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Emotions, specifically those related to love and other gross feelings, are not my strong suit.  I do not excel at words in those instances and I do not win at letting those around me know they’re importance in my life.

As a subsitute, I do this with music.  And if we think about it, the differences between love and music, as emotions and things even, are so fine that they are almost invisible.  It’s true that most definitions of love and it’s associated feelings revolve around people and tangible things, things you can touch and feel and move to the other side of the table if you wish, but really, they are one and the same in my life.

Amazingly, this has not been the hindrance most people would assume that it would be.  I have lovely friends who understand that my sarcasm denotes my hopes that they will always be here and that I will do the same for them.  Inside a relationship, this “works” as well.  It’s something I strive to be better at, to be more appropriate with, but it’s certainly not something I ever would have listed off as a personality flaw, this inability of mine to be loving.

If we’re going to get specific, love is defined as “a strong positive emotion of regard and affection; any object of warm affection or devotion”.  Music is not defined as the same but the two nouns fit nicely together and in their purest form, seem synonymous to me.  And the only difference I can see here between these two beautiful things is that I’ve never picked up the ability to shit on good music the way I have on good love.  The kicker here is that music will not do the bad to you that love can.

It’s supposed to be pure, this thing called love, and it’s not supposed to break your heart.  It is expected to stand by your side and it is expected to stick around when things are tough and tired and just hard.  It is defined as something that will hold you up when you want to fall, something that will give you meaning when you see none, an emotion that is so strong it cannot really be defined.  But all that has always seemed like such bullshit to me.

It’s the most pessimistic of views, perhaps.  But I’ve always had a substitute that was more than sufficient.  Jams.  Tunes.  Vibes and feelings brought to my heart in neat little packages by writers and singers and those who are willing to lay it out there.  I don’t need love, I’m not the one writing this shit.  I don’t need a life partner for Megafaun works just fine in filling that void, if you can call it that.  I don’t need to go out to dinner, I don’t need to buy dresses and cute heels and eyeshadow, because Cotton Jones will care for me even if I don’t.  It’s amazing to me that something so simple and easily accessible is such a wonderfully perfect surrogate for something as deep and occasionally distant from all of us.  The absorbing and poignant feeling I have for records and melodies dominates my life.  I am beyond happy with this arrangement.

Scratch that.  I was, I suppose.  It’s not that music has now taken a backseat but brace yourself, for what I am about to clue you in on is potentially barf-inducing.  GET READY FOR IT.

I’m in love.

Now let’s all collectively gather ’round a toilet and bond over our disgust with my current state of emotions.  Meet me at a bathroom in St. Louis?

This is new ground, something I am not accustomed to.  Something my brain and heart are adapting to well, yes, but this territory is unexplored and though I feel it should require a map, it has not.  I get love, I do.  I DROVE 2000 MILES FOR GAYNGS, BITCHES.  Do not tell me I don’t get love.  And because this is new, I suppose that my body has taken to comparing this unordinary love to music.  I am coping with it by likening it to a new Bon Iver record — it might take a while getting used to but stick around AND THAT SHIT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

This love is unexplainable.  Perhaps it’s that I have known this man a large majority of my life.  Perhaps it’s that for that long time he has sat on a pedastal that is but 2 feet below the one my father resides on.  He is a piece of my past, someone who was there before my life fell apart and before I was able to put it all back together, piece by fucked up piece.  He was the friend by a bonfire in the sticks when I was 17, he was the man who I let drive my classic 3-speed-on-the-tree pickup truck, he was my first taste of love.  Perhaps it is that he is simply wonderful — just and fair, sweet and kind, the best kind of people.  And what I’m feeling now will undoubtedly influence me and my writing so I feel it only fair to mention.

To prove that I have not abandoned my love of tunage and replaced it with hand-holding and viewings of The Notebook, a (not so) tiny mix.  Songs that I’ve been listening to and feeling real fucking hard lately.  While I am starting to doubt that maybe love is always something that simply comes and goes as it pleases, leaving distress and broken hearts in it’s wake, I am still keenly aware that if this shall ever end, if the happiness and feeling of comfortability and just sheer love dissappears, there will still be music.  These songs will still be here.  Always.  Coping mechanisms, they are.

