Saturday, October 21, 2017

Discography Year Two - Week 7

Amazingly, we've already reached the seventh week of the second year of our Discography music discussion, which also means that it's our first thematic week. The theme, as laid out in far too much detail in Week 5, is what song you would donate to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia.  Now, this could be a classic breakup song, or it could be that one song which is inexplicably hanging around, like some leftover artifact from an ex-lover, that you really should have gotten rid of a long time ago.  If nothing else, we will all feel much spiritually lighter after this week.

Kevin Andrews

The tree loves the ax… how much time do we have? My entry into the Museum of Broken Relationships is Essence by (you guessed it) Lucinda Williams, the patron saint of broken relationships. The (highly condensed) back story: I was in a relationship for five or six years with someone who lived about 4 hours away, she was/is a devout devotee of Ms. Williams and soon I became one too. One random Saturday we were driving around doing Saturday things and at one stop this song came on as we parked. We sat in the parking lot listening. If you’re familiar with this song you know it’s one of her most passionate, almost graphic. Even the guitar solo is rated R. If you don’t blush listening to it you should see a doctor. The song ended and we went into the store. Nothing crazy here but we can say the Vice President would not have approved.

Fast forward a few years after the 4-hour drive became too much, ending the relationship. I stopped listening to LW altogether attempting to avoid the memories. Another random Saturday in the car with the new relationship (sorry if that sounds impersonal) and a LW song, Righteously if you’re curious - another song to blush to, comes on the radio. All the years of listening and shows and all that LW together stuff came flooding back to me in a flash. It took me a few minutes to become “present” again. I almost felt guilty for hearing her again. I was tempted to explain all of this to said new relationship but quickly realized this might not be a good idea. The flood passed I went back to denial. Epilogue: I can now listen to LW at will and am I’m still friends with previous relationship but not the latter.

Gary Beatrice

Happily married for 31 years, I don't have a break-up song. If I have one from a prior relationship I don't recall it. But I will play along.

My song would be short and would feature a hook that was catchy as hell. It would also end several of the vocals with a sound that strikes me as what a wolf would make if his paw was caught in a trap. Most importantly it would feature a pun around the best player in baseball history.

Now if only I'd been dumped by a Ruth.

Dave Wallace

Tom Petty - The Waiting

I know that Mike Kelly just selected this song a couple of weeks ago, but it was the first one that I thought of when Gary announced our theme for the week.  Plus, it always me to pick another Petty song.  I was dating my first serious girlfriend around the time that Petty released this song, and I completely related to it as we both headed off to separate colleges.  Of course, long-distance romances are usually doomed, and The Waiting proved more difficult for me than for her.  She quickly found a new beau, I did not.

Miranda Tavares

500 Miles to Memphis, Sunshine in a Shot Glass

Well, I struggled with this one. I have as idyllic a marriage as one can get in this imperfect world, and I am not one to hold onto things, so any anger/sadness/regret about past relationships has long since faded, and there just weren't any songs that I felt I could personally write about. I was going to do Long Black Veil, because holy crap, it's pretty much the Holy Grail of broken relationships. I mean, at least the vast majority of us get out alive. Then I was going to do 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, because there is nothing worse (for yourself, your partner, your friends, your family) than sticking it out in a relationship when you've mentally thrown in the towel. Then I was going to get all existential, because Gary didn't specify who the relationship had to be with, and do Slow It Down, about feeling like your relationship with yourself is ending. But then reason (and by that I mean Nate) prevailed (and by that I mean said, WTF, how can you NOT do this song?!). So I will quit pretending to be cerebral and talk honestly about my total lack of ability to cope. 

My long term coping skills are great. I can rationalize anything, I can forget painful memories, I can let go that which cannot be understood, I can remove myself from poisonous people, and I have amazing friends on whom I am not afraid to lean. All of these make getting over an ending relationship easier than a lot of people have it. But short term? There's only one. I drink.

I suppose there are worse things. After all, I don't just drink to deaden the senses; I drink to do something.  And because I am so busy lifting glass to lips, I don't have time to send regretful texts or emails (I don't drunk text), or stalk my ex, or slash tires, or burn belongings (or bridges), or cut up pictures, or any of the hundreds of stupid things people do when their hearts are breaking. I can say with certainty that if Nate left me tomorrow, I would not get plastic surgery, or have anonymous sex, or buy a sexy sports car, or even get a makeover. But I would get really drunk. And I would be drunk every night for several weeks, until some time had passed and my feelings were no longer too strong for me to bear feeling, and the urge to burn bridges had abated. 

