Neo Boys - "Cheap Labor"
Neo Boys - "Nothing to Fear"
It was the twenty-first day of the blackout and George was sick of it.
The grocery store where he worked had been closed during the first few days while the city revelled together. Every night there was a party in front of one of the apartment buildings near George's parents' house and he'd skateboard over and hang out.
A week in, a sub-manager in the canned goods section came up with the solution - headlamps - he managed to get in hundreds of them. They were distributed to workers on the first day back. "Business as usual," the manager announced and everyone switched on their headlamps and got to work. Outside the store, a small table was set up and headlamps were loaned to customers who left their drivers licences as collateral.
Didn't anyone find it weird to be shopping for vegetables in the dark George wondered as he misted the lettuce with a spray bottle. Only a few weeks ago electricity was a given, a constant source of light and fun. But now it was talked about as unreliable, even untrustworthy. The cause of the blackout was still a mystery and some people speculated that it might be a year before it was turned on again.
A big part of why George took this job was so he could save up for a DoubleFun console and now what was the point? It had been twenty-one days since he had played a video game and he was starting to lose it. He thought about KillerRealm 3: The Revenge of Pradesh. Today was the release date, but instead of going to the store after work to pick it up he would most likely sit in his dark room reading his dad's old sci-fi paperbacks with his headlamp. Was the game even coming out now? George had followed its development online. He watched the teaser of the teaser and then the teaser trailer, followed by the making of the teaser. Then the actual trailer, which was just wow.
Mitch, the produce manager, noticed him sulking. "You alright buddy?"
"I'm FINE." George didn't mean to snap, but he heard the tone in his voice. "It's just DARK in here."
"I hear you. But we're up here in produce, one of the brightest sections of the store. Think of those poor guys back in the stock room. There's no windows in there. It's like a cave."
"Look George, This is hard on everyone."
"I knooow," he whined. "I just really don't understand why there's no power anymore."
"Well, maybe that's a good thing."
"What do you mean?"
Mitch glanced around. The closest customer headlamp was all the way over in the bakery section. "Do you really want to know why there's no power?"
George thought "Of course" but what he said was "I . . . think so."
Jim Sullivan - "Plain As Your Eyes Can See". The question of this song is whether Sullivan is faking his rollickingness. Yes, the music has some melancholy, but mostly it bounces, rollicks, romps. This is a little odd: he's singing brokenhearted lyrics; he's "doubtful that I'll ever be someone that you love". And yet: bounce, rollick, romp. Drums from the first summer's day.
Here is the question: Is Jim Sullivan sincere, gamely grappling with unrequited love? Or is he a passive-aggressive faker, the worst kind of valentine? Is this healthy emotional dealing or a bullshit, guilt-seeking woe-is-me?
Let's hope it's the former. Let's hope Sullivan's OK, processing, using this song to mark the mileage of his heart. And though there's still sorrow in him, in the ends of lines and the drift of that guitar solo, that he knows the right place to keep it; that he's kind to the person who refused him, that he understands the way all this sometimes goes.
Galaxie 500 - "When Will You Come Home"
Ought - "Habit"
Last week, at karaoke, Mark described a guitar thing more perfectly than I've ever heard anything described in my life. We were talking about "The Final Countdown" because he had just done a perfect version of "The Final Countdown," and I said I've never really thought about the guitar solo in that song before but it's actually pretty nuts, and Mark said: it's like there's a grate, and you open the grate and a whole bunch of crazy flames just leap right out of it, blazing. And then you close the grate and the flames just instantly disappear.
Objectively speaking, there is really nothing more useless or unfun than a guitar or the sounds it makes - but at the same time that's how it is with people, and we still manage to fall in love with those all the time. I don't know what it is. Sometimes the sound of a guitar will come speeding along out of nowhere and just fucking concuss you; a stray twinge will brush against your earlobe and suddenly you're nothing but a cloud of bright dust and glitter floating around the city, shooting lightning at the sidewalk from your clumsy mouth. Sometimes it's like flames coming out of a grate.
But other times it's just familiar. Past uncanny. You will hear some song for the first time and not know which of you is the one in the mirror; you will hear some song and feel its rising line stitched right into your DNA. We learn from childhood on that familiar is a necessary positive, that if something "feels like home" we're supposed to be in love with it - but your own terrible body's like home too, and what does that feel like? Sometimes you hear a song like this and you can't stop listening to it. Sometimes you hear it once and then you never, ever need to again. Some guitar-sounds aren't good or bad; they're just a map of your true nature spooling out in front of you, coiling back into your contours. True sympathy doesn't always feel good, it just feels like being known. Like someone reading the whole story of you to you out loud and backwards, in right time.
