Saturday, March 01, 2014

San Diego Shuffle

Traveling for work is always difficult, but especially so when it’s an “in and out” day trip – up at 4 a.m. for the trek to the airport, and home well after dark.  Add in some truly miserable weather (and yes, I know we need the rain desperately, but that doesn’t make it any easier to drive in) and the world’s worst airport terminal (congratulations, San Diego International!) made even worse by the flight delays caused by the weather, and you’ve got yourself quite a day.

But it’s situations like this that the iPod was made for, and on a trip like this I usually just start the “all songs shuffle” and see what comes up.  Sometimes, the little machine comes up with segues that I might never have thought of myself.  Other times, you just want to say “enough already; I’m not really in the mood for that artist today.”  But whatever comes up, it’s always interesting.

As for the specifications, we’re talking about a 32 gig iPod touch, almost fully loaded with 4,575 songs.  And I can’t go any further without crediting the inspiration for what I hope will end up being a series of posts (it’s a great writing exercise) – the great Sheila O’Malley, aka the world’s best blogger, who frequently weighs in with her own shuffleposts.

Without further ado…

Lord, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Sheldon Mirowitz.  I own a lot of Christmas music, and when I start a shuffle, I’m always making little bets with myself how long it will take for a Christmas song to come up.  I think this is the first time we’ve started with one.  This is from a collection of Christmas songs by artists on Narada Records – I don’t usually go in for New Age music, but the Narada artists are a perfect fit.  And this collection (Vol. 2) is the best.

Crescendo in Blue, Duke Ellington.  The studio version, which is great but can’t quite match the famous live version that was recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in the late fifties and features a Paul Gonsalves saxophone solo that is one of the great moments in the history of jazz.

Auwe, Ray Kane.  One of the songs on the great soundtrack album from “The Descendants,” one of my favorite movies in recent years.  There’s no question that the music – sometimes melancholy, sometimes haunting, but always beautiful – helps make the movie what it is.

Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf.  You might have heard this one.  Worth blowing out an eardrum or two.

Out in the Street, Bruce Springsteen.  From “The River,” which will always hold a special place in my heart because it was released just before I saw him live for the first time.

Aja, Steely Dan.  I don’t understand why so many people seem to consider Steely Dan a “guilty pleasure.”  They’re a great band, period – even after they ceased to be a real band.  The Hall of Fame spot was richly deserved, even if their campaign to get in was probably intended as a joke.

Lift Me Up, Moby.  From “Hotel,” which isn’t bad but is far from being his best work.

Blame it On Cain, Elvis Costello.  From the debut album, which never fails to transport me back to my senior year of high school, fall 1977.  One of the all-time classic debuts.

Mohammed’s Radio, Warren Zevon.  The live version from “Stand in the Fire,” recorded at the Roxy in L.A.  It’s one of his best songs, and this may be the definitive version.  Amusing references to the Ayatollah and Governor Jerry Brown, during his first incarnation as the state’s Governor.

Adam Raised a Cain, Bruce Springsteen. You can pick out better Springsteen songs, but I’m not sure you can pick any that are more intense than this one.

In the Ghetto, Elvis Presley.  Written by Mac Davis, I’m pretty sure this was the first Elvis song I ever heard.  You could argue that it’s corny, but to do so would ignore the power of the song and performace.

Man in Black, Johnny Cash.  OK, we’re on a roll now.  Shame on me for taking so long to really dive into the Cash catalog, but when I did, I went all in.

Surrender, Cheap Trick.  Just one of the classic singles of all time.  That’s all.

On Main Street, Los Lobos.  Just another band from East L.A. my ass.  Just one of the great American rock bands of all time, that’s more like it.

Love Won’t Let Me Wait, Major Harris.  You really can’t beat seventies soul.

I Got the Blues, Rolling Stones.  Uh, yeah right.  But once you set aside the chutzpah, you can enjoy what really is a pretty darn good song.  From “Sticky Fingers.”

Pretty Girl from San Diego, The Avett Brothers.  Appropriate, since I was heading to San Diego.  From their “pretty girl” series, and this may be the best one.

