Jul - Aug 2014 // Much More Than Wild Courage
Tom Waits has taken over my life. From eighteen to nearing two thousand plays in just over a month. Nothing else seems to satisfy me, and it’s as if I’ve leveled up to a whole new plane of musical interest. My condition has improved somewhat, but for over a month I was only able to listen to classical, mamba (I don’t know, I really don’t), jazz, and weird noise. If there had to be words, it could not be in English. So this whole playlist is really just violent punctuation marks to a mostly Tom Waits couple of months.
1. “Just The Right Bullets” — Tom Waits :: Welcome to the Wild West Circus Nightmare Show.
2. “String Quartet No. 5: V” — Kronos Quartet :: [Performs Philip Glass] Until 3:04, you’re just waiting for it- - — — and then the sweetness crashes in and all the disjointed, bustling notes from the beginning traffic jam part of the piece sprang into formation and performed a breathtaking ballet and shocked us all.
3. “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” — Rufus Wainwright :: Oh, Rufus! What a fancy motherfucker. Songwriting on par with John Grant, Brian Molko, Chris Corner — theatrical, dark, glitter everywhere, devastating and poignant. He’s been a nice opposition to Tom Waits this month. He’s clean and choreographed to Waits’ gritty, stumbling performance; sarcastic and bitchy to Waits’ blunt, terse suffering; lovesick to Waits’ resignation. You understand. The whole discography is flawless, but this song just happens to resonate with me…
4. “Back Door Man” — The Doors :: In an effort to make this playlist less dark and still feature The Doors, here’s a song featuring references to anal sex.
5. “Silver Moons” — Sunset Rubdown :: Another Tom Waits influence. I’ve always loved Spencer Krug’s songwriting and it turns out he’s one of the few I’ve been able to tolerate during this weird spell of mine. His intentions are bare, a little ugly, and I believe him. No glibness, triteness, or forced sex appeal. His music has a bit of childishness (some of the instrumentation, the marching quality to the songs) that lets his raw regret really shine.
6. “Harlem Nocturne” — The Lounge Lizards :: The Lounge Lizards meant to make fun of jazz, but in doing so (successfully, I might add), they made a really solid jazz album.
7. “4th of July” — Soundgarden :: For some reason, in the throes of Tom Waits, when my coworkers finally put their collective feet down and demanded I pick something else to listen to, this album was one of the only things I could think of to play that didn’t make me cringe. I’ve said it before, but I really do think there’s a neural cluster in my brain that grunge soundwaves just alight on and tickle and my whole body just purrs back with gratitude. Maybe Nirvana was playing on the stereo that one time my dad dropped me on my head when I was a kid and I was just never the same.
8. “Work Work (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree)” — clipping. :: The lyrics clippings. uses are unassuming, bland at first, but when you start to examine them in comparison to other rap lyrics about dealing drugs, making money, evading cops, shooting guns, fucking bitches — what clever bastards! Musically, this song is so sparse, just sounds like a little ditty, practically a skeleton for a folk song (in a world where we consider hip-hop to be in our repertoire of folk music, which I do). Insert lyrics and hook and you’ve got a song. Lyrically, it’s similarly terse and ambiguous. There’s money being made here without a business license. That part’s not important. Cocc Pistol’s verse is a dark portrait of the repetitive Nicki Minaj card (“I’m a very talented rapper but let’s talk about my designer shoes. Also I get paid.”). Brilliant. When the police lights show up in the rearview, Diggs gives four possible scenarios (A, B, C, and D) to follow, each a trope of mainstream rap lyrics. The last option? “D) All of the above in your head but it really doesn’t matter coz you already dead. / No obituaries for the most part. Nobody cares, you’re not even a co-star, just an extra.” DAYUM, clippings. SO COLD.
9. “Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64, Act I: Dance of the Knights” — Sergei Prokofiev / London Symphony Orchestra / André Previn :: TMI, but I deliberately timed an orgasm to this piece and cannot recommend enough.
10. “Swing Low” — Michael J Sheehy :: Criminally underappreciated. Also, dirty. Fans of Tom Waits should appreciate.
11. “No Quarter” — Led Zeppelin :: This song blew my mind when I heard it when I was eight or so. I couldn’t believe something that dark existed. Probably changed the course of my life.
12. “Run Overdrive” — Civil Civic :: My mind does somersaults listening to this album. It’s such a confusion of different styles of sound. Makes my fucking pupils dilate. Drum machines, distorted guitars, synthesizers, classic guitar riffs, dance beats, keyboards, clean edges,… I just don’t know what to think. In instances the whole endeavor seems amateurish, but the way it all comes together is just so pleasing… Hats off to you, gentlemen. I’d like some more, please.
13. “Young & Lovely” — Jherek Bischoff :: Instant dancing feet.
14. “Judith (Live)” — A Perfect Circle :: Oh yeah, and these live albums came out at some point. I can’t believe how good they sound. How did they manage that? I was even there for that tour! It actually sounded that good live. APC is like therapy for me.
15. “Amore” — Ryuichi Sakamoto :: Piano for pleasant dreams.
16. “Alice” — Sunn 0))) :: Q: Why would you listen to metal? A: (dawned on me at Boris this month) Because this shit is the sound of the sun rising, the snow covering the mountainside, the ferns unfurling their tendrils. This is the vibrating of avalanches, and the earth groaning beneath our tiny feet, and thunder on the horizon. That’s why we listen to metal. We live in cities now, with four insulated walls and flowerpots and electric fire. Lest we forget how powerless we are against the earthquakes and hurricanes… listen to metal.