Life at an Intersection

Chicago Phoenix, indemnity bonds, journaling, really really really want a zigazig ah, travel, books, travel books, relationships, values. It is hard to pinpoint precisely, but I'd say about 82% of what you read here is true. The rest is fictional nonfiction.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Favorite Music, 2009

It is the end of the year! Yes, yes, it is. For my year-end music list this year, I've decided to choose the top five artists that have carried me through this turbulent annum. My list of favorite songs for this year seems so inadequate, so scatter-shot, and an album list just wouldn't do justice to the depth of the work of these artists that I was introduced to or discovered or loved in the past twelve months.

#5 - Lucinda Williams


Yeah, I've had a rough year, but this rock goddess helps me put it in perspective: it occurred to me the other day that no one on earth has probably written more songs about suicide than Lucinda Williams. I had the opportunity to attend a three-night concert event here in Chicago celebrating the 30th anniversary of her recording career back in October, and it was a huge highlight of the year for me. The first night especially, when she focused on performing songs from her earliest three records, singing songs that have fallen by the wayside over the years and are rarely performed any more, was sublime and will be memorable for such a long time to come. "Crescent City," "Sharp Cutting Wings," "The Night's Too Long," "Little Angel, Little Brother," "Sweet Old World" - magnificent. And hearing her sing "Learning How to Live" and "Everything Has Changed" from the West album was one of the most transcendent, healing moments of my year. Those three days, indeed.

#4 - The Avett Brothers


Scott and Tami have been raving about these guys for a few years now, but I'd never made any moves towards checking them out until early this year when those generous Camerons gifted me the Emotionalism album. "All My Mistakes," "I Would Be Sad," "Die Die Die," "Shame" - perfect. Later this year, when I and Love and You was streaming on NPR, I became fully, completely smitten. I picked that one up right after it was released, and now those songs are the ones popping into my head at opportune times, the ones that I'm singing along to while washing the dishes. And I feel pretty good about the fact that the most discriminating 2 year-old music fan in the world, Asher Scott Cameron, and I have the same favorite song: "Kick Drum Heart." If I'm picking a best album of 2009, it is I and Love and You. Also, if I'm picking worst album cover art, it is that one, too. "Get Out!"

#3 - The Format


I found out this year that I like people from Phoenix, Arizona; I should have known this already, because this band from Phoenix has been rocking my world with their prescient, perfect lyrics for a couple of years now. I don't have much more to say this year than I did last, when I picked Interventions and Lullabies as my favorite album of the year. The Format never came off of my mp3 player this year; maybe they never will.

#2 - The Weepies


This husband and wife duo specialize in simplicity, melody, and heart-searing lyrics. I downloaded their most recent album, Hideaway, this past spring when it was the $1.99 daily deal at the Amazon mp3 Store (by the way, if you use iTunes, you are paying too much for your downloads). Just a few minutes of previews, and I knew that this was my kind of music. There's some really great break-up songs and a delicious mellowness to the album that were just what I wanted for wallowing in a bit of sorrow. There's "Can't Go Back Now" and "Lighting Candles" and "How You Survived the War" and "All Good Things (Come to an End)." Just the titles probably give you a sufficient idea. I met a nice boy named Zach a few months later, and we had The Weepies in common. He gave me a copy of their earlier album Say I Am You, which is equally awesome but with slightly more oblique titles like "Painting by Chagall," "Living in Twilight," and "Riga Girls." The best song title of 2009 for me? "Not Your Year." Yeah, I feel that. Thanks to The Weepies for, appropriately, some healthy tears and beautiful poetry.

#1 - Sun Kil Moon


I am fully aware that this choice is drenched in irony. Kevin introduced me to the music of Mark Kozelek back in 2005; his former band was Red House Painters, sometimes he releases self-billed, and now he's performing under this name. I bought both April, his most recent release, and Ghosts of the Great Highway this year, and I am now firmly, resolutely convinced that no artist captures pain, despair, tragedy, loss, and unfulfilled longing more acutely, more perfectly in his voice and lyrics than Mark Kozelek. Of course, these are not necessarily emotions that you want to be reminded of on a daily basis, so this isn't everyday music. This is difficult, raw, often unpleasant stuff, but couched in such beauty, sometimes such ethereal, exquisite, delicate beauty. "Lost Verses" and "Tonight the Sky" are both 10-minute tracks on April, and such an incredible journey of 10 minutes it is. "Salvador Sanchez" is a brilliant, shimmering rocker on Ghosts and its twin "Pancho Villa" is a beautiful, stripped-down version. The bonus track cover of "Somewhere" from West Side Story teases with a bit of hope ("Someday, a place for us, somewhere a time for us...We'll find a way of living, we'll find a way of forgiving."), but also just enough melodic dissonance to make you wonder, really?


