A series of song diaries starting… soon!

Coming at you in the hottest weeks of Summer 2016: the CapriceCake Song Diaries!

… Basically, I really like rambling about my favorite songs and how I interpret their meanings, so expect to see some posts related to that soon. I already have enough material for me to post weekly for, like, the rest of my life, so I’ll just throw them here whenever, especially if I haven’t had an inclination to write about anything else for a while.

And now I’m going to address the audience that I pretend I have:

Send me song suggestions; leave me feedback with your own opinions; and link me if you keep a similar song diary! :) But most importantly, KEEP LISTENING. KEEP ANALYZING. AND WRITE!

Love,

 

capricecake

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Pop Culture Homework

Alright. I watched Taylor Swift’s video for Shake It Off. I hadn’t heard the song before, up til then. I knew it existed, somehow (read: subliminal messages from Internet) but I just hadn’t bothered until today.

The catalyst to this is my best Russian friend. He’s 31 and, like many Russian men his age, enjoys Nickelback and patriotism and cannons and, I dunno, manliness. So when he brightly, openly told me he’s been listening to “Shake It Off” on repeat, I decided it was something interesting, something I needed to hear.

As a result, I’ve cracked. I watched the video, and you know what? Taylor Swift is a CUTIE. I love all the dancers in her music video, especially the guy with the noodly arms?!, and I am perfectly fine with having little girls dress and dance and sing and talk like everything it represents. Does that include crawling through a kaleidoscopic pyramid of twerking? Yes. Because pretty much everything in this video is fun, and the parts that I didn’t like are easy for me to brush off. (Things like cultural appropriation and the petty “break down” about “something something ex-girlfriend”.)

Why is it easy for me to shake off? Because the whole video seems to be a collection of pop music video tropes. Emotive dancing, break dancing with a crew, twerking, cheerleaders bitching about ex-girlfriends, culminating with a gregarious group of frolicking humans… all stuff we’ve seen many times before in pop videos. :)

For once, my pop culture homework hasn’t made me uncomfortable. (Not like my last adventure with “Too Many Cooks.” I shudder to type it… Ya know, I’m not even going to link to that one. Oy.) So I’m kind of sorry it’s taken me so long to give this song a chance.

And I’m SO looking forward to seeing if I can make my aforementioned friend dance to it this weekend.

I’m Sorry about Foxy Shazam

I f’ing love Foxy Shazam.

That being said, I have to ask a question: Does that change how people think about me? I mean, sure, every detail you learn about someone is bound to alter your perception of them slightly. But don’t be a smart aleck. I’m not talking about “slightly”– I’m wondering if it makes a big difference in whether someone thinks I am fundamentally good, or bad!

Why does it matter to me? Really, why should I care about someone who marks me as “no-good” just because Foxy Shazam, that ridiculous beautiful glittering loud mess of rock and roll, is one of my favorite bands? Anyone who really knows me either also likes the band, or they don’t hold my tastes against me. Because we’re all adults. Right? Yeah!

… But Foxy Shazam has a problem, and I want to apologize for it. The problem sounds like this:

That’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen, and I like it!

… That’s a quote from their single “I Like It“. A real slice of poetry, for sure. (/sarcasm, of course)

Now, I’ve met two other Foxy Shazam fans (plus a couple hundred more at their New Years Eve show last year :D), and they know this song, but it’s not their favorite. On the other hand, I’ve met people who only know Foxy Shazam by one song, and it’s not the melodramatic rock’n’roll rush of a love song “Holy Touch” or the freaky jam “Dangerous Man“, and it’s not the trumpet-pumped fight song “Unstoppable” or even the cheesy American ballad “Freedom.”

Nope. The song they know is the one about black booty, “I Like It.”

I cringe when I hear this song, which isn’t often since I took it off of my iPod. I get it that Foxy Shazam is an all-man band, and I get it that objectifying women and minorities is a piece of rock and roll. But, fuck, I don’t have to be okay with it. I try to forget about this song because, even though I love most of their others and I don’t think their themes are as cringe-worthy, I know that if I think about it too much, I won’t be able to listen to them anymore. It happened with Jack White, when his first solo album pushed me out of denial that he might be kind of a woman-hater...

Look, at the end of the day, I think rock and roll music is about feeling, not thinking. Not every band that falls under the “rock” umbrella is like that, but I think when you add the “roll,” you’re in the territory of wild stage shows, silly lyrics, and beautiful genderbending bastards like Eric Nally who blow you away with their powerful pipes. Queen is like that too, right? “Fat-bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round!” Good old Freddie Mercury– what’s not to love? Even the homophobic manly-man dads from my hometown love Queen. (That’s a testament to the “feel, not think” nature of rock and roll, too!)

