I get mixed signals

Eclectic Playlist Series 1.10 – Nov. 2014


As regular visitors realize by now, the Eclectic Playlist Series exists to counter the internet’s discouraging tendency to group music strictly together by genre and/or decade. I’ve been hoping that there are at least a handful of recalcitrant 21st-century listeners who might find some delight in this kind of eclecticism.

Recently what has been further occurring to me is the cultural price we pay for the internet’s reductive organizational habits. Not only are we as listeners short-changed by being denied a larger context for our listening, but the musicians are as well, which may in turn have a subtly adverse effect on the music they will go on to create. Think of all the artists who have come of age here in the 21st century who never find their music presented in any kind of broader historical context. The whole system is becoming a kind of closed feedback loop, to the detriment of musicians and listeners alike.

But: here I am again, with 20 songs, representing six decades and a variety of rock’n’roll-related genres, melded into one 80-minute-or-so listening experience. Radioing heaven, getting mixed signals, ending up in some kind of weird but inspirational church, with idiosyncratic stops along the way to ponder the state of human relationships. It’s all right to feel a little fear, to be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson, running around in circles all day long. With a hell of a guitar solo. Many problems are solved by a hell of a guitar solo, or maybe just a tube of cherry chapstick.

Oh, and this: as the first year of the Eclectic Playlist Series draws nearer to a close, I figured it was time to alert you guys to a larger-scale intention of this wide-ranging enterprise. As a way of enforcing variety and surprise, I decided from the start (but forgot to tell you; oops) that no one artist would be featured here more than once in a calendar year. So far so good (although I did feature Rilo Kiley in one playlist and Jenny Lewis in another), and I will happily finish the playlist year next month with that intention intact. But with this overall structure in mind, I realized kind of after the fact that rather than simply identifying each month’s list as “Volume 1,” “Volume 2,” and so forth, it might be better to label them in such a way as to make entire years more readily identifiable. And so with this month’s playlist, I’m introducing a slightly new ID system: rather than calling this one “Volume 10,” I am labeling it “1.10.” When the new year of playlists starts in January, it will be “2.01.” Etc. Once we get to the playlists beginning with “2,” you may begin to see certain artists from the first year’s playlists slide back in, even as new artists continue to arrive.

“Remember” – Greg Kihn Band (Next of Kihn, 1978)
“Everything Passed Me By” – James Irwin (single, 2014)
“I Radio Heaven” – Over the Rhine (Films for Radio, 2001)
“Can’t Be Sure” – The Sundays (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, 1990)
“Too Late to Turn Back Now” – Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose (single, 1972)
“Damn, Wish I Was a Man” – Cindy Lee Berryhill (Who’s Gonna Save The World?, 1987)
“Raphaël” – Carla Bruni (Quelqu’un m’a dit, 2003)
“Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (The Best Years of Our Lives, 1975)
“Cherry Chapstick” – Yo La Tengo (And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, 2000)
“The Touch of Venus” – Sandy Wynns (single, 1965)
“White Mice” – The Mo-Dettes (single, 1979)
“Sleepless” – King Crimson (Three of a Perfect Pair, 1984)
“Axes” – Low Frequency in Stereo (The Last Temptation Of…, 2006)
“Bitter” – Jill Sobule (Happy Town, 1997)
“These Eyes” – The Guess Who (Wheatfield Soul, 1969)
“{Explain}” – Sarah Blasko (What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, 2006)
“Charm” – The Wild Colonials (This Can’t Be Life, 1996)
“Maid in Heaven” – Be Bop Deluxe (Futurama, 1975)
“Take Me to Church” – Sinéad O’Connor (I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, 2014)
“Mercy Street” – Peter Gabiel (So, 1986)

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