Something About Music
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Can - "Mushroom"

When I was in high school I had a radio show at CHUO, the University of Ottawa’s campus station. During the station’s funding drive, I offered copies of a friend’s record to those who pledged a certain amount of money. Sean called and pledged at least that amount, and I remember writing his name down on a piece of scrap paper as a reminder that I should give him the record. We didn’t really know each other. I don’t remember whether or not I gave him the record, but I do remember (because he recently reminded me) that he did not come through with the pledge.

A couple of years ago, around the time I first met Dan, I leant him my copy of U and I, Nicholson Baker’s extraordinary chronicle of his love for John Updike. Dan read the whole thing within two years and recently returned it to me. When I brought it home, I placed it in the crib I’d built for it, offered it drink and food - though it stoically refused both - and after what we tacitly agreed had been a mutually respectful period of time, I delicately opened its cover and flipped through its pages, whereupon I found the piece of scrap paper I’d written Sean’s name on when I was sixteen.

I took this coincidence as a sign - but of what, I did not know. At first I investigated the possible significance of the fact that in this particular formation of the StG triangle, I constituted the hypotenuse. This surprised me given that, of the three of us, I am both the shortest and the least prolific. Unsurprisingly, this approach led me nowhere but into the darkest recesses of the human psyche. Moving on, I examined the possibility that my coincidence was a sign of the existence of god, but then, remembering the ontological argument for that same conclusion, abandoned the approach, seeing the absurdity of a redundant sign. Finally, I thought that perhaps the appearance of the note was a sort of (and I’m sorry to mix my metaphors in this way, but I think you’ll see that it’s necessary) temporal road sign, pointing backwards to when I was doing my radio show.

Sixteen, I would say, was the age at which I began my great consumption. It lasted for roughly three years and consisted in buying, rather indiscriminately, many hundreds of albums of very diverse musical styles, and ended with the beginning of a sort of misanthropic hermitage, still currently underway. I was so completely open to and excited about all kinds of music that, thinking back, I’m reminded of Richard Dawkins’s little witticism that, “We must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” My brains were everywhere. I ate them on toast.

But still, there was something nice about the world of music seeming so vast and uncharted, with so many undiscovered treasures ahead. I still believe that intellectually, but as my focus has narrowed and as my discoveries have become more infrequent and less independent, it’s sometimes hard to feel it the way I did when I first heard Can’s Tago Mago, sitting on my bed in my parents’ house, thinking, ‘this music is from another world - it is so crazy, it is so unbelievably good, and I found it.’ [Buy]


Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Tortoise - "Thunder Road"

Two great things can bring out the worst in each other. Listen to “Thunder Road” as you would eat a calamari and sweet cheese danish. That is, try to forget that you’re throwing up a little bit, and enjoy the greatness of each individual element. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at March 7, 2006 3:32 PM

wow....crazy. great, great post.
these are two of my favorite songs...

Mushroom has one of the illest beats of all time. Jaki is a monster.
This track closed out my annual christmas mix cd I make for former bandmates.

The Thunder Road cover is masterful...I think a lot of people got really hung up on how not like the original it was...that it sounds old and tired...but that's what makes it completely genius. It sounds like Springsteen 25 years later...less idealistic, the car has more rust on it, the girl he's looking at ain't the best, but she's good enough, his joints are aching...the swagger's not gone, but it's definitely evolved, maybe a little more dirty.........and the insane synth line is about the best thing ever...

my best friend got married recently and this song played for the traditional "dance with your mother" at the wedding reception....#1. slow tempo, 6:28 is a long time to dance with your mom on your wedding day...and #2. this song makes you need a shower everytime...not the kind of thing you want to attach to your wedding day / or your mother. classic.

Posted by adam at March 7, 2006 6:35 PM

Weird, but I am to some extent living in the same general phase as you are describing, at about said age. Even more strangely, this website is one of the outlets of my indiscriminate consumption. Are you reaching out to poor teenagers on purpose?

I can't decide if that's touching or strange. Excellent words, either way.

Posted by tyler at March 7, 2006 8:21 PM

Here's another weird thing (Maybe?). The 2006 CHUO Funding drive coincides with this post - conincidence? You tell me.

Posted by Bad Haired Barber at March 7, 2006 9:10 PM

thx for posting can - it instantly reminded me of … being 13 and sitting on the floor in my brothers bedroom, listenning to tago mago, and hating it …
i don't remember when exactly that changed, but it took me some time listenninglistenninglistenning.

Posted by funtoosh at March 7, 2006 9:38 PM

I was coming over here to post approximately the same as tyler. Touching or strange, indeed?

Posted by alicia at March 8, 2006 2:18 AM

A toast to the great consumption, and to both of these great songs.

Posted by Red Ruin at March 9, 2006 12:17 AM

hey jordy, you left out the best part of your teenaged record-collecting obsession: how a couple years later, when you moved to montreal, your entire collection was stolen.

ps: this is my favourite post yet. hypotenuse. yes.

Posted by pizza at March 9, 2006 12:09 PM

I've got to cop to mixed feelings about posting "Mushroom." It's such an unequivocally glorious squeegee to one's Third Eye that it's almost too good to unleash to the public. Your mind clings to Jaki's battery like some secret weapon that dare not fall into the wrong hands.

Posted by Seb at March 11, 2006 5:27 AM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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