Day 43 – I’m Drawing Pictures On Your Skin

November 11th, 2015 No comments

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


Released on January 6, 2009, Animal Collective’s ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ must have been a problem for many critics who had to make the revelation that they probably heard the best album of the year only 6 days in. While the album was released on LP on January 6th, the CD was released in the US on January 20th, the day that Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States.

There are moments in my life which I will never forget, such as one of the first times I listened to it, on a cold winter day with sub-zero temperatures walking to the El, with the sun on my face and getting lost in their music.

Unlike some of the more “Experimental” sounds of Animal Collective in the past, the album’s experimental tendencies did not overwhelm it’s welcoming features. There are songs that became immediate hits, such as ‘My Girls’, a call to love as well as living a more simplistic way of life, or ‘Summertime Clothes’, the perfect song to see live at a festival on a humid summer evening.

I still remember when I was describing the album for Lisa for one of the first times and commented to her that I think that I found the song that made me think of her.


There were a couple “Lisa” songs before this, such as Lou Reeds ‘Lisa Says’, but this one felt immediate and genuine, as if the lyrics and the meaning were written specifically for us. The underwater sounds parallel to her zodiac sign, Scorpio being a water sign. There were also simpler messages such as, oh, when the album came out that we both lived together in an apartment.

It’s not one of the things that you typically blurt out, especially yours truly. I imagine that when couples have their couple’s songs, the event is more organic. While there was a cannon of music on my iTunes at the time, picking out something from the past would never seem right. The song might have had a different purpose or meaning. The song had to be a virgin to my ears. It could not be affected by something that happened in 1995. It was within a day that I had made this proclamation to her.

For me, it was only natural that the song would be a key component, the song that my wife walked down the aisle 9 months later, looking stunning and beautiful. 6 years later she is more bluish than she was then.

• Billie Holiday – Blue Moon
• Jesus & Mary Chain – Blues From A Gun
• Animal Collective – Bluish
• Sex Pistols – Blues From A Body

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Day 42 – Hollywood and Blue

November 10th, 2015 No comments

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

Author’s Note: We are in the midst of an iPod failure, one at which the iPod is currently in on partial life support. The hard drive is intact and in good shape but the audio abilities appear to be in jeopardy. Stay Tuned.


Beyond all the hits and #1 singles of the Beatles, I’ve always been fascinated at moments that they pushed the boundaries of psychedelic rock in at weird moments. Consider the track Blue Jay Way, which btw, was written by George Harrison, as being one of the more underrated tracks in the Beatles canon of work. It’s definitely the best song on the Magical Mystery Tour EP.

As is often the case, I’m privy to providing a copy of a live performance or something that gets my fancy. I am in agreement with one of the commentators on YouTube, that this song is so good, that you cannot ruin it.

It was not the song that inspired me to buy the CD; that would be ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘I am the Walrus’. It was not the first track that I buried my head into when first listening to the album but I do remember about 15 years ago listening to this track on repeat, admiring it’s subtle beauty among some relative all-stars.

It’s contained on an album that is a mish-mosh of material. Half of the album, a soundtrack to a fairly experimental film project that was trying to feel “Fellini-esque”, although I do have to admit to getting a kick out of it when my wife and I watched it with our son Dylan about a year ago. He had immediately fallen in love with “Coo Coo Ca Choo”. The second half of the album is a collection of singles that the Beatles released in 1967.

It might be that about the time that this song was being played on repeat was about the same time that I was dabbling into the music of ‘The Olivia Tremor Control,’ the Elephant 6 experimental psychedelic band from Athens, GA. You could make the argument that the band took this song and made an entire career deconstructing this song for their liking; using that feeling that the songs were recorded underwater.

It’s not just the music but the lyrics as well, which for Blue Jay Way, which just give that illusion that they were influenced by drugs.

For me, this song is another reminder of the brilliant career of George Harrison.

• Radiohead – Blow Out
• Elvis Costello – Blue Chair
• Darker My Love – Blue Day
• New Order – Blue Monday

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Day 41 – Big Hands, I Know You’re The One

November 4th, 2015 1 comment

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


There are very few albums that are able to capture the angst-ridden teenage years better and at the same time cross genres to become acceptable. The debut album by the Violent Femmes is one of those albums.

