I was talking with a friend the other day and she told me “Why is it all the music you listen to either morbid, kinda angry, or just…strange? Do you ever listen to anything, I don’t know, fun?” Of course, I think all my music is fun which is why I like it so much.
However her tastes, like most peoples’ (at least compared to mine), are much closer to main-stream and this did get me thinking that maybe my music tastes make me seem snobby.
I will admit to snobbery in my consumption of media in general but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few songs that I hate that I love that I’m fairly sure everyone knows. In an effort to forward my (fairly) radical honesty agenda, I’ve decided to share with you a playlist of songs that I rarely admit to really loving.
I never really got into “break up” songs because like I always felt like that would kind of ruin the song for me because of the association however when I was working in a catering kitchen they’d play this one song on the radio. A lot.
The kitchen was really loud with over 70 employees all chopping vegetables and clanging pots and chef’s yelling across the yawning expanse of the biggest kitchen I have ever worked in. This amalgamation of noises plus my generally failing hearing (I listen to music too loud, I go to shows and hug the giant bass speakers, I am aging gracefully but my ears are compensating) I could ever only catch one lyric which captured the spirit of my wonder-lust, which is frequently fueled by a certain sense of discomfort.
“This guy decides to quit his job and heads to New York City
This cowboy’s running from himself”
“Riptide”, Vance Joy
In that same chaotic kitchen I heard another song that I liked but similarly could only catch one line of.
“we don’t talk about it”
“Stolen Dance”, Milky chance
That lyric paired with the upbeat positive melody gave me the most wonderful mental image of a guy in real emotional turmoil but dancing along with a big smile on his face, not wanting to talk about it.
I liked the guy’s strange rough voice and the acoustic guitar so much that when I finally figured out what song I was hearing, I found that he has one other song I liked too.
It was this music video that kept me coming back. I like the colours. And his hair. Like that mane is glorious.
Years before finding all these songs I lived in this literally haunted house in South City St Louis off Compton St(1) with four other guys. We used to have this game where we would take turns putting things on youtube, from songs to mechanical videos, and when you wanted to have the wireless keyboard passed to you, you’d ask “Can I drive for a moment?”
The two brothers who I got on best with fucking LOATHED this song so naturally I couldn’t admit to liking it but it wormed it’s way into my heart. It hit’s too many buttons not to. The horns, San Francisco, being in love with the concept of love, it melted my cold black heart (that’s been torn apart).
There was a time when I was working in a grocery store deli(2) and they had this radio that had a stagnant playlist: the same 15 songs for the 18 hours of operation 7 days a week. It was brutal. However in the back of house, we had our own radio which was usually set to something like Z107.7, the St Louis pop station, and this one song would come one and it had this like pop ska sound to it which that I just could not get enough of.
The song reminds me of the game Shadow of the Colossus.
Year’s later I was working in Jimmy John’s, an American sandwich shop, and Jimmy Radio(3) would consistently surprise me with music good music from all over the spectrum plus some really obscure songs that I have never heard before or since outside of that place. This is one of those songs:
I know it’s one of those hipster chorus songs but it has this strange sound that I can’t identify but I really like. That “ewooo ewoo” synth sound like an electric kazoo or something.
I’ll leave you with one last song. This song, like the rest in this list, takes me back to a time when things were different. A time when I could drink reasonably (sometimes), a time when the world still felt small enough for me to conquer but big enough that if given free roam I would never get bored, a time before all my friends went to the angry winds. It was a time when I was deep in a bro-mance with my best friend of 15 years and we were had “our songs”, something I’ve never shared with a lover for the same reason why I avoid break up songs, and this was one of those songs. I listen to this song when I miss that guy, that time, that time-feel.
I have more than enough of these cringe songs to make another Cringe List but I’ve spent way too much time in the past today.
- I still joke sometimes “I ain’t scared. I’m straight outta Compton.” Before I left St Louis for England, I wanted to get a jumper that read “Straight Outta St Louis” because I read this story once that a St Louis native in Oregon actually fended off a would-be mugger because he said “Man, I ain’t scared of you. I’m from St Louis.” Being effective due to our city’s reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in America and #15 Most Dangerous City in the World.
- I ate so many cheese scraps, they were literally scraps that we could not sell so I don’t feel bad, that when I left I was placed on the “Do not rehire” list but I don’t want to meet the monster who can throw away collective kilos of Havariti and Extra Sharp Cheddar and Provel among others. I love cheese, probably more than some people in my life, which is also one reason why I suspect I have a hard time meeting a partner.
- I’m serious, the official name for the corporate approved radio station was called “Jimmy Radio”.
