Saturday, September 22, 2012

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!


IƱaki said...

You know I agree on Sitting In My Hotel!

The Modesto Kid said...

We were listening to The White Album in the car yesterday (I start to put in disk 2 and young Sylvia says, "No! We can only listen to disk 1!" which on reflection, seems like good thinking to me) and when "Martha My Dear" came on, I was really struck by how little I've noticed that song's greatness.

Anonymous said...

..."Summer's Gone," and of course, "Autumn Almanac," as well.

Yeah...Holly, there's nothing like the extraordinary "Sitting In My Hotel" to get me to r e a l l y
wallow, if you know what you mean. One of the most underrated, and UNHEARD, songs in the entire lexikon. As always, my God save them.

Rich in Upstate NY

NickS said...

Frequently when I read your posts I want to recommend other people to you -- "If you like X, you should check out Y." I realize that's a sort of selfishness on my part, compared to discussing the specific songs you're writing about. But this comment reminded me why I keep having that reaction:

"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."

That's awfully close to my musical tastes, and I keep feeling like I should be able to pass along useful recommendations*.

Seeing your mention of power pop in the mention of The Tories makes me think that you should really listen to some of Ken Stringfellow's solo albums. I'm a big fan of both Touched and Soft Commands.

* I realize that I have picked up a number of good recommendations from you, and don't know if I've thanked you. Recently I've enjoyed Jaggedland and Pennies In a Jar a lot and have recommended both of them to other people.

Uncle E said...

Hey Holly, a friend and I are starting yet another blog about 80's albums, and I was hoping that, even though it's not really your bag, that you'd put up a link. I'll understand if not. But just in case:


Uncle e

NickS said...

Listening to the John Lindsay makes me convinced that the Stringfellow recommendation is likely to be a good one.

As a quick link, here's my favorite track from Soft Commands

Anonymous said...

She's Leaving Home doesn't get enough love. It's one of the most under-rated masterpieces in the Beatles catalog. It's bizarre to me how often music critics approach every Paul song with so much baggage. I've seen critics attack the song because Paul didn't have the patience to wait for George Martin to do the orchestral bit, and approached someone else. I've seen other critics attack the song because Paul is sympathetic in the lyrics to both the girl leaving home AND to her parents. That apparently wasn't "countercultural" enough. (Shakes head.)

Can't we just agree that She's Leaving Home is a gorgeous piece of work? And maybe Paul should be praised for having the courage to go against the grain of the times and try to understand the parents rather than portray them as the enemy?

As for Martha My Dear, ... well, you're right on all counts on that one, too! I still wonder if the song is really about McCartney's sheepdog or who else he was using his dog as a metaphor for.

-- Drew

Holly A Hughes said...

Maybe it's not about the dog -- if so, like all McCartney songs, it's really about the melody. But I cherish the image of Macca rolling up a newspaper to swat the pooch who's just soiled the carpet, and getting sidetracked by the song that's just popped into his head.

I'm also willing to believe that "Hey Julie" by Fountains of Wayne is really about his dog, too.

Nick, I promise I'll check out Stringfellow. Unc, the link's up!

Anonymous said...

Drew here again: I did read one bit of speculation about Martha My Dear. McCartney sometimes starts a song referring to one thing and then the meaning shifts to something else. In this case, or so the theory goes, Martha My Dear WAS partly about Paul's dog but Martha was said to also be the name that Paul gave his internal muse -- whatever force put those melodies into his head. So when he sings: "Martha my dear, you have always been my inspiration. Please, be good to me. Martha my love, don't forget me" -- he's supposedly singing about hoping he never loses his "gift."

But I like your imagery of Paul singing about his dog better. And he did love that dog. :)

-- Drew

NickS said...

"Nick, I promise I'll check out Stringfellow."

Thanks. I do think you'll like him (and, as it turns out, talking about him has inspired me to go order a copy of his new release).

Not to get too greedy, but did you ever listen to the Country compilation that posted a while back? You had some nice comments in response to the track list, but I was curious if had a further impressions.

Holly A Hughes said...

I did, and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately the tracks I downloaded from it for further listening soon disappeared from my iTunes -- I guess they had limited shelf life. Shoulda burned the whole CD!

NickS said...

It is possible to download another copy. . .