Reversing the Numbness

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday (almost). I need music.

If you could have any musician play a couple of stripped-down sets in your living room, who would you choose? That's the topic of this week's Friday Music post. I've been thinking about this all day, and I've narrowed the list down to five people, in no particular order.

Cat Power
My oh my, do I love Cat Power. Not only is she on my list of five people to play in my living room, but she's actually #1 on my list of bands/musicians I've never seen but really want to. She's got a beautiful, haunting voice, she writes great songs, and I love the ridiculous little dances she does on stage. But it's the way she affects her voice with the crazy things she does with her mouth/face that really throws me over the edge. This woman's got juice, folks, and I love her so. Welcome to my living room, Chan.

Thom Yorke
Radiohead is the best band in the world, and a lot of it has to do with Thom Yorke. I love most Radiohead songs, from Pablo Honey to In Rainbows, but I'm still partial to The Bends and OK Computer. I just loved the way Thom would disarm you with this sweet, soft, controlled voice, and just when you'd let your defenses down, he cream you with spastic explosions of sonic mayhem. My god.

Sinead O'Connor
I've loved her from the moment I heard her voice. I loved her from her incredible sophomore album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, through her SNL incident, through her sexual ambiguity, through her ordination into the schismatic Independent Catholic group. Thing is, I just never cared about any of that other stuff. Could not care less, in fact! It's the voice--delicate and supremely strong at the same time--I care about. Sing for me, Sinead. I love this song.

Joseph Arthur
I've practically seen him in a setting as intimate as a living room. Inexplicably, he came to Morgantown to a small venue a couple of years ago to a crowd of maybe 70. Unreal. I like him when he plays with the Lonely Astronauts too, but to me, he's at his best when he's by himself, with his looping equipment and his paints, showing the range and soul of a voice and mind that could never be confused with another. He can sing from the gutter all the way up to heaven. The great thing about this dude is, if he's playing near you and you're not in NYC or another major city, there's a pretty good chance you'll be able to get close to the stage. Don't miss that chance.

Fiona Apple
Her album When the Pawn.... is a masterpiece. I get the sense she's a little bit crazy, and there is nothing like a crazy girl with a voice and a piano. I love watching her hunch over the keys, convulse over them, command them as she flails. Remember that XTC song "Dear God," where they ask, "Did you make mankind, or did we make you?" With Fiona, I wonder if she's making the music, or if it's making her. I don't know, maybe that doesn't make any sense. But I'll get a baby grand if she'll come play it. With that, I present her cover of "Across the Universe," my plane-crash song. The lazy beauty of her voice in this absolutely destroys me, especially with the backdrop of silent chaos this video provides. It's worth watching until the very last second.

That's my top five. If any of them ever agree to a gig in my living room, you're all invited. But if you all show up, I'm calling in the heavy hitter and we'll have a real party. Hit it, Bobby:

So who would you choose? That's what I want to listen to this week. As always, links are very much appreciated. I'll respond to every suggestion by Sunday.


Inarticulate Fumblings said...

Hmmm... This is a tough one. I'll have to think about it.

In the mean time, check out a guy named J.P. Hoe. After looking over your top 5, I think you'd like him. He's a Canadian musician (out of Winnipeg, Manitoba), though not very well known.

Clash said...

Great choices, Sleek. You have me diggin’ on Cat! I had a Grunge redux all lined up for Friday, but this will take far more consideration.

Its 1:30 AM here, but if I could possibly put a little spin on the theme.... Let’s say a genie gave me a band per decade to jam at my house. I would choose the ones that meant the most to me at the time that helped define my adoration and thirst for music.

Even though I wasn’t born for most of his early work, Bob Dylan has always resonated with me. The idea of him sitting in my living room with just his guitar would be a worthy first wish.

The 70’s to me were defined by Pink Floyd. It was the first time that the lyrics meant more to me than the music. I was mesmerized by their haunting classics just as I am today. They were the seed to my first taste of revolution as the principle of my Jr. High school vetoed the song we chose as our class song. You guessed it, Another Brick in the Wall with the chorus, “We Don’t Need No Education.” My resistance to authority can be traced back to that defining moment and no other band would even be considered for that decade. Thanks for the awakening.

Their catalog is amazing and endless with many favorites, but Comfortably Numb is in my top five songs…Ever!

Living just thirty minutes from New York throughout my adolescence meant that every band came through there. Whether it was at Madison Square Garden, the Meadowlands, or Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, my friends and I saw them all. I did not realize at the time how fortunate I was and that every kid did not get the chance to see their favorite groups in person. Seeing live in concert, The B-52’s, Springsteen, AC/DC, Van Halen, The Police, Genesis, Aerosmith, Clash, Pink Floyd and many more are memories that will last a lifetime. Even though as kids we were broke and had to buy the $7.00 nose-bleed seats, it was well worth it. I just wish I could have used some of the gas and beer money for a t-shirt souvenir every once in a while. (P.S. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting your 13-year-old son tag along with his older brother to concerts without a chaperon.)

It was at a U2 concert in 1983 supporting the War album that made me a fan for life. It was a call to action and as a young teen I was more than ready to play the part of an informed rebel. Their music (and Edge’s guitar) has sustained them for nearly thirty years and they get the nod for the decade of excess. The song from that telling night.

