With thanks to Jessica, and therefore Jason (after that, follow the link trail), for providing me with an entry I can work on all day, little by little:
1. A song whose lyrics you thought you knew in the past, but about which you later learned you were incorrect.
In "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel, I always thought the line was, "Silence like a casserole." Which made complete sense to me, as I have never known a casserole to be chatty and might even have coughed that up as an example if anyone had asked, "If shyness were a food, what would it be?" Casseroles are obviously one of the more likely candidates to be introverts — they’re not flashy, they’re not particularly whorish for attention, and they’re what you throw together only when you want easy food for the week, or when the neighbor’s dog died and they can’t be bothered to fix a real meal, so you want to make them something unobtrusive and plain. Casseroles just quietly exist in their Pyrex prison, letting you heat and cool them at will until their crust turns furry and you scoop them into a garbage bag.
So not only did I not think to question the accuracy of "Silence like a casserole," but I even giggled about that line to my friends in fifth or sixth grade, certain that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were the premier humorists of the music world.
The line, incidentally, is "Silence like a cancer grows." Not exactly the same sentiment.
2. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.
I’ve always loved The Pixies, and I liked "Debaser" off of the brilliant Doolittle without ever, apparently, truly hearing the lyrics. For some reason, they just washed over me. But recently, I actually listened to the song, realized Frank Black is singing about mutilating a body part I hold sacred, and now it’s a little bit ruined for me. I can’t very well sing along in the car with the kind of reckless abandon I’ve come to crave, and besides, simply hearing "Debaser" now makes That Body Part sting. So even though empirically I still can say it’s a good song, I’d have to say that it’s become my least favorite track on Doolittle.
And I’m not sure how I got this far in my relationship with that album before paying attention to the "Debaser" lyrics; I guess I’m an inattentive and dispassionate lover.
3. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.
Sheryl Crow makes me want to puke in my underwear drawer, but I don’t mind two of her songs off of Tuesday Night Music Club, and "First Cut Is The Deepest" doesn’t make me want to die, either. In every other instance, though, she inspires me to rip off my breasts and wear them jammed in my ears to plug out the noxious noise of her droning, coached-hard-since-"Leaving Las Vegas" voice. The amount of critical praise lavished on her and her albums (prove to me that "If It Makes You Happy" isn’t actually the exact same sequence of noises one would make while being mauled by two mating bears) is borderline intolerable to me, and I am gravely dreading the day this summer when her hopelessly misguided and apparently legally deaf boyfriend Lance Armstrong fails to win his sixth consecutive Tour de France, which will lead the world to conclude the obvious: that Sheryl Crow’s vagina is poisonous.
Is it too obvious to name a Michael Jackson song? Because, my God, the man can pen a catchy pop tune, but he looks like a sparrow that’s been eaten and vomited back up by some sort of jungle cat. But "Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Thriller," "Billie Jean".. the list of brilliance goes on so long, it’s practically a eulogy, which is disturbingly real the more apparent it becomes that the Michael Jackson who wrote those songs is dead to us.
Come to think of it, I don’t think this category is fair, because it’s too hard to answer. There are just too many hideous people who are great singers or musicians, to the point where it’s depressing to think of making a list and leaving out so many other good choices. Lucinda Williams is no great beauty, but she’s a genius; Steven Tyler, Ric Ocasek, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Chris Robinson, Marilyn Manson, and Alicia Keys (yeah, I know, but for some reason, she bugs the crap out of me in every single way) have all turned my stomach with their physical appearance at one time or another, yet I don’t turn them off my radio. Except for Alicia Keys. (I told you. She bugs.) I don’t find Nelly the least bit attractive, but "Shake Your Tailfeather" and "Hot In Herre" are mainstays on my "Running" playlist on my iPod. And I don’t advocate pedophilia, but "Ignition" and "Hotel" are two R. Kelly offerings I find a little bit painfully, shamefully, addictive — although technically "Hotel" is by Cassidy, so maybe I get a pass for that.
I think he covers the "morally repellent" part of this question. I’m drawing a blank on other recording artists who are (yes, R. — "allegedly" disgusting human beings, but I know they’re out there, and I know that at one time or another I’ve said, "I feel like I shouldn’t like this song, but…" or, "I feel like if I shook his hand, it would be sticky, but I have to admit I’m starting to like that song."
Perhaps I should cite "The OJ Murder Story," by Gangsta Pat. I’m not sure if Pat’s personally offensive, but the song certainly is. It’s also kind of fantastic, though, for that reason.
4. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.
"California" by Rufus Wainwright is one, for sure. And I know it’s not a city, but "La Cienega Just Smiled" by Ryan Adams is a great song. "Panic" by The Smiths counts, too, doesn’t it, for the lyric, "Panic on the streets of London." God, I need my iPod in front of me. This is insane.
5. A song you’ve listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.
Anything by David Gray, as he was kind of the soundtrack to The Heather and Alan Show — not in the repulsive sense that multiple songs duplicate our problems or thoughts, but because we both love the White Ladder CD and bought each other David Gray discs at various points in our association. I listened to it a lot while I was missing Alan, both during and after our relationship, and I now associate it with the lonely feelings rather than the happy ones. His music can be sort of blue, so it’s good for when you’re down and trying to wallow in it. Also, "Glycerine" by Bush.
6. Ever buy an entire album just for one song and wind up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.
Not in such a very long time, but it used to be a common practice for me. I was a terrible offender. I bought a Screaming Trees CD once, because I liked "Dollar Bill" — which I already owned on the Singles soundtrack. Bad gamble, as I proceeded not to latch onto any of the rest of the Screaming Trees’ songs.
Also, Rusted Root’s Remember. Didn’t live up to When I Woke.
Oh, and this one�s pretty good: I bought the Primitive Radio Gods CD the summer that the group’s one hit, "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In Your Hand," came out. To be fair, it was because Julie and I hung out that entire summer; my family was in the process of moving from Calgary to Houston, and especially on the Houston side of that move, she and I kept each other sane. So we made a mix tape of all the songs we heard on the radio together, and that involved making some embarrassing music purchases. I don’t think we ever actually listened to the rest of the CD, and I couldn’t tell you what it’s even called.
7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that’s not by Liz Phair.
"Boom Boom Baby" by The Scabs. "The Asshole Song" by Jude. And I have a weakness for "Untouchable Face" by Ani DiFranco. That’s one for when I’m pissed off.
8. A song that sounds as if it’s by someone British but isn’t.
"Gay Bar," by Electric Six. Indeed, absolutely anything by Electric Six. They’re awesome, though. I saw them at Coachella and they were outstanding.
9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.
This is a random one, but it’s by a band that I think is from Newfoundland called Great Big Sea. I heard of them through a friend in Calgary who had their tape, and who recorded two songs for me onto a cassette that I’ve long since lost. The group sings totally sincere but odd music, usually about fishing or being on a boat or other aquatic catastrophes, and I just finally found a live version of one of their jig-style tunes, "Excursion Around The Bay." Score one for me.
But the song of theirs I really want, which is so hilariously and I believe unintentionally overwrought, is a slow ballad about water pollution that involves the lyrics, "I’ve spent my whole life out there on the sea. Those government bastards now take it from me. It’s not just the fish — they’ve taken my pride! I feel so ashamed that I just want to die." There are crashing waves and some flutes… It’s a marvel, truly, and that one I still seek.
I also like "A Hundred Lovers" by Timbuk 3, and have never been able to find a complete version of it. Napster, in its heydey, hooked me up with someone who had a partial copy, so the one on my iPod cuts off about two-thirds of the way through — but at least I have it. I’d still like to get it in its entirety, though.
10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn’t mention spring at all.
"Walkin’ On Sunshine," by Katrina on the Waves (hey, spring isn’t always sunny — that counts as not mentioning spring), "Sadness Grows" by Spirit of the West, and "Martyr" by Rusted Root, because I can recall myself driving on a warm, sunny South Bend spring day with the sunroof open, happy finally to have weather that warrants it and desirous of catchy music to blare from my speakers.
11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.
"Lo Boob Oscillator" by Stereolab. A lot of it is the perky keyboard and backup vocals. Also, my latest obsession: the remake of the Pointer Sisters’ classic "Jump," by Girls Aloud. It is musical crack. I can’t stop listening to it. I have it on my iPod, which currently has over a thousand other songs on it and counting, yet that’s the only one I seem to want to hear.
12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.
"Ooh, Stick You (Your Mama Too)" by Daphne & Celeste, off the British series of Now That’s What I Call Music albums. I believe that’s on Now 45. And from the same series but a different album: "The Fast Food Song," by The Fast Food Rockers, which is on Now 55.
13. A song from your past that would be considered politically incorrect now (and possibly was then).
Morris Minor and the Majors did a Beastie Boys parody called "Stutter Rap" about a rapper who both displays and laments his stutter and explains how frustrating it is, for example, that "the record’s nearly over when the vocals start." I would imagine that in today’s whiny, humorless society, The American Association Of People Who Have Found A Pretentious Synonym For Stuttering And Are Unsuccessfully Trying To Popularize It would shoot out a press release condemning "Stutter Rap" for being insensitive. When really, they should congratulate it for pointing out the tragic truism, "It’s hard to rap when you’re born with a st-st-st, st, st-st, st, st-t, st-t, stutter!"
