"If the beat gets to the audience, and the message touches them, you've got a hit." Casey Kasem

Friday, August 26, 2011

What 21 Feels Like

On August 25, 1992, my friend Veesa and I took off for London to go see Babes in Toyland. We didn't have tickets to see them, but we had hopes that we could get them. When she originally went to get the tickets, she got L7 ones instead, which wasn't a problem since I liked them and she really liked them. And besides, this was the summer of 10,000 concerts. We were averaging about 2 shows every 3 weeks, which was something because we were young and didn't have a lot of money to be traveling to London or Norwich or various other places in southeastern England as much as we were, but we were still off into the NME / Melody Maker world.
All in all, it was a great time to be alive and enjoying music.
That night, instead of Babes in Toyland, we saw a shitty band named Medicine. We stayed for all of 1 and part of 2 feedback heavy "songs," and left. Somewhere in there, she got to meet Tony from Curve, which made her year. That weekend, we saw Henry Rollins speak in London and it changed both of our lives because he was fantastic. That was just the kind of summer it was. It didn't matter that there was no love relationships or anything good on a day to day basis. There was music and friendship and memories, and that was what made 21 such a great summer.
Like Husker Du sang about, it was my celebrated summer of being young.
The year before, grunge had arrived and punk had broke (or so the video said), and we were in Camden Town as often as we could be. At that time, I wasn't thinking, so I got a tattoo. Then, I really wasn't thinking, and I got another one and a pair of Doc Martens, which matched nicely with my No More Censorship Defense Fund shirt - the classic Alternative Tentacles look without the record bag. If there wasn't that one, there was the Corporate Rock Still Sucks SST T-shirt, a definite classic from the day (as was the Black Flag bars T-shirt).
It was a good time to be young and into music. Kurt Cobain was still alive. Drinking all the time and going crazy wasn't a sign of immaturity or lack of direction. In fact, living in an Air Force dorm and drinking was to be expected. When I got to my final base the next year, we literally had a dorm bar. Nevertheless, authority was evil and needed to be put into its place - which sounds as dumb as it was seeing as I was in the military at the time.
Yeah... the early 1990s was what it was: youth culture.
And my life was what it was: a whirlwind of transitions and trying to fit in - musically, if not socially.
That said, not all of the music is as good as it used to be. Nevertheless, the following 60 songs epitomize that period of time in my life. There is some nostalgia for the past years that I had lived since I was in England and some of what I was trying to hang onto from my days in America. There was British Indie (before Blur made it cool to be Brit Pop and the sound became a sanitized and older version of mellowed out Beatles stuff).
So if this is my halfway point (the 40th birthday), then this is what the first 1/4 of my life was and where it was at - musically speaking at least, which is really where my life was at that time.
1. Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - Is Wrestling Fixed
2. Gangreen - Ballad
3. King Missile - Sensitive Artist
4. Camper Van Beethoven - Where the Hell Is Bill
5. They Might Be Giants - Ana Ng
6. A House - I Don't Care
7. Pixies - Head On
8. Husker Du - Makes No Sense at All
9. Nomeansno - The Fall
10. Alice Donut - Mother of Christ
11. Jello Biafra and DOA - Full Metal Jackoff
12. Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Satanic Reverses
13. Jesus Lizard - One Evening
14. Misfits - Bullet
15. Samhain - All Murder All Guts All Fun
16. Jawbox - Low
17. Joy Division - Novelty
18. Sonic Youth - Wish Fulfillment
19. Babes in Toyland - Catatonic
20. Henry Rollins - Ex Lion Tamer
21. The Descendants - Cheer
22. Circle Jerks - Making the Bombs
23. Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing
24. Henry Rollins and the Hard Ons - Carry Me Down
25. Sugar - The Act We Act
26. Lemonheads - Bit Part
27. Boo Radleys - Does This Hurt
28. Adorable - Sunshine Smile
29. Throwing Muses - Not Too Soon
30. Julian Cope - Hanging Out and Hung Up on the Line
31. Angry Samoans - Lights Out
32. Minor Threat - It Follows
33. Leatherface - Not Superstitious
34. Kingmaker - High as a Kite
35. Love and Rockets - Dog End of a Day Gone By
36. Nirvana - Come As You Are
37. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Happy
38. Consolidated - Brutal Equation
39. Faith Healers - Reptile Smile
40. Curve - 10 Little Girls
41. Breeders - Limehouse
42. Wolfgang Press - Kansas
