Wednesday, November 30, 2016

If You Should Die Before Me, Ask If You Could Bring A Friend

As it's been nearly a year since Scott Weiland passed away, it seems only fitting to post about a Stone Temple Pilots album that has stayed with me for decades. On December 3rd last year, Scott died of a drug overdose after many years of battling his addictions.  My response to the news was to re-read his memoir, and listen to one of my favourite albums.

Stone Temple Pilots' Purple became an obsession of  mine when I was 11 or 12. I had become a fan of the band (and Scott) after my sister had put a few songs from Core, their first album, on some of her infamous mix tapes. And don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Core - it's a favourite. But Purple was an immediate stand-out for a young pre-teen Kris.

It was a game changer.

That summer, I remember listening to it over and over and over again, until I knew all the songs inside and out. At the time, I had an electronic keyboard that I had no idea how to play. Even so, I somehow figured out how to play the songs from Purple on it. Especially "Pretty Penny" for some reason. I can't recall now, but let's assume it sounded absolutely terrible - we should all have sympathy for my poor parents who undoubtedly had to listen to that noise.

I won't bore you with a description of every song, which were my favourites, and how each one made me feel. Really, it's about the effect of the album as a whole. It's rare that I listen to a single song from it without needing to play the entire album front to back. Yes, even the hidden song. (What, you don't like parodied lounge-y tunes?) Way back then it just made me happy to listen. And now, as soon as the first notes of "Meatplow" are coming through my speakers, I'm taken back to that summer with the keyboard.

Sadly, I only got to see Stone Temple Pilots once in concert. I was 16, and they played with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone at the Molson Amphitheatre. They were fantastic. Scott especially did not disappoint. I remember expecting a less-than-stellar performance due to the drugs and rumours of him being off the wagon, but he did not miss a beat. I'm glad I at least got to see him once in his prime. For my 11-year old album-obsessed self, and for my adult self who would one day have to mourn yet another musician she loved.

Rest in peace, Scott. A year later, I'll yet again be listening to Purple in your honour.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's Only Me Who Wants To Wrap Around Your Dreams

When you think back to your childhood, was music ever a big part of it? Do the songs that your parents played become attached to your memories, and when you hear those songs now are you hit with nostalgia?

I have a lot of that. It happens anytime I hear the Doors. Moody Blues. Van Morrison. A little Clapton. Some Zeppelin. And more than most, it happens when I listen to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

A long time ago, I wrote about how childhood trips up north helped to shape my musical tastes. Even now, I can't think back to those summers without automatically hearing Fleetwood Mac's most influential album. It was one that both parents could agree on, and so it became an album that my sister and I grew to love. Listening to it right now as I type this, "Second Hand News" is transporting me to memories of bonfires, chilly lakes, and my little blue fishing rod with the left-handed reel.

I think almost everyone, from hardcore music lovers to casual listeners, has some type of association with Rumours. Through my life I've often been surprised at the different array of people who love the album, or who know the songs better than I'd expect.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours = the great cultural unifier. Who knew?

But really, what's not to like? You've got a song like "The Chain", probably one of my favourites on the album, which was literally spliced together from other rejected songs to create something catchy and genre-spanning. "Songbird" and "Oh Daddy" are the beautiful ballads, with lead vocals by Christine McVee. "Gold Dust Woman" is another favourite (yes, I do also love Hole's version of the song. And no, I don't care about your personal opinion on Courtney Love. Melissa Auf Der Maur is a big reason their version is good. 'Nuff said.) Stevie Nicks will forever be that witchy woman with the amazingly distinctive voice, and this is one of the songs that suits that image best.

And, of course, you can't dissect Rumours without talking about "Dreams". Probably the general public's most-loved Fleetwood Mac song, and it's been one of mine for as long as I can recall. To a negative effect even, since I've karaoke'd it at times when I possibly shouldn't have. Like my 30th birthday. Whoops. Sorry, Stevie. Sorry Mick.

