Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shuffling the Ipod
Five songs, at random

1. Caravan -- Van Morrison
This is, and has been for some time, my favorite song. I have four versions of it on my Ipod -- three live versions and the original studio cut. This is the album version, from the remarkable Moondance. When I die, I hope this song is played at my funeral. It reminds me at once of why I love music. It's playful, serious and yet easy in its lyric. It's simple, and yet is filled with phrases that seem to populate Van's work. The "barefoot gypsy boy" makes an appearance. But my favorite line in the song rests to the left of this post: Turn up the radio/let me hear the song. One thing to note: The studio version is the only one I know of in which Van finishes with the La la la la ending. In live versions, he sings over the close with other lyrics.

2. Do For The Others -- Stephen Stills
When I bought Stills' self-titled debut solo album, I did so figuring Love the One You're With would be the song I played the most. Instead, the album features several treasures, most of which never get played on radio. This song is a beautiful acoustic track, which is similar to a CSNY track, and yet seems to lead the listener down a mysterious path which we are only to happy to follow.

3. Streets of Arklow -- Van Morrison
This track comes from the mysterious Vleedon Fleece album. I call it mysterious only because most of the tracks are difficult to describe. I received this album as a gift a few weeks before I began my professional career in Kenton, OH. The result is that when I hear a song from it, I am reminded of the one chilly winter I spent there. The album seems to have a somewhat melancholy feel to it, which is about how I was feeling that winter. I had just left an ideal situation in college for an unfamilia, uncertain one. The song itself is almost dark in its chord changes, with an orchestra chiming in, providing a layer of emotion.

4. If I Lose (Outtake)-- The Band
A track left of the original Music From the Big Pink, this track has Levon Healm singing what appears to be a country song that was performed late one night in a honky tonk. None of this is bad of course, but considering what tracks were left on the album, I have to say I'm happy it didn't make the final cut.

5.Biko --Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel rarely shies away from messages in his musi. This song is written about Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist who died while in police custody in 1977. I was unaware of him until I heard this song for the first time some six years ago. But after hearing the song, I did a little research on the man, and the incident. I suppose that's the point of songs like this. Unless you're Bob Dylan, it's very difficult to tell a complicated story in its entirety (as Dylan attempted in Hurricane). But I assume Gabriel wanted people to hear the song and learn about what happened. In that sense, the song has to have achieved its goal -- at least with me, and I assume many, many others. The song itself starts with a beautiful choir singing, then moves to a darker pace. It ends where it started, with a choir of sorts, bringing the song to conclusion.



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