30 Days, Part 1
1. Why Even Do This?
You’ve probably seen this little meme floating around Facebook as the 30 Day Song Challenge. It’s essentially a chance for music nerds (and anyone else, for that matter) to show off how awesome their taste in music is, and to argue how stupid their friends’ choices are. Obviously this isn’t something someone like me can avoid, so I took part in it as well. However, two things were very apparent. First, Facebook’s nature doesn’t really allow for cool stuff like more than 240 characters in a comment. It wouldn’t be a very good venue to actually discuss thoughts on the music I chose. Second, it’s easy to lose the scope of the list over 30 days. Look how many people sit and watch full seasons of television shows at a time; works are generally meant to be viewed as a whole. I’m not saying that my responses to a Facebook meme are LOST. I’m saying that a stream of single songs with seemingly unconnected themes strung out over a month don’t necessarily have the same feel as a nice, consise playlist.
Also, I’m not really a mix-tape sort of person. I’ve made a few here and there (“You’ve never heard Radiohead?!” and the like), but by and large I personally prefer to listen to music in full albums, and to songs in the context of those albums. Maybe I’m a holdover from back in the day when music was placed on a physical object, but I like the idea of having one flowing piece of work. So, I guess this lets me do that, while still cherry-picking the contents of the list in question.
A couple notes before we get into the meat of this: First, I’l be dividing it up into three posts. Thirty songs in one shot is kind of a lot, and I don’t want to write it, and you probably don’t want to read it or listen to it in one go. I’ll provide links when the other two posts go up (later this week and early next week, likely), so if you want to subject yourself to it, you can. But I’m not really advocating it now. Second, these songs are, for the most part, straight rips from the CD. Some of the tracks begin and end abrubptly (like the end of #10). I could have crossfaded stuff nicely, but frankly that’s a lot of work for a very minor issue. Just deal with it.
2. The List, Part 1
(embedding 8tracks mixes into WordPress-hosted blogs still isn’t working. i’m trying to get a workaround going, and when i do, i’ll fix it. til then, just right-click and select ‘open in new tab’ or ‘open in new window’ depending on what you want to do.)
1. “The Noose” – A Perfect Circle – Your Favorite Song
This is really a no-brainer for me. It’s been my favorite song since Thirteenth Step came out in 2003, and unless I’m presented with some pretty impressive evidence to the contrary, my opinion probably won’t change much. I even remember the first time I heard it, when I bought it at Target on the day it was released. It immediately went into my CD player, and I listened to the first track, skipped the second (“Weak and Powerless”, which I had heard dozens of times by this point), and listened to the third, which was “The Noose”. Everything about this song, from the lyric to the melody to the amazing coda was everything I wanted out of music at the time, and it’s still what I compare every other song to. The rest of the album is good, but this song is just… so much better.
2. “Brown-Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison – Your Least Favorite Song
To say that I hate this song is selling it short. I actually get physically ill when I hear this song. My stomach turns, my head starts to throb, my heart pumps viciously. I realize that Van Morrison is respected in jazz and blues circles, and I really like “Moondance”. But, well, let me put it this way:
Have you ever seen Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey? After Bill and Ted are killed by the Evil Robot Us-es (agents of the film’s main villian), they’re sent to Hell, where they are forced to choose a single event in their life to live over and over as their own personal hell. Every uncomfortable situation I have ever been in pales in comparison to the possibility of spending eternity listening to “Brown-Eyed Girl”. I would rather explain to my father that I was in a car accident forever than listen to “Brown-Eyed Girl”. I would rather sit curled up in a closet after the worst breakup of my entire life for time unending than listen to “Brown-Eyed Girl”. I suppose there are probably things that I wouldn’t rather deal with for eternity than listen to this song (being a Darfur war-orphan, for example), but if every wedding, junior high dance, prom, block party, oldies station, and family get-together I’ve ever attended or listened to are any indication, “Brown-Eyed Girl” is the least enjoyable three minutes of my life in pretty much any situation. And “Brown-Eyed Girl” will always make a bad situation worse.
I hate the song so much I skipped over it when listening back to this very mix.