43. Bauhaus - In the Flat Field
44. Pigface - Little Sisters (live)
45. Ministry - So What (live)
46. 1000 Homo DJs - Supernaut
47. Acid Horse - No Name No Slogan
48. PTP - Rubber Glove Seduction
49. Nine Inch Nails - Wish
50. Meat Beat Manifesto - Now
51. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - A Daisy Chain for Satan
52. Skinny Puppy Rodent
53. Pailhead - I Will Refuse
54. Lead Into Gold - Faster than Light
55. Revolting Cocks - Beers Steers and Queers
56. L7 - Shitlist
57. Huggy Bear - T Shirt Tucked In
58. Steel Pole Bathtub - Arizona Garbage Truck
59. Jesus and Mary Chain - Reverance
60. Les Thugs - Moon Over Marin
And in looking back at the songs, there were tunes for breaks ups, jumping around and listening to music in clubs or the dorm room, songs to be frustrated to, and there were songs for energy to get through long train rides. Sadly, there wasn't much music for happiness. Sure, there are songs for a lot of different things... the music of the relationship I was in at the time doesn't really hold up as it represents what I hoped a relationship could be musically - as opposed to what one is. Hence, we lasted a lot longer than we should have, but in the end, we were no more.
Nevertheless, life is where we end up after all of the things that take us somewhere. This was a stopping point on my journey to me, a journey that is in way complete, but at least, it's headed towards somewhere good. I truly believe that - even if I'm still waiting for the inevitable phone call of what should happen, but can't until someone else does something with it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Wife's Anniversary CDs

While it doesn’t always feel like it, it’s quite clear that time truly flies. In November of 2007, we were communicating with one another via e-mail, and then, on December 1, 2007, we were going to see Fred Claus. By February, we were taking in dinosaurs and national monuments in Washington D.C. with the feeling of fresh love in our minds. Less than a year later, we were getting engaged on October 11, 2008. About 2 and a half months later, we made the New Years Eve decision to get married on August 15, 2009, which has become THEE moment that became the greatest day of my life.
Everything after that night was a whirlwind of energy and planning to get to the Everybody Loves Raymond tribute. There were days spent journeying to the waterfalls of 6 different states, and there were afternoons and evenings spent wandering through the flowers of Longwood Gardens. There were beautiful vistas that we looked out from, and there were places of historic significance. There were moments spent walking in the footsteps of my grandparents, and there were moments spent creating memories for the future. There were trips to the biographical places of both of our lives. There were get-togethers with our families and friends. There was a lot of quiet time spent snuggling while watching mindless television. There was our house that gave us quiet time in the Siesta Zone with the fire fully blazing to the lowest branches of the tree, and there was food fresh from the Grill Zone. There were a lot of dreams, hope, and flowers. There was always a lot of flowers! And sadly, for the last 8 months, there was a lot of tough times thrust on us by the world, but with tough times, good things are sure to come, and I do believe that the best things are yet to come because I have you to make everything better.
In this, there was always you, and with you, all of the good things come.
I wouldn’t want to be in a world where I didn’t say, “I do.” I wouldn’t trade anything that I got with you for anything that anyone else could give me. You are beautiful and intelligent and kind and dedicated and wonderful to me. Your strength and understanding through all of the ups and downs that we have seen will continue to grow and keep us heading towards the Promised Land, where we walk on Caribbean beaches, climb in Californian mountains to get to waterfalls, gaze out on the geysers that rest above the super-volcano of Wyoming, descend into serpentine slot canyons in Utah, stroll along seaside walkways in Italy, and helicopter over Hawaiian volcanoes, beaches, and waterfalls. And while sometimes, it all might feel like these things are a million days away, time isn’t stopping, and we are heading towards our paradise, which is what keeps me going.
You are my everything.
Knowing that you’re thinking the same things that I’m about to say, dreaming many of the same dreams as me (you don’t think about slot canyons the way that I do), and feeling the same definition of love, romance, and future joys that will carry us through to greatness when all of this stuff with two job hunts mellows out in the very near future.
