My Super-Long Music Post; Part the 1st

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Hi, everybody! As a unemployed 22-year-old with on-and-off crippling depression and anxiety, I’ve been spectacularly amotivational lately, and by ‘amotivational’ I mean ‘getting up at 3pm, vegging out on the couch for hours’ amotivational. Like, amotivational amotivational. I did submit a 150-page novella I’ve been writing over the past year (the lovely story of a deranged backwoods family who, as my mom says, ‘you wouldn’t want to share a cab with’ and their personal descent into hell) to a writing contest and I will be getting the results next month, but otherwise I have absolutely no engagements, until of course I get caught up with my job counselor and find someone who will hire me. The plus side is I have time to do whatever I want. The downside, of course, is that I have time to do whatever I want (see what I did there?) because I tend to do better with a schedule. I’m pretty much an overgrown child who can’t seem to be arsed to do anything unless I have my day planned out beforehand. I said to my dad the other day, can you imagine me on pot? You’d never be able to get me out of bed (not so different from the way I am now, actually.)

So, I’ve been spending the interminable evenings listening to a ton of different kinds of music, courtesy of my youtube playlist. We like to tease my dad for having an obsession with primarily yelly and angry music, but that’s not entirely true. He has had versatile and interesting tastes that cover a range of musical genres, and he has passed that eclecticism on to me, his eldest child. But, y’know, I’m proud to say that I that I’ve developed perhaps even more versatility in my musical tastes than my dad ever had. As an adult, I’m listening to groups my dad played on repeat throughout my childhood (for instance, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest) and seeing them in a whole new light. Like, ah, that’s what all the fuss is about. Simultaneously, I’m branching out into new groups and genres, some of which my dad wouldn’t be caught dead listening to. I guess essentially that’s what growing up is about. You separate yourself from your parents, their tastes and views, while at the same time finding yourself forming a deeper appreciation of some of the things they love that you took for granted as a kid.

So, herein lies my self-indulgent and (incredibly long, apparently) post on music, limited to no one genre or artist, but providing a broad view of the stuff I like (or, in some cases, absolutely hate.) My layout is simple; I take a theme (i.e. Hard Rock songs of the 90’s, or whatever) and pick two songs that I think personify that theme for me. I’ve established the rule for myself that a song can be of any genre whatsoever, but I’m going to use each artist only once on the entire list (honorable mentions can be malleable.) By the way, you are welcome to take any ideas from me (I got some of my inspiration for the demo list I wrote out on paper from Watchmojo.com anyway,) and you can even take my idea from me entirely and run with it (as long as you don’t directly take stuff from my list without credit.) Finally, once you’ve read the post, leave me a comment! Bloggers are narcissistic people, we love comments. We love to know what you think. And, without further ado, my list- (drumroll, please…)

  1. Top Songs from Genres I don’t generally listen to

Stan by Eminem (Hip-Hop/Rap)

My dad hates hip-hop music. Always has, always will. As a law enforcement officer, he associates rap with cop killa/ gangsta life type tomfoolery and makes fun of it every chance he gets, calling it ‘crap’ music (I know, he’s a scream.) 😛 And I’ve got to admit, most mainstream rap is painful, a never ending litany of bootie and niggas and hos that hip-hop fans in our town seem to like to play in their low riders with the windows down so loudly the bass pounds in your ears. That said, I do like some rap, and Eminem is on the forefront of rap artists I can tolerate, or even enjoy. And Stan is a excellent song that even people who could take or leave the ol’ Slim Shady seem to enjoy. In the song, an unhinged weirdo is pushed over the edge by his obsession with his favorite musician, who happens to be Slim himself. Reeling from the perceived rejection when Eminem fails to answer his letters, ‘Stan’ (‘Stalking Fan’, get it?) takes matters into his own hands. Alternately sad and darkly funny, Stan paved the way for my gradual appreciation of Eminem’s other music.

