The Lonely Life Of A Writer Whose Words Could Not Pay His Debts

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time (particularly the Music Monday posts), you’ve probably noticed that my musical tastes tend to run toward the hipsterish (with a few notable exceptions).  I’m the kind of person that people label a “music snob.”  (Trust me, I get that a lot.)

I’m going to admit something shocking today, though: I have musical guilty pleasures.  (Okay, that’s probably not that shocking.)  The guilty pleasures, though?  Probably at least kind of shocking.  But hey, I like what I like!

Today I’m going to share one of these musical guilty pleasures.  It’s not that it’s bad … It’s just that it’s so far from what I normally like that most people are surprised when I mention that it’s something I enjoy listening to.

Breakaway_Album

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

I like some of Kelly Clarkson’s other songs, but the Breakaway album just does it for me.  First, she is an undeniably talented singer.  I mean, seriously … Girl can sing.  But there’s more to my love of this particular album than her stellar vocals.

This album reminds me simultaneously of some of the best, most carefree moments in my life and some of the darkest, most painful times.  I got into it during my senior year of college after hearing it on repeat in some of my best friends’ cars when I’d go back to my hometown.  Although I didn’t completely love every single song on the album, it quickly went into rotation in my own car.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I made road trips while singing my heart out along with Kelly.  And since this was one of the few artists my pop-loving hometown best friends and I actually agreed on, it was a staple anytime we drove anywhere (particularly on longer road trips to Cedar Point).

Unfortunately, one of the other reasons I fell in love with this album is because the songs were so relatable for me at the time.  I was dealing with some major heartbreak, and lyrics like “Now all that’s left of me is what I pretend to be/So together, but so broken up inside” from “Behind These Hazel Eyes” as well as pretty much the entirety of the lyrics from the song “Addicted” (among others) just described everything I was feeling so well.  I sang my heart out to these songs not only because I thought they were good (and they are), but because I actually felt the words.  It sounds silly, I know, but that’s one of my favorite things about music … Being able to relate to it.

As with other album discussions (and I suppose that’s what this is even though it started off as more of a confession), I’ll share my top 5 favorite songs from the album and my favorite line(s).

* Addicted

Personal Favorite Line(s): It’s like I’m lost/It’s like I’m giving up slowly/It’s like you’re a ghost that’s haunting me/Leave me alone/And I know these voices in my head are mine alone/And I know I’ll never change my ways if I don’t give you up now

* Behind These Hazel Eyes

Personal Favorite Line(s): Now all that’s left of me is what I pretend to be/So together, but so broken up inside

* Hear Me

Personal Favorite Line(s): I used to be scared of letting someone in/But it gets so lonely being on my own

* Gone

Personal Favorite Line(s): That’s all changed into lies that drop like acid rain/You washed away the best of me, you don’t care

* Because Of You

Personal Favorite Line(s): I lose my way/And its not too long before you point it out/I cannot cry/Because I know that’s weakness in your eyes/I’m forced to fake a smile, a laugh every day of my life/My heart can’t possibly break when it wasn’t even whole to start with

If anyone reading this wants to comment, do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

I’m Lying Down, Blowing Smoke From My Cigarette … Little Whisper Smoke Signs That You’ll Never Get

I haven’t written for a few days, mostly because I spent the weekend catching up on laundry, reading, and going out to dinner with a friend.  It was relaxing, but not very productive in terms of blogging.

Anyway, for today’s Music Monday post, I wanted to share one of my favorite albums.  I mentioned it a while ago when I listed the 20 albums I couldn’t live without, but I never discussed it in any detail.

The album?  Antics by Interpol.

photo

Personal photo.

I started listening to Interpol my senior year of college after a friend of mine let me borrow this album.  I was instantly hooked.  The songs are a perfect blend of haunting, dark, and poppy … A combination that sounds as though it wouldn’t work, but, in this case, works surprisingly well.

