Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wanting to coast

Calling all Pacific Northwest lumberjacks: come and join the wonderful Band of Horses. They will put your facial hair to good use. This song - "Islands on the Coast" - is simultaneously sweet and sad to my ears. The introduction is unexpected. Eight quarter notes then an explosion of guitar. Then Ben Bridwell's gentle yet piercing voice.

Here's the band playing it live. I like the lead singer's smile. The second clip is the same song but the album version, just a bit cleaner.


Here's a copy, the rest that you know,
and put the kind words to bed.

For man don't say why, or even know how,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

And only hours before the house had burned down,
he shut the other door.

But if i don't see now, or even know why,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

Home (x4)

He was riding in the next thing you know,
let's take the other door.

Now if i don't think right, or even know how,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

Home (x4)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the bleak midwinter

It's not actually bleak here. The temperature is ping ponging between 80 and 50, so ambivalent midwinter is probably  more appropriate. Still, I have a little time on my hands, time I am SUPPOSED TO BE USING PRODUCTIVELY, and mostly I am (repainted daughter's bed, cleaned closets, worked on novel, worked out, ate "extra" bag of chocolate with pumpkin caramel filling), but there are moments when the nights feel long. I am a skittish sleeper, and, no joke, often sleep with the lights ON when I'm alone in my house. Last night, I let Chris Martin sing me to sleep with "Everything's Not Lost".

Friday, December 17, 2010


This tenor aria from Handel's Messiah is just about the prettiest thing I've ever heard, and it is one of my favorite Christmas season songs. Or anytime songs. "Comfort Ye" comes right after the orchestral overture, so the first line of this aria is the first vocal line of the entire oratorio. I especially love the way the second "comfort" just floats in the air like a leaf borne on the wind.

The text comes from Isaiah, and although I had always interpreted this text to be about John the Baptist, I recently learned that its meaning also applies to the exiles in Babylon who had been carried off when Jerusalem was destroyed. The text in Isaiah that follows the "Comfort Ye" lines, the text of the next tenor aria "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted", can definitely be interpreted as a hope for homecoming on the part of the exiles, a dream of a clear path back to their city, temple and homeland.

My favorite voice for "Comfort Ye" is Paul Esswood, the soloist on the 1995 Mormon Tabernacle Choir recording. The choir's recording is phenomenal, truly stunning. But alas ... youtube yielded many other tenors, but not Mr. Esswood. However, this soloist will have to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health and wealth

Youtube is like a treasure chest. Sure, there are plenty of videos made by dreadful bands playing unoriginal music. There are who knows how many clips of people covering someone else's music, usually in cramped bedroom with inadequate lighting. And no amount of apology will atone for the introduction of Fred Figglehorn. But the site yields hidden gems as well. Like this one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


With a name like Sufjan, being conventional was likely never an option. Sufjan Stevens is a performer unto himself, his stage shows unusual, his songwriting unique and amazing.

Speaking of amazing, here's his version of "Amazing Grace."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A cappella

I like "Glee".
I like a cappella singing.
I like Dead Poets Society-style boarding school duds.
I like Darren Criss's hopping sideways choreography/moves.

Yes, sure, some people might say the Dalton Warblers are "effeminate" (so?), "wimpy" (wha?), "cheeseball" (yum!), or "corny" (I prefer "wholesome"). Whatever the label, they took this top 40 hit with its weird, nonsensical lyrics and impossibly high tenor lead line and turned it into a sweet ensemble piece.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


These guys are so much fun. And I'd love to meet their choreographer! They made a big splash with their treadmill-dance video from a couple of years ago, and the charm keeps coming. I can't not smile while watching this great dog/furniture choreography + the song is cool too. Here is OK Go's "White Knuckles".

p.s. It even features cup stacking, a Hill family favorite activity!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My baby

Annie and I finished our Thanksgiving feast day with a little dance lesson in my room. I couldn't stop yawning, but I did my best to teach her the Roger Rabbit. It took a little coaxing to remind my muscles just how that move used to go, but it came back, and along with it, memories of assorted church dances.

Yeah, I agree re: Justin Bieber. The hair, for starters. It's terrible. Scary moment last week when I walked into Graham's room and saw him tossing his hair in front of the mirror. He was trying to get the swept forward look. I just smiled and bit my tongue. Then there's the voice. No, not the singing voice - I think his singing voice is sweet. (Graham asked me, while we were listening, "So he hasn't come to puberty yet?") No, it's his speaking voice. The kid has this weird urban/southern thing going on, a really off-putting accent, and I just don't buy it from a white kid who grew up in Canada. But Annie wanted us to dance to this tune, and so we did.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yeah, this IS it

Here's "The Modern Age" from The Strokes' 2001 album, Is This It?  They look like little babies up there! I love the occasional 60s feel of this band + the 90s hint o'grunge + the 21st century dissonance. Even the outfits in this video run the gamut of decades. Here's the thing for me about this song - I want to be able to play it. It's very simple, but effective.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rock the Republic

Very cool festival in downtown Bryan. This is year 2. It has been supremely well organized. Tons of security, vendors, shows and venues. Marketing seems to have fallen short though. I found out about it the day before, thanks to Corinna & Wayne. Bless you, dear friends! They are the kind of couple who don't mind having me as a third wheel. How cool is that? I loved walking from venue to venue, cracking jokes, eating funnel cakes (too sticky!) together. These nights I've been glad to be me, here. That's something to hold onto.

Crowds have been thin however, and while I don't mind having front row spots for every show, I worry that they won't have the bucks to put it on again next year. It was $25 for all 3 nights & that includes as many shows as you can take in. The beautiful weather, light breezes and temps in the low 70s came for free.

