Sunday, July 27, 2008

The All-Nighter

Whenever I get a few days in a row off from work, I tell myself that somewhere in the middle of it, I’ll pull an all-nighter. This is a hell of a thing to pull off at fifty. So why do it, you ask? I don’t know. To pretend that my body and mind still work independent of normal waking hours when I feel like it? I already know it’s not true, and it makes me pretty useless for the next several days. Whatever my motivation, I know I’ll need a soundtrack for it.

Going out drinking with buddies doesn’t count. It involves too much fun and comradery, giving the night it’s own momentum. And that’s what the jukebox is for, anyway.

I’m referring to the nights that are sugar or caffeine inspired, “dark night of the soul” or at least “I need to be alone” time. So what can you put on at those times that won’t be too up and cheerful, but also have enough musical interest to make your all-nighter unique? And which records risk a consistency of tone that might not be immediately inviting, but that will sustain you through literally dark times?

The answer has been different, depending on the medium. Back when we had vinyl and used record changers, you could stack up six sides on top of each other and just let them rip for a couple of hours. Of course, when we all became more responsible about our records (as opposed to our bodies) we used turntables, which only allowed you to play one record - and one side for that matter - at a time. Whatever it was you were doing, you had to stop every twenty minutes or so, and change the side.

But one advantage LPs had over CDs was that when you were dealing with a schizophrenic record – one whose first and second sides are drastically different - you could put on just the side that fit the mood. Some examples are:

  • “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” by Bob Dylan, which comprises side 4 of “Blonde on Blonde”.
  • “Dark Star” by the Grateful Dead, which is Side 1 of “Live/Dead.” There are probably a dozen other Dead sides that would do the trick, but this one’s my favorite.
  • “On the Beach” (Side 2) by Neil Young
  • “Before and After Science” (Side 2), Brian Eno
  • “Low” (Side 2), David Bowie
  • “Heroes” (Side 2), David Bowie

On the other hand, CDs with a consistency of tone throughout can get you ten times the depression for your effort if you’ve got a multi-disc player. Try records like:

  • “There’s a Riot Going On” by Sly and the Family Stone
  • “Third” by Big Star
  • “Tonight’s the Night” by Neil Young
  • “Second Edition” by Public Image, Ltd.
  • “Communique” by Dire Straits
  • “Closer” Joy Division

And if you haven’t slit your wrists by now, these next records can be quite nice for traveling through interstellar space:

  • “Another Green World” by Brian Eno
  • “Ambient Works, Vol. II” by Aphex Twin (also good for depressions)
  • “The Koln Concert” by Keith Jarrett
  • “In a Silent Way” by Miles Davis
  • “Adventure” by Television

And if the caffeine hasn’t worn off yet, go to your Morning Music list. Otherwise, get some sleep, ya crazy nut!