Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Best Christmas CD EVER!! & The "Revolution 9" of Christmas Songs

Okay, so Christmas music is something that tends to polarize people. There are people that just can't abide it, and others (some of whom I've gotten to know on Twitter) that start listening in July and don't stop until New Year's. I, for one, have always liked Christmas music, but as with everything else, only if it's good ("good" is, of course, completely subjective). I've heard a few Christmas recordings that definitely belong in my list of WORST RECORDINGS OF ALL TIME, and I've heard others that are really great. A couple of years ago, I decided to compile some of my favorite Christmas songs/records on to a CD to give to family and friends. It lives on under the title of "The Best Christmas CD EVER!!", and here it is for your listening enjoyment. NOTE: I had to remove two of the Johnny Mathis songs from the mix, because 8tracks only allows two songs by any particular artist to be in a mix. So even splitting it in half, you still only get 4 Johnny Mathis songs instead of 6. "The First Noel" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" have been removed. If you want to hear those songs, I guess go buy them.

Track list:


Some notes on the selections:

I don't think all Christmas songs should be happy-happy. Hence the inclusion of "2000 Miles" and "Thank God It's Christmas". The Brits really know how to do Christmas..."Love Actually" is a favorite Christmas movie in our house, because not all of the storylines end happily, and the ones that do are really diverse in their feel.

You may think that old Christmas music like Johnny Mathis is schlocky and awful, and on some level I can't blame you. I did grow up with it, though, which makes me very sentimental about it. Merry Christmas by Johnny Mathis is my favorite Christmas album, and probably always will be.

If you've never heard any of the Beatles' Christmas records that they sent to their fan club, then those will be an eye-opening experience. It's fun stuff, obviously just thrown together in the studio when they were goofing off. They become progressively more bizarre by the year. 1966 & 1967 are definitely the high points. Only available on bootleg, so don't feel bad about searching them out and downloading them. They were a glaring omission from the Beatles Anthology series released in the 1990s.

Finally, you may not consider "Linus & Lucy" to be a Christmas song, since it wasn't truly composed for the "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" special, but I always associate it with that particular show.

There you go, folks. The Best Christmas CD Ever.

Meanwhile, as I have the last two Christmases, I've posted the Weird Files Christmas track, "Christmas 2007" over at the Weird Files MySpace Page. I tried to make it available for free download, but the new MySpace player doesn't seem to allow downloading. I refer to it as the "Revolution 9" of Christmas songs, because it has the same sort of sound collage kind of feel as the Beatles track. It's not everybody's bag, I know, but I hope you'll at least go listen and give it a chance. I have officially created http://www.weirdfilesmusic.com, but there isn't anything there yet. Eventually this track will be available for free download from there.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Don't know if this will be my last post before Christmas (hopefully not), but I hope everyone's December is fantastic.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Honest Look at Sufjan Stevens' Illinois, Almost 5 Years After the Fact

It's now been almost five years since Sufjan Stevens released Illinois, now considered to be a classic. In fact, Paste Magazine just named it the best album of the decade. I have to admit, I bristled when I got to the end of the list and saw it at number one. "WHY??" you may ask! In fact, you may be one of the many who instantly hailed the record as genius when it was released back in 2005. I was not necessarily one of those people, and I'll try and explain why.

In my adult life, I've never seen such a large number of my artistically oriented friends all stand up at once and hail a piece of work the way I did when Illinois was released, and to be honest, it really wigged me out. The number one way to make me cynical about something is to universally praise it, and even though I bought the record, listened to it several times, and chose every time I thinned out my collection to KEEP it, I claimed (primarily to myself) that there was just no way it was as good as everybody said/thought it was. I maintained this position for the last 4 years. I think, also, that I perceived a certain link between Stevens' music and a shift in the overall musical zeitgeist, and (as has been the case with multiple shifts like this in the last 10-12 years) could not help but notice that, once again, the shift was in a direction that did not have much in common with my own creative vision for Dr. Pants, Weird Files, etc. (Frustrating.) Also, I perceived many of those who adopted this record as a vision beyond visions to be of a somewhat "cooler-than-thou" attitude about the whole thing, and that soured me even more (more about that in a minute).

Now, however, I find it to be time to reassess. Best album of the decade? Better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? Better than Kid A? I don't have a definitive answer for that, especially since the amount of attention I really & truly gave to Illinois during the year after its release can quite possibly be construed as negligible at this point. So, after listening again, here are my thoughts:

It's no wonder people went wild over this record. So rarely (especially at the time) does someone in the milieu of "indie rock" actually create something so compositionally spectacular, with such amazing detail, arrangement-wise. The guy has an amazing command of music, and obviously knows a shitload more about arranging and theory than most of his listeners, I bet. Couple this with a lyrical sensibility that is all at once confessional and quirky, and you've got every hipster in the USA drooling on to his Radiohead t-shirt (add in the fact that Mr. Stevens is a Christian, and you've got every Christian hipster drooling all over his Pedro the Lion t-shirt as well. Sorry if that seems condescending. I wouldn't say it if it weren't kind of true). The problem with this is that any time all the uber-hip people stand up and point to something and scream "THAT'S COOL", many others (including me) will feel like this something has been co-opted, and not want anything to do with it anymore. I feel like this because I am not a hipster, and I feel looked down upon by hipsters. I feel perceived as someone who will "never be cool enough to really GET how COOL this something is". Because I'm a geek. My grid for appreciating things is different, and is more intellectual than just a streamlined, "zero in on the essence of cool" kind of approach. I kind of don't care how cool it is. I just want to know if it's any good. It doesn't need to be wearing a certain t-shirt or haircut in order to qualify as awesome. It just has to appeal to my sensibility as a person.

"But now, David, after listening again, do you LIKE IT???" I can now say that the answer to that question is an emphatic YES. It is a really good record, gorgeous, intricate, powerful, and, quite frankly, transcends the cultural box that I perceived it to be in 4 years ago. In other words, Illinois is, I think, better than any of the hipsters think it is, in that it will continue to be fantastically amazing after the "cool" factor has worn off, and THAT is the mark of a great record. It is my sincere hope that all my professors from music school hear or have heard this record as well, because it needs to be examined on a broader scale. It needs to be a record that is praised for its sheer musical value. Maybe it already has been praised/evaluated in this fashion, and I was too busy being cynical to pay attention. I kind of don't think it's possible for such a thing to happen when all the cool kids are drooling all over the record in question, however. You can't see/hear through the drool to know what's really going on.

The drool has worn off. Let us now enjoy Illinois in a pure manner again. Let us praise Sufjan Stevens the composer, the musical visionary. And for God's sake, stop talking about how cool he is.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It Chooses You (Part 2)

Music and the road have many unseverable connections for me. Ultimately, the fact that these things happen "on the road" (as opposed to when I am at home) is even more remarkable, and is tied up in all sorts of (probably) crazy things that I believe about my destiny, my purpose and my passions. I so enjoyed the family road trips of my youth that I am probably permanently damaged by them (or perceived as such by others). An inexplicable fondness for an I-40 rest area or any momentary romantic notion of McDonald's french fries would serve as ample evidence, I'm sure. I am so passionate about traveling by car to faraway destinations that I have for many years believed it must be an essential part of my destiny to do so. This passion would not have become so firmly cemented were it not for the inexorable connection it has with music, however. Without the innumerable songs that somehow have been and continue to be woven into my memories and experiences on the road, most of these would mean much less. It's possible that Abbey Road is only my favorite Beatles album BECAUSE of the fact that I heard it so many times on road trips. Would Sgt. Pepper be my favorite if it had filled that role instead?

Early this afternoon as I sat and awaited our departure from Houston, I thought about how I used to get so irritated with my parents for not being ready to leave for a day of driving in a timely manner (or what I & my brother DEEMED to be a timely manner). I hadn't thought about that in quite some time, and I realized that I had never pinpointed WHY I was so irritated by being made to wait. I truly disliked the delays because it meant LESS time in the car, and ultimately LESS time in headphones. You may ask at this point why I didn't just spend the time waiting in headphones, and the only answer I have is that, for me, it would have been like, "Oh, I'm sorry, it's going to be another two hours or so until we go to the gourmet mexican place. Here are some 7-11 nachos to tide you over." Literally, music with the road trip and music without the road trip were two different things, and when the knowledge exists that the latter will occur eventually, the former loses much of its luster.

It's funny, because I've heard a lot of criticism of the automobile lately as a place to listen to music. I think it's ridiculous. The closeness of the space allows the sound to behave more efficiently, I think. At least that's my experience. Certain records sound better in the car. I can still remember when I was in college, and my parents bought a Ford Explorer that had a ten-disc CD changer already installed. I wanted nothing more than to just drive around and listen to music in that thing for hours and hours on end. I got to drive it to Atlanta once, and it was one of the most enjoyable drives I've ever had with just me and the music.

Also, in my adult life, there have been many months and even years when most of my listening was done in the car. If I want time to sit and listen to music at home, I have to actively cultivate it (this is mostly done by staying up later than I should and losing sleep just to spend some quality time with the stereo and my record collection. However, this enables some enjoyment of music I otherwise might not ever access; see the Two Records, Two Beers entry).

Many days I feel like if I didn't have music to listen to in the car, I just would refuse to drive altogether. Mind you, I spend time in the car listening to podcasts and NPR as well, but many of the podcasts are directly related to music, and I really only turn on NPR in the car about once or twice a week.

