Friday, August 29, 2008

The Crane Wife 3 (Day 114)

Sufjan Stevens - "Sleeping Bear, Sault Saint Marie"
Here we are, at the end of summer. I'd love to pen some ode to those hazy, hot and humid days that are soon to be history for another year...but I want to get the hell out of here! See you Tuesday. (By the way, I've been to Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan and it's beautiful. Look.)

(Sadly, not my photo. Thanks to this random Flickr photographer. Nice stuff, btw.)

Conor Oberst - "Souled Out!!!"

Magnetic Fields - "All My Little Words"
Beck - "Orphans"
Gorillaz - "All Alone"
Karl Blau - "The Dark, Magic Sea"
Pernice Brothers - "Cruelty To Animals"
The Decembrists - "The Crane Wife 3"
Sufjan Stevens - "No Man's Land"
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - "Killing The Blues"
The White Stripes - "Black Math"
James - "Basic Brian"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "The Toro And The Toeador"

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: "The Crane Wife 3" - 20
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 5
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: On the train, I was reading the paper and recalling this highlight of O's speech:
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land -- enough! This moment -- this election -- is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."
Love the sentiment, but do we have to be reminded of this:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Erie Canal (Day 113)

The Raconteurs - "Five On The Five"
Am I the only one who loves the new-ish Raconteurs album? I think I once referred to it as a guilty pleasure, but you know what? I don't feel guilty anymore. It's a balls-to-the-wall, kick-ass rock album, that manages to feel old-fashioned and modern at the same time. It's definitely my go-to album of late when I just want to rawk out a bit. Yes, I still love you ephemeral, folky friends like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, but a guy's gotta bang his head too, ya know? It's also a rare follow-up album that is actually better than the group's debut. Not many examples of that these days...I can't even think of one. You?
Dan Zanes - "Erie Canal"
Today's Song With The Most Previous Plays (a whopping 21!) comes courtesy of my daughter. It's the eighth track on Dan Zane's album Rocket Ship Beach, an early favorite of hers (and mine). Nice traditional tune though, sung by Suzanne Vega.
Rivers Cuomo - "The Bomb"
Johnny Cash - "Send A Picture Of Mother"
Sloan - "Light Years"
Gustavo Santaolalla - "Pajaros"
Tom Waits - "Children's Story"
It's called "Children's Story" and Tom Waits recites this little tale in the cadence of a father reading to his child over a lilting melody but the whole thing is a bit more nihilistic than that. Check it out:
Once upon a time there was a poor child, with no father and no mother
And everything was dead

And no one was left in the whole world

Everything was dead

And the child went on search, day and night
And since nobody was left on the earth,
he wanted to go up into the heavens
And the moon was looking at him so friendly

And when he finally got to the moon,
the moon was a piece of rotten wood

And then he went to the sun
And when he got there, the sun was a wilted sunflower

And when he got to the stars, they were little golden flies.

Stuck up there, like the shrike sticks 'em on a blackthorn

And when he wanted to go back, down to earth,
the earth was an overturned piss pot
And he was all alone, and he sat down and he cried

And he is there till this day

All alone

Um, yeah, who's gonna sleep well now? Apparently the story comes from Woyzeck which is a 19th century German play by Georg Buchner about a soldier of questionable mental health who murders his mistress. (At one point a "Doctor" conducts an experiment on the poor soldier during which he must eat nothing but peas. He then goes kinda nuts. Further proof that this not a text for kids.) On a sunnier note, my 2.9-year-old is a voracious reader. (Or listener really, since she can't read - - although she is a pretty great memorizer.) He current favorites are a bit sunnier than Woyzeck. They include (because I'm sure you're wondering):

I think this odd trio of books actually sums up her personality pretty well: Adventurous, mischievous and girlie.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters - "Nothing Clings Like Ivy"
The Flatlanders - "Julia"
Tortoise - "I Set My Face To The Hillside"
Fruit Bats - "Magic Hour"
The Evens - "Eventually"
The Strokes - "15 Minutes"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 45
Song with the most previous plays: "Erie Canal" - 21
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Had some NY Times inspired house envy. How cool would it be to live in this pad?:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Old Dan Tucker (Day 112)

