2013 Was Not Really A Huge Music Year For LJ
2013 was not really a huge music year for me. It was a food year and a life year. I worked very hard and I got a lot of things done in the very standard way that you're supposed to; it didn't leave me too much time to do much wandering or reflecting. No sitting on too many docks of very many bays. When I think of all the songs that moved me most this past year, I think of specific moments rather than phases or vibes. Hot Love was crossing the street west-to-east on the south side of Bathurst at Bloor last February. It was late into the month, past Valentine's Day, and I was wearing one mitten. I was on my way to go buy a new pair of mittens, which made me angry- I'd been hoping I could make it through the end of winter without having to buy a pair of mittens again, and the fact that I didn't made me feel like winter was lasting longer than it should have. I resented it. As I crossed the street I pressed "next" on my iPod on shuffle and Hot Love came on. It was what Valentine's is supposed to be- happy and hoppy, hoppy like a cute bunny jumping and also hoppy like a complicated beer. It fixed things. It reminded me to care about T.Rex and caring about T.Rex overtook me like the rush you feel after smiling. Marc Bolan is one of the most important artists ever to have spoken to me and he never would have if he hadn't that one weird day.
Daisy Glaze is from the spring. For some reason I always hear that song as if someone- Alex Chilton, I guess- is swimming in a pool and singing up at me from underneath translucent Yves Klein blue. Daisy Glaze is one of the only times in my life when the song from the album with the best name is also the one I love the most. Life is so good when that happens.
On Cinco de Mayo I kissed my boyfriend for the first time. It was one of those times when you finally kiss the boy you've had a crush on forever and you think everything's going to happen but as it turns out nothing happens. You're all nervous-excited to see him the next day, your pupils are hearts and the animator is drawing trails of hearts flying out of your head, and then you show up and he's being dull and work-oriented and it's crushing. Then you have to live out the next week of hoping for the best but expecting the worst and accepting it and it's just a generally shitty thing to go through, especially when the dude's your boss, which he was. But oddly, the Universe sent another boy into my life to temporarily distract me- the only Leo I ever kissed. I kissed him seven summers ago and then some lame Tuesday night seven years later and he saunters into my restaurant ten minutes before the kitchen closes, smelling like a dusty bookcase and accompanied by his little brother. I gave them free drinks duh, and for about twelve days I could tell the Leo and I were both thinking "Hmm"- the allure of unfinished business enhanced by the why of "Why did life bring us back together?" and somewhere in the middle of those twelve days, I had to run to the liquor store to buy Bacardi on my break. It was a work-related errand; I would never drink Bacardi, blecch. I rode the subway one stop to an ugly liquor store inside an ugly underground mall, and I was bumming hard because I knew I'd never love the Leo the way I loved this other guy- my boss who'd become my boyfriend- and I listened to Daisy Glaze on repeat the whole way there and the whole way back, waiting in line holding 3 squishy bottles of Bacardi made from some newfangled 2013 booze bottle material, and I misheard the lyrics and thought that Alex Chilton was singing "I'm trying to look sad about you," and I envied him- I've never had to try and look sad about anybody, I just naturally look it. But really he's singing "I'm driving alone, sad about you," so don't worry. I'm not alone.
The rest of spring was Machu Picchu and Wakin On A Pretty Day- Machu Picchu was in April, the month I got promoted to assistant manager of my old restaurant and decided that I would openly and unapologetically love the Strokes forever- great decision. On the second day of the month the city of Toronto turned off the water in my restaurant's neighbourhood so they could repair a pipe or whatevs. We closed for lunch and dinner, and my future-boyfriend-boss and I came in to clean the entire restaurant. I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned all the muck and grit and rotten lime wedges out from underneath the bar fridges listening to the Strokes' entire discography on shuffle and every time this song came on it was like someone was feeding me a pina colada and some dirty bad-for-me cheeseburgers intravenously. Wakin On A Pretty Day fasts forward into my May, mostly just walking to work early- I served brunch then- and remarking upon how green the trees were- no. I'm selling myself, and the Universe, short- the greenness was astounding. Chill music tricking me into feeling chilled out, though today it just makes me tired. I listened to Freaks a lot then too. It's a cool song. One night I was lying down on one of the banquettes at my old restaurant waiting for Mark to finish, White Album on the speakers, and my two impish line-cooks, young people from today who don't know how to understand that Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da is actually, somehow, cool, hijacked my iPod and played Freaks loud, started dancing with their arms and knees to make some point about how the Beatles aren't good. I thought it was sort of sweet.
Miss O'Dell is my favorite song (you can read about it here), and this was the year I found it, which is a cool trait in a year: The Year I Found My Favorite Song. Isis was another very important thing that happened to me. 2013 was also The Year I Found Bob Dylan- earlier when I was writing about Marc Bolan I wrote a sentence about how Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan are the two halves of me and then I deleted it because I felt like I was being mean to Ray Davies, but now I'm thinking that maybe Ray Davies is my Sun Sign, Marc Bolan is my Moon Sign, and I'm Bob Dylan Rising. Wow. Okay, I feel like I just figured my entire life out.
