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Posts Tagged ‘singing’

Recently I was lamenting just how rare and damn difficult it is for me to get out and be social (…She’d Want to DO Stuff), and this past weekend was no exception.  I was scheduled to work my part-time job from 11am to 11pm both Saturday and Sunday, so trying to squeeze in an outing was probably going to be pressing my luck.  Not to mention I’m slam broke.

Still… I’ve been seriously jonesing for some social contact, and there were two options for Saturday night if I dared.  One was a surprise party being held for a former co-worker that I hadn’t seen in a while.  The upside was that price of entry was BYOB– I could certainly afford a six pack of beer.  The downside was that the house was a good 30 minutes from where I worked, and in the opposite direction from where I lived.  Given the fact that I’d be getting off work at 11pm after working 12 hours, drive out to the party, then drive all the way back home, get back up and get to work at 11am for another 12… that left a narrow window of party-time before I started seriously hurting my old ass.

Also… the party was being coordinated through Facebook.  My own personal record of trying to get parties to fire off through Facebook has been attrocious.  Let me tell you, if I drove all the way out there and nothing was going on…

Vertigo! My buddies Andrew on guitar (far left) and David on drums (against the wall, right next to him)

The other option was going to see Vertigo playing at Rock Falls Tavern.  I had two friends in the band and had never seen the group in action.  The downside was paying bar prices for booze, and a possible cover charge.  Rock Falls Tavern was only 10 minutes from where I worked, and more or less on the way out to the surprise party, so by the time 11 o’clock rolled around and I had not heard any updates regarding the party, I figured I’d stop by Rock Falls Tavern.  If no one was there I knew that wasn’t related to band I’d grab a beer, watch a few songs, and then go check out the party.

First bit of good news– no cover!  When I got there, turns out that there were a bunch of my friends there, far enough in the back to be able to talk and socialize, happy and surprised to see me.  My friend Al bought me a beer and we chatted and caught up on things while listening to the music.  Then my friend Dan, who was feeling no pain, insisted on buying me something called a “Jägerbomb” shooter.  Using my awesome powers of deduction, I presumed it was some sort of shot that contained that wretched Jägermeister liquor.  I hoped it was mixed with something palatable, but when I drank it it was just as disgusting as I feared.

I found out later a Jägerbomb is Jägermeister mixed with Red Bull… another foul tasting liquid.

Ugh. Disgusting...

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New Years Day always gives us a chance to reflect back on the things we did in the previous year.  One big thing I did was create this blog.  I’ve been a writer at heart since I was in middle school, with dreams of being a published author, and years later, dreams of being a screenwriter.  Things didn’t work out that way (as of yet) but I did get into writing about a hobby of mine, and have proudly been a paid professional hobby writer for well over a decade.

Even though it’s a lot of fun to write about a hobby you love, it’s a pretty narrow niche potential audience, and it occurred to me last year that starting a blog might be a good way to stretch my writing chops and expand my audience and network of readers and other writers.  When I was contemplating what to write about, the fact that I was going through a divorce and needing to start my life over seemed like the perfect thing to write about.  Not only would it be much more accessible to readers, but it could also be cathartic to write, providing me with a way to shape my thoughts and feelings going forward, to help me learn from mistakes in the past and focus on the sorts of people I want to be in my life going forward.

The concept was that the blog name “My Ideal Woman” be the first part of an affirmative sentence, with each blog post title “… She’d be (something something)” as the second part of the sentence.  Eventually ideas for posts came that didn’t exactly fit the paradigm but that was my original framing.

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It’s been quite the momentous week for me.  It started improbably enough last week after getting off from my part-time job super-stressed out and grumpy.  I’d worked all day at my full-time job, went in to my part-time job working at the local college campus, and had to deal with clueless rude teenagers for four hours.  I either needed some stiff drinks or some comfort food, and since I had to get back up early in the morning to go to work, I elected for food.  Some friends had recently raved about a place called Cookout, which used to be a Bullets burger joint up on Broad Street, and apparently they have insanely good food for insanely reasonable prices and stay open insane hours of the day and night.

Fastfood Nirvana

So I get there 11:30 on a Tuesday night and it was packed with people, choking the double drive-through and waiting in the walk-up line.  I decide to go up to the window to order, and as I was waiting someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I worked for the college (pretty much an ice-breaker question since I was in uniform).  She introduced herself and said she worked at the hospital and we mentioned names of people we knew that worked with the other.  Small world!  Anyway, she gave off this incredibly friendly, positive and smart vibe and was totally adorable, and after a little conversation I got her cell number to text her my number and name so we could be Facebook friends.

