Anatomy of a Country Music Song Part II

Figure 1. I don't entirely agree, but whatever.

Figure 1. I don’t entirely agree, but whatever.


Today, we’re featuring Justin Moore’s “Like There’s No Tomorrow.” You should know that I pick these songs based on how much my husband hates them. And he hates this one RUL RUL BAAAAD.

Justin Moore is not my fave for many reasons, though I think this song is interesting/catchy in some ways. But he himself has a big icky crucifix tattoo (on his bicep OF COURSE; of course he does, you’re saying to yourself) and wrote this song called “Guns” which might as well been commissioned by the goddamn NRA.

He has this other terrible song called “I Can Kick Your Ass” which may appear in this feature in the future. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the song itself, if you care to listen, and I think you should. THE TWANG YOU GUYS. THE TWANG IS OTHER WORLDLY. As always, I can’t vouch for the video, since I never watch them.

The lyrics, amended, are below the jump.

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Anatomy of A Country Music Song Part 1

Figure 1. I don't entirely agree, but whatever.

Figure 1. I don’t entirely agree, but whatever.

I do these things because they please me. That’s really all you need to know.

Well, also because they make my family crazy. Which also pleases me. So it’s all the same.

Here’s the song, in case you want to listen along.

It’s all after the jump… Read more →

Repetition Playlists Part II


Figure 1. Norman is smiling but not because he likes my taste in music.

Figure 1. Norman is smiling but not because he likes my taste in music.


I realize that nobody gives a shit about these posts but Steve Brezenoff and myself but TOO BAD.

Here’s the point of everything here if you don’t know what’s going on.

6. Violently Happy, Bjork

Figure 2. This is Bjork, in case you didn't know

Figure 2. This is Bjork, in case you didn’t know


A baby Norman Reedus is in this video. So. Yeah.

7. Poison & Wine, The Civil Wars

Figure 3.  Joy Williams & John Paul White of The Civil Wars

Figure 3. Joy Williams & John Paul White of The Civil Wars

I can basically listen to Barton Hollow straight through, no interruptions.

8. Tip It On Back, Dierks Bentley

Figure 4. Is Dierks Bentley cute enough? I want to put him in my pocket.

This is one of my favorite country songs because it’s a) sorta desperate b) never anything I would do if I wanted to relax and forget my problems.

9. The Weight of Us, Sanders Bohlke

Figure Sanders Bohlke.

Figure 5. Sanders Bohlke.

I won’t even lie; I heard this song on an early season of The Vampire Diaries and that was that. Oh, shut up. I never said I was cool.

10. Eau d’ Bedroom Dancing, Le Tigre

Figure 6. Le Tigre.

Figure 6. Le Tigre.

Well, so, I like Le Tigre. I mean, I went to high school in the early 90’s. What more do you want from me? This song particularly reminds me of Girls and Their Imaginative Life. Woo, deep.


Here’s the link to the full playlist on Spotify, if you’re into that sort of thing.




Repetition Playlists Part I

Figure 1. My. Would you look at that? Sweet suffering sassafras.

Figure 1.  Oh my sweet and creamy lord: Would you look at that?  I am sure he would hate all of my music cos he likes punk rock and whatever. This has nothing to do with playlists.


I don’t make playlists for writing. They just sort of happen to me.

But mostly, the songs only come one at a time. I like to set my iPod to repeat sometimes and just listen to the same thing, over and over and over, all day long. While writing. While doing housework. While running. There is something about this that keeps me in the mood/mindframe for whatever the hell I’m writing about or thinking about.

There is no telling why a song might merit this distinction. Though I took piano for many years, I’m not particularly musically-gifted or inclined, so I can’t analyze the actual bones of the music to figure it out. And lyrics range from profound to insanely dumb. So that’s not it, either.

Anyway. Steve Brezenoff, author of The Absolute Value of -1, Brooklyn, Burning, and Guy In Real Life, has this great thing on his blog about music where he catalogs his favorite songs and talks about them. Though I give him shit about this, he is still my friend and when I approached him about my repetitive tendencies, he was like, “Oh, sure, I do that all the time!” and we hatched a plan to blog about it. So, thank you Steve, for being encouraging and nice, even if I’m a dick about your music obsessions.

I have a list of 30 songs, based on the number of plays they’ve gotten on my iTunes, will share with a 5 at a time. Each song has a link to it, if you’re so inclined and want to listen. (Cannot vouch for the videos, however…)

1. Idaho – Gregory Alan Isakov


Figure 2. Gregory Alan Isakov. I have no comments to make about this man.


I love this dude so hard. I love all his songs and can let them tumble and shuffle all day long. Definitely pensive music. But still moves me. I mean, I can run to Gregory Alan Isakov. Yes, I’m a super slow runner.  Yes, I’m sort of an emo dork. Great. First song and I’m already totally defensive.

2. Come Over – Kenny Chesney


Figure 3. Kenny Chesney. This is the least icky photo I could find of him.


Okay, I know. I KNOW. It’s Kenny Chesney. Don’t watch the video. Or watch it, and make fun of me. Whatever. Anyway, I love this song because it puts me in a frame of mind for the kind of secret obsessiveness about sex and deviance that was on my mind (when isn’t it) while writing Perfectly Good White Boy. There’s something about the solitude and the closeted loneliness and the repetition (see that!) of stupid choices that appeals. Also, it’s not a love song. It’s just very dirty and mercenary. Oh, Kenny Chesney! You contain multitudes under that skin-tight cowboy hat.

3.  All Kinds Of Time – Fountains of Wayne


Figure 4. Fountains of Wayne. No comments, here, either.


