The High Cell Shuffle

This was a great idea that was suggested to me, and it will be a fairly common blog addition in the future. Along with being a musician, I’m also an eccentric and rabid music fan with a considerable library of songs. So the plan is to slap the ol’ iPod Classic on shuffle and give a quick commentary on the first five songs/artists that I hear (with absolutely no cheating or skipping songs). Not only is it a great excuse for me to sit and listen to some music without feeling guilty because I should be doing something else, but it’s also a great opportunity for me to babble about music and get a blog done at the same time. Some of the music will be things that I’m excited to share with you, and I’m sure that I will also be completely ashamed at times about admitting to some of the things I’ve purchased over the years. My little cheeks are already getting a bit rosy with embarrassment as I consider some of the possibilities.
I’d like to post audio or video clips of songs along with the list of songs, but quite frankly, I’m afraid that I would promptly get my ball-bag sued off and have my website confiscated by the infringement police. I would love to hear your comments or thoughts here. So with that being said, I’ll cross my fingers that nothing too awful comes up, and hit shuffle:

“Close To You” – The Carpenters
Don’t you dare judge me. I’m actually not even remotely ashamed of this one. As I’m listening to it, I’m reminded again of what an extremely well-written love song it truly is. The lyrics have such an innocent and endearing quality, and the song as a whole is just sonically soothing to my ear-holes. If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say this song invokes the very essence of the word “pleasant” for me. It’s a nice little ditty that I believe captured the magic of love on tape.

“You and Me” – Bad Religion
How’s that for a change of spectrum? Bad Religion has always been one of those bands that seems to be somewhat of an enigma as far as where they fit in terms of genre (and their place in music history). They’ve always been entirely too musically talented to be considered a true “punk” band, yet they’ve also been too socially and politically opinionated to be labeled as pop/punk. Either way, I think the combination of these things makes for one hell of a band. I feel like the soaring vocal harmonies (which they are amazingly able to pull off live and not just in the studio), catchy melodies, and often deceptively creative punk-based instrumentation make it possible to communicate their point of view and attitude about the world much more efficiently to me than some of their contemporaries. Even in those cases that I don’t personally relate to their political or social positions on certain things, I think it’s the equivalent of someone arguing their conversational point in a very eloquent manner rather than resorting to yelling and screaming to get their point across. I feel in some way like I have no choice but to respect and consider whatever it is that they have to say, because of the effective way they communicate it.

“Been Caught Stealing” – Jane’s Addiction
I have to be honest on this one. I’ve never been a big Jane’s Addiction fan. I’ve always found them a bit pompous in general, and Perry Farrell just kind of bothers me on some sort of strange, cosmic level. With that being said, I do love this song and a few others by the band. I guess it’s just one of those things that I have to be in the mood to listen to.

“All By Myself”
– Fats Domino
How can you not respect a guy who referred to himself as “The Fat Man” back in the day? He was large and in charge, and completely comfortable with it. Adele is the most recent example ofposessing  the sense of self-confidence that he conveyed, and not just in terms of physicality. Much like the afore-mentioned all-natural songbird today, Fats Domino’s music had a universal appeal not often seen in his time. It didn’t matter what kind of music people liked, it was almost impossible not to enjoy his songs. For me, it still applies today. Although this particular song is not as well known as several of his other hits (I’m Walkin’, Blue Monday, Blueberry Hill), it’s just another one of his songs that anyone can relate to. I had a few of his songs already, and recently grabbed a “30 Greatest Hits” album (including this song) for $7.99 on iTunes to get a full catalogue of his material. Score, me.

“Fireflies” – JJ Grey and Mofro (originally released under “Mofro”)

One of my very favorite bands of all time, I’m so glad that ‘shuffle’ was so kind to me today. Their music is mostly a blend of swampy blues, rock, funk, and soul with an underlying theme of sincerity in the songwriting that often bypasses my ears and speaks directly to my heart. The meaning of this song for me is that it underscores the importance of appreciating those little things in life that seem to fade with time and age. I first ran across JJ Grey and Mofro (Then known only as “Mofro”) a good number of years back when I heard one of their songs (How Junior Got His Head Put Out) on a ‘Live from Bonnaroo’ compilation. I liked the song, but remained ignorant of the rest of the bands material until I ran across the same song a year or two later and had an inclination to check them out a bit more. I started with their first album, and quickly bought everything they had available. I will undoubtedly buy every piece of music that JJ Grey ever puts out. I don’t care if he puts out a concept album recording himself breaking wind on a snare drum for ten songs, just show me where I can pre-order it.
When I went and saw them live, it was like a cross between a religious experience and a highly-addictive drug. I’ve seen them maybe 6 or 8 times live at this point, and I’ll still continue to catch every show that I can in the future. The vibe at a JJ Grey and Mofro show is one that seems to pull the innate positive energy out of everyone in attendance. I met JJ a few years ago, and the guy seems to have that same effect on those around him. He just incites a soulful sense of introspective positivity through example.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think about the new blog trend if you’re so inclined.

- Mike