Monday, August 31, 2015

acclaim /əˈklām/

People ask me if I have been published yet. Writers tell me to get my ass in gear. I understand their curiosity and concern. But having something published is not the prime goal and never has been. It is certainly potentially useful in the right circumstance but it is still only one component of a wide enterprise: to effectively champion harmony through evolution… through art.

The right thing must be published at the right time. And whatever currencies arise from that must then be leveraged wisely.

For the most part I think to myself, I don't want anything published unless it's so right, that the world needs to hear it. And I wonder are those standards out of reach of my ability. It seems like I'm always overreaching. Whatever I accomplish on the page, I envision something more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

accident /ˈaksədənt/

How did I come to enjoy what privileges I have; to inherit such a seemingly rare space?

It is hardly flattering to peruse the more obvious strains of causality which led here through curiosity, courage, integrity, insight, revelation; from child to writer to seeker. How humbling to find that failure is the theme. Failure at marriage, career and Christianity; at social climbing and reputation-building. All the towers I could not build beyond the first couple floors. And as they crumbled, how visible the path became.

Is that the only way it is done? It is one theme I think but I have never assumed it’s the only way.

ac·ci·dence /ˈaksidəns/

Leaving aside that we are among the most spoiled and perhaps luckiest (at least on the surface) of the communities of Earthlings, I am grateful to be a native speaker and writer of English. What a royal pain it must be to try to learn it post-childhood. So deranged, arbitrary and variable in its structure. So much wiggle room.

What better playground for the writer and poet? Every English word is a toy for the imagination. No matter what I want to say, there will be a dozen ways to say it; each a different flavor.   

Friday, August 28, 2015

My regression

I suspect that I am moving toward improved insight into what is going on with me (and what is not going on with me).

I have interpreted the changes in my life as a personal evolution (of consciousness, generally) and I have regarded my less enlightened behaviours – at times occasional, at times more frequent – as a slipping backwards; as a regression of that evolution, and I have never worried about that in any way. I have never prioritized the journey. I’ve never said, “Oh I must keep evolving. I must be a saint by this date and an angel by this date…!” I have made no assumptions about any ideal path. I have been inclined to think that this “regression” has kept me more relatable to certain people and not so estranged from them; in effect having more capacity to communicate effectively, which is important as I have felt a burden and duty to offer myself as much as possible as a guide to the less initiated, in the absence of any more qualified guide within reach. Through the period of rapid evolution I was sensing new hurdles to communication because I was forgetting what it was like to suffer certain perceptions. I could remember the ends of paths but not their beginnings. I felt I was leaving some people too far behind; out of reach.

Having read A New Earth and connecting superbly (indescribably so) to Eckhart Tolle’s explanations of what so-far appears to be the same mental journey and landscape (much work to be done analyzing that), I find myself looking at myself more through what I perceive as his perspective which feels very useful. In doing so I must consider that evolution and regression may not be the most useful terms here. Tolle seems to say that it is more of a toggle switch to be “awake” or “asleep” at any given moment, which does feel right to me, and I must wonder, is it more useful to say that I am generally just falling out of the habit somewhat, of being awake; mindful; conscious; present or whatever (I’ve yet to hear a term for it that feels definitive).

There is no doubt a pattern that I am awake most of the time that I am alone (which is often, per my priorities) and awake much of the time in others’ company but probably not a great majority of that time. I often catch my own lack of presence in the middle of the act and I am sort of laughing at myself before the last offending words are out of my mouth and I have tended to see this as me granting my imprisoned ego little recreational holidays; time off for good behaviour. This was perhaps conceited of me as I must ponder: No, this is the ego being fully in charge at these moments. Yes, I think that is more the case. It’s creepy to think of the ego playing possum in this way but it makes sense.

