Struggling with today. After two days of feeling good, I’m having a rough go of it today. Stress doesn’t always play fair, neither does anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. I’m trying to keep my head up, my hopes high, and not feel afraid of things breaking apart, but its hard sometimes, especially when so much is on my shoulders. I’m usually the one to keep things organized, have plan b’s and c’s, all the way to the z’s, but right now I feel like the alphabet is just out of reach, along with my control of things. There’s too much on my plate right now. There has been for so long I forget what it’s like not feeling this way. Days like this its hard to breathe easy.
Today started strong. Smiling and laughing, listening to music, thinking up bands and artists to introduce to my boyfriend. But once I got to work it all started to unravel, slowly, not even noticeably, at first, but now, mid-day, I feel the impact of the unraveling. Reaching out and not getting a lot of response, picking the wrong times to talk, feeling more alone as the day goes by. A lot of it is circumstantial (wrong time picking, for example), but some of it is justified. I’m trying so hard this week to be strong, to be in a good mood, to have hope, and to make things easier – to not end up fighting or crying or feeling the edge of tension. I’m still trying, but today is hard. Today I need to be able to lean on someone else a little.
I hate feeling like I should have done things differently. I prefer looking forward, and not back. I prefer thinking it will all work out. Today it feels hard to do that, though.
But, there’s always music. It’s consistent, and always here to lean on. Just hit play and turn up the volume. Every time.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Wednesday, November 28, 2018
1. “Sixteen Blue” by The Replacements
from the album, Let It Be (1984)
“Drive yourself right up the wall.
No one hears,
and no one calls.
It’s a boring state.
It’s a useless wait,
I was re-discovering the album Let It Be, by The Replacements this morning.
They were my first consideration to share with my boyfriend, but he’d already been there, explored them, knew the album.
I kept listening though. Letting it play through a few times today. This song, “Sixteen Blue”, really hit home with how I’m feeling right now. That goes back to what I wrote about music being a constant, always being there. Even when it hits hard it helps.
Once I read something about how you could pick a favorite book up and turn to any page. That when you opened that randomly selected page that there will be answers on said page. Or if not answers, something you need. Sometimes I’ve tested this and its happened. Sometimes I think that its what you make of it. That you put those answers on the page. That we create what we need in things. Maybe music is that way, too.
Maybe I just need to flip today the bird, like Westerberg above.
2. “Why I Love Country Music” by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
from the album, Easy Pieces (1985)
“But she says she is fine.”
I’m trying to be fine. I really am.
Press play. Turn the music up.
I’m grateful for this week’s Discovery Weekly from Spotify. Its been full of gems to discover, to play and replay, to hear again, or for the first time. Though I’ve always loved Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, I’d never heard the album Easy Pieces until today.
This song, “Why I Love Country Music”, is my first (and second, and third) listen favorite.
3. “The Maker” by Willie Nelson
from the album, Teatro (1998)
“Oh, oh deep water,
black and cold like the night.
I stand with arms wide open,
I’ve run a twisted line.
I’m a stranger in the eyes of the Maker.”
My favorite Daniel Lanois song covered beautifully by Willie Nelson, with some duet-ing help by Emmylou Harris.
I got to see Daniel Lanois and Emmylou perform together, and had the privilege of hearing them sing “The Maker” together. It was beyond gorgeous. That said, this version is gorgeous, too. There is something intimate and soothing about Willie Nelson’s voice. I’ve thought so since I was a little girl. And Emmylou, her voice is one of a kind.
Willie and Emmylou have been performing together for a long, long time. I hope they do so again, real soon.
Willie and Emmylou, with Joan Baez.
4. “Blue Light” by Mazzy Star
from the album, So Tonight That I Might See (1993)
“There’s a ship,
that sails by my window.
There’s a ship that sails on by.
There’s a world under it.
I think I see it,
Last night we listened to one of my all-time favorite albums, So Tonight That I Might See, by Mazzy Star.
“Blue Light” is one of my favorite tracks. Dreamy and haunting, layered sound, beyond beautiful vocals by Hope Sandoval, and something both sad and hopeful, within the turns of lyrical phrases. I am realizing that there is so much music I love that I have not shared yet with my boyfriend. I think it may be because our tastes overlap, but also go in different ways, and I don’t want to play things he won’t enjoy. But, I’m realizing that that is something I always do, putting away things I like just because the other person doesn’t, or might not like them. I don’t really know how to change this. Being empathic, I can feel when someone isn’t enjoying themselves, or are disliking something – or worse yet, judging something harshly – and it makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable. How does one get over that?
I don’t quite know.
What I do know though is I love Hope’s voice, this album, and this song.
Hope bathed in “Blue Light”.
5. “San Andreas Fault” by Natalie Merchant
from the album, Tigerlily (1995)
“Oh, promised land.
