Sunday, February 15, 2009

What I'm Listening To . . .

It's been a while since I rocked the musical establishment by sharing what's playing on my iPod and in my ears so . . . with the Grammys just a few days away (whooooooo cares?!) here is my latest playlist. Enjoy. Download responsibily. Etc.

1 - Morning Passages, Philip Glass - The Hours is one of my favorite movies. Ever. Not because it is beautiful or well acted or because it is a nice snapshot of how lives impact and echo each other in sometimes harmful ways. All of the above is true but it is not why I love the movie. I love the movie because it is profoundly sad. There is very little upbeat or positive in the movie. Death. Abandonment. Fears of death and abandonment. Suicide. AIDS. Clare Danes. It is just sad and allows you to be sad if you want to be and - when the movie came out - I was sad and I wanted to be sad. I bought the score because a) I love Philip Glass and b) I like to listen to sad music when I'm sad. The score took on a whole new meaning when Joy and I started dating (I would put the CD on while we hung out at my apartment, read tabloid magazines, ate bad snacks and made out) and I listen to it now with a sense of that irony . . . but I still love the movie, the score and the idea that sometimes you are sad. And that is okay. The world is not always going to prove itself to be beautiful and happy and positive (like one of my other favorite movie, The Goonies, might have you believe).

2 - Can I Stay, Ray LaMontagne - Here's what I know about Ray LaMontagne. The man can sing. And write songs. That is all I know. I don't know who he is or what his life is like or if he's happy or sad or a republican or a democrat. I don't know where he sits on politics or religion. I just know that I like his music and this song is one of my favorites. It's a very pretty song about just wanting to spend the night with someone . . . and to see them in the morning.

3 - My Hero, Foo Fighters - Two words for ya . . . Varsity Blues. Five more words. "I don't want yer-liiihf!" When the movie came out in 1999 we all piled on the metro and went to see little Dawson grow up and play some football. My dreams, like Dawson's (or whatever his character in the movie is) of a life at Brown were still very much "real" to me. I never "played" football in high school (I was on the team in 8th grade but I wouldn't exactly say I "played") and I never got the idea of drinking and partying and wilding out as a teenager (I really was a goody two-shoes for much of my youth) but this movie made we want to go back and give the rest of it a run. Thankfully - that shipped had sailed. Luckily, I get the Foo Fighters song as a back up. And, in my mind, this song cues up every time I walk by a stranger in the mall. I'm kidding. I don't want to be anyone's hero.

4 - My Girls, Animal Collective - Here's what I can gather . . . Animal Collective fans are "cool". They work at law firms, but don't want to. They are artists, who work in graphic design to keep the lights on. They wear patch pants. They detest Starbucks - but their $4/cup "mom and pop" coffee shop of course is just fine. They are thinkers. They are movers. They are shakers. They may be recreational drug users. NO matter. I'm not an Animal Collective fan. I love the song My Girls though. And I love my girls. And I've been to Merriwether Post Pavilion. That must give me some "cred" in the Animal Collective community.

5 - Crack a Bottle, Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent - I'm mortified - MORTIFIED - to admit this but I am a fan of Eminem. NO matter how old, bald, husbandly and fatherly I get - makes me happy. I think it is because the world first met Slim Shady when Anything-but-Slim Sean was in his glory and Marshall Mathers just sort of spoke for both of us. I don't like what Eminem has to say about his mom or his ex-wife (wife again?) or women in general but I like that he is who he is and he's just plain fine with that. I have long since stopped drinking. I haven't smoked anything in years. I no longer enjoy bar hopping or partying in general. I hope to never return to any of the above behavoirs but I will always have my old Eminem CDs (and the new one) to remind me of all the fun I had when I was the man (child?) I was when Eminem spoke for both of us.

