Top 5 Songs I Learned About From My Friend Michelle (i.e. Vegetarians Can Have Good Taste In Music, Just Not In Food)

You Call This FOOD???

This post is dedicated to my friend, Michelle, who I used to work with at a Seoul hagwon years ago. She’s studying art in Oregon now (it’s something got to do with video; it sounds all very complicated), but she came to Korea for a little bit a couple of weeks ago, and I had the pleasure of seeing her again.

But first, a few random musings. I’m feeling a whole lot better about my decision to leave my school. I’m going to make the most out of the time I have left, gently break the news to the kids a week or two before I go, take group photos with everyone, give each and every 6th-grade kid a copy of their group photo as well as a handwritten letter (I should get a headstart, that’s about 180 letters), leave a long letter for the incoming teacher telling them everything they need to know, and basically not do anything in the next few months to mess up anyone’s memory of me. I’ve also started formulating a plan for the coming year–beyond Paris in October–which I think is brave but potentially very stupid, but I’ll wait to outline that until I’m more certain about details.

Okay, now back to Michelle. She’s definitely one of the best people I have met in Korea, both in terms of personality (deep and mysterious) and in terms of taste in music. As I remember it, she only started talking to me once she found out I had a Heather Nova song on my Mp3 player (“Walk This World”). She listens to some stuff that strikes me as rather laborious (drone, drone, no rhythm, no beat, drone, drone), but she’s also introduced me to some amazing songs that I probably would’ve never heard of if not for her. So, with gratitude and fondness, I present the Top 5 Songs I Learned From My Vegetarian (why?) Friend Michelle:

5. I Don’t Care What You Call Me –David Ford: David slowly works his way up to absolute heartbreak, never overreaching, never making a false move. When he finally lets his anger show, it’s just self-flagellation heaven.

4. Jealous of the Moon –Nickel Creek (I always want to say Nickelback, which is strange because I can’t stand that band): I had no idea what bluegrass music sounded like until I turned into the Oscars one year and saw songs from that one George Clooney movie “Brother, Where Art Thou?” being performed. It was enough for me to be sure that I’d never listen to anything like that again without the threat of torture. Well, it turns out I was wrong yet again. Bluegrass, greengrass, yellowgrass, no matter what the heck the color is, the pleading chorus of this song is just impossible to resist.

3. This Old Apartment –Sarah Harmer: I think Sarah Harmer is to Michelle what Tori Amos is to me. So I was actually quite worried when I started listening to her stuff and found much of it rather suffocating (see the drone-drone formula above). But I needn’t have worried. “This Old Apartment” has rhythm to spare, and then some.

Priscilla2. Red Cape – Priscilla Ahn: I LOVE, LOVE this song, which I’m relieved and proud to say, since Priscilla’s Korean-American. It’s smart and cute at the same time, the chorus sticks to your brain like taffee, and Priscilla’s voice is pure heaven.
Over the Rhine

1. Give Me Strength – Over the Rhine: I’ve used this song as the first one on numerous mix CDs I’ve made for people. It’s such an awesome mood-setter of a song, a mixture of Blondie, the Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, and a dash of Tori in there as well. All in all, a recipe for musical magic madness, and yet another reason for me to be glad Michelle is my friend.

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