"Matches" by Sifu Hotman [*] was this past episode's weather on Welcome to Night Vale, and as soon as I had a minute, I went and bought the entire album (only $5 on Bandcamp!). Here's an embed of the song, which you can also download for free through the link:

embed which is doing weird things to the whitespace on my reading page but plays just fine )

[*] BTW, best band name or best band name?

It builds, so you should listen to the whole thing, but really, it says quite a lot of what you need to know about me to know that I find the last section genuinely comforting (my transcription):

There are no stories told in a vacuum, there is no prophecy lighting our way
There is just a lot of darkness to be afraid of, so it's a good thing we are not afraid
There is no Superman in that phone booth, there is no rewarding our faith
There is no-one who can save us, so it's a good thing we don't need to be saved
There are no starships in low Earth orbit, no aliens to save us from ourselves
There is no voice willing to speak for us, so it's a good thing we know how to yell
There is no Chosen One, no destiny, no fate, there's no such thing as magic
There is no light at the end of this tunnel; so it's a good thing we brought matches

I haven't listened to the rest of the album yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. Check it out.

Several months ago, I dumped a bunch of songs into a shuffle playlist and called it "Transformative Weather": things that reminded me of Welcome to Night Vale in some way, things I'd just been listening to then, a couple Dylan covers that I really like and that had come up on shuffle again recently, and some other things that just seemed to fit.

I later refined it into an actual listen-in-this-order playlist, and in celebration of catching up on my episode reactions, I've put it on YouTube, because that is a thing one can do these days. As usual, I have only watched snippets of most of the videos, though I have optimized the start and end times for music-in-background as opposed to video-watching purposes. If you like the songs, support the artists, please.

  1. "Hard To Make It," by Tracy Grammer (could only find a live version; volume is very low)
  2. "Bad Luck," by Langhorne Slim & The Law
  3. "Tallulah," by Company Of Thieves
  4. "Fire In the Canyon," by Fountains Of Wayne
  5. "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," by Miley Cyrus
  6. "Calamity Song," by The Decemberists (Infinite Jest fans, you need to watch this video; volume is very low)
  7. "Call Me Up," by World Party
  8. "Radioactive," by Imagine Dragons (yes, I used the WtNV trailer version for the YouTube playlist, because the official video does weird things to the song)
  9. "That Old Black Hole," by Dr. Dog
  10. "Long Time Coming," by Delays
  11. "Gimme Sympathy (live)," by Metric
  12. "Chloe," by Grouplove
  13. "With God On Our Side," by K'naan
  14. "Sleep All Summer," by Crooked Fingers
  15. "Love Will Save Your Soul," by Grouplove
  16. "Anna Sun," by Walk the Moon
  17. "Bottled In Cork," by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  18. "Living in Colour," by Frightened Rabbit
  19. "Graceless," by The National
  20. "Make It Always Be Too Late," by Del Amitri

(The last song is (a) the one I would pick in a heartbeat if the Night Vale folks showed up on my doorstep and asked me to introduce the weather; and (b) so obscure that last time I looked I couldn't find it on YouTube, only live covers that lacked the instrumentation that gives it the full feel. So yay it being up now.)

Several weeks ago, I embarked upon a mildly obsessive compare-and-contrast of all the versions of "Atlantic City" that we had in our music library, the results of which I will now share with you all, because why not.

Here's the official lyrics (click the little horizontal lines next to the song to expand them).

Here's Bruce Springsteen's original:

video embed )

Acoustic guitar, harmonia, slightly eerie echoing backing vocals, and that delicate guitar work under—is that the bridge, the bit that starts with "Our luck may have died and our love may be cold"? (My musical vocabulary is almost non-existent.) Not the version that crawls into my head and doesn't come out for days, but powerful.

Here's a recent Bruce rendition, with the Sessions Band, off Live in Dublin:

video embed )

Starts with banjo and acoustic guitar; eventually brings in the full 18-piece backing band including multiple vocalists. Love the banjo-and-guitar sections, but think the overall big-band style fails to convey the necessary darkness.

A classic cover by The Band:

video embed )

Acoustic Americana; apparently the version that half the world thinks is the original. Very competent, love the mandolin (at least, the Internet claims that's what that first instrument is), but (1) one of the changes it makes to the lyrics has bad associations for me [*] and (2) I also think it doesn't get the tone right.

