Presenting the “Not from the 80’s” Song Challenge!

Happy almost-September, everyone. I had a whole bunch of folks guessing where I was going to go with the September song challenge, so I’ve decided to throw a curve-ball and raise the stakes. I give you:

THE “NOT FROM THE 80’s” SONG-A-DAY CHALLENGE.

Will this one be more difficult? Probably. For a lot of folks playing along, the 80’s was a unifying time of (some would say obnoxious) monoculture, and honestly, a few of these clues apply to more than one song released during that decade. It was a funny revelation coming over drinks from a former colleague who came of age in the 80’s just how overplayed so many currently-beloved songs were. I mentioned how I had rediscovered Tears for Fears, and she said, because she was a teenager in the 80’s and forced to hear “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” 11 times per day, she can’t listen to them anymore.

The only rule for this month is somewhat straightforward: Your song cannot be released between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989. Everything else is fair game. Granted, covers released in a later decade are technically cheating, but I can’t tell you how to live. Save it, share it, and don’t forget to hashtag it #NotFromthe80s. Have fun! Special thanks to Lisa LaDuca for her numerous assists with this one.

My #NotbyREM Song Challenge Results

I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it also influenced me to revisit REM’s early and mid-era catalog on vinyl, which is always enjoyable. I had overlooked the second side of Murmur for so long! Anyway, here are my song choices from this month’s challenge. The matrix, for reference:

NotByREMSongChallenge

  1. Worriers – “End of the World” (song of 2020)
  2. The Aquabats – “Pool Party” (it was a cool party)
  3. Cee-Lo Green – “The Art of Noise”
  4. Pinback – “How We Breathe”
  5. Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon”
  6. Common – “The Corner (feat. The Last Poets)”
  7. Jessie Ware – “Spotlight”
  8. Mrs. Magician – “There is No God”
  9. Def Leppard – “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)”
  10. Frodus – “The Day Buildings Mysteriously Vanished”
  11. Prefab Sprout – “Moving the River”
  12. Dan Deacon – “Wham City”
  13. Andrew W.K. – “I Get Wet”
  14. Travis – “Flowers in the Window”
  15. Goldfinger – “Superman”
  16. Grandaddy – “El Caminos in the West”
  17. The Dead Milkmen – “Watching Scotty Die”
  18. Orange Juice – “Falling and Laughing”
  19. The Ramones – “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)”
  20. Meat Loaf – “Everything Louder than Everything Else”
  21. Snapcase – “Bleeding Orange”
  22. LL Cool J – “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
  23. Sick of It All – “Clobberin’ Time”
  24. Buzzcocks – “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”
  25. Deftones – “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”
  26. The Replacement – “A Little Mascara”
  27. Cock Sparrer – “Working”
  28. Sunny Day Real Estate – “In Circles”
  29. Husker Du – “I Apologize”
  30. Ruth – “Polaroid Romain Photo”

Because I can’t stop won’t stop (procrastinating), you’re all getting a challenge for September, too. I am going to try to keep grinding one out for every month the US is in “quarantine” due to COVID, so you can all look forward to another year or so of these!

[cue bitter sobbing]

Anyway, tune in tomorrow at 9AM Eastern for that, and don’t forget to tell a friend or two or however many the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram algorithms allow to see your posts (probably around 2).

Calling All in Transit… It’s the “NOT BY R.E.M” Song Challenge!

Happy Birthday, Bill Berry!

On a related note, here is your Song Challenge for August, everybody.

There’s only one rule, and it’s pretty obvious. Download it, share it, hashtag it #NotbyREM, tell all your Gen-X friends (as well as those from other generations), call me a leper, and have a great time. Bonus points to anyone who still picks a song with Peter Buck on it, somehow.

NotByREMSongChallenge

My #NotByBillyJoel Song Challenge Results

At the outset, this one got even more traction than the Sonic Geography Song Challenge did when I released it via social media. I’m not sure what they says about the world of Sonic Geography, but I’m willing to accept the reality that Billy Joel’s music has more mass appeal than my research. Crazy, I know (I may be, too).

Anyway, here are the results from my own take on the challenge. In all honesty, I hadn’t queued up so many results in my head as I was writing it as I did with the other one in May.

