Archive for September, 2015

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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Day 22 – Take This Nickel and Make a Dime

September 25th, 2015 No comments

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


Auctioneer (Another Engine) – “She didn’t want to get pinned down by her prior town”

R.E.M. – “They didn’t want to get pinned down by their prior album”

There are several songs in the R.E.M. catalog, which I could point to as for a reason for my addiction with bootleg shows. This would be one of those songs. The reason was the prelude to the song which many times would offer up Michael Stipe as a storyteller, weaving his own brand of fable to the fan in the audience. These stories were not all that linear, and many times the point to the story must have been lost on the audience as it was often lost on your truly.

An example of one of Michael Stipes fables prior to Auctioneer would be one that he told about Caroline who would be swimming in a man-made lake and look down into the water and see the tops of trees from this man made lake or a well-digging man who was looking to dig the deepest well with the purest clearest water imaginable.

For a fan like myself these types of stories became pure delight. The idea of having to interpret more verse, albeit not from the lyrics but the back-story proved intriguing.

Auctioneer is a song about change, in my opinion. The idea of a woman swimming on a man-made lake that used to be a valley. Also, it is the idea of moving on and preferring the unknown rather than the current situation.

R.E.M.’s ‘Fables of the Reconstruction,’ has this theme instilled in it. The band is at a crossroads as they admit that it was a very difficult album to make. I think that there were challenges at this point about what type of band that they would become and whether they wanted to become one of the biggest bands on the planet.

For me, the stories and lyrics keep me guessing but I do believe there is more here than just a story about a girl wanting to get out of town.

• Joy Division – Atrocity Exhibtion (Live
• R.E.M. – Auctioneer (Live)
• Guided By Voices – Auditorium
• Joy Division – Auto-Suggestion

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Day 21 – Back to Back Floyd

September 23rd, 2015 No comments

Back to Back Floyd

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


“You like the Wall, well, Atom Heart Mother is the album that you want to listen to that I think you will like” … said no one.

Sometimes there are albums that lack any type of critical acclaim that I think deserve the “Desert Island Dumpster Diving” award. This album would definitely fit into that category considering that I had rated it at #14 of my all time favorite albums way back in 2013. Arriving at your 10 favorite albums is difficult but to come up with a list of albums whose critical success was mixed or worse would be a challenge.

Following Syd Barrett’s disassociation with Pink Floyd, the band spends several years trying to find themselves. Who is to assume control of the band? Who is the main songwriter of the band?

They begin writing some fairly obscure material. Their albums could feel, at times, disjointed, as each member was left up to his devices to write a song that would appear on the album.

For the album, ‘Atom Heart Mother’, the title track was 23 minutes long and consists of 6 different parts to the song.

Atom Heart Mother
Father’s Shout
Breast Milky
Mother Fore
Funky Dung
Mind Your Throats Please

I am upset with myself that I had not thought of ‘Breast Milky’ for a possible name for my wife’s lactation consultation business that I had not suggested Breast Milky as an option. Of course her business is slightly more than that more than that; she is also a postpartum doula. But the name ‘Atom Heart Mother’ came from a newspaper title from the Evening Standard which stated that he found a story about a pregnant mother who had received an experimental pacemaker. The headline was
Atom Heart Mother Named“.

It’s combination of the band with avant garde orchestral parts sounds like it should belong more thematically with a serious version of Monty Python’s ‘The Holy Grail’ or Game of Thrones.

Emotionally, I always found the song as part of a Fall Weather attire; the blustery wind off the lake hitting my face as I struggled to stay warm while the first side to Atom Heart Mother played in my earphones. Winter is coming.

I remember around the same time that I purchased this album, I just picked up a copy of ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ the Pink Floyd Odyssey from the DePaul Library. Before the internets, the ability to access information on bands would often be limited to Rolling Stone, MTV, fanzines and rumors. Finding a full-fledged bio on a band that I appreciated was a treat.

At first listen, I was not sure whether my purchase from Tower Records was a wise one. Having gone on a bit of a Pink Floyd shopping spree at the time, ‘Meddle’ had been the album that had caught my imagination with it’s own 23 minute epic in ‘Echoes’. Where I saw that album and the band progressing towards something spectacular.

But Atom Heart Mother did not resonate with me right away. I kept on staring at that Cows ass on the cover like the album was a joke. The cow, of course, was looking back at me like I should be minding my own business.

Maybe it was the time and place. Being a freshman in college, quite possibly a little lost and on my own, you begin to find solace in the small things. This album and the song have been embraced by yours truly as one of it’s best, critics be damned!