Oh, wicked ground.
Build a dream,
tear it down.”
I love songs about Los Angeles, and I love Natalie Merchant’s songwriting and her voice.
I have seen Natalie Merchant play live more than any other band, or artist, with the exception of Tori Amos and Pete Yorn.
Whether it was solo, or with 10,000 Maniacs, I’ve never missed a chance to see, and hear, Natalie perform live.
Tigerlily is one of my all-time favorite albums, and is in my Top 5 of albums released in 1995. “San Andreas Fault” is the opening track, and it captures perfectly the dichotomy that is Los Angeles. The city of angels. The city of broken dreams. Hope and loss often holding hands and making out together, like they are one-true-pair.
I sang this out loud – loudly out loud – this morning while driving through Los Angeles, on the freeways and streets. Seemed fitting.
Random Natalie Merchant and me fact? I’ve often been told I look like her. Or a combination of 90’s Natalie, and 70’s Linda Ronstadt.
I’ll take it.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 26, 2018
Tuesday, Tuesday, what do you have in store for me, Tuesday. It’s another beautiful day outside, not to start this with talk of weather, but it is really gorgeous outside right now. Sometimes I grow tired of living in California, Los Angeles in particular, but it’s mornings like this where I find myself reminded at how lucky I am to be here. I’m really determined to make better days right now, and even though its hard to sometimes maintain a good mood and feelings when others are down, I’m trying. I want to help bring some joy and hope to those I love, especially in my relationship, family, and friends.
Sometimes what helps the most is to make lists of things I’m grateful for. A habit I started in the mid-’90s, and have tried to keep up with ever since. Its been years, though, since I’ve done them regularly. I think I need to get a journal that I can write daily lists in. A paper journal. Pen to paper, I think it makes a difference when something is actually written down. I miss writing like that. Pages of journals, letters, postcards, notes. I miss mixtapes and CD’s, too, the kind with handwritten track lists. Sometimes I miss life before texting and Social Media, though there are things that have come from all of it that I am thankful for.
Today, music is topping my list of things I’m grateful for, along with coffee, yogurt with cereal, Clyde the cat’s “bird patrol” while I got ready this morning, emails exchanged with one of my best friends, holiday twinkle lights in my office, and my son talking to me about what snacks are best to have when watching movies.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Tuesday, November 27, 2018
1. “Crystal Village” by Pete Yorn
from the album, Day I Forgot (2003)
“You were there,
and it was good in the beginning.”
One of my all-time favorite Pete Yorn songs.
Though I sort of hate the idea of things being good in the beginning, and subsequently lesser as time goes by, this song still hits my emotional core, and heart, deeply. I’ve definitely related to this song at various times in my (love) life, and have felt the sentiment overwhelmingly. I try now to push against it. Not the song, but the sentiment. I try to keep things good even after the “new car smell” wears off. I still feel the flush and heart palpitations when kissing, still feel butterflies when I think of the person I love, still miss them, and long for their touch, voice, and time spent together.
I wonder what the crystal village is? Part of me thinks Los Angeles at night. Or perhaps New York. Part of me thinks it is a version of heaven, the heaven that is new love. Or is it something else? Something spiritual/zen-like? Something of the stars, or the sun in the sky?
2. “Pictures of You” by The Cure
from the album, Disintegration (1989)
standing quiet in the rain,
as I ran to your heart to be near.
And, we kissed as the sky fell in,
holding you close –
how I always held close in your fear.”
Music-fueled flashback, for certain.
This song and the entire Disintegration album is so full of memories that sometimes it feels like opening up old diaries, or opening up my insides when I listen to it. Maybe a bit of both.
It is still my favorite album of theirs. Always will be. Though there are others I love, this album came into my life at a very intense time, and fit right inside all of it. It is that connection to it that will never wane, and it is why that even some of the bigger “hits”, like this song, never get old to me.
It was my most played cassette in 1989. I think I went through three copies actually. The last one I had to re-spool with a pencil more than a few times.
3. “come out and play” by Billie Eilish
from the single “come out and play” (2018)
“Wake up and smell the coffee.
Is your cup half full or empty?”
Something I’ve been asking myself lately. Hoping for half full mornings, days, nights, feelings. It’s how I have always been, but have lost lately.
I’ve been a fan of Eilish’s music/songwriting/style since my middle daughter introduced her music to me. There’s something nostalgic in the sound to me, though I can’t quite pinpoint what it is recalling. Sometimes I think a bit of the ’80s, other times I think mid-90’s, and then I throw all that out the comparing-window and think she’s completely of this time.
She’s so young, I look forward to what she will create as she goes on in life.
4. “Blues Run the Game” by Headless Heroes
from the album, The Silence of Love (2017)
“When I’m not drinking, baby,
you are on my mind
When I’m not sleeping,
when I ain’t sleeping,
when I’m not sleeping –
well, you know you’ll find me crying.”