Normally I try to ignore these sort of things but I do have an opinion on the issue and I think that it’s worth talking about because I believe it talks to a deeper systematic issue of rising intolerance.
Now I can guess anyone reading this might think “But Fin, what do you know about cooking? You’re a self-described microwave chef!”(1)
I deny nothing. However I am a guy who knows how to eat and I’ve watched a lot of Good Eats over the years and I’ve learned a thing or two.
“Sweet and Salty” is a very legitimate flavour combination. Think chocolate covered pretzels, or maple candied bacon, or a personal favourite: salted caramel(2). Fruit jam and cheese parings are a well established thing.
If my opinion isn’t enough, Alton Brown (host of Good Eats) has my back:
“I don’t want people saying what should or should not be on a pizza,” Brown told People. “You put anything on a pizza you damn well feel like.”
Now that we have that obnoxious business out of the way, I want to discuss (briefly) about what this sort of “debate” and the attention it’s garnered is telling me about the current state of affairs.
In today’s climate binary social/cultural systems of classification are being legitimately deconstructed. With deconstruction comes confusion and from confusion comes a need for understanding and what helps with understanding? Labels and categories.
However as much as a label can help classify a person’s identity, political/social stance, or a relationship status, it has the equal power to inhibit truly deep understanding of what is being labeled by simplifying the subject in question into a word with it’s own denotation(s) and connotation(s) that may or may not at all aid in deep understanding of the subject.
In an effort to help “resolve” mis-labeling, an expert might be consulted or have their words used as a source of authority such as Gordon Ramsay’s or Alton Brown and as definitive as their opinion may seem on a subject what is best to be kept in mind is: these are opinions about preferences.
As I’ve outlined above there is scientific evidence for pineapple being a legitimate choice for a pizza just as there is scientific evidence for gender being a spectrum rather than a binary classification. Just as I’ve outlined above some people prefer to have pineapple on their pizza and some people don’t just like some people prefer to use labels as some people don’t. At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decided on who gets to do what with their pizza just as it is not up to us to decide how people identify.
Here’s my take away from this whole “pineapple pizza” debacle: Pizza is like love. You can put what you like on your pie and I can put what I like on mine. If you don’t like what I have on my pizza, good. More for me. Don’t worry, I won’t force you to eat my pie. Besides I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most places. You do you mate and I’ll do me.
What I like on my pizza-pie? Pineapples and Anchovies. Do I have a label for it? Naw, I don’t feel like it needs one. I like it just as it is.
- See “My first English Xmas Dinner”
- If you’re interested in knowing more about why “sweet and salty” works from a scientific perspective, check out the How Stuff Works article “Why do Sweet and Salty Taste so Good Together?”
I was watching the PBS youtube series “Blank on Blank” which is in their words,
“Vintage interview tapes. New Animations. We transform journalists’ unheard interviews with cultural icons. The future of journalism is remixing the past.”
I ran across the Hunter S. Thompson interview.
Which prompted me to rewatch the documentary “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride” which was about HST and his life.
As a young writer, I like many admired the work of Thompson and likely I’m not the only one who he inspired to want to get into journalism. Hunter had a fearless, fucking crazy, ferocious attitude towards life and applied that to his journalism. Hunter rode with the Hell’s Angles(1) as a topic for one of his earlier books of the same name “Hell’s Angles”, he developed a antagonist bordering-on “super hero v super villain” arch-nemesis type relationship with then usa president Richard Nixon.
The following is an excerpt from Hunter S Thompson’s Obituary to Richard Nixon, “He was a Crook: A scathing obituary of Richard Nixon, originally published in Rolling Stone on June 16, 1994″. The whole thing can be found here at The Atlantic.
Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”
I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Nixon laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.”
USA journalism today could use a hero like Hunter S Thompson. With his death, journalism lost it’s hunger for the bloody raw truth and razor sharp teeth which to rip it from the layers of BS covering it.
As Hunter once described his artist friend, Ralph Steadmen, “Too weird to live, too rare to die.” Which can just as easily be applied to Hunter him self. The world we live in full of rising nationalism, sinking empathy, and ubiquitous confusion needs now more than ever a shining beacon of light that radiates from cultural folk heroes like Thompson.
However if we keep waiting for superman, we might live long enough to learn that “Today a stampede killed superman.”
Even though Hunter was a self described rebel, I think this lyric encompasses his philosophy about freedom: “Tonight I burn my bookshelf to be free
Because even a rebel tradition is slavery”.
The world still misses you, Hunter. You might be gone but your hellish spirit will never die in the hearts of the truly free.
