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Glenny’s Twenties In 20 Tracks

August 31, 2011

HAPPY 100th POST!  Sorry about the lack of updates recently but, after a well-deserved two week break gallavanting around New York and *coughcoughturning30cough* I’m back with a semi-literary vengeance.  I’m not sure what qualifies as ‘semi-literary vengeance’ btw, I guess the ‘semi’ negates any Shakespearean aspirations, but maybe I can still scrape in something more on the Jackie Collins level..  *shrugs*  To be honest, I’m more perturbed by the fact I apparently don’t know how to spell the word ‘vengeance’ properly without the help of spell check.  Must be the Alzheimers..

ANYWAY.  To celebrate this monumental blogging milestone, I thought I’d share something I put together for my recent 30th birthday as a party favor for all my guests.  As some of you know, ol’ Glenny is fond of making annual mix cds to su up each year gone by and, on the afternoon of the party, I thought it would be fun to try and make one to sum up my whole entire twenties, so I could share something with my friends beyond my fondness for drinking and brazilian meat.  Now, this isn’t entirely perfect, but it flows pretty well and lyrically tells the tale of a decade well, although it isn’t as chronological as my Glenny Mix cds normally are.

Glenny’s Twenties In 20 Tracks’ :-

01 – Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

WHY : I’m a massive Fiona Apple fan, which makes it interesting that this is the track of hers I gravitate towards the most, given it’s so atypical of her releases.  A quirky, baroque almost circus-like meander of a track, it features one of the best opening lines of all time (see below) and manages to be both uplifting, wry and delightfully nonchalant.  Which is I guess what I love about it – it’s a tribute to the triumph of inner strength in the face of any adversity.  Kind of like, you know, me.  One of my favourite strengths of character is how flexible I am, alway adapting day to day to whatever is thrown at me – it’s what I like to call the Sandra Diaz Hyphen Twine Strategy For Living and it’s one that I really value, because life is so much easier that way, it’s comforting.

KEY LYRIC : “I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes and I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around.  I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb but I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.”

02 – Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen

WHY : And here we have my literal number one favourite song of all time.  It’s funny too, because it’s not just a pure nostalgia burst or anything either.  To be honest, I’d never paid attention to this until a few years ago when Wes Carr covered it on Idol and I noticed the lyrics and how amazingly dark they were.  Then, obviously, my Courteney Cox Arquette 80’s Arm-Clicking fetish got the best of me and history was made.  Just an amazingly written song that probably sums up how I felt for the last five years or so better than any other on this list.  It’s really one of the absolute saddest songs I’ve ever heard cloaked in one of the best melodies and rhythms of all time.  Plus, it’s my go to karaoke song, arm clicks and all.

KEY LYRIC : “I ain’t nothing but tired, Man I’m just tired and bored with myself.”

03 – Sunset Strip – Courtney Love

WHY : An amazing FM radio-ready meltdown of a track, showcasing Love at both her funniest and most strung out.  One of my all time favourite driving songs, it could have been the breakout hit of the album with a bit of polish and something other than the demo vocal.  Courtney careens wildly all over the course from angry to hopeful to horny to defeated to hilarious to illuminating for almost six glorious minutes.  The full on breakdown at the end where she starts shouting all the different reasons she has pills for (“I’ve got pills cuz I’m old, I’ve got pills cuz you’re dead, I’ve got pills cuz I am the worst and best dressed, I’ve got pills cuz I feel more than 21, I’ve got pills cuz I know baby you’re not the one..”) is one of my favourite moments in music of all time.  I still put this on almost every day to run to and just completely lose myself in it every single time, like it says so much of how I feel better than I ever could..

KEY LYRIC : “Cruising down the Sunset Strip and there is nothing that’s not, that’s not within my grip and tonight, I got it right, just one time..”

04 – Grey Will Fade – Charlotte Hatherley

(not the proper version, but couldn’t find it on youtube.. sadface .  you should legally download it!)

WHY : If I had to pick one song that literally defines a moment in time for me, this would probably be it.  Everytime I hear this, it’s still 2005 and I’m walking along the beach in Mykonos debating whether to change jobs, change apartments and make a lot of other changes in my life.  Turned out to be a really pivotal point that lead me to a lot of other things, including Manhattan Michael, who I basically met the next day.  The song itself is a deceptively simple thing of sheer beauty, it’s all late afternoon sunshine and reassuring optimism and is easily in my Top 5 Tracks of All Time.  Whenever I listen to it, it just reminds me that there is nothing to be gained from dwelling on the past and, at the end of the day, everything is going to be alright.

KEY LYRIC : “There’s nothing to be gained by running all those bad times through your head again.”