3. “Leeds United” – Amanda Palmer – A Song that Makes You Happy
This song never fails to get me motivated and make me smile. It was the first Amanda Palmer song I ever heard, and I fell for the whole aesthetic instantly. I bought the album days after hearing the song, and I’ve gone on to get both Dresden Dolls albums plus the In Paradise DVD. This won’t be the last instance of Ms. Palmer’s work on the list, either.
4. “World Coming Down” – Type O Negative – A Song that Makes You Sad
Peter Steele’s lyrics—at least on the personal songs—have always tended toward the dreary side, but this is arguably the most sad song on a whole album of songs like “Everyone I Love is Dead” and “Everything Dies”. If I could put words to what depression feels like, this song would probably would be it. Feeling powerless and apathetic toward one’s own life might seem overly dramatic (Type O were nothing if not melodramatic), but knowing how Pete struggled through personal relationships, drug addiction, a difficult life in the music industry despite initial success makes the song so much more powerful. It may fail on New Criticism points (though it’s a valuable work on its own), “World Coming Down” is a song of a man dying before his literal death… which came too soon. (Another Type O song is coming soon in the list.)
5. “Wonderwall” – Oasis – A Song that Reminds You of Someone
The someone in question is one of my younger brother’s best friends, who would sing this song even more nasally and off-key during Rock Band sessions. He’s the same person that would sing Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” in the same overblown Gallahger voice. I probably could have chosen a few other songs, but they’re typical tripe like the Smashing Pumpkins’ “By Starlight” makes me think of a girl I dated in high school. So here it is: a song that will only ever make me think of one person and the fact that his is the only version I hear in my head when I think of it.
6. “One Note Song” – Tenacious D – A Song that Reminds You of Somewhere
That somewhere is “In the car on the way to the Twin Cities”. Every trip my friends and I would take from Fargo to Minneapolis started with the first Tenacious D album, and was followed by The Bloodhound Gang’s Hooray for Boobies. It didn’t matter who was driving, it didn’t matter whose car we were in. The first Tenacious D track meant we were in the car and going somewhere. (Usually to ogle guitars at the nearest major guitar retailer.) To this day, most of my longer car rides start with this song. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit.
7. “Anesthesia” – Type O Negative – A Song that Reminds You of a Certain Event
The second time I saw the band, at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The show was pretty good, energetic. But this song was easily the best performance of the night. Pete sang all his parts from the album (usually during tours guitarist Kenny Hickey took the duties on some of the screaming bits), and the whole band really rallied around Peter on this one. By the end Pete and Kenny were leaning on each other for support and the whole place just felt somewhere else entirely. I will probably never forget that song, even if the rest of the show has sort of faded from my memory in the intervening years.
8. “Satan” – Orbital & Kirk Hammett – A Song You Know All the Words To
This is sort of cheating, because it only has the one word. But honestly I could have put any of a few dozen songs here, I just picked the easiest. This comes from the soundtrack to the Spawn movie. The album is actually an interesting little experiment that pairs standard hard rock/metal bands with electronic artists. Several of them turn out pretty well (Filter and the Crystal Method with “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do”, for example), but some are utter garbage (like the complete misfire of Metallica’s mashup with DJ Spooky). All in all, though, it’s pretty enjoyable for fans of either late-90s metal or mid-90s electronic (or both). Oh, and also the riff in this song specifically is pretty killer. Remember, Kirk Hammett was the one responsible for the “Enter Sandman” riff.
9. “Scheiße” – Lady Gaga – A Song You Can Dance To
Okay, maybe not me specifically, but the General You certainly qualifies. It’s probably the most clear “dance” track on Born This Way, and it’s much better than most of the songs on the album because it’s just silly. Gaga is best when she’s singing about absolute bullshit, not trying to make statements.
10. “Us and Them: – Pink Floyd – A Song that Makes You Fall Asleep
When I was in high school, I was just starting to get into Pink Floyd, and it rubbed off on some of my friends, most notably the original singer in my first band. He would put Dark Side of the Moon into his CD player and leave it on repeat to fall asleep, so when I would come over at 11am and he was still in bed, it would still be playing. “Why would you do that on such an awesome album!” I would say. “Dude, it always makes me fall asleep,” he would reply. I thought he was crazy. Now, a decade later, I realize he was right. It’s very snore-inducing. It’s not bad, it’s just… very calm.
Here endeth part the first.
Come back later this week for part two!
Holy shit part two is done!