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In "Steer Your Way", the second to last song on Leonard Cohen's last album You Want It Darker, Cohen (the Jewish king of Christian allusions, always reminding me of Asher Lev) sings "As he died to make men holy/ let us die to make things cheap". Which, yes, irony, This Modern World, etc., but I also think about this statement which has been floating unattributed, yes I looked, around the internet:
If it’s inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.
In my experience, the only real way to make things accessible to other than elites is to make them cheap. I'm not here to say that people should die to make things cheap, I find myself unqualified to say what people should die for, this is not a pro-Foxconn post, but it does seem to me that making the good things in life cheap is, in itself, a good thing. Worth pursuing, anyway.

Incidentally, I'd been worried that I had been losing some of my enjoyment in music, I'm sick of everything I've heard recently, and then I thought to pull up You Want It Darker on Spotify. It's wonderful. It's all I've wanted to listen to recently. The Junebug made me turn it off in the car because "It's too scary for me!"
metaphortunate: (Default)

You may recall that the Junebug at this age stayed on brand with a very strong message of MAMA DON'T SING. Rocket, however, is my little music lover. We have had to put our foot down and stand firm on ONE song every night before going to sleep.

For a long time every single night's request was "the diamond ring song" (Hush Little Baby).

This has recently been broken up by frequent requests for "millions of degrees" (Why Does the Sun Shine?).

A strong third is "Roy G. Bivot" (Roy G. Biv).

And, because I have been on a folk song kick lately, his latest obsession is "ladies fly home" (The Seventh Girl).

My understanding is that Mr. E gets other requests sometimes, but I don't know what they are.

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Okay. I hate to say this. I really really hate to say this. I hate to say it because, as Sady Doyle says, likability is a gendered problem; in this world where guys just have faces but girls have "resting bitch face" and guys are assertive but girls are bitchy and so on, I grit my teeth at realizing that I like these songs when a girl sings them but I may like them even more when this guy sings them. And then there's the fuckers taking it a step further to "These songs were dumb when a girl sang them, but now that a guy's singing them, THEY'RE GRRRREAT!" Fuck all that, I hate it, but I can't deny this: I love Ryan Adams' 1989, maybe more than the original.

Except "This Love". That song is perfect as is, I want a MMFR vid to it, nothing can improve on the original.

No Ryan doesn't ~fix Swift's mistakes~ or any such bullshit, but I love his version of the songs. Take my favorite: "Shake It Off", not coincidentally not one of my favorites on the original, largely because Swift (or Martin or Shellback or whoever) just straight up stole Janelle Monae's "Tightrope". Go on, take a listen: first "Tightrope" (wait for the beats to start) then "Shake It Off". See what I mean? Anyway, Adams just turns it inside out. At the end, especially; the "it off" part of the chorus dwindles into an afterthought, and as he repeats "I'm gonna shake, baby I'm just gonna shake," the song transforms entirely from an anthem of resilience into a haunting refrain about accepting the inevitability of taking damage.

ETA: Genderswapping these songs really highlights how many songs there are about guys driving girls around. Off the top of my head I can think of two pop songs with a girl picking a guy up, and one of them is Ryan Adams's new cover of "Style", and one of them is his original "Dear Chicago".
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Things I have been enjoying recently:

"The Beigeness", by Kate Tempest. I love the song. I am disturbed by the video, which is probably its goal. It's trying to say something about race and sex and genderplay and secrets and men and women and power, but I can't tell if it's getting there; and it's especially hard for me to read because Ms. Tempest is English and the racial fault lines are different there than where I'm from. It's…kind of fucked up, though, right? I think it's kind of fucked up. Great song, though.

"Moves Like Yaweh"(sic): [personal profile] jetpack_monkey's Festivid entry this year. Yes, it's a Prince of Egypt vid set to "Moves Like Jagger." Don't read the comments in advance: they'll spoil one of the best jokes. Leave the vidder one afterwards, though!

No Cities To Love: see "Bury Our Friends," by Sleater-Kinney. Don't call it a comeback, they've been here for years.

Unrepentant Geraldines by Tori Amos: see "Wedding Day." Now goddamn, this really is a comeback, after the past few years of unlistenable wankery.

Tape Deck Heart, by Frank Turner: see "Recovery", but also "Plain Sailing Weather" and "We Shall Not Overcome" and "Tattoos" and just the entire goddamn album. It is a joyfully musical work about being a self-pitying fuckup of a sad bastard with a completely unjustified superiority complex, and it speaks to my soul. I'm not going to embarrass anyone by claiming you as one of my people, but y'all: this one is for you. You know who you are.