How did I not know about this cover album?
I’ve loved Alela Diane’s voice for a while now and had no idea about this side project – Headless Heroes – until this version of “Blues Run the Game” showed up on my Discover Weekly playlist from Spotify.
There are so many fantastic covers on this album. My favorites are this one (originally by Jackson C. Frank, and made famous by Simon and Garfunkel), “Just Like Honey” (originally by The Jesus and Mary Chain), and “Nobody’s Baby Now” (originally by Nick Cave).
5. “Brilliant Mistake” by Elvis Costello
from the album, King of America (1986)
“I wish that I could push a button,
and talk in the past,
and not the present tense.
And watch this lovin’ feeling disappear,
like it was common sense.”
I’ve been listening to a lot of Elvis Costello lately. Rediscovering songs and albums of his.
Today I’ve been spinning King of America, from the late ’80s. I forgot how much I love it. “Brilliant Mistake” is the opening track, and really sets the tone for the entire album.
Costello is touring. I’d love to see him play live.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 26, 2018
Disappear into eyes and ears
A Monday Playlist
“Blues Run the Game” by Headless Heroes
“Is That Alright?” by Lady Gaga
“Flagship” by Jason Isbell
“Eyes On Fire” by Blue Foundation
“Scar Tissue” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Walking After You” by Foo Fighters
“Old Fashioned Morphine” by Jolie Holland
“The Eye” by Brandi Carlile
“Cold” by Aqualung and Lucy Schwartz
“Cowboy Romance” by Natalie Merchant
“Motion Pictures (for Carrie)” by Neil Young
“Wish You Were Here” by The Milk Carton Kids
“Pink Moon” by Nick Drake
“Honey and the Moon” by Joseph Arthur
“Mariners Apartment Complex” by Lana Del Rey
“Hunger” by Florence and the Machine
“Glory Box” by Portishead
“Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn
“Turning Page” by Sleeping At Last
“Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper
“Paper Crown” by Liam Gallagher
“Crush” by Cigarettes After Sex
“Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant
“Sedona” by Houndmouth
“Shake the Disease” by Depeche Mode
“And the Boys” by Angus and Julia Stone
“Possibility” by Lykke Li
“Too Bright” by Perfume Genius
“Tarifa” by Sharon Van Etten
“Cloud On My Tongue” by Tori Amos
Disappear into eyes and ears – A Monday Playlist
Monday after a four-day weekend would typically be a tough one, but this one was pretty good, so far. I woke up rested and refreshed, and due to some scheduling issues, didn’t have to leave the house until 9am. This gifted me some extra time which I filled with reading a chapter of the current book I’m reading (“Everybody In the Pool: True Tales” by Beth Lisick) while having a cup of coffee, taking time straightening my hair while conversing with our cat Clyde, and listening to some John Coltrane. I also got to do a few chore-things around the house, which may not seem like a “gift”, but it will gift me more time tonight, and later in the week.
The morning was beautiful outside. A little warmer than expected, with the sun out and the sky blue. Music played during my commute, which had much less traffic than usual because of my later departure. I wish I could take off later every Monday. This week’s Discover Weekly from Spotify was gifting some great tunes today, too. Two of the five Music Obsessions today came from the weekly refreshed playlist.
The past four-days off were challenging sometimes, but they had definite highlights and good times. In the end, the good outweighed the not so, which is really the best you can hope for in life. I’m feeling good today, loved and loving, hopeful for the coming week, and very in love. I’m looking forward to December, and the New Year. And, I’m digging today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Monday, November 26, 2018
1. “The Killing Jar” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
from the album, Peepshow (1988)
“Needles and Sins,
sins and needles,
he’s gasping for air,
in the wishing well.
Dust to rust,
ashes on gashes –
hand around the killing jar.”
Lyrically speaking, this isn’t a feel-good song, but musically the track always makes me want to dance.
I vividly remember dancing to this song on Wednesday and Friday nights, “back in the day”. Maybe that’s why it always makes me want to spin around while the song spins…the goth-girl inside of me never dies.
“The Killing Jar” is one of my all-time favorite Siouxsie-songs, and the album, Peepshow, accompanied me and my first car for most of the Summer of 1988, garnering heavy rotation in the cassette player. This song, it always got replayed, rewound, and turned up loud. The track also made its way onto many a mixed tape, CD, and even still makes its way onto playlists, and Top 5’s (like today).
Something about this song feels like everything I’ve always loved about Siouxsie & The Banshees music – the pace, the vocals, the darkly tinted lyrics, the underlying pop sensibilities, the orchestration, the electronic twists and turns, the rise at the end, the climax and chanting, and that quick stop ending.