• Massive Attack – Atlas Air
• Guided by Voices – Atom Eyes
• Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother
• Joy Division – Atrocity Exhibition

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Day 20 – Astronomy Domine

September 22nd, 2015 No comments

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


Richard Dawson: Top 100 people survey top 5 answers on the board. Name a Pink Floyd Album?

Contestant #1 – *Buzzer* – Dark Side of the Moon

Richard Dawson: #2 Answer and you deserve a big wet kiss for that one.

Dawson begins to accost the young woman who wraps her arms around the elder gameshow statesman while her husband frowns in the background.

Dawson: Okay dear, this sweetheart over to my left provided a solid response (and smooch!) Can you do any better?

Contestant #2 – The Wall

Dawson: Show me The Wall!!

#1 Answer!, are you going to play or do you skip out of here meet me at the Howard Johnson just outside of town?

If you review the Pink Floyd legacy, from the perspective of the average fan, the immediate albums of note would be from the period between ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ to ‘The Wall’, with ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Animals’ squeezed in-between.

What I would like to focus on here, however, is the early years when the band was being led by Syd Barrett, a visionary, guitarist, composer and influential piece of the 60s psychedelic movement out of the UK. ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn,’ is the only proper album (not including compilations) that prominently features Syd Barrett. By the time that their second album, ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ is being recorded, Barrett is in the outs and only has a marginal voice.

A list of the top 10 essential psychedelic records from the 60s would be incomplete without Piper being listed. It’s central to the scene in the UK and over time, the album critical acclaim has only strengthened.

In 1967 we hear this explosion of important psychedelic music for the ears. If only to be alive and to experience the first time that you heard ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ or ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by the Beatles, or, in the case of Pink Floyd, Astronomy Domine, the opening track off ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. The idea that one track off an album can create an entirely new genre of music: Space Rock and, of course, pigeonhole a band along those same lines for years to come.

Before the band can even get started, Barrett begins his sad demise. Whether it is drugs, particularly LSD, schizophrenia or a little bit of both, the band struggles in promoting the record as Barrett’s behavior onstage is completely erratic.

In 21st century era with smartphones, the band or their management would not be willing to put up with his exploits before he is released entirely. In the video above, in 1968, we see Roger Waters on lead vocals and an almost unrecognizable David Gilmore on drums.

Beyond this album, Barrett’s legacy lives on with portions of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘The Wall.’ both being inspired to a degree on the content of those albums. If anything, Floyd cornered the market on music about insanity.

It also lives on through artists, Robyn Hitchcock, the most noted in terms of content that he has covered. Next time, instead of hitting up The Wall, take notice of this seminal classic and go on an interstellar overdrive.

• Fiery Furnaces – Asthma Attack
• Wilco – At Least That’s What You Said
• The Besnard Lakes – At Midnight
• Battles – Atlas

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Day 19 – The Art of George Harrison

September 21st, 2015 No comments

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


My wife and I have been proactive about giving our son completely biased music history lessons completely off the cuff. Over time this has been trying to draw him to both of our own preferences because of course we are both greedy about it all.

More recently, my wife, after finding a photo of the Beatles online had asked Dylan which of the Beatles was his favorite. After having time to scan over the photograph he turned and pointed to the quiet one, George Harrison.

George Harrison has always been my favorite Beatle as well so this, of course, did not break my heart. Beyond the music, it was always the way that he held himself.

However, it is the music, especially in the 2nd half of the Beatles career that we begin to see that the band was made up of 3 stellar songwriters. The setup prevented many of Harrison’s tracks from ending up on Beatles albums.

However, by the time that the Beatles have broken up and George Harrison is readying to come out with an album, there is such a backlog of material that remain on the shelf while with the Beatles. ‘All Things Must Pass’, the triple LP release went and took these hits off the shelves. The album is stacked with classics such as ‘What is Life’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Wah-Wah’ and ‘Beware of Darkness’ and ‘Awaiting You All’. The songs are given a fascinating amount of production via the help of Phil Spector so we should not be expecting 3 albums worth of sitar music hitting our eardrums. I would argue that out of any of the post-Beatles works that ‘All Things Must Pass’, is the absolute first album that any Beatles fan should purchase, before anything of Lennon’s or McCartney’s. My only regret was that I waited so late in life in acquiring it.

The ‘Art of Dying’ is the song that started this entire conversation. It’s feel is more disco than you might be expecting out of a song about reincarnation. It’s buried as the second song on the second side of the second LP. It’s not the song that many might remember from this piece of work but it’s the one that reminds me the most of the way that he lived his life.

So it seemed fitting on this Sunday to play his music before Dylan’s bedtime. No, we did not get through all the songs but there was still excitement in Dylan’s eyes when he heard that he was listening to George Harrison.

