HIGHLY RECOMMENDED W/ HENRY TOFT
Before I start I want to make a few things clear. I am not to be trusted. I was born in 1974. Look at those numbers! That year might make you think about great vintage guitars, amazing music from Laurel Canyon, Godfather part II and Chinatown. Was I being breastfed while listening to Neil Young? No....sadly I wasn't.
In 1980 I was old enough to take matters into my own hands. I got a tape-recorder and a pair of headphones. I turned on the radio and made a big mistake. I turned the dial to a german radio station and I stayed on that frequency until my teens. Nena became my obsession. 99 Luftballons and beyond. Way beyond. I would watch Sylvester Stallone movies. Over The Top on repeat. I never read any books. At some point I escaped and here I am......ready to share my recommendations. A little hesitant. You see.........back then I was certain that I had the best taste in music.
In 1988 there was no better band than Erasure. Seriously? I just streamed a few songs from their Innocents album. I still remember that it was released in April 1988. I had pre-ordered the album and when I got it my friend and I sat in my room for hours listening and thinking that it could not get any better. If the band released a 12" I would buy it.
What was I thinking? How can I be sure that what I am listening to right now is any better? I don't feel worthy of this slice of internet-space I have been given.
#1 - WHAT IS THE ONE ALBUM (OR EP OR SONG) THAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE THE VERY NEXT MUSICAL THING THAT EVERYONE PRESSES PLAY ON THE NEXT TIME THEY FIND THEMSELVES THINKING “WHAT SHOULD I LISTEN TO NOW”?
I will take you back to 1970. Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon.
If everyone started their day listening to this album we would have a better and more peaceful world. I hear people say that they have a hard time listening to her voice. Keep trying! Joni Mitchell has the most beautiful voice. Her melodies have not been matched. Her piano- and guitar-playing stands out to this day. Her lyrics will stay in my head forever.
Others tell me that they love Joni Mitchell but only her later songs. Those people are wrong. It's her early work that really stands out. Her voice was perfect back then because it was still full of innocence.
Ladies of the Canyon was not my first Joni Mitchell album. I started listening to Blue, then For the Roses, then Song to a Seagull and finally Ladies of the Canyon. They are all amazing albums but this album is just perfect. I never get tired of listening to it. I am never not in the mood for a little Joni Mitchell in my life.
Another songwriter who is constantly in my head is Mark Kozelek. I love everything he's done and I cheered when I saw him in the movie Youth (now that's a great movie!!). I recommend the collaboration between him and Jimmy Lavalle. Perils from the Sea. The album was released in 2013 and most of you have probably heard it.................but did you listen closely? Did you listen on repeat for months or did you move on? It's time to go back!!
I wish I could make an album like this. Jimmy Lavalle's production is perfect. I can't understand how they pulled it off. It all fits so well. As if they have been making music together forever. I love Mark Kozelek's stories and melodies. I admire him. I truly do. I admire him as a person and I believe he's on a mission. Yes........he writes amazing songs, he tours the world and he makes a living doing that. Something to admire............but that's not it. He's connected to his friends and family. He let's us know how important it is. This is what matters.
A few lines from the song "Somehow the Wonder of Life Prevails" are often in my head and they make me happy for him and sad for me. "Every day, I get out and I walk. Every day, I get on the phone with someone and I talk". Boom!!! Hits me right in my face. Live life! Make that call! Show people you care. I forget to do this and when I've grown old and tired this will be my biggest regret. If I turn the boat around I will give credit to Mark Kozelek.
Tomorrow the Sun Kil Moon/Jesu album is released. I will listen and let Mark Kozelek slap me in the face some more!
#2 - WHAT IS THE ONE MOVIE OR TV SHOW THAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE NEXT IN EVERYBODY’S NETFLIX QUEUE (OK, DOESN’T HAVE TO BE NETFLIX, WE’RE ALL INTERNET ADULTS HERE AND KNOW HOW TO FIND ANYTHING ONLINE, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER)?
I love Charlie Kaufman. I cannot wait to see Anomalisa and my plan was to recommend his film Synecdoche, New York because this is without a doubt my favorite movie. However.......I will save my Charlie Kaufman recommendation for a little later.
The other night I watched Tangerine. Holy shit. That was an amazing ride. First of all..........The fact that it's shot using an iphone is amazing but you stop thinking about this after a few minutes. The music, the colors and the light just makes my head spin. I fell in love with all the characters. I am not able to explain why I am now obsessed with this film. That's what so beautiful about it.
#3 - I (AND BY “I” I MEAN “THE PERSON THAT IS READING THIS”) AM GOING TO THE BOOK STORE (OK, PROBABLY AMAZON) TO FIND THE VERY NEXT BOOK THAT I WILL BE PUTTING SOME EXTREMELY VALUABLE ‘ME-TIME' ASIDE FOR. WHICH BOOK WOULD YOU GET, IF YOU WERE ME (AND, I SUPPOSE, YOU HADN’T ALREADY READ WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT TO SUGGEST)?
Last week a friend of mine met me at a coffee-shop. He doesn't have any children so he's able to hold a thought for more than just a few minutes. Therefore he had remembered what we had talked about the week before. He's heavily into russian litterature so I had asked him about a writer. I intend to read the great russian novels but for some reason keeping the titles on a list is enough for me right now. My friend said "Don't worry about Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I will read it to you". Now this sounds very romantic and a bit dirty. I can assure you that we are both happily married although that hasn't stopped anyone.....has it? As we sat down he takes out his phone and two pairs of headphones and said "We shall now listen to the first 20 minutes of Crime and Punishment". What an amazing friend. It was a weird situation...but great. I got sucked in and I am looking forward to the next 20 minutes. He assured me that we only have to meet 79 times more before we're done.
I would love to say "It's hard for me to choose between Crimes and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. I am pretty much obsessed with all the great Russian writers". Some day this may finally be the truth but for now I will recommend a piece of our amazing pop culture. Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield.
This book is a love letter to music, life and love. It's also about death. I didn't know this when I started reading the book for the first time. It's made clear in chapter 1 but I was not prepared back then. I won't get into the details. If you love music, the 90's, classic rock, cheesy pop references and a beautiful love story then this book is for you. It's an easy read. It will be over way too fast but it's a great ride. You probably subscribe to a music streaming service and I will advice you to create a Love is a Mixtape playlist and just start adding tracks.........'cause he will tell you about them and you will want to hear them. I am listening to Big Star's Radio City album while I'm writing this. Big Star! That's how they met.
#4 - WHAT IS THE ONE WEBSITE (OR JUST ANY OLD INTERNET THING: APP, GIF, SERVICE, WHATEVER) THAT YOU WOULD GET REALLY DOWN IN THE DUMPS ABOUT IF IT WERE TO SUDDENLY GO AWAY?
I am pretty sure I'll be preaching to the choir when recommending Marc Maron's WTF podcast. It's just that this truly is the best thing on my little internet. Mondays and thursday are special days. He is the greatest interviewer. His ability to engage and connect is amazing to me. As I said. You all know WTF and most of you probably love it......so let me just give you a list of the episodes that I can't and will not shake. This is my therapy.
EP 67 - Robin Williams
Ep 98 - Stewart Lee
Ep 111 + 112 - Louis CK
EP 219 - Norm Macdonald
EP 338 - J Mascis
EP 363 - Aimee Mann
EP 364 - Mike White
EP 402 - David Sedaris
EP 403 - Nick Cave
EP 448 - Lou Barlow
EP 564 - Melanie Lynskey
EP 565 - Paul Thomas Anderson
EP 585 - Alex Karpovsky
EP 673 - Crispin Glover
Finally.......the greatest WTF episode: Ep 190 - Todd Hanson. This episode will break your heart. It is the most powerful conversation I have ever listened to between two extremely brave and honest people.
#5 - AND FINALLY… PLEASE GIVE ONE COMPLETELY UNAIDED RECOMMENDATION THAT YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD START DOING / USING / WATCHING / EATING / THINKING / QUITING / ETC-ING TO MAKE THEIR LIVES A LITTLE BIT MORE BETTER AND/OR BEARABLE.
Finally! We're almost there. My final recommendation.
A screenwriting lecture by Charlie Kaufman. This talk is about life. How you need to be brave. How you need to be yourself. What you have to offer is you!
"Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to." - Charlie Kaufman
All of the above have led to great joy, sleepless nights, worries and motivation. I hope you make use of this somehow. Thanks, Henry.
OK folks, there you have it. Things that Henry thinks you should consider incorporating into your day/life. Before you head off to another corner of the internet, go put this Me And The Horse I Rode In On album in your headphones.