15 August 2007

Absorb … Like, Totally

If you’ve read this blog just twice, you know I never miss an opportunity to write about music, obsess about music, muse about music. So when I saw that fellow shy-avatarist Splotchy was starting The Green Monkey Project — sure to be quite the intelligent music discourse on Blogspot — I waved my virtual hand and joined the cool kids at their table. The other players have street cred (at least on my street): Bad Tempered Zombie and Monkey Muck.

The first Green Monkey Project assignment: Total Absorption.

What Splotchy wanted were the songs that totally absorb us. You know the ones — those songs that keep you driving ‘round and ‘round the block until the last note fades on the radio station, even though you have the album, and the CD, and the MP3 at home. You just gotta listen.

Being a product of the rocker 1970s and the new-wave 1980s, I was surprised that most of my songs lean toward the mellow. Here’s my list o' ten (well, okay, eleven):

R.E.M.: Radio Free Europe
Show of hands of those surprised by this first choice? Anyone? “Radio Free Europe” has been at the top of my must-stop list since Mitch Easter helped the boys rework it in 1983. I wish I could write the sentence that conveys the joy, the thrill every time I hear the song. It’s that magical summer of 1983 again, with Renae and Simeon and Shawn. I heard it at 4:20 this morning, and danced my absorbed ass all over the room.

Lyle Lovett: Friend of the Devil
I love this Grateful Dead cover (from the Deadicated tribute album). Lyle’s version is hauntingly perfect, and it brings back a very lovely memory. And that’s all I’m going to say on that.

Michael Stipe feat. Chris Martin: In the Sun
Here I go again with “lovely” and “haunting”; I need a new music-criticism thesaurus, don’t I? But maybe it’s those qualities that absorb my attention. This is the best Michael has sounded in years; his voice is honest and beautiful. I agree with Peter Buck that Stipe has the best rock voice out there today, but he can really nails the ballads. I have played this song over, and over, and over again for an hour straight … and I think I’m gonna do that right now.

Nina Simone: Feeling Good
Pure sex. Every time I hear it, I want to put on my highest-heeled black pumps, sheer black nylons, and slink across the room. Slowly. Nobody out-sizzles Ms. Nina, especially with this one.

Oasis: Champagne Supernova
The Gallagher brothers have written and recorded many songs that stay on my top 250 list, but this is the one that gets the most love and replays. I can never turn off the car when it’s playing — not even at 5 a.m.

Neil Young: Philadelphia
If there’s blood cursing through your veins and hearing this song doesn’t chill said blood, then you may not have a soul. I cry. Every. Damn. Time. I hear this song. My dad once heard me playing it and commented that it was a sad, lovely song; if you knew OM’s taste in music, you’d be impressed.

Nanci Griffith: Morning Song for Sally
Jerry Jeff Walker penned the loveliest, saddest, short-story-in-a-song evah. This song needs no video; the film in my head is unbeatable. Those five minutes rip my heart out every time, and Griffith’s voice is the perfect match for the song. Another song that has been replayed an hour straight. I’ve never been able to find Jerry Jeff’s version of this; anyone want to share?

Al Green: Love and Happiness
“Something that can make you do wrong / Make you do right.” And then that “heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey” that nobody can pull off like the Reverend. My shirt starts slipping off the shoulder on that "heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey”; I can’t help myself.

The Replacements: I Will Dare
Whenever I’m stressed or sad or blue, I put this on and dance around the room. The song makes me damn happy. How can you not love a song with “How young are you / How old am I? / Let’s count the rings / Around my eyes”? And that guest guitarist? The kid’s gonna be big one day.

Brothers Johnson: Strawberry Letter 23
This cover of the Shuggy Otis tune has been one of my very favorite songs since it came out in 1977 (my senior year in high school). I generally stop mid-sentence and lose my spot in reality when I hear it played in a store, or in the car, or at home. And, of course, I have to move my shoulders. Because I’m a funkster, y’know.

Pop over to Splotchy’s spot to see the full mix. And gimme another assignment, DJ Splotch.

My review of Monday's Rufus Wainwright/Neko Case show!

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At 8/15/2007 12:22:00 PM, Blogger bigshoulders said...

suh-wheet selections, Beth!
can anyone participate in the fun? i should pay Splotchy a visit, me thinks.


PS: i wait with bated breath your review of Neko Case/Rufus show. (noticed i flipped it.) ;) i [heart] Neko.

At 8/15/2007 01:29:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

I'm impressed with the breadth of your musical stylings. Anyone who likes the Mats, Replacements, and Pixies is all right by me. In fact, I've got friends who refuse to date people who don't like those three bands.

I'd say they're being overly picky, but as someone who's been less picky and heard women I love say things like, "Oh! This Nickelback song is awesome! And the lyrics are so true!" I can't say that they're wrong.

At 8/15/2007 02:00:00 PM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Wonderful songs, and a wonderful discussion of your choices!

Would you believe me if I told you I had never heard an Oasis song prior to your mix? It's true! I like it -- I'll have to get the album.

Never heard the Nina Simone song -- great, and, like you said, sexy.

Never heard the Lyle Lovette Grateful Dead cover. It's a nice twist on the original, a lot more melancholy.

Never heard the Nanci Griffith song -- reminds me a lot of James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend".

Love all the other songs, but I don't want to prattle on.

Thanks again for being a partipant of the mix!

At 8/15/2007 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Eebie said...

Great choices and Radio Free Europe would be on my list. Others:
REO Speedwagon, Ridin the Storm Out.
As soon as I hear the siren it's over.
Les Miserables, Valjean's Siloquy.
An incredible moment to truth, identity and destiny.
The Wizard of Oz, If I Only Had a Brain.
Guilty pleasure ever since I played Scarecrow.

