Tuesday, October 31, 2006

falling from the branches

if there was ever a song that matched how i feel today, this is it. not just today either, but any day where i feel worn out, wishing my life was somehow different, mourning the kind of warmth i most enjoy outside. more than that, it's the soreness in my body, how i hurt and haven't gone swimming the last three days because of the aches in my body (no, i'm nost just getting old this time--i really did hit the ground hard, head and left shoulder first).

when i was a first year in college, i was trying to get back into playing guitar--when you're a musician, you're always trying to get back into doing something... at least i am, always wishing i were finding more time to play guitar, piano, anything really. so i was at college, living in an old dorm, trying to find the college experience i was hoping would come (but wouldn't really arrive for a while). and so i played guitar, played the songs my old bands had played. i played the songs i liked to listen to on my computer around then. and i even started writing songs on the guitar, something i hadn't done before (always before my writing was on a piano).

sometimes if it was nice outside, i would walk around the green in front of the dorm, just playing and singing to myself--fake plastic trees, wish you were here, to sheila, stay--almost always walking, almost always outside. once it turned cold, i would play in my room sometimes, and a few times down in the common area, but i always liked playing outside, never for anyone, just myself. i guess that's something that a college kid can do that's much harder while living in a residential neighborhood. but who knows. maybe i just have to give it a try.

i've listened to this song ten times today--almost scary. but i also graded 8 papers, prepared for and taught two classes, prepared for and guest lectured in a graduate seminar, did some research for my dissertation, met with one student, talked on the phone to a best friend, got an email from an old friend, prepared for thursday classes, wrote thirteen emails, talked to my parents on the phone, read thirty emails, and sat blankly in front of this computer for the last twenty minutes. and after all this, just thinking about all the things i haven't done today scares me (if it sounds like i'm complaining here, pay it no attention--i'm just trying to talk myself back into doing something).

is it worth it, finding myself always busy, barely sane (probably crazy), tired, sore, and unable to fall asleep? it has its moments i'll say. and i'm decently productive (i've done better, quite often actually). so i'll have to enjoy the moments, like last friday when i went swimming (and loved it), and then went and sat in como park and graded papers lazily, watching the kids and their parents arrive for the halloween party at the zoo.

don't be scared by andrew bird

whenever paul thinks of rain, swallows fall in a wave and tap on his window with their beaks. and when paul thinks of snow, soft winds blow round his head and the phone rings just once late at night--like a bird calling out, "wake up, paul. don't be scared. don't believe you're all alone." "wake up, paul," whisper clouds rolling by and the seeds falling from the branches of the trees.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

the indescribable moments of your life

"ba-da-oom-cha-oom-cha- oom-cha-ba-da-da-da" is how the year started, at drumline camp, which started even before band camp. it was a grueling day, every day for a few weeks, teaching all the youngsters how to march while playing our instruments, memorizing the cadences and songs, hanging out with new people, being in high school finally. "ba-da-oom-cha-oom-cha- oom-cha-ba-da-da-da" was how the band director vocalized the start of the drum cadence, the way we would start every parade for that fall, how we would end the year at the orange bowl parade, how we get close to 250 people to march in step for 3-6 miles, depending on the length of the parade route. and once we were done marching on streets in the early morning, we'd spend the next few hours working on the field show on the south parking lot of the high school. here the band director's oft-occuring quote was "gonna fly now"--we were playing selections from rocky, and i was the pit percussion kid playing the timpani, having to drag three large kettle drums out to the parking lot, having the director tell me every day that i had to play them louder, to make my playing flashier, bigger. so i would flail my arms, acting like the crazy drummer on a viking boat, keeping the rowers in time.

i was a freshman in high school back in 1995, and i remember listening to this song first on the way to a marching band practice--this was the year of a band trip to the orange bowl parade, so much of my time that summer and fall were spent in preparation (our high school had about 1,000 students that year, and over a fourth were in the marching band--our drumline had six bass drummers, four quints, and ten snares--i played snare).

it was an interesting year in my life--first year of high school, playing soccer, playing music, dealing with the fallout from my older brothers' reputations, running the technical side of theatre productions (sound, lights, construction, destruction), starting debate, finding my core group of high school friends (the soccer-debaters, a core that still lives on at bhs), having crushes on girls in my grade who of course decided to date the juniors and seniors, trying to make sure that we were the best band in high school (something we had yet to achieve), getting pulled over by the large number of police for silly reasons, hanging out with the burgeoning group of guys that played quake, dealing with the two very intelligent girls with lockers on either side of mine who constantly and in good humor made fun of me.

