Tuesday links: L’shanah tovah!

This week, more from the Times–an uplifting story for Rosh Hashanah and another article about World War Two music.

What I’ve been listening to lately, old-school edition

Over the past couple weeks I undertook the extremely dull and time-intensive task of uploading all 6,000 (!) of my photos to Picasa.  I had no choice because I wanted to install Snow Leopard (the new Mac OS) and it required a lot more room than I had on my hard drive, so I decided to transfer and then delete all my photos.

To make a long and boring story short, looking at all the old photos brought back a lot of memories.  I have a ton of pictures from summer 2006, the summer between high school and college, involving lots of hijinks with all my Tosa friends, and looking at the photos brought back especially intense sound memories (as we spent a lot of time rollin’ in the family Honda Accord listening to music).

With no further ado, the soundtrack of summer 2006 as filtered through senior-year-of-college nostalgia:

1) Beck, “Qué Onda Guero” from Guero. What a great album.  Not incidentally, the Marcel Dzama cover art inspired my subsequent purchase of my famous sad-ghost salt and pepper shakers.

2) James Brown, “Make It Funky (Pt. 1)” Allow me to write out certain key lyrics:

“What you gonna play now?”

“Bobby, I don’t know.  But what’s ever I play, it’s got to be FUNKY.  One.  Two.  Three.  Make it funky!”


Neckbone.  Candied yams!  Turnips.  Spud steak.  Spud steak!  Grits and gravy.

3) Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, “You Are What You Love” and “Handle With Care.” The entire album, Rabbit Fur Coat, is fantastic, so listen to it in full.

4) Gnarls Barkley, “The Last Time”

5) Shakira, “Hips Don’t Lie.” Because really, what else was on the radio that summer?

6) Miss B, “Bottle Action.” I don’t fight, I don’t argue, I just hit that bitch with a bottle.  Eastside eastside till we die.

7) Elton John, “Bennie and the Jets”

8 ) Etta James, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” I actually prefer “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield,” but I couldn’t find a good video clip.  But look it up if you have a minute.  You can’t really go wrong with Etta, so I didn’t think you all would mind the substitution.

Tuesday links

  • Finally, a music magazine that isn’t self-absorbed!  I love reading music magazines, but at least once per issue the entire enterprise gets on my nerves.  Here’s an article about a new publication, the Journal of Music, that appears to be trying to cut the fawning hyperbole and provide intelligent music news, analysis, and history that takes a more panoramic view than most publications.  I’ll let you know how it is after I check it out.
  • Jay-Z takes down Bill O’Reilly and O’Reilly flounders around for a comeback. Click through for an amusing clip at The Source.
  • Racialicious thinks about the transcendent power of Michael Jackson’s dancing abilities and ruminates on his approach to race.
  • Hooray, something having to do with Woodstock that isn’t mistily nostalgic and overblown!
  • The Walrus checks out Rip! A Remix Manifesto, a new documentary on copyright laws and why and how they’re a mess in the digital age.  It’s inspired by the work of Lawrence Lessig, Stanford law prof and intellectual property revolutionary extraordinaire (and a Penn alum whose book my year was assigned for our freshman reading project), and mashup artist Girl Talk.  Oh, and you can watch the film for free or cheap.  Click the first link in this paragraph for instructions.

Torture music

No, I’m not talking about the endless loop of Journey coming from the frat across the street again.  While music is usually a positive thing, unfortunately our military and intelligence agencies have decided to use it against “enemy combatants” in the war on terror.  The Society for Ethnomusicology, the professional association of ethnomusicologists, condemned this practice in 2007.  It took the American Musicological Society (the equivalent for musicologists) until 2008 to get around to taking a stand but hey, better late than never.

It’s been known for a while that American pop music has been projected into battlefields and used in torture chambers to get suspects to crack–both by offending their morals and/or aesthetic taste.  It’s usually part of a more sinister and well-honed torture method (laid out in chilling detail in Naomi Klein’s 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, which I’m only now getting around to reading), in which our spooks (or, you know, other countries’ spooks that we subcontract) first deprive prisoners of any sensory input and then flood them with stimulus in the form of strobe lights, electroshocks and loud music.  This causes prisoners to regress to a childlike state, lose aspects of their memories and become extremely vulnerable to the power of suggestion–which is how torturers get confessions out of these guys.

That’s where this list from Mental Floss via the WSJ comes in.  The CIA’s top choices?

1) Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the USA.” I really don’t like Springsteen either–I think it’s the terrible drum machine.  I hope that doesn’t make me a suspected terrorist.

2) Christina Aguilera, “Dirrty.” Apparently the interrogators chose this one because its sexual content would offend the moral views of some of the stricter Muslim suspects.  I hadn’t seen this video in a while–I forgot about those horrendous assless chaps she used to wear.  Remember when she came on the scene in the late 90s and she was the classy one out of all the teen pop stars (which she kind of is again given the Britney trainwreck)?  Like, my grandma bought me the album with “Genie in a Bottle” on it.

3) Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” I mean, it’s not the greatest song ever, but I don’t think I’d crack after listening to it for a long time (except for maybe that part where the bass line sounds like the bassist is just slowly detuning the instrument…).

4) AC/DC, “Shoot to Thrill” and “Hells Bells.” I dislike AC/DC so much that I am refusing to embed the clips.  Take that, Gitmo.

5) Barry Manilow’s oeuvre (so to speak). I will let this quote from the article speak for itself:

The New Zealand town of Christchurch recently blasted the crooner’s tunes throughout their central mall district to drive away the local punks who had been littering the area with graffiti, drinking in public and doing drugs.

I wonder how it feels to be the entire world’s punchline.

6) Barney the Dinosaur, “I Love You.” Given that 90s nostalgia is apparently au courant right now, just watch this clip and party like it’s 1993 (and you’re at preschool).  Note the dramatic half-step modulation around 0:31.

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