Two shelves of CDs on a rack



disc 1     disc 2

Many of these songs are self-referential ....

All blog posts prior to 29 July 2006 were originally at ...the thoughts are broken....

Ten of the albums are new to me since coming to C-U; the rest predate my time here, several by decades. Newness is irrelevant to the depth of meaning, though. Haley is one who I discovered at the Illini Union when I went to see our local girl—also on these CDs—Kate Hathaway for $3. Haley's 1st CD has been in my changer ever since and her 2nd CD, which I got at the Andrew Bird & Haley show at the Canopy, hasn’t left it either.

There are 4 CDs that basically live in my changer with slot 4 as the open one: 1 Lambchop's is a woman, 2 Haley Bonar's ...the size of planets, 3 Haley Bonar's Lure The Fox, and 5 Jolie Holland's Springtime Can Kill You. All have been there since I acquired them. That means the Lambchop has been there for years. Two of these CDs are represented here. I'd love to have included something from ...the size of planets but not everyone appreciates the mood.


Up till now ...   Birthday 2008 (disc 1)

  1. Grateful Dead ¤ Ripple
  2. Syd Barrett ¤ Effervescing Elephant
  3. Lambchop ¤ Theöne
  4. Jackson Browne ¤ Farther On
  5. Dar Williams ¤ Calling the Moon
  6. The Wailin' Jennys ¤ Arlington
  7. Jolie Holland ¤ Nothing To Do But Dream
  8. Jolie Holland ¤ Stubborn Beast
  9. Ani DiFranco ¤ shy
  10. Monica Del Castillo ¤ You Would Understand
  11. ani difranco - joyful girl (peace and love mix)
  12. Lucinda Williams ¤ Lake Charles
  13. Eva Hunter - Cold Shivers
  14. Clem Snide ¤ The Sound of German Hip-Hop
  15. John Prine ¤ The Sins of Memphisto
  16. Ferron ¤ Stand Up
  17. Princess Mononoke Theme Song ¤ performed by Sasha Lazard
Row of CDs on a rack



Grateful Dead ¤ Ripple ¤ American Beauty

welcome   friends   story

This has been my Welcome song for a while now; having been used on other compilations, most notably disc 1 of 2000 Late '99 - Texas. I have used it and or written about it a few times on my blogs, so far. In fact, the name of my first blog (and my Flickr and AIM user names) comes directly from this song, ...the thoughts are broken....

This song has been with me for a very long time. Over those decades it has always mattered to me, deeply. I am only now starting to get a good grasp of the song as a whole, as it simply embodies so much culture.

American Beauty is, in my opinion, one of the top 100 American musical works, in any genre. It has few peers.

One possible chronology

I have not made a journal-like CD since before moving over to Urbana-Champaign in August 2004. This is certainly no attempt at a comprehensive chronology since that time, which would, in fact, be impossible for various reasons. At best, it is an attempt to put certain songs that I was leaning towards including anyway into a certain context, or using that context to put them in a certain sequence.

As you will see, other chronologies were/are clearly possible. There is so much intra- and intertextuality in these songs (and others which did not make it in) and, in some cases, many decades of their having a profound meaning in my life.


These next 2 songs are ones that I told as stories for Storytelling with Betsy Hearne in Spring 2005. They were my 2nd and 3rd stories, respectively, and they were written about on my blog.

Syd Barrett ¤ Effervescing Elephant ¤ Barrett

storytelling   fearmongering   metaphor

Lambchop ¤ Theöne ¤ How I Quit Smoking

storytelling   hope
...please make me shudder when you are near.

you undermine all the terror and grace of my belief
I want to shake up your whole life
fearing that ...

Also on Valentine's Day 2003.

Jackson Browne ¤ Farther On ¤ Late For The Sky

personal angels   wanderlust   the search   forward
Still I look for the beauty in songs
To fill my head and lead me on
Though my dreams have come up torn and empty


I’m not sure what I’m trying to say
It could be I’ve lost my way
Though I keep a watch over the distance
Heaven’s no closer than it was yesterday


Now the distance leads me farther on
Though the reasons I once had are gone
I keep thinking I’ll find what I’m looking for
In the sand beneath the dawn

But the angels are older
They can see that the sun’s setting fast
They look over my shoulder
At the vision of paradise contained in the light of the past
And they lay down behind me
To sleep beside the road till the morning has come
Where they know they will find me
With my maps and my faith in the distance
Moving farther on

Dar Williams ¤ Calling the Moon ¤ The Green World

moon   empire   the West   hope   cultural decay

I have always had a very personal relationship with the moon, or at least as far back as I can remember. Why? Not so sure that is even a useful question.

This is a good album, by any standard, although most other Dar albums are better overall. Nonetheless, any CD with this song and After All is worth having.

The Wailin' Jennys ¤ Arlington ¤ 40 Days

death   winter   beauty   home
...if there's no home is there no death...

This line is so achingly, hauntingly beautiful. This ultimate question both soothes and terrifies my soul. Home is something I have been searching for all of my life. If I do not actually find one does it mean there is no death? That is simply unacceptable.

... I would simply shut my eyes ...

I saw the Jenny's for free at Krannert one day for lunch. Nicky Mehta, who wrote this song, told the story of how being classically trained she didn't really fit into a folk band. Determined to write a folk song, she studied a lot of folk music, and ended up with Arlington. After the show when I was getting their autographs on the CD I picked up, I told Nicki that really I had no idea if it was a folk song, but that it was probably "the most hauntingly beautiful song that I have ever heard."

Jolie Holland ¤ Nothing To Do But Dream ¤ Springtime Can Kill You

dreaming   metaphor   desire   promises
I would shut my eyes but I’ve got promises to keep
I can’t go crazy and I can’t get sane
And I don’t want to leave—I’d just have to come back again
I’ve got nowhere to go but to sleep….

... this sickness that's on me is settling in my bones ...

Nine years ago I made a promise to my kids and immediate family which part of me has been straining hard to invalidate ever since. The lack of force which that promise has on me is one of the most terrifying aspects of my life.

This CD is absolutely incredible! Talk about intertextuality; there are whole worlds in and between the songs on this disc. This CD is one of four others that basically stay in my changer since I've respectively gotten them.

Jolie Holland ¤ Stubborn Beast ¤ Springtime Can Kill You

dreams   realizations
When the flames rise around us and I can’t see that door
This is still my home and it has never burned before
This is where I’ve taken my solace and my peace
The walls are caving in but I am still a stubborn beast.

Actually I have noticed the flames for a long time now. This is one of those conversations with oneself songs, primarily.

Ani DiFranco ¤ shy ¤ Not A Pretty Girl

attitude   relationships   the road
…there’s a bathroom in a gas station
and i’ve locked myself in it to think.

We all need to lock ourselves in the bathroom, metaphorically speaking, once in a while. Also represents an attitude I fear I'll never be able to adopt, as much as I might wish otherwise.

A most excellent Ani album; which is saying something.

Monica Del Castillo ¤ You Would Understand ¤ The Monstrous and The Marvelous

choice   friends   love

Saw Monica out back of Aroma Cafe this past summer. I picked up this little EP CD that iTunes tells me has the above name. Who knew? Anyway, I still am not quite sure why, but this song really speaks to me. I can easily listen to it over and over.

Check her out at MySpace.

ani difranco ¤ joyful girl (peace and love mix) ¤ more joy, less shame

be calm   shopping balm   be human

This wonderful EP has 4 versions of joyful girl, a remix of shameless, and both hands live in Austin. This is what I listen to via my iPod when I go shopping, especially grocery shopping, so that I may remain human in the mass of consumerism.

... i do it just because i want to ...

Tis a nice meditation on how to live well. Serves as a reminder that our epistemologies have implications; and that despite the fact that others are always judging us, what matters is how we judge ourselves.

far from the tree of life

riddled with dis-ease



fallen   fallen 9 October 2007 mrl


Lucinda Williams ¤ Lake Charles ¤ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road — Nov-Dec 07

personal angels   fear   redemption

What a voice! And what a song; addresses a fundamental desire of mine.

Did an angel whisper in your ear
and hold you close
and take away your fear
in those long last moments

Eva Hunter ¤ Cold Shivers ¤ Fancy Prairie

regret   time

This song is not particularly about death, in my opinion, but it covers many of the feelings that arise when a distant loved one does die, among others. This time it is for my Aunt Wanda.

Sororal voices; Eva with her big sister, Gina.

Eva is fairly local being from Springfield/Bloomington area; we have been friends for a couple years now. I know Eva via her older sister, Gina, who is an anthropology professor at ISU. I saw Eva solo Friday night in Danville (and Gina). She did a little aftershow unplugged thing right in front of us.

Unfortunately, this song has not been in Eva's repertoire for a while now. Gina is even singing with her again, which is wonderful, but doesn't help much when Eva asked me what song I wanted being my birthday and all. Gina knew which one because I once wrote her about the amazing harmony of sororal voices on this song [see Cold Shivers post]. Eva said she'd start practicing it again if I'll have a blowout next year.... Not a good bet.

Worth checking out; MySpace.

Also on 2003 2 : 8 April — Father's Day 2003.

Bootleg genius

Clem Snide ¤ The Sound of German Hip-Hop ¤ End Of Love

fear   beauty  
... and those who spoke of doom impending
suffering and such
had found the place in people's heart
that beauty had once touched

My friend, Dave, gave me a copy of this when I went to St. Louis in early December to bury my Aunt Wanda. I took to it immediately and became especially enamored of this tune. The more I listened I came to recognize several cases of true genius in the social commentary. When I was telling Jenny B about it via IM one day I had to look up the track names on amazon which just cemented the genius for me. I have since bought a copy of this CD and also of an earlier one, The Ghost of Fashion. I much prefer this CD, but I will be buying more Clem Snide.

The three songs and their sequencing at 6 - 8 is sheer genius I tell you. Jews for Jesus Blues, God Answers Back, and Something Beautiful are 3 of the best placed songs ever. Check them out.

now that I'm found I miss being lost

your blood will color every sunset
your tears will help me grow some trees

fire off my cannonballs
make the natives run

Some might say that I'm just an anal old guy wedded to his liners notes [This American Life], and that may well be true. But I prefer to think of it as valuable metadata acquisition and retention.

Birthday Month

John Prine ¤ The Sins of Memphisto ¤ Great Days Anthology (disc 2)

birthday month  
... as if by magical remote control
he finds a piece of a puzzle that he missed in his soul ...

I was listening to some Prine on 3 February and decided this lovely, little ditty—formed around the phrase "exactly Odo, Quasimodo" and the confusion of Memphisto with Memphis (ancient Egypt and Tennessee), Mephisto and Mephistopheles—should represent Birthday Month. At least at that moment when things were going fairly well.

Also on 2000 Summer onwards (disc 2).

Eternally timeless, or, no specific chronology

Interesting that the last two songs here remind us that awesome music can be found in movies.

Ferron ¤ Stand Up ¤ Better Than Chocolate

forgiveness   virtue
... most people just ache to be good at expressing themselves ...

A great song from one of my favorites movies about the search for self and love.

Also on sadness & desire... : April 13 — 30, 2001

Princess Mononoke Theme song ¤ Princess Mononoke

spirit   heart   dark
In the moonlight I felt your heart
quiver like a bow string's pulse
in the moon's pale light
you looked at me
nobody knows your heart

when the sun has gone I see you
beautiful and haunting but cold
like the blade of a knife so sharp and so sweet
nobody knows your heart

all of your sorrow, grief and pain
locked away in the forest of the night
your secret heart belongs to the world
of the things that sigh in the dark
of the things that cry in the dark

Also on 2002 2 : 15 March — 31 December.


Row of CDs on a rack


A day in a life ...   Birthday 2008 (disc 2)


  1. Johnny Winter ¤ Still Alive & Well
  2. Melissa Etheridge ¤ The Boy Feels Strange
  3. Dar Williams ¤ My Friends
  4. Poe ¤ Haunted
  5. The Waifs ¤ Since I Been Around
  6. Kate Hathaway ¤ Pour Another Round
  7. Ben Harper¤ Give A Man A Home
  8. Ani DiFranco ¤ 32 Flavors
  9. Jackson Browne ¤ The Late Show
  10. Bif Naked ¤ My Bike
  11. Ani DiFranco ¤ Asking Too Much
  12. Ani DiFranco ¤ Imperfectly
  13. Andrew Bird ¤ The Happy Birthday Song
  14. Cowboy Junkies ¤ December Skies
  15. Be Good Tanyas ¤ Midnight Moonlight
  16. Haley Bonar ¤ Too Much Nothing
Row of CDs on a rack


This CD has no specific chronology and is, at best, a sideways glimpse of me as represented by a very narrow slice of music. Again, scads of intra- and intertextuality along with many conversations with myself.

Johnny Winter ¤ Still Alive & Well ¤ Still Alive And Well

attitude   perseverance

On a good day ...

Also on Otherwhen early 2000.

Melissa Etheridge ¤ The Boy Feels Strange ¤ Never Enough

questions   self-reference

I am not the boy of this particular song, but I know how it feels to feel strange in the way addressed.

The boy feels strange. Ooooh, the boy has changed.

And so many more changes to come.

Dar Williams ¤ My Friends ¤ End of the Summer

friends   welcome   light   forgiveness   compilations
... sometimes i see myself fine, sometimes i need a witness
and i like the whole truth but there are nights i only need forgiveness ...

... but I really just have friends.

Thank you for sharing this evening with me!

This song has also been used many times on my compilations, perhaps even more than any other song.

Poe ¤ Haunted ¤ Haunted

positive connections   friends   family   web of experience

Very positive and comforting, for me, in an embodied web-of-experience way. This CD, also titled Haunted is simply the most incredible psychologically real music that I have ever heard. There are entire lifetimes of stories in this; stories which fold back on each other, reach out to her first CD, and to her brother's book, House of Leaves (Mark C. Danielewski), which was his way of dealing with the same life passages as Poe dealt with in this CD, the suicide of their father.

This CD bears many a repeated listen.

The Waifs ¤ Since I Been Around ¤ up all night

home   longing   regret   search

See my Facebook hometown.   So everywhere I go I try to build a home just a little more, along with creating my family. Please don't go through life thinking that your family is only, or primarily, those you are related to in whatever manner. Family relations are, at their best, made and only secondarily are had.

I have a couple of Waifs CDs but this one which I won from the NPR station on campus in Normal [WGLT] is still my favorite. It is a damn fine CD from this Australian trio.

Kate Hathaway ¤ Pour Another Round ¤ Sprout Don't Pout

questions   life
... tryin' to pull my life together ...

Local girl worth checking out, although she told me at Caffe Paradisio last year, fall perhaps, that she was in South America for awhile and playing some kind of indigenous music now. I told her that I'd still love to hear it. Exile on Main Street might be able to put you on to Sprout Don't Pout. Looks like her and her brother are now performing as hathaways.

Well worth checking out if you are local.

Ben Harper ¤ Give A Man A Home ¤ Fight For Your Mind

home   compassion   despair
Have you ever lost your way? Have you ever feared another day? Have you ever misplaced your whole life ...?

"Home" in a myriad number of ways. And I'd hope this can be taken as gender inclusive. Everybody needs a home.

I have been very lucky in my life so far and this has never taken on a base physical aspect. In profound ways, though, I know the many pains of this song.

