music

The Saints Invented Rocket From the Crypt

The SaintsI’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook 1If you’re reading this on Facebook, it’s because it was auto-posted there by WordPress. I don’t really miss it, except for times like right now when I discover a morsel that gets me excited but is of such focused interest that the only way I can share that excitement is if I post it to Facebook so it can snake its way through the network to find the one other person I know, whomever it may be, with a compatible mental input port.

Today’s obscure morsel is that Rocket From the Crypt’s distinctive sound was invented two decades earlier by the Australian punk band the Saints.

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1. If you’re reading this on Facebook, it’s because it was auto-posted there by WordPress.

Bruce’s Brain

Born to Run by Bruce SpringsteenI can’t possibly judge the reaction to Born to Run of a person who doesn’t consider Bruce Springsteen to be their personal, artistic, and political hero. But someone who does will react by doubling down on their devotion, thanks to his memoir’s deep introspection and focus on art, ideas, responsibility, friendships, and family. Anyone looking for a debauched rock n’ roll tell-all needs to find another book and another performer to write it.

Bruce and his work have always managed to find a place in my life to nest into and from which to inspire, motivate, and support me despite how I change over the years. Now, as I’ve found a new passion for mental health and helping others to achieve it, in steps Bruce devoting many pages of his autobiography to intimately recounting his history of mental illness. Mental illness fueled his self-examination that outputted into his lyrics; his obsession with perfection that made his best records THE best records; and his need for acceptance and escape that drove him to three-hour concerts. In short, mental illness made Bruce Bruce. It also nearly unmade him more than once, and he lays out his struggle with his brain not as a triumph over tragedy but merely as an upfront description of facing one of the troubles with being human. Whether he intends to or not, he scrapes away the stigma and opens a door to help for any readers unwilling or unable to do so themselves. My hero.

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Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 2 – Music


2016 marks the first December that I looked back on a year and discovered that none of the songs I most remember listening to came out during it. Does that mean 2016 was the year I got old? I can’t be old — I can name three K-pop bands! It’s not my fault, so it must be the fault of the stupid young people who aren’t making good enough music because they’re dumb.

Nevertheless, here’s an annotated Spotify playlist of 20 songs that pulled me through the last year, including a handful that were actually released in 2016. But if you want to know what I really spent most of my time listening to, try singing along for power or air drumming.

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Sing Along For Power


I put together this playlist of some of my favorite sing-along songs. Most of them are anthems. Some could be called protest songs. A few of them are just bits of joy. But listening and shouting along to any of them is an act of power.

I experienced it this morning when, clawing my way out of despair, I put on my headphones and walked outside. Something made me search Spotify for A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario?” In minutes I was walking faster, roaring along to “Rowr! Rowr! Like a dungeon dragon.” Then playing it again. “Here we go yo! Here we go yo!” Then before it could end finding “Sabotage,” shouting now, “I can’t stand it!” Then queuing new songs reflexively before I’d be left in silence. Racing, screaming the choruses, I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself until, four tracks in, surprising feelings overcame me: hope, strength, energy, determination, confidence. In another word: power.

So I made a playlist to share that power. Listening to music as a source of empowerment seems like a bromide, but it’s not. It’s an operative technique to change your mental state and thereby move you to constructive action.

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From the Archives: My Interview With Donora, PA’s Greatest Partridge Family Tribute Band

While digging through my storage space recently, I yanked some particularly Goodwillable sweaters out of an old trunk and underneath found a stained manila folder. Inside was something I thought I’d lost — the only known extant photocopy of my music newsletter from many, many years ago, “The Bird Stump.” It contains the final interview with one-man Partridge Family tribute band, In a Pear Tree. I’ve scanned in all four pages, below.

The Bird Stump by Seth Madej, pg. 1

Music for Air Drumming

Oh, so you like to play air guitar? Well tell it to your Tamagotchi on your Friendster page, because air guitar is over. For we cools it’s all about air drum. Here’s a Spotify playlist of two hours of music 1One which leans heavily on loud rock, because that’s what I most enjoy air drumming to. that teaches you if you free your arms your ass will follow.

WARNING: This playlist is not for noobz!!1! If you lack energy, precision, maniacal limb flailing, or Intense Air Percussion Facial Expressions, you’re gonna be outclassed. For example, when I asked for suggestions to build this list, chump after chump came at me with “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, calling it the greatest air drumming song ever. WRONG. “ItAT” is for amateurs and pattern baldies. Put away childish things and step into the pros. The true greatest air drumming song ever begins this list, pummels Phil’s drum machine into plastic crumbs, and it is:

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1. One which leans heavily on loud rock, because that’s what I most enjoy air drumming to.