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Winter Symphony…

9 Jul

It’s too hot today, so I’m going to cool my brain down by writing about one of my favorite parts of winter’s holiday season: Snoopy’s Christmas songs with the Royal Guardsmen. That cassette is one of the things that makes me happiest, and as soon as a song starts the lyrics and tune rush back into my head, regardless of how many years it’s been since my last listen. In my elementary school years, the tape was a regular. It made the appropriate appearances during the holidays, but also most weeks of the year as well. I l-o-v-e-d that tape. I had a few stuffed Snoopies (one wearing a Macy’s sweater that my aunt / Santa gave me for Christmas- “Santa shops at Macy’s?!” exclaimed young Anne; another smaller one which I carried around with me like a third arm (and when he got misplaced this led to the 3rd Snoopy, his brother), Snoopy thimbles, old Snoopy comic books passed down from my dad and maternal grandmother, and probably more paraphernalia that’s currently hiding in the recesses of my mind. The point is, I love Snoopy.

That album taught me a lot. It taught me what no man’s land was, about camel time and the Red Baron, and how good dog houses are at flying through a WWI war zone (answer: very). ;) The cassette got safely filed away in a place remembered by none, until two Christmases ago when my Super Dad found it and reunited me with a major piece of my childhood.

I don’t know what reminded me of Snoopy’s Chrismas this evening, maybe nothing. It’s entirely possible, entirely probable, that Snoopy’s always on my mind, just looking for an excuse to climb up into my conscious, wade through my brain, repel out my ear, and onto my fingertips.

Currently listening to: The Very Best of Dionne Warwick


Celebrate the News…

29 Jun

Newspapers! Magazines! Television! VITALLY IMPORTANT FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES! News is all around us, but the only time I really celebrate it is when it arrives biweekly via Rolling Stone.

I rediscovered this August 2010 issue, and realized how important this edition is to me. Surviving all the drool that’ Leo’s cover caused, weeks under my car’s passenger seat mat, and numerous rereads, this bad boy has taken beatings pretty well. Not to hyperbolize my feelings, but I really feel that this issue holds one of two Rolling Stone articles that changed my life.

Life Changing Article Number One:
“Welcome Back, Turntables”

This is the article that made me seriously think about getting a turntable. It all started at the beginning of last year, when I unveiled my “Get Dad to Resurface His Records and Turntable 2010” campaign. I won in a landslide, and on February 13, 2010 vinyl became a part of my life. On that fateful day Dad brought the boxes and turntable up from the basement, wiped off the dust, and let me choose the christening record- Goodbyes and Butterflies by Five Man Electrical Band (I could dedicate a whole post to that album, someday I will).

As soon as that needle dropped and I heard the crackle that won a generation of audiophiles’ hearts, I knew there was no going back. I was hooked. After that we began rediscovering Jim Croche, Simon and Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, Queen, and a bookcase more. I eagerly awaited visits to my dad’s so I could practice dropping the needle for a specific song (darn you, Paul and Art, for putting “Cecilia” at the very end of your greatest hits record) and turn back the clock forty years. But then the addiction grew, I wanted my own player- wanted, but didn’t want enough to actively pursue it. Then came along this article in Rolling Stone, and I took it as a personal message from the fates telling me to get a move on. So I did. I literally opened up the magazine to that page so often for reference that there’s a permanent dent in the pages and they automatically open up to that article. :)

Being the optimistic dreamer I am, my eyes shot to the high end tables, the flashy ones. After some looking (both at internet reviews and my bank account), I decided that the meat and potatoes Audio Technica AT-LP60 was my guy. Fast-forward to March 9, 2011, the day I adopted my baby and never looked back. Super-fast-forward to today, where I now require milk cartons to hold all my records (how retro college student of me). I work fast.

Without my record player, I don’t think that I’d love The Beach Boys, Duran Duran, The Clash, The Smiths, or The Velvet Underground nearly as much as I do- or even have listened to them much. And that would be a crying shame. Thanks, Rolling Stone, for saving my musical life. I own you one (thousand).

I’ll write about the second life changing article tomorrow, build the suspense! ;)

Currently listening to: John Legend, there’s no music playing and I can STILL hear him in my head- at work my boss usually puts her iPod on shuffle to play on the speakers in the shop, but today it was broken so we had to listen to the same CD all day. All. Day.