Honorable mentions: Kris Allen, who made me truly, completely excited about "American Idol" - The Killers, who I think are actually wildly underrated for a popular band - Coldplay, who put on a fantastic live show for me and some friends up in Wisconsin this summer - Pink and Kelly Clarkson, whose albums this year were honest and awesome - Andrew Bird and St. Vincent, whose unique artistry is enjoyable, novel, and quirky.

Favorite Radio Artist to Love to Hate While Singing Along With - Taylor Swift

Favorite Dance Songs - Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," Pink's "So What" and "Please Don't Leave Me," Shakira's "She Wolf"

Most Infectious Song - Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA"

Most Eye-Rolling Lyrics of the Year (tie) -
Owl City's "Cave In" - Please take a long hard look through your text book /'Cause I'm history...Riding a dirtbike down a turnpike/Always takes its toll on me
Owl City's "Dental Care" - I've been to the dentist a thousand times / So I know the drill

Most Unfortunate Song Title to an Awesome Song - Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"

Best Song That You've Never Heard - Miles Fisher's "This Must Be the Place"

Most Disappointing Albums - Conor Oberst et al's Outer South and Mindy Smith's Stupid Love

Favorite Fun, Profanity-Filled Song - Lily Allen's "F@#$ You"

Concert that I am Suddenly Thrilled that I Didn't Go To With the Hipster Boy that Invited Me - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Tuesday, December 1, 2009



I am better now. This is just a reflection, a memory.

I read something tonight as I neared the end of a book, a scene where the past catches up with a character, and he cries. "He locked himself in the bathroom and cried, slowly, until his last tear was shed. Only then did he have the courage to admit to himself how much he had loved her."

I remember the first time I cried in front of Kevin. I was moving out of my apartment, my lovely little one bedroom Chattanooga apartment, the place where I lived for two years while teaching at Grace. It was the most wonderful little place. I was overwhelmed with sadness, probably scared about the uncertainty of my future, of where we were going and what we were going to be doing - which we didn't know. I had to move back in with my parents for a few weeks; this was very frustrating. I started crying, and I was so embarrased. I fled into the bathroom and sat on the toilet in the dark and cried. And he came in, and he was comforting in a stolid, awkward, standoff-ish way, as was natural and correct. We had been dating only two or three months. There was a hand on the shoulder, there was a neck squeeze. Crying in the bathroom is so inelegant.

I remember another time more than a year later, we had just arrived in Asia, we were a few days in to a two-week trip in Thailand. We had this dumb-luck penthouse room in a bizarrely empty guesthouse in Phuket. No shower curtain, but the view from the balcony was amazing, the sunset I guarantee would melt the heart of the most jaded, flinty bitch on earth. The beach outside our windows was still ruined, still scarred by the tsunami's rapage some 20 months earlier. But there was tension inside too, there was more uncertainty, there was limbo, there was DW-TV. We felt like maybe we didn't know what we were getting into with this around-the-world move, and having all these suitcases with us and no idea what next week would hold caught up with us and got to be a bit overwhelming. I remember Kevin's head resting on me that night, his hot tears falling onto my chest, I remember exactly how that felt, and I knew for sure that was the most love that I had ever felt in my life.

I've cried more in this past year than I ever have and ever hope to again, I'm sure. I have a tiny measure of courage, I can admit that. But it is over now, I am better now. This is just a reflection, a memory.

Just finished reading
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-

Twitter / Davie_St

Words That I'm Living By - 5/2/2010

Time, as I've known it
Doesn't take much time to pass by me
Minutes into days, turn into months
Turn into years, they hurry by me
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

Dreams full of promises
Hopes for the future, I've had many
Dreams I can't remember now
Hopes that I've forgotten,
faded memories
But still I love to see the sun go down
And the world go around

And I love to see the morning
as it steals across the sky
I love to remember and
I love to wonder why
And I hope that I'm around
so I can be there when I die
When I'm gone

I hope that you will think of me
In moments when you're happy and you're smiling
That the thought will comfort you
On cold and cloudy days
if you are crying
And that you'll love to see
the sun go down
And the world go around
And around and around

"Around and Around" by Mark Kozelek

  © Blogger template 'Photoblog' by 2008 | Distributed by Creative Artworkof Fractal Enlightenment

Back to TOP