Category Archives: Music

Only One Choice

Sitting, keeping the idiot box off, listening to a favorite playlist with the really nice headphones on, dealing with a bit of old, familiar pain, more of a bit of discomfort really but always with that threat of having it explode into agony, but it probably won’t and I’ll just be sitting uneasy for a day or two.

Great, just in time for that three-day weekend that I so desperately need.

Juggling, lots of unresolved, low-level fears and angers, disturbances, trust issues, uncertainties, trying to figure if there’ some gaslighting going on or if I’m simply going batshit crazy at last, thinking about how unfair it’s going to be if it’s hallucinations and losing my grip when it’s not the good hallucinations, the ones with the karmic out-of-body experiences and multi-dimensional, mind-blowing colors and sounds and sensations, but instead getting the grey, boring ones that are like that last fifteen minutes of stolen sleep before you really have to get out of bed but all your stupid, stupid brain can spit out are endless anxiety dreams where you can’t get some boring accounting journal to balance.

Physical discomfort, mentally off-balance a bit, all leading to a headache that I could really have done without, especially when I’ve already taken Extra Strength Excedrin and can’t take any more so I’m just going to have to suck it up and keep breathing.

The playlist spins. Garth Brooks. ‘Til Tuesday. Linkin Park. The Eagles.

“Life In The Fast Lane.”

Only one choice.

Fuck the headache, it will be there either way. Hit the volume and see if the really nice headphones can take it to eleven.

Then play it again. Just because.

Lower the volume as it fades. Move on. Still breathing.

Got a website article to write for tonight.

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He May Rotten, But He May Be Right

Mood.

Anger is an energy.

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Punk Roots (Part Two)

(Note – I link to a bunch of videos here. Take your time. Watch them. Let me take you on a little musical trip. Enjoy!)

It’s 1978. Maybe early 1979.

I’m in college at UC Irvine. No scholarships for me, and no assistance from parents or anyone else, so I’m working full time to get through school. With classes during the day, I needed something that gave me the ability to work around that schedule. Which is why I worked for Marriott, first with swing shifts (some real shitty, entry level, minimum wage jobs, “moving up” to room service at about $3.10/hour) and then ended up on graveyard shift.

The graveyard job was night audit. This was not the computerized, automated, “babysit the front desk and check in people in the middle of the night” job that it is now. No computers at all, everything done on paper, by hand, with nothing fancier than a desk calculator. For a hotel with several hundred rooms plus lots of banquet space plus four restaurants, this meant at least three of us most nights.

It was work that taught me how to do the accounting equivalent of “M*A*S*H”‘s “meatball surgery.” I was a physics major with some computer programming (FORTRAN, LISP, assembly) thrown in, not business or accounting. (For the record, this proved invaluable after graduation and for the forty years since. I started writing computer programs for accounting, then ended up as a corporate Controller and now a Director of Finance. Physics, on the other hand – not so much.)

But it was truly drudge work. Boring. Slow. Boring. Tedious. Boring. Methodical. Boring. Routine. Detailed. And did I mention “boring?” Needless to say, “boring” is not necessarily a good thing when you’re working graveyard shift. Especially when you’ve had classes all day, crammed in a couple of hours of homework and studying, and only gotten four or five hours of sleep. (Ah, youth!) They also usually turned off the air conditioning, so it was always warm and stuffy.

Warm. Bored. Exhausted.

Anything that could help keep us from falling asleep at work was welcome.

There was some relief. They allowed us to have a radio in the office behind the front desk where we worked. But in the late 70’s, there were very limited options for late-night radio, even in Los Angeles. (Pre CDs, pre digitial, pre iPhone [hell, over ten years pre cell phone, period!] – does anyone have a cassette?) If you’re trying to stay awake, K-RTH 101 playing the Beach Boys doesn’t do much for you.

Then one night…

One night one of the guys (it was all guys except for a brief stint with a woman, which was led to a completely different nightmare) came in, very excited about a radio station he had found. It was called KROQ and we could just about pick it up on FM if conditions were right. It had a weak signal, low power, and they either kept losing their license and going off the air for a while or they were being threatened with losing it).

They were playing the most bizarre music any of us had ever heard.

Something called “punk.”

X. The B-52s. The Knack. Tonio K. (“Life In The Foodchain” is still an all-time favorite album!) Joe Jackson. The Clash. Boomtown Rats. Buzzcocks. Joy Division. Talking Heads. Public Image, Ltd. Elvis Costello. The Buggles. The Police. Blondie. Ian Drury. The Ramones. Devo. Morrisey.

Songs with titles like “Beat On The Brat,” “Hatred,” “Psycho Killer,” “I Want To Be Sedated,” “Warm Leatherette,” and “T.V.O.D.” (Go ahead, watch those last two from The Normal. Heads up – they’re anything but normal.)

THAT’s music that will keep you up at 3AM while reconciling restaurant sales in 90°F temps on four hours sleep!!

A lot of what they were playing was actually banned, which is why they kept having their license threatened. There were obscenities in it. There was sex. (Remember that I mentioned “88 Lines About 44 Women” by The Nails? They played the unedited version.) There were taboo subjects.

I’ll never forget that the Boomtown Rats had a song called “I Don’t Like Mondays” about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego. (For those of you not familiar with ancient history, this was long ago enough so that people were actually shocked and horrified by a schoolyard being shot up and kids and teachers killed.) It had been banned everywhere – but KROQ played it.

It was glorious. I loved it.

My boss – not so much. He allowed it, but on nights I wasn’t there they listened to something else. But turnover in that job was high, it was tough getting good help, it was really tough getting anyone who wouldn’t be gone in six months (or less), so I got to listen to punk on KROQ and get his, “What is this crap you’re listening to?!” comments.