What may have slanted my views on regression until now is that the rewards of peace, joy and freedom do not entirely depart through periods of more instinctive (asleep) modes but I wonder do they only linger as academic comforts in those moments, rather than fully genuine. It invites the more crucial question. How do I ever know when my state is genuine and full and not just academic? Tolle (and the Healer) propose a simple test for that which I can not so far consolidate.

I am pondering at this moment that maybe a more mindful habit is on the rise again as my concerns about being reachable or relatable; the capacity to communicate, are perhaps dissipating. The Healer, who has graciously listened to much of my personal story without doubt or prejudice, suggests that teaching is more a matter of practice and experience than staying relatable. She suggests, in essence, that I may have “evolved” spiritually but not as a teacher.

The fact is, I am currently much in doubt about both my abilities and my qualifications as a teacher. They may both be deeply lacking and if so, that is okay. She also suggests that I may not be nearly so alone in my circumstance as I have felt. She is subtly suggesting that I might find myself at home in the woo-woo community, a term she applies ironically to herself and her peers; the practitioners of reiki, tai chi, qigong, meditation etc.

In other words, the burden of guiding may not be falling on my shoulders so much after all. I don’t know if she might be right. I’m not sure how accurate her idea is of all that I have been through and perceive, but there is work to do to clarify these matters and new experiences to be had! The Healer knows Tolle’s work but I must read and re-read his works and take stock of how much he explains myself and my journey as well as how much he does not. This will shed more light on all of these questions.

Perhaps continued evolution is my inner purpose while guiding is a potential with regards to my outer purpose, remaining to be seen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

accessory /əkˈses(ə)rē/

I buy the packages: the styrofoam, pad and innocuous lump. I buy them again and again and so more must go on the shelf and so more flesh must be extracted and how easy it is to forget about all the killing and more importantly, what goes on before the killing. Shouldn’t I know what process I have prompted?

What suffering is shielded from me? What injury have I abetted? I feel it is my duty to see with my own eyes and let the blood on my hands.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

access /ˈakˌses/

Peace. Freedom. Joy. They form a tremendous inner strength. They have transformed my life. Often I wonder, should I let them be more outwardly apparent, rather than to so often surrender so willingly to the forces which beg for normal behavior; appeasement of the tribe.

Peace. It is the confidence: knowing the poetic body contains the answers to all apparent problems; so often the revelation that they are not problems at all. It is the purpose which drives me, at least when I am mindful of it. A consolidated purpose, consistent with every criteria I have imagined. It is knowing where I belong and the simplicity of my needs.

Freedom. It is the dissolving of so much societal illness and mental discord which depends on illusion to exist. The absence or near-absences of loneliness, embarrassment, hatred, stress, longing, jealousy, offence, impatience, anxiety, trauma, covetousness and more.

It is the shedding of labels and all their inane baggage!

It is the ease of integrity and the absence of those ghosts born of posturing, positioning and deceit. It is the absence of false needs or specters of false happiness. It is escape from illusion. It is the renewal; the starting again, unanchored by possessions and uncluttered of the wayward false perceptions of normal indoctrination.

And joy. It is constant awareness of the unfathomable unlikelihood of this magnificent Earth; a true paradise, and of life itself and of the human being, with its stunning potential for the new evolution which I have seen! The potential to turn a universe of immense darkness and power into a thing of immense beauty. It is the appreciation of miracles.   

Peace. Freedom. Joy. They are the natural consequences of humanity underneath all the illusions of society, tribe and ego. Such an unexpected treasure to unearth and now, years later, almost taken for granted as they wax and wane but remain strong.

Monday, August 24, 2015

#94: A heart which learns to kill

Four years ago, almost to the day, I popped a CD in the car while driving solo up to the Muskokas to rejoin a cottage vacation. The album had that day been given to me by Neo and I had no idea what to expect.

I was immediately unnerved by the vocals. It was Bob Dylan’s voice but with a sort of chainsaw harshness to it, and the music sounded Dylannish too. “What is with this awful Dylan wannabe!” I cried.

