Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obsessed and MADD

It's fairly well-established that I am a music freak. You know that ringing that you get in your ear from time to time that no one else can hear? The high-pitched constant squeal? Have you noticed how you get used to the sound and when it finally stops, you lift your head and look around like something's just not right? Like something is MISSING? That's how I feel when there is no music playing. Something is just not right. Something is missing. I have no understanding for people that can drive in a car without music playing. Circumstance is irrelevant. Road trip, quick errand to Wal-Mart, or funeral procession, music should be playing in a car. I further struggle with the common definition of "background" music. If we're in a car, the music is most certainly NOT in my background. More often than not our conversation is wasted and you sound like the parents on Peanuts, "wa wawa wawawawa."

My obsession for music unfortunately has a negative impact on the music itself. I micro-manage my music. I will go through fits of obsession for a particular band or song. I listened to nothing but Simon and Garfunkel for 18 months in junior high school. I had all 59 studio-released songs committed to memory and I would sit at a computer and type the lyrics. I bet I still have 30ish S&G songs memorized. The unfortunate, but inevitable, result of such an obsession is the certain death of "overplay." It's the "All Star" factor. You know, that Smashmouth song that was played every 5th song about a decade ago and further exploited by the Shrek soundtrack? That song now initiates an instant gag reflex when I hear it. Many other incredible songs have suffered the same fate.

Also, I suffer from Musical Attention Deficit Disorder, aka MADD. I make compilation CDs of MP3s to listen to in the car, but I rarely get 30 seconds into a song without skipping on to the next one. It's like a Plen-T pack of Juicy Fruit gum. A stick of Juicy Fruit loses its flavor inside of 3 minutes, so the obvious solution is to spit it out and crush another piece. Within an hour, the entire pack of gum is gone and largely wasted. This is what happens to my brilliant compilation discs.

There are, however, a very select few songs that have withstood both my obsession and my MADD disease. This post pays homage to these incredible tracks. The following is a list of the songs, in no particular order. If they pop up on a compilation of mine, or even occasionally on the radio (yeah right) I would never EVER feel the need to hit SKIP. Each can be listened to by left-clicking or downloaded by right-clicking and saving. Enjoy.

1. Mr. Wendel by Arrested Development
2. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous by Frank Turner
3. Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats
4. No One's Gonna Love You by Band of Horses
5. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith
6. Naked as We Came by Iron and Wine
7. Lounge (Closing Time) by Modest Mouse
8. Hallelujah by Martin Sexton
9. Where do the Children Play by Cat Stevens
10. Don't Think Twice It's Alright by Bob Dylan
11. On Fire by Mofro
12. The Crane Wife #3 by The Decemberists
13. Imaginary Bars by Great Lake Swimmers
14. The Price of a Cup of Tea by Belle and Sebastian
15. Blues Run the Game by Jackson C. Frank (S&G version)
16. Fresh Feeling by Eels
17. 1972 by Josh Rouse
18. Blonde on Blonde by Nada Surf
19. Blood Red Blood by Voxtrot

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Prepare to FIGHT, Heathen!

I’ve been in one fist fight in my entire life. I was in 6th grade.

I had just returned home from a brutal day of math Olympics in Mr. Draper's class (8s times tables are a bugger) and was relaxing at home with a root beer in one hand and a Dorito in the other watching Duck Tales. It was blissful. Mid-chomp, my younger sister Ashley came stumbling into the house, wet and muddy with blood trickling down her knees. Through her sobs I was able to understand that a junior high school boy was picking on younger kids and had pushed her into the canal. That’s all I needed to hear. Always a champion for the victim, I bounded out of the house and sprinted up to the canal. Sure enough, there he was. A gigantor of a scruffy lad tossing kids around and laughing. It was on.

Television had taught me a number of constant and finite truths about the universe: A) Good guys never lose. B) The hero gets the girl. C) It never takes more than one bullet to kill a bad guy. D) He-Man is the MASTER of the Universe, GI Joe is the GREATEST American Hero, and Thundercats HO. Finally E) When you punch the bad guy, the bad guy falls down unconscious. Why, then, did my unsuspected right hook draw the faintest trace of blood and not even phase this 8th-grade villain? I’m the good guy! He smiled, chased me down, and proceeded to annihilate my face and body with vicious fists and elbows.

That experience as a youngling taught me something that I have never forgotten. Temper + anger =/= competent fighter. I may be able to talk big and even look imposing if I keep eating hot pockets and stick out my chest a little, but the truth of the matter is that I couldn’t fight my way through a wet napkin with a samurai sword. I prefer music trivia challenges and vocabulary contests to prove the bigger man. You might be able to work me in the ring, but I can say the alphabet backwards faster than you can say it forward. A duel you say?! Fine! My weapon of choice is the Guitar Hero III Les Paul and the field of battle is Cult of Personality, cretin!

I’m no fighter, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t fight. I’ll throw down in fisticuffs for the right cause. Oh yes, I will fight you…..for any of the following causes:

1) If you interrupt me during Duck Tales I will fight you.

2) John Denver is not a country singer. He is a folk GOD. If you say otherwise I will fight you.

3) My mother may be a dance teacher, but that doesn’t mean my SONS will dance. Not until they are 18 and use it as a tool to improve their football skills or get chicks. If you try and put my boy in dance lessons I will fight you.

4) The holocaust happened. If you believe otherwise I will fight you.

5) I love my faith and respect the sacred things of others. If you belittle me or my belief system I will fight you. I recently learned the hard way, allowing someone in a position of power over me to jeer at my religion for 21 months. Never again will that happen. Pearls and swine.

6) If you mess with my family I will fight you. If you wrong my children I will gut you like a fish.

7) If you don’t like Neil Diamond I will fight you. I can understand distaste for ANY of my other favorite artists. Not everyone will enjoy Phish or Devendra Banhart or The Decemberists or Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, and there are valid reasons for not liking them. Simply put, there is NO earthly reason that anyone would dislike Neil. Young and old, male or female, black or white, Neil’s music represents everything good and pure and fun in the universe.

8) If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan I will fight you. I hope Favre has his knee folded back by a golden helmet.

That’s pretty much it. If I can resolve conflict with grammar or video games then I will always opt for those more peaceable means. But if any of the above eight circumstances happen, and Rock Band isn’t available nor Webster’s Dictionary, then the gloves shall come off. I may be beaten, bloodied, and bruised, but I will at least bleed for the cause and my place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.