Note: Being able to attend two shows like this, back to back, is the silver lining in the cloud of being single. I expressed gratitude to the universe for this perk. Yes, many, many days I feel overwhelmed and bereft of my Prince Charming-ish (tongue in cheek!), but being able to enjoy these two nights of music with two great people was a treat. For the last night, tonight!, shows start after bedtime & the kids have been invited to sleepover with their friends, so that we can all hit that last night while our children slumber peacefully. Triple cool.

Our batting average @ this local festival has been impressive, even better than at SXSW, honestly, in terms of the ratio of bands seen to sheer awesomeness. Both nights (tonight finishes up the festival) have yielded stunning bands, like jaw-dropping, hand-clapping good. These are the keepers I've heard thusfar. Even the other shows were enjoyable. These were just the standouts, the groups I WILL see again. I wish all of you could have been there with us!

Thursday night -
Loved three groups outta Austin.
1) Bright Light Social Hour. Thought I had happened upon a Stillwater show (the fictitious 70s rock band in "Almost Famous"). They had a bluesy Led Zeppelin meets the Black Crowes vibe. Lots and lots of long hair. ("Hairography," said Corinna.) Lots and lots of enormous mustaches. I heard a little Drive-by Truckers in them. I also saw some truck driver styles on stage. This was my first moment of, "Wow, they have some serious performers at this festival. I'm gonna listen hard."

2) Wiretree. An indie ensemble reminiscent of the Shins. Lead singer had a lovely plaintive voice and a geeky chic vibe (flat front pants, thick glasses, etc.). Liked them a bunch. They would be great to listen to in a coffee shop, just super easy on the ears. Theirs is the kind of music I like to sing myself. ("Hey, mind if I join you on stage? Oh, you do? A problem? Sorry, my bad. I'll just ... sit back down.")

3) Quiet Company. A big band with a brass section, everybody wearing three piece suits and ties. Very polished and cool. I thought they sounded a bit like Okkervil River, as in, the lead singer could yell really effectively. He had a great voice and a passionate energy. Up and down from his keyboard to the guitar. The trombonist was going crazy on his moves. Very fun to watch. I would drive to see them again for sure. I hope they come here or I hope I catch them in Austin.

plus 4) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. One of my fav former students is in this band, and I was impressed with the show. I was probably the oldest person at the show ... and the most tired (couldn't stop yawning), but I liked their songs and hooks. They call themselves a Death Cab for Cutie kinda band. And I love DCFC.

Friday night -
1) The Orbans. A band out of Fort Worth but the lead singer is from Bryan. His aunt and uncle were cheering in the front section. And his voice was stellar. High and clear, great emoting. I wondered if the name of the group is a tip to Roy Orbison. Hard to tell. They had an Eagles kind of sound with layered male harmonies that impressed me. Everybody in the band - the keyboardist, bassist, lead guitarist and lead singer all sang harmonies. The sound was alt country in places, but rockabilly in other places. We got to talk to the drummer and lead singer after the show too. Super fun! I just wanted to apologize for there only being 20 people in the audience. That was a little awkward, to look behind us and see ... an open downtown plaza. Oh well, their loss (their meaning Blinn & TAMU students). But wait, OUR loss too if the Rock the Republic promoters can't get funds to secure next year's acts. Grumble, grumble. Corinna might volunteer her services to consult on marketing. She had some good ideas!

2) Band of Heathens. Also out of Austin, this band has something very unique about it - three lead singers/lead guitarists. They also have a great drummer and bassist, but the three guys in front EACH has an amazing memorable voice, a cool look (one was a young Tim McGraw, another looked SoCal skater cool, and the third, my fav, looked like Luke Wilson's fraternal twin with long dark wavy hair, black mustache and Padres jersey). Each guy took turn singing lead & they all provided harmonies. One of the guys played a lap steel, another played a Hammond organ, plus guitar guitar guitar. The lap steel lead guy also had a robin's egg blue Epiphone round body guitar that I would have liked to have "borrowed" for aesthetic reasons. It was the prettiest guitar I've seen in a long time.

This kind of live music - loud, local, lovely - really lifts my spirits. The bass was so loud on Friday night that it lifted my heart rate as well. "Arrhythmia anyone?" asked Wayne. Yes, we could literally FEEL the music. But especially in an outdoor venue watched over by a gorgeous October Texas moon, it wasn't too much at all. (Echoes of Neil Young's "Harvest". Actually, the Orbans had a Neil Young undertone, especially in the soulful guitar.) Bring on the volume!

Here's one of my favs from the Orbans, "Like a Liar":

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gallows humor

More Season 4 fun ... I watched the third DVD in my 30 Rock boxset and really enjoyed the following moment(s) from one of the episodes included. A recurring plotline on the show is that Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan) is trying to earn an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony). Toward that end, his entourage has encouraged him to make a hard-hitting movie over his summer hiatus about growing up in the South Bronx, instead of playing the title role in "Garfield III: Feline Groovy" ("The title is a pun," says Tracy, "Since cats have grooves in their paws." LOL!) However, Tracy is not willing, initially, to revisit his memories of growing up neglected in foster care in the South Bronx.

The series has already touched on Tracy's troubled past. In Season 1, Tracy takes Liz to his old neighborhood, for example, and earlier in Season 4, a joke is made about not being able to locate Tracy's mom for a special Mother's Day episode.  ("But I told you what I remembered about her," says Tracy. "Yes, you told us 'She was wearing a red shirt in 1984'," replies the show's producer Pete, with an eye roll.)

After his entourage (Kenneth and Dot Com, no Grizz in sight) finally drags him up to the South Bronx, Tracy sees a familiar stairwell and experiences a kind of breakthrough ... his repressed childhood memories come flooding back and he is overcome with emotion, sharing the various horrors he lived through.

p.s. I know it's not especially funny to joke about terrible childhoods, but I think the show does a good job of keeping it funny. My favorite line just might be the one about a pack of wild dogs taking over and successfully running a Wendy's. Or the one about finding a child's shoe in his burrito.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

30 giggles

The 30 Rock season 4 I ordered last summer for myself with birthday money arrived yesterday. I literally laughed for hours. One of the episodes focused on Jack Donaghy's attempt to reach "real" America. As part of that outreach, Jenna Maroney sings a new country-fied version of the NBC tennis coverage theme song. Can we say "pandering"? What's so funny is how pitch perfect the song remake is ... and of course, the part with the names of the tennis participants is red, white and hilarious!

