“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.
With the sun out and the grill on, a holiday weekend like this calls for carefree singalongs. This isn’t the weekend for arty adventures or music snobbery; this is time to ramble through some classic rock songs without particular attention to key or lyrical accuracy.
On cue, Wilco did a set a few weeks ago that was composed entirely of covers: every one a raucous (if sometimes sonically suspect) candidate for summer soundtracking. From Daft Punk to Thin Lizzy to Bob Dylan and beyond, here are some of the best cuts.
In an age where even the good pop singles tend to melt away like candy a few weeks after first listen, Wilco can craft off-kilter melodies that lodge in your brain and just refuse to let go. It has been a few months now since I heard Jeff Tweedy perform a hushed version of “Born Alone,” a single off their album that will be released tomorrow. And, even without any recording to spur my memory, the song has stuck with me since that night. Those of you familiar with my memory (or lack thereof) will find this all the more impressive.
What’s even more interesting is the opus that ends the album. With a length that makes Stairway to Heaven seem like a snippet, even the song title “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” stands in defiance of the Twitter-ization of our attention spans.
When Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released, a friend of mine’s breathless praise claimed that people quit their jobs so that they can spend more time listening to the album. The band was just odd enough, just passionate enough, just defiant enough to elicit reactions of such exaggerated (but completely not ironic) glee.
Welcome back, Wilco. I get the sense your album is going to be with me for a while.
With a bluesy, boozy romp through Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble,” Candy Golde stomp into the picture as the Midwest’s most recent supergroup.
Supergroup, you ask? Well, sort of. Assembled from Cheap Trick, Eleventh Dream Day, and Wilco, Candy Golde is a bunch of grizzled vets giving semi-retirement the finger. And the best thing about them is that they play as if they really could care less about anything other than having a good time. Their infectiously insouciant enthusiasm seeps through the record, making it the perfect soundtrack for the kind of rollicking night out that band and audience alike are too old for.
While we’re on the topic of midwestern supergroups, this post brought me back to one of my old favorites from Golden Smog. With guys from Soul Asylum, The Replacements, Wilco, and the Jayhawks, Golden Smog is a perfect time capsule of the kind of rock that was created between Chicago and Minneapolis in the 1990s. And this track, a Bad Company cover (!), was on near-constant rotation in my college dorm rooms. Nothing like having one’s name in an anthem of excess to excite a 20 year-old.
I’ve just wrapped up a week with 42 amazing people from 19 different countries. Spending a virtually uninterrupted block of time with people from such a broad swath of the world filled me with a still-to-be-processed stockpile of thoughts and emotions, but among these something simple stood out: pride for the City of Chicago. For you city-dwellers out there keeping score, the chi is doing great, thank you very much.
Such is my pride that I’ve pulled together some Chicago-themed songs, with nary an ironic wink in sight. Proof positive of the power of place in music.
Kanye, coming home.
Ryan Adams, writing to the City and what could have been.
I think I’ve found my new we’re-a-new-team-out-to-dinner-and-conversation-is-waning question to ask the table: what is a song that describes you?
Where would people go with that question? Let’s play it out, shall we?
Someone would quickly lay claim to a Wilco track, leaving the person next to them with their Radiohead back-up choice. Two folks consecutively would pick songs their kids love; supportive smiles would spread around the table. There’d be a guy whose tellingly-long explanatory prelude wouldn’t quite defuse the awkward pause that would ensue after he shared his Indigo Girls choice. And, inevitably, the khaki-clad guy next to him would leap in right after Mr. “Closer to Fine” to share his Clipse track, beaming with pride at his moment of seeming all tough and stuff. There’d likely be someone who would share a deeply-obscure world music track, because it’d lead right into you asking about her junior year abroad.
Me? I’m going with this one. I used it to open my radio show every week for a few years back in college, and while the references are dated the song still rings true. The occasionally all-enveloping world of the music fanatic.