Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hey Guys Check Out This Crazy Mix CD I Found

My job has had me travelling a lot lately.  Normally, I can carpool, but this past week I opted to drive myself.  I was looking forward to the down time.  In the car, I had a bunch of old mix CD's, most of them over a decade old (with the oldest one dating back to 2000).  Most of them also have titles that aren't particularly helpful unless you listen to them ton - titles like "Summer Mix 2000", "Overcast 2005", "Sunny 2003", etc.  The ones that aren't labelled at all are extra mysterious.  I threw the one below into the car's CD player and was loving it for it's variety and vivaciousness.  There are many disparate genres and artists, yet it works really well as a whole for some reason.  Let's break it down track by track, shall we?

Tears For Fears - "The Working Hour" - For some reason, this one ends up on a lot of mixes I make. I guess mainly because it reminds me of summer of my 8th grade year, when "Songs From The Big Chair" (from which this tune was taken) and Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms" dominated mix tapes I made for others when I was that age.  It just seems to work.

The Hooters - "And We Danced" - I always like the mandolin/mouth organ thingy opening to this tune a whole bunch.  The Hooters, much like John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, the Long Ryders and other bands, tried to follow the path cut by Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." album.  Somehow, they always came off as a bit too earnest for me; it always felt like they were trying to cash in on the cultural moment. Still, this song is pretty irresistible to me.  I like the imagery in the song ("bebop baby" at the "union hall") and the nice little break down in the middle.  Not even the corny synth part can ruin the energy of this tune.

Husker Du - "Makes No Sense At All" - When my oldest brother Bill made me a Husker Du mix tape in 6th grade (my first year of 6th grade, mind you), I had found my first major band obsession.  Husker Du, at least for a few years, dethroned the Who as my favorite band. This song in particular has always been a fave; and while Husker Du's catalog doesn't age particularly well, this song will always get me hyped.  It's a good 'un.

The Magnetic Fields - "Strange Powers" - I love the lyrics of this one ("under more stars than/there are prostitutes in Thailand") a ton.  I also like the corny Kimball organ feel of this song.  And I can totally relate to the one I love having strange powers over me. . .

XTC - "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" - For my money, XTC are some of the best musicians out there.  When they get their ska on, they're usually smokin' hot.  They have a lot of songs I could do without; but when they're on, they ARE ON.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Behind The Sun" - Not even Anthony Kiedis's shitty rap skillz can ruin this song.  I've liked the "guitar that sounds like a sitar" thing ever since I heard it on Steely Dan's "Do It Again".  My guess is that this song is a result of a shit load of drugs, but also like the fantastical element of it.

Van Morrison - "Tupelo Honey" - Quick:  Name a song that is more romantic this one.  You lose. Because there isn't one.  It always draws me in.  Hell, even I get weak kneed on this song.  Take me home, Van Morrison.

Wire - "A Serious of Snakes" - It took a long time for "The Ideal Copy" (from which this song is taken) to grow on me.  But to this day, I listen to the album at least a few times a year.  It takes me back to when I first heard it:  smoking ciggies with the doors open at Bill's house on Stull, trying to read (and being thorougly confused by) "Love and Rockets" (but developing a serious crush on Luba).  Fond memories, yo.

Van Halen - "Dancin' In The Streets" - Sorry man, but if you don't like this cover then fuck you.  Yes, David Lee Roth sings like a used car salesman at karaoke night at the Office Lounge, but this song manages to update the sound of the original without losing its the exuberance.  The guitar effects are super cool, and while Van Halen songs always get praised for the guitar parts, they never get credit for the tight ass harmonies they exhibit. To me, is a great song that is more or less about world peace.  Van Halen makes world peace less ponderous and more fun.  Even though street cred isn't a big deal for the hair metal bands of the '80s  (after all, you had covers like this, this and this), this one still feels like it's pushing that scene's envelope.  VH should be lauded for that.  At any rate, it's a million times better than this.

Ween - "Fluffy" - Read about the making of the album from which "Fluffy" comes from.  Try to listen to this song and NOT smile.

The Rev. Horton Heat - "Martini Time" - Just a fun, upbeat tune with a decent pedal steel part in it.  Probably my fave among Rev's many great tunes.

U2 - "Electric Co." - Will wake you up and get you jazzed every time.

The Joel Paterson Trio - "Panhandle Rag" - I wish I could find just this tune for you; instead I linked to the album from which "Panhandle Rag" comes.  I'd put this in my top ten road tripping albums of all time; and if you like western swing,  you'll love this song and album.  JP is one of my favorite living guitar players for sure.  To say he knows his way around a pedal steel guitar would be the understatement of the century.

Fleetwood Mac - "Sarah" - Not sure what to say about this one other than I like it's vibe.

Mike Birbiglia - "No, But I Heard About It" - This is probably one of my all time favorite stand up albums.  Mike Birbiglia is definitely an original.  Go download this.  Now.

The National - "All The Wine" - No exaggeration, this is in my opinion is one of the best songs of the past decade.  I can't make heads or tails of the lyrics, but this song sound phenomenal.

(Scratch - unplayable track)
(Scratch - unplayable track)

. . . and so the mix kind of fizzles out on two tracks that are unplayable due to a scratch or something.  Which sucks because I'm dying to know what the songs were.  How would you cap off this upbeat and off beat mix?  Leave your remarks in the comments section.

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