Now, for those new to my blog, a quick overview of where I am right now in my life socially—I’m recently divorced after being married for 12 years, I’ve got two kids and three jobs.  Even though I’ve been living a “bachelor life” for 18 months, I have practically no social time—I’m always either working, sleeping, or I am with my kids for visits.  I’m taking steps to change that—recently my ex moved into another house, I moved back in to our old house, and hopefully in the next couple months I’m going to get the placed fixed up so I can get a roommate.  That will let me cut back on the part-time hours I work and actually be available for social outings, having friends over to the house, and things like that.

What I found nice about my new Facebook friend is the possibility of expanding my social circles, which has been pretty static for a long, long time.  I mean, it’s possible I might not ever see her again, but then again maybe she’ll come to my housewarming party and bring some friends, or maybe she’ll invite me out to something she has going on out of the blue.  Who knows who I might get to meet through her down the road?  It’s just kinda nice to have that possibility open up out of nowhere.

So the next day I was in a great mood… and the Great East Coast Earthquake of 2011 hits, with the epicenter here in Virginia roughly 30 miles from where I work.  The ground moves, windows are loudly rattling, and I’m suddenly very aware of two floors of steel and concrete above my head.  I nab my cell phone and keys and make a beeline to the exit, and stand around with my coworkers in the parking lot, mildly freaked out by such a strong earthquake here in a state not at all known for earthquakes.  The last one we felt was 8 years ago that was considerably milder than that one, and that one was the first earthquake I’d ever felt here in Virginia.  No damage done, and life goes back to normal.

As the week moves on, I’m looking forward to Friday because it’s the birthday for one of my co-workers at my part-time job, and we’ve made plans to go out for drinks afterwards to celebrate her birthday, along with several other co-workers.  Now, I’ve tried to tag along for social outings with some of my coworkers ever since my ex and I split up, but just about all of them are considerably younger than me and I guess they don’t really see me as someone willing to go out and get down.  This time around though I manage to get in on the plot and am totally stoked when we get off at 11pm and all of us head over to Mulligans.  Turns out it’s karaoke night.

Uh oh…

All of my coworkers are excited about karaoke.  Another one of my coworkers who was off that night has already been at Mulligans for an hour or two and is ahead of us on the drinks, and on the singing.  He’s having a ball and getting everyone into the groove, being our de facto host, with his lovely and sweet girlfriend as hostess.

I’m a torn about the karaoke.  I have always had a pretty good case of stage fright and a long history of being bashful and shy.  I also love to sing and I’m not terrible at it.  In fact, right out of high school I was lead singer in a rock band for about a year and had a great time, in part due to the large amounts of alcohol I had to drink to beat back the stage fright and shyness.

I order a couple highballs — bourbon and ginger ale — and quickly drink them down.

There’s a book at the table that has a list of all the available songs and I quickly turn to the Rs to find R.E.M., my old standby.  There’s nothing from them in the book—what??  I flip through some more, trying to find other songs I used to sing in the band back in the day and don’t have very much luck.

Meanwhile our hostess is giving me requests.  She tells me she’s got some favorite songs that her boyfriend never sings for her, and asks me to sing them.  Fat Bottom Girls by Queen.  Yikes—Freddy Mecury is probably overly ambitious for my vocal range.  Maggie May by Rod Stewart.  Hm, I could probably pull that off.  Add It Up by Violent Femmes.

Now that is a fucking cool ass song!  Do I have the balls to get up and sing it?

Why yes, I had this on vinyl...

I order a couple more bourbons…

All my other co-workers including birthday girl have been up there and sung at least once.  I’m looking through the book some more, trying to hunt down something a bit safer, something I know I can nail.  My hostess is back at my elbow, giving me a super-serious look.  “You’re running out of time!  You need to get on the list.  Now!”

She’s gorgeous and young.  She’s got tattoos and a killer smile.  She wants me to sing her a song.

I scribble my selection on a slip of paper.  “What did you pick?” she asks me.  “It’s a surprise,” I say.  I drop the selection in the box, and go get one more drink.  Before I’m done my name is called.

Shit!  I run up on stage.  There’s a tinge of stage fright poking around the edges, but the bourbon’s provided enough liquid courage so that excitement is mostly what I feel.  Can I do it?  Can I sound at least okay?

Daaaaaay… after day….. I will waaaaaalk… and I will play

But the daaaaaay… after today….. I will stop and I will start

 Why can’t I get just one kiss?  Why can’t I get just one kiss?

