Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


iPod song of the week – Yes

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On October 11, 2009
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 3

I’ve always wanted to use Yes for the iSotW but the songs I love are just too long. Even the songs I don’t love are way too long and would use up too much of the memory I’m allocated in the free version of the service I was using. But three things conspired to have me change my mind.

1. They’re in a commercial. You know I hate this, I really do. On rare occasions where it’s a song I don’t often get to hear, I’m momentarily too glad to have that chance to be too angry about it. More often, I am indignant and pissed off. This is one of those times. Yes means a lot to me (more on this later) and hearing their songs pimped for… I don’t know (ha! Take that! I don’t even know what you’re advertising!) just enrages me. All I know is, it’s “I’ve Seen All Good People” and they play it a lot during the baseball playoffs, along with that stupid Avis copy copy copy commercial.

2. I’ve switched away from box dot net to something far easier! It’s Lala is a music “rental” site that allows you to hear any song once and after that, you can pay 10 cents to hear it any time. You can also buy mp3’s at good prices but I can already do that other places. They also allow you to “upload” your own music so the music you already have and the music you’ve paid 10 cents apiece for lives together. I put the quotey marks there because you needn’t actually upload, it just matches the song against what it already has on its servers and then allows you access.

They gave me 25 free songs and I have put together an awesome playlist. I won’t show it to you now but the point is, you can put widgets on your site even for songs you don’t own or rent, so no more need for box dot net which forced me to upload my own music and also let people swipe it if they were clever enough. You can imagine that that sort of bothered me; there are too many clever people out there.

The widget says you can only hear the song once, but it let me hear it again, so I’m not sure about that one. But bottom line: I don’t have to upload anything and there are no limits on total file size so bring on the ten minute songs!

3. I mentioned Yes means a lot to me and like most things, it’s because they remind me of my childhood. Sister2 was a giant Yes fan and I used to borrow all her LP records. Later, in a more jokey way, they remind me of my college experience because my roommate and I could agree on only two bands: the Beatles and Yes. By listening to my CD’s she became this hugh jass Yes fan (we even saw Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe together at Merriwether Post Pavilion) eclipsing anything I ever felt. Wowzah. We both liked to go to sleep to music and, sharing a room, let’s just say I ended up listening to Classic Yes so often that the opening track, “Heart of the Sunrise,” will put me to sleep faster than you can say Pavlov’s dog.

The other reason I listened to so much Yes in college was because I have this problem with studying; I find it hard to do to music but other noise distracts me. This may seem odd in light of the fact that I worked to music, I fall asleep to music, I run to music, and I generally walk around with an iPod glued to my eardrum. But those are events that only take half my attention and so I need music. Music is never background noise to me; it takes a bunch of my attention. So I like it on the subway or while doing a spreadsheet or falling asleep (so my thoughts don’t race away) but while studying I need my entire brain. Besides Classical (yes, I said Classical), the only music I can study to is Yes. It has long instrumental passages that meander away and let me think. I was reminded of this tonight while the middle-aged gay couple downstairs were celebrating the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t tell” by having a knock-down-drag-out fight while I was attempting a particularly dense reading about Instructional Design. Thank goodness for Tales From Topographic Oceans! They just don’t make double albums with one song per side like they used to. Except The Mars Volta.

So, this is all to say that it’s the perfect time for Yes. This is my favorite Yes song and always has been. It’s got lots of parts, which is typical of Yes songs, but it’s the pathos mixed with a calm sort of hope that I like best. And, as always, there is Jon Anderson, the greatest voice in pop music ever. Sorry, I will not debate this.

Take it away, Lala!

Yes – And You And I


iPod song of the week – I wish

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week,Music
On September 13, 2009
At 7:00 pm
Comments :1

Last week you may have seen me Tweet that Amazon was giving away a free mp3 track of your choice. Like most giftcards and freebies where you can pick something, this somehow paralyzes me. Choose something now! NOW! I spent about an hour picking a song, I kid you not. But along the way, I found several songs I could not get as they’re still not available for legal download.

So, record labels and artist management, consider this your request letter.

Not since Kashmir…. oh, I really can’t get away with this. But seriously, Blancmange were such a genius band for combining Middle Eastern melodies with synth pop. Why are they not on the major download services?????