I hope to write about Isis in a more in-depth way as a part of my ongoing Ten Bob Dylan Songs I'd Rather Die Than Live Without in the future, so for the time being I'd just like to shout out the song lyrics I was thinking about turquoise, I was thinking about gold for changing my fucking life with how cool and beautiful they are as well as the part when he sings I was thinking about Isis, how she thought I was so RECKLESS, the way he sings the word RECKLESS- he tastes it, like he's eating it- you can tell he's not just being the character in the song anymore. You can tell that Bob Dylan really sees himself as a reckless guy, that every woman he's ever loved has sighed over his recklessness, and every time I feel like maybe I've grown up and moved on, that I don't care about any crazy thing I actually care about and am only A Person With A Job, his RECKLESS reminds me that I am what I am, that I haven't, that I can't be.
(Last but not least: if you'd like to win a copy of this mix CD, along with a handful of Strawberry Fields Whatever stickers and maybe something else depending on how busy I am that day, please email a cool response to the question What's your favorite song on Blonde on Blonde and, most importantly, WHY? to laurajanefaulds at gmail by the evening of January 5th; I don't know how I'll pick a winner, but I know that I will.)
2013 Wasn't an Especially Big Music Year for Jen Either
Seeing The Punk Singer reminded me that Bikini Kill is my favorite band. In the film Johanna Fateman says something like, “they weren’t the best girl band, they were the best band”, and she’s right. The songs are as important and emotional for me today as they were when I first heard them as a really angry baby teen.
I got super into the B-52’s for a while. The outer space/big hair thing was exactly what I needed. Mostly the first 2 albums but I also became especially obsessed by "Girl from Ipanema" goes to Greenland. The Song. The video. THE VIDEO. It also has the most true truism in the lyrics – wherever you go, there you are, which is so comforting and depressing at the same time.
The "Theme to Female Trouble" by Divine is my #1 song of the year. Even if it had nothing to do with John Waters I would love it. Luckily it has everything to do with John Waters, the world’s most perfect man. I don’t know how to write about music in that way where you can hear it. There’s a definite groove, and amazing lyrics like, “hey spare me your morals/look everyone dies” and "I'm Berserk!/ I like it fine". I’m also pretty into Divine’s disco hit, “I’m so Beautiful."
As always, The Monster Mash remains one of my most favorite songs.
Body/head Coming Apart, is a dream of a record for me.
The songs on Weed Hounds upcoming album are all cool and lovely, but also top secret so you can’t hear them yet.
Tom Scharpling had been ending the music portion of the Best Show with a song by The Sweet for most of the year. I’ve grown to really love “Blockbuster” especially. I’ll continue listening to it at least once a week from here on out in honor of The Best Show, one of the great loves of my life. I will also listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin in 2014.
I became interested in Grimes as a person before I listened to her music. I listened to a few seconds and felt it was too sweet and not for me. It felt like swallowing sugar. After following her on tumblr for a while I gave Visions another try and was surprised to find I really liked it. Like, a lot. It’s not so sweet and I’m not sure what my problem was but now I love Grimes.
I saw the flawless goddess Julie Klausner's cabaret show at Joe's Pub this year. She & Bridget Everett covered the Monkees song "Nine Timed Blue". I wondered - why don't I listen to this song constantly all of the time? Then I started listening to it constantly all of the time, along with other Mike Nesmith Monkees songs.
I listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and Helium’s The Magic City repeatedly while in the studio so they are both forever and permanently on my best music of every year list. Forever.
-finally falling in love with the Pretenders and the Police
Liz's 2013 Was Sweet Like Cinnamon
That's a picture of a fortune I got with my fried rice at a Manchu Wok at the Salt Lake City airport, on my way back to L.A. from Tennessee last May. Right before I left for my trip I finished the first draft of my book, and in Tennessee I went to Graceland and ate chess pie and drank lots of beer and whiskey with my cool buddy Alissa and saw Gram Parsons's Nudie suit and had brisket and french fries and a strawberry Coke at a barbecue place because I once saw a picture of Big Star eating there, and then when I got back to L.A. this crazy thing happened and it was crazy.
Anyway my point was it was a BIG WEEK and full of fun and steeped in the richness of life, and the fried rice was fantastic. On the drive home from the airport I stopped at an In N Out by the side of the highway and got a strawberry milkshake and listened to "Hot Burrito #2" by the Flying Burrito Brothers, which is one of the songs I put on this Spotify playlist I just made. It pretty nicely encapsulates my year and it's got songs by Dinosaur Jr. and Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers and Beyonce and Deerhunter, plus all of these fine-looking people:
BLAKE BABIES & LANA DEL REY. My number-one song of summer 2013 was "Out There" by Blake Babies tied with "Cola" by Lana Del Rey. I associate "Cola" with the Friday afternoon in June when my little sister and her bestie were visiting, and we went to Beverly Hills and bought cupcakes and brought them to Farmers Market and ate them with champagne: it was Lana Del Rey's birthday and my cupcake was cinnamon, as in "Now my life is sweet like cinnamon/Like a fuckin dream I'm livin in." And "Out There" is driving thru the drive-thru at the Dunkin Donuts near my parents' house on a hot rainy Tuesday or Wednesday at the end of the July, and getting a big iced French vanilla coffee, and going to a used bookstore and buying a big stack of used books. Each of those songs is an anthem in its own weird way, and I like the vibe and ridiculousness of swirling together Lana Del Rey's sleazy/glamorous L.A. princess thing and Juliana Hatfield's lonely/glamorous hiding-in-her-bedroom thing and letting them mean something great and grand about me and everything.
COURTNEY BARNETT. Courtney Barnett is a 25-year-old from Australia and my favorite new music person I found this year. I dig her chill romanticism, how it's both dreamy and pragmatic, but more than anything I'm in love with her vocabulary. In "History Eraser" she sings about margaritas, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," French kissing, soccer players, ducks, dudes, vermouth, a farm. In other songs she sings about asthma attacks, radishes, schmoozing loser-y users, masturbation, marijuana, flowers and porcelain and coffee and TV. Her songs are the kind of stories I wish were little movies, and the sex scenes would be so sweetly awkward, like something from an alternate universe where Girls is a world you actually want to know more and more about instead of less and less.
ALEX CHILTON. I feel like this is maybe a pretentious or dickish thing to say, but I don't really think about Big Star when I think of my Alex Chilton tattoo. I think of shit like the song "Walking Dead" and its fucked-up creepy nowhere-going beautiful bullshit, and of Alex looking like this - a cool sicko who can't ever help being at least a little bit wonderful:
BIG STAR & THE KINKS. But sometimes I think about Big Star, obviously. "You Get What You Deserve" is the Big Star song that means the most to me right now: the guitar solo at the end always undoes me (it's so mean, and golden), and I really want to make a movie that's got the guitar-solo part in some fucked-up funeral scene where elegant women are drinking white wine with perfect fingernails. But "Till the End of the Day" was really sweetly pushy about being heard by me all the time this year, especially in bars. I heard that song in a thousand bars in 2013, or maybe about three, and it was always perfect. Big Star and the Kinks are both so good at being non-annoyingly perfect.
THROWING MUSES. This year I got to talk to Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh on the phone (separately, for this interview and this other interview). I interview people/musicians all the time for work, but Tanya and her stepsister Kristin are some of the only people/music-makers who've ever actually been like, "And how are you?" - and then really listened when I answered, and asked me more questions in response. They both told me how they love Los Angeles, and Kristin said something about how L.A.'s "like Mexico City, but with parking," which is a cool point. (She also told me how she'd recently baked a cake and thrown the leftovers into the woods to feed the coyotes, and how her dogs kept going into the woods and coming back with huge pieces of cake in their mouths, which is an image that's really stuck with me.) So anyway I adore and worship them, and Tanya's Swan Song Series and Throwing Muses' Purgatory/Paradise are the two new pieces of music that most fed my head and heart this year. I also got really into the Throwing Muses back catalog and listened to "Not Too Soon" all the time every day for the first time in so long. And the video: I could live forever and never get enough of Tanya's eyebrows and headband, the epic beauty of it all.
Other music things that were important to me this year but not represented in my li'l compilation of songs:
-the new Devendra Banhart album, especially the song about the nun who becomes a VJ
-seeing the Breeders, seeing Kim Gordon, seeing this dude I worked for open up for the Pixies and totally kill it and blow the whole place away, seeing the Lemonheads and Buffalo Tom on the Boston Common on the hottest day in the world, seeing Juliana Hatfield and her new band Minor Alps whose album Get There is so top 5 of 2013
-listening to the Rolling Stones on a Tuesday morning in Joshua Tree after having champagne and bagels for breakfast in a trailer park the day after the meteor shower
-"Hot and Cold" by Mary Timony's new band Ex Hex
-LOU REED LOU REED LOU REED LOU REED especially "Cool It Down" and "Sister Ray" and always "Rock and Roll"
-Chris Bell's I Am The Cosmos, everlasting soundtrack to my insomnia
-"Black Skinhead" which never gets old, will never die
-"SMS (Bangerz)" by Miley & Britney
-Wild Animals by Juliana Hatfield
-Walt Whitman Mall by Bill Janovitz
-The Courtneys by The Courtneys
-finally falling in love with the Pretenders and the Police
-finally falling in love with Hootenanny by the Replacements
-loving everything about the Replacements in general, including how they just look really great standing on a sidewalk and eating pizza and are so tough and glorious and perfect and awful and everything: