Music Monday: My Year in Music

Over the last few years, pretty much since several marketing people conned me into believe I was nothing without Twitter (you know who you are and I may never stop blaming you all for the madness), I’ve been posting a song of the day somewhat regularly. “What makes a ‘Song of the day’?” you may ask.  The criteria are quite simple.  A song qualifies by a) being heard by me between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM on the day in question (yes, there is a two-minute window that does not qualify) and b) I must like it.  The music that makes the cut is usually the first thing I hear that day.   A great majority of the time, I wake up hearing the song in my head.  It seems I may or may not actually have a jukebox app installed in my brain by aliens. Yes, I’m seeing someone about that… thanks for your concern.

Crazy or not, I was fairly diligent about recording My Year in Music via Twitter and Facebook during 2010.  As 2011 loomed on the horizon, I browsed through a year’s worth of tweets gathering up these little nuggets and laughing my head off at the randomness that is my tweet life.  (Note to self: Pick back up on the Quote of the Day posts… stinking hilarious stuff!)

Anywho…   The list was way too long for a blog post so I’ve created a playlist on YouTube with my top picks especially for your listening pleasure. As it’s Monday while I post this, I thought you could use a little audio vacation while you dig out of your inbox. You are welcome.

You can listen to the whole list HERE

  • Local Natives | Sun Hands
  • Band of Skulls | Friends
  • Tom Petty | American Girl
  • Third Eye Blind | Jumper
  • Dandy Warhols | We Used to be Friends
  • Ben Harper & Jack Johnson | Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
  • The Cure | Friday I’m in Love
  • The Format | Inches & Falling
  • Jack Johnson | Better Together
  • Bob Marley | Jammin’
  • The Cars | Let’s Go

Comment below if you’d like the whole list but, if you need the Reader’s Digest version, here’s my numero uno song of 2010.

How about you? What did you have running on a loop on your ear buds last year?

Third Eye Blind-Third Eye Blind

Released April 8, 1997, Elektra

 Do I feel super cool with this as my first music review? Not so much, but as this is what’s been in and out of the CD player for the last couple of weeks, I figured it would at least be an authentic choice. My goal with this blog is to not try to pick music that would make other people think I have great (or at least interesting) taste. This is all about honesty… so here it goes.

Originally I thought that to be really serious about this project I should outline some methodology. I’d have to approach this process with inordinate organization, logic, and educated analysis… that was last month.

So, I sit here thinking about this album and what comes to my mind? Pictures of places, fragments of who I was, snapshots of things that happened, wrenching breezes carrying things I wanted to say, words that hit the deep places. “All this from Third Eye Blind?” you might ask.

I was 17, ripe in the throws of teenage rebellion, deception, and lawlessness when the self title album was released. It becomes apparent that certain music has become knitted to your life when it flexes and flows with your journey. This collection speaks to that period of my life more than I knew the first time I listened to it. I bought the CD for Semi-Charmed Life. Everyone knew it. I vaguely recall a bit of scandal surrounding the garbling of the words “cyrstal meth” when airing the song on the radio. Funny that I usually skip past this track these days.

I took Graduate quite literally when yearning for graduation from high school then again from college. Now as I listen it speaks to me graduating, if you will, from my 20’s and wondering if and when I’ll ever be someone… ever reach a next step.

Jumper hits closer to the hurt… I survived a reckless time earlier in my life (note the use of the word “survived”) but a few I loved weren’t so lucky. There are times I sings this to the lost and cry… sometimes I scream it… I beg. In a way, it’s a letter to those few I didn’t get to say goodbye to, who left too quickly, who destroyed themselves. Through the last several years, I’ve known new people to devote this song to… one in particular I didn’t know was on the edge until it was too late.  There are two friends on my mind right now that haven’t quite reached the edge but are playing a balancing act that could send them teetering too close at any moment.  The lyric “I wish you would step back from the ledge my friend” resonates hard. Maybe that’s why this CD has made it to the top of the stack of late.

Something about Motorcycle Drive By always washed over me in a sentimental melancholic way but it wasn’t until college that I met the person that, for me, this song was about. It became about loving someone, but someone who could never fit. It’s a bittersweet acknowledgment of a love not reciprocated in the same way and the acceptance of the differences that make a relationship impossible. This song brings about clear memories of when this realization was becoming clear in my situation. The way the song ends sums up the essence of the whole feeling, “I go home to the coast, it starts to rain, I paddle out on the water… alone. I taste the salt. I taste the pain. I’m not thinking of you again. The summer dies, the swells rise. The sun goes down in my eyes. I see this rolling wave darkly coming to take me home. And I’ve never been so alone, and I’ve never been so alive.”  I see my self driving over the Eau Gallie causeway, dead-ending at the beach, walking down the boardwalk, into the sand, into the ocean, smelling the salt… and being okay again. 

