Tags: albums, desert-island-discs, influences, marian-call, music
So I made a list once upon a time of my musical/artistic influences, and wrote them down and touted them proudly. But my parents saw that list and called baloney. So with their help I’ve drawn up a more accurate list of childhood influences, as well as the roster of the top 10 most influential albums I’ve loved and listened to in becoming a musical self. Here ya go, world, more honesty. In no particular order, stuff I listened to a gazillion times at some point in my youth, with a few I’ve spun enough times to make the list even though I came to them in college or after:
- Yes – 90125, Fragile
- James Taylor – Sweet Baby James, Never Die Young, & New Moonshine
- Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
- Quincy Jones – Back on the Block
- Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
- Paul Simon – Graceland
- Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends, Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Weird Al Yankovic – everything
- They Might Be Giants – everything thru 2005
- The Aquabats – everything thru 2004
- Menotti – Amahl and the Night Visitors
- Beethoven – Symphonies No. 3, 6 & 7
- J.S. Bach – Goldberg Variations, Cello Suites
- Gilbert & Sullivan – Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado
- Lyle Lovett – Joshua Judges Ruth, I Love Everybody
- Les Misérables
- Miss Saigon
- Kasey Chambers – Barricades & Brick Walls
- Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
- Jason Mraz – Waiting for My Rocket to Come
- Harry Connick, Jr.
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Oscar Peterson
- The King’s Singers
- Diana Krall – All for You
- Carole King – Tapestry
- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
- Jewel – Pieces of You
- Jars of Clay – Flood, Much Afraid, If I Left the Zoo
- Sting – Mercury Falling, Soul Cages
- Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table & Dreaming, Crash
- Earth, Wind, & Fire
- Tower of Power
- The Temptations
- Holst – The Planets
- Stravinsky – Rite of Spring, Firebird
- Copland – Billy the Kid Suite, Rodeo, lots more
- Leonard Bernstein – complete works
- Brand New Heavies – Brother Sister
- Joni Mitchell – Clouds, Blue, For the Roses, Court & Spark, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
- The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith
- Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn, Burning the Haze
- Carly Simon – Have You Seen Me Lately
- Julia Fordham – Porcelain
- Bruce Hornsby – Harbor Lights, Hot House, Spirit Trail
- Bonnie Raitt – Luck of the Draw
- 100 Carols for Choirs (Oxford hymn book)
- Christmas with Julie Andrews
- Pink Martini – Sympathique, Hang on Little Tomato
- Moulin Rouge soundtrack
- Romeo + Juliet soundtrack
- Peter Mulvey
- Stephen Fearing
- Kris Delmhorst – Songs for a Hurricane, Five Stories
- Five Iron Frenzy
- Brent Bourgeois
- The Newsboys
- Audio Adrenaline
- Into the Grey
- Susan Ashton
- Regina Spektor
- Sarah Harmer – You Were Here, All of Our Names
- Postal Service – Give Up
- Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
- Iron & Wine / Calexico – In the Reins
- Baltimore Consort – Bright Day Star, The Mad Buckgoat, The Ladyes Delight
- Polyphony (choral ensemble) – O Magnum Misterium
- Carbonleaf – Echo Echo
And my top 10 Most Spun Albums, right up until I produced Vanilla (some are still spun constantly):
- Milk-Eyed Mender by Joanna Newsom
- Blue by Joni Mitchell
- Songs for a Hurricane by Kris Delmhorst
- Marry Me by Saint Vincent
- Le Fil by Camille
- Sixpence None the Richer by Sixpence None the Richer
- Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens
- You Were Here by Sarah Harmer
- The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
- Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor
There. Now I don’t have to keep repeating this list for people. Lots of awesome folks have been left off of it, but I believe it’s truest to what I listened to growing up, rather than what I listen to now and wish I had listened to growing up. Then again I was never all that cool.
Mission accomplished! This is now written down. I’ma go do real work with this out of my head.
