Category Archives: Music

The B-sides of Surfer Rob

Well, I said it and the Daily Post prompt has now demanded it. I’ve never been freshly pressed, but those guys – I swear they’re reading my thoughts and it’s about time I broke out the tinfoil hat. The prompt goes like this:

I’ve made a new friend, and I make them a mixtape or playlist that tells them who I am.

Done, done, and done again now.

For the first installment you could read my Twisted Mixtape Tuesday post, and
For the second chapter you might read yesterday’s Saturday Jams.
I’ll draw up a playlist after the fun jump.

For my new friend I want to say “hey, my name is Rob Ross. I grew up in the 1980’s and the 1990’s of Earth history and this music pretty much explains who I am.” Hands over a gigantic audio cassette, labeled “TDK HC-5000”. What music have I filled it with?

Collective Soul’s December was a huge radio hit, but between this and The World I Know I found such beautiful resonance. I remember thinking how funny it was when the lyrics “as I walk upon high | and I step to the edge | to see my world below” closely aligned with me in Columbus as I would walk up High street to a club called the Edge, which was on the basement level of the building it was in – you had to descend stairs in the pavement to its door. But December was a song that I heard a lot, played a lot, tried to get friends to play it with me, but I was always out of luck with stuff like that. . . this particular friend was big into Mike Patton and Mr. Bungle and I just didn’t get it.

Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life. Can you imagine another song that makes you bop more than this? Because I can’t. I learned all the words and I’m singing it as I type because yes, I am musically talented, people. I music in my sleep and I focus while I type. Now, by including this song I’m not saying I am or ever was a meth-head. I’ve never knowingly been within a mile of the stuff, though surely I am, being in the midwestern United States. But don’t you ever feel like you’ve got something you use to escape reality? When it’s there the temptation is too great; I’ve been there, and I know how it feels to live through that and want to escape the reality of unreality. Note that this video has been befouled by editing out the word “meth” and that whole stanza we lost on the radio, too – the one that starts “Feel myself, head made out of ground | I’m scared, I’m not coming down. . . ” Why, people? Why? It’s a work of art, you don’t cut off the Mona Lisa’s smile!

Even more fun: Smashmouth’s Walkin’ on the Sun – it’s a song about being genuine and disregarding commercial alliances; the fall of the 1960’s counterculture, the then-current generation that treated the aforementioned counterculture’s memes as a fashion statement, the realities of real life that’s happening the whole time. And it’s very groovy so you may as well just dig it now.

Fastball had this big radio hit called The Way. I loved it, but I swear anyone I mentioned it to thought it was a silly song. I don’t get it, because the album it came from was actually a masterpiece, each song one of those unappreciated gems you never hear on the radio.

Here’s the last video for today: Banditos by The Refreshments. I just loved rolling down the window and singing it loud. This is a song for an adventure mixtape, just for the record.

The playlist:

  • Danny Elfman & Oingo Boingo – Happy
  • Pink Floyd – Learning to Fly
  • They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in your Soul
  • Son Volt – Drown
  • Spin Doctors – Two Princes
  • Sponge – Plowed
  • Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong
  • Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
  • Spacehog – In the Meantime
  • Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger
  • Monster Magnet – Space Lord
  • Collective Soul – December
  • Collective Soul – The World I Know
  • Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life
  • Smashmouth – Walkin’ on the Sun
  • Fastball – The Way
  • The Refreshments – Banditos
  • The Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy
  • The Gandharvas – First Day of Spring
  • Better Than Ezra – Good
  • Beck – Loser
  • Beck – Tropicalia
  • Blind Melon – No Rain
  • Soundgarden – Fell on Black Days
  • Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
  • Monty Python – The Galaxy Song
  • Incubus – Summer Romance (Anti-gravity Love Song)
  • The Decemberists – Don’t Carry it All
  • Imagine Dragons – On Top of the World
  • Gogol Bordello – Wanderlust King
  • The Beatles – Here Comes the Sun
  • The Beatles – Octopus’ Garden
  • The Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench
  • Aloha Screwdriver – Eating, Drinking, and Killing
  • Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars

This list is not all-inclusive, and may be added to at any time at my discretion. Cheers!

This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.

The Buzz

It feels like a buzz; Continue reading The Buzz

Saturday Jams: The real story, and the music that saved me from country, part 2

A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. Continue reading Saturday Jams: The real story, and the music that saved me from country, part 2

Twisted Mixtape Tuesday: The real story, and the music that saved me from country

So here goes, this is my first post for “Twisted Mixtape Tuesday”. If you’re interested in giving it a go, there’s a button and some links at the end of the post that you can follow through.

And again, here goes.

