Queen 15

So with my Queen collection having been completed at Christmas (thanks again, Dad!), I’ve made myself a couple of Queen playlists. One is ridiculosly long and features songs no one cares about except for idiots like me (you’re goddamn RIGHT “Body Language!”). The other was more focused, and I’m going to share it with you now. On this list, I limited myself to using ONLY ONE song per each of their 15 albums. So I’m leaving off some of the obvious ones because there were others that I either like better or worked better. Only a couple of the choices picked themselves. Even still, it’s a pretty good list. (Listed song-title first, with album in parenthesis.)

Queen – Once Upon a Song:

1. “Now I’m Here” (Sheer Heart Attack)
2. “Breakthru” (The Miracle
3. “Seven Seas of Rhye” (Queen II)
4. “You Take My Breath Away” (A Day at the Races)
5. “Is This the World We Created…?” (The Works)
6. “Mother Love” (Made in Heaven)
7. “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera)
8. “Flash’s Theme” (Flash Gordon–really the only choice on the record, even though “The Hero” is also passable.)
9. “Under Pressure” (Hot Space)
10. “Who Wants to Live Forever” (A Kind of Magic)
11. “The Show Must Go On” (Innuendo)
12. “Keep Yourself Alive” (Queen I)
13. “Bicycle Race” (Jazz)
14. “Save Me” (The Game)
15. “We Are the Champions” (News of the World)

I desperately wanted to put two tracks from a couple of the records on there. Difficult to use “Champions” but NOT “We Will Rock You” right before it. Terrible having to leave off “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Hammer to Fall” and “One Vision” and even “I Want to Break Free” etc…but one song is one song. And those were my choices. If you disagree, so do I. 🙂

Up next…the annual TOP TEN RECORDS list!

Yearly Memorial – This Year I Found My Own Tone

Long time readers of the blog will recall that I take a moment every Christmas Eve to remember my friend Paul, who died on this date several years ago. So…

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Still miss you Paul. Listening to your band right now. This year, I abandoned my attempts to capture your bass tone and came up with something new. I never would’ve found yours…and I think you’d like the tone I’ve arrived at.

Thanks again for making me feel like I was PART of something years ago when I’d come to your gigs and you’d let me play your bass a while. Can’t tell you what that meant and continues to mean. Very sorry I didn’t call when you were still here. We’ll need to hang out when I get there, I guess.

Merry Christmas, Paul.

And Merry Christmas everyone!

Seven Reasons I Love The Who

Last post was super heavy about stuff that makes me sad… So now I’m going to write a post about something that makes me happy. And there are few things in life that make me feel happier or stronger than The-by-God-WHO. So, I present (likely with typos my phone will not catch)…

SEVEN SHORT REASONS I LOVE THE WHO:

1. The music–obviously. Catchy, but complicated. On the surface level, they’re simple. But once you dig in, you find a delicate jigsaw puzzle of melodies and chord structures that DEFINE “complicated.” And the lyrics…good God the lyrics! In high school, any time I felt like no one understood who I was or what I was about, I’d throw on “Quadrophenia” and I felt like at least The Who got it.

2. The anarchy. Wether smashing the equipment, driving cars into hotel pools, blowing up the Smothers Brothers, or just plain-old breaking new musical ground…who doesn’t love a little mayhem?

3. The bass. The bass is often overlooked in most bands…but once you start listening to The Who and figure out that “ALL OF THAT is coming from ENTWISTLE?!?” it’ll change the way you think about the instrument.

4. I love concept records. And The Who gives you plenty of them.

5. Roger Daltrey’s chest. You heard me.

6. The DANGER of their live sets. You never know/knew what was going to happen. Keith might blow up the stage. Pete might hit Abbie Hoffman over the head with a guitar–or just SAY something so goddamn irresponsible you question his sanity. Roger might swing the microphone into the stars. Or they might completely fall apart…when the music works, it’s gold, but when they don’t synch up just right, it’s a trainwreck. And I love that. The Who just sound like danger to me.

7. Everything else.

Further Addressing the Elephant in the Room: An Apologetic

Got some stuff I’ve needed to get off my chest since Friday… For those who need it, this post comes with a potential “trigger warning.” Shit kind of gets real here.

People who know me know that I’m particularly “quirky” about kids. Most of my friends think I don’t like kids. And sure, I often find kids irritating, or loud, or inexplicably sticky…but “don’t like” is a little harsh. I don’t WANT kids, and I’m not accustomed to looking after them. But “don’t like” isn’t necessarily fair.

