Sara and I went to see Jonathan Coulton perform at the Intersection last week, and we absolutely loved it. I’ve been listening to his music for a few months now, ever since a friend at work introduced me to the geek anthem, “Code Monkey.” So, when the same friend told me that Jonathan Coulton was coming to town, I jumped at the chance to see him.
Jonathan Coulton is a former software programmer who quit his day job to make music. His geek cred comes through not only in some of his songs’ lyrics, but also in the way he has chosen to promote his music. About a year and a half ago, he put up a web site, jonathancoulton.com, and started offering a new song each week for 52 straight weeks, all available via his “Thing a Week” podcast. He regularly updates his blog, licenses all of his work through Creative Commons, and sidelines for Popular Science as Contributing Troubadour. This guy is geeky in the coolest way.
He’s also a brilliant songwriter. Unlike some humorous musicians whose songs wear thin after the first few listens, Coulton crafts catchy pop hooks with accessible melodies that age well.
Although most of his music is still available for free through the podcast, I recommend buying a CD or two, or maybe just downloading a few songs at first to see what you think. Some of my favorite songs are Millionaire Girlfriend (“She’s my millionaire girlfriend and she’s my life / Once I finally find her I’ll get permission from the wife / We will all live in our castle high / My beloved and my millionaire girlfriend and I”), Ikea (“Ikea: just some oak and some pine and a handful of Norsemen / Ikea: selling furniture for college kids and divorced men / Everyone has a home / But if you don’t have a home you can buy one there”), and Re Your Brains (“All we want to do is eat your brains / We’re not unreasonable, I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes / All we want to do is eat your brains / We’re at an impasse here, maybe we should compromise: / If you open up the doors / We’ll all come inside and eat your brains”).
If you like Jonathan Coulton’s music, especially if you’re listening to it for free, why not drop some change in the tip jar? His music is the kind that’s worth supporting.
Hi Karl- I loved this! Please consider posting your favorite recordings again this year. I enjoyed immensely some of the recommendations made in previous years by both you and others. I’ll admit to being addicted to the Weepies, Rosie Thomas, and the Wailin Jennys but I need some new ideas. I’ll trade you an annotated list of the best kids books for a list of recommended music:)
Hey Camille, thanks for the reminder to do my year-end music roundup. I’m a Rosie Thomas fan, too, but I’ve never heard of the Weepies. I guess I’ll have to check them out. And, yes, definitely write up a list of kids books for me. I’d love to see that. I’ll even put it up here as a guest entry if you want. :)
I’m looking forward to your ‘year-end best-of’ in music. All Songs Considered just did their year-end show. There were many good albums this year and my top 10 list very closely resembles theirs. Also, I find NPR music critics discussing joanna newsome to be worth a good chuckle.
Karl, did you hear Jonathan Coulter on Morning Edition Sunday? Andrea Seabrook did a great interview with him! Sorry I can’t post a link but go to NPR.org, then click on Morning Edition Sunday along the left sidebar. I got such a kick out of him – he sang “Code Monkey” and a few others – – very likeable stuff. Now that I have an iPod :-)
NPR is a great source for books, too. Yesterday Terri Gross did a captivating interview of Richard Stone author of The Echomaker. Every day there are reviews, and lists of contributors’ “best” lists. I’d go stark raving out here if it weren’t for NPR and English Rules.