There may be some things that I wouldn’t miss

But I look at your pants and I need a kiss

Violent Femmes– the crowd goes nuts.  Host and hostess and my coworkers are there cheering me on.  I think I’m getting the pitch right and trying to make sure I’m projecting but this is just such a damn fun song and I’m drunk and the music is awesome and I just roll with it.

I stumble a bit on the Oh, ma-mama, mama-mo-ma-mum parts but I recover nicely and the audience doesn’t seem to notice.  And then it’s over and I get the applause and the hugs and the back slaps and people telling me I sounded great.  Flush with praise and excitement, I scribble down another selection and give it to the guy, but about 10 minutes later it’s last call and they shut down the karaoke.

Well, shoot.  I get a large glass of water.  My evening is over already…

Or is it?  Most of my coworkers roll out quickly, but I’m talking with my host and hostess as we leave and some friends of theirs invite them to an apartment to continue the good times.  I’m surprised when the invitation is extended to me!  2:30 in the morning with a hurricane coming and I’m contemplating going to a Fan party?

I miss The Fan...

“Sure!” I say, and hop in the car with host and hostess.  Why the fuck not?  One advantage of being single, huh?

Going into the Fan apartment I’m flushed with memories of good times.  I lived in this area for a decade and went to many Fan parties back before marriage and kids.  Hardwood floors, tall ceilings, sparsely furnished with essentials—comfy furniture, TV, stereo, books, bed.  My empty hand is quickly filled with a beer and we talk about music and books and life and love.  We soon move out onto the back porch, and I’m grooving on the familiar small Fan yard, and the strong breeze, the air smells like the ocean as Irene’s long reach begins to gently lash at the trees.  Everyone is super-friendly and warm, lots of hugs and holding hands and welcoming body language… I love ‘em and they love me too, and my worries over being looked at as the weird single old-guy appear to be unfounded.  I kinda want this moment to last forever…

Coolest. Houses. Ever.

Finally, it’s time to call it night.  Host and hostess take me back to my car and I fire it up.  The clock tells me it’s after 4:30 in the morning.  Yowza!  I drive home in the quiet darkness, buzzing off love and warmth and good vibrations.  I get to the house, jump on Facebook to update my status…

…crawl into bed as the sky begins to lighten and the wind and rain pick up.  Irene approaches.  I think about how much fun that was, and the new people I met, and hope that perhaps my social circles widened just a little bit more and I’ll get to do this again.

So, had any interesting or unusual things happen to you recently, natural-disaster-related or no?  Share in the comments!

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[NOTE:  Apologies for the long delay between posts… I recently moved AND I also had to dramatically increase my part-time hours (in addition to my normal full-time hours) in order to pay for the move, so time and energy has been cut drastically.  Things are starting to settle down now…]

I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.

I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod…  You can find Part 1 “The Early Years” here and Part 2 “The Awakening” and “First Love” here and Part 3 Expanding Horizons here

MODERN MEANINGS

Getting married and starting a family certainly changed a lot of the sort of music I ran across since I was no longer going out to parties and being exposed to new music, or going to see as many live shows.  It also marked a period of time of “big events” which often became associated with specific songs…

Paul Simon, Father and Daughter

One thing I was dreading about being a parent was being subjected to awful children’s television.   However, in the 10 years that I’ve been a parent I’ve found a surprisingly large number of shows that are fun for kids to watch (and even sometimes educational) and are also at least mildly entertaining for the parents to watch too.  One of the best of these shows was The Wild Thornberries, and I remember watching a Wild Thornberries movie where this Paul Simon song came on… and just choked me with emotion as I sat there curled up with my daughter.  Such a beautiful song, but if you happen to be the father of a daughter, it’s like Paul Simon is singing just for you.

The Cottars, Hold On

Hold On

When my father-in-law suddenly passed away it was pretty devastating.  One day while the grief was still pretty immediate I was driving to work listening to the Folk Sampler on NPR, and a song called Waterlilly by The Cottars came on.  It’s ethereal beauty weaved into the emotional roller coaster I was on, bringing tears of sadness… and yet the song was just so gorgeous I had to have it.  I went and bought the CD and discovered a new favorite, this cover of a Tom Waits song that is much more fun and upbeat… and just as gorgeous.  Not long after this album was release half of The Cottars left the band, and while the lead singer remains the same, they just don’t feel the same without the cute fiddle player and her lovely backing vocals.

The Duhks, Wagoner’s Lad

Wagoner’s Lad

Speaking of NPR’s Folk Sampler, I also ran across the awesome band The Duhks there, with this beautiful and wistful song.  They also do a great cover of Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave” that I actually like better than the original– no offense to Sting, I do like his version as well!

