On Songs I’m Grooving

As snurched from Keith:

Music meme: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs.

  1. “Fugitive Motel,” by Elbow. Elbow is a Mancunian band that I discovered in 2003 when their second album, Cast of Thousands came out. Their fourth album is out in the UK, and it’s releasing in the US either next week or week after next. I’m not sure how I discovered Elbow at the span of five years — at a guess, I probably read a review of Cast of Thousands in Mojo or Q. “Fugitive Motel” is a track off Cast of Thousands, and there’s a sonic texture to it that I can’t quite describe. There’s a wistfulness, a pensiveness to the song. And unlike most of the rest of Cast of Thousands, the lyrics aren’t completely inscrutable. I particularly like the chorus:

       I’ll blow you a kiss
       It should reach you tomorrow
       As it flies from
       The other side of the world
       From my room in my fugitive motel
       Somewhere in the dustbowl
       Let it flies from
       The other side of the world


    I hadn’t listened to Cast of Thousands in a while — at least two years, I’d say — yet on Friday I found myself absolutely wanting to listen to it. And so I have. Elbow is one of those bands that everyone should know, and they’ve done some remarkable music over the years. Their cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” is transcendentally brilliant. Elbow.
  2. “Now and Then,” (not) by The Beatles. In the mid-90s, when Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr got together and completed John Lennon’s demos of “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” releasing them as the first new Beatles songs since 1970, they also worked on another song, “Now and Then.” For a variety of reasons, “Now and Then” was never finished, the main one being the technical challenge of a persistent hum in Lennon’s home demo. Rumor has it that Paul McCartney wants to release a finished version in some fashion — perhaps when the Beatles catalogue is remastered and re-released — but in the interim, someone has put together a video mash-up of “Now and Then” that sounds positively Beatle-y. Using some audio tools I stripped the audio track out of the video, and I find it compelling listening. It’s like a new puzzle! And I wonder, if Paul McCartney does somehow release “Now and Then,” will I like that version as much as I like this version?
  3. “Peace of Mind,” (maybe) by The Beatles. In the 1970s a poor-quality recording started turning up on Beatles bootlegs. The song was called variously “Peace of Mind” or “The Candle Burns,” and supposedly the song was found on a tape reel in the garbage at Abbey Road studios. Was it a home demo? Where did it come from? No one knew. Again, I stripped the audio out of a fan-created video for the song, and there’s just something about it that has me turning back to it time and again. Maybe it’s the air of mystery about the song. Maybe.
  4. “Shoe Box,” by the Barenaked Ladies. I’ve been on a Barenaked Ladies kick — I find that they’re easy to listen to while I’m working. And “Shoe Box” hits on a lot of different cylinders. It has a nice sound. It’s catchy. It’s fun.
  5. “Gravity,” by Embrace. Embrace, another little-known English band. “Gravity” was written by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and like “Fugitive Motel” above, there’s a pensive wistfulness to the song and the way it’s performed, a pensiveness that doesn’t quite match with the lyrics. The singer is happy — he’s found that someone, he’s fallen in love — but he’s also afraid. It’s touching. The rest of the album it’s on — Out of Nothing — is enjoyable as well; I particularly recommend “Glorious Day” and the title track.
  6. “Beautiful Zelda,” by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The Bonzo Dogs are the Monty Python of the 1960s British music scene. And Neil Innes went on to work with Monty Python. “Beautiful Zelda” is an odd little song, because it’s clearly influenced by Hartnell-era Doctor Who. There’s a reference to “Galaxy 4.” The opening moments of the song sound like they’re based roughly on the Doctor Who theme. Like all of the Bonzos’ work, the song is weird and strange and charming. And strange. And fun, too. I like the Bonzos.
  7. “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” by Carbon Leaf. It’s not my favorite song off of Indian Summer, Carbon Leaf’s fifth studio album, but the chorus is so infectuous and so catchy that it’s impossible not to hum when life looks like it’s hit the skids. It’s the kind of song that I’d hope people would listen to when bad things happen in life. Or maybe I’ll listen to it for them. ;)

That’s seven songs, I think.

Some other things I’ve been listening to recently:

  • John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” demos
  • Dylan Hears a Who
  • Green Day’s American Idiot
  • Anything KT Tunstall
  • Snow Patrol’s Final Straw (which given that I can’t stand to listen to Eyes Open anymore says something)

It’s a bit random. And I notice that it’s a bit un-American. But it’s the musical itches I’m scratching these days, so all is good. :)

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