For Reference:

NotByBillyJoelSongChallenge

  1. Pixies – “Tony’s Theme”
  2. The Spinto Band – “Brown Boxes”
  3. The Dismemberment Plan – “Girl O’Clock”
  4. The Afghan Whigs – “Uptown Again”
  5. The Housemartins – “Build”
  6. Descendents – “Weinerschnitzel”
  7. Bill Evans – “Lucky to be Me”
  8. F.Y.P. – “Die Young”
  9. Bob Dylan – “The Hurricane”
  10. Minor Threat – “Cashing In”
  11. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
  12. Lifetime – “Airport Monday Morning”
  13. Minutemen – “History Lesson Part II”
  14. Jawbreaker – “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”
  15. The Ergs – “Books About Miles Davis”
  16. Hunx & his Punx – “You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll”
  17. Julia Jacklin – “Pressure to Party”
  18. The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Nine Million Rainy Days”
  19. Sick of it All – “My Life”
  20. Sunny Day Real Estate – “Pillars”
  21. The Bloodhound Gang – “Fire Water Burn”
  22. Replacements – “Love Lines”
  23. Misfits – “Bullitt”
  24. Minutemen – “Viet Nam”
  25. Pulp – “Sorted for E’s and Wizz”
  26. Throwing Muses – “Walking in the Dark”
  27. Chumbawamba – “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”
  28. Zwan – “Honestly”
  29. The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  30. De La Soul – “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'”

Thanks for reading and/or playing. Tune back in tomorrow morning at 9am EST for the August Challenge!

It’s the Not-By-Billy Joel Song Challenge!

NotByBillyJoelSongChallenge

I try to keep all of the content on this website germane to Geography and my related research, but also sometimes…in the middle of the summer, I go walkin’ into admittedly dumb but fun ideas.

Download this image and re-post it on whichever social media account you would like with your pick for song of the day. The only rule is that it cannot be a song by Billy Joel.

Hashtag it as #notbybillyjoel so I can keep up on your selections. I’ll post my full list here, as I did with the #SonicGeographySongChallenge. I don’t know why I’m hashtagging that within the body of a blog post, but that’s just how we’ve been reprogrammed.

Happy July!

Come and get it, Boomers:

My Sonic Geography Song Challenge Results

In case anybody is curious, here are my personal picks from the Sonic Geography Song Challenge.

Reference:

SonicGeographySongChallenge

  1. Aesop Rock – “N.Y. Electric”
  2. Nass el-Ghiwane – “Labtana”
  3. The New Pornographers – “Letter from an Occupant”
  4. The Twilight Singers – “Fat City (Slight Return)”
  5. Radon – “Science Fiction” (I can’t imagine a 2 1/2 minute song with more references to Florida)
  6. Lord Blakie – “Steelband Clash” (Live Version was the only one available)
  7. The Go-Betweens – “Bye Bye Pride”
  8. The Topp Twins – “Untouchable Girls”
  9. Alizée – “J’ai en Marre”
  10. The Verve Pipe – “The Freshmen”
  11. The Jam – “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows”
  13. Fucked Up – “David Comes to Life”
  14. The Calypsonuts – “You Can Call Me Al”
  15. Miracle Legion – “The Backyard” (Live Version)
  16. Black Grape – “A Big Day in the North”
  17. Geographer – “Paris”
  18. Airbag – “Coleccionista de Discos”
  19. Jason Derulo – “Want To Want Me”
  20. Tom Waits – “I’ll Take New York”
  21. U2 – “The Ocean”
  22. Dead Milkmen – “Surfing Cow”
  23. The Afghan Whigs – “Crime Scene Part I”
  24. The Go-Betweens – “Finding You”
  25. Crass – “Sheep Farming in the Falklands”
  26. The Dismemberment Plan – “Spider in the Snow”
  27. The Wedding Present – “A Million Miles”
  28. OutKast – “ATLiens”
  29. Café Tacvba – “Eo” (el D.F.)
  30. Charley Patton – “Shake It and Break It” (narrowly edging out ? and the Mysterians – “96 Tears”)

Thanks to everyone who has participated over the past 30 days and is still going if they started late! I’ve had so much fun seeing what songs came to everyone, especially a handful of challenging days. I can’t wait to make another one of these.

