Look, things are complicated in this country. We all know that. We're reckoning with a lot of horrible facts about both our present and our past. But, at bottom, I think we can acknowledge that some flawed, complicated people came together and set up a novel framework that genuinely enabled things to get better. And this weekend is a time to reflect on that. A chance to think about what we might do to make things better too - because, at bottom, we're all flawed, complicated people too.
Anyway, let's identify some songs of hope and pride, and maybe a bit of patriotism - real patriotism, not that "everything we do must be the best because it is us" stuff.
And to kick it off, here's Ray Charles singing America The Beautiful at the 2001 World Series.
Your doorbell rings. On the steps is a traveler, someone who looks to be in their early twenties. They’re a local resident. They think they haven’t gone far out of their way, but they seem confused. In reality, they’re lost. They have appeared on your doorstep at the end of a sudden journey.
The traveler looks down at a note in their hand. By their puzzled expression, it’s clear that the note was not there a moment ago. They hand you the note. It reads:
I have arrived from the past. When I left, it was August 7th, 1965. My journey has left me unable to talk with you, but I can listen. I know the general outline of the intervening years between now and when I left.
Back home, I play & listen to music all the time — it helps me make sense of the changing world around me. I am permitted to stay with you for the span of five songs. Please play songs that will tell me something about your world, and how your world emerged from the world I just left. I will take what I hear back with me.
You bring them inside your home, stall for time by getting them something to drink. What are you going to play? Why?
We've discussed this before, I'm sure, but what music services do you use? I was finding myself getting into a bit of a rut with Pandora - it seems to have stopped rotating in new songs unless and until I make a conscious addition to the playlist, and then it really gloms onto that artist. I'd never been much into Spotify - it just seemed silly to rotate through multiple services - but given the Pandora problem, I decided to give it more of a try. The weekly curated lists have been excellent - a handful of songs I know, but many more I don't, including some news stuff, deep cuts and covers, many of which I have genuinely enjoyed.
I'm trying not to like or dislike too many songs on the service though, for fear it will become another Pandora, and only cater to my identified likes, when, in fact, the thing I like most is variety and finding new songs.
What services do you use? How do you use them? Drop your lists. Nominate your summer songs. Especially that. Nominate your summer songs!
1. The theme is "Summer". You're free to interpret that as you'd like. Especially this summer...
2. Put your nominations in a Spoiler box.
3. You may nominate up to 3 songs. Any further nominations will be ignored.
4. Unless we get an insane amount of nominations for some reason, everyone's first choice is automatically in. The rest of the mix will be filled out with the other nominations.
Don't worry, we're not soliciting yet for summer mix material. I suppose that'll happen at some point. Or not. Either way...
I'm just working on my personal Summer Mix, which is usually ready over labor day weekend. It might take a bit longer this year. I usually try to identify at least a single new song that I think is going to really explode - In the past I've hit pretty well with "Pumped Up Kicks", "Feel It Still", and "Can't Stop The Feeling" - and I've whiffed on a bunch of others.
This year? I got nuthin. The only truly new song that I think will make the mix as it currently stands is American Aquarium's "The Luckier You Get" (again, I think anyone digging Isbell would like this group, from what I've heard. "The Luckier You Get" isn't necessarily typical of their other songs, many of which are more contemplative.).
I definitely don't have a pop song that I'm ready to grab. I don't know if the virus stuff is making it harder to get into new things, or what... but I'm just completely lacking that new summer song. So, if anyone has any ideas... I'm open.
Also, don't tell Pepper, but I think Courtney Barnett's "Everybody Here Hates You" is likely to make the cut.
Alright, here's that American Aquarium song, just for fun:
Happy Friday, all. You made it through another week. Give yourself a pat on the back, and maybe a beer, if you indulge.
This is right around the time of year where my music taste would metamorphose. Winter is the time of year for darker and often harsher music, and Summer is obviously the time for lighter, poppier, more airy music.
That hasn't really happened yet this year. I think that's partially because, with only a few exceptions, this Spring has been kind of chilly. It hasn't really felt like "windows rolled down" kind of weather, so it hasn't really felt like "windows rolled down" kind of music, either.
Does anyone else do this every year? If so, have you yet this year?
I've stopped worrying about wasting my office's bandwidth while I'm on their VPN. Bandcamp, Youtube, whatever.
I don't like leaving work in the basement sitting on the computer only to go the the computer upstairs to add different music to my iPod. And I need to keep searching for new things to listen to, even if they're old things. Like last week, I listened to a few records from the jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders; all via Youtube.
Any new musical discoveries during this pandemic/quarantine? Trying to discover new music or leaning on old standbys? Earlier this week I was working at home, all alone and it was pouring rain outside. So I listened to Elliot Smith's debut, Roman Candle. Perfect for an isolating raining day.
My love for Van Halen's first album is well known and I thought, since Eruption is such a great intro to You Really Got Me, what other songs would it be a great intro to. The cool thing with streaming music services, is that it's really easy to find out so I created a bunch of playlist pairing a song with Eruption.
I discovered, to no surprise, that Eruption before a quiet song just doesn't work. I thought perhaps the daring difference would be kind of cool, but nope, it's just too discordant. Also pairing Eruption with any other classic rock song works pretty good. Eruption leading into Welcome to the Jungle doesn't miss a beat.
It also works pretty well with some GBV songs, particularly Motor Away and I am a Tree. It really works with a song called Soul Barn, which is an amazing toss-off song buried on a demo release. In all cases, if the production were better, all these combo's would be really cool
Any way, long way to say so stay safe and listen to music, it can really be a balm in these trying times.
I always think of rain as the original percussion instrument, and listening to a rainstorm pound out a solo on the roof has always been one of my favorite things. If I'm curled up with a quilt on the bed as I listen, so much the better. In the absence of rain, a good rock and roll drummer can fill the gap. I've always been partial to John Bonham and Nick Mason, with some latter days Phil Collins. How about you?