Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Things I hate in popular music: hamfisted politic lyrics, shout-singing, non-rhyming couplets, unsubtle riffs repeated ad nauseum. But, still, somehow, I will never, ever, ever, not ever will I stop listening to Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil.

I can't explain it. I should hate this song with every fiber of my being, but I just can't. This ridiculous bastard of a song comes on my radio and I crank. the. shit. up. Even though Peter Garrett isn't so much singing as he is practicing several different Muppet impressions, one after the other. Even though I'm highly dubious of any song that relies so heavily on a bass guitar riff. Even though it's no longer 1987.  Even though--I'm all for the Aboriginal people's rights, and deplore how they were treated by Western colonialists,-- I hate how overly simplistic Midnight Oil's solution to the problem is. But you know what? I still love the song. I would never put it on a mixtape if I was trying to impress a girl, I would never actively seek the song out to listen to. But when it shows up on the radio, jammed between "One Headlight" and something by the Avett Brothers, I will stare off silently into the sunset, one single tear trailing down my cheek.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Last Time I Will Ever Listen To

"Jane Says"

A new feature here on the Tresselweb. I've always worked a few minutes from where I've lived, so I haven't had a real strong relationship with the car radio in years. But the combination of moving (making me a commuter for the first time ever) and the tape deck on my car stereo breaking (meaning I no longer have the ability to hook up my ipod to my stereo) means I've spent more time listening to broadcast radio than I have since I was a teenager.

I'll usually listen to NPR, but sometimes I just want some good music. I really enjoy Emerson College radio, in that it usually alternates between hipster music and deep album cuts of older artists, but once 7pm hits it becomes all reggae, and I have to admit I don't think I could listen to an entire reggae song, let alone forty-five minutes of only reggae. On the weekends, it's worse, as it becomes all a cappella.  Nothing makes me want to drive my car off  Route 3 more a cappella  Verve Pipe. So it's commercial radio ahoy. 92.5fm is usually pretty good--and solar powered!--but they love Jack Johnson and Bob Marley way too much.

So sometimes I'm just flipping. And there are lots of songs that I realize I've listened to probably hundreds of times in my life--songs that I've never really had any strong feelings about, that I would listen to mindlessly while working around the house or driving---that I CAN NEVER LISTEN TO AGAIN. A song will come on the radio and something in me will snap. As if my brain has set a limit on the number of times it will allow me to listen to a certain song without comment and the DJ just played it for the n+1 time.

The first song that I will never listen to again is "Jane Says" by Janes Addiction.

When I was in high school, my friend Jesse asked me to dub him a copy of somebody's Janes Addiction VHS tape. I had the capability, and did it, but the few bits of the film I caught freaked me out. I know at some point I saw Perry Farrell's penis, and I'm pretty sure there was some drug use involved, but whenever I think of Janes Addiction, I get the skeeves.

This song is pretty grody on its own for one reason: steel drums. I think if I ever heard steel drums--wandering down the beach, or walking past some street musicians, I'd break out in eczema. And that all happens before Perry Farrell starts singing.

I also don't know how a song with only two chords and a very simple melody can be so damn long. It sounds like a eighth grader who just learned how to play guitar wrote it. I know because when I was in eighth grade and learned how to play guitar, every song I wrote sounded like Jane Says. But luckily for everybody none of the eight-minute long, two-chord songs I wrote in eighth grade have get played on the radio with the regularity that "Jane Says" does.

So, "Jane Says", it's time to say goodbye. We were never really good friends, more like friends of friends, really. But it's over. Good luck with the rest of your life, blasting out of college dorm rooms while kids are smoking pot out of old Dr. Pepper cans.