2. “Back On the Chain Gang” by Morrissey
from the Single, “Back On the Chain Gang” (2018)
“I found a picture of you,
Those were the happiest days of my life.”
Hmmm. I really don’t know what to think of this cover.
Just like with Morrissey himself, I’m often on the fence with his music. Some of it I love, some of it I’m not moved by. Moz himself is a tough one for me, too. The one and only time I saw him play live his antics and arrogance really put me off, though it’s hard to deny so many songs of his (and of The Smiths).
All that said, anyone covering “Back On the Chain Gang” would give me pause. It is my favorite Pretenders’ song, one of my go-to karaoke songs, and the track itself is linked to so many memories from my life. How can you beat Chrissie Hynde? I mean really? Though I will say that the opening notes do capture me, and I have replayed this cover song about six or seven times. I think for that, and the amount of time I’m using trying to decide whether I like it or not has earned its way into today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions.
3. “Killing the Blues” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
from the album, Raising Sand (2007)
“Somebody said they saw me,
swinging the world by the tail.
Bouncing over a white cloud,
killing the blues.”
I love the idea of “swinging the world by the tail”.
I love the sentiment of “killing the blues”, as well.
As the month of November comes to an end, and December looms around the corner, I’m persistently set on having some good weeks, especially since it’s been so rough in my life lately. I’m persistently set to kill the blues, or at least maim them a little with kindness, love, and buckets of hope.
Maybe I too want to swing this world by the tail.
I forgot all about this album, and collaboration, until “Killing the Blues” started playing on this week’s Discover Weekly. I don’t know that I ever really dug into this album full of songs, but I’m doing so today. Good stuff. Truly.
4. “Picasso” by Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band
from the album, Adiós Señor Pussycat (2017)
“It’s not like it in the movies,
there may be police involved.
Do I keep on following her?
Has it gone too far too long?”
Thank you, Spotify Discover Playlist, for introducing me to this song (“Picasso”) and this album by Michael Head and the Red Electric Band. I’m digging it (the song and the album) very much today.
The song title caught me first, immediately reminding me of being at LACMA with my boyfriend this past Saturday, and looking at the Picasso pieces from different years. A highlight for me was noting how different his later works were, in terms of brush strokes, color, and edges.
Michel Head is the man behind Shack, The Pale Fountains, and The Strands, as well as this new-ish (2017 new) band incarnation, The Red Elastic Band. I’m glad to have discovered this album today.
5. “Evangeline” by Matthew Sweet
from the album, Girlfriend (1991)
““Now if I called you up,
do you think you could deliver my soul?”
Reminiscent of Billy Joel’s hit song “Only the Good Die Young”, Matthew Sweet’s 1991 track, “Evangeline”, is an ode to a religious girl who the protagonist longs for. This is my favorite track off of the album, Girlfriend.
I didn’t discover Girlfriend until around 1995 when I was working at Tower Records. My favorite Sweet album, 100% Fun, had come out that year and I fell hard for it, quickly looking for other albums and grabbing up both Girlfriend and Altered Beast.
I think Matthew Sweet is often under-appreciated when it comes to great 90’s music. His power pop sound, jangly guitar, and well-crafted lyrics make him an ever-favorite of mine.
“Evangeline” (along with “Your Sweet Voice”) were both followed by the sound of a vinyl outgroove and a phonograph needle lifting off a record, which meant to signify the end of each side of the Album as though it were an LP.
It is said that “Evangeline” is sung from the point of view of Johnny Six from the Comic Book, Evangeline.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 26, 2018
Short day on the eve of a holiday. The traffic was non-existent, though that will change later in the day. I listened to Top 10 lists for “Gilmore Girls”, as my boyfriend and I were talking about the show last night. My favorite, it is one I hope he’ll like when I finally show it to him, though I’m nervous about the prospect. It can be scary to share something that means so much to you with someone who is so important to you, and your heart. But, in the upcoming four days off I’m considering it.
Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions starts with a significant song from the series, one that is used in two seasons, between the same two characters. A song that would definitely be considered “theirs”. From there, the next four are feel-good songs to play me through the day, which though will be short, seems long as I am anxiously, and excitedly, awaiting the upcoming four-day mini-holiday vacation.
I’m still feeling better, which is a nice change from the last month, or so. Every day I seem to be reclaiming more of my hope and optimism back. I’m very, very in love, and feeling overwhelmingly hopeful about our love. I’m also getting back my writing spark, which helps with the whole feeling better thing, too.
I’ve started to come up with ideas for this space in 2019, as well as thinking up some other writing ideas beyond this space. I’m looking forward to the remaining weeks of this year, definitely, but more than that I’m hopefully anticipating the upcoming year. I think it will be the best one yet.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Tuesday, November 21, 2018
1. “Reflecting Light” by Sam Phillips
from the album, A Boot and a Shoe (2004)
“Now that I’ve worn out,
I’ve worn out the world,
I’m on my knees in fascination,
looking through the night,
And the moon’s never seen me before,
but I’m reflecting light.”
