Ram inspired me...

I was reading this, and I thought, hey, that looks like fun. (I also agreed on most counts, and played “Dinner Bell” on my WRCT show) Then I programmed for 48 hours. But THEN I submitted my program and it passed the checkpoint, so I decided, sleep be damned, I am going to make my own damn list. Categorization, prioritization, gushing about things I like- all of these are fun activities. In fact, I think that’s secretly why I played Magic cards for so many years: I really liked putting the cards into categories. And ranking them. And then entering tournaments, trying to squeak by without buying awesome cards and wondering why I lost. And then going home, crying about it a little bit, and sorting my cards some more. Luckily for my educational career as well as my personal well-being, I gave up that nasty little habit.

So I started making a list. But, as usually happens when you set out to make a list, you get a list of things that you don’t actually want to put on the list, and you end up with a list you’re unsatisfied with. So I found a couple of kinda-sappy songs by bands I really like, realized I was making a kinda-sappy list, and threw out the old idea of making a list like Ram’s and started making a List of Songs That Make Me Really Goddamn Sappy. But then, of course, as I was looking for more songs to fit this list, I came across five songs that really fit the list I was trying to make in the first place. So. Two lists.

And without further ado, I’ll kick off the List of Songs By Bands That I Really Like That Make Me Goddamn Sappy with:

1. Sufjan Stevens- The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
This one is a little easier to take than the rest. You kind of expect this list to contain at least one song by Sufjan Stevens, the kind of guy that a lot of straight guys say “I’m not gay, but if I went gay for someone, it’d be him.” (let it be noted that the phrase “being gay for someone” is pretty funny) (also let it be noted that I’m not in the crowd that would say that about Sufjan Stevens. Now, Andrew Bird, on the other hand…) The point is, I couldn’t take this song for its saccharine content on the first, maybe, 10 listens. But then I kept listening to it, and it rose to the top of my “Illinois” rankings, and then kept going, and pretty soon I was singing “We were in love, we were in love! Palisades, palisades…” and the whole last verse, with “Deep in the tower, the praries below… terrible sting, terrible storm…” and continuing on through “I can tell you, I love him each day” is very pretty indeed, and that’s all I’ll say about it.

2. Death Cab for Cutie- Photobooth
Okay, here is Pop Music Perfection part 1. This is the sad love song, in my book. Yeah, okay, Death Cab, major label, OC soundtrack, Postal Service, bunch of tools, and Ben Gibbard looks like Mark Stehlik. Oh, and programmed drums. Whatever. Just try to listen to this song without feeling sad (and nostalgic; what an insidious kind of sadness!). Okay, so maybe you can; you’re not a sad sappy sucker like me. Fair enough.

3. Architecture in Helsinki- Maybe You Can Owe Me
Had this song been about a minute shorter, it might ascend into heaven itself. As it is, it’s just so, so precious. The beat is catchy, the vocals are shamelessly twee, and I can’t get over “I know it’s complicated, here’s the keys to the door/ of the room where I’m staying, you can sleep on the floor./ Halfway through the night can we talk and see/ ‘cause there’s no way that I’ll sleep when you’re near me.” Look, this list isn’t a “List of Songs with Great Lyrics or Profound Meanings,” all right?

4. Weezer- Across the Sea
Ram, Ram, Ram. You listed this as the one song you’d leave off of Pinkerton. I thought about it for a little bit, then I decided that I’m in no state to judge its objective quality because I love it so much, but you’re still wrong. And it’s still my measuring stick for pop/rock song climaxes. By the time it gets to “words and dreams and a million screams/ oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel”… it’s good enough, along with the opening riff from “Tired of Sex,” to forgive Weezer for spawning a decade of crummy imitators (including Weezer, part 2).

5. Modest Mouse- 3rd Planet
What’s good about this song? It’s kinda mid-tempo, there’s no catchy beat, nothing really to make you want to listen to it again after you listen to it once. On the first listen through The Moon and Antarctica, a damn fine record, your ear might get drawn to the dancier “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” or the epic “Stars are Projectors”, or maybe the dystopian-sounding “A Different City”, or the bizarre lyrics of “Wild Pack of Family Dogs.” But this made my list, and the others didn’t. Why? Beats me. There’s nothing special about lines like “Your heart felt good/ it was drippin’ pitch and made of wood” or “That’s how the world began/ and that’s how the world will end.” Is it the mood of the whole album influencing my rating? Is it just my associations with it and skiing? Does it just manage to pick a few good words, making me get all sad just because it says something about a heart? I don’t know. Yet, this song stirs up the ol' emotional brackish pond like few others.

There’s list one. You want a red telephone to the music that sets off my emotional system, there it is. Now, if you want a list of songs that are perfect to more people than just me, well, I made that list too. But you’ll have to wait for the next post.

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