In "Random Rules," we ask our favorite rockers, writers, comedians, or whatevers to set their MP3 players to "shuffle" and comment on the first few tracks that come up—no cheating or skipping allowed.
The shuffler: Comedian Patton Oswalt (best known to the masses as Spence Olchin on King Of Queens). A part of the same comic clique as David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Eugene Mirman, and Dave Attell, Oswalt is one of the funniest indie comics out there, and his Feelin' Kinda Patton may be the best comedy album of the past few years.
The Haunted, "1-2-5"
Patton Oswalt: You're taping? Because I don't want to be lying. I have really cool shit and unbelievably lame shit. I bet you all my lame guilty-pleasure bullshit is going to come up. I'm closing my eyes and it's on shuffle, here we go… I think this was a garage band from the '60s, and I can't remember. I think they're British, because they're on the British Nuggets set. I don't know, you do the research. I love the '60s garage shit. I'm obsessed with it.
The A.V. Club: Stateside stuff, or British stuff?
PO: Stateside and British stuff. All of the pre-punk little local stuff, like when it was all local labels. Now, luckily, they compile them. I think this is also on a Pebbles compilation. It sounds like people are having fun. In other words, it sounds like people getting to play music rather than having to play music. Does that make sense?
Penetration, "Don't Dictate"
PO: I think I like this because this is clearly a girl singing; you can just tell she was trying to figure out what to sing and how she was going to express herself, and then she heard either some Sex Pistols or some Stooges and was like, "That's it!" And there's so much glee in her anger; she's really happy to be this pissed-off, and it makes me happy to hear it. I'm happy for her that she found something to be miserable about. She found something really happy. "Take that, Dad! I'm home for Thanksgiving freshman year of college, I just read one book."
The B-52's, "Wig"
PO: It's a fun song, man. They're singing about people wearing wigs. I love the chorus "On the neon side of town." These guys are from Athens, Georgia, and you know that they heard some suburban housewife going, "Oh, that was happening on the neon side of town." You know that must've been code word for "faggot." "We can go see Brokeback Mountain, that's kind of on the neon side of town." I did a movie in West Virginia, and we all went out one night looking for gay bars in West Virginia. We were so obsessed with trying to find a gay bar, and I was even saying, "We gotta find the neon side of town," and it was cracking me up.
Yo La Tengo, "Autumn Sweater"
PO: A beautiful song from a beautiful album. I don't know that there's much else to say—not only this song, but every single song on this album is fucking beautiful. This is them napping before their snooze. This album, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, and Roxy Music's Avalon… If you have people over for a dinner and you haven't bothered to make a mix-CD and it's like, "Fuck, I gotta throw some music on," boom. Put them on and you're perfect. I know these guys. I do their show all the time over in Hoboken, their Hanukkah show. They told me that actually the bassline on all the songs aids digestion—it actually metabolizes fats and sugar easier.
The Main Ingredient, "Everybody Plays The Fool"
PO: It's got a message for people, and I wish they had more song ideas, because most R&B now is all about, "I am the king and I fucking rule, and you can't fucking step to me." And this is back when they were like, "You know you're going to fuck up, and you're going to get over it, and you're going to move on." It's a very hopeful song. Hell yeah, she doesn't love you. Don't worry, the world's still going, you're not dead. Basically, Al Swearengen says the same thing in season two of Deadwood, where he's consoling the newspaper editor who's had his place vandalized. "You've got more beatings and humiliations in store for you, stand like a man and give some back."
AVC: Yes, Swearengen. Wise man.
PO: The dad we all wish we'd had.
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