"did ya miss me?" she asked, like she did every morning and afternoon when she saw me at our lockers, in the new addition of the south hallway (a nice place as most of the freshman lockers were here, and because the little debate room was close by). this girl was certainly someone who would be a big part of my life for the next few years--still is, in a way i guess. her sister is now one of my best friends. it's crazy how things work out in a small world like the one in which i live. and it wasn't just the new life of locker-neighbors that was giving my life a richer experience.

"when you score a goal like that, you have to celebrate, brett. come on." i had just curved a ball around the wall from 20 yards out and put it in the upper right corner, and a former teammate (he had graduated the previous spring) watching the game was running up and down the sidelines screaming for me. i admit it felt good, but i was mostly embarassed--i had spent most of my youth trying to get better at soccer (most particularly dribbling and shooting since i never had as much team and practice support growing up in small town South Dakota, one of the last places for soccer to catch on in the United States, and probably the world). I had the second generation of adidas predator cleats, and they were heavy, but the rubber fins on top allowed someone like me to put dangerous amounts of spin on the ball--always before i had shot with knuckle or top-spin, but in times like this one, i was happy to have the curve-giving fins. starting in eighth grade when i played for the high school team, i became one of the guys in school who was known for playing soccer. and i liked it that way. it stuck, until i hit college that is when everyone it seemed could play as well as i could, and i lost a bit of my identity--that's a story for another time though.

the same went for music--not just marching, field, and concert band. i played bass in the jazz band, and then there was my rock band. we were young (our name back in freshman year was under 18, but we could just as well have been under 16). and we were proud. but we tried hard, practiced, recorded, played shows, did everything we could to compete with the college bands in town because there weren't any similarly driven high school bands then (the following year, it took off and peaked my junior year when there were ten or eleven high school bands, which isn't bad for a high school and town of our size). and it was with the people in my band that we shared and developed our love of music and music videos.

the following song and its album came out in 1995. mellon collie and the infinte sadness was the album for this year of my life, much like silverchair's neon ballroom was the album that typified my senior year. i listened to a strange diversity of music back then, but a large part of it was considered "alternative rock," and the videos for this music was actually played on mtv back then (i cut down my mtv watching after 1996 when i started to get annoyed at the other content--or lack of music video content, as i saw it).

the song and the album have been mainstays in my life for eleven years now i guess--that's kind of crazy (and there were a few years when i didn't listen to the smashing pumpkins too often), but there's something beautifully grandiose about the album, and particularly about tonight, tonight. even its video was fantastically designed, bringing a new polish to an oldly styled idea of people in suits playing fancy instruments while floating among the cutout stars and planets. in some ways it was reminiscent of one of my other favorite videos--perfect drug by nine inch nails. the similarities don't stop at the historic outfits of the people--both were based on past work--perfect drug on edward gorey's art, and tonight, tonight on georges melies' silent film a trip to the moon.

tonight, tonight by the smashing pumpkins

time is never time at all
you can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
and our lives are forever changed
we will never be the same
the more you change the less you feel
believe, believe in me, believe
that life can change, that you're not stuck in vain
we're not the same, we're different tonight
tonight, so bright

and you know you're never sure
but you're sure you could be right
if you held yourself up to the light
and the embers never fade in your city by the lake
the place where you were born
believe, believe in me, believe
in the resolute urgency of now
and if you believe there's not a chance tonight
tonight, so bright tonight

we'll crucify the insincere tonight
we'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonight
we'll find a way to offer up the night tonight
the indescribable moments of your life tonight
the impossible is possible tonight
believe in me as i believe in you, tonight

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

do you carry the words around

i just finished grading my "in search of nature" class's second papers. i have to say, i was quite impressed, quite happy with them. almost all of the papers were as good as most papers i ever read. some of the papers were good enough that i'd like to publish them, perhaps on here if nowhere else. they were asked to write a story or narrative about finding nature in their lives, whether in their everyday lives, or in some special circumstance.

as always, grading is tiring and draining for me, but these papers were great, concisely recounting walks and bike rides, their work and play, their histories and futures, all the while telling me how they could find nature wherever they looked, if they just looked hard enough. some found this assignment transformative, becoming more aware of their surroundings and the importance of nature in their lives (i think it was probably a more valuable way of engaging this issue than telling them about the trillions of dollars that ecosystems provide in "services"). a few even reacted by saying that thinking about the nature in their everyday lives bothered them, because the nature they rarely experience is what needs the most protection and conservation. i couldn't agree more.

