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Albums of the Year: 2002

November 4th, 2009 3 comments

Goodness, wasn’t 2002 a dire year for music? Still, there were some highlights, and doubtless a few gems I missed (as always, I can only include those albums I have and like).
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Johnny Cash – American IV – The Man Comes Around

johnny_cashIn 2005, Any Minor Dude had his first guitar lesson. The tutor, a session musician of some repute, asked the 10-year-old what he wanted to play, probably expecting to hear Green Day or Black Eyed Peas. Any Minor Dude responded: “Johnny Cash”. It had nothing to do with my influence; he had seen the wonderful video for Hurt on MTV, and became an instant fan. Soon after, he bought the Highwaymen CD (Cash’s supergroup with Jennings and Kristofferson) and polished up on older Cash music, even buying a live DVD. I suspect that Hurt, which features on The Man Comes Around, may have introduced many young people to the genius of Johnny Cash. It certainly established this album as the best known of the American recordings.

I don’t know whether it is the best of the series. When I hear it, I think it probably is, especially when I consider that this was released only three months before the man’s death, and so stands as a testament (in a prescient bit of sequencing, the traditional ballad Streets Of Laredo, with its theme of death, burial and redemption, closes the set). But when I hear the first or third American albums, I think whichever one I am listening to is the best. American IV has a few songs that did not need to be recorded, such as Personal Jesus and Bridge Over Troubled Water. But then there are those two extraordinary covers, Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt and Sting’s Hung My Head, which Cash entirely appropriates. Those two and the title track eclipse almost anything in this great Rick Rubin-produced series.
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around.mp3
Johnny Cash – Streets Of Laredo.mp3

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Rosie Thomas – When We Were Small

rosie_thomasFew singers achieve such immediate intimacy with her listeners as Seattle’s Rosie Thomas, whose beautiful, vulnerable voice accompanies sweet acoustic melodies. Lovely though her songs may sound, her lyrics are in turn sardonic, sad and dark. On her debut album, childhood is a running thread, with what seem to be random old family recordings linking tracks. As all her subsequent albums (other than last year’s Christmas album), When We Were Small has a sense of deep yearning for absent contentment, fleeting moment of love to fill in long, lacerating periods of loss felt deeply. If that sounds boring, know that Thomas was signed by Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop, the record label that made grunge, who had caught Rosie singing during her stand-up comedy gigs (what’s that about sad clowns?). This is an astonishing debut, and Rosie would get even better yet.
Rosie Thomas – Wedding Day.mp3

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Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

WILCOMy pick of song from this album will alert the Wilco fan which side of the group I prefer: the alt-country Wilco. There’s some of that on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which many seem to regard as a highpoint of ’00s music. Some Wilco purists may hate me for saying it, but my preference resides with this album’s 1999 predecessor, Summerteeth, or the undervalued Sky Blue Sky. On Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco go experimental, with noise distortion and electronic innovations, which ordinarily are not my bag. Then what, the reader is entitled to demand, is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot doing on this list? Well, within the Wilco framework, it’s actually very good, and at times exhilarating as the musical dissonance accompanies the discord in the relationships Tweedy is singing about. It may not be my favourite Wilco album, but I’ll concede that it is the Wilco classic.
Wilco – Jesus, etc.mp3

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Ben Folds – Ben Folds Live

folds_liveNo artist I like ever comes to play where I live (other than Missy Higgins, whose gig I missed, and Counting Crows, whose tickets I couldn’t afford at the time); only megastars and superannuated irrelevancies fly in to fleece the South African consumer (a largely ignorant group of people who think that Coldplay is on the sharp end of the cutting edge). Happily, I had my fill of great concerts when I lived in London. But if I could invite one artist to tour South Africa, it would be Ben Folds, alone on strength of two DVDs and many bootlegs I have of Folds in concert — and this album.

