A lot is going on in music this month besides the Celtic Thunder promotional tour, so while there is plenty left to say about Celtic Thunder, I’ll reserve only one spot on this week’s list for this group, however much I’d love to favor these sexy Irish lads more. Since they are all safely far enough away from Fort Collins, I can say that I might consider giving them more space on this post, for a kiss from Ryan Kelly or Neil Byrne, but since Neil is out east somewhere and Ryan is in Montana, that’s not gonna happen before this post is written and published. Selling my favors for kisses, you say? Ah, but for kisses from such lovely boys! Anyway, here’s this week’s songlist.
1. “My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose”- The Poxy Boggarts (Anchor Management) :
Dr. Who fans might recall the sweet youth who got himself devoured by three witches after serenading one of them. I always think of a scene like that when hearing this song. The singing is ‘terrible’, but in a way that suggests that love-drunk fool of a lad singing below his beloved’s window, with the rest of his drunk buddies from the bar backing him up in the chorus.
2. “Carolina Rua”- Celtic Thunder (Mythology): Neil Byrne is absolutely adorable in the video version of this performance, and will certainly win himself quite a few more hearts as Celtic Thunder’s new show spreads throughout the world. I’m not so sure I like this thought- the more hearts he steals, the less likely it will be that he’ll wish to keep mine- but while I am stuck admiring him from a distance. This song was written for Mary Black by songwriter Thom Moore, and for those not struggling to learn Irish, the title means “Carolina with the red hair”. Listening to it late late at night I can almost recall what older Irish tunes this song reminds me of. It is quite nice getting songs on Mythology that sound like the music Neil records in his solo projects- we are finally getting a much better sense of who this talented musician really is, I think, through his solo and group numbers on this new Celtic Thunder show.
3. “Habanera”- Charlotte Church (Prelude … The Best of Charlotte Church) : This is nothing like the edgy experimental tunes Charlotte just released today on her new EP “Two”. But, since I swapped in a song from that EP last week, when I otherwise had intended to use this one, I’m sticking to this older Charlotte Church song this week. The song is “La Boheme”, but it has been spiced up quite nicely into something that would be a nice addition to any pop radio mix. Charlotte’s diction is much more crisp than I usually hear on French songs, and probably doesn’t sound much like what French people would sing, but I like that I can actually tell what words she is singing, so as a language-heathen American I appreciate Charlotte’s French in this one as well. I might actually learn the words finally, if I listen to her recording enough, which is not so likely with most versions of this song.
4. “A Guy Is a Guy”- Doris Day (A Crooner’s Summer) : I had to include this song this week, because one of my new local musician friends has been covering it and giving it her own personal touch at our local open mic shows this year. Unfortunately this friend is nowhere near ready yet to start thinking about booking her own solo shows, let alone recording albums, so I won’t be adding her version of this song to a playlist for quite a while, but I can hear her version in my head every time I hear this classic Doris Day recording. The album I’ve drawn from is just one of many, I’m sure, that offer this song, so if this collection proves hard to find (a google search for it brought up the British version of itunes and the German version of amazon as the best search results) this song is at least available in the US, I’m sure, and is also obviously on spotify.
5. “September Tea”- Emi Meyer (Found in Translation: The Songs of Kazuo Zaitsu ) : I’ve almost added this song to lists just about every week since I discovered this album, so it is high time it makes its way to my blog as well. As I have mentioned before, all the songs on this all-too-short album are fantastic. The point of this project was to make Japanese musicians and songwriters known to people outside Japan, and in this album they’ve done a magnificent job. I’m sure that Kazuo Zaitsu’s songs are equally lovely in Japanese, but I couldn’t sing along and know what I am singing if they were not in a more familiar language. In English, I can appreciate the imagery as well as the melody of these songs.
6. “Yesterday’s Girl”- Gary Barlow (Twelve Months, Eleven Days): I owe it to Colm Keegan and Emmet Cahill that I now even know who Gary Barlow is. This song is one of my favorites from Mr. Barlow, and I think what draws me to this song is the harmonies. It sounds like a contemporary extension of Journey’s music, with pretty instrumentals and a nice rolling rhythm that goes well with homework and blogpost writing. It has a nice droning bagpipe in the intro and concluding instrumentals, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if bagpipes made some appearances in Journey’s music, but that’s not been a defining feature of any of their songs that I can think of, anyway.
7. “Saol Faoin Bhfod”- Fiach (Ceol ’09) : Many of the local rock bands I take photos of sound a lot like this guy’s music, though of course the bands here sing in English, not Irish. I had thought about stuffing lots of our local music into this list, since we have a huge local music festival, FoCoMX, coming up next month and a bunch of our bands are on their way to Austin, TX to play a showcase at the SXSW festival this month. Sadly, not all these bands are on spotify, though, and there are WAY to many bands in next month’s festival to fit in a short playlist. So, this list gets a cool Irish band, and I’ll do something separate for the SXSW showcase bands later this week. And, if you are lucky enough to be in Austin this year for SXSW, check out the SpokesBUZZ showcase.
