Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

The weekend mix: Here’s to new parents

I’m an uncle. Very exciting stuff. Little Rainey was born into the family yesterday. My own daughter is 9 now. I hazily remember the first few weeks after she was born. We didn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a stretch for 6 weeks. You don’t know problems from normal baby stuff. Having a baby can be hard adjustment for the body, the bank balance, and the bedroom. It’s a tough job.

Good luck with that.

Of course, there is no greater source of wonder, joy, and fear than your own baby. You can have an academic understanding of how having a baby will change your life, but until you actually do it… It’s the difference between reading the ingredients list and actually eating ice cream.

A lot of artists have been moved by their own experiences as children, lovers, and parents. Here are some I got to thinking of when I heard the news.

  1. Joy – Phish
    Phish has written a lot of songs about nothing in particular (“Stun the puppy, burn the whale. Bark a scruff and go to jail.”) and about fictional situations. This is a heartfelt song Trey wrote to his daughter. “We want you to be happy, ‘cos this is your song too.”
  2. Mama’s Always on Stage – Arrested Development
    These guys were talented and had a positive message. I wish they could have kept it together. This track has it all: a fast, danceable groove, rocking harmonica, exuberant backing vocals, and praise for mothers from Speech. It’s a must-have for your collection.
  3. All U Can Eat – Ben Folds
    In this song, a father advises his son not to be an ugly American.
  4. Isn’t She Lovely? – Stevie Wonder
    From one of my top 5 desert island discs, “Songs in the Key of Life.”  This is one of Stevie’s most celebratory songs. Every second of the 4-minute harmonica solo is worth close attention.
  5. Three Is a Magic Number – Blind Melon
    15 years later, I’m still sad about the untimely death of Shannon Hoon. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Nico, and shortly before he died, Blind Melon covered this Schoolhouse Rock classic.
  6. You’re My Girl – Neil Young
    Neil Young visited Motown on his album, “Are You Passionate,” and wrote this great song about taking his daughter out into the woods to show her some things.
  7. Wild World – Cat Stevens
    Old school. Before he changed his name to Yusuf Islam and called for the murder of Salman Rushdie for insulting Islam and Allah (may he be praised eternally), Cat Stevens was a loving father and great songwriter.
  8. Daughters – John Mayer Trio
    “Try!” was fantastic live album, which I just realized I should write up this week. Some of the pop Mayer writes loses me, but he’s a tremendous talent and rocked that album. This is a live performance at the GRAMMYs.  “Fathers be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too.”
  9. Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
    This wonderful, soothing John wrote for Sean is part lullaby, part fatherly advice and also contains a favorite lyric of mine, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
  10. Mother Mother – Tracy Bonham
    Ms. Bonham writes a letter to her mother about going out into the world. The gutsy and honest vocal performance makes this track rock.
  11. A Father’s Son – Citizen Cope
    Greenwood laments a man’s life gone wrong because he didn’t grow up like his father.
  12. When You Dream – Barenaked Ladies
    This is a surprisingly sober and beautiful song from these goofballs. He wonders what a child with so little experience could dream about.
  13. Robots for Ronnie – Crack the Sky
    This 70’s rock band that almost made it big reminds me of Phish in their goofy lyrics and brilliant, often jazz-influenced music. This ballad is about parents buying a robotic friend for their fat loser of a son.
  14. To Zion – Lauryn Hill
    People advised her to think of her career, but she decided to have the baby. She says, “Now the joy of my world is in Zion,” referring to her son, Zion David-Nesta Marley (grandson of Bob Marley).
  15. New Mistake – Jellyfish
    They wound up sounding an awful lot like Queen on their second album, but since I like Queen, that’s not a problem for me. This is a cool power pop examination falling in love and having a baby.
  16. Alligator Pie – Dave Matthews Band
    Dave Matthews is still putting out great music. His daughter, Stella, asked, “Daddy, when you gonna put me in a song?” 2009, apparently.
  17. Kooks – David Bowie
    My all-time favorite song written by a father for his child. Bowie invites his child to “…stay in our lovers’ story.” Listen and read along.
  18. Sons & Daughters – Decembrists
    I like the hopeful tone of this song. He promises a better world for our children, which is what we all hope for.

I may return to this topic, because I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of songs inspired by artists’ children. Enjoy this song with a coke because, you know, we have to stay straight for the kids.

