Mondays are definitely easier for these posts than Fridays. So, with apologies for all those folks who are used to seeing new songlists here on Fridays, from now on these will be Monday posts, probably closer to Monday night in my timezone, though considering that just about the whole planet stops in at this blog occasionally, many readers may actually be seeing these new lists on Tuesday morning. This week’s list has fewer different languages and styles than I often try for, but I’ve had it on a loop for a few days and it works well enough to my ears. The List:
1. “Gra Dom Leonadh”- The Swell Season (Ceol ’09): I’m used to hearing this song as one Damian sings, in English, but just as we hear lots of ‘foreign language’ songs translated into English, where the translations bring out different cool possibilities the original couldn’t have created, here is a Welsh translation of “Falling Slowly”. It’s different, but it really works. Not all of the Welsh renditions I’ve heard of English popular tunes really are all that great, mostly because the grammar and rhythms of Welsh are so oddly different from English.
2. “Orphan Girl”- Tim O’Brien (Bluegrass Ballads) : As this one is a track I came across via spotify, and an album I’ve only enjoyed digitally, I have no liner-notes for this compilation album and have no idea who the lady is singing this song with Tim O’Brien. Whoever she is, this is a beautiful recording of one of my favorite old-timey songs.
3. “Wild Fire”- Shook Twins (You Can Have the Rest) : I missed a fine concert played by these ladies this weekend- they were playing a few miles away, but for health and logistical reasons I decided not to walk out to the venue where they were performing Saturday. I hope they will be back in Fort Collins again before I leave for warmer winter pastures, or at least that I will see them live somewhere. This song is the first off of their earlier album “You Can Have the Rest”. The Shook Twins also have a more recent album up on spotify, from 2011, called “Window”. This song in particular is luscious. I can only imagine how much more vibrant and mesmerizing these songs are when played and sung live.
4. “Lemon Tree”- Peter, Paul & Mary (The Best of Peter Paul & Mary: Ten Years Together) : And now an older, classic folk song. “Lemon Tree” was one of my favorite songs to sing at summer camp campfires, especially whenever someone brought, and could play, a guitar. We never sounded as good as this trio, but we sure tried. It’s one of those advice songs from a father to his son about not falling in love with beautiful women. While they are inherently misogynist, there is of course some grain of truth to these songs, or they would have faded out entirely the moment men actually met beautiful women. And, of course, even if they were not true, men might encourage these songs to decrease their competition for the attentions of nearby beautiful women, I suppose. There are of course some songs out there too that provide some appropriate responses from women who are accepted for their homeliness or discounted for being beautiful, which I’ll add to future lists.
5. “One Misty Moisty Morning”- Steeleye Span (A Parcel of Steeleye Span ): Another classic, and yes, another folk song, this one a bit older in style, and unlike “Lemon Tree”, this one is a simplistic ballad of meeting a girl and getting married, with no lemony heartbreaks (yet). This song was in John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” in 1728, and is often referred to as a children’s traditional nursery rhyme.
6. “Coalmine”- Sara Evans (Real Fine Place) : Shifting away from folk a slight bit, this one is an Appalachian bluegrassy influenced country song from another of the Country artists I got into during the first few months of my slide from Country-hater to Country fan. This song paints an interesting picture of life as a woman in a coal-mining community through the lens of a woman singing about her love for her coal-miner husband, which gives it a bit more depth than many Country-pop love songs.
7. “Bathtime in Clerkenwell”- Real Tuesday Weld(I Lucifer) : It is what it sounds like from the title- bathtime. Most Real Tuesday Weld tracks are a bit dark and often sickly and twisted, the music of a decayingly decadent society. Occasionally though there’s a bright spot, and this oddly catchy track is a glimmer of lighthearted silliness preceding the drama of the fall and redemption of Lucifer.
8. “Forever”- Queen (A Kind of Magic): According to several reviewers of the newer box sets of Queen music, there are some interesting differences between the recordings I am used to and the ones in the Queen 40 box set that came out recently. These changes would make the Queen albums easier to enjoy through earbuds and headphones while in public, which might be nice, but I’ve used a link for the album this song was on originally. “Forever” is the song “Who Wants to Live Forever”, but for solo piano.
9. “All My Loving”- Paul Byrom ( This is the Moment) : Another track off of Paul Byrom’s album This Is The Moment. Paul Byrom was announced just this weekend as the winner of the Irish Music Association’s award for Best Irish Tenor. We haven’t heard much from this fellow lately but no doubt he is hard at work getting things squared away for his PBS special concert.