ZZ Top, Le Grange

Back when we had to bathe the kids, we used to turn on the radio to listen to while the kids played in the bath and we attempted to get them clean.  My son was about 3 or so when this song by ZZ Top came on the radio.  He told me he liked it, and called it the “Hawl Hawl Hawl Song,” perfectly mimicking the growly scat the lead singer tossed in between the lyrics.  So yeah– my son’s first favorite song was about a whorehouse!  Heh, he still likes it but still doesn’t yet know what they’re singing about…

Selena Gomez & the Scene, More

The last New Year’s Eve before my ex and I split I spent alone.  I had to work at my part-time job until 11pm, and she took the kids and went to visit her family overnight.  I came home, fixed some snacks and a drink and sat down to watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s celebration.  As I was watching it, young pop star Selena Gomez and her band The Scene came out to play.  At first I was impressed that she made sure to include the name of the band and not just relegate them to nameless backing status… and then I was actually impressed by the song “More.”  Yeah, it was pop fluff, but I found it catchy and fun and full of good positive energy, something that I needed bringing in the New Year in the house by myself.  When I downloaded the song I justified it by saying my daughter would like it — and she does.  But I actually do too, in part for helping me through what could have been a rough time.

RENAISSANCE

When my ex and I split up, one of the things I wanted to do was make sure I filled up the empty spaces with good TV, good books, and good music.  I got an iPod and started building my iTunes collection, initially loaded with CDs I owned but then starting to download songs here and there.  The pricing is pretty insidious– that song is only 99 cents, why not get it right now?  Then at the end of the week you’re hit with the bill and all those pennies add up quick.  I made sure to show restraint, and when I heard something I wanted to own I’d put it on a list to buy when I had it in my budget.

The Killers, Smile Like You Mean It

I remember hearing The Killers and scratching my head because they sounded like a band I should have heard before, like a band from the 80s or 90s but no– they were a modern band.  This song is my favorite among several really good hits.

Neko Case, Star Witness

I think I first heard of Neko Case when she was profiled on NPR, and they played a few samples of her new album at the time Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  I was immediately smitten with her angelic, powerful voice and lyrical storytelling.  Hers was one of the first albums I bought entirely through iTunes and was glad I did, just about every cut is worth listening to.  Star Witness is my favorite, one that I try to share with friends, Hey there, there’s such tender wolves ’round town tonight…

The New Pornographers, Mass Romantic

I mentioned my new found love for Neko Case on Facebook or Livejournal and someone suggested I check out The New Pornographers, a band I’d heard of but because of their name I just assumed they were not something worth listening to.  So I listened to a few samples and wondered who the bland dude was singing and where the heck was Neko Case?  Then I ran across her singing lead on “Mass Romantic” and “Letter from an Occupant” and instantly downloaded those… and wondered– if you had Neko Case available for lead singer duties why would you ever not have her sing?

Tegan and Sara, Walking With a Ghost

For a while a friend of mine who wrote a Magic column would post a list of songs he was listening to currently, and after reading I’d go online and sample them.  Sometimes I’d find them catchy and decide to download it.  I found Walking with a Ghost so catchy and cool I poked around at other songs of theirs and ended up downloading 5 or 6 more songs.

Camera Obscura, The Sweetest Thing

Like most red-blooded American males, I find Zooey Deschanel totally irresistible and was really pleased to find her She & Him album very well done.  I really enjoyed the retro-feel to the songs, and so I was particularly thrilled to run across Camera Obscura which had a similar retro-sound but fuller and more lush production.  This is music to be heavily buzzing to, with headphones on and the volume turned up.  When you’re lucid you’re the sweetest thing…

Ke$ha, Tik Tok

I took the kids to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 in the movie theater, a very cute and entertaining film.  There was a funny scene where the kids were filming one of them lip-synching to “Tik Tok” to upload to YouTube and things go awry… anyway, the kids really liked the snippet of the song and asked that I download it.  I have to admit I found it catchy too… though after listening carefully to the lyrics I wouldn’t necessarily call them “kid friendly”… but not so much that I won’t let them listen to it.  It’s led to me having to explain a few things to the kids about things adults do…

Spinnerette, Baptized by Fire

Here’s another gem I ran across, with a different sort of retro-feel, almost like a throwback to Heart’s rocking days.  I love the galloping beat, harmonies and driving synthesizers.

