Dear Patti Smith,

Reading Just Kids was not only an enriching experience as a writer, but as a reader. Your writing and your story inspired the artist in me to become more active again. Your story is a work of art in itself, awe inspiring in the tiniest details in the ever present theme of beauty, pain, and transformation.

I found myself inspired by the relationship that you and Robert shared, it was almost difficult to wrap my head around. The way you portrayed your closeness to him and the level of understanding you shared was beautiful and honest beyond words. It was a powerful example of the interconnectedness, love and appreciation that comes from a connection forged by circumstance, art, passion. It was very pure in a sense to me.

I hadn’t listened to your music before reading this book, but I know my parents did. I never thought of the “genre” as my thing, but after finishing the book I had to find out (it took me far too long) but I listened to Horses all day, and I loved it. I wanted to know if this line at the end of the section when you were leaving the Chelsea was referencing the name of your album, as a turning point in your life, if not, it is still a beautiful connection, “I felt no sense of vindication as one of the handfuls of survivors. I would rather have seen them all succeed, catch the brass ring. As it turned out, it was I who got one of the best horses.”

Your style of writing is one of my favorites that I have ever encountered, but incredibly difficult to describe. You can bring to light intangible ideas in a way that makes them tangible, like Robert’s relationship with art, with anything, as if you were describing a desk or the sun shining through the window. It brings physical and touchable weight and texture to emotions and experiences, and history, feeling, and deep meaning to inanimate objects in a way that is enchanting, colorful and deep.

Towards the end of this book I cried a lot. At the beauty, and at the loss, and how they both exist perfectly inside one another. I was really inspired to humor my artistic side after I finished this, I wanted to take photos, strip down everything I’m timid about or afraid of and just do it, just create something, and that in itself is a very powerful thing.

Thank you Patti Smith.

Musical MD

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Dear Hungry,

I could not imagine doing what you’re doing, seems like an awful lot of dedication. I don’t know why people do this, okay yeah it’s really really good for you, and I’m sure you’re gonna look super hot when it’s all over. So what I would recommend to keep you from cheating or falling into a hangry fit, are songs that motivate you or make you imagine your hot healthy self dancing around at the club or on the beach or something. For me personally, when I’m at the gym (essentially the only effort I make for my health/fitness) I listen to things I like to get down to, ass-shakin’ music, like Diplo, Missy Elliot, a little Beyonce from time to time, Odesza, M.I.A, maybe some 50 cent, if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s funny because its a mix of music from all different time periods, but it’s all music that I love to dance to, and every time I’m working out, I imagine myself in some cool foreign dance club in a really hot outfit looking fabulous as fuck. Now, that can be different for you, because everyone likes to dance to different things, and also, everyone’s motivations are different, but you get the idea. Picture yourself climbing a mountain or doing a backflip or something. Aside from just the associations of the music you listen to, I’d definitely stick to something upbeat, something to keep you going and your energy high. As far as distracting yourself goes, mashups are really great because they tend to be upbeat and surprising, and you get to listen to all of the different samples that are used and where they came from. Some artists that do this are Girl Talk, who has probably the most extensive music library to sample from on this entire earth (seriously, the dude puts in work, he did an interview on NPR once and it was really fascinating) the album All Day is the best I think and the Milkman does a lot of mashups but his aren’t as good. There’s a lot going on in his songs and not a lot of time to think about food. I hope this helps! Good luck on your cleanse!

-Musical MD

Blog Post #6 (Prompted by Shaquana Desiderio): Favorite Duos

Musical Duos are awesome, and make music a lot of fun. When thinking about this prompt, I found that many of the duos that came to mind were hip-hop artists, one of my all time favorites being the original Atmosphere, made up of rapper Slug and dj/producer Ant. They may not be your traditional vocalist duo, however, one has the dope beats and one has the sharp as a tack Minneapolis introspective thoughtful rhymes. Ant is definitely under appreciated, but he’s been around since Atmosphere’s second album and helped to push them to all of their current success.