Music in the car and music on the ROAD are two different things, though, and I really long for the days when twice a year, for days at a time, I would just sit in the back seat while my parents drove and jam out to my cassettes. Now, I trust my iPod to deliver, and many times it does. Perhaps more than ever, the music is choosing me, and it's entirely possible that it always has. Maybe the music that influences us, changes us the most is choosing us...Maybe there are reasons that Jefferson Starship was blowing my mind in 1984, Pink Floyd and They Might Be Giants in 1989, Frank Zappa and Aphex Twin in 1996, Wilco in 2005...and so many more throughout.

What music is choosing/has chosen you?

Monday, November 2, 2009

It Chooses You (Part 1)

I started this entry several weeks ago, and finally was able to finish it. I'm publishing it in two parts. Look for part 2 later this week.

Remember the part in "Almost Famous" where the Lester Bangs "character" is first introduced (he's doing an in-studio interview at the radio station)? He does a sort of monologue that begins like this: "Here's a theory for you to disregard completely--MUSIC, you know, TRUE MUSIC, it chooses you. You know, it lives in your car, your stereo..." I've thought about this statement a number of times in the years since I first saw this film. I think I've had a number of moments where I felt that, no, it wasn't music that was choosing me, it was me who was choosing music. I really wonder sometimes, though. I really do.

Like today. K.C. and I spent the last week and a half or so in Texas, mostly in Austin, then Rockport and Houston at the very end. During these extended periods of time away from home I seem to have certain songs that get stuck in my head, or keep popping up in my consciousness repeatedly over the course of a number of days. This trip was no different. I found myself singing certain songs, or portions of songs, to myself over and over again, and also would be reminded multiple times of particular songs.

Today we started our drive home from Houston at about 1:30. I was in a bit of a crappy mood, mostly because our departure time did not meet my expectations (in other words, totally my fault). I plugged the iPod into the FM transmitter and set it on shuffle with, I must admit, a pretty negative attitude about what I might get. Shuffle does bring some incredible things sometimes, but it also can bring a lot of music you're just not in the mood for, depending on how sharply specific your mood IS.

Remarkably, or maybe I should even say AMAZINGLY, the shuffle brought forth not only a great many songs I was both in the mood for and very grateful to hear, but a NUMBER OF SONGS THAT HAD BEEN RATTLING AROUND MY HEAD FOR DAYS, as mentioned earlier. Songs that very much had been accidental sorts of "theme songs" for this little mini-tour.

What to make of this? Do our iPods have some sort of actual consciousness within them that reads our brains? This is unlikely, but I start to wonder. I also start to wonder if larger creative forces ultimately have influence over devices such as this. Is shuffle really RANDOM at all? Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't? Is it all just crazy coincidence?

I suppose that must depend on how much credence you may or may not put in the idea of pure coincidence. I am not a big believer in pure coincidence...I like the idea that most things, or even all things, happen for a reason, even the smallest things that don't seem to matter much like my iPod. Maybe music is choosing me, those particular songs are choosing me...maybe they are the songs that can and will bolster me, or boost my morale, or whatever. Perhaps it is that they are being chosen FOR me. All this (wouldn't you know it) leads me to think more about the larger picture...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Mixtape Pants Radio Hour, 10/6

Here's the playlist from last night's Mixtape Pants Radio Hour. Haven't listened? Tune into our blip channel (http://www.blip.fm/drpants) Tuesday nights, 9pm central. Right now things are too busy to do every Tuesday, but most Tuesdays I'll be doing it.


Hope everyone will tune in next week. More blog entries coming soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mixtape Pants Radio Hour

So, I just got done with what is (in actuality) the third or fourth installment of the Mixtape Pants Radio Hour, my DJ show on Blip.fm (the first few were not necessarily done under that banner). "But people don't have SHOWS on Blip.fm," you say. Well, now I do. I do it like a real show, it happens at a scheduled time, AND, with some slight digital trickery, I even do spoken break-ins during the show. It's fantastically fun. I am loving it. There is a chance I will start doing a show on Live365 at some point as well, and I'm quite excited about that. I will not share any more details on that until I know I am at liberty to do so.

Anyway, here's the playlist from the show tonight; hopefully we'll be able to do it again next week:


Tons of fun, I tell you. I had a blast, as usual. Tuesday night at 9pm central will be our tentative air time every week, unless a higher priority commitment takes precedence (like, say an actual GIG). So tune in.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


(It should be said that I had no idea what this entry would be about when I started. I apologize if it seems scattered.)

Before I continue, I will say that I hope someone takes me up on the offer to review their music some time soon. I had one artist submit a couple of mp3s, but unfortunately I found myself in the position of not having anything good to say about them (this probably doesn't sell me very well as someone who would potentially review your work, but there's a lot of music out there that has redeeming qualities...I have found something to like in things that most people despise, so there you go). If you are reading this and you are an artist, and you'd like a review, please, Please, PLEASE email me at doctorpants@doctorpants.com. I'll give you a review, and I'll do my best to make it positive.

Meanwhile, I sold off about 40 or 50 CDs from my collection last week to attempt to offset the cost of the upcoming Beatles reissues. The box sets are absurdly expensive, and at this point any fan should consider his or herself lucky to get a copy of the limited edition mono box set (the mono versions of the albums are not being released individually). It looks as though I'm going to get mine, but not at a price I'm happy with.

The Beatles reissues are great news, but I feel as though I want to talk about the evolution of my collection a bit, and what the selling off of those particular 40-50 CDs might signify. Many of the things I sold were so-called "Greatest Hits" or "Best Of" collections. In the day and age of iTunes and the mp3, I think this sort of record might be obsolete. What do I mean? If one only wants certain songs by an artist, a few of their hits or whatever, why on earth would they spend the extra money on a CD and wind up with some other songs they might not want? Why wouldn't they just buy the individual songs they DO want from iTunes, Amazon or whatever? I found myself in the position where the songs I liked from many of those CDs were in my iTunes (or in mp3 format on an external hard drive), so the need to own the "Greatest Hits" CD simply didn't exist anymore. I've always been more of a fan of actual albums anyway, and many of those hits collections were by bands who've I've always had every intention of investigating further anyway. In other words, I have even more incentive to actually listen to a whole album all the way through by some of those bands, since I don't have the stupid "Greatest Hits" as a placeholder anymore.

I want to get to a point where all the CDs or LPs I own are ones that I would listen to start to finish all the way through. I won't always do this, of course (shuffle is such an indelible part of my life at this point...Shuffle on my iPod is like the best radio station I could ever imagine. All my favorites mixed with things that I am trying to gain greater exposure to. Isn't that what radio was supposed to be in the first place??), but it's a noble goal. I may yet sell even more CDs...we shall see. I have an enormous amount of music that has piled up that I'm still starting to get to know. I haven't reviewed hardly any of it on this blog...which is kind of a shame. I'm working on it, people. It's a challenge when I spread myself so thin, both in terms of all the balls I'm keeping in the air, and all the records I listen to. I rarely listen to anything two or three days in a row.

I will say that you should go find some Game Theory online. You'll more than likely have to download it from somewhere that has a RapidShare link or something like that, since all their albums are very, VERY out of print. But they're a real gem. The great lost band of the 80s, I tell you. Delightful. Lolita Nation is their masterpiece, but really any of it is fabulous. Some of the early EPs are brilliant as well.

Okay. Kind of a random entry, but I hope you found it worth reading. In summary, yay Beatles, yay Game Theory, boo "Greatest Hits" albums. Oh, and yay sending me your music for review. Email doctorpants@doctorpants.com to discuss.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Tour 2009 Mix

So, I found that on this tour (it's a K.C. Clifford tour in which my participation falls into the categories of "sideman", "husband" and "sanity"), certain songs are popping up in expected/unexpected places, some multiple times. It started on the first day of the tour when I was jonesing to hear a particular song, and I discovered fairly quickly that it wasn't on my iPod. This happened several more times, so I started a playlist in iTunes and transferred it over. This morphed fairly quickly into "Summer 2009 Tour Mix". So here are the selections, followed by detailed explanation of each song:





TOUCH OF GREY-THE GRATEFUL DEAD: I was loading the car in St. Paul the day we were leaving (it was the first stop on the tour) and some guys painting the next building over were listening to this on their boombox. Maybe it was just on the radio, maybe it was something they were listening to on purpose, but I was so pleased to hear such a great song coming from over there, as opposed to something that sucks (like One Republic or something). Then I discovered it wasn't on my iPod for some reason. Gah.

RUDI, A MESSAGE TO YOU-THE SPECIALS: One of the people K.C. and I met at the Feeding America conference in Chicago possessed the last name of "Rudy", and that made me think of this song.

ROSE GOES TO YALE-JEFFERSON STARSHIP: Another one that I had a jones to hear that turned out not to be on my iPod. This album (NUCLEAR FURNITURE) was one that I listened to A LOT on road trips when I was a kid, so it continues to resonate with me because of that. I have waxed philosophical on its greatness quite a bit in the past on this very blog. K.C. heard this song and said it sounded like musical theater. She's kind of right.

IMPOSSIBLE GERMANY-WILCO: This song concludes the "why the f@#k isn't it on my iPod??" portion of this mix. The issue has now been remedied in regards to all songs in this category.

LOVE IS ALL AROUND-R.E.M.: The first song in the Dr. Pants CITY JAMS series ("It's Raining In Minneapolis") totally cops the melody from the chorus to this song (unintentionally). Writing that song made me think of this song.

