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1:26 p.m. - June 02, 2007
Music To Cut The Grass By
Whew, it’s a corker out there. I just got in from mowing the grass and it’s already summertime here in BFE land. It’s the mid-80’s and a bit humid, and when I peeled off my shirt I was glistening. I rarely glisten.

Liz and the girls are in Indy today. The girls are getting their hair cut (there’s not a lot of people who can do bi-racial curls here in town, believe it or not) and they’re also getting the good detangler and other hair care products. At least Satan’s Discount Store here in town sells some of that stuff, but it’s in the “Ethnic Hair” section. OK, so I guess us white folk have no ethnicity at all. Well, OK, says the Swedish-Scottish-Irish-English-Dutch-German-with some alleged Native American in him.

So I went out and cut the lawn. Fun.

But I get to listen to tunes while doing it. Because I don’t have time to obsessively check the songs I’m listening to while I’m mowing, I don’t listen to anything new and / or unrated. I have a nice-size playlist of songs that are great but that I haven’t heard on the iPod for over a year. And well, I dive into those when I’m doing yardwork.

I got through 20 songs today, and well, I’ll share them, of course. Enjoy.

1. Lost And Found – Prong. A good one to get the lawn started. Prong were a fantastic heavy hard no BS metal band in the late 80’s and early 90’s – one of the heaviest power trios out there. I saw them in Bloomington in 1992 and they actually played a request of mine (“Freezer Burn”). Yes, they’re the reason I have a trident tattooed on my right shoulder. Later, they tried to meld dance and metal and lost focus, I felt, but the early stuff is heavy, teeth-rattling goodness. This is going on a new mix I’m working on, for sure.

2. Out Of My Hands – The Donnas. From Revolver, this is a good example of a song that I liked when I got the album, but I just left it in the iPod and didn’t do much with it. It’s a pretty good song, but nothing extra-ordinary. However, it’s miles away from the early Donnas stuff, but that’s a good thing.

3. Time For Truth – The Jam. From their box set, this is a demo version of this great tune from their debut. It’s less angry and direct, which is unusual because demos normally have more energy. However, it’s a fine song to listen to when fighting a lawn mower along a busy highway.

4. I Was Wrong – Social Distortion. Oh, my mercy. This is going on the new mix, mainly because I think I could have written this song myself. What haven’t I been wrong about, except marrying Liz, adopting the girls, making friends…oh…ok…

5. Truck Stop Girl – Little Feat. I was first introduced to this song by the Byrds, as it was on their (Untitled) record sung by the great guitarist Clarence White. The Little Feat version is a bit more up-tempo, and bouncy, which is odd for a sad, sad song of a trucker who stops at his favorite truck stop to see his honey, gets dumped, and dies in a fiery crash. You know, it’s a happy good time song!

6. Dirty Blvd. – Lou Reed. When the New York album came out, it was almost anointed as one of the ‘most important albums ever released’ but in retrospect it was a good comeback by an artist that was lost in the weeds for a while, and then promptly got lost in them away. The lyrics are a bit heavy handed and over-reaching, but the instrumental sound is sparse, and great, and that’s the best thing about this record.

7. Song #1 – Fugazi. When you’re fighting with some high, tall grass that’s matting together and not mulching properly, you really want some aggressive, primal punk rock. This one definitely fits the bill. Crank it up loud and mosh!

8. Brain Damage / Eclipse – Pink Floyd. This was gentle and soft enough in the beginning that I had no idea what song it was (under the hum of the engine, I thought it was an early Genesis song) until the blades got clogged and the mower stopped. THEN I heard what it was, right in time for it to get loud. A lot of people are still clamoring for them to reunite, but why. They haven’t done anything decent, the lot of them, since Animals really (ok, parts of The Wall, I’ll give them).

9. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen – Santana. I could not do my “Carlos Santana Face” while this song was on, because the mower would stop, and I would stop, and then I’d probably get heatstroke. But I’m doing the face right now….see? I look like a gopher! Well, a gopher that’s playing the hell out of a guitar.

10. Walk – Don’t Run ’64 – The Ventures. A song so nice they cut it twice. Why not? They released about 128 albums a year, anyway. They needed to fill space. Any rock guitarist worth his salt needs to learn this.

11. Once In A Lifetime – The Talking Heads. Whilst I needed to fill up the tank of the mower, this song was on. And yes, I did the little arm movements of the video.

No, we’re not related. Seriously.

12. Goon Squad – Elvis Costello. I recently finished my project of putting virtually everything in my collection on iTunes (and most importantly, on my hard drive) and I have a lot more Elvis Costello than I thought I did. But you know, that’s a good thing. He’s rarely made duds, and his duds are duds because he over-extends himself, not because he plays it safe. Well, ok, a couple of mid-80’s albums are the exception, but still, he’s one of the best. And the bass line here is fantabulous.

13. Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely – Husker Du. Do you remember The Hate Mix? Well, this is one that should have been on there as well. “Don’t want to know if you are lonely / don’t want to know if you are less than lonely.” Grant Hart is the master of the “screw you” breakup song, punk rock division. Like the Posies said, “For a start take two Grant Harts / and call me when you die.”

14. Give Judy My Notice – Ben Folds. For one, this record is mastered at a high volume. I find that some older CDs are mastered at a low volume (like my Boz Scaggs record) and this one blasts your ears out when it comes on.

15. Afraid Of Being Wrong – Husker Du. This is 1:24 of Bob Mould barking out angry lyrics and the band flailing about in typical early hard/fast punk rock fashion. Which means it’s not for slow dancing, but so what?

16. Cage And Aquarium – They Might Be Giants. Those of you traveling on West Street may have seen someone bouncing jauntily whilst mowing the lawn. That would have been me.

17. Behind That Locked Door – George Harrison. Before his death, he re-released his magnum opus All Things Must Pass and it’s become one of my favorite albums. This is a beautiful and graceful song, and that’s all I can say about it.

18. When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around – The Police. It’s odd not to hear this segued with “Driven To Tears” as it was on Zenyatta Mondatta, so when I mix it, I’m going to put them together. Sting and Stewart Copeland are locked in a great groove, and Andy Summers plays some great atmospheric guitar. What more do you need out of life, anyway?

19. Jack – Tad. You know, it’s the usual sob story. 400-pound grunge rocker with an advanced music degree is drinking Jack Daniels with a friend, and they decided to take the friend’s dad’s new 4 X 4 out on a frozen lake. And then all of a sudden…”WE GONE THRU THE ICE!!!!!” Whoopsy!

20. Return Of The Grievous Angel – Gram Parsons. When you listen to a song like this, an exquisite mid-tempo country rock song with fantastic harmonies by Emmy Lou Harris, you are sad and mad that he was so freakin’ self destructive that he died so young and so long ago, and it basically was his own doing. Ah, well. He left a great legacy of tunes.

There you have it – 20 tunes that I cut the grass by. After some water, a shower, a phone call from a friend, and a Dr. Pepper, I’m refreshed, relaxed, and ready to…NAP!

Goodnight, Gracie!


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