i like what i like

May 23, 2008

Let me be up front–I am completely non-musical. The only instrument I play is my iPod. I don’t play piano, guitar, violin, flute, nuthin. I don’t sing, I don’t even hum in key.

But I do enjoy me some music. And lately I’ve been listening to stuff I didn’t used to listen to. I’ve really gotten into stuff that sounds (to ME at least) odd, different, but at the same time, lyrical and moving.

I grew up listening to the Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and then once I got over my brief junior high Styx phase (how embarrassing is that?), I moved into my eclectic, I like almost anything phase. Not Loverboy, never Loverboy. Or 38 Special. Or Cinderella. Or Whitesnake.

But REM, U2, then Oingo Boingo, the Cure, can’t get enough Bruce Springsteen, even electronic goofy music, like Erasure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, XTC, I love Nirvana, Pearl Jam, all that. I like punk stuff, like the Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, stuff like that. Rage Against the Machine. All over the map. A friend lent me a box set, Left of the Dial, Dispatches From the 80s Underground, and it’s the best, I want to play it for my kids while they’re sleeping, so they’ll wake up loving it.

I tend to listen to the last thing I bought until Kim goes crazy. If I like it, I’ll listen to it over and over again until, sometimes, I don’t like it anymore, or other times, it becomes part of me.

I don’t find any of my own music, I don’t go to clubs or anything, and I rarely listen to the radio, but when I hear someone recommend stuff I haven’t heard of, I check it out. In my quest to “freshen up the iPod” I bought a book of playlists some famous club DJ put together. Now I listen to Gorillaz, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Modest Mouse. She had a rap list that got me into NWA, Snoop, Public Enemy. None of this is cutting edge or anything, I’m not saying I’m some kind of musical explorer.

And while I still like all that stuff, if its presence on my iPod is any indication, I’ve started liking odder stuff, like Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Sigur Ros, Bjork. And some stuff that isn’t odd at all, but a little different. I love Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley (once, after a long bike ride down at Fish Lake, we listened to a playlist of Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley, and Elden said “great, now I want to kill myself.”) I once walked into a music store and said “what do you have that’s depressing?” I walked out with Cowboy Junkies, although, it’s more mellow than depressing. Mellow. I don’t want to talk about me being Mellow.

I like stuff that doesn’t sound like what I listened to as a kid. I love all Bruce Springsteen, but my favorite Bruce is his song from the movie Limbo, called Lift Me Up, where he sings in a crazy falsetto. I love Neil Young, not in spite of his voice, but BECAUSE of his voice. I prefer the Bob Dylan where he’s incomprehensible. I love Radiohead and the Arcade Fire and Beck, and I like them best when they’re weird.

I love covers. Back in the Napster days I made a cd of nothing but covers of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Dick Dale does a fantastic Ring of Fire. My current favorite cover is Cat Power’s “Satisfaction.” A cover should evoke, but not mimic the original. Barely recognizable should be the rule, rather than the exception.

Kim doesn’t share my taste. She prefers I listen to MY stuff when I’m alone in the car, or when I’m riding my bike. Thus I get a little protective of the iPod in the car. I don’t like the kids messing with it, Maddy putting on her Beyonce, Ian his Dragonforce, Holden his, um, his Whatever. In the car, either I want to hear what I just bought, or I want total random, Shuffle Songs, the rule being No Searching, but you can skip. I like to follow up Rage’s People of the Sun with George Winston, then some House music, then Sinead O’Conner, then Prefab Sprout, then Carmina Burana.

This morning I was listening to something new I just got, Bon Iver, and I LOVE IT. Mellow, melancholy, meandering.

Kim said “What’s wrong with him, is somebody stepping on his balls?”

Okay, she didn’t actually SAY that, but her eyes did, I swear.

Do we all listen alone?

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24 Responses to “i like what i like”

  1. myscatteredramblings Says:

    Yeah – I am totally alone in my household. My hubby doesn’t listen to anything that is not country – how he thinks that is good, I’ll never know! I’ve started leaving my hubby every June for 4 days – the Bonnaroo music festival is GREAT!!!

  2. KanyonKris Says:

    Listening alone seems to be the natural path of getting older. Don’t hang with the friends as much, tastes diverge, etc.

    My musical evolution is similar to yours. I still like to visit my high school and 20s music, but don’t live there. My last job was great for music – lot’s of shared music on the network and discussions over lunch. That’s where I heard Portishead, Morcheba and Supreme Beings of Leisure (good stuff).