Overall, this album reminds me of where I’ve come from, and where I am now.  I’ve never been so alive…

All that is to say that in my assessment, this one is a keeper.

Cusack Music Theory rating… 4 out of 5

Lyrics courtesy of seeklyrics.com

Cusack Music Theory

If I were to free associate “John Cusack” I would say “music.”

I’m slightly obsessed with what I call Cusack Music Theory. Mainly this involves a fairly loose interpretation of my perception of the music appreciation genius that is the Cusack. Okay, so I know this comes off ridiculously stalkerish… I understand, really.

Here’s my disclaimer: I know that I don’t know John Cusack. I know that he is surely not the person who I’ve pieced together from clips of him that I perceive to be authentic from characters he has played over the years. I know that I’ll never meet him and I have no illusions of fantasy relations developing between us. I won’t be flying to distant places anytime soon with my 800X zoom lens to try to capture a moment of him getting coffee or smoking a cigarette. I don’t know his favorite color, his height, his latest girlfriend…

I was first introduced to John Cusack in The Journey of Natty Gann released in 1984… I’m sure I didn’t see it in 1984, seeing as I was only 4, but when I did, I was in love. First crush… check! This wasn’t my first music-influenced-by-John-Cusack experience but it certainly got my attention. I must have been 9 or 10. The Say Anything boombox scene was epic in so many ways. Sure, Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes is a great song, beautiful, moving and Peter Gabriel is pretty fabulous himself but what really hooked me was the little tidbit that during filming this scene, the Cusack was blaring Fishbone’s “Turn the Other Way.” Then the music began to rush in…

Bands like Fishbone, The Clash, The Specials, Elvis Costello, etc. Throw in some new wave, 80s punk and music that is proof to me that I was born in the wrong decade and my brain was saturated. I’m a walking jukebox. I catch myself listening to something and thinking, “I wonder if the Cusack would like this…” It’s a sickness, I know.

The one thing I am is sure that I like the Cusack in my head. I guess I imagine him more in the Rob Gordon- High Fidelity style. The guy with walls upon walls lined with vinyl and makes mix tapes for people. (Side note: mix tapes are the best thing EVER… if you ever felt compelled to give me something, give me a mix tape… okay, okay, a mix CD. YES, I still have a way to play tapes and I only within the last five years got rid of my 8 tracks…yes, 8 tracks.)

Is this all embarrassing? Sure. I suppose my only reprieve is John Cusack’s rumored hatred of virtual communication methods so I hardly think he’ll be stumbling across this blog anytime soon. Even if he did, it’s not like he’d tweet about it or anything. So, John, if you ARE out there reading this, let’s get a cup of coffee… I’m down.

Now, I don’t base my music decisions on whether or not I think he would like it. If I based my preferences on what someone else liked there are a lot of things that rock my world that would be missing from my collection… that would be sad. I think Cusack would say to love what you love, if it’s not messing up the world then forget the haters. He’d want me to listen to what I want… but I’m sure he would give me a patronizing look if I passed him a mix tape from my music collection and I’m also sure the Cusack uses more forceful expletives than “forget the haters.”

My definition of good music: I don’t know that I can actually define what makes good music. The music I love tends to elicit certain reactions. Something in the beat or the bass track that vibrates in my chest cavity. I find myself holding my breath… my scalp tingles… my body physically reacts. I don’t know what characteristics cause this because the songs that do this to me don’t have readily identifiable similarities.
Sometimes its music that fits into a specific moment; what I would call good driving music isn’t necessarily good Saturday morning coffee music.

So back to John Cusack. I guess I’ve bonded with my fill-in-the-blank version of John Cusack because of his love for music. He makes me feel like it’s okay to love music and not be a music theory major, not be a musician, not be a DJ or even a record store owner. I can just be me, listen to what I want, and let the music to the talking. I scour movie soundtracks, listen to every free download from up and coming artists, spend hours listening from the music wall at Virgin. I’m physically compelled to buy Starbucks compilation CDs and, well, any CD with an intriguing cover.

So, what is the purpose of this semi-random stream of thought? No, not just to gush about John Cusack. I’ve been feeling the need to reorganize my music collection so I’ve posed a challenge to myself. Listen to every album in my collection, one a day, and blog about each one… even the really embarrassing ones. And, just as a warning, they may or may not take the form of conversations with the Cusack…