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Things I Learned From My iPod Shuffle Challenge

In the two weeks since I finished my iPod shuffle challenge, during which I listened to a complete shuffle of all the songs on my iPod without skipping any, I’ve been restless about music. New shuffles bore me, my music seems stale. It feels like I’ve “just” heard all of it. So I’ve been listening to albums in their entirety, mostly because it feels different and because I can. I found that Abbey Road is almost exactly the length of one way of my commute. Listening to that album was one of the first things I felt like doing. Hearing side two Abbey Road songs during the shuffle felt wrong, as I explained in week 1.

So what did I learn from the iPod shuffle challenge?

* I have more patience than I thought. I did it. I listened to 2,724 songs without skipping a single second of any song.

* Since I have now given every song a chance to wow me, it’s completely OK to delete songs I don’t like very much. I erred on the side of inclusion when I originally ripped my CDs, but I don’t have to store my entire CD collection on my iPod. Good lord, no.

* The key lesson is my desperate need for some new music. Both new to me, since I feel like I’ve totally lived my current collection of songs at the moment, as well as new as in not old. Most of the songs I highlighted during the challenge were  released prior to the current decade. I’ve had trouble finding new bands I like for a long time now.

Suggestions are most welcome. Please, for the love of all that is holy, share any great new artists you love. I need a music freshening.

I was excited to get an invitation to try the free version of Spotify. It’s pretty cool, basically in exchange for putting up with the occasional ad, I can listen to almost any song I want whenever I want, without paying for it.  

But there’s a catch…your own imagination. I don’t know about you, but being able to search for anything I might want to hear but don’t already own makes my mind go totally blank. I keep using Spotify to listen to the same two songs, because they are the only ones that come to mind. The first is Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which is one of the very few new songs I’ve been exposed to and liked since starting the shuffle challenge. It’s fun to sing.

Then there’s Katie Costello’s “Stranger,” which I heard on “Switched at Birth,” and was pleased to find on Spotify. It’s one of those songs that you like, even though listening to it evokes feelings of melancholy that make you want to jump off a cliff. Wait, just me? Since I think about the issues I believe she’s covering in this song a lot anyway (how well can we ever really know another person?), I find it compelling. Go ahead and listen. It’s sort of a cathartic sad. Really.

* The last thing I learned during the shuffle challenge is that my iPod is missing stuff. Some songs I love never made it onto my iPod and I need to fix that. These songs include:

Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” This song, as well as “Magic Carpet Ride,” were part of the soundtrack to my post graduation trip to Niagara Falls with friends. I was not particularly wild, but I had the opportunity to be wild, so there you go.

Ace “How Long” There’s definitely a cheesy 70s lite rock vibe to this, but I love it anyway. I already expressed my love of Paul Carrack’s voice when Squeeze’s “Tempted” came up in the shuffle. I would listen to him sing the phone book (and I sort of feel like I have…Mike + the Mechanics).

Marshall Crenshaw “Someday, Someway” I don’t suppose anyone has ever before compared this to Buddy Holly? I love that I found a video of his performance on Letterman, so that’s what I embedded.

Elvis Costello “Veronica” For the longest time, this was the only Elvis Costello song I liked. More of his songs have since grown on me, but this one is still my favorite, especially now that I’ve known a Veronica (Dave’s Mom).

When I went to see Paul Simon in concert a couple of months ago, I was shocked to realize that although I have Simon & Garfunkel’s whole catalog, I didn’t have any of Paul Simon’s solo music. Not even my favorite song. Not sure how that happened. So I listened to “The Obvious Child” on You Tube 500 times before and after that show.

The Cranberries “Dreams” Maybe everyone can point to a song that perfectly explains what it feels like to fall in love, but my song is a particularly good one, no? This song was released the month I met Dave. Our favorite radio station played it incessantly while the lyrics were happening to me. Somehow this CD never made it onto my iPod.

Mazzy Star “Fade Into You” This song has been on my “to buy/download” list for 17 years. Oops. Need to get on that.

Wedding Present “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” I don’t think the Watusi album was very well received. It’s even out of print, even though earlier albums are not. I think it must have been a rare happy period for David Gedge, and perhaps that turned off his hard-core fans, who like him full of angst. But I thought the songs were goofy and charming. There is just something extra compelling about a bitter guy in love.

Of course, all of these songs are at least 17 years old.

Playlist Weeks 27-28: I’m So Glad, I’m So Glad, I’m Glad, I’m Glad, I’m Glad

In January, I challenged myself to get through a whole shuffle of the music on my iPod without skipping any songs. And I did it. On Monday, July 18th I listened to the last song (#2,724) in the iPod shuffle challenge. I originally thought it would take me four to five months to complete. It took just over six months. Six months in which, for the most part, I didn’t hear the same song more than once and I didn’t hear much of anything that wasn’t already on my iPod. So what new music have I missed so far in 2011?

Here is the playlist summary for week 27 and the one day of week 28:

* Songs listened to: 109

* Completed:  100% (!!!)