    Now I’m having trouble finding new music. You’d think with the internet this wouldn’t be a problem. Oh, it’s easy to find lots of music, but hard to find the good stuff. I usually wade through 10-15-20 songs to find one keeper. But the “find songs I like” sites end up giving me more of the same – I want some variety.

    There are a few country songs I like, but it seems country today is like 80s 90s pop – vapid, boring, trite, formulaic, forgettable. When the shop guys have it going I get irritated after 30 minute exposure – I can feel my brain cells dieing by the hundreds.

    I dislike all but a handful of covers, but I hear them on the radio so that probably explains it. Rarely does the covering artist bring something new enough to the original song that it’s worth listening to. Sure seems like most are album fillers.

  3. BotchedExperiment Says:

    You gotta check out Bon Jovi. Totally rockin.

  4. Aaron Says:

    I’m all over the map, but I don’t have as many regular fav’s as you, mainly because I just don’t have the time to really dive into new stuff these days. We should do a music swap, you and I.

    Check out a band called Gomez. Currently at the top of my playlist. For more mellow (not to imply that you are mellow or anything), try Mason Jennings. Both bands have the “odd” requirement covered.

    For radio, it’s all about KRCL (90.9). They play everything you’ve never heard.

  5. mark Says:

    Clearly I’m not nearly adventurous enough. I’ve been on a White Stripes binge for a little over a year now. The most troubling part of that is that the Italian national football (soccer) team has co-opted “Seven Nation Army.” As if I weren’t already pissed off enough about them winning the world cup.


  6. Pandora.com is a great way to discover new music. Since I stumbled across the site it has been going non-stop on my computer.

    Once I sang a girl a Firehouse song…

    I can’t believe I just admitted that.

  7. bikemike Says:

    two words…porcupine tree…you’ll not be dissapointed.

  8. Flahute Says:

    Have you ever checked out Tanya Donelly, Kristen Hersh, or Neko Case?

    Gotta agree with Adam’s comment on Pandora … and must completely disagree with Kris’s comments on covers.

    If you never have, then you must check these out:

    Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt”.
    Both Johnny Cash’s and Marilyn Manson’s covers of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”
    Green Day’s cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”
    Snow Patrol’s cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation”
    Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenter’s “Superstar”
    Regina Spektor’s cover of John Lennon’s “Real Love”
    Marilyn Manson’s cover of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”
    Joe Strummer’s cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”
    John Cale’s, Jeff Buckley’s, k.d.lang’s and Allison Crowe’s covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”
    Pegboy’s cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”

    On the other hand, avoid Letters to Cleo’s cover of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” …

  9. Tim D Says:

    Have a listen to Radcliffe & Maconie’s Radio 2 show. A great mix of new and old stuff, plus innane and slightly surreal chat as well. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/radcliffemaconie/ then click on listen again.

    This week had The Shortwave Set, Portishead and Thea Gilmore all playing live.

  10. evilreview Says:

    The best covers ever are the following, in order of increasing excellentness:

    1. Devo: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
    2. Johnny Cash: One Love
    3. Johnny Cash: Hurt
    4. Foo Fighters: Arms Wide Open

  11. KanyonKris Says:

    OK, I’ll check out those covers.

    Yes, Devo’s Satisfaction is pretty rockin. I also like their cover of Head Like A Hole.

    That Atari’s cover of Boys Of Summer was OK, but the original has more soul. The Atari’s didn’t do much but crank up the tempo and grunge it. Amusing, but the novelty wears off after a while.

  12. KanyonKris Says:

    OK, I checked out most of those covers on Amazon. Sure a 30 second clip is limiting, but most of the covers I didn’t like – a few I dug. I just get more soul from the original artist (who is often also the songwriter). I don’t mind musicians covering a song they like – they perhaps see something new and fresh they can bring. But most times the result just doesn’t eclipse the original for me. Maybe it’s a style thing – I prefer the original style – maybe I’m old. Whatever. I like what I like. You can like what you like.

  13. brkeyes7 Says:

    TV On The Radio.

  14. dug Says:

    discussing music is like religion and politics, there’ just no convincing some people. because generally we can all be wrong together.

    but in this case, just kanyonkris is wrong.

  15. bikemike Says:

    can’t we all just get along? don’t taze me bro!

  16. KanyonKris Says:

    dug says we can all be wrong together, but then says I’m wrong. That must be really wrong. Strangely, I feel tazed, and validated.

    I enjoyed listening to all the recommended song (snippets) – some good exploring. I just didn’t find many of the covers compelling.

    Johnny Cash is amazingly expressive.

    Marilyn Manson’s style brought a fresh take, but I suspect I’d grow tired of that style pretty quickly.

    Pretty gutsy to cover John Lennon and Bob Marley, but aside from updating the tunes to today’s style I didn’t get much value add.

    And covering Cheap Trick? Sacrilege. That’s holy ground for me.

    I realized I haven’t recommended any music (except Supreme Beings of Leisure) so I will now that I’ve alienated everyone:

    Talking Heads. The 2 disc “Sand In The Vaseline” collection is good, but my favorite is the live “Stop Making Sense” album (and I don’t usually like live recordings). Off the scale musical energy. If you want more, watch the Stop Making Sense film (DVD) – best concert video I’ve seen.

    Peter Gabriel. His songs that hit the charts are good, but his albums are full of good, moody, expressive music. The album “So” is excellent.

    Alison Krauss & Union Station. My Dad lent me the 2 disc live album – wow. Amazing musicians creating soulful music. I guess it’s blue grass / country – whatever it is, it’s good, and surprisingly a bit dark.

  17. KanyonKris Says:

    OK, I’m liking Porcupine Tree. Some of the songs are on the heavy side for me, but the style is intriguing to me and they seem to offer a fair amount if variety from song to song.

  18. bikemike Says:

    Kris, find some gabriel with robert fripp, excellent. if anyone needs a bluegrass/rock/cover band fix…look no further than hayseed dixie.
    AKUS is an incredibly talented group and Alison is off the charts with range and talent. not sure about her hookup with robert plant though…it’s not quite peanut butter and chocolate but…
    if anyone liking any musical genre wants to go to a concert and just have fun, go to a blue man group show. not the static one like vegas or orlando (although fun). one of the rock concert touring shows. you’ll have the most fun, i promise, no, really.

  19. b_banks Says:

    Killingbird covering The Cure’s Just Like Heaven
    The Cure covering The Doors’ Hello I Love You

    Check them both out…….you won’t be disappointed.

  20. dug Says:

    i never said the cover should ECLIPSE the original, i said it should EVOKE the original, rather than mimic it.

    all i said, really, was that i like covers. even bad ones. but covers don’t make the original go away, they just validate, or even strengthen the original. sometimes. sometimes they make the original go away. some originals SHOULD go away.

    and stuff.

  21. KanyonKris Says:

    Eclipse is what I look for in a cover. For you it is evoke. I’m not bagging on what works for you, just expressing my opinion.

    My pickiness is why I like so few covers. I figure when someone has already done the hard work of creating a song (melody, lyrics, riffs, etc.), I expect a cover to bring some real originality and freshness, not just playing the original in a new style – that doesn’t do it for me.

    And you are right, some originals were bad to begin with. Which puzzles me – with so many flawed songs, why would a musician choose to cover a popular, highly regarded song? Just asking for trouble, if you ask me. That’s a big challenge. I’m OK with them giving it a shot, but I don’t think they should be shocked when people (like me) reject their attempt. There’s easier pickins. Find some song that had great lyrics, but the tune stunk – come up with a totally new sound, plug in the lyrics and you’ve got something. And some of those covers do this, and I like them.

    I’m OK with the current trend of mashups and covers – bringing freshness to old stuff. But I’ve been around long enough to have experienced some great songs and new styles bursting onto the music scene. Real original stuff. So when some band today covers an old song in grunge, hip-hop, house, etc. style, I’m usually unimpressed. That’s my biased musical taste.

  22. Don Says:

    My old school is Pink Floyd, Rush, & King’s X.
    My “middle school” is Cure, Sisters Of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Exotic Birds, “old” NIN, etc
    New is NIN:The Slip (and it’s FREE at http://theslip.nin.com and totally worth grabbing), Radiohead, DMB, O.A.R. I’ve just become weird and listen to everything really, except country… I loath country.

  23. Robyn Says:

    Check out Dave Van Ronk, especially Last Call, Motherless Children, Luang Prabang, any of his ragtimey stuff…pretty much everything he sings is great! Oh, and he does a great cover of Both Sides Now (Clouds).

  24. jp Says:

    A little late to the post…for riding Gang of Four is always good. As for new stuff, Grinderman is great as is the new Nick Cave and the bad seeds album (Dig!! Lazarus, Dig!). Also check out Clap Your Hands Say Yea! And of course the Black Keys should be at the top of any playlist. Oh yea, for anyone looking for Miles Davis meets Santana meets copious amounts of blotter acid…check out The Mars Volta.


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