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March 6, 2011 Posted by | Alternative, Classic Rock, Hip Hop, Jam Bands, Mix CD, Popular, Rock | 2 Comments

Fresh and moving hooks from JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys

Wow. It has been a lot harder than I was anticipating finding time to write posts for my blog now that I’m working again and a single dad. I think things are settling down a little bit and I am going to try to do this more regularly. Wish me luck.

...a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of the Queen of Rock n Roll.

Anyway, for today I’m going to go ahead and jump on the bandwagon for the new album from Chrissie Hynde and J. P. Jones. You may well have heard the story because it’s so unusual and frankly cool. J.P. Jones is a musician who was born in 1978 (if my math is right). That was the very same year Hynde met the original members of The Pretenders. JP had been a lifelong fan of Chrissie Hynde when he saw her in a bar one night. As many of us may have done, he approached her and tried to strike up a conversation. It was perhaps too loud to talk but they exchanged numbers and continued their conversation over the phone. Conversation turned to romance and within a few months they were vacationing together in Cuba.

The pair share a love of each other and a love of music. They started writing songs to, for, and about each other and have released them as JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys on an album called “Fidelity.” I have also been a lifelong fan of Chrissie Hynde and have included some of her recent work on some of the mixes I recommend on Fridays. I have to say, though, being in love seems to suit Ms. Hynde. There is a creative edge to the music that, while still deeply rooted in her new wave rock/pop style, is fresh and appealing. There is a youthful energy in the songs that you could not expect to hear from a 60 year old.

I have never heard any previous work by J.P. Jones and to be honest I doubt he would have hit the big time by himself. That said, I like the pairing. Perhaps it is the chemistry we’re hearing. Maybe it’s sexual energy. Maybe Jones is simply a great new muse for Hynde. I’m not sure, but the songs are uplifting and they convey emotion. Give some of my favorites a listen and see if you don’t want the rest.

  • If You Let Me – I love the energy of this song and the sentiment is wonderful. In this song at least, you can hear the chemistry. It’s a beautiful love song.
  • Fairground Luck – Chrissie and JP give us another moving love song, this one with a heavy and deliberate pace, but an uplifting chord progression and touching lyrics.
  • Australia – Wow. The verses are OK, but this one is all about the irresistible hook at the chorus. JP does a fine job with his singing but, man, Chrissie’s still got it.
  • Fidelity – JP proposed that they have a child. Since Chrissie is clearly past a time when that is possible, he said their child could be an album. In performances, JP has said, “We named this song after the baby.” So here’s your title track in which Chrissie declares her love for JP and says it’s like they have a little girl, Fidelity.

You can’t help but be happy for them and a newly inspired Chrissie Hynde is a wonderful thing.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Classic Rock, Popular, Rock | 1 Comment

The weekend mix: Happy days are here again

2011 is shaping up. I landed a job I applied for late last year. It looks like a good one, too. So at last I’m leaving the ranks of the under-employed and I’ll be making some money. Things are going swimmingly with my girlfriend too. (What is the genesis of that odd expression, anyway? Swimmingly?) I’m going to a posh wedding tonight that promises to be fun. All in all, I’m feeling pretty damn good.

Working again and pretty happy about it.

On that note, I put together a mix of songs that are either about good times or have happiness in the title.

