The Ultimate Driving Mixtape*


I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with my mental state. I’m off in the head.

For the past month and a half, my girlfriend has been in the hospital and I’ve managed to visit her three or four times a week. This is a bit of an inconvenience as she’s about an hour drive away**.

So last week I took a vacation day… to drive two hours in the other direction and take an introduction to solar energy systems and design class in the southern part of the state. It wasn’t until I was cruising back on the highway that I realized this isn’t something most people do. In fact, most people would probably say I’m in desperate need of a psychiatrist.

And after I finish installing these solar panels and save on my electric bill I’ll make an appointment.

The insane part is that I actually enjoy the drive. Southern Ohio/Northern West Virginia is filled with beautiful scenery. It was a gorgeous day, and I got to enjoy it in my own way.

The best part is that my new*^ car has one of those newfangled ‘radio’ contraptions so I was able to listen to music the whole way. When I needed a break from the Creedence CD I brought along I was able to scan through the stations and usually land on something descent that made time pass a little quicker.

This got me thinking “what would be on the ultimate driving playlist?” And because one of my hobbies is blogging I had to turn it into something.

Granted, most of this is low hanging fruit, but give me a break; I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.


Tom Cochran “Life is a Highway”

The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

The Carpenters “Superstar”

 

Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

AC/DC “Highway to Hell”

Elton John “Tiny Dancer”

 

 

Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell”

Heart “Barracuda”

 

Jimi Hendrix “All Along The Watchtower”

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Soul 2 Squeeze”

Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

So I know all of your typing fingers are burning up right now to tell me which I missed. And that’s great! I purposely left enough space on this virtual disc for a little feedback. That’s what comments are for.

Have at ‘er!


 

* I’m sure someone has already done this post in a different way, but now it’s my turn!

**But she’s totally worth it.

*^Actually, it’s a year older than my previous vehicle, but the owner took much better care of it so it’s like a new car.

 

Courtney Love Defines Irony


 

It’s amazing the weird shit that sticks in your brain.

Do you remember back in 2002 when MTV did “24 Hours of Love” and had Courtney Love host for a day? No? Well, you shouldn’t. It probably sucked. I don’t really remember it. I only refreshed my memory while looking for a certain clip from it on YouTube. I couldn’t find the clip so you’ll just have to trust me that I saw what I saw.

If you look on YouTube for “Courtney Love Hosting 24 Hours of Love (4/9)” you’ll notice that it starts with a scene from Almost Famous. This seems strange, but when you remember that in 1970 recording artists weren’t making music videos it all comes into focus. See, something that was left out of part 3/9 was Love introducing the song “Tiny Dancer” they played in the  scene from Almost Famous. 

What stuck in my mind wasn’t that Courtney Love is an Elton John fan. It’d be stranger if she wasn’t. What stuck in my head was her introduction of the song. She said that “Tiny Dancer” was one of her favorite Elton John songs. And that another one of her favorites was “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

 

If you’re an Elton John fan you know that Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is a biographical album. All the songs are based on events from his own life. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is about a woman that John almost married when he was young, but his friends managed to talk him out of it.

Think about that for a minute. One of Courtney Love’s favorite Elton John songs is the one about the guy who didn’t marry the wrong girl.

Another thing that has stuck in my mind on the subject is an interview with an ex-boyfriend of Courtney Love’s in the “Kurt and Courtney” Documentary. The part that really stuck out to me in this movie comes at about the 34 minute mark where he says he would have ended up just like Kurt Cobain if he’d stayed with her.

maslow-pyramidSomething I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You may have seen it in a psychology class. Food, water and shelter are on the bottom of the pyramid. The next level is safety and security. Then above that is love and acceptance. Studying this has helped to enlighten me as to why a woman would stay with her abusive husband. The need for love and belonging can be strong enough to overpower the need for safety and security. In anorexia it can be strong enough to overpower the need for food.

But isn’t it crazy to think that someone who was the most famous musician on the planet and adored by millions of fans would have a deficiency of love and belonging?

I don’t want to fuel any speculation that Kurt Cobain’s death was a murder. There are plenty of people out there already doing that. It really doesn’t make much difference at the moment. He’s gone and we’ll never know what could have been if someone had saved his life that night.

Maybe the next time the surviving members of Nirvana record an album with a knighted English pop star they could call the track “Boy, We Really Screwed The Pooch On That One.”

Loneliness is not a phase…


 

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I have a bit of a problem with depression. To be fair it has gotten better over the years, but it’s still always there. And occasionally it tends to flare up.

