Saturday, September 10, 2011

v2, d412: WOF2, #1: Shuffleblog

It's funny, but as I was going over which features I still have in stock (now that Birthday Mad-Libs are over, I'm down to six and thus will have to come up with a new one before the Week of Features is out), Shuffleblog is actually the one that takes the least amount of time to write (about half an hour or so).  Which is good, because Outgehangen has got me started on this a bit later than I'd originally intended. 

And so, off we go.

#1.Nickels for Green-Eyed Girls by Polarboy
Nickels for green-eyed girls,
Empires built for the world.
All these things will fade away,
Yeah, yeah, yeah...
This song always reminds me of the Christian rock station that we used to have in Wichita, mainly because I don't think I've ever heard this band anywhere else in the world (save for the occasional showing of the In My Shoes music video on Christian video stations).  I know Christian rock has a bad rap, and some of that is deserved, but there were some really great bands, especially in the late 1990's.  Most of them were never heard by anybody outside of a very small pocket while a lot of groups that were really watered-down, both lyrically and artistically, became mega-huge.  I think this is because the majority of the Christian buyers' market tends to like safe, formulaic entertainment, and that generally fights against most true artistic expression or spiritual exploration.  Songs that really confronted some of the tougher questions of faith and doubt and suffering often took a backseat to songs about love and peace and.  And, of course, the Bible speaks very loudly of these things.  They're pretty much the book's central tenants.  However, it never tried to hide the ugliness away to make the peace and love of God look more appealing.  If anything, it was always the exact opposite: the ugliness and depravity of the world is what  makes the light of the gospel shine. 

Anyway, a lot of Christian artists became burned out by the "Christian music industry" and so some bands that really rocked and also challenged me unto growth in my faith went largely unnoticed by both the Christan and secular markets.  And eventually, even the decent rock station in Wichita went that route as well. 

There's another whole blog's worth of thoughts that could go into this topic.  But the next song has already started. 

2. Underwater by Switchfoot
She's underwater, she won't drown. She cannot believe it.
And everyone she meets feels just the same.
And just like clockwork, she'll climb down in her bottle,
Yeah no one down there cares to know her name.
Nothing to be; she's already been
Plenty of times, plenty of time, plenty of time...
What's that, you say?  You've never heard of a song called "Underwater" by Switchfoot?  Yeah, if you heard it you probably wouldn't recognize it as them, either.  This is the third song of their debut album from 1997, and Jon still had his quasi-Kermit-the-Frog vocals going on in this album.  (That's not a knock, either.  I just always thought it sounded only vaguely Kermit-ish)  I was fifteen when this song came out, so it took me a long time to realize exactly how sad it was because it was just so dang bouncy. This was actually the album I listened to when I was feeling alone, unloved, and generally emo.  Or the album that would get me to that state in the first place.  Not that it's really all that emo of an album, actually.  However, I was fifteen, and I pretty much saw everything through the lens of that whole Why Do Nice Guys Always Finish Last phase. 

I can admit it.  I grew out of it.  And I think I ended up doing okay coming out of it, too.  Now I can listen to some of these songs and realize how comically I missed what was really there.  Oh, fifteen-year-old Will, you were so self-centered and dumb. 

3. I Am from !Hero: The Rock Opera
Sometimes it's hard 
To do what you're meant to do,
These fires we must walk through, 
Sometimes it's hard... 
I have one of those machines that plays your iPod through speakers so you can listen to it from across the room and share the music with others.  That's what I'm using for my shuffle, because I still don't have very much of my music in the new Lappy.  (We'd have all Five Iron, Supertones, Les Mis, and Toddler Tunes on our Shuffle if I used the Lappy)That's all well and good.  I like the machine (whatever it's called) and it even has a remote control.  But here's the thing: THE REMOTE CONTROL IS CRAP!  I mean, it really doesn't matter what button you press.  The machine is pretty much going to do whatever it wants to anyway.  You want to skip forward a song?  Press the button.  Maybe it'll skip ahead.   Maybe it'll skip back.  Or maybe it'll  crank up the volume.  Who cares that its' 2:30 and the rest of the house is sleeping?  What's that?  You don't want the volume to go up?  Well, if skip forward turned it up, surely skip backwards will turn it back down.  Wait,  no.  Skip backwards also turns the volume up.  So pretty much every button turns the volume up.  Awesome. 

What does this have to do with the song?  Nothing.  But Shuffleblog is pretty much a stream-of-consciousness thing anyway, and that's what happened when I clicked forward to this song.  Grr. 

4. Rent by Animal Couch
And this time, skip forward skipped to the next song.  What'd I tell ya?

Here's another product of that awesome Wichita station.  Animal Couch was an indie band from somewhere in Texas.  They only ever released two EP's, and somehow we got a  hold of them in Wichita, so they had a pretty big following up in ICT.  I remember when they finally came for a concert (the other awesome thing about this station: it booked tons of concerts of the small underappreciated bands it played).  All of "the regulars" came to the show, and man were we ever stoked. Not only did the band rock, but it had two girl singers!  (Any band that had a girl in it was instantly awesome to us high school/college age boys back then.  I wonder if that's still true today?) 

Anyway, the band was actually pretty good.  I still like to listen to their songs, though I don't think they're nearly as profound as they used to be.  This song, for instance, is pretty much about how humans have trashed the earth, and going to heaven will be so much better.  But it still sounds kind of pretty, in a rock-ish way. 

This concert ended after they played all of their songs, but we called for a third encore anyway, so they started to replay songs, and a guy suddenly fell to the ground clutching his leg and screaming in the mosh pit.  It was a small, intimate venue, so that pretty much stopped everything mid-song.  It was a real mood-killer. 

I hope that guy didn't do any permanent damage, because it was otherwise an awesome concert. 

5. Don't Feed the Plans from Little Shop of Horrors
And the plants proceeded to grow and grow
And begin what they came here to do
Which was essentially to
Eat Cleveland, and Des Moines, and Peoria, and New York,
And this theater! 
Feels like I've talked about this one before.  Not on Shuffleblog, but on the blog nonetheless.

This is the "everybody dies" closing number to the musical version of Little Shop of Horrors.  The script describes vines exploding from the stage and from over the heads of the audience in the lyrics quoted above.  In my high school, we didn't have that capability.  We actually had a glorified lecture hall for a theater: a raised thrust stage.  Nobody had a good seat!  We also had two concrete barriers that separated the three main sections of seats.  So instead of plant vines exploding from the ceiling, we had the chorus cross onto those balance beams and toss trash bags full of green streamers on the people sitting immediately around them. 

To be fair, when I saw the national tour of this show (with Anthony Rapp), this number was still pretty hokey.  It may not have been streamers thrown in our face from two feet away, but they did have the principals in what I can only describe as big green sleeping bags trying to do some sort of choreography that just looked like someone had dropped itching powder into their tent during a campout. 

6. Got to Get You Into My Life by the Beatles, covered by BUCK
 I was alone, I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find there.
Another road where maybe I could find another kind of life there
Ooh, then I suddenly see you. 

Ooh, did I tell you I need you,
Every single day of my life?
 Is it just me, or is a classic Beatles song a great way to wrap up...well, just about anything?