I've been challenged by Karina, the queen of all things R.E.M. to a 30 songs in 30 days challenge. Now, I love me some Michael Stipe, but I can't match wits with the best, so my personal twist to the list is not chose any music by the same band twice. Here's how things stand so far:
Day 1 - Favorite Song
This is actually one of the toughest ones to settle on, since it usually depends on the day, the weather, if the Dodgers won or lost, or if there is significant sunspot activity. I have to opt for the song that has been my favorite song for the majority of the days, which is "Wish you Were Here" by Pink Floyd. Sure, it's melancholy and a little sleepy, but the lyrics always get me thinking about the what that really matters in life if I get a little to self-centered or cocksure. The value of a reminder to slow down and breathe deep shouldn't be understated.
Day 2 - Least Favorite Song
Sure, there are plenty of bad songs out there, but saying that one dislikes a song that everyone already hates isn't interesting or insightful. Those songs that are popular, and might even be considered to be a good tune, were it not for the fact that they drive one up he wall, say more about your personal frame of reference. One such for me is "Life in the Fast Lane" by The Eagles. It's catchy, but good lord does it make me crazy. It's an instant radio station killer.
Day 3 - A Song That Makes You Happy
OK, bear with me here, I'm going to mix it up a bit. This song could also qualify as a song that I know all the words to, or certainly a guilty pleasure, but I challenge anyone to sing this song in the shower in the morning and not start the day with a smile. Without further ado, I present to you Monty Python's Drunk Philosopher Song.
Day 4 - A Song That Makes You Sad
This could easily be "Half a World Away", were it not for the fact that I can't bear to devote my precious R.E.M. entry to a sad song. Instead I'll keep that as an honorable mention, and today's entry will be "So Cruel" by U2. It doesn't necessarily make sense that I would like this song as much as I do, give that my relationship with U2 is eerily similar to a personal relationship this song brings back to me. There's no denying their musical talent, but there was always something unnatural and overproduced. This song is the soundtrack for going to any lengths to make something work that wasn't supposed to work, and having it all end badly despite your best efforts.
Day 5 - A Song That Reminds You of Someone
Today's entry, "I Put a Spell on You" by Nina Simone. Damn, woman. Just...damn! There are a few times in you life when you meet someone with charisma that expands to fill all available space. It doesn't matter if you know them for 10 minutes or 10 years, they pull you in effortlessly. The real magic isn't that they can pull you in, but that you love them for doing it. When you look back, you can see that it was tyranny, however benevolent it might have been.
Day 6 - A Song That Reminds You of a Particular Place
From the above two entries, one could conclude that love sucks (and some did!), but that's not even half the story. Sometimes, the right people and circumstances can make the impossible seem effortless. Bob Marley and the Wailers "Satisfy My Soul" was a staple that played in my studio while I was working on my thesis project. I don't think I've ever worked harder or worked more. It was crazy and entirely out of balance, but was one of the happiest times of my life because of just that right mix. Some of those people are still my close friends, and some have drifted away, and few of them know this particular alter ego of mine, but I'd like to all of you to know that you absolutely rock.
Day 7 - A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event
Easiest choice on this list, by far. "I Love L.A." by Randy Newman. Most of those reading this know why hearing this song sends you home in a good mood. For any that might not, they play it at Dodger Stadium after a Dodgers victory. There is no greater sense of accomplishment for an event in which you had absolutely no active part than when one is hanging around the stadium while Randy lays it down. It's even better when there's still chaos both in the stands and on the field, and you can barely hear it over the roar of the crowd.
Day 8 - A Song You Know All the Words to
Damn, I know the words to a lot of songs... As the amateur musician child of a professional musician, it's kind of my thing. I'll devote this entry songs that require one to work to conquer them. I had to work to memorize most of Paul's Boutique, and it to time to get all the verses to "It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)" in the right order, but the speed and just plain weirdness of "Letterbox" by nerd-core staples They Might Be Giants defeated me time and time again, and it's barely a minute long. Well, I can sing it now, so that was weeks of my teenage life well spent!
