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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