Ten Records to be Depressed To (And Why!)

It’s one of the great chicken/egg questions.  Which came first–the music or the misery?  (Credit to Nick Hornby/Hi Fidelity for the wording.)  People who are down in the dumps tend to listen to really depressing music.  Why?  Do they (ahem–WE) just like to revel in sadness?  Or did the music make the sadness possible in the first place?

Who gives a damn?  Here are ten great depressing records and why you should listen to them when you’re depressed.

  1. Lou Reed – Berlin
    This one’s for the specific kind of misery where you want to check into a hotel, do a bunch of drugs, and die there.  THAT kind of depressed…because that’s pretty much what the record is about.  And that’s why we have records like this.  When you feel that way, you put this on and listen to the plot and think, “Well…  I certainly don’t want THAT.  Thanks, Lou!”  Plus, it’s a really great record (depressed or not).  The guitar tones are amazing and it’s a true masterpiece.  There’s actually HOPE to be found in it, if you’re a fan of music arrangement.  I know it inspires me to write and to develop better tones in my guitar rig.  And that’s no bad thing.  In a lot of ways, this is the most beautiful, dark, depressing record out there.
  2. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    Jazz, my friends.  Jazz was MEANT for depression.  This is the kind of record that’s meant to be listened to on a rainy day with a glass of bourbon and the lights low…and if a woman just did you wrong, so much the better.  One of the great records of all time, and definitely a good one to revel in if you’re feeling “kind of blue.”
  3. Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm
    I love Aimee Mann.  Almost any of her records would work as well as another on this list, but I’ve got a particular soft spot for “The Forgotten Arm.”  It’s kind of a concept record, and it’s kind of grim and sad…but it ends happy.  Because life does that.  It gets grim and sad and happy all at the same time sometimes, and Aimee does a great job of capturing that in her music.  She writes music that makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time…which is kind of what music is FOR.
  4. The Who – By Numbers
    One of the sort of “sleeper” Who records.  It’s not the one you’ll grab if you’re looking for the hits.  Oh, it’s got some great songs on it, and “Slip Kid” was definitely a good single that some people would know…but it’s not “Pinball Wizard,” y’know?  Still, this is a good “downer” listen.  With songs like “How Many Friends” and “They’re All in Love” it’s got a little something to fit any sad mood.  Also possibly one of the best lyrics Pete ever wrote (from “They’re all in Love”): “Goodbye all you punks, stay young and stay high.  Now hand me my checkbook and I’ll crawl off to die.”
  5. Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
    Part of the neo-classical movement.  In fact, probably the MAIN part of the neo-classical movement.  GYBE! is an act that writes lengthy, classical-syle pieces that also use modern instruments.  Think if Yes had a weird mutant baby with Pink Floyd and Purcell and didn’t bother with all that “singing” nonsense.  “Skinny Fists” is probably their best known record, and with good reason.  It’s a masterpiece.  It works well when you’re depressed if you listen through the first more-or-less “movement.”  It starts out bleak and builds to…I don’t know…hopeful?  That’s how it makes me feel anyway.  Then, y’know…right back to bleak.  But if you stop after the crescendo, you’ll be fine.
  6. Mark Lanegan – Field Songs
    Lanegan doesn’t really do “happy.”  No matter if he’s with the Screaming Trees, or an unofficial member of Queens of the Stone Age, or solo…  Dude’s just kinda bleak.  “Field Songs” is probably his best solo effort, in my eyes.  It’s laid back and ambient.  With the sounds of static and stuff (presumably) just being slowly drug over guitar strings as almost a part of the rhythm track, the record is less catchy than it is haunting, and in the best possible way.  Perfect for putting on in the background and just LOSING yourself for a while…and who doesn’t want that when they’re feeling down.
  7. Rufus Wainwright – All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu
    Written during a time where Rufus knew his mother was dying, “Lulu” comes from a very dark place.  The record is composed of songs that feature JUST Wainwright’s voice and piano with no additional instrumentation.  I’ve raved about it elsewhere, and it was one of my favorite records in the year it came out, so I won’t go much more into detail.  Just a good “I’m bummed out and I want to hear a sad piano” record.
  8. Tom Waits – The Black Rider
    One lyric sums it up, from “Lucky Day.” I’m sourcing the lyric from the live version on “Glitter and Doom” because that’s my particular favorite performance of it that I’ve heard. “Now when I was a boy, my daddy sat me on his knee and he told me many things. And he said ‘Son’–he always called me son–he said, ‘Son there’s a lot of things in this world you’re gonna have no use for’ (and he was right). ‘But when you get blue and you’ve lost all your dreams, there’s nothin’ like a campfire and a can of beans.’ So don’t cry for me, for I’m going away and I’ll be back some lucky day.”  I find hope in there somewhere.
  9. RAMONES – Pretty much anything, really…
    When you’re down and angry, punk saves the day.  The RAMONES will throw a lyric at you that will make you smile.  Guaranteed.
  10. Pink Floyd – The Wall
    If I have to explain this one, you should have your ears revoked.  If you do not have access to The Wall, Wish You Were Here or Dark Side of the Moon will also suffice.

