Flutterby™! : sargent pepper taught his band

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sargent pepper taught his band

2005-09-28 22:13:17.491463+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

I tried the "lookup the top 100 songs from the year I graduated high school, strike out the ones you wouldn't listen to" meme, and ended up with... well... one or two I might not turn the dial to avoid if I heard 'em come on the radio now. Dave got a better year.

But Columbine stole this idea for a journal entry from M'ris, and it's one I figured might be worth a shot. Long entry in the comment.

[ related topics: Dan's Life ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-28 22:14:47.673803+00 by: Dan Lyke

20 years ago... I was starting my senior year of high school. In Newtown, Connecticut. I've occasionally described Fairfield County as the Marin County of the East Coast, but really that's not true. They're completely different attitudes, and Fairfield County has Danbury, and perhaps (I forget) Bridgeport, so even though portions of it are very rich, there was, at least at the time, a mix of social strata. I'd transferred after 7th grade from a Waldorf school in upstate New York, so I'd had a bunch of adjustment issues which never really let me fit in to a standard public school (or society in general), but I had several teachers who had PhDs in their subjects, and by senior year I was into subjects that I was starting to like.

Midway through this year my family would move to Chattanooga, I'd spend a week and a half in Hixson High School, realize how good Newtown's school was, and move in with a friend's family to finish my schooling back up there.

A few years ago, maybe it's been 8 or 9 years, I tracked down and talked to that friend, and it seems that all of us had gone our separate ways. He said "it's funny, we all became exactly what we said we were going to be", and in finding a few other people I discovered he was right. And, oddly, we had nothing else.

15 years ago I was a professional whitewater guide on the weekends, and a programmer during the week. I was probably a quarter of a million lines of C code into my avocation, just figuring out what it meant to be a real programmer. I miss those days, I miss those skills, I miss the idea that a programmer should be able to optimize display drivers on one day and build better B-Tree database locking algorithms on the net. Programming nowadays is more like TinkerToys than woodworking, and I miss the feel of a sharp chisel on hard wood.

I'd just started running across the woman I fell hopelessly in love with, with whom I thought it would be a good idea to start an animation studio with (good idea, bad interpersonal reasons, too few people for critical mass); my relationship with her would eventually push me into a depression that drove me to a weekend in April of 1991 with what is now called the ManKind Project, that was a cusp in my life.

So at this point I was still a repressed twenty something, coming out a bit because raft guiding is half entertainment (and becomes more so as you get better at the whitewater bits), but hadn't yet experienced all of those clichés of self-discovery.

But I was in great shape, still rock climbing a bunch, and about to enter my prime year of paddling.

And it'd be a year and a bit before I met Catherine.

10 years ago I had just left my community in Chattanooga and arrived on the west coast with Catherine to work for Pixar. I'd spent the past year or two conslutting some, but mostly hanging out at Chaco & Eddie's coffee shop and starting Chattanooga Online with Meuon and Debbie (and a host of helpful irregulars).

But the lure of games and movies and a real salary were too much for me, and, with the help of Topspin and Keevah and her boys (1) we packed up the Ryder and headed west into parts unknown.

5 years ago I'd been separated from Catherine for a year and a half (although we just talked on Sunday evening), and was unsure about my relationship with Charlene, whom I'd met in a hot tub in Tiburon shortly after Catherine and I separated.

I'd left Pixar in January to join up with Todd in Coyote Grits[Wiki](which I'd actually agreed to do the September before), a consulting company that ended up draining a moderate amount of cash from me, but in the middle was, occasionally, a hell of a lot of fun. This is when I'd take the rat boys[Wiki] over to the offices on Friday nights for long hours of computer games. These were the heady days of $35/head lunches at the late and lamented Alfi's[Wiki], of rewriting some truly grotesque Perl into clean elegant code that the client really didn't want to ship because their internal politics were far more important than actually satisfying customers.

This was my third year at Burning Man, Flutterby had been regularly updated for two and a half years, I was still interested in games, my notes from that era talk about wanting "...to get back to developing that romance-novel game genre", something I've long since abandoned.

I was still into spirituality as a means for personal growth. I'd divorced it from religion, and had been re-exploring ritual as a means to personal expansion, but I'd had a few trust issues with some of the circles I was hanging out in, and had started to realize that it was harder to separate belief, ritual and spirituality than I thought.

