learning love songs

est. 2008




First bike ride of the season took me on my favorite solo-cruise route – from Millvale along the Three Rivers trail, past PNC Park, around Heinz Field, across the bridge and down to Point State Park. The scenery changes quickly, the path goes from crushed stone to pavement to concrete with varying degrees of incline, and on the first free day I’ve had in awhile that just happened to the warmest yet, I could not resist putting on my headphones and going for a ride. 
Shuffle did not fail me, starting with a strong run of modern pop punk.

“I’m safe, and who ever thought that was difficult?
My nerves start to feel so frayed.
I’m trying to turn things around, but instead
I’ll say ‘Why do I feel so invisible?
Good things will come my way.’
I’m trying to turn things around, and I wait

‘Till the day when I stop making big mistakes
And the clouds, they roll out of this whole damn state
I believe in a place and I wanna go
Honesty will leave me feeling livable
Once I change.

Now that I’ve found some time, all the pain won’t bother me.
I’ve wanted to find what my head keeps filtering.”
~Good Things

The Dangerous Summer, War Paint

The trail was full of so many people – solo riders like me, couples jogging, small groups of  walkers or cyclists – so I knew better than to blast the volume and tune out. Never know when someone’s speeding up behind you. I quit dodging the crowds for a bit when I got to the Point, and decided to stretch out and lay on the grass. Like divine intervention, or the mathematical realities of an 8-gig device, a sliver of “Clarity” arrived on cue. 

I laid there for awhile, listening to the same song over and over again. I put the volume up and watched the clouds, watched the fountain, and stretched my feet in time to the staccato strings. I let the rest of the album play the whole ride back.

“I promised I’d see it again
I promised I’d see this with you now.
I promised I’d see it again,
I promised I’d see this with you now.

I said, said, said it out loud over and over
Said, said, said it out loud but it did not help
I’ll stop now just enough so I can hear you
I stay up as late as it takes”

~Just Watch The Fireworks
Jimmy Eat World, Clarity

By the time I made my way back to the trail head, I was just sweaty enough, feeling tension-free and exhilarated by the spontaneous ride. I switched back to shuffle and found myself where I started,with “Suburbia” piping through like a boisterous old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Usually, I plan rides for certain early mornings or with friends. It’s a scheduled activity. But today, with my bike fresh from a tire tune-up on the back of my car, I decided to deviate from my to-do list in favor of what felt right, and it was worthwhile. What a change of pace, what a pleasant reminder of the control we have over our own destinies. 
I strapped my bike to the trunk of my car. I kept my headphones in.
“I’m not a self-help book; I’m just a fucked up kid.
I had to take my own advice and I did.
Now I’m waiting for it to sink in.

Expect me standing tall, back against the wall,
‘Cause what I learned was
It’s not about forcing happiness;
It’s about not letting the sadness win.

~Local Man Ruins Everything 
The Wonder Years, Suburbia, I’ve Given You all and Now I’m Nothing


I’ve been listening to a lot of Yellowcard lately. While “Ocean Avenue” is a classic album, ubiquitous across a time and place, the later releases are equally well-executed, bright and full of feeling.

Few bands capture yearning and nostalgia as well as these guys can – there’s a reliance on memory, and a subtle, almost innocent, treatment of desire. When this song came on shuffle the other day, I realized I hadn’t made it all the way through “Paper Walls” probably since it’s release, and never got to know it closely. What a well-timed, romantic surprise, with twinkling guitar melodies turning into soaring crescendos to match Ryan Key’s full-blown theatrics. This song is built around the chorus, and Key masters using octave change in this way, turning a simple pop format into a tension-fueled slow jam with cymbal crashes and slight orchestral touches to spare. I wouldn’t call this one of their best or most complicated songs, as it is probably neither, but it is honest, and uncomplicated, and it makes me think of magic in the air…so I might not hesitate to call it among my favorite Yellowcard songs, and perhaps one of the most beautiful.

“It won’t be long now
The music’s on loud
We’ll sing this song out
And then we’ll lie down
I’ll hold you close then
I’ll let you know when
The space and time bend
And then we’ll fall in…

Go put on your best tonight
It’s you and me and one spotlight
One more show, one last time
We are ready

Say you will be all around me
When your body sets your heart free
Say you will be all around me.

