The High Fidelity Challenge

At least Amanda gave me something to do this Saturday night other than watch Law & Order.


Top Five Lyrics that Move Your Heart (Today)

  • Elvis Costello – I Want You
    I can’t take these out of context. This song has everything to do with content and delivery.
  • Sufjan Stevens – Romulus
    This song is about the children of an absent mother. The first time I heard it it broke my heart.

    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 moved away,
    She came to Romulus for a day.
    Her Chevrolet broke down,
    We prayed it’d never be fixed or be 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, we grew up in spite of it.
    We watched it all night, we 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.

  • Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
    Particularly the Jeff Buckley cover, but Rufus Wainwright does a wonderful job on this song as well.
  • Nina Simone – Feeling Good
    Pretty much anything by Nina.
  • Johnny Cash – In My Life
    Far better, given Cash’s circumstances, than the Beatles original.

Top 5 Instrumentals
Because I was classically trained on the piano, these are all songs I learned during my piano playing days. I so wish I had my piano at this house (hint hint, Mom).

  • Fur Elise
  • Moonlight Sonata
  • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
  • Theme from the Nutcracker Suite
  • and from the brief period in which I learned how to play jazz, Rhapsody in Blue

My favorite non-classical piano piece is Tori Amos’ All the Girls Hate Her. Hands down.

Top 5 Live Musical Experiences
I got nothing for this one. I’m not mobile enough to catch much live music. The first concert I ever attended was the Wu-Tang Clan, in which a kid stole the Rza’s shoe halfway through the second song. The show was immediately stopped until The entire Wu-Tang crew convinced the audience to berate the kid into returning the shoe. They then performed three more songs and left the stage.

I recently saw the Detroit Cobras and the Reverend Horton Heat play, but neither were too enthused to be in Indiana. Surprise, surprise.

Top Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To

  • Sufjan Stevens is my favorite find of the last two years. I just got ahold of an advance copy of his latest CD, another installment of his American states series centered around the state of Illinois, and I adore it.
  • Like Amanda, I think everyone should own a Le Tigre album. They are far too cool not to adore.
  • Elliott Smith was a staple in my car for almost five years, back when I had a disc changer. I listened to almost nothing else during my pregnancy, which may help to explain why Ethan is so chill and sensitive. I am neither.
  • Tanya Stephens is a feminist-minded reggae artist that puts out some excellent dancehall. I don’t know whether she would consider herself a feminist, but put on your thinking caps and check out these lyrics:

    Now him tail between him leg like shame dog
    Him feel like one a di dead dem dung a morgue
    A weh him pick up dat deh habbit deh, a must a broad
    But wi nuh support dem things deh dung a yard
    Seh him know di bashment but him a big fraud
    Cause him have up di flex of a retard
    Long time him under table a eat hard
    Now mi have him like a puppet pon a piece a cord

    Need a translator? She’s saying her sexual partner is inexperienced, doesn’t know how to go down on a woman, etc., but that her sexual prowess has him wrapped around her finger. Did you get that? Try and pronounce it all out loud with your best Jamaican accent. Not feminist necessarily, but centered around the female sexual experience. This article on political women in dancehall describes Tanya Stephens as “Jill Scott with dick jokes.”
    If anyone is interested I can upload some Tanya Stephens songs for your perusal.

  • Guns N’ Roses. No, really. Axl’s parents lived around the corner from my parents house forEVER. The challenge is to listen to them unironically.

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish
Breeders – Pod
Reverend Horton Heat – Holy Roller, essentially a best-of album
Jeff Buckley’s Grace
The Clash – Combat Rock (Ethan would agree)
and my ultimate guilty pleasure, L7’s Bricks Are Heavy

Top Five Musical Heroes
Singer/songwriters all the way: Aimee Mann, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, and after as many years as I spent on the piano, Tori Amos. And Iggy Pop. Because he is still my other boyfriend.

And Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, shall I go on?

Apparently I need to pass this on, so I’m torturing Ryan, Alley Rat, and Emily. Enjoy!


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12 comments for “The High Fidelity Challenge

  1. May 15, 2005 at 12:20 am

    Ooh, this is a very tempting meme. I agree about Sufjan, although I’ve only known about him for maybe 3 weeks. He’s shot to the upper echelon of my favorites list.

  2. May 15, 2005 at 12:31 am

    I can’t believe you hit me with this. :)

    I’m warning you that my breadth of musical taste is somewhat limited. But I’ll do my best.

  3. Louise
    May 15, 2005 at 7:52 am

    How about the piano for a graduation present?

  4. May 15, 2005 at 8:08 am

    LOL So I’m not the only one who spends my Saturday nights watching Law & Order (esp. SVU)…

  5. May 15, 2005 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for hitting me with this!
    Okay, I’m going to need some time for this and right now I have to get ready for a wedding, but I wanted to say:

    Everyone should try to see Sufjan live. The best show I’ve seen in many, many years. I’m not religious (in fact I’m agnostic leaning toward atheist), but the show had this transcendent quality that I associate with religious experiences. Sufjan is very Christiannand I think he puts his love of God into his music. That sounds incredibly cheezy, I know, but that’s what it seems like to me.

    Romulus makes me weepy.

  6. May 15, 2005 at 10:51 am

    wait: i have to add that i would have probably had romulus AND jeff buckley’s version of hallelujah on my list, dammit!

  7. May 15, 2005 at 11:11 am

    Alley Rat, you’re going to love his new CD. I’m listening to it right now… Mmmm. Sufjan is My Other Christian Boyfriend.

  8. May 15, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    Cool. I was considering putting Buckley’s version of Hallelujah on my list of lyrics, but I wasn’t sure if I should credit it to Buckley, whose version I adore, or Leonard Cohen. And glad to see someone else list Elliott Smith as a top musician more people should listen to. Although I win for the frequency of Elliott Smith appearing in my list. Victory to Raznor.

    At this point I’ll have to buy a Le Tigre album. My new rule is if both you and Amanda like a certain band, I’ll buy it. Well, to be honest, mostly Amanda, but you are responsible for exposing me to Kings of Leon, so hey, credit where it’s due.

  9. May 15, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    I still love Guns’n’Roses. In a very unironic way, too. Hair metal helped me express the rage I had in high school that I wasn’t comfortable expressing any other way. Thankfully I began to deal with what was making me angry or I’d still be wearing acid-washed jeans and going to RAWK shoes screaming and jumping and yelling. Okay, I still do that without the acid wash jeans. I’m going to have to check out Sufjan I’ve heard about him twice today.

    And I’ve found out about quite a bit of music from you that I haven’t heard of before, but have liked.

  10. May 16, 2005 at 7:51 am

    Just to be pedantic but “Top 5 Instrumentals” none of them are songs. And isn’t the Four Seasons violin?

  11. May 17, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    Okay, I finallyhave mine up Whew!

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