• George Harrison – The Art of Dying
• Wilco – Ashes of American Flags
• David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes
• Yo La Tengo – The Asparagus Song

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Day 18 – Around the Sun…. the Song

September 19th, 2015 No comments

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


There are days when you are left with an almost endless supply of music to write about. Beyond the selections below, I also had mistyped Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and thus it appeared as Arpeggi(Weird Fishes) for a live Radiohead set. Also included was such standouts as Elf Power’s ‘The Arrow Flies Close’, back when the band was coming out with solid material as well as tracks from Mike Watt and White Fence. Let’s not forget Pink Floyd and ‘Arnold Layne’, where The Floyd start their career off properly by writing about a deviant man. (Yes, Pink Floyd cornered the market on writing songs about deviants and insane individuals).

Instead, I must write about ‘Around The Sun’ the title track to R.E.M.’s most dubious album ever written. In terms of critical acclaim the album has always been stuck at the bottom of the heap as being a hot mess. This is not up for debate. For you youngsters at home however, reading this blog the 1st post as well as the byline before every entry are inspired by this song.

Hot Mess, yes. However, I still find about 4 songs on this album better than anything that they wrote during the naughts.

Michael Stipe spent the better part of his 20s and 30s writing about sad depressing shit and he did a pretty awesome job at it but he is not that person anymore. A good example, is ‘Make It All Okay’, off this same album which might be my least favorite song that doesn’t even come off as R.E.M. by Numbers but rather R.E.M. off the rails.

Point is, he has have a different perspective in life and there are points when he does that really well and this was one of those situations. For me it was a theme song to Barack Obama (who I still believe that was the best fucking president of my lifetime). In the midst of the Bush era, there was not all that much to be joyful about. The fact is, that beyond all the naysayers I did have hope and we do have change and quite a bit for the better. This was one of those songs that kept me going when you would think some election surprise would ruin his chances. This was on top of quite a few songs that were very political and he goes through his thoughts and feelings about the first few years of the Bush years and says, “It’s gonna get better.” And Stipe was right.

When you start counting points for favorite albums or songs, do you still sometimes get goosebumps when you listen? Number 1 sign that a song fucking rocks.

• Nico – Ari’s Song
• Pink Floyd – Arnold Layne
• R.E.M. – Around the Sun
• Wilco – Art of Almost

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Day 17 – Not Necessarily Stoned But Beautiful

September 18th, 2015 No comments

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


Hendrix again.

All Along the Watchtower was as much about Dylan as it was about Hendrix I suppose. If I were to pick out my favorite Hendrix song, however, it would be ‘Are You Experienced?’ the title track from the album with the same name.

This song has one of my favorite lines of any lyric written by anyone.

‘not necessarily stoned but beautiful’

The obvious suggestion based on the music and lyrics is that the song is about drugs and it might be some euphoric hallucinogenic trip that Jimi is taking us on. Or it could just be an awesome dinner, great sex but I think it is ultimately about being at complete peace with yourself.

* * *

There is a song by Wilco that I had initially recognized based on concert bootlegs that I had acquired that I had thought was titled “Beautiful and Stoned”. For those at home viewers that have already guessed which song I am referring to, (Heavy Metal Drummer), you can give yourself a pat on the back.

I find the song having an ironic response to Hendrix with the following lines…

I miss the innocence I’ve known
Playing KISS covers, beautiful and stoned

Where Hendrix might be discussing Tantric Sex, Tweedy is referring to innocence as “She lifted up her shirt at the battle of the bands”. (This is another shout out to the at-home Wilco fans who know that Tweedy would perform this song with these lyrics at certain shows over the years). Youthful indiscretion is innocence through Tweedy’s lens. The realities of life shed darkness on oneself. The simplicity of toking up and playing Kiss covers seems much more at peace with oneself than playing a grown-up in real life.

The point in time when the lyrics are written are also important. Hendrix is writing in the present whereas Tweedy is reminiscing in the past.

There is one similarity and that is the drumming. It is more obvious in the lyrics and the song title for Wilco’s ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’. Mitch Mitchell’s drumming cannot be understated for bringing the track together.

There is a phrase that has been oft repeated in our household of late. “Dad, that’s our band man!” I thought about that phrase quite a bit while writing this. It’s something that Dylan has been saying and has taken a life of it’s own. I am not sure I have an answer yet, as to what it means here, if anything. It will be something that I believe I will ponder over this evening and well beyond.