…and there you go.  Now go get sad and put one of these on!

No…wait…don’t do that.  Maybe wait UNTIL you’re sad.  That.

“I say “radical”. That’s my thing that I say! I feel like I’m going to explode here…” – Milhouse Van Houten

Here’s the thing where I write stuff about things…

  1. I was sick a lot of last week.  Feeling much better now, though I still have some residual exhaustion and an occasional cough.  And I think I’ve succeeded in making several people around me sick, too–but what else is new?
  2. So…  Todd Akin is a colossal dick, huh?  To me, it’s not even a Republican/Democrat issue.  It’s not a pro-life/pro-choice issue.  Todd Akin said that victims of “legitimate rape” (sic) can “shut down” (sic) pregnancy.  And yet, in a survey conducted today, he’s STILL leading in the goddamned polls.  If Todd Akin wins this race, I’m seriously considering leaving Missouri.  If the voters are so irresponsible that we elect a man who doesn’t know what rape is, nor how basic reproduction works, then he can HAVE this state and it can have HIM.  They can slide into the deepest level of Hell together.  But I WANT to believe that common sense will prevail.  I WANT to believe that.
  3. Rest in peace to both Tony Scott and Phyllis Diller.  Sad to hear about both, particularly Tony Scott, as it would seem his death was completely unnecessary.  So sad to see someone feel that lost and helpless.  Diller, I deeply respect and I know how much she loved St. Louis—a woman who knew how to laugh and most of all how to laugh at HERSELF.  The world is poorer without that kind of person.
  4. I picked up the new CD by Metric this weekend (“Synthetica”).  I had previously bought “Live it Out” based on hearing “Monster Hospital” and assuming it was all like that.  It wasn’t, and I never really listened to it again.  Then I was in Vintage Vinyl and they started playing the new one.  I heard this beautiful music, and the most beautiful voice singing the words, “I’m just as fucked up as they say.”  And I was in.  I bought it and it hasn’t left my player yet.  It’s great.  It’s definitely going to be in my top 5 for the year, probably my top 3.  In fact, it might even hit #1, if the Aimee Mann record due out next month disappoints (though I don’t expect that).  Just a total breath of fresh air and exactly the record I need in exactly this moment in time.
  5. Got to get a plumber over to the house ASAP.  The sewer line has been flooding.  Needs to be cleared out.  I’ve got a little bit of cleanup to do and then the guy can come over.  Unfortunately it is looking like that won’t happen until Thursday at this point.  I particularly feel bad about having to keep Jeremy from doing HIS laundry.  In an emergency, I can go over to Dad’s, but he’s kind of stuck.  That’s not really fair to him, and I really wish it had been cleared up a week ago (minimum) when Dad and I snaked out the drain…but so it is, I guess.  Also, I need to get some of the boxes out of here that were soaked with the water.  The mildew is getting to me—and I think also Jeremy.  I’m sure it made my cold worse…need to buy some gloves to handle the boxes.
  6. Been kind of fed up lately.  Probably because I’ve been sick.  Possibly because it’s an election year.  Or maybe there’s just a lot of stuff that pisses me off, and a lot of stuff is changing.  Or all of the above.  Or none of the above.  Or whatever…
  7. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve bought a lot of music.  Everything from Metric to Soul Asylum to Lou Reed to Judy Garland.  I enjoy that, but…seriously…it’s getting weird over here.  Not to mention that I briefly considered stopping on my way home to pick up some Toto and UFO.  (Realized recently that I don’t own any UFO, which seems wrong and also I’ve had Toto’s “Africa” stuck in my head since hearing it over the weekend.)  Didn’t do that…but y’know…maybe next month.
  8. Looking forward to a rehearsal with Two Hangmen tomorrow night.  We’ve been gaining some momentum lately, I think.  Guess I should get back to work on the website/storefront.  I think we’ll be needing it soon!
  9. Sat around one day just playing guitar with no real focus.  Haven’t done that in a while.  Seems like every time I have played guitar in months it’s been for a band practice or a rehearsal for church or something else.  It was good to just noodle.

