No Christmas songs this week. I am headed to a Celtic Thunder concert tomorrow (!!!!!), so while we are still rehearsing in my choir for our Christmas shows in a few weeks, I’ll get to Christmas in earnest next week. I’m pretty sure the lists for Christmas and the week before Christmas will be entirely Christmas songs, so never fear. I’ll be posting plenty of great Christmas song recommendations here, in several languages, and from a wide variety of musicians. In the meantime, this week finally features the Celtic Thunder song “Caledonia”, my longest standing favorite song from this group. I have no idea what sorts of pictures I will have by Sunday- this will be the only concert I’ll have been to so far this year where I won’t be allowed to take pictures during the show, so whatever I write up, there probably won’t be concert shots, but how could I write about Celtic Thunder all year and not post about the concert? Anyway…
1. “Hard Times Come Again No More”- The Chieftains, Paolo Nutini (Voice of Ages): A great folk tune off of the cool Chieftains album I featured in an earlier post, combining the musical excellence of the Chieftains with the equally amazing voice of Paolo Nutini. In the Roud Folk Song Index, this song is #2659. “Hard Times Come Again No More” is a parlor song written by Stephen Foster, published in New York by Firth, Pond & Co. in 1854 as Foster’s Melodies No. 28(wikipedia). It has been recorded many, many times, ever since 1905. This version is one of my favorites.
2. “When the Levee Breaks”- Kristin Hersh (Strings): Another cover of a Led Zeppelin song, and while this one is a bit different from the SHEL song I listed earlier, both are great covers by women of classic rock songs.
3. “Eleanor”- Hipple Street (Hipple Street the EP): Another great pop song from the band Neil Byrne performed with prior to joining Celtic Thunder. This band really fits nicely with the 80’s pop aesthetic I grew up immersed in, though since Neil is about my age, he’d have been just a kid hanging out at his dad’s gigs back then. If I ever make it to Ireland, this is one band I’d love to gather a bit more background on, and if the local music scene there is anything like what we have here in Fort Collins, perhaps some of the fellows in Hipple Street have current music projects and bands they play with. Oh, the photos I could take! 😉
4. “Magpie”- Beth Orton (Sugaring Season): This one is not a cover, though it fooled several of my friends; it sounds as solid and cover-worthy as many of the classic rock songs we hear covered all the time. Beth Orton, for an article in the Rolling Stone, said of this song, “I have experienced being silenced and this song came out of that. It was my way of keeping my voice and a sense of freedom alive.”
5. “Caledonia”- Emily Smith (Too Long Away ): I included two songs titled “Caledonia.” This one is about a woman who takes passage on a ship bound for ‘bonnie Caledonia’ and narrowly escapes being thrown overboard by the sailors, winding up married to the captain instead.
6. “Man on Fire”- Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes (Here): For a nice change of pace, here’s an anthemic, rambling country-western tune which sounds like something from a television variety show from the 60’s.
7. “Careless Whisper”- George Michael (Ladies and Gentlemen … The Best of George Michael ): Classic George Michael, and one of my favorites. I only figured out a few years ago that it was about a guy who was cheating on his partner, because most of the time I’m just mesmerized by the saxophone.
8. “Glass Elevator”- The Infamous Stringdusters (The Infamous Stringdusters): Since the friend I am dragging with me to Celtic Thunder loves the Infamous Stringdusters, and had a lousy time with rude security staff at their show this past weekend, I had to add in one song from this band this week. I was at a different, and cheaper show that night, so sadly I have yet to see the Stringdusters in action (and actually, since they were at the Aggie, I’d even have taken better pictures there, since their lights are better. Oh well.) The Infamous Stringdusters are a fantastic bluegrass band, currently touring in the US (& one show in Mexico), so if they come to a town near you, check them out, and be sure to wear shoes for dancing.
9. “Kick It Out”- Heart (Little Queen): If you’d peeked into my dungeon-like basement room in the 80’s you might have seen me bouncing around the room, dancing with great gusto, while pretending to be the singer on this song. I wish I had that energy now, but I still love singing along to this one.
10. “Not Like the Movies”- Katy Perry (Teenage Dream) : Josh Groban is responsible for my even trying out Katy Perry’s music. I really try to avoid mainstream artists that are overplayed on store speakers and corporate radio stations. Knowing very little about Katy Perry except what filters through to me from my sister, who does go for mainstream media, I’d never been interested, but Josh Groban likes this lady and seems to respect and enjoy her music, so I had to at least see what she sounds like. I’m still resistant to the radio-released singles, but actually I kinda like some of her songs. (Yep, a slippery slope, and by this time next year, who knows what I’ll be listening to.)
