Same Or Different Song?

I was walking up town at lunch today, listening to music in my own little world. I passed another person who was likewise listening to music.  I wondered what were the chances that we’d be listening to the same song.
Then I thought of this:  If I had to walk the earth, listening to music, and I had to stop each person I met who was also listening to music, and ask them what they were listening to… If I had to do that until I found somebody who was listening to the same song at the same time I was…(follow that so far?)  would I have a greater chance of success if I continually listened to the same song, over and over, until I found somebody who was also listening to that same song… or would it be better for me to randomly listen to songs, hoping to meet somebody who also randomly was listening to the same song at the same time?

I need to know.

Friday Evening With A Beer And Music

Time for another listing of the music I hear.  Hear then (clever, no?) are the next ten songs that shuffle through my iTunes:

Let It Be – The Replacements:  I was never a big fan of The Replacements, and this song makes me wonder why.  I guess I only had so much room in my heart for alternative, cool bands that made music in the early ’80’s.
Love Rears Its Ugly Head – Living Colour: Even though they were from New York, they still knew the right way to spell colour.  How rare was a black band playing good medium to hard rock in the 80’s?  Can you name another?  Vernon Reid played a mean guitar, Corey Glover sang a mean song.  This funky song is from their very good album Time’s Up.
Rattled – The Travelling Wilburys:  Okay, so it’s a pretty innocuous song, but I just can’t seem to delete it from my collection.  I loved the idea of the Wilburys and some of their songs were pretty good, in a fun way.  This is pretty standard rock.
Death of an Interior Decorator – Death Cab for Cutie:  I’m not digging this song very much.  Don’t know much about Death Cab for Cutie, although I do know I do like a couple of the other songs from the album Transatlanticism.  Not so much this one, though.  It just kind of moves along
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles:  Well, a good half song, kind of a novelty.  Paul’s vocals sound good, but it segues into With A Little Help From My Friends, which doesn’t do much for me.
Just As I Am – Willie Nelson: a little piano/guitar instrumental ditty that just kind of builds up to an inevitable conclusion.  It was just there, then it was done.
So Young – Ron Sexsmith:  I can always count on Ron Sexsmith to elevate the quality of any playlist.  This, from Other Songs, is typical Ron Sexsmith: subdued instrumentation, subdued but heartfelt singing.  Why isn’t this guy famous?
Alabama Waltz – Hank Williams: a crackly old Hank Williams song, just him and his guitar.  The song sounds like it was recorded a thousand years ago, Hank Willams sounds like he’s had a thousand years of trouble behind his voice.
Brian Song – Monty Python:  The theme to Python’s The Life of Brian, very Bond Theme-ish.  Not too remarkable.
Turkish March (Mozart):  This ten song random list ends with a lovely piece of classical piano.

Well, that’s ten songs, and a not very impressive selection, I must say.  Oh well, dem’s the risks ya take when ya live on da edge, like I do.
Okay, one last song:  This will vindicate the list, surely:
Reeperbahn – Tom Waits:  Seriously, does he gargle with razor blades?  A great song from the best worst singer out there.

10 songs, 10 John Lennon References

Time for the list of the next ten songs I hear on iTunes.

Long Shadow – Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: a nice little acoustic folk ditty by Joe et al.  Has kind of a Latin American rhythm to it.  I read some survey that said John Lennon had the best rock voice ever.  I’d put Joe Strummer right up there.  A fantastic voice.

Save the Last Dance For Me – Harry Nilsson:  This is an incredibly gentle demo version of that song we all know and assume we don’t like.  Just Harry and a heavily tremaloed keyboard.  Simply done and all the better for it.  To keep the John Lennon references going, Harry and John had a drunk weekend in LA that lasted a year or so.  If you can find this song, I’d recommend you get it.  If you don’t like it, I’ll pity you.

54-46 Was My Number – The Maytals: Oh yes, I like the ska.  I do.  60’s, 70’s, 80’s ska especially.  It’s a genre of music that dares you not to dig it.  This is a great song.  Not sure if Toots is involved in this or not.  He must be.  Wouldn’t that be like The Crickets without Buddy Holly?  Or The Beatles without, I don’t know… John Lennon (see the clever way I referenced him this time.)

To Sir With Love – Lulu: Oh Lulu, you troublesome high school student, you.  Tough molly, wa’n’t she, guv’nah?  Oh but this song tells us all how much Sidney Poitier means to White British Youth.  What a great song, says I.  Rumour has it that John Lennon and Lulu and Yoko Ono were going to produce some records, and they were going to call the record label Lulennono.  Not really.

Children Go Where I Send Thee – Ralph Stanley/Keith Whitley:  Even more than ska, I love me those high, tight bluegrass harmonies.  This song follows the acapella "O Death" from O Brother Where Art Thou style of bluegrass.  Seriously, does anyone sing as plaintively as Ralph Stanley.  Speaking of O Death, John Lennon is dead.

Omobolasire – Prozzak:  Yeah, that song that was on the radio there a few years ago.  I’m not a big Prozzak fan, but my wife likes ’em.  They’ll show up in the shuffle every once in a while and I’m no worse for wear for hearing them occasionally.  I bet John Lennon would think these guys are okay, but probably wouldn’t fancy the fake British accents.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas:  This is one of those songs that you have in your collection and you think "should I delete it?" because, you know, it speaks for the boomers, man, not to me.  But then you listen to the harmonies and you say "You’ll do pig.  You’ll do."  John Lennon and the Papas toked a lot together I’m pretty sure.

High Class Music – Roddy Frame:  I was an intermediately sized fan of Aztec Camera.  Mostly for the neat voice of the lead singer, Roddy Frame.  I came across an album of his last year and had to check it out.  There are some really nice songs on it.  This is one of them.  I’m afraid the John Lennon reference well dries up here, friends.  No wait.  Roddy Frame was born in Liverpool.  Yes he was.  Go and prove me wrong.  Provide me the link.  You can’t. No.  You can’t.

The Ballad of Hollis Brown – Bob Dylan:  Early Bob Dylan is the best for me.  I love ballads like this. Back when I was a teenager, my father and I bonded a bit because he appreciated these kind of Dylan songs.   Bob supposedly introduced the Beatles to dope.  I don’t believe that.  I can’t imagine the lads wouldn’t have experienced some of that in Germany.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention – The Valentine Brothers:  I’ve never heard this song.  I don’t know where it came from, but I assume I downloaded it from some music blog somewhere.  Sounds like a 70’s jazzy soul/funk type deal.  Farty disco bass and some tootin’ sax.  But I tell ya, when the Valentine Brothers start singin’ the woes of lovin’ on a tight budget, well, I can feel it, bro.  A quick trip to allmusic tells me the brothers Valentine had appearances in the touring company of The Wiz. And that was pretty much a highlight.  So.  There ya go.  Oh.  And John Lennon.

And.  There you go.  Another random mix of songs.  Not a bad apple in the bunch.

I Can’t Find My Singing Voice

Some might say I never could find my singing voice.
I have noticed, in the last five years or so in particular, that I am no longer able to sing as well as I used to.  My voice has grown a little deeper and my range is not near what it used to be.  Notes in songs that I used to be able to sing along to in a high tenor voice are now unreachable.  I have to actively find the notes in the limited range I now am forced to sing in.  This can lead to some fugly sounds as I fail to find a register that I’m comfortable in. 
It’s like my voice is between floors
Is this just a result of growing older?  I assume it’s common to lose range in your singing voice as you age.

10 Right-On, Random Songs

Time for a semi-irregular random sampling of the musical tastes of your host.
Here, then, are the next ten (good or bad, cool or embarassing) songs (and a comment on each) that go through my iTunes, set to shuffle:

1. Girl Wants (to say goodbye to) Rock and Roll Music – Go Home Productions:  One of about 100 mashups I have in my collection.  This combines the music of the Velvet Underground’s "Rock and Roll Music" with the vocals from Christina Aguilera’s "What A Girl Wants".  I have mixed feelings (no pun) on mashups, some work, some don’t, some are just meh.  This one takes a great song and an okay song and makes the okay song a different great song.  Seriously, it’s like Lou Reed’s guitar riffs were made for this song, three decades earlier.  I rate it 4 stars out of 5.
2. Fruits of My Labors – Lucinda Williams:  Homer Simpson talks of dogs with bees in their mouths.  Lucinda has some sweet aged honey in her throat on this song.  Slow and soft and sad and sexy.  As soon as you hear this song, you go "yeah, this was born to be a classic." Another rating of 4 out of 5.
3. Take These Chains From My Heart – Hank Williams: I love how Hank sings "care" like "kee-air"  You no longer kee-air for me.  This gets 5 stars.  Try and talk me out of it.  You kee-an’t.  Hank Williams has the voice of a grand-father, the soul of a prisoner.  Beautiful song.
4.  (What’s So Funny) ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding – Yo La Tengo:  I’m more familiar with the Elvis Costello version of the Nick Lowe song.  This Yo La Tengo version is a bit rough.  This is from a live recording.  Good energy in the music, but the lyrics just fall a bit flat, especially early, but come around by the end.  I waffled between 2 or 3 stars.  I went with 3.  Giving it 2 would have hurt its feelings.
5. Flower Duet (from the opera Lakme):  If you haven’t heard this beautiful song, you should really seek it out.  My wife (who has a voice like an angel) sang it with her friend one time at their church, and I was emotional and teary listening to them.  This version is not my wife’s version.  I give this 5 stars, though.
6. Charm – Wild Colonials:  One of the ways I find new music is by visiting various music blogs, sites that post wide assortments of songs to download and discover.  This is one of those songs.  I am hearing this for the first time right now.   A pretty good song with a good female lead vocal.  I’ll give it 4 stars and wait to pass final judgement on it whenever the next time I hear it will be.
7. Ask Me Why – The Beatles:  I have all The Beatles music in my rotation.  This is one of those songs from them that is kind of forgettable.  Pleasant when you hear it, but would be below middle of the pack if I was picking my favourite Beatles songs to take on a desert Island.  3 stars.
8. Terrible Angels – CocoRosie:  This song starts off with pig squeals and only gets better.  Two sisters singing together, one kinda operatic, the other kinda coquettish sex-kitten 4-in-the-morning raspy.  Uh huh.  4 stars.
9. Mental – Eels:  The lead singer of Eels has a voice you either will like or you won’t. I like.  Another 4 star song.  Easily 4 stars.
10. Welcome to Paradise – La GDT:  Imagine The Beach Boys but slowed down a bit, and a bit drunk.  I don’t know anything about this group, and I’m hearing this song for the first time.  Some of the harmonies sound a bit off, but it all works in a late-night should-we-go-home-or-stay-for-anoth – – hey some guys are singing!  shh, listen, cool, hey get me a beer wouldcha kind of way.


There are a number of music blogs that I visit daily, searching for new and interesting music to sample.  One that has become my favourite lately is Songs:Illinois.  It specialises in country/folk/bluegrass/lofi/antifolk type stuff.  If you lean towards the lesser known singer/songwriter/honest song type of music, I think you’ll like the stuff this site posts.

Quintessential Songs of Endearment

The following is messy writing. Please forgive, but I don’t have the energy or desire to clean it up….

I’ve been giving some thought lately about different songs that I’ve liked from different periods of my life, and how those songs represented more than just the music they provided.

Wondering, specifically, about those few songs that not everyone knew, but that those who should’ve known, knew about, and therefore offered a sort of kindred spirit vibe.

So, I’ve been trying to come up with some quintessential songs from different periods in my life, focusing on that one song that, if you were aware of it, would endear you to me. That is, if I met you, say in the 80’s, and you were aware of a certain song, we’d be that much closer to being instant kindred spirits.

Of course, the 80’s contained within it all kinds of different musical appreciations. Early on for me, it was all about punk and (on PEI) subtle anarchy. By the end of the 80’s, I was on my way towards exploring the singer/songwriter side of music.

Taking it all together, I think, then, the Quinessential 80’s Song of Endearment To Rob would have been: Add It Up from the Violent Femmes self-titled first album (yes, album). If you were ‘in the know’ about that song, then you would’ve been all right in my book.

I’ve been having trouble coming up with a 90’s equivalent, I think because music in that decade wasn’t as important to me, and I found myself diversifying quite a bit into all kinds of musical likes. Yet, if I had to come up with one, the Quintessential 90’s Song of Endearment To Rob would have been: If I Can’t Change Your Mind by Sugar If you were aware of that song, then you were practically a guaranteed member of Rob’s Musical Appreciation And Therefore Cool About Other Things Too Club.

I’ll Be Your Mirror

So, PEI has a 10 hour outdoor rock concert to talk about this summer. 3 heaadlining bands: Train, Five For Fighting and Fountains of Wayne.

I cannot begin to tell you (actually, by writing this, I guess I am beginning… how about you replace ‘begin’ with ‘bother’…carry on…) how many people I overhear saying something like this: “I’m looking forward to Train and/or Five For Fighting, but I couldn’t care less about Fountains of Wayne. I’m so sick of Stacy’s Mom.”

See, to me, it’s exactly the opposite. The only band that really interests me, of the three, is Fountains of Wayne. I understand why people think of them as “that Stacy’s Mom band”, but they’ve got a whole parcel of great power-pop songs in their repetoire.

Like Ron Sexsmith (see post below), their one radio song doesn’t really do them justice. I expect the people who go to the concert will leave thinking Fountains of Wayne stole the show.

Power Pop rocks, man.

Stupid Radio Getting Smarter?

Of course there are all kinds of reasons why so many good songs and performers get ignored by private radio. Just as there are all kinds of reasons why lame songs get played.

Whatever the reason, it’s nice to hear Ron Sexsmith finally making it into a rotation on Magic 93 as of the past week or so. It is long overdue.

It’s too bad that the song isn’t, in my opinion, one of his better songs. Here’s hoping that Ron Sexsmith catches on and more and more of his songs end up on the radio.