Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MGMT -- "Time to Pretend" (2005/2007)

Let's make some music, 
Make some money, 
Find some models for wives.

That's what every guy who ever played in a garage band was thinking -- we'll put out a big hit record, make a lot of money, and get to sleep with models.  (Hey, it worked for Mick Jagger, and Billy Joel, and Ric Ocasek, and many, many more.)  I know that's what I was hoping for in 8th grade when the Rogues got together.

This guy got a model for a wife?  Really?

March has finally arrived and our long national nightmare -- a/k/a/ "29 POSTS IN 28 DAYS" -- is over.  (Have I used the "long national nightmare" reference in a previous "2 or 3 lines" post?  In case you're not 58 years old and have no idea what the "long national nightmare" reference means, click here and learn all about it.)

The days of my being able to fly 2 or 3 lines by the seat of my pants are long gone.  I can no longer sit down and crank out an off-the-top-of-my-head post about some random song that I've just discovered (or, as the case may be, rediscovered after forgetting all about it for 20 years or so).  

Having a wildly successful blog means pressure every day, boys and girls.  I'm not complaining -- just sayin' . . .  

Ke$ha
The bean counters and the marketing types care only about hits and clicks -- the soulless bastards want me to focus on more popular and contemporary songs, even though 99% of that stuff is crap.

"Forget all those one-hit wonders you heard on the 'Mystic Eye' radio show in 1980," they say.  "Give us more Ke$ha!  We want more Lil Wayne!"  

(They may have a point.  90% of our visitors seem to be postmenopausal females from the midwest -- that's fine with me, but it's not exactly the most desirable demographic for advertisers in today's world.)

As 2 or 3 lines has grown into an online phenomenon, there seems to be less and less room for spontaneity.  The appetite for new content is enormous, and you have to plan way ahead to be able to promote that content properly.  I have to keep coming up with new ideas for group of related posts, or posts for special occasions.

For example, we just finished February's "29 POSTS IN 28 DAYS."  But I'm already thinking about next year's February series of posts -- and February 2012 is a LEAP year, for cryin' out loud, so I'll have an extra post to do.  

Plus I have to do special posts in observance of milestones like the 2nd anniversary of 2 or 3 lines (November 1 will be here before you know it) and for the 200th post (which could drop as soon as  late April or early May).  

Not to mention my twice-yearly -- I can never remember if the word for that is biannual or semiannual or both -- Cape Cod bike ride posts.

And let's not forget 2 or 3 lines a day -- that requires a new post every single day, and I'm not exactly getting a lot of help from my readers!

Finally, my wife and kids are not all that supportive of my endeavors.  My wife thinks I'm obsessed, so I have to wait until she goes to bed to write posts -- lucky for me, she's usually in bed by 8 pm or so.  

My 16-year-old is always whining that it's his turn to use the computer so he can post a new video to Facebook that glorifies his basketball abilities -- like dunking on a basket that's been cranked down to 8 feet high (big whoopee).  The less time I have, the harder it is to maintain the quality of 2 or 3 lines.  

My trusty iPod Shuffle
But today, I'm putting all those considerations aside, and getting back to the roots of 2 or 3 lines -- back to the days when I would charge up my iPod, hit the bike trail, get an idea for a post from what turned up on "shuffle," and sit down at my computer and just write the damn thing -- without worrying about what the accounting department, and the marketing department, and the stockholders, and my wife and kids would say.

Like Toto, I'm going to pull back the curtain on 2 or 3 lines, and explain just how this post came to be.  

The story begins about a month ago, in the service department of a Toyota dealership in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I was there with my daughter's brand-new Corolla, which was suffering from some electronic gremlin that was causing the radio's display panel to malfunction.  ("Why wasn't your daughter dealing with this problem?" you might ask.  "That's a VERY good question," I might reply.)

I had brought along a library book to help me while away the hours, of course.  (I rarely go anywhere -- and I do mean anywhere -- without a library book.)  But I noticed there was a copy of Spin magazine in the customer waiting area.  

The magazine was an end of the year issue, with lists of the top 40 albums of 2010, the top 20 singles of 2010, and so on.  Most of the names were unfamiliar to me, so I pulled out my Blackberry and started typing abbreviated versions of the names of the artists and albums or songs in an e-mail to myself.

When I got home, I went to the public library's website and started searching the online catalog to see which of these CDs were available.  Quite a few weren't, but a quite a few were -- I promptly reserved as many as I could.

Sitting at #20 on the list of best albums of 2010 was MGMT's Congratulations.  I knew nothing about MGMT -- never heard of them before then.  But the DC Public Library had three CDs by them, and they notified me only a few days later that all three were waiting for me at the main DC library, which is only two blocks from my office.)

MGMT's "Congratulations" album cover
Things moved very quickly after that.  I downloaded all three CDs, copied them to my iPod, and started listening to them on my next bike ride -- which happened to be my first bike ride in almost two months, thanks to the fact that it's been freezing here forever, and that there was all this snow on the bike trail until very recently.  (Is it too much to ask that the county government spend a tiny bit of all the taxes I pay them to plow the bike trails?)

A couple of cuts appealed to me right off the bat, and "Time to Return" is one of them.  It's not on the Congratulations album, but originally appeared on MGMT's 2005 six-song Time to Pretend EP.  The group then stuck a slightly modified version of the song on its 2007 Oracular Spectacular album.

MGMT was started by two Wesleyan University freshmen about ten years ago.  They originally called themselves "The Management," but another band was using that name, so they started using the abbreviation for management.  They've appeared on all the late-night shows (including "Saturday Night Live"), and have toured in Europe, South America, and Australia as well as in the US, appearing with such notables as Radiohead, M.I.A., the Flaming Lips, Beck, and Paul McCartney.

Here's what MGMT had to say to one interviewer about "Time to Pretend":
We wrote "Time to Pretend" our senior year of college, and the music was inspired by a praying mantis we had in our house.  She laid eggs and it died, and we laid the egg case on this kinda model pirate ship on the mantle piece, and the eggs hatched and all these baby praying mantises were climbing up the rigging of the ship, and it was pretty crazy . . . Mmmm, so the music was inspired by our praying mantis that liked to dance to the Clash and the lyrics are just about us imagining being rock stars . . . . [Y]eah, fantasy rock star life. 

(You might think the boys were pulling the interviewer's leg, but I'm guessing they were perfectly serious.)

By the way, MGMT had no illusions about what might happen to them if they did "make some music, make some money, [and] find some models for wives" after they graduated from Wesleyan.  
The models will have children, 
We'll get a divorce,
We'll find some more models,
Everything must run its course.

That's not quite the end of the story if you're a typical rock star.  Perhaps the boys were thinking of Spinal Tap when they wrote these lines:

We'll choke on our vomit 

Here's the official music video.  (Eighteen million-plus views?)




Here's a link you can use to order "Time to Pretend" from iTunes:

Time to Pretend - Oracular Spectacular


Here's a link to use if you prefer Amazon.

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