“A walking early ’00s Pitchfork review machine”

Oh, the things we would forget were it not for Facebook. This blog is a perfect example: something I started writing a lifetime ago and have neglected for years. Now seems the ideal time to bring it back to life.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the years since this blog’s untimely death I’ve started what is essentially a mini-blog via Instagram: a daily account of the music that gets me too and from work, courtesy of the hashtag #Todayscommutebroughttoyouby. Search it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and you’ll find documentation of my mood on almost any day of the past year.

In response to a recentĀ #Todayscommutebroughttoyouby post featuring Hot Hot Heat, a friend commented that I was “a walking early ’00s Pitchfork review machine & it’s awesome!” Admittedly, the music of that time was incredibly influential in my life, but I would like to think that I’m open to songs of all eras and all styles.

That is essentially all an incredibly lengthy way of saying “I’m back!” and I hope this blog can generate some dialogue about the music of the past, present and future.

 

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Reconnecting with Jeff Buckley

I learned tonight that my roommate didn’t know who Jeff Buckley is, a clear musical travesty. I set about introducing him to the brilliant singer/songwriter, dusting off my copies of “Grace” and “Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.”

As I played “Last Goodbye,” “Lilac Wine” and “Yard of Blonde Girls,” I realized I hadn’t listened to these songs in ages. Everyone’s heard Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” (arguably the best version of Leonard Cohen’s original), which does demonstrate the fragility and beauty of Buckley’s voice, but you need to hear his brilliant songwriting in “Last Goodbye” and “Yard of Blonde Girls” to truly appreciate him.

My ‘Before I Turn 30’ List

In just more than eight months, I will hit a birthday milestone: I’m turning 30. I honestly never thought I would live past 30 (for real, ask my childhood friends), so I set a lot of goals for myself for the age of 25. I accomplished most of them (Diane Sawyer can hold on to her job … for now), but am looking to add to that list now that I’m running out of time to say I’m in my “late 20s.”

I’ve done some Googling and found that a lot of people embarked on similar adventures: compiling all the things they’d like to do, then scratching off the accomplishments one by one. I’ve seen a lot of ’30 Before 30′ lists in my research. I’m not sure I have the time, money or energy to do 30 of these things, so I’m including some things I’ve already done. It’s kind of cheating, I know, but I’m almost 30. I can get away with that stuff now.

1. Run a marathon (October 2007, October 2008)

2. Ride a motorcycle

3. Hike Spencer Butte at sunrise

4. Go to the BCS National Championship (January 2010)

5. Write letter to my immediate family to tell them why I love them

6. Buy myself something at Tiffany’s

7. Run Hood to Coast (August 2009, August 2011)

8. Cook a gourmet, five-course meal

9. Try P90X — for 90 days

10. Go on a classic American road trip

11. Learn the basics of burlesque

12. Travel to another continent

13. Get a passport

14. Take my girls camping

15. Learn Spanish

16. Get VIP passes to Sasquatch! Music Festival (May 2010)

17. Go parasailing (December 2006)

18. Visit Las Vegas

19. Sing karaoke (Sept. 2011)

20. Write a will

21. Shoot a gun

22. Learn how to sew and make something I will wear

23. Visit a fortune teller

24. Read the Top 10 novels of all time

25. Learn to change the oil in my car

26. Write a letter to read to myself at age 40

27. Collect skyline prints of the cities I’ve called home (Roseburg, Eugene, Boise and Portland) to hang as art

28. Go to The Moth StorySlam

29. Have a picnic

30. Visit a Smithsonian museum (March 2011)

Seemed fitting …

I love the entire album “Up in Our Bedroom after the War” by Stars. It’s one of the very few I can listen to — start to finish — and never want to skip a song.

For one reason or another, “Midnight Coward” (Track 4) seems really fitting today. They’re such clever lyrics and delivered in such a sweet way. Anyway, enjoy …

Pop-Up Video

I am a woman obsessed … with Pop-Up Video. Remember this show on VH1 back in the day? Remember that little *bloop* every time a fun fact showed up on screen? There hasn’t been a new episode since 2002 (I know!) until now. The network that aired such small-screen gems as Rock of Love and For the Love of Ray J is actually changing some of its programming back to music!

I got a little “sneak peek” of the new episodes (which now air on weekdays at 12 p.m. EST, FYI) last night. Oh, Pop-Up Video, how I missed you!

Ever since I grew out of my Top-40 phase when I was 19 (hey, I’m a late bloomer!), I haven’t exactly kept up on all the emerging artists. Pop-Up Video helps me catch up. For example? I had NO idea Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka Diddy had a rap group called “Diddy-Dirty Money” (where does he come up with this crap?). Did you know it’s a pain in the butt to set up a video shoot in the middle of the Mojave Desert? Did you know Diddy shared two bottles of $200 champagne with the crew before he burned them for the set? See, this is why Pop-Up Video is so handy; it adds to all the other useless information in my brain.

Now, if you remember the OLD episodes, they cover a lot of Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and … well, older stuff. The new episodes span the near-decade since the show was last on the air. The two episodes I saw had videos from Britney, Good Charlotte, Cee-Lo, Florence + the Machine and that oh-so-informative one from Diddy-Dirty Money (Seriously, WTF was he thinking?!).

I’m wrapping this up quickly so I can get home and watch the next two episodes on my DVR.

My first love

His name was Gavin and he was beautiful. The British accent, the romantic curls around his face, those abs … c’mon! No teen girl could resist, certainly not me.

