My Mount Rushmore of Singers

At this moment, anyway:

Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Whitney Houston

With a runner-up trophy for Marty Robbins.


Music of the Moment, ctd

It’s been almost 10 years since I last did a “music of the moment” post (then called “soundtrack of the moment”), so I figured it was time for another. There’s no use trying to summarize a whole decade of musical discoveries and interests, so I’ll just try for the last few weeks.

“Hole in Your Soul” by ABBA, ABBA: The Album
Last weekend I was going through our LP collection initially just to clean the vinyls, but I realized there were several albums I hadn’t listened to in a while or at all. It’s so easy to jump to what I have on my phone when I want to hear something, but if I’m gonna have LPs around then I ought to use them, right? So I decided I’d listen to at least one a week, if only to weed out the ones that weren’t worth taking up our limited space. This mission paid off immediately when I pulled out ABBA’s self-titled album, which has some classics like “Take a Chance on Me” and “Thank You for the Music” but also this new-to-me gem:

What an electrifying mix of arena rock and typical ABBA-esque quirkiness. I’d love to play drums on that one. After hearing that I of course set off on an ABBA kick, which led me to “Bang-A-Boomerang”, off of ABBA. (Get more creative album titles, Swedes!) These tracks are why I try to seek out full studio albums, especially from artists I’m just getting into. I still end up with many Greatest Hits albums, but it’s easy to miss these great deep cuts when just sticking with compilations.

“Bye Bye Love” by Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
A bookstore by my place was going out of business 😢 and everything was $1 😁. I didn’t end up getting books but I did spot this album on vinyl in their small collection. I’d never heard of it, but its price, striking cover, and renowned reputation made it an easy buy. Just listen to the cover of the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” that kicks off the album:

“You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” by John Mayer, The Search for Everything
Perhaps because I knew someone with a strong John Mayer aversion, I’ve always felt the need to apologize for liking him. No more: the dude’s been an incredible songwriter going all the way back to his debut album. I find I prefer when he leans toward melancholic pop or country rather than blues. His latest album isn’t my favorite of his, but its final track shows off Mayer’s talent for delicate melodies and apt arrangements:

“I Just Want to Celebrate” by Rare Earth, One World
Once I found out Rare Earth was the first all-white Motown band, curiosity compelled me to check them out. It’s a scattershot discography, but I love this this groovy sunny-day song and its fist-pounding chorus hook. Sounds very 1971.

“You’re a Special Part of Me” by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, Diana & Marvin
Speaking of Motown, this was one of a few discoveries from reading Adam White’s Motown: The Sound of Young America. Obviously I knew of Gaye and Ross, but not of their duet album recorded at the peak of their musical prowess:

“Sugar Dumpling” by Sam Cooke, Twistin’ the Night Away
I had The Best of Sam Cooke for a little while before I realized, Oh right, Sam Cooke is incredible. Maybe I should get more of his music. Having done so, I’m thinking he might be the best singer ever?

“Honey and Smoke” by case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs
One of the few modern albums I have on vinyl because of how much I love it. “Honey and Smoke” precisely describes the sound of this Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs supergroup together trading tracks: a smooth, sexy, smoky blend of alt-rock and pop and lounge music. I don’t listen to any of them individually, but with their musical powers combined I am hooked:

“Big Iron” by Marty Robbins, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Though I’d heard Robbins before (most notably “El Paso” in the Breaking Bad series finale), it wasn’t until seeing this album on someone’s favorite music list a few years ago that I pursued his oeuvre. Perfect for road trips and daydreaming about the Wild West:

Books Libraries Teach Me How to Dewey

DDC 100-109: Don’t know much philosophy

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

The Rundown:

  • 100 Philosophy and psychology
  • 101 Theory of philosophy
  • 102 Miscellany of philosophy
  • 103 Dictionaries and encyclopedias of philosophy
  • 104 No longer used—formerly Essays
  • 105 Serial publications of philosophy
  • 106 Organizations and management of philosophy
  • 107 Education, research, and related topics of philosophy
  • 108 Kinds of persons in philosophy
  • 109 Historical treatment of philosophy

Ahhhhhh… Sam Cooke. Melodically justifying ignorance since 1960. But those of us who don’t know much about philosophy are in luck: Dewey’s got us covered. Having conquered the first 100 Dewey points, we now enter the mind-melting glass case of cognition dedicated to Philosophy and Psychology. This first 10-spot focuses on philosophy, its theories and important historical figures. If you’re like me, you’re now having flashbacks to that Philosophy 101 course you took freshman year that was very stimulating but also made your brain hurt after every session and where you learned how to extend two pages’ worth of substantive arguments into 10 pages of grade-A high-falutin’ BS. (Or was that just me?)

Anyway, I really am fascinated by philosophy, even if I’m not cut out to study it hardcore. (I’m also noticing that it’s a super annoying word to type, at least for hunt-and-pecker like me. For the last time, hands, it’s not philospohy!) A lot of the books in my library were dedicated to making philosophy accessible to laypeople, which is good because it’s often not. Still, it is everywhere, even when it’s not evident. Just ask the Philosoraptor.

The Dew3:

Plato and A Platypus Walk Into A Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
By Thomas Cathcart
Dewey: 102 CAT
Random Sentence: “Curiously, Camus looked a lot like Humphrey Bogart.”

The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer
Edited by William Irwin et al.
Dewey: 100 SIM
Random Sentence: “Can Nietzche’s rejection of traditional morality justify Bart’s bad behavior?”

Astonish Yourself! 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life
By Roger Pol-Droit
Dewey: 100 DRO
Random Sentence: “Do not step out of that shower jet’s narrow circle.”