This is easy. Never mind the chocolate and lobster and "flirting expert" tips. For all your V-Day needs, go directly to the Electric Fetus and buy this:
I was there the other day, and they still had a couple dozen in the rack, begging to be plucked. Lucky pluckers: Every song's a nasty highlight, from vaudevillians, jump-blues pioneers, and blues bastards, all singing about the pleasures of pleasure. I recognized exactly one cut going in -- "It Ain't The Meat, It's The Motion," by the Swallows, which, as a young motion-loving man I was introduced to by Southside Johnny -- but every one of these 18 tracks is a horny revelation.
My fave at the moment is Bo Carter's "Let Me Roll Your Lemon," an antecedent of Prince's entire early catalog. Or Floyd Dixon's "Baby Let's Go Down To The Woods," the live recording of which sounds like foreplay to an outdoor orgy. Or The Hokum Boys' "I Had To Give Up Gym" (due to, um, exhaustion). Or the set-closer, Jimmy Preston's "Hucklebuck Baby," which extols the joys of a brick house woman and encourages, "ride Jimmy ride." Will do.
What's more, the pulp-y artwork and free-your-ass liner notes from Neil Kales alone could make Katherine Kersten unclench her goody-two-shoes and fuck like my girl Diablo Cody. An excerpt:
"Poets and philosophers have often been a miserablist bunch, queuing up to deride what they saw as the shallow nature of pleasure. On the subject of sex, both Hippocrates and Plato regarded carnal activity as a "squandering of seed" incurring an unnecessary loss of energy. Adolescent wet dreams were regarded as the precursors of insanity, among the other lesser inconveniences of fornication. "Those who are bald... during intercourse the phlegm in their heads is agitated and burns the roots of their hair so that the hair falls out."
"St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas seemed obsessed with bodily purity and sexual disgust, while the poet Dryden translated Lucretius thus: "Just in the raging foam of full desire, when both press on, both murmur, both expire, they gripe, they squeeze, their humid tongues they dart, as each would force their way to other's heart. In vain: 'they only cruise about the coast, for bodies cannot pierce, nor be in bodies lost.'
"Shame about that. Freud discoursed cheerily 'On The Universal Tendency To Debasement In The Sphere Of Love,' while Rousseau believed, equally unappetizingly, 'I really know of nothing more revolting than a terrifying face on fire with the most brutal lust.' Schopenhauer, meanwhile, perhaps foresaw the troubles ahead of Mussolini, Bill Clinton, and doubtless many others: 'Lust is the ultimate goal of almost all human endeavour, exerts an adverse influence on the most important affairs, interrupts the most serious business at any hour and does not hesitate to disrupt the negotiations of statesmen.'
"Our final killjoy testimony comes from Kant: 'Sexual love makes of the loved person an object of appetite. As soon as the other person is possessed and the appetite sated, they are thrown away as one throws away a lemon that is sucked dry.' (A writer of less renown, the singer Bo Carter represented on this album, would surely take issue with this comparison with his relish expressed as 'Let me roll your lemon, oh baby until your good juices come.'
"We are left, realistically, with Thomas Hobbes in the Carteresque corner, rather than the Kant one: 'The appetite which men call lust is a sensual pleasure, but not only that: there is also in it a delight of the mind, for it consisteth of two appetites together, to please and to be pleased.'
"Well said, Thomas, and it is a confident assertion that Fats Noel would have been on your side, too. A little-known jump blues artist sadly without a complete album solely devoted to him, Noel's endearingly rowdy performance on this rocking 1952 opening track makes a mockery of his obscurity."
And so on. On your mark, get set, go to the Fetus. In the meantime, here's this week's mix, for lovers only:
1. "Haunted," Sinead O'Connor and Shane McGowan. Probably the best duet about longing ever recorded. 'Course, that distinction might belong to "Fairy Tale Of New York," which my new friend Dan sang the shit out of in my new friend Christa's pad Saturday night, as I swung dance Dan's wife. We wuz all hopped-up on tequila and love and the moment -- Unlike Jon "never enough about me" Langford, whose History Of Punk Rock Walker performance I bailed on to party with a bunch of strangers. Thank God for spontaneity, showing-not-telling, music, strangers, and Minneapolis Weird. Here's a picture of Chad and Dan, inspired by Cuervo Gold:
2. "Kiss, Kiss, Kiss," Yoko Ono. Her plea for peace at the Olympics was rad, and "Imagine" is a wonderful prayer, but for some reason I prefer the sound of her having multiple orgasms. Can someone please tell me what "Mota!" means in Japanese?
3. "Skin," The Wannadies. Very basic, very delicious, very chewable. A ditty for the cannibal in all of us: "I love your skin/and what's within." Chomp.