Girl Talk, Let It Out

I was playing Magic one night and someone was playing the new Girl Talk album, and I’d never heard of that artist or the songs, which are mash-ups of songs that sound totally cool mixed together.  I heard that the album was free to download online so I pulled it into my iTunes and have enjoyed listening to the crazy blended songs.  Let It Out is my favorite, with the underlying General Public song “Tenderness” getting wrapped around a funky R&B/rap tune.  I’m not sure what twirt twirt twirt that ass means but damn it’s fun.

Metric, Black Sheep

A couple months ago I finally got to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on one of my movie channels.  I suspected that I would probably like the film, but I wasn’t so sure of it that I went to see it in the theater.  When I finally watched it I just totally loved it, and have since watched it several times.  The second time through I wondered if that cool song that Envy Adams’s band The Clash At Demonhead sings the first part of was a real song or not, and found out it was called Black Sheep by the band Metric (who I have a couple other songs by).  Unfortunately I couldn’t just download that song, it was an “album only” track, so I ended up getting the whole album.  It’s not bad, but Black Sheep really stands out, such a great song.  Everyone pulls away, ooooooo, from youuuuuuu….

Which brings us pretty current to what I’ve got rocking my iPod!  One day I hope to share it with someone special 🙂

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I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.

I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod…  You can find Part 1 “The Early Years” here and Part 2 “The Awakening” and “First Love” here

EXPANDING HORIZONS

After my first love & I broke up I dated E., a wonderful gal who was much more plugged into the modern music scene, what was called at the time “college rock” or “modern rock” but soon got labelled “alternative.”  She turned me on to a few bands that knocked my socks off, and since Richmond radio sucked and didn’t play this music I started combing through Spin and other magazines trying to find more.  And boy did I find more!

Throwing Muses, Dizzy

E. turned me on to two of my all-time favorite bands, The Pixies and Throwing Muses.  The Pixies just had this hard-edged driving primal energy that was perfect to drive to, ride to, work out to.  Throwing Muses was a different animal… I loved to put on my headphones and let the hypnotic music wash over me while I listened to the odd lyrics and the contrasting vocal styles of Kristin Hersh and Tonya Donnelly.  Tonya’s angelic lilt was so mesmerizing that when she left the Muses and formed Belly I jumped ship, but while she was with the Muses my heart was faithful.  Hunkpapa was the first Muses album I bought, and Dizzy was my favorite single.

Sonic Youth, Teen Age Riot

I’d heard of Sonic Youth before, but the descriptions I’d heard of their music gave me the impression that they were more concerned with feedback and noise rather than melody.  I’ve always been a fan of good pop music at heart, so I didn’t think Sonic Youth would be up my alley.  Then I read the review of their album Daydream Nation in either Spin or Rolling Stone, described as epic, a masterpiece…  I decided to take a leap and purchase the double album, and I was not disappointed.  When I got my iPod, I made sure to download a couple songs from Daydream Nation onto it, including this opening track.

Cowboy Junkies, Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning

My musical tastes cover a wide swath of genres, but one that I’ve never gotten into has been country music (with just a very few exceptions) which is why I nearly missed out on Cowboy Junkies.  The band name alone had me making assumptions on what sort of music they made, but I kept running across reviews in the magazines I read giving them praise.  One day I was hanging out with my dad and his second wife, and we stopped by a friend of theirs’ house for a brief visit.  Since there was no one my age there, I ended up wandering over to the guy’s CD collection and ran across The Caution Horses — now if that’s not a country music title what is?  Still, I was curious because of the reviews, and heck– I had the album right here to sample, so I asked if I could listen to it.  I quickly found myself mesmerized by this opening track, smitten by Margo Timmons’ deep voice and lyrics conveying loss, longing and yet triumph at the same time.  Yes, the accompanying music could probably best be described as country, and yet somehow when paired with Margo and the lyrics of the songs it became something different, something utterly irresistible.

Blake Babies, Out There

When I first read about Blake Babies I knew instantly I’d love them and bought Sunburn without even listening to it.  I instantly fell in love with Juliana Hatfield’s sweet, little-girl voice singing biting and tough lyrics, all encased in the band’s melodic rock and roll music.  Out There is one of my favorites off the album, and the chorus still gives me goosebumps.

There’s nothing to do, it’s so hard to talk to you
And people never do what they want to.
I don’t know what and I don’t know where
But I know it’s out there.
I must be out there somewhere.