It seems a strange decision for Folds to have recorded a solo live album only one album after having split the Ben Folds Five. So the tracklisting incorporates old BFF numbers (such as the astonishing Narcolepsy, Army, Best Imitation Of Myself, The Last Polka, Brick, and Song For The Dumped), which lose little through the absence of his rhythm section, and material from the solo debut, 2001’s Rockin’ The Suburbs, plus a rather good cover of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. The set includes Folds’ two party pieces: directing the audience to provide backing orchestration to the very funny Army (“Well, I thought about the army; Dad said, ‘Son, you’re fucking high”) and spooky harmonies to Not The Same, the song about a friend who climbed up a tree during a party while on an acid trip and had become a born-again Christian by the time he came down.
Ben Folds – Army (live).mp3 (link fixed)

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Alexi Murdoch – Four Songs

alexi_murdochMaybe I’m cheating by including an EP comprising, as the title suggest, only four songs by Murdoch, who is usually compared to Nick Drake, and reasonable so. But those four songs are excellent; why dilute things with mediocre filler tracks? Having said that, Murdoch’s full debut album, 2006’s Time Without Consequence, turned out to be a consistently fine effort with few fillers. That album featured re-recordings of three of the songs on the EP (and those three also appear in re-recorded form on the recently released Away We Go soundtrack, which also recycles a heap of tracks from Time Without Consequence). From the EP, the moody Orange Sky received a fair amount of exposure on several TV shows and soundtracks — which we must not scorn; the licensing fees from TV shows, soundtracks and commercials feed many excellent musicians.
Alexi Murdoch – Blue Mind.mp3

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Tift Merritt – Bramble Rose

tift_merrittLike soul music, country in the past decade or so has been molded and packaged to turn out generic, corporate slush headlined by the regrettable likes of Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. For the most part, it’s pop that is unconvincingly dressed up as country. The cowboy-hatted diehards may have recourse to perennial Grammy nominees such as Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson, or the bluegrass offerings of Alison Krauss or, lately, Dolly Parton. But beneath the surface of commercial prosperity, country remains vibrant.

Tift Merritt is one of those who work from a rich, venerable tradition without being compromised by the dictates of commercialism. Merritt’s quiet, melodious debut is the most traditional country of her three albums, with slide guitars and the sensibilities of such legends of the genre as Emmylou Harris or Jessi Colter (and, on the rockier songs, Linda Ronstadt) much in evidence. Her second album veered towards bluegrass, and the third album is more accomplished, but this is a very creditable debut.
Tift Merrit – Diamond Shoes.mp3

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Joseph Arthur – Redemption’s Son

joseph_arthurThe Indie singer-songwriter has not produced anything I like since 2004’s Our Shadows Still Remain, but the trio of that album, 2000’s Come To Where I’m From and Redemption’s Son should sustain me in those times when I require a Joseph Arthur fix (actually, I’ve sequenced my favourite tracks from those albums on my iPod). Arthur’s strength resides in his introspective lyrics, much on this set of a Christian bent (of the Sufjan Stevens variety, I hasten to add. The man has his fill of inner conflicts). Musically, he is eclectic and experimental, which is certainly commendable and perhaps expected of a Peter Gabriel protégé, though I can do without the kitchen sink production of some tracks. And the album is a few songs too long. But when it hits the sweet spot, it’s gorgeous.
Joseph Arthur – Honey And The Moon.mp3

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Josh Rouse – Under Cold Blue Stars

josh_rouseI know a venerable music journalist who’ll fling all review albums by anyone called Josh or Joshua (or, indeed, Ben) across the floor. It’s safe to say that the man is not a great fan of the often misunderstood and unjustly maligned singer-songwriter label. Still, I have a feeling he’d like Josh Ritter, though I’m not quite sure whether he would take to Josh Rouse. Certainly the music of this Josh would not conform to his expectation of a guitar strumming singer-songwriter. He might be surprised to hear a musician who creates appealing, intelligent pop numbers, many of which would not have been out of place on early Prefab Sprout albums. Under Cold Blue Stars is a fine album; if it was all Rouse would ever record, I’d regard it as a favourite. It was, however, followed by two outstanding albums, 1972 and Nashville. This set can’t compete with those (but it’s better than the two albums that came after those). I’ve had trouble deciding which song to feature, which is a mark of how good an album this is.
Josh Rouse – Feeling No Pain.mp3 (link fixed)

