Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Whole other can of worms

Siamese Cat Song

We're continuing to slack around here at Shake Your Fist and have invited yet another guest blogger to do our work for us. But with guests this good, how can you possibly object?

Jeannette Ordas is the talent behind the food blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches (which isn't, just to be clear, exclusively about sandwich making). I love Everybody Likes Sandwiches for lots of reasons, but if I had to pick three I'd say, 1) fabulous recipes, 2) writing with lots of personality and 3) luscious food photography. Jeannette lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she works as a designer and does lots of other cool stuff including, as you'll read below, listening to good music.

I've been thinking a lot about what kind of music to write about for this post. Normally, I write about my daily life in a couple online journals or I write about the food I make. It's relatively painless and I feel confident about the things close to me. Writing about music is a whole other can of worms. There's an intimidation factor cuz it reminds me of all the old boyfriends I used to have who knew way more about music than I did. They knew liner notes inside out and who produced what and what song was covered by who. For me, liner notes were something I looked at when I was bored, and it certainly wasn't something I needed to study. I used to work in a record store and talking about music had an air of bravado that could be intimidating and sexy all at once. There is something kind of scary and thrilling and deeply personal about sharing your musical tastes with someone else. It's the same kind of feeling I have about seeing a potential suitor's collection of LPs ... you can almost see where the future relationship potential lies right then and there. Exposing your musical tastes can make you vulnerable, confident and passionate and that's kinda foxy. So I guess I'm just going to lay bare my heart and write about the music that moves me in some personal, meaningful way.

Women Of The World - Jim O'Rourke

It's hard to pick an all-time favorite song or even make a top ten favorite songs ever list, but this song would most certainly be up there. Jim O'Rourke took an almost goofy Ivor Cutlor song and reworked it into something that gives me goose pimples. Before my husband was even a blip in my radar, he tried to woo me with a mixed tape. Nestled between "Baby" by Os Mutantes and "Dear Prudence (demo version)" by The Beatles was this fine, fine treasure. Oh sure, I had heard the song before and liked it, but after listening to this tape I fell in love with it. And a few months later, I fell in love with Cornelius too. This is definitely one song that gives me the warm fuzzies.

New Star Song - The Mountain Goats

I first heard this song 10 years ago on a mix tape made by my friend Randy. I was instantly smitten with this singer with the nasal whine and the stop & go three-chord strut. But it was the lyrics that got to me:

I hung pictures of you from every lamp post in town
as the humidity climbed into numbers I don't care to repeat
The air was heavy and the sky was alive
and the Pacific Starlight train wasn't due in till 11:45

It had the right amounts of yearning and wanting and nostalgia that appealed to the wistful twenty-something in me, plus it mentioned Canada (which always gets bonus points). I listened to this song on repeat over and over, certain that this was the most perfect song ever written. The funny thing about a song you love is that not everyone is going to agree with you. My husband hates The Mountain Goats (and this song especially) which stems from a pre-dating outing involving Randy's Mountain Goats mixed tape, a two hour car ride, and me telling Cornelius that I just wanted to be friends. I guess I can kinda see his point ...

Erase You - E.S.G.

Tally Ho - The Clean

Train In Vain - The Clash

All of these three songs remind me of a certain period of my life. My friend Randy would DJ crazy-fun dance parties and these songs were always prominent on his repertoire. And they were always played for Kyla, Patsy and me (or at least I like to think so). We'd be a bit woozy with the local brew and we'd scream and dance and sing along to these tracks. We even developed a little dance to "Erase You" that involved some very prim teacher-rubbing-out-chalk moves and of course a flushing motion when it came to the point in the song that went "I flush you like my toilet". All this dancing and singing was very cathartic as each one of us at the time had suffered bad relationship breakups and these songs and dance parties were like the gel that kept our friendship strong and our spirits high. When Randy, Kyla and I each got married, Randy, our own personal DJ, played these three songs at all three weddings. It puts a joyful tear in my beer just thinking about it all.

Pretty Smart On My Part - Phil Ochs

Whatever Burns The Best Baby - Herman Dune

Moving away from the nostalgic memories, here are two songs that just bring a little extra sweetness to my day. What can I say, I'm a bit of sucker for wacky little songs played on a guitar and nice n' simple harmonies don't hurt either. Herman Dune is a band out of Sweden that play delightfully catchy songs that run the full gauntlet of feeling: from joy to sadness and sung with humour and without pretension. Phil Ochs was a anti-war folk singer who sang goofy but endearing songs. I first heard this Ochs song a few years ago and last year I was introduced to the magic that was Herman Dune and when I played the Herman Dune to friends, everyone said just how similar it sounded to Ochs. True enough and it just makes the day better.


Anonymous Angela said...

Nice song selection! I have fond memories attached to a couple of these too. Funny how the strongest memories are attached to songs.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Kayem said...

I can completely relate to your partner hating what you love - I lerve TMG, my wife cannot abide them (him). And in fact it is precisely what I love (the simplicity of the music, the depth of the lyrics, the beautifully rendered themes of alienation and dysfunction) that is also precisely what she hates. Oh - and she hates the voice.

7:18 PM  

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