Monday, September 18, 2006

Screwing Up the Mix (Part 1)

I guess Kelly’s never going to speak to me again, since I’m just now getting around to getting the discs for her summer music exchange in the mail. Sigh! What can I say, except, I am what I am? (Sadly, everything’s been ready for several weeks, waiting for me to remember to mail them. Double sigh!)

I really enjoyed Kelly’s Disc (School’s Out for the Summer) quite a bit. Good variety and lots of great songs. I take some issue with including Trace Adkins and Kenny Chesney (no offense, Kelly, but, blech!), but the Go-Go’s, the B-52’s and The Band more than make up for it. Plus, a Death Cab for Cutie song I actually like! And, I have to find some more Husky Rescue!

I’m grooving to Lefty’s KLFT mix right now. I’m enjoying the whole conceit of the radio station quite a bit, and his choices are full of surprises!

I can’t comment on Roger’s disc, because for some unknown reason he sent me his copy of the Eddie Mitchell disc that Lefty made. Sorry, Roger. It’s a good disc, but I’ve already got one!

My idea was to put together a set of music devoted to Summer music festivals. A Backpack Full of Tunes is full of artists that Keith and I have seen live and is designed to be pre-festival listening to get one in the mood for joining the crowd and grooving to the music. Fortunately, since I missed the summer festival circuit, there are music festivals happening all year round!

Here’s the content list for my disc, which is heading (finally) to the others even as I type.

Home-Grown Tomatoes (Guy Clark): Summer also means gardening time, so this ode to growing it yourself is a good opener. It’s just lots of fun! We’ve seen Guy live several times now, and are really looking forward to January, when he’ll be here as part of a songwriter’s showcase with John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett.

All My Life (Todd Snider): We listen to lots of Snider on the way to various shows. This song is one of our favorites. Keith laughs that it’s about us, since on road trips I tend to read magazines until I fall asleep, while he drives. We’ve probably seen Todd Snider perform live more times than any other artist, at this point.

Return of the Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons): Emmylou Harris appearance number 1, as Gram’s “girl singer.” This is my favorite GP song, even though it’s really difficult to establish exactly what time period he intended to be the setting for the song. This is one of those songs I find myself singing to myself at odd times during the day. We’ve obviously not seen Parsons perform, but I have seen Emmylou do this song in concert.

Tear My Stillhouse Down (Gillian Welch): I love the new breed of artists who are taking traditional music and performing it with a modern sensibility. Gillian Welch is about the best of the bunch. We’ve seen her perform a couple of times.

Burgoo (Sarah Elizabeth Whitehead): Local artist singing about a local dish. I love the imagery in this song! She performs regularly in Louisville with her husband who is an author and poet.

Birdhouse in Your Soul (They Might Be Giants): If I were president, I’d pass a law that every mix CD be required to include a TMBG song. This is one of my favorites. It helps break up the “all Americana all the time” groove I kind of settled in by default when I chose my theme. We saw TMBG last year when they opened the Lebowskifest.

Thank Misery (Jill Sobule): Nothing like a real downer in the mix. Especially one with such a cheery, mixed message: “If I had been normal and well-adjusted I never would have met you.” Nice. We’ve not seen Jill live yet, but she is very close to the top of my list of artists I have to see.

Vincent Black Lightning 1952 (Del McCoury Band): This is the one I requested that they perform at my house. I love the storyline of this song, which was written by the legendary Richard Thompson. When it gets to the line at the end about the angels in leather and chrome, the hairs on my arm stand up every time I hear it. We’ve seen them perform maybe a half-dozen times, interestingly; nearly all of them have been free shows. This one, of course, was the best one.

Mama Used to Dance (Reel World String Band): Kentucky group that we’ve seen quite a few times. Their music sometimes goes places that bluegrass and traditional don’t always go: women’s issues and stories, environmentalism, peace and justice.

Lydia (Slaid Cleaves): Just saw him perform a few weeks ago. He’s the nicest guy, and really easy-going. Not at all the kind of person you would expect to meet after listening to his hard-luck, dark, despairing songs.

Birds (David Olney): David Olney is one of the most unjustly overlooked songwriters currently performing. We saw him last year in a small club here in town, with about a dozen other people. I felt bad for him, but he gave us a fabulous show just the same. He says the bird names in this song are all made up.

Become You (Indigo Girls): Love, love, love the Indigos. We were going to their shows even before concert-going became a regular past time for us. This is the title cut to one of their recent albums. There are some feelings you really have to be from the south to fully understand. This songs cuts to the heart of them. I think we've seen them every time they've been to Louisville.

Making Pies (Patti Griffin): This is my favorite Patti G. song, the story of an older woman going to work at the restaurant where she’s baked pies for many years. I love the lines that tell about her going to church because it gets her out of the house and because Father Mike “ain’t hard to like.” Then there’s her description of Jesus with “his big blue eyes and his honey-brown hair.” Perfect! She needs to come back to this part of the world!

Mama’s Opry (Iris Dement): Iris is an acquired taste for some, but I love her twangy delivery and her song writing, which can be both tender and touching and offbeat at the same time. I love the lines in this song that are made up of the titles to old gospel numbers. Oh, and that’s Emmylou appearance number 2, doing harmony vocals and giving Iris an early career boost. Iris is one of my favorite artists to see live, because she really holds folks. No one chatters during an Iris Dement performance.

Before the Revolution (Tim Easton): This is an unreleased demo from a New West sampler. Mised the chance to see him last week. Bummer.

Red, Red Rose (Emmylou Harris): Finally, the lady appears on her own. I do try to use something Emmylou-oriented on every mix I do. Lately, I’ve been trying to make some of those choices a little less obvious. This comes from Brand New Dance, one of her last releases for Warner Brothers. It’s not a big fave among a lot of Emmylunatics, but it’s one of my favorite albums. I’m contrary like that.

Angel from Montgomery (Bonnie Raitt/John Prine): This is my all time favorite song. I prefer Prine doing it solo, but I always thought Bonnie Raitt did a fine job with it.

Jesus is Coming (John Eddie): Love, love, love John Eddie, and not just for his last name. Love the bit about Jesus and Santa having cocktails at the Atlanta airport. Of course, the kicker comes at the end with the reminder that Jesus doesn’t have to come, as he’s supposedly been here the whole time. I know Chris and Roger write freely about their faith, so I’m hoping they have a bit of a sense of humor about it too. John Eddie had some label troubles a couple years ago, so he hasn't been around these parts much lately.

That covers everything on my disc for the swap. Tomorrow, I'll talk about the mea culpa gifts I threw in for everyone.

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