HOMEWORK: Assignment #4: Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills



For our year-capping installment of Homework -- our series of tricky song assignments to local artists -- we decided to hit up Mr. Ryan Walsh of Boston's beloved Hallelujah the Hills. Fresh from a month in the van, we knew he was probably ripe. With inspiration. We counted ourselves big fans of his band's most recent Colonial Drones (Misra), and figured if the guy's got enough left in him this year to crank out some collages for charity (2 days left! Go!), surely there was a couple drops of song juice left to be squozen.


Hard to believe, but it's been 20 years since Billy Joel released his stirring Ayatollah-cola-war clarion call of the information age "We Didn't Start the Fire," and remarkably, it's still just as annoying as ever. Since then, no one has so much as brushed up against the "let's string a bunch of current events into a song" idea. This is a shame, as it's a pretty good idea, provided the song doesn't force entire wedding receptions to dance like spooked chickens. Knowing well Mr. Walsh's penchant for sonic, visual and conceptual collage (2 days left! Go!), we thought him the ideal candidate to rescue this doomed pop form. Thus, per our rules, the song must:

1. have lyrics entirely composed of news headlines from 2009

2. draw evenly from each month of 2009

3. rip off Mr. Walsh's favorite song of 2009, be it a theft of a beat, melody, or any other appropriation of any size or degree

4. be rad


Far from Mr. Joel's embarrassingly public not-being-able-to-take-it-anymore, Mr. Walsh's song, "What Makes Texan Elections Special," leisurely watches the shitshow of last year vanish like a massive sunset behind a tiny red barn. According to Mr. Walsh's accompanying note, "some of the headlines [listed and linked below] were chosen for their cadence, lyrical, or melodic potential, some because I thought it was an important issue that came up in 2009, and some were chosen for both reasons." The end result is a busted bulletin on bad water, terror TV and art as torment. Keep an ear out for his Jay-Z reference-- as "Empire State of Mind" was his favorite track of last year.

Final Grade: A big fat A

4. THE SONG DOWNLOAD: Ryan Walsh, "What Makes Texas Elections Special" [mp3]

: Rainmaker Ritual Helps Date Ancient Droughts
FEB: Toxic Water Scare Leaves a Sour Taste
MAR: Another Terror Attack for TV Cameras
APR: Terrorism Charges Dropped Against RNC 8
MAY: BBB Warns of Lottery Scams Hitting Triangle
JUN: How Green is Your Gasoline?
JUL: Wizards Wait for a Bargain as Others Sign Star Free Agents
AUG: What Makes Texas Elections 'Special'
SEP: Back from the Dead (below)
OCT: Musicians Protest Use of Recordings in Gitmo Torture
NOV: Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Frequented Local Strip Club
DEC: TV Still Has a Hold on Teenagers


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