Rain on Parade: A Playlist

Today’s been wet and lazy. Having a day off is a good thing because I could use some respite before the momentum of academics picks up speed. It’s a bad thing because having bits of vacation this early keeps me on summer mode, despite the rain soaking the country. Case in point: I have spent hours on my ass, a zombie transfixed on my laptop. Well, I blame the cool winds for dampening my mood for anything. Except sit around. After willing myself to finish a paper for my writing class, I finally completed my first draft. This goes without saying that I clicked on my Facebook and Twitter tabs countless times between the time I began and finished. I just did it now.

In the spirit of making up for yesterday’s missed entry and today’s jarring productivity black hole, here’s a list of the recordings that kept me company throughout this rainy Friday. Really, these are just the songs that I happened to listen to. So now, I write about them:

Johnny 99 – Bruce Springsteen

This could’ve been any song from Nebraska. It was out of sheer serendipity that I clicked on this one in iTunes. If Born to Run was Springsteen’s explosive record, Nebraska rules through sober silence. The album version of “Johnny 99” is played with only vocals, an acoustic guitar and harmonica (as with the rest of the songs), in contrast to the above video. On rainy days, it helps to go with the flow. Nebraska gets you in that flow.

Psychotic Reaction – The Count Five

Call me musically ignorant, but I only found out that Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (a collection of rock journalist Lester Bang’s pieces of writing put together by Greil Marcus) was taken from two records of the band, The Count Five. In the title piece, Bangs slams them for ripping off The Yardbirds’ guitar riffs and melodies. (Heck, he even slams Led Zeppelin.) True enough, I heard Roger the Engineer then Psychotic Reactions and observed several similarities. Just when I thought that he totally hated the guys, he mellowed out and said that the album wasn’t so bad. Hence, Psychotic Reactions remains in my iPod, along with Roger the Engineer. Though they sound alike, I appreciate the fact that Bangs pointed out the connections. These are pieces of musical history, after all.

Homecoming – Checkfield

New Age will never die, and neither will this song. It’s chill and majestic at once, so I guess it fits in with the weather. This recording contains sonic palettes that I’ve yet to get a grip on as a listener and as a maker of music. Thanks to my dad for handing me this 1988 record. It’s one for the books.

Calgary – Bon Iver

I was reading Bon Iver’s recent interview, care of Pitchfork.com and realized how serious he is when it comes to his music. For a songwriter to even put effort into picking and arranging his words so they look nice on paper? Who does that? Bon Iver does that. I dig the heart-wrenching melodies, shades and textures. They just fit with my emotional landscape… and the weather. Months ago, I took him for another hipster saturating the indie-folk scene. Then I heard For Emma, Forever Ago. I was never the same ever since.

Dear Prudence – The Beatles

One positive thing my idle time has pushed me to do was to pick up my guitar and visit Ultimate-Guitar.com. Dear Prudence has always been one of the top Beatles songs I’ve wanted to play – thanks partly to Siouxsie & the Banshees and those bossa nova versions in café playlists. With its poetry about the sun and a beautiful day, it reminds me to hope for warmth and shine. It’s the perfect rainy day song for optimists.

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