Wednesday, May 31, 2006

on the road: figure eight [1.0]

this january i unveiled a series of new features to the 17 point scale. one of these ideas was a segment called 'on the road reviews.' i explained that:

these posts will hopefully bear the fruit of my most dangerous new idea (and perhaps my sole idea) concerning that i-5 stretch of verdant wasteland between seattle and portland. the recipe for my new idea is really quite simple; in fact, it only takes a few key ingredients: one or more full length music albums, a device with which to play said cds, a pen, and a post-it note pad. the stickies that survive the ride shall then serve as the song-by-song foundation for my 'on the road reviews.' as an aside, i suddenly (as in a few minutes ago) became intensly interested in origins. that is, where did this idea come from? (i don't know). why did i choose this title? (to begin, i did not intend hurtle my way into the company of jack kerouac
or willy nelson. in fact, having never finished 'on the road' or listened to the verses of 'on the road again,' i can't even claim an artistic birthright to their sense of these words, so there is no connection. none. i liked the aliteration; that's it).

joel's blog and an occasional article in paste magazine is about my only exposure to the world of legitimate music reviews. still, from what i've seen, my vision of a track-by-track album analysis seems rather unique. this surprises me. maybe my method is overkill, perhaps it's too unpolished, but the overall effect seems like an interesting blend of analysis and subjectivity.

in any case, despite all the hoopla that surrounded my initial announcement of on the road reviews, it's been almost six months and i have yet to post a single on the road review. frankly, i'm a little hesitant to embark upon this path. mostly i'm afraid that it will prove too exhaustive and uninteresting for readers that lack the album that happens to be my flavor of the day. and, unfortunately, i obviously can't post links to the songs that i discuss. also, these thoughts are scribbled on little scraps of paper as i drive from portland to seattle: they tend to be rather scattered. thus, i'm open to feedback. here's a sample of how an on the road review might read:

figure eight by elliot smith

1. 'you're just somebody that i used to know.' the chorus says it all. an implicit indictment of the 'you.' the song attacks her but does so oh so pleasantly. still, at first listen, the song is blessedly ambiguous. we can't quite swallow what elliot's preaching; we only half believe that she's really 'just somebody' that he used to know...

2. 'something's happening. don't speak to soon...son of sam?' i like the piano. i like the phrase 'acting under orders from fall down.' i don't know what the song is saying, but i like the succession of parallel-looking words like 'under' and 'order.' moreover, this line seems like a microcosm for the album: to some degree, his words take us down (under) and then up (above) and then down again (down).

8. "stay with me / hanging around at the lost and found...don't go home, angelina...i'm alone, most of the time / but that's okay..." there's a constant sense of 'it seems this way.' nothing is concrete. also, the song (and album) seems to shift places between happiness and sadness, companionship and solitude, staying or leaving. the main lyric is somehow ironic. and the song has a weird unconnected 30 second instrumental postlude.

10. another indictment of a girl: "it's all about taking the easy way out for you i suppose..." elliot smith seems pretty good at conveying a bitter yet seemingly logical analysis of his ex's. he paints a familiar picture (i.e., as someone with ex's, his lyrics and tone resonate with me) that somehow manages to remain uncliche.

more? stop this insanity?

andrew david 'free advertising' yelapa, mexico.