The Decade in Music

In case anybody cares…. [deep breath]:

SonicGeography: 10 Favorite Records of the Decade

MY 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE 2010’S

  1. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2011, Swami)
  2. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  3. Daddy Issues – Deep Dream (2017, Infinity Cat)
  4. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (2018, Ipecac)
  5. Suede – Night Thoughts (2016, Warner Music UK)
  6. Touché Amoré – Stage Four (2016, Epitaph)
  7. Makthaverskan – II (2015, Run for Cover)
  8. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012, Top Dawg)
  9. Rival Schools – Pedals (2010, Photo Finish)
  10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (2012, Fool’s Gold)

(And While We’re Here… my REDUX Top Ten Albums of the Century)

  1. Good Luck – Into Lake Griffy (2008, No Idea)
  2. The Twilight Singers – Blackberry Belle (2004, One Little Indian)
  3. Frodus – And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea (2001, Fueled by Ramen)
  4. Blur – Think Tank (2003, EMI)
  5. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2012, Swami)
  6. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  7. The Ergs! – dorkrockcorkrod (2004, Whoa Oh)
  8. Piebald – We Are the Only Friends That We Have* (2002, Big Wheel Recreation)
  9. Sondre Lerche – Faces Down (2002)
  10. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound* (2008, SideOneDummy)
*This album was released between 2000-2009 but did not appear on my ’25 Albums of the Decade’ list in 2009. I love it now, though.

60 TOP SONGS OF THE DECADE

(Arbitary Rules: One Song per Artist, Nothing from my Top 10 Albums. I linked a bunch of them but I got tired, and I have confidence your collective ability to google.)

  1. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” (2016)
  2. Robyn – “Dancing on my Own” (2010)
  3. BIG HUGE – “Carnal Pleasure” (2015)
  4. Taylor Swift – “Style” (2014)
  5. Basement – “Crickets Throw Their Voice” (2011)
  6. Ash – “Annabel” (2018)
  7. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Your Type” (2015)
  8. PUP – “DVP” (2016)
  9. The Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” (2010)
  10. The Smith Street Band – “Ducks Fly Together” (2013)
  11. Future Islands – “Vireo’s Eye” (2010)
  12. Swearin’ – “Just” (2012)
  13. Blur – “Ong Ong” (2015)
  14. Bob Bucko Jr. – “Heavenly Routine” (2015) – top instrumental
  15. Ex-Gold – “I’m a Man” (2014 technically)
  16. The Varsity Weirdos – “No Life on Planet Mars” (2015)
  17. Ex Hex – “Waterfall” (2014)
  18. White Reaper – “Pills” (2014)
  19. Teenage Bottlerocket – “They Call Me Steve” (2015)
  20. Suede – “It Starts and Ends with You” (2013)
  21. Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill” (2010)
  22. Big Boi – “Shutterbugg” (2010)
  23. Merchandise – “True Monument” (2014)
  24. Aesop Rock – “Kirby” (2016)
  25. Direct Hit! – “Werewolf Shame” (2012)
  26. Radon – “Headaches and Bullshit” (2017)
  27. Kanye West – “Runaway” (2010)
  28. Foxing – “The Medic” (2013)
  29. Billy Cobb – “1955” (2018)
  30. Smidley – “Power Word Kill” (2017)
  31. ALVVAYS – “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” (2018)
  32. The Gaslight Anthem – “’45” (2012)
  33. Kacey Musgraves – “Space Cowboy” (2018)
  34. Jason Derulo – “Want to Want Me” (2015)
  35. Loud Boyz – “4 the Ladies” (2014)
  36. Nothing – “Blue Line Baby” (2018)
  37. Pinback – “Proceed to Memory” (2012)
  38. Mogwai – “We’re Not Done (End Title)” (2018)
  39. Royal Headache – “High” (2016)
  40. Saves the Day – “Beyond All of Time” (2013)
  41. Alex Cameron – “Candy May” (2017)
  42. FIDLAR – “No Waves” (2013)
  43. Paramore – “Rose Colored Boy” (2017)
  44. Teenage Exorcists – “Love Buzz” (2010)
  45. Danny Brown ft. Purity Ring – “25 Bucks” (2014)
  46. Drug Church – “Tillary” (2018)
  47. Against Me! – “Crash” (2016)
  48. Walter Schriefels – “Open Letter” (2010)
  49. The Rentals – “It’s Time to Come Home” (2015)
  50. Sorority Noise – “No Halo” (2017)
  51. Weezer – “California Kids” (2016)
  52. The Sidekicks – “Everything in Twos” (2014)
  53. AJJ – “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” (2014)
  54. Plow United – “Bright Eyes” (2016)
  55. Cullen Omori – “Cinnamon” (2016)
  56. American Football ft. Hayley Williams – “Uncomfortably Numb” (2019)
  57. Hot Chip – “One Life Stand” (2010)
  58. Tender Defender – “FEFE” (2015)
  59. Bleachers – “I Wanna Get Better” (2015)
  60. Post Malone – “Sunflower” (2018)