Spinning some Grunge tunes today already had me keen on the 90’s. Even though it’s a broad brush stroke, I selected Pearl Jam to represent it. I would go to vintage record stores where I could buy bootleg PJ cd’s from overseas.
Again, it was different and certainly a refreshing change from the hair bands to hear the likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam get back to making music. It’s hard to choose just one band for an entire decade, but this tune off Even Flow kicked off that 10 year block for me and the Seattle explosion.

Even though we have a few years to go on this decade, I would proudly use my last wish on Johnny Cash who passed in 2003. I’m sad to say that it was late in life before I appreciated his genius. Passed over as just a country singer, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that his life’s work made its way into my heart. Yes, having Johnny play for me would be an honor, and I would only ask that he began by saying, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

Godspeed, Man in Black.


Rob Zero said...

Dead Kennedys - "Police Truck"
(presented in a surreal form)

The Dalai Mama said...

Well, if we're talking "living room" shows here, I like your choices, Sleek.  I would probably be willing to drop Sinead O' Connor and Fiona Apple for Damien Rice and Colin MacIntyre.  Then I would probably add Chris Martin with just a piano.  

Fleming said...

given our shared affection for the current administration, and my love of Pearl Jam, this song is my choice for an acoustic set in my trailer.

Fleming said...

and, while we're talking acoustic, I'll include my wedding song too.

SleekPelt said...

To the DM's point, my list is definitely centered around living-room shows. If the gig's in the backyard on a stage, that changes everything.

Matthes said...

IF--Hey, thats where I'm from! The good ol'peg. Never heard of that dude though.

Sleek-I would have Gord Downie, singer of the Tragically Hip over in my living room singing to me, just to me and ONLY to me.

Also Grohl singing "Times Like These" would be sweet.

Alanis would be cool, not sure why, but I've bought every disc of hers and enjoy having it on in the background. I think she would be cool to listen to.

SleekPelt said...

Adding to the DM's post re: Colin/Mull Historical Society, this song also rules. This man knows how to pen a proper pop song, yet he's next to unknown in the U.S. It's criminal.

If anyone else tries out Friday Music suggestions, I'd love to hear what you think, good or bad. Seriously.

Raoul Duke said...

here we go..

Billy Joel on the piano and I would have a sing along. You of course are invited Sleek.

some others in contention:
Mark Knopfler
Ben Harper
John Bell of Widespread Panic
Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band for some killer Mando lessons.

my vote today is give that In Rainbows another spin. I just can't help myself, I have been a slave to this album.

::opens itunes, hits play::

The Dalai Mama said...

Matthes: I think it would be cool to just hang out with Alanis, if she sang, it would be a bonus.

rd: I hear you on becoming a slave to an album. It happens to the best of us. Just let it ride.

Anonymous said...

Neil Diamond - Crackling Rosie

Kristen Hovet said...

the bends is probably my favourite album of all time, thus far!

Kristen Hovet said...

p.s. oh, and i love that you love sinead! she is amazing! i also love that you love cat power. you are a man of broad and varied tastes! respect!

Kristen Hovet said...

p.p.s. ok, obviously this post of yours got me all charged up. so, i have this on-going issue in my mind...something that has been frequently discussed with friends. men tend to favour male singers/bands, while women tend to favour female singers/bands. i've always been somewhere in the middle, and my first favourite singer, when i was four, was the androgynous Michael Jackson. to this day, i love both male and female singers/bands....and don't necessarily side with one. if i had to choose MUST have music for all eternity, it would be Bjork, Tori Amos, and no particular order. TV on the Radio is quickly becoming another ADORED band of mine. i might have to do some major blogging about this, because it fascinates me.

SleekPelt said...

Wow, I didn't respond to every suggestion. Weak! I'll finish this tomorrow.

kristen hovet: I'm a sucker for a female voice, personally. And if you're hearing those bands eternally, congratulations on a promising afterlife.

SleekPelt said...

IF: J.P. Hoe is pretty cool. I think I'll need to listen to him a bit more.

clash: I couldn't get the Dylan song to load, but I have hundreds of Dylan songs. I spun "Moonshiner." I love Floyd, as you know. This is the first song I ever learned on a bass guitar -- spooge taught it to me. And I so love this movie. You're very lucky to have had all of that going on around you when you grew up -- great U2 number. I worked at Camelot Music when that Pearl Jam album came out, and we wore the CD out before their first hit. One of the best albums of the '90s; hell, one of the best albums ever, I'd say. I got into Cash even later than you did. Better late than never. He really showed his range when he started covering new songs, like this NIN cover. I love the original, but I almost think this more subtle version is more powerful. Great list, thanks, pal.

SleekPelt said...

rob: Not only does this song kick ass, but you've also showed me how Guitar Hero works. I've been hearing about it and wondered what it was all about.

dm: I'm with you on those, of course. So hard to choose just five!

fleming: More Pearl Jam. Great folk song, this. And a great wedding song, too.

matthes: I listened to four or five Alanis songs last week. I also really like her. She was on You Can't Do That On Television -- how could I not like her?

SleekPelt said...

rd: I spun this, my favorite of all Billy Joel songs. It's a very cool slideshow, too. I suggest all watch this to hear a great Billy Joel song you may not know.

Kristen Hovet said...

an afterlife with tori, bjork, and thom....fucking RAD!

SleekPelt said...

kristen hovet: I've never given Tori Amos a fair shake, Kristen, but you're making me want to.