90s B-Side: I Will Believe

Noel Gallagher had a habit of writing great songs that most people (at least in the US) never really got a chance to hear.

This one’s called “I Will Believe.” It’s not on Definitely Maybe (I listened to that album about 100,000 times) but it’s on the recent deluxe release. I love how you can hear the exact moment it becomes an Oasis song (as 00:23 becomes 00:24). And Liam’s voice! Some of the stuff they cut leading up to Definitely Maybe but never properly released could chart right now.

I’ll Be Your Trick Mirror

Just added to the reading list.

Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Gleaming with Tolentino’s sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the reader with profound honesty, Trick Mirror is an instant classic of the worst decade yet.”

We Belong Among the Wildflowers

I planted wildflowers in my yard.

I know that sounds stupid. Wildflowers are supposed to be wild.

I don’t check them everyday, even though I know that botany, or whatever it is I’m doing, is not like physics. Plants don’t mind being observed, they don’t hide their position or speed. But still, there’s uncertainty. It shouldn’t feel so much like luck; it is, after all, some kind of science.

I think we often forget how big a part uncertainty plays in the math of the universe.

Biochemistry, for example. We don’t really know how all of that works. I don’t feel any need to check the progress of my wildflowers every day. That’s markedly different from the fights I’ve had with myself over wether or not the door is really locked, or if the handles on the faucets are actually clean.

I want them to grow, understand. I do what I’m supposed to do. But I don’t obsess about it. I’m not sure why. Maybe I know that sometimes, even when I’ve been as perfect as I can be, things can still go sideways. Maybe I’m willing to late nature — botany, physics, whatever — share some of the risk. Maybe I’m still mystified enough by the whole process of life to believe that I’m not the Prime Mover when it comes to the fate of these tiny lives.

There’s a lot to unpack there. In the meantime, enjoy this. There’s a lot to enjoy.

The Best Songs About Rain

It has been raining for a near-biblical period of time in Pennsylvania. Maybe not forty days, but certainly six.

This morning the sun is shining and it looks again like May. Today I will mow the lawn and pull some weeds. If I have (make) time, I’ll do some writing and revising, which is also like pulling weeds. There’s something very satisfying about these actions.

In honor of the passing rain, here is my current list of Best Songs About Rain, totally off the top of my head as I type:

“Who’ll Stop the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Purple Rain” – Prince

“Novemeber Rain” – Guns N’ Roses

“Live Forever” – Oasis

“No Rain” – Blind Mellon

What are yours?

The best Bruce Springsteen songs – NME

As far as these lists go, this is a pretty tight one.  I’d leave off “Hungry Heart,” which is, to date, his only number one single.

It’s hard to say which Bruce Springsteen songs are the best because, frankly, they’re (mostly) all works of genius. Springsteen writes songs that plough deep into the American spirit and show the fragility, heart and heroism of the working man. Not to mention the fact that quite a few of them are total dancefloor bangers. […]

Source: The best Bruce Springsteen songs – NME

Flannery and Sufjan

This is an except from something I wrote a few years ago.  Below it is a Spotify link to the song “Chicago.”

It’s possible to encounter O’Connnor’s stories (you never really just read them) without explicitly discerning her deep, abiding belief in literary art as Christian vocation or her mission to show, as she said, “the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.” Clear about these motives in her essays and letters, she’s almost never so obvious in her fiction. Perhaps because she uses the evangelical cosmologies of her neighbors as Tolkienesque proxies for her own traditional Catholic systems it’s easy to infer a sort of distance between O’Connor’s art and faith where she in fact saw none. In the same way, it’s possible to listen to Stevens’ biggest hit, “Chicago,” without immediately sensing the plaintive Christian hymn at its core, but “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “Oh God Where Are You Now?,” “The Lord God Bird,” “To Be Alone With You,””God’ll Ne’er Let You Down”… well, these and others comprise a body of work that, like O’Connor’s, raises and answers questions about what makes art “Christian.” Like O’Connor, Stevens operates outside of expectation: his confessional work is among his best, but you’d never call him a Christian artist the way, say, Amy Grant is a Christian artist.