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Active Child :: When Your Love Is Safe [MP3]

Pat Grossi (Sir Active Child, ahem) says of this song: “The chorus reflects ironically and sadly on how when I have a great love and its locked up safe, for whatever reason, I’ll run away, give it away, literally drive away to another state.  Quite cowardly now that I think about it.”.  Kindred spirits we are, brother.  

BUY Curtis Lane EP :: WEBSITE :: DAYTROTTER

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Merle Haggard :: Today I Started Loving You Again [MP3]

One of the things about loving a country fella, is that one must learn to appreciate the nuances of men like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.  I have no choice in this matter if I’m to kitchen dance properly.  This is how I know I’m in love: I actually WANT to attempt to kitchen dance properly to music I don’t quite understand.  Baby steps, ya’ll.

BUY Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard

**

Megafaun :: Worried Mind (Live) [MP3]

Everything about this song says love.  ‘Worried Mind’ and I have been dating since early 2010, actually.  I will wound my relationships with my own neurotic mind but this time I will lay that urge down.  ‘Worried Mind’ exemplifies what my love looks like.

BUY Gather, Form, and Fly :: WEBSITE

**

Panda Bear :: You Can Count On Me [MP3]

No, seriously.  You can count on me.

BUY You Can Count On Me

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Townes Van Zandt :: Be Here To Love Me [MP3]

Why hello, mixture of hippy and country!  You look just like my love!

BUY Be Here To Love Me

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Port St Willow :: Even [MP3]

It’s not so much the words of this jam that get me (though “you built this cage, quit pacing around” hits real fucking close to home) but the feeling.  I sense love in there.

BUY Even // Wasteland :: BANDCAMP

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Romany Rye :: Dear Holly (Daytrotter Session) [MP3]

Required love letter inclusion.

WEBSITE :: DAYTROTTER

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GAYNGS :: By Your Side (Sade cover :: Daytrotter Session) [MP3]

I’ve always viewed love as cheesy.  I’ve always viewed Sade as cheesy.  Clearly I was wrong on both counts.

WEBSITE :: DAYTROTTER

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The Acorn :: Misplaced [MP3]

I fell in love with The Acorn/’Misplaced’ long before I fell in love and shit howdy, if this isn’t a lesson in how the meaning of a song can change for you along with your emotions.

BUY No Ghost :: WEBSITE

**

Akron/Family :: Set ‘Em Free Pt. I [MP3]

Perhaps the reason that love is so odd to me is that I view it so differently in the first place.  It’s not about holding tight, it’s not about suffocation and the blending of lives so that two literally appear as one.  It’s not about possession or the taming of another.  It’s about being free and allowing the one you love to be the same.  It’s about being wild, together.  In other news, I set a singular New Year’s resolution this year: to live by this song.  For realz.

BUY Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free :: WEBSITE

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Bon Iver :: Bruised Orange (John Prine cover) [STREAM]

And my head shouted down to my heart, better look out below.

BUY Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows :: BANDCAMP

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr :: Nothing But Love (from Daytrotter Session) [MP3]

I imagine the day that I attempt to introduce Country Man to a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr will be fucking epic.

BUY Horse Power EP :: WEBSITE

**

Deer Tick :: Twenty Miles [MP3]

A Folk Hive repeat.  While driving through the country recently this song suddenly mattered more and I knew.  It is likely that I have never sang lyrics as hard as I sing If you’re running away I’m looking for you and if you lost your way I’m seeing you through.

BUY The Black Dirt Sessions :: WEBSITE

**

Wynn Walent :: If You Fall I Fall Too [STREAM]


It was this song and the prior that really brought this new love home for me.  It’s meaning really has little to do with romantic love but it just goes to show that everyone finds their own in songs, regardless of the writer’s intentions.  If he falls, I fall.  He fell, I fell. I have seen you look down, I’ve carried that feeling.  I know it’s not light.  The things that befell you have nothing to tell you of the good things that may come to you. I hit play and I have no choice but to turn it up and compare it to my life.  There is such intense meaning in there.  I have no doubt that forever, I will consider this one of the jams that clinched this love for me.

BUY Eating An Ocean :: BANDCAMP

Dudes and dudettes in Los Angeles: If you are geographically situated and don’t have plans for 20 December, you should really be attending this gig.  Wait, fuck that, if you DO have plans break ’em.  That date/your buddies/employer won’t mind considering the lineup.  Your normally annoying and bitchy boss will be all, “DUUUUUUDE!  Can I go with you?!”.

