While I like the ease of the posts I posted these past few weeks, I think these posts are more satisfying in this old format, and they’ll last longer. I only keep each week’s playlist on spotify for a few weeks before adding the songs to an aggregated list to keep from having hundreds of old spotify playlists to scroll through. I will post the image and playlist link, though, as I did last week, since for folks with spotify that seemed to be a welcome addition to these posts. So, here’s the list for this week, 20 more great songs for your enjoyment 🙂
1. “All Around My Hat”- Steeleye Span (A Parcel of Steeleye Span) : This is my all-time absolute favorite Steeleye Span song. I get it stuck in my head regularly and tend to find myself singing it while doing dishes or folding laundry, sometimes even when other music is already playing. I suppose, too, with the fact that the speaker is a woman, this song has probably been sung over quite a lot of dishes and piles of laundry since it first emerged, one of those everlasting women’s work songs, the sort of music that has always been a part of almost any culture I have ever encountered.
2. “A Felicidade”- Antonio Carlos Jobim (A.C. Jobim – East Travel): I always like this track a lot by nightfall, but not so much in the mornings, I suppose because for me jazz goes best with nighttime. My sister, however, would be filling most of the list with songs like this one. I had her road test this week’s list yesterday, and this was by far one of her favorites, a track that impressed even her (sisters can be tough critics). In fact, I’d be willing to bet that this is an album she has added to her wish list by now, despite its recommendation coming from me.
3. “Me & Mr. Jones”- Amy Winehouse (Back to Black) : This is another artist (besides Gary Barlow) who I would not have listened to very much if not for Celtic Thunder, in this case George Donaldson. From the sorts of hype we heard through the media about Amy Winehouse I would not have imagined that a musician like George would go for her music, so I of course had to listen to Back to Black, at least, to see why he would give it and Amy Winehouse such praise. It is a pity this woman did not survive her troubles because George is right- this is a fantastic album of music, and by a singer with very obvious musical talent and autheticity.
4. “Take a Chance on Me”- ABBA (The Albums) : The a capella intro to this song is cool enough to make you forget how much you might not really like disco. I’d bet, too, that this song could be updated quite successfully by the right pop singer for today’s pop music scene. I’m imagining Taylor Swift & friends, actually, but probably there are artists who would be a better fit for this one. I can almost imagine Neil Byrne remaking this one for a Pale Blue Jak album, too, but there my imagination falls short enough that I still would not know what this song would actually sound like in his hands until I actually heard it.
5. “Welcome to the Family”- Little Big Town (The Road to Here): Having grown up in a decidedly dysfunctional family, I love this song. Our family’s issues don’t really fit this song, exactly, but I still hear this song running through my head whenever one of my siblings starts to get involved with a new romantic interest. I hope that we are all ethical and honest and that none of us would spring our family on a love-interest so late in the relationship as this song seems to imply, but I’m not sure all the fellows I’ve dated really believed all my stories. Had they lasted long enough to actually get acquainted with my family, this might have been the song running through their heads too.
6. “Tennessee Blues”- Whetstone Run (Who Will Calm the Storm) : This album is a collection of really good bluegrass, and this song is a great example of the fast bluegrass I always find so enthralling. How do their fingers move this fast? I’ve watched bluegrass musicians play stuff like this, a lot, and I still find myself staring in disbelief when they get to the fast complicated runs and fast sprint songs like this one. I can whistle some of my favorite Irish jig tunes and ragtime dance tunes this fast now, so I guess it is all just muscle memory born of lots and lots of practice, but it is still fascinating to watch and to listen to.
7. “Right as Rain”- Adam Burrows (Never One for Silence) : My sister loved this song too. It captures so nicely the frustration of a relationship that seemed perfect but ended anyway. I think if I ever had one in recent memory that was as ‘right as rain’, rather than just good enough to try once before moving on, I’d like this song even more, but it is still a nice song and the guitar bits are lovely. I can almost hear Keith Harkin covering this one, but just almost. I have never met Adam Burrows, but of all his songs that I have heard, this one captures a lot of what I like best about his music.
