Monday Morning Playlist — #3
The Myth of Sisyphus
The Myth of Sisyphus
I was feeling a bit reflective as I sat down to consider this playlist. It’s not like I had all that much to reflect on. It was a decent week, some highs, some lows, but mostly the loud hum of nothing.
What is nothing? Isn’t nothing, something?
In far less interesting news, I got a new tattoo this weekend. On my right shoulder — The Myth of Sisyphus. The one I was going to get …yea, the best laid plans, and all that jazz.
In Albert Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” he points us to the absurdity of Sisyphus’ life (and by extension our own life). If you don’t know, Sisyphus is the Greek mythological figure who was condemned to repeat forever the pointless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down.
Camus points out that the struggle of Sisyphus is the same the struggle of life. Which is to say, futile. And its in that futility that we must find our happiness. In order to understand life, we must consider Sisyphus happy about the futility of his existence.
If we want to break the chains of this absurd life we’re living, we must rebel against it.
Albert Camus was French (technically Algerian), so you can’t expect an essay about a mythological guy pushing a rock up a hill for eternity to be blissfully full of rainbows and unicorns. Camus does not disappoint.
It’s not that this playlist has anything to do with The Myth of Sisyphus, or if it does, it’s not recognizable to me.
Wait, that’s not entirely true. As I look it over, I’m reminded of the Nick Hornby quote from High Fidelity:
“Do I listen to pop music because I am miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?”
To be clear, I’m not miserable. At all. I just like heartbreak (sad bastard) music. What can I say?
So, I guess there is a marginal Sisyphean struggle here in these songs. It’s the struggle of love. Love is that rock we keep pushing up a hill only to watch it roll back down again.
How does one rebel against the absurdity of love? You choose to actively not participate in it.
If you’re one of those rebels who chooses not to participate, I tip my hat to you — I’m not quite there yet. Imma go ahead and keep pushing this rock up the hill.
And, oh look! There’s Kate Bush running up the hill next to me!
You’ll have to listen to the playlist to get all the joy, but to whet your appetite …
“Things” — Paul Westerberg
After The Replacements limped off the stage, and after having composed and performed the score (and contributed two songs) for the wildly successful soundtrack for the 1992 movie Singles, he delivered his first solo album — 1993s 14 Songs. And despite the success of the soundtrack and all the momentum, the world treated Westerberg’s first solo album the same way the world treated The Replacements. Fans lapped it up, most critics loved the Westerbergian word-play, of which “Things” is one, and everyone else mostly ignored it.
Things I’d never tell you, down the line someday
You`ll be a song I sing, a thing I give away
Pack my things today.
I packed my things today
“The Way You Laugh” — Dawes
If you’re reading this — and you know who you are — take a beat and read the lyrics. ;)
“Ophelia” — The Band
This song was like a groundhog day for a friend of mine. Every time she heard it, she’d say the same thing: “Who is this?”
“It’s The Band.”
The light bulb would go off: “Oh yea, that’s right. I like this song.”
“Yea, I know you do.”
“I Need A Lover” — John Mellencamp
‘nuff said here, amiright? And the beauty of this song is that it crosses genders — Pat Benatar had a hit with it …and it was a bigger hit than his (but size doesn’t matter, amiright?)
“Do Your Thing, Babe” — The Right Ons
These guys are from Spain, The Right Ons. And they did what the insufferable Strokes never could — have fun. The Strokes believed their hype and thought they were much more significant (and better) than they were. The Right Ons never had any hype and as such, didn’t take themselves too seriously …and were a lot better. Sadly, like so many rock bands in the past 20 years, there just isn’t a market for the music they make — rock.
“Do Ya” — Neil Nathan
A cover of the classic ELO song. I first heard this on Californication a number of years ago (great show — first three seasons, flawless). Apparently, Jeff Lynne won’t let any cover song of his be released without his approval — and we should be glad he blessed this one. It’s amazing.
“Hey Baby Hey” — Greg Brown
Greg Brown is easily one of the most interesting musical artists today. His sparse lyricism and musicianship make for an interesting listening experience. This track is off 1996s Further In. It’s got elements of folk and blues because Brown just sort of rolls in his own world and sound.
The sea was rollin’ in slate gray
I looked at you and I looked away
I was cryin’
Because I was happy
“No One Is to Blame” — Howard Jones
If you read yesterday’s article on “What is Love?” it would seem Mr. Jones DID find love …and then became tempted by the fruit of another.
“Silver Springs” — Fleetwood Mac
I just love this song. While no man has covered this song, they should because it works just like “I Need a Lover.”
You’ll never get away from the sound of a woman (or man) that loves you
“We Called It” — The Black Velvet Band
An obscure Irish band, at least by American standards, and I think Irish standards too. The band’s sound is very late 80s and falls in line with the sound of Irish rock from that era — more Hothouse Flowers than U2.
“We’ll Go Too” — The Tragically Hip
Perhaps the most Sisyphean song on the playlist. It could be about the band’s struggle to break through to an American audience:
To boldly clap
In a room full of nothin’
It could be about the pointlessness of it all:
The curtain climbs
Over me every morning
I don’t know why
I’m so immunized
It could be about the banal acceptance of death:
What can you do
They’ve all gone and we’ll go too
The Tragically Hip are truly one of the great rock bands. It’s tragic that you’ve probably never heard of them.
“A Murder of One” — Counting Crows
Well, just because.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for girls
Four for boys
Five for silver
Six for gold and
Seven for a secret never to be told
“The Last” — The Replacements
Bookending the playlist with some Westerberg logic. This is off the last full-length studio album by The Replacements, 1990s All Shook Down. By most accounts, Westerberg had sidelined the other three ‘mats (Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, and Slim Dunlap) and (ahem) replaced them to such a degree, this is arguably his first solo album.
Would it hurt to fall in love a little slower
I know it hurts at any speed