Monday, June 28, 2010

I never thought this day would end

#965 - Close To Me :: The Cure

“I make the shapes come much too close,
I pull my eyes out,
hold my breath,
and wait until I shake.”

I think it was my friend Mike who once proclaimed that it was not a mix tape that I made if it didn’t have at least one song from The Cure on it. And, for a very long time, I’m pretty sure he was spot on with that.

I loved The Cure.

I still love The Cure.

Lyrically, musically and something more about their music has always just gotten to me, sunk in deep, and become part of my inner soundtrack. Their songs, they have memory imprints of parts of me weaved into them, and sometimes I can almost see/hear/touch/smell the time and place of my life the song brings up.

Like this one: I see my old red Honda hatchback. I can smell Marlboro lights and Poison perfume, and Studio One hairspray. I can see Sunset and Highland, or Gower, or the end of Willougby, near where that school was (maybe still is). I can feel crushed velvet and lace against my skin, long boots that curved over my knees, and the tight-skinned feel of all that make-up I used to wear. I see the vinyl booths with rips in spots, colored that horrid beige/orange mix that screamed “we’ve been around since the ‘70’s”, and that matched the waitress’ smocks - late night coffee, fried things, salad with too much dressing - and all that middle of the night conversation.

It reminds me of waiting by the phone until it was time to go out again, back when phones had call waiting and answering machine tapes, and were left behind when you walked out the door. Boys with eyeliner and long, gangly legs, who sometimes kissed just to say hello.

“I’ve waited hours for this…”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Put 'em on me

#966 - I Want Your (Hands On Me) :: Sinead O’Connor and MC Lyte

“I want you call me to you,
I wanna move, will you?
I really wanna feel you.”

Late nights, back alleys, unidentified side streets and non-marked buildings, the smell of clove cigarettes, kohl eyeliner, black stockings and all that music. This song reminds me of clubs in Hollywood in the very late ‘80’s, and dancing.

Lots of dancing.

There are other memories attached to this song, and that time; other feelings, reminders, faces. But, listening to it today, dancing is what I remember the most.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rock on gold dust woman

#967 - Gold Dust Woman :: Fleetwood Mac

"Do you know how to pick up the pieces,
and go home?"

Rumours was one of those albums that I remember hearing in my house as a child. I think it was one of my Mom's favorites for a while, and it became one of mine, as well. It is still one of my favorite albums of all-time, one that I can listen to from start to finish, side one to side two, and completely enjoy.

This song, though, always stood out to me.

It is one of those powerful songs that I like to throw on when I'm feeling weak, or heartbroken, turn up as loud as my speakers (and ears) can stand, and sing-a-long. The lyrics, and the feel of the song, feels like strength, survival and freedom to me - and I think that is why it is one of my "turn to when I need strength" songs.

Especially the line I quoted above.

Stevie Nicks is one of my musical heroes, which perhaps I'll one day craft a list about - her voice, her style, her lyrics, the way she has survived, and evolved.

I also love Hole's cover of this song.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And now our laughter just goes on and on

#968 - Lay Your Hands On Me :: Thompson Twins

"But I have never felt the grace,
that I have felt in your embrace."

Back in 1985, when this song came out, I thought it a near perfect love song. I'd listen to it and imagine a fictional love affair, often sketched with a co-star/lover who was a recent crush, either from my everyday life, or torn from a page of a magazine. I always thought this sounds like love, especially the above quoted lyrics.

Then I think I forgot this song. I have the album in a crate, stored away at my Mom's house - with no turntable its hard to bring them back into my house. All those albums just waiting to be played again. Someday, I promise.

Recently, prior to constructing this personal favorite list, I heard this song again. There is this radio station that plays nothing but 80's alternative music, and this was part of their rotation. I still knew (know) all the words, and I drove on to work, turning it up, and singing along.

And I realized, I have that kind of love, and I felt pretty damn lucky.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sing to me

#969 - Sing :: Blur

“I can’t feel,
‘cause I’m numb.”

We all have coping skills, and default reactions, that have been developed over the years and become part of our particular make-up. Most of these evolve over time, honed due to circumstances, survival instincts, and the lifestyle(s) we’ve lived/lived through/live in. Some of thes are positive skills, and some of them, well, they are more akin to the baggage we carry our issues, fears and heartbreak around in.

I’ve created some positive ones in my life, I do know that, but my default - and not a shiny default - is to go numb.

