I know I've been out of commission for awhile, and I do apologize for this (deeply and from the bottom of my heart. Do hearts have bottoms? What does the bottom of a heart look like, and what's actually there?). Anyway, I am looking out my window right now and watching cars gallumph through the sad-looking trees along the road. They are dead of winter trees that are standing so still and silent in this little breath of Spring air (ah, Spring). The trees are the smart ones because they know that there is still no reason to celebrate the warmth, it is uncertain and will probably disappear before the weekend is upon us. I still haven't learned that Spring never comes when it says it will. What a tease!
With my own naivete in mind, I have decided to craft a mixed masterpiece of life in the most stagnant months of the year. With my birthday coming up, I am feeling a little depressed, taking stock and wondering what I have actually accomplished in an entire year. Last year at this time, I was in a similar place. In fact, every year at this time I am in this place. My mood at this moment is just about as uncertain as the weather, and I find myself tiring of my constant self-assessment. I have been consumed by my work during the last week, with my free time eaten away by new media. Is that shallow? It feels to me like I am hiding from something, and maybe like the groundhog, I don't really want to see my own shadow.
Shakespeare said that "the play is the thing." I love plays, but for me the mix is the thing, it is the only type of crafting which I excel at on a regular basis (Side note: You know those craft projects that come pre-packaged in the cute boxes? I cannot, for the life of me, put them together. I always end up fucking something up, usually by jumping ahead and realizing that I cannot go back. Such is life.)
So here is a mix for my faithful readers. It will hopefully be less schizophrenic than this post. Peace, love, and all that jazz.
"Meltdown" by Ash
With galvanizing power this song wails into existence born on a message of revolt. The drums and guitars centralize over the repeated line: "I think (I think) my head is gonna explode," a line that was unbelievably apropos in Shaun of the Dead. Right now this song is one of the few songs (besides Stravinsky and Led Zeppelin) that can keep me in the moment for longer than ten seconds. It is focused like a laser beam.
"Atomic" by Blondie
Time for a revelation from my musical past. I don't think anyone knows this little factoid. The boy who I "liked" in fifth grade had a penchant for Blondie (he also loved playing card games: 45's, War, etc.) At the time, the only knowledge I had of Blondie was the random Debbie Harry song on The Rugrats Movie soundtrack *cough* LAME *cough*. This song is pretty fucking amazing, with lyrics that could come off as desperate in many contexts, but instead sound amazingly smooth and shiny. It is the kind of song that would be played on a spaceship, but the type of spaceship that caters to strippers? I think it's amazing.
"Time is Tight" by Booker T. & the MG's
This is a funky intermission song. When I listen, I feel like I am at a 1970s drive-in movie theatre getting ready to watch the second half of a double-feature. The instrumentation is very tight and metronomic, and in this case these qualities are comforting and far from banal.
"Straight to Hell" by the Clash
This song is sampled in M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," and I found this odd upon first listen, because this song is fairly odd for The Clash. For example, the lyrics are almost stream of consciousness, and whenever I hear the song I feel like Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were pulling a kind of Jackson Pollock with their song-writing. It seems like a cathartic, "let's throw shit at the wall" kind of song, and I really enjoy the surrealism of their polemics. It is refreshing lyrically, and the music is stimulating and layered. This is one of my favorite Clash songs.
"Don't Go Down" by Elliott Smith
A song of doomed love that sounds like a train wreck musically personified. I find the mess both stimulating and frightening. Smith has a way of using very few words to invoke a veritable relationship chasm. He opens the wound and you fill the space with your own pain. This can be a therapeutic type of digression, but it can also become emotive in the worst possible sense of the word. There are times when you just need to decide to be happy.
"I Will Survive" by Cake
This is one of those times. Cake makes me happy, especially when they cover Gloria Gaynor songs with aplomb and a wonderful portion of funk. John McCrea's has a monotone and ironic voice which adds a wonderful layer of sarcasm to a song that deserved a good dose. Behind the vocal work is the steady, pumping bass-line that resonates through your mind. Then there are the horns, oh the horns. If there is one thing in a great funk/soul song that I cannot resist, it is a wonderful smattering of tasteful horn-work. I'm in lust with this song.
"Down to the Waterline" by Dire Straits
Silence is a paintbrush, and the guitar work makes me swoon. Check out these lyrics:
Sweet surrender on the quayside.
You remember we used to run and hide.
In the shadow of the cargoes I take you one time.
And we're counting all the numbers down to the waterline.
Near misses on the dogleap stairways.
French kisses in the darkened doorways.
A foghorn blowing out wild and cold.
A policeman shines a light upon my shoulder.
Up comes a coaster fast and silent in the night.
Over my shoulder all you can see are the pilot lights.
No money in our jackets and our jeans are torn.
Your hands are cold but your lips are warm.
She can see him on the jetty where they used to go.
She can feel him in the places where the sailors go.
When she's walking by the river and the railway line.
She can still hear him whisper:
"Let's go down to the waterline."