Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
The Alan Parsons Project - "(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" 

I didn't realize how soul-draining an accounting day job could be until the accounting mentality started to take over more and more aspects of my life. I need order to get my accounting tasks done: assemble the paperwork in a certain way, reply and/or print off emails, check websites and Google Drive for needed information, etc. This Order Of Things unfortunately tends to take over the rest of my life ... you must clean the apartment on this day, you read the newspaper at this time of day, you do not take the bus to the art museum on this day because it is a Tuesday and you write and read on Tuesdays, etc. My bookkeeping business pays the bills and buys the whiskey and I certainly would not give it up or diss my beloved clients, but still. Doing tasks over and over that need and crave order while the other half of my mind is daydreaming and scheming and thinking about that book or movie or TV show or gal at the coffee shop is gonna result in a breakdown or at least an anxiety attack and no matter how much I walk (ankle injury keeping me off the elliptical) or do breathing exercises or dose up on hydroxyzine, I still have phases where I'm short of breath and pacing around and wonder if I should go see the doctor or just walk to a bar and numb out.

But, but. There's always music. I can got lost in it and there's no better feeling when it's playing beautifully in my living room or on headphones especially when the walls are closing in. And to further take the edge off of the hassles of accounting/debits/credits/Quickbooks' refusal to handle customer credit memos responsibly? Make a mix tape to yourself, dummy. Apple Music works beautifully for this: I create a playlist and it carries over to all my devices. I choose the songs, then assign a title to the playlist. Many times the title is an inside joke only I understand. My recent steady rotation of playlists is:

High School Hits - this one's name is as bland as the playlist (Top 40 in 1980-83 was horribly bland, you know this when the highlight of the playlist is After The Fire.) (Forgetting to put Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Van Halen on this list was kinda stupid, dude.)

Q98, Y'know - AOR smashes from the late seventies and early eighties.

Q98 Again - Ditto.

2014 We're Comin' We're Comin'!! - grab bag of solid songs.

Summer 2014 Bound For Rebound - funk, soul, hip-hop, hard rock all apparently intent on helping me find a dare-to-be-great situation.

My most recent playlist was quickly assembled as I was digging Type O Negative so much recently that a doomy, gloomy mix seemed to be the one thing that might make my mind feel right. (And this was before the election, go figure.) It's a mix of Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, UFO, Funkadelic, Deep Purple, Fear Factory, and others who dabble in the artsy darks. (Today's track is courtesy of the The Alan Parsons Project, whose debut album was an homage to the great Edgar Allan Poe.) The title is "The Doom That Came To", as H.P. Lovecraft had a short story titled "The Doom That Came To Sarnath", that I read in seventh grade after being fired up to read his work and finding an anthology of his in the school library. The story scared me bad, I put the book aside immediately, and returned it the next day. So I was trying to come up with my playlist title, but couldn't find the final words. These were considered:

"The Doom That Came To Harriet Avenue" YAWN
"The Doom That Came To South Minneapolis" BIGGER YAWN
"The Doom That Came To Tuomala" might have worked, but sheesh it seemed a little too ominous, like when there was that Twitter meme #AddAWordRuinAMovie and I tweeted "Kill Bill Tuomala". Yikes.

One last thing. My playlists tend to have thirteen songs and I assemble them in mostly-random order. There are thirteen cards in a suit of cards, thirteen songs in my playlists. Over time, the songs have always come to be numbered at thirteen so I don't have to omit any cards in a suit. What I do is shuffle the cards and then pick them one by one, the card number decides a song's place on the playlist. This act of randomness - a fitting act of rebellion against my Accounting Mind - is almost as much fun as picking out the songs themselves. The cards dictate the order of the songs, though sometimes the leadoff track is inserted as mandatory. Various tweaks - switches or re-jumbling of a few tracks - are usually made. (Can't have two slower songs in a row, can't have too much awesomeness clumped at the beginning or end, etc.) The cards are generally shuffled again and used to determine the tweaks. Or maybe a coin flip or two. Then the playlist is hammered out, finalized, and I crank it on my iPhone. I head out the door for a walk, daydream, write a little in my head, and maybe even relax.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Type O Negative - "Cinnamon Girl"

(The) Fall is here, meaning rain and gray skies and leaves falling and that murder of crows that flies around my block at dusk, visible outside my living room windows in their full glory, cawing and communicating and being beautifully dark and ominous. For me, being alone-and-digging-it in the fall of 2016 means sitting at home on Friday nights embracing DOOM METAL, not listening to the sunshine pop or cutesy songs or whatever the gotta-be-happy folks delve into. (What was the name of that show with Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser? Gotta Be Happy? Happy Together? Better Than You? Thirtysomething?? I just remember gals in my office back in the early nineties, when I asked whether they saw The Simpsons the previous night always said: "I had to watch Happy Together. I want to be in that couple." I never wanted to be in THAT couple. Lord, why? Go through life not being funny maybe? The only character on TV I ever wanted to be was Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street. Heck, even though I have had (actual, while sleeping) dreams about being part of The White Shadow team, those guys lived in poverty and tough circumstances.) (Of course a genius moment in Seinfeld was when George Costanza tricked himself into getting engaged and by the end of the episode was missing the Yankees game because his fiancé had to watch Happy Together*)

So anyway ... DOOM METAL. I don't know how I came to be so late to Type O Negative, I should have been digging these guys for at least twenty years now. Heard them a while back on the Sirius XM classic hard rock/heavy metal station doing Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and immediately thought: Next time I go for a walk in prototypical fall weather, I'm going to listen to nothing but these guys for the whole hour. Then later that same day I did, and halfway through my walk I was sitting on a bench in Martin Luther King Jr. park trying to suppress a grin. Many times in the summer, I listened to comedy albums while on my walk; on this day I was cracking up at the audacious darkness of Type O Negative. Classic crunching metal riffs, haunting background vocals, and the lead vocalist has a subtle touch that works wonders in the mayhem. Some of the tracks have garage rock keyboards - meaning something is up aside from the gloom - plus they can be damn funny. "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" is about some goth girl, references Lily Munster, then throws in hells-yeah catchy finger snapping and a riff from The Addams Family theme song to make sure you're paying attention. And check out some of their track titles: "Love You to Death", "I Don't Wanna Be Me", "Life Is Killing Me", "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend". And this was just an anthology I've been tracking, just think how many more tunes I can score for my annual Valentine's Day alone-again-naturally blowout soundtrack!

While the cover of Deep Purple's magnificent "Highway Star" does not improve on the original, the band is smart enough to cop the middle guitar and keyboard solos note-for-note, sound-for-sound. But that cover of "Cinnamon Girl" is brilliant and devastating. I have yet to find out whether my embrace of doom metal results in behavior like painting my fingernails black and becoming dour. But if it results in shutting off the lights, drinking sludgy stout beer, and listening to some music that makes some fucking sense on paper as well as in my brain, well COOL.

*After forcing myself to go to imdb.com, I recalled that this tortured show was titled Mad About You.