MetatalkMimosas: Your Music Muse! July 26, 2020 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Gorgik would like to know, what are your personal associations with music. What are some songs that are personally meaningful to you, and if you feel like sharing, what are those associations/what’s meaningful about them. Is it a person(s)? An event? A place? A time in your life? Or just what have you been listening to right now? Links welcome.

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter; feel free to just chitchat, just no politics please!
posted by jessamyn to MetaFilter-Related at 11:56 AM (58 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Munky River by The Presidents of the United States of America packs the exact feeling of a 3-day lazy canoe trip into a 3-minute song. Lots of songs speak to me on topics more important than "canoe trip," but none speak so clearly or so viscerally. Neither this song or canoe trips are Serious Business and that's why both are good for the soul.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=kmbV2GkDMAs

https://open.spotify.com/track/1yToag6pHvp77ibZJBF0XS?si=2q10i-VEQOqzzpSXQI6Ghw

Every Presidents album is ultimately about fun for fun's sake and that's why each of them is excellent (you may be shocked to learn they released six albums plus compilations and a live album between 1995 and 2014).
posted by Tehhund at 12:48 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


I have so many Indigo Girls songs that mean a lot to me, but one in particular is Ghost.

I had a relationship that ended particularly badly 20-odd years ago, and it had been a haunting factor in my life for years and years. I was once at an Indigo Girls show at the zoo in Portland; I've seen them a zillion times before and have heard them perform this song before. But this one night, they played Ghost....

and I was utterly overcome. Everything about that relationship and how magical it was and how it ended washed over me while they were playing. I was in the standing crowd at the base of the stage and found myself starting to cry. And then not just cry, but actually full-body weep, nearly doubled-over wracked with sorrow.

and then I felt a stranger hugging me. And then another, and another. I found myself in the circle of love created by fellow-concert growers who saw me in my moment of emotional need and they fed me healing and comfort while my entire body was racked with sobs.

By the time the song was over, I'd sort of washed myself clean of the pain of that breakup. It was the single most cathartic thing I've ever experienced, and I can only bless the dozen or more people who poured their soul energy into me while I was in such memory pain.

So, yeah. Indigo Girls, Ghost. That's my song.
posted by hippybear at 1:00 PM on July 26 [27 favorites]


"It's About Blood" from Steve Earle & The Dukes has been a recent favorite. It's from Ghosts of West Virginia, which is about the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion.

"Don't wanna hear about the state of the economy
Fiscal reality, profit and loss
None of that matters once you're underground anyway
Damn sure can't tell me nothin' 'bout cost"
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:12 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I just saw this documentary last night, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World about the contributions (often unrecognized outside of music nerd types) of Native musicians. It was a dynamite movie and now I've got a whole new way of listening to Rumble by Link Wray and I've been doing that a lot today.

Also, when I'm in work mode, I'll often be listening to Soma.fm or some other streaming channel, I never really knew that there was a ton of streaming music on YouTube (playing, yes, streaming, no) and I've been listening to a lot of chillhop lately, particularly this station with the adorable cozy raccoon.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:19 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


I grew up in the home of a harpsichord and recorder maker who was influential in the Baroque revival movement of the late 60s, 70s and 80s. Whatever one may think of HIP (Historically Informed Performance Practice), at least I got exposed to the real deal and not some provincial toot and ploink. I mean, top names performing in our city or practising or improvising privately at our home, or even making commercial records there.
So I believe I got to think in music even before I was able to think much else. My personal associations with music are music itself, quite simply.

Then of course, certain pieces bring back certain periods of my life and the feeling from that time. So a number of French harpsichord pieces by A. Forqueray (of which I coincidentally recently made some stay-at-home videos. Links below) were introduced to my world one summer (I must have been 12 or so) just before we went on a hiking vacation in Austria, and I remember the melodies and harmonic progressions going round and round in my head while I plodded along behind my parents, hoping for some watering hole to appear around the next corner.
The music in my head kept me going, but now, of course, my own association with these pieces is not, say, some French castle with yellow outer walls, horse stables, a froufrou geometrical garden and some elderly over-spiced pheasant being served on huge silver platters to a dressed-up party with bad teeth, but rather: endless stretches of yellow Salzkammergut grassland, crickets or drizzle, and a strong longing for a large Fanta.

Links to my videos here.
posted by Namlit at 1:20 PM on July 26 [12 favorites]


I have been listening to Paolo Conte a lot these days, as I putter around the kitchen. Just the right amount of absurdity, cool, earnestness, class, and heartbreak. Chips, chips...
posted by niicholas at 2:48 PM on July 26


I started listening to the Hamilton cast album in spring 2016. One of my best friends was dying at the time, and some weekend while at work I finally "heard" the lyrics to Wait For It.

Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway


I've listened to the album about eleventy-billion times since, and the song always makes me think of my friend (who finally passed in the autumn of 2016).

I'm facing a different kind of ending right now, and a few weeks ago I heard Brain is for Lovers by Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and it's resonated really, really intensely.

