Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Just Wanna Set the World on Fire

Made this mix for my roomie/homie cuz she just moved out. It was one of those things I was thinking about for a while but didn't get around to doing until now. I think it turned out quite well!

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you should try to sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience.

Running Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes
Track List:
01. Born Ruffians – Retard Canard
02. Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan
03. Frankmusik – In Step
04. Bibio – Jealous Of Roses
05. Suuns – Up Past The Nursery
06. Au Revoir Simone – Anywhere You Looked (Daytrotter Session)
07. Apostle Of Hustle – Kings And Queens
08. Rogue Wave – 10:1
09. The National – Blood Buzz Ohio
10. Ida Maria – Oh My God (Daytrotter Session)
11. The Dandy Warhols – Smoke It
12. Cold War Kids – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up [Tom Waits]
13. High Places – Jump In (For Gilkey Elementary School)
14. The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Ballad Of The RAA
15. Emma Mcgill – Heartbeats [The Knife]
16. Jonna Lee – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight [The Postal Service]
17. Wisdom Tooth – Low Tide
18. The Weakerthans – Virtue The Cat Explains Her Departure
19. Mark Kozelek – Wop-A-Din Din (Live)
20. Born Ruffians – Nova Leigh*
21. Ani Difranco – Names + Dates + Times (Live)
*Indicates Track Pick

Basically these are songs about Chicago, friendship, relationships, and cat ownership. It was hard for me to pick just one favorite track (of course), but I'm completely digging on Born Ruffians lately so I had to go with "Nova Leigh," the song that reassured me that spring was indeed on its way.

There's not a lot I can say about these tracks without just fawning over every single one, so y'all should really just give them a listen and tell me what you think.

I hope to be posting more mixes soon after I move into a flat with more reliable internet.

Special thanks to Google image search and this deviantart account for the kick-ass image, which looks like this in full:

I don't want to start a flame in your <3.

Monday, May 16, 2011

And I See

This mix was a long time in the making. (And I wrote this entry once before and it got deleted so it's been an extra long time.)

It all started in the asscrack of winter, when you wake up in the cold/dark and spend a total of 15 minutes out side all day, thanks to the miracle that is the Chicago Pedway system. Days and commutes seem to blend into one another, stepping over the same puddles, running down into the same underground station, crowding onto the same train car, emerging at Washington to the smell of freshly fried donuts (never indulge), trek through the basement of a fancy shopping mall, back into the cold underground, then sucked into the belly of Marshal Fields (refuse to call it Macy's) where you see the same three homeless people every day (wonder if they are friends), more hustle and bustle and endless escalators until you reach the elevator that whooshes you up to the 24th floor most unsettlingly where it's time for a day of work. The ride home brings the same, in reverse, plus hunger, plus the shadow you cast on the apartment buildings when you're so close to home--there's three, so you're always one step behind, in front of, and beside yourself. 

And then one day there's this.
And it's spring. And you can cut one stop out of your commute to breathe the not-so-fresh Chicago air as you saunter through the main skyscraper-lined arteries of the city, past Yankee Hotel Foxtrot towers, compare the clock on the Tribune Tower to the clock above the 7-11 (they're both wrong), curiously fantasize about exploring the abandoned Motor Club Building up for foreclosure auction, then back into concrete playground...

I guess my point is, we all do a lot of hustling around the world with our ipods/phones/pads, and not a lot of pure, unadulterated Looking and Seeing. These are all songs about those two concepts.

(Not that I don't do my fair share of ipodding, but I do think it's important to stop and take a look 'round every once in a while. I should do more of this.)

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you should try to sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience.

Running Time: Aprox. 42 min.
Track List:
01. Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
02. Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home*
03. Bright Eyes - A Song to Pass the Time
04. Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (Live)
05. Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
06. Atlas Sound - Walkabout (feat. Noah Lennox)
07. High Places - A Field Guide
08. Ani Difranco- Cradle and All (Live)
09. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Live at the Gaslight in 1962)*
10. The Books - Free Translator*

*Indicates Track Picks
It's a bit unusual to have three track picks on such a short mix, but I swear those are all crucial songs.  Had to start with some Buffalo Springfield, the ultimate look + see song, before I got into the Iron & Wine track that inspired the entire mix. Sorry to include the Bright Eyes, but before Conor Oberst starts whining about his girl problems, he actually gives a pretty stirring narration. 

