What Memes May Come

Sean has seen fit to tag me with a meme. So here it is:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

Oh, and howdy back.

Well, this is an interesting one; since I’ve been writing some songs over the last little while, I’m not listening to much. The way to do songs, at least for me, is to stay out of the immediate influence pool — except for live performances, which are always good to see. ‘Cause they’re not part of the influence pool, they’re part of the inspiration pool, natch…

‘Course, I haven’t been seeing much in the way of live bands lately, either. Just as it happens. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a bunch of music circulating in the big crappy Sargasso of my mind, even so…

1. Springer/Ducommun, “Sneaker” — this is a tune from a friend’s old jazz duo, “f.”, as the kids say, Coco Love Alcorn on this track…I just missed seeing Coco play this weekend, due to unavoidable logistical difficulties, so her lovely voice has been going around and around in my head the last couple of days. When Chris gave me a copy of the CD, last summer I think, I listened to it a couple of times, then asked him: “am I a sap for liking “Sneaker” best?” Reasoning that it was the most boring-guy friendly song on the record. He laughed.

2. New Pornographers, “Letter From An Occupant” — this is all Sean’s fault, because he put it up on Supervillain. Ah, the hometown heroes! They do some hooky, hooky records, don’t they? It must be five weeks later or something, and I still can’t get the thing out of my head, but according to the “limiting influences” rule, I’ve resisted spinning the disk.

3. Ween, “With My Own Bare Hands” — was washing dishes to this the other weekend. Throw in “Your Party” and “Object” as well, off the same album…my brother took me to a Ween concert last year, and I gotta say, it was pretty damn impressive.

4. Belle And Sebastian, “White Collar Boy” — how this damn thing got into my head again I’ll never know. I think it was three years ago, or was it four, that it was everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. And I’d actually rather be listening to Skylarking in my head, if it comes to things that shape the summer (having started swimming in the ocean, I consider it summertime now), but…always what gets me with this one is the looseness of it, the reliance on little vocal flourishes that lie more in the realm of accent than athletics: if you listen closely (at least, on my system) you can just hear that the phrase you think is “narrowly avoided” is actually pronounced “narra’la avoid-ded”, and for some reason that gets me every time. Not a masterpiece of structure, at least not vocally, it just crams a whole bunch of crap in there willy-nilly, and there’s something inordinately fascinating about that, for what it is. Also, I still can’t believe I listened to this for ages before I realized what the allusive intention was behind it — it takes me ages to distinguish lyrics well, so without a lyrics sheet I had no idea that I was listening to something that mashed together the story of Adam and Eve with The Defiant Ones…imagine that! I totally missed that for like, two months! And yet it’s just the sort of arbitrary play-for-play’s-sake that I like to engage in myself, so…

Yeah, I’ve got it stuck in my head, now.

5. Lemon Jelly, “Nice Weather For Ducks” — another oldie, and it just came up, I’m pretty sure as a direct result of reading too damn much Alan Moore all in a day. Seriously. Shortly after crossing into Promethea Book Four, it just started

6. The New Main Street Singers, “The Good Book Song” — I will never, ever get tired of listening to the soundtrack of A Mighty Wind, I think…I’m convinced all the actor-groups were told to go away and write three songs, one of which had to be sorta-kinda good (and the most mind-boggling thing about that to me is that I think The Folksmen’s “good” song is probably supposed to be “Skeletons Of Quinto” — HOLY SHIT!), but my second-favourite of all of these is “The Good Book Song”: always amazing, total madness.

Though my first favourite of all the Mighty Wind songs is, sadly, not on the CD: Catherine O’Hara’s solo effort “Sure-Flo”, which is some kind of work of genius or something.

7. Bauhaus, “She’s In Parties” — I can’t even explain why this song has suddenly resurfaced in my brain, I haven’t thought about it in years, and now I’m wondering why the hell I haven’t.

