Dead Batteries and Dirty Looks at the Feist show; Phil and Julia Bither do the daddy-daughter dance at the Walsh Files karaoke party.
Just got back from the pretty amazing Feist show at the Fine Line. We (Jay, Fran, and I) got busted by Leslie Feist for laughing about my dead-battery digital camera (you and Mr. Tequila had to be there) during her magnificently buoyant version of Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart," but we were absolutely gobsmacked by her performance. One song in particular slayed.
"Intuition," off of her new forthcoming one. About the ending of a love affair, how both lovers know when its time to pull the plug on something and move on, and "even now, I don't know what's true or false."
What a voice. What a night. Big love goes out to the gang at O'Donovan's Irish Pub, the only bar left open 'til 3:30 on a Sunday night in the city that always sleeps. Yo, my karaoke all-stars: The big Anthony Peeler lookalike dude who gave us a killer "Purple Rain." C.J., the singer from Denver who tore up "Sweet Child O' Mine." Brother-dude who brought every "Hungry Heart" together. The Hard Rock Cafe staff by the fireplace who chatted over my miraculous "Seven Year Ache."
Next week, an all-local Walsh Files. Until then:
1. "2000 Funerals," Graham Parker. It should be FCC rule that those sentimental fucking U.S. Army TV commercials be followed by footage of all the poor minority kids coming home in caskets. Sing it, you angry Brit. Cover it, you sleeping on the job Bruce. Put it at Number One with a bullet, or write something even more timely.
2. "Uppers Aren't Necessary," Rocky Votolato. The whole of this record is terrific; one for all those who hear an actor at the core of Bright Eyes' story-songs.
3. "Wishing All These Old Things Were New," Merle Haggard. Haven't heard his new one, but until then, there's cold comfort in the sound of an old man looking back at the roaring '80s and not trying to hide his yearning for all the cocaine, women, and wildness. "Craggy" doesn't begin to do it justice.
4. "No Other Love," Chuck Prophet. If for no other reason than the every-single-damn-time magic-carpet ride of "mama, I'm flying."
5. "Butterfly," Crazy Town. Like, like, like... driving around Lake Of The Isles with the windows down and the baby-got-bass bumping into everything it hits.
6. "Telescope Eyes," Eisley. Heartbreak lyric of the moment: "I'm just like you so leave me alone."
7. "Don't Look (Back) and It Won't Hurt," Richmond Fontaine. It's what you say to your kids when they're getting a shot or stitches; put the "back" in there and it becomes an adult reminder to not lament the past. Something like this: "That people are unknowing does not mean that they are unknowing like cows or goats. Even ignorant people look for a pathway to reality. But, searching for it, they often misunderstand what they encounter. They pursue names and categories instead of going beyond that name to that which is real." -Digha Nikaya
8. "Love & Communication," Cat Power. I like the title more than the song, but there's moments where her voice and the guitar and words ("Can you memorize the scenes? It'll be different next week") come together at the intersection of Deepest Desires Drive and Simply Sated Street.
9. "I'd Like to Walk Around In Your Mind," Vashti Bunyan. Fine, but you might get really really really lost.
10."I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine," Thea Gilmore. Massive 'n' inexplicable 'n' to say anything more would be
11."My Life Is In Storage," Frank Black. In which the man with the cold-storage heart packs up all his pictures of permanent fixtures and locks it away. For safe-keeping. "Can we have a little fun?," he sings, finally, knowingly, happily, the way only a thawed-out heart can.
12. "Come Back to Camden," Morrissey. You can't go home again, just like you can't go back to a you you're not anymore.
13. "Why Can't I? (iTunes Originals Version)," Liz Phair. Anyone who thinks this song was a studio creation should hear the ache in her voice on this acoustic shot.
14. "On & On," Film School. Great song.
15. "It's Gonna Take an Airplane," Destroyer. Great song.
16. "Six O'Clock News," Kathleen Edwards. Great song.
