“I hate and I love. How do I do that, perhaps you ask?
I don’t know. But I feel it is happening and I am tormented.”
Those are what the words in the first song mean, translated from the Latin. They were written in the first century B.C. Here they are being sung by a computerized voice. It’s a piece by the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannson, who, sadly, died this month at the age of 48. I have not heard too much of his music but did stumble on this one back in 2006 and featured it here. It’s odd but compelling, and enduring; I urge you to listen with full attention.
From there, we’re off into another irregular journey through the decades. I’ve branched back into the ’50s this time, twice for good measure, and for whatever reason cleared out a little bit of an instrumental section in the middle. It just seemed to want to work out that way.
* Another song I urge your attention onto is “Muddy River,” from Shelley Short’s sadly overlooked 2017 release Pacific City. What a beautiful and powerful collection of acoustic songs; you can listen to it and buy it via Bandcamp.
* There’s actually one more “memorial” song in the mix: the very satisfying if semi-forgotten R&B hit “Don’t Look Any Further,” to honor Dennis Edwards, one-time front man of the Temptations, who also died this month. The song has not only an incisive, melodic bass line, but a surprisingly effective off-the-beat synth motif threading through. Props too to Siedah Garrett, who sings here with Edwards.
* I just stumbled upon the band Scars recently, and enjoy the authentic mid-new-wave vibe of “All About You.” Their album is somewhat hard to find (it’s not seemingly digitized), but I’m going to see if I can track it down, short of paying $35 for used vinyl.
* Favorite segue this time around probably goes to Johnny Cash into the Casket Girls, with R.E.M. into Elbow as honorable mention, if you’re keeping score at home. And note that while I never completely took to the Bill-Berry-less version of R.E.M., I find “Walk Unafraid” to be one of a handful of classic songs they managed without him.
Full playlist below the widget.
“Odi Et Amo” – Jóhann Jóhannson (Englabörn, 2002)
“Chequered Love” – Kim Wilde (Kim Wilde, 1981)
“She Came Along To Me” – Billy Bragg & Wilco (Mermaid Avenue, 1998)
“I Still Miss Someone” – Johnny Cash (The Fabulous Johnny Cash, 1958)
“24 Hours” – Casket Girls (The Night Machines, 2016)
“Don’t Look Any Further” – Dennis Edwards (single, 1984)
“Muddy River” – Shelley Short (Pacific City, 2017)
“American Garage” – Pat Metheny Group (American Garage, 1979)
“Baby That’s Me” – The Cake (The Cake, 1967)
“Days of Steam” – John Cale (The Academy in Peril, 1972)
“Penthouse Mambo” – Xavier Cugat (Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha, 1957)
“Swapping Spit” – Big Deal (June Gloom, 2013)
“What Do You Think?” – The Sundays (Blind, 1992)
“You Keep Running Away” – The Four Tops (single, 1967)
“Portions for Foxes” – Rilo Kiley (More Adventurous, 2004)
“The Holdup” – David Bromberg (David Bromberg, 1971)
“All About You” – Scars (Author! Author!, 1981)
“Moonshine Freeze” – This is the Kit (Moonshine Freeze, 2017)
“Walk Unafraid” – R.E.M. (Up, 1998)
“Weather to Fly” – Elbow (The Seldom Seen Kid, 2008)