Hearing in paired: Whiskey

Some people feel and taste colors. Other people associate feelings with sounds. Me? Well, I drink in music. In this blog series, I pour myself a glass and pair 10 sips to 10 songs. Today, I’m drinking whiskey and it tastes like angry drum beats and dirty guitar riffs. 

Good ol’ whiskey. Or is it whisky? Or is it Scotch?

Well, whiskey or whisky is ultimately the same thing. Some argue that you should spell it with an ‘e’ if it’s distilled in the United States. While others claim that the difference in spelling is a style choice, similar to color versus colour. And Scotch is just whiskey/whisky from Scotland.

So you see, everything about this simple beverage is overly complicated, with its many options to consider, from a blend to a single malt to the years its aged to the country of its birth. Yet, its popularity is unwavering. I dare you to try to take away Fireball Cinnamon Whisky from American twenty-somethings. They might be grossed out by gluten, but high amounts of propylene glycol (the ingredient that got Fireball banned in parts of Europe) is perfectly all right. And connoisseurs pledge allegiance to a brand, as I once witnessed a Johnnie Walker drinker thumb his nose at a perfectly poured glass of Glenlivet.

As for me, I don’t hold fealty to any particular brand and am only an occasional whiskey drinker because it tends to bring out my least endearing qualities. Yet, for the scientific purposes of this blog series, I poured myself a glass of the 12 year old Scotch blend of Chivas Regal (over tons of ice) and paired my first ten sips to ten songs that captured what I was tasting and feeling.

Whiskey Sounds

Sip 1 – Boys Wanna Be Her by Peaches

The bass drum matched my heart beat as I let out a deep exhale, followed by a gulp. As soon as the liquid heat touched my tongue, I felt like I’d been challenged to a fight in a parking lot. Only my opponent was the whiskey and the only way to kick its ass was to drink it all.

Sip 2 – Walking Backwards by Leagues

I felt my face contort until I swallowed and then I slammed the glass on the counter because I immediately regretted this stupid idea. I grabbed the edges of the counter top with both hands and let the liquid run through my body like the bass line of this song.

Sip 3 – No Angel by Dark Like Snow

The third sip was much smoother than the first two. My body stopped fighting the whiskey, allowing it to run its course through my veins, my joints and my muscles.

Sip 4 – Breaks Me Down by Stars and Crosses

I felt the warmth of the fourth sip on my face, which tricked me into momentarily wanting to relax, but just like the midway point of this song, I became hyper and irreverent shortly after.

Sip 5 – For This I Can’t Be Sure by Sunparlour Players

I became chatty and loud. As many times as the title of this song gets repeated as a lyric, I too attempted to explain a simple concept by just saying it over and over again.

Sip 6 – People Are Strange by Johnny Hollow

I convinced myself that everyone else is the problem. I wasn’t able to pin-point what that problem was, but there was one and they had it.

Sip 7 – Middle of the Road by The Pretenders

Out loud, without prompting and without reason, I said, “Fuck everybody,” which is what I think the guitar riff is really saying in this song.

Sip 8 – Walkin up the Road by Betty Davis

My throat is raw for some reason. Maybe because for the eighth time I’ve poured gasoline down my trachea. I feel like my voice now sounds like Betty Davis – both the white one and the black one.

Sip 9 – I Know What I Am by Band of Skulls

It never fails. This libation brings out the worst in me. And by the ninth sip, I had in fact convinced myself that I was infallible, invincible and maybe even invisible as well. I let my mind wander to places of paranoia and regret. And then look at my glass for my tenth and final sip.

Sip 10 – I Want To Be Your Joey Ramone by Sleater-Kinney

After the gulp, I stared at the glass and wiped my upper lip with the tips of my fingers. I regretted doing this experiment on an empty stomach. And then I remembered it didn’t matter because I’m a rock star in the rough. “I wanna be your Joey Ramone/Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah/Pictures of me on your bedroom door.”

Below is a full list of the 10 songs for my 10 sips:

And, of course, an after photo of the whole ordeal for posterity:


NaNoWriMo: Day 22

I find myself in an impossible situation. The word count deficit is so high I’m afraid it will tip over and swallow me in an avalanche of imaginary adjectives and commas. Everyone knows imaginary words hurt more than those written and I have little tolerance for pain. And I can’t numb myself with alcohol because I’ve given up hangovers for Thanksgiving.

Most importantly, I’m pretty certain that the 50,000 word novel I’m supposed to  I will have finished on December 1 at midnight will not make any sense to human beings. Zombies on the other hand are going to identify with the completely vacant plot and dead characters.

At least I found my niche.

To celebrate, I’ve created a fantastic playlist to torture myself to as NaNoWriMo winds down. It’s likely to be the most interesting project I produced all month.