8. “Tochailt Uaighe go Roluath”- Duke Special (Ceol ’09) : I think this is the last of the songs I latched onto from this album. Usually these multi-artist sampler collections have some good stuff, but this album in particular seems to have a lot of really good music. If you like Irish music or world music and want a sampling of cool contemporary Irish artists and songs, this turned out to be a really satisfying set of tracks. Duke Special doesn’t seem to sing much in Irish, though this may depend on where they are performing. I find this song a bit odd-sounding, like the singer is singing Irish words in an American accent, so either there is a part of Ireland with an accent I am just not used to, that sounds like this, or maybe I am getting too used to Irish to hear their ‘Irish’ accent. Or they really are pronouncing their Irish oddly.
9. “Bolero De Django”- David Grisman (Dawgwood) : I am a bit puzzled as to how this album belongs in the Country category on amazon, but ok. This one, to me, sounds a heck of a lot closer to jazz than country, sort of “Spanish flamenco guitar meets lounge jazz”- not so dull and boring as lounge jazz, but still more something one would sit out to chat between dance numbers at some fancy lounge club. With all the background music we live with nowadays this sort of track can blend into the background too just out of habit, but this one deserves an actual listen, not just as background music.
10. “Delilah”- Teddy Thompson (Bella) : I always think of the song Freddie Mercury sang with this title, off the Queen album Inuendo, but this song, also called Delilah, is probably an easier song to relate to, for women whose names happen to be Delilah. This may be the next chapter after Adam Burrows’ song, once the singer in that song has obsessed over how perfect that lost relationship was. Now the poor fellow has convinced himself that this separation is only temporary, and he is gloomily but hopefully waiting for his beloved to realize what he already knows and come back to his loving arms.
11. “Paint My Life”- SHEL (SHEL) : And if this is Delilah singing, perhaps the singer in Teddy Thompson’s song may not have much luck. This lady’s depression seems to stem from the stifling effects of being in a relationship that has gone stale. We don’t know from this song whether at one point this couple was indeed “Right as Rain” or whether perhaps they were both living out fantasies into which they cast each other. This is usually how my romances used to go a decade or so ago, but I have my doubts as to how ‘right’ these romances ever were. And so long as this gal is looking for others to ‘paint her life’ for her, she’ll probably have all the luck I used to have. Have I grown cynical in my old age? Probably.
12. “All By Myself”- Paul Byrom (This Is the Moment) : Paul Byrom just finished recording his hugely important PBS special this past week, so of course he had to make it onto this list. I hope he’ll get enough mileage off of his show once it airs on PBS channels throughout the country that he can record a new album and maybe reissue his earlier ones in some form, because I have pretty much run through all his solo album’s tracks now on these lists. There are still a few of his solo songs on the Celtic Thunder albums, so his voice may still be on a few more playlists this year, but eventually he’ll need to make some new music for me to draw from (because obviously he produces music to facilitate my creation of these playlist posts- he may not even be aware that these posts exist, unfortunately, but I think he is planning to record a new album anyway if his TV special works out).
13. “Poison”- Alice Cooper (Super Hits) : I’m not sure if we’re in the same romance story as in any of the previous songs here, but if we are in the middle of some sort of French classic romantic novel this could be in the same story, now that our depressed, obsessed and rejected lover has found himself either with a new lover to substitute for his beloved, or perhaps she has come back to him and he is starting to realize their previous romance was not exactly perfect after all. This would then be the scene right before the passionate kisses stop suddenly and our tormented hero rushes out of the room in shame and horror at his lack of control over his desires when he is with the woman he was just making out with.
14. “Malavoi”- Baylavwa (Baylavwa) : In the last ‘classic’ novel I read, one of the men involved in the whole mess of intertangled romances ran off for a vacation by the end of the story, once his friend’s wife decided that she would rather remain with her husband after all. So, since that was what I was reading just before assembling this list, I can imagine that this is the next scene of that novel, after the passionate lovemaking that is cut short by shame and other complications (like the husband walking in on the scene). Now the rejected lover is lounging on a beach in the French Caribbean with a cocktail, his striped beach towel draped over his legs.