R.E.M. - "Welcome To The Occupation" (live)
See that? Every time I think the iPod is done it returns from the dead. It's like I have the Scott Baio of iPods. Anyhoo, nice kick off to the return of the playlist. I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to R.E.M. in a about 15 years, but there is no doubting their once-great status. And listening to the live version of this song, which is of course the second track on the 1987 album Document, it occurred to me that this was a pretty seminal piece of music in my own cultural development. Document is arguably be the first alternative/indie (whatever you want to call it) album I ever bought. (Except I had it on cassette, naturally.) I was a sophomore in high school and although "The One I Love" was a Billboard hit, these were the crazy days of Huey Lewis & the News, Bon Jovi and Janet Jackson. A young highschooler could easily be ensnared in the clutches of horrible synth pop or toothless rock. Sure, U2, The Cure and other alternative bands were already doing their thing, but it's hard to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't caught that strange and moody video for "The One I Love" on MTV. I could be blogging about Scott Baio, for instance. Oops.
The New Pornographers - "The Spirit Of Giving"
Bruce Springsteen - "Old Dan Tucker"
The Kinks - "Education" (live)
The Arcade Fire - "My Body Is A Cage"
Devendra Banhart - "Will Is My Friend"
The Flaming Lips - "Turn It On"
Mose Allison - "Idyll"
Elvis Costello & The Imposters - "The Monkey"
Wilco - "ELT"
Pavement - "We Are Underused"
Bishop Allen - "Ghosts Are Good Company"
Iron & Wine - "Free Until They Cut Me Down"
Takka Takka - "Sofia"
Emmylou Harris - "Tragedy"
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - "Beachcombing"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 17
Total minutes of music (approx.): 68
Song with the most previous plays: "Old Dan Tucker" - 11
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Slow train. Long playlist.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Curse of Bowie (Day 111)

Umm, this is not good. It happened again. A nice trip to work today. Gorgeous weather. Good tunes. No playlist! The iPod did not keep track of the song's played again this AM. What's up with you, decaying, ancient mp3 player? I know, I've probably milked this little unit well past its expiration date. (Although that's sad because I believe I got it in June 2006.) You know that Apple, for all it's shiny, happy designs and user-friendly interfaces, has these things self-destruct just in time to get the newest model. I know what ipodwidow is going to think, but this is no ploy. The thing may finally be on its last legs.
Yo La Tengo - "Swing For Life"
So what did I hear? Well, definitely Yo La Tengo's "Swing For Life." I remember peeking at the iPod because I didn't immediately recognize this YLT song. (Although I recognized Georgia Hubley's heavy, sublime drumming. I think she's awesome. Plus, in person she's has this quiet, yet intense presence.) This particular track is from May I Sing With Me which is probably the YLT album I know least. In fact, it's not on my iPod, but the Prisoners Of Love compilation is, and this track also appears there.
Starlight Mints - "San Diego"
Second memorable tune today was this Starlight Mints song. I was walking up the stairs from subway No. 1 to transfer to subway No. 2 and the opening riff had my hand involuntarily striking a few air guitar chords. Until I snapped out of this riff-induced haze and remembered I was in public. Although the song is called "San Diego" this indie pop band actually hails from Norman, OK. And I don't know much else about them. They won't necessarily blow you away, but apparently they make kick-ass music to climb subway stairs to.
David Bowie - "Modern Love"
And the final song from today's playlist that I remember for some strange reason: David Bowie's "Modern Love." No biggie, right? It's just a track from Bowie's very commercial 1983 album Let's Dance, which has aged about as poorly as you'd imagine. Well, I'll tell you what the big deal is: IT WAS A BOWIE SONG THAT PLAYED THE LAST TIME THE IPOD CRAPPED OUT! Apparently Mr. Bowie has it out for my iPod. Where's the love, David? I even bought that god-awful Tin Machine album.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: n/a
Total minutes of music (approx.): n/a
Song with the most previous plays: n/a
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Big Mike Pelfrey pitched his second consecutive complete game for the Mets last night. Seemed impressive until I read this fun-fact: Tom Seaver holds the Mets record for career complete games with 171. He also holds the single-season mark with 21, set in 1971.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Extradition (Day 110)

Stereolab - "Contronatura"
The Stills - "Fevered"
The Beatles - "Good Day Sunshine"
Wessell Anderson - "Go Slow For Mo'"
Pavement - "Extradition"
The Beatles - "I Am The Walrus"
Calexico / Iron & Wine - "Prison Route 41"
Sloan - "Will You Ever Love Me Again?"
John Hiatt - "Cold River"
Tom Waits - "Long Way Home"
Islands - "Volcanoes"
Creepy! What's with the spoken-word sample that kicks off this song by this usually bouncy psychedelic pop band? The scratchy recording and the dark tone reminded me of the spoken intro to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around." (Incidentally that song played over the closing credits of the finale of HBO's Generation Kill last night. Anybody watch this mini-series? I thought it was pretty great.) The words are just as apocalyptic:
"My Name is Oscar // I want to introduce myself // I was killed in 1936 by my brother // I'm a demon and I want you to know // The world is going to end in 2007."
Well, at least the prediction didn't come true, but the lyrics to the rest of the song sound like some environmental disaster warning. Worth heeding, naturally. But where is this weird sample from? I thought for sure a Google search would reveal something? Nope. Is this some obvious reference I'm missing? Anyone? Oscar?