I’ll look for your eyes
To keep me inside
When everything dies
But one last sunrise
And when we stand there, together not scared
I’ll dry your last tear
And then we’ll just have…

Go put on your best tonight
It’s you and me and not much time
So watch the world burning bright, we are ready…

Say you will be all around me
When your body sets your heart free
Say you will be all around me
Say you’ll get me through the ending
Take my body set my heart free
Say you’ll get me through  the ending

Go put on your best tonight
It’s you and me and one spotlight
One more show, one last time
It won’t be long now…

Say you will be all around me
When your body sets your heart free
Say you will be all around me
Say you’ll get me through the ending
Take my body, set my heart free
Say you’ll get me through the ending
Say you will be, you won’t be long
All around me, you won’t be long now.

~You and Me and One Spotlight
Yellowcard, Paper Walls


I have to say it, again and again, I’m never unimpressed by radio magic. Example: Been listening to Disintegration a ton, but today my iPod battery decided to call it quits for good.**

Anyway I was driving to work thinking I could really go for some more of The Cure, and, bam – “Pictures of You” comes on (with a shortened intro, but still). Loved it.

And I was also determined to here Taylor Swift’s “Mine” before going home, which I caught on the top 40 station. The DJ made a joke, saying the song could be called “15 Teardrops on my Love Story” or something like that. I laughed, but understand where he’s coming from. Still sang it, loud.

The new Jimmy Eat World single, “My Best Theory,” is awesome. I’m so excited for that album, which I tend to dig overall more than the singles. Still it’s a great song, awesome to drive to, hook-tastic, and I can’t wait for more. I love the perspective of the song, JEW is great for songs that reflect social/political landscapes, they have a subtle way of doing it without being gospel. This song just observes and captures really well, I think.

**This is three in one year, by the by. The new nanos are glorious, though, I might buy one next week.


Josh Ritter wins again, with “So Runs the World Away.” It’s an outstanding collection of songs, transporting you to a different time and place. I listened to it sitting alone in my car on a horrendously rainy day. It was a perfect fit. Songs like “The Curse,” “Rattling Locks,” and “Folk Bloodbath” prove that he’s got no shortage of inspiration both lyrically or instrumentally, because the songs are as realized and full as ever. It is extremely produced, with layers and layers of keys and auxillary and backup vocals and all kinds of things, which is not what one might expect from a tried and true folk artist who brings such simple songs like “Monster Ballads” and “Kathleen.” But while that might draw criticism from some listeners, I think it works, and Ritter has already proved he excels in this area of arranging (see: “Girl in the War”). Also, this could be a good album for people who aren’t familiar with Ritter to get into him, since there is a lot of variation on it.

In other news, I am once again without an iPod. And probably will be for a good two to three months, yay.


Since it’s midterms week and studying’s no fun, I spend a lot time fooling around the Internet. Today I came across Free Energy and thought they sounded pretty good (see link for free album stream). I love their vibe, they’re so fun and happy, and really melodic guitar solos.

I always like seeing what labels are putting out, what they think is up-and-coming. I imagine that sometimes they’re so far behind the curve, other times it’s dead on. So fancy that, signed bands that are talented musicians and not just an act!!! 😮

(For the record, Free Energy is signed to DFA, and their debut album is called “Stuck on Nothing.”)

bang bang, pop, pop
when does the searchin stop
bang, bang, pop, pop
when the mind goes

~Bang Pop
Free Energy, Stuck on Nothing

^probably the catchiest chorus ever about the extinguishing of the self.

Also, though I really really miss my iPod, it’s cool to hear what you hear when you don’t have headphones in all the damn time. Today, for example, I was walking home from class and I heard someone blasting “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” from their bedroom window or something. It was all echo-y and loud and the sky was a warm, dark blue and it was cold but not so cold that you minded. I could hear it for about half the song, it was pretty loud. Quite the moment in my day. So yeah, no iPod isn’t all bad. Not to mention all the overheard conversations, phone calls, and the seemingly higher number of people I know I seem to run into.


Also, my iPod is dead. There’ll be way more updates because I’ll listen to way more music at my computer now. But I’ll be way more miserable (kidding, sort of).


iPods on shuffle…I can’t give it up.

1) Say Anything-Spores, In Defense of the Genre
2)Ani DiFranco-Shameless [Re-Recorded Version}, Canon (Disc 1)
3)The Beatles-Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Help
4)Radiohead-I Might Be Wrong, Amnesiac

I don’t know why but it totally worked. And I love Spores. More on that later.

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