76 Comments

If you need a country song that will make the rest of the Music League say what the heck is this, especially if they're not country fans either, go with "Choctaw Bingo" by James McMurtry. There was even an article in Slate a while back suggesting it should be the new national anthem. I can't really argue with the article's logic.

https://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_spectator/2009/03/choctaw_bingo.html

Also I actually prefer Ray Wylie Hubbard's cover version. But McMurtry is the OG version so that's what I would go with.

Expand full comment

I did one music league with fellow Discord members and it did introduce me to a ton of new music. I also learned almost no one shared my musical taste, which is basic bitch radio rock 😅 Mostly why I stopped was the time required to listen to 20 or so songs every week. If I had a job where I listened to my own music all day (instead of my boss's stale-ass Spotify -free version, ugh- playlists) it would be far easier.

I love exquisite corpses. One of my favorite creative writing class exercises was the "write a sentence, pass to the next person to add on, but then they fold your sentence over so the next person only sees their sentence, repeat" around the room.

I'm an anxious person so I'm all about the routine. I do need to show up to writing more often, though. It seems any of my solo time chunks have a ticking clock attached and too many other things to prioritize. "do I do this necessary chore, exercise, write, or just give myself a fucking break already?"

Expand full comment

yes! the discovery and acceptance of new music IS possible beyond a certain calcified state of appreciation and combining it with

the joys of friendship and connection just adds to the joy

great point by you!

i had shut down for long stretches in "hearing" stuff id already pre-judged due to a personality or "story" but life is too short for THAT mistake i see now😇😂🤗

ps give widespread panic a little love ha

Expand full comment

1. Not really, but the pickleball craze is sweeping through our community of middle-aged friends. Not sure my knees can take it, though.

2. I have not, but I must check out that Florida Man book. Those are my people.

3. We use Apple Music now and I only curate my own playlists. I tend to hear new songs ephemerally so I think I've done a good job of not getting stuck in the algorithmic vortex.

4. I used to be a big techno head. Check out "I Go Deep" by Jim Rivers. Here's a playlist of my favorite writing tracks, which are largely electronic: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/writing-jams/pl.u-qxylEY6s0JLY7

5. Just taking Old Man walks and bike rides. You always feel better after.

Expand full comment

Music is so incredibly important in my life. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of music (just like every day for like the last 40 years) and starting to compile playlists, just like mixtapes I used to make during the late 80s. That was often how music was best consumed, and it's no different today - but I need to be the one making the playlist. It becomes an additional creative layer, a game I can play with myself to find songs for a particular playlist, or - as I've been doing lately - classify random songs into playlists I've already created, where they belong.

Expand full comment

Oh, and if you like rock but hate country, find some "outlaw country" and it's usually a little easier to take.

Expand full comment

I thought that the point of Spotify was to find you music SIMILAR to what you put in to expand your playlist from a familiar place to new things, but that doesn't seem to be the case, huh?

Expand full comment
Nov 15, 2023Liked by Michael Estrin

1. Heck yeah! It's almost all on discord, but watching crazy movies every Saturday and Monday, reading maddening books every Friday, and gaming every Wednesday.

2. [redacted pending court decision]

3. It sounds weird, but I don't listen to a lot of music. I tend to gravitate to soundtracks and only get new songs when I hear them from random places.

4. I don't go for country much, either. But Blues Saraceno does some stuff that slaps. I recommend "Grave Digger". As for techno, maybe anything by Lindsey Stirling?

5. See 1.

Expand full comment
Nov 14, 2023Liked by Michael Estrin

I don’t need a music streaming algorithm because I have a cool little brother!

Expand full comment

When I read this I thought damn, I wish I had friends to do Music League with. I moved from the north to the south and making new friends, especially as a man, is super hard. BUT- I realize I need to go find them around some activity (just got to figure out what activity lol).

I didn’t recognize any of the music you had here so thanks for putting me on as always. When it comes to music, I listen to Soulection Radio - it’s a playlist every week of just pure goodness. I can’t listen to random tracks. It’s an album or nothing. But Soulection Radio is beautifully put together.

Expand full comment

Music League sounds awesome - although, like you, I fear I would nominate a song from the same artist every single time - in my case, Steely Dan (I inflicted “Steely Dan Wednesday” on my kids for ninety-two straight weeks, a few years ago, by emailing a YouTube link of a Steely Dan tune to them). Also, thanks for the reminder about “Naked Came the Manatee” - I’ve never gotten around to reading it.

Expand full comment

I love the idea of this app and desperately want to do it! Problem is that I don't have a cohesive group of friends who all love music/would commit to this kind of joyful ritual. Do you think it would work the same with a team of people who don't really know one another super well?

Expand full comment

My dad once started a running gag with a Yankee Swap gift. One year he contributed a set of cork trivets. No one wanted them, so he swapped his way back to keeping them. Then he brought them the next year. And the next. And the next. Until people started to covet them. My parents still have the trivets.

2. Yeah, man! I was the seventh link in The Great Substack Story Challenge II - https://stockfiction.substack.com/p/gssc207

3. My husband ensures our music streaming experience remains eclectic. If he didn't live in my house I would be on Meghan Trainor/Ed Sheeran station loops to infinity. But he'll search for genres like old-timey cowboy music, or big screen orchestra stuff that plays during epic battle sequences. Or Doo-wop. Funk. Irish folk music. Etc.

4. Country - Garth Brooks "The Thunder Rolls." Techno - Does Daft Punk count? They have a song called "Technologique" that's earwormy.

5. I'm drawing a blank. Guess I'll have to scroll through the normies comments and get some ideas. 😉

Expand full comment

It's so funny you diss Spotify because we FINALLY broke down and got it a few months ago. And I went crazy creating playlists of all my favorite 80s music.

But you are sooo right about not letting the algorithim ruin it for you. My nephews helped introduce me to some news song, and then one day, a bit bored with Eurythmics/Culture Club/Madness/The Stranglers, I created playlists of French and Italian music about which I knew almost nothing. And I'm loving.

And I also love the idea of a joyful routine!

Expand full comment

When it comes to Country music, you have to look beyond the mainstream stuff. I'd suggest fiddling around with some classic Alt Country. This will still give you some "country" sounds but the lyrics are deeper and the vocals are not twangy.

Some suggestions:

The Magnolia Electric Company - Songs Ohia (the late Jason Molina's project)

Wilco - A.M. and Being There (their first 2 albums are a blend of many styles including Alt-Country)

Giant Sand - Glum - this is a very different kind of album and sound. They lean Alternative with a little bit of "country."

There - that's only 3 bands and 4 albums.

Expand full comment
Nov 12, 2023Liked by Michael Estrin

I listen to Spotify's 30 song weekly suggestions. At first it kept giving me Gordon Lightfoot and Charles Manson, but eventually it kept giving me longer songs until it was 2 1/2 hours each week. I finally started thumbs downing and now it's 55 minutes of pop punk.

I would appreciate if Spotify gave me Dire Straits' "Solid Rock" now and then.

As for question #1, I have a movie night with friends. We meet on FB messenger and chat, then watch a movie, though instead of movies, lately, we've been watching the 1960's show The Prisoner.

Expand full comment