STAY POSITIVE-THE HOLD STEADY: The Hold Steady came up in conversation at least three or four times in the first few days of the tour. This is probably my current favorite song by them.

BEGINNING OF THE HEARTBREAK/DON'T DON'T-PETER GORDON & LOLO: This song is a mysterious beast of greatness for me. Mysterious mostly because I have a feeling that most people would deem it some sort of cheesy post-disco artifact from the early 80's. I think it's brilliant. I have the upper hand in this debate because I've actually heard the song and you probably have not. It's beautiful in its melancholy and energy. It captures a desperate mood that I've felt multiple times in the last couple of weeks.

STREETS OF YOUR TOWN-THE GO-BETWEENS: Just discovered this song a couple of years ago thanks to my friend Rodney. I am just now starting to become addicted to it, I think. There are songs that just fit the vibe of a particular moment in your life, and this song fits this moment in mine.

VIRGINIA REEL AROUND THE FOUNTAIN-THE HALO BENDERS: My friend Erin, whom we had brunch with in Chicago, attended a portion of the Pitchfork festival and saw Built to Spill (if you're not hip to it, Doug Martsch from Built to Spill was ALSO in the Halo Benders). She reported that they had done this song in their set, and that was enough to send me running back to it weeping with joy.


THE LOVE I'M SEARCHING FOR-THE RENTALS: Erin is in a band with my friend Garrett, and while we were in Chicago he showed me a video of said band (The Hidden Mitten) doing this one at a show. Garrett and I, once upon a time, performed this song together, so it brought back a lot of memories.

BREAK MY STRIDE-MATTHEW WILDER: This is, quite simply, one of the greatest songs of all time. If you disagree, you are not awesome. It has come up in shuffle on the iPod a number of times on this tour, hence its inclusion here.

DESDEMONA-EGGSTONE: The Hidden Mitten does a boss version of this one as well.

LIKE A ROLLING STONE-BOB DYLAN: The iPod seems to love this one lately, too. It's popping up in the shuffle all the time.

LLOYD, I'M READY TO BE HEARTBROKEN-CAMERA OBSCURA: At the same time my friend Rodney introduced me to "Streets of Your Town", he introduced me to this song as well. When I thought of that song, it made me also think of this one.

HEAVEN SENT-CUSH: A random inclusion at best, since it's the only song I own by this band, and I don't listen to much of anything else that comes from the same sort of sub-genre (uber-indie Christian rock). But this song is great. "Tell your mother don't give up on me." It only had to pop up on shuffle once for me to give it a spot.

WHAT ABOUT JENNIFER-THE BRILLIANT INVENTIONS: One of the most worthwhile discoveries
to be had at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (which K.C. performed at last weekend). Tuneful, smart, fun. I think I might prefer the live, acoustic vibe they have to this fully produced version, but that's okay.

KICKER OF ELVES-GUIDED BY VOICES: I've spent a good bit of this tour walking around singing "Do do do do do do do kicker of elves" to myself.

IF YOU GO AWAY-ROBYN HITCHCOCK: A little-known Hitchcock gem that I thought fit in thematically with a lot of the other songs here really well.

THE UNIVERSAL-BLUR: A song that is all at once despairing and hopeful. Just like my mood most days lately.

FAITHFULLY-JOURNEY: This one just seems to keep popping up. It's come up on shuffle, it's come up on the radio, it came up again today while K.C. and I were using the free internet in a Huddle House restaurant here in Virginia. It's another one that has a comforting, reminds-me-of-childhood-roadtrips vibe to it (a la Jefferson Starship) so I count myself lucky to have it be so present. Say what you want about Journey...I think this is one of the top 5 power ballads of all time. Maybe one of the only 5 good ones, period.

I finally got the audio files up for the College of Santa Fe Tribute Mixtape entry, so go listen to those. That shizz will rock you. FYI, for a technical reason I had to combine the audio files for sides 3 & 4. Side 4 is there...you have to get through side 3 to get to it, though.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Miss the Innocence Part 2: When Did It Break?

When did my ability to purely enjoy music for what it is break? When did I become shut off, closed off enough that the pure, magical beauty of a musical performance more than often failed to get through to my soul? When did it break?

It's repairable, that's the good news. This last weekend I was at the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, OK (city of Woody's birth). Let me be clear about something: by the standard established by the new generation of music festivals (Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, Coachella), Woodyfest is NOT COOL. You won't find a bunch of hipster kids in skinny jeans and those absurd haircuts hanging out at Woodyfest. Let me be clear about something else: I couldn't give LESS OF A CRAP about how uncool Woodyfest is. So much of the last 10 years or so of my life has been given over to the idea that in order to gain a fanbase, or create a place for myself in the music world, I at least have to have some sort of perceivable relationship to the "cool" music culture at large. And I am DONE. (This is all going to bleed into another post I am working on right now as well.) I am done pandering to the idea if I'm not somehow in touch with the "new thing", whatever that might be, that I am somehow disqualified from making any sort of commentary on the culture, or on the music. If you start to adopt that attitude, and you're all about trying to somehow connect with the culture at large and not about just enjoying (or attempting to enjoy) the music, it's going to damage you. It's going to harm your ability to purely enjoy music for what it is. Enjoying music, LOVING music, has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with popular culture. Trey Anastasio said it best: "Rock & roll, on some level, is bullshit, but music is the realest thing in the world to me." If you get caught up in the bullshit at all, it will hurt your ability to enjoy the music.

At Woodyfest, I caught a set by Mary Reynolds, Louise Goldberg, Elyse Angelo and Simon Dick. This ensemble is known by the moniker Miss Brown To You most of the time, and has been for almost 20 years. I used to go hear them play in high school all the time, because Louise was my music teacher when I was in junior high. They are all fantastic, fantastic musicians, and it gave me a lot of joy when I was younger to hear them play live (Simon was not their bass player at the time...he wasn't even a teenager yet). It broadened my horizons musically, and gave me an appreciation for music that didn't fit into the rock & roll box. They helped make my ears jazz-friendly, female vocal friendly, etc. They effectively produced in me (and I can only assume many of their other listeners as well) the joyful experience of hearing really good musicians play. If I hadn't heard them do what they do so well all through my teenage years, it's hard to say whether I would have appreciated some of the students and faculty I heard play in college or not. Anyway, all of this to say that I went in to Woodyfest feeling like absolute crap. I had been having a few quasi-miserable weeks at home (for a number of reasons I won't go into here) and had really started to feel pretty cynical about music and my ability to enjoy it (there were a few things here and there that were breaking through the wall, but not many). I wanted to hear Mary, Louise et al play, partly because I hadn't heard them in a while, but also because I honestly would have felt bad for not being there (it seems like most of the time when they have a gig in OKC, we're already playing somewhere else and can't go). In short, the wall came tumbling down during their set. Listening to them play brought back all the reasons that I enjoy music (especially live music), and made me want to be a better musician (it's been tough to find things lately that inspire this aspect of my being as well). It felt like a real privilege to be there, and to have heard that performance. Mary & Louise are encyclopedias of the history of popular music, they know so many songs in so many genres...They didn't play a single original composition, but it didn't matter because every song they played they made their own. They played Bob Dylan, the Isley Brothers, the Indigo Girls, the Beatles, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

And thus ends my attempt to describe what it was like. What's the point? You should just trust me that it was awesome and go and listen to it for yourself. Ultimately, I think that's true of all the music I talk about on here. If it's worth talking about at all, it's also worth the time it would take for you to go and listen to it yourself.

Coming soon...New mixtape (about damn time...what's the name of this blog again?), an entry on the uncomfortable subject of TASTE WARFARE (if I can ever collect it into any sort of manageable form), and some reviews. Of music. Imagine that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Miss the Innocence.

I may have touched on this before in previous entries...I'm not really sure. I know I talked about it quite a while ago in an entry on my old MySpace blog where I spoke about the Kings of Leon album Because of the Times. I was really thrilled with that album, or thrilled BY that album when it came out, simply because it made me feel some things about a record that I simply had not felt in quite some time (save all your comments about how you liked their first two records better than their new stuff...I quite simply don't care). Listening to that record at that time took me back to a time when music could still surprise me in ways that it doesn't so much anymore, at least not regularly. A time when the thrill of discovering something new, whether it was an album, a band, whatever, was a key experience of life itself. I can't say that's the case these days...Mind you, there are other amazing things in my life that surprise me consistently in really beautiful ways (my wife, God, etc.), but I so miss the innocence of that time in my life (starting somewhere in junior high, probably, and lasting through most of college).

I find these days that one of the biggest things that gets in the way of having these experiences is TIME, or lack thereof. I read a post from Wil Wheaton's blog today where he references a particular phenomenon that writers experience, being that they spend a lot of time doing what appears to be "nothing", when in fact, they are simply making themselves available for inspiration, ideas, etc. to occur. I don't think this phenomenon only applies to writers...I think it applies to most artists/creative people. I think, in order for our art to truly thrive, not only to we have to cultivate those spaces of "nothing", but we also have to actively engage art/music/whatever on an experiential level. Listening is as much a part of my life as a musician as composing or performing is, and I have tried very hard lately to make it a part of the rubric again. Facts are that there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do all of it the way that I would like (O to compose, practice, and listen every day, while also managing to accomplish something that might actually produce some income). The "nothing" time is kind of like the "listening" time, whether it be to music, or our own thoughts, the aether, whatever.