Another great hip-hop duo is Black Star, made up of Mos Def and Talib Kweli out of Brooklyn NY that formed in the late 90’s. The one album they put out together was great, and their two unique styles of rapping that artistically spoke of city life and social change. Their individual lyricism is lovely already but when combined gets even better, not to mention the songs themselves are extremely catchy.

In a switch of genre, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys are a wonderful indie rock duo, this may be mainstream or whatever the fuck, but they make damn good music? It’s sultry, classicley blues-y, and easy listening always. They blew up really fast and I think they’re dynamic works really well for them, as a duo they’re strong. Many indie/rock bands are exactly that, a band, and have more members to worry about and keep track of. But Dan and Pat’s musical minds seem to work together in a great way to produce the sound they do.

 

Another genre swap, DAFT PUNK. The most classic and enjoyable innovative electronic music and the most mysterious, always anticipated duo, like ever, in music. I can’t explain this anymore than that, enough said.

Aaaaaand back to hip-hop, of course, Andre 3000 and Big Boi to create of course, Outkast. Who doesn’t like Outkast? Bombs over Baghdad? Sorry Ms.Jackson? Roses? Everything they’ve ever done? They’re so much fun, and from a musical perspective make a great team, both given the freedom to explore and embrace their different styles of rapping while making them work together seamlessly.

 

Duos are a seriously underrated group, it takes a lot of work to be a successful duo. This prompt really made me consider that.

Music in the Movies

Many often forget how essential music is to a good film. It often is the very thing that cues us to feel something, to react a certain way, and molds our emotion during each scene. It can be subtle, a symphony narrating a battle scene, or it can be in your face and familiar. One of the greatest utilizers of music in film is of course Quentin Tarantino. From Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” in the famed dance scene from Pulp Fiction to “Bang Bang (Baby Shot Me Down)” in the intro to Kill Bill Vol. 1, Tarantino knows what he’s doing.

In 2012, the soundtrack to Django made waves, and I experienced it as the most popular movie soundtrack in my time/experience since my generation was listening to disney musicals on tape. It is fire. Not only is it impeccably executed in the film at just the right moments, it’s amazing to listen to on it’s own. Highly versatile. It took the idea of a classic western and made it sexier and more enticing to the modern day viewer, with that special Tarantino touch (John Legend doesn’t hurt either). This different take on a western soundtrack was completely necessary as well, seeing as it is a dangerous and epic revenge journey about a freed slave turned bounty-hunter, they needed to step it up a bit. And they were definitely successful. I never thought a Rick Ross track would have fit in the middle of the prairie, but shit, it worked for me. Personally I think this soundtrack produced some of the best big artist songs of the year for me, in addition to making the movie even more enjoyable to watch. Here are some of my favorite scenes from the film (soundtrack included).

 

Chills for sure, very powerful and a beautiful song.

Definitely more classic, and really fun.

Seriously, this is probably one of the only soundtracks I would pay money for, and it’s totally worth it. Listen to the whole thing, you won’t regret it.

Quiz: Unveil Your True Musical Soul (Quiz)

Here are some questions to tap in to your ultimate musical persona, and make you think about you’re musical past and preferences.

Taking the quiz is Dana Mastrangelo:

Let’s get to some question answering:

What’s the best song to get it on to? Like we’re talking about fucking here, possibly a one night stand, no romantic lovey stuff.

D:”Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, of course. Anything by Die Antwoord if you’re getting really freaky.

 

What is a great song to shower to? or the song you think of in the shower? am I the only one who does that? idk.

D: Oh no dude, showers tend to feel incomplete if I’m not listening to Sleater Kinney’s album “The Woods”. Or The Thermal’s album “The Body, The Blood, The Machine.” Keeps me super entertained. I get bored in the shower. Maybe that’s why I don’t do it often…

What concert would you have most liked to see when you were 12 and weird? don’t try and sound cool here.

D: Undoubtedly My Chemical Romance. I had tickets for their show- at age 12, actually- and when they cancelled the show I cried & cried & cried.

You’re feeling slutty and reckless for whatever reason, what kind music is playing in the shitty nightclub/bar you dragged your friends to?

D:Ooooh good question. Umm, were listening to Tool. No no, were listening to Stereo Total. No, were listening to a song called “The New Sound” by the Capricorns. Then “I’ve Had It” by Black Flag comes on the speakers when shit starts getting real bad.

Also what would you wear? This is relevant.

D:I’m wearing my red Doc Martins, a Dead Milkmen t-shirt, and I have “Salad Dayz” written in sharpie on my hands.

 

What is the last CD you purchased? if you can remember.

D:Yesterday I bought a Bad Brains album on vinyl. But as far as CD’s go, the last time I bought one was probably at Princeton Records in Jersey in 2013. I bought a Clash album, and I was unimpressed.

For some reason you have to make a mixtape/cd/playlist whatever for the person you hate the most ever, what is on it?

D:It’s the song “Ketchup Mess” by Melt Banana, over & over & over. It’s female fronted Japanese thrash and it’s fast as fuck, and it’s nutty as all hell. 

How did you choose to decorate the CD?

D:The CD is covered in ketchup.

You’re trapped on the same island Tom Hanks was on in castaway, assuming you don’t kill yourself, what one song would you want to be able to listen to?

D:“Naomi” by Neutral Milk Hotel. It channels a lot of different feelings, is generally just maddeningly catchy, and isn’t terribly profound or deep or sad so I wouldn’t drive myself miserable listening to itI

If you were a superhero in a cartoon, what would your intro theme music be?

D: “Boss Ass Bitch” by PTAF. Duh. Or, if my show was more serious, like instead of me fighting monsters and stuff rather it was me fighting for a real cause, I feel like the intro of “Violet” by Hole would be pretty bad ass.

What song would you like to be stabbed to?

D: “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge. But if it was less violent and more, like, artistic? “Cohesion” by Minutemen. 

Best movie soundtrack ever. What is it.

D:I mean, Nightmare Before Christmas is fantastic, as well as RENT.. However, I recently watched a documentary on sex trafficking and such titled Whore’s Glory, and the soundtrack is eery and beautiful. Heath Ledger’s Candy has a wonderful soundtrack as well.

What was your “summer anthem” your senior year of high school?

D:Oh shoot…I was listening to a lot of different crap that summer. That song that goes “When I came to Spain and saw how people party, I said to myself ‘what the fuck?” THAT song. But I really was enjoying Andrew Jackson Jihad’s music that summer Hungry, as well as Brotha Lynch Hung. And Neutral Milk Hotel, always.

What is the band/artist you despise more than anything?

D: Oh..I really don’t like Fat Freddy’s Drop. Alotta my friends would hit me for saying that. Also, poppy punkish stuff. Most anything you’d hear at Warped Tour. 

What was your first “song” you had with a bf/gf?

D: “Michelle” by the Beatles reminds me of my first girl friend. Also, anything by Conor Oberst felt dedicated to her in my head, whether we decided on it or not. 
You’re the star in a movie where the main character has to go through one of those intense revenge training montages, whats the song thats playing?

D: I love those scenes in movies. So uplifting. Hmmm…I Will Survive, but the cover version done by Cake. Or…I’m Gonna Get Through This by Daniel Bedingfield. So 2001

 

It’s the time of the season…

..For loving! Or at least that’s what Hallmark insists on telling us. Valentine’s day- or more appropriately the whole first half of of February, never fails to bombard us with sparkly cards and heart-shaped candies, and for many this is often accompanied by inevitable disappointment or annoyance. I personally enjoy it, whether you’re single or not, it’s the perfect opportunity to treat yo-self. In accordance with pink and red washing the entire calendar month, it would only make sense that one would revisit their favorite songs about love. Whether it be new love, love lost, love found, loving yourself, hating love, etc. its almost more difficult to find a song that isn’t about the emotional unicorn that is “love”, oh, and sex. Sex is relevant too. So, to find a more diverse selection of “songs about love”, I asked my boyfriend and his roommates about what some of their favorites were, and included some of my own as well.