in the end, i am often writing here that grading drains me, which it does. but today, tonight that is, i wanted to say that grading papers can be an amazing experience. but it takes having very good students who engage with the topic and try hard to write interesting and personal stories about their lives. i applaud my students, not only in this class, but also in my other two classes--they are great groups, and good people.

and so tonight, i leave final preparations for tomorrow's teaching until the morning, though i do know what we'll be doing in class then. and i read a new poem titled "cardinal cardinal" by stephen dunn. and i feel good. sore from a weekend of pushing my body, but good. and billy corgan's voice comes across my computer's speakers, singing, "a summer storm graces all of me," and i can't help but feel like this is a special moment in my life, sitting here in the basement, awaiting a winter storm, expected arrival: wednesday. perhaps it's just because winter is coming that i am now listening to the kind of soft and lowkey music that i often turn to this time of year. maybe so. and maybe the bird stealing bread is just a bright red bird taking a seed back to the female in her quiet beauty, and i wish i could watch "the delicacy with which she accepts it."

bird stealing bread by iron and wine

tell me, baby, tell me
are you still on the stoop
watching the windows close?
i've not seen you lately
on the street by the beach
or places we used to go

i've a picture of you
on our favorite day
by the seaside
there's a bird stealing bread
that i brought
out from under my nose

tell me, baby, tell me
does his company make
light of a rainy day?
how i've missed you lately
and the way we would speak
and all that we wouldn't say

do his hands in your hair
feel a lot like a thing
you believe in
or a bit like a bird
stealing bread out from under your nose?

tell me, baby, tell me
do you carry the words
around like a key or change?
i've been thinking lately
of a night on the stoop
and all that we wouldn't say

if i see you again
on the street by the beach
in the evening
will you fly like a bird
stealing bread out from under my nose?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

you'll just do it all again

recently, i brought home a copy of book titled music, the brain, and ecstasy by robert jourdain. my friends and i had been discussing the effects of music on people, particularly those with degenerative diseases (neurological mostly), and i thought this was a very readable and interesting introduction to just such a topic. during my first year at saint olaf, i read and reviewed the book in the math department's newsletter (my wonderful advisor there was trying to encourage me to pursue my very eclectic and strong interests in some interesting and productive way). the book is similar in style to other science journalism where someone learns the current state of the science and tries to tell engaging stories about the topic.

to put it simply, i loved the book and tried hard to get other people to read it. by combining my two biggest interests at that point in my life--music and neuroscience--i considered it perfect. i almost designed my own major on music and the brain; i even wrote up a proposal and found two co-advisors for the major. that year for christmas, i asked my parents for, and received two other books on the topic: the pyschology of music (an academic anthology with a variety of articles on the topic) and the sounds of healing (a more applied book on music therapy). it was all to come to naught, though i've remained terribly interested in the topic. like many other topics with which i've become quite fascinated in my life, music and the brain has fallen by the wayside, but like many wayside wonders on america's highways, i know where it is when i want it again.

the really strange thing is how many of these sorts of topics there are in my past, ideas and pursuits that i have been so incredibly interested in for a while, but that i just don't have enough time or energy to pursue. from a love of rocks and geology when i was 4-10 years old (and still remembering enough when i was in college to do student work identifying rocks), to a desire to play in a band (again, something i did for a large part of my life), from a desire late in high school to get an md/phd in neurological reconstructive surgery (wishing to help people regain sight or recover from paralysis), to a desire to be a college level soccer coach as recently as a couple years ago--all these desires are still strong in me, but every day and year i move further from them as realistic pursuits in my life. and that's somewhat disconcerting, maybe even unfortunate i guess.

but it also means i am choosing something i enjoy very much--i'm not just studying environmental issues and teaching courses on nature and science and technology because that's all i've ever wanted to do. i'm studying environmental issues because i think they're just that important. i think that getting my students to think more about the environment as an important political and social issue may be a key to the preservation of an undiminished world. and i think that realizing the role of ideas, words, discussion, and experience is an important goal for a course in a university setting. understanding the many and complex relationships with the natural world is important, and understanding the how--how human lives, choices, and policies have great impacts on the nonhuman environment--understanding those kinds of how questions may be one thing i can give the students i interact with. it may not be as big or as obvious of an impact as i could have as a lawyer or policymaker or activist, but i think i can have an impact. that's my hope.

