My most recent job was in the Office of the Living Dead, populated almost exclusively by iPod-zombie hipsters. No one talked; everyone was plugged into their headphones and hunched over their computers, and if you had to ask a question you'd tap someone on the shoulder and they'd jump a mile and scream at the shock of actual human contact. The only fun part was jacking into iTunes and spying into all these too-cool-for-school types' playlists. I love prowling through other people's music; it's like looking at their underwear, equally revealing, intriguing and embarassing all at once, because you know that the stuff on their computer is the real deal--what they're actually listening to, not the carefully edited collection of CDs in the living room. Not surprisingly, everyone had OutKast and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand and the Strokes. But who would have guessed that Mr dyed-black-hair Williamsburg Tech Guy was a secret Beatles fan? Or that everything from Belle and Sebastian's ode to adolescent boys making out at boarding school ("Seeing Other People"--my interpretation, anyway) to Rufus Wainwright's neo cabaret and the chiming prettiness of the Magnetic Field's first album (including the immortal line, "I have a mandolin/I play it all night long/it makes me want to kill myself") would work its way through my cheap little headphones? Probably no one got anything too cool off of my list,unless they were really into Prokofiev, Ralph Vaughn Williams or Loretta Lynn's rough-edged hookup with Jack White, but since I barely got paid enough to eat, I figured it was well worth my time to beef up my music knowledge.
Right now, thanks to some unknown co-worker,and probably to the deep chagrin of my neighbors, I'm listening constantly to Wilco's "I'm the Man Who Loves You" off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (which, I'll admit, I wanted to love purely for the album title alone). It's a brilliant song, all slashy and messy around the edges, and country-swing-soul in the center, with really simple lyrics like "if I could you know I would/ just hold your hand and you'd understand/I'm the man who loves you." What more do you need? Well, that would be Neko Case and her band all swinging through a happy gospel tune, "This Little Light of Mine" for a live audience in Toronto, just before she tells them that we should save the tigers by feeding them all the world's spare children, because "tigers are sleek, and noble, and children are loud and messy." Plus, I think I just love the title. Much as I love being courted (theoretically speaking, at least at the moment), of late I'd just like to be the guy: forthright and ready to make the moves.
Another favorite--this one picked up at one of last summer's solitary nights at the Sunshine Cinema, over on Houston--is a gift for Mahler fans and German-minded depressives everywhere: Janet Baker singing "Ich Bin Der Weit Abhanden Gekommen," which translates to something like "I have lost touch with the world." It's the slow, dark, ethereal song playing in the background during the very Beckettian exchange between the two old, old avant-garde theater guys at the end of Jim Jarmusch's film Coffee and Cigarettes.
The Pie Queen's O.P.P* Song List
1. I'm the Man Who Loves You (Wilco)
2. I Got a Man (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
3. 10,000 Fireflies (Magnetic Fields)
4. Seeing Other People (Belle and Sebastian)
5. California (Rufus Wainwright)
6. Lord, Send Me an Angel (White Stripes)
7. Keeping the Customer Satisfied (Simon and Garfunkel)
*other people's playlists