Steinbeck on Random – 8.17.06

It’s been a while, I know. I’ve decided to pare back my “every Friday” fare. Which means Random YouTube only when I find something worthwhile and Steinbeck on Random every month, not every two weeks.

Of course, I hold the right to change that schedule as needed. It’s my blog, after all.

So, on with the show.

1. Air – “Alpha Beta Gaga”
Talkie Walkie

These guys are labeled as Electronic, one of the very few I’ve bothered to add (much to Dave’s chagrin, I’m sure). I like Air because they’re incredibly soundtrack-esque, owing to film scores as much as the electronica genre they get lumped under. While Badly Drawn Boy did his best work writing a soundtrack, Air sounds like they’re writing a soundtrack without a movie to score.

2. The Postal Service – “Nothing Better”
Give Up

Honestly, I only have one Postal Service album. In fact, including singles and random tracks, I only have about 15 of their songs on my machine. So why do they show up all the time?

This is an interesting dilemma – we all have that one artist that always seems to pop up, no matter what, or that one song that plays three or four times more often than any other. For me, it’s Postal Service.

Another interesting note about this song – on Sirius this song is listed as Charts and Graphs, from the line “I’ve made charts and graphs that should finally make it clear/I’ve prepared a lecture on why I have to leave.”

3. Ben Folds Five – “Tom & Mary”
Naked Baby Photos

Another Ben Folds song about people he may or may not have met in his life. You could fill a box set with BF5 songs about random people – on this album alone you have “Eddie Walker,” “Emaline,” “Alice Childress,” “Dick Holster,” “Tom & Mary,” and “Julianne.” And for the most part, if you’re not familiar with the individual songs, they all sound the same. They’re good, but very similar.

Except for “Eddie Walker.” That song transcends the group.

4. Joni Mitchell – “Free Man in Paris”

I’m beginning to like Joni Mitchell more and more every time I listen to her. With that being said, I don’t have much of an opinion of this song. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever heard it.

It mentions the Champs Elysees, so that’s pretty cool – I’m a big fan of that Napoleon-era arch.

5. Sense Field – “Futon”
Killed for Less

In terms of personal favorites, some bands have fallen from their lofty perches so quickly that I hardly even remember they’re around. Sense Field is one of those bands (as is, unfortunately, my ex-favorite band Sunny Day Real Estate.) The sad fact is that the songs haven’t aged well. While Jawbreaker, Texas is the Reason, and Farside still continue to elicit some sort of emotion, Sense Field doesn’t – it’s all strictly nostalgic now.

Don’t get me wrong, they do have some good songs, and at least one song is still very important on a personal level, but I just can’t get excited for the band as a whole – which is crazy because, well, they were one of my favorites for a very long time

6. Pearl Jam – “Indifference”

Best Pearl Jam song – is it “Black?” Or is it “Indifference?” I can’t decide, I’ll get back to you.

7. Jay-Z – “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”

I am always amazed at how many Jay-Z songs have integrated themselves into my life – and into modern culture, for that matter. A song will show up with a name I don’t recognize and, more often than not, I’ve heard it before. It’s amazing. For instance – this is the “I’m a hustla, baby” song, incredibly catchy and pretty awesome. And I never knew.

Another thing I didn’t know until now — ?uestlove of The Roots plays drums throughout the entire performance. I’m beginning to love Jay-Z

8. Sufjan Stevens – Happy Birthday
A Sun Came

A nice quiet little song from Sufjan Steven’s first album. From hearing a lot of this album in bits and pieces, you can see how there was a coming of age between A Sun Came and his state-themed albums – these are soft and introspective and totally indie in production, while the brilliant Illinois is beyond words, filling the holes that his old stuff left wide open.

9. Weezer – “Getchoo”

Speaking of “beyond words,” I can’t say enough about Pinkerton. It’s a super-good album, and if you don’t have it, you’re dumb. Go get it now. Duh.

10. Bob Dylan – “I Shall Be Released”
The Essential Bob Dylan

And now, I present to you the first repeat in Steinbeck on Random history – a song that I was actually quite unfamiliar with back in April when I started Steinbeck on Random. Now, it has become one of my favorites.

The best part about setting the shuffle and going out on a limb with the iPod is that I still discover songs that I never had a chance to listen to. I’m still encountering songs that should have broken into my constant playlist years ago but instead laid undiscovered, waiting for this little matching to head to the shed and fetch it for me.

Case in point – “I Shall Be Released.” Thanks, Steinbeck.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 18th, 2006