Pearl Necklace, ZZ Top.  I admit it, I hated ZZ Top when I first heard “LaGrange” in 1974.  Not sure what I was thinking.  And yes, I know what “pearl necklace” means, thank you.

Me and Your Cigarettes, Miranda Lambert.  I really think she should be more popular than she is.  From “Revolution,” my favorite album of hers.

Carl Perkins’ Cadillac, Drive-By Truckers.  Talk about late on the bandwagon…I never listened to one of their albums until 2010, and now I own 8 or 9 of them.  DBT could be America’s great unsung band.  This song by Mike Cooley takes us back to the time of Carl, Elvis and “Mr. Phillips.”  Great one.

Heartbreaker, Led Zeppelin.  I’ve always admired Zeppelin more than actively enjoyed them, but when the mood strikes, there are few bands that are more satisfying.

One Way Trigger, The Strokes.  From their most recent album, which I liked better than most people.  But it’s hard to argue that they fulfilled the promise of their classic debut album.

I Know What You Want For Christmas, Kay Martin and Her Body Guards.  One of the silliest Christmas songs ever recorded – you’re supposed to think she’s singing about something really dirty, until the surprise ending which I won’t give away.  But it makes me laugh.

The Ballad of Love and Hate, The Avett Brothers.  OK, I love the Avetts, but this is a pretty horrible song.  The lyrics read like a failed 8th grade poetry assignment, and the music ain’t that hot either.

Take Me With You When You Go, Jack White.  From “Blunderbuss,” his excellent solo LP a couple of years back.  I liked it because he didn’t try to make it sound like White Stripes II.

The Book I Read, Talking Heads.  A live version, recorded during the same tour that I saw them perform, 1980-81.  This was when they began the “amazing expanding band” concept, which they would perfect a few years later (and documented in “Stop Making Sense,” which every human should own).

Middle Cyclone, Neko Case.  I need to spend more time listening to Neko Case.  Her songs need time to sink in, and I’m pretty sure they’re worth the effort.

Badlands, Bruce Springsteen.  Iconic.  Don’t know what else to say.

Blues, You’re a Buzzkill, Pistol Annies.  Country supergroup trio.  Christgau called them the “country Ramones” or something like that.  Fun stuff.

Seminole Bingo, Warren Zevon.  I think this is one of the songs he wrote with Carl Hiassen.  It would make a great movie.

Sleeps With Angels, Neil Young & Crazy Horse.  Difficult song from a difficult (but great) album.

The Tracks of My Tears, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.  Just one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded.

aTENTion, M.I.A.  It’s looking like she will never match “Kala,” but the new one is pretty good.

Splendid Isolation, Warren Zevon.  I’m not sure anyone else could have written this song.

There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears, Diana Krall.  One of the great song titles of all time – from the excellent album she made with T-Bone Burnett.

Hapuna Sunset, Charles Michael Brotman.  Another “Descendants” track.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, Barenaked Ladies with Sarah MacLachlan.  One of the better pop Christmas albums of recent years, and proof that you can have a little fun with traditional Christmas tunes without sounding disrespectful.

In the City, Eagles.  This isn’t really an Eagles song; Joe Walsh recorded it solo before the band did.  But hey, gotta give Joe something to do in concert, right?  It’s a good song, it just doesn’t sound much like an Eagles song.

Be My Girl – Sally, The Police.  Certainly the silliest song they ever recorded, and not really funny enough to justify its existence.

Walk on By, Dionne Warwick.  Another all-time classic.  Ladies and gentlemen, Bacharach and David!

That Train Don’t Stop Here, Los Lobos.  From “Kiko,” their masterpiece.

O Holy Night, The Chieftains with Rickie Lee Jones.  Another great Christmas album, with some incredible and intriguing pairings (this being one of them).

Take It Easy, Eagles.  Now this sounds like an Eagles song.

Big Tall Man, Liz Phair.  I don’t know what Liz Phair did to cause such a backlash…I guess her first album was just too good.  This is from “whitechocolatespaceegg,” which is a great album that never really got its due.

So…how was your Friday?

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