"See it all. See the world."
"All I Could Do is Cry"
"Hey Henry" by ETTA JAMES:
My friend Bill sent me a request via email to see if I could fill in some of the gaps for songs he needed to DJ our friend Laura's wedding in a few weeks. The list included some really cool choices from Bob Dylan, Hank Williams (a hilarious choice, "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)"), Willie Nelson, Cat Power and more, and also included "At Last" by Etta James. Now, don't get me wrong: "At Last" is a fantastic song with a goosebump-inducing vocal performance from the legendary Ms. James. My problem with it is that EVERY WOMAN ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH HAS IT PLAYED AT HER WEDDING. I'm surprised there isn't just a section in all wedding programs saying, "The playing of "At Last" will be at 11:00." As I said in my email to Bill: "I just want every female to know that "At Last" is like the fucking "Stairway to Heaven" of songs for women. Remember in "Wayne's World," how there's a sign in the guitar shop that says "NO STAIRWAY!" There should be a sign like that at weddings for "At Last." "At Last" is like "Star Wars" for a woman. They have "At Last" action figures and shit."
Anyway, "All I Could Do is Cry" is something like the anti-"At Last." Like the Doug Sahm track I posted the other day, it's the perfect soundtrack for that terrible moment at a wedding when you realize this person you liked is going home with somebody else. . . forever. Next time I watch someone I had a crush on get married, I'll have this song blaring in my head to block out the sounds of "At Last" coming from the dance floor. Really though, if you want to get those asses shaking at your wedding party, try "Hey Henry" instead.
"Maybe Sparrow" by NEKO CASE:
From Neko Case's unbelievable Fox Confessor Brings the Flood comes this haunting, impeccably produced heartbreaker. Case's vocals here are so chilling and note-perfect they will freeze the blood in your veins.
Here's Neko performing the song on Letterman:
"The Beginning of the End" by BILL RICCHINI:
I met Bill Ricchini on the night of his debut CD release party at the North Star Bar in Philadelphia many years ago. I was with a friend who had gone to high school with him, so it was kind of cute to watch her getting all excited and proud about her old school buddy. Of course, Ricchini has since proven himself as a top rate songwriter and arranger, especially with 2005's Tonight I Burn Brightly, which sees Ricchini shining like a young Randy Newman or Harry Nilsson. The Sam Prekop-esque "The Beginning of the End" is from Ricchini's debut, Ordinary Time. I highly recommend both albums, which you can sample and buy here.
"Police On My Back" by THE EQUALS:
The Equals were a multi-racial Merseybeat group formed by a teenaged Eddy Grant (you might know him as the singer of 80s electro/reggae "Electric Avenue"), known for their interesting twist of mixing ska and other island rhythms (Grant was originally born in British Guyana) into their Britpop. It wasn't until recently I'd heard this track, which I'd first heard performed by The Clash. For three days after it popped up on my iPod, it was all I listened to on my 10 minute drive to and from work.
"Hello Sunshine (Weevil Mix)" by SUPER FURRY ANIMALS:
Back when I lived in Chicago, I used to love cueing this song up as I got off the subway downtown. It was either this or "The Cedar Room" by Doves, but both songs gave me that same great feeling that I was stepping into something epic, full of the good and bad in humanity, along with that odd sense of crowded isolation that you can only get being in a huge city, bouncing off of thousands of people while feeling connected to almost none of them. With either song, it felt like you were breathing new air. I wasn't sure if I had posted "Hello Sunshine" before, so tonight I'm also including a cool remix from the Phantom Phorce remix album.
"Breath" (live in Italy) by PEARL JAM:
A liquor store run with a few tipsy friends who wanted to hear the Pearl Jam songs from the Singles soundtrack inspired my inclusion of this live track. Even the Italian crowd understands how rarely played this song is in the long legacy of Pearl Jam setlists.
image by Jiri Bohdal