Sunday, June 29, 2008

Humoresque of a Little Dog

Quite a few of you eventually offered to play the music suggestion game that I talked up in this post, and I will now deliver the goods. Can’t promise you’ll like the results, but what songs I’ve collected represent a cross-section of things that matched what you suggested and things I felt you might actually like to hear.

One exception to the rules, which now feel I should have clarified in the initial post. I’m not making the songs available for free, because I don’t readily have the means to do so. I felt a much better way of making the results immediately ready for the listening would be to post them in a Muxtape, which you’ll see below. (You can listen to the music as much as you want. If you’d like to buy them, you can do so fairly easily through the MP3 store. It’s cheaper than iTunes, generally, and the files downloaded are yours to do whatever you like with. That is, unlike iTunes, it won’t prevent you from burning them to multiple CDs. This seems like a reasonable compromise, no?) And below the Muxtape itself are my explanations for why I picked the songs I did.

“Wishful Thinking,” by The Ditty Bops

At George’s suggestion of “flannel cakes,” I was a taken off guard, mostly because I’ve never had a flannel cake in my life. Still haven’t. Lucky me, however, because the word consists of two nouns for which I have very specific associations: “flannel,” which brings to mind a rustic outdoorsiness, and “cake,” which taste good. Thus, I’ve picked something upbeat, sweet, and fairly country.

“Run Joey Run,” by David Geddes

First off, I had to resist the urge to put something by Lesley Gore for the suggestion “a sweet sixteen birthday party gone bad.” The song I chose does not have anything to do with birthdays, specifically, but instead does a good job of taking the innocence of the American teen and turning it into something awful, if in a clichéd way. But I guess a sweet sixteen gone bad is itself a cliché, thanks to Lesley Gore. “Run Joey Run,” by the way, is one of my favorite bad songs ever.

“I Can Smell the Leaves,” by Olivia Tremor Control

This was as best as I could do with Erin’s extremely specific suggestion of “having a picnic on a sunny day in a warm, grassy field without bugs, on top of a superfuzzy mustard yellow blanket, on which you make out with someone very attractive (yet intellectual) all afternoon and you never, ever, ever get sunburnt.” For me, this Olivia Tremor Control song has also brought to mind thoughts of a sort of peaceful, quiet euphoria in the middle of a busy world. Erin’s suggestion seemed to hint more at a late springtime scene than an autumn one, though, and this song is definitely an autumn song. Still, I think it works.

“Friday’s Child,” by Nancy Sinatra

Regina’s suggestion — “A woman who looks 20 years older than her actual age, smoking a cigar, swilling Lagavulin from the bottle as she tries to teach Latin phrases to her stubborn parrot” — probably made for the hardest out of the bunch. Really, I couldn’t decide whether the whole thing seemed funny or sad. I decided to go for what stood out most: a woman aged beyond her time, along with a general sense of smoky bluesiness. As for the Latin and the parrot, you’ll have to use your imagination. The song does repeat itself a lot, I guess, but in English and not Latin. Oh well.

“Kid,” by Green Apple Quick Step

A bit of background: I’ve had this song since early in high school, as I picked it up on the soundtrack to I Know What You Did Last Summer, which was actually a pretty good album, despite its association with a decidedly B-grade movie. As for this song in particular, I feel like I’ve listened it all the way through only four or five times, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it, even though it’s by no means a great song. I feel it matches Sara’s suggestion of “a song that reminds you of one of those days where it's too hot to really do anything, so you just throw on your grungiest shirt and flip-flops to go buy lime popsicles from 7-Eleven” well enough because it mentions of waking up late, throwing on old clothes, buying lottery tickets, and the sheer joy of wandering around your house aimlessly because you have nothing to do. That last one I associate with summer — or lime popsicle season, if you will — because that’s when the younger me had days to do just that.

“Over and Over,” by Hot Chip

A bit literal, I admit, but I can defend this match for Ellerby’s suggestion of “a really fun roll over car accident.” The song starts simple enough but builds, getting noisier and more cacophonic as it goes, and I’d like to think that represents a car rolling down a cliff, crunching a little more with every spin. Also, the song is called “Over and Over” and it uses that phrase, for lack of a better phrasing, over and over.

“The Sun Is Forever,” by Elf Power

For whatever reason, I had this song in mind immediately upon reading Plover’s suggestion of “an unripe persimmon.” Don’t know why. Perhaps because both song and suggestion reference orange round things — a persimmon and a setting sun — even if an unripe persimmon probably isn’t orange or even necessarily round. In any case, this is what you get: an abstract response to an abstract suggestion.

“Ice Cold Lemonade,” by Death by Chocolate

Whether the CHOCOLATE BABY’s suggestion — “you like CHOCOLATE BABY? then google CHOCOLATE BABY for best prices for CHOCOLATE BABY” — was meant to be included in this music game or not, I decided a natural fit would have to be a song from this rather group, whose underlying silliness doesn’t prevent them from being fun.

“One Million Miles Away,” by J. Ralph

A song that may be familiar to you all from a Volkswagen commercial from the late 90s, “One Million Miles” away fit the bill for Euphoria’s suggest of “an antique pewter and bronze colored song, one that you'd keep in a curio cabinet full of unusual things like animal bones, cones of hand spun wool yarn, Indian incense burners, feathers from exotic and/or extinct birds, occult books and other unusual things. You'd listen to it while having a tea party in full Rocco costume and the tea set you're using is hand made from Indonesia. Oh yes, and there's delicious finger foods to be had as well.” It’s fancy, but a bit strange. It’s even likable, if you can overcome the immediate associations with Volkswagen.

