“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. ”Gradually and then suddenly.”
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. ”Gradually and then suddenly.”
There was a time when Ben Westermann-Clark and I occasionally interviewed artists for the Grooveshark Blog. All told, we probably interviewed over 30 semi-notable musicians (and Straylight Run!). Maybe 2 of these interviews are actually what anyone would term as “readable”. I happen to think this interview we did with Girl Talk was one such interview, but that may be because it’s almost certainly the only time anyone has ever started an interview with a question about the movie Son of The Mask.
I omitted the intro I wrote because it was so bad that I cringed numerous times before I even finished the first paragraph. The long and short of it is that Ben and I got to go to a bunch of Girl Talk shows in Florida that fall and it resulted in a few hijinks that are referenced in the interview. Spoiler: the question about our friend Ben Owen getting laid in the bathroom might just be one of said references.
Here it is, apologies for the length:
Grooveshark: So, this is kind of a random way to start an interview, but we were reading an interview today where someone asked you your favorite album, book and movie and you answered Son of the Mask for all of them. And I think it bears noting that we are pretty sure we saw Alan Cumming from Son of the Mask at the show in Miami.
Girl Talk: Really? How sure are you?
Grooveshark: About 90% sure. We were discreetly whispering about it all night.
Girl Talk: Dude, that’s insane. He was apparently supposed to be at one of my shows in Vancouver. I’m not actually sure if he made it to the show, but there was an afterparty I went to and he was chilling there and I just kept thinking “Oh my god, the fucking dude from Son of The Mask is here!”
Grooveshark: You know that sucks when people refer to you as “that guy from Son of the Mask”.
Girl Talk: I would totally get an autographed copy of my Son of the Mask DVD.
Grooveshark: So you’re the one guy that owns it. Your background is in noise music, how has that affected how you create songs as Girl Talk?
Girl Talk: Not too much. I would say, I think overall kind of the influence of the noise and the nature of the music can influence electronic music. I think I got into electronic stuff through noise and think that whole sound. I was really influenced by Sonic Youth and guys like that. So I think that even though I don’t make anything that sounds anything like those guys, I think stylistically I just try and use quick edits and make stuff as choppy as possible but still cohesive. I think that’s still the thing I’m trying to accomplish the most.
Grooveshark: I heard you met Thurston Moore.
Girl Talk: Yeah, at a festival this summer.
Grooveshark: That’s cool, how was he?
Girl Talk: I was pretty intimidated. I’m a big Sonic Youth nerd. I’ve been a fan for a while. Yeah, he was just chill. He actually – he played at the same exact time that I played. I played at the same time as Yoko Ono and he was playing guitar with her, so we ended like at the same time and we walked off our different stages to the backstage at the same time and there was no one around, so we just chatted for a minute. Thurston Moore is cool as hell.
Grooveshark: Yeah, I have no idea what I would say to him.
Girl Talk: I was just straight nerdin’ it out. I’m a big fan.
Grooveshark: The next question is, we read where you said you wanted to be our generation’s Kurt Cobain. Why?
Girl Talk: (laughs) Because I want to kill myself next year.
Grooveshark: You could always get Courtney Love to kill you next year.
Girl Talk: It’d be really sweet to have Courtney Love kill me next year. (laughs)
Grooveshark: You mentioned before how you didn’t want people to think of you solely as a DJ and wanted to incorporate more of a performance aspect to your shows. How has that evolved over the last few years?
Girl Talk: You know, I think I’ve gone backwards a little bit because I think when I started I really needed to perform. Just because it wasn’t necessarily a social party and people weren’t dancing at the shows so I was pretty much playing with a lot of other people on the bill and having people in the crowd who don’t give a damn about me watching the show. So then it was all about putting on a performance and making kind of an elaborate show out of it. But I think the show has turned into such a party that I’ve kind of just evolved. Most of the time I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve just done the best to adapt to where the show is at now and it is such a dancing kind of party style that I really don’t perform nearly as much as I used to – which is a cool thing. I feel like the focus is on the music for the first time ever where people really just enjoy hearing it and try to grind up on some girl or something.
Grooveshark: Or like Ben Owen getting laid in the dressing room bathroom?
Girl Talk: Exactly. Ben getting laid in the bathroom is the essential Girl Talk experience.
Grooveshark: My favorite part of Miami was actually sitting in the dressing room during the encore throwing bottles of water at each other and I’ve always sort of wondered, what goes through your head during an encore when everyone’s been so receptive to your set?
Girl Talk: I mean, it’s hard enough for me to put together a whole set. I put out an album every two years, so that’s pretty much my working pace. But I’ve just been working on so much music. An encore used to be kind of like – “Oh God, what am I going to do now? I have nothing left.” But now I work on so much new stuff that I’m really excited just to try out something new. A lot of stuff I play, I just enjoy hearing and I get into it, but I have heard it a million times. So yeah, encores, I really appreciate that. It’s crazy to even hear that enthusiasm from people who don’t want to get the hell out of there and try to go have sex in the bathroom somewhere. Yeah, it gives me confidence to try out new material and everything . There’s kind of no rules at that point.