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Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank The Cradle

iron_wineSam Beam, for he is Iron & Wine, recorded the songs on this album, another debut on Sub Pop, as demos at his Florida home on four-track, and it very much sounds like it. Beam’s almost whispered vocals accompany very pretty but not necessarily memorable melodies. But it’s not that kind of album (whereas the follow-up, 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days, had a few of those); you put it on to be immersed by a soothing and ultimately engaging atmosphere, aided by some astutely ambiguous lyrics. The deficiencies in sound quality make sense when Beam borrows from old country and bluegrass, as he does on An Angry Blade and The Rooster Moans, which one might well mistake for some old, lost Appalachian recordings. Indeed, the aural imperfections add to the set’s intimacy.
Iron & Wine – Upward Over The Mountain.mp3

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Counting Crows – Hard Candy

counting_crows_hard_candyThe early ’00s suffered from nostalgia trips by people who grew up in the ’90s: Ben Folds Five devotees who refuse to accept the Ben Folds One, Weezer fans who want Pinkerton perpetually recycled (and, to be fair, the latest Weezer album is awful), and Counting Crows devotees who need to compare every new Crows album to August And Everything After. The latter group was hard on Hard Candy. It may not be the (rather overrated) debut’s equal, but it certainly is more upbeat — and Duritz finally stops going on about the heartbreaking Elisabeth. Admittedly, Hard Candy includes some filler material, but this is the age of WinAmp which allows the listener to re-sequence albums (if only to avoid the ghastly American Girls). If some of the album is frustratingly disappointing, the other half comprises some of Counting Crows’ finest moments. Holiday In Spain is gorgeous, even if the album version is rendered entirely redundant by the gorgeous live version on the New Amsterdam album, which was recorded on the Hard Candy tour. Counting Crows have referenced The Band throughout their career; here their heroes get a namecheck by way of noting Richard Manuel’s death (even if The Band’s late, bearded singer serves only as a MacGuffin to a reflection on a relationship).
Counting Crows – If I Could Give All My Love (Or Richard Manuel Is Dead).mp3

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More Albums of the Year

Bouncing echoes in the wind

September 7th, 2009 8 comments

Should there still be people who think of Google as t-shirt clad rebels against The Man, let them be disabused of their folly. Quite in contrast to the image Google seeks to portray, they are a corporate branch of The Man, not the Internet’s equivalent of cuddly mineral-water drinking Ashbury Haights hippies.

Among Google’s service is Blogger (with the blogspot.com addresses). Those who follow such things will know that Blogger indiscriminately deletes posts in response to (supposed) DMCA notices alleging copyright violation. Google will not tell which part of an offending post breached copyright, and I have come across cases where posts were deleted in supposed accordance with the DMCA, but did not feature copyrighted material. Google has every right to protect themselves from real threats of legal problems, but they seem to be doing more than that. The deletions are indiscriminate.

Presumable there is pressure from the music industry (or perhaps Google has a stake in the industry). If so, it is a shame that record companies fail to distinguish between blogs that upload the latest Madonna album before it is being released, and those that post mostly old and often out-of-print music. A blog of the latter nature was Whiteray’s excellent Echoes In The Wind, which last week was deleted in its entirety, without warning. I cannot see how the music industry is being crippled by a blogger sharing the obscure sixth track of Boz Scaggs’ 1969 album. But, of course, Whiteray has no idea what content produced complaints — if any — from copyright holder.

echoes

Echoes In The Wind: nuked by Blogger

In the last few weeks, I’ve had messages from members of two ‘70s groups, the Persuasions and the Flaming Ember, thanking me for posting their music. Circumstantial proof that some artists do support what blogs like mine and Whiteray’s and many others are doing. We hope to introduce readers to music we are passionate about, or make them aware of a relevance that may create interest. Much of that music is out of print or otherwise rare. We all hope that the interest we hopefully generate will animate some people to buy the albums. All of us are happy to take down music should the copyright holder ask (they needn’t even be polite). Few of us, if any, try to make money out of this blogging thing. There are no ads on this blog, there were none on Echoes In The Wind. We do invest much time and, I hope, talent for the love of the music.

