Down the Rabbit Hole

Time for another edition of “Let’s pretend Chris’s thought process makes sense!” Follow along!

I’ve been very subtly music-centric for the last few weeks. I had been noticing it, but I hadn’t quite been able to put my finger one what it was I was perceiving. I’ve been very specific about my music and what I want to hear for the last little bit. I talked about my sudden desire to listen to metal recently. This actually led to the discovery of quite a few new bands.

In the Power Metal Genre, I found Blind Guardian, HammerFall, and DragonForce to name a few. A friend of mine who is much more in tune with the Metal and Hard Rock genres also suggested some Alternative Metal bands like Flyleaf and Halestorm. I have to say Metal with a Lady lead singer is probably one of my favorite new playlists. He also suggested some Progressive Metal like Dream Theater, which got me listening to Elven King and Nightwish.

Anyway, since then, I’ve been very specific when choosing what to listen to. This isn’t particularly unusual, but it did lend itself to an interesting series of thoughts, and I’m going to bring oyu along with me while I walk through them.

I was watching an episode of the television show The Voice. One of the singers was a Jamaican woman who used to sing back up for Jimmy Cliff. After hearing her audition, I got to thinking about Reggae music. I really wanted to make that my next musical selection when I got the chance.

Today at work, I didn’t have time to make a whole new playlist, so I went with a Pandora station base on Halestorm. I never got a chance to really listen, as I was running around all day at work. I went to the grocery store and came home. I watched some television with The Wife. I then came in the office to write today’s blog post!

No ideas. None. I was amped to write, but I just didn’t have anything to spark the flow. Out of desperation I decided to maybe just do a sort of ‘Monday Music’ post. I figured I would just find a song and link it and then write about why I liked it or something. Very generic, and not really the kind of writing that gets the thoughts and emotions out.

So I started going through my iTunes library on shuffle trying to find a song that spoke to me enough to write about it. I landed on a Smashing Pumpkins song. I hesitated on that song, which caused me to see the song a few lines down, which was ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ which I love. so I put that song on, cranked the volume and put on my headphones. Something about the drum beats and Bill Corgan’s voice just got my brain going. That’s when I decided that I should just listen to some Smashing Pumpkins and explain how I got to this point.

I would also like to point out that my brain made a connection between the drums at the beginning of the song and Reggae music.

Average: It’s better than bad

Today has the very real possibility of being an average day. This is an improvement.

Today could be good. Relatively speaking. If the trend has been operating at an overall lower average for a somewhat extended period of time, then the true average becomes positive!

Today might work out. I have a fair amount of work to do. It’s repetitive, mostly mindless work. I’m actually pretty good at this portion of my job, so it will not require excess concentration. I will likely be able to lose myself in this project for the day. There’s even the possibility I could spend a portion of the day with headphones in, blissfully ignoring other people and things.

Earbuds

Earbuds (Photo credit: StevenW.)

I’m actually able to listen to pretty much any music I want at work, as long as no one complains and I keep it at a reasonable volume. I typically have something playing all the time. I like to have the music, it helps me focus. Sometimes, there’s just too much other stuff going on though.

I really like to be able to put in noise cancelling headphones and just do what I have to do. That’s one of the only pluses to having to mow the lawn; I get to just listen to whatever I want for an hour. I might be able to pull that off today.

My overall patience level right now is pretty low, so being able to avoid some of the less important stressors and focus on some work ought to let me clear my head a bit. I might even be able to turn the repetitive work into a kind of meditation. We’ll just have to see.

A man can dream, right?

A Crisis of Music

I’m having another crisis of music.

I’ve mentioned my strange musical tastes before. I’m having another Crisis of Music. This one happens to take the form of wanting to listen to a genre I’ve never really listened to before: Heavy Metal.

When in my natural state, I tend to listen to generic Rock, some Alternative Rock, with some Acoustic and Folk thrown in there. This is my natural musical state of being. I listen to a little bit of everything because I like to listen to whatever happens to suit my mood at any given time.

Opening title logo used in Season 1 of Todd an...

