tag: words-about-music


headlights reflected on american water

A cricket in the McDonald’s parking lot told me to listen to American Water for the rest of the drive. I’ve been listening to it almost weekly this year for some reason.

My parents live in the country and there’s an impossibly long, straight and featureless road on the route where time stretches out and becomes liquid. It’s as long or as short as your wits, forcing you through the same motions every time. “Are we there yet?” With a conversation it speeds by, but in the dark, with Jen and the dog asleep, it was just me and DB.

Last night it was as long as American Water. A half moon to the south the colour of yogurt darts behind clouds pushed jarringly fast by what’s left of the days August winds. Reflectors on the taillights of sleeping pickup trucks whip by, the outline of a barn, a fluorescent chicken farm during the last feed of the day.

Malkmus doesn’t get enough credit as a guitar player. He dove into a trove of unseen pickin’ licks, contorted by his years of scrawny, velcro playing in Pavement. Sometimes its a staccato yellow center line, sometimes it’s a smooth white, keeping you from the gravel shoulder and the ditch beyond.

In the night you can’t trust your vision on this road. Your brights seem to make it worse. You just grip and stay between the guitar lines.

DB combined a set of tools like nobody else: he was a keen observer and empath, maybe better than anyone. Even when sneering—attacking the mundane evil of America—he was never smug. He never wrote a “Southern Man”. He always seemed to have lived it, or at very least absorbed his observations enough so he could project them through a lens of empathy.

Headlights from miles behind you still shine into the rear view. Sometimes they seem closer, tailgating you in the mist, bouncing around the road. And then they recede to a single point but never turn or fade.

Water is the one I know the best. It was the first one I heard and I’ve listened to it more times than all the others combined. That’s okay, because there’s a lifetime of lessons in its songs. It’s the funniest and most fun, a document of some levity that obviously left his life.

Eventually you cross a county line, the speed limit becomes 90 clicks and you can open it up.


music i thought about in 2018

Here’s my futile act of resistance against posting screenshots of algorithmically generated “Your Top Songs 2018” playlists.

eli keszler - stadium

This album broke my brain during a late night subway ride. It sounds like the city more than any: the predictable randomness of machinery; the steel scrapes of the train bouncing through the tunnel; the steady, ethereal drone of electricity; a beeping that you can’t place. Two men board a nearly empty subway car, sit on opposite sides and start chirping each other like only old friends can.



how i organize my digital music

Music for sale on USB thumb drives in Mexico

Streaming music is dominating our consumption of digital music and I can’t stand it. Leaving my library in the hands of a startup that surely will not be around forever is unwise. I want the files, I want metadata, I want to know what I’m listening to. Is this album the Remastered version, Deluxe version, the Anniversary Edition or a remixed bootleg? With most services it’s hard to tell if it’s Explicit or Clean.

The best ways to get mp3s these days are Bandcamp, download codes included with physical media or a thing that rhymes with “dole squeak”, but what you do with these files once you have them is another story. Keeping a large collection of music on your computer isn’t easy and my process has evolved over the years.



stand in the mourning shroud

When I was a kid in the mid nineties most of my music listening happened through the Sony Cassette Walkman my Grandma gave me for my birthday. I don’t remember being enthralled with my parents cassette collection; Rod Stewart, Fine Young Cannibals, Simply Red and other detritus of late-eighties Adult Contemporary radio, but it also had an AM/FM radio and I used to power through AA batteries staying up too late listening to Toronto stations.

On Saturday nights 104.5 CHUM-FM would broadcast their weekly chart show where Roger Ashby would count down the top 30 singles in the station’s format and I’m pretty sure that’s when I first heard The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”.



music i thought about in 2014

I was going to just list some stuff like I have done before but wow nobody cares. Here is some music I’ve thought about a lot in 2014.