Waking Ear

We have a pact, you and I. I write down what song I had in my head when I woke up in the morning. And, maybe, why. You click on "What's in your waking ear?" and tell me what's in your head right now. We discover new music and maybe learn something about how our minds work. Yeah?

Friday, May 30, 2003

Tone Loc/"Wild Thing" -- Please, baby baby, please.

If you bring up Tone Loc with someone who graduated from college in the last five years, they'll inevitably say, "He played at my school." There was this weird Tone Loc college tour thing going on for a while. He played at mine, too, but I didn't go.

My favorite part of this song is when the mom busts in the room and says, "Hey you two I was once like you and I love to do the wild thing." And then Tone Loc shakes his head -- I imagine him shaking his head -- and repeats, "She loved to do the wild thing."

May you all do the wild thing this weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Radiohead/"I Will" -- Spin magazine -- a.k.a. Look What Cool Industry Parties We Attended Monthly -- has a review of Hail to the Thief this month that finds anger at the Bush administration -- and, presumably, Tony Blair -- sprinkled throughout the album.

I'm just not seeing this album as a running commentary on current events. If the title has anything at all to do with the album's contents whatsoever -- and I guess it probably does -- it's turning the protestor's slogan into a slogan of resignation. Hail. The thief won.

Spin singles out "I Will" as a song of anger. Does this look like anger to you?

"i will
lay me down
in a bunker

Of course, here's the rest of the song:

"i won’t let this happen to my children
meet the real world coming out of your shell
with white elephants
sitting ducks
i will
rise up
little babies eyes eyes eyes eyes
little babies eyes eyes eyes eyes
little babies eyes eyes eyes eyes
little babies eyes eyes eyes"

But even if you take the whole "I will rise up/won't let this happen to my children" thing as some type of rallying cry, just listen to the music. Yorke sings it almost in a whisper, and the recording is eerie and shut-in. It's easy to say lots of platitudes when you're down in that bunker, but Yorke's nowhere near coming out.

I just discovered, by the way, that "I Will" is the song played backward in "Like Spinning Plates." Which is fucking cool.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Sondre Lerche/"Sleep On Needles" -- My continuing struggle to distinguish my opinion from Pitchfork's has taken a mighty blow with Faces Down, this Norwegian's debut LP. Rob Mitchum described the album as the one Beck should've made, and dammit, I thought the same thing on first listen. Without reading the review first. I swear.

It's lazy and slouchy like Sea Change, but there's spirit in this, an underlying hope that keeps it from hitting the snooze alarm more than three times. There are surprising sounds and campy background vocals. It's a fun sad album.

So I've made some changes to the sidebar. I'm taking out Paul's album art quiz until he produces another one. Same goes for Thomas' trivia question. Thomas hasn't visited in a long time, and he took Waking Ear off his blogroll because he doesn't love me. But I still carry the torch for Oh, Manchester. Whimper, whimper.

Stevie Nixed and Kortbein are gone. I like 'em both, and they say interesting things, but I don't read them regularly enough -- I like my opinions a little more condensed. And people can stumble upon them through a thousand other blogs.

I thought about dropping Ineffable, since it doesn't really fit thematically with the whole music thing, but I still think it's a funny read. Same with Fwah.

Nick doesn't have regular Internet access anymore, so his site's off the list.

The rest are on there because they're highly recommended. The Rub is the best in the game, NYPLM and TMFTML are snarky fun, Oh, Manchester is exhaustive and exhausting, Flux Blog is adventurous with its audio, and Bicycle, Badger and close your eyes are the musings of seasoned vets.

Among the lesser-known lights, The Leptard blends music and life with grace and sensitivity. Foolish Daily Thought is the work of one of my best friends in the world. And somebody get over there and show via Chicago some love. Jondaddy's feeling down.

I'm adding Kate Sullivan, who has become one of my daily reads with her brash, witty, creative prose.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Johnny Cash/"Hurt" -- When I heard the song on KEXP this morning, I swore to myself I wouldn't blog Cash again. But then I heard that line. "Everyone I know goes away in the end." It's seriously hard to watch this man play out his final scenes before our eyes. It's Warren Zevon-esque. Some have said it's exploitative, that Rubin and Romanek are taking advantage of Cash. I think Cash would lift one of his wrinkly middle fingers to those people, unless he's feeling Jesus-y.

