September 10, 2007

Summer Is Over: Disc One

The second week of college football has passed—Penn State climbed to number twelve and their defense has yet to give up a touchdown in a game. PC’s OSU Buckeyes are ranked ten and will hopefully stay undefeated until Oct. 27, when PSU obliterates them at Beaver Stadium. The NFL caps off their first weekend with a Monday night double-header tonight. Yes, fall is in full swing in my mind, no matter the temperatures. It’s time for wood smoke to fog the air, time for leaves to fire over with the colors of autumn, time for baseball playoffs, and time for chilly evening breezes.

Continuing upon PC’s excellent fall-themed post from a few days ago, I’m presenting the first disc of a fall mix series. Two years ago, PC gave me a mix CD called “Longing for the Midwestern Autumn.” It remains one of my favorite mixes to this day and featured that great Kingsbury Manx song he posted. I’ve lifted a few off that mix, reused some from last year’s mix, and stole a few from others. No matter where I got them, let this mix be your soundtrack to fall.

Elysium Number Five – Sir Richard Bishop
If you’re not familiar with Richard Bishop, do yourself a favor and buy everything you can. His solo work is supposedly largely improvisational, all the more impressive considering that he’s one of the very best guitarists alive today.

The Summer Is Over – Gisela and the Spirits
I wish that I knew something about this late-60s track but unfortunately, I can’t find a thing on it. It’s a sublime little song about the loss of summer. The guitar work sounds foreboding to me—maybe because it reminds me of the classic Don Knotts movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

The World Is Cold Without You – Nirvana (U.K.)
No, not that Nirvana, but the late-60s British progressive rock band. Their chamber pop definitely takes a page from The Zombies, but never received the attention they deserved. This song is a small masterpiece that should be a staple on every oldies station.

Honey Dove – Lee Fields and the Expressions
Maybe the best R&B song that wasn’t recorded in the 1960s? That grooving, slow burning guitar mixed with Fields’ passionate delivery sells this song. Throw in an organ and baby, you got yourself a stew!

I’ll Be Around – Bobby Bare Jr.
His dad’s a country legend, but Bobby Bare Jr. is a great artist in his own right. This comes from his 2002 album, but he’s got a new one and I hear that PC loves it—maybe he’ll give us a little sample?

A Little More Time – John Doe
I’ve been digging “A Year in the Wilderness” for about a month now. I’ve always loved John Doe—I’m not an X diehard, but once they went Americana on their later albums, I was hooked. This track features guest vocals but our next artist…

Summerlong – Kathleen Edwards
The voice, the lyrics, the music—Kathleen Edwards is pretty much perfect in my book. This is off “Back to Me,” surely one of my top three favorite albums released this decade. It’s a masterpiece straight through.

Downbound Train – Bruce Springsteen
This was originally going to be on “Nebraska”—I’d love to hear how Bruce stripped it down for that album. Instead, he jacked it up for “Born in the U.S.A.” and it retains its darkness—that desperate run through the front door at the end is one of my favorite Springsteen moments.

The End of the Summer – Dar Williams
My love for this song is unhealthy. I first heard it about a year ago and have listened to it at least once a week since. The imagery is poetic—that’s a cheesy description, but there’s no other way I can say it. There are lines in here that take my breath away: “I passed the farms that made it through the last days of the century.” Williams perfectly captures the loneliness and desperation of youth and America in just over four minutes in what is her finest song.

Flowers in December – Mazzy Star
Dream pop at its very best, Mazzy Star always stops me in my tracks, largely because of Hope Sandoval’s dusty, haunting vocals.

I’m On Nights – Richard Hawley
Here’s a guy who needs more attention. Hawley’s beautiful, acoustic songs are show-stoppers. “I’m On Nights” reminds me of that perfect fall evening, sitting on the porch, wearing a Covington.

I Wish I was the Moon – Neko Case
Oh Neko… Her voice can cure all that ails you.

Crazy as a Loon – John Prine
I was a late bloomer to John Prine—sure, I’d heard of him, but never really listened to him. This one is off his last album and it’s a doozey. He’s a master at the story song. By the time we up in the north woods at the end of the song, you’ll never want to be anywhere else. Relaxed and smooth—exactly how I hope your fall goes.

Committed to Parkview – Porter Wagoner
Another country legend, Wagoner has seen a spike this year with his album “Wagonmaster.” This song, supposedly based on real life experiences, is spare and haunting.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide – Nick Lowe
Lowe doesn’t get enough respect as an artist. The guy can craft a perfect pop song but damned if no one listens. I love the laid-back shuffle to this song, perfect juxtaposition to a guy who’s watching his life slide away.

Let It Ride – Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
I’m going to see him on Friday and I’m hoping I get this song, among many others. This is a live version, taken from the Loft Sessions, and it’s slowed down from the album. Still, it remains on my favorite songs by him—there’s a restless, aimless draw to this narrative.

Make A Plan to Love Me – Bright Eyes
Yes, lots of people hate him—I’ve been trying to get PC to buy this album since it came out last spring. The strings, the background vocals—it’s like our girl group post all over again.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder with Corin Tucker
A cover off the upcoming “Into the Wild” soundtrack which Vedder contributes many songs to. The original, by Indio, is quite good, but a bit too lo-fi for my tastes. I love how big this song sounds—I can imagine it fitting well against shots of traveling America.

Kaleidoscope of Life – John Morgan
Turn it up—the rip’s a bit quiet. But for a seven minute song, it’s well worth it.

Be back later in the week for the second and final disc. Happy fall-ing!

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