Grooveshark: Since you’ve been able to quit your job, how do you make a living solely on music?
Girl Talk: It’s really just off of the shows. I play a minimum of two shows a week these days and a lot of colleges pay well and – yeah man, mostly from touring. With the internet and everything and music being downloaded for free, everyone finds out about it so much that it’s really the easiest time to become a relatively well known musician. Playing parties and making a living off of it.
Grooveshark: So do you think piracy has had a pretty positive effect on independent artists?
Girl Talk: I think it’s great. I read – it’s funny, because you always read about the industry falling apart and you hear about this stuff – MTV News and Rolling Stone and all these mainstream outlets that have ties now with major record labels and I think major labels are falling apart a little bit. But at the same time, I heard Merge Records had their biggest year in 2007 for sales and I know people like me and a lot of my friends, like Dan Deacon and Grand Buffet and all these people that I’ve been playing music with forever are all doing fairly well based on the fact that the internet is spreading the word so thoroughly. So I think right now is probably the easiest time to make a living off of being a musician, kind of on an independent level.
Grooveshark: So, do you think most of your fans heard of you via piracy?
Girl Talk: Definitely. A lot of shows, I’ll have CDs set up and people wont even realize that there’s a physical product out. They think it’s just some CDR or they get it from their friend. I think – maybe not necessarily through file sharing networks or through mp3s, but definitely through the internet, through blogs and websites and things like that. I love reading music magazines and feel like a lot of the magazines are just icing on the cake. It’s just the exclamation point on that band’s popularity.
Grooveshark: I don’t know, it seems like Pitchfork can make or break an artist at this point.
Girl Talk: Absolutely. I would love to meet that staff. I really feel like a good review on Pitchfork is more valuable than being on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Grooveshark: Oh sure. I mean, Vampire Weekend got a rave review in Pitchfork and now they’re playing Letterman.
Girl Talk: Right, yeah, it’s – I went through it and Night Ripper existed for two months before Pitchfork ran a review and the biggest sales day on the website prior to the review running was 25 CD sales in one day. The day that review went, it was like 250 sales that day. That week, I had a booking agent for the first time. Had my first sold out show a month later.
Grooveshark: About that, I read somewhere that you feared a backlash from all the attention you’ve received recently. Have you seen that happen at all? Also, how do you maintain having an audience predicated on the context of “underground” and have your music explode in popularity?
Girl Talk: Surprisingly, I’ve seen less of backlash than expected. I think the Pitchfork review came out in 2006, and I kind of thought I would be able to ride it for a few months and just see it die down. I’d be happy with that. I never expected an interview from Pitchfork or anything like that. But surprisingly, it just continued to ramp up. I think the word has spread about the live shows and people get really into them and I’ve had a couple good festival shows. There’s been some negative stuff on music blogs, but that comes with any amount of success. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. As far as getting more popular and maintaining any credibility, I’ve never given a damn about being popular and the music I’ve always championed with my music is more mainstream stuff. To me, it’s like I feel the music I’m making is still weird, the overall context and just the arrangements of it, how it’s put together. I use a lot of mainstream stuff. It’s kind of like, well, I’ve been sampling Elton John this whole time. How can you get more mainstream than that. But I’ve had no problems with that regard.
Grooveshark: We were talking about this before, how you sample from such a diverse group of musicians. Is there any music that you vehemently don’t like?
Girl Talk: No, for me, I like certain things more than other things. I like the way certain CDs sound more than others and I have favorites and likes and dislikes, but I think as far as appreciating things, I can take a step back and realize that my perspective means nothing – and I don’t believe anyone else’s individual perspective means anything either and I think once you understand that and be a little more objective about it, you can appreciate any sort of music for how it’s impacting other people. But when I hear something and I don’t necessarily like it on the surface, rather than dismissing it or talking shit about it, I try to take a step back and be like, why do certain people love this and how can I get into it? I’m willing to sample anything and I like and dislike certain things, but I can respect it for what it is.
Grooveshark: Why do you think it’s so easy for kids that come to your shows that abhor mainstream pop to come and dance and enjoy, I don’t know, Three Six Mafia?
