Here’s another in the series that could be titled “things I scribbled on the plane.” Yes, crankypants House fans, I did say I’d do my usual analysis of “Sex Kills”, and I will soon now that my head no longer feels like it will explode with the slightest exertion. But for now …
I completely stole this idea from a fellow Blogcritic Dave Nalle, who wrote Take Cover, My iPod’s on Shuffle! based on an idea he stole from another Blogcritic, Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, so that’s why I won’t be posting it there. Hmm, this is almost turning into a meme by people who don’t know how to do memes properly. The idea is this: I drowned out the noise of the plane and my snoring seatmate and put my iPod Shuffle on, well, shuffle, and then I ruminated on the first 10 songs I heard.
You have no idea how risky this endeavour was for me, with my seriously uncool dabbling in Barry Manilow, Roger Whitaker, the Irish Rovers, Neil Diamond, Cher, and Nana Mouskouri, for example. I’m even a little grateful none of my many alt-country songs shuffled by, since they always provoke my overly defensive “I don’t like country! This is alt-country!” explanation. Fortunately, none of the really embarrassing songs popped up. Unfortunately, I’ve just told you about them.
1. “Breath” by Swollen Members featuring Nelly Furtado
The first song and it’s not representative of my musical tastes, though I do have some Eminem, if that counts. But I adore Furtado’s voice and I admire the poetry of a lot of hip hop. There’s one little slice of lyric from this song I can’t get out of my head, for the rhythm and the sentiment: “Beautiful minds, trying to keep it independent in recruitable times.” Plus, it’s a local group so they’re my homies. Yeah, I really can’t get away with saying things like that.
2. “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens
There are advantages and disadvantages to never listening to the radio. The advantage is never having to listen to DJs, who provoke violent impulses in my normally pacifist self. Plus I am virtually immune to overexposed songs. The disadvantage is that I live in a cave when it comes to what’s out there I might like, beyond recommendations from friends and, increasingly, television and movie soundtracks. Sufjan Stevens’ folky-poppy album Illinois headed many Best of 2005 lists, however, which penetrated my cave and forced me to look beyond iTunes to buy the actual CD. This is one of my favourites on a new favourite album.
3. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt
This is one of those songs that makes others groan after having heard it for the million and second time, but I was happily oblivious, and have been known to sing as loudly as I do badly when it plays on repeat in the car. I refrained on the plane. The album Back to Bedlam was a gift from a friend and has other songs I prefer, but there’s something irresistible about this one, even if the supposedly romantic lyrics are impressively idiotic. I could summarize with: “I saw a pretty girl on the subway. The end.”
4. “Where Does the Good Go” by Tegan and Sara
Television has proven to be a great way for me to get introduced to catchy or evocative songs, and Grey’s Anatomy is a goldmine of music that fits my taste. This one is from the show’s soundtrack compilation. I’ve got some older stuff by Tegan and Sara, from when I lived in Calgary and they were an up-and-coming local act, but I hadn’t kept up with them. When their music showed up on Grey’s, I realized they must be doing fairly well.
5. “Say Something” by James
I’ve had this CD, Laid, for a long time and still love it. This isn’t my favourite track but I like it, especially the lyrics of a screwed up relationship, with the singer begging for a return of intimacy, or at least the illusion of intimacy. Most of their lyrics are about screwy relationships, and while I’m not a fan of actual bad relationships, they do make the best stories.
6. “Girlfriend in a Coma” by The Smiths
Another old favourite, with The Smiths’ patented twisted humour. I have a blander version by Joshua Radin, too, which I should delete at some point since it only makes me wish I were listening to the original. This song also makes me think of Douglas Coupland, who stole the title for one of his books with its own brand of patented twisted humour. I like twisted humour.
7. “A Puro Dolor” by Son by Four
Well, OK, this is one of those saccharine, highly embarrassing songs I was talking about, except I have some confidence no one will recognize it. I have it in two mixes – a ballad, and this more Latin-flavoured beat. But it’s catchy, and sometimes I have a shameful sweet tooth, and everything sounds better in Spanish anyway. It’s basically about a guy who won’t leave his poor ex alone and whines about the pain he’s in because they’re not together. Trust music, TV, and movies to make stalker-like behaviour seem romantic. [Oh god, I just found out there’s an English version when I went to look up the Amazon link. My confidence that no one will recognize it is slightly less now.]
8. “Home for a Rest” by Spirit of the West
I seem to have a lot of Canadian content here, though it’s not intentional. These guys are from … Winnipeg, I think? … though they have a vaguely Celtic sound on this song, the perfect vacation song:
“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best,
I’ve been gone for a month, I’ve been drunk since I left
These so-called vacations will soon be my death
I’m so sick from the drink I need home for a rest.”
It’s not quite accurate about my too-short LA vacation, or about my lightweight drinking abilities in general, though we had enough wine at the lovely Enoteca Drago restaurant that one of my friends broke the stem of her wineglass while making an overly emphatic point, and the martinis at Lola’s did lead to some interestingly uninhibited conversation.
9. Silent All These Years by Tori Amos
Starts with a poem by Leonard Cohen in his gravelly voice, then segues into the sweeter tones of Tori Amos. This is from a compilation called Rare on Air Volume One (selections from KCRW-FM music performances) which I’ve had forever. Or at the most since 1994, according to the copyright date. I’d never heard of KCRW when I got the CD, I just liked the mix of tunes, but now it has the interesting-only-to-me blog connection of being the home of Nic Harcourt, music supervisor of the sadly short-lived Love Monkey, which I’ve written about.
10. In the Deep by Bird York
Another deeply mellow song to finish it off. Fair enough, since mellow and depressing is probably the most accurate description of my overall musical taste. I first heard this song in an episode of House, another show that’s increased my iTunes collection, but it’s originally from Crash, which I saw shamefully late. Singer/songwriter and actress Kathleen Bird York was given the script early on and created it specifically for the themes of the movie. She had previously worked with writer and director Paul Haggis on Family Law, where she had a guest starring role and ended up writing music for the show as well. This may be completely coincidental, or maybe it’s why the song was used on his show, too, but David Shore, creator of House, worked on Family Law too. It’s a small world, huh? Or maybe that’s just proof that I can turn anything into a House anecdote with enough effort.