366 Songs 117: Glory Box

It’s been years since I’ve really listened to “Glory Box,” probably the biggest hit from Portishead’s first album Dummy; it was one of those songs that I was convinced I had over-heard, that I was too used to from listening to the album endlessly when it came out, and then the single came out and it was everywhere… But it’s playing in the cafe that I’m sitting in right now, and it sounds much sharper, much less bloated and self-obsessed than I remembered it. It’s as if I had replaced the original – with Beth Gibbons’ voice cracking with emotion and the retro guitar twanging shamelessly, not quite a cliche just yet, months and countless rip-offs yet to come – with some idea of what it sounded like.

There are some songs that I wish I could hear for the first time all the time; relive the thrill of that first listen, the zigging when I expected a zag, or whatever, and be surprised and impressed every single time. This is definitely one of them; it was worth ignoring the song for years to hear it again as if it was, if not the first, then surely not the one hundredth, time.

Keep Your Comments To Yourself?

This is Warren Ellis, talking about comments sections on websites:

Which brings up another thing, and I’m not going to ascribe it to Charlie, who is a nice man, but it’s real – sometimes, your commenters, by which you often mean your audience and your readership, are really fucking annoying, and sometimes you don’t like them.  Which you can’t say.  Who’s going to pick up another book by a writer who says “My readers are awful pieces of shit and I can think of twenty of them, right off the bat, who should be drowned in hot pig blubber”?  Nobody.  “My audience are all complete pissflaps.  Have you read my website comments threads?  Utter inane gibberish.  I would like to train a giant horse to fuck out all their eyes.”  Who’s going to say that?

I guarantee you that even the sweetest and kindest writer has thought that exact thought more than once in their lives.  And its corollary: “Oh god, my readers are such horrible demented shitbags, what am I doing so wrong that I attract them all to me?”

I have grown to hate comments sections on blogs.

I didn’t used to be like that; I used to love them, love seeing the conversations and different opinions and alternative viewpoints to the ones in the main piece, and so on. But somewhere along the way – and my experience at io9 definitely feeds into this, hugely – I realized that comments sections (and message boards in general, for that point) have become just suckholes of in-jokes, arguments and, most depressingly, people spoiling for fights. Social media has opened up space for conversation elsewhere that’s more democratic and also less likely to end up with people feeling as if they have something to prove, and I think that has weirdly killed off the viability of the comments section as was.

But maybe I’m insane.

“One of the Only Barriers of People Publishing is People Have to Type. What if That Goes Away?”

I have one of the new iPads. For both my email and Twitter, I’m able to talk into it and get speech to text (with Dragonfly voice-recognition software). It’s become more and more efficacious, which is great and convenient. If you start to think — one of the only barriers of people publishing is people have to type. What if that goes away? Just a huge explosion. Instead of going on the phone and talking about prom night, we’re either at or near a place where they can speak it in their phone and it’ll appear in text. What if people don’t have to type to get it into there? Does that make what we do more or less valuable? There’s more for us to sift through. But we’re the signal in the noise, and it’ll make us more valuable. I’m fairly democratic in my impulses. I don’t want more crap out there, but I think the fact that I need to type my thoughts means I share less of them.

New York Times journalist, David Carr.

(I have to admit, I have thought about speech recognition software as a way to speed up my writing process many times. I am terrible at typing, somewhat ironically for a professional writer; what keeps me away from using any kind of speech recognition is the fact that I’m convinced my accent will prove so confusing to it that I’ll likely spend more time correcting transcription errors.)

“It’s A World of We’re All In This Together And A World of It’s All Just A Game, Isn’t It?”

