Six Random – no.1

I’ll first be honest, Elk’s asking me to join this (brilliant) blog as a contributor was met with some excitement but, too, apprehension. first: what do I write about?
then: what do I have to offer up about music, anyway?
ultimately: and history? oh, and: blog?

And so ‘Six Random’ is born. What is Six Random? I let my ipod/itunes/mediaplayer generate six random songs and I consider in a post who (in history or some other tangential context of the generated list- no promises!) might have appreciated the brief playlist generated from my personal music collection. This way, I take the pressure off of thinking of fresh topics but can keep the writing flowing (though I hope to contribute more than just the ‘Six Random’ columns here).

Why six and not five or ten or more or less? Five seemed fairly brief and ten seemed like it would make the historical context part more difficult (more variations, more options), though, it’s true I could be wrong about that. Too, it might be worth mentioning that officially there’s no proof that those mentioned hereafter would or would not meet my attribution of their tastes as mine with excitement and, as a result, should not be taken for more than my very bored, if not stimulating, imagination. This, readers of the records of history, is something I strongly encourage in every one of you (i.e. RESPOND WITH COMMENTS! MAKE YOUR iPOD MAKE YOU THINK! BE FREE THINKERS! IMAGINERS! ETC, ETC EXCLAMATION CAPS!).

Enough of the quasi-lame/epic explanation (the very thing i feared would happen), and please enjoy:

Six Random – no.1

1. Spoon – “Chicago at Night” Girls Can Tell
2. The Beach Boys – “That’s Not Me” Pet Sounds
3. Broken Social Scene – “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries” You Forgot it in People
4. Metric – “Glass Ceiling” Live It Out
5. April March – “Theme From Lime Cafe” Lessons of April March
6. Arcade Fire – “Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles) Funeral

If it was early 1961 and he were my friend, you can rest assured that Ernest Hemingway would be getting a copy of this mini-mix direct from the future (as not a single song was recorded while he was alive).

Right off the bat there’s the relevance of Chicago. For Hemingway, Chicago was the place where he’d shuffled off to in order to prove himself capable of supporting himself as a writer. This came after his return from a war-torn Europe and tiring from assignments of Kansas City Star news reporting. It was in Chicago that he’d run out of money, be forced to begin once again to work as a journalist, and, ultimately, formulate his escape for Paris. I can’t help but wonder if he, like the fictional newcomer to the city in “Chicago at Night”, shared a disdain for the city’s born and raised that all outsiders tend to perceive as somehow superior, like being from somewhere else leaves you with out a key, unable to connect with the place :

“And Now Everybody’s At Disadvantage
Speaking With Their Second Language
She’d Never Been There Before They Went And Set Up The Wall
And Though Nobody’d Expected Much From This Reinvention
She Still Broke Right Down After All”

I can see him at his typewriter considering the Beach Boys’ retrospective look back as if it were staring at his own life post-Chicago; what, for Hemingway, meant marrying Hadley Richardson and making a break for Paris. Spot on, again:

“I once had a dream
So I packed up and split for the city
I soon found out that my lonely life wasnt so pretty”

So he inherits a marriage and cloudy Paris. Only to lead to another newspaper job, but this one in Europe, so it wasn’t lame, coupled with having time to launch his career as a truly awesome (I mean the true definition of the word here, as in awe+some, not as in ‘cool’) writer.

Of course he’d love April March, who sings half her stuff in French (gets use from his pocket dictionary). And I think he’d find the melodies and sounds in the instrumental BSS track concise and revealing, similar to his own pen’s style. And just maybe he would have agreed with The Arcade Fire wrapping things up, maybe in more ways than one for him:

“They say a watched pot won’t ever boil,
you can’t raise a baby on motor oil,
just like a seed down in the soil,
you gotta give it time.”

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4 Responses to Six Random – no.1

  1. dean tuck says:

    very interesting/original format, john. i like it quite a bit. i enjoyed the occasion to learn something while reading about music i like. as much as i like Neon Bible, i wrote off Funeral after a few scant listens. i need to give that record another spin.

  2. recordsofhistory says:

    i dig this. but what about the bss song? does it fit in? anything reminiscent of a world war one italian ambulance?

    i’m trying to come up with a good six random entry asap.

  3. shaunbockert says:

    To Dean Tuck: Neon Bible and Funeral are solid, but I prefer the self-titled ep. Just my two cents.

  4. Casey says:

    A great thread on the Hemmingway connections. I also like the layered format! But I have to disagree with you on Broken Social Scene! They’re so much more….get ready for this…Faulknarian! Uh oh. That’s right, I said it. Now we might have to get drunk, exchange insults, and blog about who had a bigger influence over BSS. Let’s bring this feud into the 21st century! Speaking of feuds, who would’ve been who in the east coast/west coast 90s rap rivalry? It’s difficult to say…
    p.s. Definitely give Funeral another try, it’s more introspective than Neon Bible which may be not so coincidentally titled after John Kennedy Toole’s novel. I haven’t read it! Can anyone tell me about this “connection”?

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