The Music in my Head Part 2

I promised I’d do another one of these posts, but I’d like to say in my defense that I never specified when…

"Children are the future. Children are the future. Children are the future..."

“Children are the future. Children are the future. Children are the future…”

Why now? Well, two reasons, really. The first is that I have the urge to do something creative that doesn’t have anything to do with teaching. I do love my job, but it sucks every bit of creative energy it can. My Thronging Legion of Fans [1] have probably noticed that the podcast has ground to a halt, as has all forms of blogging. It’s not necessarily that I have nothing to say, but that I put so much energy into work that I don’t really have a whole lot left to entertain you all. I know, I know – I’m a terrible person. Just be glad I don’t have kids.

The other reason is because my friend Chris is doing his damnedest to try and find me music I’ll like, and true to form, I’m being kind of a pain in the ass about it. The fact is, I find it tough to condense “music I like” down to a simple, catchy answer. It’s often a matter of what catches my ear, and I’m never entirely sure what that’ll be. I cast a wide net, and only keep a tiny portion of what I catch, so finding new music is a little more time-consuming than I’d like it to be. After all, if I can’t muster the energy to write a blog post more than (checks last entry) once a year, I certainly can’t devote much energy to plowing through album after album, hoping to find something that makes my heart sing.

So, for this edition of Music in my Head, I thought I’d talk about not just the first ten songs to come up on a random shuffle, but the first ten songs that I don’t automatically skip. What will this tell us about the music I like? Is there a pattern? Let’s find out…

1. “Let It Go”, Cherri Bomb, This is the End of Control, 2012

I got this song from playing “Tap Tap Revenge,” an IOS game where you have to keep rhythm to music. It was good fun, but the people who made it made it almost impossible to migrate your game – and your purchases – from an old phone to a new one. Pity, because I found some good music among their libraries.

This is one of those songs, and it falls squarely into my “Songs to End Worlds To,” (which includes “Come Alive” below, too). Basically what this means is that at some point in the song, it feels… Elemental. Like it’s less of a song and more of a force. It’s kind of hard to describe in a way that makes sense, but it’s right around that guitar solo at 2:40, coming after a slow musical burn and a glass-polishing vocal burst… It’s where I kind of blank out and expect to see the Avengers or the Justice League tearing shit up.

Thematically, it’s one hell of a song too. All about taking control of ones life, but less in a self-affirming Women of Power kind of way and more out of a kind of rage-induced primal need to put some fucker in his place. To quote:

You never see my way
Pissing on my flame
I’ll be the one left standing

With everything i do
It never pleases you
But I’ll be the last one laughing

There’s no doubt who’s in charge of this conversation, and even less doubt about who will come out on top in the end. Definitely worth stopping and listening to.
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The Music in my Head part 1

I find that I don’t talk about music much, which is weird. I’ll talk about comics till I’m blue in the face, and y’all know how much I like to talk about books. But there’s something with talking about music that just makes me really… hesitant.

Perhaps it’s because I know a lot of people who are really into music, and who have very strong musical tastes. Perhaps I don’t want to lower myself in their eyes by revealing the ridiculous things that I snap my fingers to sometimes. Or perhaps it’s because the songs you like really say a lot about you as an emotional being. Unlike books, music is best when it’s not appreciated as an intellectual exercise – you should just let it wash over you and through you and see what kind of buttons it pushes and switches it flips. Maybe I fear that revealing the songs I like will tell you more about me than I really wanted you to know. [1]

I thought a lot about how to approach this post, actually. Should it be the songs I will always listen to, the ones that make me angry or sad, or the ones that remind me of those dear dead days beyond recall? Should it be the ones that I can’t listen to anymore, or the ones I like that I know I really shouldn’t?

In the end, I realized that I have an iTunes playlist of four-or-five star songs – which should be the best of my collection – that I invariably skip through like an ADD kid at a Five Second Film festival. So I’ve fired up the ol’ iTunes Playlist of Favorites and set it to shuffle, and I’ll write about the first ten songs that come up. Here we go…

1. “Snail Shell Remix”, They Might be Giants, Back to Skull, 1994

Ah, college… I’ve been a fan of They Might Be Giants ever since high school, thanks to Jonah Knight (singer/songfighter), who played “Triangle Man” for me once and got me hooked. After that, I was always sure to pick up the new TMBG CD when it came out. The original version of this song was off their John Henry CD, and it really spoke to me as a twenty year-old with issues of ego and my place in the eyes of others. A significant sample of the lyrics is as follows:

Was it something you would do for anybody?
Was it what you’d only do for me?
I need to know because you see
I want to thank you for putting me back in my snail shell

Look what you gave
And how can you ever be repaid?
How may I give you a hand
From the position at your feet where I stand?

There’s a certain bitterness there, isn’t there? The singer is angry and sarcastic and just a wee bit passive-aggressive in trying to complain to his “friend” about how he’s been treated. The narrator of the song struck me as someone who perhaps tried to move out of his comfort zone, to do something different that his friends wouldn’t expect of him. Perhaps even to challenge his friend’s sense of dominance over the narrator. For which the friend swiftly and sternly smacked him down and put him back in his place.

It really was a good song for someone who held his friends’ opinions of him in high regard and was at the some time convinced that they didn’t return the opinion. I don’t play it as much anymore because it’s a phase that you should grow out of as you grow up. The friends who didn’t think much of me have fallen by the wayside, thanks to time and distance. The ones who thought I was worth keeping did so, regardless of how far away I went and how long I stayed here.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not still in a snail shell – I have a nice cozy one all set up. The difference is that I’m not blaming other people for putting me there.

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