Until 1980 when he heard “The Wait” by The Pretenders. (See, you knew that eventually I would get back to this, which I got reminded of last night.) That angry, in-your-face chanting and ranting, borderline gibberish just cracked him up for some reason. It was the funniest thing he had ever heard in his life. He truly had no idea what crap he was listening to, but he liked it.

It didn’t hurt that he had seen a picture of Chrissie Hynde at some point and was deeply in lust with her. (I was a bit obsessed at the time with Debbie Harry of Blondie and would have crossed oceans and climbed mountains to be with Pat Benatar, so who am I to judge? Damn, those eyes… plus ça change…)

So that’s where my head goes when I find a new Sirius/XM channel of punk/alternative/new wave music and they smack me in the face with great music from forty years ago. I’ll be listening to my music of my early twenties to ease the stress of today in my early sixties.

At least, until the next time I go off on a “Hamilton” binge. Or Jean Michel Jarre. Or The Eagles. Or…

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Punk Roots

I’ve spoken of my pretty wide-ranging musical tastes, everything from rock to classical to musicals to country to EDM to… You get the idea. I think I’ve got stuff in my playlist from just about everything except gospel. (One must maintain certain standards!)

I’ve also mentioned Sirius/XM’s “First Wave” channel playing all of the punk and alternative music of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Ramones. X. Frank Zappa, Depeche Mode. Pet Shop Boys. Duran Duran. Eurythmics. New Order. The Cure. Blondie. The Go-gos. In particular, I’ve mentioned their “Saturday Night Safety Dance,” an eight-hour show every Saturday night where they play all of the long remix cuts from the dance clubs of the day.

I’m a huge fan.

Now Sirius/XM has added to their app and online programming a hundred or so “special channels.” These are similar to the regular, satellite broadcast channels, but without DJs and with a subset of the big channels selections. A “workout” mix of upbeat songs, an “electronic” mix, a “British” mix, etc.

There’s a “First Wave Party” channel now that’s pretty much the Saturday Night Safety Dance 24/7/365. This might have made my day!

So on go the really good headphones, up goes the volume, and let’s see what’s on…

The first song up was “88 Lines About 44 Women” by The Nails, one of my ALL. TIME. FAVORITES. I think they knew I was coming.

And next was “The Wait” by The Pretenders. Which might not be my favorite song, but has a lot of memories associated with it. It took me right back to when I first got hooked hard on punk and alternative music. At the time I was…

Wait. It’s late. Maybe I’ll tell that story tomorrow.

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Headphone Quest – I Think We Have A Winner!

I’ve blathered on a couple of times recently about my quest to find some decent earbuds or headphones. Thanks to a suggestion from my son who was visiting last weekend, I think we have a winner!

He had a really, REALLY good pair of Bluetooth, noise cancelling, over-the-ear, full sized headphones. So I grabbed a pair.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Not cheap. Worth. Every. Freakin’. Penny!

They’re light. I’ve been wearing them for three or four hours and except for the amazing sounds filling my head, I can barely tell they’re on. And given that they’re sitting on top of my head and completely covering my ears, they’re not constantly slipping out and changing the sound and having to be pushed back in like most of the earbuds that I’ve tried.

I can see wearing these while I run, as long as it’s not raining. I don’t think they’re built for that.

They’re supposed to last for over 20 hours on a full charge and recharge in under two hours, so that’s not going to be an issue.

They have the Google Assistant built in and a mike so I can take phone calls if I wish on them. Or I can push the button and ask for weather, news, make appointments, set reminders, and so on.

All of that’s nice. But the sound…

OH!

MY!!

GOD!!!

I’ve been at concerts where I was literally in the first dozen rows. Except for those experiences, this is the best I’ve ever heard.

I knew from trying out my son’s pair that I was going to like it. So I’ve hit the “Greatest Hits” list hard.

Hamilton. Brad Paisley. Jethro Tull. Dvorak’s New World Symphony 4th movement. Jean Michel Jarre!

It’s all of the “PLAY IT LOUD!!!” stuff. Jarre’s “Oxygene 11” or “Chronologie 2” or Supertramp’s “Child of Vision” or Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullabye” or Hamilton’s “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” With these headphones they’ll bring on tears of joy.

As I said, not cheap. (And they’re my first noise cancelling headphones, so it’s still a little odd to not hear the keyboard as I’m typing.) But if you want to listen to music while you work and you need to be wandering around, or you need some really good workout or running headphones (assuming that sweating hard doesn’t kill them – have to watch out for that), these are SPECTACULAR!

Highly recommended. Finest kind.

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Too Exhausted For Angry Music

Anger is an energy, but as Captain Christopher Pike taught us, you can only sustain anger for so long. While last night was a night for angry music, tonight I just didn’t have the energy to spare.

Annie Lennox’s “Diva” was the fare that fit the bill. Except for that one weird “Roaring 20’s style” thing on the last track, it’s a wonderful, wonderful album.

Listen to the words of “Little Bird”

For I am just a troubled soul
Who’s weighted
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay my burden down

One foot in front of another.

If you fall, get up.

No cavalry coming.

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An Angry Music Night

Time for some Linkin Park tonight.

The Pink Floyd and Brad Paisley just aren’t cutting it. “Hamilton” would be great, as would some Jean Michel Jarre, but they both require more active brain cells than I can spare tonight.

The raw emotions in “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora” are just what the doctor ordered.

Maybe I’ll finish off by putting the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready To Make Nice” on repeat.

It might be time to cut back on the political news.

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