But karaoke blunders aside, most would agree that this is an iconic album. It's one of the best selling albums of all time, in fact. And as it's been an important one for me, that gives it a spot in the Favourite Albums list.

So what about you - where does Rumours take you back to?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We Are A Fever, We Ain't Born Typical

It's been awhile since I posted a proper rant on here. You guys have all missed them, right?

Ah, probably not.

Either way, this one needs to be done. First, let's start with a general statement that everyone should agree on before reading any further. Ready?

We need to stop telling women what they should be doing with their bodies. 

That's number one. Are we all on the same page here? Good.

Don't you tell me what to do. You're not my parole officer.

Because here's the real point of this post, and it's a personal one for me due to age and, well... gender. I have a big problem with people telling women that they need to be having babies. Especially the way it's thrown upon women in their thirties. Comments like: "When are you going to have kids? Time's running out!" and "Clock is ticking! You're not getting any younger." or "Everyone else is having babies, you should have one before it's too late."

Uh... really? Wow. As adult women we had NO IDEA that we have a time limit. Thank you so much for this unsolicited information, we will surely go find the first man available and get procreating for the good of all humanity!

Nope. Sorry.

We know. We know that pregnancy gets harder as we get older, and we know that fertility decreases as we age. We get it. How could we not know, when every possible media outlet aimed at women is quick to tell us so?

It may be a surprise to some, but not every woman wants babies. I know many amazing women who have zero plans to spawn, and they're quite happy about it. And that's fantastic. Just as it's wonderful that many others have babies (or will have them) and make kickass moms. Yay women. Yay personal decisions.

Even when a woman does plan to have children one day, literally no one has the right to make her feel pressured to do so, or to ask when it will happen. Not your body - not your business. We all have our own internal conversations that you don't need to be privy to, unless we decide to share with you.

Sarah Silverman makes her own damn choices.
For me personally, I had always wanted two kids. It was all planned out - I thought I'd be married and have at least one kid by 28. Well, now I'm 33. It didn't happen. And that's good because if it had, it means I would've had a child with the wrong person. As it stands now, I do still think I want to have one kid. I decided last year that if I was still single at 35, I'd have one on my own. The beauty of it being my decision is that it can change if needed. If 35 comes and I'm not at all ready, no one can tell me it has to happen. And if I get serious with someone and we decide to have one at some point, that's cool too.

It's up to me. Plain and simple.

Part of me wishes I had started younger, because I'd love to give my parents some grandkids. They'd be amazing grandparents, and I always wanted that for them. I still do. But that isn't a good enough reason to bring another human into the world right now. If it's a conscious decision it has to be for the right reasons. My reasons. Because I'm ready and it's what I want, not because my biological clock is scaring the shit out of me, or because the pressure from those around me was too much to bear.

Some people make babies. Some people steal them.
And that goes for every woman out there. When you tell them they're "running out of time", or ask when they're going to start popping out babies, you're putting unnecessary guilt and pressure on them. Your opinions and views shouldn't matter for a decision this important, and yet they can hold weight. When someone asks me why I don't have children yet, I feel like a failure. I feel like I let everyone down. I get physically uncomfortable and a bit emotional. Not a great reaction.

Let's also consider for a moment that not everyone is able to have children. The sheer insensitivity of society's constant pressure to procreate is staggering - and unnecessary. You can't know a woman's situation unless you are that woman. As a general rule, we all need to think long and hard about that before saying a word.

Speaking for myself, there are things I need to do before little carbon copy Kristens are running around in Deftones onesies, babbling along to Zeppelin songs. And while I realize that time is not on my side (thanks to everyone constantly reminding me), things have changed. Women are safely having babies later than they used to. If the day comes that I really want a kid and I'm not physically able to, there's always adoption. There are different avenues, different possibilities, and my choice can't depend on pressure from outside sources. No woman needs that, no matter her age.