So once I was bored in Hollywood. Bored at Le Pain Quotidien in Brentwood to be more specific, since I’d been stood up for a meeting. Now, bored is really not my M.O. — on principle I am almost never bored — but Twitter is always there for me in such emergencies. So of course that’s where I turned.
I wanted to write but I lacked inspiration. So as an exercise I promised Twitter I would use every single idea they pitched at me in a single song. With rhyming. The list of terms/references Twitter provided, within about two hours, follows:
Modern pop songs suck
The coolest guy in San Diego
The known, the unknown, and the underknown
Sharpies & glitter
Windows Vista/blue screen of death
Armageddon/tea (points if you’ve been around Twitter long enough to remember this meme)
Here’s what I came up with. I rediscovered it recently and it made the corner of my mouth go up a little — you know the way — because it’s on topic for me lately. And I like a few of the images. So I thought I would share it with its co-creators.
Disclaimers: 1) the rhyme scheme’s a little obtuse, but that’s typical for me (with music it makes sense). 2) If you want to imagine how it would sound, there are lots of electric guitars and drums in this one. 3) No, I won’t record it, I don’t think, it was just an exercise. 4) Also, it’s too long, but that is again typical of me. 5) It’s more complainy and current and socio/political than my own voice usually is, but then, Twitter’s rather complainy and current etc., so I was being true to my co-writers’ voices. 6) You may note that a little snippet later transmuted into part of “The Avocado Song.”
Oh, and fittingly, I was issued a parking citation for letting my meter run out while I composed this little ditty. Anyway — enjoy the wordplay!
Hard to Hold by Marian Call & Twitter
They’re drilling holes in the 405 — it makes our sunburnt ears all hurt
And the coolest guy in all of San Diego — even he must wait to merge
He’s in every other car along the interstate, adjusts his aviators in the mirror
His pets are electronic, his insomnia is chronic, his friends are all ironic
He’s going to see the show tonight and he’s warming up by practicing his sneer
They’re drilling holes in the 405 — to put our worst of worries in
They’ve outsourced tech support to warmer climates — and sued away our sins
So we’ll have time to curse at Windows Vista and mourn for BSG
And laugh at #firstworldproblems, and mock ‘em when they rob us, and charge it if we’re jobless
Smart enough and loud enough and self-aware enough to always win
Along comes a spider to propose a point of view
A high risk venture, an idealistic coup
Is he another organ grinder, is he a prophet underknown
He thought he’d dabble in the truth just for a change — I can’t quite get behind it though
‘Cause hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gonna leave me bleeding, oh…
They’re drilling holes in your will to live — got nothing better left to do
They built a superhero-themed amusement park — and it’s all about you
You’ve got your own hit single and an angsty rocker band
I’ll sip root beer at your movie — let your genius blow through me — the story don’t much move me
I laughed when you got swine flu, but in fairness the whole script’s a little bland
Aren’t you getting tired of propping up your heart
With flimsy little sucker sticks and fraying bits of twine
Of drawing blithe conclusions on cute recycled cards
With sharpies and with glitter — with some dry sarcastic movie quote inside
Oh, ‘cause hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gonna leave me bleeding, oh…but you hold, you hold, I say you hold…
Darlin’ I said darlin’ someday
You gonna keep what you took.
You gonna eat what you cook.
Darlin’ I said darlin’ someday
You gonna keep what you took.
You gonna eat what you cook.