But before the disc was done I knew I’d have to hear it again and upon its completion I let it loop and immediately listened again. It then lived in the car stereo for a couple weeks. And to this day, The Wild Hunt remains in my top 10 albums of all time. 

By Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth)
2010, Sweden

The Tallest Man On Earth is actually only about five foot nine but his music is immense and timeless. I hear he’s rather tired of being compared to Dylan but when you’ve got the same voice, a similar style, and confess that you studied him as a role model, obviously it’s going to happen. Personally I love Dylan and this guy too and quickly learned that comparisons are not useful.

The entire Wild Hunt album is enchanting in a kind of natural organic way (Matsson was known to home-records his music with guitar and vocals on the same track). The music is delicate but powerful; comforting yet haunting. And his voice – well – I quickly got used to it. The material largely smacks of the afterlife, the eternal and the inner mind. I find much poetic comfort in it.

Two singles emerged from the album but Love is All is not one of them. Here’s the official video followed by links to other Wild Hunt tracks which come very close to making this list.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

accept /əkˈsept/

Is it wise to be angry at the big bang?

The nature of causality is not hard to see. We witness thousands of consistent examples every day. We know of nothing that exists outside the flow of causality, which makes apparent the inevitability of all things. And yet the logic which assures us the inevitability behind all apparent choices is hard for so many to grasp. And even though I fully grasp it, it still slips from me from time to time, leaving me to blame, complain or criticize; such a savory recreation. Such a vain comfort to the ego.

Forgiveness is not simply noble or Christ-like. It is only sanity to forgive: to admit that the universe is what it is and does what it does. This of course does not mean to forget, necessarily, nor to suppress consequences of another’s action. It does not mean we should not strive to do better and to help each other at that.

Friday, August 21, 2015


I pulled up in front of Happy Acres Manor, killed the engine and picked up Dawn, Phil Elvrum’s subtle inspirational diary of his days in the relative isolation of a Nordic cabin hiatus. One of Grandpa Munster’s co-residents left the shelter of the Porch of Ash and Smoke, and wandered through the rain toward the passenger door. No, I don’t have a cigarette to spare, or money. Nor can I give you a ride somewhere today.

I just stared at the book, not absorbing the words while the faceless interloper eased into the periphery.

He knocked on the window. I hit the window button and turned to face him. It was a man I had not encountered there before. He had a plump face and wore the strangest mittens I’ve ever seen. “Are you waiting for someone?” he asked.

“Oh… I’m just waiting for Grandpa Munster. But he’s probably eating lunch and then he’ll be out. It’s okay, I’m in no hurry.”

“Okay!” he said pleasantly and turned and ambled away. I saw he wore no socks on his feet. He was wearing them on his hands. He lumbered back to the manor and up the steps and out of the rain and into the house. I suspected (correctly, I later verified) that he was off to give Gramps the message that his friend was waiting outside. I wept.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spare a dime, brother!

The Earnest Chef is in town today. Haven’t seen him in a couple months. He’s joined myself, Chessmaster and The Ponderer for one our weekly breakfast write-ins at The Joker’s Café. Following, he’ll attend my weekly hike with The Healer and little Doctor Dizzy at a lovely cave-dotted conservation area.

Officially I am in financial crisis with my employer pretty much ignoring my existence, however I spare not an ounce of stress over it. I seem to know inherently that stress is useless. Also I know inherently that I am not going to starve on the streets no matter what happens.

Also, I am simply in a happy place. Just as with Siddhartha or Aurobindo’s treatment on the Bhagavad Gita, I am now reading a book which has me in joyful tears. I am once again connecting superbly in terms of matters that are core to my understandings of people, the world and the universe and which I can almost never communicate to any real degree with the living people around me, a phenomenon that leaves me feeling like an interplanetary alien most of the time.

The magnificent factor this time around though, is that this author is alive. Alive! The effect of this is beautiful. I am suddenly not so alone. I now know for certain that there is at least one person on this planet here and now who would fully understand me; who could have a discussion with me where I could utterly be myself and be understood and vice-versa. Where I need not monitor myself and hide insights which would alienate my company or cause them to think I am a liar or delusional.

