Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Looking for America

Two songs about wanting America to live up to its promise

“America” is my favorite song by Simon & Garfunkel, but lately I’ve gotten a greater surge of emotion from listening to this cover by First Aid Kit, a duo of Swedish sisters born over twenty years after the song was first recorded. (This live version recorded in Stockholm that got a solo standing ovation from Paul Simon is also wonderful).

Simon’s genius lyrics take a bunch of highly-specific references and generalize them into a perfect expression of the hope and disillusionment of being an American in the late 60s. The cover resonates with me because it shows that the song is even more universal than that: it was never about a specific time or even a specific place, but about an ideal, and the perpetual sadness that comes from seeing that ideal remain unrealized.

Growing up in the Ronald Reagan-led, Newt Gingrich-fueled, jingoistic travesty of America that was the 1980s, I learned to reject American patriotism as the weak-minded arrogance of bigots and fools. So much of it seemed to be manifested in the laser shows at Stone Mountain. There were all the obvious signs of corruption and rot — the show’s climax traced the mountain’s carving of Confederate leaders and animated them riding off to glory, set to a medley of Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson singing “Dixie” and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. As the crowd around us hooted and hollered at the majesty of it all, my (white) friends and I could safely roll our eyes and mock it as gross and misguided but ultimately harmless. Virulent racists were dying out, I told myself, and the casual variety would flee back to their comfortable homes in the suburbs, where they weren’t reaching out to be part of a larger community, but at least they weren’t actively making things worse.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the comically absurd rot — a Confederate War memorial? In 1985?! Ha ha! — was more or less a front for the more pervasive fear and greed that would get more and more entrenched over the next few decades. That was manifested in a song, too: Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” I always misinterpreted it as dumb but harmless, a shallow take on patriotism that was easily dismissed with an eye roll and a wanking gesture. But it’s jarring now to look back and see laid bare just how selfish and transactional it always was. It’s all pride, no responsibility. You’ve got to thank the troops, but only for giving me my freedom and my rights. It’s all my family, not my community. The only suggestion of “stand[ing] up next to you” is to fight to keep what belongs to us.

I can at least understand why people like Greenwood’s version, though: sometimes you do genuinely just want the bombast and pride and being able to shout “America, Fuck Yeah!” Anybody who believes that the whole idea of “the American experiment” is based on just an accident of where you were born — for good or for ill — is missing the entire point, which is that none of this works unless we all to agree believe in it. That requires some faith and some swagger. It’s not a refusal to acknowledge all the layers of disillusionment and injustice; it’s a refusal to drown in them.

There are few more powerful accusations of American denial than Langston Hughes’ poem “America never was America to me.” It was Hughes’ prescient warning from 1935 to any of us who in 2021 are tempted to say “This is not who we are.” As if greed, exploitation, insurrection, corruption, and bigotry were new, foreign things to the USA, and not manifest in every phase of our history. Except that’s not actually the title of the poem, even though I always mis-remember it as such. The actual title is “Let America Be America Again.” It’s not content to just reject the promise of America as a lie; it insists that we work together to make it true.

And because it can’t be said enough: we can’t work together without first rejecting the lie. There’s no unity without justice, and no justice without accountability.

So if you want the simple anthem with waving flags and cheering and middle-aged people on their feet dancing, Neil Diamond’s always had you covered. My parents took me to a Neil Diamond concert when I was a teenager, and I was a capital-C Chode about it because I thought I was too cool for it. Even though it was a huge deal to my mom. I wish I hadn’t been such a chump, because his performance that night (as always) was a show-stopper. And if I’m going to stand up and shout “America!”, I don’t want it to be all about selfishness or fighting to keep what’s mine. I want it to be about welcoming everyone who wants to share in the idea and work together to make something better than any single one of us.

Tuesday Tune Two-fer: You-know-where on my You-know-what

Two tunes from Georgia!

Since my home state of Georgia is in the news so much lately, both for the crucial Senate run-offs today against two of the most crassly, disgracefully, and blatantly corrupt and unqualified Republicans ever to run for public office; and because of a blatantly corrupt attempt to shake down the Secretary of State to subvert the democratic process and steal the Presidential election: today is two tunes from bands from Georgia.

Specifically, Athens, Georgia, which is where I went to college. First up is “McIntosh” by Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, who were one of my favorite bands while I was in college but never seemed to make much of an impression outside Athens (despite having Michael Stipe as a producer). I saw them perform twice at the Georgia Theater, and they were some of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever seen. One of the guys would play guitar, and the other sat in a rocking chair and would stomp on a box with a microphone under it. (They also had a drummer for their live shows).

