When she left me, the relationship had already been over for almost a year. She had gone off to business school, and soon after started dating someone else. The ending was, for better or worse, a formality. But formality or not, it was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
For the last several years, I think I have subconsciously harbored the thought that I could win her back from her Olympic medalist boyfriend. I thought that if I reworked myself into the man that she wanted - upgraded the clothes, got the job, made the right friends - then maybe the stars would align and things would all fall back into place. Regardless of how it ended, and all of the difficulties that we had, I loved her more than I think I have ever loved anything. And I still love her, and will probably continue to feel that way for the rest of my life. I just found out yesterday that she is now engaged. So, for better or for worse, it is time to put such thoughts away.
So, for the next several days, I will be putting my smoldering memories of her to rest. One of the after effects of our break-up has been the realization of just how deeply I have tied certain songs to my memories of her. This first song is what you would consider, "our song." Had we gotten married, it is undoubtedly what we would have played for the first dance. When this song plays, I remember the two of us dancing by ourselves in our shabby New York apartment. I remember us driving to Napa in California, and her singing in the passenger seat. But that's all in the past now.
Ryan Adams - When the Stars Go Blue
It's been a while since I've written anything about politics or the economy, mainly because I'm trying to pull away from that sort of thing. But I am in a rant-ish mood, and since no one really reads this (except for Hoodie Allen, who responded to my last post), I feel like it's not a big deal if I just go off on something that I don't understand.
So, the debt ceiling. I have been thinking about it recently, because it is everywhere on the news, to the point where people that usually aren't even interested in this kind of shit have been asking me about it. Moreover, I also was passed this hilarious piece in the Onion that sparked my current brainfart on the subject.
At this point, our nation's politicians are effectively saying that they will not raise it unless they get this chit or that chat included in their new budget. What I don't really understand is this: the reason that these chits or chats are ostensibly important to these parties, is because they think that these items are a key element to our nation's overall economic health. Democrats, in a turn towards the center, are now leaning towards having a more balanced budget. As such, they want to raise tax revenues, so that the government will have more tax dollars flowing in to help, well, balance the budget. And they won't go along with any plan that doesn't result in higher taxes.
Republicans, led by a very vocal set of Tea-Partiers, are totally against raising taxes. For some of them, they basically think that an increase in taxes will hurt our nation's economic recovery. Dollars in private hands will have a more felicitous impact than a dollar in the government's hands. For the Tea Partiers, who seem to be militantly clinging to a very strong libertarian ethos, they don't even really give a shit about that. They hew to an approach known as, "Starving the beast," in which the aim is to deprive the government of tax dollars, to the point where the only viable approach is for the government to shrink. Smaller military, fewer schools, smaller FDA, etc. Better, right? Because everything the government does must automatically be shit, as a wise man known as Ronald Reagan once said.
I clearly have my leanings here, but that's actually somewhat inconsequential. What bothers me is that these things that the two parties are holding out for might possibly have a positive impact on our economy. Economists have been debating this shit for decades, and still cannot agree on what is the right recipe for economic growth and prosperity, which is the one thing that everyone seems to agree is the most awesome thing ever (except for hippies). So, in order to make sure that these things that might be good get passed, they are threatening to sit on their hands and let the U.S. default on its debt, which will absolutely have a disastrous effect upon our economy. Financial crisis, v2. Massive upheavals in the debt market. Soldiers and states going unpaid. China being pissed as fuck, and possibly taking military steps to make sure we actually pay their asses. Revocation of the dollar as the global reserve currency.
To me, I think of the two parties as basically being parents who have differing ideas of what school their kid should go to. The Democrats want the kid to go to a Montessori school, and if that means that they have to work some extra hours to pay the bill, then so be it. It'll pay off in the end. The Republicans just hate spending so much damn money, and won't even think of working any harder. Fuck Montessori, they'll just home school the kid, like their parents did for them back in the day. They turned out alright, didn't they? Neither side will back down. Now, it's to the point where unless they get what they want, both parents are willing to toss the kid into an orphanage in a third world country rife with genital mutilation and child soldiers. At this point, it just sounds like the parents are more concerned with being proven right than with being good parents. Which I just don't understand. Rant off.
So, I don't know why, but for some reason I seem to have unknowingly picked up an affinity for white nerds that play black music. Most recently, this has been playing out in my forays into soul, where I've been listening to the likes of Mayer Hawthorne and Jamie Lidell. To be honest, I didn't even know that they were white when I first heard their music. I just knew that I liked combination of the old school aesthetic that they were bringing and the dressed up rhythm sections that they took from modern times. When I found out that pretty much all of them were white, I tried to expand a little bit and listen to guys like Raphael Saadiq, but the aesthetic just wasn't quite the same.