- A usa motorcylce gang, quite violent and very scary lot. I actually have a personal story about the Hell’s Angles but that’s for another time maybe.
I recently bought a harmonica because I used to play many instruments when I was young, all strings (guitar, violin, cello, piano), however since I grew up into a
professional hobo I never had room or money to travel/move frequently with a big expensive instrument. I had considered the harmonica for years but never pulled the trigger on it despite being small and inexpensive until now.
It wasn’t until it arrived in the mail until I realised: I only really listen to one song with harmonica in it.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Dylan and Blues traveler but they’re not in my usual roster of music and so I had no imagination for what I wanted to really play. I had faith though because if the The Creepshow can kill it, then there had to be other punk/rockabilly/ska bands to love on the Tin Sandwich.
The first band I found in my search was Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains and what a treat their album “Love Songs for the Apocalypse” turned out to be. To fully appreciate theses guys, think of them less as punk purists and more like “hobo punk blues”.
New Mexico song opens up with a nice harmonica which plays as a part of the hook.
“We aren’t revolutionaries,
But we are the revolution.
And sometimes I think that the whole movement is just me and you
And then maybe we’d all be better off, if that were true
Cuz then at least we’d know where we stand
And we could tell our comrades apart from the man
But if the world isn’t that simple
Maybe this town is at least
And if I’m not marching with them for war
I’m sure not marching with you for peace”
“Well if I found god anywhere, it would be by the tracks
Face down in a box car, forty in both hands
And when I find god there, we’ll just sit and roll some top
Cause he’ll be just as confused as anyone else on this rock”
The next one I found was by an more traditional punk band, Pinhead Gunpowder (don’t you just love these names? It’s like a part of the appeal for me), with their song “Kathleen”
The harmonica kicks in around 20s.
The last song today comes from an old-school punk band from Germany called Die Toten Hosen (which hilariously translates to “The Dead Pants”, see aren’t the names fun?) with their song Grossalarm.
The harmonica comes in at the climax around 2m40s.
If you have any more harmonica songs that are not blues (I like the blues but boy do I have to be in a mood for them), feel free to leave a comment below.
Have I got something funky for you. RJD2 is an artist that I found on youtube years ago and the first song I heard by this guy, Ghostwriter from his album Deadringer, continually blows my mind.
The introduction of horns at 1m30s just makes me so excited every time.
I also like this version of Ghostwriter with Jurassic 5 called “Golden Ghostwriter”
Another song off the Deadwringer album, Smoke and Mirrors is very nice.
I find that I’m a fan of minimalist lyrics in these type of songs where the music is complex and strange. I particularly like the first stanza
“Who knows what tomorrow will bring
Maybe sunshine or maybe the rain
But as for me, I’ll wait and see
And maybe it’ll bring my love to me, oh…”
Another thing that’s interesting about RJD2 is this guy has worked with, seemingly, everybody from Tycho to Aesop Rock to Massive Attack. So when I found out that RJD2 did the introduction theme for Mad Men, I shouldn’t have been surprised but I still was.
The first three minutes are the iconic Mad Men theme but then the last 2m29s almost sound like an entirely different song.
MC Lars was the fourth and final artist I saw at the Manchester show. I really liked his set, I was vaguely familiar with his music before now but after the show I’ve found a new nerdcore great.
The First song I heard from MC Lars was a song about Edgar Allen Poe(1).
Then recently when I started listening to him rap, I noticed a trend:
Big thank you goes to MC Lars for the following interview:
OBOP: Who inspires you? Musically, artistically, writing, personally? (As many answers as you want, don’t worry about restricting yourself to one source)
MC Lars (MCL): My biggest influence is definitely “Weird Al” Yankovic! I love how he was able to, as Lin-Manuel Miranda said on Marc Maron’s podcast recently, strip music of its “genre clothes” and comment on everything. He’s definitely my biggest influence and I was so stoked that he thanked me in his last album.
OBOP: Did you always want to be a musician/songwriter or was there a “monkey touch monolith” moment?
(MCL): I always wanted to be a cartoonist, but when I did my first Shakespeare rap in 1998, I knew I was onto something!
OBOP: What do you consider your greatest artistic and/or professional and/or personal achievement? (Feel free to answer all three or one or a combination, whatever man)
(MCL): Definitely playing Carnegie Hall in 2012! We debuted “Flow Like Poe” and I felt like I’d finally made it.
OBOP: What superpower would you have if you could have one and why/what would you do with it? (Seriously anything, from the mundane, to the established, to something completely original)
(MCL): I’d have the power to heal people’s hearts. 🙂 I try to do that with music anyway!