[*] Instead of, "Now I've been looking for a job but it's hard to find / Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line," they have "there's winners and there's losers and I'm south of the line." That reminds me that it's the same band that did "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which I cordially loathe, because it's an extremely catchy and well-crafted song about, as Wikipedia concisely notes, "the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering of Southern whites," which, fuck the Confederacy.

And the cover that sent me down this road, several weeks ago, because it kept coming up on shuffle play at bedtime, by the Hold Steady:

video embed )

Piano, sax, electric guitar. Granted, it's Craig Finn's voice, but I like the way this version highlights "Last night I met this guy, I'm going to do a favor for him," and I think it hits the proper tone—more sinister than eerie, but that's appropriate too. This is the version that crawls into my head and doesn't come out for days, for whatever reason.

Plus one I came across while looking for the above links, by Mumford and Sons with Haim (contains one audible "fucking"):

video embed )

(Oh hey, look at that, we can use the non-old embed code on DW now and specify start time with a URL parameter. Cool.)

Electric guitars, full band including strings and horns. Normally I do not care for Mumford and Sons at all, but I like the bass-heavy bluesy feel of the opening verses, especially the second one, which is sung by Este Haim. I just wish the harmonies were tighter (I know, tour, different bands, blah, it just makes me sad). Also there's lots of jamming, if you like that.

And that's about enough of that.
Hello, DW. I had a very busy weekend, all of it lovely, which is nice since Thursday was, oh, let's say top three in worst courtroom experiences ever.

Friday: the kids went off to Chad's parents, and we went to see the Hold Steady in a little tiny restaurant/bar in Albany. I was still really tired from the week and recovering from this cold, but I found a bar stool to perch on at the side of the room, which both kept me from having to stand and elevated me slightly so I could see somewhat. Unfortunately, this meant I had a really good view of the singer from the opening act, who cut for minor grossness )

Anyway. Chad has been a huge fan of the Hold Steady since the days of "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"; I like a few of their songs and can take or leave the rest, but I had a very good time anyway, because it's the kind of music that sounds best when played loud, live, and to an audience who knows all the words. Their lead singer has the weirdest version of rock star . . . stardom, I guess, though. I can't call it charisma, because I have seen rock star charisma, I have been to a Yes I Am-era Melissa Etheridge concert and two Bruce Springsteen concerts, okay, that is charisma, which (if you swing that way, and maybe even if you don't) obliterates the "or" in "everyone wants to do me or be me" (TM Tom and Lorenzo). What Craig Finn, the Hold Steady's vocalist, has, is neither do me or be me, but is kind of an infectious dorky joy at being there in the first place to have fun with everyone else (the last part is key). I just spent way too long looking for decent live videos of my favorite songs, without luck, so have a semi-random video of "Chips Ahoy" (the racing wagers song) from several years ago, to give you a sense of the idea. For more details, see Chad's post and the set list.

Then Saturday I had a routine endoscopy, just to make sure a decade of acid reflux hasn't caused significant damage; this was actually why we'd sent the kids off in the first place, since it involved anesthesia and someone else driving me home. The procedure was fine and I spent the afternoon asleep on the couch, just a little soreness that has passed. Even not eating after midnight or drinking after eight was perfectly tolerable when I didn't have to get up at five with a toddler, so hey, no complaints. Plus that night we got to watch the college where Chad works, Union College, win their first-ever NCAA championship in men's hockey, which was pretty great. (The NYT story does a good job of putting the game in context.)

Today I drove out to Massachusetts to have lunch with friends from high school and a selection of their kids, including an eleven-week-old that my friend was kind enough to let various of us snuggle. I do not want another baby, but there's just nothing like a tiny baby asleep on your shoulder, and that was a really lovely full-body trip down nostalgia lane. Plus I got to have a conversation with another kid who is a bit older than SteelyKid, and catch up with all the adults, and it was all very restorative, despite the drive.

And then tonight Chad and I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because he skipped it opening weekend to take SteelyKid to movie night at her school (he was much less interested than me, and SteelyKid was super-hyped to go to movie night). More on that (inevitably) in a moment.
Hey, I never got back to the guess the very short lyrics post, did I?

