Another 30-Day Song Challenge: Days 15-21

When I last left off, I had completed 14 of the 30 songs on this challenge. Here are my picks for Days 15 to 21. Apologies for this taking a little long to update.

Day 15: A Song That’s a Cover By Another Artist

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash

This may be one of the best covers ever recorded; it’s become so legendary that YouTube channel Polyphonic recently included the song in a video about legendary cover songs. The original version was written by Trent Reznor, who also recorded it as part of his band/project Nine Inch Nails, and the original version is featured on the band’s second album, The Downward Spiral (which also features the band’s best known song, “Closer”). Coincidentally, Nine Inch Nails is set to join Johnny Cash (who was inducted in 1992) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year as part of the Class of 2020 (the induction was supposed to happen this spring, but got pushed back tentatively to the fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). Cash recorded his version of the song in 2002 for his album American IV: The Man Comes Around, which ultimately ended up being the final album he released in his lifetime. Where the original version comes from the point of view of a suicidal addict trying to find some sort of feeling or meaning in his life, Cash’s version becomes sort of a bookend not just of a man’s life, long and troubled, but essentially of his own life, which had its share of pain, addiction, and ultimately redemption and salvation. Cash changed one word from the original lyrics (“I wear this crown of shit…” became “I wear this crown of thorns…”), which brought the symbolism from a man in a place of shame and filth to one of a man about to become a martyr, a sacrificial lamb to atone for his many sins. Cash was a man of deep faith and his gravelly bass voice was able to evoke a lifetime of mistakes in the hope that he can find his way in the end. Upon hearing Cash’s version, Reznor said, “…that song isn’t mine anymore.” I’m going to include both versions here because they are both so worth hearing.

Day 16: A Classic Favorite

“Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” by The Spinners

This song is such a classic example of what is known as “Philly soul”, a subgenre of soul music pioneered in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Philadelphia-based producers and songwriters such as Gamble & Huff, McFadden & Whitehead, Bobby Martin, and Norman Harris. Philly soul had a distinct break from the Motown sound that dominated the 1960s, which was largely beat-driven and pop-influenced with notable songwriters and producers like Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Norman Whitfield. Philly soul featured lush, orchestral arrangements, with emphasis on strings and horns, and a much more melodic sound overall. Philly soul would ultimately lay the roots for what would become funk music. Funny enough, The Spinners were originally from Detroit (the original home city for Motown Records, although the label had moved to Los Angeles by the early 1970s, and with whom The Spinners had recorded in the 1960s), but their most influential recordings and biggest commercial success came from their work with the producers and songwriters in the Philly soul movement.

Day 17: A Song You’d Sing As a Duet with Someone at Karaoke

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by The Righteous Brothers

I’m not a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but I have to admit that the scene in Top Gun where his character Maverick and the other Navy pilots are singing this to his flight instructor/love interest (played by Kelly McGillis) in a bar is pretty classic. Now, the part I’d be singing would probably depend on the gender of my duet partner. If my singing partner is a woman, I’d probably take Bill Medley’s part because I kind of have a low singing voice for a woman (thanks to my maternal grandmother, who had a speaking voice almost as masculine as Bea Arthur’s — albeit with a thick New England accent — and a singing voice that could conjure up thoughts of Lou Monte and his infamous cover of “C’e na luna”, an Italian folk song popular among Neapolitan and Sicilian immigrant communities). If my singing partner is a man, though, I’d have to take Bobby Hatfield’s higher-pitched part. Either way, the song is a classic.

Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born

“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

I’m not Rickrolling you! I really was born the year that this song was released! It was released in July 1987, when I was about 4 months old, and it became a #1 hit in the United States in March 1988, the same month as my first birthday.

Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life

“One Thing” by Finger Eleven

Although this song was initially used in WWE’s tribute to Chris Benoit (before the facts of the double murder-suicide he committed publicly came to light), I actually associate this song more with his best friend Eddie Guerrero, a fellow wrestler who died of heart disease in 2005, about two years before Benoit. (WWE’s tribute video for Guerrero actually used Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”). The whole Benoit story is incredibly sad, tragic, and anger-inducing (when it comes to the double murder of his wife and son), and I strongly recommend watching the Dark Side of the Ring episode about his life and the actions of his final days. Anyway, I think this song really gets to the spirit of what Eddie Guerrero’s life was all about, and I think this song really makes us all look back on what we could have done in our own lives.