My mom used to sing me "The 59th Street Bridge Song" way before I knew what "feeling groovy" meant. Had to have some feel good walkabout songs before I moved into Ani's gritty retelling of NYC. This naturally leads us to Dylan's post-apocalyptic hellscape that is "A Hard Rain" (my favorite version), and finally to the Books tune, with its hauntingly ear-teasing hook that inspired the name of this mix. The lyrics sound pretty random, but apparently it's a much translated folk song.
MLE walking far from home...
The inside of my eyelids look the same... matter where my feet are.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heart it Races in Love

Here it is, only two months late, my long-awaited "happy/love mix." This playlist draws much of its inspiration from my long, illustrious, seven-year career of making mixes for crushes/smooshes/lovers/guys who barely knew I existed,  but I also must give a shout out to my friend Rachel's own love song compilation. Yes, its inevitable that these songs get recycled over the years, but I think I've finally whittled it down to my favs, and I don't believe I've included any of tracks that were featured on the three-disk clusterfuck that launched my mix career back in the day (I feel like that one was heavy on the Dashboard Confessional). Anyway, here go!

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you better sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience (I did work somewhat diligently on the order for this one, so please give it a shot!).

Running Time: Aprox. 1 hour, 14 minutes
Track List:

01. Adam Fitz - Fool Says [M. Ward]
02. Born Ruffians - Little Garcon
03. The Blow - Parentheses
04. Josh Ritter - Come & Find Me (AM/FM Mix)
05. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - F--Ked UpKid
06. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Barnes Yard
07. Dr. Dog - Heart it Races [Architecture in Helsinki]
08. Ani Difranco - Bliss Like This
09. Wisdom Tooth - Faith
10. Rogue Wave - You Read My Mind (demo)
11. Dean & Britta - Friday I'm in Love [The Cure]
12. Pomplamoose - Don't Want to Miss a Thing [Aerosmith]
13. Taj Mahal - Queen Bee (Live)
14. The Beatles - In My Life
15. Jeff Tweedy - I Got You (Live)
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Hysteric (acoustic)
17. Iron & Wine - Judgement
18. Paleo - December 7th, 2006 ("Ash in My Eyes")
19. The Free Design - I Found Love (Styrofoam & Sarah Shannon Mix)
20. Bloc Party - Tulips (Remix)

Again, I find it hard to pick a favorite track (these are all pretty much my favorites), but I'd like to share my random thoughts on some/most of these love-struck tunes.

There are some definite cases of "the cover is better than the original" syndrome on this mix, specifically with the adorable Aerosmith cover and to a lesser degree with Adam Fitz covering M. Ward (the original is good, this one is just 75% funkier).

We also have a few cases of "the remix kicks ass on the original"disease running through here. The Josh Ritter remix adds a subtle yet all-important beat throughout the song (more dramatically seen in "Tulips"), while The Free Design track (better known as the band who recorded "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?" in 1971)--which got an indie makeover in 2005--rises about 10,000 miles above the cheesy 70's pop version.

I'd be a horrible creeper/fan if I forgot to note the salty-sweet lyrics of Ani's "Bliss Like This" as well as the sweet-sweet croonings of Meagan Day as Wisdom Tooth (whose links seemed to have disappeared from the internets, sadly).

If you ever get the chance to see Taj Mahal live, please do it. He was 66-ish when I saw him at Oberlin, and still rockin' like nobody's business. I still have yet to see a full live set of Jeff Tweedy and/or Wilco, much to my eternal shame. :-(

I'm still diligently working my way through Paleo's 2006-2007 Song Diary project, though I have fallen a bit behind at times. While most of it is, well, pretty meh, there are still plenty of stand-out tracks. Definitely stay tuned for more on this character.

I'd like to offer my most humble apologies, as the Born Ruffians' "Little Garcon" should definitely have gone on my Stomp/Clap mix. Some nice stompy, clappy moments at the end there.