15. “War at Home”- Josh Groban (All that Echoes) : Josh Groban has said a few times now how he trusts his fans, the Grobanites, to be able and willing to handle more challenging music. This song, off his brand new album, is one such challenging song, I think. It is almost catchy, almost uplifting, and almost pretty, but with an edge that may take a while to really sink in. It is uplifting and reassuring and an anthem for our times, but it is an anthem that doesn’t look the other way when it comes to all those rough private battles we all face quietly, usually alone. These are the sorts of battles we do our best not to talk about in polite company, the problems our closest friends may only barely know about, and for some people these are the battles we lose, that for some people lead to those suicides and would-be suicidal surrenders that our friends never saw coming. I still don’t ‘like’ this song, but it is a very good piece of music that I find myself listening to more often than some of Josh’s songs that I do ‘like’.
16. “American Jerusalem”- Shawn Colvin (All Fall Down) : This song is actually a bit more depressed and depressing than the Josh Groban song, but it is a lot easier to like because it is less intimately personal. In the previous song we were immersed in the experience of our private battles, and in this song we are watching someone else, or a society of someone-elses as they deal with the struggles of their survival in a harsh and indifferent world. The last song names stuff we would rather not face in our own worlds, while this song is an indictment of our crumbling society, the sort of thing we seem as a society to enjoy reading and repeating.
17. “Piano Man”- Billy Joel (The Essential Billy Joel ) : Of course so much depressingness can’t go on indefinitely, so this seemed like the perfect next song. After all, as Billy Joel sings in this song, this is what music can do for us, lighten our spirits and give us a bit of music to replace our worries with for a little while. Now that we’ve put all our worries and fears and troubles on the table we can relax and let the pretty, happy music take over for a while, knowing it is only for a while, but that so long as the piano keeps playing and the follow keeps singing, we can just bob our heads to the music and nurse our whiskeys and ignore everything else.
18. “A Time To Liberate”-Hipple Street (Hipple Street- The EP): It is probably an effect of Neil Byrne’s having covered a bit of Billy Joel, but I always think of Neil’s voice as the right one to follow a Billy Joel song. So, finishing up yet another band’s recorded music, at least what is available on spotify, here’s the last of the tracks from Hipple Street’s EP. This was a band Neil Byrne sang and played guitar for while he was not yet a principal singer for Celtic Thunder, and this song also shows up as one of the songs he recorded a live session of a while back on youtube. There is one last song I know was available as a single from this band, that I REALLY want, called “Naturally in Harmony”, but it is not on spotify. And, unlike Paul Byrom and Darrell Coyle, Hipple Street will not be likely to make any new albums soon, since they have disbanded and moved on.
19. “Weaver Song”- Dar Williams (Born the the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins) : This was a late add, so I don’t know what my sister would think of this song just yet, but it is a nice quiet content image, another pleasant story that makes a nice contrast to the rocky romances and life-struggles of many of the other songs in this list. The gal in this song is happy with where she is. She has a husband she loves, and lives contentedly in a quiet peaceful home away from the craziness of San Francisco, but with the city’s lights glowing in the distance at night.
20. “Danny Boy”- Celtic Thunder, Emmet Cahill (Mythology) : The way Paul Byrom set up this song before he sang it for his show in Natick, PA, a show which was available to watch as a live-stream online as well, this song was somehow far more moving than I would have expected. All of us Thunderheads have heard “Danny Boy” many times and know all the words by heart, yet Paul’s rendition of it, or the way he introduced it, set it in a new light. This new Celtic Thunder version, sung by Emmet Cahill, also recasts this classic song, with a sung intro section that sets a far sadder tone to the whole song. In Paul’s version the singer is a man saying goodbye forever to his son as that son leaves for the New World or someplace equally far away. In the new Celtic Thunder rendition the Danny is gone, and the father is waiting, still, but he will wait forever, as his son has died and been buried. It is a gloomy way to end a playlist, but by the last note of this one I’m not sure what I would want to play immediately after it. The CD places a song called “Hunter’s Moon” next, a sort of Broadway-esque dramatic song sung by Ryan Kelly, and it certainly works to bring some energy back, but while this works for a live show- I doubt Celtic Thunder would wish to leave their audience silent and saddened at intermission, let alone as their mood as they leave the show, so something has to follow this song in their shows. But, the nice thing about having digital tracks is that we can shuffle them about easily and not have to jump so suddenly to a new mood or idea.