And, BONUS: three songs that all for totally different reasons are continually cycling in my brain — Slow‘s “Have Not Been The Same” (“Come here baby…give me a kiss…I want a target, a target I can’t miss”) because it’s awesome…the goddamn “Pina Colada Song” because, well, it’s a long story but suffice it to say I found myself singing it in the voice of a German conceptual artist several years ago, and now it SIMPLY WILL NOT GO!…and finally, “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, because…

Because…

Because maybe I had a fever at the time or something, that’s possible, and would probably explain a lot…but somehow or other one day I found myself thinking, “what if Talking Heads showed up to play a concert, but a whole bunch of their audio equipment wasn’t working?” Like, suppose that during “Psycho Killer” they’d planned to pour David Byrne’s vocals through the keyboard, or however they do that, to kind of get that Cher/Stephen Hawking effect? But then they find out too late that it won’t work, so instead of just not doing it they decide to improvise…David Byrne decides to try to create that effect by just plain singing funny:

“Zy-go-gee-la, gez-ger-zay-ee…brup brup brup brah, brup brup brup brup brah browww…”

And the crowd just stands there, going “wha…?”, as the band members cast worried glances at each other out of the corners of the eyes…

For some reason, I just CANNOT get that out of my mind.

Okay, now that my weird thought-processes have been thoroughly exposed, I’ll tag:

Jim

David

Prof and Gorj (although really, they’re already answering this meme on a pretty consistent basis)

Madeley

Johnny B.

Spot 1980

and Haute Corbeille (Haute Corbeille?), because he hasn’t been on the scene much lately. Well, neither has Spot, come to think of it…

Musical diversity? Not around here, buddy…but between these seven, there’ll probably be a bit more of it…

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13 responses to “What Memes May Come

  1. Attentive meme-taggers may notice there’s an artist and an album conspicuously absent from this list…

    Never fear, he’s on his way!

  2. Wait, they put out an album for Mighty Wind? Gotta get that.

    Weirdly I was just reading an article on the autotune voice thing:
    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2008/06/09/080609crmu_music_frerejones?printable=true

    But hey, Billy West can do that with his own crazy voice – I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for David Byrne.

    Sorry about embedding the New Pornos in your brain. Cot Damn they are catchy. I mean even on all the various solo albums.

    Great list. Looking at mine, it’s all “I like this because it makes this noise” and yours is much more articulate, and well, good. Way to show me up. And I’m dying to see him show up here.

  3. Oh, then you haven’t heard “Skeletons Of Quinto”? I can never listen to that without laughing my ass off at Christopher Guest’s Spanish — it’s simply beyond deadpan, and made even better by the whole build-up in the movie…it’s their worst song, the other two hate it, it’s too long, and then they have to fill time on stage so they launch into it…but never hit the starting gate. So, that’s comedy, for sure; you wonder how much of the bit was extemporized once they had the actual song, finally. “And then…we never play it!” “Ha, great! Or no…waitaminute, oh my God, we need to do a soundtrack, and then it can be like the sixth track, what would’ve been last-song-second-side in the vinyl days…” “Oh my God, you’re right!” Also, y’know, they’ve got The Folksmen doing their cover of “Start Me Up” on there…anyway the whole thing’s great, except why no “Sure-Flo”, damn it Guest?!?

    Interesting article, though a bit short for the New Yorker! As to Billy West…

    Hey, weren’t we talking about a voice-actor’s meme just a little while ago?

    I was sort of appalled while I was doing this, that I had nothing very far off the beaten track in it — I mean, you’d think I would at least be listening to some Captain Beefheart occasionally or something, for the love of God was that not a life-goal of mine in university, to listen to more Beef…? I feel like I just barely escaped having to put Crocodile Rock and My Generation and Ain’t Too Proud To Beg on this list…

  4. Not all the songs from A Mighty Wind were written by their performing artists; for instance, “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” was by McKean and his wife Annette O’Toole. But “When You’re Next to Me” actually is by Eugene Levy, and listen closely to that lead vocal of his, next time you do. He’s not singing in character or as a pastiche, that’s just straight up singing, you know? That man has a dignity folks who see him in teen comedies with Queen Latifah are just never going to know. I always feel the biggest absence from the CD is the New Main Street Singers cover of “Never Did No Wanderin” which I like better than the original.

  5. Of course you’re right, RAB…and if I’m remembering right they did the NMS Singers’ “Sail Away”, too, another batshit insane song. I really like to imagine them sitting down to do these, actually: “Better put out a couple extra bottles of wine with dinner, honey — remember we have to write another Mighty Wind song tonight”…like, I wonder who plays the guitar and who writes things down, stuff like that.