6 - Yellow, Jem - It wouldn't be a Sean mix if there wasn't some Coldplay on it (or something inspired by Coldplay) and this list is no exception. I'm usually not a fan of the remake - although my favorite "Please God Go To Sleep, Ava" lullaby CD is Rockabye Baby's Coldplay album (you can also get a Rockabye Baby album covering just about any artists you've ever liked - and hoped your kid would like too) - but this version of Yellow is just very pretty. I still don't know if I really understand what "yellow" means in the Coldplay context. I think it is meant to be cowardly and then I think it is meant to be peaceful and then I think it is meant to be just a placeholder for another word and then I think it is actually about being bathed in a shade of the color. Regardless - pretty song. The original and this remake.

7 - Just Dance, Lady GaGa - I know. This song is written for the club set and the pop music set. It is not meant for 32 year old heterosexual men. I know. I know. But you have to love a song that starts with the lyrics "On red wine" and then continues to talk about how you've lost your keys and your phone, you don't know where you are or what's going on and you are not entirely sure you are even in control of yourself but . . . life is going to be alright so long as the music stays good. It reminds me a bit of the life I lived before surgery. I was not sure how long it would last or what would ever come of me or if I had any real happiness ahead of me but - as long as I was dancing along and avoiding thinking about the reality that awaited me . . . it was all very "dancable".

8 - Last Words, The Real Tuesday Weld - Joy bought me Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist for part of my Valentine's Day gift. This is my favorite song of a soundtrack I really enjoy to a movie that I really enjoyed. I don't think this song has anything to do with anything in my life (past or present) but . . . a good song none the less. Sometimes - even for me - music is just about music.

9 - Let It Be, The Beatles - (NOTE - The Beatles are still not available on iTunes so the above link is to a live, McCartney-only version of the song). I would LOVE to pretend that I have an OUNCE of easy-going, come-what-may ease in my body. An ounce. Just one. I wish I could let anything just "go" or just sort of be in the moment and just understand that I will eventually see the wisdom and the benefit in every little thing that happens to me in the here-and-now. I do. I know other people around me (my wife, my co-workers, my friends, etc.) would love to see that change in my personality. I am not that guy though. Have never been. Might never be. Don't know if I want to be. I don't have to be. Paul and John are my zenful glib guys.

10 - I Keep Faith, Billy Bragg - Joy and I have often struggled with people getting "us". We are both very strong personalities. Ava is already showing herself to be even stronger than the two of us had ever dreamed she might be. Strong personalities have a tendancy to be . . . uh . . . misunderstood. People think that we are trying to be strong. Trying to influence or force other people to do our bidding or to follow our lead. Neither of us, from what I can tell, want to be "in charge" of others. We just want to be us. We want our shared life and, when appropriate, individual lives, to be on our terms and to our liking. We want people around us to respect that and to support that. We give people the same respect. We don't mind or criticize those that do things differently. We just want us to be us and to be happy in that. We're not afraid of the friction that comes out of that attitude. I think that is where the real stigma comes from - especially with me. Joy is, as I said, much more political than I am in her independence and positions. Anywho, this song makes me think of that attitude we share and how, on some days and moments, Joy has been the only person I felt was standing "by" me . . . even in those few occassions where even she thought I needed to just calm down and stop being so "me".

11 - Dusseldorf, Regina Spektor - No offense, Kansas, but I want to travel the world. And have fun doing it.

12 - Miss You, The Rolling Stones - I like the Rolling Stones and their take on missing people. I won't really dress it up or take it beyond that. There is something really "cool" in the way Mick and the boys lay out being alone and tortured over that.

13 - Love's Divine, Seal - When I waited on the altar/stage (we got married in a former church) for my lovely bride, I let Seal tell the story of how Joy and I both felt about each other - for as different as our previous lives and perspectives were - and the role love would have in our shared life moving forward. "Then the rainstorm came, over me. And I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see. And realized my mistake. But time threw a prayer, to me. And all around me became still." There are two versions of this song on Seal's greatest hits. The "original" version is great for happy times. The accoustic for sad. Choose your version accordingly.