(Lou Reed, I’m) Devoted to You…

27 Jun

“So Anne, what’d you do today? Talk to anyone interesting?”
“Oh, not really, just LOU FLIPPING REED.”
“That’s cool, never knew he had a middle name.” ;)

So, yes. Today Lou Reed was at The Strand bookstore in New York City and so was I (along with my dad). We breathed the same air. Me made eye contact. We TALKED. Let me explain…

In 2003 Reed came out with an album called “The Raven”, where he adapted parts of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and wrote songs base on the work and its author. It received mixed reviews (along with the adaptations, he rerecorded “The Bed” and “Perfect Day”- DRASTICALLY changing their vocals), but he loved it enough to take the album’s lyrics, organize them into a book, and add pictures drawn by The New Yorker cartoonist Mattotti.

During the event this evening, Reed read sections of the book with the pictures projected on to a large screen next to him. I can’t even describe how amazing it was to hear his voice for real, in the flesh. He could have been reading the dictionary and I would have been just as entranced.

My favorite album of his is “1969: Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed” where the gang is reunited and sings some of the old favorites. Man, that group is perfect live, absolutely perfect. I own it on vinyl, and it’s actually one of the only ones that I really had to look for (and pay more than $5!). Since it’s such a special album to me I wanted a first pressing, mint condition baby. Auctions on the internet wanted too much money, and I had almost given up hope when Record Store Day (this past April 16) rolled around and my dad and I ended up in a record store that had exactly what I had been dreaming about.

(This is the album with  post-signing!)

Back to today, Reed was nice enough to sign everyone’s books after the talk. I had brought my album with me in hopes that he may scribble on it, and boy did he. When I got to the front of the line I had my million watt smile on and thanked him for coming and personally signing all the books. Oh, and if it wasn’t too much trouble, would he mind signing a record of his I had with me. His words exactly: “Sure, why not.” Never has a more noncommittal response given me so much joy. When I showed it to him, he was impressed that I knew what vinyl was- and even that I listened to the Velvet Underground. I don’t know if he was just being polite, but DUH! He’s the man! Of course people still listen to his jams! :P I told him that I had all of his records, that he’s the greatest, and we made lingering eye contact. It was beautiful.

I’ve heard that he can be kind of a tool, but after my experience with him tonight I have to say he really didn’t live up to that reputation. He was a cool dude in a leather jacket who, though pensive and a bit sullen, was just doin’ his thang. And tonight that thang included me. :)

Currently listening to: Waiting for My Man by The Velvet Underground, the live version of course ;)

Break Away…

25 Jun

I’m currently on the train going to a Smith Westerns and Chairlift concert, my natural state.

I love the train, being able to get from one place to another at set times without stop-and-go traffic or turbulence. I like being effortlessly (on my part, I sure hope the train is working hard!) carried away.

Good songs can do that too, carry you to a different place. I almost always listen to the “Cassadaga” album lying on my bed, eyes closed, mind following Conor Oberst’s lead. It sounds silly to write, but I treat that album like a fine wine. As much as I love and cherish it, I’d never choose to have it nightly with dinner. It’s got to be set aside for special occasions, when I’m in the mood to really appreciate it.

Currently listening to: All Die Young by Smith Westerns

A Day in the Life of a Tree…

24 Jun

Recently I saw “The Tree of Life”. Call me uncultured, but I just couldn’t like it. I’m more of a plot kind of a girl. …And right now I’m plotting ways to silence the chickens next door. But that’s another story.

I like Paul Simon’s newest album, but the first song or two were too repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive…

Kind of like “The Gratuate” soundtrack- it has some of Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest songs, but I would have sworn by the end of it that “Sound of Silence” had been on a loop for three days.

Currently listening to: Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance by Bob Dylan (from the newly released live at Brandeis University album)

Everyone’s in Love with You…

18 Jun

And when I say “you”, I’m lookin’ at puppies and albums. Consider yourselves targeted for the next few paragraphs!

