Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Phones Are Dumb

Some stupid girl recently told me that I'm the reason she takes time (a really, really long time apparently) to get to know people because I'm untrustworthy. I believe that if you ask a hundred people who have gotten to know me (and there aren't even close to that many) zero of them would call me untrustworthy. I have many faults, but I can be trusted with anything. I keep secrets from myself. And I try to not take advantage of people, especially now that I have to read all these books for my english class about feminism. Now I'm all self-concious about even looking at people. I don't look at anyone, you know, to be on the safe side, and so I'm all bumping into things and what not.

Anyway, she was boring and I was completly uninterested in her anyway. It was a very annoying couple of months of trying hard not to talk to someone and feeling like I couldn't get away from her. And, by the way, I'm never giving my phone number to a professor again. They will oftentimes give it out to people you did not wish it to go to.

But that's not what I wanted to write about. I just found it funny. I wanted to make a list! since I've never done THAT before...

These are by favorite songs at THIS very moment (they'll change the moment I finish writing this) and why I like 'em (I limited it to one per artist, or else the whole thing would be the Beatles and John Lennon):

1) I've Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding [Otis Blue]

The first time I heard this song I was writing a paper my second semester in college in what is now stupidly refered to as the "Pete's Place" computer lab. It came on over some internet radio station. The first thing you hear is Otis singing the first couple of words and then the piano comes in along with the bass (which for the majority of the song only plays on the first beat of a measure) and drums. The piano moves the most during most of the song, playing the same pattern on the different scales. But what really caught my ear was the guitar. The sound of that guitar is beautiful and it plays so few times I was almost dying to hear more.

This is just the beginning of the song and Otis is almost whispering and his voice is the definition of soul. He sounds so sad singing the words in the title, as if he shouldn't feel that way. But then the music starts building as the horns come in and he's now shouting because he can't take holding in the way he feels.

Then, just as suddenly as it started, he's back to whispering. At one point the horns come in and it sounds as if the song is about to pick up, but he doesn't start singing and everything calms back down again. It keeps on doing this, building momentum, making you want the song to resolve itself because he sounds so hurt.

Finally, the horns start lightly playing long notes that cresendo as he's singing and the song builds up as Otis starts becoming more and more bold to the point of shouting, "I love you, I love you, I love you with all my heart and I can't stop now." I suppose a great singer can make the simplest lyrics have more meaning than any about of beautiful writing can express. It doesn't get any better than as when Redding is crying out "Please, please, please!" He doesn't need any more words. It's incredible. As the song fades out he's still crying out and it is almost as if the actuall recording runs out of energy or power or whatever before Otis does, as if he'll be crying out all night. That's hard to get across in 2:55.

2) In My Life by The Beatles [Rubber Soul]

I don't know when I first started listening to the Beatles. (Probably the day I came home from the hospital I would guess.) However, I do remember when I started listening to them again. I had taken a break from the stuff I listened to as a child in order to get into the "gangsta rap" and the r&b. Then in high school I had to write a paper about someone and I picked Paul McCartney because a girl had picked Lennon (I had always said John was my favorite when I was a child because we had the same first name and wore glasses, but really I couldn't really distinguish the differences in any of the Beatles writing or singing until I was older).

I found out I really, really liked them. The production (though I knew little of editing and studio production at the time, and, well really, I only have a general idea now) was amazing. The writing, the harmonies, the everyting was perfect. Then I bought my dad Rubber Soul and I couldn't stop listening to "In My Life." I will often listening to the beginning of a track repeatedly (thanks to the wonders of digital sound). The first nine seconds of this song was one of those ("Smells like Teen Spirit" is another, in case you were wondering).

The great thing about stereo sound in the sixties is the way they seperate the channels. You can listen to, say, the left channel, and get a totally different song than the right. I had a portable tape player (this is sometime after the year 2000 so you can know how behind the times I was/am) that I would listen to at night and, by holding the play button down slightly more than it was supposed to be, could remove the center channel or left channel or right channel from a song and render the others in mono. It was great and I did it all the time, listening to the Ringo's drumming one time (he plays exactly what should be played all the time) or the backing track without the vocals or just the vocals with a guitar. I learned how great these songs were that way, by surgery.

I guess I'm a little off topic, but I love this song because it is perfect. The whole thing fits together so seamlessly. The basically basic track is supported by a "baroque" piano solo George Martin got by playing back a piano solo he recorded at double speed. And it's just perfect. Perfect. "In my life, I've loved you more."

3) Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan [The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan]

This was the second non-greatest hits record I bought of Dylan. "Girl from the North Country" quickly became my favorite Dylan song (after a brief flirtation with "Masters of War").

His voice is so warm and the words (apparently Dylan was a great writer? I wasn't aware) are so nostalgic. There is one part that I always smile at: "Please see if her hair hangs long. If it rolls and flows all down her breast." At that line he kind of chuckles. It's enduring, the imperfection that would usually have been edited out.

"I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all/ Many times I've often prayed/ In the darkness of my night/ In the brightness of my day" Who hasn't thought that about someone?

4) Rain on the Scarecrow by John Mellencamp [Scarecrow]

This song was recorded the day I was born. It's about the plight of family owned farms. I guess I just identify with cultures I'm not familiar with. Nevertheless, my parents make fun of me because I used to sing this song as a child and try to imitate Mellencamp's grainy (?) voice with my little kid voice. I do a much better job now.

