Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rockin' the Hereafter

From This is Your Brain on Music: "Throughout most of the world and for most of human history, music making was as natural an activity as breathing and walking, and everyone participated. Concert halls, dedicated to the performance of music, arose only the last several centuries... Singing and dancing were a natural activity in everybody's lives, seamlessly integrated and involving everyone."

From USA Today: Fans Honor Godfather of Soul at Apollo "Hundreds of fans followed behind the caisson singing the chorus of Brown's anthem, 'Say it Loud — I'm Black and I'm Proud.'"

Groove in peace, James Brown. 5/3/33-12/25/06

He even provides his own apropos soundtrack for this moment: "That's Life" by James Brown

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Loving the lesser-knowns

I'm currently reading a fascinating book called "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel J. Levitin (more on that later) and I ran across a brilliant explanation of the music theory behind something we all intrinsically understand - the genius of the Beatles:

"The Beatles 'For No One' resolves on the V chord (the fifth degree of the scale we’re in) and we wait for a resolution that never comes - at least not in that song. But the very next song on the album Revolver starts with the very chord we were waiting to hear."

This led me to think about some of the Beatles' B-sides (like "For No One") which are often forgotten when people discuss the genius of the Beatles. My top 10 favorite lesser-known or underappreciated Beatles songs, in no particular order:

1. If I Fell
2. For No One
3. You Never Give Me Your Money
4. I'll Be Back
5. For You, Blue ("Because you're a sweet a lovely thing, I love you.")
6. I Will
7. Yes It Is ("If you wear red tonight...")
8. Sun King
9. I've Got a Feeling
10. Two of Us

You'd never guess looking at this list that my favorite Beatles album is actually The White Album, would you?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Totally blown away

I don't remember the last time a new album literally took my breath away - it only happens a few times a year at best, and I listen to lots of music. But Imogen Heap's album Speak for Yourself did just that. It literally left me gasping, my heart racing - it is falling-in-love fantastic.

Her sound is totally unique. It's like the musical equivalent of a Russian palace - lush, exotic, orchestral melodies rising above a sparse and extreme foundation. You can almost hear the snow falling in the background. Totally mesmerizing.

Highlights include the pop-ish "Good Night and Go" (featuring my favorite lyrics of the season: "Why'd you have to be so cute?/ It's impossible to ignore you/ Must you make me laugh so much?/ It's bad enough we get along so well") as well as the transcendentally beautiful "Hide and Seek" - a multi-tracked a capella epiphany that is nothing short of sublime.

No wonder she's nominated for the best new artist Grammy.

Update: Listen to "Hide and Seek" in its entirety on Heap's MySpace page.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Feet = happy ears

I had to see Happy Feet over the weekend, as it combines two of my favorite things - arctic things and tap-dancing. What a genius combination!

The premise of the movie is fantastic - in an Antartic world devoid of anything tangible (ice is transient and ever-changing) the main currency is music - it establishes power in the group and serves as the main element in the mating ritual. As the movie opens, the main character's parents meet through a unique mash-up of Prince's "Kiss" and Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" and from that moment on, I was hooked.

The movie plays out as a surprisingly deep and bittersweet comment on exclusion, environmentalism and individualism (a refreshing depature from most computer-animated movies these days), but the real genius of the movie to me was the integration of the music, from Queen's "Somebody to Love" to Earth Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" to Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" to the Beach Boys' "In My Room." The soundtrack is available now, but I tend to prefer the original versions of songs, so I will be making my own compilation of Happy Feet songs when the soundtrack listing gets posted on IMDb.

In the meantime, see the movie.

Update: As usual, the All Music Guide says it best: "[The soundtrack contains] unexpected shots of cultural Zeitgeist and a welcome break from the standard soundtrack cover tunes."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Aimee Mann and great holiday tunes

Update: If you're hankerin' for more Aimee Mann after my post a few days ago, visit WOXY radio to listen to an archived broadcast of her first annual Christmas show recorded recently in San Francisco. The broadcast opens with an interview about the her new holiday album and goes on to include the full set from Bimbo's 365. So great!

When you're done with that, check WOXY's Holiday Mixer - by far the coolest and least cloying holiday station out there.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Mix 2006

So every year since 1999, I've made a holiday mix to give as a stocking stuffer/token gift for everyone from my crush du jour to my cubicle-mates. With all the holiday music out there, I always chose a theme to help guide the creation of the mix, and the theme usually results in a snappy title as well. Previous years' titles have included "Martini Christmas," "Happy Alternadays," and "Santa Got Soul!"