The songs have been ingrained on all of our brains from:

When I’m a’walkin I strut my stuff and I’m so strung out
I’m high as a kite and I just might stop to check you out

It’s punk, it’s Jonathan Richman. It’s gold.

Of course, what is slightly unique about this album going Gold was that it did so without hitting the Billboard Charts.

There has always been something much more comedic, in my honest opinion, regarding Gordon Gano’s lyrics adding up to shock value. It might have been reality and might have been shocking. I never did have an “Add It Up” moment like the Ethan Hawke character had in Reality Bites when he covered the song onstage.

I can say, however, that “Blister in the Sun” did make it onto the playlist at my wedding. Teen angst was represented.

But the humor was what always made it so appealing. It’s a guys thing but in a charming way. Sure, Richard Hell suggested that ‘Love Comes in Spurts’. For the Femmes they questioned why we cannot just have one big FUCK while thinking of the jilted lover, a moment that we all have experienced. It’s an album that we will continue to share and pass on, never feeling dated or out of sorts.

Maybe every generation needs their “Ding-a-ling”? I mean there is absolutely no problem with this cute little diddy. Chuck Berry is All-American rock star. :)

It’s incomprehensible that Gano and Co. were not able to align the stars as much as they did consistently on their debut album.

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Day 40 – Black Monday

November 3rd, 2015 No comments

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


I came home today, on this Monday, running into a very excited three and a half year old asking me if I liked the song that was being played on Spotify. It was from a band named Houndmouth and the song was titled ‘Sedona’. Having never heard this song in my life, I was a bit confused at first wondering where Dylan had heard this song. After hearing the story from Lisa, it sounds as if he had heard this song off of WXRT.

An oh shit moment for sure.

Backstory: Dylan has graduated to listening to WXRT when he goes to bed. We typically keep the radio on all night so he has music playing in his room all night. We have used this as a little bit of back noise to combat some of the airplanes flying overhead. While this has been helpful getting him to sleep, it has also caused some issues such as an episode last week when Dylan ran into our room when both of us were still sleeping and informing us that the “The elephant song is on the radio”. (i.e. Tame Impala – Elephant). So he does listen to plenty of music on his own only being influenced by the nighttime DJ’s at WXRT.

Here was a song that he had listened to by himself on the radio without any influence from either of the parent figures. I know that they are not listening to this kind of music at at school as they are too busy watching me Nae Nae song.

It was not just that he had picked out this song but that it was actually good. It was not some crap band or song (i.e. ‘Bert – Doing the Pigeon’) nor a song that was preferred by one of us.

Immediately, we had to check out the schedule and found out that they are playing Talia Hall soon. I think both of us looked at each other and wondered the ethics for a moment about going to a concert for a band that your 3 year old turned you onto but not bring him along because he is too young. I am not really sure of the answer to that one yet.

I am wondering at what age I am going to start digging through his collection to see what he is listening to.

• Catherine Wheel – Black Metallic
• St. Vincent – Black Rainbow
• Women – Black Rice
• Elliott Smith – Bled White

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Day 39 – Black As A Dog

October 29th, 2015 No comments

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

Where do you start with Led Zeppelin?

Led Zeppelin IV (as it is commonly referred to) was my first purchase into the Zeppelin catalog. Thinking back at that purchase, getting close to almost 30 years ago, I realize that at the time, it was the appropriate starting point for any novice to the band.

At the time, it was just a cassette on a novice boom box. The Zoso on the label with the man hunched over carrying sticks on his back. Unlike some of the controversy when it was released, i.e. without an album title because of course the band was dealing with the commercial disappointment of Led Zeppelin III.

I was merely buying the album because ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was a great song. I did not grow up in the 70s. I did not have to deal with the song being overplayed on the radio. I really didn’t know what I was getting into.

The moment for me is the opening track.

Hey, hey, mama said the way you move
Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove

Cue the guitar riff.

Having purchased and eschewed several heavy metal/hair band albums for what I had felt was something saccharine, this felt real, a little dirty. The closest example at the time for me would have been Diamond David Lee Roth, and I am sorry but Plant and Page just pissed all over the faces of both Roth and Eddie Van Halen.

