Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tunes for the Month: November

Whew, what a list. Every so often I start to think that this thing has run it's course and I should just let it go. It takes hardly any time, but it's just another thing on a daunting list. It's always those months that I end up building a list that's so perfect it brings me to tears. Probably about half these songs seem to resonate on a profound level. And the other half? feel so damn good to listen to that I almost can't stand it. 

It's a really good one, y'all. 

1. Sweet Baby James- James Taylor

There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range,
His horse and his cattle are his only companions.
He works in the saddle and sleeps in the canyons,
Waiting for summer, his pastures to change.
And as the moon rises he sits by his fire,
Thinking about women and glasses of beer,
And closing his eyes as the doggies retire.
He sings out a song which is soft but it's clear,
As if maybe someone could hear.
He says
Goodnight you moonlight ladies,
Rockabye sweet baby James.
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose,
Won't you let me go down in my dreams,
And rockabye sweet baby James.

I've been singing this to Graves lately as a lullaby. I just change "sweet baby James" to "sweet baby Graves". It's one of my favorites lately. And I've come to realize that if he never naps again, the real gift is in this time and effort trying to get him there.

2. Scarborough Fair- Simon and Garfunkel

Tell her to find me an acre of land
(On the side of a hill
A sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

(Washes the grave with silvery tears)
Between the salt water
And the sea strand
(A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

This will be obvious in a minute, but I'm going through a bit of a Simon and Garfunkel phase. Like a lot of their beautiful ballads, it's just sort of haunting if you listen to the lyrics. There's a tinge of sadness in the music too, I think. Sometimes when I write these posts, I like to "research" a song a bit. Apparently, this one can be traced back AT LEAST as far as 1670 and the original version's verses all list impossible tasks (making a shirt without seams, washing something in a well without water). I thought it was pretty fascinating. It could have been a Paul Simon original, for all I knew. Learn something new everyday! 

3. Mrs. Robinson- Simon and Garfunkel

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know wo wo wo
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey
We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home...
Where have you gone, Joe Di Maggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you woo woo woo
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
"Joltin Joe has left and gone away"
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey

I've loved this song for ages. And for about the last ten years whenever I hear it I always think that I should really see The Graduate. Still haven't. It's not really haunting like some of their others, but it's certainly got it's layers and complexities. Paul Simon remarked about the DiMaggio stanza that  "In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence." Which is so interesting to me, because obviously those things have only intensified. 

4. The Boxer- Simon and Garfunkel
Asking only workman's wages
I come lookin' for a job but I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
And I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone, goin' home
Where the New York City winters aren't bleedin' me
Leadin' me, goin' home
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down or cut him
'Til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving
But the fighter still remains

I listened to the lines "And I'm laying out my winter clothes..And wishing I was gone, goin' home..Where the New York City winters aren't bleedin' me...Leadin' me, goin' home" on Thanksgiving days and it seemed painfully apropos. I maybe sobbed a little. Okay, so I did. And then I listened some more and it was actually healing. For some reason (I guess mainly the holiday), homesickness hit hard this week. 

5. Mama Said- The Shirelles

Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this my mama said
And then she said someone will look at me
Like I'm looking at you one day, then I might find
I don't want it any old way, so I don't worry 'cause
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this

I love, love, love an upbeat song for when you're in a funk. And this one is right perfect.

6. Backstreets- Bruce Springsteen
One soft infested summer
Me and Terry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe
The fire we born in
Catching rides to the outskirts
Tying faith between our teeth
Sleeping in that old abandoned beach house
Getting wasted in the heat
And hiding on the backstreets
Hiding on the backstreets
With a love so hard and filled with defeat
Running for our lives at night on them backstreets...
In the deep heart of the night
We let lose of everything
To go running on the backstreets
Running on the backstreets
Terry you swore we'd live forever
Taking it on them backstreets together
Endless juke joints and Valentino drag
Where famous dancers scraped the tears
Up off the street dressed down in rags
Running into the darkness
Some hurt bad some really dying
At night sometimes it seemed
You could hear the whole damn city crying
Blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down
You can blame it all on me Terry
It don't matter to me now
When the breakdown hit at midnight
There was nothing left to say
But I hated him
And I hated you when you went away
Laying here in the dark
You're like an angel on my chest
Just another tramp of hearts
Crying tears of faithlessness
Remember all the movies, Terry
We'd go see
Trying to learn to walk like the heroes
We thought we had to be
Well after all this time
To find we're just like all the rest
Stranded in the park
And forced to confess
To hiding on the backstreets
Hiding on the backstreets
Where we swore forever friends
On the backstreets until the end
Hiding on the backstreets
Hiding on the backstreets...

This is where I started looking through Peyton's iTunes library. Of course I stumbled upon some Bruce. Always the imagery. Always. You can just see the two young kids at the abandoned beach house. Or I can. 

7. Bad- U2
If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go, surrender, dislocate
If I could throw this lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay, see you walk, walk away
Into the night and through the rain
Into the half-light and through the flame

Again, it came up as I was looking through the library. It's honestly a sad song, but I love U2 and had to add it.

