My 10 favorite songs that are shorter than 90 seconds

There are two reasons most songs are three to five minutes:

1. We have short attention spans.
2. The original format of 78 rpm-speed phonograph records only allowed three to five minutes of music per side.

And then there are songs that are barely even songs – they are more like interludes that somehow find their way onto an album. Today I’ll list my ten favorite that are shorter than 90 seconds.

By the way, you’ll notice that Pink Floyd appears heavily on the list from yesterday and today, particularly songs from their 1977 album, Animals. That was one of the strangest albums ever made in terms of song length. Three songs were longer than ten minutes, and two were less than 90 seconds. And that’s the whole album. They were an unusual band.

My 10 favorite songs that are longer than 10 minutes

l’ve been working on three separate lists about quirky music stuff. They’ll appear here over the next three days.

Today: My 10 favorite songs that are longer than 10 minutes
Tomorrow: My 10 favorite songs that are less than 90 seconds
Thursday: My 10 favorite songs with parenthetical song titles

You should know by now that this is the place to come for meaningless lists.

Today we start with my 10 favorite songs that are longer than 10 minutes (studio version only). There isn’t much to choose from here because, well, it’s very rare to see a song that’s longer than 10 minutes. It’s hard to pull this off if you haven’t established yourself.

In no particular order, here is my list. And, hey, let’s get some participation on this thing. Did I miss anything? What is your top 10? Or top 3? Feel free to leave a comment below.

My 15 favorite songs I played in high school band

I had the good fortune to play a lot of good music in high school. Here are my 15 favorite:

15) Festive Overture, Dmitri Shostakovich

14) Abram’s Pursuit, David Holsinger

13) Hungarian March, Hector Berlioz

12) Poet and Peasant Overture, Franz von Suppé

11) Procession of the Nobles, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

10) Second Suite in F, Gustav Holst

9) Klezmer Classics, Johan de Meij

8) Suite of Old American Dances, Robert Russell Bennett

7) Saturn, Gustav Holst

6) La Forza Del Destino, Guiseppe Verdi

5) Lincolnshire Posy, Percy Grainger

4) Roman Carnival, Hector Berlioz

3) Mars, Gustav Holst

2) The Pines of Rome, Ottorino Respighi

1) Carmina Burana, Carl Orff

42 great songs from 2013

Some of my Minnesotan roommates enjoyed listening to a public radio station called The Current. It’s funded by its listeners, and so it’s not at mercy to advertisers or the lowest common denominator of musical tastes. They just play awesome music. And there are no commercials.

Well, over the last few months I have been an avid listener of the station, and I have come across some great music. And, in general, 2013 has been a good year for music. Here are 42 of my favorite songs that were released in the past year:

Acetate, Volcano Choir
Afterlife, Arcade Fire
Always Alright, Alabama Shakes
Antiphon, Midlake
Born to Die, King Khan & the Shrines
Born Under a Good Sign, The Suburbs
Broken Heart, Dr. Dog
Come A Little Closer, Cage the Elephant
Country Calling, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Daddy Was a Real Good Dancer, The Dismemberment Plan
Diane Young, Vampire Weekend
Do I Wanna Know?, Arctic Monkeys
Fresh Strawberries, Franz Ferdinand
Heavy Bells, J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Hold Me, Tom Odell
Homecoming Heroes, The Head and the Heart
Humiliation, The National
I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands, Minor Alps
Is This How You Feel?, The Preatures
It Was My Season, Okkervil River
It’s Your Choice, Brendan Benson
Line of Fire, Junip
Lonely Street, Mason Jennings
Magazine, Caroline Smith
Marigold, J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Morning Song, The Avett Brothers
My Number, Foals
Never Been Alive, The Avett Brothers
New, Paul McCartney
Normal Person, Arcade Fire
Pigeon Lung, The Cloak Ox
Reflektor, Arcade Fire
Sirens, Pearl Jam
Spiderhead, Cage the Elephant
Step, Vampire Weekend
Summertime, The Head and the Heart
The Wire, Haim
This Lonely Morning, Best Coast
Unbelievers, Vampire Weekend
We Exist, Arcade Fire
What Doesn’t Kill You, Jake Bugg
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, Arctic Monkeys

At some point in the next week I’ll dive into my favorite albums of the year.

