Let the Beat Build #25: December 2014
Diversions: LTBB #25 Diversions
1. “Take It Easy” - Jackson Browne
JW: Today we say goodbye Lung Krit, a buddy. He was a renaissance man, an adventurer, a laugher, a surrogate father and a best friend. In honor of him, I’d like to kick this month off with a song from his favorite band, the Eagles. Sadly, this was a point on which he and I could never see eye to eye. So instead of actually playing the Eagles, I’m going to play the song that helped make the Eagles famous and successful. Hopefully this will push out the constant loop of Hotel California that haunts my skull as I roll through the highlight reel of 10 years of memories traipsing around Thailand with Lung. I don’t know if the whole month will be this melancholy. But I’m certainly circling around the feelings of loss, longing and nostalgia. KW: Man there is some great Eagles. I used to call them Fake Skynyrd, it’s true, but even then I was super into them. I had their box set in my car the entire time I owned that car. If I can give Hall and Oates a chance you can give the Eagles a chance.
2. “Aht Uh Mi Hed” - Shuggie Otis
KW: California, Ca-al-i-FORN-ia! As Joni Mitchell said. I love Shuggie Otis. Whatever sun-drenched weeded out Southern California world this came from, I want to hang out there, maybe play bass on a couple tracks, you know, a pretty nice little Saturday.
3. “Long As I Can See The Light” - Creedence Clearwater Revival
JW: Your advice to me was, “try to find the light” and I think that’s great advice. Almost a week later, I feel like we’ve been doing that. I know I have personally. And it’s working. I had to go so literal on this one, but actually, more than the “light”, I feel like this song, musically, represents this situation nicely. The alt-celestial organ, the tinny snare and hi-hat, the horns, the sizzle ride crescendo. Is this delta blues? Is this Second Line? Is this Southern Rock? It plays like a repast. Soulful, reminiscent, optimistic. “I’ll be coming home soon.” Is that a home here, or there? “You hear that Elizabeth, I’m comin’ to join you honey.” Either way, if feels good.
4. “We Can Get Together” - The Hold Steady
KW: Rios, or maybe his girlfriend, was listening to a lot of Beat Happening and Heavenly the other day. I love Beat Happening and when I was 25 I basically tried to recreate what they did. I’d never heard Heavenly, but I’d heard about them. You know, from this song, I kind of assumed they were a seventies or eighties hard rock band. Turns out they were pop, and I don’t think they even had big hair. I stumbled across this the other day. Which makes me wish even harder that I had written this song. I mean it was totally on my list of things to do.
5. “Gentle Groove” - Mother Love Bone
JW: I may have used this one before… In 1992, when my grunge animus was crowning, I read an article about the Seattle Scene. It begins with a rally of friends around Andrew Wood’s death. Cameron Crowe is writing the article as a bridge between that culture, that immediate crowd, and the gestalt of what he was getting at with Singles. The underlying message is that our ideas and actions influence others in ways we could not completely catalogue, and that those actions can easily live on after you go. This applies to Crowe and the careers of the musicians and actors mentioned in his piece. This goes for us as well. I reference that movie, it’s scenes and nuance, all the time. I do the same with the music, the lyrics, the performances. They don’t know me, but they’re a part of who I am because of what I absorbed when I was absorbing. I wonder who quotes something I said at camp, or on a job or in the subway. Who watches my behavior and extracts influence from it, good or bad? We leave our experiential dna all over the place. It’s a comfort, but it’s also a reminder to always live the person you want to be.
6. “In the New Year” - The Walkmen
KW: There’s not much I can say about this song, other than it was a hyper-evocative soundtrack to a time and place that feels so far away now. But it’s deep in that place, like it somehow flowed through it, flowing even through people who didn’t have it blasting in their heads like I did.
7. “What Will You Say” - Jeff Buckley
JW: I felt the exact same way about all of Jeff Buckley, though for different reasons. I found Jeff Buckley around 2001, buying this live album first. There was not a whole bunch of his released music at that time, so it was easy for me to devour everything, breathe and secrete it. Everyone else was losing their shit over Missy Elliott and The Strokes. This was my Los Angeles swan song.
8. “Big Yellow Taxi” - Joni Mitchell
KW: If you flip over this Jeff Buckley record, “Big Yellow Taxi” might be the beginning of side B. I’ve yet to dive into my long-delayed deep Joni Mitchell period. I dig how she makes simple melodies acrobatic and unfettered, and how she takes simple chords and weirds them out. It’s not unlike how Buckley jazzes out regular rock songs and pushes the melodies high and hard.
9. “The Greatest” - Cat Power
JW: Simple melodies. Simple chords, weirded out. Reflecting inward. More and more I feel like we do know what we’ve got before it’s gone. Sometimes it still doesn’t matter. How do we balance our dreams and goals with honoring what we have? How do we balance it against what we destroy? What is pride and what is accepting impermanence? KW: I didn’t love The Greatest, I guess mostly because it was billed as a concept album and it isn’t, as far as I can tell. There are some great songs on it, but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. But I do deeply dig her quasi R&B moves.
10. “I’ll Come Running Back to You” - Sam Cooke
KW: And you can’t spell R&B without Sam Cooke. Put it down! It’s possible that I like every song about running back to someone. I even wrote one myself once. I should probably put the most underappreciated Thin Lizzy track (“Running Back”) here.
11. “Please Call Home” - The Allman Brothers
JW: This song is a long fly-fishing cast out into the darkness. Not quite running AFTER someone, but definitely a hail-mary pass, before it’s too late. I’m trying to put myself in Gregg’s shoes, calling a duck a duck, but holding out hope that things could be different. This appeal lives somewhere between curses-out-the-door and hiding a note in someone’s luggage. Imagine what this story would be like after the Internet? Do bikers use the internet? How can we get funding for this research?
12. “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” - The Smiths
KW: Or, you know, this. Permanent sophomore year anthem. Wasn’t this in that John Holmes movie? Pink Something? What was that called? JW: I’m pretty sure that was “Frankly, Mr. Shankly”
13. “Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood” - Tweedy
JW: Going for a PLEASE trifecta. Thank you for bearing with my maudlin month. I can’t believe I’ve been out here a month, the whole month of the playlist. It has flown by. And this list has shaped up really nicely, with movement; progress and growth. I’ve cried enough. I’ve laughed as hard. I rode out the worst, and I’m ready for full throttle joy, fun and brisk air… I was a few months late to this Tweedy album, but I really like it. It’s like a Black Keys garage jam with father and son buddies. Buddy-ing it up. Even these lyrics feel like a healthy confluence of Jeff Tweedy’s introvert social engagement and Spencer Tweedy’s internet savvy mature perspective. The best balance I would hope for from a team with their stats.