Smashing Pumpkins, I Am One

When I graduated from college I couldn’t find full-time employment so I worked three part-time jobs to make ends meet.  One of them was a food delivery driver, and when the tape deck in my car broke I was a very, very sad panda (see above statement about how awful Richmond radio was).  However, while scanning the dial late one Sunday night I ran across a program on the classic rock station dedicated to Modern Rock– a cool, crisp glass of water in the middle of a programming desert.  I remembering hearing I Am One by the Smashing Pumpkins and being totally engrossed by the sound.  Years later as I was putting songs on my iPod, I looked to Gish rather than the over-exposed, over-played songs from Siamese Dream for my Smashing Pumpkins fix.

Deee-Lite, Groove is in the Heart

When my younger sister went to college about two hours away, I used to go visit her on the weekends as often as I could.  She had a great group of friends who loved to get together and party, or go out dancing.  The group included quite a few gals who I had mad crushes on, and I’d fortify myself with plenty of liquid courage and hit the dance floor with these lovely ladies.  Groove is in the Heart was one of many great dance tunes that carry me back to those fun times.

Primus, Tommy the Cat

One night one of my sister’s friends/mad-crushes & I were drinking and ended up alone in a dorm room.  She wanted me to teach her the lyrics to this song by Primus.  Considering the chorus line included the words “say baby, do you wanna lay down by me?” I was more than happy to teach her the words.  I wish I’d had the nerve to try to make a move on her but if I remember correctly she had a boyfriend at the time.  I should’ve tried anyway, no?  Nonetheless, listening to this song always brings a smile to my face.

The Stone Roses, I Wanna Be Adored

I remember getting the Stone Roses’ debut album and really liking it a lot, but it wasn’t until I put it on while really, really stoned that I fell head over heels for their sounds.  It made me realize why the 60s psychedelic music was so popular, something about that swirling, rhythmic music just resonates when your brain is heavily buzzing.

Lush, For Love

This band was so aptly named, and the single For Love could certainly be well-described as lush.  Miki Berenyi’s voice was pure sex to me.  When I went to the 2nd Lollapalooza tour the main draw were Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, but I was personally very happy to get to see Lush as well, and Miki was just as sexy in the flesh.  Sigh.

Screaming Trees, Make My Mind

I first became aware of Screaming Trees when their single Nearly Lost You was featured on the awesome soundtrack for the movie Singles.  I really liked the song, but not so much that I really invested in hearing more from the band.  Then I started reading about their new album Dust and it was being given rave reviews.  I decided to go ahead and buy it and wow– it was incredible.  I rate it as one of my all-time favorite albums, and was really sad that it was the last the band recorded together.  Quite the swan song.  A year after the album came out, I remember listening to it coming home from going to see the movie Titanic, and something about the emotional aftermath of the movie plus the music and lyrics of Make My Mind had tears pouring down my face.

Beau Jocque & the Zydeco Hi-Rollers, Beau Jocque Boogie

I first became aware of Ellen Barkin in the movie Sea of Love (with Al Pacino), and was totally blown away by her incredible sexiness, so I began watching some of her earlier movies.  I ran across one set in New Orleans called The Big Easy, and for kicks decided to buy some Cajun food — which I’d never had before — to cook up and eat for dinner while watching the movie on the VCR.

As I ate the spicy food and was marvelling at the fantastic flavors (even from the store-bought box version of the food), I started the movie– the opening is an aerial shot of the New Orleans bayou as the zydeco band Beausoleil plays “Zydeco Gris Gris.”  I was totally blown away by the unique sound of zydeco and its high energy.  Something about the food and the music just latched into my heart.  Over the next couple years I found local and nearby Cajun festivals to go to, where I could eat real, freshly prepared Cajun food and listen to wonderful zydeco along with all sorts of other great New Orleans music.

Some of the best zydeco I ever heard I ran across while perusing the slender Zydeco section at Tower Records.  The album was called “Git it Beau Jocque!” and it was a live album by Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers.  With an album and band name like that, how could it not be some of the greatest zydeco music of all time?  I’m pleased that I got to see them perform at the Bayou Boogaloo in Norfolk a year or two before Beau Jocque’s untimely death.

Check back soon for Part 4 — the last part I promise!  Bringing us to the more current songs that have found a home in my heart and my iPod…

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I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.

I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod…  You can find Part 1 “The Early Years” here

THE AWAKENING

When I went from country boy high school grad to college freshman in the big city, my musical tastes were fairly narrow, steeped mostly in 80s pop and rock.  The next three years saw my musical horizons start to expand as I became aware of so much more, so much better, out there!

Oingo Boingo, Dead Man’s Party

My freshman dorm roommate was a preppy philosophy major who introduced me to New Wave music (and to the then cutting edge CD player).  Dead Man’s Party knocked my socks off, and I immediate went to the record store and purchased the album.  I got to see these guys play at the old Flood Zone and the band was simply amazing.

