Sunday, October 17, 2010

Feeling groovy! Thanks Ruan!

You guys are going to get soooooo sick of me blogging now… I’m armed with a personal computer (thanks Kara!) and an internet connection. Wha ahhh ooooo ahhh! (Evil laugh.)

Photo is new, in that you haven’t seen it before, it is mine, is of a South African flower , and an unidentified one. Sorry, I don’t know what it is, but isn’t it lovely?

One of the favorite things about my fellow Peace Corps volunteers is many of them are very young, talented, and exceptionally bright people. I’m not used to being around such bright lights and I find their company, and everything about them, very refreshing. “The young ones,” as I fondly call them, keep all of us on our toes with games and parties. I usually can’t keep up with them and poop out on them most of time, as I’m an old foagie who goes to bed early… But this invitation was irresistible.

We were to choose a song that best represents our mental process, and the songs would be collected, compiled, and distributed. The exercise involved mystery and suspense: who would choose which song to best represent themselves. And would we be able to match the song to the fellow Peace Corps volunteer?

Now, think about it: a song that best represents your thought process. What would you choose?

I thought about it for quite some time. (It doesn’t take much, for me, to inspire a huge amount o of time to devote to a completely worthless cause, say, for example, if you were stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life, which three albums would you choose?)

When I thought about my mental process, I soon realized, that, well, my mental process is an unlovely creature. When I realized how unlovely it is, I remarked to our list compiler that he was asking for a very intimate detail: we would be, if we were honest, revealing a very vulnerable detail about ourselves.

Such a selection is fraught with complications. Should you pick a song by its lyrics to represent your mental process? The musical composition? A combination of the two? Is your mental process the same, say, when you’re hammering out your master’s thesis? When you’re crunching numbers for a blasted VAST grant? When you’re sitting serenely in the morning, watching the African sunrise, having your second cup of tea? When you’re zoned out in front of Facebook, idling the day away?

Ok, ok, in GENERAL, how about a song that reflects your mental process?

At first I thought, “How about Horowitz playing Mozart?” And I quickly thought, “RIGHT. You WISH your mental machinations were that beautiful!

I finally narrowed my selection down to three songs. I wanted something that indicated lots of false starts, pauses, some frenetic moments, focus, and intensity. I wanted a song that illustrated dense texture with lots going on in it all the time. I told you: unlovely! I thought about Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” the live version, as it certainly has all of those. (Hear the crowd roar, John pounding out a chord or two, then the drive of the beat…) But “Bennie and the Jets is something of a lovely song. Then I thought of Lyle Lovett’s, “Here I Am” because this one too, had the stops, starts, pauses, and intensity. I love how he juxtaposes spoken word with a horn section: talk of intensity! But Lyle Lovett is precise and smooth: everything about his music is precise and smooth. Precise and smooth knocks it out of Karen’s mental process’s ball park!

So, I finally decided upon the Talking Head’s song, “Slippery People” from the film and soundtrack Stop Making Sense. This song, has it all: the driving beat, the frenetic textures, the stops, the starts, the pauses, the pulsing. David Byrne, a maniac madman, screeching and sputtering, rhythms, textures, starts, stops, slams-- It’s a fantastic song, but unlovely, and PERFECTLY reflects, I believe, my mental process. LOVE IT, it’s me, it best represents my thinking activity, most of the time! (Frightening, isn’t it? I TOLD you it was an intimate revelation!)

It was fun to have the final collection of songs, and more fun still to see who chose which song to reflect their thinking. Some of us picked lovely, lovely songs: John Lennon’s “Imagine”’ Joni Mitchell’s “Cary”; Don McLean’s “Vincent.” I must say I envy those beautiful mental processes; my thinking is just not that attractive. There were some surprises and some choices leaving me scratching my head.

But mostly, it was a fun, FUN parlor game to complete and we all have a lovely, keepsake CD now to remind us of our wonderful, Peace Corps selves!

Thanks Ruan!



PS. I know you guys are dying to know the list, so here’s the list, representative of our group:

1. Bela Fleck - New South Africa: Intro

2. Simon & Garfunkel - 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)

3. Kenny Rogers - The Gambler

4. Joni Mitchell - Carey

5. Robert Earl Keen - It's the Little Things

6. Ludacris - Rollout (My Business)

7. John Lennon - Imagine

8. Don McLean - Vincent

9. The Submarines - You Me and the Bourgeoisie

10. Wilco - On and On and On

11. Eddie Izzard - Being European

12. The Beatles - A Day In the Life

13. Dan Deacon - Jimmy Joe Roche

14. Des'ree - You Gotta Be

15. Dixie Chicks - Easy Silence

16. Allman Brothers Band - In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

17. In My Life - Judy Collins

18. Talking Heads - Life During Wartime

19. Bette Midler - The Rose

20. Coldplay - Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love

21. Queen - Bicycle Race

22. Ratatat - Loud Pipes

23. Riverdance - Countess Cathleen

24. Rosette - Brazasia

25. CocoRose - Butterscotch

26. Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy

27. Monty Python - Logic vs. Sex

28. Talking Heads - Slippery People: Karen K.

29. Xavier Rudd - Messages

30. Ennio Morricone - L'Arena (The Mercenary)

31. Lamb of God - Walk With Me (remix)

32. The Billy Burke Estate - Everybody's Gonna Die

33. E.L.O. - Mr. Blue Sky

34. Paul Simon - That's Where I Belong: Outro


  1. Glad you enjoyed it! Maybe the best thing I've done here :)

  2. Oh, and the typo actually read "Ruand," not Ruan. A niggling detail. Ruand, coincidentally, is actually a real Afrikaner name. I smell divine intervention there.