Friday, February 1, 2008

Lyrical Weaponry (This sounds like a dark romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant)

It felt like the last day of school before Christmas break in the office today. We were waiting for big news to break today and while it never came, it did give us something to talk about other than Lost. It was also Isaac's birthday which meant a Fudgy the Whale cake to match his Vineyard Vines wardrobe. (And happy, happy birthday to my long-lost-sister, Kelly!)

At some point I decided to listen to the Commodore's Easy (I'm a closeted Lionel fan and the Canadian can tell you how much I love that Starburst commercial that mocks the Hello video...oooo, such sweet, flavorful goodness that one is!) and I happened upon a solid part of the alphabet and was guided into the Counting Crows entire catalog. It made for a good soundtrack for enjoying a entertainingly long email and a reply that was equally long in composition, but probably less organized than my favorite horrible story-teller's original.

I've often wondered how the Counting Crows four albums are so hit or miss. Could it just be the times in my life that I discovered them? I might argue that for my attachment to This Desert Life, but I feel like August & Everything After would mean just as much no matter when I found it. It always reminds me of those dreary, wet Saturdays spent in my track uniform waiting hours for my events (high jump, 400, 4x400 and hurdles), laying in the infield trying to keep warm and relaxed. I always made certain to pack this cd and my enormous discman certainly gave it plenty of love.

While This Desert Life came out in 1999, I associate it with our sophomore year of college. I'd bought the album in preparation for the Live/Counting Crows concert in August before school started. At the concert, Adam Duritz incorporated part of Thunder Road into one of their songs and I was disappointed when the people I was with thought it must be a new song (woooo! an unreleased song!). Who doesn't know those lyrics?

Jody and I loved throwing on the album during that amazingly crazy year in McGlinn, until Amy Hits the Atmosphere would start. Our days in Stanford Hall were filled with music and we were on a Gin Blossoms kick for a while. Unfortunately, the lyrics of Allison Road could send any of us to a terrible place where that song played constantly in the back of our heads for days. The last minute of Amy Hits the Atmposphere had the same effect on us as he sings, wanna know, repeatedly for a minute during which it slowly builds until looped over that you hear, All I really know is/I don't want to know. We'd be listening to the album and then just before the final minute of the song, we'd be diving for the CD player in an attempt to stop it before it started. Eventually we learned that we could drive the other crazy and we'd intentionally go right to Amy to witness the effects. (Note to self & Jody: we should have used this as part of our I Hate Jody/I Hate Jessi campaign. At least Claudette cared about us, since Anne the RA was too busy trying to sleep with athletes so she could mention it in our section meetings.)

I remember seeing the video for Hangin' Around before the album was released and it had a funky Forest Gump feel. Colorblind is a wonderful song, but I always picture Reese Witherspoon driving across the bridge in the closing sequence of that sex-movie that I always think is based on Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, but is really based on Dangerous Liasons. (Yes, Jody, I realize there is a Bonfire of the Vanities movie already, but I thought this was the raunchy teen version of that!) I love the piano part of the song and sometimes find myself starting to play it when I'm back in Ohio.

High Life was a song that surprised me. I recognized the song, but couldn't tie it to the song title. St. Robinson, I Wish I Was a Girl, Mrs. Potter's Lullaby are good ones, too.

Ryan's Smashing Life previewed two songs from the Counting Crows upcoming album on his site recently. 1492 was a departure from their usual as the electric guitar seems to be at war to be heard over the other instruments and has its successful spurts. When I Dream of Michelangelo reminded me of their regular style. I think he mentioned a March release, but I could very well be wrong about that one.

It's a weekend full of babysitting and catering for me before heading to Hawaii. I get to play Mom at Claire's piano recital tomorrow and will be keeping my fingers crossed that she far exceeds my past performances at the recitals at Mount Union and that my little Char Char can manage to sit through the whole experience. I've got my dressy Jessi clothes ready for the affair, but can already imagine the struggle to get the girls dressed up tomorrow. We're catering for our favorite Greenwich couple during the Super Bowl, so I'll have lots of tasty food, be able to keep track of the game and make some good money. Amazingly, I didn't even gamble on the game this year...that hasn't happened in years. I'm hoping to squeeze in some running & swimming time on Sunday after my two off days and maybe, just maybe, dive into my packing. I still act as if I'll find some fun spring/summer clothes in the next few days, but that's never going to happen.

No one should ever let me watch these user-created music videos. It always makes me want to force my friends into such a thing. Reasons why I shouldn't: 1) I have really shaky hands and can't afford a steady cam, 2) I tend to giggle uncontrollably at anything remotely funny when I'm videotaping, 3) my ideas would be a little too crazy. Maybe Dawn could be a PA for one if she ever does an east coast trip to see Kevin. Oooo, the idea builds! (And I'm giggling and want to share this with Perry and Jody, the only two people who can laugh at Dawn-Kevin jokes. Okay, Kelly can too, but she's usually off being busy with the Dominic.) Anyway, this one is a minute of Amy Hits the Atmosphere, but Amy just really seems to be walking in a field while wearing a weird hat.

I first heard about the Shim Sham shows when I was reading up on Ryan Adam's Come Pick Me Up the other day (which they cover at one show). The story seems to go that the Counting Crows used to do these "secret" shows at Shim Sham in New Orleans near the end of Jazz Festival. The sets tended to be quite a drunken mess of covers as they hoped to get the lyrics straight. This is a cover of Willie Nelson's Always on My Mind. Willie reminds me of Farm Aid and my dad's biography of him. I remember flipping through the book when I was in elementary school and I always loved looking at the photos in all of his big biographies. Well, this one had a woman on someone's shoulders giving Willie quite the flash. This is not suitable reading material, Daddy Lauer!

(Note to Universal Music Group: You make me angry with not letting me embed music videos! Onto live footage since Round Here won't be posted.)

As much as I loved Dread Zeppelin during my time in Athens, I can't take anyone else with dreads seriously. I'm listening to this live version and enjoying it, but can't think about looking at it. Dread is no more as he cut his hair before he and his bandmates headed to California. 

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