As promised yesterday, here is the playlist and liner notes from my end-of-2007 CD.
1. Joe Jackson....................Is She Really Going Out With Him?
2. Stealers Wheel.................Stuck In The Middle With You
3. Mirah..........................Cold Cold Water
4. Tom Waits......................Misery Is The River Of The World
5. OK Go..........................Don't Ask Me
6. Mates of State.................Punchlines
7. Billy Bragg & Wilco............Ingrid Bergman
8. The White Stripes..............My Doorbell
9. Mill Race......................Pink and Red Lights
10. Dan Jones and the Squids......what if the whole wide world could be your baby tonight
11. Feist.........................1 2 3 4
12. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club...Devil's Waitin'
13. Bob Dylan.....................Thunder On The Mountain
14. Cake..........................Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle
15. Gin Blossoms..................Hey Jealousy
16. The Who.......................You Better You Bet
17. Jenny Owen Youngs.............voice on tape
18. The Replacements..............Alex Chilton
19. Michael Nesmith...............Cruisin'
20. Violent Femmes................I Held Her In My Arms
1. Joe Jackson
Is She Really Going Out With Him?
Joe Jackson: Greatest Hits (via iTunes)
iTunes makes it super easy, perhaps too easy, to half remember a song from your youth and then to find and buy it. Often the result is buyer's remorse. This song, however (and the other Joe Jackson songs I bought), are an exception: Jackson is a great songwriter with very smart lyrics. This is a fun, mean-spirited song. And we've all felt the sentiment it espouses.
2. Stealers Wheel
Stuck In The Middle With You
Reservoir Dogs Soundtrack
A great song by one-hit-wonders, Stealers Wheels. This song was little known before Quentin Tarantino put it in his film. This song features quite a bit on the soundtrack that plays constantly through my head.
Cold Cold Water
I have a weakness for female singer/songwriters with haunting voices. I found Mirah when I was on a music recommendation site: I was told that if I liked The Blow (which I do), then I'd like Mirah. They were right, I do like her.
4. Tom Waits
Misery Is The River Of The World
I bet that one in ten albums I listen to is a Tom Waits album. 'Nuff said.
5. OK Go
Don't Ask Me
I remember first seeing a video this band had made that was making the rounds on the Internet. The one where they do a home brew dance routine in their back yard. I sought out more videos by them and eventually bought this album. They are not profound or complicated, but they are good, simple rock songs. It seems to me that it's not easy to make a pop song that's also good. Be warned: there's a bad word in this song.
6. Mates of State
Bring It Back
An up-and-coming husband-and-wife duo from the Mid-West. They are getting some notice now, after having been featured in a national ad for a cellular company and after touring with Ira Glass for a This American Life road show. A male/female duo may evoke The White Stripes, but this pair is a different animal. More pop, tighter lyrically, and they have harmonize. Good stuff.
7. Billy Bragg & Wilco
During the last years of his life, Woody Guthrie wrote nearly a thousand songs that were never recorded. Guthrie's daughter approached Billy Bragg and Wilco about choosing some of those songs, putting them to music, and recording them. This is the first volume of the resulting songs (the second is Mermaid Avenue, volume two). Over the course of the year, I've listened to these albums dozens of times. The collaboration between Guthrie and the modern-day musicians is an amazing melding of talents. We were lent these albums by our friends Beth and Michael Casper.
8. The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan
I love the pure, stripped-down rock of this duo. Listening to them, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Led Zepplin was the only rock band by which one could be influenced. Although, and I'm ready to take a ribbing about this, I like The White Stripes more than I ever liked Led Zepplin.
9. Mill Race
Pink and Red Lights
A song from Salem's pre-eminent rock band. This song is about a brothel that once existed in the city. I love the quality of singer/keyboardist Julian Snow's voice on this song, and the ragtime sound of that keyboard. Mill Race is amazingly versatile, able to perform everything from Eric Satie compositions to sci-fi westerns. And yes, some of their music has been given that label. More than most national acts, I am looking forward to anything this band does in the future.