05 – That Day – Natalie Imbruglia

WHY : Little known Glenn Fact #17 – when he was 22, he almost got the whole entire set of lyrics tattooed in lower case typewriter font down the middle of his back.  Whether he should count his lucky stars it was too complicated and delicate for the tattoo artist is a debate for the ages.  Read the lyrics though, it’s a really beautiful and uplifting song.  Few songs have ever captured the wonderous mess of the human experience as well as this.  Life is messy, and that’s a beautiful thing.  And that’s okay.

KEY LYRIC : “..and I’m nothing, and I’m true – only a brave man could break through.  And it’s all okay, yeah it’s okay”

06 – When You Were Young – The Killers

WHY : Have to thanks a certain Mr Sloshy G for this one.  One of the first times someone has really come to me and said “Glenn – this song COMPLETELY reminds me of you” and then been so dead on.  If you were to take an emotional snapshot of me in 2006, this would be a pretty perfect encapsulation of me back then – both as someone really fighting with all my energy to be the best person that I could be in spite of some really shitty things I had done and how, in a lot of ways, I was hoping for someone to come along and save me, even though I was always too busy trying to save other people.

KEY LYRIC : “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus but he talks like a gentleman, like you imagined when you were young.”

07 – The Long Way Around – Dixie Chicks

WHY : God, if this isn’t the sound of me walking down London streets bouncing along to my iPod, I don’t know what is.  I mean, I didn’t choose it because of that, but it still takes me back to walking home down Knightsbridge every day in the summer regardless.  As trite as it sounds, I’ve had a pretty independent journey through most of my adulthood to get to where I’ve wanted to be, and this song celebrates how much that shapes you, as well as how lonely it can be, albeit in a thoroughly necessary way.  I’ve spent so many years butting my head against every brick wall known to mankind with my idealism, but it’s all a necessary part of what’s shaped me, and you’ve always got to appreciate that.

KEY LYRIC : “It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself, guess I coulda made it easier on myself but I could never follow..”

08 – Fuck And Run – Liz Phair

WHY : Well, clearly this one is self explanatory, right?  Eeek.  Nah, I don’t care – obviously I’m not the shy type with things like this!   There is a definitely a part of this that is a very clear reflection of my feelings of the literal hundreds of one nights stands I had over the last decade, but it goes beyond that.  A lot of it is almost the weird emotional connection you often accidentally make with a one night stand, especially when you’re younger.  One of my worst habits is that I tend to be quite intimate when I’m, you know, and that often misleads people into thinking that it is something more than it is.  I guess this sums up a lot of the regret I carried around for a long time for basically unintentionally leading people on.  And more than anything the fact that, in spite of it all, I really would have traded it all in for someone special and for something sweet and romantic and like the kind of thing 1950’s movies idealised.

KEY LYRIC : “I want a boyfriend.  I want all that stupid old shit like letters and sodas.  Like letters and sodas..”

09 – How To Make Gravy – Paul Kelly

WHY : This almost got traded in for Leaps and Bounds about 100 times in the lead up to making this, but at the end of the day, this has more emotional resonance with me.  There are only a handful of songs that truly can’t fail to make me cry each and every time, and this is one of about three (another is coming up next).  A raw, wry account of one man’s life in jail longing for his family, I struggle finding the words to identify why I connect with it so much.  It’s probably twofold.  On one hand, a lot of it has to do with me being overseas and feeling like I was so, so far away from the family that I cared for so much.  And the other, it always reminds me of my Dad for some reason, who obviously I haven’t spoken to or included in my life for almost a decade now.  But the isolation, peace and longing in this just breaks my heart into a million little pieces every time.

KEY LYRIC : “And you’ll dance with Rita, I know you really like her.  Just don’t hold her too close, Oh Brother please don’t stab me in the back.  I didn’t mean to say that, I guess the mind, it plays up..”

10 – Past, Present, Future – The Shangri Las

WHY :  And here we have the other song on the CD that is absolutely, hands down, guaranteed to make me weep like a little baby girl each and every time.  Fucking hell, besides Empty by Ray LaMontagne and Joey by Concrete Blonde, this is literally the most perfect encapsulation of sadness ever committed to record.  Without going into what the song was originally written about, it’s something that sums up the isolation and loneliness that I got swallowed up in after moving back to Australia a few years back better than anything I’ve seen before or since.  The pure desolate beauty of this track is just amazing and oh so affecting.

KEY LYRIC : “I’m all packed up and I’m on my way and I’m gonna fall in love.  But at the moment it doesn’t look good, at the moment it will never happen again.  I don’t think it will ever happen again.”