I think that cultivating time also cultivates the opportunity for these magical experiences with art, music, whatever to start to happen again...the time factor is really the only thing that's different for me, most days, from the way I felt when I was 20. I mean, God help me, most days I still don't feel a day over 25, and those who know me know that I'm getting really close to sounding ridiculous making statements like that. I try not to act much older than 25, at least in the way that I approach things enthusiasm-wise. As I sit here, listening to Phish pump through the headphones, I hope and pray that I live long...I still have a lot of living to do. I feel as though life has just begun for me in many respects, and that as I mature in this world, it will not look much like how most people do it. I'm fine with that...it's all YOU PEOPLE out there who are going to have to adjust. Yes, I'm still going to be listening to Phish, Frank Zappa, The Clash and Sonic Youth when I'm 60. Sorry to disappoint. I'm not going to "chill out" and start listening to Sting and Coldplay because it's "respectable old people rock music". As we get older we should start hungering for more and more powerful and visceral experiences, not ones that are less so.

I start to feel an inkling, as I'm typing this, that the experiences I so long for are coming back, maybe just a little. That element is working itself back into my life, in a good way. I have very much come to a place where going after what I want and what is important to me is no longer negotiable. That, coupled with a sense of humility and the knowledge that I'm not really in charge, is the most freeing thing in the world. If I head towards the things that I want and find to be precious, I'll end up where I'm supposed to be anyway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ugh. Suck Round-Up.

So, I really can’t believe the gall of some people. I mean, I suppose it’s par for the course…the world that brought us Britney Spears, Nickelback AND Insane Clown Posse would somehow, someway eventually see a New Kids On the Block reunion. The inevitability doesn’t make it hurt any less. Kind of like the inevitability of DEATH doesn’t make it hurt any less. Not only are the New Kids insulting us with their very presence, but they’ve had the nerve to blame their poor ticket sales on THE RECESSION. Could it be that in this time of hardship, people want SOMETHING MORE out of their art/music/etc. than just dimestore, teeny-bopper swill?? Isn’t it possible that the time for the disgustingly bad music foisted on us by this band of pretty boy slags has passed? That the public at large has wised up? I mean, Dear God Almighty.

Part two of the Suck Round-Up this week simply MUST be devoted to the fact that Sting (the biggest turncoat in the history of music…member of a pivotal, significant, and fundamentally AWESOME band goes solo and becomes a purveyor of adult contemporary, lite-pop, trendy world music-influenced tripe that sounds not only like it’s destined for the muzak channel at the grocery store, but that it was created with said channel IN MIND) has decided to make another record, and that this record he’s making shows no indication that last year’s Police reunion had any sort of “wake-up call” effect on him at all. Here is Rolling Stone’s description of his upcoming record:

“The October 27th album, inspired by what Sting calls his favorite season, will feature two original compositions along with carols, lullabies and traditional songs from the British Isles.”

SERIOUSLY?? This has the potential to be the most boring record EVER. The man who I thought had already perfected the art of being an overly innocuous, adult contemporary snore might actually top himself in that department. Ultimately, I just don’t get it I suppose. The Police made some of the most compelling records in the entire rock & roll canon, and I can’t understand why someone would abandon all the elements that made that music so great and go in such a profoundly uninteresting direction. Mind you, I have nothing against traditional music (much of it, including the British kind, is compelling in its own right), but I guarantee you that Sting will somehow manage to completely strip it of any feeling and energy whatsoever (see the “Kenny G Style Production With Vocals” approach that made the song “Fields of Gold” such a big hit, meanwhile possibly completely obliterating what is probably a pretty decent song).

Ugh. Thank God there’s a new Wilco album coming out, as well as a new Phish album and a Beastie Boys record. The Beatles reissues are coming up quick, too…These things, quite simply must restore balance to the universe, jedi-style.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Compartmentalizing the Morass

So, K.C. & I returned from the Kerrville Folk Festival almost a week ago, after having spent about 12 days there (Kerrville is an 18-day festival). We’ve been in years previous, but only for the first weekend (the festival always starts Memorial Day weekend). It’s a totally different experience when you allow yourself to be immersed in it…almost in the same way that music is a MUCH different experience for those who choose to make it a significant part of their lives (or perhaps it chooses you…”Almost Famous” always creeping in the background) than it is for those who only allow it to stay out on the periphery somewhere. Yes, you who listen to the “lite rock” station and claim to love “all types of music” have NO REAL IDEA what a true experience of music is. You simply have not allowed yourself to dig in as much, or allowed the music to dig into you. Okay, I’m totally getting sidetracked.

All this to say that Kerrville was a revelation on many, many levels. Here we are, we’re camping on a ranch with God knows how many other people, a large majority of whom are songwriters. The place is wall to wall tents, trailers, campers and large canopies under which various camps have created their “campfires” (“campfire” in this scenario does not involve any actual fire…it is the standard term for the spots in which somewhat organized song circles ensue. What’s a song circle? It’s when people sit in a circle and play songs, dumbass). Toilets have no plumbing attached…they are semi-permanent port-a-johns. There are showers, but be prepared to look at a bunch of naked people of your gender while taking one. Formal performances happen primarily in the evening, either at the Kennedy Theater (the larger, outdoor theater commonly referred to by the Kerrville-initiated as “mainstage”) or the Threadgill Theater. Mainstage on weekends, Threadgill during the week.

All this music is acoustically based, hence the Kerrville FOLK Festival. Yes, Dylan went electric in 1965, and occasionally there are full bands involved with some electric guitars, etc. But the songwriting element is key—the song is king, and it had better be up to snuff. It can be boring-ass, I-IV-V all day long as long as you’re saying something, and saying it in a way that has some poetry and cleverness to it. To experience so much of this music sitting in a song circle/campfire is remarkable…so many songs, just one person and his/her guitar, laying it out there in the most raw, pure form possible. It’s an extremely pure way to experience music. I felt that way so many times during those 12 days…like I was experiencing something really pure. That being said, it kicked my ass in ways I wasn’t expecting...you can really get bogged down in insecurity at Kerrville if you’re a songwriter. Or a guitar player. I was over the insecurity thing within a few days, but the insecurity turned into a very clear recognition of one thing: as a “rock” songwriter, lyrically I can’t hold a candle to these people, not even (especially not even) my own wife. These songwriters are craftsmen of the highest order, and have to be—the standard in their genre is really high. I mean, it’s WAY higher than it is in rock. I think about the lyrics to a song like, say, “Do You Realize???” by the Flaming Lips (recently declared the official state rock song of Oklahoma) and I think about how great I think the lyrics are to that song, but they don’t even approach the standard set by some of these songwriters. I am not saying that “Do You Realize???” is a bad song. It’s a great freakin’ song. The fact that it’s a “rock” song, though, allows it a certain set of parameters in terms of its content. Take a song like “Blue Tattoo” by Joe Crookston, though, and pour that down your throat (I’d also like to cite the song Chris O’Brien wrote on the ranch while we were there, but unfortunately there is no spot in which to listen to it online yet). This song is amazing in its storytelling capacity, it’s poetic capacity, etc. It operates in a different universe than the Flaming Lips. It makes a rock songwriter feel out of his element to have songs like this cropping up all the time. Out of my element is fine…I understand that what I do is different, and not necessarily bad.

As a guitar player, however, it was a different story. I basically decided some time right around the middle of our 12 days that I was going to come home and become a MUCH better acoustic guitarist. Most of the crap I do on an acoustic guitar is just the same crap I do on electric transferred over. This is not the right approach, especially when it comes to folk. I am, very much, someone who operates as a “guitarist” in the folk world, so I’ve got work to do. I’ve got to fingerpick better, I’ve got to be able to play solos that are more appropriate to the acoustic instrument. I get compliments on my playing but they’re mostly from dudes who can hear in their heads what I’d sound like on electric. So, the woodshedding begins. I haven’t put in any significant practice on my instrument in a number of years, so it really is about time. I am very much looking forward to it, and that is key. I do music full-time, so practice should be a part of what I do, period.

In the midst of all this, of course (I say “of course” because this is starting to become routine for me…any large-scale immersion in the folk world usually results in the following line of thinking), I start to doubt the future of Dr. Pants. I start to wonder if I really have the desire or unction to stay in a rock band long-term. Acoustic music is so damned EFFICIENT. You and your instrument go up there, you plug it in (not even that if you’re campfirin’) and you go. There are no amplifiers, there is no loud drummer (at least for a lot of us...some mainstage performers played with large ensembles that included drum kit), just you and the damned song. I envy this proposition. It is part of what’s behind the decision to constantly tour the crap out of K.C. Clifford and leave Dr. Pants as an afterthought (the commercial viability of K.C. Clifford, and all the obvious financial constraints of acoustic duo vs. 4-piece rock band are quite key as well). I came home not really sure what to do next, other than practice my acoustic guitar. Luckily, fate stepped in, we did a rad podcast taping for the Elmocast at the Oklahoma City CoCo, and the next morning “Donuts” was used on CBS Sunday Morning. Voila. Dr. Pants continues unabated. I mean, I am really excited about all of this. I am also really excited about getting back on the road in July and playing some kick-ass Midwestern house concerts with K.C.

