Well, the wild rice thing didn’t pan out, because the guy who was going to take me was too busy building a workshed. But to make up for not having any pictures of what it looks like to go ricing, I’ve got another random little thing.
My cousin Katie keeps a blog (and may in fact be the only other person I know who’s still using a trusty old Blogspot blog even though the technology behind it is an unholy sixteen-year-old mess of unmodernizable code), and has somewhere stumbled upon the “Blogtember Challenge”, put on by another blogger named Bailey: Bailey posts a prompt for each day of September, and people who are doing the challenge respond to it, and there you go, a month full of blog posts. But I’m really only interested in one, because I thought it sounded fun:
“Put your iTunes/music player on shuffle and share the first 10 songs that play.”
It turns out that I have a lot of music I haven’t gotten around to listening to yet, so I decided it’d make more sense to share the first ten songs I actually recognize, whether or not they’re embarrassing.
The Mariner’s Revenge Song
The Decemberists, from Picaresque
Well, we’re off to a good start: an 8½-minute long ballad of revenge on the high seas in the olden days, told with Colin Meloy’s classic slightly overblown but incredibly satisfying lyrics.
Suo (or Marshland)
Loituma, from Things of Beauty
From the same people who brought you the infamous “Ieva’s Polka” that I memorized during the hours I was bored in freshman high school biology, it’s a much calmer, more mysterious, even ominous song.
Fortune Plango Vulnera
Carl Orff, from Carmina Burana
Whether or not you know it, you’ve heard the first song in this opera, “O Fortuna”. What you might not know is that it’s only one of twenty-five straight songs that all kick nearly as much ass. If you’ve never listened to the whole opera, do it; it will make your life permanently and measurably better.
Isaac Albéniz, from Suite española
I don’t know nearly as much about this one as the others. Someone gave me the entire Suite española once, and I’ve listened to it occasionally since then, and I like it. That’s all I’ve got for you.
Aphex Twin, from drukqs
I’ve only just listened to my first bit of Aphex Twin. It’s disorienting, chaotic stuff, and thus I love it. I also really appreciate that every song on this album is named with Welsh-esque semi-nonsense. Others include: “jynweythek ylow”, “kladfvgbung micshk”, “54 cymru beats”, “prep gwarlek 36”, and “hy a scullyas lyf adhagrow”.
Even the Good Wood Gone
Why?, from Eskimo Snow
Not a lot of bands would think of writing a song told from the viewpoint of a mummified pharaoh. Why? has some of my favorite lyrics ever, and their alliteration and assonance is awesome, like in “The Fall of Mr. Fifths”:
[…] this Christmas, is this twisted?
Why be upset?
I never said I didn’t have syphilis, Miss Listless
Hard like the bricks that I pound my fists with
I mean she’s hard like the bricks that I pound with my fists.
Variation No. 23
Rachmaninoff, from Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
You can’t really separate this variation from the other 23 that make up the rhapsody, but that’s how it is in the recording I have. I don’t know much about Rachmaninoff in general, but one fun fact is this: Eric Carmen based “All by Myself” heavily on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (especially the second movement, starting 11:23). He thought it was in the public domain, but after he released it he got a call from the estate of Rachmaninoff, and had to pay up big-time.
Number Seven and a Half
In This Temple, As in the Hearts of Man for Whom He Saved the Earth
Sufjan Stevens, from Illinois
A 35-second transition song can hardly count as a whole song, even if it comes from a seriously fun album.
Drinking Song of a Germinating Seed
Jayber Crow, from Two Short Stories
These two guys came to play a little show at my college in a little town in Iowa, and if they hadn’t, I would never have heard of them. They belonged in a little town in Iowa more than any other band I saw there. They sing songs about the Midwest—the farms struggling to find a new generation of farmers, the Rust Belt cities, the forests and fields—and a lot of their songs are like nature itself pointing out little moments.
Alexi Murdoch, from Time without Consequence
I never took that much of a shine to this one, for no really good reason. I think it’s just too clean and smooth for me.
Number Ten (and the last)
Color in Your Cheeks
The Mountain Goats, from All Hail West Texas
Yes! The Mountain Goats made it onto the list! John Darnielle looks like a respectable, normal, middle-aged guy, but he has some stories that you don’t tell to children. He’s been addicted to meth, worked in a psychiatric hospital, and had an abusive stepfather, and he came out the other end of all that writing songs with the most consistently intense lyrics of any songwriter I know of. This one doesn’t get deep into hard life, but in a flophouse like the one he’s telling about, those realms are never far off, and you can tell. I recommend the Mountain Goats unequivocally.
So there you go. They actually turned out to be mostly awesome, and in fact they’re a pretty good representation of the kinds of stuff I like to listen to. So I hope you listen to them, and maybe even like them. I don’t have a concluding thought here except that I just think that would be swell.