Its as if my whole being goes into shut-down mode, gathering up all resources and holding them close inside, leaving me a shell that I suppose cannot be hurt (or fools itself into thinking it can’t be hurt). Once in that numb state, though, it is very difficult to pull out of so I tend to self-battle to not fall into that default place. Sometimes I can stop it.

Music,in all its incarnations, and often singing, often helps me in this (and in so many other things). One of the many reasons music has been, and will always be, so important to me.

One More Cup Of Coffee :: The White Stripes

One More (Cup Of Coffee)

Louise kept a running list of things that she could still stand about Jake. A torn out sheet from one of his composition books, toward the back so it would take some time for him to notice, though she knew he’d see it eventually. The little jagged remains of paper will rat her out, proof of damage, like the bruises he leaves on the soft bits of her pale skin. He will find them, but not today, so she crumples it up and stuffs it at the bottom of her raggedy blue purse.

She sits outside in the cold, just around the back of the store, legs tucked up under her and the remains of a half-smoked cigarette pressed between her lips. (Next week I will quit, I swear) She had that moment, around quarter past six, where she thought of leaving (again). Sometimes all it takes is a crooked smile from a stranger, or the wide-eyed wonder of a child staring up at her, holding their mother’s hand, that makes her think to go.

I’m not sure he’d miss me much, anyway. And he doesn’t know about you, yet, now does he?

Louise changes her mind, sitting out there leaned up against the dumpsters, break time ticking away on the old wristwatch she wears (her father’s, the only thing he’d left her), and her skirt a little tighter; one more week and she’ll be showing.

She reasons that all it will take is one more thing, one more reason, to add to the list; that is all it will take to make her stay. She closes her eyes tightly, half-wishing and half-remembering, until the picture clears and the curtain of her mind recedes.

He makes a damn find cup of coffee, warm, but not too hot, with just the right amount of sugar (not that fake shit that kills small animals) and milk, and something else, some kind of secret ingredient. He told her once his Gran taught him how to make it, her perfect cup of coffee, but made him promise to keep it secret. One morning in bed I’d asked him to tell me, that I’d keep it safe and he smiled at me then, silent for a few minutes, then reluctantly he’d pulled me to his side, and whispered,

She said it was a teaspoon of the sun from the break of a morning sky, three tears shed for the things that have left you, and a wish for something more.”

I think I would have liked his Grandmother.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'll put us back together at heart

# 970 - Don’t You (Forget About Me) :: Simple Minds

"Tell me your troubles and doubts,
Giving me everything inside and out."

Probably one of, if not the, quintessential song of the 80’s, and most likely the most memorable song associated with a John Hughes’ film.

The minute I hear it I see that opening scene of The Breakfast Club, with the cars driving up, and those first glimpses of each one of the characters. The movie is so deeply part of my make-up that its hard to remember the experience of watching it for the first time, though I remember the day, and the friends I was with.

This song reminds me of high school, of the friendships I had then, of the growing I did in those four years, and yes, of all those terribly awkward moments that make up that time in one’s adolescence.

It also reminds me of connection, of understanding, and the desire we all have to not be forgotten, to be seen, and to be understood.

And despite the very nature of this song being an almost anthem of a decade, and known by so many people, it still feels very personal to me when I listen to it.

Its alright...its okay...She & Him hit the road with Volume Two

photo by Sam Jones

She & Him on the road...

Volume two, from the dynamic duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, known as She & Him, has been my own on the road soundtrack for the last month. Living and working in Los Angeles can make one a bit frazzled, especially if one's daily commute consists of never-ending traffic, re-occuring air (and agitation) pollution, and the stresses that seem to be born and bred here - worries on getting by, surviving, competing, maintaing the composure to be yourself.

On a good day one can use a bit of soothing, nostalgic-laden, candy-coated musical relief...and on the rough days, sometimes it can be the only paste keeping you together.

She & Him is a whole lot of all of that.

Songs such as Don't Look Back and I'm Gonna Make It Better bring back memories of Sunday drives in the back of my Grandparents' car, or the occasional family road trip - the music that I'd pick up on my portable radio, listening while roadside attractions, gas stations and nowhere in particular diners flashed by my window. There was always hope in the sound of the music, even if the lyrics hit on heartbreak or a hard-to-get romance; ever and always a sung-a-long promise of possibility.

Like the road ahead, full of twists and turns, and brake lights, but there is always a destination sought that we know can be achieved - and that is a kind of hope, too.

This Summer, She & Him's Volume Two will continue to keep me going, and keep my cool. I'll keep it in my favorite rotations, letting the promise of hope and ease and delight accompany my daily trips In The Sun.

And don't miss catching She & Him's own road trip stops:

The tour dates are:

7/1 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
7/2 Philadelphia, PA @ Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing
7/3 Oxford, ME @ Nateva Music Festival
7/4 New York, NY @ The Beach at Governors Island
7/6 New York, NY @ Terminal 5 – SOLD OUT
7/7 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club – SOLD OUT
7/9 Atlanta, GA Atlanta @ Botanical Gardens – SOLD OUT
7/10 Birmingham, AL @ Sloss Furnaces
7/11 Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
7/18 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl**
8/26 Salt Lake City, UT @ Twilight Music Series
8/28 Omaha, NE @ Anchor Inn
8/29 St. Louis, MO @ LOUFest
8/30 Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
9/1 Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium

Friday, June 18, 2010

You can't go on thinking nothings wrong

#971 - Drive :: The Cars

"Who's gonna come around
when you break?"

I suppose this song may very well be dismissed as adult slow rock, or whatever one calls that genre of music that plays on the overly cheesy, slow song/love song radio stations (everyone knows the kind, where everything is either heartbreak or diva sung anthems of love).

It is also very likely one of those songs that has been terribly over-played over the years, and arguably not one of the best songs from Ric Ocasek and the band, but it still definitely does make it to my list of 1,000 favorite songs.

Some of the reason is solely based on my own nostalgia, and memories of a first boyfriend. We spent many nights either driving around in his car, or parked somewhere in his car - watching movies at the drive-in, sorting out a place to be alone (we both lived at home), making out, and having those conversations that make you feel less alone in the world.

This song was playing one particular night, and it mattered - that night, the music, us.

I'm also rather fond of the video, with Ric's real life wife, Paulina Porizkova, and directed by actor Timothy Hutton.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dance away the heartache

#972 - Dance Away :: Roxy Music

"You're dressed to kill,
and guess who's dying?"

I love the connections I can trace back with certain songs, and the trail of music and association I follow of how I came to love a certain song. Sometimes the journey to falling for a song is almost more nostalgic to me than the memories evoked.

I was a huge Duran Duran fan in junior high and high school. I collected just about everything about them - albums, singles, remixes, magazines, imported fan books, t-shirts, photographs, posters, etc. I read everything I could find on them, and knew all kinds of random and useless information about them (favorite toothpaste? nicknames? favorite color?). I suppose all the trivia really wasn't necessary to know, except that it was fun to talk amongst friends and I suppose compete on who knew more, especially on each of our chosen favorites.

But, the "trivia" I did learn that stuck with me, and actually impacted some of my musical taste, was just that - their musical taste. Not that every mentioned band or singer from the band became part of my music collection, but some of them definitely did.

Roxy Music was one of those bands.

I think it was during a guest spot on Mtv as VJ's did I first hear Roxy Music. It was either this video, or the one to Avalon. The sound, the visuals, the fashion, the entire mood of all of it, captured me - and I wanted more. I ended up falling in love with the albums Avalon, For Your Pleasure and Manifesto - and later loving Bryan Ferry's solo work.

His music, both solo, and with Roxy Music, is some of the most sensual pop music I've ever heard - and I still love it.

You're lying in beauty now

#973 - Pushing Up The Daisies :: The Colourfield

“And life goes on and on and on and on,
life goes on and on and on and on,
and on and on.”

Although this song, and the album it came off of, was a discovery of mine in my last year of High School, it reminds me more of my first few months of living in my first apartment. I lived with Julia’s dad in this small one-bedroom apartment. We didn’t have a TV, so all of our personal entertainment came from our stereo and mutual music collection, his guitar playing, and a wide assortment of friends who would come and go often.

We had dinner parties all the time. We took road trips to San Francisco. We had music playing all the time. For those first few months living together, in that apartment, was pretty wonderful. Those were the best time of our relationship - it would never be that good again.

This was one of the albums that I brought along when we moved in together. It was soon a favorite of both of ours, and I can vividly remember it playing while I cooked dinner in our tiny kitchen. We had one of those ironing boards that came out of the wall that we would use as a table, when it was just the two of us having dinner.

I remember this song playing on that first Valentine’s Day together. He had set-up a scavenger hunt for me to follow with handmade gifts.