I say your name out loud, nobody understands
How could that be true?
You're so essential to my growing up, it's like we never parted
No me without a you
I think about you every day
(I think about you every day!)
You're in so many things I do and say

But it's universal, things explode and move apart
Time makes your lungs and skin, but your real friends get your heart
I should've called, I could've checked, I should've tried
To let you know I saw the sadness in your eyes
I'm sorry you felt so alone, but you were wrong
I was with you...
You were with me
I remember you!

posted by Gorgik at 2:57 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


This may sound narcissistic: whenever I stumble on a song to write, I will compose it in my head 100 different ways, sometimes leading to insomnia. When I get around to recording it, weeks to months later, I will listen to the final product around 50 times, and then put it away for a few months to a few years. When I finally hear it again, it is like running into an old dear friend whom I haven’t been in touch with in forever. So, the songs that I write myself are the ones that burrow themselves into my brain. Of course there are many other songs written by many other people that exert far more power on my amygdala, but the stuff I write myself is the closest to me.
posted by not_on_display at 3:03 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


I direct a handbell choir (nonpandemic, anyway). I listen to handbell music all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times it has saved my soul.
posted by Melismata at 3:05 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


When I get around to recording it, weeks to months later, I will listen to the final product around 50 times, and then put it away for a few months to a few years. When I finally hear it again, it is like running into an old dear friend whom I haven’t been in touch with in forever.

Apparently the Nine Inch Nails track Just Like You Imagined is one that Trent put together and then put away for a long time and when he came back to it he was surprised to hear that it was just like he had imagined it was.
posted by hippybear at 3:10 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Melismata: one of the biggest sorrows of walking away from my church when I came out was no longer being a part of a bell choir. Truly a joyous form of music making.
posted by hippybear at 3:11 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Recently I decided to listen to the entire Queen discography, since I hadn't ever done that.

I learned that (in addition to being completely awesome) Queen has a metric buttload of best-of and compilation albums, so... this took a while.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:24 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Hippybear: you would be completely welcomed at my church. Especially if you lived around here.
posted by Melismata at 3:46 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


There was a period of my life, from autumn in 1996 to about the same time in 2002, where I listened to at least one of the first three albums by Low (I Could Live in Hope, Long Division, The Curtain Hits the Cast) late every night. There's something about their sound in that first part of their career that is still utterly captivating to me. I can't think of any other music quite as inward-looking, that expresses such subtle shades with such a sparse musical palette.

It was probably the most solitary few years of my half century, and a time when I lived a self-reliant life of simple routines, utterly different from my world now. I suppose it was a period when I left the world in a sense. But I can take myself back to that time any time I put that music on. It's hard to say exactly whether those sounds bring back the texture of that time, or whether they created it. Either way, it's music that somehow gets more lovely each time I hear it. Take all of my music, but leave me that.

Anyway, here's Over The Ocean and Stars Gone Out.
posted by pipeski at 3:52 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


The term "newtro" i(new + retro) s bandied about in the Korean press regarding the current renewed interest in 90's k-pop and younger musicians who are drawing inspiration from the era. This is attributed to nostalgia by people in their 30's and 40's for the "good old days" of the 90's (which weren't that great if one considers the IMF crisis or the Sampoong Department Store collapse).

Of the current "newtro" musicians, I am really enjoying Park Moonchi (박문치). She recently received media attention due to her appearance in a variety show, where she showed off her remix of BTS's "Boy with Luv' in 90's k-pop style (original BTS "Boy with Luv"). Some of her songs: "I Like You"; her notorious debut single "울희액이". She's also part of project group CSVC, consisting of Korean indie scene musicians Cheez, Stella Jang, Lovey, and Park Moonchi. CSVC - "Summer Love".

The reason Park was on the variety show was that Yoo Jae-suk ("the nation's MC" who was also "yellow suit guy" in Psy's "Gangnam Style" music video) decided to form a project group to release a 90's style k-pop track as a "summer song" and Park produced one of the tracks. Yoo recruited Rain and Lee Hyori too form Ssak3, and they are currently topping the Korean music charts.
posted by needled at 4:25 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


Melismata and hippybear - I used to be in a handbell choir too! I left my church ages ago, but still remember the "Ukrainian Bell Carol Fantasy" when Christmas approaches. (We didn't just play at Christmas, but the carols were always the most fun to play.)
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 4:35 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I think I first heard Eef Barzelay on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert and was hooked on his voice and lyrics from the jump.

The song Bread from his band, Clem Snide, quickly became my favorite.

Anyway, Eef does living room show tours and I've been fortunate enough to host him twice over the past few years. The most recent time was last summer and I asked him before he arrived if he'd play it. He played a tremendous set, including songs from his now released latest album, but no Bread. He apologized and said he tried to re-learn it but just couldn't get it.

I later heard him on a podcast where he told the story behind every song from the album Your Favorite Music, including Bread. He said one of the studio guys mic'd up the guitar in a different way that he's never been able to reproduce (capturing the sound from the inside somehow?) and told the interviewer that there's this guy in Wisconsin that always requests it but he hasn't been able to re-create it.

And it made me really happy - I've always thought music was reproducible by the artist but there's something really special to me about a song that just lives in the moment it was recorded.