Here's what wasn't guessed, original phrase italicized:

1. On the road, it's well-advised that you follow your own bag / In the year of the chewable Ambien tab

2. So throw away those lamentations, we both know them all too well / If there's a book of jubilations we'll have to write it for ourselves

4. Is there a powder to erase this? / Is it dissolvable and tasteless?

I kinda suspect only Chad is going to get #2, and #4 is new-ish, but someone here ought to get #1.
Let's play "guess the very short lyrics," because it's been a while and I find it inexplicably cheering. In alphabetical order because why not:

1. Ambien tab
2. book of jubilations
3. delusional sunset
4. dissolvable and tasteless
5. former talk-show host
6. issues drawn

(I was going to wait until I had more but it's been that kind of day.)
Saw Metric at Upstate Concert Hall tonight. Had a lot of fun, nice high-energy show with a crowd that largely was into it [*] and with the vocals mixed to be audible. (Their opening act, whose name I did not catch and who only got the gig yesterday, could have done better in this regard. They were otherwise a decent match and perfectly enjoyable.)

I admit I was a little sad that my two favorite songs, "Satellite Mind" (note: clearly-audible "fuck" in chorus) and "Blindness" didn't make it, though not surprised, since they're from the last album. (I have no idea what their actual singles were because I discovered them thanks to Chad buying the album and shuffle-playing new acquisitions.)

Could have wished that it was longer—about 80 minutes total—but probably for the best given that it's a weeknight. Here, have the slowed-down acoustic sing-along version of "Gimme Sympathy" that was just the right way to end the night:

embedded concert video )

[*] Dear Asshole, )
Metric is coming to a nearby town next week, when I will be at home by myself. I only found this out today, but fortunately there are still tickets left and I am printing mine now. Culture! That I don't have to travel for! Woo!

I was thinking about this on my drive home and I need to type something that doesn't make my stomach hurt, so:

What's your favorite memory of being in a group singing something? Mine is possibly an only-teenagers kind of thing, being on a school bus for a field trip (I think it was a summer session at Phillips Andover) and someone playing "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a boom box and everyone, just everyone, joining in for a perfect hair-on-back-of-neck raising moment of all being in sync.

(Yes, that is very teenager, isn't it. Also, I bet kids don't bring music devices with external speakers on school buses any more, even if it's a team bus.)

(I was thinking about this because "Landslide" came on, which was one of the songs we sang outside at Readercon this summer, which got me thinking about what makes a good sing-along song without recorded music, which got me here.)

Anyway. For those of you of an appropriate age, have some nostalgia.

music video for 'Under the Bridge' )

Last night after Chad tagged in to Pip duty and I grabbed a bite to eat, I wandered out to the gazebo in the back of the Readercon hotel because I saw a sign that the Viable Paradise folks would be out there with instruments, and I thought it likely that there would be music.

There was indeed music. [livejournal.com profile] red_mike_yog sang all the verses of "The Man on the Flying Trapeze", which is long but I approve of the ending (we all agreed that it was for the best). [livejournal.com profile] ellen_kushner and [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman sang "From Galway to Graceland", which prompted me to ask Delia if they knew John Hiatt's "Tennessee Plates", another song about dodgy visits to Graceland. Someone whose name I never got did a country-ish version of "Mysterious Ways" on a ukulele (though somehow we never got to "lift my days, light up my nights"), among several other contemporary songs ("Mr. Jones" has a lot more words than I remembered).

Another Richard Thompson song that Ellen played and we all sang, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," was probably my favorite moment, because it's lovely, it was brave and generous of Ellen to play it, and it was a good example of how performers can cheerfully wing some things. I may never hear the verse

Says James, "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeves won't do,
They don't have a soul like a Vincent 52"

without hearing Ellen sing "now fancy-motorcycle and fancy-motorcycle and Greeves won't do," because it made me smile in solidarity—that bit I actually knew, but most of the time I am not nearly so clever at half-remembered lyrics and just mumble.

Also, the last time I found myself in an impromptu music session at Readercon was several years ago, before the ubiquity of smartphones, and the ability to access lyrics sites immediately changes things a lot; it was the only way people got through "Stairway to Heaven," for instance.

Good times, and only one mosquito bite from it, amazingly; other people must've smelled better for a change.

