19 June, 2010

Songs I listen to over and over [again]: A Mixed Tape

Literally culled from my "most played" on iTunes. Everything revealed, with and without shame. 

Here it is.

My mixed tape for you.


One Voice 
Beautiful Dawn
both by The Wailin' Jennys

Three extraordinary voices, The Wailin' Jennys continue to evolve into far more than the melodious sum of their individual talents five years after blowing in on a fresh acoustic breeze from Canada's mid-western heartland. The Wailin' Jennys are a Juno Award-winning Canadian folk trio from Winnipeg, Manitoba and New York, consisting of soprano Ruth Moody, mezzo Nicky Mehta, and alto Heather Masse. All members also play instruments (acoustic guitar, electric upright bass, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bodhran, drums, harmonica, and violin). The group is featured regularly on Garrison Keillor's show A Prairie Home Companion. (By the way, one of favorite fact tidbits is that the group's name is a pun on the country singer Waylon Jennings....um, amazing...)

Video Killed The Radio Star
The Buggles
My Interlochen 2001 suite THEME SONG...

About You Now
Pop fluff and I am not ashamed! One of the best memories of a song I have— driving to Milton Keynes with “Team Blue” (The North London contingent of the Carousel cast) and playing this song over and over and over again. “…Great tune,” said Becci the driver as we pulled into Milton Keynes:  City of the Future.

So What
I love Pink and would happily be her shoe-shiner just to be near her. This is the best gettingreadyinthemorning song. The best angryrunning song. The best warmupbeforetheshow song.

The Man That Got Away
Audra. Oh Audra.

Judy Collins.
Wildflowers is an album by Judy Collins, released in 1967. It has literally orchestrated my life (a fact I told her in person shaking slightly as I held her hands at my high school graduation). My Mom owned the original LP when she was in high school/college and I purchased the CD in 8th grade and would sit and listen and listen and listen... Albatross is my favorite song on the album partly because Collins wrote it herself and partly because the imagery is so profound and vivid: "The lady comes to the lake, dressed in lavender and leather. Looking North to the sea, she finds the weather fine..." Scene set. Cue the full orchestral string section. Enjoy. (and thanks Mom!)

Out Loud 
Long Island Shores
both by Mindy Smith
Mindy Smith rose to fame in 2003 when she was the first artist signed to contribute to the Dolly Parton tribute album Just Because I'm a Woman. Her contribution to the project was a cover of Parton's classic "Jolene." Dolly Parton followed by adding backing vocals to a new mix of the song, which was then featured on Smith's debut album that was released in January 2004, One Moment More which you need to go purchase right now. Her evocative, sultry folk voice sound like a gemstone, her lyrics and music are alive with genre-crossing light.

Eddie’s Balloon 
from my friend David Fetzer, and his childhood pal Patrick Fuguit's (of Almost Famous fame) awesome band Mushman. They're amazing.

Dance Me to the End of Love
Madeleine Peyroux's version is my favorite and I think Leonard Cohen should be proud. Peyroux is a Parisian busker at her best. 

Shut Up and Let Me Go
I love the Ting Tings and I don't care who knows it. Their New Wave 80s thing is kitch and delish and SHUT UP AND LET ME LOVE IT- HEY!

Simon and Garfunkle
On a literal level, the song expresses the idea that the search for "America" leads to New York City, as Simon's lovers travel eastward, from Michigan to Pittsburgh and then to the New Jersey Turnpike leading to New York City,  but also details in first-hand terms with non-rhyming lyrics, the metaphorical journey of two companions in search of the true meaning of America. 

Morning Glow
I think this is Stephen Schwartz's best song. The hope. The ascension. The dawning of a new era. Of a new day. "Morning Glow is here at last..." Musical theatre shaped goosebumps every time.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
As previously mentioned on this humble blog, Sufjan Stevens lifts me up, lets me soar, breaks my heart. This song is faith at it’s mostsimple, subtle and achingly beautiful. 

Let’s Misbehave
Elvis Costello's version from the De-lovely soundtrack is a stunner.