Goodbye Earl by The Dixie Chicks (Country)

Right below rap on my least listened to musical genre is country, most of which only manages to bewilder and infuriate me. Sometimes I think if I hear one more down-and-out cowboy with a tear in his beer song, I’m going to pierce my eardrums with a pencil. So it might come as a surprise to you that I actually do like the song Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks, the story of an abusive husband who becomes a ‘missing person that nobody missed at all,’ thanks to the wiliness and ingenuity of his battered wife and her best gal pal. The 90’s tune is energetic, catchy, and actually pretty amusing, although obviously the subject of wife beating is far from funny. And the music video is actually pretty awesome too.

2. Top Songs With Controversial/Disturbing Subject Matter

Prison Sex by Tool

May I confess that I can’t stop listening to this song? Does that sound bad? Tool is a very good band that is nevertheless kind of hit-or-miss for me (some of their songs, particularly their rambling, less accessible ones seem to be a bit self-indulgent at times and don’t personally do much for me,) but when they’re good, they’re really fucking good. This lyrically effective, discomforting, and (okay I’ll say it) just plain creepy track tells the story of an unnamed ‘protagonist’ who is haunted by his sexual assault as a child (it took me so long to remember just what happened…) and after going to prison, in the spirit of any upstanding young man in the prison system, decides to take out his angst in the form of anally raping an fellow inmate. The line Do unto others what has been done to me might seem a tad on the nose, but it exemplifies the theme of the circle of violence that plagues some (not all) victims of abuse. Speaking of creepy and discomforting, how about that music video? It has the honor of being removed from MTV in the 90’s, and features the gratuitous abuse of a little stop-motion animation guy in a surreal, prison-like environment. I think it’s safe to assume at this point that Tool is on some serious psychotropic drugs, but really, what rock band worth their salt isn’t? If you can get past the initial cringe factor, this song is completely worth listening and re-listening to.

Date Rape by Sublime

 

Well, one thing you can say about this song is that it definitely doesn’t require much speculation on what it’s about. Sublime is a ‘ska’ band (I’m not entirely sure what that is, to be honest) whose lead singer died of a heroin overdose in 1996. Regardless, they have some good tunes, usually deceptively peppy songs with a dark undertow. Date Rape is quite literally about karma coming down brutally on a P.O.S rapist, who ends up getting it up the bum while serving his twenty-five years in prison after luring a girl into his van and having his way with her. So in a way, it’s actually a good companion song to Prison Sex. Crude and sprinkled with blacker-than-black humor (Come on baby we’re going to do it my way…- if it wasn’t for date rape, I’d never get laid), Date Rape is not a song for sensitive listeners, and it’s probably not one to play in front of your conservative grandma or a touchy female friend who gets triggered by the word ‘rape.’ That said, it’s one of Sublime’s best songs (in my opinion) and sends the message that what goes around often comes around, even when you expect to come away clean.

3. Top Brit-Pop Songs

Tracy Jacks by Blur

I never fell in love with Blur’s music as a whole, but this is one of my favorite songs. It’s so criminally catchy. The character in it is having a mid-life crisis, but not the type of mid-life crisis that make you go out and buy a cool car or trade your wife for a younger model. No, the eponymous Tracy Jacks has a riproarer of a existential crisis, which causes him to strip off all his clothes and swim in the ocean until the police come and escort him home, and, in a last ditch effort to make meaning of his life, bulldoze down his own house. Poppy, infectious, and infinitely listenable, Tracy Jacks is a song about a middle-aged dude who’s with having a boring, predictable life and goes out seeking something a bit less bland. I don’t know what else to say. Just listen to it.

Common People by Pulp

Don’t you hate it when people think your life is so glamorous without knowing anything about it? That’s how the protagonist of Common People feels when a girl he meets rather snobbishly confesses that the ‘common people’ fascinate her; she wants to walk among them, make ‘common’ conversation with them and even sleep with them. He goes on to sing that she will never understand the working class, and that working for a living and struggling on a day-to-day basis isn’t as romantic a concept as she naively believes. I just heard this song for the first time recently, and I can’t stop listening to it. I really enjoy Jarvis Crocker’s voice and his intelligent, scathing lyrics. Only people of the upper class see poverty as somehow quaint and appealing, and the girl brazenly shows her ignorance as she expresses her desire to mingle superficially with the poor and blue collar. It’s a fun song to listen to, but with some real grit and feeling.

And while you’re at it, listen to William Shatner’s comically awful cover (if you dare…)

 

4. Top Awful Songs from Over-Rated Bands

Basket Case by Green Day

I’ll keep this brief. You know that song that everyone insists is great, but when it comes on the radio, you get the overwhelming urge to open the car door and throw yourself into oncoming traffic? Yeah, for me, that’s Basket Case. As soon as the opening refrain of Do you have the time, to listen to me whhiiinne … wheedles through the speakers, I’m convinced all over again that Billy Joe Armstrong is one of the most over-rated and colossally irritating lead singers to make it big. His voice, to use a tired metaphor, is like nails on a chalkboard. Green Day might have a good drummer, a good guitarist, etc., but I wouldn’t be able to look past Armstrong’s obnoxiously nasal twang. And speaking of singers that make you want to commit bloody homicide, how about this guy….

Bullet With Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins

….Fucking Billy Corgan, man. How The Smashing Pumpkins got past playing their songs in their mom’s basement and actually went out and reached a wide audience, I have no idea. When I hear that guy’s whiny, irksome voice, I want to kill something, and not in a ‘fuck yeah anarchy ‘ way, but just out of anger and desperation. I don’t know what anyone could find appealing about this guy, whose voice sounds about as musical as a hundred cats being brutally sodomized and crying out in one collective scream of agony. This is another one that plays on the radio constantly that I just don’t get. As soon as I hear the opening line, the World is a vampire…, I know I’m in trouble. Listening to the hum and groan of passing big rigs seems like a more viable plan than punishing myself with this over-rated, tiresome ‘music.’

5. Top Songs That Tell a Story

Carolina Drama by The Raconteurs

Okay, I took this one straight from Watchmojo.com. Carolina Drama was a great one for me to listen to while I was writing my novella because it had a similar backwoods, white trash setting and the boyfriend who’s described as a double-loser with some blue tattoos that were given to him when he was young is pretty much a dead ringer for a  (minor) character in my story. Anyways, this song is odd and brilliant, and is kind of like reading a book the way it gets your head-pictures going. Me, I picture the older brother, Billy, as being about twelve or thirteen, and the ‘junk house’ looks an awful lot like the ones I see walking through the less reputable neighborhoods in the small city in Virginia in which I live. I’m not entirely sure I understand everything about this song, but it’s filled to the brim with character and is about as Southern-Gothic as you can get in it’s portrayal of a low-income, dysfunctional existence in the rural South.

Matty Groves by Fairport Convention

A traditional folk song about a wealthy lady’s affair with a younger man and a crime of passion, Matty Groves strikes me as a  portrayal of a woman in the feudal era who feels stuck in a relationship with a wealthy landowner who she had no say in marrying and her doomed attempt to carve out her independence by taking a lover. The line And then up spoke his own dear wife, never heard to speak so free…- I’d rather a kiss from dead Matty’s lips than you or your finery really drives this point home for me. Moriarty did a cover and video of this song, but it was way too lovey-dovey for me. For me this isn’t a song about a woman who’s madly in love with the man she’s having an affair with; it’s about a woman who is trapped in a loveless relationship taking control for the first time. Maybe it wasn’t the right way to take control (she cheats on her husband and gets herself and her lover killed in the process) but it makes you think about how few options women had in those days and the lengths one might go to to get out of a terrible marriage. Back then, you could pretty much be the wife of a man who was hopefully wealthy and treated you okay or a prostitute. For Lord Donald’s wife, shagging Matty wasn’t true love, it was suicide. This song is fairly long and has a lot of uninterrupted instrumentals, but it’s one that I can listen to time and again.

Thank you for reading, I know this was absurdly long, and it’s just the beginning! Be on the lookout for Part the 2nd! And let me know what you think in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “My Super-Long Music Post; Part the 1st”

  1. Common People is one of my favourite songs; agree with you about the intelligent and scathing lyrics. I think that it could also fit into the “songs that tell a story” category!
    I like the Dixie Chicks as well (though mostly for their guest appearances in Simpsons and King of the Hill!)

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