And while nobody is ever perfect and always everything that he or she should be, I long to be better and more patient and compassionate and expressive and kind and dedicated to making all of my promises of August 15, 2009, and the times before and afterward into something that is so precious and real in our lives. I know that there are possibilities… just as there were 2 years ago today when we drove into the sunset of western Pennsylvania to get married and to honeymoon in West Virginia with the promise of a masters degree and a new house and growing old together happening for us when we returned home.
I think of that, and I know that all is good. At my most optimistic, I can see the summertime glory of relaxing while drinking iced tea from mason jars and listening to mellow songs of an America that once was (and still can be) when we return from hiking to a serene waterfall (even if it was discolored from the runoff of the coal mines!). At my most pessimistic, I can feel defeated, but then I remember that you are my teammate, and that together, we can make it to the World Series of life (obligatory baseball reference). I can think of that and know that with love and goofiness, all things come. You are the person that I want to love. You are the woman that I want to impress by doing great things that just come naturally from inside me. You are the companion that I want with me when I see all of the good things that life has to offer.
HG… I love you more than anything. Happy 2nd of many wedding anniversaries!
The musical love letter of our anniversary - Disc 1:
1. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (The lyrics say everything about power, hope, and smallness - “I was raised up believin' I was somehow unique like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see And now after some thinkin' I'd say I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.”)
2. Tomorrow from the Annie Soundtrack (she’s not quite Miley singing “The Climb” from the mountaintops, but when she sings “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you’re only a day away” I challenge you not to get goose bumps).
3. For the First Time by The Script (In all of the difficulties of life, there is frustration and this song captures that. Despite its radio friendly nature, there’s still something to it when they sing about getting through the problems that a bad economy can add to life in lines such as “Trying to make things work but man these times are hard”)
4. If I Had a Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies (What I wouldn’t do for you with 8-9 figures of Powerball winnings!)
5. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times by Michael Penn and Aimee Mann (It’s actually a Beach Boys song, but it just seems to sum up the way it feels when everything that we do that we know is right just doesn’t work. When he stopped singing surfing and girl oogling songs, Brian Wilson was actually really introspective).
6. Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World by Israel kamakawiwo'ole (who would have thought that a ukulele a Hawaiian guy going all emotional over songs a half century old could express hope perfectly? Well, that and snorkeling amongst the denizens of island paradises?!!)
7. I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash (“the rain has gone… gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day.” And it really is, Pookie Bear.)
8. Wasted on the Way by Crosby Stills and Nash (“There’s so much time to make up everywhere we turn, time we have wasted on the way.” And there will be… and it will be good when the time comes. I promise.)
9. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO (“Sun is shinin' in the sky There ain't a cloud in sight It's stopped rainin' ev'rybody's in a play And don't you know It's a beautiful new day hey, hey” One can’t forget that Jeff Lynne of ELO was a Wilbury with George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan. How could a Wilbury not sing a song so optimistic and cheerful?)
10. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (If ever there was an anthem to get through adversity, it was that of Sylvester Stallone getting ready to pummel the tar out of Mr. T, who I must say would still make a great GPS voice).
11. I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles by the Proclaimers (Would still be a great song, but it seems to represent How I Met Your Mother, which has become a part of the last several months of our lives).
12. Temptation by New Order (I love this song, but I would love it more if they did it in a slowed down acoustic version – kind of like the charcoal commercial where they play the Human League’s “Keep Feeling Fascination” – “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before.”)
13. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (“I know you get me so I let my walls come down.” I don’t care how pop this song is because it’s actually radio music at its best. There’s something really vulnerable about the first lines of the song before it turns into repetitious dance music, and if you asked me, it would play well with acoustic guitars and a piano).
14. Hey Soul Sister by Train (Of all of the music for middle aged people (35-55), there’s something fun and nostalgic (the 80s references) about this, and frankly, I don’t want to miss a single thing that you do either).
15. When You’re Smiling by Frank Sinatra (this was playing at Longwood Gardens the last time that we went. The throwback 1920s group was jamming while we were eating ice cream, and frankly, this said, “this is what America and life is supposed to be.” I think you’ll agree).
16. Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest (Ok, it’s not Van Morrison, but it could be and it works really well for feeling happy and drinking iced tea or just driving down the highway and feeling good about the world)
17. Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer (Well, it is! And I will always love you and want to hold you close and just adore all that you are)
18. Moondance by Van Morrison (It’s always a marvelous night for a moon dance. Here’s to the late summer and autumn giving us time to get away and just stare at the stars and feel young and in love).
