Here’s what the first 6 months of 2018 sounded like for me, according to last.fm.
Fleet Foxes – “In the Morning (Live in Switzerland)”
Amen Dunes – “Blue Rose”
(I’m seeing both Amen Dunes and Fleet Foxes in Pittsburgh on Thursday and it is either going to be perfect or awful. There will be no in between.)
Iceage – “The Day the Music Dies”
Beach House – “Drunk in LA”
Moaning – “Artificial”
Shame – “Concrete”
These past couple of months have been a bit (okay – more than a bit) of a rollercoaster.
This past week has sounded like this:
..which is strange, kind of. (Hanson?)
I’ll catch up soon.
It was okay, mostly, for me. Bad for a lot of people, I understand.
I went back to Bowling Green in the spring, and sat in a familiar bar for a few minutes, but avoided everywhere and everyone else I knew because I felt like that was a good idea and it was, sort of.
I went to Maine for my birthday, because I turned 30 and needed to be dramatic about it.
I went to Tampa, because there was money involved, and the flight back was cancelled so we rented a car to Columbus for $15 and fought for the entire very long drive home.
I drove to the top of West Virginia in my old car, which felt kind of – I don’t know – important.
There were other trips, other drives. I wrote about them when they happened. They’re on here somewhere.
I listened to these songs a lot, according to last.fm:
Devendra Banhart – “Fancy Man”
Wand – “Blue Cloud”
Fleet Foxes – “On Another Ocean (January/June)”
Kevin Morby – “I Have Been to the Mountain”
Future of the Left – “Small Bones, Small Bodies”
Talking Heads – “Sugar on My Tongue”
Morphine – “You Speak My Language”
Steve Aoki & Louis Tomlinson – “Just Hold On”
Yo La Tengo – “The Room Got Heavy”
Quicksand – “Thorn in My Side”
I didn’t read much, and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to forget, either, that this is the year I almost didn’t but eventually did have an ovary removed (finally), and quit drinking and doing drugs to excess. I stopped speaking to most of my family (by choice and to much personal benefit). I ended the year having made a huge personal decision and in conflict with a doctor who had previously been the only one I had actually trusted to not put me in any unnecessary pain and began this one by meeting a new one who provided insight into that conflict.
I’m in a strange place right now, but one I welcome, I think.
Have this (a playlist excerpt).
John Prine – That’s the Way the World Goes Round
Merle Haggard – Carolyn
Barbara Lewis – Hello Stranger
Grandaddy – That’s What You Get for Gettin’ Outta Bed
Sibylle Baier – Tonight
The Handsome Family – So Much Wine
The Replacements – Swingin Party
I didn’t ever plan on signing up for Apple Music. Then Drag City uploaded their catalog and I couldn’t not. Bill Callahan? White Fence? Ty Segall? Silver Jews? Wand? All those iterations of Will-Oldham-the-musician?
I pay for Spotify but, you know, I couldn’t just know I could have access to all of that and not do it. I’ve mostly only been listening to Drag City’s Oldham-related releases, because once I start I just… don’t stop for awhile, but knowing the rest of the catalog’s there is comforting.
I first heard Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy when I was still (sort of) living in Shepherdstown, rarely going to classes, and waking up at 4am every morning because that was when my roommate went to the gym, because she was studying recreation and leisure and that’s what recreation and leisure majors did then, I guess. I was also spending all of my money on cd’s at Borders – the first bookstore bigger than a small shopping mall Waldenbooks I’d ever been in – and found, by pure luck, a copy of The Letting Go. I bought it for its cover image and its title (I cared about Emily Dickinson), and immediately I was bewildered. I was lonely and very depressed and felt in every way like a failure and The Letting Go was somehow just what I needed to hear.
I had to submit a 20 entry annotated bibliography with my completed thesis (haha, completed thesis! what a concept) in order to finish my MFA and right from the get-go that sounded like a nightmare. Like: I do not read poetry collections very often. Certainly not often enough to be able to come up with 20 to list as important enough influences on my work to feature on an annotated bibliography. “Annotated” meaning “here is a statement about what these poems have meant to my life.” You know. That variety of thing.
Onto the list went There is No-One What Will Take Care of You. And Arise Therefore. And The Letting Go.
(And enough books of prose that I’m sure my advisors were all “uhhh, you know you do poems, right?”)
I had actually just… stopped listening to all of it since I finished my degree. No good reason, really. Probably the same feelings that still keep me from picking up The Heart is a Lonely Hunter again (“I know I love this but it reminds me of how academia has hurt me real good!”).
Maybe I’ll get over that someday too.
I don’t know why I thought I could end this without mentioning this moment that happened at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, which was not even my favorite of the many good venues I’ve seen a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy show in, but –
This was maybe the best venue (Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky), and though one of these songs is #problematic, this was also a fine time:
If I don’t stop I’ll find a way to post the audio of a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Screaming Issue” from a Mountain Stage taping, so.