So, I only like football because of Friday Night Lights and this song. And I have nothing else to say about this, but it makes the list so there. #eloquenceFTW

4. Mama Said – Metallica


Figure 5. James Hetfield of Metallica. I think he’s extraordinarily attractive. I do like the shorter hair, for sure.


James Hetfield is wearing a cowboy hat and a shiny Western shirt in the video, I know. I KNOW. Don’t watch the video if you can’t handle it! (I think he’s a total babe, if you want to know the truth.) But I like how power ballad-y this song is. It’s not all screechy speed metal, but enough guitar to remind me of the scruffy boys of my youth.

5. Stay – Rihanna (featuring Mikky Ekko)


Figure 6. Rihanna, who is the reason I added the pictures of the other musicians, because I just feel like staring at her naked, and that way it doesn’t look as asymmetrical/weird in the actual post.


Okay, I had never seen this video before doing this post and so I had no idea that Mikky Ekko was a dude. Also, I feel quite certain that I could look at Rihanna naked for a fairly long time before getting sick of it. (Also, Chris Brown: you bastard.) Anyway, I love the piano in the song and I love her voice and I once ran three miles listening to this song on repeat. So, there.



For varsity level music freaks who want to follow this list as it builds, here’s the link for it on Spotify.

What do you listen to on repeat? Send me your favorites so I can test them out.




On Music Lessons



Recently, I watched my husband and two other guys heave the piano out of our house and into storage and I felt this total happiness at its exit, much like when the piano falls into the sea at the end of that movie The Piano, except not the part where Holly Hunter goes down with it. Which is a pretty strong metaphor for how I have been feeling about this piano, I will grant you, but seems to fit in a diluted sense.

I played the piano for a long time. Like, I started in 2nd grade. And played until I was a senior in high school. And then I did a few semesters in college. That seems like a long time to do something that one is fair-to-middling at. But I guess life is just continual editing, right?

I was happy to see the piano go, even though it was the one I learned on. An upright mahogany thing. The bench which kept the music is long gone and when Matilda started her lessons, she used a chair, which I always thought was wrong.

Anyway. I was glad to see it go because harping on Matilda to PRACTICE PIANO was burning my life right out. It gave me flashbacks of my own mother harassing me constantly to do the same. And I hated practicing. And I hated showing up at lessons ill-prepared. It was like a weekly dose of shame. You know, an extra dose on top of the regular helpings I got growing up.

My sister and I were made to take piano because our maternal grandmother was a very talented musician, hence, thus, therefore, ergo, so should all her descendants be talented as such. My mother and her siblings were also subjected to this generational hazing. Nobody except my aunt, really, held a candle to my grandmother, who was a symphony cellist, and a choir mistress and an instructor in violin and piano, as well.

(ASIDE. My grandmother was a Weird Music Person. You know that Music People are Weird. Like Theater People, they have A Thing. And this Thing makes them all weird and focused on music all the time. You know, right? It’s not A Bad Thing. It’s just a Weird Thing I don’t have. I have other Weird Things. Anyway.)

My dad thought this frog-marching to piano lessons was a good plan; in the refugee camp where he grew up, his parents only had money for his eldest brother to take violin lessons, and when Sam was a musical wash-out, that was it for the rest of the Mesrobian children. Nice, economical handling of the problem, if you ask me. But my father, as he is about weddings and church, remained romantically attached to those lost music lessons. He’d lie on the sofa and read the newspaper while my sister and I clanked up and down the keyboard, as if this sounded like heavenly angel harmonies or something.

My problem wasn’t that I hated piano forever. Eventually I came to enjoy musical interpretation. Indeed, that was my only talent. My first teacher was not a stickler for classical training. She played in bars and did improvisation and was a showstopper, I’m told. But my hand position under her tutelage nearly gave my second teacher a stroke. Under Marcia, my second teacher, I was sentenced to play Hanon and hold tennis balls under my palms and do all sorts of finger exercises that would account for my ridiculously short pinkie.

It wasn’t all bad. I got a little better. I learned some Chopin from Marcia. And more Chopin as well as Beethoven, from my third teacher, Mona, who was less strict and rigorous and more about moods and dynamics and playing to my strengths, which did not include theory or grace notes.

Recently, my mother said, “I wish you’d done more with your piano.”

And I kind of looked at her, like, Really?

Because, what more did she want? More than a decade of being merely ‘okay’ at doing something? Was I supposed to play piano in bars and give lessons to shitty kids like me with bad hand position? Or did she really think I was going to magically become a lady Vladimir Horowitz or something?

And I wonder, truly, if kids that have Talent, do they have more enjoyment than I did as a kid? Are they drawn to instruments, noodling around making noise on them and what not? Or does that Talent only come after so much parental pressure is applied, like how you come to get good dental hygiene by ceaselessly banging on about regular brushing and flossing?

I only know that I was never forced to write stories. I did it all on my own. Was often interrupted, in fact, by my parents bugging me to play piano or do some other dumb thing.

I hate the idea of interrupting my kid to do some other dumb thing. Like, practice piano. Is this because I’m at heart a very lazy parent? I think that’s part of it. I also think that there should be something there; some joy, some glazed befuddlement on my daughter’s face when I catch her doing something she loves – currently that’s drawing. But maybe I’m being idealistic. And transposing my own shit onto her.

It could also be that our piano resided in my office. Another invasion into my space. A very negative invasion, which involved hollering and tears and bargaining and ugh. Gross.

Adrian, incidentally, never took music lessons. He’s also way romantic about listening to his girls noodle about on the piano. Which I only did to lure Matilda into practicing. And I didn’t like that because it felt like a trick.

And now I don’t have to resort to such cajoling and tricks, because the fucking thing’s in storage, indefinitely, and why can’t I just feel relief that it’s gone and we’re moving on, instead of sitting here curating yet another guilt and grief over something left undone?