But when you say you “don’t want kids,” people assume there’s something wrong with you. They assume you’re the type of dead-inside, selfish (for some reason), joyless person that harbors an active dislike toward children. And after hearing so many people throw that at me, I play that up a little bit, partly because I think it’s funny. Or if nothing else, it’s expected. And it’s just EASIER than talking about it. I’d rather be dismissed for being what I’m not than pitied for–well, for the things I’m about to write…

I don’t hate kids. I just don’t WANT them. When people look past the facade, they sometimes ask me why.

Answer: In the stark, horrible reality that has settled in after what happened in Newtown…can you really blame me?

This world is a terrible place, and I’m not a very strong person–despite what some people might think of me. I’m emotionally very weak. Somewhat fortunately, that weakness often manifests in eccentric ways…but inside, where it counts, there’s not a very strong person there. I have not stopped being sad since hearing about the kids at Sandy Hook. It’s solidified my desire not to have any kids of my own. I just wouldn’t be able to take it if that happened to one of MY kids, if I ever had them. So I’m trying not to.

I have kids in my life that I care about…and kids that I HAVE cared about…and sadly, I’ve been to funerals for children before. (Most notably for a couple of kids I knew who were killed in a car crash.) When that happened, I was unprepared to see caskets that…fucking small. It wasn’t right. It isn’t right. I stopped believing in God for a few weeks after that. We’ve had something of an on-again-off-again relationship ever since, in fact. In my stronger times I realize that I can’t blame HIM for something a human did. In my weaker, I wonder why He–even HE–couldn’t have done something about it. (At present, I feel like He’s listening, but not really holding up His end of the conversation–for the record…)

And my nieces and my nephew. Sometimes when I look at them, it breaks my heart. They’re so beautiful, and sweet, and kind…and this world isn’t. And they’re going to figure that out. And I hate it, because I love them.

And then a madman goes into a school with a gun and kills 20 kids. And also the brave, wonderful teachers we’ve been hearing so much about. I come from teachers. My dad’s a retired teacher. My mom was a teacher and died during a school year–and the school had to figure out how to explain it to the kids, who went home crying because that’s the day they figured out that the world sucks. My dad’s girlfriend (who has–interestingly enough–been in my life for more years than Mom was) is a retired elementary school principal, who still does work in the district. My sister in law is a teacher. My mom’s side of the family is OVERFLOWING with teachers. Some of my close friends are or have been teachers. Hell…even Iworked at a college. Could’ve been any of us…still could be, I guess.

I live in fear of getting one of those phone calls. Actual fear. And I live in fear of if the person next to me in the restaurant or the movie theatre has a gun strapped to their side that they might pull…and…and…

And I don’t want kids. I don’t want to raise a child in this world. I don’t want a child to become PART of this world–especially this country. And I’m terrified for the kids I love that are sitting in schools right now.

Even just last night, I went with my dad to see the Hobbit. Good movie…but that’s not the point. We were in a theatre with about 30 or less people. Down the asile, a woman had brought a young child with her–presumably her daughter. In the quieter parts of the movie, you could hear the girl talking–fairly loudly. The movie was too grown-up for her and she didn’t care about it, so she was chattering away. Eventually, the kid nodded off and I saw the (again, presumed) mother carrying her out of the theatre. Normally that kind of thing would get so far under my skin it would ruin the movie. I’d say shameful things about the parent and go on a tirade about how children shouldn’t be allowed in public if they don’t know how to be quiet, etcetcetc…

Not this week, bless her. Not. This. Week.

I don’t think I’d be a very good parent, to begin with. I’m not very responsible. I’m tired all the time. I have my mother’s patience. And yes, I do often find children frustrating. But I also find them heartbreaking. And I find it devastating when even ones I don’t know have their lives cut short. And I couldn’t take that. I don’t even like it when an adult YELLS at a kid, who was just trying to have fun…

So you’ll pardon me if I play up the facade, play into the stereotype, or if it seems somehow out of place to you that I’m so downright depressed or angry over the events in Newtown–and I refuse to accept that there was some “reason why” the gunman did this–there was NO FUCKING REASON apart from intentional evil. If it seems out of place, it’s because I’d rather play into the stereotype. I don’t like talking about this…but in a world with this kind of evil, I’m starting to think it’s a damn good explanation. And I just wanted to throw it out there.

Sorry for the heavy tone, dear readers (if any). I promise I’ll post something stupid before Christmas.

Music Under Consideration

Right.  So we’re getting close to the yearly “Top Ten” list, aren’t we?  VERY close, in fact!  But we’re not there yet.  First, I want to share with you just how hard it was to choose from MANY great options.

Following is a list of new music I’ve bought this year–and three I haven’t bought, but will soon because I’ve heard bits of them.  The listing is followed by the arbitrary “grade” I’d give the record, with no explanation of why.  I’ll explain a few of them when we get to the ACTUAL “Top Ten” (or so–it MIGHT have to go to 15!), but for now there’s just a “grade” for each one.  