That said, I am fully myself, I believe, with Neo and Neo believes he understands me but I am not convinced. He does not demonstrate that he understands me. I’m inclined to think he understands more of me than perhaps any other, or perhaps believes he understands who I think I am but without believing I am necessarily without delusion – which would not offend me. Scepticism is generally very wise in a world that is invariably 99% bullshit.

Back to this book, which was recommended to me years ago by The Journeyer and recently by The Healer and which has languished on my bookshelf untouched for years!:

Every paragraph it seems, contains yet more and more affirmation of my long roster of understandings. He describes the process (which I have thought of as the poetic process) which reflects my experiences precisely, though he calls it simply spirituality, or the new spirituality, a habit of consciousness; presence; awareness.

Being perfectly patient when properly engaged in my work; my poetic pursuits, I am content to simply finish the book and then do some research on the author, a German I believe, and only then, if this marvelous symmetry still holds up, figure out how I can meet him, or else with some organization he perhaps champions (if such exists) and finally have humans I can communicate with for real - again, not to diminish the trust or belief I have in Neo. I am just not sure, currently, exactly where we stand in this regard.

My hope, in doing this, is not just to dispel the specter of alienhood, but to get help in refining my goals in life. I long ago lost interest in all normal pursuits and being so regularly joyful, peaceful and free of a great bulk of societal illness, have desired only to be useful to others; specifically to champion harmony and the evolution of consciousness which I believe I have taken part in and which I interpret confidently that this race of humans must embrace, and soon, if we are to survive as a species.

I might be begging on the street soon but life has never been better!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

accent /ˈakˌsent/

I remember travelling in Ohio when a waitress commented on our accents. My associate had a good laugh and said, “What are you talking about! We’re from Canada. We don’t have accents!” I immediately laughed at this silliness while realizing that he was sincere. How could he honestly think that any one locale could claim ownership of language in such a way? I couldn’t believe that someone could reach adulthood maintaining such a naïve perception. It is of course, impossible for any speaker in the world to be devoid of accent.

Today, when the ubiquitous layers and layers of tribal delusion have become transparent to me, I realize that my former associate’s flawed perception is probably not that rare, and given the constraints of instinct, understandable really.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

accelerando /äkˌseləˈrändō/

The music of the great majority of cultures in the history of the world, during most eras, does – or did not – adhere to rules of timing. The modern church of the western world first introduced musical measure in their quest for control of all things.

Funny, that as I write this here in an open-air James Street café I am hearing Van Morrison’s tune Wild Night and I can’t help but feel that this song contains a caged wildness in its structure; that this song might be a masterpiece if freed from the bondage of its beat!

Neo’s earlier music did not fall under the hammer of the metronome; one of several elements I figured might alienate his music from masses of obedient commercial pop music devotees. But I have always felt that he is on a noble path and as such has the potential to attract followers. He has a very special song-writing talent and creative courage and he may well become the object of sizable acclaim and fandom at any time. But for now I suspect it healthy that he may be excused from dreams of super-stardom and the inherent distractions and compromises thereof.

Monday, August 17, 2015

accede /əkˈsēd/

On my best days, when I am on the ball, when joy and freedom are unquenchable, it doesn’t matter what happens. No matter what, it’s fine.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

a cappella /ˌä kəˈpelə/

I was surprised when young Neo asked me about Hall & Oates, knowing, of course, that they were from my “era.” I couldn’t imagine anything from the realm of 80’s pop music falling on his rather sophisticated music radar, let alone this duo who were frankly kind of square; never regarded by anyone “hip” even in their day. I had little to offer other than a couple album titles worth looking into.