Wilco - "I Was In Your Dreams" (live)

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12
Total minutes of music (approx.): 54
Song with the most previous plays: "Extradition" - 6
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: So. Freaking. Humid.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Los Angeles, I'm Yours (Day 109)

The Decembrists - "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
Don't let the name fool you - - this is no love letter to Tinseltown. But it is hilarious. "Oh ladies, pleasant and demure //
Sallow-cheeked and sure // I can see your undies," is one nice example. (Weirdly the melody also sounds like Elton John's "Bennie And The Jets.") Okay, so if you're a big L.A. booster, you probably won't be inviting The Decembrists to pay your post-plastic surgery party...but you could! That is, if you're willing to plunk down $50,000. This interesting article lists the fees for several bands to play a private party. The National? $20-25K. Wilco? $30-35. Is it me or does that not sound outrageous. I mean none of us mortals could afford it, but imagine you were a music-loving gazillionaire? I'd have Wilco come by the house and jam every few weeks. And on the bargain basement side, Bob Mould might do it for $3,500. Anyone want to join me in raising the funds for our own private concert by the Husker Du legend?
Grinderman - "Get It On"
Os Mutantes - "Cantor De Mambo"
Am I tastemaker, or what? This over-40-year-old band has hardly been part of the zeitgeist. But regular readers know they've been showing up on my work shuffle a lot. And, the next thing you know, their song "A Minha Menina" is in a current commercial. Running during the Olympics no less. Is some ad exec a secret WILTOMWTWT reader? Speak up! Here's the spot - - for McDonald's. Aye.

Sufjan Stevens - Live on KCRW
It may look like the playlist got cut short, but it didn't. Although it's only one track on my iPod, this is actually a 38 minute set of Sufjan music from Come On Feel The Illinoise recorded live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic in 2005. It's amazing and (late adopter alert), also my first entree into S.S.'s music. One listen and I was hooked. In studio his sound is extremely warm, and with only a few band members on hand, appropriately more stripped down than on record. Seriously beautiful stuff. And still available - - if you're interested.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 8
Total minutes of music (approx.): 45
Song with the most previous plays: "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" - 6
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 4
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Since the Olympics are coming to a close (boo), I'll offer one more fun fact (read during my commute to work, natch). This time it's about the gold medal winning U.S. women's soccer team. Sadly I didn't see their final match...but I'll catch the movie that is most definitely going to be made about their goalkeeper Hope Solo! Check it out:

“I’m on cloud nine, just floating out there,” Solo said.

Referring to the death of her father last year, and the World Cup exile, Solo said she had been “through hell,” and if “one gold medal takes away all the pain in the world, then that’s fake.”

Still, Thursday’s victory was the end of a long, difficult journey.

Solo had been especially close to her father. She described him as a homeless man, but said he served as her inspiration with his candor and effervescence. She had dedicated a championship in the 2007 World Cup to his memory, only to have her plans come undone in the semifinal match against Brazil.

There was much about her father she did not know, including his real name. He was variously known as Jeffrey, Johnny and Jerry. He was a Vietnam veteran from the Bronx who moved to Seattle, lived in a tent and may have been in a witness protection program, Solo said. He died before many of her questions were answered.

After being estranged, Jeffrey Solo reconnected with Hope when she attended the University of Washington from 1999 to 2002. He attended her games, and she often took macaroni and cheese to the tent where he lived, a place where they talked for hours.

Am I the only one that thinks he'll be played by Robin Williams?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

These Days (Day 108)

James - "Low Clouds"
Um...err...wha? Had to take a look at the iPod to see what was going on here as 4 seconds of the sound of wind blowing in my ears. Oh, right, James' Wah Wah. This odd album from 1994 was the experimental work that resulted from the band's pairing with knob twiddler Brian Eno. Together they made a commercial record (1993's Laid) and then this oh-so-not commercial one. It's actually pretty cool, and definitely a little ahead of it's time - - especially considering all the praise heaped upon current wunderkinds like Animal Collective. FYI: This is actually the shortest "song" on my iPod (not including a few blank tracks that are really just breaks between songs).
Wilco - "The Thanks I Get" (live)
Recorded during the Sky Blue Sky sessions, this song didn't make the record, but was made available as a download. It also showed up here.

Well, you can't expect to make a living just being an amazing rock band, can you?
Damien Rice - "9 Lives"
Sam Prekop - "Something"
Vetiver - "Without A Song"
Destroyer - "Death On The Festival Circuit"
Joy Division - "These Days"
Nurse & Soldier - "In The Dark"
The Elected - "Would You Come With Me"
Aimee Mann - "Medicine Wheel"
Vetiver - "I Must Be In A Good Place Now"
Two from Vetiver today. I've talked them up before. They're a very cool ambient folk band and this track is from the record of obscure covers they put out earlier this year. It's fun to listen to...and fun to figure out where the heck the songs came from. This one was originally written and recorded in 1972 by Bobby Charles. Who's Bobby Charles you're wondering? Why he's a progenitor of Louisiana-influenced rhythm and blues, of course! In fact, he wrote this seminal rock song:

