Category Archives: Music

Fried potatoes

Tonight I saw a wonderful concert by a band called Papas Fritas. They are surely one of the best pop-rock bands of this or any era. I have seen them play live twice, and I can say that their live performances are the perfect compromise between matching the high production quality of their recordings, and the charming little things that can only happen during live shows, such as one of the members covering “What a Wonderful World” while the rest of the band scramble for a replacement bass drum pedal.

They have three albums out. They are all excellent. Buy them all.

They have sound clips on their website here. Go to!

No. It’s NOT obvious.

Digital Underground, “Humpty Dance”, second verse:

People say “Yo, Humpty, you’re really funny lookin'”
that’s all right ’cause I get things cookin’
Ya stare, ya glare, ya constantly try to compare me
but ya can’t get near me
I give ‘em more, see, and on the floor, B,
all the girls they adore me
Oh yes, ladies, I’m really bein’ sincere
’cause in a 69 my humpty nose will tickle ya rear.
My nose is big, uh-uh I’m not ashamed
Big like a pickle, I’m still gettin’ paid
I get laid by the ladies, ya know I’m in charge,
both how I’m livin’ and my nose is large
I get stoopid, I shoot an arrow like Cupid,
I use a word that don’t mean nothin’, like looptid
I sang on Doowhutchalike, and if ya missed it,
I’m the one who said just grab ‘em in the biscuits
Also told ya that I like to bite
Well, yeah, I guess it’s obvious, I also like to write.

That’s nice, Humpty. I like to write too. But in what way have you made this obvious?

Is it that you have choreographed this little dance of yours? Where you limp to the side like your leg was broken, shakin’ and twitchin’ kind of like you were smokin’? That’s not writing, son. That’s choreography.

I know that you have love for Hennessy, crackers, and licorice. And while it is no doubt true that many writers enjoy these items, no substantial connection has been made linking the two. If I am to infer you like to write from these examples, well, that’s a leap in logic I’m just not ready to take.

Perhaps you have written this rap, and that’s why it is obvious you also like to write. I submit that this does not necessarily follow. It’s possible, given the clues, that you find writing to be a real chore. You like to rhyme; you like your beats funky. The way I see it, you’d be much more at ease freestyling in front of a crowd than hunched over a table at home trying to figure out what rhymes with “Burger King bathroom”. And while an argument can be made that freestyling is in fact writing, surely it is unconventional by today’s standards; and the average listener would be hard-pressed to jump from this to the conclusion that you have a love of the craft of writing.

So, no. Not obvious at all. I recommend you amend the line to the following:

And this is somewhat notable: I also like to write.

You will thank me later.

Cat scratch boogie

Tonight, I have spent several hours watching MTV’s sister station. I refer to MTV2, the sister whose tits aren’t quite as big or perky but she more than makes up for them with style and class, as opposed to VH1, the older, fatter sister who sits around talking on the phone all day and whose friends speak in hushed tones of their worries that she will never marry.

This weekend, MTV2 has decided that it is going to show several hundred videos in the order of their beats per minute. This means that the songs start very slow, and at the end of the rotation, the songs are going very fast. They actually showed several songs per BPM count, with the count ticking up a notch every forty-five minutes or so. It was interesting to see the wide variety of songs that could be the same BPM: some hip-hop thing, some generic ’80s song, two Moby songs in a row! Just incredible. The tragedy here is that when they get around to the really fast songs, I will be at work and thus unable to engage in a dance marathon.

Which is not to say, of course, that I haven’t had my share of dance marathons recently. Just last night I experienced a fairly intense dance mania. It was non-MTV2 related, so I served as my own DJ, flipping back and forth between CDs as the urge struck me, dancing around to a song until it bored me and then switching to something else. Such events are not uncommon in my apartment, although this one was a bit longer than usual.

Generally speaking, the longer such a marathon goes, the more my cat becomes concerned for both my well-being and his own. His concern manifests itself in the form of loud mewling and impressive vertical leaps at my head. Unfortunately, last night, I decided to try to calm him down by picking him up and cradling him in my loving arms. In any other case his violent kitty emotions would have been soothed by such a measure, but you can see last night’s results for yourself:

like ow

I now have a big freaky scar on my arm. But these are the sacrifies one must make…

…in pursuit of the dance.

A flame that burns within ya

It’s peculiar, this old life.