Girl Talk: I think my audience has changed a good bit. It used to be more of an electronic music crowd into it because I was just playing a laptop and everything. I think when the Pitchfork review dropped and crowds did get a bit more eccentric and I noticed some more indie rock type dudes showing up, but I think that just kind of started to snowball and it just has rolled from there. Now it’s like, I think a lot of the people that come out like Rich Boy and TI and listen to rap music and there’s other people who don’t and there’s other people who only like the Pixies, but they like the way I recontextualized it. I prefer that people approach it different ways. For me, one of the ultimate goals I have is that I don’t ever hide the fact that I’m sampling music. I’m straight up about that but I’m hoping that the music I make has legs of it’s own and becomes it’s own entity. I’m hoping that it’s like no matter what I sample or use, the final product will be a Girl Talk song. So if I’m sampling Rich Boy and you hate Rich Boy, it doesn’t matter because it’s presented in a different context, it sounds differently and you can enjoy it. I think it’s really similar to the history of hip-hop sampling – Kanye West samples Steely Dan samples on his new album, and it’s just like how many Kanye West fans want to jam to Steely Dan? Probably not that many. But in this particular context, he made his own original song out of that influence.
Grooveshark: Did you hear the White Stripes got sued for sampling seven seconds of audio on “Jumble Jumble”?
Girl Talk: Yeah, it scares the shit out of me.
Grooveshark: Have you heard from anyone that’s angry about using their samples? Any cease and desist letters?
Girl Talk: Never. We haven’t. We’ve heard from a lot of people who have just reached out and supported it. For example, I told Thurston Moore I sampled him, and I don’t think he knew about it, but he was open to it and cool with it. So, yeah, I think part of the reason is – I’m on a label called Illegal Art. We believe this music should be legal and the name is obviously a joke. There is a thing called Fair Use and you can’t sample people without asking for permission, it falls under certain criteria. I think a lot of people hear my album and realize it’s not doing any damage to any of the artists overall and it is potentially helping them. I think they also realize that we’re ready to fight if they do come knocking at the door, and we’d be happy to talk to them – I feel confident about what I’m doing. I think people are just like, “Why mess with this? It’s probably helping us out.”
Grooveshark: That goes back to file sharing. People are going to hear portions of a song and end up buying a tangible product or going to a show.
Girl Talk: Absolutely. The story I always tell is I played a Sweet 16 birthday party in LA for some rich girl and Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss” came out and it’s the biggest song. I played a remix of that and there was a quarter of the room singing along and then I dropped the James Taylor sample from my album and all of the sudden, every kid, with hands in the air, knew the words to it. It’s just like, whether they’re looking to that or not, it’s like they have to from James Taylor to this music. They would not know that otherwise. This has to be beneficial in some way.
Grooveshark: I know you won $500 worth of gift certificates from Taco Bell. What are you going to do with all that food?
Girl Talk: I’m actually staring at the coupons right now. They sit right beside my workstation for inspiration. I haven’t used one yet, I’m saving them for my next Pittsburgh show, I want to do something special with them.
Grooveshark: What’s the process or exchange like for artists who approach you for remixes?
Girl Talk: Labels will occasionally approach me and sometimes the bands will actually come to me themselves. I’ve been holding off doing remixes because I’ve been trying to tackle the new album. It’s interesting… it’s just a different project. I go about making live sets and my albums a particular way and I’ve been doing it for years. I’m used to writing songs in a certain way and recording them in a particular fashion. A remix for me is just a fun little side project. Even with the remix projects, if I like that song and try to incorporate it in my live set or in my album, I would probably use 30 seconds of it, and with remixes I have to make a whole song based around it? A lot of times, people come to me and ask me not to do samples on it, which is interesting, because I make all sorts of music without samples, just in my free time. It’s just a crazy notion. It’s like asking Metallica to write a song, but don’t use guitars on this particular one. Producing and remixing are really not a priority for me. People have been asking me a lot recently but I’ve been turning most of them down the past six months or so.
Grooveshark: Do you have anyone you’d really like to collaborate with?
Girl Talk: I would love to do production on any sort of mainstream hip-hop. I would love to do a Bone Thugs n Harmony song or a Gucci Mane song or even a Justin Timberlake song.
Grooveshark: Have you heard from any of your former coworkers after all this has happened since you quit your job?
Girl Talk: I haven’t, but I heard from my boss and he had a question about work that I had to answer. It’s like, I never told them about what I was doing and when I quit, I just told them I was traveling the world. I’m sure someone has to know by now. But maybe not… you know how adults are. They’re just idiots and they’re in their old world. Or maybe they have no idea about it. I just would be very surprised. Yeah, I told them I was doing some music on the side to make money, but never really explained the whole scope of the thing.
Grooveshark: I guess, for the last question, will there be a new Girl Talk CD any time soon?
Girl Talk: Yeah, I started a couple weeks ago. I’ve got exactly four minutes done as of today. I hope in April or May I should be done and as soon as we’re done, I’m going to put it up on the internet that week and then out on cd a month or so later.
Grooveshark: I heard it might be called Death Sucks.
Girl Talk: Yeah, Death Sucks is one of them. Right now, it’s either Death Sucks or Feed the Animals.
