Five songs : walk, run, sail, be unstoppable.

Unstoppable / Sia (2016)

Walk / Foo Fighters (2011)

Run / AWOLNATION (2015)

Pompeii / Bastille (2013)

Bubbles / Biffy Clyro (2010) + Sail / AWOLNATION (2011)


I have long been fascinated by the way in which


is different from all other art forms and aesthetic expressions. Of course it's an ongoing and always-unfinished conversation, but one of the most obvious is the way in which

a good song can be absorbed into reality;

the soundtrack or score to a sunny drive, a good kitchen mopping, a rainy evening with a paperback, a train ride with contrast to other art forms, which more or less need some level of conscious, deliberate attention given to them to appreciate.

What inspires you to go out and push yourself?

Unstoppable / Sia (2016)

I played Sia's Unstoppable for one of my pals. I could feel my Rocky meter going from zero to eleven quickly as the shared energy of...

I'm so powerful

I don't need batteries to play

I'm so confident, yeah, I'm unstoppable today

Unstoppable today, unstoppable today

...set against Sia's familiar-yet-new massive, bouncy production kicked off adrenaline and made me



Wow. The world is ahead, every choice is available, and I can rock every one of them. Today is truly unstoppable.

Then I realized that of course the song is referring to me the


not being stoppable, not the day itself, because of course the day itself will inevitably roll forward without stopping, whereas me the person may or may not continue moving forward. There's also the question of whether I need to be stopped at whatever it I'm doing. What if my confidence is misplaced and it's actually old-fashioned hubris leading me to believe I'm unstoppable? What if it's better to just quit sometimes? Am I overthinking? 

No, of course not. I am confident that my analysis of this song is highly accurate and irrefutably spot-on.

Lucia Falls

One of the greatest compliments you can get with a recommendation is to know it was enthusiastically passed along to someone else. File this under that. Go be unstoppable. But remember to brake at intersections. 

Walk / Foo Fighters (2011)

I was asked awhile back by one of my favourite human-laureates of the universe, Admiral James - full disclosure: also my brother - to accompany him on a 34-hour trek beginning in the Portland, Oregon area and culminating in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region. The reasons were complex for this trip,* but my greatest concern for the road ahead was the fact that I had not correctly pre-soundtracked it, so I was running a little blind in terms of our sonic highway experience.. We embarked at nine o'clock in the evening, which I estimated gave us ten hours of playing Deafheaven's

New Bermuda

five-track EP on repeat, but he surprisingly did not respond to their beautiful My Bloody Valentine-tinged black metal with the fervor I had suspected he might,** so that plan was put on hold while I scrambled for other options.

Boise, Idaho, en route to Dallas

I had some emergency music in mind for the horrifying possibility that he would not fall in love with Deafheaven. This proved to be an incredibly astute piece of thinking ahead, as I was able to pull out a stop-gap playlist that included that Phil Collins' Tarzan song, Cher, and of course Foo Fighters'


. There are few songs that make me want to run as much as


Truly, it is one of the best 'get up and go, you can do it' anthems of the decade. 

One truism I discovered about Texas is that there are rattlesnakes living in every public toilet. Of course I would never say something dramatic such as this in order to be sensationalistic; and the cold truth is that I never saw any, but the colder truth is that there are signs at every restroom warning of the presence of rattlesnakes, which is just as terrifying. I would not recommend reading a James Clavell novel on a public toilet in Texas. You'd be playing with fire. Or rather, rattlesnakes. 

*they were not. he got a job in Fort Worth.

**I really did not expect at all. I had just hoped.

Run / AWOLNATION (2015)

Once upon a time, there was a boy.

Maybe eight.

This boy had a knife. 

A knife he cherished.

This boy, although he worked hard and looked after his responsibilities conscientiously, was able to take a well-deserved trip to the public swimming pool one hot summer day.

He wore his jean shorts with the Buck knife safely held in the right front pocket. 

Lacking the funds to afford a locker that locked, he simply left his clothes inside an empty one. And clicked the door shut.

I am a human being capable of doing terrible things

[repeated over and over under a thudding Nine Inch Nails impressionistic bass growl] 

Fast forward.

Swimming over.

Back to locker room.

Clothes strewn.

Jean shorts there. Knife gone.

Tears, slow then flood. 

A girl his senior by two years, maybe ten, comes up.

"What's the matter? Why are you crying?"

He told her.

She stood silently with him, leaning against the railing. Finally patted his arm. 

"I'm sorry," she says. "It'll be okay."

"Thanks," he said, though he knew it wasn't true, and things would never be the same.

Guess what?

That boy was me. 

What is the evil that human beings are capable of?

Now you know.

I've wondered if it was actually that nice girl who took it.

human beings; likely plotting something of dubious nature

Pompeii / Bastille (2013)

One of my former students texted a while back.

Late night.

Sorry, I know it's late!the message said.

But the most exciting thing just happened


(this is paraphrasing)

What?!I excitedly messaged back.

I've been hanging out with Bastille!she wrote.

(only she used their actual first names)

And they are such great guys. You would really like them.

Awesome! I said electronically.How did this happen?

I was waiting outside by their bus after the show, she explained. until they came out. And then we just, like talked for a while. 

That is so great.I said truthfully. An old student of mine from Montana was at a My Chemical Romance show and the lead singer spit on him, and he tried to make me promise never to listen to them again.

So, if you're ever in a position where you need to decide whether to invite a band to dine with you, then probably go with Bastille over My Chemical Romance. I have it on good authority they are good fellas, and from another authority that MCR is not. And Bastille's irrepressible, '80s-channeling smash


will keep you humming every which way til Blue Monday.

Bubbles / Biffy Clyro + Sail / AWOLNATION

She asked me if I had heard AWOLNATION.

Yeah.I told her.
I've heard them. Maybe only, like a billion times though.

(or something like that)

There are really only three radio stations I listen to, and two of them I don't remember what they're called. The first is NPR. I cannot envision a world without news and stories from public radio. The second and third are the local classical and jazz stations.

The other stations play mixes of top 40, "alternative," "indie," and various pop music designations, but essentially most of the stations I occasionally sample seem to be playing the same songs in some sort of consistent, frequent rotation. And I loathe that. I don't like the idea of having a

good song

 rammed down

ad nauseum

until I'm sick of it. Also, why my streaming of choice is Spotify, not Pandora.

There is a joy in discovering something new, whether it's new to the rest of the world, or just new to you, and I don't like being robbed of that. I don't like growing weary of something because it's shoved at me relentlessly, and I'm irked that I got weary of AWOLNATION's


, because it really is a fine song, and has been used in a thousand sports montages, aerial videos, and slow-mo sequences because it's really...good. But good doesn't get better when you hear it over and and over and over. Good gets worse, and if good is really the enemy of great, then what would worse than good be? I don't know. The worser enemy of great? I don't know. I just know that I'm grateful for artists like Biffy Clyro, who can leap onto my radar from seemingly nowhere (Scotland?) with an infectious, big hook anthem like


, and somehow, miraculously, though it sounds like it should be blasting from a million outdoor shopping center speakers, I have somehow avoided ever hearing it outside the context of my own playlists. It's a fine song, as is


 But one is still precious to me because I've listened to it of my volition, on my terms, and I still love it. The other is tired; I am tired and weary of hearing it and hope to someday learn to love it again.

Until that time, I've got Jeff Lynne back catalogs to work my way through...

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