CameraDeath Distractions: Music in My Kitchen

Fortuitous that Cathy of My Little Kitchen tapped me tonight to play Music in My Kitchen on the eve of my camera’s death. I had great entries planned for you tonight (I made Caesar salad! I bought a Galia Melon!)–(and maybe I’ll still post about them sans pictures)–but in the meantime, let me answer these music questions.

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

18.39 GB. And I just deleted a bunch because I wanted to copy all my music on to my iPod. I am constantly listening to music. I am listening to music right now. “Burn Down The Mission” came on my random rotation. “Tumbleweed Connection” is one of my favorite Elton John CDs. I saw Elton on David Letterman the other night and the song he played was so depressingly banal–so elevator-ready–that I wanted to shake Elton by his wig and yell: “Why don’t you write music like you used to! Music that matters! Music that’s interesting!” Someone should burn down his new mission–to write crappy music.

The CD you last bought?

CD? As in singular? Please! I did an interesting thing, though, recently that I am SO glad I did. I tore out the New Yorker’s year-end CD round-up and bought a bunch of CDs by artists I never heard of. I ended up falling in love with Tift Merrit’s CD “Tambourine.” I am addicted to this CD. I implore you to buy it and when you pop it in to skip to track 10—“I Am Your Tambourine.” This is the most rollicking, exciting track I’ve heard in a mighty long time. If you told me I had to get up at 5 am tomorrow to milk cows, I would go to sleep bitter; but if you played this as my wake-up call, I would be so giddy those cows would be milking me! And then the next song is so beautiful: “Laid A Highway.” But in addition to Tift, I also bought Van Hunt’s self-titled CD (“Van Hunt” for those who don’t know what self-titled means) and I love the songs “Dust” and “Hello, Goodbye.” The rest are slowly growing on me. (This is my first R&B CD. I feel so with-it.) Then Gretchen Wilson’s “Here For The Party,” Tom Waits “Real Gone,” The Hives “Tyrannosaurus Hives.” My friend Jason gave me Eileen Farrell’s “I Got A Right To Sing The Blues” (I queried Jason: “Does she really?” (Opera singers don’t get the blues, do they?)) and Lena Horne’s “The Lady and Her Music.” This CD is hilarious. Lena’s version of “I Got A Name” is shockingly new. You know that song—it’s the song that goes “Rolling on down the highway / Rolling on down the highway.” She ends it in this spirited declaration: “I…I intend to keep moving ahead…oh yes I do…because I’m not gonna let life…I’m talking about good old sweet, hard life…I’m never gonna let it pass me by!” That’s rivaled only by her “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter” where she brays: “And I’m gonna out-act Diana Ross…I’m gonna outact Ruby Dee…I’m gonna outact Gloria Foster Farah Foster Major Bo Dereck Cheryl Teegs Cher and all them soap opera queens you ain’t ever seen, honey!”

What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

Before writing this message? I don’t know, it’s on random rotation, sister. According to my iTunes Most Played list (and this will tell us what was most likely played) my top played song is Liz Phair’s “Glory”–which I don’t really believe, because although I like that song, I can’t imagine I clicked it 34 times. #2 is Wilco’s “Hummingbird” from their new CD “A Ghost Is Born.” I like that song. My favorites from my most popuar are: “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” by Leonard Cohen (because of the lyric, “Giving me head on the big double bed”); “Take Me With U” by Prince; “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Camp (by way of “Promises, Promises” which I also have); “English Girls Approximately” by Ryan Adams (this song makes me so happy when it comes on—it’s really simple but lovely); “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me” as performed by All Saints at the Burt Bacharach Tribute concert (from the CD “One Amazing Night”); “Train In Vain” as performed by The Clash (I love this version). I’ve also lately become obsessed with Donovan—particularly “Catch The Wind” and “Lalena.” (That came by way of Bill Murray’s apperance on Conan O’Brien; they played “Atlantis” on his entrance and I asked my dad who sang “Atlantis” and he told me Donovan and that led to this CD.) I’ve also been addicted to The Magnetic Fields’ newest CD “I.” It’s soft and smart and sad and it gets better the more you listen to it.

Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

1. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” First it was the song dad played on the piano when I was growing up. Then it was the song in Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Then it was the song from the “Pal Joey” CD with Patty Lupone. Then it was Ella Fitzgerald’s version, Rosemary Clooney’s, and now Lena Horne’s. It’s one of the most perfect songs ever written. It’s one of my favorites to play on the piano.

2. “Ragtime” by Randy Newman. This IS my favorite song to play on the piano. Learning it in E flat major made all the difference. It’s the first quiet song I really mastered—Jewish piano playing (especially for families) often involves shmaltzy loud banging. This one wows them and doesn’t require a piano tuner afterwards.

3. “Mr. Me” by They Might Be Giants. All I can remember is driving around L.A., miserably working for a big law firm, and singing–at the top of my lungs–“He ended up sad! He ended up sad! He ended up really really really sad!”

4. “The Dangling Conversation” by Simon & Garfunkel. Ok, so this list is SO old-mannish but listen to this song and tell me it’s not gorgeous. Lyrically, compositionally, performatively–it’s just so lush and rich and resonant. This and “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright.” Nothing beats early Paul Simon—his later stuff is great, but his early stuff is so pure and innocent and honest. I love it.

5. “Independence Day” by David Byrne. Rei Momo (the CD this is from) clicks a switch in my brain and instantly takes me back to the moment I realized law was a mistake and that I needed to go to writing school. I remember listening to this driving from my creative writing advisor’s house (she wrote my letter of recommendation for NYU) with the sky all pink and knowing that I was doing the right thing. Then, when I sat down to write the play that would eventually get me in, I listened to this CD on repeat on my ipod. We were on a cruise ship, so its tropical rhythms take me back to that weird fusion of activity—sitting on the deck of a ship with my grandparents, looking at green fuzzy tropical islands with my laptop on my lap writing a play about Jewish summer camp. The spirit of “Independence Day” kind of informed the play as it echoed what was going on in my real life. It may not be a great song (I think it is) but it carries so much meaning for me.

(6. “Your Redneck Past” by Bend Folds Five. I listen to this and think of Atlanta. And I mean that in a good way.)

(7. “The Mess We’re In” by PJ Harvey. I was obsessed with this CD right before and immedaitely after September 11th. And I remember thinking, truly, that these lyrics were prescient. “Can you hear them? The helicopters…are in New York…no need for words now…we sit in silence.” (This was written BEFORE September 11th.))

(8. “A Shot In The Arm” by Wilco. Great memories of belting this song at the top of my lungs driving home from the gym in Atlanta.)

(9. “Is That All There Is?” by Peggy Lee. It’s an existential dramatic monologue set to music. If you haven’t heard it, do so now.)

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

No one! We’re food bloggers…we’re supposed to write about food!

[Followup: After being yelled at by Santos I pass this to… Santos (squeaky blogger gets the meme?), Pim and Clotilde (although I’m not sure Clotilde will participate since she keeps her site so focused!). Enjoy!]

8 thoughts on “CameraDeath Distractions: Music in My Kitchen”

  1. I always thought it was “giving me head on the unmade bed”. Nice to see something different on your fabulous food blog. I loved your songfight song too. Digressions are fun!

  2. Food bloggers have such a sharp sense of taste and aesthetic that it’s no surprise to see some great music recommendations. I just ran off to download the Tift Merritt album, and it is excellent. Thanks for sharing!

  3. You’re the first person I’ve ever heard of who loves “The Dangling Conversation” like I do (not “my favorite song is…” but when you’re by yourself and you want to hear something strong). I see your “old mannish” and raise you: I also love “Bookends” and have since I was a teenager and misunderstood the lyric to say: ‘how terribly strange to be seventeen.’

    I also share your “Promises, Promises” affection; one of my favorite musicals to perform in.

    Love your blog; keep up the good work.

    PS: Where’s Lolita?

  4. i’ve been tagged already, i don’t think there’s backsies on this (although if i could, i would give 5 completely different choices).but thank you for putting me in such illustrious company.

    love bewitched, bothered and bewildered and the pj harvey choice. tops.

  5. Hi, I enjoy your blog. Can you please let me know where to get Galia Melons in NYC? I’ve tried it before and loved it.


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