Thursday, December 30, 2010

Never Let You Go

When I was your age, kids, the radio played stuff that was worth listening to.  It was actually a regular part of my day and I heard a lot of it between 4:00 and 7:00 during my first wave of homework.  There were actual bands and they got actual airtime.  Some of this music could even be described as rock or alternative.  This is shocking, I know, and I'm showing my age.

Around the year 2000, there was one station in the Boston market that did a phenomenal job of playing these bands.  Tune into Mix 98.5 (WBMX) and you could hear (with some regularity) the Barenaked Ladies, Vertical Horizon, Third Eye Blind, Sister Hazel, and Matchbox Twenty.

Though the suits in the biz would clinically describe this music as "Modern Rock" and eventually "Modern Adult Contemporary", these bands were rock bands.  Sure, songs like "If You're Gone" and the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" would end up becoming shopping mall music staples--loved by moms everywhere--but the vast majority of singles and radio hits from these bands were enjoyable and made life a whole lot better in middle school.

Then something terrible happened.  Suddenly, radio stations were all up and changing their formats and crap (because, really, who listens to the radio anymore?) and Top 40 was everywhere.  The niche for a station that played rock songs with thoughtful lyrics and jangly guitars evaporated. Mix 98.5 went with this wave and a small part of me was lost on the day the music died (I believe the exact moment was the day that they played Madonna's "American Pie").

I decided, ten years on, to make a mix CD compiling my favorite songs from back in the day (8th grade, 9th grade, and 10th grade), and my track list is contained here.  I bypassed the obvious title choice ("The Mix Mix") as well as more accurate ones ("Buzz Ballads 3") for the blandest one imaginable ("The Mix 98.5 Throwback CD").


Everything You Want - Vertical Horizon
Slide - The Goo Goo Dolls
She's So High - Tal Bachman
Last Beautiful Girl - Matchbox Twenty
Change Your Mind - Sister Hazel
Absolutely (Story of a Girl) - Nine Days
You're a God - Vertical Horizon
Pinch Me - Barenaked Ladies
The Space Between - Dave Matthews Band
Bent - Matchbox Twenty
Broadway - The Goo Goo Dolls
If I Had $1,000,000 (live) - Barenaked Ladies
Never Let You Go - Third Eye Blind
Desert Rose - Sting
Sweetest Thing - U2
Drive - Incubus
Hanging by a Moment - Lifehouse
Save Me From Myself - Vertical Horizon
Ghost in the Crowd - Sister Hazel

- I had been mulling over this CD for some time, and repeatedly told my friend (a fellow listener and fan from back in the day) that I was about to make one.  We listened to this on the way into Boston last night and it was fantastic to hear these tracks again.  These songs were there and played loudly when I was finding myself, falling for the girl, getting over the girl, and discovering singing and writing.  They mean a lot to me.

- This is not a comprehensive cover of this period in music, but rather a conscious effort to compile my favorite songs from then (minus the extra slow or sad ones--"Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)" for example).  I didn't listen to Radiohead or the Foo Fighters then so they aren't there.  Also, after this phase, I more or less stopped listening to the radio and got a little too into classic rock.

- Considering that most of the tracks here have a "pop" vibe, I was surprised to recall the quality of the lyrics.  It was especially interesting to hear VH's "I've been unable to put you down/I'm still learning things I oughta know by now" and realize that, a decade later, I still feel that way.

- As a tenth grader, I was certain that if you sang "Slide" to any one girl, she'd have to fall in love with you and be yours forever. "Put your arms around me/What you feel is what you are and what you are is beautiful".  I'm still about 45% sure that this would work.

- "Never Let You Go" has appeared on pretty much every other mix CD I've ever made, and I can play a serviceable version on guitar at college parties when people have been drinking.  It's a dark horse for "Favorite Song from the Last 12 or 13 Years" (a category I just made up now).

- Except it might actually be "Falling For the First Time" from the Barenaked Ladies, which I cannot believe was left off.  Other notable omissions include "Semi-Charmed Life" (overexposure), "Mad Season" (forgot), "Kryptonite" (also forgot), and "All For You" (reminds me of my college a cappella group).  I think I would swap out "Desert Rose" and "Sweetest Thing" for "Kryptonite" and "Mad Season" because they better fit the vibe.

- I still love Matchbox Twenty.  Those songs hold up.

- The last two songs actually came out in 2009, and to my knowledge, have not been played on WBMX (which was coined to be the Black Music EXperience according to Wikipedia--surprise racism!).  I included these songs because both of those bands are still making great music, even if radio isn't listening.

- Also in the Where Are They Now category, Matchbox Twenty put out six new songs on 2007's retrospective Exile on Mainstream and they are pleasantly excellent.  I haven't heard BNL's latest album so I can't vouch for it, but Third Eye Blind still enjoys strong, sustained support from Providence, RI, among other places. It goes without saying that Sting, U2, and DMB are still active.

- I have no idea where Tal Bachman is, but I'm guessing his one hit got him the girl.  It had to.  She couldn't walk away from that.

- I like a lot of The Goo Goo Dolls' mainstream grab Dizzy Up The Girl, but hardly anything else they've done before or since.  I think this is strange and alarmingly conformist of me. Also, for the record, "Slide" blows "Iris" right out of the water. 

- Vertical Horizon's Matthew Scannell is a fantastic and underrated songwriter.