Most of the music I listen to is good to jump on the bed to, so I'm fortunate to discover this sleepy, lovely number that always puts me in a good place.
posted by Twicketface at 5:25 PM on July 26 [7 favorites]


I had not expected that the first music to make me smile since lockdown would be a jaunty little tune about Chuck Yeager, but here we are...more Steve Earle, "Fastest Man Alive." Makes me want to go dancing in my cowboy boots. "I come to whup the Nazis, I'm a mighty mighty man"--just, I don't know, the braggadocio and fiddle and that beat, they're uplifting in these uncertain days.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:52 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


> He played a tremendous set, including songs from his now released latest album, but no Bread. He apologized and said he tried to re-learn it but just couldn't get it.

There was a quote about a band playing their older songs on tour, I think it was attributed to one of the members of REM. Basically that it often amounts to them becoming their own cover band because they have to relearn the songs from old records just like everybody else does.
posted by ardgedee at 6:03 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, somehow it became a family tradition that when starting a road trip--usually to go camping in Sequoia or Big Sur--the first CD we'd listen to was Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual. Later, in college, my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I were starting out on our first road trip, and she pulled out that same CD(!). Completely coincidentally, we'd never talked about this, I didn't even know she owned that album. So that became our road-trip tradition too. Haven't been on any trips for years now, but still, that first chord of "Money Changes Everything" will forever mean "hitting the road".

The Cardiacs song "The Whole World Window" is a truly great album closer, really epic sound with lots of piano and strings, big crescendo + ritardando, just this incredible air of finality. Some might say overdramatic but for me it's the kind of ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek, not-serious-but-yes-actually-serious tone that really works. But for a long time I had some nagging feeling about this song, some thought I couldn't put into words. Finally I realized that it sounds like the last song of someone's life. Like this would be an appropriate final song to listen to before dying. And now I wonder, (hopefully) many years in the future, is that what I'll do? I can't shake this thought now, every time I hear it. (P.S. RIP Timmy)

I have a lot of weird spatial associations from songs that I already knew, but never really scrutinized, until I was stuck in some waiting room and they came on the radio, and there was nothing to do but give them my full attention. George Michael's "Praying for Time" in a KFC on 6th Ave. in Manhattan. The Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You" (yes, the extended version of the Friends theme) in a car wash.

But maybe the strongest is Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me", at a rest stop on I-40 in the Texas panhandle. Poison was my first favorite band, first record I "bought" (my dad bought it for me), first CD I bought when we got a CD player. Born in 1981 so I was pretty young for hair metal, but all the sex stuff went completely over my head. (And the ingrained sexism too regrettably...) Anyway this was ~20 years later in Texas and my music tastes had moved completely elsewhere long ago. When this song came on I didn't even fully recognize it until the first chorus. But I broke into a big smile, hearing it again with fresh ears, and realizing, hey, this is a pretty solid, fun song. And I cracked up laughing at the guitar solo. As a kid I thought all their flashy solos were so cool, but now hearing this fresh after having learned to play myself--that solo is so easy. Like if there were a textbook for how to play guitar solos that sound fast but don't require any real technique, this would be example #1. (And I'm not putting them down, I am also very lazy and have no real technique whatsoever! I appreciate the artistry, constructing a classic song despite limitations.) So overall this was a really fun, happy experience, like being reunited with an old friend, combined with getting a peek behind the curtain of some magic trick.
posted by equalpants at 7:51 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed, I don't want it to be an expectation that we need to mod threads like this but please skip the needless boyzoney stuff.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Ben Folds, “Learn to Live with What You Are.” A song about coming to terms with stuff that’s out of your control.

Brahms Op. 118 no 2 in A major - the boy I was head over heels for played this in recital class when we were sophomores in college and it sang to me of unrequited love. As it turns out that’s reportedly what was on the composer’s mind, too.
posted by eirias at 8:14 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


what are your personal associations with music

My entire life starting at about age 14, in the mid-70's, with the absolutely galvanizing event of falling instantaneously in love with jazz when I heard it for the first time over the sound system of my junior high school band room. Before that I'd kind of enjoyed the pop music of the day without any of it really grabbing me. In contrast my reaction to jazz was so strong that, had external circumstances been different (for instance a family that didn't disparage my aspirations - and me myself TBH - from the start, and access to musical education that wasn't available to this lower-middle-class southern kid), I may well have become a professional jazz musician. Since then I've come to enjoy a lot of different musical styles, but the rhythms and harmonies of classic to modern mainstream jazz still thrill me far more deeply than any other genre. Just listening to it continues to have the power to transport me to other mental/emotional realms and makes the rest of my humdrum existence bearable.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:25 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


I find a lot of beautiful songs in the sweet spot of the very late 70s/early 80s to hit me right in the heartspot:

Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” or just the whole of “Breakfast in America.”

JD Souther’s “You’re Only Lonely”
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:26 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Let's just say fifteen years ago... My hearing declined to a point where listening to music became impossible. So the soundtrack of my life ends in my mid twenties.

