Damnit, it’s just a sitcom. I am definitely not meant to cry during it.
Archives for February 2002
Hi. Announcing two upcoming field trips made possible by me not getting cast in Fiddler. Thank god.
#1 – Peter Mulvey, April 18th, @ The Point in Bryn Mawr.
#2 – GARBAGE, April 26th, @ The Electric Factory in Philly
I intend to attend both shows with as many people as i possible can bring with me. Any takers?
I don’t have enough time to turn all of these thoughts into what they want to be. I just ate breakfast in front of a one-two punch of Springer’s “Prostitutes Tell All” and Katie Couric ogling Janet Jackson’s abs on the post-Grammy fashion wrap-up. My brain is fried.
Last night was wickedly cold, and if i hadn’t noticed it on my walk down to campus or sprint to the train station, then i definitely noticed it when we wound up waiting a half an hour for the train home after the show My scarf wrapped all around my head in an attempt to retain warmth and Kat edging around to stand so i was between her and the wind, and both of us jumping up and down and trying to find the right key for us both to sing Pinkerton songs in.
I calmly explained my theory on opening acts as we sat at the back of the room and surveyed the crowd. First i place them on my musical spectrum, and then i speculate on if i could vanquish them in unarmed song-to-song combat. A good opening act doesn’t quite fit on my spectrum because they don’t have obvious influences; an amazing opening act convinces me that i couldn’t possibly walk up on stage, pick up a guitar, and please the crowd as much or more than s/he did.
Burning my tongue so badly on chai that i got stuck between try to scream, swallow, or just spit it out. Having to picture the taste of everything afterwards.
Charlie knowing my name and where i lived even though i hadn’t seen him for half a year and letting me off the shuttle at the corner of Walnut street where i knew that, despite the utterly desolate chill in the air, i was close to my door. How i let my scarf unravel from the knot it had formed around my neck until it was just being carried by the wind behind me. Me running down 44th street trailing my monochrome scarf behind me like a kite, giggling into the thin air and barely breathing.
Pillows taking up half my bed.
Speaking of Yum, lots of intelligent new pop music was purchased yesterday — primarily the new Alanis and Lisa Loeb discs. I don’t have any review quality thoughts on either yet, other than to say that both have solidly migrated away from “alternative” to a comfortable position in pop – Loeb with her roots in lush harmony and arrangements, and Alanis all psycho-babbly with shimmery guitars and boisterous bass-lines, both offer up pop gems that could easily deflate the newest Britney hit single.
At a glance, Alanis’s Under Rug Swept scores with the strangely catchy “Hands Clean,” and again with the deadpanned dissection offered up in “Narcissus.” Second single “21 Things I Want in a Lover” and radio-ready “So Unsexy” are both undeniable in their hookiness while coming off slightly awkward… with lines like “do you have a big intellectual capacity” and “i feel so ungood.” The latter song could be Alanis’s new masterpiece; it’s easily as catchy as the equally odd “Hands Clean.” Softer endeavor “Flinch” is a retread of similar material on her previous disc, but will please more casual listeners with it’s simple arrangement. Obviously i’m too busy with the first half of the disc to pay much attention to the sleepy “You Owe Me Nothing in Return,” and the flimsy folk in three/four of “Utopia.”
Lisa Loeb has Ms. Morissette beat hands down all around with Cake and Pie… not only in her mature lyrics & arrangements, but also in graphic design and production. In fact, her disc begins with erstwhile Alanis producer Glen Ballard credited with co-writing the music “The Way It Really Is” (he makes nary an appearance on Under Rug Swept, which Alanis wrote and produced solo). The song is sonically as lush as the more impressive tracks of Firecracker, but has a string laden sense of drama that Lisa doesn’t usually bring to the table. She doesn’t let up on second track “Bring Me Up,” which is as catchy as anything on her debut album with its simple guitar patter and sighing background vocals. Similarly, the melancholy acoustic riffing on “Underdog” gives way to a softly defiant chorus co-written with beau Dweezil Zappa. While the anonymous “Everyday” falls a little flat, lead single “Someone You Should Know” repeats the playfulness featured on her release from the Rugrats movie. “We Could Still Be Together” is resurrected from soundtrack limbo to offer a throbbing 90’s-style rocker to pin down the middle of the album, and “Payback” is an uncharacteristic blues number complete with guitar solos and wurlitzer piano. Nestled between the two, “You Don’t Know Me” sells the disc on its opening riff alone : Lisa’s sweet pop combined with Dweezil’s guitar heroics winds up as a Matthew Sweet brand of perfect pop, and it doesn’t get much more perfect than this ode the the geek girl with a new boyfriend.
Lisa’s album is not as cohesive as her last, and Alanis’s is more rambly — i’m hoping Loeb receives well-deserved attention for her impeccably produced effort, and Morissette learns to embrace the idea of having a little bit of outside input in hers.
Yummers… linky love! Aside from the aforementioned Phlogger Karl Martino , there’s new-comer rockstar/dork who discovered (!) blogging when he found my site on a search for my guitar-idol Peter Mulvey. Meanwhile, GlacierGrrl upgraded to her own domain, straight out of Sheryl Crow (well, that’s how i learned what that word meant), and yet another newish blogger actually reads me semi-daily (always a shock, trust me). Not to mention Drexelites Kat and Jason, who offer me new perspectives on the things i see every day. And, finally, was this a compliment or an insult? I can’t quite tell.
Ack, i just got fiberglass insulation crappola in my eyes while cleaning. I am such a clutz.
I read a lot of blogs every day. That’s what my sidebar is for, really: to remind me of what i’m supposed to be reading on any given day. Lately i haven’t been doing such a good job, as i’ve obviously barely got my head screwed on tight enough to write convincing posts about my own life, so i’ve been trying to catch up today. It’s been hard… digesting four days of thoughts and feelings and words from each person and trying to discern exactly What it was that i missed. It’s harder with some than others — four days for some is an entire universe, for others just some scattered commentary. But, anyway, i miss all of them and i’m happy to be caught up on their lives.
Point being, i find Martha to be completely amazing and felt the overwhelming need to link her individually despite her omnipresence on my sidebar. She makes life sound as vivid as it is.
I cannot decide if i have nothing to say, something i don’t want to say, or something to say with no way to say it.
Kissing her is like falling forward without putting out my hands to catch myself, either because i do not intend to ever touch the ground or because i do not mind it at all.
That’s all, i guess. Good morning.
Nine days out of ten, engaging me in conversation regarding my favorite album of all time will lead to a discussion of Tori Amos’s from the choirgirl hotel, though sometimes i’m not sure why. While it’s an excellent album, it is no more excellent than the other discs that round out my top five. What makes it different was the moment that i first advanced it to play track eight, because at that moment my favorite song came blasting out of my speakers for the first time, and nearly knocked my clear off my feet.
There are things i had come to expect from a Tori Amos album by 1998, even though i didn’t actually own any of her work. Intricate piano playing. Obscure lyrics. Breathy vocals. All of these details were present on the untouched disc i held in my hands as i walked out of HMV on the fifth of May, unwrapping a just-released copy of choirgirl. I got through the album once on my commute home via SEPTA, but typically nodded off a half hour into my ride. All of the last songs of the disc had gone by in a blur until i lurched back into consciousness on the last one as i neared my stop. Checking the track listing, i had missing tracks eight through eleven, and so i started on track number eight when i dropped the disc into the cd-drawer of my computer.
Track eight is “She’s Your Cocaine.” It has been my favourite song ever since i heard for the first time, nearly for year ago.
“Cocaine” is hardly a Tori Amos song… so much so that many of her fans detest it primarily among all of her more adventurous composures. It shows off her roots; it’s hard to imagine her sitting behind a piano singing it, even after seeing it happen at a concert. On disc it sounds like Tori fronting classic Led Zeppelin, or a pre-Eno Bowie with his nineties Reeves Gabriel arrangements. You have to sonically squint to even find the piano behind the bass-stomp and the slack tuned guitar that accompany it, and just as you endeavor to locate it the song breaks down into a delicate piano and meletron bridge before heading back into the swirling rock that it started with.
Despite all of these sonic elements, it is the lyrics of the song that caught my attention as much as anything else. “She’s your cocaine,” Tori accuses the man she’s addressing, “she’s got you shaving your legs.” In one line Tori has put her quarry’s emasculation out in the open for all to see; he has become humiliated by his obsession. The irony is, even Tori’s blunt accusations to him don’t seem to mean a thing. She commands “shimmy once, and do it again” so matter-of-factly that it’s clear that he doesn’t have any illusions of resisting — he’s become so controlled, so “whipped,” that now anyone can twist him into knots just by mentioning the woman that is like a drug to him.
It is this brutal honesty, combined with a punchy rhythm section and a huge stadium-rock guitar crunch, that makes “Cocaine” so gripping. The second verse opens “She’s says control it, then she says don’t control it, then she says you’re controlling — the way she makes you crawl.” In a verbally acrobatic way, these lyrics lay out every overly possessed and controlled relationship i’ve ever witnessed: first he’s not in charge of his own feelings, then he’s too focused on being in control, and then he’s pushing her around. But, all of it is just her way of keeping him safely leashed — it is the way she makes him crawl.
Tori lays the final layer of the narrative on in her bridge and refrain, first telling him “Boy, i could lie to you,” before practically spitting out “you don’t need one of these to let me inside of you.” Despite her vagueness, the tone her delivery connects the line to the sexist and nearly vulgar implication that is meant; he’s letting her in as easily as he’d claim a woman would. Her next accusation is even more degrading, a sighing “you sign Prince of Darkness, … try squire of dimness.” Even through all of this, apparently the man in question has thought that he was the seductive devil in charge of things, but Tori has put him in his place — he’s nothing frightening, but his girl is wearing a proverbial blue dress.
The first time i heard it, i could feel “She’s Your Cocaine” reverberating in my heart, in my stomach, and in my hips. In my heart, because i know i have the potential to be the man Tori is describing, in my gut because her voice leaves me with a visceral reaction to its intonations, and in my hips because the song speaks in tones of seduction. Tori has literally been quoted as as calling choirgirl something so innocent as a record she can keep a beat to the less vague “an album [to] f–k to.” “Cocaine” is practically the center-piece when it comes to this element of the disc… it is rock and roll sold from the pelvis, both in its body-moving rhythm and its unapologetic lyrics.
When Tori matter-of-factly commands “cut it again” to guitarist Steve Caton at the end of the song, she might as well be commanding me to push the repeat button. It’s what i do every single time.