TEN BEST LIVE PERFORMANCES I SAW THIS DECADE

  1. Davila 666 (Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, 09/09/11)
  2. Lipstick Homicide (Media Club, Vancouver, 07/20/13)
  3. VOIID (The Tote, Melbourne, 7/13/19)
  4. King Kong (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 11/12/2016)
  5. Merchandise (Ace of Cups, Columbus, 6/7/2013)
  6. Direct Hit! (Surprise Gig, Allston, MA, 4/6/17)
  7. The Dismemberment Plan Weekend (Washington, DC, Jan. 2011)
  8. Mdou Moctar (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 1/13/19)
  9. Hot Chip (Coachella, April 2013)
  10. Ex Hex (Athens PopFest, May 2018)

THREE FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEOS

Dan Deacon – ‘True Thrush’ (2012)

Suede – ‘Life is Golden’ (2018)

Julien Baker – ‘Sprained Ankle’ (2015)

 

 

 

A Pair of Geography Playlists for your Monday

Happy Monday, and Happy Finals Week (depending on where you are) everyone. I’ve been fortunate to bring some fun subjects into what’s normally a stressful time for students and faculty alike.

My Globalization class (GEO 121) submitted their 4th paper, which required that they pick a song and pick apart its geographical references. My North American regional class (GEO 350) had a group zine semester project, which they are just submitting today. One group, who focused mainly on the American Southeast, did a zine devoted to music and region. Despite their thwarted attempts to burn a mix CD, they were still able to share their playlist with the class, which I’m passing along here.


GEO 121 Musical Geography Paper Class Playlist

  1. King 180 – ‘I Ain’t Goin’ Back Again’
  2. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Oh Detroit, Life Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)
  3. Jason Aldean – ‘Crazy Town’
  4. Gordon Lightfoot – ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’
  5. Rise Against – ‘Help is On the Way’
  6. Kid Rock – ‘All Summer Long’
  7. Toto – ‘Africa’
  8. John Denver – ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’
  9. The Kinks – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
  10. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’
  11. Nelly – ‘King’s Highway’
  12. The Manao Company – ‘Drop Baby Drop’
  13. Men at Work – ‘Down Under’
  14. Eminem, Royce da 5’9″, Big Sean, Danny Brown, Dej Loaf, Trick Trick – ‘Detroit vs. Everybody’
  15. U2 – ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’
  16. Logic – ‘Everybody’
  17. Lynyrd Skynyrd – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’
  18. Ray Charles – ‘Georgia on my Mind’
  19. We are the World 25 for Haiti
  20. The Hold Steady – ‘Confusion in the Marketplace’
  21. Arkells – ‘Michigan Left’
  22. Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett – ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’
  23. Highly Suspect – ‘Serotonia’
  24. The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’
  25. Jason Aldean – “Fly Over States’
  26. Shakira – ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’
  27. The HU – ‘Wolf Totem’
  28. OutKast – ‘ATLiens’
  29. Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Especially in Michigan’
  30. Panic! at the Disco – ‘Vegas Lights’
  31. Kid Rock – ‘Detroit, Michigan’
  32. Drake – ‘Know Yourself’
  33. John Denver – ‘Rocky Mountain High’
  34. Jim Jones ft. Fat Joe – ‘NYC’
  35. ‘Tear Me Down’ from “Hedwig & the Angry Inch”
  36. Tony Bennett – ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’
  37. Jack White – ‘Just One Drink’
  38. Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’