8. “Rag Doll”- Aerosmith (Gold) : Women, while still more attracted to men with musical instruments, have far more enlightened attitudes about sex (plus birth-control), which changes the game just a bit. Still, today’s local rock-stars probably still have the entourage of sex-hungry young women they were promised by songs like this one. And, from what I have seen, some female ‘rock-stars’ have just as many boys desperate for their favor, though teenage girls still seem far more willing than their male counterparts to act like idiots and debase themselves for a chance at being noticed by their favorite musicians.
9. “Irish Rain”- Alannah Myles (Alannah ) : We all knew and loved this lady for her song “Black Velvet”, all those years ago, but while I still love that song, too, this one has become my favorite Alannah Myles song lately. Besides the Irish references, it is also a very pretty and catchy song, so this is not just a song I like to listen to in lieu of actually being in Ireland. I can imagine the streets of Belfast, glowing orange and bluish white from all the incandescent and more modern bulbs pouring their light into the steady thick drizzle, and the damp cool air against my face, the sound of rain hitting the pavement and the occasional swish of a car rushing through the film of oily water on the street, and while there is probably a good and unpleasant reason for my walking in this cold rain, it temporarily pushes aside whatever upset me in the first place. None of this is exactly in this song, but I always find it is there anyway, just under the surface. And, yes, I do need to take a trip to Belfast, and Ireland more generally, whenever I can finally afford it.
10. “Dew on Roses”- Harry Manx (Isle of Manx- The Desert Island Collection) : I really just love the bluesy guitar in this song, though the lyrics are nice enough too. Actually the combination of pretty lyrics, Harry Manx’ gravelly voice and the smooth blues guitar would always make for great music, whatever the song was actually about. Coming out of “Irish Rain”, my mind already in Belfast, at night, during that cold rain, this song is the rain fading away to a mist, than clearing to reveal the night’s stars that reflect up from the still damp city surfaces. Without the rain’s steady distraction, it is still cold, but now you start to think again about what drove you out walking in the first place. Maybe you’re stuck and just have to accept an unpleasant situation, or maybe you decide that it is over, that the pain and frustration are too much, that these cool nighttime walks are just too frequent and this time is the last. I have no idea what happens next in this story, though. Maybe that’s a chapter for next week’s songlist.
11. “Wagoner’s Lad”- Bruce Molsky (Bruce Molsky & Big Hoedown) : I first heard this song on a website belonging to a folk song collector and enthusiast, and it was a very very rough recording. Still, this was one of my favorites from his site. This song is quite old, and its verses have accumulated over time so that they seem a bit jumbled, like they aren’t all exactly in a particular story order, and some of the lines and verses actually appear in other folk songs as well. People would sing these songs while working or sitting around the fire, and would sing what they remembered, and just as I add verses about my cat to current pop songs while keeping the same tune, folks would tack on their favorite song lines within the tunes they were singing. Then some song collector came along and tried to make sense of these songs as if there was just one definitive set of lyrics, rather than the loose set of different lyrics people liked to sing. This recording still sounds rough and old-timey, but by stylistic choice, and has a lot of my favorite verses for this tune. I like to imagine this as a popular women’s work song to hum while doing laundry and doing food prep work while all the men were away working in town or in their fields.
12. “One Heart Too Many”- Justin Guarini (Justin Guarini ) :
This song has nice ‘Spanish guitar’ instrumentation, which is what drew me in initially. Yeah, if I was not handicapped (specifically my hands & lower arms) I would most definitely have become a guitar-player. I clearly have a thing for guitar-bits in most of the songs I randomly latch onto for these lists. The song itself sounds like a contemporary version of George Michael’s music; in fact I could easily imagine George Michael singing this song, almost without any rearrangements whatsoever. Still, this song would blend nicely with the songs in the current top 40 radio mixes.
13. “Wave Machine”- Martha Tilston (Lucy and the Wolves) : What do the sirens that lure sailors to their deaths sound like? Well, pretty much like this song. Imagine the voices in this song as those of beautiful women hovering just below the surface of your boat as you doze and sweat your life away, adrift and dying of thirst on a sea of briny water. The main voice comes to you in time with the rocking of your little boat, telling you of the waves, and after a while the song shifts and the voice becomes a chorus of lilting voices calling to you, telling you that they love you and wishing just for you to join them and dive with them, and in your dehydrated delirium that makes such perfect sense….
