Doin' the Friday Shuffle
I haven't done a shuffle in a long while. For today's, I am shuffling only within my "5-Star Rock" playlist - all pop/rock songs I've rated at 5 stars (477 songs, to be precise).
1. "The Only Living Boy in New York" - Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
This is one of those album cuts that never became a hit (or, I'm guessing, was even a single), but that is no less great for it. A deceptively simple acoustic figure underpins the song, and Simon's vocal is nicely melancholy, but what really makes the song work is the melodic, leaping bass line and the sunny chorus that pops up in the background.
2. "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" - Crash Test Dummies - God Shuffled His Feet
I really don't know what this song is about, but I absolutely love that deliberate, oom-pah-like accompaniment and the resigned way Roberts sings the verses. Also, I haven't tested it, but it's my theory that that first "Mmmm" in the chorus is the lowest note ever sung in a rock song. Love it.
3. "Purple Haze" - Jimi Hendrix - The Essential Jimi Hendrix
This is why I hate classic rock radio, and never listen to it anymore. This song is great, with an indelible opening riff. Great. But I can't listen to it anymore. It's been completely neutered by omnipresence.
4. "Rockin' in the Free World" - Neil Young - Freedom
The album-ending acoustic live version. I know I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said a million times before, but, damn, isn't it remarkable what one singer with a guitar can create? (Couldn't find Young's acoustic version)
5. "Love and Happiness" - John Mellencamp - Whenever We Wanted
Mellencamp approximating hard rock. It's actually a very nicely aggressive riff that dominates the song, and the decision to go with an insanely high trumpet solo for the bridge, instead of a tired guitar, is one of my all-time favorite moves in a rock song.
6. "Island of Souls" - Sting - The Soul Cages
I pimp for this album regularly, but seriously, this is some good stuff. This opening track could easily serve as the opening to a misty, somber musical theater piece set in a shipyard, and,as I've also oft-stated, this album has the bones of just such a musical in it.
7. "Give Me On Reason" - Tracy Chapman - New Beginning
A classic case of radio ruining a song. This forgotten post-"Fast Car" hit got a lot of play when it was released, but the solo guitar opening, which runs through the entire verse melody, was cut short to bring in the vocal in quicker, and it just kills the artful pace of the song.
8. "Knives Out" - Radiohead - Amnesiac
Christopher O'Reilly does a great solo piano version of this on one of his Radiohead cover albums.
9. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" - XTC - Nonsuch
Rock bands don't get into the "overtly criticize religion" game much, but this lament at the hypocrisies of organized religion is a classic example of the form. An imaginary tale of Christ's return, and the Church's campaign against him.
10. "Graceland" - Willie Nelson - Willie Nelson Covers
My sister gave me Vampire Weekend a few weeks ago, and I've been really enjoying it. But it took a review by someone smarter than I to point out how African-influenced it was. Reminds me now of this.