I am a Bruce Springsteen fan. I say that not in a way that would suggest that I simply enjoy all of his albums, I say that to convey an obsession that borders on the unhealthy. If you were to peruse my iTunes (probably Limewire if we’re being honest) when I was 16 years old, you would likely find over 1,000 Springsteen songs accompanied by a handful of Dylan, The Who, and Tom Waits tracks. There was even one instance where a girl discovered a cd in my car labeled “Thunder Road” and was mortified to find that it contained 17 different versions of the song. When you’re 16, there aren’t a lot of kids meeting up at the local Honker Burger to discuss the quality disparity between the solo piano version of The Promise from Tracks versus the original 1978 version omitted from Darkness on the Edge of Town. If those kids did exist, they sure as hell weren’t in Gainesville, Florida.
Writing about how Springsteen’s music has changed your life has become a bit of a cottage industry, so I will spare you the ridiculous details about nighttime drives blasting “Prove It All Night” out the windows of a crappy car in the Florida wilderness. Just know that it happened. A lot. Instead, I’d like to describe a time this past March where I reached the pinnacle of Springsteen fandom and bamboozled my way into actually meeting the man. After years of near misses, I finally made it happen thanks to a willingness to risk arrest, manipulate old people, and a serendipitous working relationship with a band accepting a battery of awards at an event Springsteen was an unbilled special guest.
The setting of my Springsteen meeting was the Austin Music Hall. I was there for the Austin Music Awards with several of my Grooveshark coworkers to support a band named Quiet Company that we’d worked with intensively for several months. After years of working hard in the Austin music scene, Quiet Company had finally achieved a level of local acclaim that was to culminate at the awards show with them winning 10 (!) awards, including Best Band, Best Album, and Best Song. I’d like to say that we had something to do with it, but they’re really just that good of a band.
Rumors had begun circling weeks before that Springsteen would be closing the awards show with a surprise appearance with local legend Alejandro Escovedo. Since Quiet Company was set to accept the last awards of the evening, I had assumed that I’d have unparalleled access to the backstage area to watch Springsteen perform and then regale him with pithy anecdotes and bombastic revelations about how much his music had meant to me. This only kinda happened because apparently there’s a marked difference between the level of security needed for a local band winning the biggest award of the night in Austin, Texas, and an international mega-rock star performing a cover of Beast of Burden no more than 5 minutes later.
All seemed to be going well about ten minutes before Quiet Company was set to accept the award. I was accompanied by my coworker Evan Rocha and the band as we waited in an L shaped hallway by the side of the stage as the band prepared to accept their awards. Right before Quiet Company’s name was called, a door swung open no more than 5 feet from me to reveal Bruce Springsteen wielding an electric guitar. Now, I’d seen Springsteen from the first few rows at Giants Stadium, but seeing him 5 feet away was a shock I was woefully unprepared for. I mean, there he WAS. In real life. Being all normal and shit. The door was slammed shut just as soon as it opened, but the damage was done. Both Evan and I agreed that not only were we about to meet Bruce Springsteen, but we would do just about anything necessary to ensure that our plans weren’t thwarted.
Security had other ideas. After Quiet Company accepted their plethora of awards, security made a sweep of backstage and removed everyone not wearing a special Springsteen pass. Evan and I attempted to make impassioned pleas to the ambivalent security guards about how we were with Quiet Company and thus should be granted access, but security was having none of it. We were expeditiously removed from the backstage area and deposited on the sidewalk of the venue bearing stern admonitions from the staff. Ordinarily, (like if I was trying to meet John Mellencamp or something) this would be cause for any sane person to cut their losses and leave. However, the scope of my Springsteen mania extended far beyond the bounds of sanity, and Evan and I both refused to be deterred.
I’d like to say that we concocted a diabolical scheme replete with timely bribes and a system of levers and pulleys to get back in, but we really just waited for security to leave the outside area and walked back in. We had the original, non-Springsteen backstage passes, and the security guards granting entry into the aforementioned L-Shaped hallway didn’t make the differentiation. So, it was no more than 5 minutes after being unceremoniously removed from backstage that we found ourselves standing next to Springsteen’s dressing room again. The difference this time was that we were surrounded by a cadre of obviously important folks wielding the same Springsteen-centric passes that so eluded us.
To circumvent the obvious problem of our lack of passes, we did what anyone would do in the same situation. We just made it a point to face the wall every time a security guard passed by so they wouldn’t see that we weren’t wearing a pass. At one point, Springsteen’s dressing room door flew open and the man walked to the stage to watch some of Alejandro Escovedo’s solo set. This happened about 5 feet in front of us, and feeling the desperation inherent in attempting to meet a moving person who is flanked by a swarm of security guards, Evan and I made a rookie mistake. Pushing our way through the pass-owners, we attempted to intercept Springsteen before he made it to the stage. Unfortunately, our ill-planned yells of “Bruce!” served solely to alert the security guards that we had stolen backstage yet again. Bruce didn’t even look up on his walk to the stage, but security did and we were booted from the backstage area for the 2nd time in 20 minutes.