Though lyrically this song feels like an ending to a life, or at least an ending, it has always felt full of love and hopes to me. Maybe it’s the waltz tempo and the comfort it emanates. Or, maybe its the association I have with it, and “Gilmore Girls”.
The song was used in two seasons, Season 4, and the Netflix reboot “A Year In the Life”. “Reflecting Light” plays an integral part in the story arc of a somewhat “will they/won’t they” love story.
Perhaps an odd choice for a romantic “their song”, but something about the melancholic sensibility, and the structured waltz tempo, fits Luke and Lorelai. It ends up feeling like the perfect song for their story.
2. “She’s a Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones
from the album, Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)
“Have you seen her dressed in blue?
See the sky in front of you.”
One of my all-time favorite Rolling Stones’ songs, “She’s a Rainbow” is one of feel-good go-to’s. The track also acted as muse for a piece of writing I did back in 2014.
she dreams in technicolor
her mind a big screen flicker
full of unexpected corners
kisses in airport terminals
and 2am coffee shops
and that goddamn blinding sun
the city looks like a fairy tale from here
far away and inconsequential
like her dreams
in vivid disarray
he dreams in criss-crossed imagery
his mind a rhythm of tumbling notes
full of sharps and flats
dates yet to arrive
confessions in Chinese restaurants
and white linen sheets
and all they’ll never be
the city looks full of promise when she’s in his arms
tucked away and nearly invisible
like his dreams
in black and white display
3. “Lost In the Supermarket” by The Clash
from the album, London Calling (1979)
“I came in here for the special offer,
a guaranteed personality,
And it’s not here,
My favorite song by The Clash, “Lost In the Supermarket” also resides on my favorite songs of all-time. I’m a fan of grocery shopping, though most people I know do not share my fondness.
There is something I find completely zen about supermarkets. Wandering up and down the aisles, pushing the cart in front of me, and slipping into some kind of zone where all I think about are the labels and colors around me. It clears my head and I find it strangely relaxing. If you visit me and take a trip to the grocery store, you will find that the experience sparks conversations in the same depth and scope as driving around in a car with me does, or sitting with me at the beach.
Though lately, I’ve found the experience stressful and anxiety-inducing. I’d like to find a way back tot he way I typically, and historically, have felt about pushing a cart through aisles. I’ll work on it (though maybe not in the midst of a holiday week).
4. “Cool For Cats” by Squeeze
from the album, Cool For Cats (1979)
“To change the mood a little,
I’ve been posing down the pub.
On seeing my reflection,
I’m looking slightly rough.
I fancy this,
I fancy that,
I wanna be so flash.
I give a little muscle,
and I spend a little cash.
But, all I get is bitter,
and a nasty little rash.
And, by the time I’m sober,
I’ve forgotten what I’ve had…
and everybody tells me that it’s cool to be a cat,
cool for cats.”
“Cool For Cats” is the first Squeeze song I ever heard, and one of my Top 5 favorites of theirs. I love the storytelling aspect in this track, and how British, and day/night in the life, it seems.
The title phrase is a reference to the 1950s/60s UK TV series Cool for Cats, the first British series to regularly feature rock ‘n’ roll music acts. (from Wikipedia)
It is the title track of Squeeze’s second album, which also includes my all-time favorite Squeeze song, “Up the Junction”.
5. “These Days” by Nico
from the album, Chelsea Girl (1967)
“These days I seem to think about,
how all the changes came about my ways.
And, I wonder if I’ll see another highway.”
Another song that feels like an ending, or a feeling of giving up, yet has romantic connotations to me. Some of that comes from the film its featured in, Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (my favorite Anderson film).
It also reminds me of my boyfriend, and his love of Wes Anderson movies, and a discussion we had last night about romantic stories. I look forward to watching this one together someday.
Did you know that “These Days” was written by Jackson Browne? I didn’t, until just now. He wrote it when he was just 16 years old and has said it is a song about loss and regret – which seems like heavy emotions for someone so young to write, but maybe it isn’t. Adolescence is rife with heavy emotions, and loss can play a big part of it, as can regret, though I think loss, and unrequited wants, are the bigger factors. I feel the unrequited part of this song, too.
All that said, it still a shock to realize how old Browne was when he penned it.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 19, 2018
Today is a better day. I think I had to get it all out of me, all the hurt and sad and rough feelings I’ve been having for the past month, or so, and sit down and converse with them. Me and all these feelings. They are still there, but I think I worked through some things. Writing helps. Talking to my boyfriend helps. Music helps. And deciding to not lose my hopeless hopefulness helps, too. At least I think it does.