Still, I can’t let go of the fear that when I gush about Foxy Shazam, someone who only knows “I Like It” will think I’m all about black asses, or at least that I encourage white men to belt about them over some sexy guitar riffs. The truth is, I am not the best-versed in gender and race issues, so I don’t know how well I can articulate why I think this song warrants an apology. (You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t actually addressed the issue much, I just acknowledged it.) But I believe it all the same. And I’m apologizing. And I’m hoping that no one thinks I’m a racist, feminist-hypocrite when I say I just really like dancing and singing along to their other awesome songs.

Update: Music Now, and Some for Later

So after about a month in Volgograd, I cracked and bought a cheap guitar. She is black and red, her name is Fantastika, but you may call her Tika.

I’m pleased to say that I ended up buying the guitar from the smallest shop I visited. It was perhaps the size of my dorm room in college; the shopkeeper had maybe 20 guitars in stock. He was friendly and, since I struggled to communicate with him in Russian, I did it through music. It really is the universal language…

I began to play “Old Jacket”, a sort of ballad by Bulat Okudzhava. He was a bard, one I’ve heard be compared to Bob Dylan. The shopkeeper recognized the tune, gave me a surprised smile, and sang along with me. (It’s a beautiful song, sad and sort of funny. I love Regina Spektor’s cover.)

Well, he was so enchanted with me that he gave me a discount on the guitar, plus free strings and guitar picks! Well, alright– I’ll admit that ‘enchanted’ is hyperbole…

I believe he was not just a good salesman, but also genuinely kind. Coming from a skeptic like me, that means a lot. He was so friendly that I wish I had a reason to visit him again, but he gave me all the supplies I need!

I do know I’ll be going back in December to get a gift for my new Russian friend. She’s entirely responsible for this lovely purchase; she’s a Volgograd native and fellow musician. The kind of strings the shopkeeper gave me are made in America and are of the highest quality.. She buys them for herself only as a treat. I think a pack of those strings would be an appropriate “thank-you” gift from me. :)

 

That’s all for this post, but I’d like to let you know what to expect from this blog in the coming weeks! I’ve been listening to a lot of Modest Mouse, and lately I’ve taken to analyzing their songs. I’m going to do a series of posts (anywhere from 10 to 20, who knows!) about my favorites. Keep an eye out!

Love, caprice cake

The dashboard melted, but we still had the radio!

Modest Mouse is a rock band from Washington state. They’re not quite one of my favorite bands, but they come pretty damn close.

Everyone’s musical taste has a story. Here is a timeline of my relationship with Modest Mouse.

December

  • Find “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” on ultra-clearance at the mall. Purchase with Christmas money.
  • Hoot and holler while jamming to “Float On” in my car.
  • Listen to “Ocean Breathes Salty” three times in a row. Feel exhilarated. Marvel at this song’s perfection.

January

  • Hang out with an old friend. Find out he loves Modest Mouse.
  • Jam with friend.
  • (even though the friend is a real MM fan and likes the songs that I don’t like too much)

February

  • Tell cynical college student that I like Modest Mouse.
  • Get told by said cynic, “You’re not angry enough to like Modest Mouse.”
  • (what does that even mean)

March… was like that period in a relationship where everything is smooth and nothing much happens.

April

  • Fall in love with a cool guy who also happens to dig MM.
  • Dance to “Sleepwalking” and “Dashboard” in his room.

May

  • Begin the lonely part of my summer.
  • Be consoled by listening to music. INCLUDING MM.

June

  • Lots of driving for summer travels. Modest Mouse CD comes everywhere with me.
  • (so i don’t have an iPod in my car, get over it)

July

  • Start hangin’ out with a summer coworker.
  • Bam, Modest Mouse comes on in his car.
  • DING DING DING this friendship is clearly destiny

So.
There you have it. How Modest Mouse came into my life.

I’ve encountered many jams, as well as a few cringes when their songs get a little weird. More than that, the last three people I’ve really clicked with have all been MM fans. I guess a kickass rock band doesn’t have to be one of your favorites to be the soundtrack of a piece of our life.

 

ps- Three outta four of the songs I linked here have official music videos. I’ve never seen them until I linked to them here; I’m impressed! They’re great! Creative, without trying to be deep. I bed Isaac Brock had a lot of fun starring in them all. :)