So to end this lengthy rant, allow me to re-iterate what I opened with: We need to stop telling women what they should be doing with their bodies. Instead, let's try asking a question and having a conversation. "Do you think about having kids someday?" is perfectly fine under the right circumstances, but please - accept the answer. No opinions. No judgement. No pressure.

So simple, my currently non-existent child could understand it. (He's really smart, though.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Drag Me Far Enough To Know I'm Blind Every Mile That You Burn

For all the endless posts on here about bands, albums, music docs, and musician biographies, it's a bit surprising that I've never ventured into soundtrack territory. Soundtracks tend to fall a bit under the radar for me - I have a solid few that are favourites, and don't pay too much attention to any others. So, for the sake of sharing (because apparently it's caring, or so the rumour goes), I thought I'd finally throw my brief list out there.

Y'know I love a good list.

Here are a few notable soundtracks that have long been favourites of mine.


Surely no one is surprised that I love this movie and soundtrack. There's just so much to love about both. First of all, the movie has Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden actually in it. And Matt Dillon's character has a band called Citizen Dick that includes Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament.

The whole movie is like a prime grunge-era Melrose Place, except awesome and with better people involved. And bands. Gotta include the bands.

From the movie set. This was my Facebook cover photo for a long time, unsurprisingly.
Now, the soundtrack. A movie that is this focused on specific music is going to have a great soundtrack. And it remains one that I listen to regularly. Where to start? First, you've got "Nearly Lost You" by Screaming Trees which is a song I often obsess over. Next, you have Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust" which, in my opinion, is of one of their best ever. Add to that some Alice in Chains, Soundgarden/Chris Cornell, Mother Love Bone, and Hendrix?

Yeah. You've got a winner.


Into the Wild

This one is a little different, yet connected to the first - this entire album consists of songs by Eddie Vedder, made strictly for the movie.  It's pretty folky, very mellow, and yet... I can't quite describe it, but it's always been an emotional album for me.

The songs are all short but impactful, and I can't listen to it without going through a wide range of emotions. It may not be for everyone, but I recommend giving it a few listens before coming to any conclusions. It can sneak up on you.

Dazed & Confused

I haven't watched it in a long time, but this used to be one of my favourite movies. I'm sure it still would be, in some ways. There are technically two soundtracks to this movie, but I'm strictly speaking about the first one.

I always thought I should've been a teenager in the 70's, and the music is the main reason for that. This soundtrack is all 70's rock, so it goes without saying that it's always been a favourite. A few key tunes for me: ZZ Top's "Tush", Deep Purple's "Highway Star", The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb", and Sweet's "Fox on the Run". Unfortunately Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion", from the movie's opening sequence, did not make the cut on the soundtrack. Too bad.


I've never seen this movie. So I can't say much about it. But I do own the soundtrack, and it's a good one. Each song is a different collaboration by two different artists, whether a remix of a current song or an entirely new one.  Here's a short list of some of them:

"One Man Army" - Prodigy and Tom Morello
"No Remorse (I Wanna Die) - Slayer and Atari Teenaage Riot
"(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" - Filter and The Crystal Method
"For Whom the Bell Tolls (The Irony of it All)" - Metallica and DJ Spooky

But for me, the most important song on this soundtrack is "Familiar" by Incubus with DJ Greyboy. I've loved this song since I first heard it, and it remains one of my favourite Incubus songs.

The Crow

Ah, Brandon Lee. I loved this movie. I'm due for a re-watch.

As it's a dark movie, the soundtrack is just what you'd expect. Right up this Shambled Rambler's alley. Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Rollins Band, etc. And a song I dig a lot, The Cure's "Burn."

In the interest of not posting a drawn-out endless list, I've left a few soundtracks out.  And for the record, it's not lost on me that most of these movies are from the 90's. Yeah, I'm a predictable chick.

So what's on your list?

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