Antics is not only a great album … It’s an album that brings me back to a certain time in my life, reminding me of both the good and the bad moments I experienced between the ages of 21 and 22.  Although I still listen to this album from beginning to end on a regular basis, those were the years that this album acted as part of the soundtrack to my life.

As with my previous posts that focused on a specific album, I’ll be listing out my personal favorite tracks from Antics.  I’ll also be sharing my favorite lines from each of these songs.

* Public Pervert

Personal Favorite Line(s): Perhaps heart strings resuscitate the fading sounds of your life

* C’mere

Personal Favorite Line(s): It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves/The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else/It should be me

* Song Seven (This is found on the extended/special edition version.)

Personal Favorite Line(s): You can’t sit up/Yeah, you fell too fast/You come at the right time/Yeah, you come too fast

* A Time To Be So Small

Personal Favorite Line(s): He might succumb to what you haven’t seen/He has a keen eye for what you used to be

* Narc

Personal Favorite Line(s): Oh, all your history’s like fire from a busted gun

I know this is a pretty well-known album, but if you’ve never listened to Interpol, this is a great place to start.

Certain Things Just Happen When You Make No Plans …

As many of you know, last night was Oscar night.

I’ve always enjoyed award shows.  I’m not sure why, really.  I mean, sometimes it’s fun because someone I specifically like has been nominated … But this year I wasn’t that invested.  I haven’t seen any of the films that were nominated for Best Picture (which might be a first for me), though, to be fair, I would like to see at least half of them.  I’m sure I’ll watch them once they make it to Netflix.

Anyway, in the spirit of award shows, I’ve decided to make this week’s Music Monday post a little more random than usual.  It’s basically going to be my personal “award” list.  This is just for fun of course, and it will include things I like and dislike.  Because … Why not?

Favorite Male Vocalist:  Dallas Green (Alexisonfire/City and Colour)

Favorite Female Vocalist:  Fiona Apple

Favorite Male Songwriter/Lyricist:  Elliott Smith

Favorite Female Songwriter/Lyricist:  Tori Amos

Favorite Cover Song:  “No Quarter” originally by Led Zeppelin, as covered by Tool on Salival

Favorite Love Song:  “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds

Favorite TV Theme (Instrumental):  “Blood Theme” by Daniel Licht from Dexter

Favorite Movie Theme (Instrumental):  “Lux Aeterna” by The London Ensemble from Requiem for a Dream

Favorite TV Theme (Non-Instrumental):  “Secret” by The Pierces from Pretty Little Liars

Favorite Movie Theme (Non-Instrumental):  “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith from Good Will Hunting

Track That Should Have Been On An Album:  “Seasick” by Silversun Pickups from the Record Store Day single Seasick

Best Compilation Album Track:  “Sleepless” by The Decemberists from the compilation album Dark Was the Night

Song I Like By An Artist I Don’t:  “Closer” by Kings of Leon

Song I Can’t Stand By An Artist I Like:  “Hot Knife” by Fiona Apple

Album I Don’t Really Like By An Artist I Like:  Port of Morrow by The Shins (There are a couple of good songs, but otherwise it’s very “meh” for me.)

Most Overrated Band:  Coldplay

Most Underrated Band:  Emery

Band That Should Break Up:  Nickelback (or really any similar shitty radio rock band) … How can there possibly be a greatest hits album from this band?!?!

Band That Should Get Back Together:  Alexisonfire

Best Album Artwork:  In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

In_the_aeroplane_over_the_sea_album_cover_copy

This is such an iconic image.  

neutral-milk-hotel

When you unfold the CD booklet, this is the image you’ll get.  I love the airplane/gramophone image so much that I’m planning to eventually have it tattooed on my shoulder blade along with the lyrics “The music and medicine you needed for comforting.” 

It was actually pretty difficult to come up with some of these because there are so many great bands/artists, songs, etc. out there.  If anyone is interested in sharing their “winners” in the comments (or on their own blog), please feel free to do so.  I’d love to see how other people fill this out!

