The First Shuffle of Autumn
Back to school, my brothers and sisters. I don't know about you, but I've got a stack of fresh notebooks and sharpened pencils and a new plaid skirt,, and I am ready to ROCK.
1. "Sitting in My Hotel" / The Kinks
From Everybody's in Show-Biz (1972)
There are days -- many days -- when this is my favorite Kinks song. I start to think about Ray Davies "prancing round the room like some outrageous poove," and it almost makes my heart break. A perfect way to kick off the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.*
2. "She Loves the Jerk" / John Hiatt
From Riding with the King (1983)
"'Johnny,' she says, 'Never do these things to me,'"... And this is why I love this guy, too. The deep, deep songcraft here slays me every time. Simple plot: Guy loves girl, who loves another guy, but spends hours on the phone confiding in the first guy, who we can all see is better for her . . . yadda yadda yadda. But seriously, how could you not love lines like, "'Well you married the wrong guy,' is all I ever say / But she'll never let him go /He's a no-good so-and-so, / Though she knows it will never work, she loves the jerk." And so the dance goes on.
3. "Hey Rabbit" / Fionn Regan
From The End of History (2007)
Okay, so the Kinks and John Hiatt, they go way deep with me. But Fionn Regan? This Irish singer-songwriter landed in my in-box almost by accident, but from the very first listen, he's been one of My Guys. He's got the Celtic besottedness with words, matched with the sort of alt-lit sensibility that's catnip to an unreformed English major like me. Do yourself a favor, check him out, please.
4. "Sinister But She Was Happy" / Robyn Hitchcock
From Moss Elixir (1996)
I am literally sitting here laughing. Robyn, too? This guy short-circuited straight onto the play list of My Guys faster than anybody. That alt-lit sensibility, he's got it in spades, with way more absurdist wit than anyone should ever be able to get away with. Dig the zestful splashes of strings -- well, somebody's having fun.
5. "The Best Record Ever Made" / Bill Lloyd
From Boy King of Tokyo (2012)
I SO owe you guys a full post about this track, and about this album. Bill Lloyd absolutely shares the love of late-60s Britsh pop that keeps some of us getting out of bed in the morning, and this paean to that groove dives straight to my heart.
6. "When Your Mind's Made Up" / Glen Hansard
From Once (2007)
Now that it's been turned into a Broadway hit musical, I'm trying very hard not to resent the co-opting of this gem of an Irish indie film. The whole point of it, I thought, was that it was rough and authentic and unpolished -- hand-held cameras, acoustic soundtrack, the works. Glen Hansard looked so shaggy with that beat-up guitar, moping around Dublin, boring pedestrians with these heartfelt anthems to misery. Just made me want to take him home and brew him up a cuppa tea.
7. "She's Leaving Home" / The Beatles
From Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
And then a Beatles track dials up, and . . . no contest. As I've already said . . .
8. "Martha My Dear" / The Beatles
From The White Album (1968)
When the Shuffle Gods decide to give me two Beatle songs in a row, I do not resist. A minor Beatles song you may say -- but I beg to differ. There ARE NO minor Beatles songs. And especially not coming from what is perhaps my favorite side of any album EVER.
9. "Right Around the Corner" / The Five Royales
From Dedicated to You (1956)
Whoa! Talk about jumping genres. Snappy 1950s doo-wop, courtesy of Marshall Crenshaw, who introduced me to this jive outfit on his great WFUV-FM radio The Bottomless Pit. Which I should be listening to right now, Saturday nights 10-11pm.
10. "Follow You" / The Tories
From Wonderful Life (1997)
The point is, you got to keep your ears open. If I didn't keep my ears open, I wouldn't have been able to discover bands like the Tories. Power pop Southern California-style, with hooks a-plenty. Two albums and they were done, but I still hold out hope.
* A prize to the first reader to identify that literary allusion. No Googling allowed!