The Kid, or maybe Santa (who knows which alternate personality is ever actually posting), over at (let’s just say this post was authored by…Buttercup) has decided that my posting of covers was a challenge.  It wasn’t but I am down for it.  Recap: I had posted covers here of a Talking Heads tune and also a Lady Gaga tune.   Buttercup errs a couple of times.

Buttercup dismisses the power of Lissie’s cover because it is of a Lady Gaga tune.  This is not a good argument and I will defend Lady Gaga.  But the real power is in Lissie and not Lady Gaga.

Buttercup then challenges me with a cover of a Britney Spears tune.  This is inconsistent with the previous dismissal.  Plus, I will hold Lady Gaga above Britney anytime, if the contest is about music or affective ability.  Gaga went to Juliard and is an accomplished music writer.  Britney did a decent job, I guess, as a Mouseketeer.

Buttercup throws down the gauntlet not realizing what the weapon of choice is: additive value to the original.

My response, my cover of Buttercup’s post.  Yael’s version of “Toxic” is great.  I prefer to listen to the Lissie track, but not by much.  What do the tracks add to the originals?  That contest is probably a wash, you can track the tie even by the moves of the songs independent of their originals.  Buttercup then posts a remix of Yael’s cover.  This track is better than the original, but also unrecognizable as derivative of “Toxic”.  It’s so far removed I wonder if it even counts as a cover anymore.

Here’s my trump card.  I will not even discuss Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” as that would quickly close off the debate and I am looking forward to Buttercup’s response.  Here are my two entries in the covers contest.  Both are great songs on their own AND they both add significantly to the originals.

“Faith” by Limp Bizkit.  The sound is not as good as it is on the album, but you’ll get the idea.

“Blue Monday” by Orgy.

Suck on that Buttercup.

It’s hot here.  Not so much hot as humid and sticky.  I was thinking this morning of how to convey just how miserable it is.  Not just miserable, but miserable for Minneapolis especially this early in the year and coming on the heels of last week’s cold.  It is like Dallas summers, not as hot but just as gross.  So gross that I am now inside and most people are just now arriving at their cubicles.  Normally I am gone at the summer gig when the weather makes this turn.

The worms hanging from their invisibles trapeezes even look tired.  When biking you no longer have to worry about the geese, they stay off the pavement it’s too hot.  They do sleep with their wings spread open.  A natural sort of heat sink, I guess.

There’s two new regulars at the Tin Fish in the mornings.  An old woman that bikes in and then straps on rollerskates.  Also, a middle aged man that drops his fishing boat into the lake with skilled aggressiveness.  He plows the truck way back into the water, and slams on the brakes, skidding into the water.  The boat flies off the trailer, he then jams the truck forward and the wench just spools out the chain.  All in all it’s an amazing sight, like watching a gifted gymnast do things you didn’t know the body could do.

To-day’s story was Bradford Tice’s “Missionaries“.  Meh.  The writing was okay, nothing special.  The story seems to gain respect because it is salacious and about Mormons.  It seems overly cynical.  Tice’s comments in the back of the Rushdie anthology even hint at this.  Just like the old European stories about the Ottoman odalisques.

I do recommend you read Sash Frere-Jones’ piece about James Murphy.  Even if you do not know nor care about LCD Soundsystem, this article is sweet.  Frere-Jones definitely knows his craft, even if his sense of taste sometimes leaves me shocked.  The article also provides a wonderful list of other music to check out, which is another criticism I sometimes find with Frere-Jones: he falls back on obscure knowledge as a way of beating the reader into agreement.  He’s that guy at the cocktail party hanging by the punch bowl with the array of statistics making debate impossible.

I am still working on Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask.  It’s a fun book, in the same way Juno was a fun movie.  The story is vanilla.  It’s the voice of the main character that is special.  And vulgar.  And childish.  Scatological.  It’s my friends and I in the French Quarter after the first night.  Do I need to read this book?

Rushdie, Salman, ed.  (2008).  The best American short stories, 2008.  NY: Houghton Mifflin.

For something a little more light-hearted:

“Making a Beatles record…requires more than the presence of individual Beatles voices; it requires the potential for at least three-part harmony; it requires Paul’s bass and piano style; it requires George’s lead-guitar style, it requires unusual guitar harmony between George, John and Paul and the peculiar drumming style of Ringo; it requires John tempered by Paul, and Paul darkened by John; all of them spiritualized by George; all of them lightened up by Ringo; all of the excited by Paul; all of them made wary by John.”  Michael Boyce, letter to the editor.  The Believer Magazine, October 09.

But not too light-hearted.  Here we have a new (new?  new to me) method to study music.  In any case, it is well written and beyond my abilities to either confirm or deny.

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Homeless issued the response to Asher Roth’s hit “I Love College.”  Until the last minute of the video I was fairly down with it.  of course Asher Roth’s anthem is about being reckless, treating college as just a party and wasting what is a great oporttunity with a hefty financial cost.  However, the melodrama of Homeless’ words made me want to hit the stop button.

I wondered how much of Homeless’ rant was because Asher Roth is suburban and white, especially since he raps about the same stuff that much hip-hop does.  Asher just locates the drink and women in college instead of on the street.

And then homeless turns Asher Roth into an example fo hip-hop’s failings.  There is still the tinge of melodrama and the reduction of art into too-much-significance but I do like what he does at the end of the song.  There is a place for play and recklessness, but Homeless is troubled that hip-hop has become mostly a place for recklessness and play and lost sight of larger struggles that need to be fought.

As a tune I did enjoy it although I don’t know it’s something to which I can bee-bop down the street.  Yes, I said bee-bop.

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Here is how I know things are getting better. I am at home, alone watching basketball and reading and not out drinking. The paragon of sadness just came on to sing The National Anthem and my reaction was the once normal grimace. Before this year, and the unfortunate circumstances that befell me I was a happy-go-lucky person. But the past few months were tough and I reveled in those things that are morose, sad and melancholic. Two weeks ago my reaction would not have been a grimace but instead an odd delight.

In case you did not watch the opening ceremonies to-night or have not thought much about classic American singers and sadness then I need to spell it out: James Taylor is the voice of sadness. Nobody is lifted up by his songs. Even if he sings about happy material, it is all sadness. I used to turn him off, but since I turned into a sad person I would listen to his music. But now I cringe. That is a mark of progress.

A few weeks ago I was trying to describe the difference between sadness and melancholy to a friend. James Taylor is an apt example. His music makes me sad. If I turn it off, I do not want to be sad, then that is the opposite of melancholy. If I were melancholy I would instead listen to his music because I want to be sad. Think of Melancholy as the tent where the pity party is held.

So, here we have a legend, admittedly so, of American music that makes people sad. Singing about a war. And this is supposed to be uplifting? I suspect the Celtics’ front office has been paying too much attention to the predictions of a Lakers’ championship. And I am still not a basketball fan. But there is so little else on now that Lost has finished.