The Closer I Get, The Further I Have To Go

I wrote about the Neutral Milk Hotel tour in this blog a while ago.  I was initially pretty bummed because it looked as though they were only touring the southeastern United States and then hitting some international locations.  I remember thinking, “Maybe, just maybe, they’ll stumble across this blog and see they have fans who really want them to come to the Midwest.”  (It sounds stupid and crazy, but the name of this blog was taken from a line in one of their songs … So it might not be that crazy if one of the band members was, for whatever reason, Googling that particular line.  I mean, it’s still kind of crazy … But stranger things have happened!)

Not long after that post, they added new tour dates on their website.  I like to think I had something to do with the fact that they were suddenly coming to Kansas City (a city I specifically mentioned in my previous post), but I probably didn’t.  Though, if I did, that would be so fucking awesome.

Anyway, Eric and I packed up and drove the 3 hours to Kansas City late Thursday afternoon to make the February 13th show.  And it was definitely worth the trip!

photo

Unfortunately this is the only picture I have to remember the night.  The band very specifically asked that absolutely no video or pictures be taken during the show.  There were, of course, some assholes in the audience who apparently didn’t give a shit, but I was not one of those people.  That just … Really bothers me.  I mean, there were literally signs everywhere, and they made an announcement right before the band came on … Obviously they really didn’t want videos and pictures of the show floating around.  I don’t think it’s that hard to put down your phone for a few hours to enjoy the moment.  But whatever … Rant over!  Personal photo.

I’d never heard of the opening act, Elf Power, prior to purchasing tickets for the show.  (There was at least one diehard fan in the audience, though.  After they finished a song, he shouted, “That’s like my third favorite song of yours!”  It was kind of funny in a really weird way.)  I was pleasantly surprised by their set, which was mostly filled with high energy songs.  When I checked them out on Spotify, I was shocked to see that they’ve released 11 albums (or possibly more, if Spotify doesn’t have them all available) over the span of almost 20 years!  I don’t know how I’ve never heard of them, but I’m excited to start listening to their music on a regular basis.

After Elf Power’s set ended, I waited impatiently for more.  And then, after what felt like an eternity, Jeff Mangum appeared (barely recognizable, I might add, since he had an extremely full beard) and began playing “Two-Headed Boy” alone.  At the end of the song, the rest of the band stepped onstage and went straight into “The Fool.”  It was kind of awesome because that’s honestly how I hear the songs in my head when I think about them … The entire In the Aeroplane Over the Sea album just flows so well that certain songs just seem to fit.

I doubt I’ll remember every song that was played that night, but I do know that they played several non album tracks, including “Ferris Wheel on Fire” and the closing song, “Engine.”  They also covered the majority of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, including the title track (which made Eric happy since he actually really likes that song).  In addition, they played several songs from their debut album, On Avery Island.

I think that overall they played a great mix of songs.  If I could have changed one thing about the setlist, I would have added “Three Peaches” because I absolutely love that song.  Knowing the (supposed) backstory, though, I honestly wasn’t expecting them to play it.  If what I’ve read is true, it seems like it could potentially be too painful to play that for an audience.

My personal favorites that were played that night were as follows (in no particular order):

  • “Oh Comely”
  • “Holland, 1945”
  • “Song Against Sex”
  • “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”
  • “Two-Headed Boy”
  • “Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2”
  • “The Fool”
  • “A Baby for Pree/Glow Into You”

The show was amazing, though, and I really enjoyed every song they played … Those are just a few of the songs I was most excited to hear live.  I even got a little teary during “Oh Comely.”  I used to play that song on repeat when I was dealing with some rough shit years ago.

I can’t wait to see them again next month here in Omaha (because once just isn’t enough, obviously)!

And At Once I Knew I Was Not Magnificent …

Back in August I mentioned how much I love Spotify.  If you missed that post and want to check it out, it can be found here: If Life Could Be Forever One Instant, Would It Be The Moment You Met Me?.

