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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.



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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

from Goodnight Saigon to Greetings

Day 587, Session 108:
Monday January 28th - Wandering around Dominicks, trying to figure out why there are so many varieties of balsamic vinaigrette.
First song:
Goodnight Saigon by Billy Joel
Last full song: Greetings to the New Brunette by Billy Bragg
Progress: 1671-1700 of 5687
Total Songs Heard: 1361

When I was six, my family took a trip across country in an RV. It was a truly incredible trip. I saw a lot of the country that, if it weren't for the trip, I know I still wouldn't have seen today. (Somehow I don't think any trips to Cody, Wyoming would have been taken by this point.) I don't remember much about the long hours spent in that camper, but I do remember listening to an extraordinary amount of country music. Which is strange because I don't really come from a country music family. Growing up the radio was generally set to the local adult contemporary stations (Magic 103 and Sunny 104.5 for those Philly folks who can remember back that far.) But I guess my parents thought country music was better traveling music. So I heard a lot of Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, and most of all, John Denver.

Without a doubt, my favorite John Denver song back in the day was Grandma's Feather Bed. As I was listening to it today (twice actually, there was also a live version) I realized once again, that as much as I love the song, I still have no idea what several lines in the refrain are.

I know the first two lines:

It was 9 feet high and 6 feet wide
Soft as a downy chick.
And then things start getting hazy:
It was made from the feathers of (fort eleven?) geese.
WTF are Fort Eleven geese? A specific breed secretly grown by the military for their extra soft feathers? Hey, at least I knew were were talking about geese, next line I'm completely lost:
Took a whole ford a paws for a tick(?!?)
What in god's name is a ford of paws? And isn't it bad if the bed has ticks? Really, I have absolutely no idea what that line is. I went back and listened to it 20 times, but still, nothin'. Still, I have reasonably clear memories of singing along at the top of my lungs whenever this song would come on during the trip. But what on earth was I singing?

And yes, I realize through this magical series of tubes that I could use the google and find out exactly what that line is, but I think I like it better not knowing. What do you hear?

Grandma's Feather Bed - John Denver

Postscript to the country music in the camper... eventually the tape deck ate the John Denver tape and we had to spend the last part of the trip (Yosemite back to Philly) listening to whatever was on the radio. Not surprisingly, it was mostly country.

This day also brought two Früvous songs that I do happen to know all the words to. Gord's Gold is from the "B" cd. It is my favorite one minute song ever. I kept hoping that eventually an entire full length version of the song was going to come out, but alas it was not to be. The song is a tribute to Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, if you're not familiar with him, the song probably won't mean much, but if you know him, you'll recognize the song is spot on.

The other song is a 'rare' Früvous track that, to my knowledge, isn't included on any of their cds. It was originally released on their indie cassette in Canada (damn, another time the canucks get over on me!) but never included on any commercially released cds (probably due to the fact that the good Dr. Seuss didn't sign off on it.)
I saw the guys in concert 10 times and only saw this song done once (Ludlow's in Cbus.)

Gord's Gold - Moxy Früvous
Green Eggs and Ham - Moxy Früvous

Finally, this made me laugh out loud in the middle of the snack aisle. (Doritos' Hot Wings & Blue Cheese Collision, hooray!) If you don't already subscribe to The Onion Radio News podcast, you really should.

Greenpeace Releases Dolphins - The Onion

Monday, January 28, 2008

from Gold Dust Woman to Goodnight Rose

Day 584, Session 107:
Friday January 25th - In the living room, conquering the Freezeflame galaxy.
First song:
Gold Dust Woman by Sister Hazel
Last full song: Goodnight Rose by Ryan Adams
Progress: 1639-1671 of 5676 (one skipped repeat)
Total Songs Heard: 1331

First of all, Well Hello to everyone visiting the blog for the first time as a result of the recent blurb this blog received in Time Out Chicago. If you didn't see it and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, check here.

If you're new here, I recommend the links over on the left for a taste of what it's usually like around here (which is to say light and mostly nonsensical.) The last post's sap is certainly not normal and this one is a bit mopey even for me.

We used to go to the (cleverly named) campus pub, The Pub, to see the few bands that would come to UD. The Pub really wasn't much of a student hang out. That might have had something to do with the fact that it was connected directly to the largest cafeteria on campus. It's hard to enjoy spending a lot of time in a place where the smell of Pier 17 baked cod hangs in the air. On the plus side The Pub was a decent place to get some underage drinking done. When there was live music, the lights would go down and it would be much harder to see the big black X on the back of your hand indicating that you shouldn't be drinking.