So, where is the music in all this? Who kicked ass at Kerrville? Who were some of my “favorites”? Before I go any further, I will say (with less bias than you think) that K.C.’s mainstage set was fantastic. The aforementioned Joe Crookston definitely qualifies. We listened to his record on the way home, and it’s great, too (although it lacks a certain visceral, present quality that is part of what makes listening to him in person so special. Sorry, Joe, if you’re reading this I hope that doesn’t hurt your pride). Our friend Chris O’Brien (Mr. Boston Hot Sauce himself) continues to impress as well. Louise Mosrie, one of the winners of the Kerrville New Folk competition (the songwriting competition that takes place on the first weekend of the festival…K.C. was a finalist in this competition in 2006 and 2007, but was not chosen as one of the 6 winners either time), just blew me away. Lucy Wainwright Roche was a favorite also. Find her song “Snare Drum”. Sarah Sample was fantastic, and her records (also experienced on our drive home) matched our live impressions completely. Who else was awesome? The list goes on and on…John Wort Hannam, Susan Gibson, Butch Morgan, Joe Jencks, Jaime Michaels, Steven Bacon, Bettysoo, Hans York, Devon Sproule, R.J. Cowdery, Drew Nelson, Karen Mal, Brian Kalinec, George Ensle, Larry Murante, Erik Balkey…I could go on. It is interesting to me, though, that what I said about Joe’s record could apply to a number of the folks I mentioned above. The standard operating procedure of “folk record making” could use an overhaul, in my opinion. It’s just my opinion, you can take it or leave it. The instrumentation needs to be shaken up, the production needs to become more adventurous. Rock music learned a long time ago that ANYTHING REALLY DOES GO a lot of the time. Folk artists need to become more comfortable with the idea of taking chances (at least on record…most of these songs survive “as is” in a live context just fine. It all goes back to the lyrical devices I spoke of earlier).

Now that I’ve totally ripped the folk community a new one in regards to their records…let me remind you that I’m accepting submissions for music reviews! Ha-HA! Oh, the irony. No, seriously, I really do want to review your record, and I will, if you are brave enough to send it my way. If you want me to just review one mp3, I’ll do that, too. Contact me at doctorpants@doctorpants.com to get mailing address info, or just email me an mp3. I’ll review pretty much anything, although if it’s something I hate so much that I don’t even want to make the effort, I probably won’t.

The title of this entry, “Compartmentalizing the Morass”, might seem a bit cryptic at this point, since I have yet to allude to it on any explicit level. In closing, I’ll attempt to illustrate. I suppose it refers to several things:

1) I had a lot of thoughts and feelings about Kerrville, very few of which I have really managed to express properly here. Compartmentalization inevitably leads to reduction in overall content.
2) I am currently struggling with the purpose and supposed boundaries of this blog. This is a blog about music, and my interactions with it, but ultimately I’m playing more music than I’m listening to as of late, and so many things in regards to Dr. Pants and K.C. Clifford (not to mention Weird Files, etc.) can and are becoming fodder for blog entries. I don’t anticipate this changing, but is this blog becoming an “official” blog for Dr. Pants?? That brings up a whole other mess of questions. “Am I changing the name” is one. I like “The Mixtape Jones Report”. I don’t want that to go away. Compartmentalizing the morass of music-related information continues to prove challenging.

Peace out, y’all. More soon, I hope.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gingerly Dipping My Toe In the Water...

So, I originally started this blog do really just write about things I wanted to write about. All music-related, yes, but I initially vehemently defied the trend and was not willing to solicit new music from people to review. I am thinking about starting to now, though...I think it would increase readership and take my blog up a notch in terms of visibility. What do you think? Am I betraying myself? It doesn't really feel that way. I don't have any interest in reviewing the newest and brightest, well-known records (even the not-so-well-known...I don't want to review anything that isn't either a) sent to me to review by a label/artist or b) something I feel passionate enough about and feel LED to review by my own inner whatever). But I want to feel like I am contributing to the musical blogosphere in a more meaningful, substantial way.

So, I am going to give it a shot. I am, heretofore, officially welcoming musical material to review. If you are a label/artist, you are welcome to send stuff my way. Send me an email at doctorpants@doctorpants.com, and we'll figure out the best way for you to get me the material. A warning: I am officially declaring up front that if I find any material not worth my time to review, I will not review it.

Bring it on!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So, I created a Blip.fm page for Dr. Pants. I could have created one under the Mixtape Jones moniker, but I am trying to unify under one brand a bit...I struggle every day with the fact that this blog is not officially connected with Dr. Pants in any way. It makes it a bit challenging to promote. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that don't know "Mixtape Jones" is the leader of Dr. Pants, blah blah blah. Anyway, the point is that the Blip.fm page serves a dual purpose. First, it afforded me the opportunity to upload Dr. Pants music on to Blip, so that people can "blip" it. So far, that's been very successful. Second, it allows me to fulfill my "DJ" urge in a very real way. Last night (4/15...This will more than likely get published some time a week or two later than it was written), I scheduled a time to blip, from 10-11 pm. I announced it on the Dr. Pants Twitter account several times throughout the day, and a number of people listened. I'm not going to lie to you--it was REALLY fun. I am going to do it at LEAST once a week. Here's a playlist of the set from 4/15:


Awestruck, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Sonic Youth, Pt. 1

Just finished reading Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth (David Browne). I have no reservations about saying that it's excellent. It is totally and completely worth your time if you are even remotely interested in Sonic Youth and the music that they have made over the last (almost) 30 years. Essential. It has spurred a number of thoughts in me, about the band, the book, and related topics.

I must initially get my one complaint about the tome out of the way: NO discography. I mean, maybe I can find that on their website (I'm kind of looking right now), but it would have been a fantastic thing to include. I can kind of understand the author not wanting to bother with the work, though, given the magnitude of such an undertaking. Their output alone is daunting, and the amount of material they have been involved in outside the band (solo projects, side bands, records by others they've released on their own indie imprints) is absurdly sizable as well.

I tried unsuccessfully to be a Sonic Youth fan for many years, starting, really, in high school. They were a band that I thought I might enjoy, given their tangential association with some other things that I was into. My first real experience of them came via the soundtrack to the movie Pump Up the Volume, featuring their song "Titanium Expose". I remember feeling it was "noisy", and also sounded out of tune. Ultimately, I categorize this feeling now as "not ready for it yet". I can think of a number of other instances with other music during junior high, high school and college that would fall into that same category. I borrowed a friend's copy of the Dirty album later on in high school, but still felt like I wasn't really getting it.

I tried again in college (and the year or two following). I managed to get pretty excited about their debut EP (simply titled Sonic Youth), but subsequent purchases (such as Sister and Daydream Nation) proved less enthralling to me at the time. I did decide to hang on to a couple of the instrumental EPs they released during that era, though, on their own SYR label. I pretty much gave up on becoming a fan at that point, though.

Then, recently (as in within the last year or so), something happened, and it's hard to explain what, exactly, it was. I have become fascinated with them, almost intrinsically (as if there's not an option for me to NOT be fascinated with them at this point). I've accumulated a number of their records in the last year, and I probably won't stop until I have them all. In this post (and possibly additional ones), I am attempting to explain my fascination.

Ultimately, what blows my mind about Sonic Youth is how singular their approach is/has been. Their music is distinctly rock & roll...It has (mostly) consisted of short-ish songs with lyrics, performed by some permutation of the traditional rock band instrumentation (two guitars, bass, drums). Yet, this approach has always been skewed in a certain direction, including, but not limited to, bizarre tunings, feedback, drones, free-form improvisation, etc. There might be a few more elements, but ultimately, the list is fairly small, and their music is almost ALWAYS identifiable as Sonic Youth music. What results from all this is music that can be extremely complex and challenging, but almost always ROCKS. This is nothing short of miraculous.

I want so much to be able to claim such a thing for my own band/music. Complex and challenging, but it always rocks. It is mind-bogglingly difficult to conceive how one might go about creating an aesthetic around one's art that is both as singular and compelling as Sonic Youth's. We will continue to discuss this. Comments?

Friday, April 10, 2009

My iPod Makes Me Silly

Okay, so I had a realization the other day while I was grocery shopping. I do most of the grocery shopping for our little married-couple-family-unit, and I tend to do it with my iPod on. It really makes the whole experience less tedious...I dread the sight of the grocery store much less knowing that I will have exceptional jams to keep me company.

It's hard to say how the situation I'm about to delineate evolved. I don't really know how to explain the realization I had, other than to denote that it took place as I found myself giving the finger to the oatmeal shelf in response to the sold-out nature of K.C.'s oatmeal of choice. I did this in front of other customers, pretty much without caring at all. And I literally felt like the music was making me do it, or at least bringing me to the point where I was uninhibited enough to really express myself in the moment.

Immediately after that I thought about the preceding 20-30 minutes I had been in the grocery store. Much lip-synching had occurred during that time, as well as some physical grooving-out, I'm pretty sure. All of this without a care in the world in front of the other grocery store patrons.

I didn't feel embarrassed, I didn't feel silly, even. I felt liberated and justified. I felt as if I had been heading to this point my entire life and had finally arrived. I felt as though all my years had been training for when I, at long last, allowed myself to express outwardly what music does to me internally. I remember when I first arrived at college and started taking classes from my teacher/mentor Kevin Zoernig. Kevin was awesome in so many ways, but one of the things that was immediately endearing and fascinating about him was how, when he was listening to something (either a record or a live performance), he unabashedly, PHYSICALLY grooved out to it. His head moved, bobbed, rocked back & forth, with his facial expression constantly changing. It was one of the coolest things I ever had the privilege of witnessing, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I have been trying to get to that point of inhibition and connection since. What is the music doing to you? What do you WANT the music to do to you? If you allowed yourself to project outwardly how the music is making you FEEL, what would that look like?

