Friday, May 19, 2006

Below is my stab at playing substitute for a vacationing friend and fellow Blogcritics writer, Mark Saleski. Mark, an accomplished music writer, publishes a weekly column called the Friday Morning Listen.

Friday Morning Listen: A Substitute Mix
(Previously posted on

For starters, this isn’t Mark Saleski. This is a humble and somewhat jealous Sir Mary filling in for the vacationing Sir Saleski. As you all know, Mark’s been doing the Friday Morning Listen for three years now, relaying tidbits of his life, and the music that allows him to contemplate, celebrate, or just plain cope.

I know that often Mark’s ‘listening’ occurs on his drive into work on those Fridays. What a great idea, but my work commute consists of the few steps from the kitchen to the sunroom. I do get out and drive around on various errands during my day, but for months now I’ve been stuck with whatever I can find on the radio, as my CD player is broken.

However, I can relay what I might listen to as I work, which is a whole procedure itself. Sometimes I’m extremely picky when I’m writing. I suppose the closer a deadline looms is directly proportionate to what I listen to.

Anyway, lets swing over to my Windows Media Player, set it to ‘shuffle, and take a listen to some of my favorites:

“Sogno” – Andrea Bocelli. Not that conducive to writing, as I tend to just close my eyes and practically weep when ever I hear it. It’s just that gorgeous. But it puts me in a reflective state, and that’s not a bad thing.

“Music for a Found Harmonium” – Celtic Fiddle Festival. This unassuming little instrumental caught my attention when I became enamored of the movie Napoleon Dynamite. I heard this piece near the end of the movie and was captivated by its simplicity. As soon as I could, I searched the ‘net high and low to find the soundtrack. Well, finding the soundtrack wasn’t that hard, but this song wasn’t on it! Finally I narrowed it down to a version by the Penguin CafĂ© Orchestra. Not bad, but it wasn’t what I thought I heard in the movie. Actually, I thought I was hearing something of Latin origins, probably because the song continued through Pedro’s election celebration scene. I think part of the appeal of this piece is that it assumes different flavors in different settings. Wow, tofu music!

Another piece from ‘across the pond’ is Babyshambles’ “Bollywood to Battersea”. Now, I’ve been hearing lots about this group from the rest of my Mondo comrades – and a while back I randomly downloaded this piece. What a charming little song – reminiscent of early British Invasion, kind of Dave Clark Five-ish. However, I read that other Babyshambles selections range from punk to reggae styles – overall, something I think I’ll need to be purchasing sooner rather than later.

Next up is some pleasant jazz; an instrumental called “Highway Blues” by New Stories from the Speakin’ Out CD. Now this is my kind of writing music. Not too jumpy, and no distracting lyrics. My only problem is, I have no idea how this ended up in my player library. Must have been the music elves and fairies that play around in the house at night.

Oh awesome, nothing better than getting’ the Led out, with the timeless “Kashmir”. Sexy, soothing and stirring at the same time. Strangely, the lyrics don’t distract here. I barely acknowledge them, instead getting lost in the relentless bass and percussion.

From the classics to the new – my player shuffles right to Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Stadium Arcadium”. Me likey.

Here’s another Napoleon Dynamite favorite – I’m kind of a sucker for certain 80s tunes like this. Strangely, during Holy Week, I found a deeper meaning in the simple but profound lyrics of “The Promise” by When in Rome:

“When you need a friend, don't look to a stranger,
You know in the end, I'll always be there.
But when you're in doubt, and when you're in danger,
Take a look all around, and I'll be there”

Works for me!

The beauty of this media player is that I can combine my son’s play list with my own. Otherwise I wouldn’t have developed an appreciate for the likes of Nirvana and Creed, evidenced my not shuffling away from the currently playing “Come as You Are” by Nirvana.

Oh yeah, let’s get jiggy! Will Smith you think? Not that I don’t like the Fresh Prince and all, but take that phrase back a decade, and you’ll surely feel jiggy listening to Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some”. I defy anyone with a pulse to sit still during this incredible mix of driving beat and wild shredding. OK so I don’t write so well with this stuff, but man, can I clean house or what!

I could let the title of my last selection, “Are You Experienced?” the Hendrix cover performed by Eric Johnson, taunt me. The song represents my half crazed efforts to bone up on the music of Johnson and Joe Satriani to prepare for my review of their Boston show last month. Experienced, I was not. I had never done a concert review before, and wasn’t extremely familiar with either musician’s material. But I knew what I liked, and tried to do justice to their work while driving myself slightly insane in the process.

And now, I will leave you in the much more experienced hands of Mark Saleski as he returns next week for another Friday Morning Listen.