17. "Fake Tales of San Francisco," Arctic Monkeys. Really, now; you can't have enough cathartic kiss-offs to fake rock stars and trendy corporate fucks.
18. "Socialist," Ernesto. Decadence and political incorrectness never sounded so funky.
19. "Beautiful Wreck of the World," Willie Nile. Until his new one arrives later this month, this pipes-fueled upper is the shit.
20. "On Your Porch (Acoustic)," The Format. Sitting next to the mailbox. Watching the cars go by. Legs touching. Dandelions on the hill across the street. Talking, just talking, and taking in what they both realize is a fleeting moment. Devastating.
This week's guest Walshfilers are none other than massive musicheads Julia and Phil Bither.
Ladies first. Take it away, Jules
1. "Brighter Than Sunshine," Aqualung. I first heard this in the movie A Lot Like Love. Pretty pathetic, I know, but I couldn't help falling in love with this song. It's especially helpful for those days where you just feel like you can't move unless you get a feel-good melody in your soul.
2. "Rebellion (Lies)," The Arcade Fire. I was first attracted to "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" like every sane human being should be, but when I decided to expand my horizons I found this great piece of work. Slightly Franz Ferdinand, but extremely original.
3. "It'5," Architecture in Helsinki. Eight people in one band? Somehow AIH made this work beautifully. This song just makes me so happy, plus it's great fun to wake up to.
4. "If She Wants Me," Belle & Sebastian. My dad tried to turn me onto these guys for a while but I refused. It wasn't until I stumbled upon this song on iTunes that I started to appreciate the lyrics:
I wrote a letter on a nothing day
I asked someone "Could you send my letter away?"
"You are too young to put all of your hopes in just one envelope"
I said goodbye to someone that I love
It's not just me, I tell you it's the both of us
And it was hard
Like coming off the pill that you take to stay happy
Someone above has seen me do alright
Someone above is looking with a tender eye
Upon your face, you may think you're alone but you may think again
If I could do just one near perfect thing I'd be happy
They'd write it on my grave, or when they scattered
On second thought I'd rather hang around and get down with my best friend
If she wants me
5. "We're All In This Together," Ben Lee. It's Monday. And I'm pushing through the halls trying to find a friendly face.... or my next class. This song shows up on my Ipod and I feel my heart dancing. I begin to notice things. The eyes that linger, the hands that hold, the smiles that echo this illumination. EVERY thing is connected and that's the ONLY thing that matters.
6. "Hunter," Bjork. As much as she scares me, this song happens to be fascinating. Over this pulse-y beat her voice is eerie but somehow extremely powerful.
7."Bowl of Oranges," Bright Eyes...unbeatable. Although this song came out years ago, the tune hasn't aged one bit. The lyrics are incredibly bittersweet, just like the song itself. The lyrics are so skillfully written in fact, that you can't help that the last lines are still echoing in your mind: "But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall/Then I think we would see the beauty/Then we would stand staring in awe."
8. "In this Life," Chantal Kreviazuk. Although this song is hopeful, something about her raspy voice and truthful words strikes a chord in me. Just the first verse alone can make me tear up.
9. "Title and Registration," Death Cab for Cutie. Ah, Death Cab. What continues to amaze and amuse me is how they are able to turn logical lyrics into a raw, lonely love song.
The glove compartment
isn't accurately named
and everybody knows it.
So I'm proposing
a swift orderly change
Cause behind its door
there's nothing to keep my fingers warm
and all I find are souvenirs from better times
before the gleam of your tail lights
fading east to find yourself a better life
10. "Manchild," Eels. The eels, actually introduced to me by Jim, have totally captivated me from the beginning. I guess all I can say is this song is so beautiful. But I thought my best friend Sarah's reaction was pretty much perfect. After hearing it for the first time, she said, "See, if some guy came to sing outside my window, I'd want him to sing that song. I don't care if it's depressing, it's just so.....pretty."