The most amazing and telltale thing about the conversation is not Jason Frazer’s nerve in initiating it, but his blase assumption that it would be alright. It’s another sign of how deeply he, and huge parts of the modern entertainment world, have internalized a set of values in which all parts of the business – and in particular the artists, the tabloids and the paparazzi – have more in common with each other than anyone else outside their world, and in which, despite occasional tensions, they recognize their common interests. It’s a world of we’re all in this together and a world of it’s all just a game, isn’t it? A world of gloss and desperation where fame and money are the only lubricants, and the only goals. In this new pop world, the tabloids and the paparazzi are no longer an ancillary nuisance that comes with success, they are your co-workers in the celebrity corporation, and you are expected to recognize and acknowledge them as such.

– Chris Heath, from Feel: Robbie Williams.

There’s a comic book editor who shall remain unnamed to avoid his seemingly unstoppable Google search who, on social media and message boards and comment threads and now, it seems, in print, can’t stop himself from baiting comic journalists and critics who’ve said anything other than blanket plaudits; he’ll jump in, perceiving personal slights where there aren’t any and throwing out award-winning examples of passive aggression in response, instead of actually addressing what’s being said (I’ve been the… target, which isn’t really the right word, of his ire more than once, but I generally fail to get mad enough, which I think ruins it slightly for him).

The oddest thing about him, though, is his insistence when challenged on his behavior that he’s just having fun and people should stop taking him so seriously. Every time I see that, I think that he’s misjudged the room, so to speak; that what he thinks is happening and what is actually happening are so amazingly different that there’s something wrong, somewhere. Then, this weekend, I read the above passage and thought, Ohhhhh. That’s what he’s thinking.

366 Songs 116: Dare

The best song hastily rewritten around a misheard/misspoken lyric ever (“Dare” coming from Shaun Ryder’s pronounciation of “It’s there,” said while setting recording levels in the studio). There’s something so joyful and effortless in the finished song that it shows how necessary accident is, sometimes.

366 Songs 115: Summer Holiday

Quite why this song has been in my head for the last week or so, I have no idea, but that riff keeps returning when I least expect it.

It’s a riff that I want to be stolen by something else, to be used in a way it deserves instead of this treacley, over-produced tweefest with the syrup vocal and trite lyrics, not to mention the light entertainment strings, but… Man. That riff. Somebody, sample it and save it. Please.

(The riff comes from Cliff Richards’ then-backing band, the Shadows, who also did stuff like this:

The Shadows had their moments of awesomeness, as you may be able to tell.)

366 Songs 114: Fitta Happier

I’m tempted to just say “This” and leave it as that, as if no other kind of explanation is necessary, but… More than the rap from Guilty Simpson or MED (Although, man: rhyming “humorous” with “A lot of MCs got one style/Me? I got numerous” is awesome), this track from Quakers is all about finding a purpose for the great riff that was Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” from Kid A (the riff is great, the rest of the original song less so), especially when it’s translated into the marching band arrangement. Horns, you sound so good like that.

(Another plus: This is a short track! Less than three minutes, just enough time to get in, be great, and get out before you get bored. More pop songs need to do this.)

366 Songs 113: Bachelorette

Bjork is one of those artists that I listen to in waves; there are times when I am very much not in the mood for her vocal stylings or song constructions (She’s definitely someone who doesn’t believe in the traditional verse-chorus-verse as tradition, if that makes sense, and I sense that she’s more of a fan of her vocal tics than most), but other times, very few things in the world sound as necessary or beautiful to me. “Bachelorette” is definitely one of my go-tos for when the latter takes me, filled with everything I find appealing about her music: Amazing arrangements (Those sweeping strings! Especially when they shift key towards the end of the song, at 4:27), a fearless vocal performance and lyrics that offer up phrases that stick in the brain and feel heavier and deeper than they were perhaps intended (“I’m a tree that grows hearts/One for each that you take” is a lovely couplet, in this one, as is the opening “I’m a fountain of blood/In the shape of a girl”). That the song fades, but Bjork’s vocal remains until the accordian brings her out, is just an added plus. This is a lovely, lovely song that makes me feel things I still don’t know what to call.