I have a new hard drive -- triple the size of my old one. I'm finding myself avoiding the computer, though. "Spend time with friends," I think. "Go to the gym. Get ready for work." It's good to take a healthy break from those things that absorb your time.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Goodie Mob/"Free" -- This is the rousing gospel opening of Soul Food, Goodie Mob's 1995 classic. Not sure how it popped into my head this morning, but I'll definitely be pulling Soul Food out of the CD book tonight -- still puts most Dirty South rap to shame, a humid, sleepy album about Jesus, hard work, weed and Atlanta, Jawja.

The hard drive went out on my home computer last weekend, so I've spent the entire week without Internet access at home. It's been strange. I don't watch much TV, and I always attributed that to the fact that we don't have cable and the fact that the 'Net is more interesting. But without the computer, I didn't go back to the tube, like I thought I would. Instead, I got stuff done -- laundry, dishes, you name it. It's kind of refreshing. When I do get my little cutie baby iMac back, I'm going to try setting some surfing limits on myself. OK, music-downloading limits too.

Because of the computer issues, I'll refrain from posting until Tuesday, since we have Memorial Day on Monday here in the 'States. One light note to send you on the way to your weekend: The New York Times does its best to explain what a cameltoe is without making itself giggle.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Lucinda Williams/"Here in California" -- I found this cover of a Kate Wolf song while making a mix for Girlfriend. It's reserved and cautious and brimming with passion, a simple folk tune about waiting until things are right. If anybody's familiar with Kate Wolf's stuff, let me know. I'd be interested to hear more.

Girlfriend pointed out that this hasn't been my first dream about Meg White. I can't remember the other one, and if I recorded it here, Google can't find it. But I can see why Ms. White would sneak into the subconscious. She's a sister-wife Freudian mindfuck who rarely talks. She's like a David Lynch character waiting to happen.

Schmubb has accused me of not liking this album because Pitchfork doesn't like it. I don't like it because I find it derivative and unchallenging. I just don't think Longwave hits the levels of emotional intensity and drama they try to bring. I could swap it out for Staind. OK, that's not true. But I could do without it.

Anyway, I'm being far outweighed in my opinion on this, which is OK. But I've been learning that my opinion means much more to my friends than I thought it did. I think I rub them the wrong way sometimes when I say I don't like something. Probably not that I say I don't like it, but how I say it, snobbily I guess.

One time in high school, this girl was singing Joe Diffie's "John Deere Green," and I made some comment about how the song was horrible. I just kind of assumed she knew it was horrible too, but that she was just a passive radio listener and it had gotten in her head. And the lyrics are kind of funny if you have any appreciation for redneck humor. But she really honestly liked the song and was offended. I could understand that people may like stuff that I didn't, but I couldn't understand why she got so mad.

I guess I still haven't learned my lesson.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"Ants Go Marching" -- Last night I dreamt that I went up to Chicago to visit my friend Hiney, who in real life used to live there but now lives in Connecticut. His roommate, in my dream, was my friend Nick. They lived in an old hotel that still had doors connecting the adjacent suites. Meg White and another person lived next door, and they just left the door open all the time. I walked into Hiney and Nick's apartment, looked through the suite door, and saw Meg working out on a treadmill. She didn't seem to notice me. She was wearing normal workout clothes, not red and white.

A song came blaring from the TV -- "The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah," etc., sung by a chorus of baritones. Someone -- I think it was Chelle, who suddenly appeared there -- said, "What is this movie?"

I said, "It's Johnny Tremain."

"No it isn't."

"Yeah, sure it is. See? Look, there's Johnny Depp."

Sure enough, there was Johnny Depp on the TV screen wearing a tri-corner. Yes, I know Johnny Depp was not Johnny Tremain in the movie. But in my dream he was.

All of a sudden, Girlfriend, Chelle and Schmubb walked into the room. Chelle had been in the room previously, but apparently she was now entering it for the first time. I greeted all of them heartily. They were carrying suitcases.

The door to the adjacent suite shut loudly.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Johnny Cash/"Delia's Gone" -- That photo I'm linking of Johnny Cash at the funeral just kills me. He can't believe she went first. That wasn't how he planned it. "Hurt" was his apology and thank-you letter to her, all rolled up in one. At least she got to hear it.

"Delia's Gone" has nothing to do with any of this, but it's my favorite Johnny Cash song, a folk tune about a guy who went to jail for murdering his young lover.

OK, wait, there is a link between "Delia's Gone" and June Carter Cash's death. Johnny Cash has been obsessed with mortality since he was a young man. That's what makes him such a legendary and popular figure in our culture -- we all do this, privately, in our hearts. We face down death and sorrow every day. Cash has just been one of the few with the courage to talk about it.