I had listened to different artists from different time periods up to that point. But the most influential, the ones I was most exposed to were those from the sixties. The strongest radio station I could pull in was an oldies station that I would listen to while reading when i was in junior high and high school. Mm, mm, mm.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:31 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Working in the high school radio station, "dancing" to Groove is in the Heart by Dee Lite in the announcer's booth and suddenly realizing that a classroom of people is looking at me through a window which normally had a curtain blocking it. Cue mortal embarrassment.

Listening to Medication by Primal Scream on an Amtrak train back from Virginia Beach after being dumped by a long distance girlfriend, convinced I had lost the most amazing girl in the world and would be forever alone.

Kamera by Wilco -driving around in my Dad's '95 Mazda Millenia and hammering on it.

Any classic rock song with weird noises/scatting or vocal outbursts ("Werewolves of London"- "nip!') the strange sniffling/throat clearing about 44 sec into "Wish You Were Here"or the scatting in "Under Pressure" reminds me of a dear old boss/mentor who died way too young of cancer and would always do exaggerated, comedic versions of the noises in those songs when they came on.

Mrs. LDS went through a big Hamilton phase and I had really had my limit of the soundtrack after a while. We were sitting in an outdoor bistro and a family walked by and started singing a number from Hamilton. We just looked at each other and I may have nervously laughed in the "he's finally snapping" way.

Attending an Armenian street festival, and the band (traditional Armenian party band instrumentation- an Oud, a Dumbeg, clarinet, keys, guitar, etc.) starts playing a song which is clearly (to me) not Armenian. In fact, it sounds a lot like Santana's "Smooth." No, wait, it IS Smooth. Mrs. LDS is pushing back, saying it isn't, I'm like "Uh, I know traditional Armenian "kef-time" songs and I know classic rock, and this song is definitely Smooth by Santana." Eventually the lyrics kick in and she concedes the point... just the difference between what we were expecting to hear and what we were actually hearing was so damn funny.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 8:32 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


the sweet spot of the very late 70s/early 80s

HAIL COMRADE.

...songs that have personal/emotional significance:

* Bruce Springsteen, I'm On Fire. I've told the story of getting roses from a secret admirer all through freshman year of high school, and then years later learning it had been my BFF who was just trying to cheer me up when I was feeling super-single and like boys didn't like me. She always burst out singing this when I walked into class with the latest delivery; I always thought she was just teasing me, but she confessed it was that she was trying to stop herself from blurting out "it was me!!!"

* The Waterboys, Fisherman's Blues. This has been a way to hang on through a decade when there was very little to hang onto. "I know I will be loosened from the bonds that hold me fast/The chains all around me will fall away at last...."

* Taj Mahal, A Little Soulful Tune. One of the clearest and earliest memories I have of my father was when this record was playing and he started moving my stuffed Snoopy doll as if Snoopy was singing this, just to make me giggle.

* Peter Gabriel, In Your Eyes. Another memory, with both my BFF and my father in it; the year I was 16, my aunt surprised me with two tickets to Peter Gabriel's SO tour, and another 3 tickets for herself and m parents in a different section of the venue. My BFF and I were flipping our shit the whole drive up to Massachusetts to see this, and were flipping our shit even harder during the show. My father wasn't looking forward to it - he'd gotten sick of my playing SO around the house - but when we all met back at the car after, he was silent for a long while as the rest of us gushed, and then finally looked up at us all and said of the show he'd just seen, "that was FUCKING GREAT." It was the first time I'd ever heard him drop an F-bomb, which was quite something!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 PM on July 26 [7 favorites]


Just listening to it continues to have the power to transport me to other mental/emotional realms and makes the rest of my humdrum existence bearable.

Oh - and I've never been expected to express my enjoyment of it by having to goddamn fucking dance to it!!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:30 PM on July 26


I have way too many stories for this topic. There are multiple Indigo Girls stories (I've got a Ghost story, too, though I found peace with mine, when I heard Last Tears.), Foo Fighters stories, Rilo Kiley stories, stories about songs that make me think of my mom, gone eight years and a day, today. Too few of them are joyful, or funny - that would be something good to work on in this... swirly, chaotic time we're in. So, all that said, I'll tell you the most recent one:
Various friends of mine had been trying for years to get me into Amanda Palmer, and on paper, she should be right in my wheelhouse, but for some reason a connection eluded me and I found what I listened to overwrought and ... challenging to hear. So I gave up. And one day my partner says he managed to get tickets to a secret video showing & forum for "Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now" and we're going, right? And it's.. powerful and moving and then, she does a couple of songs and she starts singing In My Mind, and i feel... all the breath in my body leave me and everyone in that little theater disappeared and I... Got It, what my friends had been trying to get me to hear. Tears streaming down my face by the end of the first damn verse. Even now, it still leaves me gasping and tearful.
So yeah. Music is lifeblood, and I am grateful to those who can write what I can't make come out of me so I can point to it and say, 'that. That is how I feel in this moment.'
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:38 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Two English cities left their handprint on me. Birmingham is the earlier, as it's the urban half of my split-childhood. Bands associated in some way with the city ping "Brum!" in my head when I hear them. There's quite a few, like ELO (Mr Blue Sky), Duran Duran (Rio), Mike Skinner (Fit But You Know It), Fine Young Cannibals (Johnny Come Home), Musical Youth (Pass The Dutchie) and of course Black Sabbath and Ozzy (Paranoid).

But the other English city, Bristol, is the one I associate indelibly with the times I've lived there, and a more wilder and carefree adult life. And it's probably the one English city left where I might keep a base, or footprint, or some other presence of choice, in the years ahead. Any track from that Portishead album (Sour Times, Numb, Glory Box, and so on) will do it; I just have to hear Beth sing one note and I am there again.

Listening to now? For gentle sounds that nudge me towards a return to Sweden (and the song I've played the most so far this strange year), that would be Falcons by Amanda Bergman. Though Då Som Nu För Alltid by Kent gets played every now and then as I recognise some of the Stockholm locations from last winter.

But for wide-awake music, the full version of Chicane's remix of William Orbit's Purdy does it for me this summer.
posted by Wordshore at 11:34 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


(the Mike Skinner "Fit But You Know It" video link in the previous comment should come with a borderline NSFW caution, now I've watched it for the first time in a very long time)
posted by Wordshore at 11:50 PM on July 26


When I was very little (like less than 5), my dad would take me with him to gas his car and get a Snickers. We'd sit in his Nissan Pathfinder, which smelled like all his CB radio equipment (aka dust and leather), eat our candy bars and listen to the Beach Boys. Then he'd get on the radio, hail one of his fellow CB friends, and turn down the volume of the cassette player just enough so he could hear the dude on the other end, me, and the music. It was neat. I started a playlist on Spotify called "Songs I've Listened to with Daddy" so I can relive those moments whenever I miss him. (He's alive, we're just separated by the quarantine.)
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:12 AM on July 27 [6 favorites]


Paolo Conte's song Via Con Me (which niicholas already mentioned above) is strongly linked for me with my time in Rome, '95-'97, except back then I didn't know what it was - it was just that song I'd keep hearing on the radio: it took me a few listens before I even caught the English lyrics in it 'It's wonderful... Good luck, my baby... I dream of you...' but every time it came on I somehow missed the DJs' mention of the artist or title, so it remained a tantalising mystery, and, when I left Italy, I wondered if I'd ever solve it.

Only a year or two later though, I was on the internet (still via dial-up), and even though I hadn't yet become aware of Google, I managed to find, via Excite or Altavista, pointers to a song with those same lyrics being used in a Dutch or Belgian TV ad that some kind soul had subsequently identified. Also thanks to the internet, it was easy as could be to order 'The Best Of Paolo Conte' on CD right away.
posted by misteraitch at 1:31 AM on July 27


I'll add a few:

Rose Murphy's Busy Line - a ditty/earworm that reminds me of a certain person.

The Specials International Jetset - still takes me back to that moment, as a teenager, when a friend came over with a stack of records and blew our minds away.

Sinal de Paz by Cavaquinho- one of the soundtracks of my time living in Soho in NYC in the mid-90's

Currently listening: mama!milk
posted by vacapinta at 3:15 AM on July 27


For me it’s a whole genre, specifically 90s RnB, too many songs to pick a favourite so here’s a Spotify playlist.

90s/early 2000s hiphop is a close second too, both of these playlists are instantly calming to me.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:30 AM on July 27


What a timely question. Due to this whole shelter-in-place thing, I invested in a new audio system including a record player. This has led me down a rabbit hole of high fidelity nonsense, in particular, I've been slowly building up a core record collection of music that is meaningful to me. With records averaging $20 a pop these days, this has forced me to evaluate my purchases carefully!

I have a pretty wide range of tastes, so in no particular order, these are some of the highlights I've been into:
  • All of the The Ramones early catalog is amazing, but "Pinhead"off their second album is perfect. Strangely enough, I got into the Ramones after watching "Rock and Roll High School" endlessly on cable tv at age 12, and then 4 or 5 years later "re-discovered" them during what passed for my punk phase in life.
  • I have a particular fondness for the "trip hop" era these days, it's been long enough to see what has stood up. In general, the best of Massive Attack, Portishead and a few others takes me back to a time when I was transitioning in my mid-20s to something resembling an "adult", I guess. But in particular, "Portishead Roseland NYC Live" might just be the best live album of the 90s for me. The fact that the band could take music that was so heavily crafted in the studio and perform it so well in person (and with an orchestra!) is a testament to the greatness of the music. You can take your pick off the album, it's all good, but "Mysterons" gets the nod for Beth Gibbon's emotion and the cathartic ending.
  • I wrote something related to the topic of emotional connections to music a few months ago here, so I won't repeat it. Suffice to say that many people wouldn't say Prince's "Around the World in a Day" is their favorite album of his, but it's mine because the deep connections it has to my life are basically imprinted into my DNA at this point. Listening to this album is basically a time machine for me.
  • I have a 19 year old son who has just as an eclectic taste in music as I do, and he asked me to give him a high-level overview of the history of jazz. As I was combing through the list, I got stuck (not for the first time) on the art of Billie Holiday. In particular I found myself listening to "Strange Fruit" again with tears streaming down my face. Why? Among other things, this was first recorded in 1939 and given recent events in America, it's devastating how little has changed. For nearly 20 years she was persecuted by the FBI, in no small part for her refusal to stop singing this song in public. Here's Billie singing Strange Fruit in 1959, for what might be the last time, as she would die a few months later. If you watch this, you'll probably cry too, but that's one of the things great music is supposed to do.
posted by jeremias at 5:21 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand its power, because it's not a song I would at all consider my favorite, or a band I particularly like, or a genre of music that I listen to beyond the fact that there were a handful of songs that made it onto the radio in the early- to mid-90s, but the Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" has a bizarre, all-consuming hold over me. Like, if I hear it, I'll tear up and listen to the song on repeat, sometimes for over an hour.