But I’ve always thought Hall & Oates worthy of greater regard, largely for their celebration of the human voice. It is always their voices driving the songs; their two primary instruments. And no, there is no Hall & Oates on my top 100.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

academic ˌ/akəˈdemik/

One of my former writing students, Arrawyn, once said to me, in regards to her grade eight exams: “They’re not testing my skills or knowledge, you know. They’re only testing my memory.”

“Worse,” said I. “They’re only testing your short-term memory. You’ll soon forget most or all of it. But at least you’re exercising your brain, which is useful.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

#95: Frozen fire

My high school friend, and neighbor, Mark was often seen and heard roaring about the neighborhood in his peppy 1981 Toyota Tercel, always with one of two songs blasting from it: The Doors’ Break on Through (to the Other Side) or this following song by The Cars. Clearly he was trying hard to market a specific identity for himself. Later, I would buy my first car; coincidently the very same model. But I blasted no songs from it. Oh, I almost certainly would have but I couldn’t afford a powerful enough stereo system.

By Ric Ocasek (The Cars)
1979, USA

Astutely labelled “another [Cars] double-edged anthem” by famed music critic Brett Milano, it’s one of those songs with extra rocket sauce. You hear what should be the joyful hopping culmination of the chorus followed by – more joyful hopping chorus bits.

Walter Ruhlmann, in The All-Music Guide to Rock called Let's Go "one of the summer songs of the year."

Peak: #5, Canada RPM and #14, U.S. Billboard Top 100. It remains The Cars’ highest peaking song in Canada.  

There’s no question as to the originality of Ocasek’s creation but it is undoubtedly an intentional homage to the 1962 classic of the same name by The Routers:


Thursday, August 13, 2015

abyss /əˈbis/

In Revelations 20:3 an angel hurls Satan into a pit to be imprisoned 1000 years.

Poetic voices suggest that mankind is forever hurled into the pit. I can understand that perspective intimately: that we are forever oppressed by a superpower; under the thumb of Satan: all of our hard-fought evolution at the peril of complete retraction at any given moment.

The dull sleep-world constantly calls to us; seduces us and our instincts always desire to answer. To master a constant vigilance seems impossible, and yet, unless there is a possible transcendence, wherein we may close the door to animal-hood behind us, what else is there to do but fight the good fight? 

#96: Tremelo

Here’s a little segue for us:  Catch My Fall and the Rebel Yell album marked the start of Billy Idol’s superstar period which aligned with my high school period, culminating in 1987 with his cover of Mony Mony which reached #1 in the USA.

It was also notably covered by the Beach Boys and Alvin and the Chipmunks but presumably only the Idol version was widely banned from American high school dances. No such censorship at our school where we danced up and down screaming such custom alterations as “Get laid, get fucked!” in the two quarter notes. I have no idea where this widespread custom started or why. Nor can I think of another example of this odd phenomenon. Could Idol have added these extra lyrics at some live performance and it caught on?  

Mony Mony is a nonsense title. It stands for Mutual of New York. The initials were once prominently displayed atop their office building at 1740 Broadway, prominent on the NYC skyline at the time original songwriters Tommy James and Ritchie Cordell were looking for a catchy title for the new tune, destined to hit #1 in the U.K. in 1968. Like a divine beacon, they spied the sign from the balcony of James’ Manhattan apartment. Mony Mony will not appear in my top-100 list. However:

By Tommy James (& the Shondells)
1968, USA

I love the dramatic opening of this song, and while I’m not generally a big fan of echoes or stutters, I do find the tremolo effects here, oddly captivating. It was the Shondells’ innovation to extend the effect to James’ closing vocals by running the mic through a guitar amp.

Apparently the title, which denotes James’ favourite colour and flower respectively, had been applied to a previous tune which was scrapped. He may or may not have known about the trifolium incarnatum (crimson clover plant).

Peaked: #1 in USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. Oddly, it did not chart in the U.K. At more than five million copies it remains their best-selling song.

