I added a new weekly event to my evening schedule this week, so all of a sudden the weekly songlist is back to Wednesdays. The songlist this week was already compiled as of last Friday, though, so hopefully some people have already had a chance to glance through the actual playlist on spotify (inspiring choruses of some variation on ..”ew! I hate this song”..”ooh, but I love that one”..”how could she chose this one and not…”.. etc.).
Since last week’s playlist was almost entirely made up of Colorado artists, and focused heavily on the Fort Collins music scene, this week’s list focused entirely away from Fort Collins, including another gorgeous track from Japanese artist Guo Yue, something from Josh Groban’s latest album, and a few other artists who haven’t been featured for a while. There is so much music to choose from that I always have more I want to include, but after roadtesting a few playlists on friends and my poor long-suffering family, 20 songs seems to be just about right for a single playlist.
1. Dar Williams- “The Beauty of the Rain” – This song seems to inspire quite a few different and sometimes diametrically opposed thoughts and feelings from one day to the next, perhaps a sign that I’m losing my mind, but also perhaps the mark of a particularly well-crafted song. Either way, it’s pretty, and when I was putting this list together it was raining, the sort of rain that seemed to fit the tone of this song.
2. Alison Krauss and Union Station- “Rain Please Go Away” – Of course, rain is most beautiful when one is inside, someplace warm and dry, especially with a warm loved-one (cats work well for this bit) to snuggle with, and a bottle of wine and maybe a season of Doctor Who with which to pass the time. It is also nice when it is a warm steady drizzle one can play in, but a cold downpour with occasional hail and apartment-shaking lightening is another matter. And, when one has to walk a few miles in the rain, hoping not to look too much like a drowned guinea pig on arriving at work, rain gets pretty annoying.
3. The Chieftains, Pistol Annies- “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies” – My favorite old folk song, or at least one of my top 5.
4. The Dunwells- “I Could Be a King” – I have mostly come to terms with my living in Fort Collins, rather than Boulder (where I lived for a decade or so quite happily), but there are days… The Dunwells, a British pop/folk band who came to my attention by way of SHEL, will be playing a show at the Fox Theater in Boulder on June 22nd. Granted, we have a SHEL concert going on tomorrow night (Thursday, June 6) at Hodi’s Half Note, and they are a fantastic band, but one of these days I’d like to see the Dunwells here in Fort Collins too (grumble grumble grumble…).
5. Emily Smith- “May Colven” – This folk ballad illustrates just how little women ought to trust whiley men they barely know. I love that it ends not with the damsel in distress drowning and haunting her murderer, but with her drowning her would-be murderer and going back home to her folks. A lot of the folk songs I know that tell this sort of tale end far more tragically, from the damsel’s perspective anyway. [This track was available on spotify when this list was compiled, but may no longer be available on spotify now.]
6. Guo Yue- “Ai (Love)” – This whole album (Music, Food and Love) is beautiful, and a refreshing change from the rock, pop, country, jazz/blues and folk music I hear almost constantly. Guo Yue’s album is lovely and interesting enough to actually listen to in it entirety, not as background music, but as a meditative interlude on an otherwise jumbled and perhaps overly busy daily routine.
7. Josh Groban- “Below the Line” – I waffle on this song, a lot. I loved it on Friday when putting this list together, and certainly many of the people I know in the local music scene do live ‘below the line’, surviving on a web of kindness and barter that keeps the music going but that takes its toll sometimes quite harshly on the musicians involved. There are a lot of ‘street people’ in town, anyway, who play their carefully tended guitars, mandolins and banjos very well, but for whom society has no interest unless they are playing on a stage where their poverty is less immediately visible. Today I don’t like this song so much, but it is just one of those songs, I think. Today the lighter pop-sound Josh used on this one bugs me, as a tone that doesn’t quite fit the subject, but then again there is such a wealth of life and courage and creativity among the folks ‘below the line’ (and for what it’s worth I suppose I’m technically also below that line and always have been) and a weightier tone would miss all the people and see only the societal problem in its abstract impossibleness.