You cannot build a car to run on sarcasm and pride
You cannot make a bull to charge who’s playing colorblind
They’re drilling holes in the 405 — but they’re not quite big enough to hold our fears
So if your favorite primetime show’s been slipping lately — save a couple tears
Our monitor has long been blue and frozen / but no one gots the guts to force-restart
We’re overcaffeinated, we’re overcompensated, our work is overrated
It’d be amusing what we’re losing if we didn’t deep down know we’ll miss our hearts
Aren’t you getting tired of all the nip and tuck
Of preening and rescreening your half-baked philosophy
Aren’t you getting tired of never looking up
Of parodizing Armageddon with pink smoke and finger puppets over tea
Oh, but hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gotta hold, you hold, you hold, I say you hold, oh…
Gonna leave me bleedin’, oh
You are cordially invited to a Real Polite Tea Party / Tweetup
To take place on Sunday, May the second, from two o’clock to five o’clock in the afternoon
Gather at Bella Boutique on Spenard Road (with overflow if necessary in Sugarspoon Alaska next door)
Dress code: fancy summer tea party (inasmuch as it pleases you). Dresses, hats, summer suits, your finest shoes, pinkies up.
No cost is involved, but this event is BYOT: Bring Your Own Teacup. And bring some pocket change for a small charitable donation to a politically neutral charity doing good (and sustainable) work in the developing world, where our tea comes from. Also consider a small purchase from our kind host, Bella Boutique.
This event is a friendly gathering open to people of all political beliefs, provided they agree to be supremely polite and civil to one another and enjoy the company of peers all afternoon. Talking politics or religion at a party is of course extremely rude, and you know your grandmother would not tolerate it; therefore it will be frowned upon.
This gathering is dedicated to the proposition that manners matter, and that with them people of widely varying political beliefs can be civil to one another, enjoy each other’s company, and coexist within a democratic nation despite their differences. It is also dedicated to the wearing of pretty dresses and dessert.
Tea Party members, Republicans, Moderates, Democrats, Communists, and Anarchists are all invited to come politely celebrate the privilege of being free to hold our own beliefs and uphold our duty to coexist without violence or hatred. Coexistence is of course made easier with the aid of truffles, finger sandwiches, a short moratorium on talking politics at a party, and tea.
Please RSVP via Facebook or the @AlaskaTweets website. This is open to the public, and if lots and lots show up, we will overflow happily and peaceably into Sugarspoon next door.
This event is informally put together/inspired by some folks in the Anchorage Twitter community, though it’s open to the public. See @alaskatweets for more details.
(If you’re out of the Anchorage area, consider holding a Polite Tea Party of your own! Sometimes the ultimate political protest is apolitical. Nobody ever changed anyone else’s mind about an issue with picket signs and slurs, only with civil discourse. And more than I believe in any other political idea, I believe in civil discourse. And I believe that right now it’s endangered.)
We do need some volunteer assistance in Anchorage to make this party happen. Please comment if you’re able to assist with any of the following things. Break out the china and silver you’ve been dying to use:
- A few compact folding chairs and wooden TV trays
- Linens and cutlery (no paper or plastic would be lovely if possible)
- Teapots and tea, and hot pots or small electric burners to heat water
- Home-baked tea party goodies: scones, finger sandwiches, truffles, cookies
- Tea fixings: sugar cubes, sweeteners, cream, and containers for tea service
- Setup/cleanup help
- Collecting charity donations & ensuring the donation is made
Please comment here or at the Facebook invitation, http://is.gd/bDYHq, to assist!
Tags: bad-musician-meeting, marian-call, poem, poetry
Here’s a true story-slash-goofy-little ditty for you, based on a real encounter with a local musician I was interviewing to play in my band. Go read some poetry today!
A Bad Musician Meeting
I asked to interview him, so I couldn’t really see
How he got the strange impression he was there to question me.
We met for just one cup of tea, but that was quite enough.
I’m mostly a good list’ner, but the first two acts were rough.
An hour into the interview it came to his attention
That I had called the meeting and I had some things to mention.
He asked me who I was, and just for once I answered boldly
But didn’t say what all I knew of everything he’d told me.
He turned a little pale and then he blamed it on his hearing.
But if he’d just said “Pardon me” it might have been endearing.
Instead, he seized on every opportunity to flatter
My status and my pedigree and things that didn’t matter.
