Avril Lavigne, Fleetwood Mac and Celtic Thunder, plus some Basque, some Irish, a bit of Armenian/Turkish(? Clearly not languages I speak at all to recognize them in music), and some Chinese flute. This one is most definitely more diverse than some of the past few, without, I think, cutting back in the quality of the music. I’ve had this list on a loop in my apartment pretty much all day, and it seems to pass my obnoxiousness test (I still like all the songs despite hearing them over and over all day). Check out these songs on spotify, and if you like them, the links included here will direct you to sites where these songs’ albums may be purchased. My blogging interface magically changed this weekend, and I am still getting used to it, so hopefully all the links work and the pictures stay where they are intended to be.
1. “Alice”- Avril Lavigne (Almost Alice) :
This song really annoyed me when it was on almost all the time on radio and overhead in grocery stores. The spoiled teenage-girl temper tantrum-prone voice Avril Lavigne does so accurately in singing this song was obnoxious in many similar pop songs I suffered through while working retail a few years ago, and on the surface this song is no better. However, on listening a bit closer to the lyrics, which one does occasionally on late night grocery trips, I realized that this song is in fact about Alice and her adventure in Wonderland, which makes it somehow much much better.
2. “Other Side of the River”- Arto Tuncboyaciyan (Love Is Not In Your Mind) : I’d imagine many of the musicians I’ve met who play alternative rock, experimental jazz and that trance/electronica stuff would actually enjoy this song, or at least this man’s music more generally. It is most definitely world folk, but on the trance percussion end of the folk spectrum. Arto Tuncboyaciyan is Armenian, from Istanbul, and has had a long and busy music career. This song is off one of his 2005 albums (he released 2 albums in 2005, this one and Artostan).
3. “Phenomena”- Ross Crean (Blackwater) : Many of the tracks on Ross Crean’s Blackwater album are in Irish, and one might assume this song to be some sort of obscure Irish warrior’s chant or something, but in fact it is what it sounds like- nonsensical syllables strung together into a particularly cool set of patterns and rhythms. Actually, considering how many ‘authentic’ Irish songs have a nonsensical chorus, this song might almost be considered an extension of that tradition, especially as it still uses Irish phonemes as its raw materials. It will still be a few weeks till St. Paddy’s Day, but it’s coming up soon enough to start revisiting more Irish songs and albums with Irish elements. This is still one of my favorites.
4. “Only Our Rivers Run Free (Live from the INEC)”- Tommy Fleming (The Platinum Collection) : I had said in an aside to my artist profile on Ryan Kelly that the song “Only Our Rivers Run Free” is not one of my favorites, and while it remains pretty low on my list, I hate being unfair. And, of course, I respect Ryan Kelly and generally trust him to make decent music choices, so I had to give this song a second chance. Luckily I did find a version of this song I like. It is still over 6 minutes long, so what I said about how songs like this one are interminable still stands, but Tommy Fleming’s voice is pretty enough to carry an audience through to the last bars. I’d still love to hear Ryan sing this song, even if he tends more towards the styles I don’t enjoy so well, but then again I’d enjoy Ryan’s rendition of just about anything, for the man singing it, if not for the song.
5. “New York City”- They Might Be Giants (Factory Showroom ) : My sister hates this song, but I think it’s cute. I’ve never yet been to New York, except briefly in the airport, and big cities are still scary and noisy and, well, big, compared to the small cities I am used to. My guess is that if/when I find myself out on my own in New York City, I’ll be whistling or humming this song to myself the whole time trying to psych myself into not noticing I’m in such a big busy intimidating place.
6. “Turas An Anraidh”- Capercaillie (Rough Guide: Celtic Women) : My sister loves this band and my mom just bought this album, so apparently this is one song the whole family can enjoy, or at least the womenfolk. This song is in Irish, and I always imagine Irish dancers in their soft ballet-flat shoes floating about some stage or maybe a smooth grassy wildflower bedecked clearing with this song as their music.
7. “Takes Two To Tango”- Pearl Bailey (Takes Two to Tango) : This album is apparently not so easy to come by for cheap, and the collection 50 Latin Hits, Vol. 1, from which I drew the track I added to my playlist, apparently is available in the UK (and probably the other EU countries as well), but not in the US. Nonetheless, this song got a lot of radio airplay around here over the past decade or so, because that’s where I heard it about ten years ago, and I’ve heard it played on the radio plenty since then. Still, finding a decent CD to buy with this song on it seems more challenging than I’d expected, so I guess my friends who’ve never heard this one before are forgiven. It is a great song, and I can always tell when I am getting sick because then my voice drops low enough to sing along with Pearl for this one.
8. “Lauren & I”- Celtic Thunder, Keith Harkin (Celtic Thunder The Show) : Keith Harkin wrote this one years ago, and he performed it early on in Celtic Thunder for their first show back in 2008. It’s a well-crafted song, and Keith has of course had time to polish it over the years. He included it in his set last year in a show that was taped for possible use as a TV special, so hopefully he retains this one on into his future touring days. Keith starts rehearsals this week for his solo shows which are starting to file their way onto his calendar. I haven’t seen anything yet about him coming to Fort Collins (I think he’d be fantastic on the Linden stage or the Library/Jazz stage at New West Fest this year) but I am not giving up hope just yet.
9. “Durang’s Hornpipe”- Adam Steffey (Bluegrass – Award Winners ) : I know I’ve heard this one played live recently, so maybe this is something the Bearfoot musicians and the locals who hung out at Avo’s after the Bearfoot show here played. Actually, I’m pretty sure I heard the fiddle segments of this one that night, so I’m 80% positive… This is why these tunes get to parade themselves onto my lists more deliberately this year. These songs are complicated and all sound the same until you take enough time to become better accustomed to individual songs like this one.
