Monday, April 30, 2007

85/365 Big Spender

The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender,
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?

One of the first slutty songs I ever learned as a child was that one from Sweet Charity—you know, “Big Spender.” I listened to the Shirley MacLaine movie soundtrack quite a bit, and this was definitely the tune to belt out. Fun, laughs, good times.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

84/365 Rainy Days and Mondays

Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around, nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

It’s raining this morning. And I’m trying to come up with a song to write about. I came up with this one.

I have yet to really admit in these cyberpages the depth of my popheadness as a kid. I was sheltered enough that it took awhile to be exposed to the truly brilliant and more hip stuff. However, I maintain that the crooners I loved—pop as they may be—were actually good.

I had a whole lot of Carpenters albums. Karen Carpenter and I have the same birthday, and as a kid, I found that somewhat significant (Lou Reed and Jon Bon Jovi are on that Piscean list too—but I’m over thinking it’s significant). What is significant is that Karen Carpenter could sing.

I’m lucky to be counted among the small number of people who actually saw Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story in the theater, before its distribution became illegal (historical DC reference: at the Biograph in Georgetown, that classic art house closed now more than a decade). Her death was a stark reminder that even the adored don’t have it easy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

83/365 Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.

As temperatures warm, I find my favorite spring tune leaping to mind, even though I know spring hasn’t yet a firm grasp on us. Tom Lehrer nails the excitement of it all when he sings:

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.

Oh, the deep feeling of it! The stirrings of seasonal ritual! Then, the invitation:

So if Sunday you’re free,
Why don’t you come with me,
And we’ll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we’ll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.

Hey, tomorrow’s Sunday! Who’s with me?

We’ll murder them all amid laughter and merriment,
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin’
With each drop of strych’nine
We feed to a pigeon.
(It just takes a smidgin!)
To poison a pigeon in the park.

Friday, April 27, 2007

82/365 Dust in the Wind

Don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

The summer before I left home for college, it seemed that every time I was in the car to meet my boyfriend somewhere, or if we were out together, this Kansas song would start to play on the radio. If it had just been released, that wouldn’t have seemed so odd (marketing is marketing, after all), but it was two years old. At the time, it seemed significant to me, what with me leaving town and knowing that it would be a bit much for us to try to maintain a long-distance relationship. I was only eighteen and wanted to be as open as possible to whatever was out there, not tied down. The thing is, the guy was a great one, we really only had a few months together, and I always wish we’d had a bit more time than that.

[Note: A Beatrix Kiddo sighting: Went to a bon voyage party for a friend last night at BK’s bar. It was packed and she was completely overworked. She was wearing a T-shirt that said something to the effect of “Don’t make me violate my parole.” If you haven’t already, check out her blog Overheard at the Bar. Especially the March 30 entry, “A Little Advice to Live By.”]

Thursday, April 26, 2007

81/365 Champs-Élysées

Mlle. Wentz firmly believed in the multiactivity method of teaching French, and this meant we had to sing. We could belt out “La Marseillaise” with the best of them (well, at least the first verse), and at Christmastime, it was “Il est né le divine enfant,” etc. But her favorite pop song was Joe Dassin’s “Champs-Élysées.” I have this associated with spring, although it’s likely we actually sang it all times of year (n’importe quand). The song is just so springlike, so open to life and possibility, so street musician, hanging out on the Champs-Élysées anytime—in the sun, the rain, at noon or midnight.

Everybody: Sing along with the chorus!

Aux Champs-Élysées, aux Champs-Élysées
Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit,
Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

80/365 Caramel

When I hear this Suzanne Vega song, I’m convinced that it’s going to be one of those standards still covered in jazz clubs and smoky bars everywhere in 2036.

It won’t do
to dream of caramel,
to think of cinnamon
and long for you.
It won’t do
to stir a deep desire,
to fan a hidden fire
that can never burn true.
I know your name,
I know your skin,
I know the way
these things begin;
But I don’t know
how I would live with myself,
what I’d forgive of myself
if you don’t go.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

79/365 Baltimore Oriole

I thought maybe I heard one on Saturday. Paul says he’s seen one already. Soon they will be back, in all their glory.

