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Favorite Artists: Musically Speaking

Recently Nome asked me to pick out ten musical artists, delineating the first song I heard, the song I fell in love with, and my current favorite.

This is quite the challenge for me as I don’t process music the same way that I process other verbal information. In fact one of the worst things that ever happened to me was when I was attending a concert here in Germany and my friend turned to me and asked me the meaning of the lyrics. I was clueless—I guess I knew there were lyrics but I hadn’t really been processing them. Switching from processing the event as a whole to processing the lyrics took a lot of effort and for a long while I was lost to the world. This wasn’t the only occasion in which I was oblivious to lyrics. There was another time in Rotterdam where after ten minutes of listening to somebody “sing,” I turned to the person I was with and asked, “Is she singing in English or in Dutch?” We left shortly thereafter.

That said, instead of answering Nome’s question in terms of first heard, the one I fell in love with, and my current favorite, I can really only tell you my current ten favorite artists, a bit of my history with them, and my favorite song.

We shall start with the three artists who I have seen in concert more than once:

Pansy Division: One of the great pioneering queer-punk rock bands, I’ve actually seen this band in concert twice. I first encountered Pansy Division as a graduate student at the University of Wyoming. I cannot be too specific here without potentially harming others, but I was introduced to the group by one of the four people who affirmatively knew I was gay in Wyoming (e.g. I explicitly told them). The song I fell in love with, and in fact remains my all time favorite, was “Ring of Joy,” an ode to everybody’s favorite body part, the butt hole and to the joy it can bring one who is ready to fully enjoy everything it has to offer. The first concert I saw was at the underage Rhino’s in Bloomington, the second time was at a bar in Indianapolis—total audience consisted of no more than 25 people. Including myself, I was responsible for four or five people in attendance.

Shooglenifty: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Shooglenifty, a wonderful high-energy Scottish/Celtic dance band perform twice. The first was when I was introduced to the band back in Bloomington. They were performing at the Lotus Festival, a festival that brings a wide variety of world music to Bloomington spread over two nights and a number of venues. Shooglenifty made a huge impression on me, and the Second Story’s dance floor was packed for their sets. It turns out that I wasn’t the only person who fell in love, for a couple years later they returned to Bloomington and packed the hall on a Tuesday night. Certainly there are pieces I like less than others, but generally speaking I love all of their music so it’s hard to pick only one, but since I must, “A Whiskey Kiss.”

Kai Tracid: Strangely I discovered this German DJ while living in America, long before I even conceived of moving to Germany. The first video/work of his encountered was while at, uh, the Unicorn (oddly enough), and his video for “Life is Too Short.” Now I know what I said about lyrics before is going to stand in stark contrast to my comments here, but what I like most about Kai Tracid is the positive message to his music.

Life is too short,

Don’t stress every day,

Leave your worries behind,

Go out and play.

I’ve seen this man work his magic on the turntables twice: First in Dresden at a fantastic show which I adored despite (a) being sick and (b) getting my ass pinched by a girl. The second time was in Erfurt at what was a lackluster night of trance-acid called DoubleSTRIKE.

Beyond the first three, the rest are all groups or artists who have caught my attention for one reason or another.

Amber: I forget how I encountered Amber the first time, but as I sit here thinking about it, I think I was introduced to it by somebody I used to chat on gay.com with—a guy who has gone from drag queen to stripper to… I don’t know. I didn’t see him around Indiana on my recent trip. Amber tends to be a very upbeat positive message kind of dance music artist, reflected in my favorite song, “Love One Another.” (Again, like Kai Tracid, this runs contrary to the supposition that I ignore lyrics and words in music, but the message in Love One Another is highly repetitive, so it sinks in.) Back when I was teaching statistics at IU, I once based an entire final exam off of Amber’s music.

Fleetwood Mac: As a liberal-progressive coming of age in 1992, the presidential election of said year was of utmost importance to me. Most of my memories consisted of the Reagan-Bush era with its total disregard for the sanctity of human life: pro-war, pro-hurting minorities, pro-everything I didn’t respect. Early on in the process I supported (and even volunteered for) Bill Clinton and so when the Democratic National Convention reached its penultimate moment with the nomination of Clinton to be the candidate of choice in November, I was really into it—and into “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” Again, with a positive message in the lyrics, Fleetwood Mac came to symbolize, at least for me, a change for America. Too bad the change really only lasted a few years, although my love of Fleetwood Mac is still strong.

Madonna: I cannot really remember when Madonna entered my life. I remember in 8th grade that I once played a miming game where somebody had to guess that the song we being suggested was “Like a Virgin.” Then there was a period of time in my life where I eschewed loud music (and music in general; when Cynical Queer met me). Now Madonna’s “American Life” is in regular rotation on my iPod; and I can safely say that she’s not going anywhere; after all, I’m gay.