* Number of double shots:  5 (The Police, Splashdown, Sting, The Beatles, Interpol)

* Number of triple shots:  1 (Genesis)

* The last song:  Genesis “Hearts on Fire” (this is really embarrassing and not a little anticlimactic)

Now for songs worth highlighting:

* I was disappointed when the Beatles’ “The End” came up in the shuffle several weeks ago. There went my brilliant idea for a title for the last week. So the title of the last shuffle challenge post comes from Cream’s “I’m So Glad,” which seems like a pretty strong second-best title. Although I really am glad, whereas Cream doesn’t seem to be.

* Splashdown “Paradox” / “Games You Play” The Splashdown double shot was cool, since it was essentially the same song twice. The older version (“Paradox”) was first, followed by the reworked version (“Games You Play,” for the album Blueshift, which sadly was never released). I prefer “Games You Play,” so that’s the video below. The link to “Paradox” is above if you want to hear the difference. The lyric I like best is:

“So if your past approaches you
Preaching comfort
Don’t be fooled into a war you’ll lose”

Sort of fitting given my memoir-writing proclivities…

* LL Cool J “The Boomin’ System” “C- to the O- to the O- to the L- to the I- to the N- to the F- to the R- to the O- to the N- to the T- to the I- to the N, that means I’m chillin’. This song also is generous with its use of the word “Funky,” which always amuses me since I can’t help but imagine it refers to my favorite stuffed animal. Around the 20 second mark, LL says:

For all the cars out there
And all the brothers
That like to front in their rides”

And the way he says it makes it sound like he’s talking to someone named Funky. And I must say that my Funky does enjoy frontin’ in his ride.

* Nicole McKenna “Take Me Over” I can’t really remember where I was introduced to this song, but it’s so lovely. It’s also fun to sing, even though it’s about drug addiction.

“She’s aware in her own little way
Fading in and out of the day
As she sits there in shame, and she wonders
Can you take, can you take, can you take me lower?
Can you take, can you take, can you take me over?”

“Fading in and out of the day” speaks to me. I don’t think you have to be addicted to drugs to have trouble being fully present during the day. I’ll just check Facebook one more time…

* Holy Fuck “Super Inuit” This was one of the songs on Dave’s unmarked 2010 Christmas mix. It came up on the shuffle towards the very end and while I knew I wanted to highlight it, all I knew is that it was “Track 1″ on the mix. Soundhound to the rescue…and now I know the name of the song and the band. The band calls themselves “Holy Fuck,” which I rather like but is certainly not a good idea. Listening to this song makes me frantic. When I looked up the video, I found this live version that really impressed me. They seemed to be doing it all live. Their Wikipedia page says they intended to make electronic music without looping, programming, etc…

* Frazier Chorus “Cloud 8″ Here’s a song Dave introduced me to early on in our relationship. It’s very cute and it’s also got some motivating lyrics even though the singer sounds like he’s trying to make you fall asleep.

“You were saying nothing, didn’t say a word. You said if you shut up for long enough, the more you heard. But you hear nothing, didn’t hear a word, and you soon get bored, because if you shut up for long enough you just get ignored.”

Playlist Weeks 24-26: A Flannel For My Face

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard. I only have 109 of 2,724 songs left, so I think this should be the last week of the iPod shuffle challenge.

Here is the playlist summary:

* Songs listened to in weeks 24-26:  327

* Completed:  96%

* Number of double shots:  10 (Genesis * 4, The Police * 3, The Beatles, The Innocence Mission, Interpol)

* Number of triple shots:  1 (Genesis)

* Number of quadruple shots: 2 (The Ocean Blue, Genesis)


* The Producers “What’s He Got?” A song from my youth in the 80s, so infectiously catchy I never forgot it even though I never hear it anymore. Every once in a while, it would pop into my head and I had no way to satisfy my desire to hear it. Amazon Marketplace to the rescue, compilation CD purchased for one song. “Hey!”

* The Cars “All Mixed Up” My older brother loved the Cars, and I kind of had a crush on Benjamin Orr. I missed the Cars when they played here a couple of months ago. I was bummed to miss out, but it wasn’t really the Cars without Ben Orr. I know Ric Ocasek wrote all the music, creative genius, blah, blah, blah. But all of my favorite Cars songs were sung by Ben Orr. Lovely voice. I’m glad Ric Ocasek wrote this, but I’m even more glad Ben Orr was there to sing it.

* Bonus: Before I moved to D.C., my favorite radio station in Rochester played a song by the Red House Painters that haunted me. I knew I was already familiar with it, but I couldn’t put my finger on who did the original until it was almost over. All of the sudden, “the Cars” hit me and then I realized just how brilliant this cover is. I should have highlighted it when it came up on the shuffle in week 11, but my long discussion of “Mama Said Knock You Out” that week (which I’ve just noticed is now supported by a You Tube video that’s been removed, but I’m not bitter) precluded it.

* Squeeze “Tempted” The title of this post comes from this song. I love Squeeze, although since this was the first of their songs I ever heard, I think they engaged in some false advertising, since Paul Carrack doesn’t sing on any other Squeeze songs (to my knowledge anyway). Paul Carrack’s distinctive voice kicks serious ass, so when I heard other Squeeze songs, I remembering thinking what the hell? As much as I love Squeeze and the songs Glenn Tilbrook sings, “Tempted” will always be my favorite Squeeze song. In preparing this post, I uncovered a Sting cover of Tempted, which blew me away, and I’m not sure in a good way. I’m mostly just baffled I didn’t know about Sting’s version before and even more impressed by Paul Carrack’s vocals.

* The Police “O My God” I adore the Police. I went to Catholic school, and after Synchronicity came out, my school brought in a local Christian rock band to entertain us one day. At least I assume they were local, because they sucked. They were really pissed about this song. They provided some tsk-tsking to the Police, and I wondered if they’d ever really listened to the song, or were perhaps just really dense. Sting sings over and over about God, “take the space between us and fill it up some way.” I can’t pretend to know exactly what Sting meant, but blasphemy doesn’t sit high on my list of explanations. Imagine my horror as I sat in my school’s gymnasium and had no choice but to listen to this awful band butcher a great song by 1.) attempting to perform the music and 2.) reworking the lyrics. I wish I could remember their name, so I could see if there is any internet evidence of their useless existence.

* The Grand Candy “Made a Devil” This is one of Dave’s very talented guitar teacher‘s songs. This video was from the Grand Candy set preceding Dave’s “jam class” show in December.

* Slow Runner “Rainy Face” I only know about Slow Runner because the Grand Candy played a show with them last summer (although by now I would have heard this song in a KIA car commercial). I don’t like seeing bands I don’t know, so I checked them out first. While most of the songs I previewed didn’t do it for me, their bio melted my cold, dark heart. So charming. If you ever need to know how to write a good bio, check out their website. Their show was pretty charming too–just two guys sitting on the stage. The instruments involved a little old Casio keyboard that looked like a toy. They have a song called “She Wants to Wrap Her Legs Around the World.” The audience, including me, could not help but snicker, but they really seemed earnest about the song. Strange. Here is my favorite Slow Runner song.

* Lords of Acid “Rough Sex” This song cracks my shit up. I don’t know if that’s what they’re going for or not, but if they were going for sexy, it doesn’t work for me. This is a key example of my theory of Euro bands, which is simple. The men in those bands should not sing (Lords of Acid, Hooverphonic, Komeda, I’m talking to you).

* Interpol “Success” This is the first song on Interpol’s latest album and it spoke to me immediately. There seems to be some disagreement about the lyrics, but I love the lyrics at least as I understand them. “I have succeeded, I won’t compete for long…I’ve got two secrets, but I only told you one…” And my favorite part:

Somebody make me say no, no

Somebody make me say no, no

Somebody make me say no, no

Somebody make me say no, no, no


* Coldcut “Colours the Soul” When I first got Sirius, I systematically listened to each channel in genres that appealed to me for ten songs to see which ones I liked (have I mentioned I’m anal?). On the Chill channel, I heard this and it definitely helped me to chill. I should listen to this and to Sirius Chill more often, since I clearly need to chill (even God said so).

Playlist Weeks 21-23: My Whole Life Has Been A Constant Ailment, You Can Provide A Simple Remedy

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I am supposed to write about what I heard each week. I’m five weeks behind. I started getting sick the day before my day trip to NYC, and I went anyway because I really didn’t want to miss my opportunity to see The Book of Mormon. I’m glad I went, the show was really good, but the 18-hour day really knocked me out. The virus took hold and wouldn’t let go for a week. So there wasn’t any progress on the shuffle challenge at all during week 22 because I didn’t go to work.

Five weeks worth of songs is too unwieldy, so I’m just going to cover the first three of these weeks, and catch up on weeks 24-26 next week. Then I should be back on schedule, and almost done (at 92% as of today)!

Here is the playlist summary:

* Songs listened to in weeks 21, 22, and 23:  200

* Completed:  84%

* Number of double shots:  6 (The Innocence Mission, The Police * 3, Stereolab, Simon & Garfunkel)

* Number of triple shots:  0

Now is the time in the iPod shuffle challenge when I think “Didn’t I hear that already?” a lot. These weeks were also annoying because my beloved/hated noise-cancelling headphones finally died (again). I spent over $50 to have them repaired/replaced by Sennheiser for the second time in a few years. Since that process takes weeks, I had to use the ear buds for awhile. I am NOT an ear bud person.

Just going to highlight a few songs this time:

* The title of this post comes from Kevin Gilbert’s “When You Give Your Love To Me.” I’ve mentioned him before. I first heard of him in Toy Matinee and then lost track of him. I was saddened to learn he died way too young. I managed to find a copy of his CD Thud (released about a year before his death) in a used record store a few years ago and I’m ashamed to say that “When You Give Your Love To Me” was the only song that really stood out on first listen. The other songs were somehow just beyond me at first. I’m always impressed by his lyrics, which are so clever and often biting. It took me longer to warm up to the music. But I did. This song is still my favorite though. It’s sarcastic, funny, yet hopeful and (I hope Kevin wouldn’t mind me saying this) adorable.