…and that’s it for now.  Just wanted to get something on the blog.

On the Subject of “Nerds”

(EDIT: The original post reverted to a rougher, old, saved version for some reason.  Made a few spelling/grammar corrections, but there’s probably still plenty here to nitpick, if that’s your thing…)

People are massively misusing the word “nerd” these days.  They’re confusing it with “fan.”

Allow me to show my work.  Probably the biggest things people point to and associate with being a “nerd” is an affinity for video games and sci-fi.  So let’s examine those.

Someone who is a gamer is just someone who grew up after the year 1970.  Gaming hasn’t been a “nerdy” pursuit in a couple of generations.  (There’s a case for the table-top gamers still being able to call themselves nerds, because wow who gives a crap about D&D anymore?)  Someone who watches Sci Fi isn’t a nerd either, based solely on liking Star Trek and Doctor Who…they’re just someone who watches a multi-million dollar, wildly successful franchise.  They’re part of the status quo.  (Those who can tell you the complete schematics of the Enterprise’s replicators, on the other hand…)

And while we’re at it, I’m sick of seeing people like Felicia Day called a “nerd.”  Don’t get me wrong, I like Felicia Day and I’m not belittling her in any way.  I’m fully aware of how outspoken she is on behalf of girl-gamers…but that’s just it.  She’s a girl-gamer.  That’s not a nerd.  Open your high school yearbook.  Find the picture of the guy who always got beat up, always got stuffed into lockers, and always sat alone in the lunch room.  Now look back at your laptop screen and find a picture of Felicia Day.  See the difference?  Me too.

I’m also sick of marketing departments making it “cool” to be a nerd.  BBC America actually ran a Doctor Who marathon one weekend and referred to it as “Sat-NERD-Day.”  I don’t know how else to say this…but fuck you, BBC America.  I’m not a nerd.  I’m a fan of a TV show.  Just like the people who love Law & Order or How I Met Your Mother…or The Big Bang Theory, which actually pokes FUN at its own witless audience—and I even LIKE that show.  Fool that I am.

I read an article that named a porn-star (and I’d like to stress that I am completely unfamiliar with her body of work—no pun intended) as a nerd because she has a name similar to a cartoon character and went to Comic Con (conveniently) for the first time in the same year she started to get “featured” in movies.  No, no, no, nerd “community.”  That girl ski-polling those two guys standing on either side of her for millions of dollars?  That’s not a nerd.  She may have some fan-obsessive pursuits like gaming or anime…but that no longer a nerd makes.  It’s too popular.  Too trendy.  Too status quo.  And I can’t stress this enough…  Nerds don’t get invited to the really good gangbangs.  (Though some likely pay to download them, since the girl involved is—again conveniently—“one of them.”)