Ain't love grand?

I only used 8track so I could include The Beatles.
(Picture via random tumblr).

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Here's a mix that has been simmering in the back of my mind for a while. The theme is stomp/clap, meaning songs that contain that irresistible beat that causes humans to stomp their feet and clap their hands in close succession, possibly to a fast paced rhythm. I suppose there is a technical name for this beat, but I'll just call it the bluegrass polka. But without furthur ado, the mix:

Of course there is one further ado. I made this mix on 8tracks, a new platform that its ups and downs. It's easy to use, but due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you better sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience. Or something.

Running Time: Aprox. 41 Min
Track List:
01. Simon and Garfunkel - Cecilia
02. Phosphorescent - I Am a Full Grown Man (I Will Lay in the Grass All Day)
03. The Dandy Warhols - The New Country
04. Cache Valley Drifters - Cumberland Blues [Grateful Dead]
05. Keller Williams - Porta Potty
06. Bitch and Animal - Drag King Bar
07. Fruition String Band - You Got This and I Got That
08. The People's Republic of Gefiltestan - Tree
09. The Can Kickers - Dingus Day Polka
10. Andrew Bird - Vidalia
11. Henri Fabergé and the Adorables - The Goddamn Light
12. Grateful Dead - Cold Jordan

There's the track list for future reference. I won't give a track pick for this mix because really these all shine in their own way. "Cecilia" is probably the stand-out song, the quintessential stomp-clapper. The Phosphorescent track is also awesome, though in my head I think it is a lot more stomp-clappy. I included the Keller Williams and Bitch and Animal songs for their sheer hilarity, because who said stomp-clapping had to be a serious matter? You might remember The People's Republic of etc. from my Dylan cover post, and The Fruition String Band also played a hand in my college career, via my friend Liz."The Goddamn Light" is also a rip-roarin' revival tune that always makes my atheist ass wanna testify or sumpthin'. I'm not exactly a Deadhead, but I think that "Cold Jordan" is my favorite Dead song, mainly because of this scene from the mind-blowing film Festival Express (watch it!). 

Anyway, as you can see I took a lot of time to figure out which few songs in my vast iTunes library deserved to be labeled as stomp/clap. If I missed any you can think of, be sure to let me know. And for your information, despite my boyfriend's claims, Queen's "We Will Rock You" is a stomp-stomp-clap, not stomp/clap. Know the difference.

I'm not sure how I feel about 8Track yet. I think it's good for fun mixes like this, but I think I would revert back to Grooveshark for mixes where order is especially important.

G'on and stomp/clap your hearts out, chillins. It's a hoe down where?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SKINS (series 3+4)

And you thought it wouldn't happen again. But yes, my roomie and I did watch both series 3 and 4 of the UK Skins, which follows a whole new set of wayward youths while also turning a perfectly awesome theme song into a cracked out piece of shit (sample not available). Please, spare yourself the emotional and intellectual pain of watching every gut-wrenching episode, and instead enjoy these two compilations of music featured on the show, which I found to be generally eclectic, surprising, and fun.

 Disclaimer: I say these represent about 86-90% of the music from the series, minus the songs that were  a) not on Grooveshark b) way too fucking annoying to listen to while I'm at work. Special thanks to for the tracklists.

So yeah, I like to listen to these playlists at work to change things up a bit. I did discover at least one band I liked through this show (series 3), called High Places. They remind me a bit of Animal Collective...except with a chick. I think they are probably disbanded by now, but anyway, they have some good stuff, so look out for their appearance on upcoming mixes!

I may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with teenage television.

Effie is one crazy, sexy bitch.

Why, Freddie, WHY?!?!

Best moment of the show. Okay, I'm done!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Talking Union (Which Side Are You On?)

So I'm not sure about you, but I've been following the Wisconsin protests pretty closely for weeks now. I was disgusted at the shameless, spineless, likely illegal maneuvers used to pass the union stripping bill in that state. I am disgusted and fearful over the anti-union measures popping up all over, particularly Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, where a recent bill made it legal for the state governor to unseat elected local officials. Yes, the governor has the authority to negate democracy and break union contracts whenever he feels there is an "emergency." In America.

