high weir

November 16, 2006

Top 50, with Comments

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 8:09 pm

Sean posted his favorite songs selected from a list of “500 Greatest” published in Rolling Stone. I’ve done something similar; I selected 10 keepers from each group of 100 (1-100, 101-200, etc)

It was a bit tougher than I thought, but the limits pushed me to choose songs I’d actually keep listening to.

2. Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones (they really knew what they were doing here) 12. A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke (the loss of Sam Cooke at this point in his career is staggering) 13. Yesterday, The Beatles (overplayed, but also underplayed) 22. Be My Baby, The Ronettes (I love the wall of sound) 23. In My Life, The Beatles (strange song, in lots of ways) 28. (Sittin on) the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding (grew up loving this one) 39. That’ll Be the Day, Buddy Holly and the Crickets (perfect pop song) 48. All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix (possibly the artist with the highest batting average) 85. Crazy, Patsy Cline (makes me think of Christmas, somehow) 100. You Can’t Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones (ambitious, pretentious, and successful) 

101. Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Jimi Hendrix (man this is an amazing song. de profundis) 109. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison (I love watching my wife dance to this) 110. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now), Otis Redding (maybe Redding’s best song)1 15. You Send Me, Sam Cooke (smoothest singer ever) 125. Will You Love Me Tomorrow, The Shirelles (I love the wall of sound) 162. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O’Connor (last great song from her) 169. Losing My Religion, R.E.M. (not their best, just their most popular) 177. Free Fallin’, Tom Petty (should be higher, maybe) 179. Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division (perfect for so-called disaffected college students) 180. Hey Ya!, Outkast (a gold mine of smiles. overplayed, but not its own fault)   

201. Bizarre Love Triangle, New Order (layers of wit) 222. Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison (no one sounds like Roy) 236. Everyday, Buddy Holly and the Crickets (man, he was good) 255. Heart of Glass, Blondie (epitome of early 80s detachment) 273. Something, The Beatles (startling to me when I first listed to Abby Road in 4th grade) 274. Somebody to Love, Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick’s potential, realized) 278. Pictures of You, The Cure (their absolute best song, I think) 281. You Are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder (placeholder for “Isn’t She Lovely”) 287. Walk This Way, Run-DMC (huge fun for white kids in the 80s) 289. Can’t Buy Me Love, The Beatles (despite the insipid movie of the same name) 

303. Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones (they wrote actual pop songs, too) 304. With a Little Help From My Friends, The Beatles (I liked Joe Cocker’s take at Woodstock, as well ) 316. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd (mixed-up imagery, but pretty great anyway) 334. Wild Horses, The Rolling Stones (ambitious and pretentious and successful) 335. Sweet Jane, The Velvet Underground (Cowboy Junkies’s version, actually) 337. Beat It, Michael Jackson (first music video I watched for) 356. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurythmics (on every 10 minutes that summer. still good) 357. Little Wing, Jimi Hendrix (his prettiest song) 370. The Wind Cries Mary, Jimi Hendrix (his second-prettiest song) 384. Ticket to Ride, The Beatles (early Beatles for grownups) 

401. Tonight’s the Night, The Shirelles (I love the wall of sound) 408. Sweet Emotion, Aerosmith (don’t know why I like it) 427. New Year’s Day, U2 (the one where they suggest instead of explain) 445. Come As You Are, Nirvana (nicely menacing) 449. Penny Lane, The Beatles (blends several Beatles stages) 454. My Sweet Lord, George Harrison (loopy, but fun. where’s “Here Comes the Sun”? did I miss it?) 455. All Apologies, Nirvana (sad) 467. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns n’ Roses (their best song. 10 best of the 80s?) 486. How Soon Is Now?, The Smiths (grim, but compelling) 497. Buddy Holly, Weezer (smarty-pants pop that works)


November 15, 2006

On Sapphics

Filed under: Poetry, Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 2:54 am

Sapphics for Patience
~Annie Finch

Look there—something rests on your hand and even
lingers, though the wind all around is asking
it to leave you. Passing the open passage,
you have been chosen

Seed. Like dust or thistle it sits so lightly
that your hand while holding the trust of silk gets
gentle. Seed like hope has come, making stillness.
Wish, in the quiet

If I stood there—stopped by an open passage—
staring at my hand—which is always open—
hopeful, maybe, not to compel you, I’d wish
only for patience.

Sapphics Against Anger
~Timothy Steele

Angered, may I be near a glass of water;
May my first impulse be to think of Silence,
Its deities (who are they? do, in fact, they
Exist? etc.).