I know I put this on a mixed-tape we took with us, driving up the coast to stay in a little roadside motel just outside of Santa Barbara. That same trip I got sick after we rode the ferris wheel together; the lights and movement, and the salty sea air turning my stomach. It would be weeks before I’d find out my ill reaction was due to being pregnant.

Those months were life-changing, and this song brings flashes of those days back as the melody swirls around through my headphones.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Can you please release me?

#974 - Monster Hospital (MSTRKRFT Remix) :: Metric

“I fought the war,
but the war won.”

I don’t often prefer remixes to songs, unless of course I’m actually on a dance floor, but this one is truly an exception. The MSTRKRFT remix of this song takes it to the next level, and brings out an intensity and passion and fire to it that it just screams for.

Is the song about sex? Love? Self-destruction? The edge, or loss, of sanity? The war within all of us? Or between those of us who entangle with one another? Or perhaps it is all of this, and none of this, depending on your perspective. I know I’ve felt all of the above before…and after.

It definitely makes me want to dance.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Say it ain't so, Joe

#975 - Up All Night :: The Boomtown Rats

“Staying up all night.”

There is a certain energy, an electrical under the skin buzz, that takes over when you are up all night. In the middle of the night, the wee hours, everything feels just a little different. The glow of the street lamps in a suburbon neighborhood, or the glare of a neon lit liquor store as your car cruises down a still not deserted city street, it changes the look of the world - if only for those few hours.

Struggling, or living with, insomnia makes one accustomed to the still hours between night and morning. I know, in the past, I’ve stayed up all night many times in the past - sometimes writing, sometimes negotiating with the fates for sleep, sometimes with friends, or a lover, sometimes with chemicals, and other times with just my own sleepless nature.

Nowadays it is often due to a restless mind, stresses that nag at me and spin through my head, a story I’m needing to spill out onto a page, or my son who shares my battle with sleep/insomniac-tendencies. Sometimes those hours, though, are the best to me - stolen hours where the silence helps me dig in deeper to who I am, what I think, feel, and want to create.

And thankfully there is always music and coffee to get me through the next day, after being up all night.

Move on out captain

#976 - Beyond the Sea :: Bobby Darin

“It’s far beyond the stars,
it’s near beyond the moon.”

This song reminds me of my Grandfather, the music he used to listen to, especially during dance number shows like The Lawrence Welk Show, that he would often call me in to watch with him. He always seemed to get dreamy-eyed when the dancing began, especially to this song, and a few others of its style/genre/spirit.

He was a big man, rough around the edges, quick with jokes and a bit clumsy on his feet (a family trait, I think, if I’m any proof of that). I’m not sure if he ever did much dancing in his life, though I think somewhere underneath his surfaces he wanted to.

Maybe somewhere, wherever he is now, beyond the sea, he’s dancing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I play my stupid songs

#977 - In The Garage :: Weezer

"I've got Kitty Pryde,
and Nightcrawler, too,
waiting there for me.
Yes I do, I do

This is one of two of my all-time favorite Weezer songs. When I first bought this album it was this song that I played over and over again, and it is still the song I turn up loudest, and sing-a-long to, when I play the album now.

I don't know what it is that I love so much about it.

It might be the comic book references, or the self-proclaimed "I'm a geek" feel to all of it. The whole feeling of being accepted, and having this space where you can feel that - play your guitar, write your stupid songs, collect whatever it is you love - its hard not to relate to that.

For me, it was my room. Posters all over my walls, vinyl albums, magazines, books, comics, and stacks of composition books with writings and journal entries in them. That was where I was me more than anywhere else when I was growing up (especially during mid-t- late adolescence). It was that place I did not have to be anyone for anybody else - and there is so much freedom, and creativity, that comes from having that kind of place.

I think that is why I love this song so much - for recognizing that space, and what and who we are within it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let it fade

#978 - Come Down :: Bush

"'Cause I don't want to come back down from this cloud,
it's taken me all this time to find out what I need."

Sometimes I think I enjoy the music from the '90's better now than I did back in the '90's, or perhaps my tastes have veered in different directions since then (or, as it seems, in various directions).

I remember this song as a background song, a soundtrack playing while I hungout with certain friends, or drove around Los Angeles with the radio on. I do not have any particular image, or memory, that comes to mind from those days when I hear this song. What I do have, though, is a newfound love of the song, and the lyrics, now.