I suppose you may wonder what this has to do with a music blog. Well, this disease has gone a long way toward shaping my tastes in music. Even though I don’t listen to either artist now as much as I did during my high school years I still consider Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails to be my favorite groups. I’ve come across a lot of bands that I like just as much or maybe more since graduation, but I’ll always have a place in my heart for those two. Listening to them really saved my life and helped me to realize that I wasn’t the only one dealing with these demons.

And I still haven’t found anything that can make feel better when I’m down than Dirt, The Downward Spiral or Jar of Flies. Although I’ve found quite a few songs that help; The Descendents’ “Cool To Be You,” Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water” and Tom Waits’ “Train Song.”

I’ve never written at length about this for a number of reasons. For one, I’m not looking for pity. I’m a grown man; I don’t need pity. I need anti-depressants. Which is another reason I don’t often speak about it. It’s rather embarrassing to admit you need a drug to make you feel normal. I’ve heard a lot of people say they got on meds and didn’t feel like themselves anymore. For me it’s the exact opposite. I tried to get off of them earlier this year only to realize how much I need them. And it’s not just a mental thing. I mean, it is a mental disorder, but without that in my system I have trouble sleeping, near constant stomach pain, lethargy and loss of appetite. I also get this weird feeling I imagine would be like sticking my finger in the light socket.

Robin Williams Depression QuoteSo if someone says they’re depressed, sure it’s a good thing to try to cheer them up; but remember you might as well be trying to cure the flu.

So why say anything about it now? Because I’m feeling depressed. I’ve been listening to AIC and NIN. I’m thinking about putting on The Wall. I guess I hope that sharing will help it to go away. Maybe if I put it out there in the open it will lose it’s power over me. I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on this subject and a lot of them are very good. But no one ever really hit the nail on the head for me.

For me, depression is like a cancer. It’s not poisoning my blood or eating away at my lungs, but it’s polluting my soul. It prevents me from being the me I want to be and forces me to sit alone in the dark wishing I could just feel differently.

I want to say it’s like a tumor growing inside me. But that’s not right. It’s more like one of the Xenomorphs from the Alien movies. I can almost feel it moving and growing in my stomach like it’s just waiting to burst out of my chest.

Some people are have strange phobias. People are scared of all sorts of weird shit; snakes, spiders, Muslims or the boogeyman under the bed. But for me, the boogeyman is alive and well inside my head.

I hope maybe I’ve written something that might make some of you understand mental illness better. And if I’ve written something that you can relate to I hope you’re seeking help and will get better. Aside from being somewhat embarrassing, depression is a royal pain in the ass.

But you know what’s funny? Loneliness has been with me for so long that I bet if it were to go away… I would miss it.

Fiona Apple “Tidal”


FionaAppleTidal(23 July 1996, Columbia)

A few weeks ago I saw that Tidal was trending on Twitter. I had already planned to do this post so I clicked to see what people were saying. I thought they were talking about Fiona Apple’s magnificent 1996 debut. With the 20th anniversary coming up it made sense. The first tweet linked to an article about how Apple was trying to buy Tidal. Well, this confused me, but then I read it was about tech giant Apple wanting to buy a music streaming service Jay-Z started.

Well, that makes more sense. No one cares about a great piece of music from 20 years ago.

But I wasn’t completely naive to think others still care about Fiona Apple. According to her Wikipedia page the album received awesome acclaim from Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Slate Magazines and is featured in 1001 Albums to Listen to Before you Die.

And then, of course, there is that video. To males of my generation Apple was one of the ultimate sex symbols thanks to “Criminal.” It’s worth noting that this was before the slut-pop explosion of the late 90’s featuring Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and P!nk. Sure, there were other sexy videos at the time, but I can’t remember any of them. I can barely remember any from Britney, Christina or P!nk any more. But “Criminal” is permanently etched in my brain. I think that video may have jump started my pituitary gland into early onset puberty. And now that I’m older I still love this video. Especially the end part where the dish detergent floats up in the air. What the hell is that all about?

But the greatest thing is that the song is about a woman admitting she was wrong, and that’s something we don’t get to hear often enough.

 

It seems disrespectful to lump Apple in with all of the other slut-pop singers. About the only thing she had in common with them was the gratuitous partial nudity (which should be noted only occurred in one video). Aside from that she had more in common with Adele; a sultry voice, jazzy music, lack of choreography and actual talent. If Miley Cyrus’ genre of music is like a romantic comedy, Fiona Apples’ is a serious drama.

It’s also worth noting that Apple never seemed particularly comfortable with her role as rock star/sex symbol. From the “the world is bullshit” acceptance speech she made when receiving a Video Music Award to dating Marilyn Manson to her current status as eccentric artist she never seemed to relish stardom or bask in it. I don’t think shes done extremely well weathering the storms of fame, but she’s done a lot better than Kurt Cobain.

