Negotiations and Love Songs

One of my cyber pals, Stennie, who’s got her shit so together that she maintains not only a superfabulous regular, slice-of-life blog and an extra crispy one devoted entirely to movies, concocted this little CD Mix Challenge. Actually, this is the fourth of these she’s done, but the first I’ve noticed and participated in since I started reading her blogs with any regularity.

Unlike other pop-culture memes I’ve done (mostly Dennis’ movie quizzes), which involve answering questions with actual written words, Stennie’s takes a different tack. She challenges participants to respond in song. And while I like reading other people’s memes, this bumps the entertainment value of the experience up to a whole new level, ‘cause, you get a bunch of CDs—each chock full of an interesting assortment of new music—in the mail.

One more caveat before we get to the show. Due to the peripatetic nature of my life over the last two years, all but a handful of my CDs are packed up; only the essentials have found their way onto my iTunes. In fact, the majority of my library is stuff I’ve downloaded or come by through some other means. And a hella kids music (which is another post entirely) Still, I’m pleased with the final result, even if it’s not as eclectic as I would have liked.

CD Mix Challenge 4—The Revenge!

1. Song with a day of the week in the title.

“Sunday Morning” by No Doubt

I had a few other choices, but I like how the energy of this sets the tone.

2. A song you disliked as a youngster that you like now.

“Highway to Hell” by AC/DC

To paraphrase Bono (sorry, Stennie): “Evangelicals stole rock & roll from my adolescence. Now I’m stealin’ it back.”

3. Sellout - song from a TV commercial.

“Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone

Even though “sellout” is probably intended as a pejorative, I picked one that, when used in a campaign for Sony Video a few years ago, actually reawakened my appreciation for the song such that I went and bought it off iTunes.

4. Kickass cover song.

“Kiss” by Tom Jones & Art of Noise (covering Prince)

To be properly kick-ass, a cover should somehow improve upon the original, right? No mean feat when we’re talking about Prince, but this gets it done. Not least because nobody steps up and owns a song like Tom Jones.

5. Musical question...

“Who is he and what is he to you?” by Bill Withers

Another great ‘70s AM radio staple. Not my favorite Bill Withers track, but it serves its purpose.

6. And answer!

“Steve McQueen” by Drive-By Truckers

Who is he? What is he to me? He’s the coolest goddam motherfucker on the silver screen! Bonus: it’s also a nice little shout-out to the movies, which seems only fitting considering how I found Stennie’s blogs.

7. Third person song

“Wedding Vows in Vegas” by Was (Not Was) featuring Frank Sinatra, Jr.

From one of my all-time top 10 favorite albums, What Up, Dog?

8. Uplugged - a favorite acoustic song.

“Rain” by Patty Griffin

Not sure if this was supposed to be an acoustic version of an originally electrified/amplified song (I got the impression that we were trying to avoid that) or something that has always been acoustic. In any case, this is what I call an NSFW song—because it’s rare that I can get all the way through it without welling up. Which also makes it NSFD (not safe for driving). A lot of the songs on Patty Griffin’s 1000 Kisses have that effect, but this one is just extra poignant for some reason. Maybe it’s my Oregonian roots.

9. A song about food.

“Jambalaya” by Hank Williams

One of the few songs about food on my iTunes that isn’t from the kids’ music file. Why is that? Why do we stop singing about food when we get all growed up?

10. Trains, Planes and Automobiles: song about a mode of transport.

“City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie

This was hard because I could easily do (and have done) entire mixes around transportation (see #14). No idea why. It’s not like I set out to amass transportation-themed songs. The fact that it continues the geographic theme from the song that precedes it is a very happy accident. Also another indelible artifact of my ‘70s childhood soundtrack.

11. A song that cheers you up.

“Loves Me Like A Rock” by Paul Simon

Easily my favorite Paul Simon song (and that’s saying something). The visceral sense memory of it never fades, which makes it kind of the inverse of #2. I loved it as a kid; my appreciation for it has only deepened as I’ve gotten older. I also like that it’s from the same era as the previous track, so it’s possible that it might have been the day-brightening bit of sonic sorbet in real life that it is here.

12. Media - songs about radio, TV or other type of media (newspapers, magazines, whatever)

“Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band

And I thought coming up with a non-kids food song was hard. How is it that I have 427 songs about transportation but only one about media? (I have more, surely, if only I could get to the CDs.) Speaking of media, remember way back in olden days when MTV used play videos? This and a few other tracks come from that time I like to call the Golden Age of MTV (1981-84).

13. Add it up: Song with a number in the title...

“One” by Three Dog Night

14. Plus another song with a number in the title...

“Six Months in a Leaky Boat” by Split Enz

15. Equals third song with a number in the title.

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

16. Banned! A song that is, or was in its day, controversial.

“Without Me” by Eminem

17. A song about a family member

“Oh Daddy” by Adrian Belew

This is an 11th-hour sub, for sake of fitting everything onto a single CD. We’re all about value here at Middlebrow Industries, Inc. Or my name ain’t Nathan Arizona!

18. A favorite song that you have discovered since our last CD mix.

“Chariot” by Page France

I actually blogged about these guys (and a gal) recently. Nice to have a another chance to spread the word about them.

19. A song that reminds you of an old friend.

“Amanda” by Waylon Jennings

In this case “old friend” = My mom’s 1973 Mazda 808 station wagon. On nights when my dad was working graveyard at the mill, she bundled my brother and me into the backseat and the backidy-back at O-dark-thirty, tune the radio to Rockin’ Country KPOK or 62 KGW, and deliver The Oregonian to homes in the hinterlands of Clackamas County.

20. Amnesty song As with the last mix—a song you wanted to include in this or any past mix that you didn’t find room for.

“The Mayor of Simpleton” by XTC

This was a contender for #11. It’s not only one of my all-time favorite songs, but quite possibly the perfect pop song. It’s a nice little call-back to Sam Cooke’s “What a wonderful world,” but with so much winking self awareness that it ought to be subtitled “I was meta when meta wasn’t cool.”