Actually that's Bill Haley who scored a hit with the song doing the singing. (The clip is from the 1956 movie Rock Around The Clock - - and it's pretty hilarious.) Anyhoo, after writing hits for others, including Fats Domino, Bobby finally got around to putting out his own record. And who did he hook up with? The Band! Yes, his eponymous album (on which appears "I Must Be In A Good Place Now") was produced by Rick Danko and most of The Band backs him up. The record is described as sounding like what it might be like if Randy Newman actually fronted The Band. I'm intrigued, thanks Vetiver.
Elliott Smith - "Speed Trials"
Bowerbirds - "La Denigracion"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 45
Song with the most previous plays: "These Days" - 11
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Today's Olympics fun fact: Controversy! Michael Phelps is sponsored by the same company (Omega) that is the official timekeeper at the Beijing games! And...
Phelps was involved in a disputed race last Saturday. Omega has declined to release underwater video images showing conclusively that Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly by a hundredth of a second over Milorad Cavic of Serbia, saying that swimming’s world governing body, FINA, made the decision.
There's more.
Shortly after Saturday’s disputed race, Alina Ivanescu, a spokeswoman for Omega, told The New York Times that the company would soon forward the video images to the news media. Later Saturday, though, Ivanescu sent an e-mail message saying that FINA decided not to release any timekeeping images to the news media.
What do you think, conspiracy theorists?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

7/4 (Shoreline) [Day 107]

Versus - "Eskimo"
David Cross - "Certain Leaders In Government Look Or Act Like Certain Pop Cultural References!"
Cansei De Ser Sexy - "Alcohol"
Broken Social Scene - "7/4 (Shoreline)"
Phew. Back with a shuffled playlist at last - - and a nice Song With The Most Previous Plays. I think I've blogged before about my less-than-obsessive familiarity with this band commonly referred to as a Canadian pop supergroup. My first thought today was, do they really tour with 19 members? I wanted to see this in action, so I went to YouTube and immediately came up with this cool performance of "7/4 (Shoreline)" from a Jan. 31, 2006 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Well, I guess this was their stripped-down lineup because I only count 14 band members (including Leslie Feist, who should probably be counted twice). It may look like one of those end-of-award-show jams, but this is pretty tight for a group that looks more like a mob. Even Conan jokes, "You need more guitars!" Check it out.

Magnetic Fields - "Holy Fucking Romantic"
Destroyer - "The Sublimation Hour"
Guided By Voices - "Game Of Pricks"
Guided By Voices - "Chasing Heather Crazy"
Wow, how's that for back-to-back GBV? Two excellent songs, including this one from the shinier late-period album Isolation Drills. I'm sure there are purists out there who hate it for its production values, but I think it's pretty great. You?
Tindersticks - "The Walt Blues"
Sparklehorse - "Heart Of Darkness"
Belle & Sebastian - "Judy Is A Dick Slap"
Intriguing title...yes? Unfortunately because it's and instrumental, this B&S song from the Legal Man EP, doesn't give us any hint of what that title could possibly be referring to. Any guesses?
Norah Jones - "Little Room"
Charlotte Gainsbourg - "Tel Que Tu Es"
Built To Spill - "Traces"
The Clientele - "Carnival On 7th Street"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 15
Total minutes of music (approx.): 46
Song with the most previous plays: "7/4 (Shoreline)" - 9
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Olympic mystery solved! Why do the divers shower after each dive? Take it away, NYTimes:
The answer is actually quite simple. The pool is 79 degrees, and when the divers come out, they are cold. Since there is often a long wait between dives, they shower to keep their muscles warm.
Okay, but why the little towel?

Like the showers, the shammies serve a practical purpose. Divers’ skin must be perfectly dry so they do not lose their grip when they do complicated dives. Kenny Armstrong, a United States diving coach, said that the American Matt Scoggin lost his grip in Barcelona in 1992 while performing a back three-and-a-half somersault and landed on his back in the finals.

“There’s nothing worse than slippery,” Armstrong said.

If you say so.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Forgot It! (Day 106)

Yup, I forgot it alright. The iPod: sitting on my desk, at work. Me: on the subway, on the way home, last night. I almost went back. ipodwidow would not have appreciated that. But, oh, the pain. An entire commute home and an entire commute back to work the next day sans iPod. My ears, open and exposed to the city and all its sounds. For the record, it's noisy out there and occasionally interesting, but I prefer my little hermetically sealed world, with its own soundtrack. So what do I do now? I didn't actually listened to any music on my way to work today. Still, I felt like I needed to post a playlist. (Call the folks at Intervention, I'm hooked. Speaking of said show, this is the craziest episode ever.) Since I forgot my iPod, I thought a collection of songs about "forgetting" might be in order. But making a scan of the song titles in alphabetical order I only came up with one song that begins with the word forget - - "Forget the Flowers" by Wilco. Obviously there are other songs with the word forget (or forgot) somewhere in the title. Is there anyway to find them all? Yes! Am I the last person to discover the "Smart Playlist" function in iTunes? You can search your songs using any keyword. Very cool. So, thanks to this newly found function, here is today's playlist, dedicated to...forgetting.

