Thursday, February 9, 2023

Album sequencing, more Roches

When I was young and chronically bored in the car (in the 80s - we had car stereos and tapes but did not yet have handheld devices) I would go through my folks' collection of boomer tapes (James Taylor, Marty Balin solo, etc.) and my various embarrassing Sting tapes etc. and develop theories about which songs would go in which positions in the album. You start off with the strongest statement, go into something more conventional but still strong with the second one, end the first side with something memorable and optimistic, start the second side with a hey-we're-back, and then the penultimate song is the most enigmatic, the grace note to the strong and memorable closer that is the final song.

The position that I could never quite figure out is song 2, side 2. In many ways it seemed to be the place where the weakest material hung out, at least according to my very scientific study of approximately 20 over-the-hill boomer tapes.

I mentioned a few posts again that I've been getting into the Roches. Keep on Doing has a very interesting side 2/song 2 in "The Scorpion Lament," a slice of deep melancholy about almost getting caught doing something regrettable at night. They can't resist clever clunker couplets like:

faithful and unhenpecked
I somewhat recollect

but then it has just an awesome line in

God has let me release a sting
in my own eye

It's the only obvious reference to a scorpion in the song, and then it incongruously ends on a major chord as they sing "it's not alright with me," and then there's a super jarring transition into "Want Not Want Not." I like it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Swim lessons, The Tubs

Registering a kid for swim lessons in 2023 is totally nuts. The moment registration opened, I breezed through all the waiver stuff and got him registered and paid for. Mere moments after I hit submit and got confirmation that my boy had been registered, all the classes showed up as being full. Wow. Like piranhas, man.

I mentioned to my wife that hey, now he'll be able to pass the freshman swim test when he goes to some fancypants college. She was not aware of swim tests being a thing and we both agreed that it is kind of crazy. I was glad to see that my fancypants alma mater will allow you to take a PE class for a quarter if you do not already know how to swim, because swimming pool distribution is, let's say, not exactly equitable in this country.

UNRELATED: Reliable old Trouble in Mind Records just put out The Tubs' Dead Meat. In the words of the old Dark Beloved Cloud catalog describing the Clean's "Late Last Night," it is "like the best parts of all your other records." Perhaps too much so, but it is hard to deny that it is well-crafted. The song "Two Person Love" is the second song on the album, as it should be*, all the performances are spirited, and the algorithms have decided that since my peers like it, I will also like it. And I do, more or less. I do wish they would FIUM** a bit, and I wish the mastering job were less heavy-handed and allow for a little space here and there, but it fills in the workday and complements a second cup of coffee just fine.

* Everyone knows that if you have a number in the title of the song, that is what its position in the track listing should be. Souled American's Around the Horn has "Second of All" and "Six Feet of Snow" in the appropriate positions, one of many reasons I love that record. My various 33-track albums violate this rule in favor of maintaining an alphabetical order track listing, well, with one exception, namely, a song about choosing which set of rules to prioritize.

**F--k it up more, my standard instructions to the folks at my songwriting group, and, in general, a good guiding principle for making music.