This year's mix title? "Divas We Have Heard On High" - a collection of all-female holiday hits heavy on the power-pop. To qualify for the mix, each songstress had to be, in my mind, a diva - which is not to say she had to be a spoiled prima donna. She just had to have the vocal pipes to qualify as a "diva."

Remember the "no snobbery" rule I set for this blog? Well, you're going to see it in spades here. From true diva power-pop to folk revival to country Christmas crossover to ... Amy Grant? I know it looks like a total mess. But you'll just have to trust me - it hangs together really well and makes you appreciate the women of this world who can, in the vernacular of jazz and hip-hop, really blow.

So, without further ado, the playlist:

1. Angels We Have Heard On High by Christina Aguilera
2. Merry Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) by Mariah Carey
3. White Christmas by Darlene Love
4. Carol of the Bells by Destiny's Child
5. O Come O Come Emanuel by Whitney Houston
6. Ave Maria by Joan Baez
7. Here Is Christmas by Ann and Nancy Wilson (of Heart)
8. Early Christmas Morning by Cyndi Lauper
9. Away in a Manger by Gladys Knight and the Pips
10. What are You Doing New Year's Eve? by the Carpenters
11. Merry Christmas, Baby by Sheryl Crow with Eric Clapton
12. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow by Martina McBride
13. Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away by Amy Grant
14. It Just Don't Feel Like Christmas by Rihanna
15. This Christmas by Christina Aguilera

Monday, December 11, 2006

Songwriting genius

Like a lot of people, the first time I heard of Aimee Mann was the Magnolia Soundtrack. And also like a lot of people, that led me to go out and pick up Bachelor No. 2 and I'm With Stupid. It's great that she got the recognition she completely deserves. She's even got a Christmas album out this year.

But you rarely hear anyone mention her debut Whatever. It's so underappreciated that I found it in the clearance bin recently and bought it for under $10. And that is a steal, because this album is great. When you think what else was going on musically in 1993, from the grunge of Pearl Jam and Nirvana to the hardcore of Tool and Sepultura to the angry-girl eclecticism of PJ Harvey and Bjork, Aimee Mann sounds like she came from another planet.

What was most interesting to me, though, was how well-formed her songwriting was even on this debut. She is one of the best modern songwriters out there for the simple reason that where every other songwriter strives to master the art of the simple and old-fashioned rhyming couplet, Aimee Mann writes lyrics that read as prose poems, complex and insightful. Prose poems are incredibly difficult to fit into a musical line. And yet she does, every time. And these aren't inaccesible songs. The melodies are catchy, the verses get stuck in your head for days. But reading the lyrics to my favorite song on the album, "I've Had It," you'd never be able to label them strictly as lyrics. This is prose poetry. This is art.

I've Had It
by Aimee Mann

We made it down to New York, with everything intact. But as for getting back it was Boo who made the joke: they don't give you any hope but they'll leave you plenty of rope. And Dan came in from Jersey. He went to get the drums, and if Buddy ever comes, we can get it off the ground. I hope someone's coming down, else I can't see hanging around. Oh experience is cheap if that's the company you keep. And a chance is all I need. And I've had it. I've had it. So we all just started playing and then something strange occurred. Not a person stirred. Oh, it started out one way, but it turned out to be okay and I felt somebody should say, "Oh, experience is cheap if that's the company you keep. And before you know that it's free, you've had it. You've had it." Like most amazing things, it's easy to miss and easy to mistake. For when things are really great it just means everything's in its place. When everything was over, and we loaded up the van, I turned and said to Dan, "Dan I guess this is our prime, like they tell us all the time. Were expecting some other kind?" Oh, experience is cheap if that's the company you keep. And I'll never get that disease because I've had it. I've had it. I guess I've had it.

Lovely, no?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Hole in Your Soul

An accidental trip to Blockbuster tonight led me to stumble upon Lightning in a Bottle: A One-Night History of the Blues. (It was one of three, yes three, concert DVDs they had at Blockbuster. No wonder Netflix is kicking their ass.)

The concert aims to be a loose chronological history of the blues in musical form, juxtaposing photos and video of African American life in the 1920s and 1930s with interviews with the old-time blues legends and the inimitable blues music itself. (Looking at photos of the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses as you listen to Odetta sing "Jim Crow Blues" is very, very powerful.)