Squeeze, Take Me I’m Yours

While I liked Squeeze’s few radio & MTV songs, their greatest hits album Singles blew my mind, so many cool and interesting songs I’d never heard before.  Then I went to see them play live at the Richmond Landmark Theater and witnessed probably the most talented group of musicians I’ve ever seen, playing virtuoso music while electrifying the audience with a spectacular show.

Georgia Satellites, Railroad Steel

My senior year of high school I had a couple musician friends that wanted to get a little more serious with their music and start a band.  Finding a good singer proved elusive so I was asked to fill in at parties and jams.  For about a year after graduation we actually named our band (The Hostages), practiced and did a few gigs.  I had a ball, though as a writer I longed to try our hand at originals instead of trying to sing other people’s songs.  I had a pretty limited range as a vocalist, but sometimes I could totally nail it—the southern rock band Georgia Satellites was one of them.  A few years ago I reunited with the band for a few jam sessions for old-times sake, and I’m proud to report I can still belt out some of those tunes, including this fist-pumper!

R.E.M., These Days

Another band who’s music I could sing really well to was R.E.M. (heh, quite different from the Satellites stylistically if not geographically).  Back then though trying to decipher Michael Stipes’ lyrics was brutal and involved many hours listening, rewinding, listening and guesstimating.  Years later when a website went up with the official lyrics to those early R.E.M. songs I was amused by just how wrong I’d been… though of course no one who listened to us play those songs knew I was wrong because I sang those words just as incomprehensibly as Stipe.

I think spending all that time and effort figuring out lyrics and singing a handful of R.E.M. really connected me to that era of the band.  Even after our band broke up, I ate up all those I.R.S. albums, joyfully singing along in what I hoped was a close approximation of Stipe’s lyrics.  While The Hostages never performed These Days, it is #1 of many R.E.M. favorites and a song I never tire of listening to.

Led Zepplin, Custard Pie

In middle and high-school, I dismissed Led Zepplin as music the roughneck heavy metal kids listened to.  Then I met Hudson in college, an art major and big fan of Zepplin.  He had all their albums and I spent many evenings with friends deeply buzzing and listening to those records.  Then one day I won a call-in radio contest and got the entire Led Zepplin album catalogue.  I was totally hooked.  I read Hammer of the Gods.  I bought a bootleg concert album.  I went to see The Song Remains the Same at the midnight movies.  And I lamented that John Bonham drank himself to death and broke up the band before I ever had a chance to see them.  Physical Graffiti had to be my favorite album, and the opening Custard Pie still blows me away and is just so heavy man, heavy.

Fishbone, Lying Ass Bitch

When I graduated from high school, my Dungeons & Dragons crew (nerds rule!) merged with another D&D crew that were a couple years older but we all got along famously and the gaming camaraderie quickly spilled out into partying and carousing.  One of my newfound lifelong friends brought Fishbone’s first album to a party we were at and I was totally blown away by the thumping, high-energy ska.  This song’s profane chorus was fun to sing along to while thinking about your ex.  I was privileged to see the band perform live several times and their musicianship was stunning especially given how physical they were jumping on and off the stage.  I learned the joys of moshing at Fishbone concerts.

Beastie Boys, Shake Your Rump

While Licensed to Ill was a badboy-good-time, the Beastie’s followup Paul’s Boutique was a total masterpiece album from start to finish.  It’s hard to pick a favorite out, but Shake Your Rump might be it.

FIRST LOVE

Not only did college open up my musical awareness, but it also led me to my first head-over-heels love experience.  She loved music too and we spent a lot of time drinking beers, listening to music and enjoying each other’s company.

Romeo Void, Never Say Never

Before we became an item, I had a secret crush on her.  I brought some albums to a party one night, and was one of the people spinning the tunes.  When I put this great song on by Romeo Void, three gorgeous ladies (including my secret crush) jumped up and began dancing to it.  Since none of their significant others joined them, I got up and danced with them, and when we all sang the chorus I might like you better if we slept together I fantasized that all three were singing to me, hee heee…

How Can I Refuse, Heart

When my secret crush became not-so-secret and I found out she had feelings for me too I was stunned, scared, thrilled and excited.  Never before had someone I loved loved me in return.  While we saw each other several times a week, like all young love you just can’t get enough of each other so we’d write letters to tide us over to the next night together.  I remember one letter quoted this song by Heart:

Where do we take it now

Now that we caught fire?

Will something greater grow

Out of this desire?

Should I drop my guard

At the risk of being used?