Getting kicked out of a venue twice by the same security guards isn’t exactly cause for optimism. Even if we were able to sneak back into the L-shaped hallway, surely the security guards would recognize our faces. Only this time, they’d probably have us arrested for our refusal to heed their orders rather than just humiliate us by kicking us out. Having listened to my fair share of country songs about the perils of Texas jails, the prospect of incarceration was not terribly appealing. God only knows how those inmates keep Austin weird in the hoosegow.
With that being said, Evan and I both agreed that there was no way we were going to be content with coming so close to meeting Springsteen and failing. Without so much as a thought, much less a plan, we simply walked right back inside and assumed our position by the same dressing room door we’d just been removed from. We hoped it would be the only position we’d assume that night. Fortunately, this time we were successful.
Bruce had since left the side of the stage and retired back to his dressing room to prepare for his cameo onstage with Alejandro. Security continued running sweeps of the hallway in anticipation of his walk back to the stage, but inexplicably failed to recognize us thanks to some fairly genius manipulation of the elderly perpetrated by Evan and I. Amongst the pass-wielders standing by Springsteen’s dressing room door were two little old ladies who seemed positively giddy about meeting the man. Every time security walked by, Evan and I would simply engage the old ladies in conversation about their grandchildren, The Golden Girls, or proper denture maintenance (I honestly can’t remember what we talked about) and positioned ourselves so that we were facing the ladies instead of security. Bearing the kind of unprecedented charm that causes most grandmothers to refer to us as “nice, young men”, we kept the old ladies animated enough so that it would appear that we’d been talking with them the entire night. No minimum wage security guard is going to fuck with a little old lady deep in conversation, so our septuagenarian subterfuge proved markedly effective.
After a few minutes of talking with the old ladies, disaster seemed imminent. Security had rapidly begun to assemble all around the hallway of the dressing room, which only seemed to spell curtains for our entire enterprise. As we started wondering why they needed a veritable posse to remove us from the backstage area, we caught a break. It turns out that the security guards had assembled not to turn us over to the fuzz, but to escort Springsteen onto the stage for his appearance. Flanking Springsteen from both sides with military precision, they began the short walk to the stage and inexplicably failed to leave anyone attending the dressing room door. Having already reached previously unknown depths of desperation, Evan and I exchanged a knowing glance and immediately darted into the unmanned door and into the relative safety of Springsteen’s dressing room.
After waiting about two minutes for the seemingly inevitable deluge of security, it dawned on us that we had made it into Springsteen’s dressing room unscathed. We could even hear the man playing through the doors of the room. Once the impact of the situation fully dawned on us, we took a mental inventory of the relatively small room and realized we had neglected to notice that there were 2 teenage girls in the room with us. In no way were these girls oblivious to the fact that we were trespassing, it’s just that they seemed completely ambivalent to EVERYTHING. Evan and I attempted to make small talk with them to calm our nerves, but those efforts proved fruitless due to the girls’ preoccupation with texting every single person on the planet.
This presented an interesting situation. At this point, we were pretty sure that nobody would think twice if they discovered us in the dressing room. I mean, surely nobody would be foolhardy (and let’s face it, weird) to sneak into Springsteen’s dressing room if they didn’t belong there. What we DIDN’T want to happen was to find ourselves on the receiving end of questions about what the hell we were doing in a room with 2 unaccompanied teenage girls. We both had full beards at the time which didn’t help our cause, and Evan just kind of looks like someone who is up to no good. To overcome our angst over the situation and to appear more casual, Evan and I began having a series of conversations about music industry related things to show how much we belonged. After ten minutes of that, my ADD and lack of loyalty to a friend kicked in and I retired to the bathroom to call my girlfriend and leave Evan to fend off questions about what we were doing back there. In hindsight, should those girls have noticed, it probably looked way weirder that I spent 20 minutes in the bathroom, but I didn’t have time to think of the ramifications.
We could hear the music onstage stop after about 45 minutes of repeating our “Don’t Get Arrested” mantra. This was it. The doors flew open and about 20 people filed in, all looking like either musicians or someone who knows a lot of musicians. One of the last people to come into the room was Bruce Springsteen himself. Taking his place by the door (and in plain sight of the security guard manning the door from the inside), Bruce proceeded to hold court and entertain a series of guests and well wishers. The problem here was that everyone had a context for being back there and obviously either knew him or someone else in the room. Short of each other and the creepy, texting girls, we had no one to talk to and were reduced to trying to work up the nerve to walk over and talk to Bruce.
