Whatever your egg-shaped Easter treat of choice may be — I’m a Cadbury Creme Egg devotee, myself — I hope you’re taking full advantage of the chocolatey bounty afforded us by the combination of a man-sized bunny rabbit and the fact that a large portion of the world’s population believes that a super-compassionate zombie walked the Earth a couple thousand years ago. Alright!
I’m so excited. At long last, I finally have an excuse to post this song.
It’s been roughly 7 months since “Hot Cheetos And Takis” took the interwebs by storm, and all this time, I’ve been waiting for the right moment to shine my own little light on its wonders. And thanks to Wednesday’s train wreck of a dinner, that time is now.
Depending on which website you ask, the photo above, taken May, 1986 in Aberdeen, WA, is either a mugshot from when Kurt Cobain was arrested for trespassing or from when Kurt Cobain was arrested for vandalizing a wall with the phrase “God is gay.” Or maybe it was “Homo sex rules.” Or, if police records are to be believed, “Ain’t got no whatchamacallit.” Internet confusion abounds over which incident the shot is connected with and what he actually spray painted when he did spray paint something, but what’s clear is that Cobain was arrested twice in a short period of time, and when asked years later about his vandalism charge, he wanted people to believe he wrote something provocative that referenced homosexuality. The specifics become less significant when you consider that the phrase “God is gay” reached more eyeballs by way of interviews than it ever would have on that wall in Aberdeen, and even more ears as the final lyrics of the 10th track of one of the best selling records of all time.
Cobain’s vandalism may involve elements of myth, but his distaste for homophobia was well documented. Two examples stand out — a journal entry that was revealed to read “I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes” — and the liner notes of 1992’s Incesticide, which made the following appeal:
At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the fuck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.
I find myself thinking about this part of Cobain’s legacy every once in a while, and it strikes me as incredibly powerful. People like to say — rightly on some levels, I think — that we remember Kurt Cobain in rosier terms because of his suicide, and that the uglier parts of his life get swept under the rug by a combination of selective nostalgia and hero worship. But in my mind, this is an area of unequivocal beauty. As confused and ironic as it may have been at times, Cobain’s cross-dressing, spray-painting, liner-noting, bassist-kissing advocacy for the acceptance of homosexuality demonstrated real compassion and courage, and each time it comes to mind, I’m filled with a strange sense of pride. The guy I trusted my early adolescence with — whose songs helped me learn how to play guitar and whose hair and clothes I emulated — turns out to have been even worthier of emulation than I realized, if just in this one specific, yet incredibly meaningful, way.
By chance, one of these prideful moments took place while I was getting ready for work yesterday — the same day the Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments for the first of two landmark cases involving gay marriage. I can’t remember what got me thinking about Cobain and his convictions, but I realized yesterday morning that, aside from developing a woefully half-baked theory involving David Geffen, the openly gay record executive who won the Nevermind bidding war, I’d never taken the time to learn why he felt so strongly about homophobia.
For those of you who missed Volume 1 of YHT’s Tournament Album Coverage, I spent last weekend glued to my couch, watching the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament in a most gloriously sloth-like fashion. I can think of no better occasion for acting like a shut-in and no better way to enhance the experience than muting the television and choosing your own soundtrack for each game. (There’s only so much of Jay Bilas’ voice I can take before I just start yelling at the TV screen like a crazy person.)
With a few exceptions, things took a decidedly more contemporary turn after Friday night’s Garfunkel-fest. Below, I’ve posted the art for everything my friends and I listened to on Saturday and Sunday, along with a sample song and a context-free quote from someone in the room about each record.
Oh man, what a weekend. So much couch. So much tournament. You know how astronauts used to splash down in the ocean after a mission? And they’d have to be carried out of their capsule things because their muscles were too weak to function normally? That was me trying to walk out of my front door this morning. Awwww yeah!
One fun byproduct of sitting in my living room and watching basketball all weekend was that the level of my own physical activity proved to be inversely proportional to the workout my record player got. My friends and I listened to some really great stuff, so I thought I’d do a pair of album cover photo posts, establishing what I hope becomes a new tradition — Tournament Album Coverage. Here’s the art for everything that hit the turntable on Friday night, along with a sample song and a context-free quote from someone in the room about the record pictured above it.
