A Small Plot of Land

Someday I’ll get my hands on a hard copy of Outside and immerse myself in whatever information is hidden there. In the meantime I’ll just immerse myself in David Bowie at his most disturbing. Outside was one of those records that smacked me right in my impressionable adolescent brain with its deep ideas and macabre aesthetic. It was the Bowie iteration most suitable for a kid who read and reread Helter Skelter. It hasn’t become any less relevant in the intervening years. I still ask myself just how much does human creativity balance out human depravity, and to what degree those things feed into each other. We’re also in a brave new media world that allows ritualistic displays of public suffering to become entertainment. I mean, the psychotic breakdown of Britney Spears wasn’t intentionally a piece of performance art or guerrilla theatre, but it was one of the definitive pop culture moments of the 2000’s, and that’s actually a fairly mild example of human sacrifice-as-pop-culture. We really need to ask ourselves a lot of questions about what we’re entertained by and at what expense. The way we’re going, ritualistic art murder is not just around the corner, it’s about to be the latest commodity.

Sleeping on the Roof

This is a instrumental, and yes, it will probably guide you right to sleep. Psychedelic music very often does that. As usual with pop album instrumentals, it’s probably better in context of the whole damn album. Especially since Flaming Lips always have a lot of thought and meaning behind the sequencing of their records. I almost feel bad for giving you something that isn’t supposed to stand alone. At best, think of it as a fragment of a dream.


For those of you nostalgic for 1996… Nada Surf may or not take you there. I didn’t listen to music like this in 1996, but you might have. Not factoring in the 1996-ness of it all, you might appreciate the fake-Velvet Underground vibes going on. That kind of grimy sound with diamond-in-rough melodicism mixed in is periodically in short supply, but I’ve heard that the early-to-mid 90’s were actually a good time for it. I’m not sure why I latched on to this group out of all the others I’d missed out on, but there you go anyway.


The mournful sound of Marianne Faithfull’s voice is perfect for a day so dark that at 9 a.m. it felt like midnight and the rain has made sinkholes in the yard outside. Sleep, incidentally, is what one should do on a day such as this. Some of us have to get up and ponder the cosmos, alas. Still, the mood is set. Let your mournful spirit guide take you on an existential walkabout.

The Sky is Broken

Music for teatime is a made-up genre that I often come back to, because for my needs, it’s an important distinction. Can I sit and relax and drift away to this? Moby is very much the master of music that fills those drifting-away needs. I can sleep to this, and I can write and create to it. It’s not quite full-ambient, but it’s close. I think that we should not underestimate the power of the near-ambient; it discreetly does a lot to tinker with our mood, and we need all the discreet spirit-lifting we can get, in this age of darkness that we live in.

Skinhead Love Affair

Should I have to preface this with an explanation of what ‘skinhead’ means? I think that, if you’re over here listening to Bad Manners, you probably don’t need it. Let’s just say that it’s a long and convoluted story how a music- and fashion- oriented youth movement that began in the 60’s has somehow come to be seen as semi-synonymous with neo-Nazism. For casual fans of ska music and checker-print suspenders, those kinds of associations are a real detraction; for others, looking malevolent is part of the appeal. By the time Bad Manners released Fat Sound in 1992, the movement had already been well taken away from kids who just wanna skank and show off their skulls, well taken over by the sort of people who have deeply held political convictions and the broken bottles to back them up with. This does, however, hark back to more innocent times when being a skin just meant being a working-class young lout with romance and pints on your mind.

Sing Your Life

I can see Morrissey having an alternate career singing lounge jazz. If he had more musicality and less dysfunction, he could have made it on the cocktail lounge scene for sure. He would, of course, be a very a very campy lounge singer, perhaps the kind who specializes in warming up the crown before a drag show. Alternate universe. As it is, Morrissey turned out to be a campy old queen of a very different stripe, and he certainly made his mark with the choices he made. It’s his life to wreck in his own way, after all.