11. "Here Comes The Summer," The Fiery Furnaces. My dad and I first heard these guys on the Current with the song Candymaker's Knife In My Handbag. Although repetitive, this song is catchy and original.
12. "All We Have Is Now," The Flaming Lips. This song always gives me an eerie epiphany about how SHORT life really is and how little time we have to be who we are.
13. "Le Garage," The Futureheads. The first 30 seconds of this song-it could be early Beach Boys. As the drums and singing kick in, you think you are listening to a modern Clash song. This combo happens to totally pump me up.
14. "Jezebel," Iron & Wine. This song is nothing but relaxing. Sam Bean's voice totally calms me especially on finals week!
15. "Do You Remember?," Jack Johnson. Jack Johnson is definitely one of my most favorite all-around artists. I love the soft voice he uses even while reporting tragedy:
I remember watching
That old tree burn down
I took a picture that
I don't like to look at
16. "The Gravy," Japanther. This song is from Don't Trust Anyone Over 30, one of my favorite Walker performances of all time. I am also addicted to this two-man band who can scream with the best of 'em.
17. "Anyone Else but You," The Moldy Peaches. I love these lyrics. Seriously. I spent an entire hour in Spanish writing all the words. I also LOVE Kimya Dawson's less-than-perfect voice.
18. "Holland, 1945," Neutral Milk Hotel. I know absolutely nothing about this band but this song is just perfect for blasting on a bad bad day.
19. "Potions for Foxes," Rilo Kiley. It was hard to pick which Rilo Kiley song was my favorite. But how can you resist a song with a chorus of " Baby I'm bad news"??
20. "Infiltration," Sam Phillips. Sam Phillips is one of the only artists that I love everything about and every song by. I have fallen in love with these disjointed almost- crying-for-help but still-upbeat lyrics.
21. "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," Stars. Pretty much my current favorite song. Depending on the day it can make me completely ecstatic or it can make me cry. The voices are amazing. The lyrics are painfully close to home and the music is melancholy but original.
22. "Walking With A Ghost," Tegan & Sara. Besides Kimya Dawson, these girls have some of the most distinctive voices in my music collection. Maybe that's why love this song... or it could be the fact that it's constantly stuck in my head. Hmm.
23. "Just Traveling Through," The Thrills. I'm proud to admit , I'm one of those who didn't discover these guys from the O.C. (excuse my constant gagging). And although I have no idea what half of the Thrills songs are about, I heart them.
Go, brother Phil, go:
1."Cool Water," Laura Veirs. The understated slacker-voiced Seattlean combines soulful shuffle, organ, chimes, a touch of minimalism in her songs about natural phenomenon and odd creatures. The chorus of this one has hung in my head all week, "cool water" on hot day... a great metaphor for all kinds of unfulfilled desires all week.
2. "Enjoy Your Worries," The Books. What a great balancing act between experimental and accessible. They combine banjos and sampled voices, fiddles and electronics and somehow make it seem like the most natural thing in the world.
3. "Memory Song," Meredith Monk. Last week, I was in New York meeting with Meredith Monk (on a new project for the Walker) and we were reminiscing about the first project we worked on together -- The Games, a huge-scaled collaboration with Ping Chong in 1984(!) I was a know-nothing 25-year-old wanna-be curator (working at BAM as a line-producer) and she was under huge pressure to produce a major avant-blockbuster. We leaned on each other. I've been a huge fan, and we've been friends, ever since. When I got back home, I dug into my home back catalogue to listen to her beautiful "Memory Song," a stirring highlight of The Games.
4. "11 More Days," Carl Hancock Rux. Art renaissance man (playwright, actor, spoken word artist, musician) goes deep with poetry, electronic ambiance, urban despair and funk. Popped up the other day on the Ipod shuffle and grabbed me even more than the first time.