I don't think I flipped off the oatmeal shelf because the song I was listening to made me particularly angry. I also don't feel any shame whatsoever about flipping off an inanimate object in front of other people. I think I flipped off the oatmeal because I was truly annoyed at the lack of the oatmeal I needed to buy, and I was just uninhibited enough to allow that frustration to express itself outwardly.

I think this is why music is amazing...It puts us in touch with things that we don't access otherwise.

To a Mother Concerned About File Sharing

Okay, I have to admit I was conflicted about this one. MusicianWages.com's blog posted the following email they received from a concerned mother:

I have a teenage son who tells me his pirating music is no big deal. Since he is a musician himself, I point out to him that someday that’s going to be his money people are stealing. But he remains unphased.

He tells me the record sales make money for the record label, not the artist. He says that the artists make all their money from touring and live concerts. He thinks the pirated music promotes the concerts and therefore helps the artist make more money. I still don’t allow pirating in my house.

But tell me what you think - as artists out there having your work “shared,” are you just glad to have it being enjoyed, or does it bother you? Admittedly, he is stealing music that is recorded by major record labels, so maybe its different than the independent musician working for his living. But I’d still like to hear what you think.


They then asked music bloggers to post a response TODAY (4/16) and email a link back to them. Here's what I have to say:

Here's my question: is EVERYTHING he is pirating on a major label? I mean, have we gone through it with a fine-tooth comb, and made sure that nothing independent or on an indie label snuck through? What if his tastes start to change and he starts to listen to a lot more indie music? Will he really be able to change the habit after he has already become so accustomed to getting all his listening material for free? I totally agree that, for the most part, most artists signed to labels, especially major labels, don't make a very large share of their income from record sales. But pretty much EVERYONE else who is a recording artist DEPENDS on this as part of their bread & butter. I am not a big fan of the major labels...I agree that they have shown nothing but greed in their reaction(s) to the file-sharing epidemic. Ultimately, though, it is all about the attitude, the attitude that MUSIC IS WORTH SOMETHING. I will, more than likely, always feel that when I put my blood, sweat and tears into making a record, creating something that I deem good enough to expose to the world at large, that record is worth paying for. How is anyone who is NOT on a major label ever expected to make a living creating art if the world decides that it should all be free? Indie artists don't always have the ability to tour to offset this lack of income, either. It's an expensive undertaking to bring a 4-piece rock band on the road (this being the ONLY reason that you have not seen a badass, monumentally awesome Dr. Pants tour...3 out of 4 of us are married, and have bills to pay. I am going to have to figure out how to put these guys on salary if we ever hope to do this).

Music shouldn't be free, not because a record label needs to make money, but because the majority of recording artists aren't on labels, and their music is worth paying for. Period.

Even then, we're only talking about ownership. We're talking about a CD, MP3 or some other type of audio file that one can listen to anywhere, not just on these here world wide webs. When we start talking about the internet, streaming audio, online radio, the dilemma becomes more complex. I have to admit, it would be REALLY great if I could get an ASCAP royalty every time someone played my song on Blip.fm or Last.fm or any of the other online music services. It's like, in order to have a world where people have the option of finding quality music to listen to online (as opposed to the wasteland that is terrestrial radio), we've had to sacrifice the possibility of helping quality artists make a living from what they do. Please don't hear me say that I'm not grateful for these services; I am incredibly humbled by how many people have blipped Dr. Pants. I just wish that there was some sort of way I could get paid for that. At this point, I can only hope that enough blipping, etc. occurs that people will decide to pay to download my stuff from iTunes or wherever.

I hope I am not raising a firestorm (maybe I secretly, unconsciously hope that I am, but I don't think so). This is just the honest perspective of an independent artist who sincerely desires to make a living from it. If I do manage to make a living from it, the music will only get better...I promise. I will spend waaay more time working on it in that scenario.

Okay, now that I've said my peace...The sound file for my first iMix, Great Power Pop, is up and listenable. Go check it out. I'll hopefully have files up for a couple more of them by next week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Announcements/Zappa by Barry Miles

Hey, folks. A couple of things...

First, I am super-psyched to tell you that I am getting audio up on as many of the mixtape entries as I can, thanks to 8track.com! I can create an audio file of the mix there (or each side of a mix) and then embed it in a blog entry! So far, I have files up for Clam Snout and the Soundtrack Spotlight: 1989 entries, so go check 'em out!!

Second, I am hoping to start doing some writing for some other blogs and sites, and I have a lead or two, so I'll keep you posted about that. And now, without further ado:

So I recently read Barry Miles’ Frank Zappa biography, called simply Zappa. I haven’t really looked online for other reviews of the book; I don’t know if others feel about it the same way I did. I imagine some of them must—it’s not exactly the most favorable view of the man, his work & his life.

Once I had finished the book, I kind of felt that Miles’ goal was to put Zappa on trial. It’s almost as if, now that he’s been dead a while, Miles felt that we can stop talking about what a genius the guy was and finally address what a jerk he could be. I don’t really understand his motivation. Mind you, a few of his corrections to Zappa’s version of events were welcome, but most of it seemed like it was designed to tear my/our image of the guy down.

I can’t imagine that Gail Zappa or any of her children were in favor of the book, or gave it their stamp of approval in any way. No one seems more interested in protecting the legacy of Frank Zappa than his widow (all the more ironic given the tales of Zappa’s adultery and marital troubles delineated in Miles’ text). I guess, ultimately, Miles was attempting to portray Zappa as a human being, rather than some genius on a pedestal, but I don’t think anyone in the Zappa family wants to see his/her deceased husband/father’s name dragged through the mud.

Miles’ basic accusations toward Zappa are that he was incredibly bitter, incredibly cynical, a jerk, a thief (all the issues with Zappa taking credit for the early Mothers of Invention members’ contributions are raised and paraded about), unrealistic in his expectations of his audience, and an inattentive, absent and downright lousy father. Miles seems to have no sympathy for the man, either, as if all of the issues that caused Zappa trouble in his interactions with the world and other people must have been completely his fault. I understand that we all have choices in terms of how we let the difficult aspects of our lives affect us, Mr. Miles, but there are grounds, especially since he’s not around to defend himself, for some sort of benefit of the doubt to be given. I’m sure that, like most of us, there were a lot of ugly moments where Zappa was doing the best he could.

Finally, the thing that becomes most apparent throughout the text is that Miles doesn’t seem to really LIKE Zappa’s music that much. I mean, why would one even bother to write an exhaustive biography of a musician who one didn’t even care for? I can’t imagine such a massive waste of time. Miles seems to be fairly impressed with Zappa’s orchestral work, but that’s really about it. Nary a kind word is levied on pivotal albums like Apostrophe’ or Joe’s Garage—in fact both of those albums suffer at Miles’ pen. Any praise for Zappa’s early work with the original M.O.I. is tarnished by the insistent harping on the unjust treatment of the members of that ensemble. It’s almost as if there is some sort of personal feeling of betrayal that Miles is acting out. Either that, or he has somehow avoided being touched or affected by Zappa’s music in any way, which again brings me back to the question: if you don’t really care for the music, then WHY BOTHER?

If you’re interested in reading something about the man, skip this one. Highly recommended texts on Zappa include:

The Real Frank Zappa Book-Frank Zappa w/ Peter Ochiogrosso
A text that receives a great deal of venom from Miles’ tongue…he almost takes Zappa publishing his own version of certain events personally.
Frank Zappa’s Negative Dialectic of Poodle Play-Ben Watson
This is a fascinating and impressive academic analysis of Zappa’s albums and music. It really breaks down the “conceptual continuity” idea in a cool way. Not for the flippant, but essential for Zappa fans.
Relix, Issue #33-2
The cover story is a really great overview of the man’s career from the point of view of the jam-band community. It exhibits a healthy, yet still reverent perspective.

I hope you folks don’t feel like I’ve been posting too much Zappa stuff recently. I have a couple of other things in the pipeline that aren’t Zappa-related, so be patient.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Secret Story of Jon Bon Jovi's Brother

Repost this on your own blogs to keep Jimmy’s memory alive!!

The Secret Meaning Behind Bon Jovi’s "Lost Highway"

When Bon Jovi’s latest release, "Lost Highway", hit stores this past June, the press for the record focused primarily on the "new direction" of the music, and its countrified feel. What no one talked about was the inspiration for this record, because, quite frankly, no one had any clue what the true inspiration really was.

Whispers have been heard in the music industry lately, whispers about an event in Jon Bon Jovi’s life that had a huge impact on him. This event, in itself, wouldn’t be so significant if it didn’t reveal so large a story.

Some time in 2006, there was a death in Jon Bon Jovi’s family. His brother Jimmy passed away. Not many people even know the name Jimmy Bon Jovi (or Bongiovi, as their surname was originally spelled), but the few that are familiar with the name know that it belonged to a man whose musical talent eclipsed that of his brother on every level.

Jimmy Bon Jovi was three years older than his brother Jon. The two grew up making music together, and when Jon assembled his band in the early 80’s, Jimmy assumed an "honorary member" role, mentoring Jon and his buddies as they worked on demos (in their uncle Tony’s studio) and began to make records and tour. The night that Jon met Richie Sambora, Jimmy was right by his side, and allegedly told Jon that he should let him join the band.

