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?

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Outkast/"She Lives in My Lap" -- Click the link now. Two new Outkast songs ready for sampling. Look for them under "Audio."

This is important. Don't waste your time here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Peanut Butter Wolf feat. Pablo/"Rock Unorthodox" -- I picked up PB Wolf's debut production LP, My Vinyl Weighs a Ton, when we were down in Austin. Cheapo rules.

The CD is one of those great low-key hip-hop records, all dirty urban beats and bravura. The guest emcees are solid and lyrically talented, and the absence of flashiness is refreshing. Good mood music for red-eyed late nights.

Interpol is coming back to Dallas. We got tix today. Exciting.

And Schmubb came across this cool two-night stand in Austin, which will henceforth be known as the Paul's Worst Nightmare Show, and which also is aimed at killing me by being held on a Monday and a Tuesday.

Speaking of Paul, I have learned that The Rub will be back. Which is good, because I was little worried.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Elliott Smith/"Somebody That I Used to Know" -- Why I need an iPod:

We were driving down to Austin, and Girlfriend plugged in a random CD from the collection I brought with me. Instantly, I was transported back to the summer of 1999, when I interned in Washington and had a mile-and-a-half walk to the train station every morning at 5 a.m. I listened to the following CDs incessantly that summer:

Elliott Smith/XO
Beth Orton/Trailer Park
Wilco and Billy Bragg/Mermaid Avenue
Afghan Whigs/1969
Kelly Willis/What I Deserve

I have a bad habit of listening to CDs until I get the gist of them, then setting them down. There are so many new things to put into the rotation, and unless an album blows me away to the point where I must listen to it continuously, I won't do it. But I know I've let some good stuff fall through the cracks.

Which is why I need an iPod. Because then the stuff is stored there. It's at my immediate disposal, forever. There's no scouring through my daunting collection of music to find something I haven't listened to in a while. I hit random, and if I go, "Holy shit, I haven't heard that in forever," then I just pull the whole album up.

This is beautiful. The way we listen to music is changing before our eyes. We download things. Some of us pay for it, some don't. But it's instant, and then it's there, and we can listen in a million different ways. Soon you won't even need an iPod because you'll have a hard drive in your car that wirelessly syncs with your home PC when you pull into the driveway.

"So why don't you buy an iPod and shut up about it?" you ask, cleverly. Well, gotta get rid of this credit card debt, much of which was amassed right after that summer internship, interestingly enough. But the goal is to get that cleared by next February, or sooner. And then, my friends, the iPod will be mine. And you'll never hear the end of it.

I wanna get that Phoenix Suns jersey on my Amazon wishlist, too. Consume, consume!

Monday, July 28, 2003

D'Angelo/"Devil's Pie" -- Voodoo was a slow grower for me, coming years after D'Angelo's debut had etched its way into my psyche. But the second album really outpaces the first, in the end. It's meatier and angrier, but still retains that slow burn that made the original so satisfying.

Modest Mouse's show Saturday at Stubb's BBQ in Austin was pretty fantastic. We heard about four or five new songs, which varied in tempo and style and sounded like interesting departures from the old sound. Here's hoping they lay it down in record pretty soon. If you're interested in viewing pictures of drunk people, I've documented our trip and subsequent visit to the Chuggin' Monkey on Sixth Street, where dirty dancing ensued.

Local newspapers rarely do a good job of covering their own music scenes, leaving that job up to the invariably shoddy, long-form screeds of alternative weeklies. That's a shame, because when the dailies actually step into the neighborhoods, interesting things result, like Brian McCollum's trivia-packed inside look at the White Stripes' beginning stages. Link via the inestimable Modern Age.

And speaking of Beginning Stages, Thor Christensen catches The Polyphonic Spree at what may be the height of their success. I'm one of the hataz who thinks there's just not enough there for long-term success, but it's a fun concept and it sounds like everybody's enjoying the run.

By the way, that last link requires invasive log-in procedures, so just use "wakingear@yahoo.com" (not a real address) and password "wakingear."

Friday, July 25, 2003

Harry Belafonte/"Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" -- All the news about Saddam Hussein's son Uday and his bloody corpse is weird and disturbing, but the name "Uday" also sounds like "Day-O," which brings to mind a happier time, a time when a Tally Mon could you tally you a banana.

Thanks to Brendan for reminding me yesterday that Waking Ear is now a year old. Waking Ear is already crawling, and soon it will be talking up a storm. Through my little baby site, I've met a lot of really cool people and interesting writers -- Brendan fits in both categories -- and I thank you all for visiting and weighing in and making me laugh and think. I've always said that the comments are by far the best part of the Ear, so let's get working on another year.

I think I promised not long ago that I would be inviting some guest posts here on Friday. I haven't changed my mind -- I'm just not very organized. It'll come soon.

Schmubb, Bri-ness, Chelle, Girlfriend and I are headed down to Austin this weekend for a date with Ike Brock and Co., to Paul's utter disgust. Modest Mouse is to Paul as Dwight is to Schmubb. Anyway, full report -- and maybe some photos -- on Monday. Enjoy your respective weekends.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Dwight Yoakam/"The Back of Your Hand" -- OK, OK, I promise I'll stop. But I just had to say this: who knew that the most devestating ballad Dwight has ever recorded would be written by a perennial "Hey! It's That Guy!" actor? The video is interesting, too.

In other news: This could've been avoided. Illinois law enforcers should have reminded themselves that they never could tell black people apart anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Dwight Yoakam/"Fair to Midland" -- Ladies and gentlemen, introducing.... the country-ass pun! Employed in a lot of crappy country songs and a few good ones, the country-ass pun attempts to inject some wit into the cliched stories of love gone wrong that dominate the country genre.

I know there's some other country-ass puns out there, but I'm having trouble thinking of them at the moment. But it is closely related to the country-ass rhyme, which is way worse than the country-ass pun because it's not even slightly witty. It's just a rhyme, such as George Jones' putrid "High-Tech Redneck." Suggestions on either front will be greatly appreciated. Surely Reba had some. Sucky Reba.

"Fair to Midland" is one of the few good ones, in part because the pun should've been made a long time ago, and in part because Dwight's Kentucky swoon is magnetic. And despite the title, he's looking for "fare to Midland" to get back to his woman, whom he left in the Texas town. But fare to Midland ain't cheap.

Girlfriend wasn't familiar with the expression "fair to middlin'" when my mom first spoke the words in her presence, so just to make sure we're all on the same page: It means so-so, as in, "How's yer mominem?" "Fair to middlin'."

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Batish Sudha Malhotra & Chorus/"Yeh Hai Ishq Ishq" -- I'm still on this Bollywood kick, which I've been digging ever since Monsoon Wedding.

Rafi is my favorite singer of the bunch. The songs I've heard call for him to be more subdued than his female counterparts, such as Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar, but his voice is strong and versatile.

This song is off a 1990 Ace Records compilation called Golden Voices from the Silver Screen. I found it in Waterloo's great international racks. The liner notes say "Ishq Ishq" is the second part of a qawali, an Islamic devotional song that got adopted for Indian musical films, where it's used more romantically. In Islam, qawali is strictly a guy thing, but this song has male and female parts, and they segue into call and response with the chorus, which sounds great -- phonetically, "Ish-ka Ish-ka Heh Ish-ka Ish-ka Heh," while a drone and some tablas hold down the beat.

The song is from the 1960 film Barsaat Ki Raat. Apparently some Muslims don't like their religious song form being co-opted by Bollywood. But this sounds pretty divine to me.

Monday, July 21, 2003

James Brown/"Sex Machine" -- I get a lot of junk e-mail, probably because my work address is published on the Web, and spammers have sinister little crawlers who go out searching for ___@____.com.

Normally it's porn or low mortage advertisements. Today I got one of the mortgage ones. But instead of the typical subject lines, "Re: Check this out!" and that sort of thing, this one said, "Get up, get on up."

Somebody thinks up these subject lines. Was this person listening to James? Was it his or her Waking Ear? This sinister spammer likes to dance, methinks.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Bee Gees/"How Deep Is Your Love?" -- I used to date a woman whose dad loved the Bee Gees. He had a really sweet entertainment center and surround sound, and he taped this pay-per-view Bee Gees concert and would watch it over and over again. My girlfriend at the time started really liking this song. I thought it was pretty lame, but now, looking back, she kinda had a point. I still don't think the Gibb falsetto works so great here, but the little bridge to the chorus sounds really smooth and dreamy.

Fun comments yesterday. Was Paul asking Chelle on a date there at the end? This is intriguing.

The weekend is going to be blazing hot here in Tejas. Everybody stay cool.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Kenny Loggins/"Footloose" -- I saw the most horrible movie last night. It was supposed to be about dancing, but there were only four dancing scenes. And Kevin Bacon had stand-ins doing most of the dancing! What's up with that? Even Lithgow isn't very good in Footloose. His Southern accent sucks.