So what IS a nerd?  Well…last I checked a nerd is basically just someone who’s academically inclined and has more interest in the science and math of how something happened than they do the soap opera result.  The guys who WRITE Doctor Who?  Nerds.  The people who WATCH it?  Fans.  Felicia Day?  Great actress and gamer.  Her writers and the people who MADE those games?  Nerds.

There’s a pretty notable difference.  All I’m asking is that you double-check yourself the next time you find yourself saying something like, “Ha ha, I beat Arkham City in one night and now I’m looking for the extra achievements!  I’m such a nerd!”  Unless you can tell me the square root of 49 without a calculator, you’re probably not a nerd.  You’re just good at a video game.  Like EVERY kid from the 80s.  And you’d probably still make fun of the ACTUAL nerds, if you were still in high school.  It’s okay to just be a FAN.  There’s no reason to pretend to be something you’re not and pretend that the status quo you’re so much a card-carrying member of is somehow “uncool” while the nerds who designed it cash the checks they made from YOUR money.  At most, someone with an obsessive hobby but no real academic inclination would be a GEEK.  (And those who care about the difference…dorks.)

Okay…rant over.  Be a fan.  Stop pretending.  You may now return to your nerdy, nerdy pursuits on the Internet.  Freaking nerd.


Current Listening:

  • Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
  • Soul Asylum – Delayed Reaction
  • John Coltrane – Giant Steps

“Oh, oh: you see, the kids, they listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage. With their hippin’, and the hoppin’, and the bippin’, and the boppin’, so they don’t know what the jazz…is all about! You see, jazz is like the Jello Pudding Pop — no, actually, it’s more like Kodak film — no, actually, jazz is like the New Coke: it’ll be around forever, heh heh heh.” – Somebody pretending to be Bill Cosby on the Simpsons that one time…

Since last time, I’ve started four posts I haven’t finished.  I am DETERMINED to write this one.  I guess I’ve been slacking on writing because I’ve been fairly discontent lately and I don’t like bringing that to the blog—but maybe it’s not too bad a thing if I do.  Nothing serious. Short version is that I need a change. Not sure what it will be, but if you’ve got any thoughts or tangible suggestions, they’d be appreciated.  Maybe I should just switch to decaf or something.

