Saturday, May 17, 2014

Answers, Part I

Welcome to the first part of the answers to the... Ask Me Anything thing that... hmm. Sentence construction not so good. Let's do this again.

Hi ho, everyone! I'm answering the questions you've asked me as part of Ask Me Anything.

Let's start with Roger, because he got the ball rolling. His first, music-related question: when you did those favorite songs of the decades, how did you keep track of what songs were in which decade? I find so many CDs provide the copyright date of the package, rather than the date of the original album.

For the most part, I just have a head for that kind of thing. It's the pop culture junkie part of me that deeply cares about all of this generally useless information. I don't have a head for science, or math, or when my bills need to get paid, or the birthdays of loved ones, but I do have a great grasp of what year Beach Boys singles came out in. I can recall things like that pretty easily. So much of that info seems to be up there permanently.

It's the same thing with albums, TV shows, movies, etc. In casual conversation, you can ask me when a movie came out and I'll tell you the year. It's a useless talent, but I make a lot of lists, so it comes in handy then.

There's also the way I cling to things from my childhood, because I don't have many happy memories. Part of the mental schema--the one where I believe deeply in the "fact" of my insignificance--is that long-term memories of happiness either get obliterated by my subconscious or just don't form. Remembering the things I liked in terms of numbers somehow helps me keep them in there, which is amazing considering how many times I flunked math (even in college). Movies and music were always the big deals for me; I loved going to the movies with my parents, especially genre movies, so for a lot of the years of my life, I can tell you what year it was by what movies (or songs or video games) were a big deal at the time. I remember 1981 as the year of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pac-Man and "Kiss On My List." 1982 was the year the Thriller album came out and I was terrified of ET. Etc. through the Eighties.

It's basically useless, except for talking about pop culture, answering trivia questions, and, I guess, keeping the events of my life in a certain order.

That said, if I had a question about it, I generally just looked it up on Wikipedia.

Another interesting musical question from Rog: You know more about music before you were born than anyone I know, so this will be tough, but listening to various years of music, are there periods you feel you know better first hand, from, say hearing it on the radio. I was born in 1953, and Id say 1956-1959, then a drought (when I went to school), then 1963-1975, then 1978-1987, much more spotty (Nirvana, Johnny Cash) after that.

I had young parents (my Mom and Dad were 19 and 21 when I was born), so they liked a lot of the contemporary music of the period. My Mom liked pop music and then drifted into what we called wuss-rock like Air Supply, and my Dad liked rock and R&B and pretty much anything on Motown in the early 80s. When my parents divorced, he was starting to get into rap. But their record collection was anything but contemporary; my Mom had Carpenters and Simon & Garfunkel records, and my Dad had Beatles and Beach Boys 8-tracks. So I listened to a lot of that slightly older music as a kid. (To this day, one of my best memories is spending Saturday mornings with my Dad, listening to his Beach Boys 8-tracks while my sister danced to "Little Deuce Coupe" and we made pancakes.) And my Mom also liked Classical music, and that was sort of the golden age of film scores for me, and MTV started in 1981, and back then you could leave it on all day and just have videos in the background.

That's all a long way of just showing that I had a lot of music influences as a kid.

I feel like I know music better first hand from about 1981 to 1988 or 1989, mainly from the radio or MTV. Around 1988 or 1989 there was a shift in pop music, it seemed, more towards rap and club music and then in 1990 or 1991 everything seemed to become either heavy metal or house music, and I just wasn't into a lot of that then. In that period, my listening habits shifted full on into Classical and film scores, with some classic rock mixed in. I liked some of the newer stuff, but not in the way I had liked, say, Prince or Michael Jackson or Hall & Oates or Billy Joel. I missed a lot of the new music that was coming out then. I missed the grunge explosion entirely. One day, MTV was playing Milli Vanilli and Color Me Badd and "Rico Suave," and suddenly it was Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I had no idea what happened, and to this day I haven't listened to a lot of grunge. Not because I was actively staying away; I just sort of missed that whole thing. I've never listened to Nevermind. I didn't really get back into firsthand contemporary music until maybe 8 or 9 years ago. And I still feel at a loss with some of it, like I missed the bridge. And a lot of that music came on my radar because of my half-sisters (born in 1992 and 1995).

While we're on the subject of music, Nik asks: What are your top 5 desert island albums?

This is a hard question, because as a music junkie, my instinct is to just agonize over this one, trying to find the perfect 5 albums. But let's do it this way: let's say you walk in my door, right now, no warning, and tell me I have to leave and I can only take five albums with me and I have to grab them right now. What do I grab?

Hm, the first things I know I want are albums that I loved when I was a kid. Invisible Touch by Genesis, which is a perfect album. Not a bum tune there. The Labyrinth soundtrack, because you get some of Bowie and Trevor Jones' wonderful electronic score. "Weird Al" Yankovic's Dare to Be Stupid, because it's my favorite of his, I love almost every song, and "Dare to Be Stupid" is my theme song. It's also on the soundtrack to Transformers: The Movie, which would honestly be my fourth pick. It's cheesy, but I still love it. And metal is surprisingly good for when you have to work out or do something montage-worthy, and who knows what I'm going to have to do on a desert island to survive.

And above all, Pet Sounds. That Beach Boys masterpiece is the album I want to die listening to.

I'm sure I'll spend time lamenting the albums I didn't take, but, well...

I'm going to stop there for now. These are self-indulgent enough without making them really long, too. I've got a good amount of questions, but if there's anything you want to ask, or follow-up on, or what have you, you can ask right here in the comments or email me. I'll keep this going as sort of a "whenever" thing, rather than strictly weekly. I've got some good questions, I don't want to leave anyone hanging.


Roger Owen Green said...

Gracias. So if could upload your brain into my music collection, I'd be all set. I just don't see doing the 1970s, or 1980s greatest albums, because I just don't see the albums that way.

SamuraiFrog said...

I could (and eventually will) do the 1970s... actually, for that decade, the hard part for me would probably be narrowing it all the way down to only 100. Too many favorites in that decade. Just have to remind myself that I don't have to put EVERY David Bowie album on it. I guess. Maybe.

In my ongoing "listen to every album I've ever wanted to" project, I'm in early 1984 now, and I'm finding some little treasures there. Soon I'll be entering unfamiliar territory, which is exciting. Most of what I'm familiar with there are albums I had as a kid, which weren't really that many.

Roger Owen Green said...

The 1970s would be BRUTAL - probably 4 Stevie Wonder, 3 Paul Simon, 2 Talking Heads, 3 Joni. TOO MUCH