Side One. Intro. Side A. Track one. Overture. I guess that last one's phased out since Phil Spector started recording “little symphonies for kids” on multitracks.
In other words, first things first! My name's Matt, and I'm honored to be here writing this column for you. I'm just as sad as you are that Nathan Poppe's Live Nathan column reached its end, but if you know Poppe like I do then you're sleeping well. Aside from becoming Andrew W.K.'s intern, his lifelong mission's been to champion Oklahoma music, and that'll continue on in video form with his enormously popular video series, The VDub Sessions (I'll never forget helping Poppe run sound for a performance by Brooklyn dudes Milagres when a car drove right past us on the one-way Gray St. in Norman. Consummate professionals, they didn't bat an eye ‘til they finished the song.)
Once upon a time Poppe and I were 14-year-olds snickering over Tenacious D lyrics in the back row of our high school debate class. Seven years and a performance by The Kills at Austin City Limits later we summer-interned in The Oklahoman's features department. There George Lang encouraged our budding enthusiasm for reporting on the arts, both locally produced and imported from elsewhere. We're both indebted to him for that (and for giving us access to loads of shows in The Oke's name), and I'm delighted he entrusted me with this space in his publication — which I've dubbed Headphonetics— to mull music over.
Lang gave me a few weeks to ponder what I could do with the column. I knew I couldn't duplicate the heroic effort Popped focused into the local scene, as listening to music's always been a more personal act for me; hence the headphones. My words make more sense in a Word document than when they're coming out my mouth. I need time and distance to sort through them — and my thoughts and feelings, by extension.
So here with this column I'm going to pose a different question I stumble across every two weeks and try my best to answer it with 400 or so words. In doing so, I hope to articulate the feelings people experience when they invest so deeply in a work of recorded art that they actually grow to love them like they're another person.
One week it might be as simple as what constitutes a summer jam (you should check out Superchunk's unexpected, excellent “This Summer” if you're still looking for a fresh one), another we might consider the value of music in the Spotify age; all with the intention of revealing more about ourselves, the listeners.
And speaking of Spotify, I'll be putting together miniature companion playlists for each of these columns, so get online and listen as you read. Because the trouble with reading about music is that it's never quite as good as actually listening. Or is it? Maybe that's something worth discussing.
Shows, June 24-July 7
Friday, June 29: John Fullbright at the Blue Door
If you're like me, then you're a cheapskate and caught Okemah's best folk singer since Woody Guthrie when he played in Guestroom Records for free about two months ago. Shell out a couple bucks and soak in the atmosphere of the Blue Door this time around.
Friday, June 29: Beau Jennings and the Tigers, Black Canyon, and Defining Times at the Blue Note
I guarantee hair's gonna get torn out when people try to decide between the Blue Note and the Blue Door June 29. We can only blame local talent for being so awesome.
Friday, July 6: Jerry Lewis at Firelake Grand Casino
Jerry Lewis has been recording music since before my dad was born. That deserves more respect than I can muster.
Headphonetics 1 Spotify playlist
“Be My Baby” — The Ronettes
“Ready to Die” — Andrew W.K.
“Halfway” — Milagres
“Wonderboy” — Tenacious D
“U.R.A. Fever” — The Kills
“This Summer” — Superchunk
“Gawd Above” — John Fullbright
“Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave” — Jerry Lee Lewis
“Learn to Pretend” — Chase Kerby and Defining Times