My 10 favorite TV show openings

It has been awhile since I posted a ridiculous and meaningless list. So, here you go: my 10 favorite TV show openings.

A quick note: I only picked television shows that I watched regularly. Some of the classics (Cheers, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) are not on the list for this reason.

10) Band of Brothers

I spent a few chilly January nights in 2011 watching this classic mini series.

 

9) Kenan and Kel

And we segue from Band of Brothers to Kenan and Kel – a Snick classic. Was it me or did shows in the 90’s have longer intros? Or maybe it was just shows on Nick. I couldn’t imagine a show these days having minute-long intros.

 

8) Breaking Bad

It was a quick intro – but what made it great were the cold opens that came before it. Vince Gilligan would regularly end these sequences with a few seconds of silence, and then the intro would hit you right in the face.

 

7) LOST

LOST had, in my opinion, the best music of any TV show, ever. The intro wasn’t much – some would say it wasn’t anything, really. But I’ve always thought it was cool that Giacchino used spare pieces of a plane fuselage for the score.

 

6) Fringe

Fringe is, I think, the only primetime TV show where I actually watched the pilot. I’ve always enjoyed the theme, also scored by Giacchino.

 

5) Rocko’s Modern Life

This was one of those shows that had jokes that completely flew over my head. If you go back and re-watch it, you pick up on some pretty outrageous adult humor. There is no way a show like this could be broadcasted for kids anymore – which is probably why I haven’t seen it on TV in years.

 

4) How I Met Your Mother

I think I have watched more episodes of HIMYM than any other TV show, but the intro never gets old. It is actually taken from a real song – Hey Beautiful by the Solids.

 

3) Freaks and Geeks

It’s a shame F+G only lasted one season.

 

2) Doug

The Nick version of Doug didn’t last long, but it made its episodes count. In a world of talking babies and wallabees and sponges, Doug was one of the more realistic cartoon characters out there.

 

1) Hey Arnold

I’ve said this before – my generation was incredibly lucky to have some awesome TV shows and cartoons to grow up with. I’m always perplexed when I hear of parents who didn’t let their kids watch cartoons, or thought that TV was evil. I learned some great lessons from cartoons – for all their silliness, the best one’s had serious, teachable moments. Hey Arnold was at the top of that list. And the intro was a classic.

Ranking ballparks

It was always my goal to get to all 30 ballparks in one summer. And while I wasn’t able to do that in 2013, I did get to 10 of them.

In my life, I have now seen a game at 14 different ballparks (I once took a tour of the Rogers Centre, formerly the SkyDome, so I have set foot in 15). Here is my totally subjective and biased ranking of them:

14) Miller Park

A's @ Brewers, 6/3/13
A’s @ Brewers, 6/3/13

We tailgated before the game, which was great, but for some reason the roof was closed on a beautiful night in Milwaukee.

I don’t think I have ever been around so many drunk fans at a baseball game. It was crazy! People were slurring and stumbling their way around the ballpark. The beer seemed to flow out in perpetuity. It was quite a sight.

And that’s when I knew that the people of Milwaukee picked the perfect name for their park.

13) Shea Stadium

Shea Stadium

I only visited Shea Stadium twice – once in 2007 and once in 2008.

Met fans knew the place was a dump, but it was their dump. I never really had any connection to the Stadium, but I do remember how massive the upper deck was. The Stadium sat close to 60,000 – none of the current stadiums come close to that.

12) Progressive Field

Reds @ Indians, 5/30/13. The lights look like toothbrushes.
Reds @ Indians, 5/30/13. The lights look like toothbrushes.

I realize that I never told my John Adams story.

I mentioned this in the Cleveland vlog, but John Adams is the guy who goes to every single Indians game and bangs a bass drum in the left field bleachers (not to be confused with the other John Adams, our second President). He’s been doing this since 1973, and he’s developed a bit of a cult following in Cleveland – there is a sign next to his seat that says ‘Indians #1 fan.’ He even has his own Wikipedia entry.