Super fast gist: Middle Brother (spoken of just the other day), Mountain Man, and an acoustic Deer Tick set.  Rollo & Grady, one of my favorite blogs, is involved.  IT”S A FRIGGIN’ BENEFIT, YO.  Do it.  Do it now.

DETAILS :: 20 December 2010 @ The Troubadour, Los Angeles.  SNAG a ticket and let me live vicariously through your attendance.

Add up the following:

Dawes :: How Far We’ve Come (from Daytrotter) [MP3]

Deer Tick :: Twenty Miles (BUY The Black Dirt Sessions) [MP3]

Delta Spirit :: Duncan (from Daytrotter; my favorite Paul Simon song.  It has seriously saved my life more than once.)  [MP3]

And that equals:

Holy fuck, that’s Middle Brother.  Mathematically speaking, the combined badass factor accomplished by adding up three members of three of my favorite bands is unsurpassed.  Album/tour forthcoming.  2011 just got it’s ass kicked…

When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a ballerina.  Fuck ballerinas, man.  I don’t mean to shit on anyone’s ballerina dreams but it just wasn’t my thing.  Words, to me, are prettier than a lady in a tutu.  I didn’t like pink, I didn’t dream about my wedding.

When I was a young, but older girl I was not like the other young, but older gals.  Back then it was a sore spot, something I sought to hide and cover up with hairspray and boy talk and jeans that were long enough to reach down to the ankles situated on my long, lanky legs.  I fit in fine enough, but I didn’t feel like I did.  I knew that I didn’t.

When I graduated (with something like 38 people, a good 97% of them 12 year students) and set my sights on getting out of this tiny Midwest black hole, I pondered my future.  I cried when my parents let it be known they couldn’t afford to send me to UVa — they were oblivious to the fact that Dave Matthews resided there and that, at the time, I was enamored with Charlottesville music scene.    I can’t believe I just admitted that Dave Matthews shit.  It’s fine, I’m about to regain my street cred.  Watch.

If God him-/herself had descended upon me in a field and said, “Fair geek who does not feel at home here in this county, I shall do thou a solid”, and followed that with ” Who would you like to be?”, I’d have responded with “God, make me Cameron Crowe.  Also, sweet beard, dude.”

That’s no shit.  My love for Cameron Crowe, his taste in music and women (dude married chick from Heart for fuck’s sake), and his life, was downright strange.  Other girls loved Justin Timberlake…and this was pre-“Bringin’ Sexy Back” and as such, I can find no excuse for this infatuation on their collective parts.  Other girls could not tell you what an ellipses was or who wrote Still Life With Woodpecker.  Cameron was my guy.

 

[This guy.  Dude on the right gave me the dude on the left, arguably the hottest fictional 70s rock-n-roller ever put in film.  Thanks, buddy.]

I went away to college in a town that I’ve grown to hate and after six months, I was over it.  I had spent all my life accidentally assuming that I would spend a large portion of my life in schooling of some sort, and after half a year I had grown so tired of math and classes that were not English-related and girls in those goddamn booty shorts with faux diamonds on the ass, that I quit.  It was incredibly liberating and at the same time, it fucked my psyche.

Through all that was music.  And writing.  And thus, Cameron.  I don’t care if you think Almost Famous is trite, that flick is still in my top five.  “The guitar sound is incendiary.  INCENDIARY.”  I was the kid who wanted to meet one of my favorite bands and say that, those exact words!  You know what else?  Penny Lane has the best groupie name ever, she has her shit together (despite that one time she ate a bunch of Dirty Biscuits in a possible suicide attempt), and she has great taste in tunes.  If Stillwater were a real band, I would listen to that shit.  I’d have their record(s) on vinyl.

All this to say, Cameron Crowe.  Mr. Crowe does this thing (or at least he used to anyway) where he makes a mix tape for every month.  He used to make cassettes and if he’s doing that now, he’s making discs…or 8track playlists, I don’t know.  He then labels these mixes.  For instance, he’d have “August 1974”.  I bet the Ozark Mountain Daredevils hold a spot on that playlist, dudes.

