Monday, January 7, 2008

some thoughts on what I like about music

I have noticed that I like sparse, down-tempo, somewhat depressing music. The closer the recording gets to a person and their guitar (and for some reason, I like hearing the guitar), the more likely I am to enjoy it. think: mark kozelek, chris miner, jon black’s acoustic demos (you have got to hear them), brad lyons, a.a. bondy, jeff tweedy solo concerts, the new unknown from lasers edge that I have playing in the car.

the a.a. bondy record is currently on heavy repeat for me. my friend greg summerlin put this record out on his label, superphonic, and I’ve been hearing about it for months, but finally purchased a copy at (the sadly deceased) lasers edge last week. In case you’re wondering, a.a. bondy claims a top-ten spot on many 2007 lists for a very good reason.

so anyway, I’m listening to this record, and I’m realizing how much I resonate with this music, and a friend says, “is all your music this depressing? what is this song about, anyway?” and I say “I don’t know what it’s about. it doesn’t really matter to me what the song is about.”

clint wells. we all know clint wells. well, clint is working on some new material. correction: clint wells is working on a lot of new material. new years eve, he says to me “hey I want you to hear some stuff I’ve been working on” so we climb into his cold ford explorer, and sit in silence as he plays me cuts from demos and rough mixes. It’s been about a month since clint and I have really hung out, and I was shocked to hear how much he’d accomplished. the new songs are good, and the best ones (to me) are the ones that are so simple, so naked, so vulnerable that it feels like the song is a living thing, not a voice and an instrument. and clint said to me that someone asked him what these new songs are about, and he said “I don’t know” and I smiled.

and then I told clint what I was thinking about just earlier that day. that so many things in life feel worthless, feel contrived. you know the feeling. the parties, the clothes, the cars we drive, the way we talk, the way we think, the places we live, the places we go. there is this unceasing sense that we’re really not getting it. about a week ago, brooke asked me what my dream vacation would be and I asked her to please take me to africa, or south america. somewhere where I can experience a culture that is not like my own, where I can be reminded that this reality I live in is not really all that realistic.

so at the end of the day, when I’m listening to music, or more specifically, when I’m creating music, the music feels like a person who is sort of moaning with their instrument, like a person who has a guitar (or maybe a piano) and you can’t quite tell if the songs are coming from the instrument or from the person. because I think so often, I feel like the music I play comes more out of the piano than out of me. such a strange thing to say, but it just feels true.

so, like I said, I have noticed that I like sparse, down-tempo, somewhat depressing music. I’m okay with that. to me, it’s the quiet, thoughtful music that feels the most real.

I have also realized, since writing this, that the spots sound nothing like the music I usually listen to. interesting. I still love the spots, in case you're wondering.

14 comments:

brett said...

great post.

Liz said...

what's funny is that clint up until this point has historically written about 5-10 songs per year since i've known him. ever since we decided he should do music full time and set an expiration date on his BB days, he's written probably 12 songs in 4 or 5 weeks. pretty cool how even the glimmer of freedom at the end of the tunnel can inspire...

great post brian. i really enjoyed reading it.

brooke said...

i really appreciated this post. I envy the outlet you guys have to express something or longings that are almost impossible to really articulate. I have lots of other thoughts, too, but you said it all quite well, so I'll leave it that. thanks.

BrentR said...

We don't get it. Or at least I don't anyway...

I'm a big fan of the RMM "B-side" for a few of the same reasons. I'm personally more in to piano than guitar, though (no butt-kissing intended).

My dream VK: working my tail off until it hurts. I'm drawn to the Habitat for Humanity type work excursions...but still...that is not any more real. Still kinda fake.

Brian T. Murphy said...

brett - thanks. been listening to some mutemath, by the way. finally starting to get into them.

liz - clint is definitely in a peak writing season. here's to hoping it lasts a really long time.

brooke - this isn't my wife brooke, is it? because if so, I'm shocked, because I don't think my wife brooke even knows that I author theworstweblogintheworld. and yes, music is something that I am really very thankful for.

brentr - you like the bsides, really? I've heard that from a few different people lately. that's pretty cool I guess. I'm still not sure what I think of those bsides. I tend to think we should pull them off the site eventually and put up some new ones. we'll see. and you like to build the houses on your vacation? that's cool. me - I like to drink margaritas and look at mountains.

shawn avery said...

great post. its amazing how a good writer like scott (a.a) bondy, can confidently transition from a post-grunge rocker to a singer-songwriter. his cd release was great. superphonic did a great job.

i'm bringing a cd for you and clint to check out tonight.

so sad about laser's edge. 2008. dang.

meg said...

Nice post, Brian.
Sorry that we didn't get to hang out over Christmas (you're probably still scared of the McCool house at Christmas, thanks to me). The time was short somehow. Did you get to see Ryan? I saw Ryan for the first time in 13 months this Christmas. While this may sound cheesy, it's terrifying to me how fast time goes by. Even faster as you get older. That pisses me off. One day seemed like 56 hours long when I was a kid. Now I kinda feel ripped off at the end of each day, like I didn't get all of the 24...
Anyway, I am writing to recommend a website: www.zeitgeistmovie.com. They have some interesting stuff on it: conspiracies about the gov, religion, etc. Thought you might like it.
Hope all is well with you. Say Hi to Brooke for me and give her a big hug.

emily said...

you want to come with us to addis ababa, ethiopia? i can introduce you to people and places that will give the reality check you're looking for.

we're chasing after something.

brett said...

mutemath is a wonderful live band. recorded they are good but not nearly the same experience. in other news i have lost all motivation to write music and i'm not sure why. it's kind of depressing when i think about it.

Andrew and/or Amy said...

how many blog posts will it take before: "Popular American music sucks" isn't news anymore. About the time of the first Woodstock festival music in America started sucking. Real bad. Anything that was popularized and radioized after then sucked. There were pockets of jazz, rock, pop, country, etc. and that kept on the tradition of not-sucking. But those bands were forever banished to the dark side of the music publishing industry. so here we are after 40 years of a legacy of "contrived" music. well, guess what. it still sucks. good music (fill in the blank with your favorite band, mine happens to be interpol at the moment) still lurks beneath the radar. i love it. the good stuff is always hard to get, making it that much better.

Clint Wells said...

u2, tom petty, bruce springsteen, prince, pink floyd, wings, the kinks, david gray, sting, etc.

artists all over the radio who do not suck.

just a thought.

clint

Benjamin said...

BTM - I appreciate your words on music and your taste thereof. Are you familiar with The Autumn Defense, side project of Wilco's John Stirrat and Pat Sansone? I highly recommend them if you've not given them any attention. I'd also give a listen Stirratt's album with his sister Laurie, Arabella for those of you keeping score at home. I've got a number of Jeff Tweedy Live Shows, if you're interested. Let me kow. Ben Jackson

curt chadwick said...

Brian,

I track with you on a vacation to a land far far away. Ive had the opportunity to visit Panama...there I saw a man whos job it was to wrap roses on the side of the street. My friend told me he prolly makes just a few dollars a day but man..he just sat there and seemed so content wrapping roses all day long. For some reason that has stuck with me for years. If you ever get the opportunity to visit a '3rd world' country do it.

tripp ethridge said...

I love you Brian