Last night I got to see Jason Webley perform live for probably the fifth or sixth time in the past three years. He’s hugely enjoyable to watch, and while I listened to him last night, I was trying to pinpoint that thing – that elusive thing that makes a thing so thinglike. I’ve spent the last hour browsing through YouTube looking for videos, so that I could illustrate the thing. I’ve failed, though, so you’re going to have to take my word for it. There are lots of videos, and plenty of them are songs I love, and a lot of them have good sound and are well put together. None of them convey it properly. The thing I love about watching him live is somehow lost in translation. I only own one album of his, and I seldom listen to it, but I’ll take any opportunity to see him in person. No one is alive and in the room like he is. The man shows up in his own skin, without bravado or need or artifice, and he gives you what he makes. Being there to receive it is the whole thing.
Passing by Jackpot Records this afternoon, I heard the smoky, lightfingered strains of Ray Charles singing “Fever” floating out the door. Several men stood outside, snapping their fingers and smoking. Four blocks further east, people passing me on the sidewalk were still humming and whistling: “Fever when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight.” At home, on the couch with my glass of wine, I have it on repeat.
Challenged, prodded, reminded and gently nagged by a dear friend, I responded to a Facebook list posing the following question:
What are 30 songs you cannot live without? Ones that come on and you have to totally STOP what you’re doing just to listen, or break out into intolerably loud singing, or dance. You know, you won’t get out of your car until they’re over. Or you will dance down a supermarket aisle with nary a care. And you can listen to them over and over and never get tired of them.
I don’t tend to do well with the choosing of favorites, so this isn’t in any kind of order and I’m sure I’ve left out something crucial, but these are all definitely songs I love. Try a list for yourself, and post it on Mike’s blog. He’ll be thrilled. I should really hyperlink these, but if I wait for the time it’ll never happen. So here, unlinked, is my list (And I’ve already thought of something I left out. Sorry, Ben Folds.):
1. Killer Queen – Travis
2. The Queen & the Soldier – Suzanne Vega
3. Simple Twist of Fate – Bob Dylan
4. Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair (live version off The Colpix Years) – Nina Simone
5. Pounding – Doves
6. Say Yes – Elliott Smith
7. Lion Song – Jason Harrod
8. Thursday – Morphine
9. Fake Empire – The National
10. Do You Love Me – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
11. Come On Up to the House – Tom Waits
12. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
13. Polaroids – Shawn Colvin
14. The Boxer – Simon & Garfunkel
15. Invitation to the Blues – Tom Waits
16. Bachelorette – Bjork
17. Long as I Can See the Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival
18. The Great Beyond – R.E.M.
19. Pot Kettle Black – Tilly and the Wall
20. Steal My Kisses – Ben Harper
21. Galileo – Indigo Girls
22. Running to Stand Still – U2
23. Crazy Love, Vol. II – Paul Simon
24. Polyester Bride – Liz Phair
25. Standing in the Doorway – Bob Dylan
26. Chain of Fools – The Commitments
27. Shuffle Your Feet – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
28. Cactus – Pixies
29. Mofo – U2
30. This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) – Talking Heads
My friend, co-conspirator, almost-birthday-twin and former roommate Adrianne posted this on her Facebook page. Here’s my version:
1. Put your music player on shuffle/random.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. