's a fairly common injury. She's fine.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13

Total minutes of music (approx.): 48
Song with the most previous plays: "Quarter To Three," "Girl Sailor" (tie) - 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: The humidity was only 30%!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let It Blow (Day 64)

Radiohead - "Life In A Glass House"
Yo La Tengo - "Moonrock Mambo"
X - "How I (Learned My Lesson)"
Ida - "Lovers Prayers"
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - "I Fought The Law" (live)
Outkast - "Spaghetti Junction"
David Cross - "Phone Call From A Cranky Terrorist"
Some cuts from the two David Cross albums on my iPod have popped up on the way to work before and sometimes it can be a drag interrupting the tunes, but mostly its a humorous aperitif. And Cross's bits are so funny it's usually the latter. Today is no exception with this routine which features Cross ripping into the proliferation of wannabe stars in Hollywood. The centerpiece is his riff on how they all become crazy waiting around years for their big break, and then wind up being actually cast in a movie - - as a crazy strung-out loser on Hollywood Blvd. In other words, they wind up playing themselves and the irony is lost on the poor souls. Funny, true and sad, that's what Cross does best. And yes, this is the correct name of the track. I had to check but all the tracks on the album, Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!, are randomly named and have nothing to do with the routines. Most of them, like this one, have names that you could imagine would go with cliched bits by much lamer comics. Other examples include: "My Wife's Crazy!", "Flying On A Mexican Plane," and, pardon me, "Diarrhea Moustache."
Peter Bjorn & John - "Amsterdam"
A commenter recently wondered what happens after I write "And then I got to work." I do appreciate the interest in my not-too-exciting real life. And I'm not purposely concealing what I do for a living because it involves state secrets or something illegal or illicit. But I am enjoying the relative anonymity. (I'm sure astute Googlers could figure it out.) Anyhoo, here's a clue of sorts. Today when I got to work I had to write something down. On this piece of paper were some words. Among those words was an ampersand - - much like the ampersand that is part of the name of the band Peter Bjorn & John. (A band which also seems to forgo commas.) A co-worker commented, "Huh, you don't see someone hand write an ampersand that often." So, there you have it: What I do for a living involves occasionally writing ampersands. Now you know.
Superchunk - "The Popular Music"
Weezer - "Take Control"
Nina Simone - "Isn't It A Pity"
Richard Thompson - "Let It Blow"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12

Total minutes of music (approx.): 64
Song with the most previous plays: "Let It Blow" - 8
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: The NYC Sweat Tour '08 continues... And today's commute was actually interrupted by a trip to the barber where I was told that I have way too much hair for this kind of weather. Guess a trim was overdo.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking (Day 63)

Lou Reed - "Strawman"
I would have posted earlier, but I'm finally dry enough not to risk potential electrocution by touching the computer keyboard. It is freaking hot as balls in NYC today and, yes, on cue my subway decided to stop moving about 15 minutes into my commute. For those of you who do not know the joys of riding the New York City subway let me just quickly explain the situation. Sometimes a train will just stop. Sometimes the conductor will explain why the train has stopped. Sometimes they won't. During today's stoppage everyone on my train was told "We are stopped due to a signal outage up ahead. They train will be moving shortly." The train will be moving shortly seems to me to imply that the train will, in fact, be moving shortly. It implied that for the 35 minutes I waited, on the stopped train with my back facing the open car doors and the hot sun streaming onto me. I was forced to take the conductor at his word because getting off the train is just going to mean finding a bus or walking 25-30 minutes (in the heat), to another subway line. It appears my tolerance for waiting patienly like a sheep in the hot sun is 35 minutes, because I finally decided to risk it on foot. After a 15 minute walk I got to another stop where the same train was actually running - - like the sweat down my back. (If you must know, there was a power outtage which caused the delay.) Now this would definitely count as a "Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today" but I felt the need to vent right away, because I was only
really halfheartedly listening to my iPod during this whole mess and I don't have any real thoughts about today's songs. I was mostly cursing under my breath and/or listening for possible constructive announcements about the subway delays that never came. Hey, at least this song is from Lou Reed's New York. What a a coincidence, that's the same city I loath right now! The line of the song that sticks out: "If you're like me I'm sure a minor miracle will do. A flaming sword or maybe a gold ark floating up the Hudson." Um, gold ark, please. Presumably they don't have signal delays.
Jeff Tweedy - "Blue Eyed Soul" (live)
Pavement - "So Star" (live)
The Rosbuds - "Warm Where You Lay"
Cat Power - "The Moon"
Rilo Kiley - "Smoke Detector"
Tom Petty - "Saving Grace"
The Books - "There Is No There"
Dan Zanes - "Hey Little Red Bird"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "The Unwanted Things"
Steve Earle - "What's A Simple Man To Do" (live)
Snow Patrol - "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking"
Norah Jones - "Be My Somebody"
Luna - "La Poupee Qui Fait Non"
Colin Meloy - "The Engine Driver" (live)
Sloan - "In The Movies"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 16