Making plans, big and small, helps a lot, too. I’m not sure why, but it does.
I still feel rough and overly emotional, and I’m still working with a lot of sadness, but I think I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel (or the middle of the tunnel. I don’t want “endings”), and I’m starting to feel better.
Playing music – in my car and at work, and together at home – helps, too.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Tuesday, November 20, 2018
1. “Shake Sugaree” by Mary Lou Lord
from the album, (1998)
“Oh, lordy me,
didn’t I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned.”
Back in 1998, I listened to Mary Lou Lord’s album, Got No Shadow, obsessively. It wasn’t until recently that I realized this was a cover version of “Shake Sugaree” by Elizabeth Cotton, from 1965.
I think part of the reason I didn’t realize it was a cover was because in 1998, in my 20’s, I knew all about pawning belongings to get by. I had definitely done it, more than a few times.
2. “I Put My Headphones On” by Jill Sobule
from the album, Nostalgia Kills (2018)
“Suddenly wake up, it was only a dream.
I’m back in the good cage that you made for me.
But, there may be someone who listens to me.
I’ll put my headphones on.”
I love the story in this song, and all the sung-stories on Jill Sobule’s new album, Nostalgia Kills, produced by Ben Lee. This is my current favorite track, followed closely by “Tomorrow is Breaking”, featuring John Doe.
When I saw Joseph Arthur play, back in 2015, Jill opened for him, and John Doe was in the crowd with us at the Troubadour. He got up and sang a song with Jill that night, too.
Looking back, I enjoyed Jill’s opening set more than the rest of the night (though Joseph was great, too).
3. “To Lay Me Down” by Perfume Genius, featuring Sharon Van Etten from the Compilation/Tribute album, Day of the Dead (2016)
“With our bodies close together,
let the world go by.”
I’m slowly getting acquainted with The Grateful Dead’s music, with help from my boyfriend, a music obsessive like me. My two favorite Dead tracks currently are “Sugaree” and “To Lay Me Down”. I just found this cover today of the latter, and I’m really enjoying it.
The song, both the original and this cover (as well as the Cowboy Junkies cover), reminds me of my boyfriend and has me wishing I was home lying in bed, listening to these songs together.
I’ve been a fan of Perfume Genius since I first heard the track “Queen” in an episode of USA’s “Mr. Robot”.
It was an incredible moment of music, film, and scene, and I had to go and find the song immediately after experiencing it. I feel for his album Too Bright soon after, released in 2014 (my favorite album of his).
4. “Leaving the Ground” by Radical Face
from the album, Missing Film (2018)
New Radical Face, from the album Missing Film.
This track, the 7th on the album, is cinematic, and soothing in its instrumental beauty. It feels like it’s from a film’s soundtrack, which fits well with the album’s title.
The first song I ever heard from Radical Face was “Welcome Home, Son”.
I think it was my oldest daughter who introduced me to it. I vividly remember her putting it into a themed playlist, and then I used it often in playlists myself.
5. “Simple Twist of Fate” by Concrete Blonde
from the album, Still In Hollywood (1994)
“He woke up,
the room was bare,
he didn’t see her anywhere.
He told himself he didn’t care.
Pushed the window open wide,
felt an emptiness inside,
to which he just could not relate.
Brought on by a simple twist of fate.”
One of my favorite Dylan songs, and one of my favorite covers of a Dylan song. Johnette Napolitano kills it. Her voice, it adds this raw energy to it, taking the song into a different place emotionally.
I’ve seen Concrete Blonde, and Johnette solo, a few times. I’ve never heard her sing this version before. I’d love to, though.
The band (Concrete Blonde), and Johnette have covered many of my favorite songs – including “Ship Song” (Nick Cave), “Everybody Knows” (Leonard Cohen), and “Little Wing” (Jimi Hendrix).
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 20, 2018
Today is harder than I expected. Rougher in ways I hoped it wouldn’t be. I woke up hoping that things would start feeling better. That hopeless hopeful person I am rearing her naive head. But it feels the same, or maybe a little worse. Maybe this is how things are now. The new normal. Maybe I need to just learn to live with things this way. Maybe I am just overreactive and overemotional, wanting and needing too much. I don’t know anymore.
I’ve always believed in tomorrow. In fresh starts. In new chances. In realistic happy-ever-afters. I think its why I used to like Mondays, and why I’ve always loved first days of the month, and year. The power of the blank page, of a new day to make things better, a chance at hope. I always believed that love is the most important thing. That it endures. That it is enough. That it can make everything better. That everything else – money, jobs, school, loss, disappointment, the future – that all of it can be traversed, and survived if love is there to hold on to. I think that’s just another example of me being naive.
