7 Years

Listen to the song as you read the post…

Today marks the 7 year anniversary of my mother’s passing. If I don’t acknowledge this, I’ll get nothing done. I know that now. I’ve actually known it for years…

Anyway. My mother would have become a huge Decemberists Fan. How do I know this? By the time I moved out, after she had recovered from my dad’s passing and her own relapse, she wanted a copy of everything I had, “except for the Led Zepplin you listened to in High School.”

I left her with all the music I had, except the Zepplin.

Seven years later, I still do not know how to put everything I feel into words.  I can cry about it.  I can laugh at the stories she tried to tell (she wasn’t the story teller, my dad was).  I can think of how she would react to the life that I have made with Shannon (she’d be thrilled) and with how to make the world a better place (she’d be busier than ever).  Hell, I could even tell you what she’d be doing (taking the train to visit Tony and I for the Supper Club/Graduation Party we are throwing for my brother).  But ask me to describe how I feel, and the best I can do is blubber.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to doing another Judy post, but I can promise you, dear reader, that I’ll be thinking about her all day.  And if you ever knew her, I bet you’d think of her too.

If there is a heaven, this is what it looks like:

I like to think my dad is just off-screen, making irish coffee and mocking dead republicans.





Yesterday, Hill posted a note about “The Perfect Song.” Her rules make a certain degree of sense:  The songs have to played on the Radio and there must be a balance to the lyrics, music and quality of the singer’s voice.

It’s a combination of catchy melody, a great singer, a balance between vocals and music, and lyrics.”

Given these rules, I have to argue that NPR, KEXP and college radio stations cannot be used to justify a songs level of perfection. While these radio stations–or programs–do have a significant audience, I am not sure that the level of significance approaches the criteria that Hill established. Sadly, radio markets are saturated with crappy commercial radio, so we do not get a wide variety of artists.

The rules provide boundaries for finding awesome songs, so it is not worth challenging the rules (even though I want to soo badly). What I want to do is provide a few ideas on how to recognize if the song is Perfect. Let me be clear: Just one of these criterion does not make a song perfect. The more criteria the song connects with, the chances that a song is perfect increase.

1) Does it get stuck in your head?
If you hate a song, but it is catchy enough to stay in your head, the song may be perfect. Just because something is catchy (like the flu, a cold or an STI) does not mean it is good. However, when it comes o music, a catchy tune implies that there is something to be said for the music.

2) Does a good cover exist?
For just about every successful band, there is a less-than-successful cover band. Additionally, for every brilliant cover of a song, there is a shitty cover of the song. Being “covered” does not cut it. Sometimes, a cover out shines the original. Don’t believe me? I trump your disbelief with Johnny Cash and Sinead O’Connor:


3) Does the song end up on a lot of playlists/Mix CDs
If you consistently add a song to a playlist or for a Mix CD, that song probably has enough qualities to warrant a consideration. For example, I added Nightswimming by REM it to a number of playlists and Mix CDs over the years. After a number of deliberations, I have concluded that Nightswimming hits the all of the rules Hill listed: the music, Michael Stipe’s vocals and the bands lyrics synthesize into a beautiful song.

4) You heard the song on a REAL Jukebox
Prior to the 21st century, juke boxes were full of records or CDs. Given the physical constraints of the Jukebox, each one was filled with music that the patrons of a given establishment might enjoy. Today’s flash Internet Streaming Rigs do not have the same level of carefully selected artists. Real ones, while hard to find, might just be some of the Greatest Mix Albums Ever.

5) Music Snobs use the phrase, “that band used to be cool…” or “I liked that band when…” when describing the song.
I admit, I do that frequently. I typically talk about how I used to “love band X” when I was “In highschool/college/before they made it mainstream.” Sometimes the songs were overplayed (like Led Zepplin).    Sometimes the songs were contextual (like my love of the Doors–it lasted until the third week of college). Sometimes, it is straight out petty bullshit (like my early love of BNL). Again, this doesn’t make a song perfect–but if a Music Snob has moved “past” the song, the song may be perfect.

The love of music is subjective. I have been trying–albeit with varying degrees of success–to just respect that a person loves music. The world has enough troubles of its own, it doesn’t need me being an asshole about music.

That being said, you have go to hear this song….

Why Last Night Rocked


The Glowing Figure on the stage is one Ted Leo, with a mohawk, who rocked at Lincoln Hall’s Grand Opening Event.

The best part–other than Shannon’s soldiering through the entire affair–were the five new songs they played. Everything about the night was awesome: The tickets were reasonable, the beer did not have a high North Side Tax and the opening act, the The Jai-Alai Savant rocked.

This blog post marks the end of my fan-boy giggling. I’m going to go pretend to be an adult for eight hours.

Fuck Mellow

Last Friday, Shannon said jokingly, “Aren’t we supposed to be listening to more mellow music now that we’re getting older?”

I said it then and I’ll say it now: Fuck No.

To be fair, my taste in music is always changing. I get band recommendations from friends, music reviews, Pandora and, of course, NPR, but I do not want my taste in music or my convictions to “mellow with age.”

I hope to expand and keep an open mind–like I have with my music–but I do not want to mellow my opinions. I am trying to understand more, and increase my exposure to varying view points, but I do not think I would actually be myself if I mellowed.

Ask A Bastard: Fabricated Edition


Another Monday, another series of (fabricated) questions.

Friend and WoW Blogger Anna asks, “What is the greatest cover song of all time?”

Funny, I was just thinking of this question, given the new album, War Child Heroes. This is an album of war protest songs,wherein the original artists hand select the band to do the cover. If you watched the Oscars last night, you would have heard Beck‘s cover of Leopard-Skin Pill-Box hat, originally by Dylan. This is an album I think I need to pick up.

My favorite cover is still Since U Been Gone by Ted Leo. I love the original but I can rock out to the cover 24/7.

Nathan Godfrey, from Shapes without Substance, asks, “Which is better: Sherbert, sorbet, ice cream or frozen yogurt?”

Personally, I’d go with a Tiramisu Gelato. However, since I don’t live in Atlanta, I’d have to go with Cherry Garcia ICE CREAM from Ben & Jerry’s. It’s wonderful.

Tune in next week when I answer of the questions you never thought to ask.

Call in Andrew Bird for Science!

I heard this story from NPR, but Short Sharp Science – New Scientist has a video..

This is Bonnie, and she is very gifted. According to the Great Ape Trust, the 30-year-old orangutan recently started imitating a caretaker’s whistling.

On Morning Edition, neither Ari Shapiro nor Erin Stromberg, Bonnie’s handler, could whistle very well.  This, of course, means we need to tap a fantastic whistler.

Enter Andrew Bird.  He can help determine if Orangutan’s can whistle melodies.  I think we all want to see Bonnie whistle the parts of Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.