A Life-or-Death Game of iPod Shuffle

Sometimes when I feel you're not being attentive enough, I write stupid titles like that. To wake your ass up. This is a life-or-death blog! I'm lying, of course. But did it work?

And sometimes when I've got nothing to say, I call out to the Internet for some inspiration. And by call out I mean that I spend several hours reading dlisted and icanhascheezburger and postsecret and call it research. With very little guilt attached, if any. It's research.

Today's inspiration comes from Heather Armstrong, who I have a mild platonic crush on because she's brave enough to write about things I could never write about, like depression, and religion, and pooping. I mean I could write about all of those things, but I'm not sure how that would affect OUR relationship. That is, yours and mine. Sure, it's possible that you want me to talk about poop, but my gut says the opposite. Gut! Poop! Ha ha ha!

Instead, I'm going to copy Heather's idea of writing about the first ten songs that come up when I put my iPod on shuffle. Which could prove embarrassing, because I impulse-buy Fergie songs, or boring, because at least a third of my music collection is based on what other people assured me I would like but that I've never actually bothered to listen to because I'm busy jogging to Fergie songs. Sorry, real-life friends. I guess it's time you knew I rarely take your musical advice. But I have devoted precious gigabytes to your impeccably good tastes, and that should count for something.

First Song: "Hell is Chrome" - Wilco

Oh nice. I call this Wilco's "Peanuts" song, because of the piano right off the top. Peanuts as in Charlie Brown, not as in baseball. Of course the rest of the song is not at all reminiscent of "Peanuts", just those first three seconds. Wilco does that a lot. See, they want you to pay attention just like I want you to pay attention, except that they're musical geniuses and I'm just annoying. A friend of mine once called Wilco "a band for grown-ups", and while that description would normally have me running for the non-contemporary hills, I have to agree. I feel grown up listening to Wilco.

Second Song: "NARC" - Interpol

You either love Interpol or you want to drown them in their own musical monotony. I happen to be in the former category, mainly because Interpol reminds me of when I used to hang out with the emo-electroclash kids at the Arrow Bar five years ago. Which was a fabulous time in my life, btw. I've never seen Interpol live, but my friend Heather (Frank, not Armstrong) has and she said they were totally unimaginative and played their set exactly like the songs sounded on the album and even in the same order. Which kind of appeals to me because that's exactly what I usually don't like about live shows. Too much guesswork. Too many chances to eff up my favorite track with some some unique spin. Props to Interpol. Up with monotony.

Third Song: "Dumb" - Nirvana

Senior year of high school. My friends and I liked the part where he says "and have a hangoverrrrr", even though our poison of choice was Coors Lite and not actually glue. True story: the day after Kurt Cobain killed himself, a handful of us walked around school with little blue ribbons safety-pinned to our shirts. To memorialize him. I don't make this stuff up.

Fourth Song: "O Maria" - Beck

Eh. I like Beck and am intrigued by what kind of company he'd be if he were, oh, sitting across from me at the Omelette Express for Sunday brunch, but I don't love Beck on the same level as many of my hipster friends. Although to their credits, my hipster friends would probably not put "O Maria" at the tops of their lists. I also dock points from a song with a woman's name as a title. It's difficult not to imagine some chick named Maria squealing when she hears it at a frat party because OMG they're playing that Beck song about her.

Fifth Song: "Horses" - Palace Music

Ok, I've never heard this song. But I know who Palace Music is. Another group that people cooler than me nod their heads in agreement about. It's ok I guess. His voice is a little thin. I know that these days singers with wide ranges of ability can make it and be respected, but I think I could have probably pulled off this song as well as he did. And I'm a terrible singer.

Sixth Song: "Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder Version)" - Sufjan Stevens

I prefer the original version off the Illinois album. But I definitely like songs with hand-clapping sound effects, so this passes. I've never seen a photo of Sufjan, and I hope that I never do, because my imagination has concocted something very, very specific and I'm almost positive that the real Sufjan will disappoint. Like the first time you see your favorite radio personality on a highway billboard and you're horrified and scarred for life. It should be illegal to do things like that to people.

Seventh Song: "Mercy Mercy Me" - Marvin Gaye

This is unfair, iPod shuffle, because while I really, really love Marvin Gaye, I really, really don't love this particular song. And I'll tell you why. Around 1990, I used to babysit this kid whose parents had a satellite dish (I lived in the sticks and nobody even had cable yet, so this was a technological marvel). Nothing except the Disney Channel ever came through, though. One night I was watching that god-awful Mickey Mouse Club and two kids (possibly Christina and Justin) sang "Mercy Mercy Me" as a duet. And it was so bad and awkward and inappropriately mature that I've hated it ever since. Just one more thing to blame on Disney. Although "Herbie Fully Loaded" was plenty.

Eighth Song: "No No No" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Now we're talking. One of my favorite albums ever. Love you, Karen O. Until just now I never noticed the irony of the song title next to the band name.

Ninth Song: "Blue" - Smashing Pumpkins

I don't know what my problem is, but I love this band. Especially the early songs. Again, a high school thing. Billy Corgan was my unlikely hero. Of course I'd never even heard of Billy Corgan until after "Siamese Dream" came out, because at that time I was still discovering music exclusively via MTV. My friend Nicole Atkinson once told me that the song "Today" was about taking ecstacy. I wonder if "Blue" is about getting the shit kicked out of you. Hard to say. I'll ask Billy the next time I see him.

Tenth Song: "Invalid Litter Dept." - At the Drive-In

My old hairdresser used to date the singer in this band. But then I think he went to med school and they got a new singer. Or something. I don't remember her story well enough to know if I'm listening to the guy I don't technically know but feel like I know through her, or the guy I don't know at all. He yells a lot about a wishing well in this song, which is awesome either way.