Listening

5/03/11: Never Quite Free by The Mountain Goats

It’s a big event in our house when The Mountain Goats releases a new album. So I was rather sad when Life of the World to Come (2009) interested me more in concept than in actuality. I was even more disappointed by All Eternals Deck (2011). It just felt like John Darnielle (singer/songwriter) was running out of ideas. I listened to the album a few times and nothing stood out (which is unheard of from Darnielle!) That is… until I was driving into the sunset after a long, hectic day and Never Quite Free came on. I listened. I played it again. And again. I set in on repeat. I couldn’t get enough of it even though the music sounds like 90’s pop cheese. The last verse has become my anthem.

“It’s all good to learn that from right here the view goes on forever
And you’ll never want for comfort and you’ll never be alone
See the sunset turning red let all be quiet in your head”

…After that, I kinda warmed up to the album. It’s definitely not my favorite but it’s still worth a thorough, heartfelt listen from time to time.

10/07/10

Despite the lack of updates here, I do listen to music, really!

During my last month of pregnancy, I put together a mix titled “Lullaby” because I wanted some go-to soothing/sentimental music that I actually enjoyed.
Actually, creating the mix was inspired by the first song on the mix. And I still think that the whole mix could exist with just that one song. If I could sing, that would be the song I would sing my daughter to sleep with.

1. Songbird by Rosie Thomas
2. She’s Always a Woman To Me by Billy Joel
3. Sleeping by Glen Hansard
4. Put Your Head on My Shoulder by Michael Buble
5. The Way You Look Tonight by Jerry Goldsmith
6. When You’re Smiling by Dean Martin
7. Eileen’s Song by Burlap to Cashmere
8. Damascus by Sufjan Stevens
9. Snow Owl by The Mountain Goats (the 2nd song that would “make” the mix)
10. Love and Some Verses by Iron & Wine
11. Take It From Me by The Weepies
12. Sweet Lullaby by Something Like Silas
13. 16, Maybe Less by Iron & Wine (somehow ends up on 90% of my mixes)
14. Eskimo by Damien Rice

Any other recommendations?

3/30/10: Lillian, Egypt by Josh Ritter

I really enjoy Josh Ritter’s sound but I have a hard time embracing the world view presented in many of his lyrics. Lillian, Egypt isn’t anymore optimistic than the rest of his fatalistic views, but it’s got such a fun, summery sound that sometimes I forget that.

It is a excellent specimen of narrative lyrics, with the story dominating the song while running seemlessly through it. It’s a vivid story, too, with consistent use of simile, for example, “The daughter of the biggest big town banker; He kept her like a princess; I stole her like the Fort Knox gold.”

Beyond that, the lyrics subtly blend the story with the setting (the Hollywood dream) to the point that you are so enwrapped in both that although you know the fatal ending is coming you wish it away as much as you would if you were watching it happen on screen.

Ritter delicately handles the nasty development the story takes, from “Dancing with a movie man, he was holding her a little too close” to “He made her the star of the silent movies… And he cast me as the villain, as the sheriff’s worst enemy.”

And although the song closes with the lighthearted refrain of “La di da,” you are struck by the tragedy that all too often befalls those who seek fame and fortune.

And so, Lillian, Egypt somehow manages to be a great song to drive to on a sunny day with the windows rolled down while also being a tightly woven, heart-plucking contemplation of the state of glitz and glory.

12/16/09: River by Joni Mitchell

Can’t deny Christmas is coming! As much as I love the bright and cheery Christmas songs, I have a place in my heart for the ones tinged with sadness and longing, too. It seems like the holidays have a way of bringing that out… I don’t think I knew how true that was until this year.

12/08/09: Last Christmas as done by Wham

I am not a huge fan of a lot of the “pop” Christmas music but I am seriously addicted to this song. And I just discovered that Taylor Swift sings it too. I might have to check it out. But I doubt anyone could do better than Wham’s “I gev you my heart.”

12/02/09: Hurt as done by Johnny Cash

This is one of the most emotionally moving songs I have heard, even more so if you watch the music video.

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