Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 6/17/07

1. "Bad Meets Evil," Eminem
From The Slim Shady LP, which has the distinction of being the only Eminem album that is not entirely about the media's reaction to his previous albums. As such, he had plenty of time for little experiments like this, a storytelling duet with Royce Da 5'9" (whoever the hell that is). It actually sounds exactly like the (much better) track Em would later record with Dr. Dre on the Wild Wild West soundtrack. This song is all right, but annoys me because they mispronounce Steven Segal's name in order to made it rhyme with "evil." Grr.

2. "Grey Street," Dave Matthews Band
One of the four or five best songs Dave has ever written. This is the superior Busted Stuff version, which has the best arrangement. (I've got three or four other versions lying around. I told you, one of Dave's best songs.) The song is really just the same verse-chorus-verse structure throughout, but a few lines are added to the chorus on each pass, with Dave's voice getting higher in passion and pitch on each one. By the time he gets to the final chorus, it's impossible not to be moved. (If they play this song when I see them in concert in September, I can just go ahead and die right there.)

3. "Amazing," Aerosmith
November, 1995. The State Marching Band finals. It's a long, long bus ride up to Austin, so I make sure to pack my Discman before I leave, especially because I know that all of my friends are going to be on a different bus. I get crammed in a seat surrounded by people I either don't like or don't know, so the headphones go on before we've even left. One problem: I brought the Discman, but I forgot to bring my CDs, so I'm stuck listening to the disc already in there -- Aerosmith's Big Ones, one of their many, many greatest hits collections. So I listen to that CD over and over and over again on the way up there, while we're up there, in the hotel room, the next morning before prelims -- nothing but Aerosmith. On the bus ride over to prelims, I'm still listening to the damn CD. (If you're thinking I could've just, ya know, talked to people, please e-mail me -- I don't believe we've met.) As the bus pulls into the stadium, "Amazing" plays, and when it ends, my Discman goes a little wacky (as it was prone to do, it was old and cheap) and repeats the song without me telling it to. So I listen to it again. And we march in the prelims, do very poorly, but get selected for the finals anyway. So for one of the few times in my life, I become superstitious, and believe that "Amazing" is somehow a lucky song. I didn't listen to anything else for the rest of the day. Whenever I was listening to anything, it was "Amazing." And we finished second. I don't know if that means the song worked or not. My fellow bandmates sure didn't think so: they started sobbing and weeping and screaming the second they announced it. Which was just really, really sad. But anyway.

4. "In Too Deep," Genesis
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...This song is on my iPod only because I've forgotten to take it off. Just a sec...ah, there we go. Problem solved.

5. "Princess," Beth Kinderman
I waxed poetic about Madame Kinderman in a previous shuffle. This beautiful song is from that Farscape album I was talking about. You should listen to it. Now, dammit!

6. "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2," Pink Floyd
I have watched the movie Pink Floyd: The Wall about fifteen times. I've listened to the album at least twice that. They're both among my favorite examples of that particular artform. And apparently it's genetic, because my parents are both Wall crazies. My father (allegedly -- this comes from my mother, who is far from neutral when it comes to him) was such a super-nerd that he owned a reel-to-reel tape copy of the album. The obvious question is why, but you never know with my dad. And one of my favorite memories of spending time with mother was on a long car ride to Oklahoma. My sister also loved The Wall, but she couldn't understand it, so my mother and I decided to take it upon ourselves to lead her through it, song by song. But by the time we got to "Empty Spaces," Kalynda had fallen asleep in the backseat, and it was just my mom and me, listening to both CDs and discussing its intricacies. The mock venom we summoned to sing along with "In the Flesh" and "Run Like Hell," and the giggling we did afterwards, is something I always think of when I think of my mom. So The Wall is an album that fills me with warmth and happiness, which is hilarious, considering that the album is about isolation, despair, madness, and psychosis. To each his own, right?

7. "Adventures of an Asshole," Henry Rollins
A spoken word performance. In this tale, Henry talks about swearing never to behave like an asshole again (after nearly killing someone while throwing big rocks off a cliff). Mere days after make this promise, he punches a rowdy fan's teeth out at a show, and karma comes back big time: his hand gets infected, then gets septic, and only emergency surgery allows them to save his hand at all (though he loses quite a bit of mobility in -- ironically -- his middle finger). The problem? When he punched the guy, he cut his hand open pretty badly, as you'd expect, but some plaque from his teeth (!) got into the wound, leading to the infection and sepsis. Um, eww.

8. "Helicopters," Barenaked Ladies
From Maroon, which is my favorite BNL album. Though the lyrics are surprisingly subtle for a BNL song, I think it's about a musician who goes on a charity tour to a war-torn third world country, just for photo-ops and that kind of thing, but gets genuinely moved by the devastation and tanks his career by dedicating it to protest songs. As the last verse declares, "Everybody's laughing, while at me they point a finger/A world that loves its irony must hate the protest singer."

9. "Hurt," Nine Inch Nails
I'm going to be the odd one out here, but I actually prefer this original version to Johnny Cash's cover. Maybe it's because the soft sound is more jarring coming as it does at the end of The Downward Spiral, one of the most abrasive records ever produced. Maybe it's because I prefer Trent Reznor's whispered vocal to Cash's lumbering baritone. Maybe it's because I'm just a weirdo. I don't know. But there you go. In either version, it's one of the most haunting and beautiful songs I've ever heard.

10. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," The Beatles
The first time I heard this song was listening to someone in my writer's group at College of the Mainland play it when we were supposed to be talking about writing. I didn't mind; it's a great song. I also remember listening to the guy play "Comfortably Numb" and trying to sing the harmonies along with him, and failing, 'cause they're so high. I loved that writer's group.

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