Which brings me to Sunshine in a Shot Glass. All that that I just rambled on about in the above paragraph? They boil it down to just a couple of verses. 

Nate Bell

Trying to ease back into the blog, as my head has been devoid of song.  So, no well reasoned or erudite musing will be found here, but just a good song.  Well, 2, technically.

The Mississippi Sheiks, Sittin' on Top of the World

Since the theme (I am told) was relationships ended, or heartbreak, or some such, of course the best source for such songs is The Blues.  Old school blues.

I chose this one, "Sittin on Top of the World", as it speaks to that phase *after* the initial raging, sobbing and tears.  "Sittin' on Top of the World" speaks to that period where a person finds themself steeped in delusion, telling the world that "yes, I am indeed fine, never better!" ...and all the while the bitterness still seeps from the cracks in the facade.

The original by the Mississippi Sheiks is the undeniable best, but I also find that Jack White does a smash-up job of this song, and it too is worth a listen:

Phillip Seiler

The real challenge of this week's theme is not that I am blogging with my spouse but that we have been together so long, 29 years, that, if you do the math, that puts any of my possible song donations at 1988 or earlier. I think we can all agree that the 80s were a terrible time for music and while many will also note my love for this era and the many times I have already mined its depths for posts on discography, we live in an age when blatantly false declarations can be made with no resulting consequence to the hypocritic making them and who am I to buck the new normal? (But really, lyrically, the 80s were pretty bad) I did pull out an old mix tape from a former girlfriend and played it on my commute this week. Sadly, she had excellent taste in music and I refuse to give any of her selections away. And truth be told, we weren't together long enough for any of them to be especially meaningful in the context of our relationship. (One side note however, I was utterly delighted to once again hear a mix tape with the needle drops clearly and beautifully preserved. That is a nostalgia we can all get behind, I think.)

So, what to write about and donate to the Museum of Broken Relationships? I have decided to donate the song I most remember having to endure while consoling friends about their broken, early teen relationships. 

I hate Journey. I hate this song. I hate this video. (Don't @ me.)

With all that said, I remember this being the song that my friends turned to when everything fell apart in their late middle school, early high school relationships. Did they really believe that no matter how long it took, they would still be waiting for their lost partner? I suppose in those moments, they did. But we are older now and perhaps a bit wiser. We can actually go separate ways and it will be okay.  

Finally, I would like to contradict most everything else I have posted and say that I actually enjoyed hearing this song again and it wasn't as bad as I remember. (The video was worse though.) And I am thankful I grew up in a time when a bunch of guys this unattractive and with such terrible mustaches could actually get a recording contract and fill stadiums. Maybe the 80s weren't completely terrible. (Ron Howard's voice: They were.)

Alice Neiley

To be honest, I’ve only been in a handful of romantic relationships, only two of those lasted longer than a year, and one of those two is the relationship I’m currently in, so…I don’t have much to work with. On the other hand, the two ‘long-ish’ relationships before Karen were in my very early twenties, so the dramatics of heartbreak (especially evident in my musical choices) were in full swing.

For now, I’ll focus on one of those relationships, with two songs:

The first, “This Time” by John Legend, is a power ballad without the power, so essentially just the drama that the power leaves behind. 

It’s a song from the perspective of a regretful ex-lover, promising he won’t take his girl for granted this time, if she takes him back. This tune had just been released on Legend’s new album when my then girlfriend broke up with me, and I listened to it on repeat for weeks. Weeks. The melody, and especially those lyrics, were exactly what I wanted her to sing to me after she came back, asking for my forgiveness and telling me she didn’t mean it when she said my walk was “too dykey” for her taste. I won’t lie, if this one comes on the radio, I don’t change the station every time.

The second: “AwakeAgain” by Jake Newton (a much better tune than Legend's). 

So, did I mention this girlfriend was a (very pretty) singer songwriter? Did I mention she used to sing and play her guitar for me a lot? Yeah. Unfortunately, she was also quite selfish, sometimes mean, and very lost, but I ignored all that for just long enough to fall in love with her perfectly broody music and her beauty. Such is life. She sang/played this Jake Newton song for me early in our relationship, and it became one of ‘our’ songs somehow, even though we rarely listened to it together. In contrast to the first tune, this one never comes on the radio, and I avoid listening to it. Most of the time. As Scudder said in his description of this theme week—there’s always that occasional ‘tree loves the axe’ moment…;)

Cyndi Brandenburg

I am one of the lucky ones, because my past "broken" relationships are
mostly characterized by true connection, deep love, formative life
importance, and unfortunate bad timing.  With billions of people
wandering around planet earth simultaneously, I'd be a fool to ever
think that there is just one, and only one, love out there for me to
find. There are in fact innumerable possibilities, and in the course
of my life, I've had a good run of it as I've stumbled across some
amazing ones.

