Tuesday, May 16, 2006
In the Mix (Part One)
Eddie-tor's Note: Blogger has totally fucked up this post three times now, so I'm trying it in two parts to see if that will solve the problem. If you find that any paragraphs seem to end abruptly or switch topics in mid-sentence, point them out, please. I've worked on this for so long, I'm a little cross-eyed (and more than a little cross...)
Well, they've had enough time to get to most folks, so here’s what my fellow Mixed Baggers can expect to hear:
Disc Title: Sounds Ed-clectic
Yeah, I know it’s corny, but I like the pun.
Themes: I didn’t have any over-arching theme in mind for the CD, but a couple “mini-themes” came out as I was putting the songs together. Several songs ended up having political undertones to them, for one thing, which really isn’t that surprising if you know me, I guess. It's probably even kind of stretching it to refer to that as a "theme." On the other hand, the plan to include one Go-Go’s cut, soon grew into the creation of a Go-Go’s “mini-suite” of songs in tribute to one of my favorite bands.
Dedications: Knowing some of the folks in the exchange and their music tastes, I tried to pick a couple of things that I thought they would especially like. Then I got the idea of dedicating those songs to them. Then I decided that wouldn’t be fair to the others, so I ended up dedicating at least one song to all the other mix participants. Then I got the idea to do a couple of other dedications as well. Then I decided to stop thinking about the whole thing.
Rules: Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to make sure CD’s I created for other folks met certain basic criteria. They had to have an Emmylou Harris tune, a song from a local or regional act, and a song from an LGBT act. I do this because I like Emmylou Harris(a lot), I believe that we’ve got some really talented musicians in our local scene, and I feel like I ought to show some support for queer artists.
For this particular CD, I expanded on those criteria a bit. I’ve been feeling like my last couple of mixes were in a sonic rut—too many artist repeats and too much from one particular genre. This time I decided that I couldn’t use any artists who were on my last few CDs—except, of course, for Emmylou. I also said that I had to make an effort to include more songs from genres other than Americana.
That’s a lot of babbling about how much overthinking I did for one CD. What about the songs?
Know Your Rights—The Clash
I wanted to kick this one off with a real bang, and this is the perfect song for it. It’s loud, driving, and unabashedly political. It’s hard to watch the news any more without being totally pissed off, and this song expresses some of that anger for me. Sadly, despite the decades since it was recorded, it doesn’t sound dated at all.
Dedicated to Gordon and Lefty, who both used Clash songs in their mixes. (Lefty used this very song, in fact!)
Arizona Yodeler—The De Zurik Sisters
Oxford American Magazine releases a music issue every year, along with a companion CD. This song was a cut on the 2005 CD, and I knew I would be using it in a mix the first time I heard it! How can you not love yodeling sisters? The yodeling is pretty fantastic too, with all those coos and trills and things. It’s just such a happy song! I thought it made such a nice, complete contrast to the Clash song, from the production to the mood, that I had to put it here.
The De Zurik Sisters were a part of the country music radio show world of the 30’s and 40’s. You can read more about them here.
This song is dedicated to Mike, because I know that if the Arizona Yodeler were a story in an old Charlton western comic, it would eventually wind up in his blog. It’s also dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, who yodeled a little.
Ghost Riders (in the Sky)—Ned Sublette
There’s only one way to follow the Arizona Yodeler in my book, and that’s with a salsa-fied version of an old country chestnut!
I just love the opening guitars in this song, and the point where the full band kicks in with the horns and percussion. This comes from one Sublette’s Cowboy Rumba, one of my favorite and most highly recommended albums! If you like what he does here with the Cowboy Song-Latin Music fusion, you have to get the CD! There’s lots more where this one came from!
This is also dedicated to Mike, because he used another version of the song on his disc.
I am an unashamed, unrepentant, unapologetic fan of 80’s pop. It’s the soundtrack of my college days, after all. Along with ABBA, The Go-Go’s are one of my all time favorite bands. Including this song on the disc eventually grew into the whole “Go-Go’s mini-suite.” Sometimes, once an idea gets going it’s hard to stop.
This comes off their 2001 reunion CD, God Bless the Go-Go’s. I love the lyrics and the cascading guitars. I’ve been waiting for a follow-up album for several years now, but they seem to have forgotten me. Maybe, I’ve been Unforgiven too?
