Monday, April 26, 2004

CD Roulette

A few years back when I used to live in the duplex on Linwood with Pistol Pete and Johnny B., our Saturday nights got pretty wild. Johnny would once in awhile get too many beers in him and would remove his shirt while we were watching the Twins on TV. The sight of a bare-chested Johnny B. of course would cause my friend Spunky to immediately vacate the premises.

When I saved up enough of my Cheapo paychecks to buy a five CD-changer, our parties got even more the talk of the town. We'd have a soon to be memorable bash and five of us would each select a CD to put in the player and hit the shuffle button. When a song played from the CD one of us selected that person would have to take a drink. Thing is that CD player didn't shuffle things too good and ended up playing one of the CDs far more than any of the others. The result was one of our friends would get mighty snookered while the rest of us had to tolerate listening to more of a pretentious CD by the Fall than any of us really wanted to.

Many years later when my Mom got sick my Dad and I went out to buy a 50-CD changer. This allowed Mom to listen to her many CDs throughout the day without having to get up and change discs. When she died my Dad was kind enough to give me the CD player.

Of course as with most things in my life this led to an immediate dilemma. What 50 CDs out of my collection deserved their anointed place in the upper echelon of my listening pleasure? Finding the task all too daunting what I ended up doing was picking out 50 of my Bob Dylan concert bootlegs and putting them in the changer. It stayed that way for several years and I must say it was pretty cool hearing a 1994 version of "One Too Many Mornings" next to an entirely different arrangement from 1998. The juxtaposition only reinforced for me that Bob is rather skilled at taking a song and turning it inside out to make it sound completely new.

Last month as I was trying to clean out my office and arrange my CDs I decided I would change my music listening habits by selecting 50 CDs from 50 different artists to put in the changer. The challenge was picking what were essentially the 50 CDs that I listen to most with the caveat that some of my favorite CDs were not going to make the cut because I wanted them to be more handy for me to grab and play on my way to work.

After finally making my picks and loading them up, I have found the random playing of songs from the 50 discs to be at times rather entertaining and at other times rather jolting. I may never get used to hearing a Billie Holiday song followed by L7 or a Willie Nelson song followed by Madonna.

So in memory of those wild Saturday nights with Pistol Pete and Johnny B., I thought I'd wrap up this Saturday night not by taking a shot of whiskey but rather commenting on the songs as they pop up in random play order...

1) "Back of a Car" by Big Star: This isn't exactly one of my favorite Big Star songs and it's made more painful by the associative events of this past week when I spent $200 fixing the axle of my Honda knowing that the car is going to need to be replaced in the very near future.

2) "Dance with the Tiger" by Rosanne Cash: For those of you who have ever experienced relationship trubbles I'd highly recommend you listen carefully to Interiors, the CD this superlative song appears on. Rosanne lays it all out for all to hear here and good golly it makes me cry every time I listen to it. This one is a definite keeper.

3) "Junior's Farm" by Paul McCartney and Wings: There are those out there who believe the similar sounding "Get Back" from Paul's former previous more publicized group is a superior song. But how perceptive and current is the nonsensical lyric to this song, "At the house of Parliament, everybody's listening to the President..." Paul sweats and Paul rocks. I love this song.

4) "September Girls" by the Bangles: Just as I think my only interest in this group is Susanna Hoff's irresistible bug eyed look and the poppy hooks they go and cover an Alex Chilton song. That is so cool.

5) "Look What Thoughts Will Do" by Lefty Frizell: My cat Diego-san ironically left the room when this song plays. I mentioned this because a friend named her cat Lefty after Mr. Frizell. Lefty sings, "So good-bye and here's to you, and I'm happy through and through..." Sounds about right.

6) "I Can Hear the Laughs" by Freedy Johnston: We're all clowns Freedy sings as he wears a mask that smiles.

7) "You and Me" by the Cranberries: Dolores O' Riordon's voice is one of three in this world that can cut me to pieces. And she moves funky too.

8) "Hochsteader Polka" by Tubby Esquire: Any of you see the Greg Kinnear movie about Bob Crane? I've seen every episode of Hogan's Heroes 100 times and thus this song always makes me smile. It captures the essence of the show at the same time it mocks it. A life philosophy worth pursuing?

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