[Buy On Fire / More Than Any Other Day]
12:33 AM on Mar 28, 2015
Follies - "Drag". This dusty concerto is made of guitars and drums, weary voices, ponging sounds like an elevator that's just come in. I say concerto because there is a stateliness to its ramshackling, a precision to the timbres. Musical notes arranged in a certain order, like colours on a spectrum. ROYGBIV. Never BOYGRIV, never VOYBRIG. Except maybe not never VOYBRIG. Maybe there is a principle by which VOYBRIG is the order of the spectrum. VOYBRIG, BOYGRIV or even the greatest anagram, BY VIGOR. One day, perhaps, we will look at a rainbow and see it ordered BY VIGOR, blue to red. And so this song: musical notes arranged in a certain order, according to Follies' one particular logic, that autumn day they made "Drag" a solid, fading thing that can never be undone. [bandcamp]
Guy Boyer & Jean-Yves - "Speedy Slalom" [buy]
"You are never too late to do anything in your life!" this motivational speaker said confidently to us, dumb, high school students. I'm sure 78% of the guys there (including me) were wearing Point Zero or some other super stylish brand name underwear. Now that I think back, the speaker looked like a bit of a fishy guy. Like one of those guys who would sell broken, stolen iPhones, or bikes on Craigslist and meet you at metro stops or other public places dressed nice with high waisted two tuck khaki pants, and an oversized polo shirt. It was a norm-core look, but with a fishy edge. I would call that style, Albi-core. Anyway, this Albicore fashion leader, aka motivational speaker, insisted that "you can do anything, anytime in your life!". He said this with so much passion that I thought the vain in his forehead was going to pop. I forgot to mention earlier that part of his look was that his neck was really thick like Henry Rollins. You couldn't even tell where his neck ended and his face started--that thick.
I remembered his message years later, one night, after a long day of work. I had no clean underwear to wear the next day (I had grown out of Point Zero and was wearing Haines or some other cheap briefs brand by this point). I looked at the time and it was around 11:30PM. I thought, "it is too late to do laundry" but then I remembered Albicore motivational speaker's voice, "you are never too late to do anything in your life!" (I added reverb and echo onto his voice, like in a soap opera, in my mind) So, I washed all my underwear and my neighbour got mad.
10:23 AM on Mar 25, 2015
Σtella - "Picking Words". The young librarian overestimates her own importance. It is a regal profession, a crucial human achievement - but all the same, Jennifer, you are not yet a pillar of learnéd society. Watch her as she dances through the stacks, putting books away. Watch her as she spins in the reference-desk office-chair, giddy on indexing. Listen to the click of her flats on the library's old tile. Listen to the flick of eyelashes over owlish eyes. The young librarian imagines herself as the treasured heart of a John Hughes film. She imagines herself as the object of your affection. She is named Jennifer, it says so on her nametag, never forget. [Σtella is Greek. / buy]
10:58 AM on Mar 24, 2015
Gillian Welch - "Revelator" [buy]
The Wipers - "Doom Town" [buy]
John Coltrane Quartet - "Alabama" [buy]
O crushing defeat, O years gone by, fruitless, O long complicated break-ups. Give me these feelings and I'll exchange them for a song. Something you can hold close to your ear, hold close your heart. It will have words that you can mull over or none at all. Either a perfect consolation or an affirmation of just how fucked we all really are.
Do sad songs have a colour? They've been assigned blue, but there are more shades than that. Gillian Welch's songs are bluegrass, something I've never seen in the wild, but I which I imagine as a blue green leaf, fed by tears and shimmering in the breeze. Welch's song "Revelator" is about time and doubt, the things that eat away at us. She sings about running away with resignation, suspecting that it might not make anything better in the end.
The Wipers' sad songs are the steely shade of the perpetually-overcast skies that hang over their "Doom Town" of Portland, Oregon. In their perfect punk rock songs the Wipers sing about being on the right side of history and the wrong side of everyone else. Being at odds with the world is the lifetime struggle of the bona fide punk, one that gets harder with age. They sing the grey blue of isolation, loneliness, and everyday life impinging on dreams of making something better.
And then on the colour wheel of sad songs there's a darker shade. The darkest blue of deep night, of weariness, of exhaustion. It's here in this John Coltrane Quartet song, their quiet hymn to the victims of the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church. So muted and tired sounding. The master of blowing infinite air through a horn is winded here, offering a simple refrain for the departed.
(image: "Country Cabins at Sunset" by Frederick Judd Waugh)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs
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Said the Gramophone
launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.
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about the authors
is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors
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writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This
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and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter
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wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here
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wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Gorilla vs Bear
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In FocusAMASS BLOG
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet
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blue skies turn black
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