It's kind of embarrassing, because I'm a recovering music snob, and I listen to a lot of classical music as well, so the pieces that elicit that kind of emotional reaction from are usually, like, "Nessun Dorma" or "Redemption Song" or something.

I could (and have) gone into the autopsychoanalytical rabbit hole to figure out what exactly within me is being affected by the song, but yeah, "Two Princes", man. It just gets me. I am feeling emotional just typing this out.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:08 AM on July 27 [5 favorites]


I love reading everyone's answers to this.

I've been obsessive about music since I can remember. One of my earliest clear memories is from December 1980 when I was four; my parents were out at a Christmas party and my brother and I were in bed. I heard our babysitter turn on the radio in the kitchen and Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" came on. I leapt up and ran into the kitchen, putting my face right up to the speaker, and begged her to turn it up. She indulged me; I held the little radio to my chest and danced in ecstacy. That beat, it just...

Anyway I'm not really any more chill about music now.
posted by minervous at 12:10 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Oh, another story - this one is about "I Can See Clearly Now", and in specific the Jimmy Cliff cover they used in the Cool Runnings soundtrack. It was kind of ubiquitous on the radio at a time when I was also going through my first major groundshaking breakup; it was someone I'd lived with and I had to actually kick him out and it was all a big enormous emotional mess and I was just barely holding together, and that's why when one time when it came on the Muzak at a deli when I was getting a sandwich for lunch at work one day it felt like a big hand reaching down and patting me on the head and telling me "It'll all be okay" and I burst into tears. The very next day I was back at that same deli getting lunch and it came on the Muzak again, and this time it made me laugh; and I felt that same sort of reassurance that "hey, it'll all be okay."

That was something like 25 years ago, and ever since, even recently, I've sometimes found myself going through some kind of stress and worry and been trying to wrestle with some or another kind of ongoing problem, something that is causing me a lot of preoccupation; and at some point, eventually, I'll be running an errand or playing the radio as background music or something and by chance that song will come on. I've come to see it as a reminder from the universe that everything will eventually work out and I'll be okay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:00 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I've been listening to a bunch of Lilly Hiatt. Her new album Walking Proof is the kind of thing Americana people should be all over. That one is irresistible, but I also keep returning to the title track from her previous record Trinity Lane. It's a song about her trying to find peace and optimism in staying home instead going out and getting into trouble (she's a recovering alcoholic). But it also works as a song about trying to find the bright side of being cooped up, which is... timely.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:50 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


In heavy rotation during my quarantime: Nilsson Schmilsson, Segall Schmeagol (Ty Segall's covers of a few Nilsson Schmilsson tunes), and Bill Withers at Carnegie Hall. "Driving Along," "Jump Into the Fire" and "Maybe She'll Be Happier With Him" resonate the most.

Why? Not sure exactly: the sui generis seventies singer songwriter vibe makes me think of better, more open times, maybe. And Nilsson and Withers were geniuses.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:39 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


No Withers Schmithers?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:03 PM on July 27


This is my semi-living document playlist of favorites.

The songs that I relate to most are “Headstrong”, “God Damn the Sun” and “Goddam Bottle”, the first three songs on the list. But “Closer to Fine” (later on the list) is also an incredible match.

I’m mainly a lyrics person but I love jangly guitars, good drummers and moments of passion.
posted by bendy at 11:50 PM on July 27


I could probably go on for (at least) a year, but at this very moment two songs really stick out.

The first, unbelievably, is almost impossible to link to. It looks like it may be on Spotify? Anyway, it's a song called "Roll the Windows Down" by a band called Bill Ding. (Aside: half of that duo was none other than the son of brat pack director John Hughes.)

That song just.... speaks to a very wonderful friendship I had with someone so many years ago. It says the silent things that I could never express and still can't quite express.