Same episode, Jack is introducing a new food product called a Cheesy Blaster. Liz pipes in with the theme song. Is this not spot on too? And Meat Cat? Yeah! How American can ya get?

"You take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza ... you've got cheesy blasters!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prefab rock-n-roll

Okay, crazy confession here.

Well, in a minute.

First, the back story. Annie has a cool funky Hannah Montana-esque style all her own. (Well, all her own after being heavily influenced by everything in Justice, a popular girls' clothing store.) She loves peace signs, slouchy boots, big scarves, torn jeans, and the color black. Along with this look comes a certain musical style ... let's call it Radio Disney (LOL!).

I bought her a Radio Disney compilation as a back-to-school "sussy" & she loves it. Do I feel guilty about supporting this conglomerate monster? Well ...

It makes me happy to see her enjoying a little slice of popular culture that resonates with her. Music and clothes are a big part of my personal expression and enjoyment, so I get that, even if I wouldn't necessarily choose the Radio Disney tunes on my own.

So here's where we get to the confession part.

On the drive to the Mother Daughter retreat, we listened to that Radio Disney CD several times, and by golly, my toes just tapped like crazy during this song. I wanted to shout it out! (It's called "Shout It"!)

Note: it's sung by Mitchel Musso a/k/a Oliver on "Hannah Montana". Yep, the goofy sidekick has a recording career too. That's the way they grow them over at Disney. And I don't mind it at all when the CD hits this track!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How deep

Annie and I attended a mother daughter retreat this weekend. This is our second year to go. It's an amazing experience - we challenged ourselves on a ropes course, played games together, laughed, chased, and bonded. The retreat is hosted by a lovely evangelical Christian group. As always, I really enjoy observing the way other people worship, the way the rhetoric of worship changes, the kinds of experiences that are valued and all that.

One of the fun things about this weekend was our worship singing. It is much more contemporary than the kind of singing we do in my church. I enjoyed the breath of fresh air. It is also more sincere and less ironic than the kind of music I listen to in my free time. That also was a breath of innocent air.

The song leader had an amplified acoustic guitar in the front, and those of us in the congregation followed the lyrics shining on a large projector screen above her. The music genre for pretty much all of the songs included is very singer-songwriter-y, with mellow and sweet melodies, lots of "yeahs", repetitive song structures (so that I could usually pick it up after once through the first verse), fairly simple lyrics with common motifs ("glory", "waves", "love", "power", etc.) It's extremely user friendly. A person doesn't need to be a skilled musician to be able to jump right in and sing along!

I point all of that out just because I genuinely enjoyed watching the way these believers celebrated. Our song leader was a terrific woman who just brimmed with kindness and charisma. Singing along with her -albeit in a more contemporary way than I would ever find at my church - was really inspirational. And I'll admit, this long lead-in to the song is partly an explanation (excuse?) for my liking of this song.

Because it's not hip.
Or edgy.
Or intellectual.

But it sure is pretty.  As soon as I got back from the retreat, I found the chords so that I could play it too.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Solsbury Hill"

This was Peter Gabriel's first single, post Genesis. I heard it while driving home from the gym today and remembered how much I like the time signature - it's in 7/4, which is pretty unusual in any kind of music.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not related to the Oliver North debacle

Sad day ... the horsehead background on this bloghas somehow disappeared.


As soon as we got back from vacation, my kids requested that I put in "Contra" by Vampire Weekend. I've already shared the first track, "Horchata." This is the last track, a beautiful winsome song called "I Think Ur A Contra." I love the sweetness of Ezra Koenig's voice, especially when he sings "I just wanted you, I just wanted you."

As my friend Becca has pointed out, Vampire Weekend does happy and upbeat with a dash of Paul Simon on the top incredibly well. But this song shows that they can do poignant just as well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From the vault: Barry!

Is there a prettier melody line than this one? "Mandy", thy name is loveliness. I LOVE that modulation 3/4 of the way in.  And wow - his voice sounds caramel-ly smooth in this live performance! I like the song so much I pasted it twice (cause crazy as it might sound, sometimes I play songs from this blog while I wash dishes or mop in the kitchen. I like having my favorites in one place!) And that bit about Manilow writing this song for his dog is, according to, an "urban myth." I think I like it better as a human to human love song anyway.

Monday, July 19, 2010

From the vault: jumping for joy

Speaking of playing air guitar on tennis rackets ... at our 6th grade talent show, back in 1984, the winning group performed a rousing lip-synced rendition of this Van Halen hit! I can still remember sitting in the cheering crowd, totally impressed by the energy on stage.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From the vault: girl power!

After listening to Rick Springfield's one hit approximately 2500 times since I heard it at the pool last week, I thought it would be fun to listen to other pivotal tunes from my growing up years.

So ... I've gotta start with the Go Gos "We Got the Beat". Here's what comes to mind when I hear those intro chords: playing air guitar in Kristin Vicari's garage with Tamara and somebody else, lost to memory. We were this close to forming a tennis racket-based tribute band!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Members Only jackets

Heard this tune at the pool this afternoon. Goodness gracious, I hope they play tons of 80's tunes like this at my 20 year reunion next month! What a song. And the feathered hair!

Do not extinguish

Elizabeth likes Arcade Fire. Joy! My work here is, perhaps, done. LOL! Allen loves it too - no surprise! Becca, do you enjoy listening when he plays this song, "Une Annee Sans Lumiere"?

The title means a year without light. (Yeah, I took five years of French. Doh!)