  1. This Will Be Our Year – OK Go
    You remember their treadmill video for ‘Here It Goes Again’ and you might remember their awesome Rube Goldberg machine video for ‘This Too Shall Pass.’ These guys are about a lot more then gimmicky videos, though. They are about joyful, inventive pop music like this.
  2. It’s About Time – The Lemonheads
    I’ve always been a big Evan Dando fan. He writes the most pleasing melodies and he has a great vocal delivery.
  3. Finally Made Me Happy – Macy Gray
    A lot of people took notice of Macy Gray’s debut album and then she faded a bit, but I don’t thing she’s lost a step. I always check out her albums when she releases one. This is from her 2007 release, “Big.”
  4. Joyful Noise – Derek Trucks Band
    This aptly named nearly-all-instrumental composition is such a high-energy, upbeat song. This is a good live performance, too. Trucks is an amazing guitarist and a heck of a bandleader.
  5. Happy Hour Hero – moe.
    Go out and pick up “Tin Cans and Car Tires.” Oh, and go see moe. next time they come to your town. Give a listen to the lyrics in this great Rob Derhak tune.
  6. Awesome – Satellite Party
    Satellite Party is a Perry Farrell project. This is a surprisingly pretty love song. It’s almost cheesy, but somehow Farrell sells it to me.
  7. Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy – The Kinks
    Vintage Ray Davies. Thank you once again to John Cusack for turning me onto this great song I may not have found otherwise.
  8. Stupidly Happy – XTC
    I love XTC. This is nearly a silly filler track for them but many songwriters would kill to be able to generate infectious guitar riffs and vocal melodies that they seemed to toss off so effortlessly.
  9. Joy – Bettye LaVette
    LaVette has been in the business a long time and has come to mainstream success comparatively late in life. Check out this live performance and you’ll wonder why it took us so long to notice her.
  10. Happy Feet – 8 ½ Souvenirs
    These guys play fun, jazz-influenced music with a throwback feel, kind of in the mold of Squirrel Nut Zippers, but more polished.
  11. Action Figure Party – Action Figure Party
    This is the title track to one of the coolest party jazz albums I own. Listen to the great lyrics as you groove to the funky jazz.
  12. Wonderful Night – Fatboy Slim
    I have never heard of Lateef the Truth Speaker, but he really lays it down on this track. The energy is great, but watch out for the lyrics, parents.
  13. Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    This song has been used in many TV shows so you’ve probably heard it before. If not, though, don’t miss it. Honestly, I think it’s better than Judy Garland’s version of ‘Rainbow’ and as good as Satchmo’s version of ‘Wonderful World.’
  14. Happiness – Built to Spill
    The fantastic slide guitar on this track makes it my favorite from Built to Spill’s great release, “Ancient Melodies of the Future.” As always, Doug Martsch gives a great vocal performance, too.
  15. I Hope You’re Happy Now – Elvis Costello
    No one did bitter like Elvis Costello. The instruments play an upbeat, poppy song, but the lyrics contain sarcastic gems like, “But you make him sound like frozen food, his love will last forever.”

You may have noticed that I only got two posts up this week and the “Friday Mix” got posted on a Saturday. I think I’m going to be busier now that I’m working. I will still try to get up a least a couple album reviews during the week, but I may start calling these the Weekend Mixes instead so I can get them up on Saturdays when I will have more time. Enjoy this mix with a glass of champagne and let the good times roll.

January 22, 2011 Posted by | Classic Rock, Jam Bands, Jazz, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock | Leave a comment

Stirring vintage acoustic folk from Nick Drake

I would like to acquaint you with the beautiful music and sad story of Nick Drake, if you’ve never heard either. Let me say that Nick Drake was a talented singer and guitarist and nothing short of a brilliant songwriter. I think it is fair to say he was ahead of his time, though his music was definitely a product of its time. You have probably heard his music somewhere, since it crops up in odd soundtracks and other places, but his name may have escaped your notice.

He was ahead of his time, but is recognized now as a genius.

Drake released his debut album, “Five Leaves Left” in 1969, when he was 20 years old. It wasn’t well received critically and didn’t sell many copies. He was confident his second album, “Bryter Layter,” would be a commercial success. It sold less than 3000 copies. 3000. Oof. Drake, who was throughout his life prone to depression and insomnia, didn’t take it well.

He began work on his final album, “Pink Moon,” in 1971. He was by then smoking what a college friend called “unbelievable amounts” of marijuana. Yeah, in 1971. I can’t imagine what quantities would be required to cross the “unbelievable” threshold in 1971. In any event, he strove for an even more stripped down sound on “Pink Moon.” He recorded it over just two nights in the studio with most songs featuring just Drake and his guitar. It received some good reviews, but sold even fewer copies than his first two releases.

Drake became more depressed and withdrawn. He lived frugally and simply, often with his parents. He had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for 5 weeks in 1972. In autumn of 1974 Drake succumbed to an overdose of antidepressants at age 26. Colleagues told him he was a genius, but ultimately he had a rather sad and unsuccessful life.

Nobody really talked about Drake throughout the rest of the 1970s, but in the ‘80s, he got a shout out from members of The Cure, R.E.M., and Dream Academy. People started identifying Drake as a romantic tragic figure. He got a little more attention in the ’90s, including a biography on BBC2 in 1999. In 2004, nearly 30 years after his death, two of his songs actually reached the charts in the U.K. His songs have started appearing in movie soundtracks and TV commercials. In fact, after one of his songs appeared in a Volkswagen commercial, he sold more records in a month than he had the previous 30 years (or so Wikipedia would have us believe).

Now Drake is recognized as an influential artist and has a pretty large cult following. You should pick all three of his releases because they are delightful. Some of the songs are somber and frankly depressing, but many of them are serious in tone but uplifting and gorgeous.

Here are 4 brilliant tracks from his debut.