He is also an incredibly nice guy, and when I went to talk with him, I expected to introduce myself, take a picture with him, and then be on my way. We ended up talking for about a half hour.

At one point I asked him how many games he’s missed in the last 40 years. Without hesitation, he said “38.” There was a tone of sadness in his voice, as if the number was 38 higher than it should be.

We talked about a number of things, including instant replay, some classic Yankees/Indians matchups, and the state of baseball in general. John is a baseball conservative like me, so when we talked about instant replay, he made no qualms about his position. “Why do we need to change anything? This is the greatest game that was ever invented, or ever will be invented. It is a human game.”

When I mentioned my heartbreak after the Yankees lost to the Indians in the 2007 ALDS, he brought up the midges. “Yeah, we trained them,” he said.

I asked John if he had a favorite memory of all the games he’s been to. “It’s hard to pick one,” he said. “But the 1995 and 1997 World Series were amazing. Game 1 here was like a party. It was the only show in town.”

People forget, but the 1990’s Indians had one of the most dominant runs of any baseball team. The offense was a powerhouse, with guys like Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, and Roberto Alomar. They never won a World Series with those guys, but they were about as good of a team as any. At one point, they sold out 455 consecutive home games from June 1995 to April 2001. Every. Single. Game.

Progressive Field doesn’t sell out many games these days, but the Indians are making a late playoff push in 2013. I would love to see John Adams get the drum going again for playoff baseball.

11) Comerica Park

Rays @ Tigers, 6/4/13
Rays @ Tigers, 6/4/13

Comerica is huge – so huge, in fact, that they had to move the fences in a few years after it opened in 2000.

I don’t recommend walking outside the park for too long. It’s a pretty terrible area. Our car was not stolen, and we considered it a small victory.

10) Safeco Field

Astros @ Mariners, 9/10/13
Astros @ Mariners, 9/10/13

I wrote about this in my Seattle post, but the ushers here were unbelievably welcoming and warm. It was unexpected, which says a lot about the state of customer service at major league ballparks these days.

Sure, the park was empty, and the game was meaningless. But Safeco is a beautiful park in a beautiful city.

9) Nationals Park

DSCN1994
Tyler Clippard pitches in the 9th inning, 7/21/12

This might have been the biggest ballpark upgrade of all time – from the falling debris of RFK Stadium to the modern, open, beautiful view at Nationals Park.

When I went there last summer, the Nats were in the middle of a 98-win, first-place season. It was great to see winning baseball in DC. It has certainly been hard to come by.

8) Citizens Bank Park

Red Sox @ Phillies, 5/29/13
Red Sox @ Phillies, 5/29/13

You may remember from my Philadelphia vlog, but my seat was covered with bird poop when I went to sit down. Seriously, what are the odds that my seat has bird poop in a park that seats 40,000?* Thankfully, the ushers were quick to notice it and cleaned it up. I don’t envy them.

*I guess, assuming it was the only one, the odds would be 1-in-40,000.

7) The New Yankee Stadium

Rangers @ Yankees, 6/27/13
Rangers @ Yankees, 6/27/13

Look, some people hate the new Stadium. And, I get it. The place is so much emptier than the old one, the prices are ridiculous, the employees are mean, and the place in general looks like a giant shopping mall more than a ballpark. We all had high hopes for the new ballpark in 2009, and it has left many of us with a very empty feeling.

But I don’t hate it. It has its downfalls, but I enjoy the wider concourses and the easy Metro North stop. And, you can usually find cheap tickets in the upper deck. Plus, I’ve had some good memories at this place in the five years since its opening, between walk-off hits, dominant pitching performances, and relaxing summer nights with friends.

It’s not perfect, but like it or not, I will end up seeing far more games at this place than the old one.

6) Citi Field

Yankees @ Mets, 5/27/13
Yankees @ Mets, 5/27/13

I have seen three games at Citi Field, and each one has been a very pleasant experience. I saw a David Wright walk-off hit against Jonathan Papelbon last summer. And, I was surprised with amazing seats in the two games I went to this summer – one was seven rows behind the third base dugout, and the other was six rows behind home plate.