It was prominently covered by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#97: Fallin' down whiskey

In 1982 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards attended a party where folks were drinking Rebel Yell Bourbon. One of those folk was a blonded young musician who thought that Rebel Yell would make a great name for his upcoming album. The album would go double platinum (two million sales) with seventy weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #6.

The title song was a hit single and hit music video, as were three other tracks, including Eyes Without a Face and Flesh for Fantasy.

The fourth and final single from Rebel Yell was the only track on the album written entirely by – yes – Billy Idol; and without co-writer Steve Stevens, and that song, in my humble opinion, is the album’s real masterpiece:

By Billy Idol
1983, UK

It was this song that sent me running to the Burlington Mall to pick up the Rebel Yell cassette and I immediately loved all nine tracks, and I still like them all. But still the highlight, by far, is this chorus where shouts of Catch my fall and If I should stumble alternate with Mars Williams’ spine-tingling saxophone.

Peak: #50, USA

Here’s the official music video. I promise, it’s not silly at all. And there’s a prize if you can correctly count the number of Billy Idol sneers he flashes:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#98: How's my rhythm?

By Tito Puente (Santana)
1963, USA

Featured in National Public Radio’s Top 100 important American musical works of the 20th century, Puente’s jazzy Latin classic has been covered by notable artists more than a dozen times. Easily the most famous is Santana’s 1970 version (linked above), described as “driving” and “cranked up” with electric guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, rock drum kit and added rock and blues licks.

The opening lyrics, stranded in the title are interpreted, “Hey, how’s it going?” but the connotations change when united with the following line, “Mi ritmo.” In totality, the lyrics mean roughly: How do you like my rhythm? Good! Enjoy! Mulata!

Peak: #13, Billboard Hot 100

Seinfeld character Elaine Benes also lists this song among her favorites in episode seven of season eight, The Checks.

Here, the Coen Brothers employ it in a scene-opener in one of my favourite comedy films, The Big Lebowski:

abuzz /əˈbəz/

Everyone thinks of gossip as something that they don’t do; that the term is reserved for some particular level which they never sink to. Yet everyone does it. I suppose I catch myself at it still, on rare rueful occasions. We're so terrified of being in the dark, of losing an advantage; being disadvantaged. Why is so-and-so absent! Who has applied for the promotion! What did she say about me…! Hey, just between you and me – you can keep a secret, right?

I know I was once mired in this mania and yet I can’t remember what it was like. I just know that now it has become unbearable. It is a dreary unpleasantness to be gossiped at.

Please! Just let me mind my own business! I don't even want to know what people are saying about me! Because the "me" they think I am is not who I am, anyway! But to explain to people why it is folly to try to deal with affairs other than your own, is always a path to nonsense. How do I explain the beautiful peace; the beautiful freedom in simply minding your own business in terms of the social arena; in terms of all this vain recreation we label life instead. So few appear to me to have the potential to achieve this state. I will not waste my time and pat my ego trying to explain to my duller associates why they are being unwise. I will save my good advice for those special persons who are ready to hear it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

abutilon /əˈbyo͞odlˌän/

It was long ago reported that on one of the Galapagos islands, brimming with life, an Eden of flora and fauna, a great variety of flowering plants were present but all were yellow; every single flower on the island a shade of yellow. Even those species of plant which typically flowered in multiple varieties – only the yellow variety was present. This remained a mystery for years, except to some of devout faith who insisted it was not a mystery at all; that science could never provide an explanation and the only possible explanation was that God had chosen this place to be a yellow place. It was proof of God.

It turns out that there may indeed be a great variety of plant life on this island but there is only one breed of bee. And that breed of bee, by the tinkering of random mutation and evolution, only recognizes yellow flowers. Thus no other would be pollinated.

People have a hard time admitting what they don’t know. We leap swiftly to an answer that pleases us and forever fail to notice all the math we didn’t do.

