What’s Ray Listening To Today?


The world is objectively awful right now. I have waves of competing and disturbing thoughts about this that perhaps I will have to put to paper, just to retain my sanity. But until then, I need a salve for my soul. For me, that usually means dipping into the freshwater well of musical nostalgia. So for a few minutes, let me share with you what I’m currently listening to. Just so we can think about something other than …gestures broadly… all this.

Rush – Tom Sawyer

I’ve been struggling with a crippling ear infection for over a month now. I’ve been on four brands of antibiotics, three types of opioids, and have visited the ER twice. Finally, I’m on the mend. But until a couple of days ago I was still deaf in one ear and had reduced hearing in another. Now, it’s more like 50% reduction in one ear. Day by day.

Anyway, I have a brother who has had impaired hearing all his life. From him, I learned to love heavy metal and hard progressive rock. He and his hearing impaired friends are all huge Rush fans. And so I became one, too.  It was therefore a natural choice that when I experienced my own bout of hearing impairment, I’d strap on the headphones and crank the Rush masterpiece Tom Sawyer into my last functioning ear.

It really is a masterpiece, musically, lyrically, and in terms of musicianship. All you good Canadians know the lyrics by heart. Sing along with me:



My Bloody Valentine – Only Shallow

Yeah, I’m an old school shoegazer. Don’t know what shoegaze is? Well I’m not going to explain it to you, nerd. The queens and kings of shoegaze were and are My Bloody Valentine. And to me, this is their dreamy masterpiece, Only Shallow. It helps that I find the singer, Bilinda Butcher, to be a heartbreaking Girl-Next-Door beauty. Brings back such bittersweet memories of romance sought, found, lost, then sought again:

The Cocteau Twins – Iceblink Luck

Speaking of memories of dreamy thoughts of youthful romance, the voice of Elizabeth Fraser always takes me back. Is it English? Maybe. Don’t care. It’s ethereal and liminal. Reminds me of a time of dreams and optimism.

I’ve been listening to a few Fraser gems, including the Cocteau Twins’s Heaven and Las Vegas and Massive Attack’s Teardrop, which featured Fraser’s vocals. But I decided to pick Iceblink Luck for this list:

The Cure – Primary and Last Dance

Of course, I love The Cure and listen to them almost every day. Lately two Cure songs have dominated my playlist: Primary, largely because it features two bass guitars — that alone distracts me from the world’s woes; and Last Dance because, much like the choices above, it takes me back to a time of teenage angst and romance:

David Bowie – Can You Hear Me?

Without exaggeration, I watch/listen to David Bowie every single day. And I listen to this particular song almost every day: Can You Hear Me?; this particular version, in fact, from the Cher TV show in 1975. I find it, again, dreamy, thoughtful, liminal, and perhaps even romantic.

I guess the theme here is that I’ve been listening to music that removes me from the present, and certainly from the concerns of the present. I bet you have been doing similar things, too. So take your mind off the woes of the world for a moment, and listen to David Bowie and Cher: