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Heard Take Me Home on satellite radio earlier today. Because I owned No Jacket Required, naturally, Sussudio is now an ear worm.

Phil Collins, y’all!

You’re welcome.

I always wanted to be a DJ, from the days I listened to my Radio Shack FM radio all day long as a boy. The people pushing out the sounds always seemed to have a finger on a pulse. They seemed to connect to something. I imagined a depth and breadth of knowledge and a currency that I’m sure was impossible to attain in reality.

In the 90s I took a job at a record store, which in some ways was a sort of dream come true. I thought I knew about music. I was an avid consumer of what radio and MTV fed me. But it was then that my education began.

When techno and electronica hit, my DJ dream shifted. I wanted to play the records that moved the people in the moment. I have played with decks and mixers a teensy bit. I played with a friend’s collection of vinyl and did my best to beat-match records during a small gathering.

I’ve made lots and lots of mix tapes, that mostly no one has ever heard, but me.

What’s happened is I’ve collected a lot of music over time. I am infected by people who are enthusiastic about a genre or a scene.

Music is so powerful.

It is a giant river, life-giving and fertile like the Amazon or the Nile. Some of it is written down or recorded, where it lives in the vast ocean.

Just like I can’t read every book, I can’t hear every record.

I have been listening to a series of playlists generated by someone close to my own age, that span years including the four that I spent at the record store.

Boy, is it resurfacing old thoughts and ideas and dreams.

The cool part is I agree with many of the selections.

The cool part is I’m hearing songs I would have never heard, otherwise.

The cool part is there is always such good music.

If you do the Apple Music thing, I’m here and I like to share.

Listening to the Nineties, today.

The author of a sub-blog I follow produced a series of posts called Insanely Great Nineties Songs You Aren’t Sick Of. Start here if that speaks to you… He has a post per-year and links to YouTube videos of all of the songs he mentions.

I worked for a record store from the summer of 1990 to the summer of 1994 and these hit home for me. But fair warning, these are mostly not Top 40 song lists.

So there’s a music project called Lost Horizons—that I didn’t know about 30 minutes ago—that features former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde and Richard Thomas who has drummed with Dif Jus and Jesus and Mary Chain. Their In Quiet Moments album includes a track called Every Beat that Passed which is the most Cocteau-Twins-like music I have heard since… Cocteau Twins. This project is no attempt to return to that sound, but that track is spectacular. The tracks I have heard from the same album have a Saint Etienne vibe, in that the tracks recall the 60s and 70s.

Picked up the new Echodrone album Resurgence this morning. Their name describes elements I love from the shoegaze sound. Possibly a signature for them are the vocal harmonies that harken back to groups like The Byrds, or Ride, but of course nothing like either.

Blast from the past: it was fun to hear music from The 5th Dimension on CBS Sunday Morning. I was born after they were already popular, but I heard a lot of their songs before I know it was them.

Listening to a lot of Echodrone, today. Bought two albums and am excited for a new release next month.

Music saves.

I recently relistened to Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione. I was in search of the source of a sample. I was in the right era and close to my target, but this was a miss. Except, listening to the full album track, I really enjoyed the musicianship—not only of The Man Himself, but also of the full accompanying band. Now, of course, it’s my current ear worm.

You’re welcome.

Someone at work today made a clever reference to Whole Lotta Love, comparing project status to the middle section of the song.

So naturally, I have listened to Led Zeppelin II in it’s entirety. Working through Mothership as I write this.

Listened to Ulrich Schnauss’ single Asteroid 2467 and I was struck by how much it sounded like something Robin Guthrie might compose. If you agree with me or if you don’t, I’m thrilled because that is a frame of reference I’m happy to learn others share.

Listening to Wolfmother today.

They are a retro-looking blend of 70’s hard-rock, prog-rock and a little punk-rock. But with the vocal strength and musicianship to back it up. Not to mention cowbell and distorted organ.

I wish I could say I have been listening to them for a long time, but they came to me via a compilation from a friend. Today, I have been mining Apple Music for their back catalog.

Listening to Harry Styles’ Golden tonight, I hear Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute and Christopher Cross’ Ride Like the Wind

It’s because I’m old

I don’t know to which deity I owe the most thanks and praise, but I am grateful for the shoegaze genre and for Apple’s recommendation engine. I listened to a group called SPC-ECO on my commute this evening and loved it.

Do I start by genuflecting toward Grangemouth, Scotland?

Danse Macabre, Op. 40

My love affair with Danse Macabre began in elementary school. Mrs. Otten played Halloween songs on the piano and we sang from mimeographed lyric sheets.

I was introduced to parts of the melody via a song called the Halloween Song, which has stuck in my head ever since, because the refrain includes singing the letters that spell the holiday.

It sounded a lot like this YouTube. I’m certain my teacher played a copy of this very recording.

In music classes in later years we listened to the symphonic version while watching filmstrips of artistic conceptions of what the various parts of the music could represent.

Here’s a great article from CBC which includes some great background on the piece and some really enjoyable renditions including one for two pianos.

For me the piece is tied to Autumn and to All Hallow’s Evening, even though it wasn’t the intent of the composer.

Schools don’t track holidays the same way as they did, a long time ago. So for my daughter, I have work to do If I want this to stick.

Apple Music has generated a radio station based on my preferences. It is eerie to have me fed back to me, but also it’s on point.

