Author: Ellen

Instead of boring my friends with my need to catalog my life through music, I'm putting it here.

I Am the Antichrist to You

Kishi Bashi – I Am the Antichrist to You

I’ll get back to the memorial service playlist (long version) in a little bit but I’m stuck on the Kishi Bashi show I went to over the weekend. Wow. This advice comes a little late as the tour only has two more shows (Charlottesville on Wednesday and Asheville on Thursday) before heading to the UK and no other dates posted, but if you get the chance to see him, you should go. For reasons I can no longer remember I have missed the shows that came within driving distance of me before. Not a mistake I will repeat in the future.

The musicians he has playing with him are really talented and versatile. I feel like the songs really soar in a way that the recorded versions just can’t match. The harmonies are fantastic.

When I’m at a show, I usually grab a couple of pictures when the opportunity presents itself but I don’t usually try to do more than that. Both because my phone’s capabilities are limited and my own concert-going protocol is pretty old school. Be present. Be in the moment. Don’t watch the concert through your phone. Now and then I’ve tried to record some part of a song but the results are usually bad and I’d rather be dancing than standing still filming anyway.

But just before he performed this song, he asked everyone to take out their phones to make a sound effect. If you and a friend call each other, then put the two phones very close together, just a few inches apart, it will create a chirpy, cricket-like feedback. Well, I was by myself. And since the people near me moved a little to be able to get their phones in position to make the noise, I had a clear shot and my phone in my hand. Watch it in HD and full-screen (my daughter always gives me a hard time that I forget to turn the phone for a horizontal shot but then I’d just have people’s heads in the shot) if it looks too small and blurry above.

That’s just him looping the violin and his voice, and the sound is so big. You can really hear the phone feedback clearly at the end of the song. That is not me you hear singing along. If you are in my car, you will have to endure me singing along, loudly, maybe even repeating a song enough times for me to be able to sing the different harmonies, but at a show, I am only going to sing along when the performers are encouraging the crowd to join in. I actually think I’m pretty good at singing along but I’m there to hear them, not me.

This was the only song he did solo, several they played as an acoustic four-piece, then others with everything plugged in and lots of additional instruments. It’s worth the price of admission just to see the banjo light show that Mike Savino brings to the outfit. Go. I can’t imagine you would regret it.

 

The Great Beyond

The Great Beyond

From before Twitler took office, I have felt that he would get us all killed. Today we dropped a massive bomb on Afghanistan, apparently, and are making threats to North Korea. So it seemed like maybe I should not keep holding on to my memorial service playlist but that the time is right to share it. After all, if we’re going to have World War III, I may as well make sure this is out there.

However, the caveat is not all of these songs are available online in the versions that I would actually like to use and it varies between Spotify and YouTube which ones had to be substituted. For that reason, I’m running down the list below. I also can’t help the visuals on some of these videos, which is why I prefer an audio only experience for this, but life could be short so I’m over it. YouTube above, Spotify below.

The Great Beyond
1. Angelika Suspended – Poi Dog Pondering (Spotify has the preferred version)
2. Just Breathe – Pearl Jam
3. If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out – Cat Stevens (here the YouTube is worth it for the Harold and Maude clips since that’s key to its selection)
4. Belong – R.E.M.
5. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – Radiohead (Spotify for the studio version, though I like the Scotch Mist version fine, it’s not the “right” one)
6. Treefingers – Radiohead (optional – serves as a transition but could also be cut or used as music while people are milling about before things get started)
7. Blood of Eden – Peter Gabriel (YouTube is the correct version from Until the End of the World)
8. Calling All Angels – Jane Siberry with k.d.lang
9. Heaven – Talking Heads
10. Wendell Gee – R.E.M.
11. Untitled – R.E.M.
12. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads

While there are a lot of songs that you might think I would have on a playlist for my memorial service, this is meant to be something you can actually play for assembled grieving friends and family and not bum people out too much. It shouldn’t make people feel worse. At the same time, sometimes it’s good to cry and let it out. The idea is that this should be in place of any hymns or prayers since I am not religious, though there are some songs that gesture toward that, after all I have a number of church-going family members, including my aunt the nun.

In the days to come I’ll take each one as a separate post with more details but for now I’ll let it speak for itself.

