A Letter to Patti Smith

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Dear Patti Smith,

I have just finished reading your award-winning memoir and I must say, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Instead of the usual fact by fact, step by step memoir I am used to reading, you have created something much more artistic and memorable. Honestly, I was not familiar with your music or artwork before reading the book and I purposefully avoided viewing the material until I had finished reading. In the end, I was happy I did this because I felt that the memoir was, in many ways, relatable.

You wrote clearly and honestly throughout. Some of it, like all of the complications in your unorthodox relationship with Robert, was brutally honest. I feel that writing with this kind of honesty is important in our time because topics like sex, I feel, should finally be told in truth. Robert’s homosexuality but love for you does a great job telling readers of some of the possible complications with love and sex.

I also enjoyed how fragmented the story is. You don’t waste your time with tiny details that are not meaningful. Instead, you only explain encounters with people that are brief but detailed, applying those encounters to the bigger picture. Some of these encounters, like the homeless man in the park, are still vivid in my mind. These brief encounters of interesting characters have given me a lot of inspiration for my travel writing, so I thank you for that.

And finally, I really liked how you ended the story. We all knew that Robert was going to pass away, you said so in the beginning, but you still managed to tell it in an interesting way.  The bond you two shared was apparent from the beginning, but it really shined in the end. It was one of the only times I really got emotional while reading a story and has given me inspiration on how to end something dark in a positive way.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about this piece of writing. I mean, it won the National Book Award and it is evident that you know what you are doing. It was a pleasure going with you on your recollections and I look forward to doing it again. Definitely keep them coming. Anyone can read this memoir with or without knowing your previous works.

The Musical MD

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Hey readers,

This week, we received a letter from one of our followers, Addyson Santese, who is in need of some new music suitable for spring. The letter reads:

Dear Musical MD,

Now that it’s spring, I need some music to match my mood! I’m looking for something fresh and upbeat that I can listen to while driving to class or doing some yoga in my backyard. Anything that’s happy and light!

So, let’s see if we can help Addyson out.

Dear Addyson,

Thank you for sending in your letter. I’m sure that many other readers are also interested in what kinds of music are best suitable for this spring weather. While I would say the Top 40 hits are typically upbeat and happy, they are in fact, 99% of the time, complete crap. We’ll try to find you something a little more creative for your spring joy. Honestly, doing yoga and listening to happy or upbeat music isn’t really my thing, but I am the Musical MD so I will try. . .

There is a lot good upbeat Indie music out there now. One band I’ve recently gotten into is an Australian group called “Angus and Julia Stone.” Some of their more well-known, happier songs like “Big Jet Plane” might do the trick for you if you are looking for something chill but also uplifting.

Okay this might sound funny, but, after spending years and years away from them, I actually picked up Fall Out Boy’s new album, “American Beauty/American Psycho” and wow, it’s actually pretty good. It’s definitely their most poppy album to date and is definitely upbeat enough for spring. Instead of having a bunch of emo breakup songs, most of them are fairly hopeful.

I hope this helps!

-The Musical MD

American Idiot as a Film

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Whenever I listen to Green Day’s breakthrough, American Idiot, (which is not often now since I wore that album out in middle school) I think, wow, this would make a great soundtrack. I actually think that Billie Joe Armstrong had this in mind in some way while he was writing the lyrics which are mainly about a young couple trying to make their way through the Bush-led American era. Like a movie, the lyrics tell a story which could definitely make a good film.

The opening title track sets the album up as a simple punk rock jam commenting on the ignorance of so many Americans. The second track however, titled “Jesus of Suburbia” really introduces the story however. The lyrics are very descriptive, telling of  this “Jesus of Suburbia,” and his depressing life with lyrics like “And there’s nothing wrong with me. This is how I’m meant to be. In a land of make-believe. That don’t believe in me.” This hero of the story seems to be a punk kid who doesn’t give into his country’s great promises of “freedom.” He doesn’t believe it and his country doesn’t believe in him. He is a rebel without a cause.