11 – Brighter Discontent – The Submarines

WHY : Fuck this song is so amazing.  A deceptively light-hearted and determined account of isolation, depression and love lost, it’s as sadly beautiful as it is disarmingly melodic.  I still remember the first time I heard this, used in the season final of Nip/Tuck as almost like a precursor to Glee, and just being transfixed and HAVING to own it.  It’s about a lot of things to me, moving to Sydney, finding the perfect apartment, finding the perfect life and basically feeling just as empty inside as I felt before.  Literally, this is the soundtrack to any one of the countless nights I’ve spent the last few years sitting by myself on the couch with Big Joe trying to reconcile the feelings of genuine happiness I feel for everything that I have and the emptiness for the fact I’ve never had anyone to share it with.  SHRUGS.

KEY LYRIC : “I rearranged the place a million times today, but the ordering of objects couldn’t hide what’s missing.  All these things should make me happy, make me happy to be home again.”

12 – Chinese – Lily Allen

WHY : And, to the flip side, this is about nothing more than how much I miss my Mum.  I’ve always said a million times, I’m so fantastically lucky that my Mum is literally one of my best friends in the world.  And genuinely.  We have a relationship that transcends the typical parental roles, which I suppose is a side effect of my having such an untraditional upbringing.  All the life skills and values and strong moral foundation that I pride myself on having are a direct effect of having such an amazingly strong, loving and dedicated Mother and to say I’m eternally grateful is an understatement.  Honestly, my favourite thing to do whenever I have a few days off is to just go up home and hang out and talk.  As I said, completely lucky.

KEY LYRIC : “I don’t want anything more than to see your face when I walk through the door.  Tomorrow we’ll take the dog for a walk and in the afternoon maybe we’ll talk.  I’ll be exhausted so I’ll probably sleep and we’ll get a Chinese and watch TV.”

13 – Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do – Robyn

WHY : Probably the angriest song on the CD, which is funny considering it was birthed by a former Swedish-Pop Pixie.  I still remember the first time I heard this and I was just utterly transfixed by how amazingly dark and sinister it all was.  I copped a lot of flak on the samesame boards for putting this in their Top Five Songs of the Year over more traditional songs like Dancing On My Own or Indestructible.  Even now I stand by, all personal feelings aside, the fact that this is genuinely one of the most creatively thrilling pieces of music I’ve heard in years.  In four minutes it is literally everything that excites me about music.  And so help me God if it doesn’t sum up all the frustration and weariness and resentment I’ve felt over the last year or two regarding work and my life and some of the choices I’ve made, amongst other things.  I guess this is the sound of the pressure I feel every day, even if most of it is pressure that I heap on myself.

KEY LYRIC : “My drinking is killing me.  My smoking is killing me.  My head is killing me.  My mind is killing me.  My back is killing me.  My gut is killing me.  My email is killing me.  These hours are killing me.  This flight is killing me.  My manager is killing me.  Ease up, you’re killing me.  Don’t fucking tell me what to do..”

14 – Rehab – Amy Winehouse

WHY : If the previous song is the sound of all the things in my life that are running me into the ground, Rehab is the triumphant battle cry of me knowing that I’ll get past it all again.  I know that this song has basically been devalued into an ironic pop culture eulogy for the late Miss Winehouse now, but for me it’s always been the sound of a battle cry, not the sound of someone giving up.  It always amazes me how the generally public just seem to put you in a certain box once you have a public problem and just assume that that’s that.  The thing is, a lot of people have demons and, for every one that can’t get past them, there’s another that’s can.  Honestly, as much as I’ve been accused of having a drinking problem by a lot of people this past year or so (and, believe me, we’re talking about a LOT of people), I never really thought that I did.  Mostly because I always had control of it.  And it was funny, because for all of the talk going on about it – where were those people?  I don’t remember coming home to find myself on an episode of Intervention.  I guess I just got really sad for a while, about a lot of different things, and getting a little buzz on at night really helped me get through a lot of it while I reconstructed and healed.  Am I came out of it fifty bazillion times stronger for it.  Plus, it looks really fun on Cougar Town..

KEY LYRIC : “Yes I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know.  I don’t never wanna drink again.  I just, oh I just need a friend.  And I don’t wanna spend ten weeks, have everyone think I am on the mend.”

15 – Real Late Starter – Nerina Pallot

WHY :  Well, if this isn’t the most self-explanatory song of the whole disc.  Or maybe that’s just me?  I mean, it’s basically the single biggest battle I’ve faced through the last decade is the fact that I’m just this incredibly lazy person.  Not even lazy, per se, because I think that’s such an incredibly negative thing to level at oneself.  More so that I’m just so content to just sit and dwell in my thoughts and creative processes.  Writing is something that has always comes so incredibly easy to me that I’m just happy to sit for hours on end wafting from thought to thought, never trying.  The problem is, those weeks on end become months then years on end and then, suddenly, hear you are, with all your God given talent being poured into nothing more than a blog, because you squandered the last decade of your life.  Personally, I like to think of it as intense research into the human condition.   But that’s just because I’m a glorious wanker, clearly.

