When I don’t know what to listen to I have a couple of handfuls of albums I listen to that I know will keep my attention and require little commitment of thought.
Kill the Moonlight is one of the aforementioned and this made me briefly think of you. This also gave me a reason to open up a word document and quite literally use you to un-board myself. And because of this, it made me mull something over that may be interesting to you and two or three other people I know – not that there aren’t others ironing their favorite tie while listening to Cream or Interpol or even the Ramones that wouldn’t also find this interesting – it’s just that I don’t know them and I don’t want to, because anyone ironing a tie while listening to Ramones has to find another job or at least a second job that will make them satisfied.
But I don’t think everyone has two handfuls of albums they can listen to when they don’t feel like deciding what to listen to. I assume you aren’t one of these people and I encourage you to play this little game yourself – how many CD’s would you grab at and both have memorized the content and not care that that content may not in anyway be pertinent to the present situation.
I’ve driven on a sun-drenched desolate road on the rural side of Waldo County Maine, wind lining in through the sunroof across my forehead and forking out the front and rear open windows, and listened to Johnny Cash kill himself with a smile on his face. I can study to Rusted Root without losing my place on the page. I can wake up to Rage and eat breakfast with the Times without making that lacquered plaster/aluminum scratch a knife makes when it’s handler is too emotionally angry to not look ridiculous while sitting at table.
Now this might be a point in which you think, how terrible. He doesn’t find emotion in music. That is anti-symptomatic of music lover’s plight. But you didn’t let me finish. I’ve also sang to a bartender, ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me,’ because she scathed at me to stop studying her breasts and spent the rest of the night repeating the inspirational words, ‘people of the sun, it’s coming back around again,’ again and again.
[there is a large blank space here in which I think I was supposed to make an argument – I didn’t, so just keep reading and don’t think so much]
My possibly complete, but it’s unlikely, list of all-purpose CD’s:Kill the Moonlight, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Ten, August and Everything After, Rage Against the Machine, Hot Fuss,Graceland, The Concert in Central Park, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, American Beauty, Elephant, London Calling, Billy Breathes, Hoist, A Quick One,Tough Gong, Mellow Gold, Audioslave, Purple, Nirvana Unplugged, Kristofferson, Appetite for Destruction, Funeral, Best of the Talking Heads, White Blood Cells and Is This It (that was fun, you should really try it).
I count 26 – which is extremely weird because that is my lucky number, and the lucky number of every rugby player to go through [edited] in the last 15 years (the rugby house is on 26 [edited] Street; one time Waldo Italiani won $3200 by betting variations of 26 on Keno the first time he ever played Keno; I’ve won perhaps $3000 betting 26 at Foxwoods, etc.). I’ll take a minute or more to explain the roots of when each of my choices became untouchably important:
I became obsessed with Kill the Moonlight when I was at [edited] and the schlockrod (the name of the blue olds cutlass sierra I beat to the ground) was stuck in as now bank on the bottom of the driveway at 26. I traded time shoveling around the car and sheltering myself from the 10 degree weather inside the warmth of the schlockrod. I listened carefully to Spoon while I watched liquid dirt seep through the floorboards of the car – and was both moved by the music and the previously unknown phenomenon of melted snow’s ability to enter a car through its bottom.
Bowie b/c no one can understand what it’ll be like for the world to end and thought experiments make me strangely contented.
Ten because the first time I remember saying ‘fuck’ in front of my father was when [edited] and I were in Maine in October putting the dock in the water and jumping into the lake while singing ‘Even Flow.’ And because without that album I’d be a completely different person and probably love Justin Timberlake.
The Counting Crows because I actually can admit I cried at their concert and because I was caught by a Jones Beach Park Ranger having sex with [edited] in the front seat of my car outside the aforementioned concert (which reminds me: were you at that Alman’s concert when the beer cooler broke and a man yelled ‘beer for all’ and40 people swarmed and scavenged all the beer Olie bought at Sunny’s?).
Rage because I like to pretend they were special to me when I was younger, but actually I was scared of what they were saying, and only later when I was in Barcelona for the first time and I read the lyrics in full to ‘Fuck the Police’on the side of a wall did I think that maybe this was a band I could now identify with.
The Killers for obvious reasons to any one of us who has soul but isn’t a soldier.
Paul Simon because he was one of the few artist that my whole family could agree upon when driving to Maine as a child (Billy Joel, Meatloaf and the Carpenters are the other), and I thought even then that mixing music from two completely different cultures successfully deserves merit (Graceland) and I thought it was cool that my parents would let us listen to him when he would say ‘lose joints’in public (The Concert in Central Park). And I have a distinct memory of telling one of my mom’s friends that Richard Cory was my favorite song because he happened to put a bullet in his head – and it taught me at a young age that Republicans aren’t all happy with their lives. And I learned a lot about my mother when she thought the Boxer taking comfort in the arms of a prostitute was understandable and not deplorable.
The Flaming Lips because as I mentioned with Bowie, thought experiments and albums that tell a story are made to be listened to all the way through.
The Dead because I literally watched my metal-head devil worshiping sister and brother take a u turn and idolize the habits of Jerry Garcia rather than Gene Simons.
The White Stripes because without them, the Goo Goo Dolls (or their inspired replacement) would probably still be considered the best band in American Rock. And because Jack White speaks to relationships the way I think about them in my head when I’m alone but would never say to the one I love at the time.
The Clash because discovering them was discovering that I liked music.
Phish because I hadn’t smoke pot until just after college because I detested drugs because my family had been so affected my them, but wanted to partake –so I just went to Phish shows and got contacts highs – seriously. And because [edited] wrote his essay to get into Hopkins while high drinking a handle of rum while in a hotel room in Auburn, Massachusetts before a concert.
The Who because they figured out operettas could be put to rock music and the aforementioned albums by Bowie and the Flaming Lips would have never have happened otherwise. And because I’ve never been one to put posters on my wall, but I had a Who poster on my wall junior year.
Marley because finding peace is something I’ve always idolized, because I have no idea how to do it.
Beck because I found something that my parents wouldn’t let me play in their house.
Audioslave because I felt angry and they let me be angry and discover emotions at the same time.
STP because I learned how to rock out to them.
Nirvana because they changed my life and they’re the most important band of our generation
KK because he kept me sane while studying for med school tests – and allowed me to feel alone because no med student knows who he is.
GnR because they were the only band that my sister made me listen to that I actually wanted to listen to (and Pink Floyd – but I was too scared to sit through a whole album when I was 6).
The Arcade Fire b/c Bowie says so, but also because they represent something entirely new to me even though they use concepts that are entirely unnew; and they sing a song about Haiti so I guess now I’m obliged.
The Talking Heads because the way they get weird is the same way I like to get weird at 4:30AM.
The Strokes because they (along with the aforementioned WS) changed rock for the better – and I once drank a fifth of JD with [edited] listening to the album for the first time – and they were the first band I saw on Conan that hadn’t yet released a major album and then did because of their appearance and so I started to like Conan a whole lot more.
Maybe I’m right and am special for trying to find 26 albums I can listen to in any situation; maybe I’m wrong and am even more special for trying.(I blame this email on Chuck Klostermann; I’ve now actually read every word he’s written in a book and I still like him – this makes me question if I might not like myself)