Throughout the rest of the album, there are other characters as well, such as Whatsername, the Jesus of Suburbia’s love interest, and Saint Jimmy, his mentor. In the end, Jimmy kills himself and Whatsername leaves him, leaving the Jesus of Surburbia a cynical man thinking of how much better things could have been, such as the American dream in modern America. Because of this album actually having a plot, dynamic characters, and a greater message to be heard than most modern movies, I think it could be turned into an enlightening film.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Music

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One interesting mix of a song into film is “By Your Side” by Beachwood Sparks In the 2010 film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The song pops up in the most opportune time in the film as Scott is on his first date with his love interest, Ramona. The song kicks in just as a random door, the symbolization of the two taking things to the next level, suddenly appears in the middle of the playground. Ramona, being the initiator, tells Scott, “Anyway, the night’s not over yet. I think there’s a thingy over here.”

“A thingy?” Scott says.

“A door.”

And so the music kicks in with a harmonica leading the feel of a fairly awkward moment. The lyrics start when the two are inside Ramona’s apartment with, “You think I’d leave your side baby? You know me better than that. You think I’d leave you down, when you’re down on your knees? I wouldn’t do that.” These are fitting lyrics for the two as Ramona just got done telling Scott why she left New York and came to Toronto, sounding rather depressed with the whole thing. They are almost a sort of foreshadowing for the two as, this being the first date, they don’t really know each other. But they are a sign of things to come as Scott has to fight off Ramona’s seven evil exes and does end up never leaving her side. The songs ends as the two get into bed with one another with Ramona telling Scott, “I changed my mind. I don’t want to have sex with you Pilgrim. But don’t worry I’m not going to send you home in a snowstorm. You can sleep in my bed.” The song fades out, with the chorus singing, “I’ll be there, Hold you tight to me,” as Scott says, “Well, it’s been a like a really long time so I think I needed this, whatever it is, so thank you,” and the film skipping to the morning after.

Music Quiz

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Ever wonder what your musical soul really is? Take this totally legit quiz to find out the exact answer to that question!

Quiz taken by Trevor Ogborn

  • What’s your ideal way to spend a Friday? A) Concert      B) At Home    C) A Party    D) Dinner and a Movie with my special someone
  • Favorite Hobby? A) ) Playing an Instrument    B) Reading    C) Partying        D) Watching Movies
  • Favorite Movie A) V for Vendetta   B) The Wizard of Oz  C) American Pie                  D) Gone With The Wind
  • Favorite Band A)  NOFX   B)  Johnny Cash   C) Skrillex  D)  Dashboard Confessional
  • Dream Job A) To play in a band   B) To be a teacher   C) To DJ   D) To write
  • Favorite Food A) Chinese   B) Steak   C) Pizza   D) Italian
  • Favorite Instrument A) Guitar    B) Piano   C) Drums   D) Saxophone
  • Favorite Drink A) Beer   B) Champagne     C) Vodka   D) Wine
  • PC or Mac? A) PC    B) Mac
  • Summer Plans?  A) Go to Concerts   B) Stay home and Work  C) Party and chill with friends     D) Travel
  • Plans for after graduation A) IDK   B) Find a job   C) Take it easy for awhile   D) Travel
  • Place you spend the most time A) Around town  B) Home   C) Friend’s houses   D) Outdoors
  • Favorite Show A) South Park   B) The News   C)  Workaholics   D) Once Upon a Time
  • Ideal Way to Spend a Date A) Listening to Music   B) Dinner and a movie   C) At the Bar/Club  D) A walk in the park
  • Favorite indoor place to go out A) Coffee Shop   B) Steak House  C) The Bar      D) The theatre
  • Favorite outdoor place A) Outdoor Concert  B) The Park   C) The Beach  D) The Mountains
  • Dream Vacation A) Going to Concerts in Europe B) Going back home to see my family   C)   Partying in Asia   D) Fiji/Maldives
  • Favorite Artist A) Picasso  B) Da Vinci  C) I don’t really have one…   D) Van Gogh
  • Dogs or Cats? A) Dogs   B) Cats
  • Pepsi or Coke? A) Pepsi  B) Coke       

 

Trevor got……………Old School Jammer!