And aside from that one megahugegiganticenourmous hit song there are another nine great tunes. I’ve never cared too much for opener “Sleep to Dream.” I think it may have to do with the instrumentation. I’d prefer piano and drums to the weird backward bass loops. “Shadowboxer” has always been a favorite for it’s driving piano riff. “The First Taste” is interesting and has a bit of an island feel even without steel drums. Because of the line “There’s too much going on…” “Sullen Girl” has always reminded me of “Talking Old Soldiers” by Elton John. They don’t have much in common except for the piano and that one line, but it’s enough for me to make a connection.

My one problem with the album is how much of it is piano/vocal ballads. They’re great songs, but it’s not the kind of music I tend to pull down off the shelf very often. Of course, I can’t imagine what the songs would sound like with a more prominent backing band.

fionaappleBut the lyrics more than make up for any issues I may have. It’s weird and somewhat worrisome that I find the ramblings of this crazy girl so relatable, but with all the copies of this album that sold I can’t have been the only one. My favorite is from the closer “Carrion”: “My feel for you boy, Is decaying in front of me, Like the carrion of a murdered prey.”

That’s right, she’s comparing her emotions to roadkill. This is truly a woman after my own heart.

 

Damn the Years!


bargain_binI’m not the only person who tends to browse through CD bargain bins at gas stations and dollar stores, right? Even if I go in for a 12 pack of pop and a few rolls of toilet paper I still usually end up in front of a rack of CDs for the low, low price of $6 a piece.

It’s kind of a silly thing to do when you think about it. It’s not like I’m going to find some lost gem lurking among Joe Walsh’s But Seriously, Folks… or the Best of Linda Ronstadt. It’s just something I’ve always done. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from any of them aside from maybe a Bob Marley cassette. That was years and years ago. You can tell from the fact that I bought a Bob Marley cassette.

But a few months ago I was in a Dollar General and I noticed something really strange. Sure, there was still Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath Vol. 4 and numerous unofficial greatest hits releases, but there was also Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine and Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Music… 

That just didn’t make sense to me. These bins are for the music of old people. Poison, BTO and Neil Diamond. Young people music doesn’t belong in these bins. When did they change that rule? Wait… did they change that rule? I’ve been denying this for years as I heard Nirvana and Weezer in Walmart and Pearl Jam started playing on the muzak at the gas station, but I think I listen to old people music now.

Soon they’ll start calling it classic rock and I’ll have to start browsing a different section at the record store. Damn. You live long enough and just more and more bad stuff starts happening.

I always hoped I’d die before I got old…

New Music Roundup Part 2


Fisher-Price Little People Animal Songs Sing-A-LongI’ve seen a few posts where people list the music they’ve bought and give a little commentary on it. I find these posts pretty interesting so I thought I’d try my hand at it. I was hoping to make this a twice yearly thing, but blame the state of the music industry for not putting out anything good for me to buy.

*This list does not include anything I have borrowed from the library and ripped to my computer.

13 June 2015 (Walmart New Philadelphia, OH)

Fisher-Price Little People – Animal Songs Sing-Along     $13

Nobody told me how different my music buying habits would change when I had a child, but I can’t expect her to enjoy GWAR or Acid Bath the way I do so I had to buy her something for long car rides. All joking aside though the guitar solo on “The Farmer in the Dell” is pretty bad ass and the drums possess a great laid-back Ringo quality.

 

29 June (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions      $2.50

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Automatic            $2.50

I bought the Roadrunner United album when it first came out, but lost it somewhere along the way. It’s a really unique album where the label tapped four musicians to be team captains who led 57 artists from 45 past and present Roadrunner bands and produced the album. It’s definitely a one of a kind album and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to satisfy a metal craving.

I completely forgot about the Jesus and Mary Chain album. I think I still have it…

 

Greatest Shit9 July (Amazon.com)

KMFDM: Greatest Shit   $17.49

Finntroll: Blodsvept         $8.99

I picked up the KMFDM album after seeing En Esch last year and I hate to just get one album at a time so I grabbed the next thing on my wish list.

 

25 Oct (FYE, New Towne Mall New Philadelphia, OH)

Alice in Chains – Live & Unreleased  $3.99

Nirvana – Unplugged in New York     $5

Unplugged in New York was a replacement. My copy was scratched to hell. I grabbed the Live & Unreleased promo disc and was quickly disappointed when I realized it was song that were released later on their Live album. I’ll have to put it on eBay to get some other poor sucker.