on friday, i had a very enjoyable evening, going out to eat with two of my officemates, discussing our department and our future plans, and drinking some good wine. then, yesterday morning i woke up early, graded 10 papers, then drove down to northfield for an ultimate frisbee tournament, played on a team with a former housemate, had a great time getting to know new people, played well in 25-30mph wind (we went 4-0 yesterday), ate a great sandwish at hogan brothers, took a walk around the st. olaf campus (it's beautiful in fall), came home and graded another 10 papers before going to bed. and i liked it. grading is one of my least favorite parts of teaching, but breaking it up with 8 hours of fun physical activities makes grading on a weekend so much easier. now i just need to do something similar today (only one game, up in the cities, but just as many papers to grade).

in the song below, i love the musical choices--they're upbeat, but like most of her songs, the choices are tasteful, pretty, and fun. i really like when she says that she is trying "to find some worms to aid in the decay"--it reminds me of an important environmental issue in the northwoods of minnesota where earthworms are decomposing leaf litter and changing the ecosystem in strange new ways (since there hadn't been earthworms in the forests of minnesota for the last 10,000 or more years, until just recently. at any rate, more often a musician discussing decomposition will be trent reznor discussing the topic in a much less uplifting way.

i also like her reference to november rain, a song that was one of my favorites in 8th grade (i learned to play the piano and guitar parts and would sometimes just start playing them while my band was practicing). finally, i really like how it works according to regina--you love until you don't, you try until you can't, and take the things you like and love them, and help others to love them also. and perhaps most importantly, you hope the love you have doesn't get harmed, but if it does, you try again.

on the radio by regina spektor

This is how it works
It feels a little worse
Than when we drove our hearse
Right through that screaming crowd
While laughing up a storm
Until we were just bone
Until it got so warm
That none of us could sleep

And all the styrofoam
Began to melt away
We tried to find some worms
To aid in the decay
But none of them were home
Inside their catacomb
A million ancient bees
Began to sting our knees
While we were on our knees
Praying that disease
Would leave the ones we love
And never come again

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song
We listened to it twice
'Cause the DJ was asleep

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

And on the radio
You'll hear November Rain
That solo's awful long
But it's a good refrain
You listen to it twice
'Cause the DJ is asleep
On the radio

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

look out of your window at the storm

i just took a few minutes break from school work, namely writing up the legislative history of the wild and scenic rivers act of 1968--i walked upstairs, put my dishes in the dishwasher, and caught a glimpse of 50 first dates. my housemate commented that it was cheesy, by which i guess he means unrealistic and poorly written. yet it got me to wondering whether anyone's life realistically would ever be well-written. i hope my life isn't cheesy, i even hope that it's not cliche, but i guess i just don't know.

is anyone's life a good movie? i'm tempted to say no. and it's probably not how anyone should judge the quality of one's life anyway. i find my life realistic at the very least, and the relationships i have with people seem pretty realistic. i'm not sure how good the script or the acting is, but the message seems clear--try to be good, try to enjoy life, try to be a caring and responsible person, and be willing to work with things when they aren't quite right.

when i was growing up, my mom would often say to me (the slightly over-stressed, type-a self-starter i was): (god) grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change; the courage to change the things i can; and the wisdom to know the difference. she said this because i had a much larger category of things that i could change than was realistic at the time (but i'll never fault myself for this). my current conundrum (or little worry that keeps cropping up every once in a while) is that i don't know whether i want to become so realistic that i have that kind of wisdom, or whether i want to stay as idealistic as possible, and keep trying to do as much as i can, however i can, even at some expense to myself.

and i'm still sitting here, still waiting for the storm that's been threatening since late this afternoon. i'm still wishing i had more hours in my day, more flexibility in my schedule to enjoy beautiful days, and more life-richness generally. life-richness? i guess life mostly comes down to relationships, experiences, and cares. adding meaning and richness to these parts of life--there's something there. it's not just having friends, but having close and meaningful friends. it's not just going swimming (once or regularly), but making swimming meaningful--sharing it with others, or making it meaningful for oneself, or caring about some other aspect. it's not just about writing a paper on wild and scenic rivers, but coming to some greater understanding of why rivers, and their management, are important in my life, why it is that the rivers that have shaped my history and my family's history are treated the way they are, are understood the way they are, are experienced and lived the way they are.

