The Walking Rock Alphabet: A
I am a fat fuck.
There, I said it. I'll be completely honest here. While I was a tiny little chap as a youngster, I've had a beer gut my entire adult life. Given my hatred of beer, I don't know how this is possible.
Well, I do know the reason. I'm also a lazy sod. I drive everywhere I go. I spend most of my day either sitting at a desk or lying on a couch. I eat shitty food and live on caffeine.
Yet I'm not giant-sized. Somehow, despite all of the terrible attributes listed in the above paragraphs, I'm just chubby (or so I believe). I've even maintained the same weight (give or take a few pounds) for the last twenty years.
I've decided it's time to do something about this situation. Why, I don't know. Could it be due to the significant birthday I didn't celebrate three weeks ago? Or is it some psychological response to my summer-long home improvements? Who knows, but earlier this week I decided something needed to be done...and soon. After all, shouldn't my body shape match the compliments I get on Realpunkradio about having a "panty-melting voice"?
The dilemma, however, is what exactly is realistic for me to accomplish such a feat. Unlike my friends, I'm no swimmer and doing yoga would ultimately end up as a viral YouTube video. I'm also not a runner. Biking is out as we head into winter. I'm too embarrassed to head to a gym.
In recent years, I have attempted some of those activities, and it's not just the physical aspects that caused me to quit. Exercising is boring. I need an activity that allows me to exercise my mind while improving the rest of me.
It was just yesterday that I came up with a plan that combines exercise, music, and writing (not all at the same time, though). (Almost) every day for the next month or so (and hopefully beyond), I'm going to pick an album for each letter of the alphabet and walk until said album is finished. Day one will be a record that starts with "A"; day two will be "B", and on and on. When I'm done, I am then going to blog about the walk AND the album I've chosen.
Knowing my futility in fulfilling these types of ideas, there's a good chance I won't even make until we hit a letter in my name. If that happens, you can all point and laugh at me...just like you should all laugh at me for doing something lame like walking. Well, screw you all. It's something, and it may lead me to do other things. "May" is the key word.
So today was an unseasonably warm day (80!) and extremely breezy as I stuck in the ol' ear buds. My "A" album? Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, the first Costello album I ever bought as a new release. Almost 35 years later, it is still my favorite Costello album, so it is a natural choice. Plus, it's less than 40 minutes. No way I was going to start this project with a Use Your Illusion-length release.
I could be a cliche and comment on how my inaugural walk is accompanied by Costello's "Oh, I just don't know where to begin" lyric, but I won't. Wait, I just did. Oh well. "Accidents Will Happen", the opening track, perfectly illustrates why this is my favorite Costello album. Nick Lowe's production is simply perfect. I'm a huge fan of Lowe's work with not only Costello but with his own albums, and all of those wonderful Stiff Records releases. Armed Forces is in many ways typical of Lowe's producing work, but is also a bit of a departure. The emphasis on a perfectly recorded snare drum is prevalent, but Armed Forces is much more lush than what we expected from Elvis at that moment in time.
The production wouldn't matter a bit if these weren't some of Costello's greatest songs. Besides "Accidents", songs like "Oliver's Army", "Party Girl", "Goon Squad" and so many more could and should sit on any career retrospective. There's so much goodness on this album that I had actually forgotten about the pure pop treasure of "Busy Bodies".
Armed Forces is also noteworthy for the emergence of the Attractions. While a bit tentative on This Year's Model, their first full album back Costello, by the time of the Armed Forces sessions the band was on top of their game. Lengthy tours of
Europe and the U.S.
had obviously cemented their roles as Costello's cohorts, and their live sound
at this time wasn't unlike the mysterious "thin white mercury" sound that
Dylan and The Band had created on their infamous 1966 world tour.
As I made my way around the neighborhood with these songs ringing in my ears, I discovered my first problem with my exercise/blogging plan. How exactly do I time this activity to end when the album concludes? I pondered this for a bit, and decided to just wing it and hope I come reasonably close to my goal.
At the same time, I was definitely starting to realize that I wasn't dressed for eighty degree weather. It's fucking hot out! So hot that the wind wasn't doing anything but blowing leaves in my face! Plus, it was too sunny to read my twitter while walking! See what I mean about needing to have distractions? It was around this time I decided to just turn around and head back as I was kind of close to the halfway mark of the album.
The walk back was against the wind, which meant I had even more leaves hitting me in the face. About a block before my street, I was still three songs away from finishing. Yes, this loser wimped out, and ended up at home with almost two full songs left.
Did I fail on this first day? I guess I can't say I was 100% successful, but even getting through 90% of the album was that much more than the zero exercise I usually endure. Tomorrow I'll make it through the entire of whatever "B" record I choose...or at least I plan to succeed. Ugh.