I don’t know why no songs from this band are available (they were my example about how to import cassettes into mp3’s, that’s how desperate I am) but this is my true favorite of theirs. It’s so gentle and pretty. This guy knew how to write a tune. And look like a butch gay woman.

I saved the best for last. This was a side project of Michael Hutchence of INXS and much more political than his stuff there. SO good. Why, label, why? I can’t be the only person who still remembers this song.

So there you have it. These would have been the iPod songs of the week… if only.


iPod Song of the Week – Love and Rockets

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On August 23, 2009
At 11:00 pm
Comments :1

I thought I’d celebrate my new life being appended onto my old one with a song that did the same thing. It’s two, two, two songs in one! It’s easy to hear the core of the original songs and even both of their titles are kept. So where we had “Haunted” and “When the Minutes Drag,” we now have “Haunted, When the Minutes Drag.” They combine pretty well, don’t they?

I like several songs like this, the two that come to mind are epic tracks made up of something like four songs, Yes’ “And You And I” and Matthew Sweet’s “Thunderstorm.” Speaking of the minutes dragging, both clock in at about ten minutes. Then there’s Elton John’s “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” which is over eleven and it’s only two songs. I don’t know why artists do this, but I find it very cool.

Anyway, this is from Love and Rockets’ first album and I love the build of it, and how it flows from tight to loose and the space just expands. And there’s no need to wonder what exactly the singer is haunted by. For the record, it’s: your soul, your hair, your clothes, your eyes, your voice, your smile, and your mouth. The word that would best describe this feeling, why, that would be, haunted.

Streaming audio:

Love and Rockets – Haunted, When The Minutes Drag


iPod song of the week – Sarah McLachlan

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On July 26, 2009
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 3

The best thing about Sarah McLachlan was how emotional her music was. Then it got kind of too emotional – I mean, how long can you sustain that level of emotion? Well, maybe that’s just me. But back in the day, before her big hits, I loved this song which now sounds somewhat dated and the production a bit cheesy. But when it came out it sounded fresh and her voice just grabbed you. There was something poignant about it, as though you, too, remember the person about whom she sings, “in the desert of my dreams I saw you there.” Remember is the key word, I think, because she doesn’t say that, but somehow it seems to me that it’s all a recollection of something or someone now gone.

This post is actually a preface to a later one which I’ll write when I’m not utterly exhausted. I went back to Baltimore this weekend and had a great, if intense time. Someone asked recently on a forum about going back to your old house. Well, you might remember that I haven’t had an old house until recently so of course I haven’t. But this weekend I realize I do go back, and I did. That house is several houses and they’re all in Baltimore. In hindsight, though, I wonder if I would have burst into tears upon stepping off the train onto the platform at Penn Station there, had this particular song not been playing on my iPod. Probably, but maybe not in those sort of sobs that make people look at you. What? Have they never seen someone who was that happy to see Baltimore before?

Streaming audio:

Sarah McLachlan – Vox


iPod song of the week – Fleet Foxes

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week,Music
On July 12, 2009
At 5:30 pm
Comments :Comments Off on iPod song of the week – Fleet Foxes

Hey, it’s “when I was a kid” week on JBall! But this one’s only tangentially related. In fact, this song’s really about the present. I had a really tough year. I don’t mean the calendar year. I mean Summer 2008 to Summer 2009. First there was losing the place where I was born and grew up, then it was the kitchen ordeal (and I recognize that I was lucky to get to remodel, but it was a horrible, soul-sucking experience that I entirely regret and still isn’t over), and then there was some other stuff beginning in January. I’ll talk more about that later this week.

But this song was a balm to me, so soothing as to still make my troubles dim when I hear it. I’ve listened to it a lot this year. The “when I was a kid” part comes from the fact that I think some of the appeal to me stems from the sound of the song, which reminds me of the sort of music my older siblings were listening to in the mid-70’s. I was lucky enough to have the sort of childhood where being reminded of it makes me feel safe, secure, and worry-free. Listening to this makes me think of my sister driving me down a dirt road in Dutchess County to get late night ice cream at the Red Rooster. But even if that’s not what soft 70’s music represents for you, I think you’ll still find this song peaceful and mind-resting.

And if you don’t usually bother listening to the iPod Song of the Week because my taste is not your taste, give it a try, This one’s different.

Streaming audio:

Fleet Foxes – Blue Ridge Mountains