April 23, 2006 | HARMLESS UNTRUTHS

All work and no play makes Jeff something something

Why oh why am I feeling this urge to write little commentaries about music when I am supposed to be writing a massive essay on serious issues that I am even actually interested in? It makes no sense.

“70’s Manual Worker” · Hood · Structured Disasters, 1997

Available at this excellent Hood website. I discovered Hood about a year ago and fell immediately in love with them. I’ll discuss them sometime in the future…

It is rough, this being back in school thing. I am going to grad school and working at the same time — jednocze?nie — gleichzeitig — and it is pretty frustrating, not having time for anything but work and homework, work and homework. The things that are being cut out of my life are actually very important ones to me, including playing guitar and going to shows. I have no time or energy to make it out to shows and playing guitar is becoming something I have to actually schedule in. It is the first time in many years when I am not really writing music (cuz instead I am writing essays about democratization theories and such).

“Stricken Office Worker” · Hood · Lee Faust’s Million Piece Orchestra, 1996

Also available at the same mysterious Hood website.

Instead of writing my own music, I have to make up a soundtrack to my daily life out of the bits and pieces of music I’ve accumulated over the past 15 years. Over the course of six months or so, I’ve managed to rip almost all of my CDs and organized them and my various random mp3s into what is approaching a comprehensive collection of my music. I still have some records and seven-inches that I’d like to get around to, and bags full of cassettes that I am not sure how to handle. But I’ll figure it out.

It’s amusing, I deliberately avoid organizing any other part of my life, even things that seem vaguely similar to my music collection (like books for example). Yet I am semi-obsessed with having thousands upon thousands of mp3s properly tagged. I am not sure why. I think it is partly just technophilia and my enjoyment of using MediaMonkey (you can keep your itunes).

“Paperwork” · Hot Snakes · Suicide Invoice, 2002

Hot Snakes were amazing, but this isn’t one of their best songs…

And yet I’m still totally ambivalent about this whole new way of experiencing music. Today I was reading an article in the Guardian about Bob Dylan’s upcoming radio show for XM. And it sounded totally cool. He is doing themes and his first theme is “weather” and I am guessing that Bob Dylan spent a few hours or a few days making a list of his favorite songs that are about the weather. But maybe, like most of us, he has become lazy because of technology. All I had to do was type “weather” into MediaMonkey and it showed me that, along with a CD by the Weather Report, I have six songs with the word “weather” in the title. If I added “rain” and “wind” and such, I could come up with an interesting mix of weather songs in about 2 minutes. But it ain’t the same as a mix of songs that actually required thinking. And ever since Napster and its successors, all you have to do is type those terms in the right places and you will soon have more weather music than anybody ever wanted.

My search for “work” amongst my mp3s led me to some interesting results, but as I sit and stare at the screen, trying and trying to write my paper, the song that comes to mind has nothing (directly) to do with work:

“Sam Jayne = Dead” · Love As Laughter · Sea To Shining Sea, 2001

Sam Jayne is playing here this week, opening for Fruit Bats, but I probably won’t go, as I will be severely sleep deprived from pulling several consecutive all-nighters to finish my stupid homework.

Shoot me in the head man, shoot me in the head. It’s 1:30 p.m. as I write this and the only time I’ve left my apartment in the past 30 hours was to go to the market this morning and load up on sugar and coffee. My drugs of choice. Wish me luck as I try to survive a couple more days of typing typing typing all night long.

“Black Gang Coffee” · Mike Watt · Contemplating the Engine Room, 1997

Such a great album…. Watt’s best work and Nels Cline on guitar… it’ll spin your rotor.