“Welcome to Hard Times” by Charley Crockett

While I’m losing my shows, there is a slew of new alt country coming out the last few months. Orville Peck released a new single a few weeks ago with another release planned this week. Emily Nenni, whose song “I Owe You Nuthin'” I discussed in a previous post, also released a new album.

Now we can add 😍Charley Crockett😍 to the list of performers with new music with his new single “Welcome to Hard Times”, which is honestly vibes for the whole world right now.

Charley, as I mentioned in my post discussing intersectionality in country music, knows hard times. Just a little over a year ago he had heart surgery to replace a valve used to correct a congenital heart defect. Before that he was leading quite an exciting life in general.

I was reading this article about the new single and album, and Charley said something that really stood out to me:

“This record is for the folks who feel like everything is fixed,” Crockett says of the new album, “If you think you’re playing a rigged game, you’re right. If it seems like all the cards are marked in advance, they are. But you still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded.”

You still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded, indeed. I think in these times for the world and for me personally, those are words to walk with. It doesn’t matter what hand we’re dealt, the world keeps turning and we can keep walking or, as Charley put it, roll the dice knowing failure is ahead. Then try again.

Charley’s musing reminds me of something my favorite Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Trials and failures are inevitable. In both times of reward and challenge, we should expect trials and failures and, better yet, welcome them.

P.S. This new WordPress editor is my latest trial and so far, failure. 🙂 Pardon any errors while I am re-learning the editor.

I was wrong.

Remember when I said 2020 was the “Year of Live Music”? Lol.

In a post not too long ago at all, I declared 2020 as “The Year of Live Music”.

As time presses on, I am more and more wrong.

Here’s the updated roster:

  1. Budos Band- This has been tentatively moved to September. I wasn’t originally going to be able to go to this because of my trip to Japan. Well, unfortunately my trip to Japan also got cancelled. The silver lining is that this show got moved to a time when I can now see it (hopefully). Fingers crossed that things will improve by that time.
  2. Hinterland Festival- I recently got an email saying Hinterland is still on, but I am most worried about this show. I mainly feel that I have mentally aged out of most festivals at this point. However, I was looking for to camping and the general vibe of this fest. Fingers crossed, but I’m feelin’ like it’s gonna be a no.
  3. Faith No More and Rammstein- TBD. I just don’t know what the world will be like in September.
  4. Nick Cave- TBD.

My pity party aside, please do not misunderstand: I think it is much more important for everyone to stay inside for as long as it takes, the government to do more, and have an organized plan for this time and reentry.

While my planned adventures have waned, I have been continuing my adventures in a mundane fashion within a 4 mile radius:

I went running and saw this cool mural.

IMG_20200413_181541729 (1)

I went running in the rain, and it looked like I peed my pants.

IMG_20200423_174926116

I went running and wore these great socks.

IMG_20200419_150037000

Honestly, that’s about it. The little escapes and things continue to be everything as I am not great at being positive at the moment, and as I believe negativity is toxic, I am trying to improve on this and some habits. Ever a work in progress.

Here is a one of my favorite songs for times I’m processing but time still passes. Also it’s just a damn good song.

“Seasons (Waiting On You)” by Future Islands

I will be retuning more soon with Vinyl Days and other musings. I’ve been in the weeds with work, school, some freelance stuff, as well as caring for my mental health (a constant!).

Troubled, Explicit Dollies

Okay okay, enough serious stuff. Who is ready for some smutty, troubled dolls and puppets?

Well it doesn’t matter if you are ready or not because that’s what’s happening here today.

There are a surprising amount of music videos out there showing the explicit or tragic actions of our beloved dolls. These jams as well as videos are two of my favorites that are often left off these lists:

JJ GREY & MOFRO “ON FIRE”

SWEET SPIRIT “BABY WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES”

The first video (JJ Grey & Mofro) is pure fun, but it quickly becomes uncomfortable when you get into the Sweet Spirit video. Enjoy!

I Was Running: A Diatribe about Forrest Gump, Running, & 5 Running Playlists in Different States of Completion

Life is like a box of my running playlists…kind of weird and scattered but occasionally fun and meaningful.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post winds a bit. The music is towards the end if you want to skip the rest.

