The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noted that every day on this blog has had a “Right Song at the Right Moment” tagged onto the end of it followed by a track and an artist you probably hate or have never heard of.
There are strict rules governing the choice of these songs which I should probably explain.
Music is of vital importance, it provides a soundtrack to your life. If your life has got a crap soundtrack then your existence is diminished.
Wifey accuses me of being a musical fascist which is probably true but I can’t stand laziness in people’s musical taste. People who say “oh allsorts” when you ask them what sort of music they like when what they mean is their entire music collection consists of a Beatles album, Abba “Gold”, a Take That compilation and the soundtrack to f***ing “Flashdance” or “Glee” – depending how old they are. People who can listen to commercial radio stations or Chris Moyles without thinking “in the last hour you have played three songs and they are the same songs you played this time yesterday – shut the f*** up and play something good you c***!”
Obviously everybody has different tastes and I will respect yours if you can back up your argument as to why you think something is good. What kind of music do I like?
For a start I have got no particular problem with The Beatles, Abba or Take That – what I object to is music for people who don’t like music. The aural equivalent of weak coffee or mild Cheddar.
The most time consuming job I did before coming away was honing my I-pod into a 365 day world-fighting machine. Putting on every song I have ever liked, cutting away all the filler, deleting anything guilty of being merely alright. There are only 8,347 tracks on it and a few hundred of them are samples from Family Guy, Generation Kill, Deadwood and The Wire. There are stand-up clips from Chris Rock, Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope and others and a few hundred phrases in French and Italian that I hoped I would be learning but have consummately failed to do so.
Wifey has got 900+ songs on her MP3 player and we made a dozen mix-CDs in case both devices went flat or we ended up somewhere we couldn’t plug them in.
The diversity stretches from Beethoven to Scissor Sisters, from Robert Johnson to Amy MacDonald, lots of hip-hop, classic metal but very heavy on the alternative/punk rock.
Both devices are set on “shuffle” which means they will spit up entirely random songs. One of my ambitions on this adventure is to hear every song I ever liked. To get through the I-pod’s tracks I have to get through 25 songs a day – I am already over a hundred behind. Also every song I ever liked isn’t actually on the device anyway because A) I now can’t abide a lot of songs I used to like (e.g. The Wombles “Wombling Merry Christmas” and “Teenage” by UK Subs); B) they are socially unacceptable (Gary Glitter’s brilliant live album “Remember Me This Way” – no Gary I’m afraid nobody will); C) they carry too much emotional baggage or; D) I’m an idiot (yesterday I realised I hadn’t put Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kaleidoscope” or “JuJu” on – why the f*** not, I love those albums?)
Anyway, to win Right Song at the Right Moment a track must be heard that day and at random. Either off the shuffle, on the radio or in a bar or at a Powwow. It hasn’t got to be the best song because that is always hard to quantify, it has to be “right” – for example “Knifeman” by The Bronx or anything by Motorhead or Ministry might sound perfect late at night with a beer in your hand but first track after breakfast they are too much. I need to hear a song, look around and think “yes, this is the soundtrack to right now”.
One of the reasons I’m a hundred songs behind is because the Ford Taurus we hired has got Sirius – which is a multi-channel digital radio service with hundreds of stations including BBC Radio 1 and BBC World Service (so spoiled have we become that I moan about not being able to get Radio 4 or 6). We loved Alt Nation until it became apparent that they only play about 20 different songs all day every day.
The long winded point being the song has to be “right” rather than “best” and that I have a limited choice. For example:
Wednesday 6th July: Right Song at the Right Moment was “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC because after living in Moab for a week we were back on the road and that song is such a pure driving song that it has got chrome f***ing wheels on it.
Thursday 7th – “Whiskey in the Jar” by Thin Lizzy; after a night in the tent under a fearsome thunder and lightning storm the morning was clear and the air was fresh as we left Utah and hit the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Wide plains and dark distant peaks.
Friday 8th – “Sorry” by Madonna had no business beating “Aeroplane Blues” by The Black Keys but we had spent the day hiking in the heat in The Mesa Verde National Park and we were drowsy and knackered with miles still to do. Getting our gay on was a massive mental lift.
Saturday 9th – “Just The Right Bullet” – Tom Waits. Crossed the border into New Mexico and on to a bridge over The Rio Grande, just outside Taos
Taos was brilliant by the way; galleries and shops selling local art that was genuinely amazing (I’ve never been into pottery but… like…wow), coffee shops, cool bars and this all-pervading laid back attitude. I felt an overwhelming urge to buy a black cowboy hat and spend the next week getting tattoos and drinking tequila on the roof bar at El Camino. Fortunately the budget and Wifey felt otherwise.
Sunday 10th “?” by “Hell knows” – it was the weekend of the Taos Powwow where native American people from all over the continent gather to sing, drum, dance and celebrate their culture. The drumming and singing sounds simplistic when you first hear it but when one of the gatherings near you starts (there were dozens spread around a sacred circle) – you feel the power, the complexity of the beat and the clarity in the vocal melody. I missed the name of the group and the song, because the PA was awful, who struck up next to where we were standing but they finished and I realised I was crying. I’d have felt a right soft sod except so was Wifey and she is way less soppy than I am.
But that is with my point with music – it should be good enough to shake your whole life up and not be formulaic slop to further the career of some grasping little shit house.
Monday 11th “Panic Switch” – Silversun Pickups – criminally ignored in the UK to the point that they were 3rd on the bill to Placebo when they last played the UK. Alt Nation plays them twice an hour over here.
Tuesday 12th “Jesus of Suburbia” – Green Day; pulling up to another cheap motel in Pueblo but well armed with chilled booze.
Wednesday 13th “Gravel Pit” – Wu Tang Clan – entering The Cheyenne Mountain State Park. (where we saw a 4 foot long snake and didn’t shit ourselves like we thought we would)