Growing up, I was exposed to music all the time. I remember there were a lot of oldies going on; the big oldies station in Detroit was, and still is Oldies 104.3 WOMC and I heard a lot of those. Then there was the stuff my sister listened to – Madonna, Pat Benatar, Wham, George Michael. . . stuff like that. Of course, I was the bookish kid that got hooked on spoken word cassettes of Greek myths. Audiobooks, essentially, but I played the crap out of them. I grew up alongside the sounds of the 50’s, 60’s, and the 80’s, mostly leaving the 70’s right where they were, and for good reason at the time. Nobody, it seemed, cared for either funk or disco, but that’s a story for a different day I think.

So that really saw me through to Junior High school years, when I dabbled in a little bit of the M.C. Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Bel Biv Devoe, Boys II Men. . . and I can’t believe I’m going to click publish when I’m done with this. But mostly, I was musically aimless. In high school then, I sort of got into the stuff that my friends were into, and there I was exposed to Monty Python, Doctor Demento, Weird Al, They Might Be Giants, and other stuff. This might be where I was starting to develop what I would think of as a real taste in music – not as in, wow, I found the good stuff! But more like, wow, music really. . . means something? And what does it mean? What does it mean to me?

But the thing was, I wasn’t discovering it with any idea that I was doing so; rather, it was a happening – I was slowly awakening to music as a form of internalization and expression. Music that really speaks to you, that becomes a part of you. Music that shapes and molds you – or, if you’re canny, music that you can use to shape yourself. Use music to inspire your own improvement and reality. But I didn’t really get it yet, although I did eventually reach back a little when I finally did.

Somewhere around my 12th grade year I got my Dad to get me a guitar at the pawn show, or some big place with a bunch of sellers selling old junk. This was a no-name classical guitar, meant for nylon strings and strung with steel. I didn’t know any better, but it was my learning guitar. And somewhere around this time I was listening to country, of all things. Now, I’m not knocking country music per se, and I think anyone who loves it is more than entitled to love it. But I’m not really an exclusively country person and it took me years to learn that I had to separate the wheat from the chaff. Garth Brooks? Chaff. Clint Black? Wheat. Junior Brown and Johnny Cash? Silver and gold, baby. But that’s not my scene and I’m not a rope-and-leather kind of musician.

I went to college in Ohio with this kind of cultural confusion clothing my personality and when I came back I had started to pop to a revelation, because in a very big way Ohio changed me as much as I was changed by everything else that was a part of my life post-high-school, and the music I discovered playing on Columbus’ local radio stations – although they were the same songs playing everywhere, they truly helped to rescue me from country music. And of course, I got by with a little help from my friends. This story will be continued in this week’s upcoming Saturday Jams post, but I’ll leave it hanging and move on to the seminals – the five songs that most worked to make me the person I am today. I’m certain I chose all five on purpose in order to change myself, but I also think that they chose me, all back in 1996-1998.

On each of these songs, I choose not to elaborate but will let them speak for themselves.

I lied. Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly is probably my favorite song of all time. That’s me, all the time.

They Might Be Giants came out with this amazing album Flood in 1990 and one of the tracks really came at me later out of left field when I was asking myself how I really felt about the way people kept trying to force the way I believe and the way I handle what people might call my “faith.” Nowadays I’m more likely to tell them to mind their own business if they don’t want to have a bad day, but this song . . . it helped me understand exactly how complex my feelings on that subject are.

Son Volt’s Drown is the first song I really became hooked on after moving to Columbus, but it was always “that one song”; after coming back home I could not figure out what this song was or who sang it until just a couple years ago, because I had the presence of mind to type “if living right is easy what goes wrong you’re causing it lyrics” into Google and there. It. Was. So here’s a tribute to the song that started to bring me back from the brink of mediocrity, and remained anonymous for oh – fifteen years; as they say, silence knows you can’t drown a heart.

The Spin Doctors‘ Two Princes was one of my very favorites, and prompted me to purchase the album A Pocket Full of Kryptonite, which was solid gold for an album. Other favorites include the other radio hit Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, What Time Is It? and Jimmy Olsen’s Blues. These songs started making me question exactly what it was that popular music was filling our heads with when we were too busy rocking out to hear the things they were saying out loud, and that question can be directly attributed toward my eventual leaning toward instrumental music and surf.

Last song comes from a band out of . . . wait for it . . . my hometown of Detroit! Yayyy! This is Sponge’s first big radio hit, Plowed and it made this band a big thing for a minute. When I found out stuff like this was coming out of Detroit and hitting the big time, I realized I was really in the wrong line of music. And how can you not rock out to it? The first time I heard it I just wanted to throw all my limbs all over the place and thrash my head around. Later on I had the pleasure of taking guitar lessons for a short time with their former guitarist, Joey Mazzola, at the Music Castle in Berkley, Michigan at like 12 & Woodward. I once went to my lesson right after work, and he kind of laughed at my Little Caesars shirt, asking me what it was about. I said, I just came from work. He goes, oh ok, I thought you were trying to make a statement. Ha ha, musicians, right?

So that’s it, my seminal five. Take it or leave it; I mean, how can you narrow it down to five? My seminal is a frickin’ decade. The alt-grunge wave was my seminal. And with that, I’m reading my Lovecraft story and then going to bed.