“The Philadelphia Grand Jury,” by The Fiery Furnaces

I damn near picked The Avalanches’ “Frontier Psychiatry” for this one, but changed my mind, mostly out of fear of putting it back-to-back with another song that was better known right at the start of my college experience. Don't want to date myself. This Fiery Furnaces song works for the anonymous suggestion of “something something like warioware,” because, like WarioWare, it’s weird as hell and changes from one thing to another at a moment’s notice.

“Murder in the Red Barn,” by Tom Waits

This song hold a special place for me as the first Tom Waits song I ever heard. It also reminds me a great deal of a short story we might have read in Prof. Waid’s Southern Lit class.

“Imitation of the Sky,” by Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears

I’m not sure what an “astro-crag” is, but this song pretty well covers Tharpe-Tharpe’s suggestion of that thing “covered with pop-rocks, and honey and they are causing friction and creating sparks.” I’d like to think of “Imitation of the Sky” as a lost Elton John song, covered by a dream duo of Brendon Small and Jake Shears.

(This last song marks the end of the first Muxtape, which could only fit twelve in total. For the rest, see the additional Muxtape below.)

“Diode,” by Andy Votel

An abstract one, again, but I feel it works since the song starts out very mellow and then quickens about 90 seconds in. That’s where — in accordance with Dina’s suggestion — that I think the realization that you’re not alone in the hot tub and there’s strange toe in your mouth happens.

“Cave of Time,” by Keiichi Suzuki

A weird one, I know. For Goofy’s suggestion of “falling thu the space-time vortex,” I bravely avoided both Angelo Badalamenti’s “Falling” and Funki Porcini’s “50,000 Ft. Freefall” and instead opted for this odd duck of a soundtrack chunk, which begins with what always struck me as a crude sample of the beginning of “All You Need Is Love” and gets stranger from there. Apologies if it’s offensively weird.

“Venus,” by Air

Yes, I realize that the lyrics initially specify the planet Venus and not the Roman goddess of love and sex. Despite that initial flaw, I feel like this song fits Pedro’s suggestion of a theme song for the mistress archetype, especially if you decide that the narrator is either being insincere or naïve when he talks about being together forever with the woman being addressed. Because, after all, mistresses don’t last. They either get dumped or become wife number two. Aside from the lyrics, I think this song makes for a nice accompaniment for the image of a beautiful girl walking through a room, in slow motion and soft focus. As for notions of her freedom, note that the lyrics give her all the power: The narrator is totally smitten with her, but for all we know, she could have other plans other than to hang around. Having someone hanging on your every word and action? That’s definitely a type of freedom.

“Japanese Boy,” by Aneka

Simply put, Sanam’s suggestion of “breast grime” is a private reference to a person that I think she and I both regard as one of the sorrier creatures to stalk the planet. I didn’t want to associate any songs that I actually like with this person, so I simply picked the one song that stands out as the worst song in my entire music library. Annoying, lingering, and ultimately offensive, “Japanese Boy” is truly a song that should not have been. Fitting.

And just because I didn’t want to end the playlist with that one, I tagged one song onto the end, only because it’s something I’ve been enjoying lately quite a bit. I feel like everyone else should give it a shot too.

So that’s it. How did I do?


  1. You know my musical tastes better than I do! Thanks for intro to Keiichi Suzuki.

  2. Why do all Air songs make me think of Veronica Mars?

  3. I like mine very much. Wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it certainly was entertaining. I have the "Run, Joey, Run" chorus stuck in my head now.

  4. Thanks for the Ditty Bops, who have been on the "subjects for further research" list for quite awhile. Not sure if it matches my odd word pair, but I'm not sure anything could.

  5. Yeah, I'm not sure how well my logic on that one held up. If you're looking into further Ditty Boppery, may I suggest "Ooh La La" and "Short Stacks," the latter of which may have been a more fitting match for your suggestion? At least in name, anyway.

  6. Nice! It's got descending lines (like a comet falling to earth) it's got phasing which sounds like sparks and that blistering "comet flying through space" tempo. Pretty good Drew! I'm so excited about this.
    And for the record- "astro-crag" is like a piece of an asteroid (at least it is in my brain).

  7. I'm totally digging mine. Though, strangely, I don't picture Candace driving home from work to the song so much as I picture her heading to her second job as a hardboiled detective on a rainy day, driving to yet another effed up murder scene... it's like, the opening credit sequence to this strange alternate reality...
    And I like that.

  8. You obviously have a real gift. The Nancy Sinatra pick was better than I could have imagined. *bows down to you*

  9. Ah dang it. The website won't work for me and I really wanted to hear the song. Is it just that I'm too late? I had house guests... they better not have made me miss it.

  10. Euphoria: Some browsers have had trouble listening to the Muxtape. See if you can download the newest version if Firefox and try again. If that doesn't work, I could possibly just email you the track.

  11. Ok, so I absolutely love the song and plan to share it with all my buddies. I don't watch TV (mostly because I'm a poor fashion student) so I have no association with VWs... in which case I'd probably be slightly saddened... just like I get a giggle from the short period of time Burger King used Bennasi's "Satisfaction" in a burger commercial.