Lev Grossman’s Real Life Rock Top 10
I thought so.
Point of interest: my six-month period as a punk (late 1992-early 1993) was not caused by my listening to actual punk music. It happened because I read Lipstick Traces, Marcus’s insanely great book about how punk was a natural outgrowth of the 20th century avant-garde movement that began with Tristan Tzara and Dada. In other words I found the theoretical foundation of punk so convincing I felt I had no choice but to become one.
I was a crap punk. But did that paradoxically make me even more punk?
No it did not.
I’m in Seattle today, reading at the great Elliott Bay Book Company. I’ve spent a lot of time here over the years, owing to Microsoft and Nintendo being here. Plus I’m drawn moth/flamewise to the psychic energy generated by the presence of the Penny Arcade/PvP collective.
Also to the Bloody Mary’s at the Edgewater, an otherwise crap bar rendered great by the view and the fact that the Beatles once stayed there.
Sorry, this is becoming episodic. I will close by saying: if you ever want a glimpse into the dark backward and abysm of your own musical taste, try sorting your iTunes music library by play count. The abyss will stare back and it will say: you’re not as cool as you thought you were.
Here’s what the abyss said to me.
1. Parry Gripp, “The Girl at the Video Game Store.” Play count: 61
Actually I’m proud of this one.
2. Regina Spektor, “The Calculation.” Play count: 49
3. Regina Spektor, “Blue Lips.” Play count: 47
4. Regina Spektor, “Dance Anthem of the 80’s.” Play count: 44
God, I really murdered this album last summer. These aren’t even her best songs. These aren’t even the best songs on this album. Except for “The Calculation.”
5. H.M.S. Pinafore, “When I Was a Lad.” Play count: 43
Jesus Christ! I’m not a Gilbert and Sullivan person. Seriously, really not. There’s just something satisfying about this song. You can almost hear how happy Gilbert was when he hit on that “partnership/ship pun.” Plus, you know, little kid, car trips. Fuck it I really can’t explain this one.
6. The Decemberists, “O New England.” Play count: 37
7. Regina Spektor, “Eet.” Play count: 36
Look, I have a crush on Regina Spektor. All right? She has a weird Russian-Queens accent. And she can do this.
8. Swish and Flick, “Swish and Flick.” Play count: 35
I’m actually surprised this one isn’t higher up. Swish and Flick is a wizard-rock hip-hop duo, and if you don’t know what wizard rock is, go google it, be shocked, get over it and come back. Swish raps from the point of view of a slutty Slytherin chick — she’s the Lil’ Kim of wizard rock — while her husband vocodes in the background.
9. They Might Be Giants, “Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go to Work).” Play count: 34
10. Regina Spektor, “Folding Chair.” Play count: 33
The first time I ever did ecstasy was at a Regina Spektor concert. Listen: I don’t run around “doing ecstasy” all the time, but I was in my post-divorce mulligan period where nothing counts, and so was the person I did it with, so that makes it a double-mulligan, which I think legally excuses everything up to (but not including) aggravated manslaughter. Anyway I wasn’t that clear on what I was taking, and anyway the stuff was like 10 years old. We didn’t even think it would work. (I learned later that ecstasy is actually an unusually stable molecule. Doesn’t decay. Huh.)
Mostly what I remember is clapping and not being able to feel my fingers.
Oh, and I also remember yelling “I love you Regina!” But nobody noticed, because they were all yelling it too.