Day 20: A Song with Many Meanings to You

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

While Stevie Nicks wrote this song at a major crossroads in her life: she was deciding between continuing her education or continuing her professional partnership with Lindsey Buckingham, who was also her boyfriend at the time. There’s a lot of contemplation and fear of the unknown expressed in the lyrics, which I think a lot of people can relate to. But this song is also very personal to me: it was my mother’s favorite song. She adored Stevie Nicks and my mother’s face would light up whenever she’d hear this song come on. Now that she’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, I don’t know if she’d recognize this song now…or even if the sensation of hearing it feels familiar to her. But I’ll always associate this song with her.

Day 21: A Song You Like with a Person’s Name in the Title

“Jane” by Jefferson Starship

I may have used this song in my first challenge as well. Of the three incarnations of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship seems to be the most underrated (Jefferson Airplane had all the iconic songs in the ‘60s while Starship had all the commercial success in the ‘80s). “Miracles” (off of their album Red Octopus) is my favorite song of all three incarnations of the band, but this song features a slapping vocal performance by Mickey Thomas (who also sang lead on Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” and would become one of Starship’s two lead singers in the ‘80s, along with Jefferson Airplane vet Grace Slick). This song does bring to mind Jane Fonda, who was a huge star but also a controversial one in the 1970s, when this song was released, although I don’t think this song is explicitly about her.

Stay tuned for the final part of this challenge, when I will be covering days 22-30.

Another 30-Day Song Challenge: Days 8-14

Here are the next few songs from the Song Challenge I’m currently doing on Instagram.

Day 8: A Song About Drugs or Alcohol

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers

I think I included this one in my previous song challenge as well. But I always enjoy hearing George’s gravelly voice singing about getting drunk in this blues standard.

Day 9: A Song That Makes You Happy

“Shoop” and “Push It” by Salt N Pepa

My original choice for this one was “Shoop”, but surprise…it wasn’t available on Instagram! So I ended up using another great song from Salt N Pepa, “Push It”. “Shoop” is a hip hop classic, and it’s gotten new life after being featured in Deadpool a few years ago. I think I have most of Salt’s verses memorized, especially the one that starts, “You’re packed and you’re stacked / ‘specially in the back / Brother, wanna thank your mother for a butt like that…” I always wanna dance to this one and I usually do find myself rapping along with it. “Push It” also gets people dancing.

Day 10: A Song That Makes You Sad

“Perfect Day” by Lou Reed

The whole song just sounds sad. Not to mention the song is sung from the point of view of a heroin addict trying to find a reason to keep living…yeah, it’s a rough song.

Day 11: A Song I Never Get Tired Of

“Africa” by Toto

This is an ‘80s classic that has gotten new life in recent years thanks to a hit cover version by the band Weezer. The song is such a favorite of mine that I use the chorus to time my hand washing (as it lasts approximately 20 seconds).

Day 12: A Song From My Preteen Years

“Tearin’ Up My Heart” by N Sync

I was obsessed with these guys as a tween. Like, posters on the bedroom wall and everything. And this was the group where Justin Timberlake got his start. He’s become such a pop culture icon since then.

Day 13: Song From the 1970s

“Nights On Broadway” by Bee Gees

This song, which is also the basis for the theme song to the “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch on SNL, showcases some of the best of the brothers’ musicianship, including a section in the bridge where their voices blend in beautiful three-part harmony. Listen for yourself.

Day 14 – Wedding Song

“Reflecting Light” by Sam Phillips

If it’s good enough for Lorelai and Luke’s wedding on Gilmore Girls, it should be good enough for me.

Stay tuned for more songs!

Another 30-Day Song Challenge

Back in 2017, I did a 30-Day Song Challenge that played out on my Tumblr and was summed here on the blog. I’ve decided to do another one for the month of May on my Instagram Stories, and I’ll be summing it up here again. Some of the songs also appeared in the 2017 challenge, but many of them are new.

The songs featured in this post will be from the first week of this challenge, which started on May 1st.