Your taste in the classics may make you seem boring to some of the less intellectual people, but who gives a s**t about what they think anyway?  You’re too busy opening your mind to larger things while listening to all the oldies. Let them listen to all their Dubsteps and their Justin Beibers, you’re too old for that noise.

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When I was in high school, breakup songs were my way to get over, well, a breakup. I found comfort in the often times, sarcastic lyrics of leaving an ex behind. Bands like Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy helped me get through all of those situations I thought were so tough at the time. Here are my top 5 breakup songs from high school:

5. “Obvious” by Blink-182- A sort of mature song for Blink-182 standards, I love how angry Tom Delonge sounds while singing about his girlfriend cheating on him. He angrily states, “I saw you again, I know you fucked him again. Can you comfort yourself in the taste of revenge? Are you leaving me here with the taste of the end?” I remember looking up live videos of Blink and finding one of this song. Before the song starts, Tom tells the audience, “This song is about your girlfriend fucking someone else. It sucks.” That just about summed up what I was feeling at the time and gave me comfort that the same thing happened to Tom Delonge.

4. “Say Yes” by Elliot Smith- I’m not really sure if this song is really one about breakup or not but it definitely has some elements of breakup in it. Smith claims that “Situations get fucked up,” another summarization of all those high school “romances.” Nevertheless, it’s a chill song and semi-optimistic

3.“You’re so Last Summer” by Taking Back Sunday is another emo breakup song I used to love in high school. The title suggests that it’s about a summer fling and brings me right back to Lake Havasu City, Arizona during the summer after junior year. The summer was fun but the girl I met wasn’t into it being something that would extend past it and left me relating to this song a lot more than before.

2. Finally, a song I found after high school and after a more “adult” relationship, although similar to the songs before it, it’s “Wonderless” by Pierce the Veil. My girlfriend and I would jam to these guys every time we went out together and strangely enough, this song helped me get over the eventual breakup. Although depressing, lyrics like, “I don’t care if your beautiful lips exist out there” helped me leave her in the past and move onto the rest of my life which has been about one hundred times better since then.

1. My top breakup song is called “You, Me and the Significant Others” by From First to Last. The lyrics are smart, funny and easy to relate to although very explicit, especially if you listen really, really close during the interlude so here’s a video,

 

The Cure

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Post-Punk, New Wave, Goth Rock, Alternative. . . Whatever they are, I like them. Despite all these genre descriptions, I’ll call them by what their singer Robert Smith refers to them as, and that is “Cure-music.” They are The Cure and they don’t seem to have a definite genre. They are who they are and no one else really seems to do exactly what they do. So one of the only 20th century genres of music I can really say I like and is regularly on my iPod is The Cure genre.

I first heard this one of a kind band when I was maybe seven or eight. Despite all the horrible music my mother would play during long drives (50-Cent. . . ummmm. . . that’s all I’m remembering now. That horrible “It’s Your Birthday” song), she would now and then play something that would almost redeem herself in being a decent mother and showing her children some good music. One of the main songs was “Lullaby”, one of the creepiest songs I’ve ever heard. There was something attractive to this tune. The funky bass line, the whispering vocals and the spider-man who clearly was not The Spider-Man (who I was still looking up to and aspiring to be just like at the time), the singer says is coming to get him.

Over the years, “Lullaby” was forgotten and I finally found my taste in music, but recently, in just this past year, I heard it again on the local music station in Cortez and it brought me right back to all of those long drives with my mother. I ran to the local music store and bought their greatest hits album. Now, being twenty-one and normally too lazy to dig up some good modern music, I have been forced to listen to this 80’s band that no one else in my group of friends listens to. I honestly don’t know if listening to “The Cure” is a “cool” thing but whatever, I totally dig them. Songs like “Just Like Heaven” and “Love song” are regularly on my playlist and they’re not getting old.