It was during one of these 3-beer drunk (I was a lightweight) nights that Hello Dave first came to town. They seemed to be the classic college band; perfectly happy playing small college 'bars,' going to parties afterward, and then packing the van and driving 5 hours to the next place. There's a part of me that would love that life. The whole getting to perform for a living thing, getting paid to entertain people, seeing different parts of the country. It just seems like it would be a fun and completely different from the 'corporate' life I've been a part of for the last 8 years.

On the other hand, that life is hard. Hello Dave is still together and over the next 2 months play a total of 11 gigs. They're playing in such exotic locations as Island Lake, Downers Grove (both Illinois,) and Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This isn't to put them down... they've been together at least 13 years. That's a successful run! But working at something for 13 years and to still be playing bars and clubs... wouldn't that eventually get old? Not to mention how hard it would be to potentially raise a family in a city like Chicago on musician money. I'm reasonably sure musician is not your only job at that point, and if you're working multiple jobs to make ends meet, then how fun can all that traveling be when you can't go to the after show party because you have to be up to work in the morning?

I guess what I'm saying is... I don't know what to do with my life. I love the idea of entertaining/performing for a living. But just getting to the point of being good enough at something to be able to do that is almost impossible since the spots are few and the people looking for those spots are endless. Then, even if you get your chance,
that life is so hard... and I am so weak.

Anywho, that shouldn't take away from the fact that Hello Dave's song Golden is pretty great. In fact, it's a nice tonic for the mope-fest that I just spit out.

Golden - Hello Dave (song coming soon)

It's not often that I find a song so lousy that I feel no choice but to delete it, however, today I am willing to make an exception. So say goodnight Goodnight L.A. you've been erased. (See, performing is hard! You're Strangeways and you've recorded this song and it was good enough to be included in a Metal Ballads compilation and then years later this jerk with a blog says the song sucks so much that he had to delete it!)

Finally, we passed 1300 songs, so lets do some math:
1331 songs in 584 days = 2.28 songs per day (so slow...)
5676-1671 = 4005 tracks to go
Of 1671 tracks so far, 340 (1671-1331) have been
skipped/podcasts/added later/whatever = 20.3% skipped
4005-(4005*20.3%) = approximately 3192 songs to go accounting for skipped tracks
3192 songs/2.28 songs a day = 1400 days to go (3.8 years)
Estimated date of project completion = October 2011

So yeah, looks like there's work to be done. The good news is after the prolonged slow period that was 2007, I think things will pick up significantly in 2008 and that estimated completion date will start to go down in the next 100 songs or so. It will also be hard for me to add many more songs seeing as how the Ipod is now approximately 97% full.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

from Giving It Back to Gold

Day 577, Session 106:
Friday January 18th - In the living room.
First song:
Giving It Back by Matthew Sweet
Last full song: Gold by Interference
Progress: 1606-1635 of 5652
Total Songs Heard: 1299

Why would a man need a version of God Bless America on his ipod? The first reason of course would be if he were a great patriot. The second reason, and the one that applies here, is if he's a Philadelphia Flyers fan. Kate Smith was an American singer and radio performer who did most of her work in the 1930s and 40s. This version of God Bless America was recorded for the 1943 movie "This Is The Army," but found its place in the hearts of Flyers fans when the team began playing it before big games. The Flyers had an unbelievable record when kicking things off with Kate Smith. The high point of this pre-game tradition came in 1974 when the Flyers were playing the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. Kate Smith appeared live and thus inspired, the Flyers went on to win the game and their first Stanley Cup title.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can actually see the performance. It's not the greatest version of the song ever, but check out the crowd reaction. The ovation the crowd gives before a note is even sung captures the true bat-shit insane electricity of the moment. I've been in the crowd for some pretty exciting moments, but I don't think anything compares to this:

Goose bump city.

The original version of the song isn't bad either:
God Bless America - Kate Smith

Warning: Stop right here if you want a avoid a big sticky pile of sap.

I kind of have issues with "home." I grew up outside of Philadelphia and since that's where I grew up, that's where I've thought of as home for most of my life. One problem though, I don't live there anymore (and neither do my parents, so I'm almost never there.) It's been almost 14 years since Philly actually was home even though it still sometimes feels that way.

Even though I've been in Chicago for almost 7 years now, the first 5 and a half of those years were spent moving from apartment to apartment, never really settling down. Now The Wife and I own a house and 18 months into that experience we're really starting to make the place ours. When I got to the Barenaked Ladies song Go Home I started thinking that maybe this place is it. This feeling has been enhanced recently by our attempts to tackle some home improvement projects. If you know me, you know I'm not exactly a handyman, so several of the projects have been much harder than they should be. This is mostly due to my ineptness. For example, yesterday I broke off a drill bit and couldn't find where the broken bit piece ended up. This leads me to believe that it may be embedded somewhere on my body (possibly in my eye because safety glasses are for suckers.) My ineptness makes me feel kind of useless, and it's hard to feel at home in a place where you feel useless.