- "Change Your Mind" is definitely a song I need to hear more often.  Noted.

- Don't do a Google Image search for "Barenaked Ladies Pinch Me" if the filter isn't turned on.  Nothing good coming from that. Lesson learned.

I wish these bands got the airplay now that they did then, because there is something unifying about liking music that other people like, too.  Until then, I will refuse to listen to the "new" Mix 104.1 and work on "The Mix Mix Strikes Back" (or "Buzz Ballads 4").  Or maybe I'll just buy "NOW 2".

PS - If Nick Hornby and Stephen Chbosky co-wrote an article about music, it would sound exactly like this one.  If you understood that, color me impressed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#10 on the Top 10 Top 10 Lists of '10

The approach of New Year's Eve caters to two very distinct American values: 1) the promise of erasing (another) unfulfilling year with copious amounts of alcohol, and 2) the ability to relive condensed highlights of the past year in easy-to-manage list format.  The first value needs no elaboration, especially since you're a nursing major.  What's that, you say? You're not a nursing major? Well you're nursing that beer, so let's go already! Take off the skirt and man up, Grandma.

The second point is fascinating because many people today love to reminisce about things that just happened.  Clicking through another best of list from People Magazine or the like (usually titled, "Top 10 Celebrity Rebound Dates" or something) offers many opportunities for what I call the "Oh, yeah, remember that?" crowd.  Of course we remember that.  It was October.  Keep in mind, though, we were the generation who demanded I Love the 00's from VH1, and got it.

In the spirit of our short attention spans, another year-end Top 10 list!

TEN BEST BLOG ENTRIES (blentries?) OF 2010
  1. Dude, That's Nuts
  2. Moving Forward. Rapidly.
  3. Open Notes to the Springtime Revelers in the Park
  4. A Call to the Bullpen
  5. A Very Recentist List of One English Ed Grad Student's Fears
  6. An Open Letter to Cash-Only Bodegas
  7. A Can't-Miss Business Venture for All You Capitalists Out There with Flexible Morals
  8. Adventures in Education, Chapter 17
  9. Adventures in Education, Chapter 19
  10. Adventures in Education, Chapter 20 
Yup, I haven't written anything good since August.  Lists don't lie, you know.  Even this entry is shooting 1 over par. Here's to 2011, only the 24th time I have wished for a better year than the last.  Hey, this is like... 43 words in a row already!  The internerds are getting restless!  Better throw in another picture!

Your mind may be in the gutter, but Candice is thinking about my blog and hoping for the long rumored "Open Notes to People in the Greenwich Village Bar" entry.

Happy New Year to most of you.  For those who need it, here's a handy reference article for hangover cures. Note that the author digs deep for mind-blowing insight like "don't overdrink".  Also, I don't know for certain what a "drinking expert" is, exactly, but I'd be willing to bet that I know many and we party often.  Best of luck to y'all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facebook According to DF, Part 6

Dear Facebook,

The first step in fixing any problem is identifying the problem.  "Something" is not a specific problem.  If you do not know what went wrong, you cannot be fixing it.  Every time you display the following message, it just confirms that you don't care.

I appreciate that my choices here are "Okay" and... guess I'm okay with it, then.

Poking Around

I would like to thank Facebook, weight and measure of all things social and network, for confirming that I poked my friend Steve yesterday.  Even after asking if I was sure that I wanted to poke Steve.  While others rail on about profile page layouts and friendship pages, I find that it's still the simplest things that really, truly creep me out.  Thanks, Facebook.

On an unrelated note, this is blog post #200.  Pow.

I spent about two minutes on this.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Pennies Saved (which are pennies earned, of course)

As I procrastinate at Union Square's Barnes and Noble, which is something I cannot afford to do, I am sitting next to a fellow who apparently has trouble affording things as well.

Exhibit A: Prohibitively expensive materials.
This guy is using his iPhone to photograph recipes in cookbooks that he won't buy, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I mean, recipes really don't strike me as the best example of intellectual property, but this bistro burglar is just copying entire cookbooks wholesale. My mom occasionally photocopies a dish from a library cookbook (please don't tell on us), but she doesn't do it at the library. There's a pile of ten books and like four magazines here, and he's got every page! He's like The Pirate Bay of the kitchen.

Exhibit B: What a dirtbag!
I assume that his name is Albert, because it's written on his coffee cup (but by that logic, his name could also be "Made with 60% post-consumer waste"-and oh man, that would be awesome). Just watch out for this guy, ladies, because when he offers to cook dinner for your first date, it's not just because he's got a stack of recipes, but also because he doesn't like to pay for stuff. He can't take you on a harbor cruise, but if you'd like, he's got a great picture of one on his iPhone.

In a strange and coincidental turn of events, this is my first time blogging from my new iPod touch. I then took pictures of his stuff when he got up.  That is almost ironic.  Technology high five!

EXCITING FOLLOW-UP! Turns out "Albert", or "Post-Consumer Waste" , is not only too cheap to buy things, but he left all of the books (and his trash) for someone else to clean up!  Nice. Take that, B&N.  Apparently, customer service is not just limited to customers.  Before exiting, he checked out the Spirituality section (he'll need to redeem himself someday), the Newly Arrived section (in case there was something that he didn't get photos of last Sunday), and the Men's Interest section (too easy).  I would have and should have called him out publically, and by name, too.  Ideal Me would have done it.  Goshdarn propriety.