There are remarkably no Celtic Thunder songs in this list, at all. This is especially remarkable because I saw them twice this week, live, and met them after both shows. For anyone still not aware of the significance of this fact, this was the first time I ever saw them, and they’ve been my favorite music group since ~2009. I even got their autographs. Yep, this was one crazy massive week, even ignoring Thanksgiving, and seeing a Danielle Ate the Sandwich show in between the Celtic Thunder shows. But, while Celtic Thunder is not explicitly in this list, they seem to filter into my thoughts plenty in much of my commentary. I did include a Pale Blue Jak track and Barry Kerr track, so the guys of this group are still in the list, but these songs are not ones they perform on the Celtic Thunder stage. Happy Listening!
1. “Mr. Blue Sky”- Pale Blue Jak (Faces): I included the ELO version of this song in an earlier playlist, but while I enjoy this song anyway, this version, sung by Neil Byrne, makes me particularly happy. If there was a soundtrack playing along the course of my daily life (which sometimes seems to be the case), this is the song that would have been playing in the background when Ryan Kelly’s photograph popped up on my facebook feed from Canada, the one with those two gorgeous Celtic Thunder trucks off to his right, and Ryan standing in the foreground with a huge pile of snow behind him. It is sad, perhaps, that my eyes went to the trucks first, and only after thoroughly appreciating those brilliant red cabs and shiny blue panels, only then did I really see the sexy Irish man in his bright blue jacket. I may still be in love with Ryan and Neil, but I am clearly completely infatuated with those two beautiful Celtic Thunder tour trucks. This is also the song that was playing in the back of my mind as I was standing right next to these trucks a few nights ago, only it was dark, so the lyrics weren’t as suitable. 🙂
2. “On the Street Where You Live”- Alfie Boe, James Morgan (Bring Him Home): Another ode to those beautiful trucks? Perhaps. I actually set up this playlist loosely on the shape of the crazy mood cycles I consider normal, as a person with a mild bipolar disorder. However, those moods apply equally to the course of an infatuation, so perhaps this is a sort of soundtrack to the story of my love for two pretty red & blue trucks. In any case, I’ve loved this song for years, and Alfie Boe does a beautiful job singing it.
3. “17 and 53”- Danielle Ate the Sandwich (Two Bedroom Apartment): Danielle is one of Fort Collins’ great local musicians, though she recently moved all the way to Minnesota. But, since she has family here, she still is around occasionally, and was in fact here this past weekend. Since I saw another excellent show from this excellent singer-songwriter this week, I had to include another of her songs in this week’s playlist. Picking just one song was a challenge, but I really loved Danielle’s performance of this one on Sunday, and I already included my other top favorites from Sunday on earlier lists. This one is about time, and childhood and aging, and parents, and losing loved ones.
4. “One Voice [feat. Barry Manilow]”- Straight No Chaser (With a Twist): A fun a capella song, that would be very entertaining to sing with a group.
5. “Birdhouse in Your Soul”- They Might Be Giants (Flood ): A science-infused classic TMBG tune about electricity from one of my favorite albums.
6. “The Weaver of Avoca”- Justin Roth (Shine): Pretty guitar and a catchy syncopated rhythm from an artist I came across randomly a while ago. He’s been on my lists before, but he’s not entirely a local musician. He’s a trade- we got Justin from Minnesota, and Minnesota got Danielle. If we play our cards right, who knows but maybe we can get Danielle back and keep Justin too. Maybe not. However, he did actually have a show a few weeks ago with Danielle Ate the Sandwich, in Minnesota. I’d love to see this guy live, but in the meantime he has a lot of great songs on spotify. [Update: Yep, I did actually see Justin on stage, though not for very long. Nice guy, playing a really good show, if only he’d had an audience that was at all responsive, rather than a lukewarm private tailgate party. At least some of the people at the ‘party’ were listening and seemed happy.]
7. “It’s Only a Paper Moon”- Ella Fitzgerald (Ella Fitzgerald Anthology, Vol. 1 ): Another classic song, this time by a legendary singer. This is the point in the love affair where it hits home that I’ll never see those beautiful trucks again- that whatever we had was all in my head, and that if I see Celtic Thunder trucks again next year, they’ll have changed. And after all, I was never close enough to actually touch them, and while there were almost no other people around, we were never really alone, either.
8. “Comfortably Numb”- Dar Williams (My Better Self): Very cool cover of a Pink Floyd song that was already pretty cool, and of course depressing.
9. “A Madman’s Dream”- Lau (All This Instead): “Named after an Orcadian word meaning “natural light” (though they deliberately misspelled it from “lowe”), LAU formed in Edinburgh in 2006 and were quickly hailed as a band of rare innovation and invention. The three founders, Aidan O’Rourke, Kris Drever, and Martin Green, were all much admired musicians in their own right, widely experienced playing in various disparate bands, but in all cases LAU represents their most challenging and satisfying musical advance in a band set up as a deliberate antidote to the legions of hyperactive jigs’n’reels outfits backed by drum and bass found all over Scotland.” (CD Baby)
10. “Remember- Revised Live Version”- Josh Groban (Live at the Greek) : A somewhat melancholy tune, by a man whose voice we will soon be enjoying on a whole new set of tunes. One of the exciting bits of music news that turned up on my social media feeds this week was the announcement from Josh Groban of the title and cover art for his new soon-to-be-released album, All That Echoes. “Remember” was one of the songs for the credits at the end of the movie Troy, which may not have stuck very close to history or classic mythology, but which made up for its lapses by showing us many nearly naked shots of the very sexy Brad Pitt. He had to work out a lot for months to get into that shape, so I see nothing at all wrong with appreciating the lovely results of all that effort. The music video for “Remember” brings together images of Brad Pitt looking very sexy, and images of a vast fleet of ships sailing in formation, along with Josh Groban’s voice- the perfect music video.