So Echoes In The Wind has been nuked. An archive representing years of work is gone (though Whiteray has saved his drafts in Word documents). But there is some good news. As of tomorrow, Tuesday, Whiteray will be back, not on Blogger but on WordPress. Visit him in great numbers for a housewarming at http://niagaseohce.wordpress.com/

To celebrate, a few songs with appropriate titles. All fine songs. Buy the albums.

Joseph Arthur – Echo Park.mp3
A lovely, haunting ballad from Arthur’s excellent 2004 album Our Shadows Will Remain.

Jimmy Dludlu – Echoes From The Past.mp3
Great Afro-jazz track by the South African guitar virtuoso, from the classic 1997 album of the same name.

Tristan Prettyman – Echo2.mp3
Gorgeous track by a gorgeous singer in the folk-tinged pop mould with which Colbie Caillat has had deserved success lately.

Dar Williams – Echoes.mp3
Williams has recorded many albums; this song is from a favourite of those, 2005’s My Better Self.

More somebody done somebody wrong songs

April 24th, 2009 5 comments

After the break-up comes the longing for a love lost or forfeited. Or so it seems with this bunch of singers.

B.J. Thomas – Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975).mp3
bj-thomasWhen one wallows in misery, it is good to know that others are feeling just as badly. B.J. Thomas wants his sorrow over a break-up validated by knowing about the romantic distress of others; a union of broken hearts standing together in spiritual solidarity. B.J. is calling for that fraternity through the medium of song. So if he is still wallowing, this post might be just what he needs while he misses his baby. “So please play for me a sad melody, so sad that it makes everybody cry; a real hurtin’ song about a love that’s gone wrong, ’cause I don’t want to cry all alone.” Lyrics Morrissey would have killed for.
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Richard Hawley – Valentine (2007).mp3
valentineAlas, poor Richard Hawley. Earlier in this series he went to a popular hang-out in a futile bid to pull (here), and here his heart is so irreparably broken that he wants no company. He appears to outline the chain of events leading to this unhappy state. First he feels secure in the arms of the woman, then he sees “a warning in your eyes”. The chorus comes in with Hawley pleading not to receive gifts from what potential new love interests on February 14 because he’s still not over the one whose optomological alert he had so perceptively discerned.“Don’t need no valentines, no, no; don’t need no roses, ’cause it just takes me back in time…Now you’re not here” (and listen out for the way he sings “here anymore” in the third chorus).

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Rose Royce – Wishing On A Star (1977).mp3
rose_royce1Here the singer was responsible for the break-up and desperately regrets it by way of cliché: “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know that in the game of love you reap what you sow.” She is proposing a reconciliation, but seems to understand that this may be a hope to far. Still, she insistently and repeatedly articulates her petition: “And I wish on all the rainbows that I see; I wish on all the people we’ve ever been; and I’m hopin’ on all the days to come and days to go, and I’m hopin’ on days of lovin’ you. So I’m wishing on a star, to follow where you are.”