Crop circle enthusiasts will call that phenomena proof of life on other planets because we can’t explain how they are created by any earthly explanation. But that is in no way proof of alien life. The explanation for crop circles may not have fallen into your little hands or mine, but an explanation exists, and whatever it is, it is massively more likely to come from a source, unknown to you and me, but of this planet rather than of one that is light-years away. We are each intimate with only a minuscule slice of the world of Earth, or Minerva, as I much prefer to call it, as much as it soothes our ego to presume otherwise.

#99: The hearts of the young

# 99
By Gil Moore, Mike Levine and Rik Emmett (Triumph)
1984, Canada

Here’s a straight-up celebration of rock and irresponsibility anthem if there ever was one. It sucked in the masses, myself included. This was my favourite song ever for about a year through early high school, which is the last place one should be when you’re following your heart (into the depths of despair). Love was unfathomably cruel at that age and none of the absurdities of high school culture were remotely a comfort. Where was Ferris Bueller when I needed him? Oh well! Live and not-really learn…

The lyrics extol the virtues of living for the moment and doing what you feel like. They propose to unify the concept of following your dreams with forgetting about tomorrow. Okay, so were talking about extremely short-term dreams I suppose. Look, I never cared about the lyrics, okay! I relished the soaring melody.

Peak: #35, Canada pop chart

The official music video was filmed at the Providence Civic Center in Rhode Island following a live concert where the audience was invited to stick around and participate:

Thursday, August 06, 2015

#100: Shrinkage

So Aqualad sends me a link to this article: THE TOP 100 !!!!!! SONGS OF ALL TIME !!!!!

Okay, the headline wasn’t caps lock hollered, nor buried in a plague of redundant punctuation, but it probably should have been. All top-whatevers probably should be. Doesn't it seem like “top 10” or its ilk is the new societal standard template for the recycling of media-bytes into new configurations so that we can re-experience pop culture dynamos in perpetuity (and never have to resort to our own hog-tied creative instincts for artistic fulfillment, nor the imperfect unmarketable endeavors of our weirder spacier friends with that artistic bent)?

I remember when I was young, the odd top-ten list or top 935 songs countdown on the 93.5 radio station actually came with criteria and were thus arranged with some semblance of mathematical legitimacy even if the criteria depended on educated opinion. These days top-ten seems to mean ten selections arbitrarily drawn from the limited perspective of some bozo who offers no reasoning behind his choices and couldn’t if he tried. I’m trying not to perceive this migration as another needle in the haystack of evidence suggesting that the masses of our species are slowly dissolving into a tepid pool of intellectual sludge.

But this was in no way supposed to be a rant…

I actually have no complaint with this rock critic’s exercise. I think he’s upfront that this is an entirely subjective rendering in accordance with his own instinctive ear and not a balanced or academic analysis. And the guy obviously loves music and knows a thing or two about putting the slippery concepts of musical appreciation into very useful words. Well done, I say. I think the usefulness here is not in expert opinion but rather – here are some potentially awesome songs… if there are some you haven’t heard of before, click the link and experience! You might find a new fave!

Should you actually give a damn what his favourite songs are? No. And mine neither. But I think the same usefulness might apply to my own endeavor. Yes, I’m going to heavily feature within this blog, for a while, the plugging of my own top-100 songs. I made the challenge to Aqualad who immediately declined. Naturally he wouldn’t expect to be able to pull a (17-year) lifetime of music observation into his head all at once. “I’d probably be forgetting about a lot of great songs,” he said. And I’m sure that would be true for almost anyone, but it so happens I have been a passionate music-lover and a note-taker by hobby, since junior high so I was well-equipped for this!

I hope you’ll follow along and maybe relive a couple oldies you loved and forgot about or maybe even discover a couple tunes new to you that you’ll be glad you heard.

I started by going through my music collection plus my list of songs I must obtain which I’ve kept up to date since the early eighties, and making a list of the most critical songs – those I knew without a shadow of a doubt belonged in the top 100.

It turns out there are precisely 168 songs that no doubt belong in my top-100.