Moving on…here’s random bullshit…

  1. Before all else, I was surprised by just how deeply moved I was to hear about comedian Tig Notaro’s fight with cancer and her bravery in taking it to the stage.  Read about it here.
  2. Been enjoying the Olympics. I’m not usually one for sports, but I love the Olympics. It’s the peak of amateur achievement (or at least it’s SUPPOSED to be, thank you very much Serena Williams, et al) and I like that sort of thing. I like seeing someone who’s basically an average Joe rise to the occasion and hone their skills. I like watching someone’s sacrifice pay off. I like watching someone who lives off $400 a month (seriously–one of the weight-lifters only brought in $400 a month for a while) get their shot at Olympic gold. And (as a rant) it pisses me off immensely when someone looks from their armchair and belittles their achievements by saying what they’re doing is “not a sport” (eg – Trampoline, Badminton, Archery, etc–for some reason people are harsh toward those). These people have worked and sacrificed in ways most of us wouldn’t even dare think of to get where they are…and some dick complains that they’re awarded for it instead of a pro baseball player or defensive-lineman who—let’s face it—doesn’t need another moment in the spotlight, to flaunt their millions. Bullshit. Congratulations to those who EARNED the right to be in the Olympics. What you do is the PUREST form of sport and I salute you. All the armchair coaches who criticize your achievements and indeed your entire industry can go watch their baseball and football and pay the stars their millions. I’ll be watching you folks on the trampoline. …and go America, by the way.
  3. Those I’ve particularly enjoyed at the Olympics: Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky (I mean holy shit!  Good for her!), Gabby Douglas, Jessica Ennis (whom I find beautiful and terrifying) McKayla Maroney, and our seemingly unstoppable beach volleyball ladies. Unfortunately I’ve been missing much of the lesser-known stuff this year due to time-limitations and a lack of broadcast. I hear I’ve been missing some excellent soccer and that the speedwalking was pretty good too.
  4. Had a couple of recent gigs with the Michael Feldman Group.  Nothing many of the regular readers (if any) would have driven to.  I was in Defiance, Wentzville, and Lake St. Louis.  Only the last one was likely to draw anyone, but they couldn’t have gotten in—it was at a private country club.  Decent shows.  The one in Defiance was a lot of fun.  The one in Wentzville was outside on a deck in the heat and we were just background music for a hot rod rally.  Hard to gague…but I think we played well.  The country club was fine, but I was kind of in a bad mood through no one’s fault.  I think we sounded fine and people seemed to have a good time.  I just kinda ruined my own evening with my own crappy mood.  All in all, good to play with Mike again.  Probably the best guitarist I know and a genuinely nice guy.
  5. Jeremy has been living in my house for about a month.  I like having him here.  Keeps me sane and he’s a good cat (by which I mean human).
  6. Two Hangmen is rehearsing and trying to polish up a little bit.  Got some big plans.  Just have to get the band sounding as good as I know we can so we can get it off the ground.
  7. I’m behind on my comic book reading.  Been keeping up with Batman and the Before Watchmen series…but slacking on almost everything else.  Been kinda busy lately, so that’s probably a factor…hope I can make up some ground soon and get all caught up.  I love comic books and I’m disappointed that I’ve cared so little lately.
  8. I had some GREAT Chinese food last week.  I had no idea that I loved Hunan Shrimp until now.  But I do.  And that’s going to happen again SOON.
  9. Been swamped at work…and that’s all I really have to say about it.  Just busy.
  10. Church has been fine.  Played guitar while Jeremy led worship last week.  Here’s the song list:
    • Famous One
    • We Are Hungry
    • Come Thou Fount
    • Revelation Song
    • Wonderous Cross
      Guitar Played – Stratacoustic
      T-Shirt Worn – RAMONES
  11. I find it sickening that the media and indeed the court system keeps referring to the Aurora shooter as the “suspect.”
  12. For the record…  My stance on guns:  The only reason to own a gun is if you plan to shoot it.  So I’ve got to ask…what are you planning to shoot at?  (And if you’re going to say you’re prepared to shoot at “bad guys” or “terrorists” or whatever…yeah.  Good luck with that.)
  13. Haven’t blogged about my stance on the Chick-Fil-A fiasco.  I covered it on Facebook and on my Tumblr page…but in brief, so it’s here too.  Their sandwiches suck, their fries suck, and their so-called morals suck.  I’m a Christian and I’m an eater…and I’ll take my business elsewhere.  And they don’t get to have hurt feelings.  They took a hardline stance on an issue most consider to be a human rights issue.  That just *might* cause some people to turn away from your product.  Lay in your bed, with your “first wives” (so they also hate anyone who is in their second marriage, by the way) and I’ll lay in mine.
  14. I’ve taken to wearing bandanas in the heat to keep the sweat out of my eyes.  Very Springsteen.
  15. I’m taking a small hiatus from Facebook/Twitter this week.  I’ve been responding angrily to posts made by friends recently, and that’s not really what I want to use social media for…so I’m stepping back until I think I can have fun with it again.  Probably just a couple days.
  16. I had the New Yorker from McAllister’s Deli last week.  It was so good I felt like I should apologize to it for eating it so hard.
  17. There’s a new Aimee Mann record coming out next month.  That makes me happy.  Then probably a little sad, because that’s the kind of song she writes…  But whatever!  Placing my pre-order!

And that’s it.  Maybe I’ll blog more since I’m going sans-Facebook for a few days.