I thought last month’s mix was one of the better ones I’ve concocted, and yet there it was, with the meagerest number of listeners to date. Good thing I’m not doing this for fame and fortune! Thanks to the loyal core here–you know who you are. I believe in the value of creative work, and in the value of our culture’s diverse musical legacy. If 2019’s hyper-capitalist, click-centered world is screwed up beyond the ability to separate the worthy from the worthless, the delightful from the despicable, well, how surprising is that? Elizabeth Warren says, rightfully, that capitalism without regulation is theft; I would add that capitalism without human values is, well, capitalism. Where we have ended up, with the failed steak salesman as leader of the free world, is pretty much the logical end result of an amoral system. A microscopic audience for quality playlists is the least of my worries. But, if you’re here, I hope you enjoy the ever-eclectic mix….
* The accepted story is that the Strokes lost their magic after their first two albums, but here’s a song from their 2011 album Angles that stands up to anything else they’ve recorded, to my ears. I have no idea what Casablancas is singing about, of course, but “Under the Cover of Darkness” nevertheless acquires so much delightful musical momentum as it unfolds that it makes me want to jump out of my seat with glee by the time it’s halfway through.
* I recently saw a short video essay by Jeff Tweedy in which he extolled the benefits of listening to music that you don’t like. He says he’s learned that his initial reactions to music can be based on preconceived notions and/or aversions that may be irrational, and that it’s worthwhile to make an effort to overcome these things. Which brings me to Rush, a band I definitely used to have an aversion to, preconceived notions about, you name it. These were formed when I worked in college radio, caught up in a cohort as passionate about music as we were unintentionally close-minded. I still don’t love Geddy Lee’s voice but I have to admire the musicianship on display, and the band’s efforts to pack complexities into radio-friendly material. As soon as I was able to open my little mind up to the possibility that I didn’t hate everything they recorded, a song like “Limelight” was able to reveal its charms.
* Brenda Kahn, back in the ’90s, gave us one of the sharpest and most distinctive singer/songwriter albums of the era. Epiphany in Brooklyn, released in 1992, had enough muscle and momentum to break through to alternative-rock radio stations (remember “I Don’t Sleep, I Drink Coffee Instead”?), and enough craft and spirit to promise great things to come. Then her record company–a Columbia Records imprint–folded two weeks before her follow-up release. She continued touring and releasing records independently through the ’90s but without the mainstream notice the first record garnered. Eventually she left music behind, to concentrate on raising her children. I only recently discovered that she’s been making music again here in the 21st century; I entirely missed Seven Laws of Gravity when it came out in 2010, but happily stumbled upon it a couple of months ago.
* Cate Le Bon has the distinction of being the answer to a trivia question no one asks, which is: have I ever, by mistake, featured the same song by the same artist twice within the Eclectic Playlist Series? Turns out I have: the Cate Le Bon song “Are You With Me Now”?” ended up both in EPS 3.03 in March 2016 and in EPS 4.05 in May 2017. Go figure.
* Graham Parker, on the other hand, I haven’t managed to feature until now. He fell into that category of “hard to choose just one so I won’t choose any” artists. And, to be frank, despite how vital and wonderful many of his songs remain, his overall sound just doesn’t seem to want to blend in to an overall mix, somehow. I’ve tried many times, for instance, to work the amazing “Discovering Japan” in and it just won’t go. “Something You’re Going Through” has its pseudo-reggae-ishness going for it in the context of a eclectic mix, plus its perennially useful advice, which I’ve borrowed this month for the title.
Full playlist below the widget.
“Under the Cover of Darkness” – The Strokes (Angles, 2011)
“There’s Nothing Else to Say” – The Incredibles (single, 1967)
“Falling is a Form of Flying” – Pal Shazar (There’s a Wild Thing in the House, 1995)
“Something You’re Going Through” – Graham Parker & The Rumour (Heat Treatment, 1976)
“St. Thomas” – Sonny Rollins (Saxophone Collosus, 1956)
“The Consequences of Falling” – k.d. lang (Invincible Summer, 2000)
“Limelight” – Rush (Moving Pictures, 1981)
“Chelsea Morning” – Joni Mitchell (Clouds, 1969)
“I’m On My Way” – Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi (there is no Other, 2019)
“Guitar Swing” – The Winks (Birthday Party, 2006)
“I Wish I Was Your Mother” – Mott the Hoople (Mott, 1973)
“Regular Job” – Brenda Kahn (Seven Laws of Gravity, 2010)
“Wheel of Evil” – In Tua Nua (The Long Acre, 1988)
“I Really Love You” – The Tomangoes (single, 1968)
“The Crying Scene” – Aztec Camera (Stray, 1990)
“Black Hearted Love” – PJ Harvey (A Woman A Man Walked By, 2009)
“99 Miles From L.A.” – Art Garfunkel (Breakaway, 1975)
“Daylight Matters” – Cate Le Bon (Reward, 2019)
“Moment of Weakness” – Syreeta (With You I’m Born Again [import], 1990)
“Grey Seal” – Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973)