Opening title logo used in Season 1 of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know why the sudden urge for Metal. I decided to re-watch Todd and the Book of Pure EvilBoth seasons are available on Netflix streaming. It’s an irreverent mix of teen drama and supernatural comedy. Generally about PG-13 or R rated(depending on your personal rating system,) it’s an out standing show with a Heavy Metal theme.

I started watching it over again, and I suddenly thought, “I should listen to more Metal.” Here we are. I’m now trying to sift through all the different sub-genres of Heavy Metal music to find one that suits my taste.

I don’t really like to listen to the screaming and growling stuff. Sometimes is okay, but as a general rule I like to be able to understand the lyrics I’m listening to. I think I’ve settled on Power Metal. I’ll be checking out Speed Metal too.

I’m sure that this isn’t something that most people are planning to go look into. I, however, have found a nice little set of music that I can listen to that is pretty different from the rest of my musical catalog.

Back to my Pandora station to find more Power Metal artists!

This is weird

Had a weird sort of experience yesterday. Can I assume that you’re familiar with the VH1 “I love the…” or “Best of the…” series. Good,

VH1 Network Identification 1985

VH1 Network Identification 1985 (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

because I just assumed it. Well, yesterday afternoon they were running “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” I had a surreal kind of experience here.

For those of you unaware, I’m 28. Born in 1985. So 2000 through 2010 went right through my young adult years. That’s Sophomore year of high school through all of college into the beginning of my adult life. In that decade, I graduated high school, graduated college, moved out of my parents house, got engaged, got married, and lived with The Wife for the first time, not necessarily in that order. I also went from age 15 to age 25. So I was actively listening to music and making judgments on what I liked. Not really formative years, but years in which I was growing into the man that I currently am. I know that music.

What made this so crazy is this: Most of those shows, like “I Love the 80’s” or “I Love the 90’s”, happened while I was relatively young. The songs and trends they talk about still up memories of my childhood. They are frequently coated in a thick layer of nostalgia. I usually watch some of those and then start a conversation like “I remember when I …” Everything with those has some tie to a simpler time in my life. “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” Was completely different.

First off, those years weren’t quite long enough ago to be covered in nostalgia yet. Not everything is yet seen through those sepia-tinted glasses that let you forget the bad things. More strangely though, I still think of a lot of those songs as ‘current’.

Now , just because I think of something as ‘current’ does not make it so. I’m starting to get to the age where my version of things is slightly distorted from reality. I’ve never been one to really listen to the radio and stay up on the really current stuff. This is only exacerbated by my turning into a grumpy(ier), old(er), man.

It was very strange though, for there to be a retrospective-type show about things I didn’t realize we were that far past. In the world of entertainment, where a month is a year, the 2 and a half years since the end of 2010 means we’re quite far removed from the “2000’s” That’s why it was so weird. I know were well into the 10’s or Teens, but I hadn’t noticed.

I’m not trying to complain about it, I just felt weird seeing a “Remember When…” show when I didn’t think I needed to be reminded. Some people will tell you that if it isn’t sitting in front of me(and sometimes then) that I probably needed reminded of it. I have to say, I really enjoyed their selection of songs though. Thinking about it, I think I prefer the ‘year-to-year’ set up as opposed to the ‘Top 100’ list. ‘Year-to-year’ keeps everything grouped together, the list format jumped around. That just made it stranger.

Ever had anything like that remind you of where you are in life? Just kind of popped up and said ‘hey, this is last decade!’?

A/V Club

VIDEO CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE! You’ve been warned.

Great video from my favorite song by one of my favorite bands. They’re actually only kind of a band. Gorillaz is only a pseudo-band, but they’re absolutely excellent.

I have to say that I think that song captures how I feel more often than not. There’s almost never a time when I don’t want to hear “Clint Eastwood”, and it always seems to suit whatever mood I’m in. I first heard that song over a decade ago in high school, and I think it has aged quite well.