The Walkmen - "Don't Forget Me"
Beulah - "Don't Forget To Breathe"
Wilco - "Forget The Flowers"
Leonard Cohen - "I Can't Forget"
Elvis Presley - "I Forgot To Remember To Forget"
Bodies Of Water - "I Guess I'll Forget The Sound, I Guess, I Guess"
Husker Du - "I'll Never Forget You"
Fountains Of Wayne - "The Girl I Can't Forget"
Cut Copy - "Unforgettable Season"
Belle & Sebastian - "You Made Me Forget My Dreams"
Jens Lekman - "At The Dept. Of Forgotten Songs"
Red House Painters - "Have You Forgotten"
The Moldy Peaches - "I Forgot"
Magnetic Fields - "Long-Forgotten Fairytale"
The Walkmen - "Old Forgotten Soldier"
Iron & Wine - "Sunset Spoon Forgotten"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 0
Total minutes of music (approx.): 0
Song with the most previous plays: n/a
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): n/a
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: It was torture.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Smile (Day 105)

Johnny Cash - "Devil's Right Hand"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "Colleen"
The Mountain Goats - "The Young Thousand"
Reigning Sound - "I Walk By Your House"
Led Zeppelin - "I Can't Quit You Baby"
The Beatles - "Don't Le Me Down"
The Hold Steady - "Citrus"
Jack Johnson - "People Watching"
Elliott Smith - "Cupid's Trick"
O'Death - "Face Music"
Violent Femmes - "Waiting For The Bus"
Lily Allen - "Smile"
I'm back, but doing a lot of catch up at work, so I'll have to be brief again today. I will say I was a bit shocked that this was today's Song With The Most Previous Plays. I guess we know what one of my musical guilty pleasures was from the summer of '06. Although after hearing it this AM, I think I'm ready to declare this summer fling officially over. Sorry, Lily. Hey, at least I didn't shack up with Amy Winehouse.
Teenage Fanclub - "Gene Clark"
The Mountain Goats - "First Few Desperate Hours"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 14
Total minutes of music (approx.): 49
Song with the most previous plays: "Smile" - 11
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Is there anything worse than going to work after a few days off? Not much.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucky (Day 104)

Radiohead - "There There"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "Timorous Me"
Cansei De Ser Sexy - "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above"
Sparklehorse - "850 Double Pumper Holley"
The Elected - "British Columbia"
Tortoise - "Eros"
Fourth Of July - "The Faint"
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - "I Want You" (live)
Today was a test: Would mind control work on my iPod? Like some kind of Jedi, I said (to myself), "You will play a Bob Dylan song today." Holy shit! It (sort of) worked. My iPod coughed up the Dylan tune, but the shifty bastard made it a Dylan tune performed by someone else. Either my iPod has a more refined sense of humor than I realized, or my mind control abilities are sorely lacking. In any case it wasn't really even worth the cerebral expenditure, because the reason I wanted an excuse to mention Dylan today isn't that earth shattering. Nonetheless I've bullshitted enough about it, I'll just tell you. Bob was in my 'hood yesterday, and although I didn't get a ticket to see him perform (that would have required cash and forethought), I did make the 10 minute walk, with my dog K.C., into Prospect Park to see if I could get an earful gratis. It was a beautiful night and the park was buzzing, but the non-paying customers were impeded by a big fence which meant no view and very muffled sound. But that didn't deter many of us from hanging out on the lawn and taking in the scene. (Including some woman who took a liking to my dog [nice], and while I wasn't looking fed her beef jerky [weird!]) I listened to muffled versions of "Honest With Me" (from Love and Theft), "John Brown" (kind of obscure, I guess most notably on Bob's Unplugged album) and "Highway 61 Revisited." For the full set list click here. So it wasn't much of a show (for me), but how often do you get to walk out your front door and here even a muffled Bob? Which, let's face it, sometimes sounds just like the real thing...
What I missed:

Tortoise & Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Pancho"
Giant Sand - "Get To Leave"
Hem - "Lucky"

**Programming note: I'm off tomorrow for yet another family wedding. This time we'll haul the brood to Portland, OR. Meet you back here on Monday.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 11
Total minutes of music (approx.): 44
Song with the most previous plays: "Lucky" - 8
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 5
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: While reading the Tropic Thunder review I was suddenly shocked. Ethan Coen was one of the writers! If the man who penned Raising Arizona was anywhere near this movie, I may have to see it. I imdb'd it as soon as I got in the office just to confirm. Well, good thing. Ethan Coen definitely did not write this movie, but Etan Cohen did, a former Beavis and Butt-head writer. For the record, the NY Times had it right, but I read it very wrong.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament (Day 103)

Yardbirds - "Never Mind"
Sufjan Stevens - "To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament"
The Twilight Singers - "Powder Burns"
Robert Pollard - "Kensington Cradle"
Nirvana - "Hairspray Queen"
Low - "California"
Sorry about the short playlist. I was joined by a friend for most of the commute, and, yes, occasionally human interaction is better than listening to music. (Although not often.) In any case, I squeezed in a few songs. Including one of Sufjan's legendary tunes that can give typesetters a nightmare. (For the record that song title is 74 letters long, but the song is only 100 seconds in length!) Also, this is a nice Low tune from 2005's The Great Destroyer, which is a bit more upbeat than most of their stuff. The lyrical refrain is about going "back to California where it's warm." How often is California the stand-in for the good life? In literature, music, art, etc, it might as well be nirvana. Even in our house, ipodwidow is often pining for mythic California (she has relatives there), and we've halfheartedly considered moving ourselves. In the meantime, there are probably hundreds of songs about California.
An allmusic search pulls up 369 recordings called "California". And on my iPod alone I have 5 (Low, Rogue Wave, Dr. Dog, Rufus Wainwright, Josh Ritter); and 10 others titled "California [something]" (i.e. Gram Parson's "California Cottonfields"). What's your favorite California song?

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 6
Total minutes of music (approx.): 19
Song with the most previous plays: "To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament" - 12
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 3
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I got nothing, but I felt like sharing with you this Estonian meat commercial from 1980. (Make sure you've finished your lunch.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Come On! Feel The Illinoise! (Day 102)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "Yankee Go Home"
M Ward - "Regeneration No. 1"
Guided By Voices - "Hot Freaks"
Sufjan Stevens - "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!"
Of Montreal - "Eagle-Shaped Mirror" (live)
Uncle Tupelo - "Screen Door"

The Velvet Underground - "Sister Ray"

Cat Power - "Silver Stallion"

Magnetic Fields - "Kiss Me Like You Mean It"

Townes Van Zandt - "Two Hands"

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - "My Heart Is Broken"

Yardbirds - "Stealing Stealing"
Guided By Voices - "Her Psychology Today"
I was pretty into today's playlist. But work got in the way of any real commentary. Here's the Cliff's Notes:
  • GBV is suddenly in heavy rotation: Nice.
  • After OD'ing on Sufjan Stevens and subsequently taking a long break, I think I may be ready to dive back in.
  • Funny that after I mentioned "Screen Door" as one of the best songs that's never been played on my iPod, it comes up.
  • I really like the Of Montreal song "Eagle-Shaped Mirror," and the Daytrotter version is pretty great. Go listen to it.
  • And finally, "Sister Ray" is a serious jam (17:27) - - and will now force me to see these in a new light.

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: "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!" - 10
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 8
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: There was a very cool photo of Avey Tare from Animal Collective in the NY Times' review of the All Points West Festival in Jersey City. See:

Friday, August 8, 2008

The El (Day 101)

The Thrills - "Saturday Night"
Outkast - "Snappin & Trappin"
Sparklehorse - "Dreamt For Light Years In"
Rhett Miller - "The El"
Mercury Rev - "I Collect Coins"
Beirut - "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)"
Grandaddy - "'Yeah' Is What We Had"
Wilderness - "Death Verses"
Paul Westerberg - "Boring Enormous"
Wilco - "Muzzle of Bees"
Coleman Hawkins - "Fine Dinner"
The Beatles - "Carry The Weight"
Silkworm - "Nerves"
This is a great song. The great opener on a great album. From a great band. You get the point. But what struck me as odd was something that I noticed about this song after it played today and I began to compile today's playlist: "Nerves" registered as having zero previous plays. In other words, it's on my iPod, but I've never listened to it until this AM. The explanation is fairly simple, although I've owned the CD for years, I only recently uploaded Silkworm's 1996 album Firewater to my iTunes. And since I've been mostly shuffling my music, for obvious reasons, I haven't had the opportunity to listen to it yet. Which brings me to my question of the day: How many other iPod "orphans" do I have? In other words, what songs are there on my iPod that I've never really listened to? Since nobody stepped up yesterday and volunteered to be my intern, I had to crunch the numbers myself. Not too hard: There are actually 1,770 songs on my iPod I've never listened to (that's specifically on my iPod...iTunes plays through the computer and regular stereo plays are different). By the way, that's out of 11,021, or approximately 16% of all the songs. Not too bad. But who are these orphans? After a very quick scan, I offer you (a weird list, I admit it):

The Best Songs On My iPod That I've Never Actually Played On My iPod (in alphabetical order)
  • The Beastie Boys - "High Plains Drifter"
  • The Beatles - "The Ballad Of John & Yoko"
  • Belle & Sebastian - "The Stars Of Track And Field"
  • The Clash - "Lost In The Supermarket"
  • David Bowie - "Life On Mars?"
  • Led Zeppelin - "I Can't Quit You Babyy"
  • Leonard Cohen - "So Long, Marianne"
  • Liz Phair - "Never Said"
  • My Bloody Valentine - "I Only Said"
  • The National - "Pay For Me"
  • Nirvana - "Lithium"
  • Radiohead - "Morning Bell"
  • The Rolling Stones - "Rip This Joint"
  • Smashing Pumpkins - "Cherub Rock"
  • Teenage Fanclub - "Catholic Education"
  • Townes Van Zandt - "Poncho & Lefty"
  • Uncle Tupelo - "Screen Door"
  • Violent Femmes - "Blister In The Sun"
These poor "orphans" have all been put in their own playlist (called "zeros") and I plan to play them on the way home from work.