Day 9 - A Song You Can Dance to
For a guy who is reasonably musical, I am pitiful on the dance floor. A song that inspires me to flail my limbs about hysterically has got to be so compelling that it overcomes all my better judgement. "Hoochie-Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters is certainly such a song. Those who have witnessed my dancing will tell you that the less said on the subject the better. (HT to Paul for planting the seed, I've been revisiting my Muddy Waters collection recently)
Day 10 - A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep
I'm not sure if everyone who does this list treats this as a positive or a negative. As a frequent insomniac, I opt for the positive. I qualify this choice as it was originally a band I had planned for my "guilty pleasure" entry, I accept that I will take crap from the musically serious among you for "WWOZ" by Better Than Ezra. While they're far to earnest and cheesy to make your music collection look cool, I can't ever quit 'em, so this song will do double duty of sorts. Something about the imagery of the lyrics puts me in that lazy-Sunday kind of mood, when one is perfectly content to waste the day away frivolously. It's only as I have acquired more responsibilities and obligations that I understand how a little frivolity is good for the soul, now and then.
Day 11 - A Song by Your Favorite Band
This one is a bit of a freebie, since I have several bands that vie for the too spot. In the lineup going forward, I hadn't found a place for Radiohead elsewhere, and they deserve a mention. I've chosen "No Surprises", because it's a great example of what they're all about and, well, it shouldn't be any surprise that they're mentioned here.
Day 12 - A Song by a Band You Hate
It's hard to get inspired to wax eloquent about music that I dislike. Mostly, I find that I don't feel strongly about it at all. A good won can make you happy or sad or angry, but bad song doesn't make you feel anything. I have never been in sync with Smashing Pumpkins. They're competent musicians, but something always seems contrived about the depth of the emotions expressed in "1979"
Day 13 - A Song That is a Guilty Pleasure
Ah, I like this one. I really have to dig down and show my inner weirdness. I'm going with The Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma". Why should I be OK with Morrissey's melodramatic over-emoting while I just protested how much Corgan's annoyed me? Who the hell knows? What I like about the song itself is the juxtaposition of the upbeat rhythmn with the sad-sack subject matter. Perhaps it's hopeless to adequately explain. Now, If you'll excuse me, I need to touch up my guyliner.
Day 14 - A Song That Nobody Would Expect You to Like
I don't know if there is really anything out there that nobody would expect me to like, but there are more esoteric tunes in my catalog. Liking a broad spectrum of music can be a bit of a cliché affected by those who want to appear worldly, so I'll only state that this is a piece that I particularly like. Mussorgsky's "Great Gate of Kiev" is bombastic, but it alternates between spinning out-of-control, a la Tchaikovsky's similar "1812 Overture", and being continuously reeled back in.
Day 15 - A Song That Describes You
The great curse and the great blessing of being Mr. Customer is that I go through life perpetually trying to do, to see, to accomplish, to experience something new. The curse being that there's nothing new under the sun, the blessing being that there's plenty that is new to me. Left to my own devices, I'd probably roam the face of the earth just for shits-n-giggles, but the world doesn't work that way. The brilliance of it is that little twinge that tells there might be something I'm missing while I'm stuck in a non-descriptor conference room has taught me to look for happiness everywhere, even in small ways. So today, we're playing the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" because it reminds me that I get what I need.
Day 16 - A Song You Used to Love but Now Hate
Oh, Moby, you are an annoying, annoying little man. I no longer can tolerate your song "South Side". I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.
Day 17 - A Song You Always Hear on the Radio
OK, this is a somewhat odd question, since I rarely listen to the radio anymore (bless you, Pandora), but I do have strange relationship with Wings' "Band on the Run". It seems to come on with disproportionate frequency when I'm tuned in. I'm really OK with the tune, but stop haunting my radio, Sir Paul, or at least mix it up from time to time.