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Rosie Thomas – Since You’ve Been Around (2005).mp3
rosie_thomasIn the most beautiful and moving of all the beautiful and moving songs here, Rosie had been maltreated by love before, as we learn in the song’s punchline. Now the person who healed her damaged heart is gone too, pulling the rug from under Rosie’s feet. “I’m wandering, I’m crawling, I’m two steps away from falling –  I just can’t seem to get around. I’m heavy, I’m weary, I’m not thinking clearly. I just can’t seem to find solid ground since you’ve been around.”
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Kate Walsh – Don’t Break My Heart (2007).mp3

kate-walshAbout as beautiful as Rosie Thomas’ track, fellow songbird Kate Walsh’s song protests that the object of her desire should make himself scarce because just seeing him opens up still raw wounds. “I’ll fall again if I see your face again, my love, and I’ve done all my crying for you love.” So meeting him again, with his antics such as rolling his blue eyes at her, will break her heart all over again. She wants to forget him, because “I cannot be in matrimony with a dream of love”.
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Joseph Arthur – A Smile That Explodes (2004).mp3
jarthurIt has been a while since the woman left poor Joseph, and he is depressed. “The plants have died, my hair has grown from the thought of you coming home.” He gets by through the consumption of alcohol, which is never a good idea in his mental condition. And in between he writes her letters which “I won’t send, except for across the floor” (what a fantastic line). Now and then he dreams of happier times, with her in his arms, but then the image of bliss turns to abrupt dread with “a smile that explodes” — again, wonderful imagery — “I could never understand”.

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Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her (1987).mp3
smokeyIf B.J. Thomas had chosen to be more precise in his instruction, he may well have specified that he wanted a Smokey song to be played, because nobody does broken-heartedness the way Smokey Robinson does (even if here, the lyrics aren’t his). The tune is a cheerful, upbeat affair. Smokey sounds like he has no care in the world. But, as we know from past experience, in situations of heartache, Smokey pretends to be the life a party, putting on an out-of-place smile, masquerading outside while inside is heart is breaking. So the melody is deceiving us: Smokey is desperate to see his love again. “I would go anywhere. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do, just to see her again” and “hold her in my arms again, one more time”.

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Foo Fighters – Walking After You (live) (2006).mp3
dave_grohlWhile our other friends in this post have taken to despondency, dreaming, drinking, and descending into despair, Grohl is taking action before anything can happen. Anticipating that she is leaving him, he psyches himself into dumped mode and pledges to become a stalker. “I cannot be without you, matter of fact. I’m on your back”. Just to be sure she gets the sinister message he repeats: “I’m on your back.” And once more for creepy emphasis:“I’m on your back.” So, “if you walk out on me, I’m walking after you.” And with big Dave Grohl on her back, she won’t get very far.

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In this series so far:
Love hurts
Unrequited love
Being in love
Longing for love
Heartbreak
Adultery
Death
Impossible Love
Love Songs Mix

Any Major Love Mix 2009 Vol.2

March 31st, 2009 3 comments

I posted a mix of songs about being in love last year, for Valentine’s Day, with a view to facilitating loads of romantic seductions (or something). That mix got deleted by ZShare. Responding to a request, I have revised the tracklisting, dropping a few songs, adding a few new, changing the track order. The Jonatha Brooke song I owe to Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas blog. So here is Any Major Love Mix Vol. 2.

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1. Jets To Brazil – Sweet Avenue (1998)
‘ Now all these tastes improve through the view that comes with you. Like they handed me my life, for the first time it felt worth it, like I deserved it.’

2. Michelle Featherstone – Rest Of My Life (2007)
‘ How ’bout that? Waking up every morning with me. Spend our time drinking coffee, speaking softly as the days go by.’

3. Mindy Smith – It’s Amazing (2004)
‘ It’s amazing what you do to me: took my heart and made me feel things I never felt before. It’s changing me, Which direction so certainly; shook me up and threw me around. When we learn to breathe it all in.’

4. The Weepies – Gotta Have You (2006)
‘No amount of coffee, no amount of crying, no amount of whiskey, no amount of wine — no, nothing else will do. I’ve gotta have you.’

5. Richard Hawley – Baby, You’re My Light (2001)
‘But I believe in you and now I’ll show it. And as life goes on you know you don’t have to hate all you find. Baby, you’re my light.’

6. Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes (2004)
‘The sun alone will never do, without your love to shine on through’

7. Ben Kweller – Falling (2002)
‘We could talk if days weren’t so fast, and mistakes just leave it so unsure. Wanna hold you like never before ’cause we’re falling and I love you more and more.’

8. Hello Saferide – Get Sick Soon (2006)
‘ Oh, I love you! I wish you got the flu, you’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen — like a teddy bear on heroin … You can lay your weight on me and I’ll be your backbone. Lay your weight on me, you won’t have to worry.’

9. Ben Folds – The Luckiest (2001)
‘And where was I before the day that I first saw your lovely face? Now I see it everyday, and I know: I’m the luckiest.’

10. Bright Eyes – The First Day Of My Life (2005)
‘ Yours was the first face that I saw, I think I was blind before I met you. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know where I’ve been, but I know where I want to go.’

11. Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights (2004)
‘I am thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they are perfectly alligned.’

12. Mason Jennings – Ballad For My One True Love (2000)
‘And all the while I ‘m dreaming of the ballad for my one true love, searching for the perfect way to say: I love you sweetheart, this is my dream come true.’

13. Joseph Arthur – Echo Park (2004)
‘ The fire never understands the spark, the way it is with you and me.’

14. Kate Walsh – Your Song (2007)
‘I knew I was wrong to jump straight on into this picture so pretty, but he is so pretty to me.’

15. Colbie Caillat – Realize (2007)
‘If you just realized what I just realized, then we’d be perfect for each other, then we’d never find another. Just realized what I just realized, we’d never have to wonder if we missed out on each other now.’

16. Jackie Greene – Love Song; 2.00 am (2006)
‘ Should your mind forget me, regret me, or even do me wrong, you’ll always live here in my heart, ’cause, baby, that’s where you belong.’

17. Jonatha Brooke – Because I Told You So (1997)
‘Could you see it like me and believe what I see? Could you listen, and remember that i love you, only because I told you?’

18. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
‘And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plow, as However is Ever, and Ever is Now.’

19. Bob Schneider – The World Exploded Into Love (2001)
‘The world exploded into love all around me, and every time I take a look around me, I have to smile.’

20. Jens Lekman – You Are The Light (2003)
‘Yeah I got busted, so I used my one phone call to dedicate a song to you on the radio.’

21. Liz Phair – Good Love Never Dies (2003)
‘ Tell me what can I say to keep you in my life, all the words slip away when I look in your eyes, because I can never relax.’


DOWNLOAD

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Any Major Love Mix 2009 Vol. 1
More Mixes

Love Songs For Every Situation: Impossible Love

February 18th, 2008 6 comments

Of all the ways love can hurt, the impossible love might be the worst. Think about it: you have found the person you love, that person loves you back. It would be perfect, but there is something that stands in your way: a spouse, a family feud or other prejudice, maybe physical distance, or the knowledge that the relationship will be destructive. It is no accident that the most celebrated of all love stories falls into this category — Romeo and Juliet. For some, the obstacles are cleared: spouses are left (or one has an affair), or the pair elopes to escape the family, or one moves to the place where one’s love lives. None of these solutions are without risk. If the love dies, one might have lost a family, a family or a home. So one might, for whatever reason, retain the status quo while the love that can’t be consumes the poor devil. Here then are songs about love that can’t, or shouldn’t, be.

Karma – Pachelbel.mp3 (re-uploaded, December 2008)
Perhaps the most heartbreaking song of the lot is this strangely titled song, by South African folk-rocker Karma, former singer of Henry Ate. She is in love with somebody, and that love is reciprocated. His or her arms were close enough for them to kiss, but they don’t. So instead they “talk every now and then about our day-to-day, never saying the things we both planned to say.” Well, she is saying these things now, through the medium of song: “I think I smile a little differently when you’re close by.” So, what’s the state of play? “It’s too late to say goodbye; too early yet to think you can’t be mine.” So she won’t give up yet, even as she knows that this is a love that cannot be. And how can she surrender when there is “pleasure to be had in this sort of pain”?