Over on G+ I started trying to daily record what song was in my head when I woke up in the morning. (There are two kinds of people in the world, those who always have music playing in the back of their head and those who don't.) This rapidly devolved into "whenever I happened to notice and be near a computer," but regardless, the net result has been a list of songs I know, many of which I recommend.

Thanks to a suggestion by [personal profile] skwidly, the recommended songs are now in a YouTube playlist, along with very short blurbs (so they show completely in list view). Apparently you can subscribe to me (I'm not expecting to do much else with this account but add songs to this playlist, so it shouldn't be intrusive), or you could just bookmark the page and stop by whenever you're looking for some music—new recommendations are on top.

The chorus of the Decemberists' "Don't Carry It All" includes the line "Let the yoke fall from our shoulders." The band's website renders this as "Let the yolk fall." Yes, here's a song about bearing a "neighbor's burden," and the chorus references eggs rather than a device used for pulling heavy loads. Uh-huh. (Though the image of fried eggs pinned on like epaulettes is somewhat amusing to me.)

Thus, a poll:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 40


The yoke/yolk confusion is because of

View Answers

damn you, autocorrect!
1 (2.6%)

human error compounded by complete proofreading failure
32 (82.1%)

deliberate trolling
3 (7.7%)

no, really, it's about eggs! somehow.
2 (5.1%)

something else I will explain in comments
1 (2.6%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky!
24 (68.6%)

you and me and the war of the end-times
4 (11.4%)

lash-flashing Leda of pier nineteen
5 (14.3%)

raise a glass to turnings of the season
10 (28.6%)

on the wrong side of the lee
5 (14.3%)

with our arms unbound
5 (14.3%)

Oh, and speaking of music polls, I never identified the songs in last month's lyrics poll.

So let me do that now, with links to listen: )

So here are the first lines of the first ten songs from my 5-star playlist, set to shuffle, that are in English and don't contain the song name in the opening. Behind the cut, a poll:

ten first lines and associated questions )

This was going to be a multiple-things post but it has languished for about a week waiting for the other two things, so:

Thing the first: I got a haircut recently and now have this persistent strong urge to cut all my hair off. Not boot camp short, but instead of all lengths falling to my hairline/mid-jaw, I don't know, shorter: close to my head in the back, and maybe bangs again in the front? Having stared in the mirror while pulling my hair back, I'm not sure I actually have the face for this, but I might try it anyway: I'm planning to get another cut as close to my due date as possible, so if I hate it, well, it grows fast; I won't be spending a lot of time thinking about my appearance then anyway; and it would be so much easier.

(Some reference pictures: freshly-cut, from the side/back, and longer, from the front.)

Thing the second: I think the Decemberists win the award for making songs that I want to sing along with but that are inordinately difficult. Take "Calamity Song," for instance (video; lyrics (click the song title)). Bouncy, starts out pretty simply, and I even got "Andalusian tribes," in the chorus, without too much trouble (well, I don't know why, but I understood what the words were). But then the start of the second verse? "Hetty Green / Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab / (You know what I mean?)"

Supply-side bonhomie bone-drab? Seriously?

BTW: those of you who like Infinite Jest need to watch that video even if you don't like the song, because it's the Eschaton scene (NYT article with more detail). (It's understandable as a video even if you don't know the book.) Chad found the section for me in the book, and I read it (well, most of it; I skipped the math footnote). So very much not my kind of thing, but I can see the appeal.

(I see it is available as an ebook, and wow, I would not want to have been in charge of that conversion.)

I've been listening to the National's album High Violet a fair bit recently. I went looking for lyrics this morning and found this blog, which has YouTube videos and lyrics for all the songs on the album (and many more besides).

I don't have the vocabulary to talk about music, really, but I like the richness of the background against the peculiar spareness of the lyrics (which is hard to quote out of context but nevertheless lodges in my head—I mean, "I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees / I never married, but Ohio don't remember me"?). I particularly like "Sorrow," "Anyone's Ghost," "Bloodbuzz Ohio," "Lemonworld," and "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks," but the entire album actually works well as an album, which is unusual for me these days (my only two-star song is "Afraid Of Anyone"). [*] Honorable mention to "Runaway" for being used in this character study of Meldrick from Homicide ("What makes you think I'm enjoying being led to the flood? / We got another thing coming undone.").