Through a quirk in scheduling I barely saw The Wife yesterday. I got home late last night and tried to sneak my way into bed. As I slipped under the covers The Wife, still 90% asleep, rolled over and wrapped an arm around me and said "There you are."

And there I was. That was home.

Go Home - Barenaked Ladies

I am lucky to be one of the few who has found somebody who can tolerate me.

Finally, if you were wondering how many different versions of Go Your Own Way one guy needs, the answer is three (original and live version by Fleetwood Mac, cover by The Cranberries.) I bet you thought the answer was less than 1.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

from Ghost to Giving It All To You

Day 568, Session 105:
Wednesday January 9th - Round and about the streets of Chicago.
First song:
Ghost by Neutral Milk Hotel
Last full song: Giving It All To You by Oval Opus
Progress: 1568-1594 of 5624
Total Songs Heard: 1269

So much to write about. 2008 started out right as I've upgraded my headphone situation. Thanks to my friend Liv, I'm now doing all my listening with Bose in-ear headphones. I'm not exactly an audiophile, but these headphones are awesome. They provide a much richer sound.
(can sound be rich? sure, why not?) The ear buds are also designed to go further into your earhole without being uncomfortable. The result? I can actually listen to things with the volume turned down lower. Anywho, the moral of this story is if you do a lot of headphone listening, you should definitely look into some fine Bose products. They're worth it.

Now to the music. Neutral Milk Hotel's 1998 cd "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" is all sorts of fantastic (and another one of those music groups that is actually only one guy.) I bought the cd in 2005 while on my honeymoon in San Francisco. Every time I hear a NMH song I flash back to that trip and how great a time it was. For one, it was great because the wedding went off with out a hitch. If you've never been married, let me tell you, a big part of that great honeymoon feeling is relief that the months and months of pre-wedding stress are over. For two, the wife and I had never been to San Francisco before (together anyway,) so it was great to start our "new life" with a trip where everything we were experiencing was new for both of us.

The only downside of the memories... any prolonged thoughts of San Francisco cause ghost soreness in my calves. That town is hilly, and we did a lot of walking. My legs were pissed for days. Ghost is my second favorite song off the cd (and the new headphones really do the buzzing bass justice.)

Ghost - Neutral Milk Hotel

Once I was done my acid trip honeymoon flashbacks my attention turned to the three different versions of Gin And Juice. Three completely different versions of the same song? It's time for a breakdown.

Gin And Juice (original rap) vs. Gin And Juice (country) vs. Gin And Juice (spoken word)

Most street cred:
Original rap version is the winner here since I live in a city. I suppose this sort of depends on your locale. If you live on a farm, you may get more cred with the country version blasting from the speakers of your John Deere. (Tractors have speakers right?)

Most fun to sing along with:
Country version. Country wins by default here. It's really hard to sing along with a spoken word song, and I don't think you rap a duet with Snoop unless Snoop asks you too.

Best chance to understand the lyrics:
Spoken word version. It's not that either of the other versions are particularly hard to understand, but the slow steady delivery of the spoken word version clears up an issues you may have had with the lyrics.

Best at getting to the point:
Snoop doesn't have time for extended banjo breaks or long dramatic pauses. He's got hos to get to.

Best use of extended banjo break outs:
Country version. I know I just awarded Snoop points for the lack of banjo breaks, but the banjo breaks in the country version are fantastic. One more reason I may take banjo lessons in 2008.

Most fun:
Country version. Sipping on Gin And Juice should be a fun time for everyone. Snoop just doesn't seem like he's having as much fun as The Gourds. And sure the spoken word guy is funny, but he doesn't sound like the sort of person I'd enjoy getting my drink on with.

Gin And Juice (country version) by The Gourds. In the end, the original is a classic and the spoken word version is funny, but the country version of Gin And Juice is both awesome musically and funny.

Feel free to judge for yourself:
Gin And Juice - Snoop Doggy Dogg
Gin And Juice - The Gourds
Gin And Juice - Beautiful music version (artist unknown)

There were even more stories in this set of songs, including a performance of Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon by the 4 South Five and the night I got whip creamed in the face by the lead singer during a performance of Mink's Girl 17, but I'll save those for the book.

Edited to add - Check it out over on the right ---> I've added a poll so you can vote on your favorite version of Gin And Juice. Feel free to defend your vote in the comments section.