4. "Smile," Beau Kinstler. The amber-voiced young man sang this Jayhawks' song at the funeral of Tom and Bill Sullivan's mother last week, and turned an already-magnificent hug into a chin-up love song that embraced the entire church.
5. "I'll Be Your Mirror," The Velvet Underground. Nico as the ultimate muse. Speaking of which, this is the coolest tattoo I've seen in ages, as spotted on the bicep of the coffee shop dish behind the counter at the very groovy Wilde Roast Café over northeast. And the coolest neighborhoodie I've seen in ages is the one with a quote from this cat, as spotted on the chest of the bookaholic dude behind the counter at the very groovy Ron's Market over south. Viva Minneapolis.
6. "Tear You Apart," She Wants Revenge. More anticipation, more flesh-eating, more, more, more.
7. "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor," Artic Monkeys. I ask thee! Who among us hasn't stood across from another human biped in an ordinary day-time moment and wondered what the other guy would like in bed or in the throes of a transcendent dance experience or... oh fuck it, here's Bri.
8. "Bring It On," Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The sound of one man standing in the place where he doesn't live, but is willing to let whatever happens happen. He rhymes "bring it on!" with "c'mon, c'mon," double-dog daring the love gods to do their worst and bring him the best he's ever had. In other words, the complete antithesis to "you can't always get what you want" and "be careful what you wish for" restraint.
9. "Tell Her This," Del Amitri. The song-equivalent of a boy passing notes to his girl's best friend: "Tell her what was wrong/I sometimes think too much but say nothing at all/Tell her I am ready now to fall."
10. "Broom People," The Mountain Goats. In which the beleaguered shut-in's woes disappear into her arms.
11. "Stay With You," John Legend. As pretty a declaration of love, as, say, "Let's Stay Together."
12. "In The Yard, Behind The Church," Eels. Great make-out spot, dude.
13. "Last Of The V-8's," Slaid Cleaves. I've got a lot of punk and hippie in me, but a big part of me is kissed by the '50s greaser who lights out with his fellow rebel girl, the way they did in...
14. "1955," Jim Roll. You can have your Blackberry this and your IM that, but it says here there is no more romantic connection than two lovers with nothing better to do than sit on the porch and watch the sun go down. Hit-you-over-the-head time: IF YOU DOWNLOAD ONE SONG OFF OF THIS LIST MAKE SURE IT IS THIS ONE. AND IT WOULDN'T HURT TO LEAVE A COMMENT NOW AND THEN. JESUS CHRIST ALREADY.
15. "Love Songs On The Radio," Mojave 3. The slide guitar feels like the curve of a woman. And: I love the idea of thousands of lovers cuddled around the hearth of Mark Wheat Tuesday night for more love songs on the radio.
16. "Sunflower," Tracey Spuehler. So sweet a celebration of one woman's love, you can almost smell the blossoms.
17. "In My Secret Life," Leonard Cohen. It ain't over 'til the froggy man sings, and sometimes not even then.
18. "She's Not Right For You," Macy Gray. Gotta love a woman who's got the ovaries to say it out loud and stake her claim.
19. "Come and Find Me," Josh Ritter. That one about the Northern Lights is thanksgiving for the perfect love; this is the yearning that came before.
20. "(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World," Wreckless Eric. From Erica Jong: "Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it... It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."
This week's guest Walsh Filer is Pat Donnelly, the great musichead, KFAI deejay, and freelance sports/feature writer who lit out for Las Vegas last year with his family. Give us the long-distance love, Patrick:
Ever since I traded the friendly, blue-tinted faces of Minnesota for the bright lights and blistering heat of Las Vegas, I've had momentary bouts with homesickness. After all, Minnesota was the only home I'd ever known. It's where I'd done my best work, made my best friends, dug in my roots.
But life's all about change and rolling with the punches, so here I am. And when I get nostalgic for my home state, here's what I listen to. I'll avoid the clichés and more obvious choices (sorry Prince, Dylan, 'Mats, et al), and some of these picks are more personal. But remember, this isn't a Minneapolis Greatest Hits list.
1. "Write My Ticket," Tift Merritt. Anybody who's ever been a transplant and dreamed of returning home would relate to this song. There is no way she could see/How much this cold rain gets to me/How much I've traded/For a picture in my mind.
2. "Thrice All-American," Neko Case. I've never heard a more honest, endearing, warts-and-all tribute to one's home. In this case, Neko sings of her adopted hometown, I found passion for life in Tacoma. Can you pay a place a better compliment?
