Arts Desk

The Pragmatist: Three Songs to Play While Reading James Joyce on the Metro

It's not a crime to want to be noticed by someone intelligent and attractive. In fact, it's a pretty common, even laudable desire. We've developed all sorts of colors and sounds and movements to catch the eye of that potential partner. Depending on the type of match you're looking for, you might sport your muscle shirt in the summer or don your Harvard jacket in the fall. If you're going for that cute bookstore clerk or that bright English major, you might even stoop to reading James Joyce on the Metro. Is he a literary great? Of course. Is his oeuvre good Metro reading material? Absolutely not, unless you're trying to show off your book smarts to spark a conversation. You'll want to stock your iPod with just the right songs though—if you get caught listening to Black Eyed Peas while reading Ulysses, the jig is up. Here are a few quirky but not inaccessible tunes that won't make you look foolish while discussing the birth of stream-of-consciousness cool.

You really can't lose with The Velvet Underground. You can please avant-garde die-hards and pop enthusiasts alike with the band's ambitious eclecticism. Here's a post-VU clip of Nico playing "Femme Fatale"; let's hope you don't end up with one.

Maybe you want to look more chic. Blonde Redhead has you covered. There's a lot of noisy, difficult work to sort through, but "In Particular" has an undeniable melodicism to it. Put it on your pod and you'll look much more interesting.

Semi-local songstress Thao Nguyen walks the line between artsy and easy-to-digest. Her folk-flavored rock has an off-kilter vibe that fits in both pop and oddball camps. Give "Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)" a shot, as she performs it for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, and if you happen to meet that special someone on the Green Line, take them to Iota tomorrow night to see Thao play solo in person.

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