“The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side” – The Magnetic Fields
(Words/music: Stephin Meritt, available on 69 Love Songs, Merge Records 1999)
Music Diary Project – Wednesday 4/6 and Thursday 4/7 (Context Here)
I haven’t had a chance to update this since Tuesday night (and probably won’t again until Sunday). Here’s what I best remember.
“Perfect Way” – Scritti Politti, “Secret” – O.M.D., and “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side” – Magnetic Fields
I have XM in my car, and I find that while I really enjoy the service, I seem to listen in shifts. I’ll listen to a couple stations for a while and then will go weeks without listening to them. Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of the talk shows on the MLB baseball channel. Combined with a short commute to work and not a lot of errands to run this week, I haven’t listened to a lot of music in the car. Most notably, I heard the Scritti Politti and O.M.D. songs on their “First Wave” channel (one of my favorite things to flip to during a commercial break on the talk stations). I heard the Magnetic Fields song on their “college radio” station (“Sirius XMU”) on Wednesday afternoon just before their “old school” show. For two hours on Wednesday afternoons, they play what they dub “vintage indie rock,” and when I can I make a point to listen, if for no other reason than it reminds me of a lot of the stuff I used to play on my college radio show.
“The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side” is indicative of my relationship with 69 Love Songs as a whole. I’ve largely approached Meritt’s three disc work in pieces, and each time I listen to a different chunk, I appreciate a new song. It had been a while since I heard “The Luckiest Guy…” and I forgot that Stephin Merritt didn’t sing it (Dudley Klute sings it, as with about half a dozen others of the sixty nine). So Klute’s smoother voice kind of took me for a loop, particularly the way he glides toward some of the higher notes (like the way he sings “astronomer”). It’s especially strange because I seem to be comparing it to a version of the song that doesn’t exist (I don’t think I’ve ever heard Meritt sing it live), and I can’t think of another time I’ve done this (maybe with a version I wish it sounded like, but not one I errantly remembered hearing). Anyway, this might be an interesting idea to explore another time. (Related: my favorite song on 69 Love Songs)
Smoke Ring for My Halo – Kurt Vile, Side A of Wide Awake in America EP – U2, Record 1, Sides A and B of The Blueprint – Jay-Z
The other afternoon, I treated myself to a couple games of NBA2k11 while listening to records. I stared with Kurt Vile’s new album after picking it up a couple weeks ago and never getting around to it. I grew to like it more as the album went along, and what began as being unimpressed grew into a respect for some of the understated qualities of his songs. I’m going to want to listen to this record a few more times, particularly the stretch in the middle that bridged the album’s two sides.
At the end of Vile’s album, I dug into one of my crates of records I hadn’t explored in a while. I have a bunch of bins of records in my living room (my roommate graciously puts up with what amounts to a disproportionate number of records taking up space) and found this EP from U2’s The Unforgettable Fire era. Side B is two outtakes from the record (which I wasn’t in the mood to hear), but side A features two excellent live performances of “Bad” and “A Sort of Homecoming.” The former is one of my favorite U2 songs (particularly for this version, which is excellently recorded) and the latter I always end up enjoying a lot more than I remembered.
I honestly forgot that I bought The Blueprint on LP, and that was the driving force behind listening to it. I got through the first half of the album (split over four sides) before I had to stop listening.
The last thing I remember listening to was this cover of “Bizarre Love Triangle” by Sarah Records band Even As We Speak. It was yet another reminder that I should probably look into more of these late ‘80s/ early ‘90s indie pop bands. Any specific bands/records as starting points?
That’s it for now. I’ll try to keep track of the next couple days for a Sunday afternoon/night update.
What have you been listening to?