Today's edition of Listening...comes with a twist and a story.
Even though I have plenty of music to which I can listen, sometimes my collection seems a little stale and needs some lift. How do I do this while living by the Frugal Rule? Though the beginning of this new personal trend met the Frugal Rule, I don't think it's sustainable, especially when it involves picking up new and free music at a place Dave Ramsey affectionately calls, "FiveBucks." I use Keith Law's "Charbucks (probably not an original coining)."
A few years ago, my dear wife, who basically lives by the Frugal Rule without too much thought, had one big hole in her Rule living: coffee. After beginning intentionally living the Frugal Rule a few years ago, she dropped splurging on coffee--buying smaller sizes, and less expensive drinks and definitely less frequent stops at coffee merchants while packing her own in reusable container full of her java drink of choice. She still finds stopping at a coffee merchant a simple pleasure and a jolt for her day. We came to a mutual conclusion--skip greeting cards for special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, other card holidays) and put that money toward a coffee card. I have strategically made these coffee card purchases throughout the Seattle-Tacoma metro so that my dear wife can get her jolt in strategic locations and be reminded that her husband is thinking of her.
Back to the direct music reference: Charbucks started giving away free iTunes songs in their stores (uh-oh), and while taking a trip to get my wife a coffee beverage a few weeks ago, I found the iTunes songs, and I am just about hooked. It seems to happen about every other year or so, I buy something to get attached to something that is supposed to be free. I can be a real sucker: 4 years ago I ate boxes of crappy cereal so I could collect a pile of "free" mini baseball bobbleheads that I ended up selling at my garage sale for 7 bucks. At least, collecting "free" music from Charbucks doesn't take up the physical space that bobble heads do. And, if I want to create a coffeehouse ambiance in my house, the songs I have collected fit the bill:
The Rake's Song--The Decemberists
Who Will Comfort Me--Melody Gardot
What is it about a song that makes it scream, "play me in a coffee house (although a coffee house song would never scream, screaming is not cool--maybe a sub-muted loud)!"? My sample size is still small, and we will see how much of a sucker I am for "free" music before I can answer this question. I don't know if Coffee House music can be its own sub-genre, but I can tell you one thing about some of these songs--it makes me smile to look at a picture of the band and their pose and remember South Park's Eric Cartman (satirizing) naming the essentials of posing for an album cover in the episode Chrisitan Rock Hard. (Watch the full episode here) The Decemberists and Gomez essentially fall into the Cartman trap--bands should avoid being pictured on most promotional materials.
After a few listens, Melody Gardot has the best song, but it's damn depressing. I don't mind depression affirmation or drifting into melancholy, but a steady diet outside a time of mourning is a little tough to digest. All of these songs may get a little more play with me over the next few weeks in order to validate my fabulous find (ha). If they make a regular rotation, I'll let you know.
Now I know why the Melody Gardot song is so depressing even though the music isn't necessarily that way. This biography and song is authentically depressing and hopeful. This song would resonate with me during a theological reflection in a church service than any crappy praise song ever could. This is a good song.