Saturday, 29 April 2006

Friday Random Ten After thinking about "Friday Random Ten" as an aesthetic phenomenon, it seems silly not to slap one up there myself. I'm normally no fan of the routine blog post—as evidenced by the couple I've concocted that've fallen by the wayside—but that has more to do with the "length" of my attention span. A few iterations and I'm bored with it. This window into my iRiver's soul will slam shut sooner than later: Clem Snide - "Action" The Pogues - "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" Dave Van Ronk & Frankie Armstrong - "The Legend of the Dead Soldier" Sleater-Kinney - "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" The Jayhawks - "Wichita" Django Reinhardt - "H.C.Q. Strut" Wilco - "Box Full of Letters" Blonde Redhead - "Without Feathers" Drive By Truckers - "Lookout Mountain" Grant Lee Buffalo - "Lonestar Song" What have I learned? To believe in Random. At least one-third of my iRiver consists of Jeff Tweedy-related albums, bootlegs, demos, solo- and side- projects. What ends up on my only ever Random Ten? One mediocre track from Wilco's only mediocre album. Not that there aren't some fortuitous entries: When Holbo was out here last week I actually mentioned Grant Lee Buffalo's "Lonestar Song." Scott McLemee will dig the appearance by the Drive By Truckers. The Pogues' "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" is the best song off the album of the same name. The Dave Van Ronk & Frankie Armstrong album full of Brecht covers is as good as it seems pretentious. More people should own it. Same with the Jayhawks' Hollywood Town Hall. Sleater-Kinney's "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," while not one of my favorite songs, at least comes from their best period ('95-'99). The list is odd in many respects, however. There's no rap or hip-hop. In fact there aren't any African-American performers on it. It seems I own a racist iRiver. Anyone know if there's a firmware upgrade for that?
Non-Eclectic Eclecticism In response to comments on Friday's Random Ten, I wonder if the class would like to discuss why so many academics have such similar taste in music. Dr. Virago, Belle Lettre, Lauren, Craig and Jon all correspond to different colors in the leftist intellectual rainbow. Yet if they ask their portable .mp3 players to speak they do so with one voice. (Which apparently sounds much like Jeff Tweedy's circa Summerteeth.) How is it that thinkers who pledge allegiance to Green have the same taste in music as those who espouse undying love of Blue? And what are we to make of the Reds and the Yellows? How did this strange state affairs come to be? Common roots? Were we outcasts all in high school? Does reading too much at too young an age predispose us to love of Morrissey and "alternative country"? An article about Morrissey's wild popularity in Mexico claimed that Mexicans love him because of the melodramatic ambiguity of his lyrics.* Is that why we love him? "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" [edited to refelct the fact that I confuse the lyrics with the title of that song] moved my adolescent heart via its elegant and articulate bombast. Why did it cause yours to skip a beat? Why does the answer to that question have anything to do with Theory? I'm not sure. But perhaps we can tease out some sub-sub-sub-cultural distinctions which will account for our apparent similarities in musical taste. Do those who favor theoretical eclecticism tend more toward experimental music? Or do they also have a soft spot for Springsteen's working class epic "The River"? Why (hypothetically) can they abide by Morrissey but not Springsteen? &c. *At a concert in Arizona, Morrissey told the largely Latino audience that they could stay for the concert but would have to return to Mexico at its conclusion. As Gustavo Arellano noted, "Only one white man in the world—and he's not the Pope—can tell a group of Mexicans in the United States to return to Mexico and not only avert death, but be loved for saying so."

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