  • Time Has Told Me – An acoustic intro with a typical pensive Drake melody is joined by piano and picked electric guitar and becomes kind of uplifting, like many Drake songs. It actually sounds a bit like early Bowie – maybe something off of “Hunky Dory.”
  • Three Hours – Acoustic bass and bongos back Drake skillfully playing some ornate acoustic guitar as he sings an ethereal melody. It’s a really beautiful piece and there some interesting facts about Drake to read on this YouTube video during the song.
  • Cello Song – Guess what instrument accompanies Drake and his acoustic guitar. The name isn’t clever, but the song is beautiful.
  • Man in a Shed – It’s a clever song with a beautiful melody. Drake’s instrument was the guitar, but the piano is particularly busy and joyful.

By all means, dig deeper. Interestingly, there are many still photos, but there is no film footage of Drake as an adult. His live shows were reportedly awkward and brief, but the sadly small catalog of music he left behind reaches out to touch us even now.

http://www.brytermusic.com/

January 11, 2011 Posted by | Classic Rock, Folk, Indie, Popular | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: somebody get me a doctor

My girlfriend spent the day seeing a bunch of doctors today. Tests at the hospital is a lousy way to spend a Friday. I started singing Eels’ ‘Hospital Food’ to her last night and though she’s an Eels fan, she didn’t know that one. That convinced me. It is a good topic for a mix. Listen in good health.

"Are you sure this is covered?"

  1. Hospital Food – Eels
    “Next thing you know you’re eating hospital food. Delicious hospital food.” Isn’t that the way it goes?
  2. I’m So Sick – Flyleaf
    I wasn’t quite sure what to think of these guys at first. Lead singer Lacey Mosley has a sweet voice and she’s cute but this song is really heavy. Think of some raspy dude’s voice singing this when you listen to it. It would work. Then I read they play Christian rock and metal. I still don’t know what of think of them.
  3. Attack the Doctor – Blockhead
    I threw this one on my chill out mix. The drums and guitar vamp while various atmospherics wander through the groove. It’s cool.
  4. Love Can Damage Your Health – Telepopmusik
    Also from the chill out mix. Telepopmusik is a French duo who play some smooth electronica. This is a simple song, but the arrangement is interesting and it has grown on me.
  5. Hospital Up – The Melvins
    The Melvins do some stuff that can get pretty weird. This is a straight-ahead rock song that is accessible and appealing…except for the last minute and a half, but I edited that off of my copy.
  6. Healing Is Difficult – Sia
    Healing is difficult, but Sia is easy to listen to. She has a distinctive voice and you may have heard her work with Zero 7. This one, though, is the title track from her great 2000 debut.
  7. Monster Hospital – Metric
    Cool song that reminds me of The Breeders. Creepy freaking video that reminds me of David Lynch.
  8. Miracle Medicine – Jason Falkner
    Falkner is an alum of Jellyfish and has written some great power pop, like this.
  9. Lock Doctor – James Harman
    Here is some down home oozy blues for you. Harman lays it down.
  10. She’s a Healer – Neil Young
    Neil Young has been at it a long time, but you still have to listen to what he’s doing. He explores every corner of this 9-minute bass-driven groove and it doesn’t get stale.
  11. World Sick – Broken Social Scene
    Broken Social Scene isn’t as much of a band as it is just a musical collective. No fewer than 25 musicians have contributed to albums and live shows and most of them live in and around Toronto. “You Forgot It in People” is my favorite album by them, but this is my favorite song off of “Forgiveness Rock Record.”
  12. Dr. Jimmy – The Who
    From the brilliant “Quadrophenia.” The main character, Jimmy, has 4 personalities. This one is a bastard.
  13. I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital) – Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
    “You gotta take me back outside. Help me get my boots on.” The energy of the song fits the proud desperation of the lyrics.

Enjoy this mix with a Flaming Moe. Because it’s medicinal. Have a great weekend.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Blues, Classic Rock, Electronica, Metal, Mix CD, Popular, Rock | 1 Comment

A creative explosion from ex-Beatle George Harrison

Hey, have you ever heard of The Beatles? Those kids from England were pretty good. I was on a discussion board where someone expressed the opinion that The Beatles aren’t that great and he doesn’t even like their songs. I don’t usually engage in such discussions, especially since he was probably a troll. However, in that case I was moved to respond that I guessed he was a twenty-something who has no idea how every band he likes is standing on their shoulders. He didn’t respond but I got a chorus of agreement from other readers.