Citi Field feels more like a baseball park than Yankee Stadium does. It’s cozier and more compact – it doesn’t have that business, corporate feel. Then there’s Shake Shack. The line is unreasonably long, but it is always worth the wait – and the inevitable stomach pains that follow.

5) Fenway Park

Blue Jays @ Red Sox, 9/7/12. Thanks Instagram for this awesome filter.
Blue Jays @ Red Sox, 9/7/12. Thanks Instagram for this awesome filter.

Fenway is historic. As a baseball fan, you can’t help but acknowledge that. But some of my worst memories as a baseball fan happened in this park – blowing the 2004 ALCS, walk-off losses, and rabid anti-Yankee fans (though I think it’s much tamer now than it used to be – I can use my Yankees debit card without harassment).

It’s hard not to notice the history in the place. It’s been around since 1912, and you feel every bit of that when you walk around. It’s one of the few relics left. I just wish the Red Sox didn’t play there.

4) Dodger Stadium

dodger-stadium-032913

I visited Dodger Stadium in the summer of 2001. Part of the reason I liked it so much is because of how blue it is. Blue is my favorite color and one of the few colors I see clearly (thanks, colorblindness). Mark Zuckerberg is the same, which is why Facebook is so blue.

Eric Gagne started (this was the year before he became their closer), Sammy Sosa hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning (one of his 64 that year), and Eric Karros hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning.

Unfortunately, I missed all of this because we left early. Yeah, it’s been 12 years, but I’m still not happy about it. It’s pretty much a fact that baseball is never more awesome than when you are 10 years old – so seeing a game-tying home run and a walk-off in an unfamiliar park would have been quite a highlight for my 10-year-old self.

3) Target Field

Mariners @ Twins, 6/2/13
Mariners @ Twins, 6/2/13

Man, the park is just beautiful. And the food is legendary. I’ll always cherish my porkchop on a stick from the Minnesota State Fair stand.

2) Wrigley Field

DSCN2380
Diamondbacks @ Cubs, 5/31/13

Wrigley Field is just a different park than everywhere else. Look at it – there are no overblown advertisements or big screen TV’s. It feels like you are watching baseball the way it is meant to be watched – with no distractions and no fancy technology that the kids are into these days (get off my lawn). All of the attention is put on the game. The park mandates it.

1) The Old Yankee Stadium

Rest in peace, Freddy.
Rest in peace, Freddy.

The old Yankee Stadium will forever hold some of the best memories from my childhood. This is the park I grew up with, the park I saw my first games at, the park where I learned about the rules and the players and statistics and keeping score and everything else that makes up the sport.

I only saw one playoff game here – Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS. The Yankees won thanks to a big home run from Johnny Damon – it was the only game they won in the series. I missed some of the epic games from 1996-2001, but I got a little taste of what this Stadium was capable of – deafening loudness, vibrant electricity, and spine-tingling chills.

The Stadium is gone now, and we’re left with just memories. But they’ll always be there.

My 10 favorite rock albums

I started this one last February – which means that this post has been incomplete for a full year. But it’s one worth diving into, since these albums contain most of my favorite music. Plus I like ranking things, which you should know by now.

I actually had to go back and change a few albums on this list. I had originally included The Stones’ Let It Bleed and The Beatles’ White Album in my top 10, but have since removed them. Not that these albums are any less great, but my own preferences have shifted in the year since I started this post.

PhysGraf

#10 – Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin

By the time Zeppelin had released Physical Graffiti in 1975, they were already a world-renowned band at the height of their powers. They pushed the ceiling of rock to newer heights with this one – Kashmir became one of their most recognizable songs.

I have always enjoyed the second side of this album, particularly Ten Years Gone and Night Flight. They are a little different than the usual Zeppelin tunes, which, I think, adds to their appeal.

the_raconteurs_-_2008_consolers_of_the_lonely#9 – Consolers of the Lonely, The Raconteurs

You weren’t expecting to see a modern album on here, were you?