I love this Hoagy Carmichael/Paul Francis Webster song about restlessness, infidelity, anger, forgiveness. It’s not the easiest tune in the songbook to warble well, but I found a nice cover of it on Youtube.

Baltimore Oriole
Took one look at that mercury, forty below
No life for a lady
To be draggin’ her feathers around in the snow
Leaving me blue, off she flew
To the Tangipaho, down in Louisiana
Where a two-timin’ jaybird
Met the divine Miss O

I’d like to ruffle his plumage

That Baltimore Oriole
Messed around with that big guy
Till he singed her wings
Forgivin’ is easy—it’s a womanlike-now-and-then-
Could-happen-to thing
Send her back home
Home ain’t home without her warbling
How she can sing
Make a lonely man happy, Baltimore Oriole
Come down from that bough
Fly to your daddy now

Monday, April 23, 2007

78/365 Excellent Birds

Flying birds.
Excellent birds.
Watch them fly.
There they go.
Falling snow.
Excellent snow.
Here it comes.
Watch it fall.
Long words.
Excellent words.
I can hear them now.
This is the picture.

Even before I was a true bird nerd, I was a true Laurie Anderson nerd. I loved this piece she did with Peter Gabriel. At the time, it was the excellent words that got to me. Now excellent birds are even more excellent words to my ears.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

77/365 Mornin’ Dove

I love this pretty song by Robinella and the CC Stringband. Of course, it drives me crazy that she spelled it mornin’, when the name of the bird is mourning dove. I’ve never been sure if she’s making a common mistake, as she does sing about the sadness of love’s brevity and the obvious mourning part to it.

After reviewing the way she’s printed the lyrics on her liners, I’ve decided it’s all deliberate, with the bridge:

Sing my little mornin’ dove
Tell him that he is my love
You see we don’t have that long
So tell him with your sweet sad song
Soon it will be mournin’
Mornin’ dove

I wish I could send you to a place you could hear the whole song, but I can’t find one. However, there is a clip on this NPR page where you can hear her singing (cooing) the mourning dove’s part, which is what makes me love this song so much. She really does sound like a dove.

(The beginning of the Scott Simon interview discusses this song. Worth a listen.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

76/365 Birdhouse in Your Soul

How could an Indigo Bunting not like a song with this title? They Might Be Giants give us some silly verses, such as:

There’s a picture opposite me
Of my primitive ancestry
Which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck free.
Though I respect that a lot
I’d be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts.
Bluebird of friendliness,
Like guardian angels it’s always near.

But there’s something really comforting about the silly chorus:

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you?
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
Not to put too fine a point on it:
Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

May you all be in the midst of a true sunny spring day. I am.

Friday, April 20, 2007

75/365 The Littlest Birds

Well it’s times like these
I feel so small and wild
Like the ramblin’ footsteps of a wanderin’ child
And I’m lonesome as a lonesome whip-poor-will
Singin’ these blues with a warble and a trill
But I’m not too blue to fly
No I’m not too blue to fly ’cause
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs . . .

As I’ve said before, I love trios. No big surprise, then, that I’m a Be Good Tanyas fan. I’m thinking about spring, I’m thinking about restlessness, I’m thinking about birds. (I’m wondering why my 5-month-old router has turned on me, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.) And before this morning, I didn’t even know that the last lines of this song were quoting one of Syd Barrett’s. (You’ll have to listen for them.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

74/365 Tea Kettle

He’s been singing his little heart out and showing up at my feeder. Today I heard him before I got out of bed. We don’t get a lot of Carolina wrens up here—maybe a couple in the ’hood each year—and I miss them from my DC days. I try to not think about global warming and just enjoy it. Our guy’s accent is different from the one Cornell has online, but you can get the general idea.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

73/365 How Come

It’s just man killing man killing man killing man killing man killing man, I don’t understand.

I discovered Ray LaMontagne on Sioux’s riverfront porch during one of those summer champagne happy hours. This song was my favorite on Trouble. It’s the one with energy, the one that can make you dance around. It’s been running through my head, in part because this winter thing is getting to be a drag and I’m achin’ for Sioux to move up for the summer to resume the late-afternoon rituals.

But with the Virginia Tech shootings on Monday (my former boyfriend and his grad-school wife are OK), I’ve found myself spinning this one a few times. To hear the electric studio version that really gets my motor running (but with some oddly juxtaposed images), click here. For just Ray and his guitar, click here.

People on the street now, faces long and grim
Souls are feeling heavy and faith is growing thin
Fears are getting stronger, you can feel them on the rise
Hopelessness got some by the throat, you can see it in their eyes
I said how come
How come
Everybody on a shoestring, everybody in a hole
Everybody on this jet plane crossing their fingers and toes
Government man spin his politics till he got you pinned
Everybody trying to reach out to each other, but they don’t know where to begin
I said how come I can’t tell
the free world from living hell
I said how come
How come all I see
is a child of god in misery
I said how come

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

72/365 The Days of the Week

Here’s how I remember it.

It was springtime in DC. I got on the Metro, as usual, on the red line at Takoma.

I actually got a seat. Damien and his father got a seat right in front of me.

Damien was about 3.

Almost immediately, Damien began singing a song. The tune was “Clementine.” It went like this:

Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Fri—day,
Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Fri—day,

Damien could sing it loud. Damien did not tire of this song.

It was maybe 20 or 25 minutes to Metro Center, where I would switch to the blue/orange line to Smithsonian. However, I began to reason, I could get off a stop early, at Gallery Place, and switch to the yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza. I’d have to walk by the heroin addict under the bridge begging for money, but he was harmless enough. This endless repetition was doing some serious damage.

I can’t remember exactly what happened. The pain of it all outweighs the details. It’s possible that Damien and his father got off at Union Station, before Operation Gallery Place could be executed. I think they must have, because I remember the joy of all on the car when they left. Or was that a fantasy, merely an early-morning happy dream I kept trying to have?

Monday, April 16, 2007

71/365 Life During Wartime

This Talking Heads song is always scary because it’s always the truth about somewhere. Always.

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
packed up and ready to go.
Heard of some grave sites out by the highway
a place where nobody knows.
The sound of gunfire off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now.
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto,
I’ve lived all over this town.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

70/365 Pinch Me

I can’t help it. Barenaked Ladies can make me smile about the angst and existential dilemmas we all face. The combination of Helen’s Wild, Wild Life post on Friday and my having spun this disc last week has kept this tune looping in my loopy mind.

It’s like a dream you try to remember but it’s gone then you
Try to scream but it only comes out as a yawn when you
Try to see the world beyond your front door.
Take your time, the way I rhyme is gonna make you smile when you
Realize a guy my size might take a while just to
Try to figure out what all this is for.
Pinch me, pinch me, cause I’m still asleep.
Please God tell me that I’m still asleep.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

69/365 (Theme from) Get Smart

Rebecca and I hosted our book group Thursday night. Hosting book group includes feeding everyone who tells you she will show up. We had fifteen reservations.

Becca made quiches. A lot of quiches. We had a (snow)storm. Conditions were fine down here in the valley, but it was an elevation thing, and some people didn’t show.

We had eleven people. And eight quiches. You can imagine the leftovers. Not only lots of quiche, but lots of salad, lots of appetizers. Becca’s off to DC for five days, so she left 3.5 quiches at my house to dispose of—to throw out if I had to. I hate throwing out perfectly good food.