Welcome to the Occupation

R.E.M. – Welcome to the Occupation

Of course. Did you expect anything else?

My radio alarm clock went off this morning and, as if by fate, the first few notes of Orange Crush came blaring out. I hadn’t really thought about it before but, man, so appropriate.

But this song amazes me. It came out 30 years ago and yet is every bit as relevant as it was in 1987. In some ways we have come so far since then and I take solace in that. In other ways though, we still have a Congress that propagates confusion, we have never had a less qualified person as president, and cabinet nominees who are eager to destroy the agencies they want to oversee.

I know it sounds melodramatic but I really do feel like we are being occupied. These people are not what this country has been about, they are not representative of the majority of my fellow citizens. I hope against hope that this is the last dying gasp of an old, feeble power structure that we can lay to rest if we are awake and active enough.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be listening to this album a lot in the coming months. The whole thing, but especially the first (Page) side, is great for bolstering your courage to fight the good fight. We are on the right side of history and I will be there to protest and witness. I will do what I can to protect what we have and hold accountable those who would strip away our rights. I am raising my children to be vigilant and to demand truth.

This album and I are 30 years older but the passion and the vision are still the same. Back then it was with the first flush of understanding myself as a political being, now it’s with the sobering resolve to stand up for decency, justice, and equality, no matter the consequences.

I Wanna Be Sedated

Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated

Half the day I spent trying to think of what song would capture how I’m feeling on this last day of Obama’s presidency. This one hit me past the 24-hours-to-go mark but I’m still going to post it. I’ve never been one for drugs but I’m currently on my third glass of wine. I have a feeling I’m not alone.

I wish I could be out somewhere in a mosh pit tonight. I went to the eye doctor yesterday and as part of the exam, they took my blood pressure. It’s elevated, though not alarmingly high, and it’s risen despite there being no changes to my life other than the impending disaster tomorrow. I blame the Cheeto.

We have to come up with something to use for all the stuff we are going to blame Fuckface von Clownstick for going forward. It can’t be, “Thanks, Twitler” because “Thanks, Obama” has to remain as is. I love that it transcended the slap it was meant to convey and instead became a rallying point. I want to come up with something clever, but which can’t be flipped to be a positive for the Orange Toddler. Please submit suggestions.

Tomorrow I plan to not watch or listen to any coverage from DC. I will be with friends and listening to music and trying not to freak the fuck out. Stay strong, friends. ✊

Born Under Punches

Talking Heads – Born Under Punches

In just a few days, a matter of hours really, we will say goodbye to what has always been a given. Presidents come and go, some we wish would have left sooner, but I never before felt like our entire system of government was in jeopardy. Specific laws or rights have been under attack before but the very nature of our government?

The speed at which the Republicans in Congress have been trying to dismantle everything they fought against during the past 8 years is enough to make your head spin. Just keeping tabs on all the devious tactics feels like a full-time job. I worry that we won’t all be able to maintain this level of attention once Twitler is in office.

I keep seeing articles where it outlines all of the reasons why Trumpenführer is headed for impeachment but I just can’t see Ryan or McConnell doing anything to stop him. They are having too good a time screwing over the vast majority of the population. Just look at those shit-eating grins they’re sporting in every picture of either of them since Election Day.

It’s so impossible for me to contemplate living under a fascist that I’ve been imagining what else could possibly be in our future. Those assholes in Congress are so craven and ruthless that they will keep forging ahead with their plans and either ignore or support the Cheeto unless he does something that challenges their plans. I don’t think he’s smart enough to out fox them but I can imagine him becoming a political liability, especially if the Russia story gets more embarrassing. If it suits them, then maybe they’ll take up the cause to rid us of this disgrace. But then what?

Pence. He’s really an evil bastard. I actually wouldn’t put it past him to be working on some kind of scheme of his own to push the Orange Fool out and take over himself. I have previously been of the opinion that at least he’s a normal, if despicable, conservative politician and at least we know how to fight that kind of snake. But recently I’ve wondered if that would be better. I feel like I’d worry less about the country being ruled by a fascist authoritarian but Pence would probably do equal damage domestically. He wouldn’t Tweet us into World War III but he’s coming for your birth control and he wants to remove every LGBTQ protection we’ve managed to put in place. Education? Still fucked. The Supreme Court? Toast. Black Lives Matter? Not a chance. Worse yet, I feel like the relative “normalcy” Pence would bring might be enough to see a return to complacency amongst the general population. I want this over as soon as possible. Unless there’s some way to invalidate the election and never have either of them, while not handing things off to Ryan, then it’s hard to know what is the best possible outcome. It’s all so awful.