3 years ago the .com bubble had burst, I'd spent a year at Gracenote and then moved on to Alvanon. Both taught me a lot, but the latter made me soft; the company attitudes made me less excited about programming, which brings me to...

1 year ago I'd been laid off from Alvanon and was looking around trying to figure out what to do next. I was playing with some code of my own, stuff I still hope to resurrect some day, but I really hadn't realized how soft my coding skills had gotten.

We'd decided to not go to Burning Man this year, and were even burned out on the whole burlesque revival scene. Clearly, I needed a kick, and my life has always delivered.

Personally, Charlene and I had found our stride, a pace we continue to today. I was recently describing the learning process to become competent in Un*x, how it took longer to understand, but once you did was much more rewarding, and I realized I was also describing some personal relationships.

yesterday I'd planned to drive Charlene into work after we dropped her car at the garage, but I couldn't find my keys, so she went on and I planned to bike over to my developer's meeting with the Digital Fish crew. Then she called from the garage, which she'd coasted into after having car problems, so I borrowed the houseguests' car, drove her to work, got back, and had one of our houseguests drive me and my bike over to the meeting. Spent the morning in the meeting, the afternoon hanging out with a coworker working on one of his problems in getting Maya data into our animation tool, picked up Charlene's car, and went over and had dinner with Alec[Wiki], Jeanne[Wiki] and Janine, where Charlene had hung out after work.

And in that description is a lot of my current life. The houseguests have been with us essentially since June, with a few breaks, and we try to get out whenever we don't have to be around for Forest[Wiki]. I value any time I get hanging out with either of the rat boys[Wiki].

The bike has become quite a bit of my personal transportation; I'm down to 155 lbs and in pretty good aerobic shape. Work is exciting again, I'm challenged, learning stuff, I just hope I can make some money from it soon. Charlene and I are getting along really well, enjoying each other's company, supporting each other in many ways, and willing to acknowledge that we're at different places physically.

And... well... some of you have heard the stories of the houseguests, some of you haven't, but I think that this process is a cusp of yet another major personal change, probably back to some of the more black and white ethical stances I took in my twenties.

More as that develops...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-28 22:38:03.123319+00 by: markd

Ugh - I'm 1986 too, and that's quite a fetid pile of horror in that top 100 list.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-28 22:57:30.748161+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, what amazed me was that there are a couple of artists there that have a few songs I'd listen to (mostly in the "if someone's passing a guitar and a joint around a campfire I'll sing along" kind of way) but even those artists only had losers that year.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 12:37:08.174001+00 by: DaveP [edit history]

Hmm. There are at least a dozen songs from 1986 I dig enough to have in iTunes, or to think "I should have that in iTunes".

  1. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
  2. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution (I like Tom Jones' cover better, though)
  3. Higher Love, Steve Winwood
  4. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
  5. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco (I have the extended version somewhere on an EP)
  6. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
  7. Manic Monday, Bangles
  8. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
  9. Invisible Touch, Genesis
  10. Take Me Home Tonight, Eddie Money
  11. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., John Cougar Mellencamp
  12. Silent Running, Mike and The Mechanics
  13. All I Need Is A Miracle, Mike and The Mechanics
  14. Walk This Way, Run-D.M.C.

But then I've got a weakness for good pop hooks, and a some of these have good hooks, even if the whole song is pretty weak. And some are just stupid songs that struck me right.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 15:36:27.228219+00 by: ebradway

Many of the old "pop" tunes like this were heard so repititiously that they actually become part of the collective consciousness. While, from an artistic point of view, most of it is "a fetid pile of horror", it does have the ability to awaken a sense of nostalgia - hence Dan's lengthy post about his life.

But there was something more to the 80s. As I look over my list from 88 - I guess I'm the youngster here. In the 80s, it was still possible to write a love song (Higher Love). It was possible for music to be as meaningless as "Manic Monday". Rock anthems were still big (R.O.C.K. In the USA, Rock me Amadeus, etc).

Maybe it was just where we were in our development or maybe it was where society was, but there was a little more naivete and little more bouncy fun. The 90s ushered in grunge rock, the grimy, world sucks, blow-your-head-off-with-a-shotgun, whining drone. The 00s (oughts), seem to be a return to something more lyrical but still planted firmly on the earth. Lots of acoustic guitar and folksy rythms (John Mayer, Jack Johnson, etc.). But maybe that's just what I'm listening too... Maybe I should see what my 11 year old daughter thinks is cool... Maybe it's bouncy and optimistic!

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 15:54:20.758985+00 by: Dan Lyke

'cept for maybe the Dire Straits[Wiki] which is still in rotation when I listen to music nowadays, I think Dave got my "might not switch away from on the radio" list, and then some. There's something about how Genesis[Wiki], Steve Winwood[Wiki], Peter Gabriel[Wiki] and Robert Palmer[Wiki] all used rhythm in a way that totally grates on me, and the Mike and The Mechanics[Wiki] tunes are ones that I have good associations with, but that when I hear 'em now I'm torn between those memories and "musically, this is so trite".

And I haven't investigated that feeling to know if it's the same as a friend who recently commented, on listening to Miles Davis[Wiki], that he thought it was all so over done, then he realized that Davis was doing it a decade before anyone else.

I think "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A." counts as one of the "losers from an artist I'd otherwise sing around a campfire", "Ain't That America" being one of the ones I like from him.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 16:15:40.145477+00 by: ebradway

A couple months ago, I was in a coffee shop in Austin, TX, when Brothers in Arms came on the radio (the title track from the Dire Straits CD that Walk of Life is in). It was a double-whammy of nostalgia as I was living in Austin when the album first came out. It was also, by far, one of my favorites and still is. Of course, I was initially drawn in by I want my MTV, with Sting doing back-up vocals.

Dan: Interesting grouping of Genesis, Winwood, Gabriel and Palmer. I know Genesis and Gabriel have strong ties to what is called Progressive Rock and I think Winwood and Palmer do too. Prog Rock is marked by bizzarre time signatures like 7/32, and tend to switch rhythms frequently throughout a song.

Peter Gabriel was just starting to draw heavily on African influences - so the rhythms aren't necessarily in your cultural background.

As far as Miles goes, whenever you listen to Jazz, it has to be in the historical context. Jazz, much more so than rock, is a continuous tapestry of rhythmic development. To the extent that, as rock/pop revisits ideas in lyrics, jazz symply revisits the same lyrics and rhythms in "standards". It's why you can't label a long-time jazz performer as "Cool" or "Smooth" or "New Orleans". Anyone who's played jazz during that era was playing that style - and maybe a little of the previous style and little of the next style.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 18:54:37.577135+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

I want my MTV would actually be Money for Nothing, yes?

Y'all are just youngsters, I'm afraid. I'd already been working for 10 years and was getting ready to have babies in the mid-'80s. My list from 1972 of songs I can still listen to is as follows, roughly in descending order of preference:

Layla - Derek and the Dominos
I Saw the Light - Todd Rundgren
Roundabout - Yes
Heart of Gold - Neil Young
City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie
Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress - Hollies
Anticipation - Carly Simon
School's Out - Alice Cooper
Without You - Nilsson (although I love Nilsson, this is not one of his best)
Lean on Me - Bill Withers
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
Mother and Child Reunion - Paul Simon
Nights in White Satin - Moody Blues (although this is pushing my limits...)
Rocket Man - Elton John (ditto)

Lots of really, really insipid stuff that year, but also a few real keepers.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 19:17:55.564902+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, and my tolerance probably extends further into the insipid than most, I'd sit still for the Harry Chapin[Wiki] and the Don McLean[Wiki], and although I think of 'em more as novelty songs, I don't mind "Hot Rod Lincoln", "My Ding-a-ling", and Jim Croce[Wiki].

What I find really interesting about the 1972 list is just how musically varied the list is: To have Alice Cooper[Wiki] on the same list as Cat Stevens[Wiki] doing lyrics from 1931 (and a tune that's probably a century or more old) and Robert John[Wiki] doing a cover of something popularized in the 1950s reveals a musical diversity that I haven't been aware of since.

I do find two versions of "I'd like to teach the world to sing" somewhat humorous...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-29 20:08:38.189169+00 by: ebradway

Interesting to see some of the same names show up on the 1972, 1986, and 1988 lists... Like Michael Jackson!

The 1972 list does have alot of true classics... In a trend that we might be seeing repeated now. And, there's the Prog Rockers: Yes and Moody Blues...