Presented in Alphabetical Order (more or less–this is how Microsoft Excel ordered it).  And keep in mind that just because a record is given an “A,” that doesn’t necessarily immediately get it into the Top Ten!

  • …and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: “Lost Songs” – B+
  • Aimee Mann: “Charmer” – B+
  • Alabama Shakes: “Boys & Girls” – A
  • Alanis Morissette: “Havoc and Bright Lights” – C+
  • Antony and the Johnsons: “Cut the World” – A
  • Beach Boys: “That’s Why God Made the Radio” – Haven’t heard ALL of it yet, but what I’ve heard is a definite A.
  • Billy Talent: “Dead Silence” – A
  • Bob Dylan: “Tempest” – Haven’t heard ALL of it yet (it’s on my Christmas List), but from what I’ve heard, I’m thinking B, with a possibility of going higher or lower, depending on the rest of the album.
  • Bob Mould: “Silver Age” – A
  • Bro. Stephen: “Baptist Girls” – C+
  • Bruce Springsteen: “Wrecking Ball” – B+
  • Corrosion of Conformity: “Corrosion of Conformity” – B
  • Foxy Shazam: “The Church of Rock and Roll” – A
  • Godspeed You! Black Emporer: “Alleluia! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” – Haven’t heard all of it, but what I’ve heard sounds like it should.  Going with a B until I get the record.
  • Heartless Bastards: “Arrow” – A
  • Hospitality: “Hospitality” – B-
  • Leonard Cohen: “Old Ideas” -A
  • Mark Lanegan Band: “Blues Funeral” – A
  • Metric: “Synthetica” – A
  • Mumford & Sons: “Babel” – A
  • OFF!: “OFF!” – A
  • Patterson Hood: “Heat Lightening Rumbles in the Distance” – B-
  • Punch Brothers: “Who’s Feeling Young Now?” – C
  • Reverend Horton Heat: “25 to Life” – B-
  • Rufus Wainwrignt: “Out of the Game” – A
  • Rush: “Clockwork Angels” – A
  • Sharon Van Ettan: “Tramp” – A
  • Tenacious D – “Rize of the Fenix” – B
  • The Lumineers: “The Lumineers” – C-
  • Willie Nelson: “Heroes” – B-

And that’s what I’ve got to choose from!  Tough list this year!

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…and there’s no good time to mention what happened in Newtown yesterday, and no appropriate post to write, especially since I’m limited in my writing ability right now.  And maybe that’s best.  I found yesterday’s events profoundly shattering, and I am grateful to know that no matter where we all stand on the political ramifications (if any), we ALL seem to at least share the horror and sadness.  As it should be.  Humans should be better than that, and I am comforted to know that so many of us ARE.  My thoughts, prayers, and tears are with those poor, heroic teachers, parents, and beautiful children.  

TEACHERS ARE HEROES.  Now let’s stop making them prove it.

Top…ffffffffffffive???

I had dinner with a friend on Tuesday and during the course of the conversation, he asked me what my top five “go-to” records are. Tough question–as I said at the time.

I listen to a lot of music. A LOT. Only FIVE??? I need more information for a question like that. What time of year is it? Is it raining? Snowing? Am I happy or sad or hungry or have I had too many tacos and topped it off with an ill-advised Guinness? There are just too many factors to answer that fairly!

I think I babbled my way into naming four…three of which I doubted immediately. The only one I’m sure of is The Who’s “Quadrophenia.” Better if I just give a list of artists (not even albums, just artists) I would CONSIDER. And even this probably contains some pretty major oversights.

So here’s the list: (Please note that I’m typing this from a phone app and I’m trying something that I THINK will correctly indent the list, but it could do anything, really. So bear with me if it’s all flashing or something.)

    1. The Who (obviously)
    2. Drive-By Truckers
    3. David Bowie
    4. Bruce Springsteen
    5. Pink Floyd
    6. Styx (a secret shame)
    7. Pearl Jam
    8. Cheap Trick
    9. Dream Theater
    10. Queensryche
    11. Queen
    12. Rush
    13. Dave Brubeck–may he rest in peace
    14. Miles Davis
    15. Johnny Cash
    16. Aimee Mann
    17. Michael Penn
    18. RAMONES
    19. Sex Pistols
    20. Descendents
    21. Iron Maiden
    22. Motörhead
    23. Lou Reed
    24. Frank Zappa
    25. U-2
    26. Iggy Pop
    27. Tree by Leaf
    28. Rich Mullins
    29. Neil Young
    30. Velvet Underground
    31. Pixies
    32. Leonard Cohen
    33. Ray Davis
    34. Beatles (?)
    35. Madison Greene
    36. Michael Manring
    37. Misfits

…and that’s my top five. Happy, Lucas?