Day 32 – Miles Standish Hates Bats

October 13th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


I have always felt that there was something larger going on as the chords to ‘Begin the Begin,’ introduced a new look R.E.M. This was not a band that was looking to continue the muttled fables of the southern reconstruction but understanding the role of a band and coming to terms with it. They were not storytellers but directing and leading.

Answer me a question, I can’t itemize
I can’t think clearly, look to me for reason
It’s not there, I can’t even rhyme, begin the begin

This is such a revealing moment in my opinion. Rock and roll is focused on musicians becoming the 20th century philosophers. Understanding the nuances of putting a couple chords together and several clever words makes you a sage, regardless of your age or background. I think that for several years it took the band to understand the emotional toll that this would take on the band.

It was only a year prior that the band was in the midst of a potential breakup. The Fables Era was noted as being a rough period for the band. They were recording an album in a foreign country, it was cold and there were questions on how the band would proceed.

Lifes Rich Pageant offers this social/political awareness that did not exist prior to this record and Begin the Begin is an anthem for the people. It’s energies are induced by the masses even with slight hints to Soviet Era Russia i.e. ‘Silence means security, silence means approval’ but identifies that the masses can own the power if they choose to do it.

For me, this was the point at which R.E.M. decided that they wanted to conquer the world.

On a final note:

Certain days have offered several worthy choices. I am not sure that I would feel entirely positive about this post if I were not to offer at least a couple of sentences of support of my favorite Bauhaus tune, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, the nine and a half epic goth hit that’s going to be eventually make it’s way to my front yard in a week or so to prevent a certain holiday ‘All Hallows Eve’. (I have several handmade songs that make up our pop music graveyard.)

Beyond the song just exhibiting all the classic goth moments, I have always had a soft spot for Bela Lugosi in general. I imagine that from a child growing up in the 30’s that his portrayal of Dracula has to be legendary.

Yes, the bats have left the belltower.

• PJ Harvey – Before Departure
• R.E.M. – Begin the Begin
• Velvet Underground – Beginning to See the Light
• Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead

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Day 31 – Beep Beep

October 11th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


I had heard a story that years ago in Athens, GA when R.E.M. was thinking of starting a band up, that a very shy and nervous Michael Stipe had walked up to Vanessa Briscoe, of the band Pylon for permission to start the band.

Now, I wonder what the world would have been like if Vanessa had declined this request. The truth was that Pylon was revered at this time in Athens, and Michael Stipe was a shy introverted artist-type.

Now maybe years later, if there wasn’t an Athens scene, that Pylon would be one of those forgotten bands, whose unorthodox dance sounds would have been a misplaced artifact.

‘Beep’ demonstrates that prototypical new wave sound that isn’t necessarily demonstrative of an amazing skill for the instrumentation but rather the stylistic inventions especially of Randy Bewley on guitar.

Like many Athens bands, Pylon was not out trying to change the world. They were just a bunch of art students in an emerging dance scene, figuring out their own quirky methods in how to engage bored students and playing shows. Their sound is just as fresh and inventive today as it was over 30 years ago.

• Moby – Beautiful
• St. Vincent – The Bed
• Lou Reed – The Bed (Live)
• Animal Collective – Bees

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Day 30 – A Wall Of Sound

October 9th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


Musicians are a weird bunch. Out of all the artists that have been mentioned so far, I can admit that it is difficult to find many choirboys amongst the crowd. In the case of today’s story, it’s not the band that is concerning but rather the producer.

Phil Spector is a complicated man. He is currently serving 19 years to live for killing Lana Clarkson. He has been known to stick a gun in places where they probably shouldn’t be such as Leonard Cohen’s neck during the recording of “Death of a Ladies Man”. Talk about a weird partnership.

Yet, I think that you could make a good case that the Phil Spector produced ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes, would have to be in one of the top 10 pop songs ever recorded. In fact, I think if it does not give you goosebumps listening to it then I would check your pulse.

The songs importance, of course, goes beyond just that of the it’s simple message but the means at which it was recorded. The Ronettes were being run at the time by Phil Spector who was incorporating his “Wall of Sound” approach to recording music.

The Wall of Sounds approach was fairly simple and that was to add several instruments in unison playing the same parts which in turn would create a fairly dense recording. ‘Be My Baby’, is the poster child for this recording technique. But while it is the most famous song, Spector’s technique was used with other artists as well as copied by plenty of others. The Beach Boys are the most obvious.