For his monologue pedantic and his etiquette primeval,
I wrote this homage to him, because truth be told, I’m evil.
We met for just one cup of tea, and that was quite enough.
I saw him the next week and knew the winter would be rough.
In such a town as this it’s always best to behave meekly
You never know whom you might have to entertain with weekly.
I received this e-mail recently from a fan, who happens to be in a fictional band called Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat. He happens to be my little brother (@zamonium). I was unsure who sent it to me until I listened to the audio that he attached. This came about a week before I flew to Seattle to start recording my new album.
You simply must hear his demonstrationtrack…
Subject: Regards to next album
Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat my Projectmusiciangroup; I am please meet you Marian Call.
I have Understanding for your not want me to play (as this is for many people want it!!) however I insist my Rockband for send you this Demonstrationtrack. You will be listen if your nice, but not so many want it to do this! Ha ha!
Hereby though, i send this Demonstrationtrack you with out the Rockband Permission because I think will be very excellent Edition as first Track of the new Compactdisc you will make! Congratulation!
I can not need to boar you for more Words, that is okay. Please to contact me if this is quite excellent, or to give me the good Playingtips for Rockband Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat.
P.s.- Sorry English! Haha!
I love food. I want to spend the rest of my life enjoying food. However, I think I can say — with more seriousness than you might expect — that I could eat white rice for the rest of my life and still die happy having tasted this pie.
After I had two bites it I found myself hollering, wordlessly, repeatedly, with the kind of surprise that almost amounts to distress. I paused the film we were watching. My father and I both cursed aloud after each bite, which we seldom do. The cook, my Dad’s wife, turned her head away quietly and started shedding tears. “I think I’m crying because of pie,” she said softly. I think we were all having a deeply spiritual experience, practically speaking in tongues because of Total Flavor Overwhelm.*
The cook, my Dad’s wife, probably had a lot to do with the overall experience. Her crust was perfect, and her choices of additional ingredients were inspired. But I think even I could make this pie, and that’s saying a lot. (I will, too. Anchorage friends may thank me now.)
I won’t publish the exact recipe here, just the ingredients — because I actually think you should buy the book it came from. Folks who write cookbooks have really suffered from the wide availability of recipes online. Also, this might be the best cookbook I’ve ever seen: Bubby’s Homemade Pies. All of you Pushing Daisies fans will finally be able to emulate the Piemaker with the aid of this cookbook (excepting the rotten moldy fruit stash; I don’t recommend that).
So. Buy the book, or borrow it, or play with the following ingredients yourself to make apple-bacon-roquefort pie:
- Pastry for a double-crust pie
- Thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
- Tart (but not too tart) green apples
- Lemon juice
- Fresh thyme
- Salt & pepper
- Roquefort Cheese
Yes, you sautée everything in bacon grease. Our cook last night added a potent raspberry chipotle sauce (the fancy Costco variety) as well as ground chipotle peppers. I think I will also add halved or chopped pecans when I make it myself.
Happy food fantasies, everyone. Enjoy your kitchen, and remember those of us who have none.
*I recall having similar, para-religious experiences over the following foods, all in Alaska: Orso’s molten chocolate cake, Simon & Seafort’s crab-stuffed macadamia-crusted halibut cheeks (though that dish is hit-or-miss), the Talkeetna Roadhouse’s berry pie, the Noble’s Diner birch creme brulée (by Rob Kinneen, now cooking at Orso), Meantime double chocolate stout (brewed in London, consumed at the Tap Root), and the Moose’s Tooth Brewery’s Moonflower ESB.
…if it’s at all convenient. My birthday is on February 24th, and this year it fell on Fat Tuesday, as it is occasionally wont to do. It was a tough birthday this year — no celebrating, really.
Which immediately sent me back in time to the last time my birthday was on Mardi Gras — in February 2003. For those who know how old I am, and those who have wanted to, here’s a confession: that was the day I turned 21. Things went about as badly on that birthday as could be expected.
