On Repeat Mailbag
For our 2nd mailbag issue, I answer your awesome questions.
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Last week, I asked everyone to submit any questions they might have, and boy, did you all come through! I was wondering how many responses to expect this time, but there were plenty to pick from!
There were also several excellent suggestions for future posts, so watch for those.
For those who asked about Gizmo:
Gizmo is a Shorkie-Poo. We found each other almost two years ago. He is one of the most loving dogs I've ever met and hyper-protective of us/our home. He's idiosyncratic and occasionally acts like a little old man- in other words, kinda like me.
He sits with me while I listen to records and sometimes stares at the speakers, trying to figure out who's in there (also kinda like me). Anytime I'm writing, there's a good chance he's next to me on the table. I live under a flight path, and we both like looking out the window. He loves em-dashes and writing that uses an active voice.
Anytime I suggest another New Order article, he bites me. He's all that's standing in the way of this becoming a fan page for the band.
Jokes aside, he's fantastic and brings incredible joy to our family. I'm delighted so many of you enjoy seeing his picture. There'll be more of those to come!
Lastly, thanks to all of you who commented, DM'ed me on Twitter or replied directly to the post.
Let's get right into it!
Are you more of a music guy? Or a lyrics guy? Or equally both?
The music/rhythm always gets me first. It’s always been that way, but maybe more so these days as my hearing declines. I appreciate any time artists include lyric sheets— especially for records I might be reviewing. I like to follow along while I’m listening.
Do you prefer individual songs, whole albums, or playlists?
Albums—> playlists—> individual songs.
That said, I spend most of my time making/listening to/sharing playlists.
What are some of your favorite covers? And is there a band you would love to see live but haven’t had a chance to yet?
A few of my favorite covers are on the playlist below. Since making that, I’ve found a gorgeous cover of The Church’s “To Be in Your Eyes” (thanks to On Repeat reader Wally!) by a band called Asteroid No. 4 that I play a lot.
I’ve been lucky to see many of the bands on my bucket list.
I would love to check off The New Pornographers & Guided By Voices finally. Same with Velocity Girl (maybe at one of their two reunion shows next month?) and Bruce Springsteen. And I’d like to see the latter without having to refinance my house.
Was there a moment for you when you became aware that you hear/feel/process music differently than other people? Or maybe that you realized music means more to you than others?
I’m not sure when it happened other than to say it was when I was very young. The picture of the little kid on my About page is of me at around 4-5 years old. My mom tells me I spent hours there, listening to whatever they’d put on for me.
Is there a genre you do not enjoy?
Back in the day, I was like a fussy toddler; the list of what I wouldn’t listen to used to be longer than the list of genres I liked. These days, I’ll give anything a shot. If it moves me or makes me move, I’m in.
I don’t like Trap, NuMetal, or a few other subgenres, but no one’s making it with me in mind.
What is a perfect day of music listening like to you, and who, or what, is playing in the background?
This is a super Wisconsin-y answer and might only make sense to about 5-6 of us, but my ideal day involves being near the water (Port Washington, Madeline Island, Sister Bay), getting up with the sun, having some great coffee—like legitimately good coffee—and just taking it all in over a killer breakfast.
Later on, some beach time. Ideally, some soccer in the mix. Dinner will be Mexican food.
Note: In this scenario, it’s not humid, and there are no crowds. My knee also still operates as designed. Talking Heads or The Replacements are playing.
P.S. I cut off the rest of the original comment, but Duran Duran rules.
The number one way my newsletter finds new readers is when people share it. So, feel free to
spam share it with everyone.
Do you have any rules for yourself when creating the On Repeat Playlist? What's your process for deciding the 10 songs each week?
There are only a couple of hard & fast rules:
One song per artist.
It can’t be all fast or all slow.
10 songs max
That last one is more for me than anyone else. Without those guardrails, it’d just be a sprawling mess.
I also sequence it like a record, splitting the lists into A & B sides of 5 songs each. I suspect that some weeks, the ordering only makes sense in my head. In that same vein, sometimes a song just doesn’t fit, no matter how much I want it to.
On paper, the process is straightforward: Pick the 10-20 tracks you listened to the most (or that stood out), and make a playlist. In reality, that usually means tons of fussing, tweaking, and reordering things before I’m done. Songs can come from anywhere/everywhere:
Reader suggestions from the prior week
Music I have at the house
Stuff I come across on social media—primarily Twitter and a dozen(ish) blogs
Artist submissions that I enjoy
Tracks I come across on either YouTube or Spotify
Got any recent music book recommendations? I read Miki from Lush's autobiography recently, which was terrific.
I’ve got three:
The American Crisis Playlist by Terry Barr
Secret Stars: The Greatest Underdogs of the Rock 'n' Roll Era by Matt Berenson
Forbidden Beat by S.W. Lauden
Disclosure: Everyone listed here is a friend of On Repeat. Many of the essays in Barr’s book first appeared on Medium, where I had a hand in editing them. I also wrote one of the jacket blurbs, which I was honored to do.
That said, none of this is sponsored content. These are books I bought, enjoyed, and am happy to endorse.
How do you come up with ideas for posts/discussions? Do they just come naturally/ randomly, or are there triggers?
A healthy mix of all of all three. Sometimes, I’ll see an “on this day” mention for a song or artist, and that’s the catalyst for a post. Or another writer puts something out that resonates. Other times, things pop into my head.
Why do you hate Radiohead??
It’s not that I hate them; the music never clicked with me. It doesn’t resonate at all, which might actually be worse.
I’ve also never understood how/why people adore them. Do all of these people actually like the band, or do they go along to get along because they think they’re supposed to? I dunno. But I do know they’re not for me.
Note: I will carve out a glaring exception for “High and Dry.”
How about any favorite local bands from when you were growing up in Portland?
Oh man! There were so many cool people making cool music back then. I always say it, but I feel extremely lucky to have grown up when/where I did.
A few favorites (some of these are grainy clips, have poor audio quality, or both):
Sweaty Nipples- Um, not the best of names, but you were missing out if you weren’t at a show. A funkier/harder-edged version of Freakey-Styley era RHCP.
In yesterday's post about The Jesus And Mary Chain's "Sunset 666 (Live At Hollywood Palladium)", you wrote that live albums are mainly for the fans. I agree, but I wonder if there are any exceptions for you. What live album, if any, was an entry point for you to an artist you enjoy?
Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense was my entry point into the band, and it rearranged my mind. Being a great record and one of the all-time best concert films doesn’t hurt, either.
When is an album too long?
The second you get bored or feel relieved that you can skip tracks.
What are your thoughts on music covers & samples?
Some movies should never be remade or have a sequel. Same with music, but those are exceptions, not the rule. IMO, any cover made with good intentions—and credit to the original artist (s)—is okay by me. Same with using samples. Whether or not they’re any good is a separate debate.
What was your first album, and what context can you add to that?
In the strict sense of the word, my first album was Def Leppard’s “Pyromania.” It was suburbia in the early 80s-- when celebrating your birthday at Burger King was still considered cool. One of my friends from the block got it for me as a present. I’m unsure what happened to my copy, but the record holds up well.
Thank you for all the great questions! This was a lot of fun to put together. Have a question or something you want to share? My inbox is always open!
I love hearing from all of you, and I answer every one of them.
Thanks for being here,