• Neutral Milk Hotel – April 1st
• Elf Power – Arachnid Dungeon Attack
• Max Richter – Arbetina (11 Years)
• The Gerbils – Are You Underwater

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Day 16 – Stuck in the Woods

September 17th, 2015 No comments

Day 16 –

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

I am writing about the 15th day as I speak and I can admit that I am surprised that I have made it this far. Beyond the initial hump of trying to write daily, it’s allowed me to free my mind from the element of the daily grind which can bring you down. It’s a brain exercise about writing about something that does not involve a job or bills or why there are ants by our doorway. It might contain some daily stories but it allows me my own mode of meditation. I’ve had some days where my iPod listening has not been part of my daily ritual as well as moments that have encountered that have not allowed me to write. I might only have about 3 readers but if there is one thing that I can say about them is that they are Class A individuals through and through. They are the reliable, top of their class, awesome people that you are so worthy to know. For you three out three, I thank you!


If there is any current music that I gravitate towards, it would be lo-fi psychedelic music. My short list of bands would include: Ty Segall, White Fence, Woods, Guided by Voices and Thee Oh Sees. Woods can be described as a lo-fi psychedelic folk sound maybe along the same lines as the Byrds.

‘Any Other Day’ from their album Sun and Shade clocks in at at a paltry 1:57 which is just enough time for Tom Brady and his deflated balls to march down the field and get a game winning score. In fact, a total of 7 of the 12 songs clock in at less than 3 minutes. They still have the ability to sustain a balanced offense as there are a couple lengthy psychedelic jams as well.

They are one of the few bands that has made it through 8 official records without coming out with a stinker, slowly allowing for their sound and production to grow without losing the essence of what they are. At the same time, they have been prolific, churning out about an album a year of great folk pop songs that feel perfect on a beautiful summer afternoon chilling in the park staring at the trees and the birds flying by.

While the album versions of the materials are strong, where they exhibit their true prowess, is when they are live and allow for their longer jams to take a life of their own. To me, this is what makes them stand out among their peers.

For a starting point, I would suggest either Sun and Shade or Songs of Shame which contains the nuggets inspired ‘September with Pete,’ clocking in close to 10 minutes.

• Massive Attack – Antistar
• The National – Apartment Story
• Bow Wow Wow – Aphrodisiac
• Animal Collective – Applesauce

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Day 15 – Another Girl, Another Hit Song

September 16th, 2015 No comments

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


There are times when I listen to the show “Sound Opinions” that I am in awe of both Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot. I am in awe, not due to their opinions being superior than mine but they carry a lofty amount of historical knowledge that they can roll off the history of a band off their tongue. True, I understand that they are not doing the show live and a high level of research is put into each show. But also, part of being a host is trying to outclass the audience, i.e. throw a Young Marble Giant reference to give credibility to whatever the fuck you are talking about. 9 people will not get the reference and the 10th is probably stoned off his gourd anyhow.

However, being a music fan is often a constant process of researching out a particular band or genre.
It’s having that “Oh Shit!” moment when you stumble across something that’s been staring at you in the face for years and never delved deeper than the surface. This is pretty much what I am about to discuss with you today.

Several years ago I purchased, Rhino’s ‘No Thanks!: The 70s Punk Rebellion’, 4-disc boxed set. It clearly contained some very obvious classic punk songs from the era but then others that might have been buried if I was putting the collection together myself. For me, it was a treasure trove of having a snapshot of an era that was slightly before my time and get a glimpse of everything that it had to offer.

One of these songs was, The Only Ones, ‘Another Girl, Another Planet,’ the hit song from this obscure (from my perspective) band from England. The song itself captures a certain charm between the whiny lyrical delivery style catchy pop nature of the song. To me, it’s a dead ringer as a catchy twin of the Plimsouls. ‘A Million Miles Away’.

While I would seek out psychedelic rock as my main inspiration, I get all soft when I hear good guitar-oriented pop songs that don’t feel generic or mass produced. More cowbell, less Hoobastank. With this particular song however, I am not certain as to why I had never really looked beyond what I had heard on this boxed set.

There was very little that I knew about them, in fact, I could not guarantee that I would have heard anything else by them. I found out, after the fact, that this song had been covered by Blink 182.

Note: This did have the potential of starting over entirely and writing about something completely different as ‘Blink’ does not fall into the type of bands that I would want to be associated with. Since I am on a constant deadline of trying to churn a story out a day, this is not really in the cards. I am not sure whether I could say the same if Nickelback were inspired by them.

They do not remind me of some of the more confrontational bands of the era nor the experimental punk bands but a combo of some American acts such as The Heartbreakers and Big Star and even a little Cheap Trick. So I am intrigued and at the same time dismayed that there is, alas, another band that I need to do my homework on.

But music plays these games with you. It’s the idea of listening to an album years after you purchased it only to finally “Get It” or even the opposite occurring, a song or album that you could not put down that you cannot stand. We are still making it through the A’s and there is still so much more to reminisce and explore.

• Unrest – Angel, I’ll Walk You Home
• Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)
• Galaxie 500 – Another Day
• Arcade Fire – Antichrist Television Blues

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