One quiche was intact (i.e., not cut into or made up of leftover parts of many quiches, not actually Frankensteined, as it were), so it went into my tiny freezer. Yesterday I took one next door to Paul and Lynda. I was, in part, spending the day thinking about a couple of things: One, I am plunging headlong into this head cold that I’ve been working 10 days to avoid. Two, I don’t have a wild, wild life, but I have a lot of quiche.

Alison was coming over for dinner and to do her laundry, and I called Ron too. I warned them both that I needed them to eat as much food as possible and take some with them. And I was getting sick, so it was going to be a low-key evening. (This, for me, was code for Don’t be surprised if I have to watch some mindless TV.)

My friends are such troopers. They not only ate quiche and helped drink an already-opened bottle of wine, but they are true salad eaters too. At the end of the evening, they dutifully accepted their shares of the remaining quiche, no protests.

Ron had brought along some Rocky Road, some strawberries, a banana, and a can of whipped cream. I guess there are various ways that scenario could have played out, but I am sick, so we made yummy bowls of dessert and watched no fewer than three episodes of Get Smart from season 2, reminiscing about the ages we were when these episodes first aired (2, 5, 11). Ron made the almost obligatory admission to having a thing for 99. Maybe I should have held off on a Get Smart post until my 99th. Or 86th. But given 99 and whipped cream in the same post, maybe the number it fell to is just right.

For me, it’s the eyes of the Chief that make my heart go all aflutter.

Friday, April 13, 2007

68/365 A Drinking Song

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. To the tune of The Sound of Music’s “Do-Re-Mi”:

Dos—a beer, a Mexican beer
Ray—the guy behind the bar
Me—the guy I buy beer for
Far—a long way from the bar
So—I think I’ll have a beer
La—(in drunken tones) lalalalalala
Tea?—no thanks, I’ll have a beer
And that brings us back to . . .

Is it obvious I’ve had no time to think about these entries lately?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

67/365 I Will Survive

I should have changed that *^$&#@! lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
You’d be back to bother me.

I don’t think I realized just how much I love this Gloria Gaynor song until I heard Cake cover it. The pace, the instrumentation, the syncopated vocalization—I could eat it too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

66/365 Jump, Jive an’ Wail

I love this Louis Prima classic. I wish I could swing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

65/365 Brian Eno/Ambient 1: Music for Airports

Is this an eternal moment?
If not, will I ever see you again?

(Click here to listen.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

64/365 Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist

Just back from Portland. Five hours in the car. You’re not gonna get much in the way of chitchat today.

Hmmm, what CDs did I listen en route? Ah, here we go. Avenue Q. A fine musical. I’ll refrain from being my typical bawdy self and not even mention “The Internet Is for Porn.” Instead, let’s go for “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” Unfortunately, the only clip I found with the real Avenue Q soundtrack shows Star Wars images. Which is a little bit funny. But just a little bit.

Everyone’s a little bit racist sometimes.
Doesn’t mean we go around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one’s really color blind.
Maybe it’s a fact we all should face:
Everyone makes judgments based on race.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

63/365 Bunnies

Ah, fertility. Easter, estrogen, eggs. And rabbits. An egg-laying bunny.

I’ve been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I haven’t made it to the Anya episodes yet. Anya is a vengeance demon for scorned women. She sports a serious bunny phobia.

As with many long-running TV shows, Buffy eventually had a musical episode. During a number in which everyone is wondering why they are singing everything and what kind of demon could have cursed them in such a way, Anya puts forth her bunny theory, reminding them that those creatures are not to be trusted.

I’ve got a theory. It could be bunnies.
Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes,
They’ve got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses.
And what’s with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
Bunnies, bunnies it must be bunnies!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

62/365 Donald and Lydia

But dreamin’ just comes natural
Like the first breath from a baby
Like sunshine feedin’ daisies
Like the love hidden deep in your heart.