OBOP: If you could be in possession of a pocket dimension that you could travel into and out of at will, that contained any established cannon (books, movies, comics, video games, Salvador Dali paintings, anything) what would it be and what would you want to most do in there?
(MCL): It would be amazing to go into the Bible and meet Jesus – I’d love to hear what he has to say about today’s political climate.
MC Lars is one of the most approachable people I’ve ever met, I mean that includes all celebrities and everyday people, when he says
I’d have the power to heal people’s hearts. 🙂 I try to do that with music anyway!
I can really buy it. Funny thing is my friend and I had gotten to Manchester a few hours early and we thought the doors opened at 7.30 and so we walked in and there was like this hush of when people are present who aren’t immediately recognized and like 5 dudes standing around. I thought we were early and didn’t think much of it until one of the roadies (I assume, maybe he was an employee of the club) asked me if we had tickets and I said yea and as he was informing us that we were 30 minutes before the door this big dude, who I didn’t at first recognize as MC Lars comes over to us and asks us if we’re here to see the show.
This giant man has a butter melting smile and his handshakes turn into back-pat hugs, even with me and my mate who were strangers to him. We get to talking and MC Lars hears my accent and asks me where I’m from, I frequently forget that I have a discernible accent, and I tell him I’m from St Louis and how I’ve been trying to see MC Chris in concert for 10 years and had missed him in concert in St Louis 3 times including October 2016 and all that. He then asks how long I’m here for and all that which leads me into talking about how I’m a study abroad student and somewhere around minute 5 of me rambling on I realise this guy has been giving me his ENTIRE attention as if I was an old friend and we were catching up. As my friends can tell you, I have no problem talking(2), but I’m not always used to having someone pay so much attention to what I have to say much less this strange celebrity.
I feel bad because I remember asking him where he was from as well and couldn’t tell you where without looking it up but I do remember he told me that he studied abroad when he was in college too. He told me it really changed his life. Dude’s a great artist, writer, performer, and if you ever see him live don’t be afraid to approach him. If he doesn’t approach you first.
- Remember “Offbeat, On-point: A literary blog…kinda”
- One of my friends has described me as “Fin doesn’t say much until you get him talking. Then you can’t get the guy to shut the fuck up.”
First I want to thank Valeria Quinn for the links to some bonus Mega-Ran song!
It’s pretty tight, I liked it a lot. Feel free to leave music recommendations. FAIR WARNING: I have at least 2 more interviews for the nerdcore series and a couple of bands to follow up on first but I am open to suggestions!
Koo Koo Kanga Roo! is a fun duo and put on an excellent show.
When they came up on stage, in their gold sneakers and gold fanny/bum packs (worn on the front), they put on some music and had been warming up and told the crowd “We are a dance along kind of show” which was followed by instructions for the crowd to learn some dance moves, one maybe two and all pretty easy, per song starting with a warm up song. I wish I could remember their line up however here are some fun songs by them:
I’m pretty sure this is the first song they opened with.
Pancakes for Dinner
I know they played this one.
I remember this one was particularly funny since in the UK fanny…doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in the US.
And here’s the interview:
Who inspires you? Musically, artistically, writing, personally? (As many answers as you want, don’t worry about restricting yourself to one source).
We like any group or band or performer that puts on a great live experience. We started the band after seeing bands like Dance Band, Zibra Zibra, of Montreal and the Flaming Lips.
Did you always want to be a musician/songwriter or was there a “monkey touch monolith” moment?
Always liked music and wanted to be apart of it some how. Didn’t know how until college.
What do you consider your greatest artistic and/or professional and/or personal achievement? (Feel free to answer all three or one or a combination, whatever man)
Just the fact that we are still doing this crazy little project is cool to us, but feel like there are still bigger things we want to get to.
What superpower would you have if you could have one and why/what would you do with it? (Seriously anything, from the mundane, to the established, to something completely original)
I want to have a pocket of gummi bears always loaded up. Fully stocked at all times.
If you could be in possession of a pocket dimension that you could travel into and out of at will, that contained any established cannon (books, movies, comics, video games, Salvador Dali paintings, anything) what would it be and what would you want to most do in there?
I would go into the Mighty Ducks universe and hang with the team. Maybe be their water boy.
Thanks. Answers from Bryan in Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
Big thank you goes to Koo Koo Kanga Roo for playing along!
If you liked this or have a music recommendation feel free to leave a comment and share.
I feel like this is what’s going to get me one day. Happy Valentine’s day.
Sorry for the late posting. It’s been a pressure cooker week and I fell asleep at 7pm local time.
If you’re single, sad , and/or just in need for an extra laugh check in Monday for a review of the very funny book of essays “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris.