Saturday, February 28, 2009

EZ Listening

My wife informs me that the playlist I’ve titled “Easy Listening” might better be named “Kill Yourself” music. KY having a more positive connotation, I’ll have to resist my habit of acronymizing everything. “Kill Yourself”, or as I like to call it “Dark Night of the Soul” music is a favorite genre of mine, but giving it it’s own playlist hadn’t crossed my mind.

So why is my idea of Easy Listening music another person’s “Kill Yourself” music? Maybe because most other people’s idea of Easy Listening makes me want to kill myself.

During a particularly low period - which coincided with my discovery of Limewire - I tracked down several very old songs that meant a lot to me, but that I had never gotten around to buying (see the “One Great Song on a Lousy CD” post I haven’t written yet). Well, one thing led to another - I hadn’t heard these emotionally laden songs in a very long while, but now I was downloading and listening to one after the other – and I was sprinting down Desolation Row. And you never know when these mood altering songs might come in handy, so I burned a CD with the best/worst of them.

Listen to them at your peril:

Who Knows Where the Time Goes? – Judy Collins

Fairport Convention’s got the rockier version, with Richard Thompson on guitar, and Sandy Denny’s vocal, but it’s Judy Collins’s version that gets to me every time. I’m not sure why – she sounds peaceful enough. Maybe it’s because it seems like she’s out there…all alone.

Send in the Clowns – Judy Collins

Judy again (hey, I thought I was cooler than this). I’m not familiar with the other versions of this song, so I’m sure there are better ones. But there she goes again, putting me somewhere that’s just not safe to be for very long.

Philadelphia – Neil Young

From the movie, and miles better than Bruce’s “Streets of Philadelphia”, which is not bad at all. Living alone is bad enough, but dying alone?

Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright

If you prefer the Jeff Buckley version, I understand. Either way, love’s a bitch – in a great way.

Birds – Neil Young

I can’t believe this song isn’t more famous. Okay, it’s tucked away on side two of “After the Goldrush”, but it’s an incredible kiss-off song. Whoever she was, I’m sure she was flattered.

Dying to Live – Edgar Winter’s White Trash

Just when you think there’s no reason to go on - about two thirds of the way in - he gives you one.

Jealous Guy – John Lennon

A beautiful song about being a jerk, and the harm it does. To be alive is to hurt other people.

Harvest – Neil Young

The slow pace and laid back playing could fool you into thinking it’s just an ordinary country tune. But there’s the screaming in the rain, and the uncertainty that it’s all going to be all right.

Urge for Going – Tom Rush

Alone again, naturally, because nothing lasts. Pull that coat closer when he sings “winter’s closing in”.

Streets of London – Ralph McTell

You think you got problems? Hopefully, you’ll feel some consolation, but probably not.

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin

Young love torn apart. Their most poignant moment.

John Barleycorn - Traffic/Can’t Find My Way Home - Blind Faith

OK, thematically, they don't fit, but musically they do.

Handbags and Gladrags – Rod Stewart

Talk about guilt. This pampered rock star (well, pre-pampering) gets to play an overworked geezer lecturing a spoiled brat. And somehow you feel guilty about it.

Percy’s Song - Arlo Guthrie

This is where I just lose it. I think it’s Arlo’s delivery as much as it ‘s Dylan’s tale of injustice. It just builds and builds until you’re devastated.

Still with me? Did we lose anyone?

Do you remember when Judas Priest got sued because their music supposedly caused two young people to attempt suicide? And if you try hard, you can probably think of a few songs that refer to suicide. Some of them have even caused legal problems for the artists. But we both know that that’s a crock. There isn’t one song above that mentions it, but several that make it cross your mind.

And I do birthday parties.

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