Running Songs

A while back twitter directed me to an article claiming that Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard was lying about his song list for running. Because I am a narcissist, this made me immediately thing about my running list—it is several hundred songs long and not all of them are actually that good to run to.

I run a bit—I don’t call myself a runner because I have never run ‘officially’ or in any public capacity, but I do run enough to know the names of different shoes, the arguments for and against going barefoot, the ideal amount of hydration before, during and after runs, etc .etc. I do it because I enjoy it, because you can’t play basketball for three hours a day when you’re a real adult, and because my grandfather and father died young.

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New Album Review: The Sound of the Life of the Mind

In 1999, I was living in graduate student housing with my roommate who was also the guitarist in my band (and one of my best friends).  We were not, however, graduate students. We had been forcefully directed to live in the remote housing because of our behavior during our freshman year.

We weren’t exactly the best neighbors during our first year of college. We once duct-taped someone to a chair in the common room because he was talking too loud in the hallway. Our RA was eventually re-assigned and our shenanigans were no small part. The parties were one thing. But the Quad director had a special meeting with us for the noise: We had full band rehearsal in a second floor dorm room; we played songs together all hours of the day.

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Scary Songs

Its that time of year again, my favorite holiday Halloween is just next week. After a zombie playlist and an apocalypse list, it seemed fitting we’d do one about scary songs for the holiday. I want to warn you though, mine is not always what you think. I could have picked a bunch of hardcore bands that screech so bad you can’t understand their lyrics but I went for stuff that scares me personally. I like to think I’ve covered all my bases here and I can’t wait to read my brothers forthcoming list, but here it is, scary playlist from yours truly.

1.”Too Close”  Alex Clare

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Apocalypse (Playlist) Redux

Well sure as planets come, I know that they end. 
And if I'm here when that happens, will you promise me this my friend? 
Please bury me with it! 
I just don't need none of that Mad Max bullshit.
-Modest Mouse


Recently, my brother listed his favorite songs about the apocalypse. For various reasons, I cannot let this post stand alone. (This says far more about me than about my brother or his post.)

Why are we obsessed with the apocalypse? I actually ask this of my students on a semesterly basis. I think that the answer, if there is one, is partly psychological and structural. First, we know that we begin and end individually—part of our death drive or obsession also nearly demands contemplation (and fantasy) about everything expiring just as we will.

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Apocalypse Playlist

As my brother and I texted back and forth during the Walking Dead premiere on Sunday night, we got into a conversation about what would be a good playlist about the apocalypse. Granted, you almost certainly would not be listening to any tunes in the event of a catastrophic world event, instead focusing on any route of survival. So, I leaned more towards songs about the end of the world and ended up having to cut my list down to accommodate the end of the world as we know it.

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The Proposition: An Open Letter to Mainers

Note: This post is politically oriented and strongly felt. If you think it might help change minds, share it wherever you may–pseudonymity be damned!

(And for the politically disinclined, tune back in this weekend for our regularly scheduled programming)

In the final episode of the first season of Showtime’s series Homeland, Sgt. Brody (Damien Lewis) takes his family to Gettysburg as he prepares to turn himself into a suicide bomber.  Before the battlefield, he tells them the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to justify his actions (in his own mind) before they even know what he’s talking about.

Chamberlain taught himself Ancient Greek, became a Professor at Bowdoin College and led the defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg with an insane bayonet charge against superior numbers. (He was later awarded the Medal of Honor.)

Sickly (and meaningfully for the show), Sgt. Brody tries to claim Chamberlain’s bravery, resourcefulness and patriotism for his planned act of domestic terrorism. (Equipment failure and a change of heart alter his plans.) But his repeated praise of the bravery of a teacher from Maine stuck with me well after the end of the show

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On the Radio (Flashback): Skydiver!

Way back in the halcyon days of the Ford LTD stationwagon and the suspiciously convenient birth of an alt-rock radio format in my home state, there were certain songs that were in heavy rotation that didn’t quite make it to the pantheon of alt-rock hits. Every once in a while, while trolling around on the internet, or wandering in a reverie, I think of them.

See, for better or worse, songs get reborn in my bind like Athena sprouting full-armored from Zeus’ noggin. Before I can focus on anything else, I need to hear the song, to confirm that it is real, to get drawn back into the memory and to travel through time, even if in a non-corporeal way.

(My wife knows that I can get obsessive if a song gets in my head and that, bidden or not, I will start to sing almost any song. To cause me great discomfort, she needs only to utter the phrase “Turn Around”. Even as I type this, I am humming “Total Eclipse of My Heart”, a song I love to hate and hate that I love.)

So, the other day I saw the word ‘skydiver’ printed on the page of some article. See, some guy (Felix Baumgartner) took a dive from 24 miles up and set a new world record for insanity. And, of course, his accomplishment only made me think of a song.

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Walking Dead Returns

After a long wait, AMC’ s The Walking Dead is coming back tonight with a two hour season premiere. I don’t watch a bunch of T.V. , basically a few shows and Patriots football, so this is a real treat for me. Furthermore, my brother and I have vast discrepiencies on what we like for shows, just as we do in music. This show was a hit for both of us right off and hopefully we can catch some episodes when we are together for Thanksgiving. Like music we both like, we enjoy it more together.

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Songs of the Year—1999

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it.
You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?
–The Talking Heads

Songs of the Year: “Either Way”, Guster; “Psycho Killer”, The Talking Heads

Runners-up: “Steal my Sunshine”, Len

Honorable Mentions: “Thank You” Dido

At the beginning of the year, if I remember correctly, Conan O’Brien attempted to outlaw all soundings of Prince’s “1999” for 12 short months. 1999 was the year of the Y2K panic. It was the year that boy bands were triumphant and when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera ruled the world. Back then, Carson Daly was on MTV and American Idol was still three years away.

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Fender Precision Bass

I have talked a lot about the band I am in and my recent learning of the bass. It really had to do with the aftermath the untimely passing of my father because it hit me very hard.  My situation was different from my siblings because I lived in the home we all grew up in so I didn’t get to leave the whole scene after the funeral. I was right in the middle of everything that was my Dad and it was not easy.

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