Anyway, it's happened again. Just today, I started listening to this guy, and I can already tell that I am going to be a big fan. He's a total nerd - a Jewish kid that went to UPenn and got a job at Google, only to quit his job to become a full-time rapper. The image on his debut mixtape (which can be downloaded for free right here) is of him in a marching band outfit. The samples that he uses are all from mainstream indie rock bands, e.g. Death Cab, Yeasayer, the Black Keys. That being said, he is highly reminiscent of Lupe Fiasco, except without the references to skateboarding or Islam. The song that I'm putting here is one of my favorites, and is him going over "Tighten Up," from the Black Keys. Hope you guys like it.
Hoodie Allen - Tighten Up
To be honest, I never really started listening to music until high school, when the magical combination of a CD burner and a dormitory full of guys with music collections (well, just one guy really) gave me access to as much music as I could ever listen to in one sitting. But for the longest time, I would simply listen to music an album at a time, taking in the good with the bad. Having listened to plenty of full-length albums, I can definitively say that for a select few albums, there is some added value to listening to the whole thing front to back. To this day, I cannot listen to Dark Side of the Moon unless it starts up from the beginning. That being said, most albums are approximately 50% crap, with good albums taking that percentage down to about 15%. As soon as I realized this, I finally began to make playlists, and life has been different ever since.
Most people would look at my first playlist and either conclude that it is crap, or at best, charmingly dated. Rusted Root is on it, as is a song from the worst Dave Matthews Band album ever (which is saying something, depending on your views on that band). There is, however, one song that I look back on and can kind of nod to myself and say, "Not incredibly shabby." And here it is. Some pretty badass fingerpicking. Even better, it doesn't include the man's singing, which he admits sound like, "geese farts on a muggy day." Which is precisely why it is infinitely better to listen to this song, and not to the whole album.
Leo Kottke - Cripple Creek
Won't be back from my friend's wedding until... not sure when, so just posting this now. Sometime during my freshman summer, I was taking summer classes at Berkeley. Not that I really needed them, but anything to keep busy, I guess. Either way, it was not the most exciting summer. The only thing that really held my attention was this one, tiny, bird-like girl that I made sure to sit very close to during each class. At this point in my life, the idea of approaching pretty girls that I didn't know still occupied the same mental space as jumping out of a plane; fun and interesting in theory, but likely to induce hyperventilation and soiled underpants in practice.
At some point, I managed to work up the courage to talk to her, and we eventually started what was to be my first (and only) summer fling. Although she dumped me the minute I left campus to go back to school, it was still a fun summer. One of the best parts was that she was really into poppy '90s emo rock music, with the obvious King of the Hill being Weezer. At that point, I had only really listened to the Sweater Song and Buddy Holly, having avoided the rest of the corpus because Weezer was the favorite band of this one kid in high school that I thought was super annoying. This negative association quickly vanished when it became clear that this really cute girl liked them. I have been a huge Weezer fan ever since.
The song below is one of my favorites, and was one of the first ones that I picked up, after getting past the Blue Album and Pinkerton, which were pretty much everywhere at that point. If you've ever heard a Weezer song, it sounds pretty much exactly like all the other ones. But it's still one of my favorites.
Weezer - Jamie
As many of you may have noticed, I have a hard time posting regularly. The main stumbling block has been lack of a clear objective. When you can write about anything, it suddenly becomes a somewhat overwhelming task to figure out what the one important thing is that you want to say for the day.
To rectify matters, one of the things that I'm going to try is to post a song each week. Unlike other music blogs though, where the purpose is mainly to show how cool and in tune you are with the latest band that no one's ever heard of, this will be mainly about recalling memories from way, way back when. I've always found that no single artistic medium has a more powerful hold over my memory than music. Just today, I was flipping through a CaseLogic CD book that I found in my room, and it was like finding a book of letters from old friends.
Getting straight to it, I think it fitting that this first post be about "Crash - The '95 Mix" (not the original Primitives version, which actually sounds oddly sad and atonal). This was the song that led me to purchase my first CD ever, The Dumb and Dumber Soundtrack. Some people might look at this and marvel over the irony of my first piece of musical property being so explicitly linked to blatant stupidity. Whatever, haters gonna hate.
When I first heard this song in '95, it was on the way to a friend's beach house, just as we were all piling in the car to go run around in the sand like decapitated chickens on PCP. On the way over, we literally blasted this song on extended repeat. I could say that my tastes have long since matured, and that I would never listen to such simplistic pop drivel. That would be a total lie. This song is pure pop awesomeness, unpolluted by all of the weird, angsty vibes that came after Nirvana hit the scene. Because really, when I think about my childhood, I would rather think about this song and running around in the sun than having long, stupid hair, wearing ugly flannel shirts, and not really understanding why this weird guy with straw blonde hair is always shouting.
The Primitives - Crash, '95 Mix