Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

Life is that period of time between being pushed into the pool, and hitting the water. It is graceless. Your legs jack knife in the air. There is no turning back.

Just as your feet leave the concrete, you catch a glimpse of the shovesome culprit.

Tuesday, the orange 47-year-old man in a purple speedo and braces, grins like an imp behind you.

Yesterday, I received my yearly Christmas compilation from JS. For pretty much as long as I can remember, JS. has been sending his "Christmas in December!" mixes, an alt-collection of holiday favorites, to his friends. It arrives on cue, mid-December and becomes an audio fixture for the next couple of weeks.

JS is one of my sister's friends from high school, a group I looked up to and admired for their brains and wits. JS is a master of the mixtape - and in the late 80's he created "Popsicles are Cool and Sticky" for my sister, a mix featuring the "Band called Biff and Janey". This particular mix hit legendary status in my wee mind and, after the first one was lost to time, he did me the great service of recreating the mix in the early '90s.

This one was slightly different - JS made a solid effort to give an exact replica, but some things can only be half remembered. This mix also featured Biff and Janey (The title of the mix comes from them - "Popsicles are cool and sticky/Whoa, dude bitchin'!/We are the MTV Generation, We are the MTV Generation!" This is one band Google has not touched, I assure you.) as well as: Stevie Wonder, The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, The Spinners, The Colorblind James Experience, and Jonathan Richman.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jonathan Richman, he is the founder of the band The Modern Lovers (the members of which read like a who's who of New Wave Alternative) and they released the the songs Roadrunner and Pablo Picasso - both of which have been covered within an inch of their lives. Bands that claim Richman as an influence range from Art Brut to They Might Be Giants.

The song that landed on my version of PACAS is "I'm Straight" from Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers.

"I'm Straight" is hilarious and kind of heartbreaking. Richman's droning voice and pleading lyrics give us a peek into the future of our personal tensions with irony, sincerity, and authenticity. It starts slow and self conscious, but then breaks free - less afraid of the potential rejection.

Thanks to JS for his lasting influence on my musical taste...now, if you'll just recreate all the volumes of "I was a Teenage Dance Mix", I'd be much obliged.

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