Second is “Love Shack” by The B-52’s, since the first concert I saw in Athens was the band doing their Cosmic Thing tour. It’s definitely not my favorite song from the album — even before it got so overplayed — but it does mention the Atlanta Highway at the beginning. That’s the road out of Athens that I used to drive every weekend to my retail job in college, a frustratingly long, two-laned, tree-lined road that would pass places like Peanut’s Redneck Bar-be-que. There are several Athens references throughout Cosmic Thing, so being in town while there was so much hype around the band and the album was a neat feeling, like being at the center of something.

I was debating whether to include “Love Shack” or “The Rooster” by Outkast, which is my favorite song from Speakerboxxx, and which I like 99.9% as much as the more popular “Hey Ya” from The Love Below. But I felt like a poseur for naming it, because I didn’t even hear about Outkast until long after I’d already moved out of Georgia.

I hope everybody who’s eligible to vote in Georgia has already voted in the run-offs, or has a plan to before the polls close tonight! It’s crucial to get the corrupt Republicans out of the way before we can even start to make things better.

Tuesday Tune Two-fer: Next Year

Two songs hoping for a better next year

Until I did a search for year-end appropriate songs, I’d never heard of Two Door Cinema Club, or their song from 2013 “Next Year.”

It’s a pleasant song about making plans for later we can’t carry out today, which seems extremely appropriate for the long-awaited end of 2020. Most remarkable to me, though, is how much the beginning of the track reminds me of the Apple Loops-provided backbeat in my friend Graham’s legendary video “We Sing the Forest Electric.”

I’m hoping that in 2021, we all have more of the uninhibited forest dancing, and much less of the implied killing.

There’s also “Next Year” by the Foo Fighters, which had a video of the gang going to the moon and, impressively, choosing not to wear fat suits for comedic effect. I’m impressed they pulled it off! And I hope next year is better for everyone reading this, and even some of the people who aren’t.

Tuesday Tune Two-fer: I’ll Be Woke for Christmas

If you don’t agree with me about these songs celebrating a season of peace and unity, you’re wrong and dumb. Merry Christmas!

This week’s theme is my favorite Christmas songs, which inadvertently turned into an additional theme of “needlessly controversial Christmas songs.” First is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which over the past decade in particular has turned into a perfect litmus test for judging whether someone knows what they’re talking about.

Short1-ish version: this song isn’t creepy; the worst you could say is that it’s “mad horny.” The “I’ve got to go home” part is mock-protesting to keep up appearances. Anyone saying that it’s got a tone of sexual assault is either being deliberately manipulative, or is just demonstrating they’ve got a simplistic and condescending notion of gender.

And yeah, it’s a hill I’m going to die on. If it were just a bunch of people misinterpreting the context of a song and spinning it into a simplistic message about the importance of consent, I’d just shrug and carry on. After all, the re-interpretations and re-makes come out every year but quickly disappear2Most hilarious are the versions that claim to be progressive by gender-swapping the parts, seemingly unaware that the song’s first appearance in a film does exactly that, back in 1949, while the originals live on. But it’s not harmless to call it “problematic” or worse, “rapey.” It perpetuates an idea that women are fragile and/or frigid, that people in the 50s were more uptight and less self-aware than we are today, and is generally prudish and sex-negative . Not to mention, it also says that people always mean exactly what they say and that context is irrelevant, which is gradually making the population more and more stupid.

For the record, my favorite version of the song is actually the scene from the movie Elf. (Better than the one with Leon Redbone on the album, even). Partly because I love Zooey Deschanel’s voice, but also because it’s a modern interpretation that plays around with the idea of romance and innocence/prudishness inherent in the song. Also, it makes the song unequivocally a Christmas song.

Another perennial favorite: “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Funnily enough, I was originally just going to include it with the note that it’s the most stirring Christmas song that contains the words “slut” and “faggot.” But I’m only just now discovering that the “official” version on The Pogues’ YouTube channel edits out “the f-word.”3I can’t actually tell what they changed it to; it sounds something like “haggis?”

I honestly don’t know how to feel about this one. On the one hand, I hate the word, I went back and forth on whether I would keep saying “the f-word” or type it out, and its use in the song has always made me uncomfortable. On the other hand, it’s supposed to make me uncomfortable. The Pogues were a punk band. The contrast between the song’s couple absolutely hating each other and falling for the magic of Christmas in New York, hate and love, hope and hopelessness, is the entire point of the song.

Whenever you see someone complaining about “political correctness” or mocking the “woke,” or whining about censorship online, 99.9999% of the time, it’s just someone going out their way to defend being arrogant, selfish, and thoughtless. It’s the equivalent of being churlish and insisting on either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” as if that were a real thing to be upset about, instead of brazenly manipulated outrage. If you can make a minimum amount of harmless effort and make other people feel better, you’re an asshole for stamping your feet and refusing to do it.

Except again, this is a weird take. This version suggests that “cheap lousy faggot” is inexcusable, but somehow “old slut on junk” is acceptable. That suggests that individual words are somehow more powerful than the context and intent behind them. It’s also odd because it’s being changed after MacColl’s death, and I get the sense that she’d be better able to justify it than anyone speaking on the song’s behalf, even Shane MacGowan. Apparently there’s a long history of edits to the song, with attempts that seem more equitable in cutting out all the potentially offensive words, but as a result making it completely toothless.

My ultimate takeaway is that it all makes it easier to understand why Christmas songs are typically more about gifts and carols and snow, and less about adult couples being angry and horny.

My other favorite Christmas songs4A post that was supposed to have only two Christmas songs has magically stretched to include four songs! It’s a Hanukkah miracle! are “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses (although even at my most stressed, I never agree with the “miss this one this year” sentiment) and “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey (yeah, I said it. If you don’t like it, you’re wrong). Merry Christmas, everybody!

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  • 2
    Most hilarious are the versions that claim to be progressive by gender-swapping the parts, seemingly unaware that the song’s first appearance in a film does exactly that, back in 1949
  • 3
    I can’t actually tell what they changed it to; it sounds something like “haggis?”
  • 4
    A post that was supposed to have only two Christmas songs has magically stretched to include four songs! It’s a Hanukkah miracle!

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Now That’s What I Call Music

Two tangentially related tunes each Tuesday. This week’s theme: two bands I maybe haven’t given enough credit to.

Last Sunday I was kind of a jerk to HAIM, you guys. I pretty much dismissed them as “just fine” while posting a link to their performance of “3AM”. Turns out, the joke’s on me, since I’ve had that song going through my head non-stop ever since, and I’ve watched the video over and over. Even more than I’ve watched the video of the super-ripped guy dancing like a maniac with his shirt off, which should tell you something.

HAIM’s remote-directed-and-choreographed video for “I Know Alone” is pretty good too. When I first heard about them, I read that they sounded like Fleetwood Mac, which is something I didn’t hear myself — although I guess any woman singing calmly enough can sound like Christine McVie, maybe? — but figured was the kind of thing that people who knew more about music than me said. Eventually, I realized that was pretty dumb, though: Fleetwood Mac is all over the place, and “Don’t Stop” sounds nothing like “Tusk” or “Gypsy.” Well, this song sounds nothing like the other HAIM songs I’ve heard, so maybe that’s where the comparison comes in.

Anyway, they seem cool. And I think I’ve been doing them a disservice for just dismissing them as “just straightforward 21st century pop-rock music” because I always need some bizarre hook to keep my attention.

A hook like “Wait, is that Busy Phillips?” That’s what made me watch the video for Grizzly Bear’s “Losing All Sense,” which seems to be hinting at a lot about gender, authenticity, sincerity, envy, and social climbing. Grizzly Bear is another band that I’ve tried to get into several times over the years, and gone away thinking, “Yes, that sure is a band that makes music.” It’s possible that I’m just not a fan of the vocalist, and it’s never going to work for me. But I’ve got to acknowledge that even if it’s not speaking to me, it’s doing an awful lot. Like playing bare butts as drums and shooting laser beam out of nipples. Now that’s what I call a video!

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Kutiman Around the World

Two of Kutiman’s post-Thru You videos, celebrating the cooperation and creativity of humans living in cities

“Thru Tokyo” is part of a series that musician and filmmaker Kutiman started after his wonderful “Thru You” projects. The idea is similar to “Thru You,” in that he’s taking disparate audio and video samples and remixing them into a new composition. The big differences are 1) this isn’t found footage, but is deliberately recorded for the purpose of the video; 2) each composition is made in celebration of a city; and 3) most of the samples are from artists and musicians who live in the city.

As far as I’m concerned, Kutiman alone justifies the existence of YouTube (if not the internet in general). Each video he makes is such a joyful celebration of collaboration and cooperation, creativity and talent. There is such a feeling of optimism and belief in humanity implicit in every one of these compositions, that if we ever make another Voyager probe, I want Kutiman in charge of making the next golden record.

My favorite of this series (and everyone else’s favorite, if the 7.3 million views is any indication) is “Mix Tel Aviv”1Technically, I believe these were different projects with different sponsors, so I mean “series” more in the sense of a creative connection. I believe that Tel Aviv is Kutiman’s home city, or at least it was at the time, and I think that several of the musicians involved are his friends. Regardless, the video shows a love of the city and its people that’s undeniable. In a just universe, Kutiman would’ve gotten the patronage to make videos like this for dozens more cities.

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    Technically, I believe these were different projects with different sponsors, so I mean “series” more in the sense of a creative connection

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Track Two’s Too Terrific

Digging through my iTunes library to find my favorite track twos and celebrate never being cool.

My favorite song from Come Away With Me by Norah Jones is the second track, right after the hit “Don’t Know Why” that you heard at least 1000 times during 2002, especially if you went into a Starbucks or a book store.1To be clear, I love “Don’t Know Why,” but it suffered the same fate of over-exposure as other great songs like “Hey Ya” and “Get Lucky.” It’s called “Seven Years”, and it’s the first song in this at-home live performance, one of many that Jones has been posting to YouTube during the pandemic.

Buying that album stands out as a significant personal milestone for me, oddly enough. As I remember it, I’d turned 30 and was barreling towards 31, I felt like I’d lost control of how my life was going, and I was having a crisis in a Borders book store in San Rafael, CA. Buying this album felt like I would finally be admitting that I was nothing more than a suburban, thirty-something white guy who’d drive his Volkswagen Jetta to a Borders to get middle-of-the-road singer-songwriter music that appeared on Starbucks playlists. And as I remember it — which is probably inaccurate but is true to the spirit of it — the song “Seven Years” came over the store’s audio system, and it was profoundly calming. No, I was never going to be cool, but who cares?2And no matter how popular Come Away With Me may be, it’s still extremely underrated.

Going back to find it tonight, I was surprised that it was the second track on the album. That lyric “a little girl with nothing wrong, and she’s all alone” is such a perfect lyric in such a simple, confident song, that I would’ve thought it’s something you build up to over the course of a set list.

And I thought it’d be mildly interesting to find other cases where the strongest song on the album (or at least my favorite) is on track two. Here’s what I found from my own library, instead of working on more important things I should be doing tonight:

  • “Dirty Back Road” by The B-52s, the second track on Wild Planet
  • “Cannonball” by The Breeders, on Last Splash
  • “Wait in the Car” by The Breeders, on All Nerve
  • “Song 2” (duh) by Blur on Blur
  • “The Distance” by Cake on Fashion Nugget
  • “Daddy’s Car” by The Cardigans on Life
  • “I Am Stretched on Your Grave” by Sinéad O’Connor on I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • “Cruel” by St. Vincent on Strange Mercy
  • “Love is Stronger Than Death” by The The on Dusk
  • “Overkill” by Men at Work on Cargo
  • “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin on Houses of the Holy
  • “Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush on Hounds of Love
  • “Photograph” by Def Leppard on Pyromania
  • “We Used To Be Friends” by The Dandy Warhols on Welcome to the Monkey House
  • “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox on Diva

Taken all together, this shows… well, not much of anything. (I did only promise “mildly interesting,” after all). Sometimes it’s an artist using track one as an intro to build up to their strongest track. Sometimes it’s a song that probably wouldn’t be a pop hit, but is still strong enough to put up front. Sometimes, I just like a song better than the artist or producer did.

The one artist in my library who seems to do it (somewhat) consistently is Indigo Girls. So many of my favorites — “Secure Yourself,” “Galileo,” “Get Out the Map,” and “Crazy Game” — are the second track on their album. And so is “Least Complicated” from Swamp Ophelia, which is kind of thematically perfect: for my entire adult life, they’ve been making songs to remind me that it’s okay not to have everything figured out, and to remind me that I’ve never been cool. (And I don’t need to be).

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    To be clear, I love “Don’t Know Why,” but it suffered the same fate of over-exposure as other great songs like “Hey Ya” and “Get Lucky.”
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    And no matter how popular Come Away With Me may be, it’s still extremely underrated.

Tuesday Tune Two-fer: Jeremy Blake (Red Means Recording)

Two tunes from an artist who showed what you can do with synthesizers and gave me calm when I needed it

Jeremy Blake is the musician behind (or maybe just slightly underneath) the brilliant YouTube channel Red Means Recording. He does really clever tutorials for various synthesizers and other musical instruments, predominantly the Teenage Engineering OP-1, along with their Pocket Operators. I imagine he’s tricked a ton of people into buying an OP-1, because he always makes it look like it’s easy to just sit down and get a fantastic track of out of the device every time.

He’s got a new album out called Hindsight, along with a great music video for the title track that combines footage from the Black Lives Matter protests with stock footage he didn’t pay for. It’s an ingenious trick to use humor to make the horror stand out; the super-heightened vapidity of stock footage contrasted against the surreal footage of police brutality that we’ve been seeing.

In March of last year he made a video called Opulent Polished Zircon, one of two videos demonstrating the capabilities of the Teenage Engineering OP-Z. It’s pretty great. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole 50-minute set, my favorite part is at the 27:50 mark. (It’s also available on Apple Music, where my favorite is the track titled “Oh, Luck”).

It’s unlikely to have the same impact on you as it did on me, but that’s for the best. I listened to it back in early February, at the lowest point of the worst year, when I was having to fly back to California on my own. Listening to this with headphones let me just get completely lost in the music. A wave of calm washed over me. It was a reminder that I could still enjoy something, and I was going to go on discovering new things to enjoy. I could see a glimmer of optimism again.

And then the pandemic started a few weeks later. But for a while there, I was hopeful, and I’ll always appreciate this track for it.

Tuesday Tune Twofer: Songs for my Mother

Remembering the early 1970s, and two songs my mother liked to sing when I was a kid.

My friend Chris just commented that his daughter liked a song I’d included in a post, which made me wonder if this blog might be a bad influence on children, which made me think of the songs I remember liking when I was little. I loved ABBA, but the first song I clearly remember loving was “Top of the World” by The Carpenters.

Really, I remember a medley of songs, including “Close to You” and “Sing.” But “On Top of the World” was my favorite, and I still can’t think about it — even the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes version — without thinking of my mother singing it.

She also liked to tell a story over and over — that I don’t remember at all — of my getting out a portable microphone and sitting on a stool and singing “Sing” while crossing my leg and turning to face a non-existent camera, like I’d probably seen somebody do on the Mike Douglas show. In retrospect, I realize that that story, plus my love of ABBA, make it seem like I should’ve recognized some things about myself before I turned 33, but I’ll just say the 70s were a simpler time.

My mother also loved Neil Diamond, and eight times out of ten, you could find her either playing or singing “Sweet Caroline,” “I’m a Believer,” “America,” “Song Sung Blue,” or the one I remember her singing the most often: “Cracklin Rosie.Everybody knows the “Bom! Bom! Bom” from “Sweet Caroline,” but only the true fans could be found walking through the kitchen, seemingly at random, singing “Say it now! Say it now! Say it now!”

Also: that version of “Sing” I linked to above is one I’d never seen before, with Karen Carpenter and a small chorus of children singing the song in Japanese. Which is so rad that I’m going to include it as a unprecedented third song for Tuesday Twofer.

Tuesday Tune Two-fer: Music to Feel Bad To

Today’s theme is feeling gross and going back to bed

I woke up around five am feeling lousy, fitfully slept for a couple more hours and felt even worse, and then over the course of the afternoon felt it turn into a massive headache. I’ve gone back to bed, but I still can’t let an early attempt at blog continuity die so soon.

Thankfully I’ve been having much fewer headaches in 2020 than I did in 20191Turns out allergy medicine does work after all, as long as I take it daily, so I’ve been hearing a lot less of Frank Black’s song in my head. I’ve liked the song ever since I first heard it, and I especially love the video which I somehow don’t remember ever seeing before, but it’s not a great one to have going on a constant loop in your brain when it feels like it’s swollen up and trying to burst through cracks in your skull.

Another video I’d never seen before today is the alternate video to Bruno Mars’s “The Lazy Song.” Bruno Mars songs already seem catchy but completely empty; I feel like he’s a genius pop musician who could be making incredibly memorable songs (but likely incredibly less money) if he’d team up with a lyricist who aimed for more weight. “The Lazy Song” has always felt twee to the point of being insufferable, probably because I can’t hear it without seeing that stupid video with all the monkey masks. It’s so much better paired with this alternate version, where the meaningless catchiness of the song is paired with Leonard Nimoy just no longer giving a shit.

Speaking of not giving a shit: I’ll try to come up with some better songs next week.

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    Turns out allergy medicine does work after all, as long as I take it daily

Tuesday Tune Twofer: What a Wonderful Time to Be Alive

Two tenuously and tangentially related tunes every Tuesday, with a hopeful Election Day reminder that we’re living in the best time

For this pair of videos, the basic idea is that each of them made me gasp the first time I saw them, and think “What a wonderful time to be alive.” The first is “Like Sugar” by Chaka Khan, which undeniably calls back to Soul Train dance lines, but probably wouldn’t exist without modern editing suites. It’s a marvel every time I see it, just a pure celebration of music and dance and polyester.

Second is “Because I’m Me” by The Avalanches, which could’ve been overlooked as just a sample-heavy stab at nostalgia if it weren’t for the cinematic video about a boy and his crush. The way it keeps building still manages to make me gasp.

The other thing that both these songs have in common is that they could only exist in the time they were made. Not just because of video editing software, or a music industry and streaming platform structured to make cinematic videos possible, but because they call back to the past.

When I left Telltale Games the first time,1Yes, I was foolish enough to go back for more. it was part way through production of the season of Sam & Max games that I’d put the most of myself into. I’d thought of the season as pulling together many of the things from entertainment that I loved: Night Gallery,2For me, all of the Lovecraftian stuff came from a single episode of Night Gallery, since I was never a big fan of the original material. Battle of the Planets, Space: 1999, Zardoz, The Beast Must Die!, the Richard Donner Superman movies, Portal, film noir, Murder on the Orient Express and The Last Express, Hammer horror movies, the Haunted Mansion, and of course, the Sam & Max and Toybox comics by Steve Purcell. When I was talking about the season outline with the director of one of the episodes, he pushed back on that idea, saying he didn’t want his episode to be just a pastiche of references.

It was a little jarring at the time, and obviously it’s stuck with me, because it’s such an alien concept to me. Obviously, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way, and there’s not much value in simply regurgitating stuff that everyone’s seen before. That doesn’t result in “Like Sugar,” but “I Love the 70s.” But taking disparate sources and making something new means that you’re taking all your enthusiasm about a new idea, and combining it with your love for the source material. I believe that that much excitement inevitably comes through in the final result.

And by that measure, right now is always the best time to be alive, because it’s the time when we have the most to draw from.

This post is scheduled to go up on Election Day, but I’m writing it a couple weeks ahead, before the thought flies out of my mind. I don’t even know what things are going to look like two weeks from now, but I want to stay optimistic and hopeful. We’re always drawing from the past, building on what we have, always improving, and appreciating everything that we have right now.

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    Yes, I was foolish enough to go back for more.
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    For me, all of the Lovecraftian stuff came from a single episode of Night Gallery, since I was never a big fan of the original material.

Tuesday Tune Twofer: Road Trip Repeat Plays

Two tenuously, tangentially related tunes every Tuesday. This week: songs from road trips with my fiancé

I’ve heard that being able to go to IKEA together and remain civil is a good indicator of a strong relationship, but going to IKEA is such a miserable experience that I think it’s too high a bar to set. Better, I think, is being able to go on a long road trip with someone, including listening to their music, and still wanting to spend time together afterwards.

My fiancé and I kind of raise the bar on that, since we both tend to get a little fixated on certain songs and want to hear them over and over and over again. These two songs are ones that he tends to pick and that I ended up liking a lot. Hearing them not only reminds me of road trips we’ve taken in the past, but actually makes me want to go on another one.

First up is “Came Out of a Lady” by Rubblebucket, or as I’ve known it for years, “that ska-sounding song that reminds me of Jerry Lewis.” We listened to it a few times on a drive from South Carolina back to Atlanta, and once the hook gets into you, it’s difficult to forget.1Also, the lead singer looks uncannily like my friend Michelle.

The second is “Yes, Maria, Yes” by David Wax Museum. I most associate this with a trip we took down to Los Angeles in which we — and this still seems impossible to believe — didn’t visit Disneyland. We were driving from Echo Park, up through the Hollywood Hills towards the Griffith Observatory, and it played at least four or five times on loop, and I never got tired of it.

And I should probably save it for Thursday Theme Threesomes,2This does not, and will not, actually exist. but a road trip song from my own library that I could listen to on endless repeat is “Rolling” by Soul Coughing. I love Soul Coughing, but listening to that song in particular, while driving fast down a freeway on a dark night, just makes you feel like such a bad-ass.

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    Also, the lead singer looks uncannily like my friend Michelle.
  • 2
    This does not, and will not, actually exist.