Hope you enjoy, and I apologize (to you and to the people who were at my house at the time) for busting out every version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that I own. Won’t happen again. But it probably will.
It’s all fun and games until the bracket you spent so much time on — applying your own secret predictive methodology, looking up key statistics, googling mascots to see which ones look the meanest — starts falling apart, piece by piece, poor decision by poor decision, transforming your pristine prognosticative masterpiece into a post-apocalyptic hellscape of red strike-throughs, unexpected outcomes and dashed hopes.
For a long time, all I knew of Phosphorescent was “Cocaine Lights.” I’m not sure how I came across it, but I think I know why I latched onto it — it’s one of the best coming-down songs I can remember hearing. I’m a sucker for these. They’re music’s way of helping us survey the wreckage after a storm, or wade through the emotional spillage that results from a fight, or decide whether the pizza that nobody was thoughtful enough to put in the fridge is still edible the next morning. These songs are dried up, distilled, naked, and honest, hurting and soothing in one languid motion.
If I’m being honest, I need only have heard the first line of “Cocaine Lights” to place the song in this sacred category. Matthew Houck pours oceans into those 7 words — “In the darkness/After the cocaine lights” — with a craggy voice that sounds like poetry when it climbs down the scale. In fact, the tonal topography of the phrase tells a story by itself, peaking quickly and then stumbling down rocky terrain. The rest of the lyrics might as well be a bonus, given that just 33 seconds into the song, I’m already where I need to be. Sober and rattled, regretful and removed. This may even be the reason I hadn’t sought out more of Houck’s music — those first 7 words gave me more emotion to chew on than most artists can serve up in 7 albums. But I’m happy to say that Houck’s new effort, Muchacho, has awoken the sleeping Phosphorescent fan inside me.
Happy (late) St. Patrick’s Day! I hope it was ridiculously fun and ridiculously safe at the same time.
Mrs. YHT and I elected to spend Sunday at home, having ventured out on Saturday to get the ingredients needed to make a celebratory steak, Guinness and cheddar pie. It’s a good thing our schedules were clear, because the pie took the better part of the evening to make, with the initial chopping, slicing and mincing starting around 4 p.m. and pie not hitting palates until a little after 8.
While I usually try to be a helpful sous-chef in these situations, the burgeoning cold that’s attacking my throat and energy in equal measures kept me out of the kitchen for most of the meal’s preparation. I did manage to contribute indirectly by choosing cooking music I thought would enhance the experience, and despite resisting at first, I went with the album pictured above — Van Morrison’s Moondance.
A friend at work recently hipped me to an acronym that I’ve been looking forward to using, and since I’m still saying things like “hipped me to,” I’m definitely in the market for some new expressions. I’m talking about “FOMO” — the fear of missing out. I’m about 99.974% sure that I’m way late in hearing this for the first time (clearly I’ve been missing out), but I find it really interesting, especially because the context in which I heard it used seemed to suggest it was a trait possessed by certain people, rather than a condition everyone experiences from time to time. As in, maybe you’re the type of person who wrings your hands about the fun stuff your friends are engaged in while you’re not around, and maybe you’re not. It got me thinking about how that emotion manifests itself in me. Am I a sufferer? Well, middle-school me sure as hell was. If I had a nickel for every time I experienced Friday-night FOMO in those three years, and if I’d taken those nickels and bought Apple stock… sheeeeeeeeeeiiiiiit… me and Warren Buffet would be playing Gulfstream jet rugby like they did with Kias on Top Gear.
These days, it’s almost always live music that revs up my fear of missing out. Not being able to go to the vast majority of the shows I put on my concert calendar sucks, and hands are definitely wrung when I get the reminders this calendar sends to my phone. DING! HERE’S SOMETHING AWESOME GOING ON WITHOUT YOU! Asshole calendar.
As bad as those reminders are (you probably saw this next bit coming a mile away), no time is more flush with FOMO than the six days of SXSW.