Total minutes of music (approx.): 88
Song with the most previous plays: "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking" - 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I learned that when sweet, innocent looking old laidies get very hot they curse like sailors.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Waiting On The Guns (Day 62)

Stars - "What I'm Trying To Say"
Lou Reed - "Hold On"
So I've been uploading some random CDs recently and adding songs to the iPod. The reason is both to inject some new blood into the playlist, and also to revisit some older albums that I probably haven't heard in some time. Just few examples of these recent uploads: Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, Sebadoh's III, Silkworm's In The West, and the album containing this song on today's playlists, Lou Reed's New York. When New York came out in 1989, it was about the same time that I was beginning to fall in love with the Velvet Underground. But Lou's solo work didn't have the same arty guitar sound that basically spawned indie rock, and it was often punctuated by his talky singing style and either a love of atonal avant gardism or 50s doo wop music or both. In other words, it was a much more eclectic beast and not as easy to love, but New York was one of his more focused solo albums. The gritty rock sounds is backed by his wry lyrics that really captured late 80s NYC - - from HIV to homelessness. The politics may be a bit dated, but I think the record really holds up both sonically and thematically. NYC may be cleaner on the outside, but Lou knows what lurks below the gleam coming off the new condos going up all over town.
Ry Cooder - "Strike!"
Illinois - "Missing a Piece" (live)
Pixies - "Nimrod's Son"
LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
I already blogged a while back about the polarizing nature of online tastemakers, Pitchfork. But today I was thinking about it again, because I recalled they picked this very track as the Best Song of 2007. At the time, I remember thinking that it was an odd choice. Today, I'm wondering if Pitchfork really is smarter and cooler than me. (Okay, obviously, they're cooler but really - - smarter?) This song from LCD Soundsystem (really the work of an electronic noodler with a real sense of melody named James Murphy), starts slowly and then builds repetitively like the long lost brother of an 80s New Order tune. It never quite ends up "blazing like a house of fire" as Pitchfork claims but at 7-and-a-half minutes it is a mini-epic that does kinda get in your head. My problem is that I don't even like it as much as other tracks on the Sound of Silver album like "North American Scum" or "Watch The Tapes." Since I wasn't blogging last year, I got out of the inevitable Best Of list making. But I thought I might give it a shot in honor of "All My Friends" popping up on the shuffle. So, here then are some of my Favorite Songs of 2007 (in no particular order):
Modest Mouse - "Dashboard"
The New Pornographers - "Myriad Harbor"
Of Montreal - "Suffer For Fashion"
Feist - "1234"
Girzzly Bear - "He Hit Me"
The Arcade Fire - "Intervention"
The National - "Mistaken For Strangers"
Radiohead - "Bodysnatchers"
The Besnard Lakes - "For Agent 13"
Ryan Adams - "Two"
Rilo Kiley - "Silver Lining"
Beirut - "Nantes"
Iron & Wine - "Pagan Angel And A Borrowed Car"
What I miss?
Camera Obscura - "I Need All The Friends I Can Get"
R.E.M. - "Mr. Richards"
Bishop Allen - "Flight 180" (live)
The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Hot Burrito #2"
Art Farmer - "Blues March"
The Wedding Present - "Waiting On The Guns"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12

Total minutes of music (approx.): 51
Song with the most previous plays: "Waiting On The Guns" - 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Really, New York Times? You Don't Mess With The Zohan?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reinvent The Wheel (Day 61)

The Kinks - "This Time Tomorrow"
The Books - "That Right Ain't Shit"
The Beastie Boys - "Mark On The Bus"
Rufus Wainright - "Imaginary Love"
Pavement - "Conduit For Sale!"
Pixies - "Monkey Gone To Heaven"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Travelin' Band"
I know, kinda random. But, hey, who can't use a little CCR on their way to work? This band will always remind me of an insanely fun road trip to New Orleans from Ann Arbor, MI for (you guessed it) spring break. Not sure who brought along the cassette of CCR's Chronicles Vol. 1, but it was a nice addition. (Lest you think my friends and I were all classic rock loving frat boys, know that the recently released album Slanted and Enchanted was also in the rotation. Ok?) But what I was specifically thinking about this AM while listening to "Travelin' Band" however was the cover of the 1970 album the song first appeared on, Cosmo's Factory. Anyone remember this?