All Hands, by Doomtree: see "Marathon". Okay, I'm not gonna lie. This is just to keep us going till Dessa puts out a new album. [personal profile] norah, I blame you for this addiction.

And on a totally different note, Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm. I know it's a stupid amount of money for a lip balm, but here's the thing: usually, when I buy a lip balm, I buy two, one to keep in my medicine cabinet, one to take with me and reapply all day and my lips are STILL chapped and cracked and bleeding. I bought one of these - and I don't need another. I don't need to put on lip balm during the day anymore. I put on a homeopathic amount in the morning and another at night and my lips feel fine. I don't know what they put in this shit but it's amazing.
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I just signed up for [personal profile] kate_nepveu's Playlist Exchange.

I better go to bed before I make any more decisions that commit me to doing anything other than sleeping. Fun is for people with better time management skills...
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But tonight I'm not up with the baby! Tonight the baby's sleeping peacefully!

Tonight I'm up with a racking chest cough that's making it impossible to sleep! Isn't that funny? Isn't life funny? LAUGH YOU BASTARDS.


Hey, I've figured out what it is about Lana del Rey. She's like a goth, but just for heterosexuality!

You know how goths look at life and go "The thing about this is: death, decay, corruption, pain, despair, and also vampires. Let's have a bunch of songs called things like "This Corrosion" and "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and "Dead Stars" and "Stigmata Martyr" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified". And we'll make them cool and fun and sexy!"?

Well, Lana del Rey looks at heterosexuality and goes, "The thing about this is: infidelity, exploitation, prostitution, domestic violence and statutory (maybe) rape! Let's have a bunch of songs about all of that! And I'll make them cool and fun and sexy!"

It kind of works, too.
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"Wildest Dreams" is Taylor Swift's Lana Del Rey moment on 1989. (I almost just wrote "Lita Ford moment". I want to hear Ms. Swift's Lita Ford moment.) At first listen, lyrically, it seems to be a bog-standard "Think of me when our affair is over" kind of thing.

Say you'll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you'll see me again even if it's just in your wildest dreams
And then I realized the last verse begins:

You see me in hindsight

Tangled up with you all night

Burnin' it down
So it's not that the narrator wants her lover to remember her. She knows he's gonna remember her. Fucking. And she's telling him to remember her with her clothes on and her makeup unmussed (red lips and rosy cheeks,) on her feet, looking away from him. It's the cri de coeur of a control freak who obsessively curates a virginal persona. Which I understand does describe Ms. Swift; although, to be fair, considering the way the media wants to report on female musical artists, it's hard to blame her.

And the name is hilarious. No one's wildest dreams are of someone else standing around looking at a sunset, no matter how much The One That Got Away or whatever. I don't know if any of this is on purpose or not. But it makes me like the song a lot more!
metaphortunate: (fooled you again brain)
I had some kind of minor nervous breakdown this weekend, I guess? I just kind of lost my ability to, like…make plans.

Or eye contact.

The particularly good/bad timing is that my sister-in-law and her husband are visiting, which is bad because I like them and yet I spent all of Saturday blatantly, horribly ignoring them and staring at my phone, and good because they spent most of Saturday entertaining my children and so I was able to do that. I really did spend all day reading. I haven't done that since the Junebug was born. *sigh* It was wonderful.

I didn't read all of Tana French's books that one day, but that's what I read that day, and over this past while I have been mainlining them all. I resisted reading them despite [personal profile] jae's glowing recommendation because I checked out the summaries and decided I just wasn't into that much child harm these days - well, they are murder mysteries, you have to expect a certain amount of murder. But then every time I turned around someone was drooling over the latest one, so finally I decided to start with The Likeness, on account of how no kids are the victims in that one. And then of course I read all the rest of them in a row. She really is excellent. Her books are a perfect illustration of what China Mieville says about detective fiction:
that unreality function is one of my favorite things in crime fiction: I've said this before in various other venues, but I think the logic of crime novels is not really "realistic," but is a kind of dream-logic. I don't mean that as a criticism but praise—I love the oneiric feeling of logic that is logical but that is punctuated by certain elisions.

On a much more cheerful note, and another story to scarf down in great chunks, Sarah Rees Brennan has finished The Turn of the Story! God, she's going to hate me for describing it this way, but: imagine that someone took the three main characters from Harry Potter and stuck them in a blender. Hit "Frappe" a few times. All right, pour them out, and now the redheaded born sidekick is also the smartest witch in his year and also the neglected child in a cupboard under the stairs. Except that there's no witches, but you know what I mean. The born hero is now the one with a huge and lovely family, and Hermione is a stone killer and the most delightfully misandrist elf you'd ever care to see (think Legolas, not Dobby.) It's not fanfic but it is a riff on genre tropes. In a sense it's the opposite of Lev Grossman's Magician novels. If Grossman had felt like writing about a guy who was fun to read about instead of The Douchebag Who Walked The Earth Like A Man, Quentin Coldwater might be a little bit like Elliot Schafer. Also, I might be interested in reading more than ten pages of the Magician novels. Yeah, I know all the problems with demanding ~likeability~ in characters, whatever. I'm a grown person, there are plenty of reasons to read books with unlikeable characters. If you as an author GIVE me those reasons. If you don't, then reading an otherwise dreary, forgettable book entirely about assholes is just me choosing to spend a few hours of my really truly irreplaceably precious free time with assholes, and I just…I don't want to do that. I don't believe in Elliot Schafer. No teenage boy has ever been that consistently kind and smart and brave and funny. But I don't really give a shit, because sometimes, for fun, I like to spend time with people who are kind, and smart, and brave, and funny. Even if they're fictional. I find it enjoyable! Go figure. Also go read the story, it is a prequel but it is complete in itself, and the ending is not what I thought it was going to be, which is always nice. It does suffer a bit from Rees Brennan's strength-that-she-leans-on-until-it-turns-into-a-weakness, which is that she is a very funny writer, so she writes very funny characters, to the point where sometimes their voices are not as distinct from one another as they could be. But, as weaknesses in free, fun stories go, "characters are too witty" is one that I will take. If this month has you needing a unicorn chaser, this story has got that covered for you. Heh. On a number of levels.

Music: I am still working through [personal profile] norah's Femcees mix, so no comment on that yet, but other than that I keep going back to Angel Haze. Oh, also, if you ever wanted to hear what has got to be Strexcorp's theme song, it's fabulous.

Going back to the small nervous breakdown: I think I need to make fewer plans. There are a million things I want to do, and I love my friends, I want to see you all! This….may be something I need to try to slow down on. I think the overhead is starting to get to me. I really gotta work on getting some more alone time.
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I've been trying to expand my musical horizons lately: break out of my rut, not be that person who only likes the stuff they liked when they were 17. I mean, I will always love me some butt rock, but why stagnate? So I've been trying different things, on the child feeding principle that you have to try things three or four times before you really know if you like them.

It turns out I enjoy opera! Quite a bit! I guess that's not so surprising considering how much I have always loved prog metal. And I have started listening to country, and discovered that there is a lot to like. One thing about country that especially speaks to me these days: there's a lot of country songs about kids and childrearing. Everything from the sentimentality of "There Goes My Life" or "He Didn't Have To Be" to the bitter humor of "One's On The Way".

And I have also been listening to hip-hop, and before anyone brings up the ~misogyny~ of hip-hop let me tell you a little story about Ray LaMontagne. Because Spotify served me up a Ray LaMontagne song on my country radio - Spotify, by the way, is fantastic if you want to listen to new music! - a quiet, beautiful song called "Like Rock and Roll & Radio" that I immediately fell wildly in love with. I must hear more of this, I thought. So I pulled up the album, started from the beginning, and on the first song the singer expresses his intent to beat his ex-girlfriend like he says her father should have. Your sensitive white people folk music, ladies and gentlemen! It turns out that I am completely used to a certain level of misogyny in my music, that I just grimly live with, and staying under that level, well, it's not hard. Plenty of rap music turns out to easily clear that bar.

But because I'm sort of off sausage fests these days anyway, I went looking for female hip hop artists, and that's what I've been listening to lately. And I've learned a couple of things.

I can get into Angel Haze's flow or Rah Digga's energy as much as I like, but I can never, ever, ever sing along with any of their music. And some of that shit is catchy! This is a problem! This is worse than the time I found myself singing "Uncle Fucker" under my breath at work! And it is, to me, a KEEP OUT sign placed all over the music.

For which I do not in any way blame the artists, mind you: considering that the entire history of music in America is the history of black people coming up with musical forms and white people coming up with ways to take them over and make money off of them, if I were a talented black MC, I would spraypaint THIS IS OUR SHIT, EVERYONE ELSE KEEP OUT all over my work in any way possible.

