Time for another CD Mix Exchange. This being the seventh of these done by Stennie and the Gang, it's been dubbed "007: License to Mix. But for some reason, I had to really work to keep it from being License to Twang. I’m usually ambivalent about including alternates, but I’m providing them here so you can see just how many twangy bullets were dodged.
1. Kick-ass cover—of a song someone else has used in a previous mix.
“Stand by Your Man” – Lyle Lovett
(Covering Tammy Wynette’s classic, which Stennie used as a “favorite song you completely disagree with,” on CD Mix 1)
This category kicked my ass. My initial problem was twofold: everybody (else) who does these mixes A) uses a lot of kick-ass covers and B) chooses original songs for which there are no covers. But then I received River Selkie’s mix, including an entire disc of covers, which pretty much called bullshit on the second prong of my argument. Fortunately, I remembered I had this great little chestnut. What it lacks in opening-track energy, it more than makes up for in smirking irony.
“(We’re Not) The Jet Set” – John Prine and Iris Dement
“Every Day” – James Taylor (Mike’s “song he liked when he was 5” [Buddy Holly original] from Mix #1)
“Ragg Mopp” – Lionel Hampton (Bet’s spelling song on Mix 5)
2. Song that gives you goose bumps.
"Have a Little Faith in Me" - John Hiatt
A testament to the power of simplicity. I’m consistently blown away by how few elements there are here. It’s not particularly melodic, just a piano and a voice, but what a voice. Not the prettiest, but easily one of the most expressive and affecting.
“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
“Miami 2017” (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” – Billy Joel
3. Song about the state you live in.
“Lone Start State of
Given that JT's ode to the Old North State was my only alternative (not bad, but not as interesting--though NC is vastly superior to TX, IMO), and this was the album that introduced me Nanci Griffith, I decided on a more conceptual direction. For what it's worth, I may have been alone in Denver sipping a California wine at some point.
4. Parenthetical—a favorite song with parentheses in the title, such as “(Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes.”
“Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune)” – Ella Fitzgerald
“(I’m Gonna) Love, Love, Love You” The Derailers
“I Don’t Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)” – Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
“(Let’s Do It) Let’s Fall in Love” – Ella Fitzgerald
“Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town)” – Kenny Rogers and the First Edition
“I am Weary (Let Me Rest) – The Cox Family
“Forever Young (The Wild Ones)” – The BoDeans
5. Therefore I Am: song about thinking
“Let the Mystery Be” – Iris Dement
Iris's voice tends to elicit a love-it-or-hate-it response from most people. I'm completely enraptured by it. Hope y'all are, too.
“What Was I Thinkin’?” – Deirks Bentley
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” – Bob Dylan
6. Alliteration—song with alliteration in the title, that is, the words start with the same letter, like “Lonesome Loser.” (Remember the Little River Band? Sure you do!)
I love the pure unadulterated filth of the guitars on this. Anybody else get a little whiff of Bon Scott from the vocals?
“Readin’, Rightin’, Rt. 23” – Dwight Yoakam
7. Favorite song from year you were born.
“It’s Not Unusual” – Tom Jones
How pathetic is it that to satisfy the category I suggested, I have to go buy songs off iTunes? That’s what I get for going all literal a couple mixes ago and using “Tiger by the Tail” as song that should have been playing when I was born. Honestly, I have no trouble rationalizing the $1.98 I spent, given my big, shameless soft spot for Tom Jones. I actually saw him perform live in Vegas (where else?) in the early ‘90s. It was 90 minutes of every Tom Jones in Vegas cliché you can imagine. In other words, perfection. It purged any questions of him being past his prime. Apparently, he’s still on the road, going (relatively) strong.
“What’s New, Pussycat?” – Tom Jones
“Flowers on the Wall “ – The Statler Brothers
“A Very Good Year” – Frank Sinatra
8. Song about an animal
“Maybe Sparrow” – Neko Case
My main criterion here was to avoid using a “kids music” song. This one is definitely not for the ears of innocents. Mean ol’ hawks. Go pick on some pigeons why dontcha?
“Sheep” – Zoe Lewis
“Dolphin Dance” – Herbie Hancock
9. Song performed by non-traditional musician—such as an actor, athlete, weatherman, plumber.
“Harriet!” – Mike Myers
I’ve made my affection for “So I Married an Axe Murderer” plain many times in this space. This was too irresistible. Also, any song that uses the lyric “hard-hearted harbinger of haggis” automatically goes to the front of the queue.
“Ringo” Lorne Greene
“Teddy Bear” – Hank Hill (Mike Judge)
10. Grammatically Incorrect
“Ain’t Found Nobody” – The Mavericks
I’ve been wanting to include a Mavericks or Raul Malo song for a while now; I was determined to get one on this mix. I had originally planned to use “What a Crying Shame” for the Why So Sad category, but I thought this was a better showcase of Señor Malo’s toffee-coated tenor. Plus, I just love the arrangement with the plinking honky-tonk piano and the fiddle. This could easily have been a country-politan hit in the ‘60s.
