Earlier this week, NPR took a bite out of Kevin Bacon with its list of six musical questions. You are what you listen to, and don’t you forget it, the web site suggested.
I am eclectic in my musical tastes. I like trashy pop music. I like sad bastard indie rock. I like to dance and I like Motown. Oh, and I once bought a Christian rock album. So there’s that.
I am a musical smoothie. You can be one too. Indulge.
What was the first song you ever bought?
Not sure but the first album I bought was Chevelle’s Point No.1. I bought it for two reasons. A) I was listening to Tool at the time, but my parents wouldn’t have approved of me buying Aenima (too explicit). So on the bulletin board at the Southern Baptist church I attended there was a poster with Christian bands recommended if you liked secular bands. Chevelle was R.I.Y.L. Tool. So, yeah. B) As I recall, the Chevelle album was sold at the music shop at the local mall. That was my only music-buying venue, other than Walmart where I later purchased CDs by Stone Temple Pilots, Incubus, and others.
Per Chevelle: They were not Tool. They’re still not Tool. Be skeptical of things you read on bulletin boards inside Southern Baptist churches.
What song always gets you dancing?
I am the Ellen DeGeneres of unfamous gingers when it comes to dancing. If you’re not familiar with The Ellen Show, that means I will dance at the drop of a hat. Not necessarily well, but that does not matter to me. “One More Time” by Daft Punk holds a fond place in my dancey ginger heart. I attended a party full of college-aged kids – hell, they looked like high school kids to me – in northeast Portland last year. I felt out of place and over the hill. Then “One More Time” came on and I spent the next five minutes dancing atop a stranger’s couch. Love the energy, the words, the beat, everything. Thanks Daft Punk for making that socially awkward situation memorable.
What song takes you back to your childhood?
Growing up my parents did not allow me to buy a CD player or CDs. Secular music was a corrupting influence. Absent a CD player, I listened to the radio A LOT. Casey’s Weekly Top 40 became a weekly staple. Every Sunday I went to church and then came home and listened to the countdown. As a 10-year-old, I was really, really into “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. It sounded like a party that was inclusive to a young, white kid on the bayou like me. I had no idea what Montell Jordan looked like – still don’t – but I knew he knew “how to do it.” Even now on the random occasions I hear the song, it’s like a trip down memory lane, to steal a phrase from Nas. It doesn’t matter where I am – 10-year-old, I mean, 27-year-old me, sings along with Montell Jordan.
What is your perfect love song?
“Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder leaves me awestruck every time I hear it. It radiates love, joy, and hope, and it brings to mind words like wonderful, gorgeous, flawless, timeless, etc.
What song would you want played at your funeral?
Earlier this year, I had the amazing fortune to see Jeff Mangum perform twice in less than a week’s time. Just thinking about the experience puts a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. And in Starbucks, no less. On “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”, the title track off Neutral Milk Hotel’s seminal album of the same name, Mangum conveys the beauty, brevity, wonder, and woe of life in stunning fashion. The song’s message overpowers me with emotion. I would hope it would be memorable and inspirational for others.
Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.
An encore is rarely, if ever, just one song. So I am picking two.
I miss all my friends more than they will ever know. Moreso these past two years than ever. And so the incredible “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem means more to me than ever. Nostalgia never sounded so good or so painful. PS: The live rendition of “All My Friends” during the LCD Soundsystem concert film/docudrama gave me goosebumps.
I’ve been to church only a handful of times the past decade. I struggle with the concept of God, especially when I think of a divine creator through the prism of organized religion. Anyway, the song “Amazing Grace” still means a great deal to me. The version of “Amazing Grace” by Blind Boys of Alabama, with its “House of the Rising Sun” instrumentation, floored me the first time I heard it (on Letterman, I think). It continues to floor me. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, nature, or nothing in particular, the idea of grace received for free is a powerful one. And, wowzers, can these men sing! Spectacular in every sense of the word.