And, again, I'm totally used to spending all my time playing in other people's sandboxes. For example. Prog metal. Completely infested by the kinds of guys who, as Neal Stephenson wrote, sincerely believe that they are way too smart to be sexist. Let's take a moment to revisit Queensryche's classic concept album Operation: Mindcrime, musically a work of genius, lyrically an unintentionally hilarious celebration of manpain which reaches its nadir when the main character finds the dead body of his beloved, his only friend, the ex-hooker nun who's been providing him social services, and tearfully, rhetorically asks who's going to fix his meals now. …Yeah. Well, that was the soundtrack of my adolescence, so I'm totally used to enjoying music that has enormous IT'S NOT FOR YOU signs plastered all over it. It's not a dealbreaker. I'm happy to live with it. But I don't stop noticing it, either.

I know hip-hop deals with as many subjects as any other musical genre, but the playlists I am checking out, they seem to be hitting the high points. And the most popular songs in the genre, by female artists, seem to overwhelmingly be about: 1) being sexy at the club; and 2) triumphing over other bitches. And that's not speaking to me. I'm lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I don't really have any bitches that I need to triumph over. Like, not personally. There are lots of people I wish would just die, but that's more for political reasons. And as far as being sexy at the club, I can't remember the last time I was at a club; and I can remember the last time I was sexy, and it was right around when I got pregnant with Rocket, and that was a pretty long time ago in terms of that sort of thing, and I'm not sure that I'll ever be sexy again. And it turns out that listening to all these songs about triumphing at sexy are making me feel worse about myself, in the way of "don't read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly."

Hey, speaking, of which, I have a question: how do you deal with the end of sexy? If you are a member of the sex class, that is the person in the relationship whose body's power of attraction is meant to create desire not only in your partner but also in yourself ("I have to imagine he is fucking you just so I can climax"): how do you deal with it if your looks, your power of attraction, such as it ever may have been, is gone, but you are in what is meant to be a sexual relationship and you would kind of like it to continue as such? Do me a favor and leave aside completely the question of whether this is relevant to me at this very moment. No, I'm serious. If we're lucky enough to live long, if we're lucky enough to have lovers if we want them, it will become relevant if it's not now. I'm not gonna age like Helen Mirren or whoever, I'm gonna age like an ordinary person without massive amounts of plastic surgery, and that means I'm gonna age more like those mysterious things you eventually unearth with horror in the back of the fridge. So how do you have a sexual relationship when your body contains all the sexual magic of old Gorgonzola? Do you decide that it's the other person's turn to be sexy? Can you both just decide that? Do you keep the lights off forever now? Do you try to create a sexual narrative that doesn't include sexiness? How do you do that? Help me figure it out, y'all, I found a white armpit hair in the shower this morning, I need some damn songs about that.


Aug. 5th, 2014 09:08 pm
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Well she's been parodied by Weird Al now, so that's it: it's all been said, and you can skip the rest of this. Nonetheless, I don't care that this post is a year late: I need to talk about Lorde's Pure Heroine, because I'm obsessed with it, I've barely been able to listen to anything else lately. Listen: imagine if Leonard Cohen got reincarnated as a 16-year-old female Kanye West and Lana Del Rey fan from the suburbs of New Zealand. I mean, I know I don't know shit about music, but compare "Everybody Knows" to "Buzzcut Season": isn't it the same airless, ironic, elegant pop fatalism? What about "First We Take Manhattan" and "Glory and Gore": that arch, overtly erotic charade of aggression? Not saying all her songs hit the level of Cohen's best, but…she was 15 when she wrote "Royals". I'm so curious about what she'll come up with next.
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  • In my ongoing effort to care about baseball, I recently made Mr. E watch Moneyball, as recommended by [personal profile] luna. That was a genuinely funny film. It had a real uphill battle to make me like it, starting by being in one of my least favorite genres, (Almost) Nothing But Old-ish White Guys Staring Grimly At Each Other. And there was a lot of bleak in it. But, perhaps by contrast, the funny lines left us helpless with laughter for minutes on end. It was a damn good film.

  • I went to see Vienna Teng with [personal profile] dr_memory and it was fantastic, she is fantastic. Live is really the best way to see her and her crew. Check out "Copenhagen".

    We were talking about how the music that is on the radio these days, 95% of it, the lyrics, it has as much relevance to our lives as if it were about the habits of the mantis shrimp. Which, mantis shrimp are very beautiful and interesting animals! I would happily listen to a song about mantis shrimp. A number of songs about mantis shrimp, even. But, uh, maybe not nothing but music about mantis shrimp? I mean, what about, just to mix it up a little, music about lemurs? Music about the majestic and serene squid? Maybe even music about people because you know sometimes you like to hear a song that says something about your interests.

    Anyway, so, Vienna Teng's latest album, Aims, includes a song about Occupy Wall Street, one about big data collection and privacy, another one about privacy and the fluctuating definition of the self, one about technological infrastructure, one about taking care of aging parents, and so on, and it's fantastic. Don't listen to it in the car; the music is delicate, you need to be able to hear it.

  • With two kids now, on weekends, when the toddler is home all day, it is like I spend the entire day cleaning asses. By the time I go to bed I don't even wanna take a dump because then I would have to take care of my own ass and I am DONE WITH CLEANING ASSES FOR THE DAY.

    And before you ask, Mr. E does diapers. He does all the nighttime diapers - all of them. And a fair number of the daytime ones. I think we may be feeding the toddler too much roughage. He likes broccoli, though. And apples.

  • Urgh, I don't know. Things. Hey, if you saw me this week, and I looked like I was literally about to die, I'm feeling better. I got some sleep. It was good to see you all, though, even if I was a Poe-esque silent slumped figure of death at the party. Sorry about that.
metaphortunate: (rock's not dead)
Suzanne Vega's Solitude Standing was one of the key albums of my adolescence. I remember a really impassioned conversation sometime around midnight in a parking lot outside of a diner (no, not Tom's diner…this is real life we're talking about here) with a couple of classmates about how "Tom's Diner" is a metaphor, man. I think it was a metaphor for alienation. Probably. High school was a while ago.

The song "Gypsy" features the line, which at the time I thought was romantic and evocative, "Oh, hold me like a baby that will not fall asleep." At the time I did not realize that Vega was exhorting her lover to hold her while bouncing vigorously on a yoga ball, sticking a finger in her mouth, and alternating between SHUSHing loudly in her ear and murmuring "Go to sleep, go to sleep, you tiny motherfucker" to the tune of Brahms' Lullaby.
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Well, I'm sick. Siiiiick. Missed several days of work. Second day without a voice. I think the Junebug is scared of me now because I look weird (I should probably shower) and I won't talk to him. Finally called a doctor. Doctor says 1) no, I can't have any antibiotics until I've had no voice for two weeks, because since I don't have a fever and my snot isn't really green (I've seen green; what I've got is like, maybe celadon, just right after I wake up in the morning from my fucking awful nights where I can't sleep;) 2) this shit just kind of happens when you're pregnant, because your body is worried about accidentally killing the baby, so the bits of you that are normally an army of critters that patrol your body ruthlessly dispatching anything they find trying to prey on you, are instead all restrained and jittery and asking each other "Is this the baby? Should we eat it? What if it's the baby?" "I don't know, asshole, I'm UNICELLULAR! QUIT ASKING ME!" "Okay, everybody just…be cool. Be cool. Are we dying? If we're dying, we dispatch it." "We're not dying." "Okay, then just…chill. NOBODY DO ANYTHING until we figure out if it's the baby."

So it takes a lot longer to get over anything. And I'm home sick. Being kicked from the inside. Can't really concentrate on anything productive. Let me tell you what's on my mind. Here, have a cut tag to spare your page. )
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Songs that the Junebug has been sung a lot include:

"What A Good Boy", Barenaked Ladies

I think this was the first song the Junebug was ever sung.

"The Mercy of the Fallen", Dar Williams

To me this one is about not being judgy. A good song for moms.

"Baker Baker", Tori Amos

Maybe because of the patty-cake connection? IDK.

"Late in the Evening", Paul Simon

It's late in the evening, kid. GO TO SLEEP. (But I never loved no one the way that I love you.)

"You Can Call Me Al", Paul Simon

He gets a fair amount of Paul Simon, actually.

"The Queen and the Soldier", Suzanne Vega

It's long and I know it by heart, so it was a good song to sing in the middle of the night when I was tired and brain-dead.

"Halo", Beyonce

I get this song stuck in my head a lot because of his Halo sleep sacks. :) It's a great song, though.

But I also end up making up a lot of goofy tuneless off-the-cuff ditties. Let me tell you, "Everybody's Cranky (When It's Hot and They're Tired)" is very popular around here.

And this morning Mr. E busted out with:

"So bring all your diapers both cloth and disposable
And bring all your babies whose thumbs are opposable
We wash you in the shower 'cause off you are hosable
And this baby needs a-changin'."


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