It's so bad it's great. The album is named after CCR's rehearsal space and this is obviously a picture of the band hanging out in this oh-so-artless room. I love how lame it looks. The big blue curtain. The red rug. The 10-speed bike. And absolutely no groupies or drugs. I'm kind of nostalgic for this sort of album cover. Everything today is so art directed in an attempt to impress upon the buyer how cool the band is. I guess CCR was pretty confident that everyone already knew they were pretty cool. Bonus aside here: This image also reminds me of this awesome blog I just came upon: For Those Who Tried To Rock. The site is attempting to collect pictures, sounds and bios from any group of music-loving kids who ever tried to form a rock band and become the next big thing. It's amazing. Here's a sample line I lifted from the most recent entry about The Explosions from Cherry Hill, New Jersey:
"...a particular triumph [was] when we forced the band hired to play my bar mitzvah off the stage and did our version of 'Brown Sugar.'"
Versus - "Circle"
Low - "Cue The Strings"
The Lemonheads - "Poughkeepsie"
Deerhunter - "Spring Hall Convert"
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "Honey Child What Can I Do?"
Maritime - "Someone Has To Die"
Beck - "Hell Yes"
Pixies - "Into The White" (live)
Bright Eyes - "Reinvent The Wheel"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 16

Total minutes of music (approx.): 58
Song with the most previous plays: "Reinvent The Wheel" - 8
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I stopped to get a bagel and coffee. (Reason for long-ass playlist revealed!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You May Be Blue (Day 60)

The Starlight Mints - "Zillion Eyes"
Os Mutantes - "A Minha Menina (My Girl)"
These guys just keep popping up on the playlist. (Look below, more Os Mutantes!) Truth is, in a random fit of iPod song-ripping I took a bunch of their albums from my wife's cousin. Besides the fact that said cousin lives in Portland and has pretty impeccable taste in music, I'd recently read an article about the over 40-year-old Brazillian pop band in which Devendra Banhart (yup, him again) described them as such: "
They didn’t sound like the Beatles, but they were innovative, masterful musicians the way the Beatles were, traversing styles from song to song or even from verse to verse, mixing psychedelia, African tribal modes, tango, ragas, Motown, even polka." I haven't really immersed myself in the catalog completely, but when the songs do pop up, I'm into it. This one in particular, I like a lot. It's from their 1968 eponymous album and it has a very 60s fuzzy guitar, pop sound and along with the Portuguese vocals I always think it would make a great kitschy song for a soundtrack. (In all honesty, at first I did think it was from one of the Wes Anderson soundtracks on the iPod.) One more Os Mutantes fun fact: the name of Beck's 1998 album Mutations (my personal favorite of his) is an homage to the group.
Mojave 3 - "Ghost Ship Waiting"
Yo La Tengo - "Song for Mahila"
The Wrens - "Crawling"
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - "Days Of Being Wild"
Vetiver - "You May Be Blue"
Talking Heads - "Happy Day"
Ryan Adams - "My Blue Manhattan"
Dan Zanes - "Sweet Rosyanne"
A Dan Zanes song calls for an update on what the kids are listening to. Only the 10-week old is not really listening to anything, and the 2-and-a-half-year-old has actually been off music of late. (Damn you, Caillou!) Although in the car recently I begged her to give "Daddy's music" another try and I eased her into it with a song off of Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger
Sessions. The song was "Froggie Went a Courtin'" (another version of which is on Dan Zanes' Rocket Ship Beach, although there it goes by the title "King Kong Kitchie"). Clearly it was a perfect segue. When we got home she wouldn't let me turn off the car until the song was over! Perhaps it's time for a rock block of Pavement...
The Apples In Stereo - "My Pretend"
Rivers Cuomo - "Chess"
Os Mutantes - "Panis Et Circensis"
X - "Motel Room In My Bed"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 14

Total minutes of music (approx.): 48
Song with the most previous plays: "You May Be Blue" - 16
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: While reading about the ridiculous amount of hype the Yankees' YES network heaped on yesterday's first start by Joba Chamberlain, I was reminded of another ridiculous (although sublimely humorous) moment in self-indulgent Yankee history. (BTW, Mets beat the Giants last night 9-6.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Her Disappearing Theme (Day 59)