You’ve got to follow one of your favorite groups with the other, I always say. This is one of my favorite ABBA songs, and one that I always reach for when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
It’s dedicated to Keith, because I’m sappy that way, and to Greg, because I want a spot on his ruling council when he takes over the world. It’s also dedicated to Dorian, who’s getting a copy of this disc, even though he wasn’t in the Mixed Bag group this time.
You Are the Light—Jens Lekman
One of the best things I did musically last year was subscribe to InRadio. Every other month, I get a CD in my mailbox that’s chock full of all kinds of music from all kinds of independent labels. Of course, I don’t like everything, but there are always a few gems in every bunch, like this song, which was on the March/April 2006 CD, entitled Wishbone.
I love everything about this song—the horns, the vocal stylings, the modern take on romance and relationships. It makes me smile in a slightly twisted sort of way. You can find out more about Lekman here, which is his label’s site. There’s a link there to a video for this song, which is hilarious!
This one is dedicated to Kevin, because anyone with an Ironic Dance Party Mix should really appreciate this song.
Rush Hour—Jane Wiedlin
It’s probably blasphemy to say this, but Jane, rather than Belinda, was always my favorite Go-Go. After all, she wrote most of their material. It was just a bummer that her solo career didn’t seem to do as well as Belinda’s. This was one of her few hits, off her Fur album. It was the last of the Go-Go’s songs to get added. I figured that I couldn’t do a Go-Go’s mini-suite without including someone’s solo material or side project, but what to pick? I mean: Jane’s solo stuff, Charlotte’s solo stuff, Gina’s solo stuff, the Graces, the Delphines, Frosted, Belinda’s TON of solo material—the ladies did keep busy. (By the way, anyone with a copy of House of Schock on CD that they’d like to sell, drop me a line.)
In the end, I decided to go with Jane and stick with something kind of familiar. I needed fun and poppy to kind of balance out the irony from the Lekman tune.
Right as Rain—The Kennedys
The Kennedys are a folk-rock husband and wife team, and this comes from their Life is Large album. I fell in love with its simplicity and sweetness, especially the retro-jangly-guitar-sitar stylings. I also like the “love against all odds” message.
Since this is an election year, and the Right is struggling to maintain control, I expect to see the whole “the gays are threatening our way of life” bogeyman to be trotted out before long. So I’m dedicating this one to LGBT couples in this country who are fighting for legal recognition of our relationships.
Pilgrim’s Progress—Kris Kristofferson
In the commentary for his disc, Lefty points out that political, thematic songs have long been a staple in punk. He’s right, but before there was punk, there was folk. I wanted to honor that tradition, so I picked this song of Kristofferson’s new release, This Old Road.
The whole album is incredible. Largely just Kristofferson and his guitar, he explores the screwed-up American political scene, looks back on his life, and ponders his future. In this song, he does a little bit of all three, reminding us that we need to stay involved and active in the process, no matter how old or settled we are.
This one is dedicated to Lefty (for reasons stated above), Keith (the biggest Kristofferson fan I know), and Keith’s friend Ben, who is part of the new generation of political activists. I hope we all stay young enough to believe in revolution.
Real Men—Pansy Division
And what’s more revolutionary than playing with gender identity, masculinity in particular?
I had a completely different song in mind here, however, interestingly enough, it would have shared many of the same characteristics as this one: loud gay band questioning gender assumptions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the CD which I thought I did, so you get PD instead. It works. It’s all good.
As a small-town, rural Kentucky kid, I grew up with a lot of those “this is what it takes to be a man” kind of messages. It became pretty clear, pretty early on, that I didn’t have a lot of what it took to meet those definitions, nor was I really that interested in meeting those definitions. So, I like this song that questions all those assumptions about what it means to be masculine, yet retains a little sense of humor about the whole thing.
I’m dedicating this one to all the other queer comics bloggers out there.
This was the song that took the disc from merely having one Go-Go’s song to having a Go-Go’s mini-suite. This comes from Unsealed: A Tribute to the Go-Go’s, a CD I picked up for a buck at Half-Price Books recently. Most of it’s pretty mediocre, but I cracked up the first time I heard this song. I knew it had to go on my disc, and the mini-suite was born!
Originally, I placed this song after the Kristofferson song, but that opening “Whatever” coming on the heels of Kristofferson’s earnest soul-searching didn’t feel quite right. It works well coming in after all the musings and posturings in the PD song, however.
I like the way that the “whatever’s” take this from being a silly pop romance song to a more, jaded, modern take on relationships. Two weeks away from you? Whatever!
I hadn’t heard of The Frogs before, but apparently, they’ve had quite an interesting recording history.
CONTINUED IN PART TWO