This is not to say that unions are unilaterally "good" organizations. They serve to protect the jobs and best interests of their members, even on occasions when it goes against cost efficiency. I am particularly weary of the tenure program for public school teachers, along with the "last hired, first hired" philosophy. I will admit that I am far from an authority on the topic, but it's obvious that our public sector needs some work.

BUT to try and strip their bargaining rights is not only nonsensical, it is probably the most transparent right wing ruse perpetrated in the last several years. Long story short: Citizens United Supreme Court ruling means corporations ("people") can spend unlimited money in elections. The 2010 midterms (the most expensive midterms in the history of midterms) saw 7 of the top 10 donors as right wing "companies". The other three? Unions. So what's the best way to take away liberal "free speech"?

Anyway, judging from the fact that this weekends protests in Madison were the largest to date, it is certain that this is far from over. Teachers aren't to blame for your shitty pension. Sanitation workers didn't take your job. EMTs did not drive our economy into the ground. So let's put a little blame where blame is due.

Here is a collection of songs dealing with unions and the history of workers rights in America. Listen and see how far we've come, and let's keep fighting for what we've got.

Running Time: Aprox. 57 minutes
Track Pick: Ani Difranco - Which Side Are You On?

Note: Mentally replace Green Day's "Working Class Hero" with the Lennon version.

Cast of Characters

This is by no means a comprehensive history of the American labor movement. These are just a few interestingly melodic players.
Joe Hill
Joe Hill was a Swedish American activist and song-writer who was executed in 1915 under dubious pretenses. One of his most famous songs, "The Preacher and the Slave," is featured into the mix under the name "Pie in the Sky" as covered by Utah Philips. It's one of my favorites simply because of it's brave and concise argument against the religious pleads that the poor simply shut up and wait for their reward in the afterlife. At least the mainstream right seems to have moved beyond this argument. Anyway, the song "Union Maid," sung by Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers is highly reminiscent of another one of Joe's tunes, "Rebel Girl." For the turn of the century, this is really explosive stuff. Joe Hill, singer-songwriter, labor hero, American badass.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was another American Badass born four years after the execution of Joe Hill. As a frontline labor songwriter-activist, Seegar co-founded The Almanac Singers in 1941 and they went on to record several songs on this mix, including "Talking Union" and "Which Side Are You On?". He was blacklisted for his political activities in the 1950's (see above picture of him testifying before Congress during the McCarthy era) and continued to voice his believes about civil rights, the world's war, and the environment through action and song. His words are well-represented on this mix because, well, they're awesome.

While most of his songs deal with fundamental worker's rights such as safety, 8-hour work days, and weekends, his basic message of worker dignity and a living wage still apply today. Yes, this is most certainly a middle class movement, and the differences between that era and his cannot be ignored. However, the struggles of unions past got us the rights we take for granted today, and I believe we must not turn our backs on this sacrifices of those brave men and women. Take special note of Ani Difranco's adaptation of "Which Side Are You On?". She did an excellent job of bringing that song into the 21st century with a brand new message of hope.

A side note about the songs that mention a PAC: PAC definitely stands for political action committee, though it's obvious that that phrase meant something entirely different back then. While PACs today can take in millions of anonymous dollars to spend as they see fit (Thanks, Supreme Court), they seemed to have started as a way for the MANY to stand up to the FEW (all we need is a dollar from you and a dollar from me). I included those songs because they speak to the fundamental purpose of democracy, which is 'one person, one vote.' Click here to watch a quick video about how this ideal is being distorted by so-called "corporate citizenship," and to see what you can do to help.

Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips must also share the title of American Badass. A folk hero, labor sympathizer, and self-declared "anarchist," Phillips filled his 73 years with music, storytelling, and teaching the ways of the world to the likes of Ani Difranco, who recorded two albums with him. I admire his passion and his wisdom, and I hope that his words will never be forgotten.
Solidarity Forever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shout That You're All Fake (FAKE)

So here it is y'all. All of my favorite Modest Mouse covers and pseudo-covers, straight to your hungry ear canals. Special thanks to Cover Lay Down for many of these songs.
Running Time: Aprox. 40 Min
Track Pick: Kevin Devine featuring Jessie Lacy - Trailer Trash (live)

Now that track is not a particularly good recording at all, but the reason I picked it is because of it's added verse, which is rumored to originate from live MM performances, but I've never been able to confirm this audibly.