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: "The El" - 13
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I think I may be getting a mild (very mild) case of Olympic fever.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Don't Shit Where You Eat (Day 100)

The Mountain Goats - "Cobra Tattoo"
It's here: Day 100. I promised the world, but I was only kidding. I think the fact that I've actually made it this far should be gift enough to you, reader(s). Seriously, it started as a fun experiment that continues to be fun. So, I'll keep at it. And thanks to anyone who's actually been crazy enough to care about What I Listened To On My Way To Work Today. For one bonus centennial feature, look below. In the meantime, The Mountain Goats almost tried to spoil my party and make it their party. Three songs! In the illustrious 100 day history of this blog, I don't think the iPod shuffle has ever played the same band/artists three times. (If anyone wants to intern at WILTOMWTWT and actually tabulate all the stats, email me.) Now, The Mountain Goats are not exactly good time music, but Get Lonely in particular is a pretty brutal affair. Thanks, John Darnielle, now I'm depressed.
The Fall - "Pat-Trip Dispenser"
Rivers Cuomo - "I Wish You Had An Axe Guitar"
The Thermals - "An Ear For Baby"
Ween - "Don't Shit Where You Eat"
Sorry about the Not-So-Safe-For-Work title of today's blog, but that's the Song With The Most Previous Plays. It's a funny song on an often hysterical record, Chocolate and Cheese. But what of the expression? I think we all know for the most part what it means, but where does it come from? Tough to figure out, since it's often attributed to "a wise person." (Best usage, however, goes to Tony Soprano who embellished it a bit when talking to Benny Fazio [who was played by Doogie Howser pal Max Casella]: "You don't shit where you eat. And you especially don't shit where
I eat.") One blogger attributes it to author Saul Bellow, from his book The Adventures of Augie March. A book which I've never read but is suddenly coming up a lot in my house. (Our son Augie, was born in March!)
The Mountain Goats - "International Small Arms Traffic Blues"
The Mountain Goats - "In The Hidden Places"
Great Northern - "Just A Dream"
Dinosaur Jr. - "What If I Knew"
How many other bands can you name that wait 10 years to release a new album...and then have it turn out this good. Really, if you consider the fact that every album after Bug was really just J. Mascis this is the first full-fledged Dinosaur Jr. album in 19 years! And, it's really freaking good! (Day 100 apparently will be marred by a lot of exclamation points.)
Grinderman - "Love Bomb"
Weezer - "Holiday"
Wilco - "Hate It Here" (live)
Ron Sexsmith - "Secret Heart"

And then I got to work...ta-dah!

Happy Day 100.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 48
Song with the most previous plays: "Don't Shit Where You Eat" - 5
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 5
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I did give a moments thought to taking a photo during each song and giving you some kind of visual history of today's commute as a special Day 100 project. But I abandoned it quickly when I realized every photo would basically look like this:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer) [Day 99]

Nirvana - "Return Of The Rat"
Andrew Bird - "Simple X"
Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz - "Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer)"
Les Savy Fav - "Who Rocks The Party"
Yo La Tengo - "Nuclear War (Version 1)"
Radiohead - "Bodysnatchers" (live)
Animal Collective - "The Purple Bottle"
Joe Henry - "God Only Knows"
I'm at a loss. Today's set was weird, short and uninspiring. There are a couple of covers: Nirvana playing a song by a Portland, OR punk band called The Wipers, and Yo La Tengo's cool version of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War." (Which, not surprisingly, they learned to play shortly after 9/11. Click
here if you want to hear them talk about that time in the band's history, it's pretty interesting.) One live song (Radiohead, from a BBC concert in April), and one inscrutable song by an inscrutable band (Animal Collective). Today's SWTMPP is from a classic album (Gilberto/Getz), but it's not the classic song ("Girl From Impanema"). Too bad, because she's a real person, supposedly. (FYI, if you're going to Google it, like I did, some results are NSFW.) One annoying song by a band that I find hit-or-miss (Les Savy Fav). A song from one of the more underrated albums of 2007 (Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha). And, finally, a Joe Henry song from an album I love (Civilians), which I only got to hear a minute of before getting to work. Maybe I'm just saving myself for tomorrow. Not just any Thursday, my friends - - Day 100.

[Oh shit, now I raised the bar too high. You might as well go back to your other favorite blogs.]