14. A song sung by an overweight person.
Remember Alison Moyet of Yaz and Erasure? Or was she not overweight when she was in those groups? Not that it matters. She crooned a good tune regardless of her appearance. This question’s a bit mean.
Not that such things have ever stopped me before, so let’s plug on: "Optimistic Thought" by Blues Traveler still works for me, for the most part, even though I’m over that band. That should be under songs that make me think of spring, actually. And I’ll also mention that India.Arie song (the one with the line, "My worth’s not determined by the size of my clothes," or whatever) that was big two years ago, — not because she’s overweight, but because she’s normal-sized and dares to be proud of it.
15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise hate.
She makes my skin crawl, and I want to slap the snarl off that sullen face, but I can’t help liking some of Advil Latrine’s — er, Avril Lavigne’s — songs, specifically the hideously, grievously titled, "Sk8er Boi." And I really, really hate Destiny’s Child, but "Bootylicious" is groovy.
And did I mention that Sheryl Crow is not my favorite artist? I might have forgotten to share that, so I should add that I frequently try to forget that I can tolerate a few of her early offerings — a realization that hurts because she is a basket of stank.
16. A song by a band (whose members actually play instruments) that features three or more female members.
How many women are in Belle & Sebastian? I think I counted three up there at Coachella, either singing or playing something unusual. So let’s go with their "Piazza, New York Catcher," "Stars of Track and Field," "Storytelling"… well, anything. I love them.
And one cannot pass this category without mentioning "Manic Monday" and "Walk Like an Egyptian." The Bangles were the best. That was the first time I’d ever run across a woman named Michael, and I thought it was kind of fascinating, right up there with the existence of my male science teacher named Kimberly.
17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.
Easy: "The Gambler," by Kenny Rogers, the first song to which I knew all the words. I’ve had "The Gambler" memorized since I was five, aided in large part by it being the first song on the tape we had of Kenny, which was convenient for me because I rewound it and replayed it over and over again — something that CDs and the iPod have made blessedly simpler for a pathetic creature of repetition such as I.
Also, "The Wanderer" by Donna Summer, which was the first song on that cassette as well, and therefore my favorite. Evidently I rarely made it past the first one or two songs back when I was four and we were playing cassettes in the Buick station wagon. And although I remember loving that song, I couldn"t sing a note of it today — no idea at all how it goes. Finally, completing the trifecta of songs from my youth in Houston: "Cry Me A River" by Crystal Gale, who fascinated me with her enormously long hair.
18. A song you’ve been mocked by friends for liking.
Doug used to roundly criticize Lauren and I for our love of Britney Spears, so I will cite "I’m A Slave 4 U" here, in honor of the time Lauren and I listened to it on repeat in the car (again, a trend for me) in order to decipher the line, "Because ahomanaymanay." As it turns out, that’s not the lyric. It’s, "Because I hide my name and age." We looked it up. And cross-referenced it. (A few erroneous transcriptions, in combination, led us to the right translation.)
Blessedly, my friends haven’t mocked many if any of my musical choices, because they all either share them or can match my odd choices with equally quirky ones of their own. Lauren’s filed a few acoustic or just guitar-centric songs I like under her mind’s reviled "Whiny Guy Music" category, but that’s about it. And she likes "Yeah," by Usher, so that’s my ammo if she decides its open season on my musical tastes.
19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.
"Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)" by The Reivers. Oh, and Newfound Glory did six punk covers of movie love themes (among them "Glory of Love," by Peter Cetera and "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion) and they’re pretty funny. Two or three years ago I’d have said Travis’s "Hit Me Baby One More Time" or The Gourds’ "Gin and Juice," but both are commonplace now.
20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.
I think I’m too much of a wallower for this — meaning, I don’t generally turn to songs to pull me out of the doldrums; usually I marinate in the misery for a little while. I’m not sure why that is, but I find it easier to match my mood with music than set a mood I hope to achieve. But I do think the aforementioned "Jump" by Girls Aloud is a potential go-to song, as is "Casino Queen" by Wilco, for some reason. Possibly because it makes me think of Las Vegas and video poker and blackjack. And drinking while playing blackjack.
21. What was the last song you downloaded?
"She’s White" by Electric Six. Otherwise known as, "A song about me."
• • • • •
Someone got here by searching for: Pastry Challenge sculptures Reading: Defamer. Driving: Kevin to the airport. I hate saying goodbye to people, particularly in airports. But it was nice to hug him right up to the last possible second.