If you've ever attempted NaNoWriMo, then you'll know just how difficult it can be to write 50,000 words in a calendar month. That's 1600-odd words per day. For thirty days. It's hard work and it takes quite a lot of commitment and a fair old bit of effort. Mind you, the sense of satisfaction when you complete your 175 page book before the end of the month is fantastic. As is the sense of relief.
Now imagine if NaNoWriMo wasn't enough for you. Imagine that you set yourself a rather more stretching target.... say, to write a million words in a calendar year.
A million words. Just think of that.
That's about twice the length of "War and Peace". That's a lot of words.
To be precise, that 2732 words a day. Every day. For a year.
Well, that's exactly what Craig Cliff has decided to this year. He's going to write 1,000,000 words this year. He has rules, and everything.
You have to take your hat off to him really. It's quite a task.
Although 2008 is a leap year, so I suppose he does get a whole day extra.
Anyway. I first discovered Craig's blog when I stumbled across him whilst searching for recent posts on the Kings of Leon (and no, history does not record why I was doing that). I was instantly struck both by the scale of the idea and by the way that it was obvious that Craig was taking this seriously enough to have worked out charts and rules and to generally mark out exactly what he needed to do on a daily basis if he was going to do this. I mean, he's already written something like 196, 500 words.
So, it really is a great pleasure that I can contribute in some small part to this great adventure by having Craig feature here as this week's Guest Editor.... the words here count towards the total, you see.
So without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure.....
Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #79 - Craig Cliff from The Year of a Million Words
SwissToni has the distinction of being the first person to comment on the blog I set up to track how many words I write in 2008. Since then, I’ve become a regular reader here – got to love those swings and roundabouts – and I’m flattered to get the chance to share some earworms. Let’s get going, shall we?
> ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ – Foo Fighters
I’ve only ever bought one ringtone, and I’m not quite sure how and why this was it, but I remember liking this song the best out of all the softer songs on In Your Honor (note to all musicians: resist the temptation to make a double album at all costs). Flashforward to 2008 and ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ is still my ringtone. I don’t get rung much, so it hasn’t been a problem, but on Monday someone chose to ring me at work while I was across the other side of the floor. Man, is my phone loud. The looks some people gave me. It’s not like it was Slipknot or Daphne and Celeste. But since then, I’ve been hearing phantom snatches of Taylor Hawkins’ “It’s your cold day in the sun…” and coming down in a cold sweat.
> ‘Einfach Sein’ – Die Fantastischen Vier
You know a song is catchy when you don’t speak the language and it gets stuck in your head. I first heard ‘Einfach Sein’ when I was in Germany for a friend’s thirtieth birthday last year. He’s one of those people who will play the same song over and over again if you let him, and it being his birthday, we heard a lot of this song. The first couple of times, all I could really remember was the part when they say, ‘Harrison Ford,’ but on Tuesday I found myself singing, “Es könnte alles, so einfach sein - ist es aber nicht” as I walked to work in the rain (rough translation: “It could all be so easy, but it isn’t.”)
Thought of the week: Perhaps I would like more hip hop if understood less of what they were saying?
> ‘Moonage Daydream’ – David Bowie
“I’m an alligator, I’m a momma-poppa coming for you-ew!” What an opening. The first verse and chorus were on a tight rolling repeat all Wednesday. I don’t know why. I wasn’t complaining.
I think this is my favourite David Bowie song because a) I came across it by myself rather than hearing it on a classic rock station, and b) it’s glam, it’s over the top and it’s everything about the Ziggy Stardust album that is good.
> ‘We’ll Live and Die In These Towns’ – The Enemy
Because I was travelling for part of 2007, the first time I heard or saw of The Enemy was an interview they did on television. They were saying how all bands since Oasis were shit, and even then, they didn’t really listen to Oasis, just the Jam and the Clash. Then, maybe a week later when I heard this song, I was like, “What’s this, a Jam song I haven’t heard?” Sometimes originality in music is overrated. I like the song, and that’s enough for me.
> ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’ – Sophie B. Hawkins
I think someone at work this week must have exclaimed, “Damn!” and set this song off in my head. For some reason I remembered the video as featuring Sophie B. on all fours, clawing at the camera suggestively for 4 1/2 minutes — a kind of counter-point to the demure Lisa Loeb in this video from the same era. The truth, however, is that neither the original (banned) version or the replacement come anywhere near my memory. I guess it got sexed up in my head because I was nine when it came out and she was a she and singing lyrics like, “I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear.” Nine year old boys, eh? What troubles me these days is the “Tonight I’ll be your mother,” part. Some things you never can never figure.
> ‘Nancy Reagan’s Head’ – Mission of Burma
“One Two Three Four / Five-Foot-One / Eyes as cold as stone…”
This is a counting song and I have a weakness for counting songs. Perhaps it’s my accountant side coming to bear on my musical tastes.
Mission of Burma were an early 80’s alternative band from Boston who did enough to have a chapter about them feature in Michael Azerrad’s excellent Our Band Could Be Your Life, which in turn, encouraged the band to reform in the 00’s. And to complete the circle, I discovered MoB through Azerrad’s book. Though a lot of their 00’s stuff lacks the choler of their earlier incarnation, ‘Nancy Reagan’s Head’ is plugged back into that same oomph.
> ‘Touch Sensitive’ – The Fall
This is my favourite Fall song because you can play it at a party and not leave people scratching their heads. That’s why it works as an earworm too. From the opening “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey,” to the “I know, I know, I know,” refrain, it’s catchy as heck.
Why was it stuck in my head this week? Cheap tissues. Yup, unremarkable as it is, I had a cold and constantly blowing my nose made my skin in that region touch sensitive. Get it? Yeah, I groaned too when I realised why I was humming this song.
> ‘7 & 7 is’ - Love
I guess this is another counting song (right at the end), but it’s the frenetic guitar and the “Boom bip bip, boom bip bip, yeah!” that always does it for me. Love are one of those bands that have been built up by music magazines over the years into something more than they were (a sixties version of Jeff Buckley, perhaps) — which is not to say they weren’t great and had some corker songs, just that it’s dangerous to include a Love song on any sort of list and not look like a plonker who reads too much Q. But ‘7 & 7 is’ is a special beast. It defies plonkerness. I hope.
> ‘Got Me Wrong’ – Alice In Chains
Specifically the Unplugged version, because I don’t think I’ve ever owned the ‘plugged’ version. Their Unplugged material is proof Alice in Chains were a good band, but a lot of their studio stuff feels dated now. The same can be said for most grunge, even Nirvana in my opinion (though again, Unplugged in New York hasn’t dated the same). But this song. When Jerry Cantrell comes in on the chorus, that’s the genius of AiC.
“That won’t last for-ever / Something’s gotta turn out right.” A sentiment I’ve clung to lately at work.
> ‘Splendid Isolation’ – Warren Zevon
What Scott Walker is for SwissToni, Warren Zevon is for me. This week I got a hold of Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings and it sent me off on another Zevon binge. So any number of songs could have made it on this list, but I think ‘Splendid Isolation’ was looping the most. It’s a deceptively simple song, but still manages to reference Michael Jackson, Goofy and Conspiracy Theorists. Ah! Genius.
Ah, now that's a list: Bowie, The Enemy, The Fall, The Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains.... the Kings of Leon were no red herring then, eh? Great list, and thanks very much to Craig for taking part. I wish him all the luck with his grand scheme, and if you all head over to his blog now and engage him in long and involved conversation in the comments, then you'll be helping him too - comments count, you see.
Thanks for playing Craig.
Me, I've been mostly earworming the Eels this week, especially Souljacker.
Anyway. I'm off to Vienna tomorrow to celebrate a friend's 60th birthday and to check up on some old haunts. I'll be back around these parts on Tuesday evening.
Be good children.
Coming up: fiery little sod (21/3), Cody Bones (28/3), the lovely J (4/4), then you? Drop me an email and it could be you up here with your name in lights. Or something.
Have a good weekend, y'all. See you on Tuesday.
[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C, Planet-Me, Mike, Michael II, Eye in the Sky II, Charlie III, The Great Grape Ape, asta, Ben III, Earworms of the Year 2007, Cat III, JamieS & Wombat, Pynchon II, Briskate]
When plans change
1 week ago