Jem – Flying High.mp3
Welsh songbird Jem usually does the electronica thing, but here she is in ballad mode. And what a sad ballad it is, continuing the close-but-not-close-enough riff of the previous song. “I know that we can’t be together, but I just like to dream. It’s so strange the way our paths have crossed, how we were brought together.” The wonder of love seeks physical expression, but even though she’d “love to spend the night”, she “can’t pay the price”, even if they are “so close to giving in”. The realisation arrives: “I know there’s no such thing as painless love…we can never win.” And still, in the next line Jem reiterates just how giddy this impossible love makes her — it makes her “flying high”.

Sara Bareilles – Gravity.mp3
The highpoint of Sara Bareilles’ fine debut album, “Gravity” implores the person she is in love with to let go of her. The song does not tell us the circumstances of this love, (which rather than can’t probably shouldn’t be), only how it makes the singer feel that he (or she, who knows?) has a hold over her, and it is pulling her down. “Something always brings me back to you; it never takes too long.” Hence the plea: “Set me free, leave me be. I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.”

Howie Day – Collide.mp3
Howie Day has a similar problem: he and she keep colliding (the attentive reader may well chide at this moment that the title suggests as much). For whatever reason, this love has little chance of working, possibly because the two are too different in personality. Yet the attraction won’t go away — the old opposites attract cliché applies. The love is inexplicable, and still “I worry I won’t see your face light up again”. Indeed, it seems our boy would be much happier if this love was unrequited: “I’ve found I’m scared to know I’m always on your mind.” And so they’ll keep on colliding till they crash. Another love that shouldn’t be number.

Joseph Arthur – Honey And The Moon.mp3
The song starts hopeful: “If you weren’t real I would make you up now.” So we know, the dude’s in love. And is she who is real and need not be made up in love with him? The fourth line confirms that she is. But you already know that there is a problem, else the song would have appeared in one of last week’s posts. Joseph doesn’t tell us what the problem is. He loves her, she loves him back, they already seem to be together, but “right now, everything you want is wrong. And right now all your dreams are waking up.” He wants to follow her “to the shores of freedom, where no one lives”. I’m not certain, but I have a hunch that the problem here relates to depression, a real obstacle to love. Listen to this gorgeous song and tell me what you think.

Luther Ingram – If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right).mp3
The late soul legend (whose earthy soul is quite in contrast with the more polished stylings of his near-namesakes, Vandross and James) tries to rationalise his bid to have the love that can’t be. It’ll all end in tears, because he is not going to leave his wife, “who needs me just as much”, but he’ll continue his affair. And he doesn’t mind the judgment of others, because…well, look at the title. “If being right means being without you, I’d rather live a wrong-doing life.” Can’t blame the man for falling in love, of course, and when he pleads to know: “am I wrong trying to hold on to the best thing I ever had”, who cannot empathise? The man is torn apart between love and obligation (like the hapless lovers in Billy Paul’s “Me And Mrs Jones” a year later). He has decided he won’t end the affair, for reasons he has explained. Is he right, or is he wrong?

Valentines – Any Major Love Mix CD-R

February 7th, 2008 12 comments

I am no great fan of Valentine’s Day, and don’t usually join in the hype. It seems time appropriate to post a Valentine’s mix though — especially for all the lovers out there who want to express their emotions via the time-honoured medium of the mix-tape, but lack the time or energy to bang a good one together. If I can prevent one fool in love from rushing out to buy a Valentine’s Day comp featuring the stylings of Celine, Whitney and, invariably, the totally misapplied James Blunt classic “You’re Beautiful”, then I feel I have done good.

