Back in January, I did a random shuffle thing with my ipod. I don't know how you felt about it, but I enjoyed it, so I think it's time to do it again. I don't think I'll follow the rules as closely, I won't skip embarrassing songs (not that I listen to anything embarrassing!) but I'll probably skip songs I don't know well or that I don't like.
1. Flowers -- Brian Lillie -- Rowboats
He's a local (to Ann Arbor) singer-songwriter. Or he was, I think he still lives here, but he hasn't released an album in about 7 years. His music has meant a lot to me over the years, and this song is a good representation of his stuff: big, boisterous, kinda messy, and cheerfully wise. "You and me/we're flowers baby/let's go dancing in the park...love is so much bigger than needin'/it makes you choose, choose, choose". I don't think this (or any of his CD's) is very available, which is very unfortunate, because they are very worth having.
2. Out of Business -- Duke Levine -- Passion Fish (Soundtrack)
This is a little 30 second filler. When this movie/soundtrack came out I was working at Zingerman's, this CD was on the changer. I think there were only about 5 albums in there, the others seemed to get switched out pretty frequently, but this one stayed in for months. By the time it came out, there were only two people in the place who could stand it, me and one of the owners (don't follow the link if you don't want to see him). I still love the album, and the movie is wonderful (I could go on and on about John Sayles, but I won't).
3. Another Town -- Steve Earle -- Transcendental Blues
It's not like I'm going to put anything on this list I don't love, so why even say how much I adore Steve Earle? This album is from well after he got sober, but before he got politics (he also happened to have just fallen in love, but that's not saying much, since he's been married about 8 times). This particular song is very country-swing, and very fun. Say it, Keith, you know you want to!
4. Coming Back to You -- Trisha Yearwood -- Tower of Song (Tribute to Leonard Cohen)
First of all this version of this song caused me to buy a Trisha Yearwood album, which was a mistake, it wasn't nearly as good as this powerhouse of a song. A few posts back, I referred to a time in my life that was very painful. This song was the soundtrack and it really got to the root of how sad I was (the worst part is that I was always driving when I heard it, it's a wonder I didn't get into an accident). "Maybe I'm still hurting/I can't turn the other cheek/But you know that I still love you/It's just that I can't speak/I looked for you in everyone/and they called me on that too/I lived alone but I was only/Coming back to you". Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) has another version on the CD which is very different, and just as devastating.
5. Downtown -- Petula Clark
Ok. This was part of some ad campaign, I don't know for what, but I was reminded of how much I like the song. Good mood change from the previous one, don't you think? This, to me, is what makes iTunes such a great thing: I can just download one fun song and not have to pay for other stuff I don't care about. Of course, it used to be that you could buy the 45, and yes, I am old enough to remember those days.
6. Too Many Memories -- Patty Loveless -- Long Stretch of Lonesome
Now she's country! Such a sad, sweet song. If you have any regrets, if your heart has ever been broken, do not, under any circumstances, listen to "When Fallen Angels Cry", "The Trouble With the Truth" and "Long Stretch of Lonesome" all in a row. It will take you a month to recover. Certainly, if you like country, you should own them, just don't over do it.
7. Be Thou My Vision -- Ginny Owens -- Without Condition
This is an ancient hymn, and it's gorgeous and very powerful (no matter who sings it). Personally, I think the song edges out "Amazing Grace", maybe because it isn't such a cliche, it seems like a more naked declaration of faith. Owens' version is all breath, atmosphere and mystery, I just wish she'd done the whole song, rather than just a couple of them.
8. Night Fever -- Bee Gees -- Saturday Night Fever
I suppose I should be embarrassed by this, but I'm not. The Bee Gees made great pop music, and this song is one of the better examples. I've only seen snippets of the movie.
9. Inhabiting the Ball -- Jim Roll -- Inhabiting the Ball
Another local singer-songwriter. This one's much more available, since he had something of a national audience. The schtick of this album is that Roll got authors Denis Johnson and Rick Moody to contribute lyrics for many of the songs, which could have come off gimmicky, but the album is both lyrically and musically strong. This is the first song, it has an arty collage thing happening in the background, and while nothing else on the album sounds like it, it sets up the album nicely.
10. Waltz Across Texas Tonight -- Emmylou Harris -- Wrecking Ball
The strongest voice on this album isn't Emmylou Harris, it's Daniel Lanois (who I'm pretty sure I'd leave Len for, just sayin'), circa "For the Beauty of Wynona" (an album that totally changed my life). Are you getting the feeling I rather talk about Daniel Lanois? Ok, I'll stick to the singer and song at hand. It's a beautiful song, and Emmylou's voice is just lovely. In her earlier career her voice was as clear as a bell, on this album it's taken on a raspy texture that deepens her delivery. I can picture how a video for this might look: black and white, fuzzy-watery kind of filter, couples waltzing at some kind of outdoors evening dance.