5. "You Ain't Going Nowhere," Bob Dylan. This week, a favorite moment was driving and singing this silly yet timeless song loud, out loud, with my 15-year old Julia. Feeling like I could use a few more flights "into the easy chair" these days. When is someone going to finally put out that definitive Basement Tapes box set?
6. "Changes," Seu Jorge. So unlikely but so perfect, this favella-raised, charismatic Rio singer uses his lilting baritone, acoustic guitar and gorgeous Portuguese language to somehow even top the Bowie original. I'd heard him live, but it is thanks to my nephew Mike for passing the Bowie disc along (from Wes Anderson film).
7. "Sinbad El Calipsico," Axel Kreiger. My favorite Argentine pop musician who no one in the States seems to know. Here he seems to be channeling Morricone, my favorite film-composer. Discovered him from some Buenos Aires-based dance-performance artists we brought here a few years back for Out There fest. Their friend Kreiger made for them a fantastic commissioned soundtrack.
8. "You Ought to Be With Me," Al Green. I saw him in Holland at a jazz fest last summer. His gorgeous falsetto still makes my spine tingle and brings me such joy, and Willie Mitchell's production from this era seems sent down by heavenly messenger.
9. "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime," Beck. Such longing and sadness. Those strings swell and it fills my heart like Brian Wilson does at his best. It was an inspired choice for the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack (where I first heard it).
10. "The Plans that We Made," Jon Langford and Sally Tims. Mekons main man keeps reinventing himself, and here he and long-time songmate Sally squeeze the heartache and tragedy out of this country tune (by Lonesome Bob Chaney) that traverses adultery, murder and retribution (with great punk sense of irony, putting it on a disc to raise money to fight the death penalty).It is one of many highlights of Langford's first (and brilliant) performance piece The Executioner's Last Songs which arrives at the Walker in a week or so.
11. "Not Great Men," Gang of Four. I pulled my vinyl Entertainment! out of my attic record storage area last week to show Jules and her friend how ahead of their time Gof4 was...combining guitars that cut like a razors, staccato funk and quick-stop rhythm changes that sit like paternity papers proving Franz F. (and dozens of others) are their direct offspring. Maybe spreading around some good old Marxist punk can help re-balance the insane direction of our body politic, circa 2006.
12. "Senegal Fast Food," Amadou & Mirium. The brilliant and infectious Mano Chao's production meets the hard working, blind Senegalese couple's fantastic afro-rock head on ...and it's a beautiful marriage.
13. "Heard it Through the Grapevine," Bill Frisell. With patience and indirection, he weaves around the melody then finally deconstructs and embraces it all at the same time.
14. "The Way We Get By," Spoon. I've liked Spoon, but it was my pal Jules and who first played me this song last fall and it ended on my fave list of '05. Still love listening to it.
15. "Close Behind," Calexico. Caught them four nights ago at Joe's Pub in NYC. They were always something of a mystery to me. I assumed they were these older rough-edged, alley-lurking eclectic musicians who worshiped at the feet of Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. Then out come on to the stage these earnest, fresh-faced Arizona young-ish guys. Didn't make their music any less appealing, especially when those accordions and mariachi-horns kicked in. Here they too seem to be on a Morricone binge.
16. "Things Grandchildren Should Know," The Eels. It's like a Truffaut movie - Jim turns Jules who turns her dad onto the eels. "I'm turning out just like my father, though I swore I never would..." strikes a bit too close to home (occasionally anyway). Sometimes I too walk around my neighborhood averting eyes.
17. "Macho Woman," Ornette Coleman. Ornette was the (long overdue) awardee at a 4000-seat banquet of mostly mainstream "arts presenters" I attended in NYC last week. Many of those present didn't seem to know who he was. I took subversive joy in hearing this gentle genius mystify these folks over his 25-minute harmolodic recitation of his life, with lots of oblique pearls of wisdom. My personal living artist hero. The memories of our three-day festival to him at the Walker last year remains one of my moments of all time art ecstasy.