The chorus goes:

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad.
I got sunshine, in a bag.
I’m useless, but not for long.
The future, is comin’ on. Is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on…

You know I feel like that a lot. I feel content, I feel like I’ve got all I need with me. I also feel useless and unfulfilled. I expect it to get better in the coming days.

That can be a bad way to look at things. Always looking for the future to be better than the present can have a tendency to make you unhappy all the time. You wouldn’t want to be the only cause of your own unhappiness, right?

I do think that I am not as skilled as I would like to be in certain areas. I really wish that I displayed an aptitude for something that interests me. It would give me an idea of where to focus my efforts. It would give me some hope that whatever skill I was trying to develop might actually progress forward.

I tend to not be great at sticking with difficult, skill-based things. I seem to make a few large jumps at the beginning and then I hit a decent wall and I  just can’t ever get any better. That definitely contributes to my feeling like I’m useless sometimes. I mean, think if every time you tried to do something that interested you, you found out that you probably weren’t good enough to ever  get any better. Cooking, baking, writing, drawing, music, singing. Something that you enjoy and consider yourself adequate at; What if you just learned ytht you were actually pretty bad and never seemed to get better?

That is just how it feels when I try something and get stonewalled.

Oh well, someday I’ll find my niche. Until then, I’ve always got the Gorillaz to keep me company.

Jukebox Hero

In an extension of my eclectic-ness discussion, this morning has been strange for me, musically speaking. I have gone from thinking about 90’s rock music(thank to @HPBasketball on Twitter last night), to a hardcore rap mixtape that released yesterday, and now I’m listening to a 90’s pop mix at work. Overall, it’s been weird.

I know I’ve ranted about my old collection of musical tastes before, but  that wasn’t my main reason for bringing it up this time. Yes I like quite a range of music. Johnny Cash to Wiz Khalifa. So really everything. What struck me this morning while listening to the new Machine Gun Kelly mixtape – Black Flag was how unexpectedly music can affect us.

You know when listening to certain songs or genres what to expect from them on an emotional level, generally speaking. Throw on Black Sabbath, you’re getting Dark, Heavy, Supernaturally-Themed music. Put on Jack Johnson and you’re headed to the beach with a bonfire and guitars. Sometimes even music you know pretty well can thoroughly surprise you.

I put on Black Flag expecting the strong lyrics Machine Gun Kelly is known for, with a mostly political tilt. I didn’t even make it 2 songs into the album on shuffle before I got goosebumps. I won’t get into specifically what it was about, but if you are interested you can download the mixtape free here. Yes it’s rap, and yes there is likely to be foul language. I’ve warned you.

What really struck me about all of it was how touched I was. I was surprised at the depth of a song that I only generally had expectations about. I expected personal experience or heartfelt determination, based on previous mixtapes and his debut album. I got a touching story that contained profound sadness.

I just wasn’t expecting it and that made me enjoy it all the more. I wan’t to hear something unexpected. I love popping in music and finding something special there. It’s like a secret that I know, that people who dismiss that album or artist will never learn. I love that feeling with my music. I really want to find something else new to listen to now to keep discovering the unexpected.

It’s cool to know that some of who I listen to are as crazy-eclectic as I am.

Super Talented

Three different VHS-family video cassettes. Fr...

Three different VHS-family video cassettes. From left to right, MII, VHS, and S-VHS. From this angle, VHS and S-VHS only differ in their markings. The VHS tape is a T-30 tape, and so uses larger spools than the T-120 S-VHS tape. Otherwise, the spools would be identical. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, so I just found out about these guys yesterday. They are super talented with awesome videos.

EDIT: switched the video to a link because youtube didn’t want me to embed the video. FINE!

Go ahead and watch a little of this video, even if this song isn’t your favorite. More importantly, go check out the youtube channel and see if there is a song there that you like.

They do awesome covers, in a super cool way. I don’t know any of these people, so I’m not really trying to shill for them, I just saw awesome and thought you guys might wanna see. I know this is a short post, but I’m busy being distracted by their youtube channel and such, so I leave you to this video.

P.S. I just realized that this technically dovetails with my previous post about cover versions. Well that was unintentionally convenient. Cool.