Do the Shuffle
Click on the song titles, darling, to get some video of the songs in question.
1. "I Don't Want to Do Wrong" / Glady Knight & the Pips
From If I Were Your Woman (1971)
When the cat's away . . . well, she doesn't want to stray, honest she doesn't, but . . . and as this luscious Motowner grooves on, those sexy slow-dance chord changes take us deeper and deeper into who's doing who wrong. Just listen to the angel and the devil arguing over her sequined shoulders. Mmn-hmn.
2. "Fallin' & Flyin'" / Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell
From Crazy Heart (2010)
Another shot of moral ambiguity from the shuffle gods. I have such a thing for both these actors; I could watch this clip from the film Crazy Heart over and over and over. Bridges' character Bad Blake (said to be based on "the king of Western Swing" Hank Thompson) writes the songs, while his protegee, Tommy Sweet (Farrell) makes the big bucks. But the film is so much richer than that, and this Stephen Bruton-Gary Nicholson track captures the whole push-pull of fame and ambition and self-destruction. ("Funny how falling feels like flying for a little while" -- is that not a genius line?) Plus -- who knew Colin Farrell could sing?
3. "Train Ride to Caroline" / Miss Tess
From Darling, Oh Darling (2009)
First of all, if you don't know Miss Tess's music you should. Second -- who uses an oboe in modern music? For that alone, she's got my vote. Third, she's Boston, she's Nashville, she's a whole encyclopedia of roots music, and with a piercingly true voice to die for, It's jazz, it's cabaret, it's whatever you want.
4. "What Love Can Do" / John Hiatt
From Same Old Man (2008)
John Hiatt goes deeper for me than anybody. Anybody. (Indy, we were kids, the nuns, the neighborhood, say no more.) Here's his paean to long-time married love, and it completely wipes the slate clean.
5. "Cancer" / Joe Jackson
From Night and Day (1982)
In 1982, we were too young to worry about cancer; we worried about AIDS. Now we worry about cancer and we still worry about AIDS. I love Joe Jackson to the bottom of my soul, and the Latin groove of this track sucks me into its vortex every time.
6. "I'll Be Long Gone" / Boz Scaggs
From Boz Scaggs (1969)
Oh, the 1969 mindset, where it was cool to be free and easy and "make your own way" to "make your life shine." But there's a copasetic quality to this track that excuses all the moral ambiguity. (See Gladys Knight, entry #1...)
7. "Old Jarrow" / Brinsley Schwarz
From Despite It All (1970)
I love these guys, I really do. Not just Nick Lowe (bestilll my heart) but the whole groovy band. The redeeming value of this track mostly lies in . . .well, there's may not be much of a redeeming value here, but it's a cool folk-country-rock track that you'd enjoy listening to. So do.
8. "No Distance Left to Run" / Blur
From 13 (1999)
A psychedelic break-up song par excellence. Not to go all TMZ on you, but the pain of Damon Albarn's split from Justine Frischmann reverberates throughout this woozy track.
9. "Flight" / Jill Sobule
From Dottie's Charms (2014)
"Flight, flight, I never should have caught that flight!" And so the regrets pile up. The ever-delightful Miss Sobule can do moral ambiguity with the best of them, pepping it up with some sparkling backbeat and deadpan humor.
10. "I'm a Man" / The Yardbirds
From Five Live Yardbirds (1964)
A rave-up version of the Ellis McDaniel song courtesy of Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds. Feel free to add all the moral ambiguity you wish -- don't cost nothing.