I found a series of videos on You Tube of Kevin supporting Thud outside a record store in Colorado. I was so happy to find these, but they depress me a little too. He deserved more success. Why Sheryl Crow became so successful while Kevin Gilbert had to play on the sidewalk to support his album, I’ll never understand. Here’s a link to the album version of the song.

* Mew “The Zookeeper’s Boy” This is the first Mew song I ever heard, courtesy of the Sirius channel formerly known as “Left of Center.” Hearing a new song I like enough to buy the whole album has become very rare for me. But I bought And the Glass Handed Kites and did not regret it. The album is meant to be heard in one sitting. I listened to it on repeat while cleaning our new house in 2006. I keep linking to live Mew videos because I’m so impressed at how they sound live. I’d love to see them one day. Maybe a trip to Denmark is in order?

* Craig Mack (featuring everybody and their brother) “Flava in Ya Ear” I love everything about this song. I love Puffy mumbling “You know we had to do a remix, right?” I love the irony of having so many featured rappers that Craig Mack isn’t that involved. I love that LL Cool J’s involved. I love the weird off-beat quality to the last “I’m kicking new flava in your ear” part of each chorus. This song reminds me of visiting Dave in Syracuse during grad school. Syracuse had shitty radio stations, so we ended up listening to the R&B/rap station most of the time. Dave’s car during grad school was the biggest piece of shit. He painted over the rust in geometric shapes. He installed a radio that had no knobs. There was no air conditioning. He eventually wore a hole straight through the floor of the driver’s side through which you could watch the ground go by at highway speeds. That was always a thrill.

* The Innocence Mission “The Lakes of Canada” I try not to highlight songs without a You Tube link, but I have to make an exception since this is one of my favorite songs ever. The Birds of My Neighborhood album came out right before my wedding, which we had in Canada. Hopefully my old boss isn’t reading, because hearing this song reminds me of the hours I spent daydreaming at work about finally being in the same city as Dave after so many years waiting for him to get his ass down here.

* Tuscadero “Nancy Drew” You know how parents get antsy to clear their house of your stuff the second you move out? That’s what this song is about. She’s pissed that her parents threw out her Nancy Drew books, etc…

My favorite line of this song is: 

“I collected all fifty-six
And you threw them out
You’re both such pricks”

In the years after I left home, Mom and I had protracted negotiations about when I’d go through the attic and several times a year she threatened to throw out my stuff. Luckily, nothing was lost…except something extremely precious that, ironically and tragically, I had purposely given back to her for safe keeping.

My grandmother made quilts and because I was a girl, she made me a pink quilt when I was little. When I got older and asserted my love of green, she finally made me a new quilt. A beautiful quilt, a green quilt. I loved that thing. It got to where I couldn’t sleep without it. I took it to college. I even carried it to Dave’s room when I slept over there. It came with me when I moved into my first apartment in D.C. Years of use started to take their toll. Tears and holes started to form. My Mom’s cousin who can sew patched it a few times, but the situation was becoming too dire for patches. With regret, I stopped using it to protect it from further damage. Dave was moving here and I didn’t have room in my apartment to store anything we weren’t going to use. I asked Mom if she’d keep it for me until we had a bigger place. I begged her not to throw it out. I was clear about wanting it back.

Sometime later, when I visited home, I noticed a flash of green in the back of my brother’s minivan. Under the Cheez-It crumbs and the other detritus of small children was my beloved green quilt, lining the back of the minivan. It was ruined. I felt ill. My Mom insisted she hadn’t given my brother the quilt. I dropped the subject. But every time I think of that quilt my stomach still catches with the sense of loss. 

Playlist Weeks 19-20: I Wanna Ride The Big Wave

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week (or so!).

Here is the playlist summary:

* Songs listened to in weeks 19 and 20:  168

* Completed:  77%

* Number of double shots:  3 (The Beatles, The Police, Sting)

* Number of triple shots:  1 (Genesis)

With 77% complete, I’m beginning to see the end of this thing. Good thing too, because while I’m still enjoying the actual listening, my original thought about this being an “easy way to get a weekly post” was a load of crap. These playlist summary posts take just as long to compose as my other posts, usually longer.

I’m taking a day trip to NYC next week so I’m hopeful I’ll get a lot of listening done given the nine hours I will be trapped on a bus. I’ve never done this DC to NYC bus thing before, and it’ll be a long (18 hour?) day, so please pray for me.

The past two weeks didn’t produce a ton of noteworthy songs, and some of those didn’t have You Tube videos available, so I only have six songs to highlight this time. I know there’s some sentiment that the 90s sucked for music, but five of the six are from the 90s. Thank god for the Interpol song, otherwise I’d look even more nostalgic than usual.

Toy Matinee “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” This came out in 1990 when I was still in high school. Like a lot of the music I listened to then, I think I heard it on the Canadian radio station that I could sometimes tune in, particularly during the summer. I’ve mentioned Kevin Gilbert before, and this is one of my favorite songs from the one album he recorded with Patrick Leonard as Toy Matinee. Kevin’s hair in this video is so frightening, please try to look past it. Also, check out Rosanna Arquette in the video.