Probably the best Ben Harper CD; solid overall and contains several other stunners.

Ani DiFranco ¤ 32 Flavors ¤ Not A Pretty Girl (Also on Better Than Chocolate soundtrack)

truths   ways of being   ways of knowing   better than chocolate   little is simple

What can an unrepenetant Ani fan say?   A simple reminder that all of us are multi-faceted creatures.

Also on Graduation ? April 30 - May 23, 2001.

Jackson Browne ¤ The Late Show ¤ Late For The Sky

looking   longing   hope   language   communication   redemption
... words can be so slow ...

... i passed that point long ago ...

... now i'm sitting here wondering what to say
that you might recognize
afraid that all these words might scare you away
break through the disguise
no one ever talks about their feelings anyway
without dressing them in dreams and laughter ...

Bif Naked ¤ My Bike ¤ Bif Naked

lust   infatuation

Bif is awesome! I got to see her once in Madison around 2000 or so as a friend and I drove up from Normal, Illinois on a school night. My car broke down on the way home and she missed the mid-term in the capstone course in her discipline. The prof let her make it up, though, and she was the one who talked me into going.

The fact that someone would write such a lusty paean to their BMX bike just cracks me up. And then there is the whole, added hilarity from a metadata/ER-diagram perspective:

You are my entity.

But just what kind of entity? So many conflicting ways in which this entity is both abstract and concrete. "You are my dream. You are my dream." "...washed your tires..." "...tied you to a tree, and you liked it."   Just makes me smile in such a warm fuzzy, intellectual sort of way. Like Richard's <odd> shirt does.

Our language is such a wonderfully amazing thing and I am fairly certain that it will continue to bedevil modelers for the rest of eternity; certainly in the everyday realm, but far broader too. "Progress" will be made—I certainly hope so anyway—but the world will never be tied up in one neat, little semantic bag. There is far too much meaning in every situation that is just oozing out of the cracks, if you will. Probing those cracks is my current intellectual addiction.

Bif's been rocking my world for several years now. A YouTube video of Tango Shoes.

Also on Valentine's Day 2002.

Ani DiFranco ¤ Asking Too Much ¤ Not A Pretty Girl

language   communication   hope   desire   looking
i want somebody who
sees the pointlessness
and still keeps their purpose in mind
i want somebody who has a tortured soul some of the time
or maybe just put it all to words and make me go
you know, i never heard it put that way
make me go what did you just say?

ani difranco ¤ imperfectly ¤ imperfectly

maturity   relationships

How it might be done ... imperfectly.

Cause I'm OK if you get me at a good angle ...

Also on Valentine's Day 2002.

Andrew Bird ¤ The Happy Birthday Song ¤ Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs


In all honesty, this is my least favorite song on this amazing CD. But. One needs a birthday song, so here it is ...

Andrew Bird is the most amazing violin player and whistler, and a pretty damn fine songwriter, to boot.

Cowboy Junkies ¤ December Skies ¤ Early 21st Century Blues

Jeremy   war   fathers and sons

My son is on his way back to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas and they are preparing to head back to Iraq. I did not handle his first deployment very well and I now fear how I might well deal with this one.

This song very powerfully expresses a sentiment that has been expressed in many forms, to include song, over many centuries. The exaltation of the soldier can be an important ritual in a society, but it is also always a double-edged sword.

Be Good Tanyas ¤ Midnight Moonlight ¤ Chinatown

moon   friends   loneliness

a parting call to true friendship ...

Make sure you get out before midnight on my actual birthday (Wednesday, 20th) as we will be having a full lunar eclipse. Let's hope for clear skies for part of that time.

Haley Bonar ¤ Too Much Nothing ¤ Lure The Fox

life   value   women

I haven't quite figured out how to fully parse out Haley's song for myself as (generally) I do not think "it is getting better all the time", yet I still have too ...

yeah, uhhh, umm. i got ... nothing.

Row of CDs on a rack