...all things, that is, except the coolness of yard gnomes.

Of course, they were arguably the most influential pop act of the 20th century. They were great singers (except Ringo), gifted songwriters (except Ringo), talented players (INCLUDING Ringo), and strong personalities. John had a huge impact on popular culture, obviously, and Paul has been knighted. Today, I’m actually writing up an album by the quiet one, George Harrison.

George left behind a fantastic body of work both musical and charitable. I enjoyed the Traveling Wilburys and lots of his later work, but my favorite Harrison album remains 1970’s “All Things Must Pass.” This was the first album he released after the breakup of The Beatles and it is a treasure trove of wonderful songs. There might have only ever been 1 band where a songwriting genius like George Harrison couldn’t get songs onto a record. With the potent writing combination of Lennon/McCartney populating albums, George was often frustrated that there wasn’t room for some of his great work. When ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ didn’t make the cut, Harrison considered offering it to Frank Sinatra. Instead, it and other gems were released on this triple album.

“All Things Must Pass” was a breakout album by a recently frustrated musical genius in his prime. A lot of Harrison’s more famous Beatles songs were on the mellow side, but if you’re familiar with ‘I Me Mine,’ ‘I Want to Tell You,’ ‘Savoy Truffle,’ and ‘Taxman,’ you know Harrison rocked as well. He did plenty of both on this album. All the songs are good, but these are my favorites.

  • I’d Have You Anytime – The album kicks off with this gorgeous love song. It still makes me sigh every time he lays down that lick. He doesn’t let up either, and plays fantastic accompaniment throughout.
  • My Sweet Lord – This song is about the Hindu god Krishna and though he originally wrote it for Billy Preston, Harrison released it himself. Harrison was famously sued over similarities between this song and The Chiffon’s “He’s So Fine.”  He was found to have “subconsciously copied” the song and was forced to surrender some royalties for that song and his entire album.
  • Wah-Wah – Harrison said “Wah Wah” was Liverpool slang for a headache in his book I Me Mine. Probably. It was certainly written after he and Paul had a fight during the “Let It Be” sessions. In the song, he says “you made me such a big star,” and “I don’t need no wah-wah. And I know how sweet life can be if I keep myself free from the wah-wah.” Could be a headache from the business of music.
  • All Things Must Pass – A little melancholy, a little hopeful, but very wise. This has always been an uplifting song for me.
  • Let It Down – Do you know this song? If not, you’re welcome. This is one of the best songs you’ve never heard. The intro and chorus is as big as the guitar end of ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ but the verses are beautiful. The whole thing is brilliantly constructed and I have never heard it on the radio.
  • Apple Scruffs – This song is so much fun I put it on my daughter’s mix on my iPod. Sunny harmonica, a happy melody, and goofy lyrics make this a wonderful love song.
  • I Dig Love – Ringo played on this album and his percussion makes this weird little groove really roll. Love this song.

If you’ve never heard this album, definitely pick it up. If you haven’t listened to it in a while, dust it off. It really has staying power.

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Classic Rock, Popular, Rock | 2 Comments

The Friday mix: Celebrating the end of a very strange year.

It’s been a weird year for me, particularly the last month or so. I have been dealt some tough blows this year and I’ve had some tremendous breaks. Some things that were begun this year aren’t over yet and the relative merits of their outcomes have not been revealed. I’ve done things this year I never thought I would do. Never contemplated doing, actually.

It's been that kind of year.

So 2010 did not go according to my plans, but as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Or as Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” So we make plans and hope things go our way, but it’s important to roll with the punches and simply enjoy the time that is given to us. With that in mind, this end-of-year post celebrates the strange and bizarre. Hey, it’s better than a boring life, right?