During the band’s earlier years, Jimmy attended every recording session, helped Jon write songs (usually uncredited), and encouraged his brother in every way possible, while working on his own music on the side. Jimmy had been putting aside songs for a debut album since about 1983, and was almost finished recording them when another pivotal event in the Bon Jovi brothers’ lives occurred.

Jon stopped by the Empire Rock Club in Philadelphia one evening in 1986, just to have a couple of drinks and relax. The band booked at the club that night was Cinderella, whom Jon was quite enthused about. History says that he took them under his wing and subsequently let them open for his band on the Slippery When Wet tour. What he really did was refer them to Jimmy, who mentored them while they made their first record. Jon didn’t have time to work with them during that period, as he and the band were hard at work writing songs for what would become "Slippery When Wet". Some time towards the end of Cinderella’s sessions for its debut "Night Songs", a falling out occurred between Jimmy and the band, and this would prove to be the first blow that contributed to Jimmy walking away from the music business for good.

Meanwhile, earlier in the year, Jimmy had finally entered his uncle Tony’s studio to record the tracks for his first album, titled "Walking Off The Blues". The music had a feel to it that reflected the times, in that it had some of the same flavor as Bon Jovi’s work during the same period, but it also had an ease and a grace to it that gave it a similar feel to some of the Beatles’ best music. As sessions wound down for the record, Jimmy called Jon and told him that he was pretty sure he had created a masterpiece. Jimmy’s record label had decided to wait and release the record after Bon Jovi’s next album, so that there wouldn’t be any competition in terms of sales. Jimmy thought that was a good idea, and waited patiently for his moment in the sun. Almost as an afterthought, he added a cover of Paul McCartney’s "With a Little Luck" to the album.
When it came time for Bon Jovi to record what would become the first mega-selling album of its career, Jimmy was in attendance at all the sessions, as usual. He offered advice when he felt it was welcome, but was put off by the presence, for the first time, of outside songwriter Desmond Child, who he felt was trying to steal his brother’s band from him. Child, conversely, was unimpressed with Jimmy, and didn’t do much to warm the atmosphere between them. In spite of all this, Jimmy did contribute his song "Never Say Goodbye" to the album, although, in line with his own expressed wishes, the song was not credited to him.

As "Slippery When Wet" approached its release date, apparently Jon and Jimmy got together for a drink one evening. Jon apologized to his brother for the way the sessions had gone, and for the atmosphere that Desmond Child’s presence had created. Jon wanted Jimmy to join Bon Jovi as a full-time member of the band for their upcoming tour. It would be the perfect way to prep the audience for Jimmy’s solo record, Jon said. Jimmy was reluctant…The single for "You Give Love A Bad Name" was already starting to pick up some steam, and Jimmy was mainly interested in music, and not in the whole rock and roll circus he knew his brother was about to enter into. An unfortunate allergic reaction to a chemical used in the hairspray ubiquitous to Bon Jovi’s onstage look during the period pretty much sealed the deal for Jimmy—he would just stay home and wait for his record to come out.

An actual release of "Walking Off The Blues" was not to be, however. When Jimmy’s label heard about his decision, they took the record off the release schedule, reportedly telling Jimmy in a phone conversation, "This is the eighties. No one has time for Brian fucking Wilson now. Call us back when you want to be a star." One test pressing of the record had already been done, and to this day, those are the only copies that exist of Jimmy’s lone album. Those who have heard it say that it was potentially the key album of the entire hair metal era—that it could have "legitimized" a music that to this day has trouble getting critical respect. It could have made late eighties pop metal the most revered style of rock & roll of the 20th century. Had "Walking Off the Blues" been released, it’s possible the alternative revolution wouldn’t have even occurred. Also, many have said that the aforementioned cover of "With a Little Luck" redefined that song’s potential, and that Paul McCartney’s version pales by comparison. Most people are holding on tight to their test copy of "Blues". In fact, there’s only been one sighting of a copy on Ebay to date, and it sold for over $10,000.

After Jimmy’s dream was shattered, he retired from the music business for good, taking a construction job back in the boys’ hometown in New Jersey. It is said that every time Bon Jovi finished an album, from "New Jersey" through "Have a Nice Day" (the last album recorded while Jimmy was still alive), Jon would either come by the house and play it for his brother, or send him a copy, if he couldn’t get home. The only thing Jimmy would ever say in response to his brother’s new music was, "You’re one step closer, man. One step closer."

Jimmy Bongiovi, Jon’s brother, friend, mentor and musical superior, died in New Jersey in 2006. His memory lives on in the music of Bon Jovi’s new album, "Lost Highway". The song "One Step Closer" is presumed to be about Jimmy, and inspired by his cryptic affirmations for Jon’s music over the years. There’s even a hidden reference to Jimmy’s long lost album in the lyrics, with the phrase "with a little luck" turning up in the song more than once.

More than anything, though, the album title is revealing, because Jon Bon Jovi is looking for his brother, Jimmy, but he’s not going to find him.

Please repost this, so that the memory of Jimmy Bon Jovi and his talent is properly honored.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Artistic Temperament

So, periodically I'll go back to my blog I had on MySpace and I'll find entries that I want to republish here, mostly because my readership there was even more pitifully small than it is here. Here's one that I really liked at the time and I still like now:

So, one of the things in life that continues to fascinate/frustrate me is the concept of "The Artistic Temperament". I think that I can safely say that such a thing does, in fact, exist, but proving its existence is not the problem.

People who tend to fall into the "artist" category tend to be introverted in everyday life, and are averse to activities/work/ways to spend their time that don't nourish their soul or spirit. These things I ascribe to this group of people are things that I have either experienced myself, or seen or read enough examples of that I think I can safely do so. Many people have interpreted these tendencies to mean that artists are, in fact, LAZY, or unmotivated, or apathetic about the world/people around them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I guess what I'm getting at is that, as I said above, I am both fascinated and frustrated by the situation I laid out in the previous paragraph. The fascination part comes in because it's almost this tragically beautiful thing--we live in a country that grants our right to individual freedom, and that includes the freedom to make whatever art we want, whatever art we feel driven to make. The paradox comes in when we consider that, in my opinion and that of many others, art is not valued very highly in our country by the population at large, and it is almost impossible to make a living making art. The devaluing of music by the internet and P2P software, etc. is just one recent example of this. The frustration I feel comes from the fact that I appreciate the freedom I have, and NO, I don't want everything handed to me on a silver platter. I do want someone to stand up (besides me) and say that my art is valuable, though, and it's really difficult for me, and many others I know, to be and stay committed to jobs that don't nourish us, don't fulfill us, and probably won't start to any time soon. I want to be able to provide for my family, and all of that, but I also want to keep making my art, on a real, committed level.

I just read an old interview from 1998 with Jeff Mangum, the primary songwriter behind the group Neutral Milk Hotel. (we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of IN THE AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA, their monumental second album, this month...If you've never heard it, go buy it RIGHT NOW). In it he talks about a telemarketing job where he spent most of his time either sitting at his desk with his phone disconnected, or hanging out in the bathroom pretending to be sick to his stomach. Is that a good, old-fashioned American work ethic? No. But I can't help feeling some sort of sympathy for the guy. I mean, it's hard to say if he had any idea that his music, especially the record he had just made at the time of the interview, would be so revered by so many people, or considered to be one of the great albums of the 90s. He probably didn't, though...I truly believe that his behavior at that job had nothing to do with laziness. It's just SO CONTRARY to our makeup as artists to do things like that some times...We'll work until we're dead on things that we're passionate about, though.

And those things could be a lot of positive, beautiful things, that would add so much to our culture and enrich the lives of many people.

I don't know how it's all supposed to work. I don't know to what degree we should have to suck it up and deny the way we were made in order to accomplish the basic things in life. I'm just trying to find the right balance between all those things in order to keep moving forward with my heart at peace.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My College of Santa Fe Tribute Mixtape

So, some background: I went to college at the College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was there from 1993-1997. I have extremely fond memories of my college experience, even though a great many of them are tinged with remnants of regret (I have been on a path for a long time towards learning how not to regret...I would argue that all the missteps in my life more than likely led me to all the good things I have now. And I have some really good things in my life at this point). Why a tribute mixtape to my alma mater at this time? Because my college is in danger of shutting down, completely. CSF is in such financial trouble that if the New Mexcio state legislature doesn't approve a bill to purchase the institution, it will go under. This semester will be the LAST ONE. So I wanted to put something out there that somehow paid respect to the place where I spent four extremely formative years. It's a 4-sided mix, with a side for each year of school. I also only put songs on it that I associate with an experience that occurred on campus; in other words, since I'll always be able to go back and visit Santa Fe itself, no songs that remind me of various locales in the city were allowed in. So here's the track listing:

Side 1 (Freshman Year)


Side 2 (Sophomore Year)


Side 3 (Junior Year)


Side 4 (Senior Year)


Freshman Year:
ONE LONG PAIR OF EYES: I could start a lot of mixtapes with this song. It was a really significant song for me for a number of years. The first week I was in Santa Fe was orientation week for freshmen. No classes, just orientation events and hanging out. I hung out with almost no one that week that I stayed friends with. There was a girl named Jennifer that I spent a lot of time with that week, and subjected her to a number of forced listening of songs in my dorm room. This was one of them.

WHIP IT: Later that week (or the next week maybe) was the first student government-sponsored dance party thing. I went and got funky. The DJ was pretty 80's-focused, and I remember this song being played. I also remember feeling like all the girls in the room that I'd want to date appeared to somehow already be dating people. WTF?