[*] For instance, I tried listening to Josh Ritter's So Runs the World Away as an album (available from the artist in its entirety on YouTube), and as much as I like some of the songs on that, others make me lunge for the "skip" button. And I can't seem to muster up the attention for the Decemberists' The King Is Dead at one go, for all that I've rated half the songs on it at 3+ stars by now from when they've come up on shuffle.

If you like the songs from the blog, here are handy purchase links: album at Amazon or iTunes.

Here are some lyrics that have snagged my attention lately, done as a poll for the reason in the subject and also because it amuses me. Links to listen are in the first comment (so if it amuses you to play guess-the-song, don't hover the one that says "artist's website").

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 33


Pick one:

View Answers

When I was seventeen, I had wrists like steel, and I felt complete.
10 (30.3%)

I gave my heart to the Army, the only sentimental thing I could think of.
5 (15.2%)

The bottom line's been snorted; the bottom card's been dealt.
3 (9.1%)

So knock me down, tear me up, but I would bear it all broken just to fill my cup.
11 (33.3%)

One last eighty proof, slouching in the corner booth, baby, it's as good as it gets.
4 (12.1%)

Why?

View Answers

Liked the quote.
18 (54.5%)

Liked the song.
6 (18.2%)

Random chance.
5 (15.2%)

I am inscrutable.
7 (21.2%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky.
13 (44.8%)

Why can't MP3 downloads be sold with the lyrics in the metadata?
23 (79.3%)

Who cares, I usually like my own version of the lyrics better.
0 (0.0%)

ObReference to kissthisguy.com.
6 (20.7%)

And yes, I admit it, I winnowed these down based in part on which ones made something of a progression. So what?

(Also, I was going to save this for Tuesday morning, but I am so exceptionally grumpy about work right now that I'm doing it early. It's that or eat way more chocolate than is wise.)

Here's an obscure one: "The Other Shoe" by the Old 97's, a cheery little double-murder ditty.

By the time she thought you'd probably got to Phoenix
She'd arranged for your shoes to be filled
You've got your pride and a blue-steel .45
And you're waiting for the other shoe to fall

A straight-up live version, or if you prefer a more old-school country feel, one with Waylon Jennings on vocals.

This is the playlist that resulted from last Thursday's shuffle/skip fest, which I initially thought was called "Music for the Morning After (the Apocalypse)" but then decided it wasn't. It's currently "stark (rev. 2)" in iTunes [*], but I'm so sick of snow I can't call it "Winter Is Coming" even for the joke. Other titles under enh-maybe consideration are "Two Ends of Time" and "Holding Back the Vampires."

[*] Playlists are such an improvement over mix tapes when it comes to ease of putting them together. Why don't I do this more often? Oh yeah, because I have no time. Right.

Links are to places you can listen online; the Google searches should give you a "Play song" link near the top, which lets you listen free the first time. If it's a YouTube link, it's for the song not the video; half the time I haven't even watched the video, just put the tab in the background and listened to be sure that the song is all there.

twelve songs, with links to listen, lyrics snippets, and occasional comments )

. . . this was almost entirely written when it occured to me that I fail at self-reflection and should maybe have considered why, less than a week before March 1, I found myself finishing a playlist, for the first time in literally years, that just happened to be about loss and determination and was picked with "bleak yet fierce" as the guiding principle. Clearly I should just call it "In Memoriam" and be done with it.

The Eels, "Rock Hard Times":

embedded video )

Brought to you by my current method of inadvertently starting "mix tapes," which is queuing up the 4+ stars playlist, hearing a song, hitting "skip" until the next song that I'm in the mood for, lather rinse repeat. Which tonight got me Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down," Josh Ritter's "Folk Bloodbath," and this, but I'm not sure what comes next or if they stay in that order. Which hasn't stopped me from mentally dubbing it "Music for the Morning After (the Apocalypse)," of course.

The Hold Steady are a weird, weird band (or, possibly, Craig Finn is a weird, weird dude), and I basically only like three of their songs, but those three make good Monday morning music, kind of up-tempo rock with lyrics more shouted than sung but still weirdly catchy. SteelyKid is going for an epic sleeping-in this morning, so here, have some music.

three embedded videos )

Right, I'm going in to wake a sleeping toddler. Wish me luck.

May 2017

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