The All '90s Edition

Hello, friends! Welcome to the fall!

It's been deliciously chilly in Chicago the past week or more, and I couldn't be happier about it. We brought all our potted plants inside this weekend and rearranged the furniture in our sun room to make space for them. So now the house is filled with new, fresh energy that's setting us up perfectly for a cozy cold season of rest and hibernation. (Just kidding, there's no true rest under capitalism. But rearranging the furniture certainly goes a long way toward helping me forget that.)

I went to my 20 year high school reunion at the beginning of the month, so I've had the '90s on my brain a bit more than usual. I've always claimed to have very little nostalgia for the music of that era, but the passage of time turns out to have some unexpected tricks up its sleeve. Namely, at the moment, that I'm having a weird surge of love for Liam Gallagher.

I've never owned an Oasis record or cared about the band in any way. But, their songs truly were so omnipresent in the '90s and early 2000s that I clearly developed a sort of unconscious affection for and positive association with that sound. Especially now that it's in such stark contrast to the stompy banjo music that's been passing for pop the past few years, when I heard the first single from Liam's new solo album, I had this completely unexpected rush of giddiness. I was like, Oh my god, I didn't realize that I actually love this man. Friends, I made Brian buy us tickets to see him in concert right before Thanksgiving. Never in a million years did I ever think I'd be going to see either of the Gallagher brothers play live. My '90s is totally showing, but it turns out I'm completely OK with that.

Table of contents:

  1. What's new on the blog

  2. Qodèxx now available on CD

  3. "Wichita Lineman": The 2017 Covers Series

  4. Psychic amusement

What's new on the blog

This month on Queen of Peaches, I consider my evolving relationship to the place I grew up:

Suddenly, though, I find myself more simply interested in Northwest Indiana. In the fact of it. In its more elusive, underlying, animating spirit. I guess it’s a similar impulse to when folks get the genealogy bug and start tracing their way through the generations of their family tree. But for me it feels less like I want to specifically reclaim my own Hoosier identity and more like I’m interested in reappreciating the genuine pockets of the place’s uniqueness and specificity that people who grew up in other parts of the country or world would never otherwise know about.

Click here to read the rest.

Qodèxx now available on CD

Good news! If streaming/downloading audio isn't your jam, Brian and I are happy to announce we now have a CD version of the soundtrack to Qodèxx available on Bandcamp. There's an option to purchase just the CD itself or a package that also includes a copy of the graphic novella. That way, you can read along while you listen to the soundtrack--it's Power Records for the 21st century, where "the action COMES ALIVE as you read!!" Click here to sample the audio or check out some photos of the gorgeous artwork.

Sure, I saw them live once back in 2004, and Automatic for the People will always be a perfect album to listen to on a long drive in grey, cloudy weather, but I've never actually been the biggest fan of REM. I actually find them pretty boring most of the time! So I was all set to bag on their cover of "Wichita Lineman."

Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.

Especially since they manage, somehow, to not play Jimmy Webb's beautiful chord progressions accurately in a few key parts. But I couldn't bring myself to be too hard on them, given that the recording is from '94, when Michael Stipe was at the full height of his powers vocally. Ignore what the rest of the band is doing (OK, maybe give a little love to the nice and easy beat that Bill Berry lays down for it) and take a few moments to bask in Stipe's weird, serpentine charisma and earnest, plaintive voice. That's one of the main things I've discovered over the course of this year that makes the biggest difference to a successful cover of this song--the quality of the vocal. And of course that's not always just about having a "good" voice. It's more being willing to sing the song honestly and with a modicum of vulnerability. That was, like, Stipe's whole deal, especially in that era of his career, which makes this a more than fine version of the song, despite the rest of its flaws.

For extra credit, compare it to Stipe's performance of "Wichita Lineman" on New Year's Eve 2011, sitting in at one of Patti Smith's solo shows in New York City. The band is much stronger (and know how to actually play the damn song), but Stipe, without his youthful live-wire edge, slides into a technically proficient but much more emotionally distant, even smug, take on the melody. It's actually the disappointment of this performance, despite the fact that it's overall much smoother, that convinced me of the merits of the take from '94.

One of the best and most personally underutilized tools I have as a psychic is just in being able to be in honest dialogue with my life. Call it active imagination or what you will, but when I'm truly, radically open to interrogating some question in my life, and not just whining to myself about it, an answer pretty much always comes, with more directness and obviousness than I'm sometimes expecting. Energy wants to move, and that's one of the best ways I experience the truth of that. Just a dumb, but hilarious, example: I was feeling pretty fried at work a week or two ago, and went out to take a walk around the block to clear my head after eating lunch. Upon setting out, I very simply and very honestly expressed, silently, that I wanted to see something on my walk that would make me laugh. I knew if I could get my amusement back, I'd be able to get through the rest of the day. Seriously no more than about 60 seconds later, I heard the text message alert go off on my phone. Squinting into the glare of the screen in the midday sunshine, I saw that Brian had just texted me a photo of our cat Rosie dressed in a Spider Man costume. Amusement achieved, abundantly, with great gratitude.

If you or someone you know is searching for their amusement, set up an appointment for a reading and we'll clear some energy to find it and make room for more.