The DVD was executive-produced by Martin Scorcese with famed drummer Steve Jordan (most recently of the John Mayer Trio) as musical director, and probably because of this, there are very few false moments. I will say that Natalie Cole brings an overly-theatrical Broadway version of the blues to everything she sings and Chuck D of Public Enemy absolutely butchers John Lee Hooker's masterpiece "Boom Boom" by turning it into an anti-war statement ("No More Boom Boom",) but these moments are few and far between. For the most part, this DVD showcases the blues legends in their element, grittily singing the songs that made them indispensable icons of the art form that is music.

From the opening note sustained by African vocalist Angelique Kidjo to India.Arie's haunting rendition of the lynching ballad "Strange Fruit" to Solomon Burke's triumphant "Turn On Your Lovelight" to B.B. King leading the big finale "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss," this is a blues tour-de-force. Netflix it now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lovin' Rhino

Doing a little online Christmas shopping, I stumbled upon this awesome four-CD compilation of regional and little-known funk and soul music. Rest assured, it is now on the top of my Christmas wish list. 91 tracks ought to keep me groovin' through the workday, eh?

The box set is another great Rhino collection. If you haven't discovered the Warner subsidiary's trove of eclectic "retrospective" CDS, here's a link to the official Web site, where you can also read about the 12 Grammys they were just nominated for (who knew?) or listen to a podcast interview with Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. What's not to love?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Spiraling on a snow day

Happy December! I was lucky enough to get a foot of snow as a beginning-of-winter surprise. Sounds sarcastic, I know, but I LOVE snow days! Magical things happen on the day of the first snowfall.

This year's magical thing? I found a new band I just had to share: Spiraling. Any band that claims the Beatles, Weezer, Yes, Goffin/King, and XTC among their influences is worth a listen, no?

Check out four of their songs at their Myspace page. Their version of "Do You Hear What I Hear" is actually sung to The Who's "Baba O'Reilly." Now that's festive.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Jimi

Today is the 64th anniversary of the birth of Jimi Hendrix. Which means that, yes, if he was still alive, he'd be 64 today. (Will you still need him, will you still feed him?)

In honor of his musical genius, I set my Pandora station to "Jimi Hendrix" today and got a nice mix of electric blues and acid psychadelia.

But my personal favorite Jimi will always be "The Wind Cries Mary" from Are You Experienced? One of his sweeter songs, but surprisingly intricate in its level of emotion and complex in its melody.

Happy birthday, Jimi.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why TCM is my favorite channel

Okay, so the fact that I love old movies doesn't hurt. And TV commercials give me panic attacks, so the lack of commercials is a big plus, too. But if you really want to know why Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel, all you have to do is watch their November promo. (Scroll halfway down the page and you'll see the link on the lefthand side.)

Who directed this thing? It's unspeakably awesome. And it's set to the song "Living Again" by Cee-Lo (yes, of Gnarls Barkley fame.) But if I had just heard the song independent of the promo, I don't know that it would have had the same impact, bringing me to a new guiding principle to add to my mission statement: No music exists outside context. Which is a fancy way of saying, the right song at the right time is an extremely powerful thing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The best way to wake up to Sunday morning

Radio station Cities 97 (KTCZ 97.1) out of Minneapolis has a great Sunday morning feature called Acoustic Sunrise. From 7 a.m. to noon (Central Time), they play all stripped down, acoustic, and live music from their cavernous vault of great, great music. The best part? You can listen to it all online.

Last week, I heard a live version of Bruce Cockburn's "Wondering Where the Lions Are," followed by a live version of Jackson Browne's "The Pretender," followed by an acoustic version of Jem's "Flying High." And that's just a representative 15 minutes - this goes on for five hours!

So grab a cup of coffee and the periodical of your choice and enjoy your Sunday morning!

(If you're not a morning a person and getting up before noon sounds like torture, you'll be glad to know that Cities 97 also closes their Sunday sets with Acoustic Sunset from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Central Time).)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Great and Underrated

From time to time, while rifling through my ever-expanding CD collection, I stumble upon an album from a decade or more ago that you just never hear about anymore but that is, in fact, pretty great.

This is definitely the case with En Vogue's Funky Divas album. (If you follow this link, you will see that All Music Guide completely agrees with me, which further deepens my love of the All Music Guide.)

Long before Destiny's Child launched Beyonce into the limelight, En Vogue pioneered the way as a modern girl group with amazing vocal talent; long before the Black-Eyed Peas mixed Motown melody with hip-hop beats, En Vogue created the form in the exemplary Funky Divas.

Songs that are now almost 15 years old still sound fresh and at the same time, classic. Listen again in particular to "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)", "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and their amazing version of Curtis Mayfield's "Hooked on Your Love" before revelling in the sonic perfection that is "Give It Up, Turn It Loose."

Forgiving the irritating skit-like opening to that song, there is nothing more cathartic, musically and lyrically, than the lines "Give it up, turn it loose/ If they don't want you, you don't need 'em."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jazz-era Joni

On the heels of the hint that she may be contemplating a new album, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced that Joni Mitchell will be inducted in January.

What a perfect segue into part 3 of my Joni Mitchell series - Joni, the Jazz Years.

In 1976, Joni came out with Hejira, a big departure from her early folk work, (although a few songs do harken back to an earlier era.) My favorite song on the albums is "Amelia." Also check out "Coyote" and "Song for Sharon" if you're looking for the folk flourishes. With this albums, Joni really announces her intention to do legitimate jazz-influenced music, and though the style takes some adjusting at first, her stunning voice carries the new sound beautifully.

In 1977 came Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, a double album that displeased many fans. It's kind of a funky pastiche of jazz, rock, and world music that is not as focused as some of her other albums. That said, the lines "Anyone will tell you just how hard it is to make and keep a friend..." from "Jericho" give me chills every time.

In 1979, Joni got the opportunity to work with jazz legend Charles Mingus on what turned out to be his last studio album. Mingus, released under Joni's name, was a true collaboration between Joni and Mingus, accompanied by some of the greatest jazz musicians in the business at the time. The songs are accessible and pleasantly listenable, though I personally prefer the album as something more akin to background music, great if you're working on a creative project.

Shadows and Light, released in 1980 is a live double-disc album that nicely summarizes Joni's jazz period. It would be another eight years before she released a new album after this. Much like Miles of Aisles, this is a good album to start with as an overview of the artistic era.

Next week, I'll wrap up the Joni retrospective with Joni, the Modern Era.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cheap CDs - What's Not to Love?

So, if you haven't discovered the "Blowout Bin" at, check it out now. They have over 3,500 titles for under $10 and they run the gamut from INXS to Death Cab for Cutie to Mos Def to the Blind Boys of Alabama and beyond. Unlike a lot of other discount CD sites, it includes new albums alongside classics, buzz bands and little-known gems, and surprisingly few soundtrack and compilation clunkers (although who knew that Glory: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was still out there?

What's in my shopping cart? Out of State Plates by Fountains of Wayne, American Myth by Jackie Greene, The Definitive Collection by Steely Dan, and The Diary of Alicia Keys.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

He'd make my "Best-dressed Musicians" list, easy

Rufus Wainwright would make several of my lists, in fact: Best-Dressed Musicians, Most Influential Songwriters of the 2000s, Musicians' Musician of the Decade (that would be a list of one) ... The list of lists could go on and on.

But first and foremost, Rufus Wainwright makes amazing, lush, unique music that gets stuck in your head for days. Part opera, part folk, part pop poetry, Wainwright's music is like no one else's (which is why the leading musicians of his generation often list him as a major inspiration.)

I am currently in the throes of passion with his sophomore album Poses. John Mayer recommended it on his blog a few months back and I'm just now getting around to following his advice. (Which should be a lesson to me. When John Mayer recommends a CD, listen to it. Immediately.)

Anyhow, you can listen to the songs "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" and "Poses" on Wainwright's MySpace page. Other highlights for me include "California," "Grey Gardens" (yes, a song about the suddenly-pop-culture-adored documentary from the 1970s, proving that Wainwright is both an amazing musician and eerily prescient about pop culture fads) and "One Man Guy" the irony of which is the ever-swelling chorus of voices that rises up to sing a song about a solitary life, that was originally written and performed by Wainwright's father, 1970s folkster Loudon Wainwright III.

(I also highly recommend Wainwright's debut album, the subtler and more intimate Rufus Wainwright. On the rare occasions that I get to take a mid-day nap, this is my absolute favorite soundtrack.)

Joni Mitchell, Part II

As promised, part II of Joni Mitchell's amazing body of work.