10. “If I Loved You”- Alfie Boe (Bring Him Home) : I’ve been gravitating to this song a lot lately, but most of the recordings I’ve listened to get old after a few rounds. This one, though, has yet to wear out its appeal. This is pure show-tune music, no pop-crossover overtones whatsoever, but Alfie Boe’s singing in this one is show-stoppingly gorgeous. Ryan Kelly and Neil Byrne are cuter, but Alfie Boe has those two beat with respect to sexy singing voices.
11. “Lehenengotxuori”- Anje Duhalde (Pinpirin Eta Florian) :
Anje Duhalde is Basque, from the Labourd/ Lapurdi province, a traditional Basque province in the French portion of the Basque Autonomous Region. This song is almost certainly in Basque, and from the fact that this musician’s wikipedia page is only available in Basque (which I can just barely muddle through) I would guess that this man is actively involved in maintaining a coherent and sustainable distinct Basque cultural identity. The song sounds cool, and reminds me a bit of some of the music generated by peoples in far-Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
12. “Go Your Own Way”- Fleetwood Mac (Greatest Hits ) : Fleetwood Mac is in fact heading out on tour again. They will be playing a show in Denver on June 1, 2013, in fact. It remains to be seen whether these guys are beating a dead horse or reviving a fantastic music phenomenon that will renew the planet’s love for this band and its music. From the size of this tour it would seem that someone thinks Fleetwood Mac is destined to be a huge hit, again. Check out their webpage to see if this classic music icon will be coming to a town near you.
13. “(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night”- Shawn Colvin (Cover Girl) : Keith Harkin covered this song well on his debut album, and I appreciated his introduction to this track, on the track-by-track commentary (available on spotify as well as on the purchased album). But, especially after hearing what Keith had to say about this song, I personally favor this recording. I imagine that Shawn Colvin and Keith Harkin are kindred spirits anyway, for some reason, but Shawn Colvin’s version is more relate-able for me because it is sung by a woman. Otherwise they are equally great covers.
14. “Fools Fall In Love”- The Jordanaires, Elvis Presley (Tomorrow Is a Long Time) : It’s been a while since I had Elvis on here, and while he hardly needs the extra attention, it’s nice to get some of his stuff on here once in a while. This one’s more normal, not like that most-interesting “Chesay” song I listed in a playlist last year. I’ll still be noting the oddities I come across from classic singers like this, but Elvis has recorded such a broad range of songs that those odd ones would give too skewed a picture of one of the great music icons who helped create the foundations of our current music scene.
15. “Oasis”- Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals ) : I spent all last week being depressed and gloomy, so as I was clawing my way back to some semblance of normalcy this weekend this song was a nice find. I came across Grace Potter a while ago, probably because she did a duet with someone, but I only just started browsing through her band’s music this week. If it is all as good as this, there’ll be a lot more of their songs on these lists this year.
16. “A Dark Red Violin”- Guo Yue (Music, Food and Love) :
I think I’ve heard this song before, but maybe it’s just one of those songs that seems familiar because it resonates so nicely with people so easily. I was hoping to expand away from just the English language ‘Western” music that predominates my lists and blog, and this was one of the songs I ran across in a pleasant excursion through some Asian sampler albums and their artists. Guo Yue plays flute, is a composer, and also does traditional Chinese food workshops. He has also written books, including a book called Music, Food and Love about his childhood growing up in Maoist China.
17. “Opener”- You Me and Apollo (The EP ) : The title on this track puzzles me, and I had initially overlooked this song when I was putting my songlist together because I forgot that this was in fact the title for the track I liked and wanted to include this week. This EP came out just last month and if I were keeping a top releases of the year list this would still be at the top, alongside Catch Bees’ Narratives From A Factory Town, Josh Groban’s All That Echoes and Celtic Thunder’s Mythology. (I suppose I do have a bit of a list going, at least in my head, so maybe this year I’ll do a best albums of the year list in December. Every music blog but mine seemed to have one last year, anyway.)
18. “Drifting”- Megan McCormick (Honest Words) : I met Megan when she was here with Bearfoot a few weeks ago, and while I am still trying to recall why she looked familiar, I was quite impressed with her as a very nice and accomplished musician. I know she’s glad to be back in Nashville, but I do wish she lived here instead so I could see her do a solo show here occasionally. I get spoiled enough with all the great musicians who do live and play in Fort Collins, but I do have a small (but growing) wishlist of artists who I’d love to add to our regular local music scene. Megan McCormick would fit in quite nicely with the Fort Collins/Boulder scene, playing to sold-out crowds at the Aggie and Boulder Theater every few months or so.
19. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”- Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (Bob Dylan Revisited- A Roots Music Tribute) : It is not Peter Paul and Mary, and I do tend to sing Mary’s lines along with this recording, so maybe I ought to just have added their recording instead. I do like the aesthetic of this version, though, a more laid-back country songwriter’s tune instead of a pop-folk tune. This one is also a lot closer to what this song sounds like when played and sung at summer-camp campfires or when covered by singers with acoustic guitars at one-man acoustic shows.
20. “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn”- Alison Krauss & Union Station (Can’t You Hear Me Callin’- Bluegrass: 80 Years of American Music) : Here is one of the great storyteller ballads of bluegrass, though I do wonder when hearing this recording whether there are more verses. This one seems to lack a resolution, ending with the lazy farmer-fellow cursing the neighbor who refuses to give him more corn, but without telling whether he is just being nasty to her or whether he really does make her rue the day she refused to give him corn. I suppose there are also other ways to read the protagonist, but I always get the idea that he’s a lazy careless man who blames other people when he doesn’t manage his own affairs responsibly.