Guest DJ- Trevor Ogborn

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Hey guys,

I recently spoke to a fellow student here at Fort Lewis, Trevor Ogborn, about his top five songs that have had a major impact on his life.

This is what he had to say:

“When I was young my dad had a white Toyota Land cruiser and it was the family car for a while. During one long drive for a camping trip, he put on a Frank Zappa tape and played a song called ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.’ It was the only song on the tape suitable for kids and was the most bizarre thing I’d ever heard. It’s just a way to relive some of those old camping trips that were so awesome with my dad, really nostalgic. Because the rest of the tape was so bad, my dad actually “lost” it so I couldn’t listen to the rest of it. So years later, I found it and kept it around. The album opened me up to a lot of other strange music too. Then, when I was in high school, a group of friends and I would cruise around in my jeep and jam weird music like that. We’d TP houses and get into trouble. The song was also an escape out of all the seriousness of life and an outlet for me to have fun and be myself.

Another song and artist my dad introduced me to was ‘Goodbye Stranger’ by Supertramp. It was actually a song my dad could play in front of my mom and get away with. So when I was in middle school, I was a really self-cautious kid and was always concerned with what people thought of me. I was also kind of selfish and when I didn’t get my way I’d be upset. Then in eighth grade, I went on this backpacking trip through a part of New Mexico that totally changed this aspect of me. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It was a seventy-four mile trip and I had to carry a huge bag through a pretty harsh environment for a week. Towards the end, there was a mountain we had to reach, I think they called it ‘Red Mountain’ or something, and I was having a strange respiratory problem. I could hardly breathe and was pretty sure I couldn’t make it for the remainder of the journey, but then one of the adults of the program said to me, ‘hey, do you want to give up now and go home telling everyone you could have done this but you got sick and gave up, or do you want to go home and tell everyone that you completed this seventy-four mile trek?’ Somehow, after hearing this, I was able to move on and complete the adventure. I feel that ‘Goodbye Stranger’ is like me telling that old me “goodbye.” That song and that trek changed me for the better.

The next song is ‘Don’t Let the Bastards Grind you Down’ by The Toasters. It was definitely my pick-me-up song through high school. I was in marching band and not very athletic at all in a school where football was everything. Sometimes I got a lot of crap from some of the jocks and at the end of the day, after hearing this song, the title really summed it up. I just couldn’t let those bastards grind me down.

’Welcome Home’ by Radical Face really started to have a significant meaning to me after I left home for college and has evolved over the past four or five years. I was really comfortable at home. I had my family and a close group of friends so going away to college was really rough for me. For the first year or so of college, every time I’d drive home to see my family I’d play this song in my car when the drive was coming to an end and it would be really emotional. But now that I’m well into my college life, everything has been reversed. I feel like Durango is my home now so I play this song when I get back here.

The last one is a really sad one. It’s the only song I know that can actually make me cry. It’s about a girl and a guy and the girl has cancer. The girl ends up dying and the guy is left alone to cope. So when I was way younger my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away. I was a bit too young to know exactly what was going on and just remember my mother being very emotional afterwards. Later, when I was a bit older, my grandfather remarried and a year after that, his new wife also got lung cancer. She passed away too and a few years after that, I heard this song called ‘Casimer Pulaski Day’ by Sufjan Stevens. In the song, the guy doesn’t understand that she’s gone and she’s not coming back. It reminds me of the grief I felt at those times but also helps me hold onto them. I can listen to this song, think about them and plan on what I’m going to do with my life to make them proud.”

That about sums it up. Just by picking out five of his top songs, Trevor has given us a lot of insight into his life and has explained how he has applied the lessons of these songs into it.  From dear memories of riding in a car with his father on the way to a campsite to the coping of the deaths of loved ones, these songs have proven to have meaning to their listener.

Links:

“Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxAceec8Dx

“Goodbye Stranger”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsV-rQ23bus

“Don’t Let the Bastards Grind you Down”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx_dCxt7nXA

“Welcome Home”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8a4iiOnzsc

“Casimer Pulaski Day”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxMYqsvgX8c