  1. Stranger than Fiction – moe.
    This is from my favorite moe. album, “Tin Cans and Car Tires.” Bass player Rob Derhak is a great songwriter and here’s a gem.
  2. Weird – The Sebadoh
    “Paranoia’s contagious. I’m coming down with it too.” It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
  3. Stranger – Draven
    These guys do throwback metal. I’d put it in the early 90s, maybe, but they do it really well. This nearly 9-minute epic has brooding verses and ass-kicking instrumental bridges.
  4. Strange Groove – World Party
    This is from the little known but brilliant World Party album, “Egyptology.” This one is strange, but it’s funky.
  5. Strange Times – The Black Keys
    God bless Carney and Auerbach. OK, the song is great, but this video concept is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.
  6. Stranger Things – Soul Hat
    “Stranger things have happened. Won’t you explain how I can keep from tripping on the acid rain.” This was a pretty obscure album my brother turned me on to. They are/were an Austin-based band that I saw many years ago. They had a rocking single that hit #25 back in the 1990s, but this song was from a prior album that was a little gentler.
  7. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – Radiohead
    Radiohead started to lose me for a bit, there, but “In Rainbows” is a beautiful, rocking album. Here is one of the gorgeous tracks from this album.
  8. Strange – R.E.M.
    “There’s something going on that’s not quite right.” I’ve felt this way all year.
  9. Strange Condition – Pete Yorn
    I only discovered about a minute ago that Yorn did a collaborative album with Scarlet Johansson in 2009. The single isn’t that bad and the album apparently went platinum in France already. I’ll get back to you on that. This song is from his solo debut “Musicforthemorningafter.”
  10. Crazy Dream – Los Lonely Boys
    These guys can sound a lot like Stevie Ray Vaughn, but then they’re also out of central Texas so I suppose they come by it honestly.
  11. Very Strange – Gomez
    I’ve recommended Gomez in the past. They are great songwriters and versatile players. Ben Ottewell drops a good hook and some moving lyrics on us here.
  12. Strange – Built to Spill
    The muddy guitar, harmony vocals, and tambourine backing Doug Martsch’s whining delivery somehow create a broadly appealing combination.
  13. Nobody Told Me – John Lennon
    “Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed. Most peculiar, mama.” Lennon wrote this for Ringo Starr, but died before Starr recorded it. Lennon’s demo take was released 3 years after his death on “Milk and Honey.” It was the last John Lennon song to reach Billboard’s top 10, hitting #5.
  14. Strange Apparition – Beck
    Beck gets up to some strange shenanigans musically, but this one is a pretty straightforward piano-based pop tune. The video, on the other hand, is another matter.
  15. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed – David Bowie
    This year has left me feeling somewhat slightly dazed. So here is some seriously vintage Bowie from way back in nineteen hundred and sixty-nine. The intro is pretty spacey, but it soon ramps up into some sweet country rock.

Enjoy this mix with a gin martini garnished with pickled octopus Or, if your year has been weird enough already, just some bubbly. Have a safe holiday and a great coming year.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | Blues, Classic Rock, Jam Bands, Metal, Mix CD, Popular, Rock | Leave a comment

The Friday mix: Not sleepy, but sleep-related

I haven’t been sleeping. First off, I seem to have trouble actually going to bed. I putter around and I mean to get to bed, but I don’t actually lay down until it’s already pretty late. Then I often have trouble actually falling asleep. Last night I actually was sleeping and I had a dream that woke me.

It's not working.

I was on a hillside somewhere and noticed that I had sat down next to a little garter snake. Harmless little fellow. Well, then it pulled its head out from its coils and I noticed it was quite a larger snake than I had thought. Not a python or anything, but maybe a 5-footer of some kind. I scooted about 3 feet away from it figuring it wouldn’t be interested in me. It looked at me and then struck suddenly. I was so startled that I jumped and woke myself. It was 4:30 AM and I was wide-awake, heart pounding. I didn’t get back to sleep last night.