After Blue, Joni began to branch out a bit, infusing her traditional folk with rock and jazz.

The transition albums are both interesting and beautiful, but different from her early work, so don't listen to them with preconceived ideas.

For the Roses (1971) contains some of my favorite of Joni's lyrics. Listen in particular to "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire", "For the Roses" and "A Woman of Heart and Mind," which contains possibly my favorite of all her lyrics: "I am a woman of heart and mind, with time on her hands..." (Incidentally, the American Masters profile that I netflixed last weekend is called "Joni Mitchell, Woman of Heart and Mind" and I completely recommend it to anyone interested in learning about true artistic integrity.)

Court and Spark (1974) continues the transition period. Listen to "Raised on Robbery," "People's Parties," and "Free Man in Paris."

The next studio album she released was The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975), which completed her evolution from folk chanteuse to bold artist. All Music Guide refers to this as "among her most difficult records." I agree it is the most divergent from the albums that came before it and there is no stand alone gem of a song, but taken as a whole, it is a haunting and beautiful record. (Although I agree that If you're new to her repertoire, you may want to start with the next album I mention.)

A good overview of this period in her artistic life is the live album Miles of Aisles (1973) (which may be my favorite title for a live album ever.) It includes some beautiful, traditional renditions of many of her early hits, some reworked versions of early hits and many of the songs I mentioned from the transition albums. For many songs, she is joined onstage by the L.A. Express, a band she worked with during this period, which gives it a more pop-infused sound. Some songs sound dated now, but for the most part, it is an excellent inroduction to mid-period Joni Mitchell.

Stay tuned for jazz-period Joni.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Looking beyond "Monster Mash"

Halloween is rapidly approaching -- I thought a playlist might be in order. I tried to include songs that not only applied to the Halloween theme, but also qualified on their own musical merits. I also tried to find songs that weren't totally cliched. (Which is why you won't find "Monster Mash" on this list.) Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

1. "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder
2. "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac
3. "Season of the Witch" by Michael Bloomfield
4. "Frankenstein" by Aimee Mann
5. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
6. "Black Cat Blues" by Buddy Guy
7. "My Beloved Monster" by the Eels
8. "Serpentine Fire" by Earth Wind & Fire
9. "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
10. "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads
11. "Witch Hunt" by Rush
12. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" by Jimi Hendrix
13. "Demon's Eye" by Deep Purple
14. "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult
15. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
16. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Voodoo Music Experience

I have decided to save Part 2 of the Joni Mitchell posts for next week, because I just netflixed her American Masters profile for this weekend.

So, moving on...

My parents used to have a condo in New Orleans (they sold it pre-Katrina,) and as a result, I became a huge fan of the New Orleans music scene. (The last concert I went to was Dr. John at Potowatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee in September. With my parents, in fact.)

Unfortunately, I am nowhere near New Orleans these days, but if you are, you might want to check out the Voodoo Music Experience this weekend. The annual festival features solid and up-and-coming national acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Duran Duran, the Flaming Lips, and Kings of Leon. But even cooler, the festival also features a full line-up of local New Orleans music. I would go just to hear blues maven Marva Wright's tribute to Mahalia Jackson alone. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Original Meters also have a special place in my CD collection.

Even if you can't make it to the festival, check out some of these amazing New Orleans musicians on albums that benefit Katrina rebuilding:

Our New Orleans - Various musicians, some local, some nationally famous, sing the songs that made New Orleans famous.

Sing Me Back Home - The New Orleans Social Club. Did you see these guys on Austin City Limits? Awesome.

Sidenote: One of the national acts performing at the festival is Blue October, who, despite having a moderately annoying press kit (which I learned when they played Hedgpeth in East Troy last summer) have a good song called "Into the Ocean" which I discovered via Pandora. Check it out.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Joni Mitchell's new album?

Rolling Stone is reporting that Joni Mitchell has a new album coming, which, frankly, is really exciting news.

For those who don't know her legendarily diversified and prolific body of work, here's a list of things to listen to while waiting for the new album.

1. Song to a Seagull - Her 1968 debut album is spare and beautiful, often just her guitar and her ethereal soprano voice rising over the implied hush of a Canadian winter. Highlights for me include Michael from Mountains, Night in the City and Cactus Tree.