    You listen a little bit to the commentary track on Mighty Wind and you get the powerful feeling that Eugene is a much sharper and dry-humoured and more serious guy than he even lets on when he’s performing his best stuff…like for example his performance in this movie…and of course it’s so easy for us to forget who performers are and what they do…can’t remember when it came up, but there was something about some actor singing or dancing in some production or other, and a friend of mine expressed surprise that they could do it, but then my idea was: man, it’s pretty easy to see someone do a guest-shot on some crappy show and then imagine they’re as simple as the show is, isn’t it? Hell, Danny DeVito can probably tap-dance…

    Well, rather the same thing as discovering that Michael McKean, Lenny on Laverne and Shirley, is this guy with boatloads of talent, eh?

    As to the NMS cover of “Wanderin'” — yeah, how come that isn’t on there too? Damn it…maybe they all wrote five or six songs apiece, and we just don’t know they exist…

  6. It’s been a little bit since I’ve seen Mighty Wind. Never quite caught on in my house the way that Dog Show and Spinal Tap did. I’ve got to see that movie again.

    AS for feeling bad about picking songs, don’t sweat it. I feel the same way. And it’s bothering me more because almost immediately after posting mine, I switch over to a completely different set of songs. And it’s a lot cooler to talk about the Lil Wayne or Deerhunter albums that just leaked than the same damn Radiohead song. And I had to fire up the search engine to check some of your selections anyway. So your not being as obvious as you think.

    That voice actors meme was a pretty good idea, wasn’t it?

  7. Today I have Boom Shake the Boom by DJ Fresh Jazzy Prince or whatever the hell Will Smith used to be called going round my head on a damn loop. It’s probably for reasons like that that nobody ever tags me.

  8. Pingback: PrettyFakes » Blog Archive » 7 Songs Shaping the Summer·

  9. 1. Little Old Lady From Pasadena (Jan and Dean) – one of the greatest songs ever written about a member of the Lost Generation
    2. the dramatic doo-doo-doot-doot that plays in the John Wayne movie ‘The Hellfighters’ whenever the phone rings and they’re about to be called into action
    3. That’s How You Know (Amy Adams, from the ‘Enchanted’ OST)
    4. the untitled ditty from the children’s book ‘The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars’
    5. Snuggle Puppy (Eric Stoltz, from the ‘Philadelphia Chickens’ OST)
    6. Ourselves to Know (Warren Zevon) – Zevon is a little more insightful about the Boom Generation than he probably meant to be
    7. Life Is a Highway (I forget who did the version I mean. Not Tom Cochrane.) – Not through Dalhousie, New Brunswick it’s not

    I need to listen to more music on my own behalf.

  10. Yow, guess I missed this! But fear not, birthday boy, I’ve found it now.

    1.”We Do Not Fuck Around” by Viva Voce. It’s such a bombastic tune by such a musically shameless duo. What I mean is, listening to their songs, they seem to be willing to include any sound that strikes them as cool even if the effect is total cheese.

    2. “Furry Green Atom Bowl” by Robyn Hitchcock. This thing gets stuck in my head far more often than I’m comfortable with. It just makes nuclear paranoia so darn quaint. It’s like a TV commercial jingle. “and the black was hungry when it came down, so it et the world for miles arou-wow-nd.” It should not be that much fun.

    3. “Pale Horse” by John Vanderslice. Well it’s snippets of Shelley’s “The Mask of Anarchy” set to a really driving and chant-worthy tune. What’s not to love?

    4. “Oceanographer’s Choice” by the Mountain Goats. The dysfunctional love, it stings, but stings do what they do because they are fine-tipped, concentrated, and accurate. Also it’s got such a groove to it.

    5. “We’re all Gonna Die” by Malcolm Middleton. I never really was that interested in Arab Strap, but Middleton’s solo stuff is great. It’s the hilarious side of depressive self-absorption. And his vocal delivery is just so relentlessly Scottish.

    6. “If Looks Could Kill” by Camera Obscura. This makes the list because it is my summer driving song. What a great riff! What a biting chorus lyric! And a perfect bridge. A bridge! For driving over, see?

    7. “Freedom” by Paris (featuring Dead Prez and Public Enemy). Okay, this is clearly not something people would expect me to like. But there it is. It’s got a great beat, a truly revolutionary theme, and a love of community combined with a willingness to work to protect it–I just really can’t say enough good things about it. The whole thing’s an emphatic “Yeah!” from me.

    So there’s my list. My next big musical challenge will be to see if I can just listen to something and like it, and have that be enough. We’ll see.

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