School of Fish “3 Strange Days” This came out my last semester of high school and this CD helped me bridge the transition from high school to college. I am having a lot of trouble these days finding bands with more than a couple of songs I like, or who I don’t get sick of after a little while (see Franz Ferdinand). But I’ve been shocked at how much I enjoy School of Fish songs when they come up on the shuffle. This whole CD is really good.

The Pursuit of Happiness “Cigarette Dangles” This is a song that Dave and I used to dig the first year we were together, although I absolutely do NOT share the cigarette fetish. I just love the sound of the backing vocals, which incidentally is where the title of the post comes from this week.

October Project “Bury My Lovely” This song is haunting. I imagine it’s about child abuse and while I feel my childhood experience doesn’t reach the level of that label, this song brings to mind growing up in that house with my Dad. I put this song on a mix for my brother and he thought the singer was a man, baby. I have no such confusion, but Mary Fahl’s voice is something else, eh?

“Something that was left behind
Something in a child’s mind”

Ivy “The Best Thing” This is from the late 90s, after I moved to D.C. to become a gainfully employed adult. I never paid any attention to the lyrics to this until today, and I think they might be sort of depressing, but I’ll just continue to ignore that because the song is catchy.

Interpol “Not Even Jail” And here we have our lone entry from the last decade. NOTE TO SELF: find some new music after this shuffle challenge is over.

This is my favorite Interpol song, which I didn’t even discover until I was preparing for the Interpol concert Dave and I went to see last November. Just go listen to this bad boy. Not sure what to say other than I can’t wrap my brain around how this whole song manages to be both anticipation as well as climax.

Playlist Weeks 15-18: I’m Climbing Up An Endless Wall

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week (er, yeah…or every four weeks). I planned on combining weeks 15 and 16 due to my Mom’s visit over Easter. But then I started reading a very important work of literature on my commute, which interfered with music time. Then my computer’s hard drive crashed. I am behind…on life.

The title of this post comes from my theme song, “No Time This Time” by the Police. Indeed… “If I could, I’d slow the whole world down, I’d bring it to its knees, I’d stop it spinning round, but as it is I’m climbing up an endless wall…”

Here is the playlist summary:

* Songs listened to in weeks 15 through 18:  201

* Completed:  70%

* Number of double shots:  7 (The Police*2, The Beatles*3, Genesis, The Innocence Mission)

With so many weeks of listening to summarize, I just picked some songs that resonated most with me.

Some might call this a guilty pleasure, but I love April Wine’s “Caught in the Crossfire” too much to bother with that label. Picture 1981. My older brother had just gotten some nifty new headphones when this album came out and he called me over, plopped the headphones over my ears and said “listen to this.” The laser gunfire during the chorus sounded like it was skimming right past my ears, each shot alternating left, right, and back again and it blew my 8-year old mind.

I have fond memories of belting out the do-do-do part of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” back in high school with my friends. Multiple times I have stayed in the car and driven further than I’ve needed to just so I can finish listening to this song. How can you miss the big payoff?

Freshman year of college. I’m dating a guy who has, along with his girlfriend, “agreed to see other people.” She is over 1,000 miles away and I am a naive 19-year-old who is also desperate to get over an unrequited love. Dating this guy starts to seem like an OK idea. But the girlfriend visits over her spring break and although I know about her, she clearly hasn’t been told about me. I am persona non grata all weekend, while they get to monopolize most of my damn friends. One of my best friends is away, but I have access to his room while he’s gone. Luckily, he has a copy of U2’s Achtung Baby, and blasting the shit out of the song “Acrobat” makes me feel quite a bit better about life.

While many songs bring back memories, The Ocean Blue’s “Between Something and Nothing” somehow manages to just feel like my freshman year of college, not a specific event or a specific person or interaction, but the whole damn thing. Before this week, it had been at least five years since I heard this song (and, uh, longer since freshman year itself) but the second it started, a movie of freshman year started rolling in my head.

Chimera’s music bridges the gap between graduate school and my adult life. Their CD Earth Loop was on heavy rotation during my onerous drives from D.C. to Syracuse to visit Dave. I particularly remember one Friday night when I thought it might be a good idea to avoid the traffic on the Beltway by taking 66 all the way to 81, since I needed 81 to get to Syracuse anyway. Um yeah, that was dumb, but at least I had some good tunes, because that was a long drive. “Catch Me” is the song that got the most airplay. Seemingly nothing came of this group and they disappeared just like that after this CD. Too bad really.

I think many people probably only know Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” because it’s the theme song for House. I had the opposite experience. I was obsessed with this song when it came out back in 1998 and listened to it over and over again until I became one with it. Years later, flipping through channels looking for something to watch on TV, I heard “Teardrop” and that was enough to make me stop to see what the heck the show was. A TV show using Massive Attack as the theme song seemed worth watching.

Though my time in Belgium preceded the release of Mew’s album And the Glass Handed Kites by more than a decade, the song “Louise Louisa” reminds me of my time in Brussels anyway. With the dual-language system used in Brussels, the Louise metro stop is “Louise/Louiza.” Tenuous connection, I know, but the mind makes links where the mind wants to make links. This song came up yesterday and I had it in my head all day today. For the first time in shuffle challenge history, I went back and listened to a song again. After finding this video, seeing them live is now on my life list (preferably in Denmark!).

I have been finding it harder and harder to develop a taste for new music. Land of Talk’s “Some Are Lakes” is an exception. I keep internet radio on very low at work because I don’t want to disturb my colleagues. So a song has to be pretty special for me to even notice it. The lyric “I’ll love you like I love you then I’ll die” really jumped out at me and after several listens, I decided I really loved this song. The rest of the lyrics are harder to decipher, but I have it on good authority that the bit before the part I like is: “We’ve seen how Sick Wind blows, but I’ve got your bovine eyes.” Say what? I’m no poet, so if anyone thinks they can help me understand what the fuck that is supposed to mean, that would be great.

Playlist Week 14: F*ck Me I’m Twee

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.

I hope it doesn’t come as a crushing blow to anyone, but I’ll probably combine weeks 15 and 16 into a post in a couple of weeks. My Mom’s visiting for Easter and I’m taking several days off, so won’t get much iPod listening in.

Here is the weekly summary:

* Songs listened to this week:  132
* Completed:  63%
* Number of double shots:  6 (Simon & Garfunkel, Genesis*2, Elvis Presley, The Police, Apollo 440)

The title of this post comes from what is only this week’s runner up in the “Best Dave mix song” category, Tullycraft’s “Twee.” I curse like a sailor, but for some reason I could not make myself use the word fuck in the title of a post, even though it’s a quote. Neurotic much?

There is a whole subgenre of music called “twee pop,” but in case you thought I was super hip to the music the kids are listening to these days, I feel the need to point out that I had to look that up. And also that I understand exactly none of the references in this song. Dave is more hip to new music, but I’m sure he put this on a mix for me just because of the word “twee.”

During the time I participated in book clubs, I established a rule. My rule of book club is that I don’t like book club. The last one I was in used book selection methods that were maddening. Every few months, we would engage in a chaotic group discussion during which the most prolific and vocal book suggesters filled up the calendar with books from their list. No one ever wanted to read anything I’d suggested, and the one time they threw me a bone, the rest of the group disliked it so much I wish they hadn’t bothered.

My first encounter with the word twee took place during a book club meeting. Unlike most of the books we read, I’d rather enjoyed reading the selection that month. For once, there was hot sex in it. One of the bookclubbers jumped right in with comments. She seemed to be dissing the book, but it was hard to be sure because the key term she used was “twee.” I found the whole discussion rather irritating, in large part because I had no idea what the hell the word twee meant. Vocabulary day at book club!

I also thought the whole discussion was prissy. Why couldn’t we just enjoy some hot historical fiction? They can’t all be Oprah’s book club material (ha!).

I don’t remember going to book club again after that. When I think back on it, my memory places the book hater in a tweed jacket complete with patches on the elbows, but that almost certainly has to be an embellishment of my imagination, no? Luckily, the memory of tweed (so close to twee!) became a useful mnemonic for my new vocabulary word! Although once I’d looked up the meaning of the word twee, I still wasn’t sure why it was an appropriate way to describe the book. And I still haven’t ever had the occasion to use the word, until now. Fuck me, I’m twee.

* Best Dave mix song AND weirdest coincidence:  Juno Reactor “God is God

I just published this post about my fond memories of watching The Ten Commandments every year and this awesome song came up in the shuffle the very next day. Creepy.

* Song that made me smile the most:  LL Cool J “Mr.  Good Bar

Mom recently brought down some old family photos for my photo digitization project. Last weekend, I came across some pictures of my older brother at around 11 or 12 wearing a Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar tee shirt. Then this song came up in the shuffle a couple of days later. The vision of my brother in his shirt adds a whole new dimension of amusement to this song. Each new line made me giggle while out walking Chuck.

* Other random memories:  Poi Dog Pondering “Circle Around The Sun

The year I met Dave, he and his friends (one of whom was my roommate that year) introduced me to “Thursday night,” which was simply a drinking party they habitually held on Thursday nights (duh!). I already liked Dave a lot, so I was very excited about my first Thursday Night hosting gig. But then everyone started to bail and it looked like my special time with Dave would fizzle out. But I turned on the enthusiasm and saved it. I drove Dave and my roommate to Wegmans to get some supplies and I had one of my “Assorted Condiments” mixes playing in my car’s tape deck (I’m old!). Dave liked this song and that made me happy.

But there’s no You Tube video and that makes me unhappy.

* Most situationally-inappropriate song:  Wings “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae”

This song is on a regular Wings album, so apparently I never marked its genre as “Christmas,” so it wasn’t part of my post holiday deportation of Christmas songs from my iPod. Not being able to skip this was painful.

Playlist Week 13: Did I Ever Once Cry, Waiting For You To Arrive

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.

