Note From Jon


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Third Childhood

If my life is a YouTube video (specifically my favorite Tales of Mere Existence video by Lev Yilmaz) then 2007 has been Phase 4 (and frankly I’m hoping a good part of Phase 5). While I can neither confirm nor deny that I am perfectly happy being single, looking back on my favorite photos of this year, I feel pretty confident that I’ve made the most of my enfreedoming. The hardest part was narrowing the photos down to 20 (an arbitrary limit I set once I saw that I had no chance of picking just 10), and I only succeeded because I don’t have many photos of the first four months of 2007, and, despite spending most of my free time at Sportrock, I have almost no climbing photos.

In keeping with the “rediscover all the music you like” portion of Phase 4, I found NPRs All Songs Considered and Song of the Year archives, which they recently reorganized into the musical crack that is Discover Songs. As a result I was well prepared when Sarah made the brilliant (if ethically ambiguous) suggestion that all of our friends make a mix CD of music to share with each other for Christmas.

“If” I made such a mix and wanted to share a soundtrack of this year to go with the slideshow here’s what would be on it and why:

1) Business Time by Flight Of The Conchords – Because when I’m down to just my socks you know what time it is… aw yeah It’s business time. That’s why they call them business socks. And because we listened to all the songs from the show en route to the Raven Rocks hike.

2) She's a Ho by Ludacris – Apparently not everyone is a fan of my indie tastes so on occasion I would get a request (demand?) for some booty music, and this was the crowd favorite on several car trips.

3) Pretty On The Inside by Ceann – Too bad I’m an outside kind of pretty guy… Saw these guys play at Murphy’s after the funhouse fountain photo, but they were upstaged by Darren unveiling his controversial nesting theory.

4) I Love Booster! by The Coup – One of the few songs without a good reason, other than I smiled all year long when this ode to shoplifters shuffled up.

5) Bukra Wba'do by Pink Martini – Pink Martini was the perfect accompaniment to our Wolf Trap picnic in June, and this song in particular became the theme song for the Arabic classes I’ve been taking.

6) We're From Barcelona by I'm From Barcelona – Because it’s impressive when you tour with more members than the Polyphonic Spree (29 vs. the 22 at the Spree show) and I figure I’m in good musical company when I found out DJ extraordinaire Sean was into these guys as well.

7) Abel by The National – Favorite song by my runner up for Band of the Year. As I listened to each song crescendo into a fiddle-frenzy (and every song eventually did) I had a quiet moment of gratitude for the friendships I’ve made and strengthened this year.

8) The Championship by The Polyphonic Spree – Best show of the year. When George and I went for his birthday, it was the last night of their tour and the lead singer’s birthday. As The Frames proved well, one lesson I learned this year: Always catch a band on the last night of their tour. Bonus points because of my crush on the flautist who squeezed my hand as she walked through the crowd.

9) Here's Your Future by The Thermals – Finding them on the 2006 list of overlooked bands prompted my expedition through the entire Song of the Day archives and resulted in pretty much everything else that happened for me musically this year. They still remain undeservedly overlooked though as I wound up catching them by myself at the Black Cat (I mean none of my friends came, not that it was a private showing, they aren’t that overlooked).

10) Rain by Bishop Allen – My personal Band of the Year. In a year overflowing with new (to me) bands, these guys are my favorite. They have a variety of different sounds (including one song that I always forget isn’t Modest Mouse) and I like every one of them.

11) Dark Matter by Andrew Bird – Days after I first heard his album, this song was played during the intermission of a Fringe Festival show at Studio Theatre. I loved the song and I loved both shows we saw there (Abstract Nude and Trixie Tickles – though I can’t remember which intermission it was) so now they’ll always be blended in a mash of mental happiness.

12) The President's Dead by Okkervil River – The moment of gratitude I felt at The National concert is captured perfectly in the section from this song:

…there was spring on the wind.
If you don't live through a day for the littlest things,
And the littlest ways made you feel you were blessed
If you died right then, well you know you'd be missed,
But there's no better state to cease to exist
And you wouldn't feel sad, and you wouldn't resist
Cause you knew what you had, and were thankful for it
In your own little way, I'm a small quiet man
I've got no wars to win, I don't have a big plan
But I love my new place, and I love my old friends
And I scrimp and save, and one day I'll have kids.
I can truthfully say that my day was like that…
13) Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo by Jens Lekman – Another one that just made me smile and I hoped sharing it with friends would increase my odds of having company at the show when he comes back into town.

14) A Front Row Seat to Hear Ole Johnny Sing by Shel Silverstein – I can’t deal with Shel’s voice when he’s reading his poems but it didn’t bother me here, and I always love a song by (or in this case about) Johnny Cash.

15) Dime by Cake – Truly a “rediscover all the music you like”, I decided to look up an old favorite and see if they had anything new and this is what I got. I know, not NPR related, hard to believe. Let’s see if I can finish the rest of the album without any NPR inspired music…

16) Frayed Blue Jeans by Matt Palka - Darren’s friend from college wrote a novel about biking across the country and made this soundtrack (and even a music video) to go along with it.

17) My Spot by Colouring Lesson – Our friend Trevor’s band who play locally in the D.C. area, hopefully this will encourage more of our friends to come join us at their shows!

18) Lives by Modest Mouse – It’s hard to remember to live before you die… Words buffeted into my head while it was stuck out the window of a bush taxi riding through Guinea.

19) Arc of Time (Time Code) by Bright Eyes – I discovered this band through…, which was my music discovery source before NPR (and before Pandora was blocked at work!)

20) Gopala Over Credits by John McDowell – The theme song from Born Into Brothels which I saw in 2006 but didn’t download (from iTunes, before I learned about their 7 burn limitation) until I was reminded of the song from an HBO trailer.

21) Let Your Troubles Roll By by Carbon Leaf – The best band to never show up on NPR. Dave Connolly introduced me to these guys last year and I caught them at three shows in 2007 (possibly a fourth this Saturday). No song cheers me up more than hearing the chorus of this one live.

I found a host of other great songs and artists this year, but with a couple of exceptions those are only the ones which had personal memories for me beyond the music. For simply a “best of” from my exhaustive search of the NPR archives, here are some additional bands and songs I found for your listening pleasure:

Yardsale by The Avett Brothers
Just one More by John Rae and the River
Children of December by The Slip
Between the Moon and The Ocean by Bon Savants
While you were Sleeping by Elvis Perkins
I Trained Her to Love Me by Nick Lowe
Man O’ War by Eric Bachmann
The Sun Shines Down on Me by Daniel Johnston
This Lamb Sells Condos by Final Fantasy
The Funeral by Band of Horses
The Ballad of Bitter Honey by Eef Barzelay
Handle With Care by Jenny Lewis
Nantes by Beirut
Not Big by Lily Allen
Personal by Stars
Deserter by Matthew Dear
Aspect of an Old Maid by The Mendoza Line
Earned Average Dance America by The Seedy Seeds
Don’t Bother Me by The Blakes
Paper Planes by M.I.A.
The Minaret by John Vanderslice

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Holy crap, NPR featured Final Fantasy??! I thought like three people in the world knew him. Back when I discovered him I had to spend a month just trying to track down a CD, and then of course had to order it special from the Canadian label. He's obviously only gotten better - the NPR track sounds really good. He's simply phenomenal live.