While I am no longer located in the Alabama and feel very much the Bitter Southerner, there are some tastes I can’t (and won’t!) change:

  1. I get wistful when the song “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd plays.
  2. My taste in food and drink (I’ll take my tea sweet, please).
  3. Forrest Gump will forever be one of my favorite movies.

Now that I have lived many places, I feel safe (with caveats) saying that the contemporary South gets a bad rap. Much of what people hear is the “squeaky wheel” of the South– the loudest folks aren’t always the plurality or the majority. From personal experience, it is hard to be “different” in the South and feel okay speaking up about it because of the squeaky wheels. While I high-tailed it to Chicago, many of my more  progressive friends stayed and are speaking out and making a difference in Alabama.

It has taken me a long time to learn this and come to terms with this Southern part of me. Growing up, we weren’t taught about too many figures to be proud of in school (DISCLAIMER: There have been many GREAT Alabamians, but they get lost in the shuffle of bad Alabamians and bad Alabama history). So many of my favorite Alabamians came from works of fiction like the wonderful book To Kill A Mockingbird and, of course, the wonderful book turned film Forrest Gump.

What is to love about the movie version of Forrest Gump? For one, the soundtrack is great and MASSIVE. My sister had the soundtrack on c.d., and I believe it was 2-4 discs. However, there is also a lot to love about the main character: from a poor boy from a single parent home overcomes learning and physical disabilities to become a college football player, war hero, and shrimp tycoon, Forrest Gump teaches us to, at the very least, try. And damn if he can do it, so can any of us!

I also admire that his story tells of several different phases of life. The phase that always struck me the most was the Forrest’s running phase.

Running was a theme throughout Forrest Gump. As a boy, he runs to escape bullies. As a teen, he ran to escape the same bullies. As a college student, he runs as a football player at the University of Alabama. As a troop in Vietnam, he runs to save the lives of his comrades and ends  Lt. Dan ancestral deathwish. And finally, as an adult, Forrest deals with his heartbreak after Jenny leaves him in the night.

After running across the country for three years, Forrest finally stops. Running went from a primal tool of escape from predators for Forrest to a form of escapism, processing, and therapy.

Forrest-Gump-Forrest-Gump-Stops-Running-5-movieworldmap.com_-650x500

Finally, an exhausted Forrest announces he is tired and returns home. Were there problems to work out? Yes, but maybe Forrest found peace and worked through some problems.

Running for three years is an excessive way to work out your feelings, but running is a scientifically proven to

  1. Be more relaxing than meditation (15+ minute run).
  2. Improve depression and anxiety.
  3. Prepares your brain to “think ahead” and solve problems.

There are a slew of other benefits to running that are scientifically proven, and I appreciate that so much because science is king. The scientific points I posted above are the ones I am most focused on right now. With the pandemic, political instability, rampant narcissism, a family, friends I treasure dearly, work, school, a massively annoying writing hobby, and a tendency to get stuck in my own head, running helps me from becoming my own worst enemy.

I have been running actively since I was 12. I started off with track and field (yay) and then picked up cross-country (boo). I ran both through majority of middle school and high school– mainly doing well in middle distance. It was consuming, and I loved it. But I needed to know there was life outside of that hobby. I found out that, yes! There is life outside of running. 🙂 I continued running (for fun and health) in college and beyond. I was never much of a distance runner, but I did it for so long solely to manage my anxiety and, admittedly, maintain a hot bod. Now that I am not getting any younger, I am more focused on my own health– physical and mental.

With age, I focus less on running and more on lifting weights. However, the pandemic has made weight lifting a challenge. After my gym closed because of The Covids, I tried body weight workouts. I even got a pull up bar, but I have felt supremely uncomfortable doing this in a confined space that I am also working and living in. I also create a massive amount of heat. There was only one option: start running again.

Haters will say it’s fake, but the runner’s high is real which is why I keep doing it…20 years later (geez lord that’s nuts). I have often felt the vicious cycle of depression (thanks genetics), and I would tell my friends or other folks that suffer the same if you can do any one thing, I recommend walking, jogging, or running (and proper sleep). The depression, anxiety, and sleep might need help from a medical professional, but even with that help, running is effective. I think Forrest Gump felt all of this on his long runs.

