Wednesday, October 24, 2012


My house/chill/dance/DJ music-listening is essentially anonymous. I reference rarely; the music usually serves a specific purpose: to provide a beat and soundscape for exercise, especially running, or to provide a mood, usually a relaxing one when I don't want to feel or think or remember or project things prompted by lyric-ed and musician-created music.

This is one of my favorite tracks. 

Camiel is a DJ from the Netherlands. Based on this handful of findings and the sheer breadth of free sharing on the intertubes, I could spend a lot of time both on Camiel and other DJ-created music.

Here is another favorite cut:

This has helped me finish pretty much all of the running races I've done since May 2011.

Friday, October 19, 2012

City's full.

Um, what?

This makes up for that totally lame Siouxsie show I saw at the UWM Ballroom in 1993. And, by the way, it will burn your face off.

You know, a couple of years ago, I was wishing that our beleaguered and mostly beloved Reader would develop an informative, entertaining, intelligent and, for God's sake, consistent and frequent, blog.

I got my wish. There's blood on its hands, but I got my wish--and it gives me stuff like this.

Anyway, I want MORE.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Says she likes the group 'cause we pull in the slack

If Bandwagonesque had come out when I was in high school instead of in college, I would have have worn out the cassette. Because by then I'd discovered pop music from the UK that was slightly denser and more complex, and had experienced the clothes-vibrating thrum of Midwest precision rock sludge, and was a frenzied fangirl for funky-punk ska, this was overlooked. Plus, though I'd heard of Alex Chilton, I wasn't one of the children by the millions into Big Star. God, that didn't happen for another fifteen or so years.

Because of the three-minute-plus guitar solo wrap-up of "Freebird" proportions, now this song is a bit more than some  pleasant sonic wallpaper circa 1991. Today has been about gentle nudging reminders of that time, like a languid screech from a long-haired guy's Rickenbacker or whatever. It's perfect for today: I have my days in the theatre and beyond on my mind, and I even sped past the Helfaer, Tower, Cobeen, et al on a quick day trip in/out of Milwaukee.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let me hear the magic in my heart.

This one's for the jukebox, because since I saw Neil and Crazy Horse last week I've been reminded time and again that love is it.

This one's for you, so you can feel what it was like last Thursday in that temple built for and by money. It was recorded only a couple of months ago.

Love almost broke it down. But Neil and CH, they did break it down, huddled as if against a windstorm beneath the towering Fender stacks they resurrected from the Rust Never Sleeps tour, miniature but ferocious. I was wholly stunned by the their tightness, by the raw, dream-of-the-90s wall of guitars, by the intensity of Neil, whose face often looked as if it should be hovering over a post hole digger instead of a Gibson Les Paul.

When he sings "give me strength and set me free," it's more like


I thank the universe that Neil Young walks and completely fucking rocks out on this earth.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Even I never knew this is what I'd be.

Tonight I received surreal news that a classmate from undergrad, a fellow theatre major at MU, has passed after a rather sudden illness. He has to be 43, maybe 44 years old. Wife. Three daughters with Irish names, little girls whose big grins and fun vacations I'd see from time to time in photos on Facebook. That's where Bob and I reconnected, on Facebook. As he was back in the green room of the theatre, Bob was always up for a quick exchange, the "YES! that's cool" acknowledgement or clever exchange--the authentic connection with all of the cool people that you've known in different stages in life, that, despite its  Orwellian underbelly and meme-driven mediocrity and inherent inauthenticity, makes Facebook a positive experience. The funny thing is, I wouldn't feel the hit of this so hard if I'd gotten a call about Bob, or an email, from a mutual friend or fellow classmate. I'd have strained to think of the last time we saw each other, or talked.

So the surreal news comes via an already-surreal, still surreal, when you think about it, resource. Or platform. We read the news; our collective shock and grief was timestamped almost immediately thereafter.

I have an excellent XTC tribute album in Dropbox thanks to Bob. After one of my many postings--and a few trivia-contest style status updates that he posted and I participated in--he chatted me up on Facebook and shared the digital album. "You're an XTC fan? We really should have talked about this at Marquette," he told me. No matter, we could now. We had time, we had Facebook. We had a brief "what you up to now?" exchange as well. Actually, not so brief, but substantial and honest enough for me to get a real sense of his life. Raising two girls, both under the age of 10, I think. Living in New York. Working in publishing.

He was, you know, a guy. A nice guy, with sweet children and a smart woman he married. Someone with a quick wit and great comic timing on stage. I vaguely suspect that his were among the costumes I had to launder for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum when I was wardrobe head for that show. (Did he play Senex, the henpecked-husband stock character who is always duped?) I had to haul everyone's sweaty togas to and fro, and untangle sandal straps and shit like that. Then, the show would close, another would open, and it would be my turn to be on stage and have someone--Bob, or someone--build the sets I stood on and haul my sweaty costumes from the dressing room to laundry.

I bring up this detail because this whole operation, this toiling onstage, hoping you are good, and toiling backstage in the dust and darkness, dealing with people's bodies and personality quirks both, this collision and collusion of disparate personalities and energies and talents and goals that is a theatre production--especially a college theatre production, since one is literally in the building from early morning til late at night--is, actually, a family. See, these little families form, coalesce into a musical that everyone hates doing, or the serious play that is pockmarked with attempts to break each other onstage, or the high-adrenaline comedy that you'll never, ever, forget the lines from. And then, when the show closes, these families dissolve.

In the theatre, if only for a little while, whether the breadth of a show, or the duration of the completion of the requirements for your bachelor's degree, you are family. I'm connected to those people from my four years in college in a way I'm not to anyone else, nor have been since. We share a deeply formative, collective experience. I mean, I still hear my teachers' voices in my head when I am working in a theatre, when I am performing, when I am shopping for props ("NEVER do a show with real food!"), and especially when I was running a theatre company and its space. I'm fairly certain there is a group of 40 to 50 people who circulated in that building on the southeast end of campus during a six- or so year period who hear the same voices.

So losing a family member, even some twenty years after we last pulled staples from the stage and costumes out of the washer and exchanged Simpsons quotes in the green room, or mere months after a genuinely good-willed exchange of "I'm glad your life is good, old friend," it's...surreal.

This song immediately came to mind tonight, thinking about that nice moment of XTC geekery, of reconnection, we shared.

Rest in peace, friend.

On Repeat: The questions we tend to ask / Are useless if time is too fast

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Out of darkness.

I think of this poem by Mary Oliver just about every time I see or hear geese flying overheard. 
"Wild Geese"
Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I think of this song sometimes when it's stopped raining. Or when I am in the big, blond, bright group exercise room at the gym, because that is where I first heard it, of all places, during the cool-down portion of a class.

I'd love to say that out of the ceiling-to-floor gym exercise room windows I saw a V of geese flying overheard as I heard it, but that would just be me trying to make a moment out of two separate moments.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Planting seeds.

Because I wanted to post this yesterday, separately from the other one, and forgot:

"There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life." 

On Repeat: I'm only doing what you told me to do

I can't find lyrics online so, oh darn, I'll have to listen to this over and over again.

At this point, even though the Brothers Brewis are riding atop a lauded 2012 release, I'll take just about anything I can grab from Field Music's orbit. And I applaud the point that "it's pretty essential to not feel trapped by" being your band; it's a definite reminder that I've been cooped up in projects and "the band" myself, and what that can do to you.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Promises in every star (or, A weekend's worth of sadness)

I played the hell out of this cassette, I'm quite sure, but I don't think it survived a early/mid-90s This-is-not-cool-enough-to-remain-in-my-collection purge, or perhaps the purge prior to the big move to Chicago.

God, this is such a fall album (and reminds me of one fall in particular). But it's kind of overproduced, sadly so. The songs are great and I think they would survive a Let's-take-out-the-80s-flattening-production-effects revival today. I wonder if she ever plays these songs. Seriously, I'd love a re-recording of this.

Not, however, the first track off the album. This one--ah, I love its synthesized grandeur, the how it's haunting, but that is manufactured. Also, it just reminds me of both "What's Love Got to Do With It" and The Motels.

I feel like back then, her voice still sounded so, I don't know, contained. Definitely like she'd just gotten out of music school (which she pretty much had). I haven't encountered much Aimee Mann since then, or really tried, to, so I don't know how her voice has persisted or prospered over the years. I suppose I could go find out next month.

Or maybe that I ultimately like things that are a little rough, that kind of "college rock" or indie or what-have-you that sprang from the grubby punk impulse. Aimee Mann: she writes and sings about rough times, but she was never a little rough.

Sorry, I just cannot find a more expressive word for it than contained.