some of my favorite pictures show my grandfather sitting by the white river, a river that is not designated in the wild and scenic rivers act, but is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the u.s. it's not the laws or the policies that i value, and it's not even the pictures, but the laws and policies (or, in this case, the lack of them) that have kept this river in much the same state, throughout my grandfather's life. that river is still very similar to the river he remembers it being as a youngster. but the missouri, because of the dams and other laws and policies, the large human hands shaping the river and the surrounding landscape--that river is quite different from how he remembers it--there are no more sandbars like he explored, no more whirlpools like the ones he dove into, and far fewer dangerous, crazy, extraordinary experiences like he had--the kind of rich experiences i value most. the reservoir is beautiful, but there's something even more beautiful, and unpredictably fascinating, about wild, free-flowing rivers.

i don't know of any songs that get at this quality, and i think that's because few people experience the wildness of rivers any more. many more people experience the managed missouri than those who experience the wild white. and that frustrates me, in much the same way as other losses of experience frustrate robert michael pyle in his essay on the extinction of experience. yes, it's true. the missouri is still somewhat wild--there are wild aspects--experiences along the shore of turkeys and coyotes, experiences in boats of waves and storms. yes, it's true. perhaps the river has never been as wild as i can imagine it, and certainly others experienced a river more wild than the one my grandfather experienced. but i feel it somewhat unfortunate that the kind of wild that most people experience now is not the wild missouri or the coyotes that can frighten you at night, the rattlesnakes you almost step on, the rush of your heart pumping, the lightheaded dizziness. the wild, even primal, experiences of nature can still be the sound of rain falling. and that's good. i love the rain so very much. but i often wonder what experiences i'm missing.

the beauty of the rain by dar williams

And you know the light is fading all too soon
You're just two umbrellas one late afternoon
You don't know the next thing you will say
This is your favorite kind of day
It has no walls
The beauty of the rain
Is how it falls, how it falls, how it falls

And there's nothing wrong but there is something more
And sometimes you wonder what you love her for
She says you've known her deepest fears
'Cause she's shown you a box of stained-glass tears
It can't be all
The truth about the rain
Is how it falls, how it falls, how it falls

But when she gave you more to find
You let her think she'd lost her mind
And that's all on you
Feeling helpless if she asked for help
Or scared you'd have to change yourself

And you can't deny this room will keep you warm
You can look out of your window at the storm
But you watch the phone and hope it rings
You'll take her any way she sings
Or how she calls
The beauty of the rain
Is how it falls, how it falls, how it falls
How it falls, how it falls, how it falls

Sunday, October 01, 2006

and i'm just tired of running around

i didn't learn to ride a bike as early as most kids. this didn't have much to do with being uncoordinated or lacking intelligence or even with a lack of exposure. my parents tried numerous times, but i didn't get it until i was almost seven (my brothers were all quicker than me at this, by at least a year). part of it had something to do with my fear of failure i suppose, but mostly it was just not important to me. i was the kind of kid who preferred running.

i grew up trying to stay with my older brothers and their friends, running to keep up. and i became fast for a little kid--it was also the only time in my life that i could run long distances as well as i could run short distances. the older kids would bike around the block, and i would run. we'd go over to the neighbors' house since they had a cool swing set, or more often to one of the houses being built on our block--when just the foundation or the framing was done, these were the best play areas for young explorers. i grew up on the prairies of south dakota, and on my block, there weren't forests to explore nor trees to climb as there had been in central minnesota where i spent the first years of my life.

and i ran. i ran everywhere, mostly barefoot, from morning to night. my older brother and i would try to make our feet as tough as we could, tough enough that we could kill thistles by stomping on them, tough enough to stand the rough rocky surfaces of hot asphalt. running was my only form of transportation--it was reality.

i do remember two particular runs--races, actually--as being important--i was young in both cases, and i'm sure that neither race was very real, but they felt real to me back then. both were when i was around five years old (maybe six). the first was at my grandparents' farm when i raced my uncle bud--we both ran barefoot the length of my grandparents' rural driveway--it was different because though i often walked barefoot on gravel, only rarely did i run very long distances on it. this particular time he let me win, but i think that everyone was a little surprised that i would run around 200-300 yards (over 100 each way), barefoot on gravel.

the other time was similar: we were back visiting my birth place and godparents in minnesota, and some other family friends were also there, so not only did we play a few games of monopoly and basketball, we also had a big race, out their driveway, down the road quite a ways, and back. someone had even made up prizes (paper medals if i remember correctly) for the winners. most of the kids were riding bikes, but my older godbrother and i ran it (this time i feel like i wore shoes, but i don't remember for sure). of course the people on bikes beat us back, and of course he, being the kind and caring godbrother he was, didn't outpace me by much, but my family was surprised that i was able to run that far at a decent pace.