Of late these two have captured me but I don't think they will be forever:
Moby, South Side.
Souad Massi, Mesk Elil.

At 8/15/2007 03:40:00 PM, Anonymous gifted typist said...

Beth, I'm feeling guilty that I didn't do a review of Buddy Guy at the local Blues Fest. I'm still recovering from the smokin' guitar soloing that man was doing. He's seventy-bloody-one years old!

Strawberry Letter 23 - oh the memories

At 8/15/2007 04:15:00 PM, Blogger Moxie said...

I only know a small handful of these songs so I am getting all of them from Splotchy's site. Bless you and your music-lovin' ilk for bringing new tunes into my life! My MP3 player thanks you as well!

(Review of The Invasion coming soon to my blog...)

At 8/15/2007 04:45:00 PM, Blogger Crusher said...

This one goes to 11.

At 8/15/2007 08:05:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Wow, I can't believe that R.E.M. is on there. :)

This sounds like a crazy fun list to compile. I must get my list together asap. I want street cred too, so I can sit at the good table near the water fountain. And I'm sure you'll be just as surprised to find Pearl Jam and Squeeze on my list as I was to find R.E.M. on yours.

At 8/15/2007 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yoiks I can't believe how much of your list I do not know. And I call myself a music lover! I am going to be spending many happy hours checking out everyone;s songs,let me tell you that.

Wasn't this a fun game?

And now I am waiting with baited breath, baited I tell you, to hear all about Rufus and Neko.

At 8/15/2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Jacy said...

Here are mine, if anyone cares

1. Little Red Corvette, Prince
2. Sing, Blur
3. Live Forever, Oasis
4. Bizarre Love Triangle, New Order
5. Just Like Heaven, The Cure
6. Valhalla, k-os
7. Train in Vain, The Clash
8. Love is Like an Itchin' in My Heart, The Supremes
9. English Girls Approximately, Ryan Adams (for the slide guitar ending alone)
10. Handshake Drugs, Wilco

And now, on my blog, I am going to put out a call for those guilty pleasure pop songs that you love but are embarrassed to admit to. Please come and tell me your dirty-secret songs!

At 8/15/2007 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Mountjoy said...

Can we have a sub-set? The songs that should be played until the final second, but especially in the last five years, DJ's have felt it is okay to back-announce, fade out or just cut the end off-of? Every time some prick snips the birds off the end of Layla, I wanna go down to the station and shove the micropphone fair up his (or her) arse.

At 8/15/2007 11:33:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

I would've guessed "Wonderwall," but that's just me. The thingie is posted...

At 8/16/2007 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I share the R.E.M., Lyle Lovett, Nina Simone, Nanci Griffith, Al Green, and The Replacements absorption symptoms Beth. Delicious.

At 8/16/2007 01:29:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...

That cover of "Friend of the Devil" is one of my favorite songs ever. That's one I used to sing to my kids and dance along with when played it.

At 8/16/2007 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Now you got me thinking. Just the other day Sweetness and I sat in the garage to listen to the end of the Duvall song "Way Deep Inside." There is a totally sweet guitar solo that'll peel the paint of the walls.

At 8/16/2007 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

BIG SHOULDERS: I'm sure Splotchy would love to share the Green Monkey love, so click on over. And, yes, I noticed the Neko/Rufus flip. Every cool man I know has a crush on Neko; hell, I sort of do, too.

PISTOLS AT DAWN: Your friends are smart; that's a great litmus test. I could never love a man who didn't worship the musical ground trampled by R.E.M., the Mats, the Pixies, and several others. What the hell would I have to talk about with him? (And you'll never hear more than three seconds of Nickelback in my car.)

SPLOTCHY: That's the fun thing about these mix posts: You discover new songs! You're this week's blog star, DJ Splotch.

EEBIE: Have you heard The Flaming Lips' cover of "If I Only Had a Brain"? Quite entertaining. You need to post photos of your Scarecrow days.

GIFTED TYPIST: Post the review late; I'd love to read it! Haven't seen Mr. Guy in years. And glad you have that Strawberry Letter coolness about you; doesn't surprise me.

At 8/16/2007 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

MOXIE: Come back and let me know which songs you love (and hate). Really looking forward to your Invasion review.

CRUSHER: I impressed Crusher? It was the Nanci Griffith, wasn't it?

BECKEYE: I like to surprise y'all. You earned my street cred last week with your Glenn Tilbrook dalliance.

BARBARA: I had so much fun putting together my list. The Rufus/Neko post will be up by the end of the weekend ... but I will tell you it was FAB!

JACY: Love your list! I'll head over to your blog today to admit my guilty pleasures.

At 8/16/2007 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

MOUNTJOY: I hate, absolutely hate the deejay babble over the song ending, especially those that end beautifully.

WRITE PROCRASTINATOR: I expected it to be "Wonderwall," too ... but "Champagne Supernova" won in the sudden-death round. Off to check your thingie ...

DALE: I'm beginning to think we're (cool) twins of different mothers. I guess you're the cute twin.

BUBS: Isn't it amazing? Lyle turned it into a different song. I would love to be one of your kids ...

TENACIOUS S: You are the best mom. I wonder if you and Bubs can adopt me.

At 8/16/2007 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Lovely selections. I woke up to Champagne Supernova this morning and it totally made my day. I'm now firmly in an Oasis mood. In fact even dressing Oasisy today. Brits and their taste in clothes love it. ^_^ How does one raise their digital monkey paw to join the cool kids at the table? I wanna know. I can't stay in the audio/video class room forevah.

At 8/18/2007 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

You need to post a photo of you as the Artful Gallagher; I bet you're as cute as Liam and as cool at Noel.

And, doll, you've been at the cool kids' table since your second comment.


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