Compiling this mix represented a challenge, for the genres represented herein tend to be less than effusive on matters of the heart. But when the artists representing these genres do effuse, they tend to do so eloquently and without dangling too much by way of cliché. Of course, love does attract, even demand, cliché, and some of our artists here toy with the odd hackneyed sentiment. These may sound silly to us cynics, but to the fool in love, these clichés are poetry and fact.

Has there ever been a more beautiful love song written than Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest”? Not all the songs here are about the blissfulness of love, perhaps Colbie Caillat’s song is the most conventional love song in this lot. Bright Eyes’ “First Day In My Life” has an undertone of uncertainty. Jens Lekman’s love is slavish, to the point of making grand romantic gestures involving vandalism at his lover’s instructions. Hello Saferide introduces a wonderful paradox in wishing her lover sickness. Liz Phair rounds things off with a take which makes being love seem as difficult as it really is.

Tracklisting:

1. The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
‘I am thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they are perfectly alligned.’

2. Jets To Brazil – Sweet Avenue
Now all these tastes improve through the view that comes with you. Like they handed me my life, for the first time it felt worth it, like I deserved it.

3. Michelle Featherstone – Rest Of My Life
How ’bout that? Waking up every morning with me. Spend our time drinking coffee, speaking softly as the days go by.

4. The Weepies – Somebody Loved
‘Now my feet turn the corner back home. Sun turns the evening to rose, stars turning high up above. You turn me into somebody loved.’

5. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life
Yours was the first face that I saw, I think I was blind before I met you. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know where I’ve been, but I know where I want to go.

6. Ben Folds – The Luckiest
‘And where was I before the day that I first saw your lovely face? Now I see it everyday, and I know: I’m the luckiest.’

7. Joseph Arthur – Echo Park
The fire never understands the spark, the way it is with you and me.’

8. Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes
‘The sun alone will never do, without your love to shine on through’

9. Jens Lekman – You Are The Light
Yeah I got busted, so I used my one phone call to dedicate a song to you on the radio.’

10. Hello Saferide – Get Sick Soon
Oh, I love you! I wish you got the flu, you’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen — like a teddy bear on heroin ... You can lay your weight on me and I’ll be your backbone. Lay your weight on me, you won’t have to worry.’

11. Colbie Caillat – Magic
I remember the way that you move. You’re dancing easily through my dreams. It’s hitting me harder and harder with all your smiles.

12. Josh Kelley – To Make You Feel My Love
I’d go hungry I’d go black and blue. I’d go crawling down the avenue. No there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love.

13. Ben Harper – By My Side
‘My care for you is from the ground up to the sky it’s over under up above down below and to the side.’

14. Mason Jennings – Ballad For My One True Love
‘And all the while I ‘m dreaming of the ballad for my one true love, searching for the perfect way to say: I love you sweetheart, this is my dream come true.’

15. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly
‘And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plow, as However is Ever, and Ever is Now.’

16. Richard Hawley – Baby, You’re My Light
‘But I believe in you and now I’ll show it. And as life goes on you know you don’t have to hate all you find. Baby, you’re my light.’

17. Mindy Smith – It’s Amazing
It’s amazing what you do to me: took my heart and made me feel things I never felt before. It’s changing me, Which direction so certainly; shook me up and threw me around. When we learn to breathe it all in.’

18. Josh Rouse – Wonderful
Reading the paper with my coffee, and before you must go there’s one thing you should know: I think you’re wonderful. Don’t change.

19. Jackie Greene – Love Song; 2.00 am
Should your mind forget me, regret me, or even do me wrong, you’ll always live here in my heart, ’cause, baby, that’s where you belong.

20. Eastmountainsouth – So Are You to Me
‘As the ruby in the setting, as the fruit upon the tree, as the wind blows over the plains, so are you to me.’

21. Bob Schneider – The World Exploded Into Love
‘The world exploded into love all around me, and every time I take a look around me, I have to smile.

22. Liz Phair – Good Love Never Dies
Tell me what can I say to keep you in my life, all the words slip away when I look in your eyes, because I can never relax.

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