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Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The sentimental motherfucker probably still has the VCR too


Sufjan Stevens' "Romulus" off the Michigan album just made me tear up a little. Goddamn manipulative painful youth and all your naked vulnerability! I wanna push him in the pool now just to break the tension.

Once when our mother called,
She had a voice of last year's cough.
We passed around the phone,
Sharing a word about Oregon.
When my turn came, I was ashamed.
When my turn came, I was ashamed.

Once when we moved away,
She came to Romulus for a day.
Her Chevrolet broke down.
We prayed it'd never be fixed or found.
We touched her hair, we touched her hair.
We touched her hair, we touched her hair.

When she had her last child, Once when she had some boyfriends, some wild.
She moved away quite far.
Our grandpa bought us a new VCR.
We watched it all night, but grew up in spite of it.
We watched it all night, but grew up in spite of it.

We saw her once last fall.
Our grandpa died in a hospital gown.
She didn't seem to care.
She smoked in her room and colored her hair.

I was ashamed, I was ashamed of her
I was ashamed, I was ashamed of her
I was ashamed, I was ashamed of her
I was ashamed, I was ashamed of her


Sufjan Stevens - "Romulus"

Damn that is such a good song. I can get lost in his filigree and twinkliness but then I forget that there is always a dagger hidden inside his frosted birthday cake songs.

There are not many songs that choke me up, but the ones that do, do so consistently. here is a list of what comes to mind:

Lou Reed - "The Kids" off Berlin. I know this is his big "suicidal" album, but most of it just comes off as pretty corny compared to soem of his heavier songs like "Coney Island Baby" and "Magic and Loss". But on "The Kids" when he sings about the junkie woman whose kids are being taken away, and the baby crying in the background, Jesus, I can't take it. This is one of those places where Lou Reed's genius really shines, in the callousness or the production. he's just enough of a prick to go there and show you that teh world is cruel fucking place.

Hüsker Dü - "Hardly Getting Over It" off Candy Apple Grey. This album is often dismissed as the beginning of the end for the Dü, but I really think it's among their best work. There is a stretch of songs in the middle running from "Sorry Somehow" to the sortof unconvincing rave-up final solution of "Dead Set on Destruction" but Bob Mould's acoustic heart wrencher is devastatingly, deeply sad.

American Music Club - "Johnny Mathis' Feet" off Mercury. Mark Eitzel is one of the most effective sail-deflaters out there. His strained delivery and weeping baritone pull you into the black murky water from which he frequently emerges to catch one more breath of life before almost-drowing in it again. Here, he's looking at all his accomplishments and placing them at his idols feet, whose only advice it to learn how to evapoarte before they don't care anymore. Harsh dude. And to think, Johnny Mathis is the guy our parents used to have sex to in the back seat. No wonder we are as messed up as we are.

Chris Bell - "Better Save Yourself"from I Am The Cosmos. This is one of the most glorious bummer albums ever, but its on this track that the Big Star guitarist reveals his own plan for salvation through Jesus that history, always quick to point out when you were wrong, bears out as ending in the big Jackson Pollock/James Dean/Albert Camus speeding-car-meets-tree endgame.

Drive-By Truckers - "Little Bonnie" from A Blessing and a Curse. Patterson Hood's tale of the spectral persistence of a cousin that died at 4 is too heavy because its all too plausible. the world is hard and unyeilding and full of peril and when Jesus or whoever said suffer the children, thing like this make me think that awkward phrase was actually The children will suffer and got purposely garbled in the documentation, because this truth was too much to bear straight on.

So, in the unlikely event that anyone in this cold unfeeling universe is even reading this:
What songs make you cry?

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