Maybe its time to say goodbye to my optimism. Maybe its time to face the reality of life. Maybe I can’t be the person I’ve been anymore. Maybe that’s why writing, and music, is so hard on me now. Maybe that’s why just being me is so hard now.
I’m trying though, to at least write and try to take in music, listen to it, and maybe hang on to it a little. Music has always been my buoy, my muse, and my lifeline…and in some ways…my life. I don’t want to lose everything that is me. I don’t want to lose being hopeful, even if I know I should.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Tuesday, November 19, 2018
1. “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Laura Marling
from the single to “Blues Run the Game” (2010)
“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done,
a little part of it in everyone,
but every junkie’s like a settin’ sun.”
I’ve been digging into Neil Young’s music for a few months now and indulging my ears in some of the cover versions out there. This is a tough song for me, as there’s been a lot of loss I’ve seen and felt and lived through because of needles and the damage they’ve done. But, this is a beautiful, albeit sad, version.
2. “When Doves Cry” by Patti Smith
from the album, Land (1975-2002) (2002)
“Why must we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”
Another cover. An unusual cover, also beautiful, and sad. This song hits harder today than the original, or any other version I’ve heard before.
3. “I’ll Be Around” by Yo La Tengo
from the album, Fade (2013)
“When I stare into space,
I’m looking for you,
and, I can see you,
I’ve been listening to this album all afternoon, since late morning. Since he sent this to me earlier today. This is my favorite track on the album.
4. “Always On My Mind” by Bahamas
from the album, Sweetheart 2014 (2014)
“Little things I should have said and done,
I just never took the time.
But, you were always on my mind.”
This cover version makes me cry every time I hear it. Especially today.
5. “Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga
from the soundtrack album to A Star Is Born (2018)
“When I’m all choked up,
but I can’t find the words.
Every time we say goodbye,
baby, it hurts.
When the sun goes down,
and the band won’t play,
I’ll always remember us this way.”
Still loving the film, and the movie from it. This, and “Shallow”, are my favorites from it. Something about Gaga’s performance of this song in the film reminds me of early Elton John. Beautiful song.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of November 19, 2018
Writing has been hard lately. Life has been rough and my emotions and self-esteem have taken a hit lately. Anxiety, insecurity, sadness, insomnia, and hurt do not make it easy to write. I know, I know, they say misery is creativities favorite muse, or that the best art comes from heartache, but I’m not built that way. Not always, at least. Sure, I’ve written my share with a broken heart, but lately, sadness seems to act like the worst case of writer’s block. Or maybe it is the waning optimist in me that doesn’t want to wallow-write, who wants to still believe it will all be alright.
Today I’m trying to write. I think I need to write, even if its hard to. I think not writing is making me feel worse. So, I’m turning to one of my favorites. Tori Amos was there in the early 90’s for me when my whole world changed. Her albums and songs stuck with me through all of the 90’s, and early 2000’s, as I navigated through good and bad times, ups and downs, love and loss, and so many changes.
The opening track from Tori Amos’ 1998 album, From the Choir Girl Hotel, “Spark”, came on while I shuffled through a playlist I made 3 years ago today and it “sparked” me to want to try to write again.
From the Choir Girl Hotel is Tori’s 4th studio album, released in May of 1998. Sometimes I think it might be my favorite album of hers. It was a departure from her earlier albums which had more of a minimalist piano sound. Choir Girl came across as more of a rock album, and it spawned Tori’s first tour with a full band.
The album began recording in October, 1997, with mastering complete by early February 1998. Following the trend set by 1996’s Boys For Pele, Tori allowed several songs from the album to be remixed. Remixes of both Raspberry Swirl and Jackie’s Strength both became club hits.
The album’s theme dealt very closely with the first two in Tori’s series of three miscarriages between 1996 and 1999.
“Spark” by Tori Amos
from the album, From the Choir Girl Hotel (1998)
Song of the Day
“You say you don’t want it,
this circus were in,
but you don’t,
don’t really mean it.
Don’t really mean it.”
Today’s Song of the Day, “Spark”, was considered a hit after it was released in June of 1998.
Tori has written about the personal nature of this song. She wrote “Spark” after suffering a miscarriage, and the hardships that she experienced post-trauma.
In a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine she spoke on this saying:
“Spark” is about when I miscarried, in 1996. I was three months pregnant and very excited. All of a sudden I woke up one morning and started to feel bad. The songs started coming soon after. I was really angry at God. Going into a shopping mall and seeing some woman knock the head off her child, I’m going – ‘So this is fair?’ I don’t know where the spirit went, whether she picked another mummy, like, “OK, choose her, then! Hope you’re tone deaf!”