  1. “Mundo Bizarro,” by Electro Dub Tango
  2. “Dance Me to the End of Love,” by Madeleine Peyroux
  3. “Always Like This,” by Bombay Bicycle Club
  4. “Sloop John B,” by The Beach Boys
  5. “Time of the Season,” by The Zombies
  6. “Hide and Seek,” By Imogen Heap
  7. “Lost In My Mind,” The Head and the Heart
  8. “Walk on the Wild Side,” Lou Reed
  9. “BomBom,” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  10. “American Nomad,” by The Apache Relay
  11. “Asleep,” by The Smiths
  12. “Time of No Reply,” by Nick Drake
  13. “The Fall,” by Rhye
  14. “Bones,” by MS MR
  15. “Vapour Trail,” by Ride
  16. “Slow and Steady,” by Of Monsters and Men
  17. “Blackbird,” by Paul McCartney
  18. “Biting Down,” by Lorde
  19. “Sparkly,” by Young Magic
  20. “Nothing Matters,” by Tricky

You can find the playlist on Spotify under the name “Twilighting.” Not because I have an affinity for Mormon vampires, but as a result of the time of night/morning it gets played to keep me company as I write.

Music sounds better with all of you

I share a lot. Some may argue too much. From the first time I shaved my legs to my first time. It’s all here. For the world to read.

Sharing my deepest and darkest secrets.

One thing I’m always reluctant to share, however, is the contents of my iTunes. I think it sends a mixed message of who I am. It screams I-menstruated-for-the-first-time-at-Lilith-Fair-while-on-ecstasy.

I have just as many Britney Spears tracks as I do David Guetta. I also have every recording ever made by robe-wearing monks. As a matter of fact, I can probably do an awesome monk mashup of Tibetan and Gregorian chants – and set it to a Spears-Guetta mash of I Wanna Go and I Wanna Go Crazy.

There was a time when I wasn’t embarrassed about my music. I made mix-tapes for everyone I knew. And then, when technology allowed for it, I made mix-CDs and gave them funny names like, “The Best Sex I Never Had,” “Are You Gay?” and “I’m Over It.” For the most part, people enjoyed my tapes and CDs, and I tried very hard to stick with the theme, whether it was Musicals or Smooth Jazz.

But that all changed with the invention of the iPod. Not only did the mix-tape become extinct, but we all started walking around with our entire record collection in our pockets. No longer was I judged solely on my selection of 12 tracks of upbeat dance music. Now when plugging my iPod in the hopes of creating an instant party in a room at the Holiday Inn on the Fourth of July I was exposing every dance track I ever owned.

“Change that!” “Oh my God, what kind of playlist is this?” “You actually paid money for that song?”

Those are actual quotes from people exposed to my, “Party People” playlist. Sure, it leads with I’m too Sexy and winds down with Unexpected Lovers, but that’s the kind party I like to throw. I’m pretty certain the inventors of Pandora experienced this same rejection and therefore thought to create their perfect website that magically plays the music you like. Even giving you an option to never hear a song again, in case I’m too Sexy starts playing unexpectedly.

For years now, I’ve kept my playlists secret. Until recently. When I joined Spotify.

Of course, I was scared at first. I worried what were people going to think about my obsession with Everything But The Girl. But then, something amazing happened. I realized that this website was not about music at all. It’s really about the disposition and intent of the person that created the playlist.

For instance, one of my Spotifriends has a workout mix that lasts nine minutes. And by the looks of the artists, it’s an intense nine minutes. If she was too thin, I’d assume that she works out every hour for nine minutes. I’d also assume she was anorexic and this was her way of crying out to me. If she was fat, I’d assume she used this playlist once a week, warm up for the first five and cool down on the last three minutes. But, she’s neither too thin or fat. She’s just right. Which leads me to believe she’s on some amazing, new fad workout technique that gets you in shape by doing some weird yoga pose for nine minutes a day.

Another Spotter has a 12 minute relaxing mega mix entitled, “I’d like to buy a bowel?” I’m pretty sure it’s a joke. I don’t think anyone really has a playlist to poop to. I really hope it’s a joke.

I’m lying. I hope it’s real.

I want to know these things about all my friends. I want to know all of it. I want to know what songs people listen to. I want to judge. And, I too want to say, “Oh my God, what kind of a playlist is this?” And, I totally want to see the time it takes you to get ready for “Date Night,” or “Night Prowling,” or what you listen to when you’re “Locked up.”

And I don’t care about exposing my playlists anymore. So what if you know I listen to Amy Winehouse while I write. And, yes, my “Writing” mix is exactly an hour. Funny enough, I’m on the next to last song, which means I should be wrapping this up, because as soon as I hear Valerie I know to hit publish. If you want to know what songs I dance to and/or how many minutes my sexy-time playlist is, let me know, I’ll send you an invite for Spotify.