SYNCRHONICITY II: There was a tiny little used record shop around the corner from campus freshman year, so tiny it was just a room in the back of a used book shop. He always had some good stuff, though. I decided I wanted to start buying vinyl again, even though I didn't have a functioning turntable at the time. Syncrhonicity by The Police was one of my first few purchases. I wound up using the turntables in the basement of the library to listen to it.

WALK DON'T RUN: The California Guitar Trio came and did a workshop and concert for the music department that year. They were one of the few performers whose CD and concert were equally good. I remember hearing them play this at the show in the Weckesser Studio Theatre.

REBA: I had a big paper due at the end of first semester in my "Act of Listening" class where I was supposed to analyze 20 minutes or so of music from every angle possible. I chose "Reba" by Phish and "Jig-Saw Puzzle" by the Rolling Stones. I played those songs over and over and over again...drove my roommate crazy.


BESAME MUCHO: My friend Tom was a pretty big Beatles bootleg collector. For Christmas that year, he was kind enough to make me some compilations of some of the most notable material he had accumulated. After I listened to this track with him, we would periodically and randomly say "Cha Cha BOOM!" to each other.

SATELLITE: I was in a long distance relationship with a girl for a good chunk of freshman year (for clarity's sake, I will tell you that the relationship solidified AFTER that first dance I mentioned earlier, so I was not scoping out other women while claiming devotion to my long distance girlfriend). Our relationship ended in February after she sent me a break-up letter. I remember, for some reason, that this song was what I needed to hear after reading that letter. I strapped on my walkman, threw this in, and proceeded to walk across campus to the record store just beyond the edge of campus. It really was just right.

WHERE KNOCK IS OPEN WIDE: My friend Brian Williams introduced me to His Name Is Alive, and Brian also chose to learn this song for his voice lessons that he took second semester. He then asked me if I would accompany him on guitar when he performed it at music forum.

LOSER: This song was everywhere by the time school was starting to end. I remember listening to it in my dorm room, and I remember watching the video on MTV in the lounge.

Sophomore Year:
I CAN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT: Ween released their Chocolate & Cheese album at the beginning of my sophomore year--it came out the same day as Monster by R.E.M. I played this record, and this song, constantly, and put it on, like, three different mixtapes I made that fall. It simply was an essential song for me at the time.

BLUE DRESS: I put this one on one of those fall of '94 mixtapes, too, and I distinctly remember sitting in my dorm room making that very tape, late at night, after my new girlfriend had gone to bed. The tumultuous path of the next 4 years of my life had begun.

SATAN GAVE ME A TACO: My memory of this song isn't of listening to it, but of singing it, LOUDLY, as I came of the stairs of the dorm one day after class. My friend Eric was in his room down the hall, and I could hear him start laughing as I completed the line "opened up a taco stand just to smell the smell".

MILES RUNS THE VOODOO DOWN: I was not quite able to put these songs in the exact sequential order of the memories I associate them with...I remember listening to this song in the basement of the library, taking a break from attempting to flirt with one of the students who worked there (this was all before I started dating the girl mentioned in the "Blue Dress" entry). I figured if I listened to something lengthy, I would be able to occupy myself long enough for my nerves to calm down a bit.

LET'S MAKE THE WATER TURN BLACK: This song and the album it came from (We're Only In It For the Money) signified the beginning of my Zappa obsession. I played this album in my dorm room so many times.

NO ONE KNOWS MY PLAN: I started to assemble a much better stereo system around the middle of my sophomore year, and brought some components back to school with me after Christmas break. I told my friend Phil to come by my room and listen, and this is the song I used to demonstrate the stereo.

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN: Another library song. I remember listening to it as I walked out of the library after having checked email (that was the first year that we had email, 1994-1995).

SIGN O' THE TIMES: I could make a college soundtrack mixtape that consists of mostly Frank Zappa and Prince songs. That being said, I put the intro to this one on my answering machine for part of sophomore year. I remember my teacher Kevin calling and leaving a message that said something like, "It's good to hear that groove this early in the morning."

LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE IT: Again the sequencing gets screwy, but I put this on a mixtape for my friend Renee's roommate at the beginning of the year (we traded). I can't remember her name, but I remember Brian (who was dating Renee) heard the tape in their room and commented on what a great song this was.

Junior Year:
PROFESSOR NUTBUTTER'S HOUSE OF TREATS: I listened to this album a couple of times the day that I moved into the dorm junior year. Things were awkward with the aforementioned girlfriend after having been apart for the summer. The tumultuous path was about to get really tumultuous.

BELL BOTTOM BLUES: Said girlfriend hadn't actually broken up with me, but it felt like she had. I put this on a mixtape with some other songs of misery and listened to them constantly for weeks. I remember being in one of the larger music classrooms waiting for class to start with this in my headphones.

FREEDOM ROCK: I had kept my summer job at Mervyn's as first semester started. I had to be there at 6:30 am on Fridays. I recall driving along the row of dorms on campus in my car listening to this, about to exit on to the street and go to work.

BEGINNING OF THE HEARTBREAK/DON'T DON'T: This was written and recorded by one of my professors, almost 20 years before he came to teach at CSF. He played this recording of it in forum class as a quasi-introduction to his musical past. I latched on to this one...It is well worth checking out if you like late 70's/early 80's quasi club dance stuff. The title pretty much summed up the entire year romantically for me as well.

THE INFERNAL DANCE OF KING KASCHEI: This is from The Firebird Suite, which I did a paper on that year. I also used the melody from this for a 3/4 time conducting exercise in conducting class.

DESERT SEARCH FOR TECHNO ALLAH: No record better exemplifies the scrambled, twisted state of my emotions in the spring of 1996 better than Disco Volante by Mr. Bungle. I brought this track into my Music & Computers class because I was intrigued by the mix of electronic and organic elements.

WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY: By the time junior year ended, I was spent emotionally. I bought the Joe's Garage album about a week before school ended, and spent the better part of two days putting it on in my free moments until I got all the way through. I was about to go to the music department awards party, and I heard this for the first time in my room, windows open, lovely Santa Fe spring air pouring in. Up until then, I had never been so torn up emotionally and yet been so thrilled with the weather (pssh). This song can be emotionally devastating, but it can also be incredibly uplifting. It would prove to be both for me over time.

Senior Year:
RE-GYPTIAN STRUT: This is Phil and me, in my room again. I had just bought this CD, and he was there with me for the maiden voyage. He seemed almost as blown away as me.

UNSUPERVISED, I HIT MY HEAD: This is Eric and me, also in my room (it should be noted that I lived in the same dorm room for all four years of college, so when I say "my room", I really mean "MY room". They should have named it after me). It was one of the last times that we shared music with each other before my dumb ass chose my now on-again girlfriend over his friendship. Granted, it shouldn't have come to that, but this is one of the things that I am trying to learn how to NOT regret. The "Now I'm left handed" line was Eric's favorite.

DINOSAUR: I listened to King Crimson's Thrak a LOT first semester, in various locales around campus; the music building, out and about walking, my car in the parking lot, etc.

LORD ONLY KNOWS: The first week I was back at school, there was a barbecue on the quad and I played an acoustic set. Odelay had just come out a few months before. Ben Callan, who was running sound, asked if there was any particular song I wanted played over the P.A. right before my set, and I chose this one.

BEST IMITATION OF MYSELF: I had a dream where I was in a band performing this song at forum class, and that my friend Christina was singing it. I then attempted to learn how to play it on the piano (the crappy little upright in the student union building) so we could all perform it together, but to no avail.

MOST OF THE TIME: Hoo...it occurs to me now that this was a sophomore year song that somehow wound up in the senior year pile. That's okay. I remember hearing it in my teacher Kevin's studio, while he was giving me composition lessons. He was using it as a good songwriting example. Boy was he right.

IT'S TRICKY: My friend Jared aka Lord Chain and I rocked this in forum class with a few other guys from the music department backing us up. It was the first time I rapped publicly...I think we all know it wasn't the last.

ELLA GURU: My Music & Aesthetics class I took my senior year was one of my favorite courses throughout all of college. One of the lectures covered people like Zappa and Beefheart...I distinctly remember listening to the first four tracks from Trout Mask Replica in class and feeling so much cooler than everyone else because I already OWNED that record.

BORN SLIPPY: The last two tracks on this mixtape, to me, are very much bookends to my senior year of college. This one is another flashback to the beginning of the year, when I felt so optimistic and excited about whatever was to come, whether it be musically, socially, romantically, etc. If you've seen "Trainspotting" (that soundtrack was how I acquired this song), you know that this song plays over the last scene, after the heroin deal goes through and Renton makes off with all the money, presumably to start his life over and do all the things he's always wanted to do. The feeling I had during that sequence of the film was how the entire first month of senior year felt...There were a lot of moments during that month that I just couldn't wait to get back to my room and listen to songs like this.

FAKE PLASTIC TREES: By the end, though, I felt kind of lost. My senior concert had been a success, and it did lead to getting my first job (in the music industry no less), but I grew to hate that job, and felt completely trapped in the relationship I was in. The kind of hopeless melancholy that this song conveys so effectively slowly became my entire world. At the same time, I don't think I ever completely lost hope, the same way that I feel like this song doesn't.

I didn't really mean to end that on a downer...I feel like that is truly where college ended, though. Like I said before, I wouldn't trade my CSF experience for anything. The thought that the school simply won't be there anymore greatly saddens me. Let this mixtape be a testament to the fact that CSF changed and shaped lives, namely mine.