2. Clouds and Ladies of the Canyon - These 1969 and 1970 releases, respectively, expand on the concept of Song to a Seagull and include some classic folk revival melodies, establishing Mitchell as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. She also demostrates her considerable painting abilities with the cover art. Highlights: "Morning Morgantown," "Conversation," "Willy," and "Chelsea Morning."

3. Blue - In 1971, Mitchell released this revolutionary, confessional album, written largely in Europe and incorporating the use of a new instrument to Mitchell's repertoire - the Appalachian dulcimer. All Music Guide says it best, "Unrivaled in its intensity and insight, Blue remains a watershed." It's one of my desert-island discs. It's probably in the top 3 of my desert island discs. Hear this album.

... To be continued.

Update: Remember the other day when I was talking about XTC's "You and the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful"? Well, they have conveniently put that song up on their MySpace page, so go listen!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The rebroadcast of the three-part documentary "Eyes on the Prize" - PBS's chronicle of the civil rights movement - inspired me to dig out some of my miscellaneous compilation CDs to fulfill a craving for 1960s gospel and spiritual music. (The documentary itself is full of great vocal spiritual music from the Smithsonian's Folkways collection.)

During that search, I found a Hear Music (that's the Starbucks brand) compilation called "Songs of the Spirit" that came out a few Christmas seasons ago. It's kind of a weird assortment of great traditional gospel/spiritual music and questionable folk and neo-folk songs.

But if anyone is looking for a good soundtrack to the civil rights movement, I would suggest some of these songs are a good place to start. I'll list the full track listing, with an * next to the traditional spirituals.

1. Abide with Me by Thelonius Monk Septet
2. In the Palm of Your Hand by Alison Kraus and Union Station
*3. People Get Ready by the Chambers Singers
4. The Long Day is Over by Norah Jones
5. Listen to the Shepherd by Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley, and the Clinch Mountain Boys
*6. Freedom Road by the Blind Boys of Alabama
7. Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
*8. Roll Jordan Roll by the Fairfield Four
*9. Weeping Mary by Word of Mouth Chorus
*10. Strength, Power and Love by the Soul Stirrers
*11. Amazing Grace by the Swan Silvertones
12. Orphan Girl by Gillian Welch
*13. None of Us Are Free by Solomon Burke
*14. Didn't It Rain by Mahalia Jackson
*15. Joy to the World by Pastor Patrinell Wright with the Total Experience Gospel Choir

Another song that came to mind during this documentary was "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free" by Nina Simone, or really, any Nina Simone... including her Martin Luther King Suite.

Update: While you're at the Folkways Web site, download the 24 one-hour podcasts - a collection of old-time music, spoken word and sound recordings from the landmark project of American music.

For the love of XTC

A very overcast sky on my way to work this morning made me think of one of my favorite albums of all time, XTC's Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Vol. 2, and specifically the song "You and the Clouds Will Still be Beautiful."

When I first heard this album (thanks to the Gilmore Girls, reinforcing the point that you just never know where good music is going to turn up,) it was like falling in love with someone new... every time I heard this song, I got the same, stupidly warm glow you get when someone you want to make out with smiles at you from across a room.

I can't recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mission statement

Did you ever have a friend that always had great music recommendations, always knew the next hot band before anyone had heard of them, or loved a classic album that suddenly sounded amazingly fresh?

Welcome to Lost Things Found, the online version of that friend.

This is not a hipster music-critic blog. I'm not that interested in the newest indie buzz bands unless the music is amazing, and no matter how overexposed a song is ... a good song is a good song. I will defend the vocal harmonies of N'Sync to this day. People who love music, who really love music, know that there is no such thing as bad music.

So here is where you will find a collection of artists, songs, albums and micellaneous music-related news that ignores what is hip to bring you what is good.

I believe that every endeavor needs a mission statement, so here are a few guiding principles to get us started:

1. There is no such thing as bad music, only music whose time hasn't come yet ... or whose time passed a long, long time ago.

2. "Music - if it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington

3. Good music can turn up anywhere, from television shows and mainstream radio to dollar vinyl bins at flea markets and rummage sales.

4. You can appreciate something about a song, album or artist without actually 'liking' that song, album or artist.

5. Music taste is always changing, so something that sounded stale or avant garde last month may suddenly sound revolutionary. Constantly re-evaluate.

So keep your eye on Lost Things Found for all things music-related ... and feel free to add your own opinions and recommendations, too.