11. “Caledonia”- Celtic Thunder (Act II): I haven’t looked recently at the list of possible songs Sharon Browne put up for this tour, and won’t, so close to the show. So, I don’t remember if this one is on that list, but it is one of my top 3 Celtic Thunder songs, and the song I heard first from this group, on youtube, in 2009, when I was looking for Scottish music to listen to while reading about early Scottish history. I bought the album, Act II, because I had to have this song, and have been a fan ever since.
12. “The Night Comes Down”- Queen (Queen): It’s hard for me to pick just a few favorites among Queen’s 170+ album songs, but this one is always on my favorites list for this band. I loved Queen above all other bands through most of high school- love is probably an understatement, though the fact that Freddie Mercury was dead shortly before I first got into this music made being a ‘fangirl’ a bit tough. It sounds weird listening to this song without hearing the rest of the album around it, but I usually hear the rest of the album in my head once this song is through anyway.
13. “Another World”- Poe (Hello): Another cool song from Poe, and one which for some reason fits in my head with how Brian May and Roger Taylor talk about music. Last time I checked Roger Taylor’s solo albums were still not on spotify, but I often feel that the same muse working in Roger is also in the band Poe.
14. “Rosa”- Keith Harkin (Keith Harkin) : Every time I leave my place, even for just a few minutes, my cat acts as if he’s devastated at the thought of my leaving him, as if I may never return to him. I know this song was written for Keith’s god-daughter, but it works quite well for my cat, too. I have no idea how Keith Harkin’s arm is feeling, so we may not get to see this guy playing his own guitar accompaniment for his songs Saturday, but it will still be cool seeing him in person finally.
15. “Light Survives”- Simon Spire (Four-Letter Words) : Sometimes reaching out to random music-oriented people on twitter works. At least, in the case of Simon Spire, it worked, anyway. I suspect that following random music writers is in some cases a sign of desperation, since many of the musicians I encounter this way either aren’t even on spotify, have a very rough, underdeveloped sound, or they don’t fit with any of the music styles or genres I feature on my blog. Occasionally, though, musicians ‘introduce themselves’ via twitter by following me and actually create music which fits with what I want to hear. The song I included this week from Simon’s album caught my ear for the chorus, which clearly references back to a catchy 80’s pop tune.
16. “Old Devil Time”- Kim & Reggie Harris, Magpie (If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol.2): Imagine yourself in a family sing-along folk concert, at some music festival somewhere, and you’ll appreciate this song all the more. I love the tune, and while it is odd listening to the sing-along portion in the latter half of this track, the oddness goes away if you give in and actually sing along.
17. “Little Joe”- Megson (Take Yourself a Wife) : This song is one I can imagine my singer-songwriter friends performing, on a lonely barstool perched in the corner of some small local venue, the sort where the singer can comfortably chat with his small audience between songs.
18. “It’s Too Late”- Darrell Coyle (My My My) : Sadly, since Mr. Coyle’s EP has only 4 songs, this one is the last I have to add from him for a while. By now, of course, I know this one well enough to sing along to it all the way through, so I think I’m ready now to see this guy live. Surely he can add Fort Collins to his show schedule sometime soon, right? Derry is only on the other side of a rather large pond, after all. I’m sure by the time he starts touring the US, Darrell Coyle will have a few more songs added to his repertoire, and maybe even a full-length album. In the meantime, this is yet another great song, sung by a guy with a rather cool voice.
19. “All About Our Love”- Sade (Lovers Rock) : Sade has a distinctive sound, and this track particularly caught my ear. It’s a beautiful love song, about enduring love between two people who’ve been together awhile already. Since my brother and his girlfriend celebrated their 8th anniversary this week, this one’s on the list for them.
20. “Marrow Bones”- Jackie Oates (Saturnine) : One last folk song rounds off the list this week. I love the title to this album, too. Yep, I’m a Dr. Who fan, and for fellow Whovians, Saturnine is the name of a particular planet, where the ‘buxom fish from space”, the Sisters of the Water originated. This song is actually really gruesome, and ends rather badly for the cruel old lady who tries to kill off her elderly husband off to replace him with another man.