GEO 350 Group Project Playlist

  1. OutKast – “Ms. Jackson” (oooooh)
  2. Lil’ Jon – “Snap Yo Fingers”
  3. Wes Montgomery – “West Coast Blues”
  4. Blind Blake – “West Coast Blues”
  5. Blind Willie McTell – “Statesboro Blues”
  6. Mississippi Fred McDowell – “You Gotta Move”
  7. Garth Brooks – “Friends in Low Places’
  8. Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”
  9. Randy Travis – “Forever and Ever, Amen”
  10. Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World”
  11. Nina Simone – “Backlash Blues” (Live at Montreaux 1976)
  12. Nina Simone – “Backlash Blues”
  13. Joe Hertler (CMU alum) & the Rainbow Seekers – “Evening Coffee’
  14. The Velvet Monkeys – “The Creeper”
  15. Scream – “Caffeine Dream”
  16. Fugazi – “Waiting Room”
  17. Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
  18. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”
  19. The Allman Brothers – “Midnight Rider”

Who is this Street Musician? (San Francisco, 1999)

Go ahead and file this entry under the alternate title, “Yet Another Reason I’m a Music Obsessive.”

I suppose I have relatively little in my life to regret. None of the ‘big’ decisions I’ve made (where to move, what career to pursue, relationships to develop) can be changed, so whenever I do get a pang of regret, it’s usually something arguably small: a concert I didn’t attend (e.g. Dillinger Four in DC this October) or a record I didn’t buy (e.g. that Brainiac reissue in New Orleans). Though, to be fair, Dillinger Four haven’t played their final show (just wait for them to get drunk enough and find the right bar in Minneapolis) and according to an old colleague Oliver Wang, those records will eventually find their way back to you if you’re paying attention.

So, here’s an anecdote about something almost twenty years ago that I regret to this day. In April 1999, my family and I flew out to San Francisco on a trip with my sister’s youth jazz band. Being an aspiring filmmaker at that time in my life, I hauled my little camcorder around the city with me. My sister’s band had a gig at Ghirardelli Square one afternoon, and I decided to film my walk down (what I can only assume was) Beach Street beforehand. I stopped for a moment to film an old man with an acoustic guitar, singing a wonderful rendition of “Georgia on my Mind.”

SF_Bluesman_1999

I glanced down at a small case of cassette tapes he had on the ground next to him, wondering if I had the cash in my wallet to buy one. I’d already spent most of my trip allowance (or conned my parents into spending their money) on CDs and I’m sure a small assortment of embarrassing souvenirs teenagers buy on trips to any big city.

Before I could act on that impulse, my Mom yelled for me to come join them over in the Square, since the show was about to start. I reached into my pocket and threw some change into the bin next to his tapes and left, already feeling pangs of regret for not buying a tape.

I have no idea what his name was, and no amount of video technology that’s been coded this century could focus and zoom in on the grainy video I shot of him that afternoon. Honestly, I’d have to go back to the tape in order to even see whether I’d even caught a glimpse of his merchandise case, but its doubtful. Not that having one of his tapes would necessarily answer these questions, but even at that age, I was incredibly curious about the stories behind his music. At any rate, I wish I’d been able to capture more than 15-20 seconds of him playing that one song.

So, I just figured it wouldn’t hurt to throw this out into the ether to my San Francisco friends or anybody who sees this that may have lived/worked around Ghirardelli Square at the time: does anybody know who this old man is? I would be amazed if he was still alive, considering how this was almost two decades ago and he already appeared to be well into his seventies. I wonder whether any of his tapes (I vaguely remember him having more than one different release) circulated locally, or whether any wound up in thrift stores after his patrons downsized? I recognize how unlikely it is that anything would come from this, but crazier things have happened on the internet. Come on, global village – redeem yourself!