As I lay there contemplating the vague outlines of my dark room, it occurred to me that a sleep mix might be a good topic for today. This isn’t sleepy music, but all of the songs have sleep in the title (save one). Sleep has inspired some great music. I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Sleep – Crack the Sky
    These guys were a classic 70s act that never quite broke through, but I was into them back in the day and they’re still great. A lot of their songs are tongue in cheek, but this alternately energetic and beautiful song is one of their more serious tracks.
  2. Sleeping Beauty – A Perfect Circle
    Well, you’d never fall asleep with this one on but it’s fantastic. Guitarist Billy Howerdel wrote songs for Tool’s Maynard Keenan to sing and their album “Mer de Noms” is packed with winner after winner.
  3. Majik City / Sleep Logging – Glocca Morra
    Glocca Morra’s vocalist spends a fair amount of time screaming on this album, but the melodies are pleasing and the arrangements are interesting. I like this two-parter.
  4. Can I Sleep in Your Arms? – Willie Nelson
    I’m not a big country music guy, but Willie’s “Red Headed Stranger” is a masterpiece. Give a listen to this gorgeous track. Most of the album has this emotional, mellow feel.
  5. Sleeping Lessons – The Shins
    This is apparently what I need. Kind of a cool fan-made video for this song of two distinct halves. I really like how the unusual melody Mercer sings plays with the repeating keyboard and guitar arpeggio.
  6. A Song for Sleeping – Stone Temple Pilots
    This was the best song on “Shangri-La Dee Da.” My daughter just aked me to put it on her mix, too, for anyone still looking for more kid’s music. Incidentally, how many hundred times do you have to play this song on Guitar Hero to nail it like this?
  7. Sleepless – Soul Coughing
    “I got the will do drive myself sleepless. Skeedunt. Stunt the runt, smoking Buddha blunt.” Where do the lyrics come from?
  8. Sleepwalk – Santo and Johnny
    What a fabulous vintage instrumental, circa 1959. I can see the bobby soxers slow dancing with their letter-wearing boyfriends now.
  9. Go To Sleep (Little Man Being Erased) – Radiohead
    Radiohead kind of lost with Amnesiac / Kid A but, man, they came roaring back on Hail to the Thief. These guys remain the best current band I have never seen live.
  10. A Pillow of Winds – Pink Floyd
    Out of their entire impressive body of work, I believe this is the most beautiful song they ever wrote.
  11. Sleepyhead – Moke
    These guys only put out a few albums before they broke up in 2001, but the one to pick up is “Superdrag,” which has this one.
  12. Sleep to Dream – Fiona Apple
    Apple was only 19 when this was released so presumably she was even younger when she wrote it. It’s a remarkably mature song to come from such a young woman.
  13. Sleep on the Left Side – Cornershop
    “When I Was Born for the Seventh Time” has a bunch of fascinating, irresistible songs like this one and, sadly, some weird stuff that is hard to listen to. This one always makes me happy when it comes up.
  14. Sleep Comes Down – The Psychedelic Furs
    Not the typical sound you expect when you think about the Furs. It’s a cool track, though, that has aged really well.

Enjoy this with a Daylon’s Bedtime and get to bed. Have a great weekend.

December 3, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Country, Indie, Mix CD, Popular, Rock | 2 Comments

The Wednesday mix: Love Beats Hate

Someone organized a blogging event today called “Love Beats Hate.” I’m down. I wanted to blog about love today. Romantic love, brotherly love, family love. There is a lot of hate and fear in the world but though hate can win some devastating advances, I truly believe love triumphs.

"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich..."

I usually do a mix on Fridays, but in participation with this great event, here is a collection of songs about love and peace. I hope you enjoy them, but more than that I hope you are inspired to make more room in your heart for love, respect, tolerance, and peace.

  1. Love’s in Need of Love Today – Stevie Wonder
    Stevie is a spiritual and peace-minded musical genius who just wants to increase the peace. “Hate’s going round breaking every heart. Stop it, please, before it’s gone too far.”
  2. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) – George Harrison
    And speaking of peace-minded musical geniuses…
  3. Better Way – Ben Harper
    Harper is a modern preacher of peace and love. He feels it, he believes it, and he makes you believe it too with this beautiful song.
  4. Any Love – Massive Attack
    Good old Massive Attack leaves behind the dark and ominous vibes they often lay on us for this upbeat pop song. “Any love that you feel is for real.”
  5. Peace – Los Lobos
    I am the biggest Los Lobos fan I know. This is from a kind of breakthrough album for them, “Kiko.” David Hidalgo is a great songwriter and he penned a great song here about bringing peace to the world through love.
  6. Border Song – Elton John
    Eric Clapton does a pretty cool, rollicking cover of this song, but John’s original version is gorgeous and more moving.
  7. Love in a Trashcan – The Ravonettes
    So this one is here mainly because it’s a great song. My point, though, is that the worst love you can think of is better than any hate at all.
  8. Message of Love – The Pretenders
    Chrissy Hynde lays it out for us. “And the reason we’re here as man and woman is to love each other, take care of each other.” Can I get an “amen?’”
  9. P.S. You Rock My World – Eels
    This is a beautiful love song all about living in the moment and living for love and if someone wrote this for you or even if they just dedicated it to you it’s a good, good thing.
  10. Funny How Love Is – Queen
    Some seriously vintage Queen, from their second album in 1974. Freddy sounds like he’s 12, but the harmony vocals and May’s buzzing Red Special are there. Listen to Deacon’s work on bass as well. It’s a little saccharin, but God help me, I like this song.
  11. Give Me Every Love You Got – Gravity Wave
    This is kind of oozy and a little strange, but I like the vibe and I love the lyrics. “Give me one of every love you got. Have you got the one with youthful courage, blowing off tomorrow’s test?”
  12. I’m Always in Love – Wilco
    Wilco has put out some amazing, deep, and textured albums, but I think my favorite remains the sunny “Summerteeth.” Here’s a typical uplifting pop song from the album.
  13. Crazy Love – Van Morrison
    When Van fell in love, he got it bad. This is as sweet and gentle a love song as you could ever ask for.
  14. Love Is Best – World Party
    This seems to be a sad and pretty song of loss, a cautionary tale by a man who has realized that love is the most important thing.