I was in the middle of midterms at Stanford. It was a Tuesday night, and I had an intensive written exam on Romantic music analysis from 6-9pm. I had spent the day rehearsing, composing, and catching up on reading about genocide and world hunger or something equally depressing. I was unwashed, un-made-up, and dressed as dowdy (dowdily?) as I know how to dress. Midterm Frumpy is a special kind — more hopeless than Finals Frumpy, as the end is not yet near. I left my exam exhausted and without much desire to drink and be merry.
But I knew, in advance, that I would have no such desire. So I trapped myself into a night out on the town with three excellent friends who agreed to go to a club with me on a Tuesday. I wanted to hear a great band called Sinister Dexter, in which a fellow Stanford composition student played bass. Getting out of the dorm and off campus was a big deal for me at the time. And hell, I was 21. I had been served red wine & beer regularly by my parents at home since age 15, but dammit, I needed to celebrate. So out we went, in my roommate’s ancient land yacht of a Chrysler, intending to rock Palo Alto. Rock it like the square yuppie REI kayak that it is.
We realized our mistake once we reached downtown. The streets were full of tottering revelers in stilletos, wreathed with colorful beads. Having spent every Tuesday night since birth in some music rehearsal or another — and being from the Pacific Northwest where Mardi Gras is mostly not much of a thing — it took my friends’ prompting to help me understand what was going on. “Oh,” I said. (I should have said, “Oh, #$&% this, let’s hit the liquor store and go watch a movie at home.”)
We managed to park, which was epic in itself. We walked to the club wearing several layers and still freezing. We waited in line, wishing we could hear the band over the revving cars and shouting frat guys. Scantily clad girls went in ahead of us in droves, skipping the line with impunity, before our Midterm Frump Clump was admitted. We all had our coats. For protection, I think.
The place was packed. The band went on break the minute we came inside, and loud house music came on instead. I remember thinking that it felt a little harsh after writing about Beethoven for weeks. Nothing for it but to wait for the *clearly amazing* band to get their drinks and start again. The horn section & accordion looked promising, and my fellow composer looked hot as usual.
I tried making small talk (= small shouts) with some friendly guys, but they turned out to be sketchy European grad students. “It’s my birthday too!” exclaimed one, hugging me and asking his friend to take a photo. I was way grossed out, and too young to have the confidence to send them packing. And they wouldn’t pack voluntarily; they were obscenely hopeful about us. My one friend finally got protective and den-motherish, my other friend was terrified and didn’t know what to do, and the third (more accustomed to clubbing) jumped right in and started making out with strangers. Her sacrifice saved the rest of us, and we escaped.
I fought our my to the bar. Only makey-outey friend was also drinking, so I was on my own. It was five people deep all around the counter, and there was an uncomfortable amount of skin between me and placing an order. I tried the upstairs bar and managed to work my way to the front — and then realized I had no idea what to order. I hate liquor, mostly. I drink beer and wine. And they had crappy beer and wine. And I didn’t know the names of any drinks, except ones I’d heard in the movies. The bartender gave me a look that made it clear I would lose his attention if my cash and drink order were not turned over pronto.
“Um, an appletini…??” I shouted. I did not then and I have never since liked things like appletinis. Ten long, sweaty minutes later I got a red plastic cup — and felt a sudden crushing disappointment. Red plastic cups were what we drank from on campus. I had imagined a quiet-ish Tuesday night bar with small talk and real glassware and a concert. And if it hadn’t been for the awesome band, I would have gone out in search of one without delay.
As I clutched my red cup and tried to turn around to break from the bar crush, the tall skinny girl next to me — inches from me — lifted her shirt all the way up and squealed at the bartender at top volume. She was given a free drink for her trouble within fifteen seconds. No one had ever explained this part of Mardi Gras to me before. I was confounded. My faith in cash-as-currency was shaken somewhat.