Finding the motivation to run is difficult, especially when you are in the dumps. However, there are two things that usually get me going:

  1. Setting a timer- Some people might want to run for distance or to a certain landmark. I find I do better if I have a time (currently just 30 minutes). It is an easier baseline for me and pushes me more than running for distance does. I use the Adidas Runtastic Running app which gives you your pace per mile, which is great!
  2. A PLAYLIST– Come on. You know I wasn’t going to write this whole post without delivering the goods.

Since 2016, I have created 10 running playlists specifically for running. They are in different states of completion. There are duplicates on the lists (because these are the songs I find help me run most effectively). So, forgive me for the disarray, but to quote this meme man “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.

work

I’m going to share half of those playlists right now. As I have begun making a new one quarterly, these are from the past year. I will go in reverse chronological order and post one song per playlist:

Running | Spring 2020

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 1.08.10 AM

This is my latest running playlist. There are some old standbys on this (Rodrigo y Gabriela and Rage Against the Machine), but one very COVIDy track is The I.L.Y’s “Wash My Hands Shorty”.

Running | Winter 2020

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 1.13.08 AM.png

This instance of the running playlists took a strange turn because I was not feeling so great. So going through it kind of makes my tummy hurt. However, here is a tune from Death From Above 1979 that is a good one:

Running | Fall 2019

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 1.16.59 AM.png

This playlist was also made during a weird time. For a brief period of time, I was taking tap dancing classes. I would listen to this playlist both running and going back and forth to tap. I would often listen to this song on repeat:

Running | Summer 2019

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 1.20.34 AM.png

This playlist is a bit more…normal: extensive, diverse, etc. It was also developed over months (probably because the weather was warmer, and I was more active).

I love this song so much and haven’t felt able to listen to it for a few months. However, I am still super into it after listening to it for this post:


While Forrest Gump had a great soundtrack to back-up an inspiring character, I also need my own motivational music while I heal my own mind and body with running. As I finish up this post, I found myself thinking of running as transcendent without even remembering the meditation connection. It’s true– if you push and will it, running is transcendent. I often feel among the moon and stars while doing.

I have another 5 running-specific playlists that are a bit less organized. I will share those in another post sometime.

If you read this and have songs you like to run, workout to, or that you think would be good for either, I would love to hear them. I would also love to hear any Forrest Gump, running & mental illness, or just general running stories.

 

Clouds in My Coffee: Carly Simon, Warren Beatty, and Lessons Learned

Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is a song that so many people (in the U.S.) at least are familiar with. It is another song that so eloquently says “eff right off,” and is a post-relationship review of how she fell victims to schemes and lies.

I posted the above version because I love the classic, no distractions song. I also really love the album cover because Carly Simon looks so beautiful and stylish. Eat your heart out, mouthy babes like Denise Richards.

There is a music video for “You’re So Vain” that is pretty…uh…interesting. The song takes a different turn than the version above, and I found it to be jarring, but perhaps you will feel differently.

Carly Simon has been mostly coy about who “You’re So Vain” is about. However, she has revealed more recently that the song is about three different men. Additionally, she revealed that the second verse is about Warren Beatty:

1140-warren-beatty-splendor-in-the-grass.imgcache.rev6eaa2a9646b7bb13e3e0871f836a0ac7

Oh, you had me several years ago,
When I was still naive,
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair,
And that you would never leave,
But you gave away the things you loved,
And one of them was me,
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee,
Clouds in my coffee…

Damn you, Warren.

I have, personally,  taken issue with Warren Beatty ever since I was in 8th or 9th grade and first saw the film Splendor in The Grass, a 1961 starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, in his first theater role. In the film, Warren Beatty plays a young man who essentially drives a young girl crazy after dumping her under his father’s orders and societal pressure.

I’ve put the preview below, but I recommend a watch of the movie. This film was a crutch for me in early break-ups where I felt a sense of shame. The screenplay won an Oscar and is directed by the famed and controversial Elia Kazan.

Warren Beatty is a known player off-screen, which is no crime in itself. I do cringe a bit when I read he refers to himself as a “nice guy that has never misled anyone.” That’s a red flag if I’ve ever seen one.

The on-screen and off-screen antics of Warren Beatty aside, I appreciate the parallels between the “wisening up” after a heartbreak that Carly Simon sings about and Natalie Wood plays out in both pieces of work.

And ending on a happier note…we all learn to move on from the pain– victim no more: