The Dunce Cap: Week of May 21, 2012

The Dunce Cap, Vol. 45: And the whole damn complicated situation could’ve been avoided if I’d only shut the window. (click on link to listen to mix via 8tracks or play above)

1. “Can’t Hardly Wait” – The Replacements
2. “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” – T. Rex
3. “Instant Karma!” – John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
4. “Living in Paradise” – Elvis Costello
5. “Train in Vain” – The Clash
6. “Venus” – Television
7. “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince
8. “Spit on a Stranger” – Pavement
9. “Murder (Or a Heart Attack)” – Old 97’s
10. “All My Friends” – LCD Soundsystem

Happy spring from the Windy City!

I realize it’s May, creeping into June and ohmygodgraduationisrightaroundthecornerholycrap, and it’s been May for a serious chunk of time, but Evanston’s weather is finally getting its act together and being the painstakingly beautiful place I knew it could be (I say “painstakingly” because this weather makes me wanna stay put). It’s breezy by the lakefill, with a seriously impeccable blue sky looming into oblivion, and it’s hard to stay motivated when captivated by something so, well, pure. All I want to do is climb down the rocks and lose myself in the wake of airplanes and point out cloud shapes (dead presidents’ heads) and laugh uproariously.

But, for me, the best part of this weather, all warmth and afternoon sprinkles, is the opportunity for night drive perfection. I spend so long riding in cars (with boys) that I ache for the ability to roll my windows down all the way and drive at unconscionable speeds with the volume at maximum. And, for the last week, these are the tracks I’ve been blasting through town. I can’t say too much except that all ten of these are killer sing-alongs. This Dunce Cap opens with The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” – the studio version from Pleased to Meet Me to which I am partial –  and those memorable and intoxicating horns, morphing into the definitely handclappable T. Rex megahit, “Bang a Gong.” Then there’s a little John Lennon solo with one of the most smile-inducing choruses in modern music, a cheeky Costello diddy from This Year’s Model that seems to be about the perils of deceit (appropriate) and four tracks in a row that would abs-o-hu-lutely make my 100 favorite tracks of all time list. The playlist closes with a seriously precious Old 97s track that only intensifies my overpowering crush on that doe-eyed ingenue Rhett Miller and The Best Driving Song of the Last Decade, “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem. I realize retrospectively that I put “All My Friends” on a previous Dunce Cap, but it was two years ago, so I’m willing to overlook it – and I hope you are too. That track defines summer for me, long night drives down nearly abandoned Atlanta highways with that breeze I just feel in my bones.

Basically, these are ten tracks I can’t get out of my head. And considering that, with the exception of “All My Friends,” not a one of these tracks was released in the last 13 years, I’m feeling a bit embarrassed that I seem, for the first time in my whole life, to have lost touch with whatever’s occupying the charts. Mostly, though, I listen to nearly 35 hours of music per week (at least), and I just want to hear things I won’t tire of.

Just a few more things to leave you with:

– I just found out that Alex Chilton, of Big Star, was also the lead singer of ’60s Memphis rock group The Box Tops. The Box Tops had a major hit in ’67 with “The Letter,” a song I know quite well because my mother and I used to belt it out on road trips. I feel a bit like my world is exploding, and it’s way too cool to process.

– I think I’m going to be writing a bit of a longer entry soon on happiness. There have been some notions percolating as of late, and I’m interested to see where they’ll take me as I muse without any sort of real direction.

– I just realized, as I’m loitering around the student center food court, that I have never eaten at this campus Sbarro. Four years, and nary a breadstick.

– And, finally, in big news, this. Jokes on jokes, but actually.

Happy listening.

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