Monday, February 2, 2004

I) Liner Notes

In the 12 years we have filled this page of the newsletter, (always successfully filled, once in a while successfully filled the way I'd really like) we have managed to write concert and CD reactions (conceding that they're not truly reviews), reflections on movies and TV, and the tales of some most admired kitties and friends. One thing we've never really done is write about books and I guess there's a reason for that (as always you'll be the judge whether it qualifies as a good reason or not).

The reason being during my first really difficult bout of writer's block it got to the point where I couldn't read books. I'd pick something up and I'd read it and I'd get sad because what I was reading was something I'd rather be writing and the gulf between the two seemed wider than the first and last chapters of War and Peace.

It's been quite a few years since then and I don't know if I ever got back to the point of reading many books. A guy only has so many hours in a day and when you have as many episodes of Buffy to watch and Dylan songs to listen to, well it's a mere blink of an eye (albeit more often than not a bleary blink at that) from the time my alarm clock clicks on in the morning to the time I climb further underneath my blessedly warm down comforter late at night.

A good book to me is the only thing that rivals a great musical experience in terms of making a convincing argument for a higher being. When a good writer is able to express a story that both inspires and enlightens it's quite a powerful thing to behold. And that is exactly why I'm quite enjoying making my way through Nick Hornby's latest book, Songbook. The book is a collection of essays about Hornby's favorite songs and how they have woven there way so deep inside that they've become part of him, coloring different experiences of his life.

The most enjoyable part of Hornby's essays is that he freely admits that the songs he has chosen to write about are the ones that for him withstand the test of time- the ones he finds himself listening to over and over. So while he admits there are better songs (like "Hey Jude" and "God Save the Queen") than Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird," Hornby goes on to wonderfully describe how the latter song means more because it makes his ears perk up each and every time he listens to it.

Reading Songbook is like listening to a compilation of songs that someone has been kind enough to burn for you. Making mixes for others is a wonderful gesture of friendship- part revealing yourself, part sharing something that you hope can mean as much to the recipient as it does to you. Over the past couple of years the Blue-Eyed Editor has kindly given me two killer mixes and told me the other night over a Pad Thai dinner that she has a third ready (that she cleverly is calling The Wintery Mix). Her mixes are great because she puts a lot of thought behind not only the selection of songs-but the sequencing and the mix of well known artists with some others she wants me to know better.

Likewise my talented Wardrobe Manager has become a recent fanatic of making techno mixes that she shares with me. Admittedly I've never been that big a fan of dance music but her mixes are getting constant play around these parts not only because I've been in a head-bobbing mood of late but more importantly because her personality comes intoxicatingly bouncing off of the mixes she has put together.

Granted some of the songs from Cherry Bikini to Sweet Pussy Pauline, from Lang Krieg to DJ Merlin can most definitely make a grown man blush but how will I ever reach a day when I hear Skip's singalong "Crab Cakes" and not break into a wide grin not only over the silly lyrics and arrangement but also hearing the mix maker's own version screeched at the top of her lungs, at the top of her vocal range with her voice cracking and me cracking up? "Crab cakes for yewww... crab cakes for uewww... Whatrya gonna do with all those crab cakes, I got for yeuuuu?" Technocally speaking I may be turning off my critical faculties but as Nick Hornby writes, that may not always be such a bad thing to do.

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