10. Dan Jones and the Squids
what if the whole wide world could be your baby tonight
Another local(ish) band. Dan Jones is a friend and an amazing singer/songwriter. And he really comes alive when he's backed by his band, The Squids. This song, like all of the others on Dan's fourth album, is raw and harks back to the days when garage bands could have taken over the world. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: most songwriters are compared to poets, but I think Dan is a short-story writer. And I can't think of a better compliment.
1 2 3 4
Feist was featured on my last year-end CD, where she was a favorite. This song is off her second album and it was featured on a commercial for the iPod. I hesitated to pick a song that had so much exposure, but, really, it was the song that grabbed me most. On the whole, I didn't care for this album as much as her first, but it's still worth checking out.
12. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
This band is completely new to me and recommended by former work-mate, Tyler. I borrowed this CD not expecting much of it, but I was really taken with it. Good lyrics, great vocals. A nice surprise.
13. Bob Dylan
Thunder On The Mountain
Another Tyler recommendation. This is a fantastic album. I think I like it as well of any of the other Dylan CDs I have. Maybe not as good as, say, Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks, but still a solid album. And of course, Dylan is eight-hundred years old, so that's impressive.
Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle
Motorcade of Generosity (via iTunes)
One afternoon, Melissa and I were talking about bands we liked. She mentioned a cake song she likes, I mentioned another. We went back and forth that way until we'd named half a dozen. Only one thing to do in that circumstance: to iTunes! They are funny, clever songwriters and there is this perverse part of me that just loves the singer's voice.
15. Gin Blossoms
Outside Looking In: The Best of the Gin Blossoms
I think most people would describe this choice as a guilty pleasure, but I never feel guilty about the things I like, so, you know, I won't. This was a band I listened to as a kid and, wonder of wonders, I still like them. Again, this is a band that seems to borrow more from the short story tradition than from that of poetry. I like that.
16. The Who
You Better You Bet
Face Dances (Remastered)
The Who is one of my favorite bands. Even their lesser albums, of which Faces Dances is one, has gems like this song. This was on the dance mix for Melissa's and my wedding. It's one of the few Who songs that Melissa knows and we'll sometimes sing it or no reason other than it makes us happy to do so.
17. Jenny Owen Youngs
voice on tape
Batten the Hatches
I'm on myspace. One of the things that happens often on myspace is bands you've never heard of send you requests to befriend them. Usually I go and listen to a song, then I promptly deny their friend request. Jenny Owen Youngs sent me such a request and I went to listen to her stuff. I liked the first song I heard, but thought it must be an anomaly. But then I liked the second and third songs. I liked them when I re-listened to them. And then I bought the album and liked that a lot, too. I like her ironic/sardonic take on the folky singer/songwriter thing. This song is probably the straightest take on that genre, and it still has an individual signature.
18. The Replacements
Pleased to Meet Me (via iTunes)
More music from my youth that I still like after not hearing for fifteen or twenty years. And I love the subject matter. Alex Chilton was the singer/songwriter from Big Star and this is The Replacement's love letter to him.
19. Michael Nesmith
Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma (via iTunes)
Ever since I was a kid, I've been kind of fascinated by Michael Nesmith. I watched reruns of The Monkees every day after school; he is an accomplished musician; his mom invented Liquid Paper; he produced the film Repo Man; I could go on. After our friend Peter Harmon posted the video for this song on his blog, I had to find it on iTunes and listen to it over and over exactly one hundred times.
20. Violent Femmes
I Held Her In My Arms
Add It Up (1981-1993)
Damn, there's a lot of old music on here. Violent Femmes are perennial favorites of mine. They tap into the anger, frustration, and paranoia that I felt in my life as a twenty-something and that still sometimes feel. I think this is as close to a love song as they ever recorded.