Evan mustered the courage first. I think he walked up and told Bruce that he loved his music, only to have their conversation interrupted by one of the musicians who had played onstage. While this still counted as meeting Springsteen for Evan, it certainly wasn’t the incredibly detailed discussion that we’d both hoped for. I still hadn’t managed to move from the couch out of fear of saying something incredibly stupid, but I had also noticed that the security guard at the door kept looking over at me as if to say “If there weren’t a celebrity next to me, I would kick your ass out so fucking fast. Tick tock”. Knowing that time was running perilously low, I stood from the couch and barreled my way through the impromptu line of well-wishers and found myself face to face with the man himself.
When asked an hour later by a cashier, neither Evan nor I could recall any of the details of what we said to Bruce Springsteen. To be perfectly honest, I’m still a little hazy on the details. I do know that he was possibly the nicest human being on the planet and managed to make us feel like we were the only two people in the room. He laughed at one of my jokes, thanked us more than we thanked him (which was A LOT), and talked about his new album, impending tour, and the death of longtime sax player Clarence Clemons in a way that suggested we were old friends. Suffice to say, my brain pretty much exploded. Even though we sprinted out of the room before we could get a picture (both for facebook and Austin jail records), it still exceeded all of my expectations.
I met Bruce Springsteen during the last week of my tenure as a Grooveshark employee so it seemed especially symbolic and timely. I don’t know what I would have done if he were a dick, but it (somewhat shamefully) probably would have made it difficult to listen to his music with the same fervor (looking at you R.E.M.). It seems like every Springsteen homage ends in some especially pertinent lyric quotation, so just take something stupid from Wild Billy’s Circus Story and put it here to end this entry.
Someone told me to expect some new readers today which is surpring considering that I don’t think any of my friends even know this blog exists. With that in mind, if you are a new reader, here are some albums that I like that I hope you might enjoy if you haven’t heard them already. I’d wager to say that this is My Top 10 Favorite Albums list.
Bruce Springsteen-Darkness on the Edge of Town
Tom Waits-Small Change
The Replacements-Let It Be
Bruce Springsteen-Born To Run
John Lennon-Plastic Ono Band
Bought some new vinyl today. Including:
Bright Eyes-I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
The Replacements- Don’t Tell A Soul
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers-s/t
Bruce Springsteen-Darkness on the Edge of Town
I’m not going to write out an epic description of my relationship with ALL of these albums because I would imagine reading that description would be on par with getting a root canal while watching a Paul Walker movie. With “Timeline” situated squarely in the forefront of my mind, I’m just going to talk about Vampire Weekend.
Vampire Weekend-Contra: I always really wanted this album to be called Diamonds on the Soles of Your Boat Shoes, but I guess I can’t win them all. I had the distinct pleasure of playing this album for my dad last week and his willingness to immediately dismiss it as a Paul Simon ripoff did not dissapoint. I asked him to remind me of the time that Paul Simon sampled M.I.A. and sang through autotune, but I guess Art Garfunkel is pretty much the american equivalent to everyone’s favorite Sri-Lankan pseudo-terrorist rapper?
Unlike a lot of you, I never got tired of their first record. As a result, I probably set the bar impossibly high for their sophomore release. To say I hated this record at first would be akin to saying that Hitler was a mildly bad dude. I tend to be incredibly dismissive if something doesn’t sound like what I expect immediately (gee, I wonder where I get that from?), and the first spin of this record just made me think VW was listening to way too much Animal Collective. Then I actually listened to it on an extended drive through the Ocala National Forest and was delighted to find that it was actually really good. At the risk of misquoting every teenage boy at one point in their lives, ‘twas a grower, not a shower. I think? Maybe? Probably not.
Also, I know Steely Dan is not the most popular of bands but fuck you if you don’t like “Deacon Blues”.
I got a record player for Christmas. This is pretty great, namely because record players are inherently pretty cool and also because now I wont be reduced to being the kind of guy that has a ton of vinyl in the corner of his room without anything to play them on. Also great is that the record store I used to work at just relocated to right underneath my current office. I went in there today to make my first vinyl purchases, found out the owner is getting married, and then had a spirited debate about how piracy might be killing the independant record store (yeesh), but it’s probably really helping the bands more than ever. Felt like kind of a dick move. Anyway—this blog has kind of been gathering the dust that only comes with excessive and bombastic Springsteen homages, so I thought it might be time to update with a list of the vinyl I buy and why I decided to pick them. Complete with excessive and bombastic Springsteen homages.
Funeral by Arcade Fire
I’ve always had a conflicted relationship with this ragtag band of Canucks. I first heard them in the car of a fairly abrasive lesbian who used to shepherd me around town buying me booze when I was underage. She left this cd at my house and I gave it a few listens before I decided it was complete crap. I think I arrived at this decision because I didn’t really want to listen to something this person would like. I just had this terrible image of her sitting around listening to Funeral underneath a Melissa Etheridge poster while reading some obnoxious feminist-lit by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Not exactly an inspiring first impression.
