Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"DJ Planet"

When I'm not masquerading as an English teacher, I'm masquerading as a musician (and this is where I plug my page at GarageBand). I can't pass myself off as a good performer, but I like to think my musical ideas are worth realizing. And on top of that, there's this:

Sometimes I write music in my sleep.

I dream about music all the time, sometimes about already existing music, sometimes about music that hasn't been written yet. I can only think of one or two instances where a song from one of my dreams survived the transformation to an actual song. One of the songs I recorded in Minneapolis, "Next in the Campaign is Mars," started out as a memory from a dream, looping in my head when I woke up one morning. Most of the time, however, I dream about already existing music, or my brain invents a horrendously bad song that is better off forgotten.

Which brings me to the subject of the dream I had this morning. In my dream, I'm in the basement of my old house, listening to XTC's album Black Sea (1980, Virgin Records). Okay, no surprises so far. XTC was, after all, an important part of my childhood. For those uninformed, XTC is a good -- I mean, great -- I mean, legendary band from Swindon, England which, while not in time for the British Invasion, was an integral part of the British Occupation. Their long musical saga has taken them through a spectrum of genre zones including punk, new wave, pop/rock and psychedelic.

Notice: I didn't say "rap."

Yet, in my dream, I'm listening to this album, and suddenly I notice a hiphop song on it that I failed to notice before. Just kind of stuck in there, between "Burning with Optimism's Flames" and "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" there is a track called "DJ Planet."

Now, I can't give my brain full credit for writing "DJ Planet." The fact is, the music bears a striking (if not absolute) resemblance to the song "Funky Radio" from the Jet Set Radio soundtrack. But slapped on top of that music is the worst set of vocals imagineable. Imagine, if you can, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding belting out the following chorus, in their best imitations of authoritative "rapper" voices:

DJ Planet! / Energy!
DJ Planet! / Technology!

What? You said this sounds like the worst song in history? Yeah, I think you're right. And remember, I'm talking about 80's rap, so it's actually more like "DJ Planet! / Te-te-te-technology!" It's downright ridiculous. I'm sitting there listening to this song (and wondering why I never noticed it on the album before), and I'm thinking, "This song is retarded."

I also remember that, at some point in this dream, my dad (whose collection of XTC albums was responsible for my discovery of their music) walks in and I say to him, "This song sucks." And he's like, "Aw, come on. It's 'DJ Planet!'" What does this mean? In the course of this dream, my brain invented a crappy song, acknowledged its crappiness, and then attempted to defend it anyway?

I need professional help.

This post is dedicated to my father, who likes XTC, and would probably continue to like them even if they released "DJ Planet."

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