Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The End of the Alphabet

Today marked my return to the office after almost two weeks away and both of my seat buddies were still away, so I could keep iTunes playing at a good level throughout the day and not have to worry about the headphones. At least I'm focused on listening to a bunch of different music, even if most of my selections were from the bottom of the alphabet.

I was still in the mood for Van, so Tupelo Honey was quickly selected after finishing a live show from Ryan Adams at KCRW in November that I had started on my drive to work. After that came Ray LaMontagne's Trouble, Radiohead's Ok Computer, The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Solder, U2's Joshua Tree and a live recording from when they played at Notre Dame our junior year, and finally the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse finished the day. Along the way, I threw in some songs from Velvet Underground's concert at Le Bataclan in 1972, the Veils' Black Sessions (I guess I like bands doing concerts in France today) and my favorite mellow song from The Used that might remind me of FBF in a very good way--he'd switch the lyrics around when he would sing it to me in the car and it always made me smile.

It's too late for me to do any sort of shuffle-like analysis of the cds from today or start a new one now, so I'm ending with some thoughts on the music and some of my favorite clips.

Tupelo Honey starts off with Wild Nights and while I love this song, there's one singer-songwriter that I have loved since a very young age and seen in concert a few times--even snuck into one of his shows after hiding in a locker room for an hour and a half--Johnny Cougar!! I can't help but see the video for his version with Me'Shell Ndegéocello and his wife as a cab driver--that Elaine had to steal my man! I've always loved the title track and feel like my sister wanted to dance to it at her wedding (what's with us Lauer girls and Van?), but definitely prefer the feel and lyrics of the Moondance album to Tupelo Honey.

I have to give Jody and Luke from my office credit for turning me onto Ray LaMontagne. I tried to get my Dad into him when we were in Hilton Head this spring, but didn't have any luck. My Dad is very set in his ways about his music. I absolutely adore Trouble, Shelter and Hold You in My Arms (the first three songs on his album), and often find myself replaying these three over and over or I'll try to take a break--by listening to Three More Days from his follow-up, Till the Sun Turns Black. Whenever I listen to these songs, that whole falling for a singer/guitar player fantasy comes back. Although I realize that probably wouldn't work, as I'd just want to lay in bed every day and listen to him play and sing. All my student loan lenders would come after me and throw me into jail, but wait, wouldn't that make a good story line for a song? And that could get us both out of debt...the wheels are spinning.

I will admit that I go through phases with Radiohead and often need to be in the right mood for them--can't say I've ever had the unabashed love for the band that I've seen so much with the release of Rainbows and even throughout my ND years. I do find myself frequently craving Airbag from Ok Computer and end up lost in the songs that follow, until some weird computer voice starts talking to me.

Since I was already in the Rs, I figured I'd jump back to the Raconteurs. My brother has been a fan of the White Stripes since their early days and got me into them pretty quickly. Brenda and I flew to Chicago to attend Lollapalooza with him two summers ago. Each day ended with us horribly dehydrated, sweaty and sunburned, but it was a great weekend together. The Raconteurs performance was in my top five from the weekend. We were probably 7 people back from the stage (although my video might prove that we were further back) and it was a great set. They put Gnarls Barkley to shame with their cover of Crazy and also covered Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang, which was a cool surprise. As they were leaving the stage, Steve snagged one of the drumsticks that was pitched to the crowd. Unfortunately, there were no band members to fall in love with from a distance. None of them were even 'good from far', as my Bobby Clark loved to say during my soccer days. (Note to self: post concert clips from Lolla to youtube.)

I was in the mood for U2 and went straight to the Joshua Tree. I pretty much only have good things to say for this album, but have heard the first three songs so often (I will always love With or Without You, nonetheless) that I tend to gravitate to Running to Stand Still, Red Hill Mining Town and Trip Through Your Wires (might it be the harmonica?). This album always feels like a hot, weekend night in the early fall of my freshman year in 206 Stanford Hall (is that the number?, god it's been so long). When I left the gym tonight, Miracle Drug from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came on as the iPod was shuffling and I was struck by the opening lyrics. What has happened to rough tough Jessi? (Note to Jody: do something about this.) The live show from ND was a good way to listen to a decent mix of their songs. If only I could've been in the heart for that show, but football forced me up top. Someday I'll see Bono up close and I still think he's much sexier than Dave. (Note to Jody and Perry: why do I picture you two arguing about this more than once? That's almost as bad as arguing over Dave and Led Zeppelin.)

For some reason I went to the Wallflowers next--maybe it was the freshman year mood or maybe it was the proximity in the alphabet. I really should listen to this album more often, although I could definitely do without the counting in Three Marlenas. Whenever I hear something by the Wallflowers, I remember watching the video with my Mom and commenting that I loved Jakob Dylan's eyes. I thought the fact that they were such an interesting blue color spoke for itself, but my mom immediately yelled, "Jessi, those are the eyes of a heavy pot user--is that what you're into?" Ahhh, Kiks. I also think this might have been part of the soundtrack the evening that Kevin was so drunk and practically crying but singing away to me at the top of his lungs anyway in my room freshman year during the USC weekend before fall break. God was thirsty for some beer that day.

I keep trying to convince myself that I like more of the Velvet Underground's catalog. We'll see how that goes later in the year. The Veils' A Birthday Present has been a favorite since I discovered it this fall--the guitar sounds heart-breaking to me and the singer's wailing voice just makes it worse. Those lyrics have been like a swift kick in the ass to me quite a few times over the last few months on my late night walks to the beach.

(Note to Universal Music Group: you should've let me embed the Johnny Cougar video!!)



The official video for Ray LaMontagne's Trouble



The Raconteurs perform Bang Bang at Iowlands



U2's Running to Stand Still from Rattle & Hum



The Veils perform A Birthday Present in Vienna, October 17, 2006

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