Wikipedia tells us helpfully that Arcade Fire's first album's title - Funeral - "referred to the deaths of several relatives of band members during its recording. These events created a somber atmosphere that influenced songs such as "Une année sans lumière" ("A Year Without Light"), "In the Backseat", and "Haïti", Chassagne's elegy to her lost homeland."

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I already posted this on FB, but "On the Willows", one of my favorite musical theater songs ever, is a reworking of Psalm 137, and I didn't really realize that until this week when I was preparing a Sunday School lesson over the psalms. What a beautiful song this is. I've loved it ever since I was a part of a Godspell production back in - whoa! - 1990!

Psalm 137 - The Mourning of the Exiles in Babylon

1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?

On the Willows lyrics
On the willows, there
We hung up our lives
For our captors there
Of us songs
And our tormentors mirth
On the willows, there
We hung up our lives
For our captors there
Of us songs
And our tormentor's mirth
Saying, Sing us one
Of the songs of Sion
Sing us one
Of the songs of Sion
But how can we sing?
Sing the Lord's songs?
In a foreign land?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


We had another fantastic summer movie theater outing, this time to "Despicable Me." I'm going to write about the movie itself on my other word blog, but wanted to include the theme song here.

Graham and I were both tapping our toes during the part of the movie that this song runs through, and he kept saying, "Who is doing this song?" I couldn't place the artist, but we stuck around through all the credits (hilarious footage, of course!) til I saw the names of the actors and the musician(s).

So who did this song? Pharrell Williams. Oh, yeah! (Looks like he did some of the soundtrack music for the film too.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Modern drumming

Heather recommended the show "Modern Family" to me.

I have now watched the 5 episodes available on

It is very funny!

Here is a clip from "Modern Family". In the clip, Cameron (the drummer) is trying to impress teenagers from his niece's boyfriend's band so that they will let him sub at an upcoming gig.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This is the song - "Intervention" - that introduced me to Arcade Fire, an amazing indie rock band out of Montreal. On a side note, proceeds from this single were donated to Partners in Health, Paul Farmer's medical group. How cool was that?

Win Butler, Arcade Fire's lead singer, grew up somewhat LDS in Texas; his wife, Regine Chassagne, the other singer, grew up in Haiti. These diverse influences have made their albums full of depth and flavor.

This song is from Neon Bible, their second album. The first album, Funeral, is astounding too. I am not yet familiar with the third album, The Suburbs.

(This is the summer of the Canadian indie super-ensemble groups! New albums from Broken Social Scene, the New Pornographers and Arcade Fire. Talk about a hat trick!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Here's another White Stripes song ... from "White Blood Cells", a rather jam-packed album. I downloaded it at the beginning of the summer, and turned it on this morning so that I could get some cleaning done!

"Fell in Love with a Girl" is catchy pummeling rock ... and check out this video. My kids love the lego concept.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Transatlantic flight required

I heard this song over at my friend Corinna's house during an Independence Day grill-fest. I liked it, but couldn't place the singer. Turns out it's "Holiday in Spain" by Counting Crows.

I understand the last lines particularly - he sings that he wants to "Fly away to someone new".  The desire for escape, for something else, is one we all experience at some time or another. As my friend Elizabeth reminds me, however, you always end up taking yourself along.

Attack & Release

I've been listening to the Black Keys this weekend ... and this song - "All You Ever Wanted" - the first track on their 2008 album Attack & Release, is a particular favorite. The whole album is just terrific! It's very bluesy, kinda Southern-sounding, a cool rock hybrid in my ears. It seemed perfect for the Independence day weekend.

In this particular song, there's a little Hammond organ explosion about halfway in, and boy, oh boy, I love me some Hammond organ!

Monday, June 21, 2010

80s church dance music

Seriously ... this Provo band is really channeling what I think my high school years sounded like.

Pretty cool, Neon Trees.  You are musical "Animal"s for sure!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Water cooler chit chat

I wish I had a dollar for every time I've mentioned this funny Jim Gaffigan riff to someone in conversation. Who knows how many dollars that would be? (Maybe 10, maybe 40?)

This clip is really short, just a joke or two, but it makes me laugh because I can relate ... who hasn't watched a movie or TV show years after it was hot, and found that everyone else has totally moved on!?

I thought about starting "Lost" (haven't ever seen it), just so I could pull something like this in a couple of years, but it probably would take a couple of years to acquire and view all of the seasons of "Lost", and that's more time than I want to invest in that particular joke. The "Lost" ship has already sailed for me (or plane has already crashed, I guess)... but I'm sure I'll have other opportunities to be behind the times!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Paul McCartney

This song is exactly right.

Their story is one that continues to touch me, and I can't hear this song without wanting to sing along.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Don't be jealous (even though I would be!), but my mom and sisters and I got to see "Wicked" two weekends ago in Dallas. We had a great girls weekend & stayed in a cool hotel in downtown Dallas.

"Wicked" was ... wicked. Amazing sets, costumes, choreography, singing, music, lighting, theatricality. It's a keeper of a show (even though I cannot imagine any high school drama club that could pull it off.)

Of course, it also broke my heart. It's all about the ways we lose faith in other people, the way they disappoint us, the way our dreams are dashed. Yeah, I couldn't stop crying.

But it has hope too. And happiness!

I loved this song - "The Wizard and I" - and had lots of fun singing it with my mom tackling the accompaniment. (We are so lucky she can play anything!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Softly and Tenderly"

I have been asked to sing at the funeral of the son of a ward member, to be held midweek. The ward member's wife requested this song,  knowing that I love it, as does she. It's a beautiful old gospel tune, and I've sung it once before at a graveside service with Carol.