Music is such a strange, personal journey. In my twenties I really didn’t think I could get enough fast, noisy techno. Today I’m seeking out shoegaze and dream pop at about half of the tempo. But still loud. Still has to be loud enough to feel.

I Get the News I Need from the Weather Report

The news can keep happening. That’s just fine.

I love the counterpoint between the refrain saying “Half of the time we’re gone, but we don’t know where…” and the backup singers singing “Here I am.”

The album Bridge Over Troubled Water, featuring the title track, came out in 1970, before I was two. I started listening to it in earnest when I was a teenager about ten years later. It’s still one of my favorite albums.

I’ve always enjoyed The Only Living Boy in New York, it stands out to me even as much as the more famous tracks.

Lyrics for The Only Living Boy in New York

Bridge Over Troubled Water on Wikipedia

Music Is a Time Machine

I listened to parts of two different albums tonight.

When I first listened to each album, my life couldn’t have been more different, emotionally. The albums were released only a few years apart, but one came during a happier time and another came during a dark descent.

Listening to each one, tonight, brought back places, names and faces.

Funny, the places one can travel, just by picking an album out of a list.

Pink Moon

There is no end to discovery in music.

I have been listening to _Pink Moon_ by Nick Drake on repeat for about the last two hours. Just the one song, which is something I rarely do.

I watched The Lake House on TV last night, and it was featured in the soundtrack. And I remembered that it was in Volkswagen convertible commercials a long time ago. Maybe ten years ago? I had assumed at that time that it was a current song by a current commercial artist. You know, because Volkswagen and Mitsubishi had been using Crystal Method, Dirty Vegas and Propellerheads tracks. I won’t lie: I have purchased albums on the basis of television commercials.

But hearing it again made it fresh and I was determined this time to find it and download it.

It’s not on the soundtrack album for The Lake House. Fortunately, IMDB lists the songs in the movie, in what I’m guessing is order of appearance.

I made a lot of wrong guesses as to which song it might be, because I didn’t think through the lyrics as they related to the song title. And I assumed incorrectly the song was from the late 90s.

SO. If he was still alive, I would owe Nick Drake an apology. And I find myself wondering what the rest of his œuvre is like. _Pink Moon_ is the title track of his third album, released in 1972. He didn’t live long enough to produce a fourth.

It’s a sweet, stripped down, two-minute song. Two guitars and a few notes on a piano, and a few lines of poetry repeated twice:

See also: Nick Drake Pink Moon 1972 Full Album

Kim and Jessie

Kim and Jessie is a song that I can easily put on repeat.

M83’s last two albums have been trending toward a sound that is very nostalgic for me, and this particular song is a stand out example.

Though the song was released in 2008, it is heavily evocative of mid-1980s groups like ’Til Tuesday, Flock of Seagulls, and Tears for Fears. If you played a string of Top 40 hits from 1985 or 1986, and slipped in Kim and Jessie, I think a lot of people would think it sounds similar and familiar. Whether that makes you die inside a little or makes you a little giddy is personal, of course.

The lyric is simple, and most of the song is repetition of the chorus:

Somebody lurks in the shadows
Somebody whispers
Somebody lurks in the shadows
Yeah, yeah, yeah

But the repetition of the lyric in the last part of the song really works for me, because it gives me a chance to notice the additional vocal parts and the simultaneous guitar solo which are layered subtly, not detracting from the melody but awaiting your attention.

I had not seen the video until just before writing this piece. While it doesn’t sync to the lyric, I think it tells a similar story that is equally open to interpretation.

Album information at M83’s official site
Video at Last.fm
Video at YouTube
Lyrics Sites

There Is No Bad Music, An Introduction

I don’t claim any special privilege, knowledge, education or access. Like many friends, and friends I haven’t met, I simply love music.

I got my first portable FM radio somewhere around the Christmas of 1978, and I have been trying to carry music everywhere with me ever since. It means that much to me.

In 1990 I went to work at a record store. You see, I thought I knew about music. I had been actively listening to radio and watching MTV and going to other record stores. I must have had a few hundred cassettes and dozens of LPs and dozens of CDs by then.

I found out that I didn’t know much. The next four years blew my head open, again and again. The reality was, despite what I knew, the information flowed in reverse: I was learning from customers and coworkers. I was forced to confront my many biases because they got in the way.

I learned that the amount of beautiful music never played on radio, never on TV shows, never in movies, never in clubs, is astonishing. In fact, it is overwhelming.

It is impossible to keep up, to keep current, to be aware of all scenes, or to keep just one scene alive.

Music is a vast and deep ocean. Changing a perspective just slightly cracks open new ways to appreciate what you hear, to develop a feel for where it came from and for why it must be. Look at genealogies and chronologies of influences and genres. Consider political movements, cultural identity and social issues. Look at how technology has affected everything: production, performance, distribution, storage, spectacle, and ultimately what it means to be an artist.

What is harder to explain, and what makes music so deeply personal, is that something in a musical passage that sends chills up your spine, the lyric that always makes your voice break, or that sound that insists that you must move.

I hope to write about all of those things. But I warn you I probably won’t do it in any sort of ordered or organized fashion. I hope to impart a sense of wonder. And I hope that I keep learning.

Note: Because Billy Joel once lamented “…You can’t get the sound because it’s only in a magazine…” (It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me from Glass Houses), I hope to provide links to lyrics and videos where they exist and when appropriate.