Still, I do love these two songs, and our Brave New Digital World makes it possible for me to have them. Well, technically, the BNDW has for the last ten years, but TT and this song didn't come back on my radar until I started listening to this latest in my hunt for the best and cheeziest classic-rock Internet radio station iTunes can offer me.

*Update: Um, yeah. I'm listening to the whole thing on Spotify and it gets progressively worse, and when you get to this track, you realize this should be faintly heard in Marshalls while you are shopping at the absolutely depressing one on Clark across from Century Mall for you-have-no-idea-what, you actually entered the building to go to the Cost Plus World Market that you thought was there but isn't so while you are in the building, why not just into Marshalls and see if they have knee socks or some kind of utility blazer and ohmygod these shirts are ugly as hell and, wait, that sounds like Aimee Mann faintly crooning above this rack of Misses tops and I should not have even gone into Misses anyway.

Now I know why I really purged it--if less than two songs make me happy, you're out.

Also: question answered.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

We are accidents waiting

I just want to climb inside this song and live in it. Every instance, format, venue in which I have heard it has led me there (most recently).

Friday, October 05, 2012

And I say it's all right

I've watched this video a lot. This time, I became intrigued with the way Richie plays guitar. He uses his thumb, not fingers, to form the chords.

And in this, his Woodstock performance of "Freedom," largely improvised because he had to hold the stage for three hours while the big-name acts made their way belatedly to the festival, he seems to do the same.

Here, not so much.

No matter how his fingers fly, Richie pours all of his heart and mind into that instrument.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The idle mind is a playground for the devil

If you haven't figured out by now, I am charmed and fascinated by artists who come from nowhere, go somewhere--for a little while--and then who seem to return to obscurity, leaving us only what may have been the peak of their life's work or may have been just the product of a single instance of fruitful synchronicity (or drugs).

I bring you another: son of Blue Island (but, yah, he grew up out in Palos), SAIC dropout, diligent multi-instrumentalist, unexpected funkmeister, #1 Top New Male Single Vocalist (1978), first-ever certified gold 12-inch single awardee, unassuming disco icon, Madonna-nicknamer, MTV VMA nominee (1985), what's-hot-in-pop adopter, tinnitus sufferer, web designer, one-hit wonder.

(And now I know where a lotta guys in Logan Square are getting their look.)

I remember this song.

Labelmate Betty Wright backing up, it's meticulously arranged disco. Assembled from a boxed puzzle: whooshing strings, signature bass line, scratchy guitar riffs, four-on-the-floor, a back-up lyric that's not part of the body of the song, and a general lyrical premise that proposes someone (a woman) just let go and dance. It's just all very--sterile. There's no passion in it. Out-of-the-box.

This track, however, is not. Gruffer, rougher, longer, stronger. This will keep you on the dance floor even if those new spike heels have your dogs barking.

I rarely read or acknowledge Youtube comments, but I love the second one, from "drumrman1:"

"FO SHO. back in the day, i used to bump the shit outta this in the clubs. no longer a deejay, however i'm driving beats on the kit like paul bunyan now and sometimes i try to replicate these grooves. getting close...feel me HOLLA"

The first song was made for the radio, to neatly layer between . The second song was made for the club, the club, the joyous, messy, hot club. Feel me HOLLA.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

And I turned my amp up loud and began to play

1980?? I thought all these years that this was off the hat-and-mustache-era Still Crazy After All These Years, that I heard it on the radio much earlier than I did. It appears to be the only song off this album that garnered widespread notice or notoriety. 

This album that was concurrent with a movie??

[scrambling toward Netflix...aaaand nada.]

Has anyone seen this movie? It sounds vaguely familiar, like I might have seen it on Early HBO. Rip Torn! Lou Reed! David Sanborn!

Ah, anyway, this playing-live-in-a-music video of the album/movie's Big Hit Single kills it.

Monday, October 01, 2012

That's why I treasure you and place you high above

I'm posting this instead of yet another shitty Prince video that will be taken down in the next month because, well, there's synchronized back-up singing in this clip, too. Not as much. But it's got a driving beat, too, and was broadcast before (or perhaps just as) lip-synching became de riguer on TV.

I was in a show once and played a character with this name; the song was used as interscene music. Thus I feel like moving furniture and objects for scene change when I hear it.

Actually, when I think about it, I was in the tiny bathroom off of the stage, waiting to enter for my Big Dramatic Scene With Crying In It.