And his wife, it seems, was the one who connected him with life. Now that she's gone, he's sunk in his chair, seeing the darkness.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Dwight Yoakam/"The Heart that You Own" -- I got Dwight's boxed set a couple of months ago. Well worth the price of admission if you're a fan.

This song is vintage Dwight ballad. He uses the time-tested country practice of extending a metaphor through the length of the song -- in this case, comparing his heart to a property owned by his wicked lover. The lyrics are goofy enough to be used in bar sing-alongs, but, um, they're also pretty clever.

"Used to be I could love here for free
Way back before you bought the property
Now I pay daily on what once was mine
Lord, I probably owe you for the tears that I cry"

And Dwight sings the hell out of it, all Kentucky-fried and loathsome tonight. Critically, I like Dwight's up-tempo material more, but I'll admit that I sing along to the ballads more.

A few random notes:

The upcoming Jane's Addiction album is Lollapalooza's big white hope. Good luck.

The Bush administration is apparently protecting U.S. troops from Coolio.

Good fucking riddance, you worthless piece of shit.

Go Mavs. Avenge my Suns.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Mary J. Blige/"Family Affair" -- This song is not about having no more drama. It's about denying it all. "Fuck it. Let's get drunk." But Mary is tied to the drama. It will come back to her. She has escaped it momentarily.

Last weekend my sister graduated from college. When she walked up to get her diploma, they handed her the little book, but inside was a paper saying she was one credit short. She couldn't figure out what had happened and bawled for about two hours. My whole family was there, so we spent this somber time sitting on the couches in her apartment, trying to make small talk. My grandmother, who's in her early 80s, informed us that she really likes fried chicken and pound cake together.

Finally my mom got in touch with the registrar, and it turned out that the school hadn't received my sister's AP scores from high school. So they tracked them down, and my sister, still red-faced and flustered, got her diploma.

My sister has always been the one who stirred things up in our family. The rest of us -- my parents and I -- were content to just let things be, even if something needed to be said. We were confrontation-avoiders.

But my sister was blunt and angry, unafraid to embarrass herself and the rest of us if something needed to be said. When we were little kids, we were fighting one day and my dad told us to knock it off. My sister blurted out, "Get along, get along! That's all you ever say!" She once ran screaming in terror from a church service because she got stage fright standing up with the rest of the children's choir.

In high school, she smoked, did some recreational drugs, snuck out at night, etc. There were huge shouting matches with my parents. My dad tried a staunch, strict attitude, but he loved her too much. My mom did too, and cried more than once on my shoulder, exasperated. There is still residue from this, but her freedom at college seemed to give everyone room to breathe. My dad mellowed. My mom learned how to stop blaming herself for everything.

After the graduation incident, my sister kept apologizing. "I'm sorry for the drama." But the drama has been with us for 22 years, calling our bullshit and making our lives interesting. I've never been so thankful for it.

I'm not really sure how to talk to my sister, and we don't chat very often. It's hard to even talk about her. But knowing she's out there cracking heads is really reassuring.

Keep the drama coming, Kate. And congrats.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Howard Jones/"Things Can Only Get Better" -- Roommates are at their best early in the morning. They're familiar, they're as sleepy as you are, and sometimes they make coffee. Other times, they sing along with you. So when Schmubb did the response to my call -- "Whoa whoa whoa-oo-whoa-oo-whoa, whoa-whoa-oo-o-oo-whoa" -- it was a nice moment. He didn't know to sing "I do" in a high-pitched voice when I sang, "And do you feel scared?" but that's OK. Good start to a morning. And I had already had my coffee.

And the day got better because I got White Stripes tix for their show at the despicable NextStage in nearby Grand Prairie, Texas. We're going to see the White Stripes in a big auditorium with thousands of people! Well, at least it's not an arena, barely.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Tchaikovsky/"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from The Nutcracker Suite -- My mom used to take my sister and I (and my dad) to the Nutcracker every year. I was always in love with the Arabian dancer and I thought the Chinese dancers were cool. But the Sugar Plum Fairy -- so regal, so sure-footed and serene and strong -- she was the really amazing one. She always had the little bun on her head and I always wanted to be backstage when she took it down and became human again.

Noel Redding has departed for that Electric Ladyland in the sky. "She's So Fine" has always been one of my favorite Experience songs, and it'll get a few spins tonight.

Monday, May 12, 2003

INXS/"Never Tear Us Apart" -- Just heard this on the radio in Girlfriend's car. She has the day off. I don't. But I got to have a good, wholesome Tex-Mex lunch, complete with sour cream and refried beans.