like many things, i soon caught up with the rest of the world (the kids my age, that is) and learned to bike--it's amazing what social pressures do to kids. i also remember the hardware store where i bought my first bike--actually my parents bought it for me for christmas one year--it was camoflauge and had two speeds and hand brakes (which meant i could coast and pedal backwards when i wanted), and i road it everywhere. before that i had a hand-me-down yellow and blue dirt bike where pedaling backwards meant braking. early on in riding that first bike, i wasn't very good at braking, and more than once i would just find a wall to run into when i needed to stop (i am not kidding here--i did it on purpose). so at any rate, like a lot of kids, i just got tired of running around. i sometimes wonder what my life would be like if i had kept running everywhere.

back to the present: i guess no one would expect anything different, but my life here continues to be busy. i am teaching three courses (officially 2.5 as i am team teaching one with a colleague--thanks for asking, clancy--hope things are well). i think i misspoke last time and said that i'm taking three courses--i'm not--just two, but that's more than enough.

i spent three nights last week grading until 2am, and each time woke up before 9am to start working again. probably one of the nicest bits of news is that i should only have one course this spring (along with teaching environmental history at saint olaf), which means i'll be taking exams in may--then i only have to write my dissertation, and i'll have a phd. that is, if i make it that far--i came home this afternoon and was feeling dizzy and ill--and i think it was just from being worn out and not realizing it. i went to bed for six hours or so, got up to write this, and i'll probably head back to bed soon. the take home lesson: i need to learn to take better care of myself. i have spent so much of my life trying to prove that i could do anything, that i could push my body and mind to the limits, and somewhere in there i forgot that this approach isn't always healthy. now, i should clarify one thing--i'm quite good at enjoying my day, taking time out for recreation and fun and community and smelling roses, spending time with friends and my housemates. but i still force myself to get everything else done--the productive stuff--and i think this often means i wear myself out without realizing it. we'll see if i can use this semester to get better at taking care.

the new house is great--i like it a lot. come and visit.

since it's the end of september, i figured that i would post my september 2006 playlist--it's not perfect, but it's a decent indicator of the songs i've been listening to recently. it's somewhat diverse, but still quite "me" and the style i've had in the last while. i thank my brother for exposing me to many of these songs.

pull shapes by the pipettes
white mischief by penguin cafe orchestra
god's gonna cut you down by johnny cash
just to see my holly home by bonnie prince billy
hey ya by outkast
since i left you by the avalanches
gone till november by wyclef jean
lover's spit by broken social scene
wild strawberries by john vanderslice
le soleil est pres de moi by air
your kisses are wasted on me by the pipettes
like a call by architecture in helsinki
cars and telephones (arcade fire cover) by becca riedell
lullaby for a girl by johan johnson
both hands by ani difranco
wonderwall (oasis cover) by cat power
if you could read my mind by johnny cash
oh my sweet carolina by ryan adams

the song i'll highlight today is great. writing about this song inspires a number of memories, a number of stories. since i've already told one (about running around), i'll leave the stories about cars and telephones for another time. here's my simple analysis: the instrumentation is all right, the melody and harmony are slightly better, and the lyrics are damn good. listen to this song.

Cars and Telephones
The Arcade Fire (or, as covered by Becca)

I read the pages about me
In her autobiography
They were brief and to the point
Our flesh while you are getting dressed
Memory that needs to be repressed
I'll just wait until it's over

Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say
Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say

Cause I like cars more than telephones
Your voice in my ear makes me feel so alone
Tonight I'm gonna drive
The silver moon is shining bright
Over the interstate
God saying hurry don't be late
Soon the sun will rise
That's when the romance dies
And I'm just tired of running around

I walked
To get the mail today
I guess
Your letter never came
I'll just
Check again tomorrow

Our flesh while you are getting dressed
Memory that needs to be repressed
I'll just wait without saying a word

Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say
Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say

Cause I like cars more than telephones
Your voice in my head makes me feel so alone
Tonight I'm gonna drive
The silver moon is shining bright
Over the interstate
God saying hurry don't be late
Soon the sun will rise
That's when the romance dies
And I'm just tired of running around

But fuck it I love you no less
I'm gonna feel like shit
By the time I get to you
Now the sky is turning blue
The stars they disappear
One by one with daylight dear
And yes you're in my head
But that doesn't make you here
And I've lost all my friends
But you're the one I miss the most
And now I'm almost there
Yeah I'm almost to the coast
And if I had any notion
Of how to drive my car across the Atlantic Ocean
I'd be fucking set