A pop classic.

• Woods – Be All Be Easy
• Massive Attack – Be Thankful For What You Got
• Yo La Tengo – Be Thankful for What you Got
• Belle & Sebastian – Beautiful

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Day 29 – igottabeaboveitigottabeaboveitigottabeaboveit

October 7th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.



In 2010, My #11 favorite album of the year was Tame Impala’s ‘Innerspeaker’.

2.5 years later, it was listed as #56 album when I went through my favorite albums of all time. It would be an understatement to say that I was hooked. By the time that “Lonerism” arrived in 2012, my anticipation for their follow-up was peaking. It did not take much convincing from me to list it as their best album of 2012. Looking back at that list, I have not changed my mind one bit.

I remember seeing them at the Metro that year and experiencing a mind-blowing experience. Of course, if there is anything that can be expected out of a show with a band playing psychaedelic music is fans taking the experience a little too far. We witnessed one fan who just completely collapsed backwards and knocked their noggin on the nice hardwood Metro floor. There were handfuls of others we would watch carted out of the venue for being either severely overserved, too many drugs or a little bit of both. This was our first post live concert together since our son was born so the experience left me with a couple jitters to be honest with you.

As I mentioned earlier, when Lonerism was released, it was instantly appreciated by both myself and my wife, Lisa, who had also become a huge fan. However, whenever, we would listen to it together, there was always the fight over the first song, ‘Be Above It,’ which she for some reason gave low marks to.

Depending on who was in control of the music would determine whether the song would be played. Fast forward to 2014, when ‘Live Versions, ‘ was released and her opinion of the song completely shifted. It might be because the song length is over twice the length of the album version. This of course, includes a lengthy jam session that would make even the Grateful Dead jealous.

Lisa is still stubborn enough to admit that she is not a big fan of the album version.

There is a 3rd in the mix with 3 year-old Dylan also laying claim to being a Tame Impala fan. Recently, he has laid down the gauntlet preferring “New Tame Impala” and seemingly believes that Lisa and I will be taking him to a Tame Impala show in the near future.

Not sure that I can confirm whether we will allow this, but I will can guarantee that this is not the last time you will see them mentioned here.

• Heart – Barracuda
• Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Battered Old Bird
• Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie
• Tame Impala – Be Above It

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Day 28 – Swimming with a Collective of Animals

October 6th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


The psychaedelic sounds of Animal Collective are not always an easy listen. Pick up Dense Manatee, for example, and there are more shrilling sounds that will make your eardrums pop. As the band has matured there have been moments of pop splendor, however, in the midst of their growth, I always felt they began to feel their groove around ‘Sung Tongs’, which themeatically I have always found as very childlike.

The follow-up, ‘Feels’ is slightly more mature, and yet there are still some themes about being a youth that are being explored here.

‘Banshee Beat’ is one such song. It feels like an emotional breakup of sorts from the prospective of an adolescent. The protagonist here is dealing with the emotional issues of having a partner that did not seem eager to connect and the protagonist dealing with these, in relative rock music lyrics, fairly appropriately. It wasn’t a Morrissey breakup. The powerful nature of the song is through the rhythm.

Yet, if you listen to the opening of the song, there is a nervous tension throughout. The 8-plus minute track begins with a constant pulse that remains constant through the first couple minutes of the song.

Music at its very best relays that emotional breakthrough of sorts when the protagonist breaks free of the power or spell of this relationship.

So I duck out and go down to find the swimming pool
Hop a fence leave the street and wet your feet to find the swimming pool
Caused when I’m snuffed out I doubt I’ll find a swimming pool
Hop a fence leave the street and wet your feet to find the swimming pool

The presentation of the vocals as well as the theme of feeling, suggests that even bad feelings are better then no feelings at all. The swimming pool above suggests life and the ability to feel.

Animal Collective’s gift beyond the music was their ability to transcribe these childlike feelings to mean something for an adult.

• Le Butcherettes – Bang
• Crystal Castles – Baptism
• Beach Boys – Barbara Ann
• Apples in Stereo – Baroque

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Day 27 – Ball and Chain

October 5th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


On October 4, 1970, 45 years ago today, Janis Joplin died from a heroin overdose. She would be 72 years old if she was still with us.

I am not the consummate Janis fan. Unlike Congress who is unable to compromise, long-term relationships with your significant other require a certain amount of willingness to listen to their music. Unless you are going to live separate lives, this would be impossible.