Day 1: A Song with a Color in the Title

“Blue Monday” by New Order

I just absolutely love this song. I love ‘80s music in general, but this one has been a bop for me ever since I discovered it a few years ago. Their song “Bizarre Love Triangle” is also considered an ‘80s Classic here in the U.S., but this one both got mashed up with Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Outta My Head” and was also used in the first trailer for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984.

Day 2: A Song with a Number in the Title

“1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins

I grew up hearing this one a lot on the local alternative rock radio station. The Smashing Pumpkins helped to define the sound of the 1990s and are part of the soundtrack of many ‘90s kids’ lives.

Day 3: A Song That Reminds Me of Summertime

“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett

Given the state of the world today, sometimes I wish things were as easy as blowing out a flip flop, stepping on a pop top, looking for a lost shaker of salt, and ending the day with a nice frozen margarita. Let’s hope that the summer of 2021 is better than the summer of 2020.

Day 4: A Song That Reminds Me of Someone I’d Rather Forget

“Never Gonna Let You Go” by Sergio Mendes

This song doesn’t remind me of an ex (as I have no actual exes to speak of), it actually reminds me of a bully. From 7th grade all the way through my senior year of high school, there was a boy who made it his mission to tease me mercilessly and try to make me feel embarrassed or miserable every chance he got. I don’t know why he targeted me in particular, but I’m pretty sure a crush was not involved. There were many taunts and methods he used to try and get under my skin over the years. This one in particular came in 8th grade, when he was assigned to sit behind me in algebra class. He would sing stupid lyrics to the tune of this song solely to annoy the shit out of me. (And yes, I felt the swear word was justified here). The teacher eventually moved him to another seat when she got wind of what he was doing, but the bullying did not stop until we graduated from high school. I have not seen him since, but he is supposedly a lawyer now (according to social media), and I imagine if he saw the state of my life right now, he’d probably still find a way to make fun of me.

Day 5: A Song That Needs to Be Played Loud

“Toxicity” by System of a Down

The Nu metal movement of the early 2000s created a lot of tracks that frankly make me cringe now (especially Limp Bizkit, although their track “Nookie” was recently used in a pretty genius way in a commercial for CarMax, complete with a cameo by frontman Fred Durst). One band from that era whose songs have aged surprisingly well, though, is the Armenian-American band System of a Down. Their first single was the song “Chop Suey!”, but it was the title track from their debut album Toxicity that really got my attention. This song is a cynical look at their hometown of Los Angeles, with the memorable line “Eating seeds as a pastime activity…”, complete with a headbanging breakdown bridge before frontman Serj Tankian bellows out the final chorus and closing lines in his booming baritone voice. I remember headbanging along to this as a teenager in the early 2000s and I still stan this song now in my thirties.

Day 6: A Song That Makes Me Want to Dance

“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

This song is just so much fun in all its cheesy ‘80s glory.

Day 7: A Song to Drive To

“Radar Love” by Golden Earring

It literally starts with, “I’ve been driving all night, my hands wet on the wheel…” The rhythm of the drumming also reminds me of watching the lane dividers pass outside the passenger window while my dad is driving along the interstate highway. In other words, it’s the driving song!

I’ll have more coming up over the next few weeks!

On Lockdown: May 2020 Edition (Plus, A Finished Object)

As the nation enters its third month or so of social distancing measures, I figured it would be a good time to give an update on how my family and I have been doing in isolation.

Save for a couple of days last week when he went in to write up performance reviews for a couple of his techs, my dad hasn’t been to work in over a month (he had to go in for a few hours on those days because the database he and the other leads and supervisors use to evaluate their performance is only accessible from his workplace). Those two nights he went in, there was hardly anybody there and he was home by midnight both nights. His workplace is closed through at least the end of the month, but they are currently evaluating plans to possibly re-open at a limited capacity so the crowding isn’t so dense. Employees will also be subjected to temperature checks upon arrival (as fever is a notable symptom of COVID-19), which is a smart move (I’ve mentioned before that when my dad has brought home a cold or flu in the past, he’s almost always gotten it from someone who may have come to work sick). Florida is already starting to reopen some businesses, although I think most private businesses are still gonna be cautious about how they reopen and operate.