Well, suffice it to say, this is the only album on the list that was released after 1979. But I think it holds up to just about anything that came out in the ’60s or ’70s and has some awesome sounds that weren’t around back then.

This album is Jack White at his finest – blistering vocals, awesome guitar parts, and some fine Americana.

sgt_pepper_cover-714928

 #8 – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles

Released in 1967, Sgt. Peppers was as innovative and controversial as any rock album ever released.

My favorite is the album’s conclusion with ‘A Day in the Life,’ which has two distinct, very opposite sections – one that John sings and one that Paul sings. And the last note of the song (and the crescendo leading up to it) is chilling.

08_1_whos_next

 #7 – Who’s Next, The Who

This album is straddled by two of my favorite songs – Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Add in Behind Blue Eyes, and Who’s Next has three of The Who’s most recognizable songs.

But after those three, the album drops off, and I can’t say any of the other tunes are my favorites. It’s a mix of good-but-not-great songs.

Still, the rock anthems that open and close this album propel it to #7.

zep_4

who-quadrophenia-front

#6 – Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin

There are only eight songs, but Zeppelin made them count. The unmistakable riffs of Black Dog, followed by the classic sound of Rock and Roll is one of the best album openings of all time.

And then, of course, there’s Stairway to Heaven, which is repeatedly voted as the best rock song of all time. Stairway isn’t even my favorite Led Zeppelin song, but there’s no doubt that this is one of their best albums.

#5 – Quadrophenia, The Who

Quadrophenia didn’t have the rock anthems that Who’s Next had, but I think it was a better overall album. There are rock classics (The Real Me), slower ballads (I’m One), strong brass parts (5:15), and even a Keith Moon tribute (Bell Boy).

And yes, I’m biased – I probably rank this higher now after seeing The Who perform the album in its entirety in November.

zep2#4 – Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin

Zeppelin II begins with one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time in Whole Lotta Love, and the album never lets up. While no one song on this album stands out, I rank it above IV because of how well the songs all fit together. Plus there is a little bit of everything – hard-rockers like Heartbreaker, the ballad of Thank You, acoustic guitar on Ramble On, and old-time blues on Bring it on Home. This was also the first album I ever heard by Led Zeppelin, and it started a love affair that has continued since.

the_wall

#3 – The Wall, Pink Floyd

I didn’t really like The Wall the first time I heard it. I mean, everyone knows Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) and Comfortably Numb, but other than that nothing really caught my attention.

But with each listen, this album is better and better. It really is a work of art (and Pink Floyd’s last great album). And though Roger Waters is nearly 70 years old, he still puts on a great show with this album. It was an awesome experience to see him live last year.

Abbey-Road-Album-Cover-Beatles

#2 – Abbey Road, The Beatles

I almost ranked this #1. The second half of Abbey Road is one of my favorite sections of any album – it’s got some disjointed, unfinished tunes that John and Paul wrote, and somehow they are put together for an amazing ending.

This was the last album The Beatles recorded together (even though Let it Be was released a year better), and it was, in my opinion, their best.

#1 – The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

It is, simply, the best. And I don’t think I am alone in saying that – the album spent a record 773 weeks on the Billboard 200. That’s, like, 15 years.

Dark Side of the Moon has some of the most unique sounds of any rock album – relaxing and docile at points (Breathe, Time), trippy at others (Any Colour You Like), and guitar-heavy at others (Money, Brain Damage). And that’s not to mention the amazing piano and vocals in Great Gig in the Sky, the phenomenal sax solo in Us and Them, and the fitting ending in Eclipse.

100 Goals

About three years ago I sat down to write a list of 100 goals that I wanted to accomplish in my life. Except I stopped at like, 39. Maybe I’ll write another 61 at one point. We’ll see.