10. “Line Them Up”- Fraser Anderson (Found in Translation: the Songs of Kazuo Zaitsu) : Here’s another song from this cool tribute album. Found in Translation, an effort by the Shanghai Restoration Project, brings classic Japanese songs to a wider audience through reinterpretations of these songs by Western artists. This album is the first of these collections to be released, and focuses on the music of the iconic Japanese singer and composer Kazuo Zaitsu. Fraser Anderson is a Scottish folk singer who has relocated. (From his short bio on facebook)”Second album written soon after, but with no funds to record it Fraser sold his house to raise enough money. Sold up and left Scotland, moved to France with his wife, three young children, old cat, two guitars and piano, to a little cottage, surrounded by vineyards near Bordeaux.(facebook)”
11. “If You Leave”- Orchestral Maneuvers in Dark (The OMD Singles) : Many of my younger friends know the hit songs this group recorded, and some of these songs remain party favorites among the younger crowd, as well as for those of us old enough to remember the MTV videos for some of these songs. But, most people I’ve met who know this song do not know the name of the band. Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark is a rather nice euphemism, the sort of thing that fit well with the music culture of Britain in the late 70’s, when this band formed. They became big in the US in 1986, with this song, which is in the soundtrack for the now classic film Pretty in Pink.
12. “Franck: Panis Angelicus”- Luciano Pavarotti, Sting (Pavarotti- The Duets ): I came across this song in this arrangement on youtube before Christmas 2011, and have been in love with it ever since. I would not have imagined that Pavarotti and Sting would belong together as duet partners, but in this song they are perfectly suited to each other. I love watching Sting in the youtube video of these men singing this song, because from his body language on stage he seems to be feeling particularly thrilled and honored to be singing with the great Luciano Pavarotti. Both men are giants in their respective music subgenres, and I’m sure neither of them imagined just a few years back that they’d be singing together.
13. “He Gradh, Ho Gradh”- Julie Fowlis, Mary Smith (Uam ): This is another fantastic Scottish Gaelic song from Julie Fowlis’ album Uam. Julie Fowlis is busy this week with the Celtic Connections festival, for which she is one of the hosts of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. She’ll be doing a Spring US Tour in March and April, so those folks who live in the New England area and Illinois can see her in concert soon.
14. “The Fields of Athenry”- The High Kings (Memory Lane) : This song always feels like the sort of song I’d expect Celtic Thunder would have already recorded, but so far it has always been just my imagination. The High Kings are our generation’s successor to the Clancy Brothers, since one of the Clancy clan sings with this group and they perform a lot of the same songs. I love watching their youtube videos because they often have two bodhrans going at once, and being cute Irish lads they tend to get lots of close-up shots where one can easily watch them drumming.
15. “So Slow”- Ari Hest (The Break-In ): This is one of Ari Hest’s songs that particularly caught my attention when I was listening to a randomized assortment of music I found through browsing spotify. It’s a bit too complex to be an easy pop-radio favorite, but at the same time it is distinctive and catchy enough to stand out in a mix of great music. Ari Hest is not new to music despite his being new to my playlists. He started out in the late 90’s and has released quite a few albums. His latest, for which he is currently on tour, is The Fire Plays, which came out in November 2012.
16. “Crazy”- Patrizio Buanne (Patrizio) : I love the classic Patsy Cline version of this song, so I expected I would be posting her version on my lists long before any recent cover, but this one is just that good. Sung by a sexy Austrian/Italian man, in a gorgeous baritone, this is a lovely rendition of this gloomy but elegant song.
17. “Brothers In Arms”- Celtic Thunder, Ryan Kelly (The Show ) : I figured this was a cover of something rather modern when my sister announced on walking through the living room a few years ago that she actually ‘kinda likes this version’. From her that is pretty high praise, btw. Ryan was a few years younger when the DVD for The Show was recorded, and he is far sexier now, as impossible as that might have seemed back then. In fact, that same sister has conceded that as he is now, he’s ‘not bad’, meaning that while she still thinks my taste in men is odd, this is one she could reservedly consider attractive. Anyway, this song came up a while back in a Q&A video where Neil Byrne was talking about buying his first Dire Straits album, for which this is the title track.
18. “Forever”- Aled Jones (Forever) : The second song with this title on this week’s list, this is a very different song. The explicit message in the lyrics is actually rather depressingly pathological- no one should wait around forever for someone else to come along and change their life. It is not a very empowering way to approach life and for many people results in a life of waiting and feeling helplessly unhappy. But, while the literally interpretation of this song is not one to pattern one’s life by, the sentiment in its watered down form is nice enough and the tune is very addictive.
19. “Borrow Me”- The Dunwells (Blind Sighted Faith) : Thise lads performed with SHEL awhile back, and a video of them performing one of the Dunwells’ songs together was on youtube, so I of course had to look up the Dunwells. These guys are a band out of Leeds, in the UK. They will actually be doing a few shows in Colorado in March, though sadly not in Fort Collins. If they do wind up doing a surprise appearance here, though, I’ll of course be at the show with camera in hand. I still prefer SHEL, but these guys are just as good.
20. “Holding Back the Years”- Simply Red (Simply Red 25 The Greatest Hits) : Random thought: I wish Celtic Thunder had a singer that looked like the fellow on the cover of this album. Maybe one will audition whenever Keith makes it big enough to have to move on from Celtic Thunder. The older I get, the easier it is to relate to this song. As a kid, it was just a fun song to sing along to, and I didn’t really care what the words meant. This is also another song that many people know, even if they have no idea what the band is called. Simply Red featured in my tape collection as a kid, and Ryan Kelly rose slightly in my estimation by association when it was mentioned that Simply Red performed at the Children in Need concert that Ryan was involved in a few years ago.