It’s ear candy. It’s metal before metal could ruin itself. It has it’s epic moments, even if ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is overplayed. It has it’s delicate acoustic moments with ‘Going to California’.

Black Dog contains everything that Van Halen and others failed to achieve. Authenticity.

After listening to the album only a couple times, I realized that this was not the only purchase that I would be making. There would be others.

• Led Zeppelin – Black Dog
• Yo La Tengo – Black Flowers
• Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foilage Animation
• Spoon – Black Like Me

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Day 38 – Black as Nero

October 28th, 2015 No comments

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


Danger Mouse has his hands all over the music industry as a musician, songwriter and producer including Gnarls Barkley (with CeeLo Green), Broken Bells (with James Mercer) as well as producing albums by Gorillaz, Beck and the Black Keys. I never thought that he got the type of credit that he deserved on the album ‘Rome’, in which he co-wrote with Daniele Luppi.

If the album reminds you of Clint Eastwood at all, possibly “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”, then you are on the right track. The album is inspired by Spaghetti Westerns which places it in an odd category of current contemporary music.

Norah Jones is featured on the song “Black”, which I have always found to be the standout track on this impressive album. I would not say that I am following Norah Jones or Danger Mouse (and for that matter Jack White or Daniele Luppi) in such a manner that I would immediately go and look for this album and embrace it.

A good place to start with Spaghetti Western music would be Ennio Morricone who had his hands on several of these. Spaghetti Western films were being made in Europe, (typically in Italy) with the most famous of these filmmakers, Sergio Leone. The concept of a European making a movie about an American culture the American West, from the outset would seem illogical that the genre would catch on, but the American Western, up to this point, one of the most significant aspects within Hollywood is getting fairly cliché and boring.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi bring upon a more modern contemporary view but with still giving a unique credibility to the music. I remember when I saw The Good, The Bad and the Ugly for the first time and thought what the fuck am I listening to? Thus, thinking about “Rome” this album within that mindset has always been comforting and welcome.

• Crystal Castles – Birds
• The National – Bitters and Absolut
• R.E.M. – Bittersweet Me
• Bob Dylan – Black Like Me

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Day 37 – He Was the One

October 27th, 2015 No comments

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


The King of Pop.

The rise and fall of Michael Jackson has to be one of the greatest tragedies of my generation. Yes, I know that he is only a popstar but he was one that influenced millions with his music, changed culture as we know it.

Billie Jean is one of the greatest pop songs ever written. It’s provocative lyrics, dancing and presentation, in some ways make it almost X- Rated. For example, in the clip below from the 25th Anniversary of Motown, Jackson sticks his hand in his pocket and jerks it in such a fashion that you would think he is masturbating.

Michael Jackson circa Thriller, it’s probably a little racy for television. Michael Jackson circa 21st Century it’s a little weird as his world became more fantasy than reality. Yet this video is still iconic on

Growing up when Thriller was out, it was like Michael Jackson and everyone else. The level at which he commanded pop music was amazing from the moonwalk, the studded glove but also the cultural aspect of being black. I was and still am not much of a dancer. I think my moonwalk would be an embarrassment. My hips are permanently broken. I could best describe my dancing to be comparable to a drunk ostrich.

‘Thriller’ is fun during Halloween and ‘Beat It’ has got its charm but ‘Billie Jean’ was the true gem. The song, for being a #1 hit is pretty dark and depressing in a Copacabana-kind of way. Still there is a certain funky-sexual side as well. There is this underlying sexuality as well. The introduction lasting almost a half a minute creates this buildup, i.e. the moment she walks into the room. Of course, Jackson launches into a PSA about listening to his mother before the claims of fathering a child come up. Michael Jackson fathering a child?

Obviously there is the psychological aspect of writing a song like this, the pressures of pop-stardom this should have been a red flag. How do you account for the fact that there will be those that will do whatever is in their power to make claims against your character? The only place to go is to turn to Neverland.

That is the tragedy.