The other is Bonzo's Montreux. Every time I hear it, it makes my little fey wings flutter.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:11 AM on July 28


Nilsson Schmilsson brings back a tremendously strange memory for me. The night before the last day of class my senior year of high school, a bunch of my classmates (like probably 60 of us) got together and decided to toilet paper a bunch of houses. At like the third house we hit, one of my douchier classmates decided to light firecrackers on the front porch, which earned a call to the police. We all scrambled into various cars and dispersed. The lone police car could only follow one of us, so for some reason they chose to follow the minivan I'd jumped into. I only remember one of the six or seven other people in the van, but none of us were at all criminal. Nothing really happened, the cop pulled us over and told us to go home (guess what race we all were), but he also notified the school. So the next day, our final day of classes, the seven or eight of us were summoned into the assistant principal's office. Our assistant principal was pretty cool, as were most of the teachers in our school, at least to us "good" kids. So she started out like "oh, you know, we're supposed to suspend you for this" but quickly dropped the facade and just shot the shit with us. For some reason, she was really into Harry Nilsson at that moment, and was going on and on about Nilsson Schmillson and Son of Schmillson, neither of which we'd ever heard of. The next day was Saturday. The assistant principal went skydiving, and her chute didn't open. The last time any of us ever saw her was listening to her talk about how great Harry Nilsson was. Never actually listened to the record, because I guess I don't want to take away from the magic of that moment when we were just starting our lives and she was about to end hers unexpectedly.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:16 AM on July 28


I have so many weird little associations of song/album and bits of my life. My brain seems to really clamp on to music a lot of the time, often more in earworm-on-overdrive ways rather than anything that makes a good narrative.

I have had the song "Yankee Doodle" on sort of a background loop in my brain for as long as I can remember, a strange noise floor thing that emerges in weird idle/stress times, I'll find myself whistling or humming it under my breath at inexplicable and emotionally inappropriate moments. Why that fucking song? Why such a bland insipid little melodic jig? Who knows! Other songs get in this kind of groove over shorter stretches (days, weeks, years), but Yankee Doodle is apparently deeply deeply embedded from some point in my childhood.

But I end up with strong emotional associations to albums and moments in a way that feels like more of a normal person thing, too. Some big highschool songs/albums; Dreams by Cranberries forever associated with my first serious girlfriend in high school, posting lyrics in her locker; Whiter Shade of Pale a lost-and-found-again song on the radio, me uncharacteristically speaking up at age 12 to tell my whole family to shut up and turn the radio up when it came on when we were driving somewhere and I was hearing it for the second time in my life after a years-long gap; Where Is My Mind crystalized in my head as the end of film track from Fight Club, which I was hearing for the first time while seeing the movie with my future wife on a cross-country visit early in our relationship.

Lately I've been listening to Gillian Welch's "Time (The Revelator)" a lot, to the point where the album being so good plus a lot of stress and weird sleep has gotten it, especially the title track, into that weird inescapable-earworm territory, riding a noise floor loop through idle moments in my day and across the liminal threshold of dicey sleep and wakefulness. It has a stark droning quality to its construction that feels almost custom-built for this kind of problem. Really gorgeous song, but I need a brain break from it, pulling that album out of rotation for a few days. I recorded and posted a cover of it on Music the other day, which helps sometimes exorcising a track but I think I ended up just re-embedding it by spending so much time with it that day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I have had the song "Yankee Doodle" on sort of a background loop in my brain for as long as I can remember, a strange noise floor thing that emerges in weird idle/stress times, I'll find myself whistling or humming it under my breath at inexplicable and emotionally inappropriate moments.

Hah, mine is the verse bit of "Yellow Submarine".

At the beginning of lockdown I set aside a little bit of money to update my music collection, solicited a bunch of recommendations, conscientiously made notes on all of them, and then proceeded to buy and listen on repeat to Dessa's entire discography. I'll get to the rest of the music. Eventually. Probably.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:01 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Forgive me, my brain immediately started doing this when I read the last comment, with no conscious input from me:

At the begin-
ning of lockdown
I set aside
a little dough
to update
my music collection
solicited a bunch
of recommendations

conscien-
tiously made notes
on allll
of them
then proceed-
ed to buy and listen
on repeat
to Dessa's discs.

(chorus)

We'll all get
to the rest of the music
Even-tu-ally
Prob-abob-aly

We'll all get
to the rest of the music
Even-tu-ally
Prob-abob-aly
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:36 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of stories based off karaoke now. God, I miss karaoke.

* There's the folks that only do like 1-3 of the same songs all the time, like the guy who either owned the building or the bar (we weren't sure which, I think it turned out to be the building) singing a lot of Sinatra. There was the night we found out that singing "My Way" in the Phillipines is a baaaaaaad idea.

Or the resident bar drunk singing the growliest songs he could do (annoyingly, I can't remember any of them now), and the night where he got super bombed and started humping people and worse, causing tons of drama and eventually causing a temporary exile from the bar. Last I saw of him, he had sobered up though.

* The night the guys did "American Pie" at the end of the night.
* Discussing the first time you had a song associated with a romance.
* Me going around asking people what their karaoke doppelganger (i.e. whose music you sing the best) is.

* A friend of mine liked to sing Beatles, particularly "Happiness Is A Warm Gun." His wife, a teacher, was not thrilled with this and one night we had suggestions of other words, like "warm cat." I later made him a crocheted glue gun out of yarn that warms up just as a joke. He was amused.

* Making friends with the lady who also loves "Shut Up And Dance." She also would engineer group numbers to "Play That Funky Music White Boy" at the end of the night.

* A friend of mine did "Hot N' Cold" in a play we were in (it was my favorite part of the show) and the one time she showed up to karaoke, I did that number. She was amused.