This post was prompted by Twisted Mixtape Tuesday at My Skewed View.

Jen Kehl

Saturday Jams: Simmer Down now!

A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. Continue reading Saturday Jams: Simmer Down now!

Saturday Jams: Shenanigans from the Emerald Isle

A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. Continue reading Saturday Jams: Shenanigans from the Emerald Isle

Saturday Jams: East side!

A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. Continue reading Saturday Jams: East side!

Was I – ironically – really conceived in music?

So this is hilarious.

en: Primary auditory cortex(red circle). from ...
en: Primary auditory cortex(red circle). from Medial geniculate nucleus to Primary auditory cortex (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read yesterday’s post about the possible drawbacks of the oversaturation of society with popular music, that fast food of the auditory cortex, then you understand the irony of today’s discussion on the possible songs that my parents were getting it on to (to which my parents were getting it on?) when I was conceived.

Stay with me. My blog buddy Andra over at The Accidental Cootchie Mama posted about the same thing and got me wondering about how mine would go. There’s this site: where you select your birthdate using a couple of drop-downs, and then it tells you what the top five billboard songs were during the week you were conceived.

This isn’t a perfect system, of course; not everyone was carried to a thirty-eight- or forty-week term, and so I’m guessing they just turned the clock back about nine months and retrieved the billboard stats from the calculated week. Still, it’s a fun little window into what was playing during the general time when we were first discovered. Here are my songs:

Rod Stewart: Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) – One of two songs I definitely remember from the selection. It’s a catchy tune, and for that reason I get why it’s popular, but the video? Eek. First of all, he looks sillier than David Lee Roth in his best days. Second of all, now that I understand what he’s singing – I mean the words – it’s changed the experience of the song. I beg not to see and hear that simultaneously ever again.

The Detroit Spinners: Rubberband Man – right time, right place. . . right groove? It’s got bass, piano, and horns. The triple threat of sexy music instrumentation, right? I could believe that I was conceived to something that only reminds me of Superfly; it’s like being born in the manger next door to Jesus.

The Bee Gees: Love So Right – I’m not so sure about this one; I’m thinking that back then I’d have had better luck staying awake during sex if I was on Quaaludes. Just saying.

The Captain and Tenille: Muskrat Love – Now that this song reminds me of Henry Kissinger, I don’t want to think about anyone getting dirty to it.

Gordon Lightfoot: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Please say it ain’t so, Gordon. Have you ever felt like you were reading the New York Times, only the sentences all rhymed, the story was set to music and sung in a flat Canadian drawl? Yeah. And so I get all the way through this song and I look at the clock as I always do, marveling that it only took six and a half minutes to get through it.

That sounds about right.

So personally, my vote is for Rod Stewart or the Detroit Spinners, with a strong lean toward the Spinners; because I figure either it was all business or it was fun, and if you’re on the business end you’re gonna do it right (since tonight’s the night). Then again, I’d be more likely to believe it was Billy Joel setting the mood.

So what’s your results? Write them up and feel free to drop a link in the comments or link to this page to generate a pingback.

Saturday Jams: The Late-late edition

A while back, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive spider but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. There are so many possibilities that the series could go on forever, and so Saturday Jams was born.

Yeah, I’m not going to give you the sob story about how I burned the candle at both ends Friday night, posting this and that for different blog challenges because I had it all laid out in my head. I’m not going to mention how I had to sleep in Saturday morning and then had oh – twenty minutes to get Saturday Jams out? I couldn’t do it, and here’s why: I chose a subject and failed to find any satisfying content.

Really? What a wreck. Then my time ran out, I had to work eight hours, came home, ran, ate dinner, yadda yadda yadda, built a Lego car. You guys – you don’t know any of that, and I’m not telling you. Instead, I’m making a lateral move. I do Saturday Jams, one way or another. Well, if I get hit by a bus . . .

You know what? Let’s jump right into the original pitch. What’s black and blue and red all over? Cajun Louisiana’s hyper-diversified music style: Zydeco. It’s the gulf coast’s own brand of polka, and I have some friends who are going to tell you all about it. You’re not ready for this? Mais non ma cherie, just bust out your washboard and wooden spoons! We’re going to do this whether you’ve got your boots on or not.

Here’s a classical piece, with some commentary at the ending:

One more:

If you’re interested in seeing more singing muppet stuff, I’ve been pinning a bunch of it to my Pinterest board called “Singing Muppets”.

You know what’s really exciting (to me)? The YouTube channel MuppetsStudio posts new content periodically, and the last one mentions that they’re filming a new movie called Muppets Most Wanted. Yaaaaaay! I’m clapping! I hope you all enjoyed your Saturday!

Surf Artist Highlight: The Bambi Molesters

So what’s in a band’s name? When you hear “Bambi Molesters”, does it put you off your groove just a little? Continue reading Surf Artist Highlight: The Bambi Molesters