Anyway, I still have the list on my computer and haven’t looked at it in awhile. Some of them are huge and will take time. Visit all 30 major league baseball parks. Write a book. Re-watch LOST.  And some of them are small and inane. Give blood. Go to a World Series game. Re-watch LOST. But guess what? I’ve actually accomplished a few of them in the three years since. Here are the one’s I can check off the list:

17) Buy a nice camera

I bought the Nikon Coolpix S8200 last year, and I haven’t been disappointed at all. I was able to capture some awesome photos while I was abroad, and the photos can easily be imported for editing on my computer.

18) Learn guitar

YouTube is the best.

19) Get an iPhone

For the most part I left material things off the list – but you also have to remember that when I wrote this I still had my old flip phone.

20) Vote in a Presidential election

It was a close call (I registered to vote the day of the deadline), but thankfully I was able to vote in the most recent election as a Massachusetts resident.

21) Go to an awesome concert

See: John Butler, Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen, and The Who

25) Ride in a helicopter

My trip to New Zealand knocked off a few of these, including:

36) Go bungy jumping

Yep. And also:

37) Go wine tasting

Good times.

38) Drive a boat

Columbus Day Weekend 2010. It was only for a minute, but I did it.

And here are the one’s I hope to accomplish this year:

9) Run a marathon

My training is back in full swing, and my runs are starting to creep up into double digits. I still have a long way to get to 26.2, but slowly (very slowly), I’m getting there.

34) Give blood

This is something I have never done, but definitely want to do when I get a chance.

Breaking Bad and my 5 favorite television shows of all time

Breaking_Bad

I have spent a good chunk of my winter break (about 36 hours) watching Breaking Bad, from the pilot all the way to the end of Season 4. I have eight more episodes to go before I am caught up. It is a brilliant show that is unusual – and extraordinary – for television.

For many years, television shows were broadcast on only a few major networks, subject to restrictions and guidelines. But the game is changing. Over the last decade, HBO, AMC, Showtime, and others have pioneered a new form of television, where stories are less black-and-white and more complex – TV is now, I think, engaged to a smarter audience. AMC has done the same with Breaking Bad, and it is no surprise why many consider it to be the best television show of all time.

I have enjoyed following the saga of Walter White, and the show is, for the moment, in my top 5 of all time. In fact, it is #5. Here are the other shows that round out the list:

4) How I Met Your Mother

HIMYM is just a fun and quirky show that I look forward to every Monday night. It features a great cast, smart story-telling, and solid laughs. I have been watching the show for such a long time that I feel like I am friends with Ted and Lily and Marshall and Barney and Robin. They don’t feel like actors to me.

3) Fringe

Fringe is the only show in the top 5 that I have followed from the beginning. I remember watching an advertisement for the show during the 2008 All Star Game at Yankee Stadium and thinking to myself – well, that looks pretty cool.

The show has become so much more than it was at the beginning, growing from a thrill-of-the-week mystery to an epic mythological beast with alternate universes and time-traveling and shape shifters. Oh, the shape shifters. It sounds corny, but the producers do a great job of making it feel very real.

And very funny. Walter Bishop is one of the best characters of all time.

2) Freaks and Geeks

An awesome cast (Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, and others) that is, perhaps, the most realistic depiction of high school in the history of television. It is funny, awkward, and features some awesome music (seriously – check out the soundtrack). It is a shame that the show only lasted for one season.

If you have some time to spare, I recommend checking out Judd Apatow’s oral history of Freaks and Geeks, which recently appeared in Vanity Fair.

1) LOST

I could write an entire post on LOST (and let’s be honest, I probably will at some point). It is, simply, an awesome television show. For my money, The Constant is the best hour of television ever produced. And Michael Giacchino’s score is truly epic.

But what makes LOST my favorite show of all time is how much we all talked about it. There was a time in high school where LOST took over our lives – and it was the best thing that ever happened. Entire lunch periods were spent talking about the show’s mythology and trying to predict what would happen next. Serious fights would ensue over the smallest of details in the show. We had a Wednesday Night LOST Crew where we would swap houses each week to watch the show – it was like the Superbowl to us. Snacks would be served.

There are a handful of things that I will force upon my future children. Yankee baseball is one of them. Harry Potter too. And LOST.

Honorable Mentions: House, Family Guy, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory