Search Results

Track 19: The Alchemy of R.E.M.

The Alchemy of R.E.M

Chris Hutchison-Jones

 

R.E.M. is my favorite band. I’ve had fits, flings, and flirtations with other artists; some are even recurring long-term affairs. But I always come back to R.E.M. Depending on the day, the weather, my mood, and the phases of the moon, my favorite album by my favorite band shifts. But if I had to pick one to be with me on that mythical desert island, it would be New Adventures in Hi-Fi. I’ll sit up straight in my chair and loudly proclaim it as my favorite album by my favorite band.

That R.E.M. is my favorite band is no great statement. They’ve sold millions of albums and influenced any number of bands and artists that have become integral parts of my own musical life. But NAHF somehow tipped the scales for me. It had virtually no hits. It was a mishmash of live recordings and studio tracks. The first single (“E-bow the Letter”) was a broody, half-spoken folk rock dirge with eerie backing vocals by someone I’d never heard of at the time, Patti Smith. Not the typical makings of a favorite album. (more…)

Track 15: Welcome to the Working Week

Welcome to the Working Week

David Gooblar

 

It was 2000 and I was twenty years old and I was in love with Pete Tunney.

OK, maybe “in love” is too strong, but not by much. In that indelible summer, when I interned at Knitting Factory Records and discovered the island of Manhattan, Pete was the sun: the main source of light and heat. He was the star around which I orbited. When I was with him, I was preternaturally attuned to his every utterance and expressed preference; I silently and invisibly took mental notes on how I might behave to gain his acceptance. I’m sure the other interns did the same—there was an unspoken but palpable competition among us for his approval—but I knew that he loved me best. I wanted nothing more than to enter the palace of pop-musical wisdom, and I knew, I just knew, that Pete was the one to take me there. (more…)

Track 12: Gordon

Gordon

Lee Skallerup Bessette

 

Gord Downey, the lead singer from The Tragically Hip, recently announced that he has terminal brain cancer. I’ve been thinking about what The Tragically Hip meant to me.  While writing about how Barenaked Ladies (BNL) album Gordon changed my life, I could have written about Day for Night by The Tragically Hip. I figured this band was too obscure for a primarily American audience, so I went with BNL. But, to me, those two albums and bands are woven together in my head around a highly personal, but also a cultural, moment in time, along with Ashley MacIsaac, Our Lady Peace, Crash Test Dummies, Sarah McLachlan and even Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill. It was a moment when MacIsaac played Letterman, the Hip played SNL, “Superman is Dead” was all over the radio, Lilith Fair was all the rage, and Jagged Little Pill was everything.

It’s a moment I keep experiencing and re-experiencing as I write this piece on Gordon by Barenaked Ladies. Because none of this would have happened for me if I hadn’t been introduced to BNL in the fall of 1992. (more…)

Track 11: Someone to Sing You a Song

Someone to Sing You a Song

Jeremy Neely

 

In Fargo Rock City, writer Chuck Klosterman frames his list of “essential” albums by posing a hypothetical question: how much money would someone have to pay you never to listen to your favorite album again? It’s a silly exercise. Even our favorite music, Klosterman admits, is hardly more essential to physical survival than food or air. Music obsessives, however, recognize an irresistible thrust to this sort of parlor game. Art, after all, is a vital element of our human survival, as it nourishes, delights, and gives meaning to how we understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

Having pondered Klosterman’s question for many years, I suspect that I could be bought off, and sometimes cheaply, for some of the albums that have migrated from old CD sleeves to a scratched click-wheel iPod and now to this computer hard drive. Others would fetch a dear price. Yet there remains one indispensable album, Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, for which I’m not sure I can name my price.   (more…)

Track 9: Give Em Enough Rope

Give Em Enough Rope

Robin James

 

I started running in college. I was a resolutely un-athletic nerd in high school. But when I stopped marching and joined band staff, I needed some physical activity in my life…,preferably physical activity that allowed me to have that same embodied connection to music that playing in the marching band did. So, running it was. But what music to run to? Well, I started out with early punk records. Duh, music by angry 19 year olds on tons of speed is gonna be great for running, I thought. And I was right: The Clash’s “White Riot” and the Dead Kennedys “MTV Get Off The Air” come in around 190bpm, which is fast. I copied my Clash, Sex Pistols, and Dead Kennedys CDs onto tape–this is pre shock-free Discman–and took them with me on my runs around Oxford, Ohio.

Of those albums (most of which I bought at the now-closed Oxford record shop, Looney T-Bird’s), my favorite was The Clash’s second album, Give Em Enough Rope. (I know, I know, it’s supposedly overproduced and not punk and whatever…don’t @ me with trite rockist banalities about this album.) I still run to the album, and it evokes specific places for me, places I lived and studied and, above all, ran. And it doesn’t just evoke images, but gestures and ways of being a body in a place. (more…)