Tuesday, March 22, 2005


The other day, my doorman handed me a pile of blank CDs and asked me to copy him some new music. He knew I was a music journalist constantly receiving packages of records and figured that I was an untapped source of musical knowledge.

He is slight young Albanian man who seems eager about American culture. My only instruction was to use his CDs for "rock music" (because I guess polka is not what the kids want nowadays). When I asked him to get more specific, he told me he liked U2.
Perhaps "specific" means "unhelpful" in Albanian.

So my thought process:
U2 = biggest band in the world.
Coldplay = next in line for biggest band in the world. But Coldplay is too obvious. This was a non-molded pile of clay I had to work with so I would go (slightly) out on a limb.
Coldplay x (slightly out on a limb) - Gwyneth Paltrow = Snow Patrol
Hence the first CD I made was Snow Patrol's "Final Straw." As close in sound and sentiment to Coldplay as any band out there.

For the second CD, I asked him what else he liked. He said "Metallica." I said, I'm sorry.
I went back upstairs thinking in a harder-rocking vein and then I got a headache so I stopped. Hard rock thinking is louder than plain thinking. If you ever want to hear yourself think in a noisy environment, think in a hard rocking vein. That should work.
Looking though my iTunes library, I figured Muse's "Absolution," an album about the impending apocalypse was a good start. The end of the world seems like the perfect soundtrack for a guy who has to tend to the obnoxious people in my building (Yeah, you heard me, Apartment 18F!) So I burned that one too. It's kinda like Thom Yorke fronting a post-haircut Metallica except not sucky.
Two down. Three to go.

The third CD I burnt--and I don't feel good about this at all--was The Killers' "Hot Fuss." Yeah. I know. I'm disappointed in myself as well so please stop looking at me like that. But look...honestly, I'm not here to turn an Albanian doorman into a Guided By Voices fan. We need to be realistic here. Life is not The O.C. I don't just play a song for someone and they automatically become a regular shopper at Other Music. Baby steps, people. Some times we need to do something commercial to lure them into our self-critical, snobby, temperamental, dismissive world of indie rock, ya' know?

Which may also explain why I copied Green Day's "American Idiot." But unlike The Killers' album, I actually like this "Idiot" a lot. Besides the album opens with "don't want to be an American idiot..." and I'm sure that's a sentiment my doorman can relate to. After living in this country for only a few years, he has probably been working very hard at not being an American idiot. And to that I say, keep up the good work!
[Incidentally, "idiot" is one of those words that sounds pretty strange when you're sitting there alone saying it aloud over and over again.]

And finally, I made him a copy of the Doves' "The Last Broadcast." After having seen them last week, it became very clear to me that in an alternate world, they could be a contender for biggest band if they would just write more conventional songs as opposed to incorporating that stoner-esque Pink Floyd majesty to their hazy rock. Smoking weed at shows is so 2001. We need to record more Bloomberg smoking ban-friendly music.

After giving over the five CDs to my doorman, he was very appreciative and thanked me for the music.
I said, no problem. Anything to get Metallica out of your car stereo.


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