Archives For The Head and the Heart

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October 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

Today I did something I hardly ever get to do anymore: I went to a store and bought physical music. Not at an actual record store, because I don’t think those really exist. But I wanted to do something enjoyable and real, and so I wanted to buy a couple of CDs and take them home and unwrap them and look at the liner notes and place the CD into the tray and then hit play and turn the music up loud.

I made it about halfway through Paul McCartney’s new album before I fell asleep. That’s not a knock on the new songs; it’s pretty good, actually. No, I was just exhausted. All I did last night was violently toss and turn in my bed, and only had a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, if that. So I had a short nap after work, if you can even call it that. I still remember listening to the whole album, and even noted when a new song came on, but all I did was sleepily wonder, “Is that the nostalgic song he wrote about being a kid in Liverpool?”

(I love Paul, but you can’t swing a dead cat around one of his albums without coming across a song describing his early days, more often than not “with John,” because he seems to feel people will turn on him if he doesn’t constantly look back and make semi-fond recollections about life with John. But hardly ever George, which is a darn shame. George was the best.)

But now here I go waxing nostalgic about buying physical music and about how it’s all changing and nothing’s the same. Well, yes and no. I probably buy most of my music off iTunes now (legally, I might add, to any students out there who think it’s okay to just steal it off the Internet.) Due to budget reasons, I’ve spent most of the past year listening to music on Spotify. I at least pay for the premium service, but I know barely any money goes to the artists. Maybe Sir Paul doesn’t have to worry about new money coming in, but other, smaller bands do, if they want to survive. So listen up, members of The Head and the Heart: I bought your CD too.

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I felt like honoring ritual today, knowing that I won’t have much time left to enjoy it. We’ve gotta be in the final years of buying physical CDs, right? Or will they (and vinyl, and cassettes, even) trudge along, available for those who want them? The days of browsing record stores are long dead, and even places like Best Buy are down to barely anything decent. And it’s the same with bookstores, and I know I’m not saying anything original or revelatory. They’re just rituals that I enjoyed, and it’s something enjoyable from my younger days. Back when a drive from Peoria to Madison, Wisconsin, just to look for Pogues or Smiths imports was a day of fun. Now it’s all on the internet, everything you could ever want to listen to, and none of it has the meaning like something sought for long and hard, and then found. No. It’s just not the same.

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I’m tired, folks. I’m tired of having this cough for the fourth week now, tired of being unable to sleep like a real person. Tired of only wanting to stay home and surround myself with those hunted-down books and movies because I’m too worn-out and broke to do anything else. Tired of not feeling like I’m alive. Which is an awful thing to say, as too many people I know are in real fights for their lives. Too, too many people.

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The new album by The Head and the Heart is great, though.

Time to grade a Math test.

UPDATED: I’ve listened to this whole album now, and I’m a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I just need to give it a few more listens…

ANOTHER UPDATE: My copy, courtesy of Target, had three extra songs on it that Target didn’t, for only a dollar more than iTunes. Physical media!

Thundercrack

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Woke early and enjoyed a third morning of being able to read and drink coffee at my leisure. Graded papers until around noon, then decided to take a long drive. Followed Rt. 71 westward, the cool autumn air whipping around the inside of my car as I listened to Dylan’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack and the first album by The Head and the Heart. Same albums I played over and over again during my various¬†winter trips across the eastern half of the United States.

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Sun shone through the cornfields, glowing in the afternoon light. Pictures never do it justice, the way the fields look this time of year, contrasting against the blue sky and the deep green grass lining the roads. This is the Midwest at its loveliest, and I wish it could just stay this way forever. Not looking forward to the long six months of brown and grey and dead everything.


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Drove through Newark and Norway and a surprisingly vibrant-looking Ottawa. Used to drive this route all the time twenty years ago, back and forth from school to home and back again. I gas up and I hear a group of farmers chatting. Gas smell on my hands is pleasant, makes me think of the short time I did farm work myself.

Jump back in the car, now a time machine, continuing all the way to Starved Rock, last refuge of the real Fighting Illini, according to legend and a somewhat sketchy oral history. Obscure Springsteen tracks pour out of my stereo as I wind through a canopy of orange and yellow and russet. Take a short walk in the state park along the Illinois River, careful not to aggravate the various ailments plaguing me. Only thing I’m good for these days are sitting with a nose in my book, or driving in my car.

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Traffic is slow in spots as cars queue up behind a combine or a grain truck lumbering their way to the side roads. For some reason I spot no less than three abandoned cars along Rt. 71. For a moment I wonder if I’m heading towards some apocalyptic disaster, and the cars are the only remainders of those who tried to flee.

Then “Thundercrack” comes on and I forget all about the apocalypse.

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