Turn on your iTunes (or iPod).
Or, in my case, Windows Media Player.
Set the player on "Shuffle."
It always is. I have music-appreciation ADD. Not an album purist. I used the shuffle button before there was a shuffle button. We called it "making a mix tape" back then.
Write something (a sentence, a paragraph, a story, a word,) about the first 5 songs that come up. Can you handle that? It's really not as hard as it might sound… as music, no matter your taste, is what makes the world go round.
Don't be patronizing, meme.
1. "You Belong To Me," Elvis Costello
"Your eyes are absent, your mouth is silent, pumping like a fire hydrant." A rockin' bit of New Wave vitriol. Love that high-pitch machine-gun piano in the middle. Nothing like the Dylan song "She Belongs To Me," but seeing this title always makes me think of the Dylan song, even though Dylan actually has another song called "You Belong To Me." And here's me, a Dylan fan for twenty year gone now, and I don't have that song in my collection. Man, I gotta get the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. What was I talking about again?
2. "Purple Haze," the Bobs
The Bobs are an a capella group. This is from their covers album, which I obtained almost 15 years ago now (and they said CDs wouldn't last over time!) from my old college. Specifically, I stole it from the radio station. In my defense, it was heavily scuffed and not being treated with the appropriate reverence. The Bobs' vocal imitation of Jimi Hendrix's wailing and crunching guitar riffs is something everyone ought to hear at least once.
3. "A Woman's Life and Love," Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
Andrew Bird's violin-based, almost unclassifiable melange of jazz and other '30s styles is sheer delight to a guy like me with a broad musical palate (I like Fats Waller and Rancid, Dean Martin and Procol Harum). Superb vocals by the amazing Katherine Whalen.
4. "Nobody," Johnny Cash
From the American III album, perhaps my favorite of the series (it contains "One," "I See a Darkness," and "The Mercy Seat," perhaps the three finest covers Cash ever did --- oh, and "Solitary Man," too). This song is not one of my very favorites of his, but it's a terrific blend of comedy and pathos, a plaint by a perpetually put-upon sad sack. Cash has a long tradition of doing humorous pieces like this (as on his Live at Folsom Prison album), and he pulls the goofiness out of the lyrics' righteous ire with a practiced, knowing drawl. Anyway, I'd enjoy Cash singing the phone book, frankly.
5. "Lost in the Harbour," Tom Waits
Tom Waits has so many sides, he's round. That is, his career has been largely composed of various performing personas. There's the otherworldly roaring noise merchant, the growly burlesque-house pianist, the streetwise Beat poet, the noir throwback, the highly literate stream of consciousness lyricist, and so on. On this track we have Waits the slow, sad balladeer. It's not the flavor of Tom Waits I like best, but it's raspy and beautiful. And when Tom Waits does a sad song, you either feel sad or you're dead.