World's Fair

Currently in the ScienceBlog forums (as well as in posts such as this), and under a variety of such non-descript titles as “The Search-Spammer has been Banned…” there is much discussion about music, good and bad, and how life is part of it.

I’m a big music buff, less so now perhaps with the hecticness that comes with having young kids, but always on the lookout for things I like, and always trying not to let image sway a choice selection.

So here’s my invite to ScienceBloggers in particular (because I know we scientists are music buffs as a whole), but to others in general:

If you make a music mix that is a reflection of your informative years, what would those dozen or so songs be, and maybe more interesting, why? You don’t have to be proud of the song choices – they’re not necessarily a reflection of taste, more about your history.

Here is mine, circa 1983 to 2002, and written like liner notes:

Regatta de Blanc (The Police)
Ghost in the Strand (Sting)
Here Comes Your Man (The Pixies)
Dig For Fire (The Pixies)
Don’t Dream It’s Over – acoustic version from 54th session (Crowded House)
Into the Sunset (Neil Finn)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
Fade Away (Oasis)
High And Dry (Radiohead)
Let Down (Radiohead)
Ants Marching – Live cut from the single (Dave Matthews Band)
Typical Situation (Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds)
The Light (David Gray)
Please Forgive Me (David Gray)

- – -

i-de110b5cdde4ba3b0d217033d4f751f6-sting.jpgMy foray into the world of music began rather late (in Grade 8, 1983), rather cheaply (two records bought at a garage sale) and rather innocently (one record was the Star Wars soundtrack, and the other just looked “cool”). In any event, the “cool” looking record was Synchronicity by The Police, and I suppose I have never looked back. My biggest musical regret is not having had the opportunity to see The Police perform live, and I like to think that my admiration for all things Sting was the starting point of my obsession with music. Interestingly, Sting is also very good at writing lyrics which is ironic since the two songs I’ve chosen here are actually instrumentals (Regatta de Blanc, Ghost in the Strand).

i-49a15a61f7791c336ac0d377285c1d3e-pixie.jpgThe Pixies weren’t really something I took to heart until about 1988. This was after the usual respect for artists like Dire Straits, Billy, U2, Bruce and even Phil Collins (the high school years). But with The Pixies, came the interesting realization that musical aristocracy was indeed attainable. For some reason, unwavering respect could be garnered simply by your personal music preferences. The Pixies were one of the few bands that fell in this category that I absolutely loved. These two songs include a song that actually got radio airplay (Here Comes Your Man), and another that is vintage Pixies’ noise (Dig For Fire).

i-e8f56cb70c6787934c91e145094e6c69-neil.jpgMe and Kate first met in September 1989, and it was in the early 90’s that she introduced me to Crowded House. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that much interested initially since here was a pop group that was stylistically very different to the brooding and harsh sounds of The Pixies. Still, I was curious enough to try out a concert, and basically became a diehard fan from that point on. Apart from being an excellent performer, I think that without a doubt Neil Finn is one of best melody writers around, and my opinion of his talents seem to exponentially grow with each new album he produces. Suffice to say that currently, he is my favourite artist and it was quite difficult to choose only two songs for this mix. In the end, I decided to go with something old (an acoustic version of Don’t Dream It’s Over), and something new (Into the Sunset).

i-b8ac4a200ae113e229da812fbb07ffc6-oasis.jpgOasis is an English band that makes this list because of my brother. Although, I wasn’t that keen on Oasis initially, the Beatlesque (What’s the Story) Morning Glory ? (1995) was such a good album that it’s safe to say that I’m forever sick of it due to overplaying. Overplaying with regards to the stereo, and also overplaying with regards to guitar jam sessions (In the height of their popularity, I even got a chance to see them in concert, although the show only lasted about 20 minutes due to the lead singer pouting his way off the stage). In this collection, I’ve put one of their signature songs (Wonderwall – very sick of), and one of their many great b-sides (Fade Away – not sick of yet).

i-03bdb1ddaa65754cfa389c25313e2bba-radioh.jpgAnother British band, Radiohead is also on this list because of my brother. Radiohead brings back great memories of playing guitar with my brother and Conan during the mid to late 90’s. We all wanted to write like them – great (almost intellectual) melodies that weren’t dependant on simple musical structures. They remind me actually of a modern day version of Pink Floyd in that they’re not afraid to be adventurous (although maybe too adventurous of late). I’d like them to go back to the styles they use to partake in. Much like the two songs I’ve chosen here – arguably their most radio friendly song (High and Dry), and a song that happens to currently be one of my all time favourite songs (Let Down).

