josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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2 Aug '01 07:35:12 AM

Just before I moved I got some email from an old friend:

you know, i always did respect your hyper-ecumenical tastes in music, with one nagging caveat: to me, there has never been any underlying ascetic in your tastes, it just seems to boil down to 'i like this' or 'i don't like that.' where is the common thread? i never could see the essence.

The gnomic answer is: my life is the essence.

But of course that won't do. How could your life be so fragmented, etc. etc. My brief answer to that is that I don't think it's any more fragmented than anyone else's. It's just that I emphasize that fragmentation a little more than some people who don't devote as much of their time to music as I do. (I might also say, than some people who spend even more time on music than I do. But explode the fragmentation the same way: haven't you ever known anyone who liked jazz and (gasp) rock? Rap and classical?) Or rather, it's naturally emphasized by how much music I listen to.

Another gnomic answer: isn't it the same as with art, or food?

The question seems to assume that either this 'essence' would be guiding me to prefer certain music over other music ('this music is more rocking,' 'I like music with the funk'), or that it would just be something that I naturally uncovered in the music I liked, like a statue in a block of marble, as long as I was liking the right kind of music.

But aren't I? This is human life, other people's experiences, tangled up in the masses of sound they record onto discs for other people to hear. This is experience. Existence. Look at everything that goes into making music. Why shouldn't I try to, and be able to, get that everything back out?

Another one: it's all just vibrations, isn't it?

Or: it's all just melody, harmony, and rhythm, isn't it? (Ans: no.)

Another one: this is what it means to be a fan of pop music.

Or: this is what it means to be a fan of music.

My favorite gnomic answer: keep reading, your question will be answered (or seen to be irrelevant) eventually.

1 Aug '01 09:50:17 PM

On 'To Be of Use', Bill Calahan sings 'come' like he's still kind of embarrassed to be using the word in a song, which is refreshing given how often singer-songwriter confessionalism is taken to be a license for unchecked brashness and sexual honesty.

Most of my
are of
someone else come

31 Jul '01 01:45:36 PM

Josh blog is now comin' at you from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Best song heard on the trip up: 'Walkin' on the Sun'.

30 Jul '01 07:30:28 AM

My sleep schedule is totally screwed up. For the past two days I stayed up past my normal bedtime of 3 or 5 in the a.m. (admittedly already not normal), so that I could find out about my truck as soon as possible and get it packed in time for my checkout appointment - I can't get to sleep early enough to be able to wake up at the times I wanted to wake up. But, since there were no trucks, that effort has gone to waste, and I've just slept later in the day as a result.

So last 'night', ca. 6 in the a.m. or so (the sun was starting to come up, at least), me: sitting on the floor in a corner, back against the refrigerator, listening to Crescent and whistling along to the solos, wishing it would all stop and I could just be done moving, and lay down and go to sleep.

29 Jul '01 07:55:10 AM

Why does this Shipping News record have to sound so flat? I mean, I know I'll start to hear the details eventually, but still.

29 Jul '01 07:41:31 AM

'Sweet Lovin' Man' especially makes me idly wonder if, in ten or twenty years or so, we'll have a new version of 69 Love Songs where the tunes are performed in their 'ideal' versions - I say that because, despite the differences (often positive, or at least, neither positive nor negative, simply different) effected by Merritt's production or arrangement, or his sometimes deliberately incongruous choice of vocalists, and so forth, a lot of the songs play like alternate versions of other songs. The orchestra behind the new version of 'Sweet Lovin' Man' would lend it more vastness. (Because oh yes, it would have an orchestra.)

Some, like 'Long-Forgotten Fairytale', would not be worth redoing, at least if embiggening or emboldening were the only kind of perfection being sought on this hypothetical 69LS revisitation.

29 Jul '01 12:33:25 AM

There are two conspicuous reference points for what would be the last track on Hot Shots II, if it weren't for the inclusion of 'Won' as a bonus track. First, Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon, for the title ('Eclipsed' for the Betas, 'Eclipse' for Floyd) and a similar tone and lyrical bent (searching stuff about what-does-it-all-mean and humanity's place and how-can-we-get-together etc., though I'd have to listen to 'Eclipse' again to really see, since it's been quit a while). Second, and more strikingly, the Beatles from 'Yellow Submarine' - when the singsong 'we all live together on a little round ball' section starts, and the toms start banging Ringo-style, the resemblance is unmistakeable and I assume, intentional. I think it's also the high point of the album (in the sense of 'culmination', not 'rises above the rest of the crap').

I was reminded of this again today when at the deli, because they were playing Nas' It Was Written. 'Street Dreams' lifts its chorus from the Eurythmics' similarly named song, sort of half-singing the melody and changing the lyrics. The legalities of this sort of thing are probably different from those for sampling, but apparently it's possible to do so, at least, without much trouble (Lennox and Stewart get a writing credit, no clue if any money changed hands besides the publishing royalties and whatever). It would be nice if it could be done more; I think there are a lot of allusive possiblities offered by this kind of thing that are different enough from straight sampling to make it worthwhile (and yes, I realize that sounds funny, since if we were talking about poetry or prose it would be a non-issue as far as actually doing it was concerned).

Cf. also Spiritualized, 'Ladies and Gentlemen...' (and plenty more I'm sure).

28 Jul '01 02:49:23 PM

It appears I am not moving today. Oh well. That gives me more time to scrub my bathroom floor. Fucking A.

I still haven't stopped listening to the Beta Band.

28 Jul '01 02:45:15 AM

All I've been listening to today is the new Beta Band album. I don't feel myself growing tired of it at all. It does make me want to lay down and stop packing, though.

Speaking of which, maybe I will be moving tomorrow, maybe not. There are trucks 'in the area', they say. I guess I just have to hope that when they make a measurement tomorrow morning one will be localized in south Ames. (Oh ha ha. A quantum physics joke, you see. Ugh. I have a paper to finish too.)