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 8
Total minutes of music (approx.): 34
Song with the most previous plays: "Vivo Sonhando (Dreamers)" - 5
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 4
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Took the 4 1/2 month old to the pediatrician before work. And I'm happy to report all systems are go!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Give Something Else Away Every Day (Day 98)

Belle & Sebastian - "Act Of The Apostle II"
The Moldy Peaches - "Little Bunny Foo Foo"
Gang Of Four - "At Home He's A Tourist"
I'm an admitted late adopter. Trust me, I was in no way rocking Gang Of Four in 1979 when their debut album Entertainment! was released. But along the way I heard they were a seminal post-punk band blah, blah. You're telling me. Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, et al, you should give these guys half your record advance. I read somewhere that this group (from Leeds) were influenced by one trip to NYC where they saw Television and The Ramones at CBGB. (Nice trip.) But their lyrics were always a bit more political and the, guitar...oh, the guitar. Andy Gill created a kind of angular, jagged style that is definitely unique. This AM, I was really admiring his work on this tune. The guitar licks comes at you in quick and powerful bursts - - pretty mind-blowing. And I guess I'm not the only person who thinks that. According to Mr. Wikipedia, "In March 2005,
Q magazine placed the track 'At Home He's a Tourist' at number 52 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks." Nice. I'm in no mood to dissect this list, but I will say that is a higher ranking than anything by U2! (Which I point out because of an earlier discussion on this blog.)
My Morning Jacket - "Run Thru" (live)
Magnolia Electric Co. - "Give Something Else Away Every Day"
A brief pause here just to highlight today's Song With The Most Previous Plays (SWTMPP
©), in case there are any Neil Young/roots-rock fans out there who have never heard of Magnolia Electric Co. The band is led by Jason Molina (formerly of Songs: Ohia), and they are really very good. This song is from 2005's What Comes After the Blues which is plodding and melancholy - - in a good way!
Jimmy Cliff - "Fountains Of Life" (live)
Ambulance Ltd. - "Yoga Means Union"
Johnny Cash - "Give My Love To Rose"
The Beastie Boys - "Shake Your Rump"
Oneida - "Leaves"
Phish - "Tweezer" (live)
If you ever wanted proof that I don't censor these lists, this should do it. Suffice to say, I did not hear all 17:56 of this song before getting to work. I did, however, blog a bit about my latent jam band admiration way back on Day 9. So I'll spare you the gory details.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 12
Total minutes of music (approx.): 50
Song with the most previous plays: "Give Something Else Away Every Day" - 10
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Ran in to a co-worker on the subway, cost me most of Oneida's "Leaves." Darn. (I'm so friendly.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Enemy (Day 97)

Guided By Voices - "The Kicker Of Elves"
I don't think I've really touched GBV on this blog. I leave all the Guided By Voices scholarship to this guy - - with good reason, obviously. But I was hoping to excerpt the part of AJS's book (really, I think it's just a footnote), where he actually admits I tried to turn him onto the band that would one-day change his life way back in 1993! Vampire On Titus was the album that hooked
me (purchased at Schoolkids Records in Ann Arbor), but AJS scoffed, and didn't see the light until many many years later. Unfortunately Amazon doesn't have that fancy "Search Inside" function for his book, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Or, buy the book and look it up yourself. In any case, with two GBV songs on the playlist today I figured there was something I could add to the subject. Beyond the fact that I own Bee Thousand on blue vinyl (how cool is colored vinyl?), I just want to take a moment praise the one-minute rock song - - or in this case 1:04. Get in. Rock. Get out. It's a formula that GBV embraced and used to their full advantage. How else can you record 1,328 song? This ridiculously incredible archive has all the info on every track, but I couldn't find a sortable list of what I'm curious about: track length? How many clocked in at less than a minute? Right around a minute? What's their longest song? Shortest? (The beauty is, I know, if I put this out there, AJS will surely be on the case. Look to the comments!) In the meantime, since you can sort iTunes by track length, I was able to find out how many other songs I have on the iPod that are about one minute long. It turns out there are a lot. As a sample, here are the other songs (out of 11,012) that are exactly 1:04.
  • Tom Waits - "Bone Chain"
  • Tom Waits - "Midtown (Instrumental)"
  • Jens Lekman - "Rocky Dennis In Heaven"
  • Magnetic Fields - "Reno Dakota"
  • The Apples In Stereo - "Thank You Very Much"
  • James - "DVV"
  • Tom Waits - "Blend Down The Branches"
All this proves nothing - - except maybe Tom Waits has an affinity for doing things for 64 seconds.
The Apples In Stereo - "Shine (In Your Mind)"
Outkast - "Kim & Cookie (Interlude)"
Vampire Weekend - "Campus"
The American Analog Set - "Immaculate Heart 2"
Guided By Voices - "The Enemy"
Matt & Kim - "No More Long Years"
Cassandra Wilson - "I Want To Be Loved"
Emmylou Harris - "Cup Of Kindness"
Serge Gainsbourg - "Ce Grand Mechant Vous"
Bloc Party - "I Still Remember"
Bright Eyes - "Tourist Trap"
Thelonious Monk - "Abide With Me (Take 1)"
The Decembrists - "The Perfect Crime"
The Replacements - "Can't Hardly Wait"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 15
Total minutes of music (approx.): 52
Song with the most previous plays: "The Enemy" - 9
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I have a cold. But it's my birthday!