She went on to say to Q Magazine, in 1998:
“Y’know, once you’ve felt life in your body, you can’t go back to having been a woman that’s never carried life. The other thing is feeling something dying inside you and you’re still alive. Obviously when it was happening, it was already over, but in my mind, you don’t know that it’s over yet. You’re doing anything, thinking, ‘Oh God, maybe if I put a cork up myself, maybe it’ll keep this little life in.’ That’s why in ‘Spark’, I say, ‘She’s convinced she could hold back a glacier/But she couldn’t keep baby alive.’ You just start going insane. There’s nothing you can do, so so you surrender and then… start again.”
The song and album would be a kind of solace to me in 2000 when I had a miscarriage.
There are volumes and chapters, and possibly entire books worth of emotions and memories that I’ve connected at times to this song. Not just for the above, more obvious reasons, but for others, as well, that this song signifies to me. I used to be such a skilled escape artist. It was my way of surviving, my kind of cure. I became a grown-up girl with a gypsy soul who tried very hard to hide her scars.
But sometimes they are impossible to hide. The weather may be too warm for long sleeves, or someone, or something, unknowingly scratches at them, leaving me bleeding internally, and swallowing hard to blink back tears.
It is then that I feel like my arms are tied, along with my heart, and all the past hurt. It is then that my tendency is to run like hell. But really, all I need is to find myself again and hang on tight to her. To breathe and stay and survive.
To find my “spark” again.
“Spark” (live, 1998) by Tori Amos
And now, today, I listen to it and I find it a comfort when dealing with other kinds of losses and loneliness. It touches on other hurts in life, and rough times, that can sometimes seem insurmountable, but that waning optimist in me that I mentioned before?
She’s still here trying to believe.
She is still a “Spark” in me.
“The Ship Song”, today’s Song of the Day, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has very personal significance to me. Quite possibly my favorite Nick Cave song (with a few others as contenders), this song became exponentially something more to me when I met, and fell in love, with my boyfriend. It not only became connected with us, and our burgeoning feelings for each other, but it became the theme song to the chronicling I’ve done of our relationship (tagged “We Make a Little History”, lyrics from “The Ship Song”).
I vividly remember sending him this song, back when we used to send each other music every day (something I miss greatly). There are a few other Cave songs that we sent back and forth, and that have also become part of “our history”. Perhaps I’ll write about those another day.
Recently, my boyfriend and I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seed perform live. When he sang this song I was deeply, and emotionally moved, and was grateful to be experiencing not only the song live, but to be sharing the experience with the person who helped to make this song so important to me. I meant to do a review of the show, but unfortunately the current stress and upset in my life made it hard to write about. Maybe someday. But, until then (if there is a “then” for that review), I will say that it was one of the highlights of the night, for me. A moment, shared with my boyfriend, that I will keep with me forever.
“The Ship Song” is the fifth track off of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 1990 album, The Good Son. It was the sixth album released by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, an album that has been noted to be a significant departure from the two albums that came before, that have been described as both “dark and harrowing” (from Wikipedia) It has been presumed that the change in moods had to do with Nick Cave falling in love with Brazilian journalist Viviane Carneiro at the time of the album, as well as a spell in rehab where Cave was said to have worked through a lot of despair and sadness from his life.
Nick Cave has said himself, about The Good Son:
“I guess The Good Son is some kind of reflection of the way I felt early on in Brazil. I was quite happy there. I was in love and the first year or two was good. The problem I found was … in order to survive you have to adopt their attitudes towards everything, which are kind of blinkered.”
(from “Album by Album with Nick Cave”, in Rolling Stone Australia, 1998)
You can certainly hear and feel, the love in “The Ship Song”, which is much of the reason it became one of our falling in love songs right at the start of our relationship.
My favorite version (that I’ve found) of “The Ship Song” is the live recording below:
“The Ship Song” (live) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
originally from the album, The Good Son (1990)
Song of the Day
“Come loose your dogs upon me,
and let your hair hang down.
You are a little mystery to me,
every time you come ’round.”
So, what about covers of “The Ship Song”? I’ve always been a fan of a good cover, but sometimes if a track has significant meaning to me, it’s hard to take in someone else’s version. With “The Ship Song” though, there have been some memorable ones, that stay both true to the spirit of the song and showcase the individual sound and style of the artist covering it.
Two of my favorites are by Concrete Blonde, and Lissie.
“The Ship Song” by Concrete Blonde
from the album, Still In Hollywood (1994)
Although I’m fond of this cover version, and a longtime fan of Concrete Blonde, I do wish Johnette Napolitano was the lead vocal, or only vocal, in this. As soon as she starts singing I’m all in.
“The Ship Song” by Lissie
from the cover EP, Covered Up with Flowers (2011)
My favorite of the covers I’ve heard of “The Ship Song”. I love the vulnerability of her voice in this version, and the stripped down, almost acoustic, arrangement. It is reminiscent of the live Nick Cave (see above) that I love so much – though Cave’s version is my forever favorite.