This is not my favorite John Prine song. But it is typical of his gut-wrenching, raw ballad style. This one nails the isolation and loneliness of its characters so well, it makes me squirm. I heard it yesterday when I was purchasing a pair of pink flamingoes. I told the young saleswoman I hadn’t heard Prine in a long time. She said she’d gone to see him a couple of years ago. I didn’t tell her about the first time I saw him, in a university auditorium in the early eighties, when he was pretty clearly wasted. He’d light a cigarette, then stick it in up by the pegs while he played, never letting it burn the guitar. Subsequent performances I attended were much tighter.

The clip I found on Youtube is nice, Prine singing alone on the river, but it’s the second part of that 10 minutes. Let it load, then search, unless you’d like to hear “Paradise” too (and who wouldn’t?).

Friday, April 6, 2007

61/365 Maggie’s Farm

Yesterday I went to a coffeehouse to pick up some decent dark roast for life back in rural Vermont. Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” blared. The room was filled with both bohemians and bespectacled businessmen—the little round glasses of the latter nose-perched between eyes and laptop screen. None seemed to be working on Maggie’s farm no more, but it’s not always obvious.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

60/365 Play That Funky Music

Yes, I love this song. At first hearing, I likely found it silly, but it grew on me. After-school afternoons, my next-door neighbor played the Wild Cherry album over and over in her room. It was a welcome respite from her Osmonds obsession (also a good band, but enough is enough). A few years ago I bought the CD in a fit of needing to hear “Play That Funky Music” immediately. Thing is, I like the whole funky album.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

59/365 Roller Derby Queen

She was five-foot-six, two-fifteen
A bleached-blonde mama with a streak of mean . . .

Well she might be nasty, she might be fat
But I never met a person who would tell her that.

I went to the roller derby last Saturday. My first time. I’d been dying to go ever since I found out one of Tim’s Portland coworkers was in a league. I was finally in town for a bout. Our friend is at least five-foot-six, but I’m guessing she doesn’t hit the scales at even one-fifteen. I’m also guessing that the weight differential between the lightest and heaviest out there was a good 150 pounds. That alone was cool.

I love to skate. But before last week, the bulk of my roller derby exposure came from the Jim Croce song.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

58/365 I Do the Rock

I admit to an undying loyalty to Tim Curry. I realize his overall oeuvre lacks consistency. But ever since he appeared in the Rocky Horror Picture Show as Dr. Frank N. Furter, my heart has belonged to him. Makes me oooh-oooh . . . shake. Makes me wanna . . .

I was in the room with him once, during his Spamalot run.

In college I was a fan of a couple of his albums. My favorite track to blast is “I Do the Rock.” A grand gold mine of cultural references. My favorite verse is the political one, and it goes like this:

Carter, Begin, and Sadat
Brezhnev, Teng, and Castro
Every day negotiate us closer to disastro
Idi Amin and the Shah
and Al Fatah is quite bizarre
I could never get the hang of ideology
I do the rock

You can watch Curry do the rock here. I also found a fun website, “The Annotated ‘I Do the Rock,’” with explanations for each verse.

It’s stimulating! I’m a keen student!

Monday, April 2, 2007

57/365 Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

My sister-outlaw turned me onto They Might Be Giants oh-so-many moons ago. I think by the time she did, she was actually my ex-sister-outlaw. I became a big fan of Flood. No doubt I’ll mention a couple of original TMBG songs eventually, but listening to their cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” is always so much fun, I just had to include it on this dark, rainy day, as the world turns back to winter for another week. Apparently the song’s lyricist, Jimmy Kennedy, also penned “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” Check out this looney tune. Why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

56/365 A Special Christmas Box

For the April fools

Here are the risks: Given the more than 19 million Youtube hits, I’m betting a number of you have seen this video already. Also, it’s possible (I have to acknowledge this) that you’ll find it offensive. Regardless, I’m putting it out there. This Andy Samberg/Justin Timberlake song made me laugh long—and hard.

Truly, it’s the women’s appreciative reactions that make this piece work.

Happy April Fools’ Day. It’s the gift that’s not just for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa anymore.