"And you spend your whole life / lookin' for the adult that you are / and you spend the rest of your life / lookin' for lookin' for the child that you were."

It's so frustratingly beautiful that I just have to believe Issac Brock wrote it (that asshole). Yes, despite my eternal love for Modest Mouse (of which I was reminded of last week when I spent the whole work day grooving off old tunes), I harbor resentment towards the front man for his on-stage dickishness the two times I've seen the band live (mostly the 2005 show). But he pretty much gets a Bob Dylan pass in my book (definitely a genius, definitely an asshole).

Some other notable songs on here, if you're in a hurry, are the Joshua James cover of "Custom Concern" and the Lenka cover of "Gravity Rides Everything." Both are so beautifully done, but if I may geek out for a moment here, I'd like to point out that in "Custom Concern," the correct lyrics as understood by the interwebs, appear to be "Message read on the bathroom wall / said 'I don't feel at all like I fall'." HOWEVER, Mr. James sings it "I don't feel at all like I thought," which is how I always heard it, and the sentiment of which I actually prefer. But as some douche on the SongMeanings message board pointed out, "are you isaac? do you KNOW what this is about? fuck you. it's about nothing."

And on that note...
God I love the banjo.
(Pictures circa 2005. Hey, at least I had a good view.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

So Cold in This Bed

Brrrrr! This is a mix that applies not so much to today (a balmy 38 degrees Fahrenheit), but to these last two snow-laden, ass-bitingly, balls-to-the-walls cold weeks. The kind where you wake up under a flannel comforter and extra blanket on top of flannel sheets to feel the cold wind blowing in through your cold window. This mix is about waiting in expectant prayer for the sweet hiss clank of the radiator as you sit alone in a cold bed and contemplate getting up in the morning to bundle up and head out into the bone-freezing, soul-crushing cold.

Granted, this is only the case for me five nights out of the week, the other two spent in co-snuggly comfort. And my time outdoors is severely cut by the glorious invention of the Chicago Pedway system. Here's to the chronically cold and unbearably lonely. Here's hoping this thaw is here to stay...

Running Time: Aprox. 57 minutes
Track Pick: Laughing Owls - Through the Ceiling

NOTE: Kind of a coincidence to post this on Valentine's Day--meant to post it yesterday. Oh well, I owe you a happy mix.
The Laughing Owls song is one of my favorites by Meagan Day. The lyrics are so simple, but the ache in the song comes across so beautifully. Sorry to include Bright Eyes, but I figured as long as we were going whiny we might as well go all the way. The last song is a little more in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I think. :-D
I hope that everyone finds someone to snuggle with until spring...
 I lived here not too long ago, but I don't remember this much snow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Top Ten (12) Dylan Songs

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I'd compile a list of my top ten favorite Dylan songs by the man himself. I actually spent a couple weeks thinking about it, and there were some late additions...bottom line: I couldn't do ten. I tried. But it's just not my fault that he wrote so many damn songs. Here's my top 12, in order:

Running Time: Aprox. 58 min

Let's take this step by step.

12) Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
"But I would not feel so all alone / Everybody must get stoned."
The main force behind this song is humor, so of course I dig it. The lyrics, sarcastic trumpets, and of course background singers lend the entire piece a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that's just perfect. I remember hearing this song one morning before high school on the radio as my brother dropped me off. "It has a double meaning, you see..." he said. :-) 
11) It Ain't Me Babe
"Go lightly from the ledge, babe / Go lightly on the ground. / I'm not the one you want, babe / I will only let you down."
This song speaks to me because of it's raw, easy honesty. We all know that Dylan was/is likely a huge ass (feel free to draw Kanye comparisons here), but at least this song lays out the myriad reasons why one should not pursue his affections. Props for effort. 