I met my first true love in high school, and we have remained friends
ever since. We managed to make that relationship last for a good long
time, and even persevered through some pretty significant geographic
distances our first year of college. (Well, there was that secret
mid-winter rendezvous that our parents never knew about, but I
digress).  The song that reminds me the most of our relationship, the
one that we actually called "our song" in a cheesy yet arguably
unconventional way, given typical teenage tastes of the early 1980s,
the one I will never be able to hear without all the accompanying
memory-laden associations, is I Will Be Here For You by Al Jarreau.

Then I went and broke up with this lovely guy my second year in
college, because I met my next big love. With my new one, I studied
abroad, travelled around Europe together in the most romantic of ways,
and despite his incredible musical talent and my complete lack
thereof, occasionally sang together in harmony.  In particular, I will
always remember lounging around together with a guitar on the floor of
his dorm room and working up a version of By My Side (Godspell)
We split a couple of years later, but
I'm sure a piece of my heart has managed to still stay right by his

The easiest thematic choice for this week's is probably the song I
binge-listened to after my love #3 abruptly broke off our engagement.
Hearts CAN be horribly broken. Who knew? My grandmother was right when
she told me,  "he just gave you the biggest gift of your life by
walking away from you now."  Of course, I didn't see it that way at
that time, but I did meet Bill pretty shortly thereafter, and as a
result of his immediate and steady rock presence in my life, I stopped
playing Sinead O'Connor's Last Day of Our Acquaintance on repeat for

Timing is everything. Life has a funny way of throwing you curve
balls, yet still working out pretty nicely.  When it's all over, said,
and done, maybe some obscure truth surrounding the inexplicable notion
of an inescapable "love of my life" will fully materialize.  I trust
that if it does, that person will magically follow me into the dark,
despite the odds, but either way, I know all THIS LIFE has been full
of lots of love and hopefully will end beautifully--as it should.

Kathy Seiler

For My FriendsBeth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

As you know, I’m married to another individual who contributes to this blog, and we’ve been together for 29 years (26 of those years married). So, a breakup song is in a very, very distant past for me.  If I were to post a theoretical breakup song related to marriage, I think the best one I could pick would be Burn from the Hamilton Soundtrack. But that's not the song I'm posting about this week.

My selection this week is as close to a broken relationship song as I can get that’s worth contributing. Perhaps you can think of it as the treatment needed to prevent a relationship’s permanent commemoration in the Museum of Broken Relationships. It could be lovers or just friends, of any gender identity in the pair, although I admit to envisioning this song applying best to “bromances.” That’s probably because it’s sung from a masculine point of view, ironically, by a woman.

Musically, this is blues-rock. Beth Hart’s voice is nothing short of a natural wonder to me, and I have a love/hate relationship with her vocals. She has one of the most powerful, gritty female voices I have ever heard. When I found out she was white, I was nothing less than totally shocked, as I assumed she was a woman of color when I first heard her sing. I don’t know if she gets that sound by smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels before lunch every day, but it sure does sound like that’s a possibility. I don’t know how she could keep a lung capacity like that and smoke, though.

Hart often collaborates with Joe Bonamassa, who is an amazing blues/rock guitarist I’ve posted songs from in last year’s Discography. His guitar riffs in this song match Hart’s voice perfectly, with the same sort of quality heard in her voice. The words, raw, jagged, and driving all come to mind. The video is from a live performance but Hart’s vocals are almost perfectly matched to what is on the album recording of the song, which speaks to her vocal abilities. I don’t know how she does that unusual vibrato, and I can’t decide if I like it or not. But it’s amazing.

The song is not complex in its lyrics, which speaks to how easy it is to stay friends with someone. When conflict arises, somebody has to say they are sorry, and that’s best done over a drink. Clearly the hardest part of this very simple fact that somebody has to swallow their pride. Easier said than done for most, I think, no matter what kind of relationship.