14. “Way Out”- Roxette (Charm School Revisited) : I always think of Brother at the start of this song, but no, this is definitely Roxette. It sounds too much like the 80’s to be a contemporary Australian folk-influenced rock band. At the same time, it is not a song I ever heard before starting this songlist project, so in a world where Roxette is only always known for the same handful of iconic pop-rock songs it is interesting hearing their voices on a different but still great song. This one could almost have been my anthem before I gave in and accepted the inescapable fact of my serious infatuation for Ryan Kelly and Neil Byrne. I hate falling in love- it always leads to heartache and makes me act so silly and do such stupid things, though thankfully so long as I am in love with two men at once, both Irish singers and good friends with each other, it’s not been so bad this time. They both know I exist, but just barely, and they spend much of their lives on the road, when they are not in Ireland, on the opposite side of the planet from me. If I have to fall in love, this is actually a pretty safe way to go about it, but as this song’s lyrics go, “I didn’t want’a fall in love.”
15. “Bird Song”- The Wailin’ Jennys (Bright Morning Stars ) :
I am trying not to keep talking about Celtic Thunder, I promise. Having heard their current sound, with their current 6 singers, I would absolutely love to hear Celtic Thunder cover this song. It is a stunning piece as performed by the gals of the Wailin’ Jennys, and needs no improvement. Still, I can imagined the spellbound silence of the Celtic Thunder audiences with the way this song develops into luscious rocking waves of harmonies near the end. If I was in an ensemble like Celtic Thunder anyway, I would want to perform this song. Actually I must be on a waves and rocking patterns kick, because this song and the “wave Machine” song both have this rocking wave-like lilting to them. This one uses a gorgeous canon section to create its wave rhythm, a much less sinister one than in “Wave Machine”. These voices are not vicious mermaids trying to lure you into the water to drown you.
16. “Leaves That Are Green”- Simon & Garfunkel (The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964-70)) : Here is a song about how time keeps on passing and we keep aging and decaying and saying goodbye. Such a cheerful subject, and it is delivered with that simple matter-of-factness that characterizes a lot of Simon & Garfunkel songs. But, also a common characteristic of this duo’s songs, this contemplation of death and decay and farewells is also short. Of course I put it right next to another depressing song, but this song in itself is but a brief reminder that time is fleeting. Then we can move on to contemplate death and farewells in more agonizing detail in the next song…
17. “Who You’d Be Today”- Kenny Chesney (The Road and the Radio ) : While they barely know most of their fans, just because there are so many fans to know, we as fans tend to know as much about our favorite singers as we know about our more casual friends, at least. One detail of Ryan Kelly’s personal life that touched some of his fans this past week was the anniversary of the death of one of his friends, and of course this song immediately came to mind. I have had this song on my ‘holding’ playlist for many months, ever-grateful that I never had to include it as part of a farewell playlist for Ryan himself- when I started writing these lists that was not such an unlikely possibility. Before he gets any bright ideas for new dangerous ‘adventures’ for 2013, it’s high time I use this song, & hopefully now that it is already posted, Ryan will safely and happily survive to a ripe old age.
18. “A Stor Mo Chroi”-Enrico Euron (Personal Waves) : After all this depressing gloominess it just didn’t work so well to jump directly into a new set of lyrics on a happier theme, and more gloominess would have been masochistic. So, here’s a nice classic Irish harp tune. It, too, is a bit sad and contemplative, but since there are no words, maybe it is just quiet and peaceful, capturing moments of lying on our backs watching those dying decaying bright yellow leaves falling and twirling on the breeze, knowing we must part when we leave this hill, maybe never to meet again, but right now is just about the leaves and the clouds behind them, and our fingers touching, listening to the soft breeze over our heads.
19. “O’Carolan’s Receipt”- Derek Warfield (Washington’s Irish): More therapy- another harpist’s song, though played on some sort of guitar, I guess. Carolan was an important harpist, an Irish bard who kept alive many of the harp songs that were otherwise being exterminated actively by a Britain that felt these harpists to be a direct challenge to British control of Irish society and culture. Since one of the new Celtic Thunder songs seems to be referring to this part of Irish cultural history, I’ll most likely be starting a series of cultural history posts by writing a lot more about this part of Irish history, a truly fascinating and complicated subject.
20. “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby”- Deirdre Shannon (Anamceol) :
And, in case we still need a bit more therapy (and thinking of how last year might have been had Ryan’s accident been fatal, a very real possibility for the first half of last June, may indeed require another soothing therapy song) here’s one of my favorite Irish lullabies, sung by a woman who will be regrouping with Celtic Thunder for the Celtic Thunder cruise in November this year. She previously sang as a part of Celtic Thunder for their Storm show.