For the most part I would say that my wife and I have similar but disparate tastes. I have R.E.M., she has Grateful Dead. We both love Radiohead and Tame Impala. I like old school Wilco, and she loves new school (at least the last album, ‘Star Wars’).

But there are artists like Janis Joplin, for whom I just never had the time to purchase or study her music and yet I have respected for the electricity that she demonstrated on her performances. The reality with artists is whether they can balance the art and the realities of life.

‘Ball and Chain,’ embraces this full-on love for someone that is not returning the love back and Joplin expresses her feeling that this love is dragging her down, like a ball and chain. Her performance of the song is mesmerizing, taking the stage and owning it.

The version on the “Best Of” album is presented with a 2 minute quasi-sermon from Janis explaining to the audience that you have to live for today: “It’s all the same fucking day man!”

If there is one thing different about my wife and myself it’s that she has always been more about living for today and in the moment than I could ever be. I am the planner, making sure that we have everything necessary whereas Lisa can live off the cuff and make something out of nothing. To be honest, there is no other way that I would have it. We balance each other out, I keep her in check when she wants to turn our house into a mansion, and she gets me out on the dance floor showing off my unique white man dancing skills, flailing arms and all.

Slowly but surely, the desert island classics of my wife become part of my own. They remind me of her spirit, her beauty and her passion. For ‘Ball and Chain,’ that with all my pragmatism that I cannot hold her down or prevent her from flying because it prevents me from taking that same trip with her.

• Janis Joplin – Ball and Chain
• R.E.M. – Bang and Blame

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Day 26 – Please Do Not Take My Picture

October 2nd, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


As I mentioned to you in a previous blog post, the songs being displayed here are on tape delay. I am several days ahead of this. It just so happens that day 26 was a light load when it comes to the number of songs being played.

So I decided to pull a song from the previous day’s setlist, one that I thought would be poignant for October 1, 2015.

Today there was an unfortunate event at Umpqua Community College which left, from last account 10 people dead and 7 injured.

Here we have another unfortunate event where everyone is going to be pointing fingers at the other side in knowing what is right and how to solve this. The worst part is nothing ever does happen, nothing is ever solved, there is no room for compromise, no room for movement ever.

Like many red blooded Americans, it was days like this that I would turn to cable TV news to follow a story like this for hours, watching the same clips over and over again. Then you would move onto the pundits who would say outrageous things because that is what you get paid to do. You are not paid to be “Normal”.

There became a point where my wife and I said fuck it all. We took the Dish and took it out in the alley and beat it up to bits. There was a point where I felt that watching that crap was not making me better informed, happier or better person. It had to go.

It’s tragic events that take advantage of the victims. Pornography, for the most part is consensual, whether you agree with it or not. This isn’t.

I felt that R.E.M.’s song “Bad Day”, the prequel to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” only to be shelved and reintroduced later in their careers the perfect snapshot to describe my mood for today.

There is not much to say otherwise.

• Wire – Bad Worn Thing
• Janis Jopin – Ball and Chain

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Day 25 – Bad Bono

October 1st, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.



He’s a caricature of himself. Out of the progressive rock and roll artists of the 80s I would argue that Bono embraced the concept of the lead singer the most.

He’s also the lead singer that I have found the easiest to criticize over the years. There was no doubt something endearing about him in the late 80s and early 90s when he would be spending time on the Zoo TV tour trying to call up George H.W. Bush from the stage. There were so many worthy causes over the years that the band supported that there could be concern that would be known more about all the causes such as Amnesty International rather than being a rock and roll band.

This Irishman of the 80s is now a businessman of the naughts.

Their shining accomplishment for me will always be ‘Achtung Baby,’ a brave album to make when U2 was the biggest band on the planet.

‘Bad’ however, came from ‘Unforgettable Fire,’ a fine album that allowed the band to continue to climb up the charts of biggest band status.

For this song, I have to make a special call out to my roommate John, in college who made it part of a weekend ritual, especially if alcohol was involved to blasting Bad from a bootleg version that I had acquired at about 2 in the morning. The version of ‘Bad’ that was playing was from the Chicago 1998 Joshua Tree Tour. (YouTube clip above is the actual version from a boot titled “Rock’s Hottest Ticket”). The subject of the song has been about heroin use. Oftentimes, Bono would introduce the song to that effect, as in the version above, but change the subjects of the song.

