Is enough enough?

Time for another of Stennie’s CD Mix Challenges. One of the things that nagged me about my last mix was that it was maybe a bit too nostalgic and mainstream. And some of the choices were a little too obvious and “on point.” So this one came out a little, uh, darker. (esp. #9 and #17)

I’m happy with the overall result; it’s a modest improvement over the last one. Still, I worry that it’s maybe too homogeneous, stylistically speaking. Or, worse, maybe I’m being forced to confront the difference between my perception and the actual reality of my musical eclecticism.

1. Song that has the same title as #18: (see note at track 18)

"Evangeline" - Matthew Sweet

If showing a girl you love her with distortion and fuzz-tone guitar is wrong, Matthew Sweet don’t wanna be right. Just for fun, I like to believe that this and #18 are different paeans to the same girl.

2. Song about the moon:

"I Wish I was the Moon" - Neko Case

The grammar geek in me, who wishes the title and the lyrics were actually "I wish I were the moon" is currently being told by the music geek in me to shut the hell up and enjoy having his heart lacerated by Neko's amazing pipes. Maybe we could get her to sing The Elements of Style. Oops, gotta run. The grammar geek in me has to change his pants.

3. Fashion police: a song about clothes, or an article of clothing

"In These Shoes?" - Kirsty MacColl

4. Song about one of the seasons:

"Summertime" - Peter Gabriel

5. “Title out of nowhere:” a song whose title is not mentioned anywhere in the lyrics.

"so. Central Rain" - R.E.M.

6. Spell it out: a song which includes spelling out a word or words as part of its lyrics.

"Posh!" - Lionel Jefferies

I almost made this my four-letter song, but I couldn’t bear to lose RUSH. My second favorite song (nipping at the heels of “Me Ol’ Bamboo”) from the greatest musical ever based on an Ian Fleming story.

7. New song: a favorite song released in 2007.

"Juliet" - Royal Wood

I blogged about this guy a while back. Still riding the buzz.

8. A song that says goodbye:

"Long Road" - Patty Griffin

Yes, another Patty Griffin song. What can I say? I’m an emotional masochist and Mistress Patty is my favorite chanteusinatrix, who wields a guitar instead of a riding crop.

9. Home: a song about home, or a song that reminds you of your home, wherever that may be.

"White City Fighting" - Pete Townshend

For the record, this does not remind me of my (childhood) home. By that standard, maybe it’s not really that dark after all. :^\

This song—the whole CD, really—is one that I played constantly after I bought it. Over the years, it sort of calls to me and I get to appreciate how enduringly great it is.

10. A song that makes you sad:

Honestly, I can’t think of a song that makes me sadder than Sufjan Stevens' “Casimir Pulaski Day,” courtesy of Bet’s last mix. But since that’s out, how about:

"Johnson’s Love" - Dwight Yoakam

One thing I’ve always liked about Dwight is that he writes most all his own songs. And, boy, does he know how to write and perform a country song. Dwight Yoakam just gets it: a proper country song, almost by definition, is supposed to be sad.

Steve Martin once said that it was impossible to not feel happy when you hear the banjo. The same is true, in reverse, of the lap steel.

11. Psycho: a song with the word “crazy” in the title, or “psycho,” or “nuts” or “looney” or any variation thereof.

"Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads

12. Song everyone hates except you:

"I Saw the Sign" - Ace of Bass

Seems like the intent here is to get a song for which one is the unabashed champion in the face of withering scorn and derision. That’s not me. I barely acknowledge the existence of this song; I certainly don’t defend it, at least not to people whom I’m trying to persuade that this is some overlooked gem worthy of consideration.

13. Four-letter word:

"Rush" - Big Audio Dynamite II

It’s not everything, singing, you know. The only important thing these days is rhythm and melody.

14. Thanks: a song that says thank you, or that you would use to thank someone.

"Thank You, Girl" – John Hiatt

Look, Ma—no irony! Also, I want to thank you, John, for featuring the mighty Ry Cooder on slide guitar.

15. Song that you think should have been playing when you were born

"I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail" – Buck Owens & His Buckaroos

Forgive me for being hyper-literal here, but this song was a number-one hit in the early part of 1965. Combine that with my dad’s love of country music and cheap beer, and there’s a decent chance it was playing on the jukebox of the whatever smoky dive the old man was haunting on a July night that year.

More importantly, of all the pop and country hits from 1965, it’s one of my all-time favorites. I know the logic here is a bit circular, but if this song were playing when I was born, that might account for my unabashed love of twangy Telecasters and (the music segments on) Hee Haw in general. Never mind the fact that Dad’s “my house, my rules” edicts were in effect whenever a question was raised about what we were watching on Saturday nights at 7:00.

A more interesting category, though more cringe-inducing, might be “song that was playing when you were conceived.” Stennie, whatchathink?

16. Kick-ass cover redux: a cover song of an original you have used in a past mix.

"Flip Fantasia (Cantaloop Island)" - US3.

I’ve actually participated in only one previous mix exchange. The only original song from that mix for which I have a cover version is Three Dog Night’s “One.” But the one I have (Aimee Mann’s excellent reading) came from—wait for it—one of the participants of the last CD exchange. I don’t think that person is playing this round; still I figured that adding new material to the pool is preferable to recycling a song that at least half the participants already have. So I offer the above. FWIW, I do have the Herbie Hancock original (Cantaloupe Island). Mostly though, I just really dig the idea of segueing from Buck Owens to li’l hip-hip/jazz fusion sump’n-sump’n.

17. Song about the sun:

"Ain’t No Sunshine" - Bill Withers

When everybody else zigs, I like to zag. This is just over two minutes of pure concentrated dread. A man retreating to a place where the sun don’t shine. On a side note, this song, along with the opening theme to Perry Mason, used to scare the bejeesus out of me. I still get shivers from this one.

Also, I’d love to be able to say that this doesn’t represent a trend of every mix having a Bill Withers song, but I can’t. I am the human K-Tel compilation.

18. Song that has the same title as #1: For tracks #1 and #18, choose two completely different songs that happen to have the same title.

"Evangeline" - Los Lobos

A bit of sorbet to cleanse the bitterness from the palate. I thought this would make a good opening track, but I it actually works best as the closing-credits number. Almost an encore of sorts. Can you imagine a better way to be played out than accompanied by David Hidalgo's dulce de leche vocals?


Bet said...

A fine mix, Mr Middlebrow. (and thanks for the kind comments.)

* Funny how shoes seemed to be big on the mix.
* So. Central Rain - can NOT go wrong with that one.
* I knew the Los Lobos Evangeline, not so familiar with Matthew.
* Ace of Base. Well, it's not Barry Manilow. Or Don't Worry, Be Happy. But it's bad, I'll give you that one!
* And holy crap, John Hiatt's 30 Years of Tears has to be one of the saddest songs of all time. I should have used that.

Anonymous said...

i def. like matthew sweet and rem and don't have either of those songs. many of these songs i had not heard before, so, thanks. :)

Duke said...

A great selections of songs. Picking Buck Owens was wonderful. Loved it.

Enjoyed all your selections..well maybe not Ace of Bass. Haha

BTW I added your link to my Blog. Interesting place you have here.

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