10) Mr. Tambourine Man 
"Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind / Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves / The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach / Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow / ...  / Let me forget about today until tomorrow"
This song is a favorite of my father's, and I see why. Hunter Thompson appeared to be a big fan, too. It really appeals to the free spirited-ness of the sixties, but what I admire it most for is it's luscious imagery, immensely impressive rhyme scheme, and funky harmonica jams scattered throughout. Obviously funky mouth harp jams are kind of Dylan's calling card, but I was listening to the live version today from the 1966 concert at Royal Albert Hall, and he just fucking wails on it in the most incredible way. He clearly had a lot of fun to this song, and I'm willing to bet that thousands of others did, too.
09) Visions of Johanna
"Louise, she's all right, she's just near / She's delicate and seems like the mirror / But she just makes it all too concise and too clear / That Johanna's not here / The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face / Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place"
This is a beautiful tune about missing the one you're not with and searching in vain for a replacement, an unfortunately pale comparison. I used the Royal Albert version of this song because I think the bare bones acoustic sound better captures the loneliness of the words. Of course Dylan has to get his lyrical rocks off...
"See the primitive wallflower freeze / When the jelly-faced women all sneeze / Hear the one with the mustache say, 'Jeeze / I can’t find my knees'"
But oh! the poetry...
"Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial / Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while / But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues / You can tell by the way she smiles"
 08) Maggie's Farm
"Well, I try my best / To be just like I am / But everybody wants you / To be just like them"
This is a great jam that encapsulates Dylan's shift from acoustic to electric. Controversial at the time, but who can argue with results?
07) Boots of Spanish Leather
"Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night / And the diamonds from the deepest ocean / I’d forsake them all for your sweet kiss / For that’s all I’m wishin’ to be ownin'"
This is a recent addition to my Dylan favs. It so beautifully and simply describes love and longing, and the pain of watching a loved one sail away without you. After reading a book this summer by Suze Rotolo, Dylan's main squeeze in the early 60's, the song takes on a whole new meaning. It's a reminder that, despite a person's mistakes and hurtful behavior, there can still be love there, somewhere.
06) Subterranean Homesick Blues
"Keep a clean nose / Watch the plain clothes / You don’t need a weatherman / To know which way the wind blows
Another classic 'lectric tune with stellar wordplay. The real music video is awesome (cameo by Allen Ginsberg = clutch). Too bad the closest I can find on YouTube is this.
05) One Too Many Mornings
"You’re right from your side / I’m right from mine / We’re both just one too many mornings / An’ a thousand miles behind"
Yet another recent addition, and high up, too! I only discovered the acoustic version as of late, which brings a whole new level of peaceful resignation to the whole song. It's definitely a good wake-up song, and I often listen to it on my way to work.

04) Like a Rolling Stone
"When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose / You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal"
Everyone knows how classic this song is. There's some guesses that it's written about Edie Segwick of Factory Girl fame, but I've definitely heard the opinion that it was Bob speaking to himself, coming to grips with the loneliness of fame and toying with the idea of his possible downfall. Either way, a completely wonderful jam all around.

03) With God On Our Side
"Oh the history books tell it / They tell it so well / The cavalries charged / The Indians fell / The cavalries charged / The Indians died / Oh the country was young / With God on its side"
This is my favorite "protest" song of Dylan's. At such a young age, he perfectly vocalized the hypocrisies of history in such a simple, moving way. It's the same logical questioning of the status quo that I admire so much in a lot of Ani Difranco's work. Dylan wrote many other wonderful politically-themed tunes before walking away from the "protest" moniker, but this one will always hold a special meaning for me.
02) Talking World War III Blues
"Well, now time passed and now it seems / Everybody’s having them dreams / Everybody sees themselves / Walkin’ around with no one else"
This is truly a stand-out song in so many ways. The story-telling, the imagery, the earnestness, the humor...yet another snap-shot of the post-nuclear mindset. Why have we lost this fear? Born into a world where nuclear weapons are just a reality is in itself surreal, but the fact that we walk around as if the threat has subsided is also utter nonsense. I like that in this song, Dylan describes the isolating power of fear, but also the redemption found in simple human contact, in humanity itself. Long live King Dylan!