May I recall what Aristotle says of
The subject: to give vent to rage is not to
Release it but to be increasingly prone
To its incursions.

May I imagine being in the Inferno,
Hearing it asked: “Virgilo mio, who’s
That sulking with Achilles there?” and hearing
Virgil say: “Dante,

That fellow, at the slightest provocation
Slammed phone receivers down, and waved his arms like
A madman. What Atilla did to Europe,
What Genghis Khan did

To Asia, that poor dope did to his marriage.”
May I, that is, put learning to good purpose,
Mindful that melancholy is a sin, though
Stylish at present.

Better than rage is the post-dinner quiet,
The sink’s warm turbulence, the streaming platters,
The suds rehearsing down the drain in spirals
In the last rinsing.

For what is, after all, the good life save that
Conducted thoughtfully, and what is passion
If not the holiest of powers, sustaining
Only if mastered.


November 11, 2006

On “You Can Count on Me”

Filed under: Movies — jstreed1476 @ 6:57 am

High on my list of favorite films is You Can Count on Me (2000). I really enjoy the rare chance discovery that someone else likes it a lot, too.

It’s about a pair of siblings reunited after being out of touch for an extended time. Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry (Mark Ruffalo) were orphaned as young children. Sammy now lives in their childhood home with son Rudy (Rory Culkin), who’s eight; Terry claims to prefer drifting in and out of jobs and lives, but he admits that he wants to come home for a little while.

Terry is bright and charming and spontaneous–everything a kid wants in an uncle. At first, anyway. He’s also a catastrophe waiting to happen. His bad judgment wrecks goodwill and hopefulness wherever he goes. But Sammy really wants him to find a more meaningful connection to . . . something. To her, and Rudy, and the world in general.

In a desperate moment, she consults Father Ron (played by the director, Kenneth Lonergan), the priest at her church. She wants to know what to do when “someone can’t quite get ahold of themselves.” Father Ron calls on them at home. As Rudy shoots baskets outside, the three of them make an awkward triangle in the living room.

Here’s a transcript of their conversation. I record it here so I can find it again, and because it’s good enough to share.

Terry: “Well, I’m not really sure why you’re here, Ron. Umm . . . I know I haven’t exactly been the model citizen since I got here, but considering how things have been going for me lately, I thought I was doing fairly well.

Directs attention to Sammy

“And I also find it kind of discouraging that you seem to think that I’m in need of some sort of spiritual guidance or what have you, so much so that you’re willing to disregard the fact that I don’t believe in any of this stuff at all.”

Sammy: “Well, I didn’t mean to discourage you.”

Terry: “Yeah, I find it kind of insulting.”

Father Ron: “Can I . . .can I say something here?

Sammy asked me to come talk to you because it’s her opinion that you’re not going to find what you’re looking for the way you’re looking for it.”

Terry: “And how would she know?”

Father Ron: “But I’m really not here to try to get you to do anything or to try to get you to believe in anything.

“And I’ll tell you the same thing that I told her, which is that as far as I’m concerned, the only way she can help you is by her example, by trying to be a model for you in the way she lives her life.

“And that doesn’t mean she’s supposed to be a saint, either, if that’s what you’re smiling about.”

Terry: “Oh, I didn’t realize I was smiling.”

Terry and Father Ron stare at their shoes for a few seconds.

Father Ron: “You know, Terry, a lot of people come to see me with all kinds of problems. Drugs, alcohol, marital problems, sexual problems–”

Terry: “Great job you have, man.”

Father Ron: “Well, I like it . . .

“I really feel like what I do is very connected with the real center of people’s lives. I’m not saying I’m always Mr Effective, but I don’t feel like my life is off to the side of what’s important. I don’t feel like my happiness and comfort are based on closing my eyes to trouble within myself or trouble in other people. I don’t feel like a negligible little scrap floating around in some kind of empty void, with no sense of connectedness to anything around me except by virtue of whatever little philosophies I can scrape together on my own.”

Terry: “Well . . . ?”

Father Ron: “Can I ask you, Terry, do you think your life is important?”

There’s a great deal to love about this movie–it’s funny and sad, it has surprises that aren’t just cheap tricks, the soundtrack is beautiful, and so on. But its best quality is its characters’ honesty with each other. They convince us that they say what they really want and need to say. And sometimes that means silence, too. There are aspects of the movie I could do without, but there are no really wasted scenes; it all adds up in the end.

Sometimes when people know each other so well that some things can go without saying, they still need to say them.

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