KEY LYRIC : “Oh you could call it lazy – I just think of it as taking my time.  I’m a real late starter so I’m making up for lost time”

16 – Funny Girl – Idina Menzel

WHY :  Look, it really tore me up whether to use the Glee version or the original Babs Streisand version because, honestly, what is gayer between the two right?  But I never really noticed this song until Glee did it late in season one.  And it’s just amazing.  It’s definitely one of the key tracks on this and probably the closest I have to a theme song besides Dancing In The Dark.  Every now and then you’re lucky to find a piece of music that so clearly and utterly defines you and  this, my friends, is probably the single clearest summation of who I am that you can find.  It’s weird, because it’s not meant to be overly morose or self-pitying, although obviously there is a degree of martyrdom in it.  Mostly it’s just that my whole life, I’ve always been the comedic relief, you know?  I’m the guy that keeps everyone happy and laughing.  And the hard part about that is, in order to be that guy, you’ve always got to be outside a moment, outside a situation, in order to pull it apart and wring a laugh out of it.  So it’s a double edged sword – on one hand, you always get to keep the people around you happy, but you can never be connected into the moment in order to do that, you need to be outside of it.  It’s strange.

KEY LYRIC : “That’s me – I just keep them in stitches, doubled in half.  And though I may be all wrong for the guy, I’m good for a laugh.”

17 – All My Life – Evan Dando

WHY : Sweet Jesus I love this song.  So simple, yet so heartbreakingly effective.  The main hook (see below) is just one of the most genius lyrics of all time, the way it just loops around and around and around.  The Lemonheads have always been one of my favourite bands but, for some reason, it was this solo album that really just captured how I feel inside.  It’s so weary but romantic and hopeful.  I think that’s the biggest thing that kind of scared me after I handed these things out, I think most people will see a lot of these things are woefully depressing and not realize that a lot of the more melancholy numbers were actually selected for their underlying optimism.  This is such an amazingly happy song for me, truly an account of someone who has made it out the other side with a clear perspective of how they’ve lived their life, and that’s something I really value in myself because I think a lot of people really don’t have that.  It’s sad.

KEY LYRIC : “All my life I thought I needed all the things I didn’t need at all my life I thought I wanted all the things I didn’t want at all”

18 – The Middle – Jimmy Eat World

WHY : If it weren’t for Dancing In The Dark, I’d say this is the best pop song of all time, hands down.  It’s just AMAZING.  Literally, it’s my go-to song when I want to be cheered up and uplifted, it’s just so energetic and happy and reassuring.  It’s like my aural security blanker whenever things get hard, it always reminds me that things will be better around the corner and to not let people get me down.

KEY LYRIC : “It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.  And everything will be just fine, everything will be alright.”

19 – Born This Way – Lady Gaga

WHY : This should have been Who Says by John Mayer or There Goes The Fear by Doves, but there’s only so much decade defining thinking a fella can do in two and a half hours.  Still, this is a corker of a song.  Obviously it’s self-empowerment anthem-a-palooza, but I like that about it as it comes from such a genuine place.  Plus, as a card carrying Christian, I really appreciate how it, however superficially addresses the fact that God loved everyone no matter what, because he made them that way, something I think the Christian Church Dogma has danced around for too long..

KEY LYRIC : “God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby I was born this way.”

20 – Empire State of Mind – Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys

WHY :  NEWWWW YAAAAAAAWWWWWWWKKK – Concrete Jungle where dreams are made off!  What more is there to say?  New York is my second home.  Heck, a lot times it feels like my real home.  It’s the only place I feel like I can be myself and people get me – they can keep up with me there, understand my conversation, get my reference, etc.  Plus, dudes there for some reason find me WAY hotter than Aussie dudes.  FACT.  It’s where I want to spend the rest of my life and grow old one day.  It’s the only place I can imagine I’ll ever be able to get my writing career off the ground.  In short, it’s basically hope for me, which is something everybody needs at some point.

KEY LYRIC : “There’s nothing you can’t do now you’re in New York, these  streets will make you feel brand new.”

So yeah.  Not my favourite 20 tracks of the past decade or anything like that (I mean – there’s no Josh Rouse or Girls Aloud for one thing), but a good little overview of my journey through the decade.  Could have gone very differently without some of the last minutes cuts – Who Says by John Mayer, Empty by Ray LaMontagne, Top Of The World by Dixie Chicks and Lithium by Nirvana – I’m looking at you.  But, in hindsight, it still came through a little more melancholy than I intended, but a pretty cohesive and definitive effort for something I put together in three hours..

If anyone wants a copy, just shoot me a message as I have a few spare.

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