So we would blast this from Corcoran Hall while John would air guitar in front of a huge Joshua Tree poster that hung in our room. This disturbed our neighbors either for being too loud or in the case of one of our neighbor Matt, he felt that Bono was breaking some sacred oath by including couple lines from the Rolling Stone’s ‘Ruby Tuesday’.

Reminiscing back at those times, it was easy to get wrapped up in the ideology of what rock and roll icons stood for. In fact, I still embrace it to a degree, wondering what kids of this generation and beyond will cling onto. I’ve questioned whether I have been too hard on him at times as I and I imagine countless others have had to come to terms with the realities of life.

31 years ago to the day when the song was released, I live in a city that is considered the capital of the heroin trade. Change the city that Bono mentions in the video from Dublin to Chicago, you begin to realize that the world has not changed.

I am older. I have a lot more gray hair now. I carry a few more pounds and have a beard but I realize that I have not changed much either.

• Guided By Voices – Back to Saturn X Radio Report
• Kode9 & LD – Bad
• U2 – Bad
• Battles – Bad Trails

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Day 24 – Hey Baby

September 30th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


“Hey Baby” – Butthead

It is interesting to view the nature of our vernacular over the years, how certain terms and words begin to morph. In respect to rock and roll, we’ve accumulated a host of terms, slang, etc., that have been used with artistic license.

Now the term “baby/babe” was surely not invented by rock and roll, however, they have clearly empowered the term in rock and roll. Rock and Roll reinvents sexuality, the terms, the meanings and thoughts. It empowers at the same time of degrading. It creates beauty and at the same time it creates hate. It’s a powerful medium that grasps our soul and spits it out at the most inopportune moments. If there is any terms that lives up to this cannon of meanings, it’s the word baby.

We can make the argument above that Butthead’s cat call was sexist in nature, coming up to a stranger and using a romantic term when addressing her. His education of listening to Robert Plant could play a tiny role in his education with a spice of the Vibrator’s ‘Baby Baby’.

When you get a host of songs on your iPod with Baby in the title, there are certain themes that start floating through one’s head. There are the wildcards like Elliott Smith’s ‘Baby Britain’ which is more depressing and suicidal and Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘A Baby For Pree’, which is simply a beautiful song about having a baby.

Breakup song’s seem to be the ironic twist in rock and roll. If the term is used in an endearing manner I find it slightly hard to believe that this would be the normal vernacular when you are about to break up with someone. The aforementioned Robert Plant offered these skills in “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You Now.”

Michael Stipe used this in a very early R.E.M. song ‘Baby I’ in which it would seem obvious for it’s lack of inclusion on any official R.E.M. album when he sung ‘Baby I, don’t want to be seen with you”

The most obvious in my book is The Ronettes ‘Be My Baby’. It has first kiss potential written all over it.

Everything comes back to Butthead. As I listened to the host of relationship songs, it’s the comedy of our culture that I come back to.

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Day 23 – Ira and Georgia

September 29th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


While the summer was unusually cool for a Chicago Summer, we have been blessed with an amazing Indian Summer so far. The weather has been comfy and for that reason there has been no reason to pull out our Autumn Sweaters just yet.

Yo La Tengo’s 8th album ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One’, is their most critically acclaimed album of their long and storied career. It was the album that introduced me to them and I never looked back. The husband/wife duo of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band and James McNew has been a mainstay for over 20 years.

Kaplan and Hubley are the deans of rock groups who have remained together both as a couple and a band for a significant period of time. I should say that I cannot think of another group that has been together that long. Sonic Youth was there for awhile before Thurston Moore/Kim Gordon divorce. I have no doubt that there are a pair of cats somewhere on this earth named Ira and Georgia.

They are one of the few bands that I can honestly say have never put out a bad record, at least from this fans perspective.

The name “Yo La Tengo” arrived from a baseball anecdote used by Richie Ashburn to try to communicate with Elio Chacon whose English was limited.

There has never been an argument for me what is the best song on the album. Autumn Sweater is the heart and soul of the record. It’s seductive with the percussion of Georgia Hubley giving Kaplan’s singing all that more alluring. It’s a 3 am hips grinding-type of song which is even a bit more danceable than what you would initially think. It’s not a let’s fuck around but it would not be that bad if I could exit the room for a moment and make love to my wife. . . and her autumn sweater.

• Fiery Furnaces
• Leonard Cohen – Avalanche
• Jean-Louis Marat – Avalanche IV
• Led Zeppelin – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You Now

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