8. Joy Kills Sorrow- “If It’s Rainin'” – Yep, by the time I got this far along in making my list it was still raining.
9. Hayley Westenra- “Summer Rain”
10. Nickle Creek- “Jealous of the Moon” – Here’s another of my personal anthem songs, useful for beating myself up when I’m in a mood to feel sorry for myself, and yet also offering a few obvious ‘ways out’ should the self-castigation routine get old and boring. Btw, Sara Watkins, from Nickle Creek (which disbanded a few years ago), will be playing two shows in Colorado, in Aspen on June 20th and at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 22nd. I won’t be there, but I’m sure it’ll be fun for whoever gets to see her shows.
11. Matthew Santos- “Not Such a Big World” – I did get to see and meet Matthew Santos when he was in Fort Collins last week playing at Avogadro’s Number, and enjoyed the bits I saw of his show very much. I thought about adding one of the songs I particularly liked from his live show to this list, but I was far too entertained by the thought of a song that incorporates skype into its lyrics. Fifty years from now this one will be dated by such details, and we’ll be trying to explain to kids hearing the song on their oldies music streams how skype worked.
12. Fleetwood Mac- “Rhiannon”
13. Heart- “Barracuda” – I took photos at a bike rally in town two weeks ago, and one of the bands in the line-up for that event was a pretty solid Heart cover band that played a very good cover if this song. I am generally more enthusiastic about bands that play original music, but I have to admit that it seems a bit more challenging creating a good cover band, one that gives a consistent illusion of the original band. It was great fun getting to sing along with ‘Heart’ on some of my favorite songs from the albums I had as a kid, especially this one.
14. Alan Jackson- “Good Time”
15. Celtic Thunder, Ryan Kelly- “Carrickfergus” – I had to include a song by Ryan, and since this song was such an emotional one for him to sing for the show Celtic Thunder did to make their DVD recording, it seemed appropriate. This was a song Ryan sang to audition for Celtic Thunder way back in 2007, and is one he’s known for much longer, and when he sang it in front of his friends and family during the DVD’s recording he had only recently been released from the hospital. All that started a year ago this week, and it was in part because he was in the hospital in a coma a year ago that I wound up writing this blog as a serious project. I hate to think how it would have been had he not survived, but thankfully he did, and he’ll be back in Colorado with Celtic Thunder, in Colorado Springs in October, and in Loveland in late November, quite possibly with this song as a part of the show.
16. The Animals- “White Houses”
17. Shearwater- “The Snow Leopard” – It was Ross Crean who introduced me to Shearwater’s music, so it is not entirely accidental that the song he especially recommended wound up back to back with one of his songs on a playlist. I don’t get the image of big spotted cats from this song, myself, despite the title, but I do envision a pretty cool light-show as an appropriate visual accompaniment. Actually the swirly patterns I last saw at the Bill Smith CD release show looked a bit like leopard spots, so the light-show in my imagination to accompany this song is starting to map itself onto the lights from Bill Smith’s show at the Aggie Theatre.
18. Ross Crean- “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore”
19. Quiet Riot- “Cum on Feel the Noise” – Back when I was listening to Heart’s Little Queen album on cassette, one of my other favorite tapes was Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. This was the perfect song to play as a young teenager whenever I was pissed off at my parents or at the world in general, and by the time the tape finished off with that luscious anthemic song “Thunderbird” all that bristling anger would be burned off and I could settle into a more homework-friendly mood.
20. Townes Van Zandt- “Nine Pound Hammer” – I especially love this song, in its more common faster variant, but this slow rolling version is also pretty cool. This song, in this form, brings to mind all the fascinating history books I’ve read on Southern Colorado coal-mining and railroading, and the people who were involved in those chapters of Colorado history. The faster version is certainly lots of fun, but it doesn’t channel the world of coal dust and lives spent wearily working the mines with no end in sight but sheer survival.