19. Broken by Jack Johnson (This was playing when we went to the beach in Delaware. It just makes me realize how much more whole and good I can be because of what your love does for me – even in the midst of feeling the world around me. “Without you I was broken, but I’d rather be broke down with you by my side.”)
20. One Love / People Get Ready by Bob Marley (they advertise Jamaica with this song. I think it’s a really good ending to the midpoint of these CDs and I really want to go be mellow in Jamaica with you! “Let’s get together and feel all right.”)
Disc 2
1. Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O’ Connor (while it may be a break up song, it’s still A) a song that was written by Prince, and that’s something good, and B) it reminds me of you singing eighties songs. And no matter what, I’ll always look forward to you being back by my side – no matter where we might be apart from one another).
2. Baby I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton (“I want to be with you night and day.” More mellow summer goodness that reflects what marriage is and should be about)
3. I’m Yours by Jason Mraz (Feel good summer stuff with a happy island adventure video to match. I’m ready for that kind of vacation.)
4. Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Callet (“Lucky I’m in love with my best friend.” Nuff said.)
5. Lashes by Rhett Miller (“I could live on your love and nothing else if I had to.” For a guy who once sang angry cow punk, he sings a lot of songs about love, too.)
6. Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello (I always thought this was a clever song, and being an expressive English teacher guy, I like the idea of how life can be a story or a movie. In that, I look forward to getting to the part where we’re sitting mellow on the beach at the end of the movie that we’re in (of course, it would be an 8 part series!))
7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman (Like Up, Toy Story 3 says everything that matters about life, and this song is just really simple, and despite its playfulness, it reflects all the good things that life and marriage should be).
8. Your Love is the Place Where I Come From (There is something soaring and beautiful in the guitars as the lyrics melt into the mix and just carry you away to the glory of love and togetherness in spite of all things. “I disappear when you’re not here in my life”).
9. Desert Rose by Sting (If I think of an expression of you, I think of this song. Perhaps it’s the fact that you listened to it for an entire trip to Ohio.)
10. Pink Moon by Nick Drake (This song mellows you out, so I put it on here for you.)
11. In My Life by The Beatles (Ok, so it’s one of those overplayed video montage of life songs, but isn’t that what these lyrics are trying to do as they take us from the moments of frustration that should just drift away into the hope and optimism of all the things that are to come?)
12. Waste by Phish (All of the things that don’t need to be expressed perfectly into the poeticness of love that comes from the lyrics “come waste your time with me.” In that, it’s never wasted time being with the woman that I love more than anything in the world.)
13. Changes by David Bowie (When I was young, this was one of the first hip songs that I ever got into. Now that I’m old, I think it reflects so much of the transitions that life has given to me.)
14. I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack (This was playing when we drove home from West Virginia. I always liked it and felt that she was a much better country singer than 99% of what’s out there as they croon with southern twang while not being that lyrically different from the bubble gum pop that is on the radio. Maybe this is a little adult contemporary or graduation song oriented, but it still resonates clearly with its hopeful message.)
15. Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid Soundtrack (Ok, I’ve been looking at Travel Channel countdowns and Sandals ads way too long now!)
16. May This Be Love by Jimi Hendrix (Is there any reason other than the imagery of waterfalls and the lyrics that spill out from “nothing can harm me at all. My worries seem so very small” that say that this has to be on a CD compilation of love and all the good things that will come?)
17. Stars Fell on Alabama by Jimmy Buffett (A great song of summer love and the feeling of sitting in a hot tub watching life go by. I want to be sitting in a hot tub watching life go by under the stars – preferably not in Alabama, but anywhere romantic and with you will do!)
18. I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys (Zooey Deschanel does a version of this, too, but I think the Beach Boys version is better, so I put it on here to drift through a sense of the power of music and summer and positive love all rolled together into one).
19. Ants Marching by Dave Matthews (Every time that we think that life and work and the rat race seems to matter, all we need to do is listen to this song – Dave Matthew’s best song done live – and know that nothing matters except the good things in life and pulling ourselves towards them and never losing track of each other amidst all of the white noise like the people in the song have done – time to stay under the table and just dream and bathe in the positive of life.)
20. The Joker by Steve Miller (I really love your peaches and will always want to shake your tree. I’m just saying.)
Thank you for 3 years and 8½ months of living, laughing, and loving. You are my bestest bestest.