The Stuff of Personal Development

By Miles Erickson

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The Stuff of Personal Development
You may have noticed that the last issue of the paper contained a bit more of my work than usual. Because of this, I have been completely drained of inspiration and comedic material. So now, without further ado, my review of the homeless man who sings Elvis on the steps of Hollywood High. Eight out of 10 thought the best part was when a security guard tried to tackle him and fell down the stairs. After turning in my last piece, I went on a long journey in search of comedic material. This journey led to the mountains of Tibet, where I’m currently writing. Unfortunately, Buddhist monks aren’t nearly as funny as you’d expect. I was thinking about Buddhist monks recently because about six months ago, for reasons that I’m going to leave intentionally vague, I began a period of artificial personal growth. That is to say, rather than my emotional development happening naturally over time, I tried to force a life-changing revelation through meditation, sound baths, breathing exercises, yoga, and, just like the Beatles and somewhat against my will, Transcendental Meditation (TM). (Side Note: Did you know that, in order to participate in TM, you’re required to give an offering of anywhere between $300-$950? This was explained to me as being a show of faith and willingness to invest in yourself. Which is a very roundabout way of saying, “Give me a thousand dollars, you idiot.”) While on this journey, I checked myself into a wellness clinic that specialized in all the aforementioned personal growth stuff. I felt like Don Draper at the end of Mad Men, except, instead of reaching enlightenment, I watched a man go on a hunger strike for three days until the staff agreed to give us free HBO. Enjoy this week’s playlist. Namaste. Long Distance Listening Party Vol. 6 Everybody Wants to Rule the World—Pomplamoose Bang Bang You’re Dead—Dirty Pretty Things Sister Europe—Foo Fighters Running Up That Hill—Chromatics (You Will) Set The World On Fire—David Bowie The Wonder of You—Villagers She’s Electric—Oasis A Certain Romance—Arctic Monkeys Blue Flower—Mazzy Star Running Up That Hill, Chromatics. Often times, when I talk about song covers, I feel as though the cover succeeds at being a better all around song than the original, but in doing so, it sacrifices the original’s...uh...for lack of a better term, “originality.” Kate Bush is an artist that I have a lot of mixed feelings about. I think that the production in her songs is superb and, in a lot of ways, aesthetically ahead of its time. But her vocals, being so theatrical and operatic, tend to stick out and not mesh well with the rest of the piece. This version tones down the theatrics and brings the song to a more grounded level where the meat of the song, the beat and the melody, are given equal importance to the vocals, rather than being a backdrop for them. The Wonder of You, Villagers. After talking about Michael Kiwanuka’s Cold Little Heart in the last edition of this column, a friend of mine mentioned this song to me, also from the “Big Little Lies” TV series soundtrack. Generally, I try to not stack the playlist with recurring artists and albums, otherwise this playlist would be called “What Ween song is Miles listening to this week?” But, this cover of “The Wonder of You,” that as far as I can tell, was recorded specifically for the show’s soundtrack, is very good. In fact, it’s so good that the show uses it in place of actual character development, more than once. She’s Electric, Oasis. People like to point out that Oasis copies a lot of their best stuff from Beatles songs. I tend to think about it more as artistic appropriation, like George Lucas borrowing from Kurosawa or Tarantino taking stuff from pulpy exploitation movies. You’re creating something new built on the foundation of something that’s come before. This song is a terrible argument against those claiming Oasis plagiarized the Beatles because it literally sounds like it was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Also, I have no idea how true this is, but while researching for this article, I read that Liam Gallagher refused to play this song live for years because it was “too gay,” which I found interesting since it’s literally a song about being in a relationship with a woman. A Certain Romance, Arctic Monkeys. “Whatever People Say I Am,” and “Favorite Worst Nightmare” are two of the best albums of the past 20 years. “AM” not so much, and that’s a hill I’m prepared to die on. Don’t get me wrong, I like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” as much as the next guy, I guess, but everything the Arctic Monkeys has put out post 2010 feels a bit overproduced and neutered compared to their prior discography. Fortunately for you, this song exists in the aforementioned “prior discography.” This playlist is available on Spotify. Search “Long Distance Listening Party” or my username, Mileserickson-354. New songs will be added every two weeks to coincide with this piece’s publication. Miles Erickson is a recent graduate of CalArts, published author, and currently enrolled in a prestigious, 4-year, student loan repayment program. Long Distance Listening Party is a bi-weekly column whose vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what I’m currently listening to.

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April 15, 2022