Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Fight

Someone asked me recently if I regretted the events leading up to my being laid off in 2014. My immediate, gut reaction was to say, "No." But I was wrong. I do have one regret.

I wish I had fought harder. 

When I say this, I don't mean in the final moments. I mean every step of the way.

I hope never to see the things I saw again. But if I do, I will fight again. Harder. Always.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seminal Albums

When I was putting together last week's "New Year, New Playlist," I started thinking about not only the songs but also the albums that influence me the most. Some of them are, undoubtedly, unsurprising, but there are others that may make even those of you who know me best do a double-take. 

Although the list is much longer than what I'm presenting here, I've decided to choose the eleven that are most important to me (at this moment in time, at least)--you know, the ones I would take into exile with me. How did I end up with eleven instead of ten, you ask? Well, for one thing, these guys told me it's okay to turn it up to 11. For another, I started to panic and couldn't stand the thought of cutting one more from my list (although part of me suspects it would be Sheryl Crow, if I'm being honest).

Rather than do a write-up of each album, I'm simply going to list my favorite track and let you do your own exploring from there. These come to you in alphabetical order by artist, because any sort of ranking is impossible after the first three (No. 4, Confessions on a Dance Floor, and White Blood Cells). Enjoy!

- The Sign, Ace of Base (Favorite song: "Happy Nation")

- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie (Favorite song: "Soul Love")

- C'mon C'mon, Sheryl Crow (Favorite song: "Diamond Road")

- The Ghost Who Walks, Karen Elson (Favorite song: "Pretty Babies," and be aware that the album cut is much better than what you'll hear in the video)

- Always Got Tonight, Chris Isaak (Favorite song: "One Day")

- Songs from the West Coast, Elton John (Favorite song: "Original Sin")

- The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga (Favorite song: "Dance in the Dark")

- Confessions on a Dance Floor, Madonna (Favorite song: "Push," but some days I think it might actually be "Let It Will Be")

- Haunted, POE (Favorite song: "5 1/2 Minute Hallway")

- No. 4, Stone Temple Pilots (Favorite song: "Sour Girl," forever and ever)

- White Blood Cells, White Stripes (Favorite song: "This Protector")


PS I am aware that this list consists of only white musicians, all of whom are Western. It's not that I don't want to be more diverse in my listening--and reading, and watching--habits; it's more that these are such strong touchstones for me that I feel they're important to include on this list. But, as always, suggestions for broader listening are more than welcome!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year, New Playlist: 2017

I had a tradition on my first blog, What We Covet, of starting each new year off with a playlist of music I intend to take with me throughout the year. As with the previous lists, the songs were culled from my current collection. Most aren't recent, but they certainly sound good to me, and that's really the goal of any playlist I ever make. They come to you in no particular order. I hope you'll check them out, if you're not already familiar with them. Enjoy!
1)  "Mile on the Moon," Sarah Jarosz

Jarosz is one of those people I would hate if she wasn't awesome, because she's stupid talented and already successful at a young age--things I would love to be. Her new-Americana song is both comfortingly familiar and fresh, and her solid education, undertaken at the New England Conservatory of Music, guarantees that her musicianship is impeccable.

2) "Joanne," Lady Gaga

No, this isn't Gaga's best effort ever, but it's a heartfelt tribute to her aunt Joanne, who died very young. It gets me in the gut every time, because it reminds me of my own aunt, who was also gone too soon. 

3) "The Spoils," Massive Attack feat. Hope Sandoval
If the vocalist here sounds familiar, it's with good reason: she's Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, the group that brought us one of the most ubiquitous love songs ever, "Fade Into You." Sandoval brings her haunting voice to the table, and it perfectly pairs with Massive Attack's moody synth strings.

4) "Jimmy the Exploder," White Stripes

I am rarely not listening to the White Stripes in some capacity, but I was on a serious kick with them last summer, and this song, which opens their self-titled debut album, was a great, noisy part of the soundtrack of my life in August, as I expect it will be this year, as well.

5) "Long Goodbye," Dwight Yoakam and Michelle Branch

If you don't like Dwight Yoakam, you're wrong and we can't be friends. But also, I would very much like for Yoakam and Branch to do an album together. Is that so much to ask?

6) "The One," Elton John

I'm kind of mildly obsessed with mid-career Elton John right now--roughly his 1990s discography, starting with The One, from which this single came. This is the period when his voice really transformed and he started singing in a slightly lower, richer register than he did in the 1970s and most of the 1980s. That's the Elton John I turn to for comfort.

7) "Waiting," Green Day

I will never not have a crush on Mike Dirnt, and that's all I have to say about this song.

8) "If You Had My Love," Jennifer Lopez

Believe it or not, On the 6 was a good album, and I sometimes miss this side of J. Lo--before the super-fame and extreme contouring, but after she had proven herself with her excellent work in Selena, and while she still had some Latina flair.

9) "True Blue," Madonna

True Blue is a notoriously uneven album, which is undoubtedly due at least in part to the influence of Sean Penn, who was Madonna's husband at the time. And as overly sweet as "True Blue" the song tends to be, it's good, clean, cheesy fun. Plus, check out Debi Mazar as a backup dancer!

I invite you all to make your own playlist for the coming year, and share it with me if you're feeling confessional!