Tell Me Why
by [hangs head in  shame] thebackstreetboys
.... if you make fun of me.... basically, you are dead. This song evokes summer camp co-ed mixers like no other. This song is driving through metro Detroit in the summers of 1997-1999 in Scott Ladue's car (with Ian Brodie and Che Wentz) and getting pulled over because we were driving in far too celebratory a manner. I cannot even tell you how many incredible memories of this stupid stupid stupid song I have. My favorite in fact occurred just months ago in our nation's capital. Brian Cali and I were driving home from a night at The Kennedy Center, and the infamous tune of summery magic came on to the radio. Slowly, slowly, we began to sing it under our respective breaths. Suddenly my eyes were closed, my fists were clenched! We were both singing a little louder. Then suddenly the chorus! Ohhhh the chorus! We were singing with all our hearts. We were alternating the classic tune:

Brian: TEL ME WHY!
Brian & Al in improvised harmony: I WANT IT THA-A-AT WAY!

When it was over the car went very. quiet. We sat in the silence a moment or two stunned by what had just occurred.

"We can never talk about this to anyone. And we can never mention this again... okay...?" I mutter it under my breath starring straight ahead. "Totally..." he agrees.
And we drive on.
Spanish bliss. Oh sí.

You & I Both
Jason Mraz I love you. Sharing a love of you with Victoria began a beautiful friendship. I'd happily have it be You and I both but whatever I'm happy to listen to your music on repeat.

Let me tell you about my boat...
I do a little “public transportation dance” to this song that is really something.

Won’t U Please be NiceSure I will Nellie McKay. You are such a delightful, gorgeous weirdo.

So. Gabriel Kahane is my pal. But ever since our first meeting in November of last year where we shared a disparate stage with musician David Yazbek (what a motley crew, eh?) I have fallen for his music as I have with his fine self. It is, in many ways, the closest thing to musical visual art I've ever listened to. It jumps out of the speakers and grabs your throat-- sometimes shaking, at other times caressing, and in certain moments, coaxing a lump in that self same place. It infiltrates. You hum his clean but complex melodies, his orchestrations stick with you. The lyrics haunt. Do listen. Do. Let Gabe "carry you up Second Avenue" and you'll never look back.

A Light That Never Dies
Sophie Solomon is also one of my pals and a stunning, blindingly talented and physically beautiful British violinist, songwriter and composer who fuses many different musical influences into her music.
Sophie began playing the violin at the age of two and or the first five years she played totally by ear, learning to read music at the age of seven. She is the Klezmer specialist extraordinaire which is how our paths initially crossed-- she orchestrated Fiddler on the Roof for the Sheffield Theatres Production in 2007, and we've remained friends ever since. Her album Poison Sweet Madeira is un-be-LIEVE-able.

The Book of Right-On
American harpist, pianist, and singer-songwriter from Nevada City, California, Joanna Newsome has been strongly influenced by poly-rhythms, used by West African kora players. Her harp teacher, Diana Stork, taught her the basic pattern of four beats against three, which creates an interlocking, shifting pattern that can be heard on Ys, particularly in the middle section of "Sawdust & Diamonds."

The media have sometimes labeled her as one of the most prominent members of the modern psych folk movement, although she does not acknowledge ties to any particular musical scene. Her songwriting incorporates elements of Appalachian music, avant-garde modernism, and African kora rhythms.

Favorite lyric in this song? "I killed my dinner with karate..." Um. How can you not adore something so bizarre?!

London Still
The Waifs
I couldn’t mention a song list without the eponymous song. I cannot tell you how often I get asked where the title of my blog comes from! Allow me to clear that up: why from the Australian folk band The Waifs of course. From their glorious album Up All Night.

"I took the tube over to Camden to wander around,
Bought some funky records with that old Motown sound. 
I miss you like my left arm that's been lost in a war---
Tonight I dream of home and not of London anymore..."

Reaction to that lyric:    . . .


  1. AnonymousJune 20, 2010

    Thought you might like to know one of the Backstreet Boys is staying in my hotel. Rode up in elevator with him...

  2. AnonymousJune 20, 2010

    But I had to ask his rep who he was after he got out :( Any chance you're singing someplace before Wednesday?

  3. Al: TELL ME WHY.

  4. ":) good music. One of these days we'll have to sit down and compare librarys :)"

  5. btw, best song ever... Louie Armstrong - What a Wonderful World. :)

  6. For Good..from Wicked...Idina Menzel & Kristen Chenowith... Someday, I want to hear you sing this.. x



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