14 - Less Than Strangers, Tracy Chapman - I take pause every year at about this time to think back to how crazy the months of January and February are in my life. So many things (good and bad) have happened in the "early months" of the year in the first 32 years of my life. NO more impactful than January and February of 2006. We found out about Ava in January. I got my IBM job in February. What happened around those months, and in the months to follow, really changed just about everything for me. I had a very dear friend that I lost in the transition of a new job, moving, preparing to become a dad and trying to really settle in to the life of a husband, father, provider. Three full years later I am still sad that I could lose 15 years of friendship in just a few months and only a handful of interactions. I did plenty of things wrong. I didn't do my part of being the best friend I can be. I only have myself to blame for my share in the fallout but - regardless - this song always makes me think about what happens when love goes away. It leaves you with very little to stay connected on.

15 - Forgiven, Alanis Morissette - I love this accoustic version of Forgiven. It is probably the most elegant "F you" letter I've ever seen written to a religious body - specifically the Catholic Church. She's not upset with God or with faith or with true belief - to be clear - she is okay with all of the above. It is the insititution she's not sure of. She's not sure of the way God is channeled through the church. The way hands are forced in the church. I share your discontent, Ms. Morissette.

16 - Friends in Low Places, Garth Brooks - I mean, really! How much fun is this song?! Not that any of my friends are associated with "low" places - most of them really do clean up quite nicely!

17 - Whatever, Gnarls Barkley - If you want to know what it is like to move from a life lived in the Northeast to Wichita and to take a job at an advertising agency where you are the stuck-out thumb that some people, even in an environment that both fosters and promotes indivudality and has lots over very smart and talented people who are all different and all brought together to intentionally create the "culture" of the agency, just didn't want to embrace only to - months and months later - see yourself fully embraced and "understood" and "welcomed" by the critics, the skeptics and the nay-sayers . . . take my word for the wonderful experience it can be. Or let Gnarls Barkley tell you how it felt. And how little I cared when I was not "fitting in" as well as I could have simply because I was (and is (are?)) me!

18 - Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and the News - This is to be clear to Joy. She sometimes wonders (or express concern - perhaps) that I am not 100% happy and fulfilled to be here in Wichita and in the life we are living. I guess all spouses worry about these things . . . I had doubts the whole time we were in Maryland and Connecticut (and somedays I worry here in Wichita too). Let me be clear . . . I am HAPPY to be "stuck" with you here, Pop Tart. You, me, Bids and the dog (why not) - as long as it is the four of us I don't care where we are or what we are doing. Okay! Okay!

19 - Comfortable, John Mayer - Not every song that I like is about my personal life or has any reference in my life. A good mix is not always about 100% "this song applies to me" so there is no reason to assume anything is wrong in the old Amore household when I am listening to a song about how unfortunate it is when you find your true love before you are ready for them. Truth is that I was not ready for my true love when I met her - but Joy's stayed patient with me ever since (insert gag here). Anyway - really well written song by a very talented (and polarizing (as noted by the eye rolls from the Mayer-haters out there reading this right now)) musician.

20 - She Loves Everybody, Chester French - You know what I was saying about Eminem? I feel the same exact way about Chester French. Not that they remind me of my youth but they have that energy in their music that I just enjoy . . . I'm sorry enough to admit it here but not nearly sorry enough to not listen to this song again and again and again. I can't WAIT for their CD.

21 - Someday (I Will Understand), Britney Spears - Yes. Correct. Britney Spears. On a Sean mix. It is true. I won't back down. Here is what happened . . . I was playing some music for Ava (Backyardigans, I think) on iTunes and we walked away for a few hours and came back and this song was playing and it reminded me of a mix CD I made for Joy when we were packing up to drive to Kansas for Ava's birth. Joy was finishing fimling on a movie she had been working on (long story) and I took a copy of the CD with me the for what was supposed to be a last childless weekend spent with my family. Long story short, I only stayed with my family for a few hours and I decided to head back to Bethel. It was a miserable afternoon (see #14 above) and I was left driving - tired, alone and in tears - for four hours when all I wanted was my wife to comfort me. I threw in the CD I had made her and this song came on and I just listened to it on repeat the whole way home. I understood. I got it. Thanks, Britney!