The whole song sounds angry...from the opening guitars to the last note. Again, the guitar sound catches my ear. The imagery is great too. He manages to talk about the farm as part of his grandparents generation, his fathers generation, his own childhood, his adulthood and his childs generation in 3:46. It's one of my favorite songs to shout in my car when I'm driving around.

5) Maggot Brain by Funkadelic [Maggot Brain]

Recorded in one take, it is, to me, the greatest guitar solo of all time. I usually don't like long solos, but this one has such feeling in it. I hate long guitar solos that are just showcases of a guitar players technical proficientcy. Remember the way I talked about Otis Reddings voice earlier (I'd be suprised if you did)? Eddie Hazel's guitar sounds like the blues and soul springing from an amp.

Fun Fact: George Clinton told Hazel to play while thinking about his mother being dead. Maybe all soloists should do that.

6) Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Nirvana [MTV Unplugged in New York]

I think this is the best Kurt Cobains voice ever sounded. Maybe it was all the purple and flowers around the stage they played on, but the whole recorded sounds defeated, not bad, but rather depressed I suppose.

The end of the song is what really gets me. As Cobain sings/shouts the last verse and chorus of the song the whole thing goes to another level.

7) Can't Stand Losing You by The Police [Outlandos d'Amour]

Yeah! A song about suicide! What makes this song impressive to me is the way the character in the story falls off the edge. He starts out realizing that his girl no longer wants anything to with him. He gets angry when he finds all his old stuff she had messed up, but instead of taking it out on her (say messing up her stuff or worse), he starts feeling sorry for himself.

When Sting is singing the chorus the song seems to build (sort of in the way "I've Been Loving You" does). All of a sudden the music breaks down and there is a period of calm. You can see the character realizing he'll never get her back and thinking of a way to get back at her. This period of calm ends when he gets the idea...kill himself. He comes out of the break saying (while the music turns sinister and builds as he states his plan and his voice becomes more sinister, "Guess this is our last goodbye/ And you don't care so I won't cry/ You'll be sorry when I'm dead/ And all this guilt will be on your head."

The progression of this kid, over only a span of three minutes, is great. It loses it's meaning, though, when it is not handled properly (not suicide, I mean the song). I watched some of the Police play during Al Gore concert, earth thing and I hated what they did with the song. They turned the break where the character formulates his plan, into some stupid three minute crowd sing along. I was a pathetic reworking of their song. It no longer seemed longer after hearing Sting do some weird yoldling thing.

8) So Far Away by Dire Straits [Brothers in Arms]

I could pick so may Dire Straits songs, but this is my favorite. It has a "warm" feel, I guess. Mark Knofler has such an original voice (unless you count the way Dylan sounds on "Lay Lady Lay" but I'm not). The song is just relaxing and makes me very happy when I hear it. I think my parents used to have it (Brothers in Arms) as an LP or maybe a tape.

9) God by John Lennon [John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band]

You would think that a song which begins, "God is a concept," would not be suitable listening for a child whose parents are bringing him up in the church. It was and it never was a problem. I think no matter how religious you are, you sometimes question God. That's how I take the song.

The whole song is so dramatic. As he lists the things he doesn't believe in (sort peeling off the layers that hold him down) the drama builds slowly. Finally he says "I don't believe in Beatles" and the music stops. He continues, "I just believe in me." Suddenly the music is slightly more calm. "Yoko and me...and that's reality"

Then he utters the words that will forever make me want to retreat to my own mind, a place where people keep their optimisim, "The dream is over/What can I say/The dream is over/Yesterday." My heart sinks when he sings those lines.

10) Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine by James Brown [Out of Sight]

But, to end on a good note (ha, music joke)...I hate to dance. I can't do it and I feel awkward trying. I couldn't dance to save my life. I wouldn't. It's not worth it. However, this song makes me. I can't help it. The groove is just so strong. It gets into my mind and takes over my muscles, making me dance. "Get up/ Stay on the scene."

Sorry this was so long...

And that most of it is probably rambling and doesn't make sense.

There's so much more so I'll just list them and you can make up your own stories (remember when we had imaginations...we can only imagine we were back in those days, right?)

11) Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny [The Best of Santo & Johnny]
12) Ain't Too Proud to Beg by The Temptations [The Ultimate Collection]
13) Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton [Unplugge]
14) 1983...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be) by Jimi Hendrix [Electric Ladyland]
15) Généerique by Miles Davis [Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud]
16) Brenda's Got a Baby by Tupac [2Pacalypse Now]
17) People Are Strange by The Doors [Greatest Hits]
18) Search and Destroy by The Stooges [Raw Power]
19) Rock and Roll Nigger by Patti Smith [Horses]
20) Shakin' Street by The MC5 [The Big Bang: The Best of the MC5]
21) Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys [Pet Sounds]
22) Resurrection (Paper, Paper) by Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony [BTNHResurrection]
23) I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) by The Electric Prunes [I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)]
24) Maria Bartiromo by Joey Ramone [Don't Worry About Me]
25) Blank Generation by Richard Hell & the Voidoids [Blank Generation]
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