“The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” (High Fidelity)
Over the past few weeks, one of my work projects has me thinking about playlists a lot: about how they can capture a mood perfectly, about how they can change your mood more effectively than almost anything else, and how they indeed are a very subtle art.
As the first of what might become a regular feature of this blog, I’m going to share a playlist. This one seeks to capture the feeling of the song title that wraps it up: one Sunday morning.
Here’s the screen shot of the songs and artists; below is a link that will take you to the music itself (technology willing). Enjoy.
A great song will make you nostalgic about somewhere you never visited, guilty of a crime you never committed, long for someone you’ll never meet. It doesn’t matter if the lyrics line up to what you’re living, because at that moment all you’re living is the story of that song. So when Ryan Adams asks “I don’t remember, were we wild and young?,” you wonder. You even doubt a bit. And this is why we’re happy to see him back to form.
In the midst of a (rare?) bout of melodrama nearly one year ago, I posted a playlist on the eve of my first day of work at my new job. With a complete absence of any irony whatsoever, one of the tracks was entitled “Risk of Change.” All overwrought emotion aside, I think this is artist worth watching. Take a listen.
I couldn’t be happier to report that Ryan Adams is once again singing sad songs. After featureless forays into dozens of genres and joyless diversions into ostensibly happier topics, Ryan has returned to the sad storytelling that made albums like “Heartbreaker” so brilliant.
In a fit of nostalgic indulgence, I’ve actually got this CD on pre-order from Amazon. There’s something about listening to the full fidelity of an album like this, with a real stereo system, without a computer in sight. I should have it in my hands next Wednesday or so; I encourage you to do the same.
Here’s “Dirty Rain,” the track that leads off the album.
Wait, those are the hallmark bleeps of Postal Service… hold on, isn’t that Wonderwall– but the version by Ryan Adams before he went off and married Mandy Moore and made that weird hard rock record in-between screeds that he would post on his website and then try to retract, and then is that a Radiohead track (it’s several, actually), and then did I just pick up bits from Morcheeba, Simian, Blur and even Bob freaking Marley?
If this sounds like a Girl Talk experience, it’s similar. I distinctly remember the first time I heard Girl Talk: it was as if, all of a sudden, all the neurons tied in with my musical memory were firing simultaneously. Think Limitless, but with music and without all the terrible movie bits.
But this song is different. Despite Girl Talk’s genius (yes, I used that word), if we’re being honest we’ll admit that he knows only one tempo: full-out dance party. Neither he nor anyone around him have every really managed to achieve the same kind of cultural cuisinart with tunes that are more cinematic and chill. Until now.
A duo by the name of Inspired Flight has created a Girl Talk-esque track that manages to fire up all the parts of your musical brain while still staying smooth. A sprawling, seven minute track that just set the benchmark for what a downtempo mash-up could be. Brilliant, and just ready to be picked up by a movie that wants to re-invent what a lead soundtrack song could be. And, in the interim, to be enjoyed on repeat play.
After years of forgettable wanderings that led me to wonder aloud that if some musicians are doomed to suck once they reach success, Ryan Adams has returned with a track worth savoring and sharing even as snippets caught with cell phones.
Here’s a performance of “Dirty Rain” from a few days back.
And, a download of a different snippet of the same song performed at a fundraiser for 826LA (one of the astonishingly worthwhile tutoring centers founded by Dave Eggers).
As the leaves fall and the days shorten, I’ve found myself subconsciously shifting the songs that track my days. The anthems and unabashed jams of the summer are giving way to subtler, more contemplative tracks.
On a long walk through a rustle of leaves, here are three songs that paint stories that are as vivid as they are thought-provoking. None of these are new, but they’re all keepers.
The first, from PJ Harvey, takes you to a rooftop in Brooklyn and a moment you’re not likely to forget.