Letterpress List: Playing Favorites

Mary: “If there was only one band you could listen to for all eternity, which one do you think would it be?”

Shop Boy: “Foo Fighters, because the play list could range all the way from soft to really heavy metal, so whatever mood you were in you could find something perfect. And they’re such great songs. It makes me wonder if Dave Grohl wasn’t really as much of an influence on Nirvana as Curt Cobain. The Foo Fighters just seem like such a perfect spinoff — like Curt Cobain’s DNA is there, you know? Or I wonder what Nirvana would have become had Grohl been more aggressive in asserting himself or whatever. Supposedly, Grohl doesn’t even like writing lyrics … you’d never know that from the songs. If I had to pick three songs to play in a loop forever, it’d probably be “Cold Day in the Sun,” “The One” and “Stacked Actors.” What’s even cooler is that he’s the guitarist, not the drummer like he was in Nirvana and on that cool Queens of the Stone Age record. I wonder if he writes the songs as a drummer, like if the beat comes to him first. Wouldn’t that make sense? And wouldn’t it bum you out if you were so psyched to be picked as the Foo Fighters drummer because of your immense skill and creativity and now Dave Grohl was, like, dictating the beat to you?”

Then I took a breath, because air is important.

Mary: “You’ve got all of that swimming around in your head but you can’t remember which way to turn the nut to raise the platen?”

Fine. Be that way. Let’s see if I share my headphones when eternity comes.

Besides, there are cheat sheets for adjusting the platen. And I used to have a sticky note labeled “Ignition Sequence” for turning on the computer at home. Four simple steps that I couldn’t ever remember. Sue me.

But ask what song you should play at Shop Boy’s memorial service (“Whammer Jammer” by the J. Geils Band) or when my ashes are spread (“Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” by Kiss) or when I come out of the bullpen to save the day for the Boston Red Sox (“Gel” by Collective Soul — see, I’d hesitate during the intro, then punch the glove and kick the bullpen door open as the fast part started … ooh), it’s all right there. Why? Because it’s important.

OK, so, you’re dead, but you never thought about the funeral music. “Candle in the Wind,” anybody? You want the attendees to think you were a wuss? Not Shop Boy.

The bullpen door opens and you’re the Red Sox closer and the PA system starts blaring … “Venus” by Bananarama? Toast. Know what I’m saying?

I think you do.

Now, what in the world does Shop Boy’s musical soundtrack have to do with letterpress printing?

Essentially, this: You don’t want to be having deep philosophical thoughts about the musical backdrop to all of life’s most important moments while you’re standing over a roaring press. It’s too dangerous. But don’t take Shop Boy’s word for it:

“The best safety device is a clear mind, concentrated on the work in hand, with full attention on one’s own individual press, and intent on the best practices of pressfeeding. For such, there need be no fear, for there is no danger.”

Ralph W. & Edwin Polk, “Elementary Platen Presswork (Revised)”

I’m just saying.

For grins, let’s save us all time by letting me pick the music for your shop. It’ll be safer for your hands and your ears that way. DJ Shop Boy will just post one of these lists, say, once a week, about an hour’s worth of tunes — commercial free! If you’ve read this far you might be interested enough to bear with me. If not, you can go sulk away in silence, for all eternity.

List One:

We’ll call this list “Bad Hair Day.” Say you, like Shop Boy, have been kept at the printshop until 3 a.m., then get a wakeup call at 7 a.m. wondering why you’re not ready for work yet. And where’s the coffee?

I got your caffeine right here (iTunes should have most of these, though I, ahem, hope some of them will already be in your collection):

1. “The One” — Foo Fighters (Eternally yours.)
2. “Lifetime Problems” — Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones (Some call it “psychobilly.” Psycho, for short.)
3. “Bump” — Spank Rock (Baltimore’s nastiest.)
4. “One Shot” — Henry Rollins (Good advice: Do not give The Neck here one shot.)
5. “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” — Drowning Pool (Nuff said.)
6. “Fed Up” — House of Pain (Time to go headhuntin’. A flashback.)
7. “mOBSCENE” — Marilyn Manson (Be obscene, not heard. LOL.)
8. “You’re Speaking My Language” — Juliette and the Licks (A natural born killer.)
9. “Do Right” — Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (Frustrated, but fun.)
10. “Another Body Drops” — Cypress Hill (Life in the ‘hood, from a safe distance.)
11. “Bad Reputation” — Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (She still don’t give a damn. JJ rules!)
12. “Business” — Eminem (Can I get a witness?)
13. “Animals” — Nickelback (Band’s a bit old for make-out songs like this. But it’s fast.)
14. “Millionaire” — Queens of the Stone Age (Gimme some more.)
15. “The Lumberjack Song” — Jackyl (Don’t try this at home, kids. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKSJLop26yI)*

* Yes, Shop Boy needs to learn the “Ignition Sequence” for uploading a video link.

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