3. "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," Gordon Lightfoot. I think this was the first 45 I ever bought, and I remember being entranced by the haunting lyrics, creepy-mournful guitar and the story I vaguely recalled hearing as a tot. To this day, it continues to inspire awe in the dark majesty of Lake Superior.
4. "Hockey Song," Tragically Hip. You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey/Well I never heard someone say that before. They actually do have a minor-league hockey team out here and it's got a decent following. But nine out of 10 Las Vegans couldn't tell Bobby Orr from Benjamin Orr.
5. "Hornets! Hornets!," The Hold Steady. The whole damn album -- both of them, actually -- could have made this list, but this one stands out for its Edina-inspired title, as well as the number of times I saw skaters and hoodrats hanging out at Nicollet and 66th.
6. "Sky Blue Waters," The Glenrustles. From the opening lines -- Up in the land of Ely/Nobody noticed the sounds/Of the silence that surrounds you/And the leaves all rusted 'round you -- the song drives you on a tom-tom trek through the Land of Lakes.
7. "East Side Boys," Martin Zellar. The dead-end kids of Austin might as well have been hanging out on the sidewalks outside of New Ulm Junior High, mysterious, almost mythical characters you didn't dare cross on your luckiest day. Wonder what they're doing now.
8. "Prom Night at Hater High," The Long Winters. Of course, any time I start looking ahead to my next class reunion, this song slaps me back to a version of reality that is different from what John Hughes movies portray. Now my only ties to that old scene/Are the same mean people in pre-owned jeans/I used to love them all/But they burned me up, Goodbye.
9. "Southern Minnesota," Mason Jennings. Never saw a meteor in the prairie sky, but I do have lasting memories of star-gazing in the inky dark of the countryside, and seeing the Big Dipper over our garage roof from our back door.
10. "Hoover Dam," Sugar. Now that I've actually stood on the edge of the Hoover Dam, I don't know what to think. It's big.
11. "Screen Door," Uncle Tupelo. Sometimes the simple pleasures in life are the best, like sitting around on the porch with your banjo, fiddle and a jug of moonshine. Or, as it was in New Ulm, sitting in the Johnson Park grandstands after a baseball game with a cold Schell's , telling the same stories you've told a thousand times before and laughing just as hard as the first time you heard them.
12. "Percolator," Cajmere. Ever been to a Gopher women's basketball game (best value for your sporting ticket money in town, by far)? This is the song they play right before the anthem, and as the Gophers line up, you can't help but be caught up in the goofy "dancing" of some of the players, just eager to get the butt-kicking under way.
13. "Tilt-A-Whirl," Slobberbone. Remember that time when you took your gal to the amusement park, and she got mangled by a ride because a drunk carnie fell asleep at the wheel? Yeah, me neither, and yet, this still sums up damn near every Brown County Fair of my youth.
14. "Raspberry Beret," The Derailers. You just haven't lived until you've seen four Texans in full western dress playing the twangiest, sweatiest, funkiest version of Mr. Purple's hit at First Ave. I've heard it said that the first time ain't the greatest/Well I'm here to tell you I would not change a stroke. Indeed.
15. "72 (This Highway's Mean)," Drive-By Truckers. Southern Rock Opera is DBT's attempt to show another side of the south -- "the duality of the Southern thing" as they put it -- and for the most part it comes through in spades. But this song transcends the South and takes any small-town kid down a dusty road he knows like the back of his hand. I don't know why they even bothered putting this highway on the map/Anybody who's ever been on it knows exactly where they're at.
16. "My Wasted Friends," Ike Reilly. With a tip of my Twins cap to our gracious host, I'm one of many music lovers turned onto the brash Chicago bard by Mr. Walsh. From the Turf Club to the Entry to the Main Room, Ike's star seems to keep rising. And he's just the kick in the crotch this city needs. Maybe we could sneak him onto the bill with Wayne Newton.
17. "Bleeding Fingers," Lucinda Williams. I thought about including "Minneapolis" from the same album, but this song is purportedly written about Paul Westerberg, and that's all you need to know.
18. "Miss Teen Wordpower," New Pornographers. Not only did they put on the two finest shows I ever saw at First Ave, but this song conjures memories of every bespectacled English major chick I met at the U. God how I miss those days.
19. "Niteclub," Old 97's. Dallas to NYC is roughly the same distance as Vegas to MSP, and the heartache and homesickness in this song is universal.
20. "Sculpture Garden," Semisonic. They kick off their Live at First Ave CD with this song, which takes your brain on a stroll through the heart of Minneapolis, the nexus of Uptown and Downtown, the arts community, the lakes, Parade Stadium, the old Guthrie, the Walker ��" pretty much everything that's great about Minneapolis, in a tidy, three-minute journey.