We have to keep our eyes on these slippery fuckers. These government men. Keep the heat on.

“All I want is to breathe.” Maybe in 2020.

(I encourage you to check out the whole concert this clip comes from. Really great. The comments contained this gem, “No one will ever be as attractive as Tina Weymouth is in this video.” Those biceps!)

Wolves, Lower

R.E.M. – Wolves, Lower

A friend of mine recently wondered “what WOULD be the R.E.M. song you’d send into outer space?*” even allowing for two or three songs if you had trouble nailing it down to one. I am unable to narrow it down to the single digits.

But the question reminded me of a musical challenge that a friend posed a few years ago. He had gone on a road trip with his wife and in preparation, he had decided to make a bunch of mixed CDs to take along. Some were based on a theme but a few were just music by one band. Not exactly a greatest hits, because sometimes the big hits are not your favorites (cough), but more of a personal best of. The sort of compilation you might make if trying to show an uninitiated friend why this band is great.

As he made these CDs, he spent too much time on the themed ones and left himself not enough time before their trip to give the band specific ones the kind of thought he felt they deserved. So he came up with some rules to get it done in time, the house on fire method of creating a best of CD. 1) Spend no more than 10 minutes on each band, 2) arrange the songs in chronological order, 3) if more than one song from an album, put them in the order they appear on the album, 4) include every album in the band’s catalog (but not compilations, live tracks, or B-sides), 5) when conflicted, go with the song that is a better road trip tune. My challenge was to follow these rules and make one CD for R.E.M. (and later, Radiohead), then we would compare setlists. Part B of the challenge was for each of us to take all the time you need and throw out all the rules except for it must fit on one CD and see how different the results were from your 10-minute version.

As someone who used to spend days, if not weeks, crafting mixes to fit a particular theme, endlessly refining the setlist and adding up the minutes to fit perfectly within the confines of a 90 minute tape (there’s a few in the TapeDeckTuesday category for old time’s sake), I was up for the challenge. The 10-minute rule was going to be tough but the point was to not overthink it, that was what the part B challenge was for. We later discussed the merits of doing a third round, when you specifically geared it for driving rather than a best of, but we never got that far.

I allowed myself a day or two of reconnaissance as I hadn’t really listened to the three-legged-dog albums** in years and had never committed them to memory like the earlier ones. The whole process is infinitely easier than it used to be because now there is iTunes (we traded them in Rdio, sniff! still miss you Rdio!) so you can just drag and drop and the minutes are added up for you. Still, it was not an easy task. I was so pleased with myself when I completed it in the 10 minutes allotted, only to go back and realize I’d inadvertently dropped two albums (Monster and Up) when trying to adjust for the 80-minute cut off of one CD. I readjusted it to include those so maybe it took 11 minutes. My mix was pretty good and I thought the flow from one song to the next was not bad, all things considered. It was a fun exercise and it was interesting to see where our choices overlapped. If you’re bored or need a diversion from the horrors of the day, I highly recommend giving this a try.

Part B was hard. Surprisingly hard given the rules were relaxed. The old master tape maker in me felt it had to be perfect. Without the rule about including every album I ejected five of the records so I had room for more favorites. Even then, my first pass ran close to three hours and I was hopelessly stuck on which songs I could sacrifice and still have a perfect best of. In the end I scrapped what I had and took a different angle, going for the personal more so than the best of. Which songs did I feel really expressed not just why this band was great, but why they were great to me. The insider’s mix, if you will. There were a few repeats from the 10-minute version but the “real” (versus the “house on fire”) version is really great. I still listen to it.

Not sure why the audio at the beginning of this video sounds warped but I couldn’t pass up the video. So Much Younger Then. Happy birthday, Michael. This is one of the few songs that made it onto both versions of my best of CD.

* Prompted by this video that was part of the Out of Time 25th anniversary promotional blitz.

** Up, Reveal, and Around the Sun. This was how Peter Buck described the albums they first did as a trio after Bill Berry left the band and I have always thought it was a very apt description.