8. Bad Moon Rising- Creedence Clearwater Revival

I see a bad moon arisin'
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today
Don't go around tonight
Well, it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise
I hear hurricanes ablowin'
I know the end is comin' soon
I fear rivers overflowin'
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Y'all. This has been one of my favorites since I was literally a little bit older than Annie. It absolutely makes me want to dance and it makes me feel alive and it makes me feel young and it makes me love music so much. 

9. Badlands- Bruce Springsteen

Talk about a dream, try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
You spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don't come
Don't waste your time waiting
Badlands, you gotta live it everyday
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you've gotta pay
Keep pushin' till it's understood
These Badlands start treating us good
Workin' in the field
Till you get your back burned
Workin' 'neath the wheels
Till you get your facts learned
Baby, I got my facts
Learned real good right now

Uncovered this gem, too. I love the idea of trying to make a dream real and of the raw hurt of waking up with a fear that IS real and all that. Beautiful and heartbreaking. What The Boss does best, I guess. 

10. The Promised Land- Bruce Springsteen

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak, I just want to explode
Explode and tear this whole town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
The dogs on main street howl 'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

I was adding Badlands in Spotify and found this and then I decided I'd just add it and Jungleland so we could have a good trilogy of "land" songs that Bruce sings. Again, it speaks to real hurt and pain and the desire for a life that is "more". Which I think most people who feel deeply can relate to at some point in their lives. 

11. Jungleland- Bruce Springsteen

The rangers had a homecoming in Harlem, late last night
And the magic rat drove his sleek machine, over Jersey state line
Barefoot girl, sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in soft summer rain
The rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear
Down Flamingo lane
Well, the maximum lawman run down Flamingo
Chasing the rat and the barefoot girl
The kids round here look just like shadows
Always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails
Tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand
Down in jungle land
The midnight gang's assembled
And picked a rendezvous for the night
They'll meet 'neath that giant Exxon sign
That brings this fair city light
Man, there's an opera out on the turnpike
There's a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops, cherry top, rips this holy night...
Beneath the city, two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender
In a bedroom locked, in whispers of soft refusal
And then, surrender in the tunnels uptown
The rat's own dream guns him down
As shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light
Outside the street's on fire, in a real death waltz
Between what's flesh and what's fantasy
And then the poets down here, don't write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of the night
They reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in jungle land

Well. As I said, I added this one just because I had the urge. It's long (eh, fifteen years) been a favorite, but I listened closely to the lyrics again this time. Mainly because it describes an urban landscape rather than the midwest and so I was intrigued to listen to the story again. I had forgotten the details. Turns out it's about a "street on fire" and there are several chunks that relate how the police clash with some kids out in Harlem it seemed ridiculously relevant to the firey streets in Missouri. But again, also to just life in general. I think there are themes in Springsteen's music that are so universal they can apply to the situation he's describing but also relate to a much larger scope of the human experience. Which is why he's AMAZING. (Or one of the reasons.)

12. Wait So Long- Trampled by Turtles

And you call me in the morning with your troubles
Takin' it downtown every night
I could never place the stars at night above ya.
I got my hands on the ground,
And you know I'm right.
You wait so long,
You wait so long,
You wait so long,
You wait so long.
It's a coffee stained earth ever time it happens.
Liven up honey it ain't that bad.
Any afterthought rose to recognition
Like every other coffin that I had
And your buick broke down in Winnemucca
Fall to your knees and you pray to the lord
Nothing happens in this burnt out town anymore.
You wait so long,
You wait so long,
You wait so long,
You wait so long.
And your heart rolls on like a frozen freight train
You know that I'll help you if I can
But I'm just a raindrop in a river
Just a little itty-bitty grain of sand

Peyton turned on Spotify while he was cooking the day before Thanksgiving. We found some great new songs. This and the next two are my favorites. I mainly love the music, but I do love some of the lyrics, pparticularlyabout the "coffee stained earth". Great new song. 

13. You and Me- Sara Watkins

Central Valley sunshine
Run out of town
Make your head all funny
So you stick around
Dusty roads
Make dirty feet
I remember you
I remember me
I remember the night
I remember the sound
I remember the light
When the moon came 'round
The night flowers bloomed
The air so sweet
I remember you
I remember me

"Dusty roads make dirty feet." Well, of course. Again, the music. Oh my gosh, the music. But I also love that it evokes a picture of of love- dusty roads, dirty feet, the sounds, the lights, the night, the sweet air. So beautiful.

14. Emmylou- First Aid Kit

Oh the bitter winds are coming in,
And I'm already missing the summer.
Stockholm's cold but I've been told
I was born to endure this kind of weather.
When it's you I find like a ghost in my mind,
I am defeated and I gladly wear the crown.
I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June
And you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too.
No, I'm not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me.
Now so much I know, that things just don't grow
If you don't bless them with your patience.
And I've been there before, I held up the door
For every stranger with a promise.
But I'm holding back,
That's the strength that I lack,
Every morning keeps returning at my window.
And it brings me to you,
And I won't just pass through,
But I'm not asking for a storm.

Um, the bitter winds are coming in and I'm already missing Summer? Some of my favorite lyrics right now. Also? Things just don't grow if you don't bless them with your presence. Good, good stuff.

So there it is. It's for sure the best loved playlist in a good while. It's a bit mellow and it fits this November just perfectly. Enjoy!

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