I didn’t put any John Lennon on here, but you could have picked any one of a half dozen songs. If there was ever a musician more dedicated to increasing love in the world, I don’t know who it would be. Anyway, enjoy this mix with a glass of milk and some cookies for dunking, because I love that.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Mix CD, Popular, R&B, Rock | 3 Comments

The Friday mix: More movie soundtrack favorites

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a big fan of movie soundtracks. A well-chosen, well-placed song can emblazon a movie moment into the collective consciousness of the world. Think of Quentin Tarrantino’s use of ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ in Reservoir Dogs. Or John Cusack blaring Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ at his prospective girlfriend in Say Anything. Or the hilarious repetitive use of ‘I Got You Babe’ in Groundhog Day. Songs can cement movie moments.

It's all about the music.

But beyond that, soundtracks often represent someone’s favorite music. Any time someone gets paid to go to the trouble of compiling a collection of music for my consumption, I will at least listen to it. I have found a lot of wonderful music I would simply never have discovered otherwise. I hope you find some of that today.

  1. Hey Jude – Joe Anderson (Across the Universe)
    Alright, the original is actually better. However, you haven’t heard this version 647 times. The first half is quieter and mellower than the original, but the second half gets more raucous and electric. It’s cool.
  2. Lovely Day – Maroon 5 (feat. Bill Withers) (Hoot)
    I always liked this song and I’m pleased that Maroon 5 did, too. They had the good sense to bring the song’s author, Bill Withers, into the studio with them.
  3. Million Voices – Wyclef Jean (Hotel Rwanda)
    Jean’s bid to become president of Haiti was frustrated by a technicality (though probably a fair one). I have no idea how able a leader and administrator he would be. Still, when you listen to a song like this, you know he has the passion and vision to do the job.
  4. Beacon Light – Ween (The X-Files)
    Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised the X-Files folks picked Ween for their soundtrack, but I am. This is a funky groove built around a great guitar hook.
  5. Holiday Road – Lindsay Buckingham (Vacation, European Vacation, Vegas Vacation)
    Man, I always loved this song.
  6. I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother Where Art Thou?)
    This is actually Dick Burnett and it’s a wonderful Appalachian country song that was used to brilliant effect in this movie.
  7. Rock and Roll Circus – The Sights (Wedding Crashers)
    It would appear that this is a cover (the author is listed as Baranshakaje Antime) but I’ve never heard it before. This is a great rocker.
  8. This Time Tomorrow – The Kinks (Darjeeling Limited)
    Ray Davies is one of the great pop composers of all time. This is such a poignant idea set to a pleasing melody and it’s well executed to boot.
  9. Bohemian Like You – The Dandy Warhols (Six Feet Under)
    The Six Feet Under soundtrack has lots of cool music on it, including this one. OK, so the guitar riff is a Rolilng Stones ripoff.  It’s still a great song and the lyrics are original.
  10. Dry the Rain – The Beta Band (High Fidelity)
    John Cusack has turned me on to lots of cool music, but I especially thank him for cluing me into The Beta Band, who I don’t think I would ever have heard elsewhere.
  11. The Same in Any Language – My Morning Jacket / Ruckus (Elizabethtown)
    As beautiful a track as you could hope for from My Morning Jacket. I love this song.
  12. The Brooklynites – Soul Coughing (Blue in the Face)
    I will take any excuse to recommend a Soul Coughing tune. This one is typically weird and cool. I wish these guys would get back together.
  13. Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That – Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Grey’s Anatomy 3)
    I love Robert Randolph. I have seen him at Bonnaroo a couple times and he is an unbelievable talent. This is an insanely catchy song and he plays the shit out of it.
  14. Everybody Pass Me By – Pepe Deluxe (Holes)
    What a sick blues riff. The vocal performance is kind of cool, but this song is all about the strange but perfect guitar work.

Enjoy this mix with a $4.50 grog of Coke. Have a great weekend.

November 12, 2010 Posted by | Classic Rock, Folk, Mix CD, Popular, Rock | Leave a comment