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10:05 a.m. - May 15, 2005
Comfort Music - Pass the Cult, Please
People react to stress in different ways.

That’s a given obviously, and I guess any more insightful comments like that and you’d soon be flipping back over to MSNBC or or something else instead of reading these words, so I’d best make this interesting, toot sweet.

My life has a lot of stress in it now – but it’s a good stress. There are positive things happening all around, but Mr. Patience (that’s me) really wants one good thing to happen very quickly, and as Mr. Petty once sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” (And yes, gentle reader, you will find out about the good thing in due time!)

A lot of people dive for comfort things to relieve stress. The idea of finding comfort in food is appealing to me, and if I hadn’t gained a proclivity for weight gain as I’ve grown older I could sign up for that. (Let’s see a nice comfort New York Strip garnished with peppercorns, comfort garlic mashed potatoes, comfort Caesar salad, and a few comfort beers and maybe a comfort bottle or two of Merlot or Cabernet should do the trick, or at least get me in the mood for a nice long comfort nap).

But instead of finding comfort in food, or other items, I found comfort in some music.

Those who know me know won’t find that totally odd, because music has always been part of my life since I was three. Now I can’t play a damn thing, but I know what’s good. I have a nice size CD and album collection and an iPod with 11,757 songs (and counting) on it. It’s an eclectic, diverse and challenging collection to say the least.

But it was the TYPE of music I was reaching for that surprised me. It was definitely comfort music.

Now I’ve been accused (and rightly so on occasion) of being a music snob and elitist. I avoid the mainstream and go for the challenging. Allegedly, I love Captain Beefheart or Sonic Youth to lord it over those who can’t or won’t get it, just because it’s odd or strange. And I’ll admit that in the past I’ve been stubborn about not liking what’s popular (but then five years later buying it anyway.)

And when I make mix CD’s, like I just made for The Candidate and City Mouse, the ones I’ve made for Moose (though he is a kindred spirit) and the Goddess, and the ones I am planning for AJ, I have a tendency to grab plenty of obscure songs, but those are because they are music of quality and distinction. Even for Liz I pepper and salt her CDs with some unknown yet great tunes.

(For example I most always put on “This Whole World” by the Beach Boys on a mix CD, but anyone who has heard that song knows it’s one of the best songs they ever did.) (And City Mouse: That will be on another volume. It just didn’t fit this time).

But recently, I was on the iTunes music store, and also was rutting around in my CD collection, to find some more music to put on the library. And whether it was because of stress, or what, I was definitely reaching for some comfort tunes.

Of course, I didn’t realize what I had done until the next day. Kind of a ‘music hangover’ – but here’s what I put on the iPod and you can see what I mean.

Cheap Trick – Now Cheap Trick is a fine band with some great moments. I already had the “In Color” album on the iPod, along with selections from “At Budokan: The Complete Concert”, and “Heaven Tonight”. And it’s not really surprising that I bought “Dream Police” either, because that’s a fine tune. But I went out and bought most of the “One on One” record. Why? Was it strictly because it came out while I was in high school? Some of the songs are OK, but I don’t think that “She’s Tight” is going to make anyone’s top 1000 list of anything, unless you’re 12. Those songs are spinning in my ear right now and I’m just half-grinning and half-scratching my head. There was a reason I didn’t buy this record on CD.

The Cult – The “Electric” album is just a big, dumb, fun record. It’s full of testosterone-laden guitar, shrieks and howls from Ian Astbury, and the most mind-numbingly insane lyrics ever. Go ahead, Google the lyrics to “Aphrodisiac Jacket”. I’ll wait….

Back? Ok, see what I mean? I had this on CD and just loaded on the iTunes, and when it’s one I do all the generic lead singer front man moves, which can be damaging to your reputation when a busy US highway can look into your kitchen and the whole town can see you rocking out when you are doing the dishes.

The Cowsills – Specifically, “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”. It’s very polite, quasi-hippy, pop music. I was just reading an email from AJ when a voice inside me said “Go and seek ye the Cowsills.” AJ doesn’t realize she has that power. I mentioned the Cowsills to a co-worker and she had this surprised, yet happy expression, like I was reliving her days gone by. I think I’ll mention this to my sister and see what reaction SHE gives me! (I’ll duck…it makes her feel real old when her baby brother is going to turn 40 soon).

Sammy Hagar – Also known as “Sammy Headache” to me, though I think I stole that reference from Moose. The disdain I have for this hack knows no bounds, yet I spent 99 cents of my hard earned caysh on “Three Lock Box”. I don’t even know what the hell it means. Why can’t I touch you, Three Lock Box?

Iron Butterfly – I had some of the “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” record on my iPod (part of me being stubborn and elitist was championing the OTHER side of that album instead of the ‘popular one’) but I went ahead and put all 17:10 of the damn thing on the computer. And I knew every lick, when everybody took their solo, and when the instruments came in after the solos. Sigh, being born without a purge function in the noggin is rough at times.

Journey – Now this, this is the one that is most puzzling and vexing for me. A lot of their stuff is schlock, especially the ballads. Those songs were written for high school girls, and since they came out while I was in high school we were inundated with them on the radio. And I did the music for my reunion last year, so I had to trot out stuff like “Faithfully” and “Open Arms”. Gag me.

I do like SOME of their stuff, in a campy kind of way. I love to try to karaoke “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” and do the backups for “Wheel In The Sky” complete with the hand over the ears like you’ve got cans on and are trying to earnestly hit that right note.

But why, oh why did I buy “Walks Like A Lady”, “Just the Same Way”, and “Anytime”? Those aren’t really on the radio, even on classic rock stations, so they’re not overplayed. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s because on two of those songs the long-nosed, stringy-haired banshee doesn’t sing the lead vocals.

So you can see that I was a bit non-plussed the next day. Why did I buy those songs? What possessed me? It was definitely comfort purchases, to be sure. This was all music I knew about for a long time that was going to make me feel good even if it was “bad” for me.

To cure the hangover, I went and found my CD of “Life’s Too Good” by the Sugarcubes, and three Van Morrison CDs, and loaded them on the iPod. I think while I am waiting for the big event any time, “Veedon Fleece” and “Astral Weeks” will be my company. (And there I go, being obscure and elitist again. Oh, well).

Because you don’t pull no punches, but you don’t push the river. Or something like that.


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