• Catherine Wheel – Bill and Ben
• Leonard Cohen – Bird on a Wire
• Grateful Dead – Bird Song
• Patti Smith – Birdland

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Day 36 – Sweetness I Was Only Joking

October 26th, 2015 No comments

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


I have never taken much stock in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The idea that a body or group defines music on this level is not like a sports hall of fame which determines an athletes greatness on a more objective level. How do you define greatness? There are easy bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, which were enormous both in terms of record sales and musical influence. However, as music genres are created daily there always appears to be a certain credibility factor when discussing whether a progressive rock band or rap band deserves it’s plaque on a wall. Lastly, it is more of a promotional event for the likes of HBO who look at this as the opportunity that said band would play a couple token songs for the fans. This is big money when you consider that many of the bands that are entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been long since broken up and any reunion, albeit brief would be worth the money.

Cue The Smiths.

The Smiths were recently announced as one of the 15 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2016. The winners will be announced in December, which will be decided by a combination of fan’s ballots as well as music insiders. Whom those music insiders are has always been anyone’s guess. Yes, there is a chance that The Smiths could reform for a couple of songs on this evening. There is also a chance that the Chicago Bears will win the Super Bowl this year. Most of the issue with the Smith’s would be Morrissey’s current despising of half the band (Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce to be specific).

If there is anything that I can say about Morrissey is that he is an original. Having had the pleasure of seeing Morrissey live at an event that he didn’t fall ill weeks, days or even hours before the event is a miracle in itself. Whatever he might say in the media, he was a true gentleman, playing to the crowd, admitting the fact that he IS Morrissey and he can be a bit difficult, specifically when complimenting his backing band. I thought that this gave him a bit of bit of credibility in the fact that he understands who he is. This doesn’t mean that he can’t stick his foot in his mouth from time-to-time.

Of course it is common to see the roses and carnations thrown onstage. There were a couple fans during the encore which made their way to the stage to give him a hug. They were harmless, of course and all part of the act.

What I have always found intriguing, of course, are his choice of words, such as, from today’s selection, Bigmouth Strikes Again.

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I’d like to smash every tooth
In your head

Oh sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
When I said by right you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

Of course the first defense of Morrissey is that he can always claim that this is not autobiographical whatsoever. But then he’s Morrissey and lets face it, he has not admitted later on that he was only joking. Yet, the song has a certain comedic nature to it all. The caricature of Morrissey for me has always been more about comedy than roses.

A sidebar on the Smiths/R.E.M.

As a fan of R.E.M., I think that many would’ve wanted to have been a fly on the wall the first time that Morrissey and Michael Stipe met one another. While Stipe’s lyrics never got that far, R.E.M. would be the band that I think, is most closely compared to when describing the 80’s college rock/alternative scene.

During the 80’s there was always a bias towards UK acts vs. American that existed and a healthy competitive spirit between both bands. Over time, much of that spirit has dissipated as Johnny Marr, who was part of Modest Mouse at the time was onstage during the Accelerate tour assisting on ‘Fall on Me’ which was something of an unexpected pleasure to see both Johnny Marr and Peter Buck on the stage at the same time. In terms of the similarities of both bands the Marr/Buck comparison is most noteable since they both played Rickenbackers.

I think that is why, in the endless debate over The Smiths’ contribution to music is that I have never taken him too seriously, that his comments and lyrics have a flair for the theatrical. The music was catchy, poppy and inventive. For the naysayers, the Queen is Dead, from which Bigmouth Strikes Again appears on is, still one of the top 10 records of the decade.

• Spacemen 3 – Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)
• The Kinks – Big Sky
• Yo La Tengo – Big Sky
• Ty Segall – Bike

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Day 35 – I Want To Ride My Bicycle

October 23rd, 2015 No comments

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


My apologies for the slight vacation in my posting schedule. A slew of events including baseball and a sore back was preventing me from sitting around and typing about rock and roll. The back is better, just requiring a little R&R. The baseball is almost over, with the local Cubs getting eliminated from contention last night.

Regarding the baseball: While my fandom lies with the White Sox on the South Side, there have been several factors which have prevented me from being a north side hater. While I realize that they are not my team, they put together an admirable season and have a young nucleus to build around. I think that for the most part the asshole quotient is very low.

As you grow older, have a Cub fan for a wife and have already experienced a championship on the South Side, bitterness is just selfishness and I would not want to wish that a north side fan not experience that emotion. So congratulations for a wonderful season.