Shy Friend, Protective Friend and I found a place where we could huddle in the upper balcony and wait for the band to resume playing. The girls’ devotion to getting me a 21st birthday drink knew no limits. Neither of them had a beverage, or any beads. Neither of them looked to be having a good time. Our stilted conversation mostly consisted of nerdy variations on “Wow, this is crazy.”
Our wait was long, because the ten band members could not physically get back to the stage. I saw some players trying to clear enough space around them to tune, plug in, or play their instruments. The trombonist was having a hard time making the drunken trio directly in front of him understand their imminent danger. “Spit valve!” I wanted to tell him, telepathically.
To encourage crowd movement away from the band, the rhythm section and singer played a slow cover song at high volume. I think it was also to meant to encourage the bar to turn off the loud house music. Break over. I started getting excited for the actual music — even on a slow song, their technique was promising and their sound was tight. I began writing a paper about it in my head and waited eagerly for the accordionist to get his mic set. Also, I ditched the appletini, barely touched. Waiting waiting waiting waiting for the players to settle and the endless slow song to end…
…Cue the police. The crowd writhed as one like a school of minnows. The band leader ended the slow song neatly and announced, “And that’s all for tonight, everybody, because the Palo Alto police department will be closing this fine establishment for the remainder of the evening. Good night.”
If I had known then what I know now about life, I would have indulged myself for one moment upon that announcement: I’d have “dropped” my plastic appletini over the balcony at an unsuspecting drunk chick. The one with the most beads. She would never suspect the frumpy baby-faced girl with the coat on.
We had heard no music, drunk no alcohol, and had no fun. Fail trifecta. I don’t believe we brought makey-outey friend home with us; she hit some other clubs before going home.
I would like to say I went home and drank wine and listened to some Eric Whitacre by candlelight to make it all better. But no, I just went to sleep. With earplugs to block out the returning revelers.
This, friends, is why you will find me enjoying my next February 24th Mardi Gras in the home of a good friend with plenty of beer and cheese and music I like. And should something go wrong, I will be unafraid to throw things. Lesson learned. MY birthday.
This is the saddest & hardest sort of announcement to make, but at some point it must be made. A good friend asked me why announce it at all — and I decided that the reason is to avoid having to explain this countless times, in countless forums.
Colin (@Mr_Call) and I have decided, together, to separate, and this separation looks to be permanent. We still love and respect each other; we just found out that — well, we weren’t who we thought we were. So this chapter of our lives is closed for now.
If you feel the need to place blame, we can’t stop you, but we don’t. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you expect, and it’s never simple, and it’s always painful. We’ve agreed that we want to keep as part of our community anyone who will have us, rather than dividing friends and family down the middle, so if you want to stay in touch with either or both of us, please do. If you don’t want to, that’s all right too.
Since we have a public life, albeit a small one, we’d like to request two things: 1) please give us our privacy & dignity in public (esp. internet) forums, and 2) please let anyone know that you think needs to know, so that we don’t have to repeat the news endlessly.
A note from me to fans: I don’t especially want to see lots of comments about this on my various social networking websites and Twitter, except for messages & DM’s. It’s a private matter, and though some of you are great fans, I will be turning to friends & family for comfort, as is appropriate, and not to you. If you wish to empathize or show support, send an e-mail (don’t post something public), and keep listening to the music and help me to complete my tour by coming out to concerts or sending friends; this will be a very tough time financially, but I’ve decided I want to keep singing. If you should write to me about this, unless you’re a close personal friend, it might take me time to respond — I’m kind of shaken. And I shouldn’t have to say this, but I do: please know that I am not in any sense single or available at this time or any time soon. I appreciate your understanding on this matter. And I really appreciate your support.
Colin will be staying in Seattle with the bus and I will return to Anchorage after my spring tour down the West Coast and into Texas. If you have questions about logistical or tour details, you can e-mail me.
Thank you, and love to all.