Posts Tagged ‘album’

Twelve Again

22 October 2010

Dear J-

So for some reason I’m on an eighties rut with music and rather than listen to the radio, I’ve been moving albums to MP3s and bringing those along instead. Thus for the first time since high school I’m listening to Cosmic Thing (The B-52’s) and Kick (INXS) — albums we’d owned, but I’m pretty sure disappeared somewhere between Cheney and California. I suppose that all music is slickly packaged and marketed but at the risk of sounding like the old man I’m becoming, it’s nothing like what I hear today, where auto-tune and plastic looks rule the airwaves. I’ve said before how useless it is to compare favorite music; my music and your music and their music are generally three overlapping sets for different, intensely personal reasons.

This last one I got — Kick — is in the rotation partly because of X and partly for 1987. At that point, we’d just started listening to modern music (when you’re a kid, you don’t get to control the radio; more, we didn’t have our own portable radios to tune out with) and Kick was the first time I’d heard anyone swear on a recording (there it is, bold as day on the first track, Guns in the Sky)). So every time I hear it I flash back to being twelve years old and hoping that my parents don’t notice we’ve just bought a noisy album with that yelled-out expletive and, later, knowing that they’re not overly fond of it, being 1987, twelve, and full of swaggering posture: yeah-that’s-right, whatcha-gonna-do? It doesn’t hurt there’s nary a hint of filler on Kick; I’m still staggered by the number of singles that came out of that one album and in comparison, the followup X suffers: we got that one too but soon buried it far down the rotation, as Kick was that much more fun.

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where the teachers go on strike and the parents hire adults to teach the children; the preschoolers get Professor Frink, who when asked by a child to relinquish a toy, utters the immortal “You wouldn’t enjoy it on as many levels as me!” Indeed, the music is like that: there’s no way I can adequately explain all that happened in 1987 in a way that makes sense. Twelve — which doesn’t seem so long ago but is — was filled with change between boy and teen, starting new challenges and the only thing I could control was the music, that soundtrack on the movie in my head.



Internal Music

15 September 2010

Dear J-

I’m waking up this morning with the Beatles’ Mother Nature’s Son on my internal radio for some reason; it’s not as though I’ve listened to it recently, though. So of course I check the various devices littering my bag to see if one of those, maybe, has the song on it, but no luck (given that I only last week figured out how to create playlists, it’s a minor miracle that there’s any music at all). It’s not about what I have with me (I settled on Dance Hall Crashers instead) but the intensely personal nature of music: theVet and I generally agree on the movies we’d like to see (musicals and romantic comedies, which has led to discussions on how I’ve finally entered puberty as a thirteen-year-old girl) and television shows, but there is her music and mine with a great yawning gulf in between.

Part of it has to do with what you associate with those songs: for instance, I have memories of listening to Tripping the Live Fantastic (one of McCartney’s later live concert albums) as the first thing I spun up in my own stereo on headphones — that album’s now inextricably linked with that pride of ownership and privacy. Likewise, I got the Trainspotting soundtrack* album from my brother just before I left for grad school — it’s lumped in with those feelings of loneliness and alienation, being in Boston while the rest of my life remained on the West Coast, struggling with homework and research in those first few months, but filled with a roaring, defiant bravado: hey, I’m just as smart and able as the rest of these punks, damnit.

I wonder if that’s why mixtapes never seem to work as well as you’d imagine: there’s all kinds of emotions that dredge up for me when I play songs and without a shared context, say, the live cover that Dance Hall Crashers did of Tom Petty’s American Girl doesn’t make sense to anyone else in the world but you and me, J-. I don’t trust most reviews, as there’s no way to tell, really, what the reviewer’s personal biases are, but for music? Forget about it; there’s no way the sum of my experiences matches theirs.


* I love soundtrack albums, especially when they’re well-done compilations. It’s the reason that I regard Pretty in Pink as far superior to Sixteen Candles: that Pretty in Pink soundtrack is the best slice of 80s music I’ve ever invested in (and with that said, I’ve been eyeing the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack, another John Hughes-penned, Howard Deutch-directed effort). They’ve exposed me to artists I never would have otherwise have an opportunity to hear, like Sleeper (thanks, Trainspotting!), Dance Hall Crashers (Angus), and Save Ferris (10 Things I Hate About You).

Wedding Album

14 September 2009

Dear J-

The album is the ubiquitous photo storage tool. Analogs exist in every computer, whether it’s an online photo site or something as prosaic as the humble folder; the good ones mimic physical albums and the really great ones go a step beyond, giving you a tool to index photos by content and date (this is why I prefer flickr: the tagging system). Back to the album, though; more often than not the album would have a window in the cover to insert another photograph, some thumbnail sketch representative of the content within. For those of us too cheap to splash out on double prints back in the day (guilty), you had the dilemma of finding a photo to go into the album cover and yet not able to use that photo later in the album itself. This is partly why I have embraced the digital trend wholeheartedly; digital copies are free and cheap.

The concept of a summary photograph is somewhat strange; perhaps a contact sheet would be more helpful, but abstractly, the photograph is a slice in time, and the summary photograph is one which you’re asking to represent the whole album, whether it represents the events of a day, or a year, or a life. What do you pick as that photo? Why? The why is more interesting than the what, and probably more consistent. Perhaps it’s signature moment that stands bold in your memory, or perhaps it’s your favorite cousin; maybe it’s something funny, but it’s always unique to the person putting that album together.

figgy Consultant 0817 -sm

Case in point: last night’s wedding, with the hordes of people; I spent a good portion of the night alternating between lamenting the loss of what felt like my right hand — the E-1 — and chasing after figgy, who wanted to ascend the dais to the head table, or run around under the waiters’ feet, or break into the chocolate that was left on each plate as favors. All the while, she would want to be either held or shielded from strangers. And yet as the night wore on and we greeted more and more of my relatives with hugs she would start to throw her arms wide for a hug of her own. This was capped off by the bride and groom’s entrance, set to clapping and stomping; once they were seated figgy made her way up to the front and, unprompted, opened wide to hug the bride. Yeah. Signature moment for me.