Monday, December 12, 2005

mix 4: Songs for the Bar

I'm an uncle now, and I have standards to think about, so this list in no way reflects my endorsement of the intake of alcohol, whether for purposes of mirth, forgetting heartbreak, or remembering heartbreak.

OK, seriously: These are the drinkingest drinking songs out there, and you should make good use of them.

I've never been a big proponent of tippling while truly sad, and I've never drank alone. Real sadness, I've always found, is more appropriately met with the most disconsolate of exercises: watching late-night (deep late-night) television to the point of catatonia. But there's a lot of bittersweetness that edges awfully close to dejection without quite stepping over the boundary, and is all the (bitter)sweeter for its flirtation with the wrong side of things. For that feeling, when you have one ear finely tuned to the jukebox and the other to your conversation, this list is indispensable. If you think the blues are imminent, these songs will help you believe that the ensuing depths will be semi-tolerable, even if they won't be. More likely, if you're experiencing the kind of melancholy that you want to indulge -- and I don't imagine it's just me who often does this -- then these songs will fuel your counter-intuitive elation. How they manage to do that, I'm not wise enough to know. I can only say that the results have been lab-tested across large swaths of Texas and New York City.

I suppose a few themes pop up throughout -- a certain wistfulness, a vaguely expressed wanderlust, regret, lack of regret, and, appropriately enough, thoughts about drinking.

Yes, the list begins and ends with Van Morrison. If you have a problem with that, put down your glass and walk slowly away from the bar.

One track that's missing is "Forget Thinkin'" by a Texas songwriter named -- I know -- Beaver Nelson. It would be a good opener because of its first lines -- "Another beer before happy hour/To put me in the mood for drinkin'/Oh oh oh/Forget thinkin'." Actually, the rest of the song expresses similar sentiments, and it's pretty good, but these are heavyweights we're dealing with, so a few clever lines and "pretty good" don't get you past this velvet rope. Beaver has to wait until there's company for which he's better suited.

Instructions: These songs are best enjoyed in the company of a small group, in a relatively quiet public space, and not in any situation where some of those present will eventually complain about the lack of "dancing music."


And It Stoned Me -- Van Morrison
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go -- Bob Dylan
The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter -- Laura Cantrell
Ain't No Way -- Aretha Franklin
San Diego Serenade -- Tom Waits
Black Star -- Radiohead
I've Been Loving You Too Long -- Otis Redding
Unsatisfied -- The Replacements
Loose String -- Son Volt
Baby Britain -- Elliott Smith
Sweetest Decline -- Beth Orton
That Lucky Old Sun -- Ray Charles
In My Life -- The Beatles
Two Star -- Everything But the Girl
Midnight Train to Georgia -- Gladys Knight & the Pips
Come Pick Me Up -- Ryan Adams
And the Healing Has Begun -- Van Morrison



Blogger Dezmond said...

"Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century" by The Tragically Hip.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

It seems that this list you have made is more a "Melancholy and Mellow" list of tunes, since many of those songs are not expressly about drinking.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, if the point of this list was to provide a sort of soundtrack for an evening of drinking, the song that "puts me in the mood" for a night of intoxication is "one bourbon, one scotch, one beer" by john lee hooker. but since it seems like the point of the list is to provide a group of songs to listen to AFTER you've been drinking and want to reflect on things, i would also include "one more cup of coffee" by bob dylan and "i see a darkness" by bonnie prince billy.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

"I Am the Cosmos" by Chris Bell.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

"California" by Jay Farrar, "Going To California" by Led Zeppelin (preferably live version on 'How the West Was Won'), "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith, "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, "Girl From the North Country" by Bob Dylan (many people do great versions of this most gorgeous song, and all versions I have heard would do. My personal favorite, even over Dylan's, is a live Pete Townshend version), "Overkill" by Men At Work, "Alcohol" by The Kinks, "Hear My Train A-Comin'" (acoustic version) by Jimi Hendrix, most any Townes Van Zandt song, most any Uncle Tupelo song, "Life By the Drop" and "Life Without You" by Stevie Ray Vaughan, the entire 'Veedon Fleece' album by Van Morrison.

The ULTIMATE drinking/despair record: Neil Young's 'Tonight's the Night', of course.

5:52 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

There's definitely a mellow strain here, I admit. But the songs from Radiohead, Son Volt, and the Replacements (at least) are fairly loud in their own way. But Dezmond, it's not required that they be "about drinking," though several mention it.

Wish You Were Here is a good choice. I See a Darkness, anonymous, is a great song. I did consider it, but thought it too bleak -- I agree that for AFTER drinking it's perfect.

6:16 PM  

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