"'Half of the people can be part right all of the time / Some of the people can be all right part of the time / But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time' / I think Abraham Lincoln said that / 'I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours' / I said that"

01) Don't Think Twice
"I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind / You could have done better but I don’t mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time / But don’t think twice, it’s all right"
I must admit that this song comes in at the top mainly because of sentimental reasons. It was the first Dylan song that really struck me, probably around age 16 or so? Yeah, that sounds about right. Anyway, the hauntingly simple, soul-plucking finger picking combined with the utter lack of anger in his voice throughout is just something I've always found beautiful and soothing. Truly a masterpiece, in my humble opinion.

Well there you have it, a list that's been weeks/months/years in the making. And who's to say it won't change? There's plenty of time. 
Sing it, Bob.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog for Choice Day

"they keep pounding their fists on reality / hoping it will break"

Taking a little break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a special announcement. It's the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and NARAL's 6th annual Blog for Choice Day, so I thought I'd make my humble contribution:

This is one of the most honest songs about abortion I've ever heard. It's the hardest choice some woman ever have to make, but it's crucial that every woman from the most to least fortunate is given that choice. Men and women have fought hard for this right, and many have even given their lives. For every Dr. Tiller who is hounded, threatened, and killed, hundreds are scared away from taking his place. And who can blame them? What part of "pro-life" means murder? Which part means violently intimidating the poorest, least fortunate women in our society? What part of "small government" is in charge of monitoring every pregnancy to term? Can't the majority of people agree that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare? We can't let a vocal few bully us out of access to birth control and basic health services. Not in this country. I'll leave with these words from the wise Ani D:

here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of oklahoma city
just to listen to a young woman's voice 

 Please consider making a donation to NARAL, Emily's List, or Planned Parenthood to ensure that America's girls and women continue to have a choice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

These are Songs Bob Wrote

This mix has been a long time coming. A lot of people I know get all up in arms about Bob Dylan; they either love him or hate him. Regardless of the man's vocal talents or personality flaws, I've gotta say I deeply respect his songwriting skills above all. Prolific, prophetic...probably something else that begins with 'P'. Anyway, in that vein, I thought I'd compile a mix of my favorite Dylan covers. I figured this would be a great test of Bobby D's songwriting his work fares in the hands of others. I have heard a lot of shitty Dylan covers in my lifetime (and in my iTunes), so I had to sift through and pick out my absolute favs.
DISCLAIMER: many of these songs come from the I'm Not There original soundtrack. This is not my fault. Many of those songs  flat out rock, and it's the best collection of Dylan covers ever assembled by human beings. Fact.
Running Time: Aprox. 1 hr. 34 min. (Don't bitch, it used to be longer!)
Track Pick: Ani Difranco - Most of the Time

I have a huge thing for cover songs in general (though I'm not quite as fanatical as the bloke who does Cover Lay Down), but with these songs in particular, I love to hear how different artists interpret the words and tone of Dylan's compositions. The "Highway 61" cover is definitely the most fun, while "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" adds a new mournful layer to that tune. So beautiful! The Ani cover of course stands out for me 1) for it's clutch use of the banjo and 2) for being 100x better than the original song (featured in High Fidelity). Semi-interesting tidbit: The People's Republic of Gefiltestan is the Oberlin band I credit with launching my entire college destiny.

One additional note: the onelinedrawing cover on the playlist is different than the version I have, which is unfortunately from the iTunes store and is a huge pain in the ass to convert. It still gets the point across, though.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this mix will convert any Dylan haters, but perhaps it's a good conversation starter. :-P

Cate Blanchette: Best Dylan cover incarnate.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

1. Blog more
2. Listen to a song from Paleo's Song Diary every day, when possible (scroll down for Song of the Day list).

Now of course, all of these can't be  gems (but most of these are). Yeah, saw this dude on Daytrotter and had to check him out.

Paleo's stuff is acoustic, self-reflective, and sweet. As a diarist for 12ish years now, I must say I respect someone who has the resolve to write a song a day for an entire year. That takes balls, commitment, and dedication...most of which I don't have. So anyway, I find the feat quite impressive and I intend to give all of these songs a listen before the end of 2011.

365 songs