You'll have to click on the link - the embedding has been disabled - to hear Hank Williams singing his version. Although I'll be singing it with piano accompaniment, I would like to add it to my guitar repertoire. The melody and lyrics are touching.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sad song wrapped in loud dissonance

I am particularly taken with the Vines today, in part because the lead singer, Craig Nicholls, has Asperger's Syndrome and intrigues me. His behavior, on stage and off, has apparently been erratic, strange and unpredictable over the years... but he sure can sing and write songs. You wouldn't know it, necessarily, from this song, but he has a truly lovely voice. This song, dissonant and loud, is especially therapeutic for me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, Sally

This is a song I would like to play and sing: "Don't Look Back in Anger". It's a sing-along-in-the-shower kind of tune.

Oasis melodies are so bright and satisfying, the Beatles echo a very creamy, buttery icing on the cake.

Heavy dirigible

Here's an irony for you.

When I was married, I sometimes felt like I was drowning in silvery CDrs. They were everywhere. Many of them were unlabeled, but some were labeled. Labeled or unlabeled, I thought they were going to suffocate me during my sleep.

One estimate is that at least 47% of those CDrs were from various Led Zeppelin albums, live performances, studio outtakes or Plant/Page reunion gigs. I cannot overstate the number of Led Zeppelin recordings that lived in my bedroom.

So I was surrounded by Led Zeppelin music and at times, it got on my nerves, mostly when I slipped on one of the discs and hurt myself. (Yes, that happened. More than once.)

Now ... on my own ... who do I often turn to for a pick me up? Those same British boys, indeed.

Just now, in my van, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, wondering what it means to be happy, to be satisfied, jumping down (to use one friend's term) the lonely hole, just a little. So ... I put in this song, a combo of "White Summer/Black Mountainside." Behold the brilliance of Jimmy Page.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A real classic

Ray Chen.
Saint Saens' Rondo Capriccioso.
What a voice.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ms. Hill

Just a matter of time before this lovely funky tune got included.

Talib Kweli is a smart MC + he articulates while rapping, and I like that. (He was in Black Star with Mos Def, and has a reputation for being a savvy, pop culture-oriented hip hop artist. That's my take, anyway.)

This song is actually about Lauryn Hill, but hey ... it's my name too.

Hooked on the Classics: scary scary scorn song

Oh Polly Jean Harvey, whaddya say? Be my friend? My unbalanced, edgy friend, who, when I confess heartbreak at the hands of some insensitive brute, suggests that we light his car on fire?

This song takes me back to college. But I've listened to the album many times since then.

I am trying to learn "Rid of Me", but will admit that its impact is somewhat lost when a) played on an acoustic guitar b) by ME!

Hooked on the Classics: Dusty!

Inside of each of us is a playlist of foundational and/or favorite tunes that have stayed with us through the years... tunes that when heard on the radio on a random Saturday afternoon ignite our tears or toe taps or whatever.

Personal classics.

I'm going to share some of mine, starting with this one ... cause I LOVE to sing it. At that big karaoke party I want to host come 2012 (pre-fulfillment of Mayan prophesies of destruction), this will be one of the first songs I sing.

I've not yet decided whether to go with Dusty's bangs or not ...

No, not the movie with a young Christian Bale

That movie is the best, truly. Young Christian Bale's performance is astounding.

But this is the band Empire of the Sun. And this is their catchy song called "Walking on a Dream".

Just a little techno + outlandish eye makeup + pan-Asian icon sampler for a Monday morning.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Well, since you asked

Fine, fine, the outpouring of interest indicates that y'all really want to see "Small Stakes" too. Can't just mention a Spoon gem like that without an accompanying clip. No, no, don't mention it. I'm glad to share this one. (Again, take the Stripes diss with a grain of sea salt.)

This clip is the video the band made for this hugely memorable song showcasing its intoxicating simplicity. (Hey, I like that phrase.)

And oh, what a song. This song got me through November and December 2007, two months that changed the shape of my life. Some days I would come home from teaching and instead of collapsing onto my bed, would press play on Kill the Moonlight, listen to this track, the first one on that album, and find the strength to fold a load of laundry.

Mr. Daniel, from the bottom of my heart, thanks.

What can I say?
Great video.
Great song.
Great album.
Great band.

I don't know that I think of myself as a lucky lady. I'm not rushing off to buy lottery tickets or anything, but I feel deeply confident that I picked long-term winners with these guys. You already know I love them. But I know that they're going to be one of the bands that goes the distance. Are these just the delusional rantings of a crazed fan? Not at all. You can bet on it. Bet on them.

from Icky Thump

I'm new to The White Stripes. New, but enthusiastic. I've been listening to them on a mix CD and on Pandora, the terrific aural buffet.

Don't you love that album name, Icky Thump?

Admission: I used to think I *knew* that Meg White was a poor drummer, and somehow, my arrogant dismissal of her kept me from the band. What a loser. Me, not her. Her, I like.  Even Mr. Britt Daniel changed his mind. In "Small Stakes", the amazing single off of Kill the Moonlight, he dismissed the band in favor of Har Mar Superstar (talk about an, ahem, unusual look), but later confessed in more than one interview that he actually really likes the White Stripes and their aesthetic. Good thing, since both Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga have the red/white/black look going on too.

Coming to this band kinda reminds of me when I started reading the Harry Potter series right after Goblet of Fire was published. Lucky me, I had three books ahead of me when I finished the first one. Didn't have to wait for years ... at least not then. I certainly put in my time waiting for The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows though.

With the White Stripes, there are lots of albums to learn and love. Lots of red, black and white pictures to enjoy. Goodness gracious, Mr. White has already moved on to two other bands - the Raconteurs and Dead Weather. Both Mr. White and Ms. White have married other people. Mr. White's new wife has released an album with Ms. White's husband as the drummer. Anyone up for a game of Clue?

Coming to this band also kinda reminds me of the Blinn College motto, sometimes mocked by my students: Proven.

The White Stripes are proven. So it's a good time to dig in.

