28 March 2008

Anatomy of a Mix: Part Due

Continuing with music that means something to me, I've got another segment of music for you. Today, I've got two "feel good" tracks and one brutal piece of bitter brilliance.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Beautiful Sorta
When I say L-U-V, you better believe me L-U-V!
Ryan Adams is very good at being a sad bastard - he even had a solo acoustic tour by the same name. So, it's all the more rare when he does a song where you actually feel really good after listening to it - "Beautiful Sorta" is one of them. It's one of my favorite tracks from Cold Roses - what might be my favorite album of all time - it's at least my favorite RA album. (Perhaps also noteworthy: it's also the first album I ever got on vinyl.)

It's hard to say why I like this song so much. It feels like it was thrown together in a few blissful and reckless minutes and instantly became a gem for future generations. One day, I'll drag my kids over to the record player and say, "this is where Ryan Adams peaked! You hear the free-wheeling guitar? That's how music is supposed to sound!" It's a great jam that makes me think of summer, and being young and stupid.

Rufus Wainwright - Dinner at Eight
Then I know it had to be long ago / Actually in the drifting white snow / You loved me
Martha Wainwright has "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole" as her therapeutic song about her father and apparent douchebag, musician Loudon Wainwright. "Dinner at Eight" is Rufus's. While "BMFA" reflects a whole lot of anger and confusion, Rufus's is a simple and sad lament of something lost. Just like his sister's, his voice is something of an acquired taste, but this song brings out so much of its strength and character, it borders on perfection. I admit - I sing along with this song with little to no abandon. It's a great song to which you can sip red wine and reflect on life and love and loss.

The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane
Ya know, those were different times / All the poets they studied rules of verse / And those ladies, they rolled their eyes

I fell in love with The Velvet Underground in the summer, and this song is a sunny afternoon in the car with the windows down. Lou Reed tells it like it is... only so much better. He sounds tough, but he's just singing about life and love like nobody else can - so informal and casual (I love the "huh!" and clap), but he rallies so much passion. "But anyone who ever had a heart / They wouldn't turn around and break it..." Makes me wish I was in NYC in the 1960's... but without the heroin. And the Warhol.

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