Sep 22

‘And the magic music makes your morning mood’

A sticky bike ride this morning, a day in the office, an evening in the studio. There’s not a lot to show for all of that, but my legs are tired, at least, and some meetings took place and shows got produced. The usual, as they say, if there’s anyone else having a day like that.

So let’s do another music post, where we catch up on the re-listening project. I am working through all of my old CDs in the car. It’s easy content! And there’s some good music here and there — featuring two records today. These aren’t reviews, usually. Mostly they’re just memories, or marking the time.

This is strictly chronological, which is to say the order in which I bought all of these things. My discs cross genres and periods in a haphazard way and there’s no large theme. It is, a whimsy as music should be.

First up is a record, and a band, that I’ve pretty much outgrown in every way. In 1993, when Counting Crows’ debut album, “August and Everything After” came out it was the perfect timing of emo and rock. (Ahhh, high school.) Think of it. The top albums up to that point in 1993 were Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, Depeche Mode, Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand, U2, Cypress Hill, the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, Billy Joel and Garth Brooks. Nirvana’s final album came out that same week, but even still it felt like a mid-sea change, musically. And at just that moment T Bone Burnett produced August. Four singles were released off the record, Mr. Jones hitting number two on the charts. The album made it to number four that year. It went platinum in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, seven-times platinum in both Canada and the United States.

I have a lot of their music, and it fits a certain … mood … let’s say. But I’ve just outgrown most of Adam Duritz’s oeuvre. (I bet he has, too.) So I skip a lot of this one when it’s on now, though they held my rapt attention — this record and the later works — for many years.

I still play “Rain King” because it’s a great live tune, and I still like to think of it that way.

There’s still enough musicianship and jazz in “Ghost Train” to make me listen closely now almost 30 years later.

“A Murder of One” is a lot of fun, until you think about is transpiring there, and then, catchy tune or not, it can bum you out. Which one of those things is the real point?

And yet, it’s still a catchy tune.

From 90s alt rock, let’s shift up to 70s and 80s progressive rock. In case you’ve never looked it up, prog rock is used broadly because all the creativity was going into the music and not the labels. So you have a few decades of bands evolving from psychedelia and further away from standard pop. Record labels started giving a little more leeway to their musicians, meaning more intricate instrumentation and compositional techniques, more poetic lyrics and new sounds and, a wide fusion of styles. It turned into art.

Which is to say that’s what Rush was, but by the time they released “Exit … Stage Left” they were starting to reign it in. This was the Canadian group’s second live album, and it features music from their previous two tours, each of which supported studio records that saw the band headed in a more radio-friendly direction.

So think of it as a transitional moment in a Hall of Fame band? The album went to number six in the U.K., hit seven in Canada and 10 in the United States in 1981. I bought this on cassette in high school, because a guy I worked with turned me on to one particular song. We had a big discussion about the best guitar riff of all time. He played me the acoustic version of “La Villa Strangiato.”

That probably won the conversation. I think I decided ‘What if the best guitarist isn’t Alex Lifeson, but some guy in a village somewhere and we’ve just never heard him?’

The guys I worked with had their minds sufficiently blown. It was probably the last time I’ve asked a question that impressed anyone.

So I went out at some point and got “Exit.” It features the much more familiar electric version of “La Villa Strangiato” but a great deal of other important songs, too. (And also Tom Sawyer, but we’re skipping it.)

This is a song about a car; this is called “Red Barcheta.”

P.J. Spraggins was a drummer. He invented extra drums he could play in the marching band. One night at a game I happened to be at a transformer blew and the stadium went half-dark. The game was paused. The band played. The other school’s band played. And then P.J. played for the better part of 45 minutes or so. Just making stuff up, brilliant guy that he is. Spraggins is still a drummer. He became a professional musician. He’s played with everyone. He’s released three jazz records. And he’s still doing it. I remember one sunny day we sat in my card because I wanted him to hear the drum solo in YYZ.

I wish we had cameras in our phones — or phones in our pockets — at that point. It would be great to make a reaction video with him. I, a listener who can keep rhythm, listen to the beat. My friend, the musician, was visualizing the mechanics of it all. Until he couldn’t anymore. It was a great time.

Prog rock isn’t snooty, just FYI. “Closer to the Heart” is a singalong.