Broken Social Scene - "Her Disappearing Theme"
Pixies - "Broken Face" (live)
Bob Dylan - "From a Buick 6"
You have to forgive this song for not necessarily standing out. After all it is on the same album as Dylan classics like "Like A Rolling Stone," "Tombstone Blues," "Ballad Of A Thin Man," "Queen Jane Approximately" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." That album is, of course, 1965's Highway 61 Revisited. Still, the lyrics are great. (Shocker!) And the repeated refrain about the narrator's "soulful mama" (not to be confused with the "graveyard woman" who keeps his kids, natch) is the memorable: "Well, if I go down dyin', you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed." But today, the line that stuck out most of all was this one: "She walks like Bo Diddley and she don't need no crutch." Of course, Bob Diddley died yesterday. A true rock & roll pioneer, Bo is actually famous for his very own beat. The New York Times today tries to describe the Bo Diddley beat as follows (sing it with me):
"bomp-ba-domp-ba-domp, ba-domp-domp." Of forget that, just listen to the master:

This little beat (or shuffle), inspired countless rock songs. The
Times even points out a bunch, including: U2's "Desire," The Who's "Magic Bus," and David Bowie's "Panic In Detroit." My favorite example, however, is the Buddy Holly song "Not Fadeaway." Although (FULL DISCLOSURE ALERT), it's the Grateful Dead version that I love. I did my time with the good ol' Grateful Dead in concert and this was always one of my favorite encores. (Be patient, the band noodles around for the first 20 seconds or so, but that beat does kick in.):

RIP, Bo.

Los Lobos - "Rita"
Blonde Redhead - "The Dress"
Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Butch Vig mix)
One more bit of news related to a song on today's playlist (courtesy of the NYT):

The ashes of Kurt Cobain were stolen from the Hollywood home of his widow, Courtney Love, The Guardian of London reported. Ms. Love, left, told authorities that the ashes had recently been stolen from a heart-shaped handbag in a secret hiding place in a wardrobe. She said that she was suicidal as a result of the theft, The Guardian reported, and that the ashes had been taken by an acquaintance. “I can’t believe anyone would take Kurt’s ashes from me,” she said. “If I don’t get them back I don’t know what I will do.” Most of the ashes of Cobain, the lead singer and songwriter for Nirvana, were scattered at a New York Buddhist temple and in the Wishkah River near Aberdeen, Wash., where he lived as a boy. He committed suicide in 1994.

Oh, Courtney. Will you ever stop grabbing headlines by trotting out the ashes (literal or figurative) of your supremely more talented late husband? I suspect not.
The National - "Driver Surprise Me" (live)
Tortoise - "Spiderwebbed"
Thelonious Monk - "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 9

Total minutes of music (approx.): 60
Song with the most previous plays: "Her Disappearing Theme" - 4
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: This nice weather is starting to make me nervous.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Gone To Earth (Day 58)

Beirut - "Nantes"
The American Analog Set - "Gone To Earth"
Today's Song With The Most Previous Plays comes courtesy of a very cool band that I've been listening to for a while that virtually defines, for me, low-key alt-rock. At times they are sort of post-rock or Tortoise-like, and at others they are reminiscent of Yo La Tengo's minimalist sound on And Nothing Turns Itself Inside Out. In any case, their groovy downbeat always seems to put me in a good, but mellow mood. The band was founded by Andrew Kennedy in Austin, TX in 1995, who is actually now a member of the Broken Social Scene. The last AmAnSet album was 2005's Set Free. I hope they re-group, there will always be a place on the soundtrack of my life for this beautiful sounding band.
Willie Nelson - "Over You Again"
Grandaddy - "Nebraska"
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - "Heart In The Hand Of The Mat"
Midlake - "Jugler"
Serge Gainsbourt - "Marilou Reggae"
Pernice Brothers - "Automaton"
Grizzly Bear - "Shift"
Two pieces of awesomeness I'd like to mention here. (Incredibly, neither of which is this band itself. In case you're not familiar, run - - don't walk - - to your nearest purveyor of music and purchase the album Yellow House.) No, this is a word about two amazing places on the Web for inspirational live performances
(that most of you already know about). The first is: Daytrotter. This website collects recordings made at a studio above a pizza place in Rock Island, IL by bands who stop by for a jam as they tour through the heartland of America. Incredible bands, incredible songs - - all, incredibly, free. The version of "Shift" on today's playlist is one such recording. The second is: the Take Away Shows at La Blogotheque. The dudes (or dudettes) at this Parisian weblog shoot videos of bands in unusual, urban environments. It's also very cool, and below is Take Away version of the same Grizzly Bear song. I know I'm probably late to the party, but I was thinking this AM that there could be other losers out their like me... and I just want to help.

Thelonious Monk - "Gallop's Gallop"

The Clientele - "The Garden At Night"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 11
Total minutes of music (approx.): 42
Song with the most previous plays: "Gone To Earth" - 10
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I read a NY Times piece that not-so-nicely describes the song "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" on the new Weezer album as: a "kind of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'-style epic that high school drummers compose during chemistry lab." But then it also goes on to claim the song's a parody. Weird. Then again, they also kinda like the new Journey album...