It was recent that I heard the song again, and something about the lyrics (especially the quoted chorus above) that struck a chord with me. I have gotten to a time, or an age, or a chapter in my life where I really know myself and what I want in this life - and for once I feel very happy with the person I am, and the people I've chosen to have in my life. I guess, it just took a long time to get here, and this song strikes at that in some ways.

A re-discovered song from the '90's that resonates more with me today? Yeah, suppose that is why it made this list.

Played my favorite song

#979 - I Love Rock and Roll :: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

"So put another dime in the jukebox, baby."

Listening to this song, right now, as I write this causes me to realize that I may very well love this song even more today than I did when it first was released - and I loved it from the start, so very much.

This played all the time on the radio station I listened to in 1981. I was in junior high, and I listened to the radio feverishly everyday after school (and on my clip-on transistor radio that attached to my bicycle, when I rode around the neighborhood. This was a huge song at the roller rink, and I remember skating around those slick wood floors, singing-a-long with my friends.

This was also one of those songs that were often a part of slumber party-hairbrush as a microphone-concerts, and turn-it-up until your car speakers nearly blow freeway sing-a-longs.

I just turned it up here in my office, unplugging my headphones, and three of my co-workers started singing-a-long - loudly - dancing around, everyone saying at least once "damn, I love this song".

Honestly, it is just one of those songs.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sometimes it frightens me

#980 - Suddenly Last Summer :: The Motels

“It happened forever,
for a short time.”

Some songs that I love have a story in my head that play along with them when I listen. Some of these in my head stories have existed for years, and though they may slightly evolve in images and imagined plot, the early visuals that came to mind originally still play a part.

This is one of those songs.

What I see play out in my head, I suppose, is my own version of the music’s video. Visions played out the way I see them whist singing along. A girl, not much past adolescence, at a bus station in some forgettable town. She is saying goodbye to something (not someone), possibly running away from someone (not something). The bus pulls away and she never sees someone chasing behind after, trying to stop her - and that was the one thing she wanted - for someone to stop her, ask her to stay.

I remember it being a bit jarring to see the actual video for the first time. The images seeming to conflict with how I saw the song, felt the lyrics, imagined it coming to life. I prefer the way it plays out in my head - just like I more than not prefer the way I imagine characters in a book I’m reading, and find myself disappointed when a film version casts the characters so differently.

I used to shoot you down

#981 - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) :: Nancy Sinatra

“Seasons came and changed the time.
When I grew up, I called him mine.
He would always laugh and say,
‘remember when we used to play?’”

Yes, this is a cover song (which I’ve tried to step away from for this list - perhaps for a future list of favorite cover songs…), but this is the version that I know, and love.

During a Summer in my childhood I spent time visiting friends of my family in San Jose. My friend Laura, born two days before I was, had moved away with her family, but we’d all kept in touch, and these Summer visits happened back and forth for a few years.

I can’t recall exactly how old I was during this particular visit - 10 maybe - or a lot of what we did during the visit, except for afternoons spent in their swimming pool, and their nextdoor neighbor, Jean.

She was our mothers’ age, I think, but so different than anyone else we knew “that age” (pretty much other mothers). She was divorced (something we’d not yet encountered in our own family, yet), she drove a convertible, she had a black tiled swimming pool, she was loud, and she laughed and swore a lot.

She also had a room just for her stereo and record collection; a room she let us hangout in during that one Summer.

Nancy Sinatra’s album ‘How Does That Grab You?’ was one that we would play often, and this song was my favorite track on it. I remember lying back on the floor in that room, letting this song wash over me, making up stories of true love gone bad in my head. I think somewhere in those imaginings I pictured this song being sung by Jean herself, as she drove off into the night in her convertible, leaving her lost love behind her.

It made me very happy to hear this song play during the opening scenes of Kill Bill Volume 1.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Who do you think you are

#982 - Mr. Big Stuff :: Jean Knight

"I'd rather give my love to a poor guy that has a love that's true,
than to be fooled around and get hurt by you."

I've loved this song for as long as I can remember, and have so many memories of running around with a hairbrush microphone, as a little girl, singing to this song. My Aunt had the 45" and we'd play it in the Summer, when I'd stay at my Grandparents house, and dance around her room to it.

I also had these neighbors briefly (I think they only lived on our small cul de sac for a few months) who had this stereo in their garage. The two sister and I would crank the collection of 45"s we all had, and make-up dances to go along with them. It was always this song, and Please Mr. Postman, that we played the most.

This was the one I always chose.