I've been tired lately, and also not really motivated to post. I'm seeing the same phenomenon in a lot of people out there. Paul mentioned some dead 'blogs this week, and Alex seemed ready to hang it up last week. Matthew has written often of blogger burnout, too. Inskeep's the only one who seems to keep this up with no end in sight, and I think he may actually be three people. (Just a theory, Thomas, and they're three damn sexy people.)

So the Girlfriend's suggestion that I invite others to post on occasion sounds like a pretty good idea. I'm still trying to figure out how I'd like to do it -- a once-a-week guest post? a free-for-all? -- so advice is still welcome. And thanks to those of you who critiqued the site for me. It's good to feel appreciated, but I really do want the site to be better and to attract more readership.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

OK, so "Chunari Chunari" is still in my head, two days later. So I thought I'd take this time to talk about something.

This site will be a year old in July. I enjoy doing the writing, though some days it's hard to squeeze in. I enjoy meeting other people through the site, though the rate of new names in the comments boxes has slowed considerably since the early days. And I like when we get a good conversation going in the comments section -- those are fun days.

So I'm wondering -- is there a better way to do this? A better format, a better way to get more people to the site? People don't come here to get news about music -- sites such as Pitchfork do a pretty good job of that, plus folks like Paul for supplemental info. But if there's a way my site could stand out more, be something different that people would like to visit every day, I'd like to do that.

As it says in the sidebar, I originally intended this site to be a way to explore the role music plays in our subconscious. Looking back, that seems nerdy and not really all that interesting. Music plays the same role in our subconscious that everything plays in our subconscious -- it's an element of that big swirl of thoughts and feelings and experiences that gets mixed around and occasionally splatters out without any apparent rhyme or reason. Which is why "Funkytown" might inexplicably pop into your head sometime.

So now it's become just me writing about music, and then an occasional stream of comments when Schmubb or Chelle or Girlfriend start an interesting debate. Is that enough? What would you like to see me do?

I'll refrain from posting until Monday so I can gather some opinions.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Anurhada Shriram and Abhijeet/"Chunari Chunari" -- The Monsoon Wedding soundtrack blows because every triumphant, B-movie, sex-charged, colorful moment like this is sandwiched between tracks of movie mood music. I want more of this, the high-pitched girly voice, the virile tenor, intertwined in another young romance as the bhangra beat crashes and rolls underneath. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 05, 2003

Badly Drawn Boy/"River, Sea, Ocean" -- One of the few salvageable pieces from the spotty About a Boy soundtrack, even if it does sound like a children's song by Elliott Smith. I haven't listened to Have You Fed the Fish? yet, but I've read that it slides even further from the brilliance that was The Hour of Bewilderbeast.

Speaking of artists that seem to slip further and further from their former level of greatness, Liz Phair got bitch-slapped by the 'Fork during my absence Friday. Now, I agree that her later material hasn't been too swuft. And I do mean "swuft." But it's still hard to see the subject of many of my high school sexual fantasies (OK, not just high school, I admit it) get lambasted this way.

I haven't heard her new material yet, but I can definitively say that Pitchfork is wrong on one count. Liz Phair's promotional photos don't look like Avril, nor like Sheryl Crow. She looks exactly as I remember her, mean and black-eyed and bluntly sexy, just like the best moments of Exile in Guyville. Phair isn't model-hot, and she can't sing very well. Her image as a thoroughly human indie rock nerd was always one of her greatest assets, the other being the fucking great songwriting on Exile. Now the image is all she has left. Hopefully she and her songwriting partners don't squander it.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Radiohead/"We Suck Young Blood" -- Still the best song on Thief, for my money. This whole album leans heavily on Yorke's bleat, and this is where it's at its most fragile and strange. There's this weird little rev-up period toward the end that dies down just as quickly as it begins. And, of course, the hand clap.

Sorry I've been AWOL -- busy day. I'm outta town tomorrow, so probably won't post again till Monday. So, um, have a good weekend.


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KEXP DFW Concert Calendar

Kinja, the weblog guide

Blogs I like:

Phangirl - A Wedding Blog

Music and culture

The Rub

close your eyes



oh, manchester, so much to answer for


Orbis Quintus

New York London Paris Munich

via Chicago

Kate Sullivan

Clap Clap



the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

silence is a rhythm two


The International House of Pussy

Dip Dip Dive

Razorblade Runner

Friends and compatriots

Operation: Ridiculous

If You're Feeling Bitter



Airplane Sleep


Letting Loose with the Leptard

67 Degrees

A Reasonable Volume

Julie's Pages

Singing Loudly

Ordinary Addictions

Dallas gossip



Blog Maverick

Dallas Basketball

Texas Gigs

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