Wheedling it down to 100 was almost easy. I could confidently separate my top 99 but then about 20 seemed tied for 100th place. So I had to listen to them all before The Boss finally won out and squeaked into my personal singles hall of fame.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, To hell with this, there’s gonna be about fifty Rush songs on here.

Well there’s not. Had I been using any kind of academic process at all, there might have been fifty Rush songs on here. But I went with this criteria: Toe-tapping, head-bobbing, torso-swaying catchiness. Thus the songs are generally anthemic, energizing, and/or emotionally captivating. These songs do not necessarily offer the richest listening experiences, but the most addictive. Interestingly, the list contains some of the most structurally shallow songs in my musical awareness along with some of the deepest; both extremes of the scale. In other words, the criteria is this: These are the 100 songs that would cause me to mildly strangle you if you tried gabbing at me while they were playing on the radio. The bluer I would let you turn, the higher the song ranks!

I captured some rather trivial demographics so that we can look at fun patterns:

43% (or 43 songs obviously) were released in the 1980’s. That’s no surprise. I became a teenager in the 80’s and there is nothing like the chaos of puberty to drive one to the solace of one’s headphones and the deepest emotional music connections we generally make in our lifespan.

That leaves 31% from the seventies which, in my humble objective opinion, was probably the peak of mainstream songwriting since the classical age, and 12% from the sixties, which was rock and roll’s golden age, no doubt, and I adore it, but I interpret that (early) sixties rock, in a very general sense, lacked enough sophistication to give songs deep lasting resonance.

Only one 20th century tune predates the sixties and only one song predates the century. Just nine songs come out of the nineties, the latest from 1997. Very sadly, that leaves just three songs from the last eighteen years! Oddly, two of those three hail from Sweden.

Geographically, I predicted that America would dominate but in doing the research I discovered that more than a few composers I assumed were American turned out to be Canadian or English. The photo-finish breakdown is such:

37% UK
36% USA
20% Canada
7% other.

If Canadian origin seems disproportionately large, I suggest that it stems just a little from genuine culture, not at all from personal prejudice, and mostly from logistics: Canadian radio leans toward Canadian content (per legislation as far as I know) and familiarity breeds fondness.

Style-wise my leanings are quite diverse but this criteria lends itself very predominantly to rock and pop, with meanderings into new wave and the briefest possible flirtations with metal, southern rock, classical and jazz. Alternative is under-represented but then again, alternative music, for me, is largely album oriented and not singles oriented. Grunge is flat-out missing. I once adored it but never has a style had less legs. Nirvana, and more-so their peers, have gone flat with time.   

Presented in reverse order, I give you:

THE TOP 100 !!!!! (personally subjective) SONGS OF ALL-TIME !!!!!

# 100
By Bruce Springsteen
1985, USA

I was in the darkroom working on a high school photography assignment while this was playing when I first realized how much I digged it, along with a host of other tracks from the new Born in the USA album. I decided right then I had to buy that album (on cassette) but I ended up dubbing someone else’s copy and put Brian Adam’s Reckless on the other side. That tape became my summer soundtrack that year.

On that same occasion, I also first noticed the lamenting quality of the lyrics (consistent with the album). But I was a rather lamentable teen so it all worked. Previously I had interpreted the music as upbeat and boppy (with one of the late great Clarence Clemons’ most delightful sax riffs carrying the bridge). On the first few occasions I overheard the tune I might have somehow equated goin’ down with gettin’ down. It was quite a while before I picked up on the rude physiological interpretation.

Peaked at #9, Billboard's Top 100

 "…wonderfully exuberant and hilarious."--Debbie Miller, Rolling Stone

"A prime exemplar of the kind of good-time party song that Springsteen and E Street do best, sliding easily through the verses with a ... bouncing rhythm ... and a fun, jumping end."--Caryn Rose, Billboard Magazine

Here's a cute, tidy version by NYC indie rockers, Vampire Weekend.