First off: I’m Sprung by T-Pain

I don’t know why this song popped into my head first, but it’s so catchy and fun. Plus the music video is one of the only times you get to see T-Pain without glasses on. Its honestly just a nicer way of saying “I’m whipped, but I like it” about that new girl you’ve been seeing.

Roommate #1- Sammy’s Picks:

“I want to get married to this song. I want my wife to be what this song is to me.”

“This song is super hot.”

Michael’s Pick’s:

Matt’s Pick:

The groups picks:

Mine and Milo’s Favorites:

So we’ve got a little something for everyone in the mix. Whatever your love songs may be, I hope they bring you comfort or whatever it is you need this Valentine’s weekend.

 

 

 

Looking Back: The Birth of Soul

Way back…

The resurfacing of my love for “Soul Music”, Motown, classic R&B, and Neo-Soul, was brought about by the movie trailer for “Inherent Vice”, which used Sam Cooke’s heartfelt and innocent Wonderful World, one of those songs that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to dance with your honey.  So, I immediately went home and bought Sam Cooke’s greatest hits album, comprised of 40 tracks of pure, heartwarming, soul gold. I listened to the whole thing probably two or three times on my road trip back to Durango and those parts of the drive flew by. I imagined all the young people in the 50’s and 60’s who would go out and twist the night away to his music, and other legends like him.

I dug through my music library, starting all the way back with Louis Armstrong, then to Ray Charles, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, to Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, James Brown. To me, they are the Greats. There is so much power in their music, but not the raw shock and awe power, or the popularity power among the hippie-dippie, “peace for all” crowd. It was real, filled to the brim with feeling, out of both agony and celebration. Some rang with echoes of the Civil Rights Movement, promising that Change Is Gonna Come, along with full expressions of joy and love and heartbreak. So many people I know look back at the middle of the 20th century and only see Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, when there’s this whole magical world of groundbreaking, legendary music produced through the passion of people who at some points were still fighting for their rights within this country, and even within the industry.

It makes me nostalgic for a time that I never got to experience, the emotion in these songs is so honest, and still so beautiful, reflected crystal clear in their voices. The music, harmonies, melodies, and tone are just so rich. It can make you feel a range of things as wide as the range of their voices. This was an incredible era of music, and produced songs that generations upon generations couldn’t possibly forget. Many of these songs are popularly recycled in many modern day artists work, often used as samples in electronic songs.

From the rich and sultry voices of James, Franklin and Charles, the seductive and powerful crooning of Stevie in combination with the keys, and the pure energy of James Brown, its compelling, and my god can it make you feel amazing.

So, here are some of my favorites from these artists and this broad era, starting with the inspiration for this post:

My 5 Songs- Guest DJ: John Griffin

Music can often be a powerful mile marker for the times and changes in our lives. Certain songs can have an impact on the way you hear music, how you view the world, how you see yourself, and help us through difficult times- speaking for us when our words fall short of encompassing our experience. The songs we listen to throughout our lives are part of who we are, and the ones that resonate deeply can say a lot about a person.

I interviewed John Griffin, a student at Fort Lewis College, on the top five songs that have made an impact on his life, here are his five songs, and why they’ve stayed with him:

5. “Burning For You” by Blue Oyster Cult

J: This song makes me think of being out on the road, away from the city, and getting lost in your thoughts. I had a difficult time in high school, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was and find my identity, and music had a big impact on me. This song definitely stood out to me during that time.

4. “Drive My Car” by The Beatles

J: This was one of The Beatles first “promiscuous” songs they had written while they were moving away from their lovey phase and more into their psychedelic era. I’m a big fan of The Beatles, and I listen to them a lot. I find that the way I listen to their music is constantly transforming based on my age.

3. “Limelight” by Rush.

J: This song is about stardom and alienation similar to what Pink Floyd does with “The Wall” but on a more personal level, describing the journey to fame.

2. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd

J: I saw a live version of this song where the projections just synced up so well with the song that it just sucked me away from the crowd or any other distractions.

1. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin

J: There’s something mystical about the acoustic guitar and the easy vibe that makes me come back to this song again and again.