Monday, June 27, 2022

Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)

This afternoon, when I went to search out a good album, two curious things occurred. One was that behind my desk chair I saw a still insect, sort of resembling a roach, but much thinner, closer in resemblance to those crustaceans you see preserved in rocks from the time of the dinosaurs, those strange little bugs with antennae and extremely thinly-carapaced bodies—I just looked up the kinds of insect I was struggling to describe. They're called arthropods and they existed 500 million years ago (link HERE).

Not sure if my arthropod was dead or playing so, I smashed it with the thing nearest at hand, which was a kitchen towel. When next I checked on him, he seemed not to respond, so he must have been long dead.

I wondered where he came from. It's been drizzling on and off all day, and there has been a low bed of clouds laying atop the green mountain outside my window since the day dawned. In my bedroom, one wall is mostly sliding windows. My little arthropod must have crawled in from the damp and died. I flushed him down the toilet.

The other curious thing that happened when I went to write on a good album this afternoon was this. I did my usual black magic, flipping a digital coin to decide whether I would listen to an album from the Rolling Stones' 2012 or 2020 top albums list. Came up 2012. Then I used Google's random number generator to decide which of 500 albums I would listen to, and the number 482 turned up. All right, which album is that? I wondered.

Perhaps I ought to have bookmarked the Rolling Stones 2012 and 2020 top albums page, but I never have. It is a little difficult to differentiate which list is which just from a Google search, so I always find the lists pretty circumlocutorily. Here's what I do. I google "rolling stones top albums," click the Wikipedia entry, and scroll to the bottom of the article, where only two external links are listed, the 2012 and 2020 albums lists. So this afternoon, normally, I would have done that, and clicked on the 2012, but what happened this time was I clicked the Wikipedia entry from Google and it returned a 503 error message. I began clicking around Google, trying to access other Wikipedia entries. None would open. Could you believe it? The internet's largest online free encyclopedia wasn't working. 

Eventually, through Google, I found where someone had essentially copied and pasted the 2012 albums list to their website, the numbering system intact. I saw that the 482nd album was Steve Earle's Guitar Town (1986). So I googled info about Steve Earle and that album and was going to YouTube the album, but something felt off, and in the process of googling, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to use the photo of Earle from Wikipedia, and as I said, something felt off anyway, and I am prone to superstition, so I decided I ought to save Earle's album for another day.

What I think bothered me at a subconscious level was I noticed in googling Steve Earle's name that Steve was Justin Townes Earle's father, and immediately I had recalled that a couple years ago, due to drugs and depression, Justin had taken his life (may he rest in peace). Bradley was a big fan. You were too, weren't you? For whatever reason, it felt wrong to listen to his father on a day when outside there's low clouds and drizzles, gloomy gray-purple skies, and inside, no Wikipedia and a prehistoric arthropod carcass racing around the sewage pipes.

A long time ago, I had starred some albums from the Rolling Stones top albums lists that I intended to prioritize if ever I didn't want to randomize. There were about 80 albums I had starred. I've since forgotten why I had put an asterisk next to them, but anyway one that I saw was this album here, Artic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006). They've got an old-fashioned punkish sound, which I dig very, very much. Moodwise, it's White Stripes-adjacent but with a British accent.

I like this feeling I'm having listening to it, which is that I can't wait until it's over to replay it. All of it hangs together so well. As geeky as it is to say, by virtue of listening to it, I feel cooler. You ever feel that way? Like the coolness of the music rubs off on you while you're listening to it? I'm like a bee, baby, rubbing my bee feet in the flower pollen of punk rock, and when I fly off and people see me next, they'll know where I've been.

Two more things. No, three. First, a technical thing. You may wonder if I had a Word doc listing of these Rolling Stones top albums why I don't just select from there instead of going through all the trouble of googling the lists online. I'll do my best to explain why I do what I do. The basic answer is I like the black magic of not knowing which list I'm going to get by flipping a coin and by randomly generating a number once the list is decided by coin. I can't quite use the same method when selecting from my Word doc, because there the Rolling Stones rankings have been removed. My Word doc has all the albums arranged chronologically and both lists are combined. I did my personal list this way so that later, when I decide the best of the best, I can just easily look down through the list at what I think is best from the history of music. And whenever I compile my list of the best of the best, I'm not going to rank order the albums. It's not fair to the artists or the albums to do that. I intend to arrange my top 100 chronologically.

Now, onto the second thing. I feel both apologetic and defensive about this next bit. As you can see, a great deal of some of these entries I'm writing on the albums have little to do with the albums but instead concern the circumstances around which I'm seeking out the albums or about whatever else is on my mind. I feel apologetic because this is probably more than you bargained for. More finely put, this is not what you bargained for. You came to check what I'm listening to and what I have to say about that album and only that, I'm sure, and instead you get this. And here is where I feel a little prematurely defensive. This is where I want to say that while I'm sorry, this too is a part of it, man. The detour is part of the ride.

Which brings me to my final point. Mostly what I'm doing in writing something so long and freeform is appropriating my writing time for short fiction and narrative essays and putting it here so as to do more fun stuff than the hard stuff. Writing these entries for an audience of one is far more fun than writing a short story that will take me three months or six months or two years to finish, no end in sight, and for some imaginary audience. And even when it does get out there, it's unlikely to receive any feedback. It's like that effect where you're standing onstage and performing to a pitch-black room and you have no idea what's going on out there among the people. I've noticed this effect most when I've performed in plays. It's both a fun and a scary feeling.

Anyway, I've been writing this thing for about an hour, I've already played through the Arctic Monkeys album, and now I'm going to move on and listen to it while I tinker with some short fiction or something for an hour. And then after that, later this evening, after a quick dinner, I have to go to the office to get some paperwork taken care of. Adieu.


  1. Party on Wayne. I’ll have to put this in my que. I’ve heard them before but don’t remember anything about the tunes.

    1. Yeah, I really do like this album. It was so fun going in, knowing nothing about them, and getting hit with this great dirty punk sound that's both somehow new and vintage. Good stuff.