This is an email I sent a few months ago.

from:            Tony Ditta <tjditta@gmail.com>
to:               <EMAIL ADDRESSES REDACTED TO MAINTAIN PRIVACY>
date:            Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 12:14 AM
subject:        SONGS
mailed-by:    gmail.com

<NAMES REDACTED TO MAINTAIN PRIVACY> –

This summer we talked about songs in which people talked, coughed, and otherwise did non-musical things. You may have forgotten about that conversation, BUT I HAVE NOT. As such, I am sharing a playlist of some of my favorite such songs. I tried not to include too many live songs because that’s sort of cheating, but there are some REALLY good live ones, so those have been included.

Here’s the link.

Here are some liner notes:

  • “Say Yes” by Elliott Smith—This is the song that started our conversation. Elliott Smith coughs at the beginning of the song. It’s a remarkably human touch from a seemingly detached artist.

  • “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” by Bob Dylan—HOT TAKE: I think it’s totally ok that Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize, and I think the backlash is overblown. This song starts with Bob Dylan playing the opening, and then the band misses their intro, so Bob Dylan laughs and the band leader laughs and says “start again… wait a minute now… ok take two.” It’s pretty great.

  • “Barfly” by Marcy Playground—After the song the lead singer tells a joke. It’s a solid pun.

  • “Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town” by Pearl Jam—Eddie Vedder (lead singer of Pearl Jam) leads into this song by saying “this one’s called, uh… longest title in the Pearl Jam catalog… Elderly Woman… Behind the Counter… In a… Small… Town… One-two-three four-two,” and it’s awesome. It ends with Eddie Vedder saying “pretty good singin’ there” (in reference to the audience singing along with him). I quote both of these occasionally, so now you understand a cultural reference that I like to make.
  • “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam—Right before the guitar solo (at about 1:49), Eddie Vedder says “make me cry,” as in “play this guitar solo so dang well that it makes me cry.” It’s great.

  • “About A Girl” by Nirvana—After the audience applause dies down at the beginning, Kurt Cobain (lead singer of Nirvana) says “Good evening… this is off our first record. Most people don’t own it.” Kurt Cobain ended up killing himself. I think people have a tendency to romanticize the mystique of an artist who kills himself, but there are definitely some clues that he had a troubled mind: the unnecessary self-deprecation, the detachment from his audience, etc. I’ve included a few songs from this album because it’s super great. It’s a live album, so it sort of goes against my “not too many live songs” principle, but it’s super duper good, so I couldn’t help myself. It’s a good sampling of Nirvana, and the banter from Kurt Cobain provides an interesting insight into his psyche.

  • “The Man Who Sold The World” by Nirvana—At the very end of this song, Kurt Cobain says “that was a David Bowie song.” David Bowie complained because young people thought this song was originally by Nirvana and that he did a cover it. Which, first of all, chill out David Bowie; people like your music, don’t be pretentious about it. Second of all, Nirvana did their part to give him credit.

  • “Something In The Way” by Nirvana—This one ends with some excellent banter.

  • “Your Love Is My Drug” by Ke$ha—All of Ke$ha’s singing is basically talking, but she ends this song by saying “I like your beard,” and it’s pretty great.
  • “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake (feat. Jay-Z)—At about 3:14, Justin Timberlake says “get up out your seat Hov,” which is hilarious because in the music video Jay-Z gets out of his seat and immediately sits down in another seat. Jay-Z sometimes goes by “Hov,” an abbreviation of “Jehovah,” which is a bad translation of “Yahweh,” the name of the Judeo-Christian god, because Jay-Z considers himself the god of rap.

  • “Moment of Clarity” by Jay-Z—The song begins with Sean “Jay-Z” Carter giving us a few “whoos” and “uh-huhs” and “yeahs” and then “turn the music up, turn the lights down, I’m in my zone.” It’s awesome. My friend Isaac has the whole thing memorized.

  • “Lucifer” by Jay-Z—At about 0:16, Jay-Z says “Kanyeezy you did it again, you a genius.” I like this one because (i) he gives a shoutout to the guy who made the beat, and (ii) the guy who made the beat is Kanye West, who went on to become a reasonably famous musician in his own right.
  • “Threat” by Jay-Z—Lots of hilarious vocal sampling in this one.

  • “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day – At about 0:04 the lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong says “fuck” because he messes up the intro. It’s awesome.

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I was supposed to be doing homework. I did this instead.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Tony Ditta
Tony graduated in 2012 with majors in mathematics and economics. He now lives in Chicago and is pursuing graduate study in economics. He also has a very good cultural trivia podcast called "Here's My Number, So Call Me Ishmael" available on Libsyn, iTunes, and Google Play.

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