 

GWAR-Scumdogs-of-the-UniverseI went on a bit of a GWAR kick after seeing them live last November. My collection isn’t complete yet, but I’m getting pretty close.

10 Nov (Amazon.com)

GWAR – RagNaRok  $8.35

11 Nov (Ebay.com ( jnientertainment ( 17042 ))

GWAR – Carnival of Chaos  $7.34

 

14 Nov (Ebay.com (swmcom11 ( 267 ))

GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe – $20.74

 

The Best of Mozart6 Dec (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Elton John – Reg Strikes Back  $2.50

The Best of Mozart                    $2.50

I used to wonder how Elton John could go from megarockstar 70s icon to virtually unknown in the 80s. Then I listened to Reg Strikes Back. Have you ever heard it? No? There’s a reason for that.

The Mozart album is pretty good. It features cuts from his entire career. From his humble beginnings playing cover symphonies in Hamburg nightclubs, through his time as a backup player with James Brown, Little Richard and others and even his much chagrined “Fat Mozart” period.

 

20 February 2016 (Amazon.com)

Foo Fighters – Big Me                     $4

The Tea Party – Edges of Twilight  $ 3.91

Glueleg – Heroic Doses                   $ 3.97

Stay away from mikeladano.com. Seriously. If you go on that site you’ll end up reading about some awesome band that you’ve never heard of and the next thing you know they’re on your Amazon wish list. I mean, I don’t regret any of these purchases (Except the Big Me single which is just the single and not the Maxi CD single (Who knew there was such a difference?)) But I was perfectly happy not knowing there was an awesome band called Glueleg and if it hadn’t been for that damn website I probably never would have known.

 

Beezelbubba28 May 2016 (FYE, New Philadelphia, OH)

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral $9.99

The Dead Milkmen – Beezelbubba       $1.00

I was looking to see if they had any Dead Kennedys when I came across the Dead Milkmen disc and I instantly knew I had to have it. Because it was “Buy 1 Get 1 for $1” day at FYE I replaced my old copy of the Downward Spiral while I was at it.

 

29 May (Bandcamp.com)

Mr. Clit & The Pink Cigarettes – Haircuts $5

(Amazon.com)

Local H – Hey Killer                            $8.99

The Descendents – Everything Sux   $9.49

Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology         $8.99

Hey Killer is probably the best album of 2015 and nearly everyone missed it. Well, except for the guy that wrote that article telling me how great it was.

 

The Best Singers


live-sound-microphone

I really enjoy “Best of…” lists. And I never shy away from the chance to do one for my blog.

My “Best Guitarist’s” post from last week managed to stir the pot and spark a bit of conversation. I’m hoping this post will do the same.

Of course, the problem with a “Best Singers” list is similar the problem with a “Best Guitarists” list: What am I judging them on? Do they get points for creativity? Lyrics? Emotion? I try to weigh several factors and think I came out with a list that should have something for everyone.

But I’m sure I missed a few

 

Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantomas, About 12 billion others) – I like Mike Patton. He’s a phenomenal singer with a very impressive range. He should be higher on this list but I hate is that he has the same effect on grown men as the Jonas Brother’s have on 13-year-old girls.

GG Allin covered in his own shit and still singing.

GG Allin covered in his own shit and still singing.

GG Allin – To this day he’s the only man I’ve ever seen take a shit on stage and not miss a note. Not that that’s a good thing, but it is really impressive.

Simon & Garfunkel – These two were way more than the sum of their parts. Paul Simon always wrote great songs, but they never shined as bright without him harmonizing with Art Garfunkel.

Tom Waits – Anyone who can have such a long and prolific career while sounding like they’re gargling gravel and broken glass is OK in my book.

Layne Staley (Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Class of ’99) – The thing that always impressed me most about Staley was how he could take songs like “Rooster” and “Would?” that were written by Jerry Cantrell and pump so much emotion into them.

Meat Loaf – I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t enjoy the way Meat Load mixes opera singing with hard rock. That usually ends the conversation for me.

Adele – I love that deep, smoky, soulful voice. She sings like a black girl. Which makes me think I must be racist because I didn’t put Tina Turner or Gladys Knight on here.

Elton John – I want to make a gay joke here, but I’m not that crude. So I’ll just let Tenacious D do it.

 

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, Solo) – Not only does he have the most impressive set of pipes this side of 1988, he also writes some of the craziest lyrics this side of Dax Riggs.

Leonard Cohen – In ‘Tower of Song’ he sings: “I was born like this I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” But I’ve heard some of his older stuff and I don’t think he really started to shine until the mid-Eighties.

 

For more of these lists check out:

The Best Bassists

The Best Drummers