Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Once, Again: The Birthday Disc 2007

Don't ask me why I feel compelled to explain my song choices this year when I haven't bothered in years past. Well, actually, go ahead and ask me why: I feel the need to explain Stolen Car by Carina Round.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The cover of this year's CD reads:

Another year, another disc.
And what you might ask, is the meaning
behind this collection?
No meaning, really.
Just a stack of songs that caught my ear.
Some songs I love for their various feels,
some songs resonate with me,
some songs just rock.
Enjoy this latest soundtrack of my life.

The songs are ordered very particularly, for flow from one track to the next. Try to listen along in your head. Here are the songs and my reason for choosing each:

1. More Than A Feeling, Boston
This song was in heavy rotation when I was a kid. My brothers are both older than me (by nearly six and eight years), so I grew up on a musical diet of Boston and Kansas and Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin and Styx and Blue Oyster Cult and a host of others. This tune, though, is my audio touchstone to my entire childhood. And it has one of the greatest guitar licks in the history of music.

2. Song For Someone, The Frames
This is one of those songs that hooked me in the first few measures and didn't let go. I recently blogged about this album. It's one of the best albums I've bought in a long time. I love the slide on Glen Hansard's voice when he sings, "And I hope she's gonna be the very same." And the contrast between the verses and the chorus knocks me out.

3. Stolen Car, Carina Round
I saw Carina open for Annie Lennox last month and she blew me away, just her and her acoustic guitar and her kooky outfit. I wish her album was as sparse as her set, but alas, it's a studio album through and through. This cut is strange, lyrically – "My body is an open mouth" anyone? – and she reminds me a bit of Bjork, but in a more enjoyable way.

4. I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You), John Mayer
Yes, yes, John Mayer. Which 20-something blonde is he dating these days? This song hooks me with its simple groove. And "... just to get back to the place where I started / so I can want you back all over again" is a great lyric.

5. Anyone, Fiction Plane
Joe Sumner, son of Sting, has himself a spiffy little band here. Every song on their latest album, Left Side of the Brain, was a potential candidate for this collection, but I settled on Anyone for the very cool bassline. I thought Jay'd dig it. (See, Jay? You're back, baby!)

6. Call Me Call Me, Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts
Ethan gets the credit for turning me on to this song. Yoko Kanno scores anime. I don't watch anime. But this song easily stands on its own.

7. Let Her Know, Estate
I found this song on Organic Josh's MySpace page when I was writing the Design Star blog for Zap2It earlier this year. Fell in love with it instantly. Listened to it about 1,000 times in a row.

8. What Is Love All About?, World Party
My brother works with a fabulously cool Welsh guy named Chris Jones. Whenever I see Chris, we talk music and often trade CDs. He loaned me both of his World Party CDs a couple years ago and I dug them both. Chris is always good for new-music suggestions. And the great thing about World Party albums is that every track is very different from every other track. As with Mayer, I love the groove on this one, too.

9. A Strange Education, The Cinematics
One of those songs that starts big, stays big, and finishes big. Cool beat, cool vocals, cool chorus.

10. Radio Nowhere, Bruce Springsteen
I may have come late to the Springsteen party, but I own a pretty wide swath of his catalog. I love his darker, acoustic stuff, but this is not that. This cut is Bruce and The E Street Band having a great time. "Is there anybody alive out there?" A question that can be asked on so many levels.

11. Love Song, Sara Bareilles
The song is the new Suddenly I See. It's turning up in commercials and I'm sure it'll turn up in chick flick or two. Let the record show that I was listening to this song before before it became so commercial. The piano makes me very happy. And I like to sing along.

12. Far Behind, Eddie Vedder
This track is from the Sean Penn movie Into the Wild, which I have yet to see, and it'll be interesting to see – someday – how this song fits into the movie. But in the meantime, I love this track because I love Eddie's voice and Eddie's acoustic guitar. It's the song road trips were made for.

13. The Story, Brandi Carlile
I can't rave about this woman enough. I saw her at the House of Blues last month and she was even better than she was when I saw her at the Park West last year. This song starts out so sweetly and then really kicks in on the second verse.

14. Love Me, Jeffrey Gaines
I bought Toward the Sun at a used CD store earlier this year. No need to listen to it in advance. I love everything this man does. This song just leapt out at me. I love the simple melody. "I put up such a front, but all I really want / Hold me, kiss me, touch me, love me / Need me, want me, hold me, love me." There you go.

15. Born Losers, Matthew Good
Up until five seconds ago, I loved this song for a reason that no longer exists. I just looked up the lyrics to make sure I was writing them correctly. Here's what I wanted to verify: "That trailer trash pedigree is callin' / It rides you out when you're down on all fours / Me I like to cast my death on yesterday / 'Cause what doesn't kill us now / Just makes us better whores." I always thought he was saying "bitter whores." I like "bitter whores" better, but "better whores" works, too.

16. Time Of Our Lives, Paul van Dyk
This track came from a compilation given to me by Chris, the cool Welsh guy, years ago. This tune is now showing up in commercials, too. It can see why. It has a cool "commercial" sound. Its bed is very electronic, but Paul's voice stands apart from the music while, at the same time, melding with it very well.

17. Big Log, Robert Plant
Oh, is there a better song, Plant or otherwise? This was going to be the last track on the disc, because it's such a fine, fine way to wrap things up, and the languid tempo is the perfect foil, if I do say so, to the van Dyk song that precedes it. And I love this man. (I was listening to Raising Sand in the car today and I'll predict right here and now that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will win the Grammy for Best Performance by a Duo or Group next year for Rich Woman. Or for Killing the Blues or for something on this album. OK, tangent over.)

18. Fingernail Moon, Annie Lennox
Yes, Robert was going to get the end-cut glory ... until I heard this song for the first time. And then there was no question that Annie would do the honors. The piano haunts me. Her voice haunts me. Haunts and amazes me. What I wouldn't give to be able to sing like this woman. Her concert last month was one of the best experiences of my life. "It don't matter how long / It don't matter how far / I'll meet you tonight / Under the stars."


Blogger Chris. You know the one I mean. said...

"Call Me Call Me, Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts"

I'm not a huge anime fan myself, but there's a sci-fi series called Cowboy Bebop that this comes from. The entire series is almost based on various jazz styles (bothe the series and episode names allude to this), and the music they did is phenomenal, all around.

If you get a chance, go onto YouTube and find their live rendition of "Tank!" which was ther series theme song. So phenomenally good.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I would submit that Robert Plant's "In the Mood" is a better song than "Big Log" (they're both from the same album, "The Principle of Moments"). Every time I hear it, the song sends me into a world that's like a peaceful, happy, dew-covered forest - a forest with a kick-ass soundtrack. It puts you, yes, in a mood of tranquility and fun and hope. And Phil Collins' drums are particularly pungent without being overwhelming. "In the Mood" is my favorite track from that CD, easily. But, hey, this isn't my birthday, it's yours. So swing on, sister. :)

10:19 AM  
Blogger 40 Forever said...

Thanks for mentioning Big Log. I haven't listened to that song in years. I think I'll add it to my iTunes . . .
BTW, where can I hear your voice recordings?

7:28 AM  

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