Then the followup Neon Bible came out and John Ashenden played it every hour of every day for 6 months at work. I was basically bombarded with “No Cars Go” once an hour, and that kind of incessant playing tends to neccesitate a relationship of some kind with the songs. Thankfully, it was a good relationship and I’ve been a huge fan of Arcade Fire since, Wayne Coyne be damned.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
I really just want to put the tracklist on here and ask you, non-existant reader, just how I could refuse to purchase such an opus. It’s my favorite album of all time and it’s a virtual requirement that I own it in every form of media possible.
Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen
When I was 16 I saved up all of my money and bought a 2001 Honda Civic. Affectionately named “Blue Steel”, this fine piece of machinery came with all of the extras, with the startling exception of a cd player. As a result, I was forced to listen to cassettes which at the time seemed like the complete bane of my existence. Luckily for me, I have a father who’s kind of like a non-dickish version of John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity. I asked him if he could make me a Springsteen tape because I’d been enjoying “Thunder Road” on the radio and he obliged. Thus, a 24 track Springsteen cassette was born and overplayed for about 2 years.
I remember really hating the Tunnel of Love material at first. It always seemed just a little too wimpy for me compared to Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. As I got older and started developing what can only be labeled mega-huge crushes on girls, these songs started to resonate a lot more. I can remember driving home from basketball games at the gym and not turning to “Jungleland”, but wanting to hear “Valentine’s Day” over and over again. Half the songs are of the “Gee whiz, ain’t marriage the tops!” ilk, while the other half is basically “oh my god, marriage is the most terrifying thing ever created”.
Plus, the title is probably a metaphor for a vagina and that’s kind of cool.
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement
I always thought of Pavement as one of those bands that is beloved by people who are in love with the aesthetic of indie rock and not the actual sound. Granted, I’d never heard Pavement and was generally just an asshole prone to making rash, uneducated judgements, but that’s still what I think of. To me, Pavement was kind of like X or Dirty Projectors—music I’m supposed to really like as a music fan, but actually just music I’m going to pretend to like to trick people into thinking I’m impressive.
What turned me on Pavement was hearing the song “Unseen Power of the Picket Fence”. It’s a pretty great song about the R.E.M. album “Reckoning”, and I while I disagree with Stephen Malkmus’ opinion on the song “Time After Time (Annelise)” (it was his “least favorite song”)…it sold me. I downloaded the Pavement album “Slanted and Enchanted” and I’ve been cautiously diving into the rest of their catalog ever since.
Rob Sheffield wrote an excellent book called “Love is a Mix Tape” about the mix tapes he used to make for his late wife. There is one part that really struck me, and that was a story he tells about going to see Pavement in the basement of a sushi restaurant with his wife and being completely blown away. The way he wrote about his wife and their mutual relationship with their favorite music was always just kind of encapsulated by the way he described seeing Pavement for the first time. You should read that book.
Plus, it is not lost on me that there is a certain amount of hipster street cred associated with having Pavement on vinyl…which is probably the most pathetic admission I’ve ever tendered. I’ll be giving Stephon Malkmoos a face transplant after a poodle rips off his face.
Especially after this delightful correspondence.cousinbeevo23 (2:13:50 PM): hey fuckhead wanna get some food?cousinbeevo23 (2:15:23 PM): you dickcousinbeevo23 (2:15:26 PM): look at your computervishal (2:15:32 PM): whatcha got in mind?cousinbeevo23 (2:15:35 PM): lucasvishal (2:15:37 PM): I just ate GS rationscousinbeevo23 (2:15:37 PM): PASTAcousinbeevo23 (2:15:40 PM): fuck that noisecousinbeevo23 (2:15:43 PM): we need sustenancecousinbeevo23 (2:15:48 PM): in the form of delicious pastavishal (2:15:55 PM): I’ll go if you can wait an hourcousinbeevo23 (2:16:03 PM): i cant, i’m famishedvishal (2:16:16 PM): understood, we were never meant to sync cousinbeevo23 (2:16:24 PM): two houses dividedcousinbeevo23 (2:16:32 PM): it’s like montagues and capulets…but for foodcousinbeevo23 (2:16:33 PM): and not gayvishal (2:16:35 PM): hahvishal (2:16:43 PM): where you living in the fall?cousinbeevo23 (2:22:51 PM): DELICIOUS. FILLING. PASTA.cousinbeevo23 (2:22:57 PM): in your belly.cousinbeevo23 (2:23:11 PM): i heard my bloody valentine loves lucas pastacousinbeevo23 (2:23:21 PM): the original name was cacophonous noise rock pastavishal (2:23:25 PM): I heard the hold steady is playing a live set there right nowvishal (2:23:27 PM): you better get therecousinbeevo23 (2:23:46 PM): pitchfork wrote about lucascousinbeevo23 (2:23:49 PM): they gave it an 8.4cousinbeevo23 (2:23:57 PM): merriweather post pavillion has better pasta apparentlyvishal (2:24:50 PM): how was europevishal (2:24:51 PM): ?cousinbeevo23 (2:24:54 PM): tiringcousinbeevo23 (2:24:54 PM): drunkcousinbeevo23 (2:24:56 PM): expensive
i hate you
you love anberlin
you want to have like 10 million of anberlin’s babies
you’re anberlin’s dummer
but youre dumb too
so you are their dummer
you’re not even smart enough to be in copeland
go pray to your michael stipe shrine
go suckle at the teet of your ironic jonas brothers obsession
i wouldnt touch you with a Ten Foot Pole’s version of Love Song by The Cure
you got thrown out of Foghat
miley cyrus just sneezed, shouldn’t you be blogging about it?
