A few songs to be thankful for as you gobble your turkey tomorrow!
1. "Save Me" / Aimee Mann
From the Magnolia soundtrack (1999)
I never saw this movie -- Tom Cruise really puts me off -- but I know I should. Any movie with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Al Molina, AND William H. Macy has to be worth watching; all the Aimee Mann songs on the soundtrack are the icing on the cake. Talk about spiky emotions? This chick wrote the book.
2. "Kansas" / Fred Eaglesmith
From Milly's Cafe (2007)
"It's always Kansas, that's where I always break down" -- could be a touring musician, could be a trucker, could be a traveling salesman, but in the dead-center of the country, his still-raw heartbreak trips him up, every time. For grit and twang, it's hard to beat Fred Eaglesmith; he puts the folk right back in alt.country.
3. "Warming Up to the Ice Age" / John Hiatt
From Warming Up to the Ice Age (1985)
John Hiatt before he properly found his own grit and twang. My shuffle sure does love this song.
4. "A Little Bit of Sunlight" / The Kinks
From Picture Book (box set compilation)
Here's a little mono gem -- an early Kinks demo for a Ray Davies composition that would be a modest hit for the Majority, way back in the Swinging 60s. "A little bit of sunlight is all that I want from you" -- I've always thought Ray was channeling the Beach Boys when he wrote this one.
5. "Have Another Drink" / The Kinks
From Soap Opera (1975)
Fast-forward another 10 years to the middle of the Kinks' "theatrical period." A perfect pub singalong -- "if you're feeling down and you're under the weather / Have another drink and you'll feel all right." It's the missing link between "Have a Cuppa Tea" and "Alcohol," all summed up in that gullible refrain: "Don't stop and think / Have another drink."
6. "Lola" (live) / The Kinks
From Everybody's in Showbiz (1972)
A Kinks trifecta! But only a snippet, really, a rowdy crowd singalong of the obligatory hit song from Disc 2, the live concert half of this quixotic double album. (The first disc being all about the hell of touring.) Everybody put your hands together! PS If I never hear Ray sing "Lola" again I won't be disappointed.
7. "I Don't Want To Do Wrong" / Gladys Knight and the Pips
From The Ultimate Collection (compilation)
Ah, one of the Queens of Motown Soul -- the fiery, passionate Gladys Knight. Her man's been gone a while, and . . . well, the flesh is weak. "I don't wanna do what my heart keeps telling me to / I know I'm trying with all of my might / I think I've lost this fight." Dig the Ray Charles-esque strings.
8. "I'm In Love With You" / Georgie Fame
From History of British Pop #5 (compilation)
Not Georgie's usual thing -- a pitch-perfect retro R&B number, back-up singers and horns and all. No link, as I converted this off an old vinyl compilation. Obscure, but tasty indeed -- take my word for it.
9. "Birdhouse in Your Soul" / They Might Be Giants
From Flood (1990)
Hey, this song cropped up the other night on one of my favorite TV shows, HBO's Bored to Death (starring the ever-adorable Jason Schwartzman). Quirky Brooklyn comedy, quirky Brooklyn band: a perfect match. "Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch / Who watches over you / Make a little birdhouse in your soul" -- if it were any other rock band, I think this was a metaphor, but TMBG? It really IS about a bird nightlight.
10. "Never Been Done" / Ron Sexsmith
From Blue Boy (2001)
From blue canary to Blue Boy -- here's another plucky, bouncy bit of uplift from one of my favorite Canadian troubadors. (Notice, Scott, I said "one of my favorites" -- there's still room for you).