This particular song is so clever, so satisfying, so yes yes yes.
We can all relate, I think, whether in romantic relationships or friendships or whatever ... I borrow expressions, gestures, vocal tics, ideas and much more from the people into my life. I get this.

Lyrics? Most certainly! Verse 2 is brilliant!

I'm slowly turning into you
But you don't know this
Tell the truth
You say I'm lying and I never really tell you the truth
But your face is getting older
So put your head on my shoulder
Yeah, put your head on my shoulder

Yesterday it hit me that I do all the little things
That you do
Except the same little things that you do are annoying
They're annoying as hell in fact
It kinda struck a little bell in fact
I like to keep my little shell intact

And I'm slowly turning into you (2x)

Then something else came to mind
That was the mirror
It made everything clearer
That you're more beautiful compelling and stronger
It didn't take much longer

Just for me to realize I love all the little things
And the beauty that they're gonna bring
I dig your little laugh and I'm lovin' your quick wit
I even love it when you're faking it
And it might sound a little strange for me to say to you
But I'm proud to be you

And I'm slowly turning into you (4x)

No such thing

... as a guilty pleasure.

If ya like it, like it big and proud.

Still, when I told a friend about Glee (that I like it) & shared a few clips, his response was something along these lines: "I can't believe they make a show like this. Wait, you watch it?!??!" (Extra punctuation added by me to indicate his incredulous response.)

They do, and I do.

I love the bombastic singing, the frothy emotions, the ratcheted-up intensity of the characters' mini-dramas. Not only do I enjoy listening to this singing, I would LOVE to sing on the show. I adore this kind of over-emoted cheese-fest, especially when I am the one doing it! One of these years, I want to have a giant karaoke party with all of the people I love in attendance. Location/logistics might be a problem, but I have two years til 40 to figure that out ...

Anyhoo ... here is an example of one of the super powers of Glee: the mash up! In this case, they've mashed two Madonna songs, and in so doing, helped me realize that "Open Your Heart" is a really pretty tune.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Britt Daniel kinda pulls a Prince in this song, I think. "Who Makes Your Money" is funky, heavy on the falsetto in places, a little sexy (can I say that?), et al.  The thing I LOVE, however, is the bass/guitar solo about halfway through. I cannot tell you how much I dig these lines.The drums join in a third of the way into the solo, and it's subtle perfection to me. It's funny, isn't it?, that my favorite Spoon stuff today doesn't feature BD's vocals, even though I do like them, always.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

me myself

Hard day. Hard week. Hard month. Great year though. Truly. Figuring BIG stuff out.

This morning I only had the strength to listen to Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" loud on the way to work. It is a song to pump me up. No sadness in it, only powerful drumming, powerful rhythms. I had to hold it together to give a final exam. "Black Dog" (already listed on this blog, I think) is great for that.

The final exam has been given, however, and this song recommendation was waiting in my inbox courtesy of Elizabeth. Oh these Indigo Girls. Their harmonies are so sweet and good, so pleasing.  Their lyrics too. In fact, I think they are super lyricists. Lucky you, this clip shares the lyrics via a nifty font-on-purple-background.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The name of a drink, I think

I have no idea of the who/what/why/huh in this video clip. It ain't the studio sponsored video for Feist's "Brandy Alexander," I'm pretty sure, but you can hear the song, and that's what I'm going for.

I love Feist's voice. Sweet, plaintive, a tiny bit quirky and a lot bit pretty.

I love this song too. Found out it was co-written by Ron Sexsmith, a Canadian songwriter I admire.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I have to give Becca props for introducing me to Vampire Weekend, and then need to extend props to my friend Derall for telling me about the drink horchata, a kind of cinnamon rice milk (wiki-definition, of course).  I thought of both of 'em as I put in Vampire Weekend's Contra (their 2nd album) today. I purchased it six weeks ago, and then ... didn't get around to it.

... but now, I'm back in the Vampire Weekend business. These fellas are fun.

My children listened a couple of times, and then Annie said, "I have no idea what they're saying."

"Oh, me neither," I told her.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Student recommendation

I just finished a student conference which was mostly about her Flannery O'Connor essay but also about 1) hot yoga, 2) the Folk Life Festival in San Antonio, and 3) the song "Sleepyhead" by the band Passion Pit.

I had myself a listen after she left my office.  Not bad at all.

Danny Malone

I saw him at SXSW and was super impressed. Did I already include this song? Doubt it ...

Unfortunately, not long after seeing him, after listening to the album multiple times, after burning copies for tons of folks around here, I slipped into my March-hole, and then found his music unbearably painful. I had to put the album away.

Today I can listen again.

But the song is still poignant ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I had enough strength to think about my blog(s) tonight for the first time in a loooooooong time. Then I had enough strength to think about this song. I love it, but it has made me so sad this month, I haven't been able to even listen to it. (My getting fit the iTunes way may have backfired a bit ... it's like I had an allergic reaction to some of my oft-played tunes, and listening of late made my heart hurt.)

But tonight I can listen to Ms. Michaelson without feeling the need to crawl under the couch and sleep for a month.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

87 listen count

I love the Beatles. Who doesn't, right?
But somehow I managed to miss these two songs: "Polythene Pam" and "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" off of Abbey Road ... the crazy thing is, I love "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry That Weight", the two songs that help conclude the giant medley that is Abbey Road and directly follow these two hidden treasures ...

So, my iTunes tells me I've now listened to these two songs (together, always) 87 times in the last month. That's when a friend mentioned liking the tunes, causing me to respond, "Polythene Pam? What's that?!!?"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SXSW preview

I'm going to check out this band - Band of Horses - at this festival - SXSW- this upcoming week - March 18-21.  "Is There a Ghost" is a cool song ... and highlights something I've noticed about many of you ... that our past lives leave ghosts in our homes and lives. When I drive down E. 29th Street, I feel Becca's ghost. When I drive down Day Street, I feel Elizabeth's ghost. Even seeing the old HEB on Texas conjures Heather's ghost.  And those are just a few of my friendly ghosts, here and now.