11. “Last Horizon”- Brian May (Back to the Light): I bought this album on cassette tape in 1992, and listened to it almost constantly for a long long time. And, since I listened to it a lot, my dad did too. Thus, it went mysteriously ‘missing’ when I left it in his jeep accidentally, and when my entire collection of cassette tapes was stolen a few years into my first college degree, this one tape was still in my dad’s custody. So, years later, I actually got my tape back from Dad. as a result, it is one of the only albums I still own on cassette, though I also had bought a CD by the time I regained my old tape. The songs with lyrics are cool, but I fell in love with ‘Last Horizon’ instantly and have loved it ever since. If Neil Byrne is a guitar god, he is still only a demigod when compared to the great Brian May.
12. “Fall”- Clay Walker (Fall): One of those songs that almost is too good, too much of what we want to hear from someone. I’ve had quite a few conversations with people, men and women, about this song, and many of them admit they love this song, but that they don’t like listening to it when other people are around. Especially in our contemporary American society the sort of sentiments Clay Walker sings in this song are what many of us wish we could hear, and trust in, from someone, and too often these are also empty words whenever we think we do hear them. Being able to let go entirely and know someone is there to catch you is amazing when it’s true, but most of us seem to have accepted this song as a bit of a grown-up fairytale, one we never stop wishing would come true.
13. “Everything’s Alright”- Fierce Bad Rabbit (Spools of Thread): I saw these guys again live last week, and they were again, of course, fantastic. Their show last week was in celebration of their successful completion of their kickstarter, which means they have the money for their new album, and to get themselves started on their next tour. So, be watching for their new album at the end of December, called The Maestro and the Elephant. And, next year they’ll be on tour promoting this new album and sharing this music with fans and will-be fans all over the US.
14. “Bring It On Home”- Little Big Town (The Road to Here) : One of the songs that lured me into listening to modern country music, this song sounds more like what I grew up listening to as mainstream light pop, something Fleetwood Mac could have sung in the 80’s. Little Big Town still reminds me, and many other people, of Fleetwood Mac, so maybe it’s not my music tastes that shifted when I started listening to Country; maybe Country shifted to absorb the styles of music I already enjoyed since I was a kid.
15. “Every Story”- Michael Ball (Centre Stage) : This song is so much fun to sing, and if I get around to warming up my voice at all before heading to choir concerts I usually put this one on to sing along to as part of warming up. Of course, that also means I have this song stuck in my head through the concert, overlaying whatever we are supposed to be singing, but having Michael Ball’s voice stuck in one’s head is not so bad.
16. “Stars”- Philip Quast (Les Miserables- Highlights (Manchester Cast)): And, of course, since Michael Ball played Marius in the epic Les Mis concert alongside Philip Quast as Inspector Javert, I also included one of Philip Quast’s songs from that musical. He’ll probably feature a bit more in lists as I absorb more of his album tracks into my mental catalog of great music.
17. “There Will Be a Time”- Rhydian (Rhydian) : Rhydian has shifted away from the abrasive, uncertain fellow who took X-Factor by storm in 2007. It’s too bad he is Welsh, and thus not someone who would have been auditioning for Celtic Thunder that year- I am not sure how well he would get on with the lads who are Celtic Thunder now, but at least they tour the US, and I am not sure when, if ever, I will get to see Rhydian in concert without flying to the UK first. But, while he is still securely on the wrong side of the Atlantic, his music is far more available, and all his albums, except Waves, are now on spotify.
18. “Landslide”- Dixie Chicks (Home) : I would love to see Keith Harkin perform this song live, and with luck perhaps he will do a show in Denver, or even in Boulder or Fort Collins, when he tours his album early next year. The Dixie Chicks do a beautiful job on this one too, though. They aren’t gonna top a sexy Irish man with long blond hair and a pretty guitar, but strictly considering their music, these ladies sing “Landslide” equally as well as Mr. Harkin.
19. “Shane’s Tune”- Barry Kerr (The Three Sisters) : One of the few men I didn’t get an autograph from, and actually if I had only been able to get one autograph at the Celtic Thunder shows, I would have had his at the top of my wish list. Unfortunately, the Celtic Thunder band members don’t seem to expect that they would be wanted as much out behind the buses, so even when we met some of them briefly after the Denver show, they didn’t stick around to meet fans and sign stuff. I met one fan who wandered backstage and managed to meet Seana, the harpist for the group, in Loveland, and Barry allowed himself to be corralled once after the Denver show, but that was about it. But, Barry is the reason I have a bodhran, and if I could sit wherever I wanted at a Celtic Thunder show, it would be somewhere that would allow me to see his hand behind the drumhead of his bodhran when he is playing it. seeing sexy Irish singers up close would be fun, too, but whenever that drum was out, my eyes would be on the drum and its drummer, pretty much exclusively. 🙂
20. “Coast to Coast”- Europe (Out of this World) : I could see Celtic Thunder covering this one, and really enjoying it. I can’t help but sway back and forth, singing along to this one. The guys of Europe are no longer the sexy 20-something Swedish lads they were when they first became successful in the 80’s, but if they can still make music like this, I hope they can make a huge comeback here in the next few years. If not, some new band of sexy 20-somethings with long hair needs to start up to create the next generation of this massively powerful music. It’s not deeply introspective, or educational, or trendy, but it’s also not boring, pointless dance music made simply to punctuate club dancing. (There is of course some good dance music too, but …)
Oh, yes, and here are the objects of my affection, the touring trucks of Celtic Thunder 🙂