When I discussed Spotify previously, I shared one of my recent playlists.  As I said in that post, I’ve always loved making playlists.  One of the things I like most about Spotify is the fact that I’m able to easily share the playlists I make (or individual songs, for that matter) with my friends through Facebook.  I used to share music with my friends in college quite a bit (my friend Lisa and I even used to have “listening parties for two” which involved sharing whatever new band/artist we’d discovered while talking and/or having snacks), so this feature brings me back to those simpler times.  It’s also useful considering I literally have friends scattered throughout the country (and the world, as one of my good friends is currently studying abroad in Europe).  Having the ability to immediately send them a song or playlist I think they might enjoy makes me feel closer to them … And that’s definitely nice.

I actually made this playlist a while ago before I had a couple of my girlfriends over for snacks and girl talk, but I still really enjoy listening to it.  There’s no real theme … These were just songs I thought might be nice for background music.  The title of this playlist is simply A Night In.

Again, I’m unable to post the actual playlist here (and yes, I realize this kind of makes me a shitty blogger).  I will, however, list out the songs with the hope that maybe someone will read this and feel inspired to check them out (or make a similar playlist of their own).

1.) The High Road – Broken Bells

2.) Fine + 2 PTS – Minus the Bear

3.) Us – Regina Spektor

4.) Good to Sea – Pinback

5.) Babel – Mumford & Sons

6.) Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect – The Decemberists

7.) Valentine – Fiona Apple

8.) The Death of Me – City and Colour

9.) Clementine – Elliott Smith

10.) Lights – Interpol

11.) Carry the Zero – Built to Spill

12.) Patriarch on a Vespa – Metric

13.) Never Go Solo – Islands

14.) Lightness – Death Cab for Cutie

15.) Gone for Good – The Shins

16.) Hurricane – The Hush Sound

17.) No Cars Go – Arcade Fire

18.) Seasick – Silversun Pickups

19.) Pyramid Song – Radiohead

20.) The Nerve – The Republic Tigers

21.) Cloud on My Tongue – Tori Amos

22.) Old Soul Song (for the New World Order) – Bright Eyes

23.) Of Up and Coming Monarchs – Pedro the Lion

24.) Tyrant – The Bravery

25.) Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

26.) Naomi – Neutral Milk Hotel

27.) Agenda Suicide – The Faint

28.) Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men

29.) Sailing to Nowhere – Broken Bells

30.) Diamond Lightning – Minus the Bear

31.) One More Time with Feeling – Regina Spektor

32.) Sender – Pinback

33.) Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons

34.) Shiny – The Decemberists

35.) I Know – Fiona Apple

36.) Day Old Hate – City and Colour

37.) Angel in the Snow – Elliott Smith

38.) Song Seven – Interpol

39.) Things Fall Apart – Built to Spill

40.) Youth Without Youth – Metric

41.) Pieces Of You – Islands

42.) Brothers on a Hotel Bed – Death Cab for Cutie

43.) Caring is Creepy – The Shins

44.) You are the Moon – The Hush Sound

45.) Wake Up – Arcade Fire

46.) Three Seed – Silversun Pickups

47.) Let Down – Radiohead

48.) Buildings & Mountains – The Republic Tigers

49.) Snow Cherries from France – Tori Amos

50.) The Movement of a Hand – Bright Eyes

51.) Foregone Conclusions – Pedro the Lion

52.) Time Won’t Let Me Go – The Bravery

53.) Dull Life – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

54.) In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel

55.) The Geeks Were Right – The Faint

56.) King and Lionheart – Of Monsters and Men

57.) October – Broken Bells

58.) Pachuca Sunrise – Minus the Bear

59.) Samson – Regina Spektor

60.) Torch – Pinback

61.) I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons

62.) Eli, The Barrow Boy – The Decemberists

63.) Oh Well – Fiona Apple

64.) Fragile Bird – City and Colour

65.) Junk Bond Trader – Elliott Smith

66.) Say Hello to the Angels – Interpol

67.) Strange – Built to Spill

68.) Soft Rock Star – Metric

69.) This is Not a Song – Islands

70.) Codes and Keys – Death Cab for Cutie

71.) Spilt Needles – The Shins

72.) We Intertwined – The Hush Sound

73.) The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

