30 Day Song Challenge - Day 8 A Song That You Know All The Words To*
This felt like almost a cliche to put up here. Everyone who like rap knows all the words to Nothin’ but a G Thang- hell, lot of people that don’t like rap know all the words to it**. It’s undoubtedly a classic, but it sits up there somewhere between Juicy and Summertime as songs so solidly classic, that they transcend Hip-Jop’s reluctance to look backwards, and have been played to death in every club, on every hip hop station, and out of every car window for the last decade. I would love to see a figure for the amount of times this video has been posted on tumblr in the last 6 months alone.
But for me this is where it started. I can still remember being 11 and seeing this video on MTV for the first time. I’m not sure I had ever liked music as much or the same way that I did this song. From the smoothed out funk sounds ( Parliament, Prince & Morris Day were in heavy rotation on our cassette deck at home) to the neighborhood shown setting (We lived just an hour south of the video’s Los Angeles location) to the familiar sites of cookouts and classic cars this seemed to arrive from a world I didn’t understand but instantly related to. It would be a while before I would learn and understand the lyrics, and I would develop a much more complicated relationship with and appreciation for this song, and hip-hop in general. But I can still trace it all back to that particular moment of hearing and seeing this video for the first time. Now, nearly 20 years later, you can call it overplayed but you can’t deny it’s status as a true classic song.
* Right off the bat- I never said that the 30 days were gonna be consecutive - I will try to keep from such long interruptions again though.
** or at least think they do- there’s few thing funnier than the drunk dude at the karaoke bar getting up to do this song and realizing that, even at a lazy California pace, rapping is really fucking hard….
30 Day Song Challenge - Day 7 A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event
Cheap whiskey, torrential rain pour, the new three six mafia CD purchased that day from target blasting on the stereo, and myself, Selina and Taryn driving way to fast on icy roads trying to find a parking spot to go to Whiskey Bar against anyones best judgement. It’s a brief, and mostly inconsequential memory- I don’t remember the night we spent at the bar standing out all that much- but one that’s stayed with me as a highlight from my first few years living in Austin. Stay Fly till we Die….
30 Day Song Challenge - Day 6 A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere
Is there anything better than a good Summer Jam? Not just while you’re enjoying the season, but as the soundtrack to all of the rose colored memories. Summer of 2003 was during an 8 month road trip through the south, that culminated with couple months living and partying in Richmond VA. Richmond’s way to fun of a town, much like Austin in it’s capacity for stealing your ambition and replacing it with a tall can and a bowl. Also like Austin, summers a big deal whether you go to school or not, due to the huge impact the university has on the day to day life there. During summer, the locals take control of the city, and the intense feelings of neighborhood are palatable where ever you go. Nearly every night is a bbq, or a party, from tiny gatherings, to huge blowouts. And everywhere we went it seemed, everyone had forgone the usual tapes and records for the sweet summer jams of the local Rap radio station.
At least that’s how I remember it, because that’s what summer memories are for- pushing out the shitty or boring times, and instead turning those hot months into a huge montage of beers, bbq’s and pool parties, all soundtracked by the same few songs you hear pouring out of every club, car and boombox.
30 Day Song Challenge - Day 5 A Song That Reminds You of Someone
My dad rules. I had a really rough relationship with my parents growing up- none of us were particularly good at our roles, but my dad is one of the most stand up, well principled, good hearted human beings I know. He’s also one of the coolest. I was born in 81’ in San Francisco because my dad played in an Elvis Costello-esque anglophile band there, playing on the same stages as California up and comers such as the Dead Kennedys and The Weirdos. He’s who introduced me to everything cool music wise, from Bowie and Iggy and Lou, to the Ramones, to George Clinton. He bought me Transformer as my first CD, and Flipper’s Generic record as my first piece of vinyl. One of my first musical memories was singing along to him playing Message to Rudy.
When just the two of us lived together (I was about six), he would play random weird songs he thought I would like- now I recognize it was him seeking out the places where his mostly inappropriate music, and my six year old short attention span would meet. One of these that stuck was the was (not was) weirdo jam “Hello Dad I’m in Jail”. I’m sure he got no small amount of enjoyment of seeing his son wander around repeating the refrain to strangers, and I just liked how goofy and strange it sounded. Now whenever I hear it it reminds me of him- thankfully not because of the lyrics themselves.
Oh yeah- It’s my Dad’s birthday today, which is why I held off a day to post this. Happy birthday pops.
