Okay so I really don’t think the jaw-dropping Paul Simon song “Adios Hermanos” is made for playlists, as it operates doubly out of context in this setting—it comes from an album in which he sang a selection of songs he wrote for his ill-fated Broadway show, The Capeman; in this song he sings, first-person, in the voice of the lead character, a Puerto Rican gang member in NYC, convicted of murder. Not made for playlists and yet here it is, because wow it’s just too stunning to leave it there on a semi-forgotten album from a troubled show. The presentation slays me, having a lot to do with the radical way he turns doo-wop music into something theatrical and timeless, with an air of unimpeachable solemnity and sorrow. And that part where the song shifts and heads into its extended coda at 3:23 (beginning with “I don’t lie when I speak”)? Gives me goose bumps every time. Simon got rather beat up for The Capeman, but if it only existed to bring this song to light I am thankful for it. You can tell me if I succeeded in shoehorning it into a playlist that, I understand, ends up going in a variety of odd directions. (Oh and note the language in the Simon song is NSFW; don’t be fooled by the old-fashioned musical setting.)
The obscurity of the month is surely “Too Soon You’re Old” (ain’t that the truth), from the Milwaukee-based singer Penny Goodwin, who recorded one album in 1974 and was not apparently heard from again. Years later, the album gained a second life as a sought-after rarity for vinyl collectors, with original copies going for upwards of $150. But it was reissued in 2010, so is now available for the rest of us. I heard this first through the upstanding British blog Crying All the Way to the Chip Shop just a couple of weeks ago.
I am happy as well to present two relatively brand-new songs in this month’s mix: Jessie Baylin’s gratifying, earwormy “Black Blood,” which manages to be upbeat and brooding at the same time; and Laura Marling’s “I Feel Your Love,” which all but leaped out of the speakers when I was recently listening to her latest album, Short Movie. I have featured both of these artists previously on Fingertips. Baylin I believe to be seriously under-appreciated as both singer and songwriter, and I am delighted with her new album, Dark Place. Marling, on the other hand, has received gushing press since her 2008 debut, Alas, I Cannot Swim. I have been keeping her at arm’s length, convinced of her talent but not, necessarily, of her capacity to reach me personally. This album may change that. I am definitely going to keep listening.
Just two returnees this month from the 2014 volume of the Eclectic Playlist Series, and they are two of my all-time favorite artists, by a wide margin: The Kinks, with one of the greatest overlooked songs of the classic rock era, and the previously discussed Mr. Simon. Enjoy the mix, via the Mixcloud widget, and tell your friends, because there’s no point in keeping all this to ourselves.
“Lined Up” – Shriekback (Care, 1983)
“Come On Let’s Go” – Broadcast (The Noises Made By People, 2000)
“No More Looking Back”- The Kinks (Schoolboys in Disgrace, 1975)
“Pullin’ Back the Reins” – k.d. lang (Absolute Torch and Twang, 1989)
“My Place” – The Adverts (Cast of Thousands, 1980)
“Black Blood” – Jessie Baylin (Dark Place, 2015)
“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” – The Walker Brothers (The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, 1966)
“Some Days Are Better Than Others” – U2 (Zooropa, 1993)
“Thursday” – Asobi Seksu (Citrus, 2006)
“Too Soon You’re Old” – Penny Goodwin (Portrait of a Gemini, 1974)
“Adios Hermanos” – Paul Simon (Songs From The Capeman, 1997)
“Sore” – Annuals (Wet Zoo, 2008)
“Changes” – Yes (90125, 1983)
“I Feel Your Love” – Laura Marling (Short Movie, 2015)
“Bohemia” – Mae Moore (Bohemia, 1992)
“12:51” – The Strokes (Room on Fire, 2003)
“Don’t Give Up” – Petula Clark (Petula, 1968)
“Out of My Hand” – Michael Penn (Resigned, 1996)
“Good Girls” – Merry Clayton (Gimme Shelter, 1971)
“Leave Your Body Behind You” – Richard Hawley (Standing at the Sky’s Edge, 2012)