Dave Kelley

"Its chaos.  Be Kind"  Patton Oswall

 The above referenced line is from Patton Oswall's amazing new Netflix standup special "Annihilation" in which he is not only drop dead funny as usual but also spends at least 20 minutes discussing the unexpected death of his wife last year and how he is trying to deal with their young daughter's pain at the loss of her Mom.  He talks about the fact that while he is not overly religious he always believed that there is some sort of rational framework to the universe and existence.  His late wife disagreed and argued everything is chaos.  Just be kind.  He then points out she won the argument in the shittiest way possible.

I was raised in a very religious household but admit to a lot of doubt about the existence of any supreme being.  Literally no answer to that question would surprise me in the least.  There are several phrases, well intentioned though they are, that really always make my head want to explode:  "It is all part of God's plan." "Everything happens for a reason."  "It was meant to be."  I could not possibly disagree more with all of those clichés.  ( I totally respect the opinion of those who do trust in those things, because after all, this shit is unknowable.)   We can minimize or maximize or chances of health, success, prosperity, etc. by our actions, but if the die are cast and come up snake eyes, you are fucked, fucked you are.  Life presents us all with both good and bad opportunities, and how well we choose obviously has a huge impact on what happens.  I am not saying we have no control, I just believe that our control is limited.  Fate is not something that I believe in at the least.  The universe is not totally random just almost totally random.

One last thought on the above quote.  I love the inclusion of the words "be kind."  To me those words, other than being a concise statement about how we should conduct ourselves always, save the entire quote from being nihilistic.  I have no use for nihilism.

I hope no one is offended by that preamble. 

"You're Still Standing There"  Steve Earle/Lucinda Williams

Two of my favorite musicians team up on this classic song written by Earle.  There is someone who has never really been out of my life but who has drifted in and partially out over many years.  In my more naïve younger life I had some romantic notion that she eventually would drift in and stay in.  I now recognize that not only would that have probably not been a good thing, but also that nothing is fated to be.  My torch burned out many years ago on this situation, but the theme of the blog post when combined with the Patton Oswall show made me think of it. 

The music and the lyrics are fantastic, and the song also contains one of my favorite lines.  "Your memory cannot keep me warm, but it never leaves me cold."

Gary Scudder

Kathleen Edwards, Empty Threat

For a person who has had such a long, pathetic history of failure with women it's funny and/or amazing, but also completely appropriate, how many songs I associate with relationships: Neil Young's Winterlong and Cinnamon Girl, Lucinda Williams's Minneapolis and Those Three Days, the Cranberries' Linger, Kathleen Edwards's Summerlong, etc. Happily, although maybe also strangely, I've come to peace with these songs, and even with some of the women associated with them (although not all).  However, that's not true of every song, with a prime example being Empty Threat by Kathleen Edwards.  Everyone knows how much I love Edwards, but I can also say that Empty Threat would not make my top twenty list of her songs (although I do like it a lot).  Instead, it just captures a time in my life.  On the other side of the planet, and at a time (in my early 50s) when I thought I was past such foolishness, I fell in love with a lovely British girl (usually just referred to as the LBG).  We were engaged and she was going to move to Vermont, and we were actually well into the visa process, and then we were going to move to Hong Kong, and then it suddenly ended.  And in the end that's OK.  I think she had actually been unhappy, and more than she was letting on, for several months, and nobody, especially her, deserves to be unhappy.  Still, it just ended and she immediately disappeared and I never heard from her again.  I can create all sorts of narratives to explain the sudden end and the disappearance, but it doesn't really matter; and, anyway, we both were haunted by more ghosts than any two people should have to deal with.  The closest I ever came to hearing from her again was once on Facebook, and I'm not on FB very often so you have to understand how random this is, I saw a picture that her sister had posted; it was a picture of me photoshopped next to an actor from a bad horror movie.  She had linked the picture to a mutual friend with one of those "separated by birth" notes.  Now, to be fair, we did look a lot alike, but my initial response was that I had just become an inside joke about a foolish period in her sister's life (to be fair, the LBG never responded to the post, nor do I even know if she's on FB anymore).  I think we all want our ex-lovers to think of us gently, or at least to think of us occasionally.  For this reason my initial response to the picture - much like my response to Empty Threat for a long time - was just to feel gutted.  But here's the thing, we were together for a year and a half and I'm thankful for every stupid day we spent together. So, I just clicked Like and moved on, much like I've done with the song itself.  That said, I'll be quite content to leave it at the Museum.

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