We’ve been getting our groceries delivered as of late, through one of the major wholesale clubs. Basically I’ve been trying to keep track of what we’re running low on and my dad’s been ordering the items online (although I’ve been letting him take charge of what protein items/meat to order), and then the club has a shopper pick up the items and deliver them to the house. We actually got pretty lucky on toilet paper this past week. We had been running dangerously low on TP recently (which, trying to find the stuff recently has been like mining for diamonds), and instead of trying to gamble on trying to get it at a store in person, my dad decided to order some through Walmart’s website. It took a few days to deliver, but we managed to get it delivered. Then we hit the jackpot again when we were ordering groceries, as the wholesale club actually had a pack of toilet paper in stock! So, between a dozen rolls in the first pack and 36 in the second, we should be set for a while now.

We are all doing okay at the moment, none of us are sick and we’re still in relative isolation. It’s prevented me from returning some Tupperware to a neighbor, but other than that it’s been business as usual. The fact that my mom’s care requires us to stick to a routine has actually helped us from really developing cabin fever (although technology helps, too). Before we get too bored, it’s usually either time to give her something to eat or time to clean her up. In between, I’m usually either watching YouTube videos, taking a nap, or cooking.

I’ve gotten about 100 pages into Children of Virtue and Vengeance, though I could put a little more energy into my reading. I’ve also been working my way through Series 5 of The Tribe, hoping to finish a rewatch of the show that’s taken the better part of two years for me to try and finish. I’m near the halfway point of Series 5 (which was the final season produced for television), and I plan on reading the three sequel novels that have been released once I finish Series 5 (I have all three of them in my e-reader). I’ve only managed a few chapters in Dune thus far, but I’ll probably come back to it every so often. Luckily, if I’m having trouble understanding some of the stuff going on in the book, I have one Facebook friend I can message if I have any questions since Dune is one of his favorite books ever…and there is always Google as well.

Before I post this, I’d like to talk a bit about a project I worked on recently. As you may recall, my best friend (The Lady Bryan) and her mom sent me a bunch of yarn as a Christmas present a few months ago. There were a few large skeins of a golden yellow (which I’m using in another project), and then several smaller balls in all different colors. I decided I was in the mood to make a hat, and I initially wanted to make a two-color brioche beret, but I attempted two different patterns and the process was just not cooperating with me. And then I found the pattern I ended up using, which used a simpler colorwork technique called mosaic knitting (which is typically done flat, one color per set of two rows, and the stitches in the color not being worked are slipped with the yarn on the wrong side to make the visual pattern). This version, though, was worked in the round and also used two-color cabling in addition to slipped stitches in order to make the beautiful colorwork pattern that results. The designer named the pattern in honor of the British chemist and crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, whose photographs of the DNA molecule were essential in proving that the structure of the DNA molecule was a double helix. You can learn more about her role in this monumental discovery by watching this video. She sadly died at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer, possibly caused by working unprotected around the x-rays she used for her crystallography.

Pattern: Rosalind Franklin Hat by Mat Kladney (also known by his handles thathatoverthere and that.hat.over.there, a take on the slang term T.H.O.T. — pronounced “thought”, which is short for “That [Gardening Implement that Rhymes with “Sow”] Over There) / Yarn: Premier Just Yarn in Black and Pink / Needles: U.S. #7 circular needles, 29”, knit using a modified Magic Loop (which I may post a description of at a later time)

As far as I know, Kladney currently has this pattern available as a free Ravelry download for the time being, as he said it was “free during the pandemic”. The pom-pom is optional, but I just felt like attaching one because I thought a pink pom-pom on top would look nice on it. It ended up attaching a little more loosely than I would have liked, but I can always come back with a sewing needle and thread later to further secure it. It’s still gonna be a few more months before the weather will be cold enough for me to wear it.

I didn’t expect a hat to help with my knitting cravings, but after two years of shawls and blankets, it felt nice to work on a hat for once. I don’t know if this is the start of a hat-knitting phase, but this one was actually a lot of fun for me. And yes, it did help hold off the cabin fever, too. I have enough stash yarn to make more colorwork hats if I feel like it. We’ll see there’s any more yarn or patterns that speak to me.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!