Is there a band on the planet that exhibits more rock and roll than queen? Theatrical, bombastic, over-the-top. They’ve created a very unique niche for themselves within their music and presentation and have been considered parts of heavy metal, progressive, glam among other genres.

The song ‘Bicycle Race’, inspired by the Tour de France is featured on their album Jazz. Lyrically it’s simplistic and even a little comical in parts. The official video below features 65 nude girls riding bikes in a fictitious bicycle race.

Musically, the song changes tempo along the way and takes several twists and turns, pops a tire, gets replaced and finishes strong.

There has always been a healthy level of respect for Queen from yours truly, specifically because I think that it’s been difficult to pigeonhole them into one style of music. I think that they have also been hard to replicate. You can make comparisons to the multitude of bands that sound like the Beach Boys, Beatles or Led Zeppelin but how many can bring it musically like Queen?

• The Minders – Better Things
• Luna – Bewitched
• Belle & Sebastian – Beyond the Sunrise
• Guided By Voices – Big Chinese Restaurant

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Day 34 – It was Paradise

October 15th, 2015 No comments

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


Whenever reviewing the solo career of Lou Reed, it’s an admittedly a hit and miss affair. ‘Transformer’ is probably his most popular, ‘Metal Machine Music’ is his most fucked up (this is a good thing btw) and ‘Berlin’ is his most underrated (or I should say underrated until very recently).

I think that there are a lot of reasons why it is underrated. For one, it is not Transformer, the glam rock masterpiece that had helped save his career.

Second, after his stunning output with the Velvet Underground that the critics had lofty expectations. If the expectation is that he is going to write about sex, drugs and depressing shit …


Oh wait, he did that with Berlin.

I remember around the first time that I heard this song was when I met him at a book signing in Chicago. There is no doubt that the meeting had an impact. I still remember the hexagon rimmed sunglasses with green lenses that he was wearing.

Berlin Wall had fallen almost 2 years to the date of meeting him so just the word Berlin still meant something since I was a child of the Cold War. It was not as if the song suddenly transported me to eating a jelly donut somewhere in the middle of Deutschland and finding a fraulein with a nice set of juggs to drink beer with. Or maybe it did. I think for Americans who grew up on McDonalds and Taco Bell, there is something romantic about a culture that has been established for hundreds of years, and being in that area and falling in love would have some type of merit.

The version of the song ‘Berlin’ on the album is several minutes shorter than the version that appeared on Lou Reed’s self-titled debut album. I have always favored the version the updated version for it’s subtle pauses and breaks that brought a ton more emotion to the performance itself. The song also sets the rest of the album up as Berlin, is a concept album based on a relationship gone really bad.

A VU Song like ‘Candy Says’ is depressing but endearing. A song like ‘The Kids’, especially being a parent, is your worst nightmare. When I was a teen, it was depressing but listenable, but now you cannot do it.

I have to admit to missing Lou Reed a little bit. I want him to come out with another ridiculous album like Lulu, or say something off the wall or at least be a fly on the wall when Lou Reed met Lester Bangs upstairs. Btw, this is what Lester had to say about Berlin:

What [“Berlin”] really reminds me of, though, is the bastard progeny of a drunken flaccid tumble between Tennessee Williams and Hubert (Last Exit from Brooklyn) Selby, Jr. It brings all of Lou’s perennial themes — emasculation, sadistic misogyny, drug erosion, twisted emotionalism of numb detachment from ‘normal’ emotions — to pinnacle.
It is also very funny – there’s at least one laugh in every song — but as in ‘Transformer,’ you have to doubt if the humor’s intentional. ‘Transformer’ was a masterpiece at least partially by the way it proved that even perverts can be total saps — whining about being hit with flowers, etc. — and this album has almost as many risible non sequiturs as that did: the heroine gets up from a beating and says that it’s ‘no fun… a bum trip,’ and the protagonist’s plaints draw a laugh just when they’re most spiteful.” – Lester Bangs, Creem magazine, December 1973

• Mike Watt – Belle Stabbed Man
• R.E.M. – Belong
• Unrest – Ben’s Chili Bowl
• Massive Attack – Better Things

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