Information Society: Although I love the techno roots and sounds of Information Society enough to list them as one of my ten favorite artists, I do not really keep them in heavy rotation I can tire of them if I hear them too often. Rather this is a group that will appear on my iPod for a few weeks, only to be removed for two months when suddenly I will put them back on and love it. The roots of my love for information society go back to while I was earning my Master’s Degree at the University of Wyoming. One of my friends though I would like the group, and I did—falling in love with two songs: “Peace and Love, Inc.” and “Where Would I Be Without IBM?” The former has a positive message “if you’ve got to believe in something,” believe in Peace and Love, Incorporated. The later protests the Generica creeping over the landscape:

Where would I be without my radio?

Where would I be without birth control?

Where would I be without fair weather friends?

Where would I be without IBM?

The song later devolves into a series of names that reminds me of the Corporate America flag: MCI, CNN, NBC, Pepsi Company, FBI, ATT, MTV, and more; although some of the names have since vanished in merger mania.

The BoDeans: After going on an anti-corporate America rant in the previous group, I have to confess that corporate America introduced me to The BoDeans via Party of Five on Fox. Party of Five was, at one point, my favorite television show—featuring the orphaned family of five (parents killed by a drunk driver) living out their lives as a family in San Francisco. I stuck with the show for several seasons until it slowly drifted out of my life (I think that not only did I let it drift out of my life, but it was cancelled shortly thereafter); but “Closer to Free,” the show’s opening theme song stuck with me for its positive message about living. I ended up buying on of the band’s double CDs, Joe Dirt Car, where I came to like “Idaho,” “Paradise,” and “Good Things,” as well.

Kylie Minogue: Not knowing who she was, I fell in love with Kylie Minogue because “I Should be so Lucky” was used in an obscure movie starring Peter Falk, “Cookie.” Cookie, a family favorite, was a fantastic movie about the Mob in New York City and the trials of a mob boss, his lover, and his illegitimate daughter. “I Should be so Lucky” was a key song—and for some reason it took me a long time to connect the song to Kylie Minogue, even though I loved others of her songs.

Gay Pimp: I am clueless as to how I first encountered the Gay Pimp, and for some reason beyond me, I don’t seem to have any of his music on my computer. His most famous piece (nay video) is “Soccer Practice,” in which he seduces straight boys in the locker-room. I have the video on a DVD and every once in awhile I pop it in and watch it. His songs are fun and he is definitely a flamer. Consequently “Soccer Practice” is my favorite musical work of the Gay Pimp. I do get to listen to the Gay Pimp weekly as he does have a weekly show (I would use the “p” word here, but the “p” word attracts comment spam, so I won’t), which you can download via subscription, information that can be found at the Gay Pimp website. The best part of his show is that I get all my celebrity news from him, and quite frankly I have no idea who most of the celebrities they discuss are: I am just not tuned into celebrities of any kind, especially the kind that appear in People and other magazines of that ilk.

Tagging: Now that I’ve answered this, it’s time for me to nominate others to do this: MT the Swampgoddess; B from Eurotrippen; Jerry Faust; Jelymo; and Koko (when she starts her new blog officially). I’d tag the Cynical Queer, but he’s already been tagged.

You can do it how I did it, do it the way Nome did it, or invent your own way to list your ten favorite musical artists.

8 comments to Favorite Artists: Musically Speaking

  • I fear that I won’t be doing anything with this list. I simply don’t know about artists and the radio is usually on as background noise while driving.

    I could probably do an excellent actor/actress vs. movie list or something… I have some pretty odd tastes when it comes to movies.

  • Earlier this year I listed my favourite albums by decade, but I haven’t yet compiled a list of favourite *artists*. I should be able to do this in the next week or so 😉

  • MT

    Done! Mine is weird and not very revealing. I had to add an extra list because I had a lot of single songs that I like.

    CQ – We should have a movie meme. I have weird ones that I like also.

  • B.

    But yours are all cool & for the most part obscure. Mine all involve weirdness & the excessive use of curse words.

    No use reinforcing the fact that I’m childish. heh…

  • CQ, you and MT should start some kind of movie thing…

    Jerry- I look forward to seeing your list.

    MT… I like your list

    B. — that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide a list. Besides the first and last ones on my list have lots and lots of curse words. And I listen to Yeast Radio, which is nothing but vulgarities…

  • okay, okay– i’ll get on that list tonight.

    ps- do you like your mixed music cd?

  • Who is this, “dude”, you speak of? 😉

  • I think the record has been corrected.

    My apologies.