* I like "Cake By The Ocean," but another fellow started using that one to make moves on me. He's nice but I wasn't feeling it, so.... sigh. Awkward as hell.

* Figuring out which songs annoy the DJ, like me ruining his "Whamageddon" by doing "Last Christmas." This led to....
* That same night I found out that another friend of mine had been having secret FWB-ing going on with the karaoke DJ and then she found out he proposed to his girlfriend. And then she showed up in the least sexy thing she could find in the house (her toddler's "sky dancer" tube costume) and sang "Fuck You" by Lily Allen while he fled the room. He ah, fled town soon after that. I also did not feel so bad about ruining his Whamageddon.

* Singing "I Touch Myself" in front of the crush while he ah, presumably ignored that....
* Introducing the crush to the existence of "Sit On My Face" and then later he did "Big Balls" to amuse me.
* Any time my crush sang "Somebody To Love." The first time led to one of the most excruciating nights of my life because, well, he figured out I like him AND people got the idea to fix him up with someone else and he kinda freaked out and oh god, I'm still traumatized from that night. I like the song, but any time he did it after that I freaked that we'd have a repeat.

* The night I asked for a sign as to whether or not I should wait around on my slow-progressing crush or just get the fuck over the whole thing, on a night where I wasn't expecting to see him. Except he did come in and he sang "Is This Love" while looking at me.
* The night I sang "When You Say Nothing At All" to him...ditto, I suppose.

I was going to write something someday about all the karaoke stories, but now that we have a pandemic, I can't. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


But...which "Is This Love", jenfullmoon?

I have had Janet Jackson's "Together Again" in my head for over a week now so I decided to try learning it on my ukulele...the key change is a nightmare!!! but without it, it's easy and fun, and it suits my vocal range. Gonna buy a better uke soon.
posted by wellred at 5:47 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Jenfullmoon, you've reminded me of a sort-of-karaoke moment - ColdChef was visiting NYC once, so there was a local meetup coordinated in his honor, and at his request we went to Marie's Crisis - where each night they have a live piano player leading singalongs of Broadway show tunes, with the songs selected by request. Half of us were theater nerds. The other half....weren't, but showed up anyway.

Very, very quickly it became apparent that the non-theater people had assumed it would be an evening of wall-to-wall Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, but were getting pleasantly surprised. I can't remember who I was sitting next to when the crowd around the piano started singing "The Internet Is For Porn", but he spent the entire song listening in delighted amazement, giggling and saying "This is a Broadway song?" over and over.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Whitesnake version.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:25 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Last winter for a birthday trip, my partner and I rented a little cabin near one of those cute little upstate NY towns, and had Ponta de Areia by Wayne Shorter on extremely heavy rotation on the way up in the car, and then inside the cabin as we sat by the fire reading. After my birthday dinner we wandered into some shops, and what should be playing but a cover of the song by Earth Wind and Fire. I prefer the original, frankly, but it was still one of those neat and extremely minor coincidences that stick with you. Two months later, boom, pandemic. Hearing the song still gives me a feeling of peace and joy and reminds me of a lovely time.
posted by whir at 7:54 PM on July 29


I was (and still am) a big fan of the 90s beats of The Chemical Brothers. But I don’t listen to “Where Do I Begin?” anymore. In college it got associated in my brain with I am an adult now and these problems are weighty sort of stuff. Now if I hear it I’m flooded with a sneering contempt for my past self. Just you wait, I say, you’ll get some real problems. Yet I feel nostalgic at the same time, because those were the days.
posted by Monochrome at 8:48 PM on July 29


Train's Get to Me will forever be tied to the first deployment of my twin brother. I cried a lot of tears listening to that song.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:55 AM on July 30


Arvo Pärt's music, has a way of taking all the edges of of this time for me. I have listened to "The Cantu in Memoriam for Benjamin Britten," so many times, and there is an entire evening performance in Pärt's performance hall in Talinn, Estonia, that has some choral music, and in one part, toward the end, reminds me of gulls crying out, and vanishing slowly into the distance, like over the Baltic Sea.
Recommendations to hear his music came from Metafilter, as well as Grateful Dead's "Dark Star." In fact I listen to many music recommendations from here. I also love First Aid Kit's "Stay Gold," album.
posted by Oyéah at 12:38 PM on July 30


I can't even remember how I stumbled across the Beths, but I listen to their two albums over and over. Ever song is solid. Their sophomore release just dropped, and the title song, although mellower than a lot of their music, is already a favorite of mine: Jump Rope Gazers.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:04 PM on August 1


I am very into Cory Wong right now. I discovered him via this Vulfpeck Madison Square Garden show and then this live show in Minneapolis, and then started exploring his catalog.

Last weekend I went to see him at a social-distanced outdoor show at a local supper club [Crooner's, for those in the Twin Cities] and it was awesome. Turns out he grew up a half-mile away from it; went to high school over there across the lake, got his first job just across the parking lot over there, and his best friend's mom was a server here at this supper club [which used to be called the Shoreview] so he was here most every Friday night though high school.

It was obviously an emotional experience for him to be playing there.
posted by chazlarson at 4:00 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


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