Buena - Morphine
Oh Buena. So aptly titled. This song starts with such powerful elements, rolled out one at a time to slowly increase its hold on you. And when it stops it just drops you on the floor, ravaged.
I had been listening to Cure for Pain for awhile by this point. But I have a specific memory of gifting this song to Rob in the middle of the computer science lab. I'm wearing headphones, grooving on some Morphine, and Rob's sitting next to me. I hand him the headphones and queue up this song. I can see it washing over him in waves. After about a minute he's taking off the headphones and demanding to know what it is he's listening to and how he can get more.
"I hear a voice cry out... you want something good."
"I think it's time for me to finally introduce you to the Buena..."
Bubble Toes - Jack Johnson
It would have made sense for me to discover Jack Johnson through his work with G. Love, but that's not how it went down. It also feels like something Dan could have put in front of me as a guitar showcase around the same time as John Mayer and Monte Montgomery. But it's probably more simple. Jessica heard it on the radio, picked up the album, and eventually put it in front of me.
What really connected for me was the unrelenting chillness. There's an undeniable rhythm to his vocals. This song in particular highlights it around 2:00. Yet despite this the sound always manages to stay relaxed. It works incredibly well.
The runner up here was "Flake". Great song, but it doesn't capture the vocal quality that really caught my ear in "Bubble Toes".
Ghosts - Dirty Vegas
I graduated from college and got a job. With this came something called a paycheck. Those are handy for paying rent and utilities and such, but they can also be used to buy stuff. So it was that after getting some essentials out of the way I bought myself an Xbox.
The Xbox had this nifty feature where you could rip music to the hard drive and use that as a soundtrack in certain games. Racing games in particular seemed more likely to support this feature. These games also happened to be something that Jessica and I could play together. I remember us dabbling with Project Gotham Racing, Rallisport Challenge, and especially Quantum Redshift (because racing games where you can shoot the guy in front of you are inherently more awesome).
The games had their own music. In fact I believe the first time I heard The Chemical Brothers was in PGR. But it was so much more awesome to drive along to your own music. One of the few discs I put in there was Dirty Vegas, and to this day when I hear those songs it makes me think of these games.
I had thought "Days Go By" would be the obvious pick here, but listening back on the album "Ghosts" actually better captures this time for me.
Star Guitar - The Chemical Brothers
I was going to put "Star Guitar" in as an honorable mention for the previous story. But then I listened to it again and decided, f-that, it gets its own entry.
I remember jumping through some serious hoops to get this song and put it on the Xbox just because I thought it'd be awesome to drive to. It involved getting the song a la cart, then burning that to a disc, then ripping it again onto the Xbox. When I finally got it in there, I was totally right. I remember happily zipping around in a virtual Mini Cooper S with "Star Guitar" driving me forward. But I don't remember how I got the idea that this was a good idea. It could have been a suggestion from Francis, but I'm not sure.
As far as I'm concerned the song was invented for this sort of pairing. I mean, have not you seen the music video? It resonates with me on a fundamental level. Seriously, it feels like childhood. Riding in the car, bored and staring out the window, listening to music, my eyes and my ears finding hidden connections. It's still true today, as I commute on the bus. But now I get a bit more emotional about it, feeling that the connections I see are part of some sort of cosmic transcendental truth.
Last Nite - The Strokes
There's something about The Strokes that sounds like they're saying "Screw you mom, I'm gonna be a rock star!". Not in an angry way, but in a teenage optimism sort of way. It's earnest and detached all at once. It's like they care more than anything in the world, but also don't want to let you know.
At the same time this music sounds to me like something both old new. The vocals are… distant. But perfectly paired. It somehow makes them even more present. The musical structure is so incredibly simple, not overly produced, and just… good.
Simple. Good. Love it.