Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Back in the garage with my bullshit detector; Here in *my* bedroom...

Well, it's not "I Wanna Be Adored," but it's got me dazzled and dazed.

Just got back from the BLB, where they had 16 local songwriter/performers do songs they had
just written in the last 36 hours.It was fucking fantastic. There were very few clunkers (and even those were very entertaining at the very least) and the ones that shone, shone so fucking bright.The writers were given a topic: COFFEE. *sigh* Coffee–one of my favorite narcotics (I have several, you know...)

Most songs had some element of humor to them, and it totally *worked.*' The humor usually involved themes of addiction, too. Something that’s been mega-on-my-mind lately...anyway...

The audience members each got ballots and we were to vote on the best song (Jim and I just couldn’t, as pansy-ass as that might sound–they were all so fucking good.) Yep, that’s right–voting. For performers. On a Tuesday night. Yes, American Idol is what I’m getting at, and yes, that’s what Jim wanted to make a statement about (how much better it is when you’re watching people that created their own material, versus "pop star wannabes". Yes, yes, yes. BUT, in the Ladies, at work, I overheard the chicks chatter about how "Paris isn’t gonna make it," "That’s too bad, but she does always end up in the last places," "Oh, Chris is totally gonna win it!" And my tape is sitting on the coffee table waiting to be watched after I finish writing. But that’s neither here nor there....(it totally is, though).

The thought that just got me–from every musician–was how overwhelming music and language is for me. I realize it is the same for many other people, as well. I have just had those "holy-fucking-shit-there’s-a-lot-out-there-moments all throughout my life. That feeling is exaggerated when I see new live music, for sure. Just: what is out there...? In how many bedrooms and in how many garages in this city (how bout the world...how bout Manchester or Sheffield!) are there brilliant phrases being turned or beautiful, complex melodies being created? That scary thought: imagine all the brilliant and righteously creative songs that are written and that we will never hear. Just makes the stuff we are lucky enough to catch even that more precious.

As each person took the stage–all with their unique personalities, styles, deliveries–it overwhelmed me, but I was just so transported into their worlds, it was incredible. Couldn't stop that huge smile on my face the whole time.
Jim and I just couldn't get over how much we wanted these songs--all of them-- to be on a record. It seemed like they had more at stake; a lot of them talked about being nervous ("my pits are sweaty"), but they all were naturals.

Oh, and by the way, these fine men and women were:
Eva Mohn, Terry Eason, Ben Glaros, Chris Harrington, Luke Zimmerman, Sam Keenan, Patrik Tanner, Brad Senne, Martin Devaney, Ellis, Mike Brady, Tony Thomas, Future Lisa, Darin Wald, Todd Millenacker, Robert Meany and Chris Koza.

One very special bit of course was the fact that all these talents had to come up with the song they performed in 36 hours. That obviously adds this whole other element–pressure, urgency and makes it so very impressive. Just as fresh as it can get. I began to wonder those thoughts that "outsiders" (aka music journalists who are not musicians themselves) often have. [think "Almost Famous": "Do you have to be in love to write a love song?" kinda thing] Like: do they all have original melodies swirling in their heads all the time? Or do the have to plunk it out on the piano or guitar and find it first? Is there any truth to that whole Tori Amos and Neil Young thing—that songs "find them"and they just execute them? Are there certain lyrical themes and structures they continue to use will all songs–so they have a base with an odd "assignment" such as this...? These are the thoughts of a music nerd, people.

In any case, these songs about coffee, addiction, crushes, relationships, sex, driving and this city were *all* great fucking songs that I really, really wanna hear again. Undeniably melodic, catchy melodies. Some of the lyrics were just so brilliant, I had to jot ‘em down (so did this young girl, maybe 13 years old, sitting next to me. Look out world: more music nerds coming your way!)

* Patrik Tanner and his dead-pan delivery of his chorus: "I get my coffee liquored up/ then things don’t seem so bad."

* Mike Brady and his great Beck-like thing he has going on: "I’ve fallen in love with what I can make at home."

*Chris Harrington and his freaky-comedic "German Guy" routine with him at the drums and a little whirring coffee grinder as his musical statement.

* Martin Devaney and the song I said was the best one he ever wrote (he's best when he's funny). The fantastic line in the chorus: "We could just get coffee/ I don’t like you that much," that was delivered with such perfection, it surprised us– the entire audience audibly reacted with fitting laughter.

*The sexy-stunner of a line from Sam Keenan: "You don't have to feel bad/ it's whatever gets you up when you feel sad/ I know you like it like that." DA-YUM.

*Speaking of sexy, Eva Mohn brought some Natalie Portman-hot lil' cutie vibe to the stage with the hot-smart song about being a tea-drinking barrista,"My bachelor degree has rendered me/ fit to serve coffee."

*And, maybe the best of the night, Darin Wald of Big Ditch Road and his classy, subtle execution of: "The look you gave/ was stronger than anything your poured inside my cup." *Killer*.

Much of the humor and cleverness felt like Westerberg or Phair...must be something about coffee...

At one point, I looked over at Jim (when he was hootin’ and hollarin’ and giving deserved praise) and I thought, how amazing–he’s fucking seen it *all*. The early days of the ‘Mats, and everything since, and in between and he still has all that *joy*. Still goes to shows all the fucking time. He is so far from jaded or bitter or even just seen-it-all attitude, instead he still gets a total kick out of it all and makes great music own his own, as well.

Now, that’s not to say he or I don’t still have that critical ear. We do. I know people have thought I was an asshole for the "mean things" I have said or written about musicians (there was a certain record by a certain guy by the last name of Jennings, first name of Mason...). And, that bothered me a bit. It used to. I don’t care now. Now, it’s so different anyway. Since I don't write for money anymore, I don’t get craploads of shitty local or national bands I'm forced to write capsule reviews for. It’s better now. I get to rant and rave and riff on all the shit I love and it’s made me happier, gosh darn it. Heh.

In other news:
I have been walking home from work everyday now...Mostly it’s just an excuse to listen to music and enjoy the weather, but I hear walking is good for you, too...heh. Actually, my cool-as-hell co-worker, Betsy told me today: "I was thinking about it, Brianna...you know how in old-time books, by authors like Jane Austen, they would always say, "I just went on my daily constitutional around the grounds" [I did not know this, even though I nodded my head, oh, yeah, but the def: "A walk taken regularly for one's health." Nice.] And I thought, nobody does that anymore. But then I thought, wait, Brianna does!"Awww. Fuck yeah! (Y’know who also does it, for reals: Cynthia. Tot.) Just don’t put me in one of those fucking upright boob-dresses that make you look preggers. And I don’t want to have a verbal sparing match with anyone named "Mr. Darcy."


lap said...

You couldn't ask for a better mentor friend than Jimmy -I got a sort of secondhand brother from being best friends with his sister Molly in high school. He's a tastemaker, yes- but he loves the music and the process and execution all as equally as the passion and that's what being a music fan is surely, and if you can make that come across at all in writing about it you're pretty special in my book too.

You've got that- that offhanded link to what's infectious, I'm still tickled from reading your entry where you went off on a Bruce tangent, wondering and delighted that anyone in their early twenties can be lucky enough to get and have that connection to Springsteen.

Anyway, your blog is my new favorite thing.

Phil said...

I was walking around on campus in the west bank skyway a few months ago and saw an old prof of mine doing the same. Spoke for only a couple minutes, but he admitted he was "taking a little constiutional." Which I thought was kinda funny cause he's in political science.

Is that funny only to politics junkies?