The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 4 – A Song That Makes You Sad
Sadness is always most affecting to me when it’s paired with hope. Bleakness without the possibility of redemption or purpose usually is too desensitizing after a while to maintain the same strong reaction it evokes early from me early on. Jon Brion is ridiculously good at finding that balance for his film scores ( and often his solo work ) injecting a kind of peace and comfort into very dark emotional places that really resonates with me, long after hearing the songs or seeing their accompanying films.
Such was the case for “Little Person”, from the Synecdoche, New York soundtrack. It featured prominently in the trailer, and had me hooked far before the movies release..I watched the trailer over and over, then downloaded the song as soon as I could. When I finally saw the film, it absolutely reinforced all of the emotional themes I had found so affecting.
If I’m leaving out why it makes me feel how it does, or what it means to me, I guess that the things I find the most emotionally moving are the ones that manage to convey an emotional response I don’t find easy or even possible to put into words… a simple “makes me sad” will just have to do.
• A side note- I didn’t do any posts on the weekends, I think I’m probably keep this 30 day thing weekdays only… people only read these things when should be working anyway, right?
• A side, side note- Mayer Hawthorne does a perfectly serviceable , if a bit blandly upbeat cover of Little Person … it’s my least favorite thing on what’s otherwise a very solid covers ep
The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 3 – A Song That Makes You Happy
I grew up in southern California and live in Texas now, so though I’m a life-long non driver - I’m no stranger to old-school car culture and the songs about it. Classic cars provide a near blank canvas of paint combinations, accessories and modifications that’s only creatively surpassed by the language created to describe it in detail.
As Devin the Dude’s known for his ability to turn a phrase like no other, and hails from Houston, it’s no surprise that he’s responsible for one of my favorite car songs of all time. Of course since it’s Devin we’re talking about, Lacville ‘79’s far from your average candy paint and wood grain bragging session. Instead Dude details what poor condition his Caddy is in, from the hole addled muffler to the passenger window not rolling up, just to tell us he doesn’t give a fuck- he’s riding around with “no inspection sticker. Drankin liquor Smokin swisha” going “47 in a 55”.
The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 2 – Your Least Favorite Song
If the challenge to picking yesterday’s song was rooted in specificity, today’s seems the opposite. There’s tons and tons of songs and artists that I don’t care for, but I don’t engage with them much more than that. I’m just not one of those people that gets riled about about an annoying song much past wanting to turn it off. Sure some offend worse then other’s- I have a particular dislike of college-y blandess , but overall it seems arbitrary to pick one particular song unless it has personally offended me in some way.
If you are my age then you may remember a pre rock-opera Green Day that wasn’t U2 with power chords and bleached spiky hair. You may remember a band that found a national audience by playing the Buzzcock’s worshipping pop punk that their berkley scene was known for, just maybe a little more polished. You may of even debated whether they sold out when they left Lookout for Reprise, or played Woodstock 94 or whether it redeemed them a little when they had the Queercore band Pansy Division open for them on their first super MTV star tour. Looking back though, they were a great slice of a really cool local punk scene that made it bigger then anyone expected without compromising too much sound wise (at the time), even if they did help sell a bunch of Manic Panic on the way.
Apparently “Time of Your Life” was written not too long after Dookie, and was originally more hard edged- and maybe that version is more bearable. That version however was not the version that I had to suffer through as a cue to emote in every “monumental” event from my high school graduation to the requisite coming of age sequence in a shitty movie to many a overwrought iphoto slideshow. This kind of canned sentimentality seems so antithetical to the earnest appeal of their work prior its impossible to see it any other way than in a first step on a journey that would leave the band gross, bloated, and broadway bound.
I could say that I was waiting for them to be done to start, but to be honest it was this the first category- your favorite song, that had me putting it off. That’s a huge question, and one I felt like I just really didn’t have an answer too. I’ve always said that Aeroplane Over the Sea is my favorite record, but it’s the record as a singular thing that makes me view it with such high regard. “Intl. Players Anthem” come’s pretty close- it’s pretty much a perfect song that I listen to near daily, but somehow I couldn’t commit to it as my All Time Single Favorite Song.
Then I thought of the one song thats given me goosebumps every time I’ve heard it since I was a little kid. From Ray Charles' to Billie Holiday’s to James Brown’s (I could goon andon) take on “Georgia on My Mind”, the song itself shines through, past the performances, capturing a sweet kind of longing and sadness that can seems just big enough for a state. It’s no surprise that as a California boy who has long had an infatuation with the american south that I’ve always loved this song - but ultimately it’s the that sense of sad nostalgia and not the subject itself that moves me every time I hear it play.