Weekly summary:

* Songs listened to this week:  102
* Completed:  58%
* Number of double shots:  3 (Franz Ferdinand, Genesis, Sting)
* Percentage of songs that came up during running that were so totally not helpful in motivating my running: Oops…didn’t run this week, meant to take my usual post-race three days off, but somehow that turned into six!

The title of the post this week comes from “Where Does The Time Go?” by the Innocence Mission. Dave introduced me to them after we met in college and I think he first heard them on the only station that matters.

The Innocence Mission is not like anything else I listen to and I love them so much because the lyrics speak to me and remind me of my own Catholic school upbringing in a climate with changing seasons (Karen Peris writes lyrics about living with snow that make me feel like I am standing in it, even though it doesn’t really snow here). She is able to evoke so much using so few words. A skill I admire and don’t have.

Overt references to God and religion in music ordinarily turn me off, and many of their songs are colored by their faith, although only some songs are explicitly about God. For any other band this would be enough for me to say thanks, but no thanks. But there is a familiarity in the way Karen writes about this topic that feels comfortable to me. It was my experience too. As heartily as I’ve rejected religion, I don’t really have anything bad to say about my Catholic school experience…well, except this.

All this talk of my 13 years (14 if you count preschool) in Catholic school has lodged an awesomely lame Catholic hymn in my head. There were a bunch of these goodies in the late 70s/80s and our music teacher taught us many of them. When I get one of these songs in my head, watch out! I’ll be singing this all day.

“Let us build the city of God
May our tears be turned into dancing
For the Lord, our light and our love
Has turned the night into day.”

Sorry about that. I typed that out without checking it first, so I was pretty impressed with myself that I got the words right after more than 20 years when I finally did look it up so I could attribute the song lyrics to someone (Dan Schutte). What greatness could I achieve, if my brain weren’t cluttered with such things?

Back to the Innocence Mission…even if you didn’t share a similar upbringing (the members met while attending Catholic school), I dare you to listen to their music and tell me it doesn’t make you feel like they’ve wrapped a warm blanket around you and brought you some hot chocolate to warm up after coming inside from building a snow fort. Or maybe like you’ve spent an afternoon thumbing through your old family photo albums, the smell of the old paper that holds the pictures reminding you of the stories your Mom told you of the days the pictures were taken. Or is that just me?

I read that much of the Birds of My Neighborhood album was inspired by the years it took Karen and Don Peris to have children (they now have two children). “Where Does The Time Go” certainly seems to speak to that topic. But Karen has a gift for writing lyrics that can resonate in different ways.

The melancholy and hope this song weaves together remind me of the six-year long distance phase of my relationship with Dave. We spent the first half only a 90-minute drive apart, but when I moved to D.C. for the second half, knowing that he still had several years of school left and that both he and my family would be hundreds of miles away, I felt like I was driving off the face of the Earth (even more so when I crossed the Mason-Dixon line, which gave me chills quite frankly).

Those years seemed to stretch out forever, and I felt like I was waiting for my life to start a lot of the time. Birds of My Neighborhood came out the year that Dave finally finished school and moved here, and Karen provided the words for what it felt like to finally get what I had waited for so long:

“We will walk on a hill
Red hats and blue coats, and everything still.
Snow will cover until
We can’t tell the sky from the ground.
Where are the buildings, the old wounds of mine?
Did I ever once cry?

Waiting for you to arrive…
Where does the time go?…

Friends have moved away,
One tree has come down, another one flowers and sways.
Miri was lost for five days.
From upstate at school one friend writes,
Everything is changing while the day sky stays blue.
Changing around him, and me without you.

Waiting for you to arrive…
Where does the time go?…”

Video is here. Sorry I can’t embed it, I have been trying to be better about not highlighting songs You Tube won’t let me embed, but what can you do?

There weren’t too many other songs I felt like highlighting this week, and I’ve never spent so much space on one song before, so I’m only going to do one more.

* Band I’ve wanted to highlight, but was waiting for the song with the live You Tube video to come up:  Splashdown “Ironspy”

I first heard them on WBER, by this time I was listening over the internet since I didn’t live in Rochester anymore. So I missed them when they played the Lilac Festival and then their record company screwed them over and now they are no more and it makes me sad and pisses me off. We need more music that doesn’t suck.

Ooh, wait, one more:

* Song I’ll be saddest not to hear again until this is over:  Asobi Seksu “Thursday”

Playlist Week 12: Commemorative Statuettes of Liberty

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.

This week was all about running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday, which was yesterday. I’m still a little hung over from the race, so I guess I pushed myself hard enough. I barely remember the past week’s playlist songs, so this will be a (probably mercifully!) short playlist summary.

The title of this week’s post comes (again!) from King Missile. Every time I hear a King Missile song, I think “this just might be my favorite King Missile song.” Then I hear the next one and think, “huh…I forgot about this one, this just might be my favorite King Missile song.” I actually would have used “This is it, this is Mystical Shit” as the title this week, from “Title Track” from the album Mystical Shit, but then I heard “Gary & Melissa.” Plus, I’m about to write a post about running the Cherry Blossom, and oddly enough the Statue of Liberty plays a role.