SO HOW IS THE CANAL THESE DAYS?!
hey wait did ryan adams just release an unreleaesed bside vinyl split demo single
are you going to go masturbate to it
i think i hear The Hold Steady
singing about something really new like beer
i think i hear the sound of a dying marmacet—is cocorosie in town?
So apparently this Thursday was “Evoke Charles Bukowski Day” at The Atlantic. Through the fog of Pabst Blue Ribbon, it was revealed that my erstwhile roommate and frequent quoter of Albert Camus had not read anything by Charles Bukowski. When we got home I immediately ran to my room and unearthed “Ham on Rye” and demanded that he read it by morning. Because we were both inebriated to the point of thinking that watching The E True Hollywood Story of NKOTB was a good idea, it didn’t happen. I’m still waiting patiently for his report, as it’s probably my 2nd favorite Bukowski work (behind Hot Water Music, and, no, I don’t like the band).
The 2nd Bukowski reference came when a girl I’ve only recently met started telling me about a short story she had been writing. I went into uber-condescending dickhead mode almost immediately after she told me the plot, and I think I drunkenly mumbled something about it being a “watered down Pahlaniuk story”. I really suck sometimes when I drink exorbitantly, but I really hate Chuck Pahlaniuk when I’m sober so maybe it evens out. She then explained the story a little better and it got progressively cooler until she mentioned that it was kind of Bukowski-esque and then the story idea became infinetly more awesome.
Talking to people about writing things is really fun. It can also really suck. I once dated a girl who wrote preposterously serious fare and it made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable. Namely because she wasn’t terribly subtle about some of the poems’ actual subject ( a tall curly haired youth who has a tumblr with a bad pun involving The Rock). When I write things (very rarely now), they’re either autobiographical and self deprecating (it’s impossibly not to write a story about losing your virginity and not make jokes at your own expense) or unabashedly silly. The last thing I wrote was called “Epilogues to Disney Animated Classics” where Gaston slays the Beast, Scar and Simba join forces and take over the world, and Eric cheats on Ariel because his occupation is that of a sailor and they aren’t exactly known for their fidelity. Weird stuff.
Anyway, I don’t like writing poetry. It makes me feel like Chris Carraba, because you know that fucker has like 1200 notebooks full of poetry. I do like this poem though, probably because I didn’t write it and Charles Bukowski did.
One for The Shoeshine ManOne For The Shoeshine Man
the miracle is having 5 women in love
with you at the age of 55,
and the goodness is that you are only able
to love one of them.
the gift is having a daughter more gentle
than you are, whose laughter is finer
the peace comes from driving a
blue 1967 Volks through the streets like a
teenager, radio tuned to The Host Who Loves You
Most, feeling the sun, feeling the solid hum
of the rebuilt motor
as you needle through traffic.
the grace is being able to like rock music,
symphony music, jazz …
anything that contains the original energy of
and the probability that returns
is the deep blue low
yourself flat upon yourself
within the guillotine walls
angry at the sound of the phone
or anybody’s footsteps passing;
but the other probability—
the lilting high that always follows—
makes the girl at the checkstand in the
supermarket look like
like Jackie before they got her Harvard lover
like the girl in high school that we
all followed home.
there is that which helps you believe
in something else besides death:
somebody in a car approaching
on a street too narrow,
and he or she pulls aside to let you
by, or the old fighter Beau Jack
after blowing the entire bankroll
humming, breathing on the leather,
working the rag
looking up and saying:
“what the hell, I had it for
while. that beats the
I am bitter sometimes
but the taste has often been
sweet. it’s only that I’ve
feared to say it. it’s like
when your woman says,
“tell me you love me,” and
if you see me grinning from
my blue Volks
running a yellow light
driving straight into the sun
I will be locked in the
arms of a
thinking of trapeze artists
of midgets with big cigars
of a Russian winter in the early 40’s
of Chopin with his bag of Polish soil
of an old waitress bringing me an extra
cup of coffee and laughing
as she does so.
the best of you
I like more than you think.
the others don’t count
except that they have fingers and heads
and some of them eyes
and most of them legs
and all of them
good and bad dreams
and way to go.
justice is everywhere and it’s working
and the machine guns and frogs
and the hedges will tell you