It's that day again -- so hold onto your hats and see where my shuffle takes me . I've put in links to take you to some of my earlier posts as well, so you can get a little more background on these artists. Just one of the many services I provide!
1. "As Far As I Know" / Paul Westerberg
I really backed into being a Replacements fan -- I started out with Paul Westerberg's solo stuff, thanks to Nick Hornby's Songbook, this album being my starting point. In some ways it's still my favorite side of Westerberg. "I'm in love with a girl that doesn't exist . . ." I love the jangly pop bounce of this song.
2. "Tom Courtenay" / Yo La TengoFrom Prisoners of Love Anybody see the movie Billy Liar? One of my favorite early 60s British black-and-white movies, starring Tom Courtenay as a nebbishy dreamer and Julie Christie as his fantasy girl. (Another "girl who doesn't exist" -- really, I think the hamsters in my computer who choose the shuffle have a great sense of humor). I dig Yo La Tengo for their quirky smarts anyway, but anybody who'd write a song about an actor as eccentric as Tom Courtenay totally has my vote.
3. "Has She Got a Friend?" / Nick Lowe
From a 2001 BBC recording of a London Palladium concert
Me and my Nick Lowe bootlegs. What can I say? Classic Nick Lowe humor, with a country twang. By the way, guys, if you're ever in a bar with Nick Lowe and he's looking to get fixed up -- you know my number.
4. "Leave" / Glen Hansard and Marketa IrglovaFrom Once
Wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL little movie about a Dublin street busker and the Czech house cleaner who jumpstarts his music career. Hasard sings with such fierce passion, it's almost scary. In the movie, he's always toting around the most scarred-up acoustic guitar you've ever seen; I could just imagine the wild strumming that guitar had endured. After the movie came out, these two became "an item" and started recording as The Swell Season. I was quite a fan until Nick Lowe appeared on Austin City Limits, and the producers edited his performance down to a half hour so they could stuff in The Swell Season as the other half of the show. Not Glen and Marketa's fault, but still.
5. "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" / Georgie Fame
From Somebody Stole My Thunder
One of the many Bob Dylan songs I prefer when somebody else sings it. My old flame Georgie Fame gives it a boogie-woogie groove it was sorely missing. Dig those sweet Memphis horns!
6. "The State I Am In" / Belle and Sebastian
From Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Stuart Murdoch doesn't always sound this much like Donovan, does he? A great marriage of folk and pop, with the sort of fey lyrics that the skinny-tie set (including my college freshman son) simply eats up.
7. "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)" / The Alan Price Set
From a bootleg tape of Top of the Pops appearances
Funny to have one of Alan's songs cycle up right after his old performing partner Georgie Fame. Not technically Alan's song, though -- the original was a 1961 hit for Barbara George. Though this appearance dates from the mid-60s, Alan Price has always had a penchant for pulling out these R&B standards, just so he could layer on some amazing keyboards and pour his husky Geordie vocals into it.
8. "Chocolate on My Tongue" / The Wood Brothers
From Ways Not To Lose
Oooh, I do love these boys. Real brothers, one of them the bassist for the jazz trio Medeski Martin and Wood, the other the guitarist for the southern rock band King Johnson. This record was their first collaboration, and it's an extraordinary thing, one of my favorite new discoveries of the past couple of years.
9. "We Were Both Wrong" / Dave Edmunds
From Repeat When Necessary
Basically, this was a Rockpile record, though Dave and Nick Lowe were signed to different labels so they just had to play on each other's records. Great old rockabilly number by Bill Murray (no, not that Bill Murray). I love that slouchy rhythm, with the twangy guitar and loping bassline.
10. "You Don't Know Me" / Ben Folds and Regina Spektor
From Way To Normal
When this album came out last summer, this catchy little duet got tons of airplay. But it's only the tip of the iceberg -- the rest of the album is full of snarky satire and aching emotion, a winsome mix that only a songwriter as talented as Ben Folds could pull out. Anybody see him hosting that TV reality competition with the a capella groups? (I think it was called Sing Out America.) He was so smart, so focused, so kind, the complete antithesis of those tacky American Idol judges. He always seemed like a guy it would be fun to hang out with. So guys, if you're ever in a bar with Ben Folds -- well, you know the drill.