i-d878b5b3d8146c01bbd704b1ca855177-dmb.jpgI first heard the Dave Matthew’s Band on an episode of Saturday Night Live and was blown away by the performance. Here you had this amazing percussive guitarist singing and swaying, a cool dude playing the saxophone, a freaked out dude wailing on a violin, a bassist dude thumping on his guitar, and a master drummer throwing in crazy syncopated beats throughout the song. As a music lover, this band was it – a dream team of talent that could play a mix of rock, folk, jazz and country. I’m glad I caught them at small venues when they were still not famous. In this mix, I’ve put the mother of all live performances (Ants Marching), and a nice acoustic rendition of Typical Situation (with Tim Reynolds – also live).

i-a9ac712327e1cf612c7a0b8694529a1f-david.jpgThey say that music is great for reflecting and bringing back memories. To this day, every time I hear a David Gray song, I am reminded of the first few months of fatherhood. It’s weird, but every time a song like The Light or Please Forgive Me comes on, I get this strangely warm yet disconcerting feeling that just takes me back. I really hope Hannah and Ben love music as much as I do when they grow up.

Comments

  1. #1 Timon
    September 22, 2006

    Circa 1987-2004
    1. Where the Streets Have No Name (U2)
    2. Enter Sandman (Metallica)
    3. Are You Gonna Go My Way (Lenny Kravitz)
    4. LA Woman (The Doors)
    5. Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine)
    6. So Hard Done By (Tragically Hip)
    7. Take the Money and Run (Steve Miller Band)
    8. Lucky (Radiohead)
    9. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (Ben Folds Five)
    10. Everyday (Dave Matthews Band)
    11. The World At Large (Modest Mouse)
    12. The Great Beyond (REM)

    1. U2: Where the Streets Have No Name. Some early memories come from a time when my family lived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. I went to a Catholic school that had set up an exchange for young Irish teachers to come teach there. The Joshua Tree had just come out and it was played proudly in the classroom by our visitors. U2?s was the first music I discovered for myself and it still moves me.
    2. Metallica: Enter Sandman. Curbs and meridians around town were tagged with Metallica album titles about as often as they were hit with Grad 198-whatever. Then, when the black album dropped, it was ubiquitous. This was the first album I loved to play loud. This was the first album that drove my parents crazy, which is definitely an important step for any kid.
    3. Lenny Kravitz: Are You Gonna Go My Way. I?d been rocking tapes up to this point. I got a small stereo with a CD component for Christmas and picked this up. The nouveau-hippie girls I used to crush on loved it so how could I not?
    4. The Doors: LA Woman. I too went through the rite of passage that is The Doors. Reams of bad poetry followed.
    5. Rage Against the Machine: Killing in the Name. I played basketball in high school. I was always one of the shortest trying out. Songs like this gave me extra inches on my vertical leap, made pre-dawn shoot arounds worthwhile, and helped propel me onto to the senior team.
    6. The Tragically Hip: So Hard Done By.
    7. Steve Miller Band: Take the Money and Run. For some reason, Day For Night (The Tragically Hip) and Greatest Hits – 1974-1978 (Steve Miller Band) were the staple albums from the last few years of high school. I can?t explain how this came to pass (a small town thing?), but every camping excursion, cabin visit, and road trip resulted in these albums getting full play.
    8. Radiohead: Lucky. I enjoyed The Bends, but OK Computer was the one that blew my mind. I bought it the summer after I graduated high school, days before I moved to Vancouver for undergrad. It cut deep, probably because that was a truly f*cked up summer. I visited the Emergency Room three times over those months (once because of a bursting appendix, twice because of misadventure on the parts of my closest friends). This was a soundtrack for leaving.
    9. Ben Folds Five: One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces. One of the great discoveries from my undergrad days, I associate BFF with trudging in the rain from class to class to my dorm room. It makes me think about being on my own for the first time. There were good moments and there were bad moments, but the main thing was that they were my own.
    10. Dave Matthews Band: Everyday. Flash forward a few years. I?d been a casual DMB fan for a long time, but the woman I ended up marrying is a hardcore fan, so once I was hanging out with her I had to start paying more attention. I?ve picked Everyday because it?s supposed to be sacrilegious to cite anything from that album as amongst the best from DMB. But I think it?s a great track! Seeing them play at the Gorge in Washington on multiple occasions now has always been an amazing way to close out the summer and has been a great respite from the world at large.
    11. Modest Mouse: The World At Large. This song slays me every time I hear it. A song with eyes that view the world like everything?s off colour and run through a rickety projector. It is one of my grad school anthems and it?s a jewel.
    12. REM: Great Beyond. Another grad school anthem. Pushing an elephant up the stairs? Hell yes. REM was always there in the background too, but I find I?ve grown to like them more and more as time goes on.

    Interesting aside to the truncated Oasis show in Vancouver that Dave referenced: I used to work with a guy who was widely accused of throwing the boot that led to the abbreviated set. Callers to a local radio show pinned the incident on a guy with a Detroit Red Wings jersey (which is what this guy was wearing at the show) however he maintained it was the guy beside him.