Day 18 - A Song You Wish You Heard More on the Radio.
Who listens to the radio anymore, really? The Beastie Boys don't get all that much air time anymore, and even less for their less marketable stuff, like "The Sounds of Science". The weirdly dissonant "lab" sound backgrounds don't work for everyone, but they make me want to drop some science like Galileo dropped the orange.
Day 19 - A Song From Your Favorite Album
OK, this is getting more challenging. There are a lot of good albums I've already listed. I'll take this entry to salute a great one that I haven't found another place for, Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. I'm going with "Rebel Without a Pause". I can't claim to have appreciated it until I was an angst filled teenager, but it certainly opened a who spectrum of music to me when I grew into it.
Day 20 - A Song That You Listen to When You're Angry
Some music you listen to when you are angry, some music channels your anger at the unfairness of the world. In experiences that really get my blood boiling, I put on Rage Against the Machine. I can't get through "Know Your Enemy" and still be mad at the person or situation that I started with. Mad at the world and life in general, maybe, but somehow that always seems healthier than taking in out on those close to you.
Day 21 - A Song That You Listen to When You're Happy
Appropriately, after coming off an entry for a song about lack of control, there's an entry for a song about being in control of your life and destiny. There's nothing like James Brown with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" to tell the world that no one can tell you what and what not to do. Just do your thing and let the chips fall where they may.
Day 22 - A Song That You Listen to When You're Sad
I'm not a big sad song listener when I'm really down. It always feels like I'm wallowing, and I'd rather walk off the mood while giving me time to think things over. If I'm feeling overwhelmed or like I'm stuck in a no-win situation, I do like a bit of jazz to shake myself up. I'll go with Annie Lennox's cover of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" for this entry, because it seems to fit the mood, and Annie's voice adds a really haunting quality.
Day 23 - A Song That You Would Want Played at Your Wedding
I'll be the first to admit that I'm having trouble with the hypothetical here without any grasp of the who, where, why, or when of said ceremony. Aspirationally speaking, I'd say "Baby, let me follow you down" by Bob Dylan and The Band. I love the tune, and the brevity of the verse amplifies the gravity of the lyrics. Much can be said about why love works or doesn't work. I certainly can't claim any expertise in love, but I try to live life with the idea that I am exactly where I have chosen to be. When I feel that way about someone else, I'll know I'm doing something right.
Day 24 - A Song That You Would Want Played at Your Funeral
OK, seriously? What a downer. If I get to call the shots here, I'm going big and I'm taking "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Strauss. Specifically as they are launching my dead ass into space (in dramatic slow motion) on a rocket like Leary and Roddenberry. Don't you dare think I'm not going to try to take out a low-orbiting satellite while I'm up there, either. You're goin' down, Landsat!
25 - A Song That Makes You Laugh
The visual is an absolute must for this. Air gets the call with "Kelly Watch the Stars". I like a lot of their stuff, and I hate some of it as well. "Kelly" falls somewhere in-between. The fun of it, however, is the ambiance. The über-serious "Sprockets" stage demeanor, the outfits, the lighting. I really wish I could have found a version with the theremin solo instead of the keyboard. Alas, you will have to take my word that it enhances the experience.
26 - A Song That You Can Play on an Instrument
This very well could have been my thirtieth entry, but I wanted to indulge in a little more self-congratulation for day 26, so I'm opting for "Near Wild Heaven" by R.E.M. This was one of my first attempts to lay something more than just a f simple chords on the guitar, and I am lucky that even though it was way beyond my ability at the time, I didn't burn myself out on it before if got it down. Even now, if I try to sing along when I'm playing, I totally lose my concentration and it all goes to hell.
27 - A Song You Wish You Could Play
Though I wish it were otherwise, I don't really have the dexterity to play a proper guitar solo. One like that in Clapton's "Layla" just blows my mind. Pay me no attention, I'll just be over here in the corner cursing my giant sausage fingers.