Thursday, February 11, 2010

Liner Notes

Okay, most—not all—of my friends have gotten my Christmas mix disc by now. (Yes, it's February. Why do you ask?) And I thought I’d take a look at some of the songs, since it’s been way too long since I posted any text up here.

Thin Wild Mercury. “Poor Phil Ochs, sad and low.” There’s something compelling to me—especially now—about a guy kicked out of the music fast lane as the world changes around him. Judas went electric and he never looked back.

Aramingo Take Out. What can I say? Slo-Mo (featuring Mic Wrecka) was may favorite new find at last year’s Philly Folk Fest. Yes, I said folk fest. Enjoy the rap, my fellow hippies.

Trippin’ In Montana. One side of my struggle with religion: I see it as a get-rich-quick scheme for all sorts of unsavory types. Only the levels of respectability change. In this case, it seems like the Waco story if it were reported on by Jim Thompson.

Love Dog. And here’s the flip side of the argument. Don’t we all want something out there? I know I do; I just don’t know what it is. “Nameless you above me, come lay me low and love me.”

Paranoia in B Major. What can I say? I love the Avetts, especially loose and live, like this track. The first of the love songs, which started growing all over this collection like kudzu. “But if love is a game, girl, then you’re gonna win; I’ll spend the rest of my life bringing victory in, babe if you want me to.”

Fuel. This Ani DiFranco song has gripped me for the past few years – it goes all over the place, and then ties it all back up tight. It just cranks up the tension… or rather, recognizes the tension that’s already here.

Stress. Speaking of tension, we’re not always very good at letting go of it. Plus: Sand fleas. SAND FLEAS!

Good Weekend. The first Art Brut song I ever heard, and it still makes my heart leap with joy.

Boy With a Coin. The first of two Iron & Wine songs; Sam Beam has become one of my favorite modern songwriters. I don’t always know what he’s going for, but I love how he gets there. (Again with the God, by the way: “If God made her eyes for crying at birth, and then left the ground to circle the earth.” Some people say we’re here to find happiness. But what if we’re here to find sorrow?)

The Engine Driver. Another sad love song, but there’s a resilience to it. “There are power lines in our bloodlines.” Plus, I love the bridge, about being a writer of fictions. “I’ve written pages upon pages, trying to rid you from my bones.” Wow.

Shenadoah. The oldest song on the disc, by hundreds of years. I love Richard Thompson’s collection 1,000 Years of Popular Music, and to my mind, this is the prettiest version of this song ever.

Where Is My Love? First of all, no one does longing like Lucinda Williams. Secondly, the lovers she imagines sound like the sexiest guys in existence. Who could compete?

Freedom Hangs Like Heaven. I like this bluesier Iron & Wine song, too. More upbeat than the last one, it’s a glimpse of the potential in all of us. “Ain’t nobody knows what a newborn holds, but his mama says he’ll walk on water and wander back home.”

2:19. This Tom Waits shuffle about love gone wrong always makes me want to dance. “Was that a raindrop in the corner of your eye? Were you drying your nails or waving goodbye?” I think you know, Tom.

Black Lincoln Bomb. Three girls, a night on the town, a stolen car. I’ve always liked Heather Eatman, ever since I saw her (and interviewed her) at my first folk fest fifteen years ago. (Jesus. 15 years.) She always has a way of describing a seamy evening, and the casual, languid instrumentation only adds to the effect.

Shackamaxon. This mix was a long time in the can before I realized that this song was about where to buy weed in Philly. I just liked it because it seemed like a verdant oasis in the middle of the city. “Looking for a place where the grass is green, and the smell is sweeter than it’s ever been.” (And that’s the subtle part.) What can I say? I’m dense sometimes.

Dancing Choose. “He’s a WHAT? He’s a WHAT? He’s a newspaper man.” They had me -- former newspaper man that I am -- with that, but once you throw in a sweater for a Weimaraner and a Flash tattoo, I completely fell in love with this song. In a just world, it would be the type of karaoke challenge that Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” posed in the 90s.

Wine, Women and Song. Another song where the singer is taking stock of his life. I love the bouncy combination of lyrical playfulness and the bitter, bitter regret.

Shanty. Okay, this one I knew was about weed.


1 comment:

bastard central said...

that's merely because you saw her naked...twice