So I make mixes.  I make them and I label them and I store them in an old-school earth cellar constructed in 1912 by my great-great-grandparents (I made that last part up but that would be awesome, right?).  Personal, easily portable little journals that most of the time, do a better job at explaining my life at any given time better than my own words could.  Plus, fewer run-on sentences and excessive comma usage in a music mix.

Here is a mix.  It’s called “November 2010, Bitchez” and will be labeled as such in my collection.  Dig.

**

The Black Twig Pickers :: Don’t Drink Nothin’ But Corn [MP3]

Recently, I sat down and had a country chat with an old friend.  Said old friend once gave me some Moonshine that his own dad made.  It was illegal and awesome.

[BUY Ironto Special]

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Deer TickThese Old Shoes [MP3]

I’m adding “learn how to play upright bass” to my life list.

[BUY War Elephant]

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Braids :: Lemonade [MP3]

Did she just ask me if I’d “fucked all those dragons yet”? Sweeeeeeeeeet.

**

COOLRUNNINGS :: Chorus [MP3]

Why, hello there COOLRUNNINGS!  Looks like you put my personal philosophy statement in a song!  I too live by the words, “If you really wanna know what I’m thinking, shut your running mouth and just fuckin’ listen”!

[DOWNLOAD more at Dracula Horse]

**

Johnny Flynn (w. Laura Marling) :: The Water [MP3]

Songs about the river are always a win.  A big, massive, fat win.  And this sort of plays into that time of my life when I was really into Celtic music.  Like, really into it.

[BUY been listening]

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Lost In The Trees Walk Around the Lake [MP3]

Singing saw.  That is all.

[BUY All Alone In An Empty House]

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Nathaniel Rateliff :: Boil & Fight [MP3]

One would think that a song in which one hears a fucking xylophone would contain very little substance to latch on to.  But one would be wrong.

[BUY In Memory of Loss]

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The War On Drugs :: Taking the Farm [MP3]

Old school.  Still the shit.

[BUY Future Weather.  Then BUY Wagonwheel Blues.  You NEED them both.]

**

Steve Winwood :: Back in the High Life [MP3]

This is not a joke.  Don’t judge, assholes, lest I judge you for that Edwin McCain album you have hiding in the back of your closet.

**

The Rosebuds :: Shake Our Tree [MP3]

Ivan Howard @’ed me on Twitter (which, by the way, is like Facebook’s retarded cousin.  How the fuck am I supposed to fit ANYTHING in 140 characters?!).  Also, I just love The Rosebuds.  As a sidenote, Jude still gets sad every time the fox dies in “Nice Fox”.

[BUY Life Like]

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Spokane :: The Absentee [MP3]

Go see The Builder.

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Solid Gold :: Danger Zone [MP3]

As Stephen Colbert once noted of this song “Why would anyone ever zone for danger, let alone build a highway to it?”.  He’s right.  But still, the men from Solid Gold could literally come to my house, piss on my zinnias, kick my dog in the balls (if I had a dog, that is), and insult the paint color in my bathroom…and I’d still love them.  This cover is better than the original, by far, and the original was pretty fucking sweet, ya’ll.

[BUY Synchronize]

**

Department of Eagles :: While We’re Young [MP3]

I’m almost positive DoE is telling me that if I’m gonna do that thing, I should do it now.  While I’m young.  What they’re saying should be taken to heart.  Also, that first sentence I just wrote there is a testament to what I said earlier about a song doing better than what I write when documenting my life.

[BUY In Ear Park]

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Mt. Desolation :: State of Our Affairs [MP3]

Keane/Mumford & Sons/Noah and the Whale/The Staves association.  I’m trying really hard to like this band.  Shit, that implies this band sucks.  They do not.  Apologies.

[BUY Bitter Pill]

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David Vandervelde :: Learn How To Hang [MP3]

Let me tell you guys something: Vandervelde’s voice in the opening stanzas of this tune sound like those of the dude that sings the Wubbzy song.  Jude pointed that out and he’s right.  BUT THEN Vandervelde says the word “shit”, and thus, it’s all good.  And then his voice gets awesome as fuck so then it’s all really good.  In other news, I should learn how to hang.

[BUY Summer Time Hits]

**

Dawes :: When My Time Comes [MP3]

The chorus of this jam and the breakdown leading up to it are heaven.  Plus, it’s a great song to end a playlist with.  Ask Rob Gordon, he’ll tell you.

[LISTEN to more from Dawes]