Saturday morning

It's not just ANY saturday morning. It's the first saturday of Spring Break.

Ahhhh ...

Me: "Grading/Flaky/Dropped-your-life-down-a-rain-gutter Erin, I'd like you to meet someone. Her name is also Erin. She is you! Also, she didn't drop her life down a rain gutter."

So ... on saturday mornings, I like to listen to Mika.  His bouncy energy is infectious and just the thing for the trips from washing machine to closet and back again, and again, and again, and again.

This song is a couple of years old, and is all about shifting identities in pursuit of 'pleasing others'. I love the title: "Grace Kelly". I like the beat. I like his hair too. Who wouldn't? It's saturday!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You had me at female singer songwriter

The universe heard my call for new music. Recommendations have leaked from the ceiling and dripped into my laptop. Friends, both lifelong and the FB variety, have managed to share titles, artists, suggestions, and here's a keeper from a Utah pal: Maria Taylor. Her voice is lovely. The fighting geisha mime vibe of the video is a bit trippy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A great band name

I've always kinda wondered what the band's sound was like. With a name like TV on the Radio, you know they're thinking outside the box. Turns out I like TV on the Radio. Gives me lots of potential band name combos too.

Hey rowdies in the crowd?!!? - Zip it! Trying to listen to "Family Tree" over here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Might as well upload the whole record now!

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is just, to use a "Thoroughly Modern Millie" phrase, terrif. The album has pulled a trick from the Spoon-in-my-life playbook, which is to nudge a previously wallflower-ish song to the forefront. This weekend, it was "Girlfriend". Now the track is pulsating in my mind.

Good news, good news. Phoenix is coming to Texas in April. I have my pick of Houston or Austin, and a confirmed date. Corinna said she's in! Now I just have to get her a copy of the album. No worries, however, cause this is one guaranteed home run of a record.

p.s. the singing here is a bit pitchy & reminds me of a joke Jonathan told, something about an old opera singer's response to the auto pitch correct features commonly used in recording. "In my day," said the curmudgeonly baritone, "we called it singing in tune."

Idealized version of moments in a marriage

I love the movie "She's Having a Baby." Oh John Hughes, I'm missing you today. The story of a man learning how to be a husband and father, a man who is also learning how to be a writer, with mentions of the woman who is teaching him, may be corny and oh so 80s, but for those reasons and many more, it stays on that shelf in my heart where I put my favorite film treasures.

I love Kate Bush's voice too. Ethereal, floaty, tinny at times. A British goddess of vocal soaring.

So we put those two together, toss in a little Kevin Bacon, and serve!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Freeform Jazz Exploration"

There's a funny scene in "This is Spinal Tap" where the band plays a sparsely attended outdoor show, and end up trying this jazz riff song that falls apart, a freeform jazz exploration, as a last-ditch effort to please the listeners and themselves. Like everything else in that movie, the scene is understatedly spot on and hilarious. But this song is nothing like that Spinal Top moment, except for the exploration. It's nearly 9 minutes long, and Phoenix has slipped in a secret, perfect love song in the last two minutes. It's a hidden gem in this beautiful instrumental unfolding. And for once, I can recommend that you watch the clip. Someone got pretty clever with timelapse photography. Enjoy.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Anthems rev up my heart and hands. Here's the anthemic theme song for the 2010 World Cup. Nothing says world fanfare like the World Cup, right? I think they (the official song choosers, of course) choose right with K'Naan's song "Wavin' Flag." He's a Somali hip-hop artist, and just listen to this wonderful song. It's world music with a smart political message filled with hope.

When I get older, I will be stronger, he sings ... it's what we all want.

Negotiations & Love Songs #14: "Poison Cup" by M. Ward

Here's something I love: M. Ward's guitar.

One or two won't do
Cos I want it all

And a sip
A sip
A sip or a spoonful won't do
No, I want it all

And I hope
I hope
Hope you know what I'm thinking of
I want all of your love
I need all of your love

She said "If love
If Love
Is a poison cup
Then drink it up"

"Cos a sip
A sip
Or a spoonful won't do
Won't do nothing for you
Except mess you up"

And I hope
I hope
Hope you know what this means
I'm gonna give you everything
I'm gonna give you everything

Negotiations & Love Songs #13: "Cowboy Take Me Away" by the Dixie Chicks

Can't believe they made the list. Twice! But I was sitting here this morning, remembering the silly "Landslide" video, and admitted to myself that this is one of my most very super favorite love songs - the happy kind, the functional relationship kind - and I think it's pretty and hopeful. Can we just have a taste of that too?
(Now ladies, the video direction has got to be item #1 on our next meeting agenda. What is going on here?)

Negotiations & Love Songs #12: "Till Kingdom Come" by Coldplay

Another Coldplay tune on my Valentine's playlist, but I wouldn't be telling the truth if I didn't include this song on the list. It's one of those over-and-over songs for me. It feels good to my ears. (Also, I think Martin's guitar is beautiful.) This is a song about waiting and waiting, but not begrudgingly. It's about holding on, and that kind of longsuffering takes courage.

Negotiations & Love Songs #11: "Purple Rain" by Prince

I've been loving this song for 23 years.

Sometimes, when I start listening to a song, I wonder if it's going to hold up under repeated listenings. Will I wear it out? I wonder.

This one doesn't wear out. Ever.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Negotiations & Love Songs #10: "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks

The Dixie Chicks' foray into goofiness got nuthin on this reigning mistress of strange, flowy dresses. Ms. Nicks is definitely her own creature (please step away from the guitarist - oh my, it's Lindsay Buckingham, didn't catch that on first viewing, well, okay, you can stand by him then), and no, Marni, I don't want to hear her sing "O Holy Night," but I love this song.

I believe her when she sings: "I've been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you." I believe her singing.

