Analyzing Music, Not Maurice

My intention today was to analyze some of Maurice Eisenstein’s rhetoric from his blog, and I noticed access to his blog was renewed so I can do so…but I hesitate because I am overloading on Eisenstein. It’s a bit exhausting, and besides, I don’t want my reader to think Eisenstein is my White Whale. While I admit some animosity towards him, I find myself possessing more pity for him. I have some hope that he can see the error of his ways and commit an about-face. I think it is possible he can reconsider his rhetorical attacks and reconfigure his pedagogy…maybe I wear rose-colored glasses, but that is how I feel about Maurice Eisenstein.

Also, a good friend requested more fun in my blog. Whenever I need to relax and have fun, I pop some music into my spin-table. Yes, I still listen to CDs; I’ve yet to succumb to the downloadable movement. This morning, I’ve sequestered myself to my basement/man-cave, away from prying, spying eyes. I’m listening and dancing to some good music, hoping to release some of the anxiety and stress that academic rigor can cause…just thought I’d share some of the maniacal “professor’s” choice selections on this gorgeous morning.

I started the morning with Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. I’ve long yearned for a reinvigoration of the disco era, and Daft Punk is the closest thing to the Bee Gees released of late. The Motown bass and high-chord, electric-guitar strumming reeks of the 70’s, my favorite musical decade. I’m not looking to chill; I’m looking to groove. Tracks like “Give Life Back to Music,” “Lose Yourself to Dance,” “Touch,” and “Contact” get my shoulders hopping and my hips popping. I do often enjoy the mellow jazziness of “The Game of Love,” “Doin’ It Right,” “Within,” and “Motherboard,” but it’s not that kinda morning. I turn the volume up for “Giorgio by Moroder;” I can’t help but envision Arnold Schwarzenegger reciting a musical history as I dance to this funky beat. I close out Daft Punk with the requisite disco anthem, “Get Lucky.” FYI, if you haven’t checked out Stephen Colbert’s video for “Get Lucky,” do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube. Colbert had to remove the video from his site (here’s why), but you can still find it out there. It’s one of the funniest, most enjoyable things I’ve ever seen on the Colbert Report.

Next on the turntable is Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP. Yes, I’m aware that Rolling Stone has panned the album as her worst contribution yet. To tell the truth, I’ve listened to The Fame, and I remain unimpressed. I still find “Poker Face” to be mostly annoying. I wasn’t a fan of Lady Gaga until I spent a lonely Thanksgiving evening watching her special with the Muppets…and you better not make fun of my love of the Muppets! Suffice to say after watching the Muppets special, I performed a 180 about Lady Gaga. My wife, a fan of Gaga, gleefully bought her new album, and we’ve been bopping to the creative diva since. “Rocket Number Nine. Take off to the planet…to the planet…Venus!” signals a new dance set, and I comply enthusiastically. I’m reminded of Madonna’s better 80’s songs…I work my way through “G.U.Y.” “X Dreams,” and “MANiCURE,” performing my best white-guy’s dance with flailing arms and missteps. I sit down to sip at some coffee and listen to “Do What U Want” and “ARTPOP,” quietly grooving while I catch my breath. I’m back on my feet with “Swine,” “Donatella,” “Gypsy,” and finally, “Applause.” Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP remains a guilty pleasure.

Now it’s time to annoy the wife and sing at the top of my lungs. I’ve been meaning to revisit Green Day’s Dookie since reading the article from Rolling Stone’s March 13th issue. The album’s twenty-years-old, which is difficult for me to process…whatever. This old man can still belt out some punk-rock! I realize quickly that my vocal range has changed a bit since my younger days, but I quickly adapt after fumbling through “Having a Blast.” You can’t help but find the necessary energy with Green Day’s Dookie. I’m pleased with my rendition of “Longview” and move to “Welcome to Paradise” and “Basket Case.” Perfect! I’m charged up enough to try my favorite, “She.” I’m starting to lose my voice, but having too good of a time to stop. I croak out the under-rated “Sassafras Roots,” but realize I’m going to have to give the vocal chords a rest. I just listen to “When I Come Around.” I change the album to Pearl Jam’s Vs., both to sing with a voice more in my range and because I become a bit nostalgic for the 90s. I sing “Daughter,” “Glorified G,” “Rearviewmirror,” and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.”…and I’m spent. Feeling energized and good about things at this point.

It’s afternoon by now. I’ve turned off the stereo and noticed the wife has gone outside to garden and play with flowers… The silence reminds me that I should be filling out another application for teaching opportunities at yet another university…this time, Ball State…I need to construct another cover letter and some teaching philosophy statement (nevermind that my teaching philosophy is in the cover letter!…I notice online college applications like to make applicants repeat themselves thoroughly…perhaps frustration is a method for winnowing out potential candidates…works on me!). I remember I’m waiting for any clue of a response from over ten other universities and schools, and I wonder if I should bother with yet another all-afternoon session of preparing application materials. I think about having to move to Muncie, Indiana. I think about the stack of bills that are not getting paid because I don’t have a job.

My good feeling has gone away, with depression filling the void. I turn the stereo back on.

I sit back and let the magnificent Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend wash over me. I can’t help but think of the Beatles when I hear this album. “Obvious Bicycle,” “Unbelievers,” and “Step” mellow me out, and I’ve mostly forgotten about the minutiae of unemployment by the time “Diane Young” makes me bop in my chair (and makes me crave Smirnoff vodka for some reason…:)). I wonder if “Hannah Hunt” and “Don’t Lie” are on the songlists at my local karaoke joint, as I’d love to take a stab at singing them on stage. “Everlasting Arms” conjures the spectre of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” “Finger Back” astonishes with some of the most staccato voice work I’ve heard; Ezra Koenig is most impressive on this track. Then, Koenig actually finds a higher gear on “Worship You”…simply spectacular. I repeat “Ya Hey” so I can pull out the lyrics and truly appreciate the artistry of the track. The slower, moody “Hudson” hauntingly concludes the history-spanning tale of war, visions, and birthplace. “Young Lion” appropriately outro’s the fascinating musical concoction.

I’m not getting out of my seat at this point, so I let whatever’s in the next chamber load up. It’s Muse’s Live at Rome Olympic Stadium, a staple of my collection. I’ve listened to it cover-to-cover more times than I can tally, and I’m not stopping it this afternoon either. If there’s such a thing as a Muse-head, then I guess I qualify. Thanks to my buddy, Kevin Kliver, for turning me on to the band back in the day.

It’s about 2:00 pm, and time for me to publish. I can assure my reader that I will continue listening to music, despite the fact that I should “be more productive.” I have the Grateful Dead’s Mars Hotel, the Beach Boys Greatest Hits, Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, and my newest acquisition, The Black Keys’ Turn Blue, lined up to fill the rest of the afternoon and evening…and it will be time well spent by this slacker! I’ve accomplished nothing of any real work-place value, unless you count relaxing aesthetic appreciation as efficient employee production…and I could care less if you don’t…let the administrators of the world worry about time-allotment and task efficiency. The human mind needs to play some days. Money only holds a specific value in the world, and it’s ephemeral compared to the value of happiness and a clean mind. I kinda wish more Americans remembered this.

Thanks, Hollywood Slinky, for the request. I needed it. Hope you enjoy too.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

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