Here is the weekly playlist summary:

* Songs listened to this week:  93 (a couple of Police “In the Studio” radio show segments came up this week, which reduced the total number of tracks I could hear this week)

* Completed: 55%

* Number of double shots:  3 (The Police * 2, Paul McCartney)

* Percentage of songs that came up during running that were so totally not helpful in motivating my running:  It’s hard to remember which songs I heard the ONE time I bothered to run this week (I had to taper, right?!?). I think I had to run through Genesis “The Lady Lies” and also The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in German, so not a super successful running mix.

* Random association: “The Lady Lies” reminds me of the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Hard to articulate why, except to say that the woman in the song is not what she seems, like Rebecca in the book and that during the ending sequence of the song, I can picture Rebecca’s ghost dancing around Manderley’s grounds. Creepy.

* Random memories

PM “Piece of Paradise”

I highlighted PM before but this is the song that I heard on the Canadian radio station I could hear from home and that made me get their tape. It is also the only song of theirs that I can find on You Tube, so here you go. This song takes me back to high school, particularly riding in the car with my two friends who were on the basketball team to and from their road games. We would all be half dead on the drive home, so I’d slip my walkman on and rock out (and maybe take a little nap) to PM, and maybe also Frozen Ghost. So cool.

* Fun song that everyone should know about: Blue Clocks Green “Hemingway”

Playlist Week 11: What Made You Forget That I Was Raw

I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.

The title of the post this week comes from “Mama Said Knock You Out” by Mr. Smith or Ladies Love Cool James, better known as LL Cool J. This song was a staple of my senior year in high school. I love this song beyond all reason. There are so many fabulous lines in it that it’s hard to pick a favorite.

  • “Cause you know I have beef wit” (what?)
  • “I’m not your average man, when I got a jammy in my hand, DAMN!”
  • “Farmers! What? Farmers! What?”
  • “Don’t you never ever pull my lever, cause I explode and my nine is easy to load” (the best part of that line is how it is immediately followed by “I gotta thank God”)

I got the Mama Said Knock You Out CD for free, because I basically stole it from my friend Erin’s sister. This CD was a large part of the soundtrack for a graduation trip to Niagara Falls Erin and I took with another friend. We met a group of hockey players staying at the motel next door and one of them was into me, which was a life changing event. I wrote the following in my diary:

“Well, for the first time in my entire life a male person told me that he loved me. I have absolutely no idea who he is, but I have his hat.” July 16, 1991

So I totally could have gotten laid that night had I wanted my first time to be with someone who professed to love me at first sight but who didn’t think it was important to tell me his name. He also was probably very drunk. But as I walked away, he screamed out my name. I liked that.

“Mama Said Knock You Out” covers the “random memory” category, obviously, but it also covers the “most embarrassing confession about a song” category, which I haven’t used in awhile.

A few months ago, a Facebook friend posted a link to a cover of the song. I admitted the following tidbit on Facebook, which I will now share here as well. When I first heard the line “Old English filled my mind and I came up with a funky rhyme,” I thought LL was talking about this Old English. Um, yeah. Everyone knows he was really talking about this Old English (blatantly stole that joke from my Facebook friend, thanks Don!). Presumably, LL meant this Olde English. Actually I prefer to believe that LL meant it as a double entendre.

I was so amazed by the Unplugged version that it totally changed my view of rap music for at least 5 minutes and 9 seconds.

Here is the weekly playlist summary:

* Songs listened to this week:  120

* Completed: 51%

* Number of double shots:  4 (The Police, The Beatles, Genesis, The Innocence Mission)

* Number of triple shots:  1 (The Police, all live bootleg songs)

* Percentage of songs that came up during running that were so totally not helpful in motivating my running:  I have no idea. I only ran indoors once this week and I used a treadmill in the disgustingly hot and crowded room so I could watch the NCAA tournament. So I wasn’t focused on my music. I was also distracted by the douche next to me who insisted on fist pumping after every good UConn play while running on a treadmill in public.

* Song o’ the fuck mix:  Wire Train “Open Sky

If not for LL, the title of this week’s post would have been either “On the Menu for Today is Redemption,” or “I Don’t Fuck with No Buddha.” It is indeed a very open sky. This is probably my favorite Wire Train song, so I was bummed it’s not on You Tube. Probably because they say fuck…and diss religion. Yeah, I guess that wasn’t going to be a hit single, eh?

* Fun song that everyone should know about:  King Missile “Take Stuff from Work”

I love this song. It makes me feel better about my low pay and appalling working conditions. Ha-ha…just kidding, I love my job (please don’t fire me). I love the suggestion to “take a case of White Out.” Dude, I am old. When I first started at my job, we still used White Out. Because we were still typing up important documents on typewriters using carbon paper. Mother of God, it was the stone age and I was there.

* Song I’ll be saddest not to hear again until this is over:  Delays “Wanderlust”

A lot of the time, I like to listen to music to forget where I am and what I’m doing. This song works.