"One day, I am going to grow wings. . ."
I'm trying a new thing, a new type of "format" if you will, for Pimps: more songs, more often.
I'm still going try and keep writing longer, more comprehensive posts about some of my favorite bands whenever I have the chance, but lately I've found I just don't have the time for the research and contemplation. The only real minus to my new plan is that sometimes I may post a few songs that aren't tangentially related in the least bit. So, if you don't mind a little Fugazi or J-Live slipping in with your Wilco or Wings, this should all go smoothly for you.
On with the music:
"Really Wanted You" by EMITT RHODES:
For those of you who may have stopped by the blog a few days ago and weren't sure whether you wanted to take the time and bandwidth to download either of those out-of-print Emitt Rhodes albums, here's a taste of one of my favorite songs from each album. Wes Anderson fans will recognize the short but beautiful "Lullabye." Listen to this song on headphones and you'll discover one of the coolest things about its production: Rhodes' voice, like a lullabye, rocks you back and forth by traveling from your left ear and slowly back and forth from your right. I only recently discovered Mirror and the song "Really Wanted You," but the composition has become my new favorite Rhodes song. Sometimes I listen to it on repeat, marveling at the arrangement and all of the different instrumentation Rhodes crammed into this pop gem. Just picture this guy, just out of his teen years, coming up with the harmonies. . . the layered guitar parts. . . even the drums, in a shed behind his parents' house.
"Let Down" by RADIOHEAD
"Let Down" by DAVID BAZAN'S BLACK CLOUD
"Bands With Managers" (live) by DAVID BAZAN:
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Radiohead's OK Computer, in my mind (though I'm not alone in thinking it) one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.
This dark bummer of a record couldn't have found me in a worse place back in 1997. A lot of bad things had happened to me as I stayed the summer in Columbia, Missouri, prior to my final year in college, but nothing worse than the severing of an incredibly important friendship. Of course, that friend had also been bearing the burden of the knowledge that I was madly in love with her, so things had been a bit uncomfortable for a good while.
Not many people had stayed behind that summer, so without my friend, I was pretty much left to my own devices. I spent my days writing for a depressed and alcoholic editor at the city paper, and my nights working at a record store or driving/wandering around listening to music that made it feel okay to feel completely awful. OK Computer, and more specifically "Let Down," was part of that soundtrack. "Let Down" is one of the saddest (to the point of transcendence) songs about loneliness and disconnection, and in my situation, it hit me like a ton of bricks. That summer, "let down and hanging around" became a mantra.
Recently, Stereogum.com released a free tribute to OK Computer, featuring covers from acts like The Twilight Sad, Cold War Kids, and tonight's contributor, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones). Bazan has been covering "Let Down" for a while now, at both solo and Pedro the Lion concerts, so it's nice to finally have a studio recording. In his liner notes to the Steregum track, he pretty much nails my feelings on the song:
""Let Down" is the first song from OK Computer that really got me. I was more skeptical then and I remember trying to resist the record that all my buddies were freaking out about, but then the first depressed/hopeful (now classic) guitar line of this song cascaded out of the speakers and caught me off guard. I was instantly moved. By the end of the second verse I was choking back tears, undone. Days later it dawned on me that it was possibly the saddest and most beautiful single the radio would ever play. I still marvel at its sturdy construction and simple, sketch-like beauty."
"How it Feels to be Something On" by JEREMY ENIGK:
Since we're already getting a little heavy, I might as well throw in this crushing live-in-studio performance from Sunny Day Real Estate's Jeremy Enigk. I once chickened out and declined an opportunity to interview Enigk. Some dudes are just so intense that I don't want to find out that they might be regular guys. I prefer imagining this song being hammered out by some mad scientist, his scrubs literally soaked in blood, as he howls this song at the moon. Maybe it's just me.
"I'll Keep it With Mine" by NICO
"I'll Keep it With Mine" by BOB DYLAN:
And since we're kind of on a sad song tear at the moment, here's a little Nico by way of Bob Dylan. I'm not even so sure this is a sad song (the Dylan version featured here is a rehearsal take, and I don't believe an actual album version appears anywhere in his catalogue), but everything coming out of Nico's mouth is pretty depressing. You can find proof right there on Chelsea Girl, the album where this song comes from, with her rendition of Jackson Browne's "These Days." That song is so incredibly sad that it almost cost me my life, but that's another story for another day.
"Scythian Empire" (Fingerlings version) by ANDREW BIRD:
I've written plenty about Andrew Bird at this point, so I'm not going to bore you with the rehashed details. I just wanted to take a moment to make sure I spoke up about the greatness of Bird's latest album, Armchair Apocrypha. Sometimes when you write a blog and you've already written about an artist, you forget that the time might come when you need to speak out about them again. "Scythian Empire" was one of the songs that I glossed over the first few times I listened to the record. A dark walk to work one morning opened my eyes to its genius, and now I'm presenting it to you in both its album form and an earlier version from Bird's Fingerlings series of tour-only CDs. "Self-Torture" is a brilliant track that appeared soley on eMusic, but may have been used as a b-side at this point.
"Hand Springs" by THE WHITE STRIPES:
I'm closing out tonight with a few more rarities, this time from The White Stripes, whose recently released Icky Thump has been taking residency in my headphones. "Baby Brother" is a new b-side, while "Hand Springs" was released in 2000 as a split 7" record with the Dirtbombs in copies of a magazine called Multiball. I can only assume the magazine is geared toward pinball geeks?