“Ain’t Even Done with the Night” – John Cougar
“The Salt in my Tears” – Martin Briley
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)” – Duke Ellington
11. Song with your favorite guitar or instrumental solo.
“La Lola” – Café Quijano
I considered lots of obvious guitar-hero anthems from the usual suspects (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Van Halen), but found them all a bit predictable, honestly, lacking sufficient “wow” factor. I ended up aqui because the slide guitar is so . . . lurid. Like a musical version of Chris Kattan doing Antonio Banderas on SNL: “Es hote in here, no?”
“Walk this Way” – Aerosmith
“The Waiting” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
“The Breakdown” – Los Lobos
“I Need More Love” – Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Lap steel + Hammond B3)
12. War! What is it good for? Song about war. Good God, y’all!
“Generals and Majors” – XTC
I hope this isn’t one of the XTC songs Bet finds pretentious. I think it’s a ton of fun. The guitar riff is hypnotic.
“Sunday, Bloody Sunday” – U2
“Brothers in Arms” – Dire Straits
“Sam Stone” – John Prine
13. Song about Sex
“Anything Can Happen” – Was (Not Was)
Back when I was the very model of a modern major West Wing fan—before Aaron Sorkin became* insufferable with the meta-narcissism—there was an episode with a running gag about Gilbert & Sullivan. Ainsely Hays, unable to recall the name of a particular G&S operetta, refers to it as “the one about duty.” To which several other characters in turn respond, “They’re all about duty.” That’s what I thought when I first saw this category: what rock and roll song isn’t about sex, having sex, trying to have sex, or lamenting the lack of sex being had? The genre owes its existence—and its name—to physical act of love, as Gen. Ripper put it. Still, it was fun to find one that was overtly about gettin’ some.
*It might very well be the case that he was always insufferable, but I failed to find him so until halfway into the first (and blessedly only) season of Studio 60. I almost dread re-watching my DVDs of TWW for fear of finding that’s the case.
“Red Morning Light” – Kings of
“The Wheel and the Maypole” – XTC (“I’ve got the plow if you’ve got the furrow/I’ve got the rabbit if you’ve his burrow home”? Doesn’t take Fellini to figure that one out.)
“Memphisto” – John Prine (not exclusively about sex, but it any song that includes the lyric “they humped each other like they had no shame” merits consideration.)
“Hotter than Mojave in my Heart” – Iris Dement
“I Need a Lover” – John Cougar
14. Song about Drugs
“Sam Stone” – John Prine
Let me ask you something: once you know what this song is about, how many words into do you get before you find yourself emotionally obliterated? I’m pretty much done by the time he gets to “home” in the opening line. Would also have made a good song about war, I think. (“Good” as in “apt”; not as in “Yay, war.”)
“The Wildwood Flower” – Jim Stafford (“I didn’t know what happened, but I knew it beat the hell outta sniffin’ burlap”)
“Out of Habit” – BR-549
15. Song about Rock ‘n’ Roll
“Play That Funky Music White Boy” – Wild Cherry
A lifelong favorite that turned out to be just the right funkalicious palate cleanser to follow “Sam Stone.” The guitar solo in this one is no slouch, either. (Say, does anyone know where I can score a sweet bell-bottom unitard like the keyboard player is rockin' here? Also, is it just me or is that a young Bill Lumberg on rhythm guitar at about 3:45?)
“American Band” – Grand Funk
16. Why so sad? Song about the blues, a broken heart, crying, etc.
A longtime favorite, going all the way back to the TBS / poor man’s version of MTV (Night tracks? Super tracks?) show. Not surprisingly, it also has a pretty kick-ass guitar solo. I especially like how he refuses to give the heartbreaking tramp the satisfaction. You go, Marty.
17. Bonus/hidden track
“Maybe Everything” – The Silos
A bonus track on the CD version of “
18. Perchance to Dream: song about dreams/dreaming
“Dark Angel” – Blue Rodeo
Another band I’ve been trying to get onto a mix. My wife (my very own dark angel--awww) and I saw these guys play at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, the
19. Famous title—song with the same title as a famous book or movie.
“Husbands and Wives” – Roger Miller
I’m going to assume it’s supposed to be a coincidentally common title; that the song has nothing to do with the movie or book. For some reason I felt it was important to choose a song that was the artistic equivalent of the movie or book, but a million miles from it in terms of genre and style. Renaissance Man cred, I reckon. Look at me and my world-class eclecticism: I appreciate Woody Allen and Roger Miller.
20. Amnesty song—as with past mixes, this is for any song that you wanted to use in this or a previous mix but couldn’t find room for.
I’ve decided that a song has to be at least a two-fer to be granted amnesty. I may repeal that by the next mix. This one could have worked as number 6 or 13.
21. Bonus Amnesty song
“(Let’s Do It) Let’s Fall In Love” – Ella Fitzgerald
Maybe the sexiest use of parentheses evah.22. Bonus Encore Two-fer Video:
The Mavericks doing a kick-ass cover of a song that was a hit the year Raul Malo was born.