A few years back, when I was more musically active and constantly whistling promising new melodies into my tape recorder, I stumbled across a series of notes which I was sure I had heard before. This, of course, is not uncommon for a songwriter, because you are subjected to any number of outside influences seeping into your subconscious mind. As a youngster, I wrote a song that I later discovered copied Joe Jackson’s song “Got the Time” note-for-note, and certainly I never sat down and listened to that record before I wrote the song. At most, perhaps I heard it on a mix tape in a friend’s car on the way to school in the morning, or conceivably the cover version by Anthrax. I may have heard my metalhead junior high friends singing it amongst themselves. Not until my older brother sent me a copy of the song on a tape just a couple years ago did I realize how close a match the song was. In melody and rhythm, not quality, of course.

This time around, I found the series of notes bouncing around inside my brain. I thought long and hard and although they sounded familiar, I could not place them into the context of an entire song. I figured that the tune was from a trumpet warm-up book that I used in band class in junior high, and so resigned myself to not being able to think of the song that the tune was from.

A couple nights ago, however, the song revealed itself, on, strangely enough, the HBO series “Real Sex”. There was a segment detailing some town or other that had passed an ordinance barring nudity from non-theatrical performances, and a savvy strip club’s way around that rule by putting on performances of Shakespeare in the nude. I wasn’t watching too closely, because as a wholesome, clean-cut Christian with upstanding Christian morals and a cutting Christian wit, I’m not really into that type of thing, but suddenly I took notice of a song playing non-diagetically within the segment. It was THAT song!

And what was the song? “Freedom” from the musical Shenandoah. “Freedom ain’t a state like Maine or Virginia, freedom ain’t across some county line. Freedom is a flame that burns within ya, freedom is a state of mind!” The bit I remembered was only a small part of it, and over the years I had embellished it in my brain, adding rhythmic variations and intertwining harmonies, but it was no doubt THAT song. The question remained: why the hell did I know THAT song?

There are two possible answers: either I sang it in fourth grade chorus, or my younger brother sang it in fourth grade chorus. For some reason I have a better memory of the songs my younger brother sang in fourth grade chorus, including “One” from A Chorus Line, “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?”, “Where Is Home?”, and, of course, “We, the Children of America” (for which the sixth grade band provided musical accompaniment).

Don’t look at me like that.

My new current favorite record ever

don't look at me like that
Different Light by The Bangles

Pure pop heaven.

When I was in junior high, my friends, many of whom had mullets and were far cooler than I, were keen on starting a band, for which they had come up with the memorable name “Dark Nightmare”. One fellow wanted to play guitar, another wanted to play drums, another wanted to play bass. I asked if I could be the singer, but no, they already had the singing covered. I said, “Well, can’t there be more than one singer? Can’t different people sing on different songs?” No, I was told. “Why not?”

“Because we don’t want to be like the Bangles!”

Heaven forbid!

What about the damn fire, Billy Joel?

Aside from the fact you didn’t start it? Does this fire have something to do with the cultural events you’re shouting out to that tinny little tune with no context whatsoever? What exactly is the viewpoint being expressed here? “Garsh, a lotta stuff sure happens, donnit!?!?” Yes, Billy Joel. Yes it does. Since the world’s been turnin’. So the message is “Don’t blame the boomers”? Hm. I mean, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M. throws a lot of cultural stuff out there, but the message there is clear: Michael Stipe feels fine. He’s just totally fine with the whole thing. Leonard Bernstein he’s fine with. He’s fine with Lenny Bruce not being afraid. Monty got a raw deal, and everyone’s exhuming McCarthy, but he’s just fine with Birthday Party Cheesecake Jellybean Boom. For crying out loud, he’s even losing his religion. What do you have to offer, Billy? Write more songs about Christie Brinkley. No, I don’t care that you’re not married to her anymore. Listen, boy, I’m sure that you think you’ve got it all under control. You don’t want somebody telling you the way to stay in someone’s soul. But she’s a trusting girl, she’s put her trust in you – and a girl like that won’t tell you what you should do. Anyway, Catholic girls start much too late.

Holy shit. I just realized this large baggie of M&Ms I’ve been eating has not contained M&Ms at all, but rather a wide selection of recreational pills. YOU’LL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER, PIANO MAN!!!

Sean “Puffy” Combs was acquitted today of all charges. That was a close one, folks! I shudder to think at what the state of crappy hip-hop music might have become had Puffy been sentenced to hard time! Prison would have hardened him, though, and he would have come out with a lot more cred. And possibly a second facial expression. Prison may have been the pick-me-up his career needed. Of course, now I am a target of the east coast rap mafia.

I finally got cable installed today. It is currently three-thirty in the morning, and I am watching “Three Amigos!” on A&E. It’s art AND entertainment!

Go out and buy and listen to “When the Pawn” by Fiona Apple. It is among the best albums ever. It is perfect in every way. Except that someone spilled soda on the booklet that came with my copy. It was me.

I am the obstruction that stands between Fiona Apple and perfection.