The Gloaming

Radiohead – The Gloaming

Oops, just had a Radiohead song two posts ago and another earlier during NaBloPoMo. Sorry, but I’ve been thinking about this album (Hail to the Thief) a lot lately. Both from the dark sound to the inescapable relevance of the lyrics. To say nothing of the title in this election year when the popular vote winner, for the second time in only 16 years, is not going to be inaugurated.

I can’t understand why the Democrats in Congress are not screaming their heads off. I can’t understand why the institutions are sitting on their hands. The man is not even president yet and already the roadblocks that ought to prevent the disaster that is being assembled are failing. How can he be allowed to still be running a tv show while he’s president? HOW?!?! How can he be allowed to still run his companies? Have his children in his administration? Have taxpayers pay for security for his building in NYC because he doesn’t want to live in DC full time? How can he NOT attend security briefings?! It’s another 9/11 waiting to happen, which will be followed by another war. Just stop! Say NO! I can’t understand. When Obama entered the White House he had to give up his Blackberry and follow protocols. Why is this not happening now? Because the Orange One is saying no? Then we fucking say no. No. He’s acting like a fucking toddler, we treat him like one. You do not reward tantrums. You do not get to be president if you refuse to follow the rules for that office. You want to stay in New York and run your businesses and Tweet at actors? Ok then, that isn’t what the president does. You will have to pick. And hey, no hard feelings when you pick the more glamorous, easy job you created for yourself instead of the very ugly and difficult job that has turned every man gray during his tenure.

The Democrats had better get their fucking shit together, and fast. With each nominee he names it gets worse and worse and worse. It’s right there before our eyes, he’s looking to dismantle every agency in the government. He’s got three or four generals ready to swear allegiance to him. Oh my god, how much more evidence do you need that this man is going to be the end of our democracy? Your alarm bells, they should be ringing. Something has to be done. The recount efforts seem stalled. The investigations into Russian vote tampering won’t happen soon enough. I’m ready for the Electoral College option, even though I was against it at first and still feel it would probably result in deaths. I like Lawrence Lessig’s proposal more than others I’ve read but I suspect there isn’t enough time left for that. Then there’s two or three legal though frowned upon ways to get Merrick Garland confirmed. There’s the run off election in Louisiana for the Senate seat and while I doubt that will help us out, my last ditch hope is that a handful of Republican Senators who still have a shred of decency left and who have spoken out against Trumpenführer could be convinced to jump ship. Defect. I’m looking at you John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins. Do it. What do you possibly have to lose at this point? Finally, if nothing else works, the Democrats have to block every last piece of legislation and every appointment he tries to make. EVERY. ONE. Stop taking that goddamn high road and get down in the street and kick some fucking asses. Stop waiting. Stop expecting him to follow norms. Stop deferring to the ways things have always been done. He has no intention of playing that game so why on earth are we?

 

2+2=5

Radiohead — 2+2=5

Nothing like a more than 13-year-old song to perfectly illustrate the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. How are we supposed to grapple with a society where 2+2=5? I really feel like it’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. So much of what Orange45 says is just completely false and millions of people either believe him or don’t care that he lies incessantly. Not to mention our public education system, which is already falling short, will soon be decimated. How can we restore the value of truth? How we can get people to care if someone is lying? How do you teach children not to cheat or plagiarize when there is no reason for them to not do so?

Can we maybe get out ahead of him and start rumors designed to focus his outbursts in favor of the outcomes we want to see? Tweet that the CEO behind DAPL, for instance, was once overheard saying something about O45s hair being fake, or whatever. Just make it up, that’s what they do. Then instead of 3 a.m. Tweets about how the press isn’t being nice to him, he’ll blast the oil barons. Any other ideas?

Kick Out the Jams

MC5 – Kick Out the Jams

I’m still wildly depressed about the election and completely at a loss as to how to prevent all that seems inevitable with a narcissistic toddler as our president-elect. I truly don’t know how the country will survive. Truth and facts don’t matter. Nothing anyone says seems to have any effect. For each and every cabinet position, the worst person imaginable is being suggested.

As I sat here wondering what we can do to avert this disaster, I came to think about Manuel Noriega. Remember when he holed up in the embassy and they tried to smoke him out by playing loud music? Well, maybe it’s time to “kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”