NOVEMBER - 16 Songs in 4 Days
I mentioned earlier that bandwidth limitations would mean that I'd only be able to host one batch of songs at a time for the month of November. Tonight, just as I was getting ready to put up a new post, I noticed that a blog with a much higher readership than mine (Stereogum) just posted a link to last week's Roy Orbison/Traveling Wilbury's song.
If you're visiting here for the first time through Stereogum, here is my reposted link to the Traveling Wilbury's "Handle With Care". At the time I posted that track I had no idea that another great blog out there (the outstanding GorillaVsBear) was posting Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis's cover of the same song, due out on her first solo album. Follow the link to read more, or download her version from me now.
Also, if you're new here. . . wanna BUY A T-SHIRT?
Off to the races. Only a few more days, a few more songs, and a squeak of bandwidth to go:
"The Book of Love" by THE MAGNETIC FIELDS: Since I had no idea the other night that the Now It's Overhead version of this song wasn't the original, here's your chance to check out the Magnetic Fields' original version (if you weren't already lucky enough to own it on Vol. 1 of "69 LOVE SONGS"). I first got into the music of Fields frontman Stephin Merritt on the combo-CD "THE WAYWARD BUS/DISTANT PLASTIC TREES," which housed a couple of timeless classics like "100,000 Fireflies" and the CRYSTALS/PHIL SPECTOR sound-alike, "The Saddest Story Ever Told". It took me a few more years to really get into Merritt's baritone voice, so I used to prefer his music when sung by other people.
(Listen to the opening of "Saddest Story," and then check out this Crystals tune, "Then He Kissed Me".)
"100,000 Fireflies" by SUPERCHUNK: I'm almost positive I've hosted this track once before, so if you read this site regularly, I'd check your files before grabbing this one again. Here's Mac and Company covering the aforementioned Magnetic Fields song, from the B-Sides collection "INCIDENTAL MUSIC 1991-1995." That collection was the second of three B-Sides collections the band has released since its inception. You could easily assemble one or two Superchunk rarities collections that outshine almost all of their discography. The last one, "CUPS OF SAND," housed one of my favorite 'chunk tracks, "Everyone Gets Crushed".
"Mushaboom" by FEIST: Since we're kind of on the subject of cover songs, I want to address the issue of Conor Oberst's recent championing of BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE's Leslie Feist and her quirky, bouncy single "Mushaboom." Oberst has been messing with the tune for a while, and includes a cover of it on his recently released live album. I think one blog out there put it best when they said that his cover proves that "68% of the song's charm" (I would claim an even higher percentage) comes in Feist's vocal delivery -- a perfect raspy mixture of Billie Holiday and Jeff Buckley. Oberst has never been the most expressive vocalist, unless you're considering the expression of bed-ridden angst. While I appreciate his obvious good taste, I also know that not even Feist can do this song justice in a live setting. She recently performed it on Conan O'Brien and failed to live up to the recorded version's warmth. Hopefully, his fans will seek out the original and put a couple of their tear-soaked dollar bills in her pockets.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by SWANS: Continuing the endless love(willtearusapart)fest for the JOY DIVISION classic I've been posting about (I've recently posted the original, Calexico's cover and Juan Gonzalez's acoustic rendition), here is the Swans' fairly faithful take. This one comes courtesy of my friend Sean. Check out the esotericism over at Rocket2Nowhere. (The Samuel Beckett quote under his blog title -- "You must choose between the things not worth mentioning and those even less so." -- pretty much sums up the entire blogworld in a nutshell.)
"What Goes On" by SUFJAN STEVENS: Keeping the covers going, this one is Sufjan's take on The Beatles and not on the Velvet Underground tune of the same name. I'd post the orignal "RUBBER SOUL" version here, but if you need help seeking out "RUBBER SOUL," you need more help than anyone with a stupid blog can provide. While his version contains a couple of recognizeable elements from the original version, this song is still a pretty radical reworking. Play it for your mom and you'll probably hear, "God, who is ruining this Beatles song?"
I've been listening to Sufjan a lot lately, because I just picked up the newly released double LP version of "COME ON FEEL THE ILLINOISE." Anyone else out there snag a copy yet? I hadn't really planned on getting one for myself until it arrived at the record store and I noticed that beneath a carefully placed sticker of balloons on the cover was the image of Superman that got the CD version of "Illinois" recalled and redesigned. What's the story on it remaining on the LP cover? Was it too expensive to reprint? Are they tempting legal danger again? Get one now before they're snatched up by the Superman Police.
While you're at it, why not pick up the fantastic (and by comparison, ignored) "GREETINGS FROM MICHIGAN," the first labum in Steven's quest to make a recording for each state in the U.S.? The best song on this record has to be "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!".
"Au Grand Jour" and "Au Grand Jour" by STEREOLAB: We're closing things out tonight with a couple of selections from STEREOLAB's "SWITCHED ON" collection of early singles. I love when bands record more than one version of a song, because that lack of a definitive version speaks more to the fluid, constantly evolving nature of music than having a singular artistic expression of a song. The former version here has a MY BLOODY VALENTINE vibe, while the latter is more of an electronic, Kraut-rock style take.
Only a couple songs to go this month. Be sure to drop by before December 1st to get the last of my 60 Songs in 30 Days.