I love '80s movies -- hello Weird Science -- but I just couldn't stomach this one. It made St. Elmo's Fire look like fucking Citizen Kane. At least Fire has Rob Lowe playing sax with a headband on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

En Vogue/"Giving Him Something He Can Feel" -- Chelle was asking us the other day about songs that were inextricably tied, in our minds, to movies. Well, I think there's also a category of songs that I can't separate from the videos. There's A-Ha's "Take On Me," for instance. Or Billy Idol's vastly underrated "Cradle of Love."

And every time I hear this one, I think of four red dresses and the hips inside them. Without fail. I remember being so sexed out by this video when I was 15 that I looked like one of those dumb guys they keep cutting to in the video, wagging their tongues and stomping their feet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Roy Orbison/"Claudette" -- I can't hear about the hurricane without this song invading my head. I learned of it through the Dwight Yoakam cover off Under the Covers.

Dwight's new album, Population Me, features Willie Nelson and Earl Scruggs. I gave it a preliminary listen this morning and was thoroughly enchanted. He's back to a little genre-bending and swaggering. Still, it's nowhere near as experimental and groundbreaking as Gone, the 1995 album that launched a gust of Memphis soul underneath the hillbilly's wings.

I get to see Dwight twice in the next few months -- once with Chelle at The World's Largest Honky Tonk and then at the Austin City Limits shindig. He never appears onstage without his hat. But my parents saw him in Alabama last year, and his hat fell off after a woman in the audience flashed him. So now you know how to catch a glimpse of his bald head.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Black Sheep/"The Choice Is Yours" -- You can get with this, or you can get with that.

Girlfriend and I saw Black Sheep perform on Saturday. It felt really sad. They expressed their love for "big asses and big titties" and ran through a bunch of songs off A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, but the whole thing felt lifeless. Sometimes it really is time to just hang it up.

Schmubb has put together one of them blog thingies. It is added to the sidebar. He has a short story up, but Blogger still hasn't worked out that whole archive thing, so we all may have to wait to read it in its full glory. But I'm glad to see Schmubbothy doing some writing. Looks like occasional Waking Ear visitor cna is also posting now.

I'd also like to introduce Automedusa Maravilla, one of the best writers I've seen on the Web. I'm glad she discovered Waking Ear, because it gave me the chance to discover her site. I believe I'm giving it the right title, but ojala que pueda corregirme si me equivoque. And hopefully my grammar was right -- I'm still not great with the subjunctive.

Oh, and if you're having trouble reading Automedusa's site, this should at least give you the right idea.

UPDATE: I was wrong -- cna is not the "Chris" over at If You Are Feeling Bitter. It's a friend of Schmubb's from his time studying in England during college.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Ween/"Voodoo Lady" -- I don't any Ween albums. What am I thinking? Everything I hear is great. And I haven't checked out the Pizza Hut demos yet. Anybody got any recommendations for a preliminary album purchase?

I'm thinking more and more about having Friday guest posts. I'm going to tinker with things this next week and then getting a rotating schedule going of friends who'd like to share their Waking Ear of the week. I've always said that the best thing about this site is the comments, so I might as well get some of those gifted, intelligent, weird people on the main page.

I spent the last week doing some major Mac programming. (Actually, it was Unix programming, but, y'know, the simple Mac way.) I'm just going to put this here for other people who want to know: if you come across this site on Google because you're trying to figure out how to share an iTunes library or an iPhoto library, or because you want to know how to set default permissions on new folders in a shared folder so the entire group can read and write, drop me an e-mail.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Phantroll vs. Digable Planets vs. Wreckx-N-Effect/"Rebirth of Rump (Zoom-a-Zoom-Zoom-Zoom Like Dat)" -- If I had the time and talent to do one of those mash-up songs all the kids are creating these days, this would be mine.

That saxophone in "Rump Shaker" would segue perfectly into the trumpet chorus from the Planets' "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)." I'd use the Wreckx-N-Effect vocals, but the Planets' bass line. This sounds so perfect in my mind.

This next song goes out to Girlfriend, who just found out she's being shifted to a normal weekday schedule after nearly three years of having to work a weekend day. Casey, I'd like to dedicate The Sundays' "Love" to my special lady- I mean, my fuckin' ladyfriend, man.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Hem/"A Hunting We Will Go" -- That's a Real Audio link, just to warn you.

I got to see this song performed during KEXP's broadcasting stint last March in New York. It was a foggy morning, the kind of grey that can only be spelled with an "e." Sally Ellyson's voice is misty and rich, perfect for lullabies.

I had seen Hem once before, opening for Beth Orton in Dallas, and thought they were OK. But they've really honed themselves into a good live band in the last year. It's hard when you have so much instrumentation to remember the quiet parts and the outright silences, but with such a fragile voice as your lead, you've gotta take it easy. When you do, it sounds magical.

Oh, I'm adding a good friend to the blogroll. Chad -- who's been posting here as Van Den Budenmeyer -- is one of the biggest film experts I know, and Dogme95 ought to be a fascinating read.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Grandaddy/"Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake" -- I didn't want to do yet another Grandaddy posting today, but damned if that stray dog didn't leap into my head.

This is Grandaddy at its best, lyrically, at least. I find the little beep-beep hook a little irritating on repeated listen, but I can't deny its Waking Ear-inflitrating abilities. The lyrics tell a million little stories without elaborating on any of them, but you get a great feel for what this town looks like, who lives there and who cares.

I love the high school football coach tricking the dog with the shake. What did he do to the dog? Did he kick it? Abuse it? Or just take away the shake? Did he put something in the shake? Peanut butter? Whatever it was, the dog won't forget it. I love that.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Enigma/"Return to Innocence" -- I thought this was Deep Forest. But I was wrong, as my fellow car passengers on our marathon trip back from Alabama will tell you. They take great glee in me being wrong.

When we go out drinking, and one of us throws up, that person becomes "Puke-ahontas" until the next person takes the title. So I'm Wrong-ahontas. Hope everyone's happy.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Van Halen/"Runnin' With The Devil" -- I missed the Van Halen train because of my age and never identified with the band. But there it is, in my head, David Lee Roth yelps and all. What a goofy song.

I'm heading to 'Bama this weekend for a little Independence Day road trip, so no posting till Monday. Here are my favorite 4th of July songs:

Soundgarden/"Fourth of July"
Elliott Smith/"Independence Day"
Ani DiFranco/"Independence Day"
Lee Greenwood/"God Bless the U.S.A." Sorry. Haven't had my Alabama fix in a while.

I will not be alone on my journey. No. The Girlfriend will be along for the ride. As will Schmubb, Chelle and Bri-ness, all of whom you know because they comment here. Except for Bri-ness, who is mean and refuses to post anything.

Be safe out there. England, y'all never shoulda taxed us without representation. Here, we just do it to poor people and residents of Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Grandaddy/"The Group Who Couldn't Say" -- By far the best song on Sumday. It could easily be a one-off joke -- a bunch of corporate salespeople take a woodlands retreat and go insane. But the sharp, witty lyrics have enough humor in them to withstand repeat listens, and that bass line sounds so warm and fuzzy.

Also it has this line: "And then the supervisor stood Right in the creek and it felt really gooo-ud." I laugh every time I hear it.

I'm not high on Sumday as a whole -- it seems too laconic and washed-out to really inspire me. But I've given it enough repeated listens to sing along to some parts, and it's starting to grow on me.

Which makes me wonder -- could any album -- even the most awful album, which Sumday isn't -- become likable over time if you just listen enough? I'm thinking about all the crappy pop songs -- "I Want It That Way" comes to mind -- that have become so etched in my mind that I'm actually kind of fond of them. Am I just liking Hail to the Thief and Sumday more these days because I keep giving them a chance? Does this happen to anyone else?

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Extreme/"More Than Words" -- Remember what a weird hit this was? Those metal dudes getting all soft and cuddly. There was a rash of this stuff back then -- I think "More Than Words" coincided with that Mr. Big song and a bunch of other cheesy rock ballads.

My mom loved this song. She thought it sounded like the Everly Brothers. Mom was in town last weekend for a visit, along with her sister, who's 10 years younger than her. It's always interesting to hear your parent's sibling talk about them. You get this whole different, weird perspective on this person who raised you, with all the biases of sibling rivalry thrown in.

My aunt alternately wanted to be my mom and resented her for acting like her own mother. When my mom was dating my dad in high school, my aunt used to wait behind the door for him to come in, then attack him with a pillow. Then when they left, she would act out their date with Barbie and Ken.

My aunt grew up to be the hip, young, peppy one, while my mom was more reserved and responsible. It's strange that the same parents could produce such different people. It makes me wonder what my sister and I will be like when we're older.


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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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