5 Better Things to Listen to While Watching the Inauguration on Mute


Anything is better than listening to the actual drivel spilling out of this man's mouth. - UNMUTED PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR
  • Unmuted photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
  • Anything is better than listening to the actual drivel spilling out of this man's mouth.

So. Who's looking forward to the Cheeto piss wizard's inaugural address? That guy can't get out two coherent sentences if you spot him a subject and two verbs, so I'm expecting eight minutes of rambly nonsense followed by another twenty minutes of him mixing pitches for new hotel concepts ("we got toilets in the middle of every bed") with random slurs and weak insults — it'll be like listening to Dane Cook read from his dream journal.

Instead of dealing with that drivel, I suggest shutting off your TV's volume and providing a new soundtrack. Think of it as a variation of the old Wizard of Oz/Pink Floyd combo, but for psychic defense. But what to use?

After spending the week watching Trump speeches and sampling various sounds through headphones, I've come to one conclusion: Pretty much anything is more enjoyable than listening to Michigan J. Bullshitter's voice, but some things are both better and funnier. Here are the top five.

Lou Reed, Metal Machine Music

One of Reed's many perfect albums, this coruscating assault of guitar feedback and amplifier death-screams synchs up with the ol' Pussy Grabber's mannerisms in highly entertaining ways. There's that thing Trump does with his mouth where he tightly purses his lips into an almost perfect lower-case "o" — it's horrifying to stare directly into it. Every time I see it I think of how my dog's asshole looks in the split second before she shits. It's a tiny little cicatrice that suddenly inflates to nightmarish dimensions, and then out come the turds, and every time I see his mouth or her asshole I think about it.

Now picture him making that little puckered "ooo" and instead of his usual spewing out you get howling, beautiful rage as channeled through the holy guitar/amp/Lou Reed triad.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed, PCP Torpedo/AnbRx

The reigning Fozzie Bears of mechanized noise have a dark vision of the present and brilliant song titles, and their albums never overstay their welcome. The lyrics are often unintelligible, but hey, so is the guy America elected. This particular AxNxB release stuck out because of the Richard Pryor sample that opens it up, which comes from the film Blue Collar. Pryor's argument with an IRS man about the money he owes and the financial difficulties he's in seem strangely relevant today. After it comes blistering noise, and barely seven minutes later it turns into bonkers remixes and nightmare soundscapes — in this way, it feels prophetic. Pro tip: Minimize the screen with Agoraphobic Nosebleed in it, because there are a couple of highly disturbing images used in the accompanying video. Yes, more disturbing than the visage of our new Russian step-dad.

Julius Hemphill, "Hard Blues"

Julius Hemphill was a brilliant, under-appreciated saxophonist with a protean style. Hemphill ended up in St. Louis in the late '60s, right as the legendary Black Artists Group was coming together. The BAG satisfied his desire to work and interact with all sorts of artists, and he played with poets, dancers, puppeteers and musicians. Vision, talent, the ability to collaborate with different types of people — America produces geniuses like Julius Hemphill every generation, and they never run for office.

Hemphill's seminal album Dogon A.D. was recorded here in 1972, but sadly St. Louis didn't love it the way the jazz critics did, and he left for New York not long after. "Hard Blues" was recorded for the Dogon sessions but didn't get released until his next album, Coon Bid'ness. This is a swinging version of the blues that goes on for only twenty short minutes. Picture those herky-jerky hand gestures Trump loves as Hemphill and trumpeter Baikida E.J. Carroll step through Abdul Wadud's cello and Philip Wilson's drums — it's like a watching a cockroach's death throes with a soundtrack by a laughing black America.

Lotte Lenya, "Das Lied einer deutschen Mutter" ("Song of a German Mother")

Lotte Lenya, who fled Germany to escape the Nazis, knew something of how tyrants engineer a rise to power on the backs of the young and the disaffected. So did Bertolt Brecht, who wrote the lyrics to this bleak little ditty about a mother's regrets. Lenya's not a classically great singer, but that reedy timbre of her voice here becomes the voice of a woman who has worn out her throat with crying. It's short, so consider playing it on a loop during the speech.

Lucha Reyes

Ranchera is a uniquely Mexican style of music that writer Gustavo Arellano once described as representing "everything Mexicans think of themselves when at their best — macho, romantic, backed by mariachi, dressed in splendid outfits and stubbornly stuck in a myth of a bucolic Mexico that never existed." I'll take his word for it, and besides, if Trump wasn't a soulless xenophobe, he'd love everything about that description — replace "Mexico" with "America" and you essentially have Dumb Donald's speech half written. I have a menu-level grasp of Spanish at best, but there is something in ranchera icon Lucha Reyes' voice that calls to me across time and space from the 1940s. Trump launched his campaign by bad-mouthing Mexicans, so why not drown out his first official address with the most haunting voice Mexico ever gave the world? That's a long playlist I've linked at the top, but Lucha deserves it.

(Bonus Mexican heroics: Lucha Reyes was a fearsome woman — look at her shake the shit out of the guy who grabs her ass at 1.42 in the "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" video — and consider that was filmed in 1941. Lucha Reyes didn't put up with casual sexual assault even during the Golden Age of casual sexual assault. Imagine what she'd be like today.)

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