Sunday, September 17, 2006

Five Songs, Chapter Twelve

Bet you thought I was done with these. Wishful thinking.

“Jealous” by Sinead O’Connor

I’m not going to lie. Even after a long break from this feature, when you’d think I have lots of things to say stored up, I often just go with things that happen to be playing while I write. So, this just came on. It’s pretty. That’s all.

“Over and Done With” by The Proclaimers

Used to great effect in the movie Bottle Rocket, when Dignan drives away in the white car, but also a pretty great song on its own.

“Canyon” by Richard Buckner

I keep waiting to get tired of Buckner, because his sound hasn’t changed too much over the last few albums, but it’s not happening. I’m not saying it’s still a thrill when he releases a record, but it’s a reliably enjoyable experience. His latest, Meadow, is just out, and after a first listen, this is my choice for standout track.

“I Work Here, I Grew Up Here” by Mark Mallman

Mallman defies description, but I’ll try. He’s based in Minneapolis, and he writes songs that merge glam-rock and poppy influences. And though the songs are often melodic, his live persona is a screaming, campy, sometimes barely-held-together creation. I know enough about him now to know that his shtick is not necessarily my ball of wax, but I saw him play an industry showcase at Joe’s Pub in New York a few years ago where he was accompanied by a band that had been thrown together for him at the last minute. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the setting or the strangers backing him up, but the persona was kept on a very short leash that night, and he delivered the songs almost perfectly, including this earnest piano-and-voice number about staying in place, which includes the lines, “there is a long road, there is a short one/but they both go the same damn place.”

“Losing My Religion” by REM

A friend said that she recently heard this song on the radio, after having liked it all these many years, and it suddenly struck her as over-produced and not very good. Boo, I say. I’ve always thought a song that holds up to five thousand listens is, ipso facto, a brilliant creation. And the lyric “I’ve said too much, I haven’t said enough” is a classic nonsensical-but-affecting Stipean effort. I was going to link to the band’s performance of the song on MTV Unplugged, but you can find that if you want. Instead, here’s a version that rocks, or approximates rocking:



Blogger Fox said...

Dude, I’m awfully glad The Proclaimers made your recent list. Do you have the album Sunshine On Leith? One of my faves is the song about depression being an old reliable friend. With a Scottish lilt it makes you smile a crooked smile rather than pour a warm bath and look for something sharp.

7:37 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

I don't have that album, but that song sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the tip.

10:15 AM  

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