Negotiations & Love Songs #9: "Landslide" by the Dixie Chicks

Look, I like the Dixie Chicks. I like Natalie Maines' voice a bunch. I like the tight harmonies too. And I love this song - "Landslide", originally performed by Fleetwood Mac (see #10). But this video is so kookie, I just had to share it. What is going on with Natalie Maines in the living Salvador Dali painting? And Emilie and Marty (can't remember their married names) playing their instruments while rubbing bellies and strolling down Wall Street? And the outfits? Oh no, you didn't!

Oh no, you did - two doors just opened into an ocean. Ladies, ladies. Stick to making wildly controversial political statements that'll haunt you for years, not cornball videos like this.

Negotiations & Love Songs #7, #8: the Indigo Girls

"Virginia Woolf" is a love song in that I LOVE it, and it shares the love the Indigo Girls have for Virginia Woolf, and the love of each of us for each other, our human family members. Not really a Valentine's Day song, but truly, one of my favorites. I worked hard to learn that little guitar riff in college, and I managed to get the notes. I spent quite a little chunk of time one semester thinking about and hearing that song, and it touches me.

Oh, poor Virginia Woolf.  These artists and their tortured souls. My senior seminar covered the short fiction of Virginia Woolf, and my senior seminar paper analyzed her party fiction. I can't remember much, except for the pain experienced by characters (including Clarissa Dalloway) during the transitions between being alone and being with others. Life was not easy for them, or for her.

NOTE: this video clip is taken from "The Hours" and it shows Virginia Woolf's walk into the river and Julianne Moore's goodbye. Don't watch if you're not ready for that. Makes me weep.

The second song - "Ghost" - is simply one of the best love songs I've ever heard. Yearning and hurting expressed through the brilliant lyrics that all Indigo Girls fans enjoy on a regular basis. These two, oh these two, with their beautiful guitar work and sweet, pure harmonies. I love that "Ghost" alludes to Lake Itasca and the start of the Mississippi River. That's smart pop music. I go to the lake in my mind, cross the pebbly walkway, and enjoy a good cry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Negotiations & Love Songs #6: "Footprints on My Ceiling" by Social Distortion

I asked my friend Kevin for a love song recommendation. Here's his song suggestion performed by one of his favorite bands (singers), Social Distortion: "i like this song because mike talks about frustration, vulnerability, the difficulty of being together, but then he reveals the need for communication and the denial of self-righteousness, which, in my understanding of God's design, is the real definition of love: exaltation of another person. so i really appreciate this song. it's one of the most honest, most authentic love songs this side of bill mallonee's 'love cocoon.'"

Negotiations & Love Songs #5: "Rise Up with Fists" by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

Jenny Lewis used to be a child star. It's the first thing every magazine profile mentions about her. Then she was the lead singer of Rilo Kiley. She has a mean head of hair, doesn't she? I like her singing - kind of throaty, very pretty. My friend Rob reminded me today of this terrific song, so here we go. It isn't about romantic love, but is still a love song, I think - the love of a second chance.
But I still believe
And I will rise up with fists
And I will take what's mine mine mine
There but for the grace of God, go I

"If you believe they call it rock and roll"

Just Britt and a guitar and a mic. This song is usually a full-band show stopper, but he does it justice with this scaled down performance in some record store. One fun detail is the way this song references out other songs ("I Summon You" and "They Never Got You") on the Gimme Fiction album; "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" is track one of that record. He said in one interview that he got the idea of a roll call like that from Prince. The title of the tune he got from a book on Medieval French tapestries that sat on his grandmother's coffee table. (Nope, didn't have to look that up. Knew it. Pick me, pick me!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Negotiations & Love Songs #4: "Ice Cream" by Sarah McLachlan

Psst ... I'm noticing that there's a quality consistency problem on youtube. Apparently, just ANYONE can upload a video. Some people might oughta spend a bit more time in the old home studio. Oh well.

Somebody wanted to do a nice job with this Sarah McLachlan tune. I dig the image ideas, but why the misspellings? And the weird crying faces? And the strange messages to the singer?  And the random cell phone pic? Look, my recommendation is to listen, but not watch this clip.

I love this song, really love this song. I sang this song as a duet at my wedding reception, so that pretty much sums it up right there.

Negotiations & Love Songs #3: "Rome" by Phoenix

Two songs a day as my Valentine's Day gift to myself. Then I have a tidy playlist ready to go on the big holiday!

The whole album is catchy. We've established that with "1901." It's a tasty genre, synth pop. I suppose the 80s girl in me likes the keyboard flourishes. This song presses up against my heart too. I really love the way Mars sings Rome over and over. It means something, even if I can't quite put my finger on it. The chord progression during the instrumental break and during the rest of the song (building, building, building) is just right, and Mars' falsetto feels delicate, vulnerable. The voice isn't perfect, but that isn't the point.

Fall fall falls. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Negotiations & Love Songs #2: "The Scientist" by Coldplay

First of all, you have to see this video - the real video - the way Coldplay made it. You'll have to click on this link because all of the clips I found had the embedding code disabled. The video is clever, and its reverse motion echos the backward glances of the lyrics. My kids loooooove it, of course ("Is she hurt?" "No, she's pretending!")

Here's what the Wikipedia entry for this song (yeah, now songs have their own entries?!?!!): "When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, Martin said: "That's just about girls. It's weird that whatever else is on your mind, whether it's the downfall of global economics or terrible environmental troubles, the thing that always gets you most is when you fancy someone."

Sounds shallow, mate, but I'll give you the point.

To go back to the start. Tempting, eh? Possible? Maybe. Part of my healing process has included this kind of backward glancing: Before now there was the home I owned, and before that, a home rented, and before that our first apartment in Bryan. Keep going back to the start ... I was a student teacher, and before that an undergrad in College Station. Idaho comes next in this journey, or came first, and then I return to Minnesota, my first home.