And just as soon as I say that, I’ll close this little list with a song that has maple trees unionizing so that they can get some more sunlight in the forrest.

Prog rock, man.

These days, I almost never listen to either one of these bands. They’re there if needed, though, I still, as Neil Peart wrote, made a choice.

Sep 22

And, most importantly, no one got hurt

Saw this car this morning. I believe it is as MG TD. I don’t know, but a cursory examination of the interwebz leads me to believe this may be a circa 1953 MG T-type.

I drove in this morning, parked near this car and figured I’d never see it again. But it was there when I left this evening, because I left earlier than I’d anticipated.

At a glance, you can tell that the owner is proud of this vehicle and, I assume, is happy to have people notice it. I wonder how often it sees the road. Perfect weather day for it today, but you surely pick your spots with a classic, right?

The MG people produced 30,000 TDs over three or four years in the UK. Some 23,000 of them were shipped to the US. You can buy one today ranging from $17,000 to $32,000.

And, yes, if you have a MG, you get an MG hat and you wear the MG hat.

But why did I leave earlier than I’d anticipated today? Excellent question.

After they closed the building for the day I worked elsewhere. And I got to go home at the regular time, rather than after watching the news — which they did outdoors this evening, which was impressive.

So we went to the lake, and floated on tubes into the early evening.

Fine way to spend a Tuesday.

Sep 22

On the subject of light

It’s a strange business to be in. The hours are irregular. The interactions vary. The media is occasionally multi-. Some days quiet. Some days hectic. And, somedays, you leave yourself messages like this.

But that’s for tomorrow. Hamster Blitz is a video game some students developed. And we’re using their teaser trailer for some promotional efforts and that was where I left off today. Tomorrow I will start with Hamster Blitz.

For what it’s worth, it looks like a fun game.

What a great way to keep things light, right? A helicopter hamster ball? That would be hysterical. A hamster ball with engines would be equal parts amusing and dangerous. Finally, the hamsters can get their payback.

Maybe this isn’t the sort of light fare we should consider. To a different kind of light, then!

I spent this evening in the studio, which meant a later bike ride home. Changed the views a bit. This is the IU Auditorium. Looks nice in the gloaming.

It looks nice at every time of day, the IU Auditorim. It’s just a lovely facility, but the lights at the top offer a nice bit of atmosphere. Come in here, get some culture. No time for the fine arts, though. I pedaled through quickly racing the darkness as I was.

I did not beat the darkness. But traffic is light at 8 p.m.! And I have a light on my bike! Finally had the chance to use it! It is very bright!

I bought this light in 2020, I think. First time I’ve used it. (I blame the pandemic and, also, life.) This light is still on it’s original charge, even. And the throw is perfect for a casual ride. Remember how you learned about outrunning headlights when you were taught to drive? Something about your reaction time, illumination, velocity and darkness? You could do that here, I think, but for an easy 14 or 15 miles per hour, this is great.

One80 Light is the official illumination provider of my night runs and, now, my night rides. They have a wonderful product, and I need to take more night rides.

I haven’t ridden a bike at night since I was a kid, for some reason, but no excuse for that now, other than, ya know, cars.

Sep 22

Look ma, more corn!

I spent much of the day cleaning up my inbox. If you ignore your inbox for the better part of a week it can take the better part of a day to read through everything.

I’m beginning to unravel the mystery of where my days go. It’s all Quora and Pinterest and spam.

The highlight, then, was a little bike ride in the evening. What a great way to bring in a weekend during a week off!

I’m trying to not think of my work inbox, which has also been neglected for a week.

So I distracted myself on my bike ride by going down a road I normally ride up. Up and down are generally relative, of course, but this one has a certain downhill feel to it in this direction.

It was interesting how a simple change of direction on even a seldom-used road changed the tenor of the ride. Indeed, my wheels were humming differently through there.

That road took me out toward the local dirt track, which was ready to make their Friday night noise.

The only problem there is that for almost a mile in any direction the speedway races drown out the sound of any cars coming up behind me. This was most disconcerting.

But, oh, what a pleasant 20 miles. A light and easy way to bring in the weekend.

May your shadow be in front of you all weekend.

Sep 22

Handle Me With Care