The Clash is one of my favorite bands. They always get me pumped up (the beats of their self-titled album provide the perfect rhythm for jogging- the American version starting off on a high note with “Janie Jones” and building up to the ultimate booster “White Riot”), and I love how they can convey all their angst without being cruel with their lyrics, how they only sprinkle a swear word in every so often instead of drowning their songs with ’em- everything in moderation. To me they’re punk (duh), but accessible punk. I can relate to their plights, and every so often even understand the vocals. ;)

But back to love. I absolutely love their self-titled album. Love it. The version I have on my iPod is the UK version (tracklist: 1. Janie Jones, 2. Remote Control, 3. I’m So Bored with the U.S.A., 4. White Riot, 5. Hate & War, 6. What’s My Name, 7. Deny, 8. London’s Burning, 9. Career Opportunities, 10. Cheat, 11. Protex Blue, 12. Police & Thieves, 13. 48 Hours, 14. Garageland), and that’s the one I know the best. As of today though, that might change as my dad gave me the American and UK versions on vinyl (^__________^). I guess when the American version (tracklist: 1. Clash City Rockers, 2. I’m So Bored with the U.S.A., 3. Remote Control, 4. Complete Control, 5. White Riot, 6. White Man in Hammersmith Palais, 7. London’s Burning, 8. I Fought The Law, 9. Janie Jones, 10. Career Opportunities, 11. What’s My Name, 12. Hate & War, 13. Police & Thieves, 14. Jail Guitar Doors, 15. Garageland) was being compiled, the guys thought that as it was just past our country’s 200th anniversary we might appreciate a little extra rabble-rousing via a great cover of “I Fought the Law” (I certainly do).

Loving a favorite album is a lot like loving a dog. Dogs are notorious for their fierce loyalty and solace during hard times, and one can argue that an album can provide these comforts as well. Turn up the stereo or put those earbuds in, and an album can melt worries away. It’ll be happy for you to hit that “replay” button to your heart’s content without complaint, and for a moment, man those lyrics were written just for you. “Oh man Joe, you tried to join a ping pong club and got rejected?! Me too! You get me.” Though a little bit more rough around the edges (literally) than a canine, albums can provide similar emotional comforts as man’s best friend- just less slobbery.

I remember once when I was crazy homesick, it wasn’t friends or Nutella that made me feel better, it was Henry Mancini’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” score that nursed me back to happiness. I still owe him one for that day. And substituting comfort albums for comfort food is a lot easier on the ol’ gut, too- win win (or as Michael Scott would urge, win win win).

Everyone has “that album”- that one that got them through a death or a break-up or the flu, and the gratitude owed to that musical bud shouldn’t be overlooked. My mission for you today: skip hugging a tree and go hug your favorite album. Make it breakfast in bed. Compliment it on how well it has aged, and make it feel appreciated.

Currently listening to: Side 5 of Bob Dylan’s “Biograph”, but The Clash, The Smiths (“Meat is Murder”), and The Carpenters have all made appearances today

A Casual Look (at singles vs. albums)…

17 Jun

When I’m alone in the house I like to have music going on the speakers, and tonight’s selection was “Burst Apart” by The Antlers- it’s really good night music. I probably can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the album on repeat (or even if I could I wouldn’t dare let you know how many hours days weeks ermmm I’ve listened to it), and I’ve gotten to know it better than I myself had even realized. You know that moment when one song ends and there’s that couple second gap before the next tune, but in your head you can already hear the first few chords? That happened to me tonight between “I Don’t Want Love” and “French Exit”.

The first album I ever had this experience with was The Beatles’ “1”. Beginning when I was in elementary school, this was my dad’s and my “car album”- the one that you have in the glove compartment that’s your go-to when there’s nothing good on the radio or you just want to groove. (It was also one of the albums that made me love music four times my age, but that’s a story for another day…) I heard those opening twangs on “Ticket to ride” almost before “Eight days a week” was even over, and got excited every time my brain correctly jumped the next-song-up gun.

I’ve always been a complete album kind of gal, and this is one of the reasons why. I like knowing the flow of songs, and love when they almost melt into one another (my favorite example of this being The Dandy Warhol’s “Welcome to the Monkey House”- to me that feels like one 45 minute jam).

In this digital age, the importance of the album is starting to be overlooked. I do like singles- but only really when they’re being released as teasers, whetting my appetite for an album to come. For finding bands as well- a single song may be what draws me in, but I do like sample the rest of the album. Sometimes I haven’t loved a single, but it’s made more sense and appealed more to me when I’ve heard it in the context of its LP.

Main points: Thumbs up Antlers, thumbs down singles

I think I’m going to create a whole post category for talking about albums, I have a feeling I’ll have more to add to this discussion… :)

Currently listening to: We Don’t Want Your Body by Stars, the music video for this song came out today and it’s a giggle