But the way you do those things to me

How can I refuse?

All these years later whenever I hear this song it sends me back to those days of young love.

Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits

All good things eventually come to an end, and when she and I started going through a rough patch this Dire Straits song that so brilliantly mixes romance and melancholia seemed to capture what we were feeling.  Time has healed the sadness to where I can now listen and just enjoy the beauty of the song.

Coming soon, Part 3 Expanding Horizons…

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There are few things that offer up such primal joy as good music, and sharing that music with others is a wonderful bonding experience between acquaintances, friends, family, lovers.  One thing that’s been lacking in my life of late is someone with whom I can soak in music, just bask in the rolling guitars, driving rhythms, angelic voices, romantic lyrics, someone who might even join me in singing along …with the right amount of inhibition-lifting booze if need be!

I can remember in the “good ol’ days” with nights spent spinning vinyl albums, tapes, and CDs.  Of course, times are much different now in the era of the iPod and mp3 players… and man, I just love my iPod!  It is stuffed to the gills with great music, so many favorites.  Looking through the list of songs I can divide my life by certain songs and artists that moved me, becoming markers in the soundtrack of my life.  I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.

I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod…

THE EARLY YEARS

When I was a kid most of my musical exposure came from my parents music collection.  They had albums from the 60s and 70s– rock n roll, r&b, easy listening, disco.  They would hold parties sometimes, and I’d love laying in bed upstairs and listening to the records spinning music amongst the talking and the laughter.  As I got older, I started listening to Top 40 radio, which didn’t exactly broaden my horizons but it was fun to listen to.  Here are a few songs from that era that I still keep around.

Three Dog Night, Out in the Country

When I hear this song, I find myself filled with nostalgia so strong it brings me to tears.  I don’t have any specific memory tied to it– just being young and innocent I suppose.

Get Together, The Youngbloods

This song resonates quite deep with me… the ideals and hope expressed in the lyrics call for us to strive for a better world.  I know the young adults who crafted this song would have been pretty shocked at life in 2011 and how far short we’ve fallen from coming anywhere close to the ideal they sang about.

Rolling Stones, Emotional Rescue

While I like the Rolling Stones (and even went to see them in D.C. during their Steel Wheels tour — with the awesome Living Color opening for them), I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard fan… but something about this song just really pushes all my happy-buttons.  Mick’s falsetto voice, the funky groove, the “knight in shining armor…” soliloquy… that really subtle sound that I would swear is someone hitting a bong in the background… the whole is so much more than the sum of its awesome parts.  Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-o-o-o!

Fleetwood Mac, Say That You Love Me

When I first started partying with my friends, one of the bands I brought to the mix was Fleetwood Mac, which most of my buds had never really listened to.  My parents had all their early albums and I inherited them and happily spun the tunes when the party was winding down.  Christine McVie has an angelic voice and a love-struck perspective that totally appeals to my romantic nature.

Antmusic, Adam and the Ants

I was around when MTV first arrived on the scene, and like most teenagers of my age I wanted to spend as much time as possible watching the videos and listening to the music.  You would think that the new-age posh Adam and the Ants wouldn’t weather the passing of the years like most of his peers, but there’s something about this and a couple other songs from that era that still makes me happy when I hear it.  I think it might be the awesome percussion section, the drumming gives it a nice hook that I can’t get enough of.

Van Halen, Unchained

In high school Van Halen was god, cutting across all the social cliques and appealing to everyone.  I pretty much overdosed on their 1984 album and don’t have any urge to put any of those songs on my iPod, but some of their older classics still rock my world, like this one.

REO Speedwagon, Riding the Storm Out

When I was 16 I started going to go see concerts, and was able to catch a lot of the biggest acts of the day.  One thing that was surprising was just how awful a lot of the big names were when giving a live performance.  For instance, I went to see The Cars with Wang Chung opening for them.  Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days” was all over the radio and MTV, a slick and polished pop piece… but their live show was raw, rough, and didn’t sound anything like the song we’d hear on the airwaves.  And they rocked!  The Cars however… they hit the stage and performed their music just like they sounded on the radio and MTV… but they had horrible stage presence, with very minimal interaction with the audience, not much more than just playing their records over the PA. 

I was a little concerned about REO Speedwagon when I went to see them, but I shouldn’t have worried.  Despite their slick radio-friendly ballads, their performance proved them a road-tested rock and roll band, and the encore performance of Riding the Storm Out blew me away.  Having that song on my iPod carries me back every time.

Since this is getting pretty long I’m going to break it up into a couple of parts.  Coming up next, a musical “Awakening” during my college years…

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