You should know that you’re reading a blog written by a now-woman who, my freshman year, had Gavin’s cover on Rolling Stone in the front of my binder. This deliciousness greeted me at the beginning of every class. And if that wasn’t enough, my bedroom was plastered — PLASTERED! — with pictures of him.

Of course, what better way to worship at the altar of Gavin than to listen to his band constantly? My parents probably know the lyrics to every song off 16 Stone and Razorblade Suitcase better than anyone else in their mid-40s because they heard me play those albums on repeat so many times.

I still love that music. The most recent albums … meh. They’re OK. Gavin freely admits that he writes entirely different songs these days. Problem is, he tries to make sense and be poetic — emphasis on ‘tries.’ That was the joy of those first two albums, they were incoherent mumblings, but they worked.

Bush was the first concert I ever went to and it will likely always be my most memorable. I remember the date (June 16), but the year is a little iffy (I’m 85 percent sure it was 1996). I was 13 or 14 and went with my then-uncle, who encouraged me to fight through the mosh pit to get to the front of the crowd. Being short worked to my advantage as I navigated up there and, sure enough, by the time the second opener (Veruca Salt) finished their set, I had my hand gripped tightly on the bar.

A few songs in, I officially had a “front row” view. There were a few feet between me and the band. That was my only focus, but I should have paid attention to all the crowd-surfers; they were the ones who kicked me in the head while trying to make it back to the ground. They’d kick me so hard, my head would — *wham!* — hit the guardrail separating me from the security guards. Over. And over. And over.

The show was amazing, despite my broken nose and split lip. So amazing, I couldn’t bring myself to go to a Bush show in Portland a few weeks ago because I worried it would taint the initial memory of them.

I apologize for this all being so long-winded, but Bush and I … we have a history. So, on that note, enjoy some oldies, but (I think) goodies:

Living room dance party

Don’t be jealous. I just happen to live with the best singers/dancers in Eugene — possibly in the state, likely on the West Coast. Their names are Alexis and Kaya and they are singing and dancing machines.

We recently instituted a new pre-bedtime ritual at my house called “Living Room Dance Party.” I know you probably couldn’t figure it out from its name, so let me explain: we have a dance party in the living room. Not to just any music, mind you. It’s difficult to have a dance party while listening to some of the indie bands I prefer and I refuse to expose my girls to what passes for popular “music” these days, so we’ve had to come to a compromise.

We settled on this:

And this:

And this:

Please don’t judge me.

The song you least expected

I had to hit the “Pause” button on my blog writing lately because of a new schedule I’m still getting accustomed to (transitioning from vampire hours to normal hours is difficult!).

After my past couple posts, I’m sure you expect me to post something indie, something poppy, something … completely the opposite of John Denver.

Let me explain: I’ve never really listened to anything substantial of Denver’s. Sure, I know “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Country Roads” and all those other songs of his you can’t escape, but this is the only song of his I’ve listened to willingly.

My grandma passed away on Nov. 1, 2003. I spent the week before her memorial scanning pictures and editing a video for her service, but my grandfather chose the songs. For hours on end, I’d sit staring at my grandmother at all different stages in her life — when she was an infant, when she was a teenager, when she was a mother, when she was a grandmother — with this song playing. Those images and thisĀ  song are forever tied together in my memory.

In love with love songs

I previously blamed Jordan Catalano, “My So-Called Life” and Buffalo Tom for my hopeless romanticism, but I’m not sure what came first: the love or the love songs.

Most pop songs, country songs … OK, any songs are about love or the loss of love or the lack of love … you get the idea. So to even think about narrowing them to a list of my Top 5 Love Songs was a little daunting, but I think I’ve done it. Granted, I’ll probably change my mind in a week or two (or a day or two … or an hour or two) — and you’ll probably disagree with every one — but here’s what I have for now:

1) “Romeo & Juliet” – Dire Straits
I am not indecisive in the least about this selection. This is easily one of my Top 5 Songs of All Time and it handily tops my list of love songs.

2) “Home” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
It’s lovely, just … lovely. I think everyone longs for that feeling of being “home” with someone.

3) “Something” – The Beatles
Could there be a Top Love Songs list without this on it? Seriously? (Side note: Patti Boyd, about whom this song is written, is a personal hero of mine.)

4) “Heartbeats” – The Knife
It’s. So. Catchy. I haven’t heard much from this band, but I adore this song.

5) “Best I Ever Had” – Vertical Horizon
I hate myself for putting this on the list, but I can’t help myself; I get chills every time it comes on.

Honorable mentions:
True Affection” – The Blow
25 Years” – The Go Find
Nothing Better” – The Postal Service
My Favourite Book” – Stars
Nineteen” – Tegan & Sara

Crazy about Cher

I can’t really explain why I love this girl. Maybe it’s her versatility, maybe it’s her attitude, maybe it’s her look … or maybe it’s a combination of all those factors. Cher Lloyd is IT for me. She’s a strange mix of Lily Allen and Jay-Z. Or maybe Lily Allen and Nicki Minaj.

Lloyd competed on the British show “X Factor” last year and ended up coming in second. She should have won the whole thing, but the audience had a problem with her attitude. Frankly, if I were 17 and had that kind of talent, I would have had a lot more attitude than Lloyd ever did. But that’s beside the point …

I’m anxious to get my hands on her debut album, which is set to come out in November. Based on her first single “Swagger Jagger,” it will be predominantly hip-hop (which is far from my favorite genre), but I’m excited about it nonetheless. I think this girl is capable of great things (heck, she JUST turned 18) if her rendition of Sister Shakespeare’s “Stay” is any indication.