74.) Comeback Kid – Silversun Pickups

75.) Lotus Flower – Radiohead

76.) Weatherbeaten – The Republic Tigers

77.) Doughnut Song – Tori Amos

78.) Approximate Sunlight – Bright Eyes

79.) The Bells – Pedro the Lion

80.) Song for Jacob – The Bravery

81.) Kiss, Kiss – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

82.) Song Against Sex – Neutral Milk Hotel

83.) I Disappear – The Faint

84.) Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men

If anyone reading this wants to comment, please feel free to share your thoughts on this playlist.  Which songs (if any) do you enjoy?  Which songs (if any) do you hate?  I’m also open to any musical recommendations!

All The Soldiers Say, “It’ll Be Alright, We May Make It Through The War If We Make It Through The Night …”

Last week I was all, “I’m going to post every day and make a real effort to create interesting content!”

And then I kind of … Didn’t.

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but I always find it incredibly difficult to write anything when my husband is around.  He knows I blog, he reads the blog, and he encourages me to continue blogging since he knows I have fun with it … So it’s not like he’s specifically preventing me from writing.  It’s just that I’d rather spend time with him than go off in another room with my laptop to pound out a post.

We’ve been watching Dexter together (again, from the beginning, though we never made it past season 4 previously for whatever reason), so we’ll usually spend at least a couple of hours watching that.  Some nights we also go to the gym together.  Other nights one or both of us will cook a slightly more elaborate and time consuming meal that also may take some time to clean up.  Add in the fact that sometimes I’m just way too fucking exhausted to deal with trying to be creative after a long day at work, and it’s easy to just stop writing for a while.

Anyway, I’m going to make a real effort to keep up with my blog for the next few weeks.  I know I’m not some amazing blogger with 1,000,000+ followers or anything, but I hope that at least a few people out there enjoy reading my thoughts and will appreciate that I want to post entertaining content here on a regular basis.  And, if nothing else, it’s something I do for myself … After all, if I want to become a better writer, the first step is practice.  Lots of practice!

I wanted to kick off this week with a feature on one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands.  I knew I wanted to do another album feature for this week’s Music Monday post, and as I was combing through my archives, I was surprised to see that I hadn’t already covered any albums by this band.  (Though I’ve definitely mentioned them in a few posts.)

The band in question?  Alexisonfire.

alexisonfire

If you’re wondering just how much I like this band, I will tell you that I’ve traveled farther to see them than I have for any other band or artist ever.  Eric and I went to Montreal in December 2010 to see them live (though of course we did other stuff while we were there).  Image courtesy of www.nowtoronto.com.

I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.  A lot of my friends actually tease me about liking them because “it’s just a bunch of screaming.”

Though really it’s not.

The album I’ll be discussing today, Watch Out!, is my favorite by Alexisonfire.  It’s also the perfect album to pick up if you’re unfamiliar with their work because it has a great mix of more melodic songs and more high energy songs.

photo

Personal photo.

I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog that I love Dallas Green.  I’m a huge fan of both Alexisonfire and City and Colour.  I think for those skeptical about the “screamo” or “post-hardcore” nature of Alexisonfire’s music, he’s at least an interesting addition to the mix.  He’s undeniably a talented musician, and he was the reason I was initially drawn to this band.  I know there was some controversy for a while surrounding their breakup and the fact that he was quite possibly the “villain” in the situation (mostly due to how popular his City and Colour project was becoming), but I never really bought into all of that.  I was very sad when they announced they were calling it quits, but I always felt like it was probably a group decision focused on what was best for the majority.

But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about how awesome Watch Out! is.  It’s one of those albums I can listen to from start to finish over and over without getting sick of it.  It contains my favorite Alexisonfire song of all time (“Side Walk When She Walks”), but it also features many other classic (at least in my opinion) songs by this band.  Basically, you should check it out.  Immediately.

This is one of those albums that’s so good that it’s really difficult to pick just five favorite songs.  After some thought, though, I managed to narrow it down.  Here are my personal favorite songs (along with my favorite lyrics from each song) from Watch Out!:

* Side Walk When She Walks

Personal Favorite Line(s): Now I’m afraid of open water/But I often bathe in sin

* Happiness by the Kilowatt

Personal Favorite Line(s): So this is continuous happiness/You know, I always imagined it something more

* Control

Personal Favorite Line(s): Look past the mirror/That there’s something inside/Something more to your life/My words won’t heal you now

* No Transitory

Personal Favorite Line(s): And this knife/This knife/This is my most/This is my most/This is my most important appendage

* It Was Fear of Myself that Made Me Odd

Personal Favorite Line(s): And I exhale/Causing the oceans’ endless waves/As I emerge/Shaking the wreckage from my hair

If anyone reading this happens to like Alexisonfire, what do you think of Watch Out!?  Which songs would you include in your top five?

Baby, I’m Bad News …

After my last flop of a post (okay, maybe it wasn’t that terrible … But it definitely wasn’t my best work), I decided to take a week off from blogging.  Sometimes I feel like I should be writing something, no matter what it is … You know, just to keep the creative juices flowing.  (Or something like that.)  But lately I’ve been trying to take a step back if I’m feeling burnt out.  I mean, I started this blog because I enjoy writing and because I wanted to share some of that writing with others.  I didn’t start it because I had to.  I didn’t start it to make money.  So there’s obviously no reason for me to stress about coming up with interesting topics for this blog.  If I can’t come up with something, I just won’t write.  (Or I’ll just share random pictures of stuff I like.  That’s fun too … Sometimes.)

Anyway, on to more important things.  Like music.

One thing you should know about me is that I love to sing.  I’m not an amazing singer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not bad either.  Truth: I don’t usually really sing in front of other people.  I mean, I’ll sing … But in a goofy, not awesome way.  A lot of my friends (even close friends) have never heard me really sing.  Well, unless they’re friends from high school … I was in a musical back in the day, after all!

I’ve always harbored this somewhat secret dreamworld image of myself as a famous singer.  I know, I know … It’s ridiculous and dumb.  But even in my dreamworld image, I’m not some super hot pop star pulling in millions of dollars from album sales, sold out arena shows, and various endorsements.  I’m more like Tori Amos or Fiona Apple … A singer/songwriter who doesn’t necessarily appeal to the masses because she writes/sings about whatever moves her.  (Yeah, I’ve probably thought about this a little too much.)

My best friend, Kevin (the same Kevin who was Man of Honor in our wedding), and I always used to joke around about auditioning for American Idol.  I’ve only seen a few episodes of that show in my entire life, so I’m no expert on what they’d be looking for.  (I do know that I’m now beyond the cutoff age, though.  I’m old.)  But … There are other similar types of shows.  And though I know I realistically would never make it on a show like that (and, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I don’t think I’d want to be on a show like that), once in a while I like to think about what I’d sing if I were to audition.

These are songs that I enjoy singing in the privacy of my car or apartment.  These are songs that I actually feel pretty confident singing … So if I ever actually had to sing in front of someone else (and I mean actually sing), I wouldn’t be mortified.  Well … Maybe.

So here are ten songs (the ones that immediately come to mind) I would consider singing if I were to audition for a talent competition:

10.) October – Broken Bells

9.) Bottle It Up – Sara Bareilles

8.) Raining in Baltimore – Counting Crows

7.) Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

6.) In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel

5.) I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie

4.) Miss Misery – Elliott Smith

3.) Snow Cherries from France – Tori Amos

2.) Oh Well – Fiona Apple

1.) Of Space and Time – City and Colour