Can anyone pick a top 5?

I really don’t believe in coincidences. I think everything is running on some parallel reel that the Master Himself mixed up for us. I also recently joined a creative cluster that spoke of moments of synchronicity. Last week I said, “I’ve been meaning to make music mixes for my friends.” I was helping out at a branch library and found High Fidelity on VHS. I always knew I should watch it but for some reason hadn’t yet.

So tonight I found myself, Reisling in hand and Turkey Hill 1/2 fat Pretzel ice cream (yeah that’s rockin’) at my side watching the movie. Considering some of the musical lifestyle changes I’ve undergone in the last year I sat feeling a looming sense of deja vu. I looked to the tapes (yes, cassettes. But c’mon. I already told you I was watching High Fidelity on VHS) beneath my turntable and realized I’ve had four in mind but hadn’t scripted them yet. But a mix tape takes a lot of thought and effort and time. I haven’t had much time. “Not enough time…” (thanks, INXS.)
It’s time. I kept saying, “yes, but who has a tape player anymore?” Does it matter? If they really like the mix they can put it on disc, right? Besides, I’d feel a bubble of nostalgia taping vinyl to cassette anyway…

So does anyone have a top 5? I found myself empathizing with Rob (played by John Cusack.) There’s always some stipulations. My top 5 of the moment. My top 5 for the road. My top 5 for Friday night. Ah, maybe that’s where I’ll start.

Splayed across my desk is an array of Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam’s vs. (from the bass lesson), and a sleeve of stuff to take to work. I haven’t changed that out in forever. It consists of Dinosaur Jr., Pearl Jam (big surprise, right?) the Replacements, Foo Fighters, G n R, Paul Westerberg, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Counting Crows, Ani Difranco (but I haven’t REALLY listened to her in ages.)

R.E.M.’s Document is getting to know Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers and Billy Corgan in the bathroom. Last week it was Soundgarden. Nothing quite like blow-drying to “Outshined.”

But what’s on turntable at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night? U2’s Unforgettable Fire, of course. On repeat. When a friend of mine asked me what the Top 5 was for me over a year ago I couldn’t narrow it down. My choices didn’t vary too much from the aforementioned array of musicians that follow me around the efficiency:

Last June I wrote: Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, INXS, Tool, Toad the Wet Sprocket and R.E.M. I know, it’s six. All Gray did was ask me a simple question and it sparked a musical revolution that’s carried into another year. Susan even told me her daughter Abbey’s favorites (and she was two.) To this day every time I hear Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” I feel sunshine because I think of her darling little girl.

So, I suppose it’s time to bust out the reels again and give people music. What’s better than free music? But it can’t be over-thought. A mix should be a repertoire from your own collection that you think the other person would like. My problem is who I should make one for first! I think of Zach and Tiff and I my Beatles collection seems woefully incomplete. I think of Jen and I hear “Monday, Monday” that I played on a Tuesday and enjoyed the irony. I think of Lindsey and know it will be all too easy to make hers.

I’m guilty of walking past Gallery of Sound and daydreaming about the 45 of remastered Big Star I didn’t buy. I’m broke! I whine and then realize I’ve robbed the change jar of that exact amount for the coffee I’m holding as the record store bores holes into my sunglasses. I’ve only stared at the store front four times this week, neck craned like some idiot getting his fix on car-wreck drama. Latte foam is less sweet when you forfeit the 45.

So what’s your Top 5? Of all time? Of the moment? For the week of St. Patrick’s Day? Make me a mix. It’s time for side B of Unforgettable…

Have a groovy weekend,

Rockin’ Rachael


Step into the Soundgarden and become an Audioslave‚Ķ

A few friends and I went out for my friend’s birthday Saturday and I kept cataloging the playlists as usual. I would never have pictured myself feeling at home at Lucky’s Sport House but usually the music is pretty good and the atmosphere is surprisingly low-key. (The clumsy girl reiterates that music is still her favorite sport.) Saturday was the second time we’d heard “Outshined’ by Soundgarden in two weeks. I love that song. There’s something about the dark bass line and the bright guitar harmonics…and then you have that high, treble wail from Cornell before his mainstream Audioslave days. I got into a (not-unpleasant) disagreement with one of her friends about Soundgarden vs. Audioslave. My loyalties lie with the former, of course. I just don’t understand how you can take angry and driven Rage and heavy and meaningful Soundgarden and have it be so…meh. The nuances of Cornell’s voice are still there but it just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t seems as driven or meaningful as Louder than Love and BadMotorFinger. It’s still Cornell but…(sigh.)

While we’re on the subject of Chris Cornell–“Seasons” from the Singles soundtrack…umm, how about amazing?! And his first solo effort “Euphoria Morning” was equally as golden. I was not, however, a fan of his second solo album “Carry On.” The only exception to that statement is his positively haunting and awesome rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” This track alone makes the whole “just okay” album shine. But then, this album was done mid-Audioslave. And don’t get me wrong–I’m not trying to rip on Audioslave. They were okay. They just aren’t the grunge guitar, driving bass line, awesome stomp-and-wail of Soundgarden that I prefer. Audioslave will always be outshined by the true spirit of Soundgarden.

Soundgarden is going to get back together, I hear. I wondered, however, what might shape up since Matt Cameron is so perfect in Pearl Jam right now and currently overseas on tour. I suggest a doubled-up reunion tour with Temple of the Dog seasoned in. Cameron is awesome enough to be on double drumming duty, right? I see you shaking your head. Good job.

Now if only Pearl Jam would come back to the states to share live Backspacer goodness with us. I await the moment with patience waning and credit card in hand.

I want a strawberry swing

I stand corrected. I thought I wasn’t into newer Coldplay but I was wrong. Today, I heard “Strawberry Swing” on my Pandora and I feel strongly persuaded to build up my collection from A Rush of Blood to the Head and on…The first time I was introduced to Coldplay was at an HFMAS Christmas concert in DC. Most of the bands there were Pop/Punk and I was not a fan of New Found Glory AT ALL. I did, however, get to see James Brown perform. It brought me back to the days of sitting on the bus in kindergarten dancing in my seat to “I Feel Good.” By the end of the show my friends and I were pretty worn out until the last band, Coldplay, came out. By the time they had gotten to the first chorus of “Politik” I was sold: on my feet and rockin’ out.

It’s good to know they can still rock it out. My apologies for thinking otherwise.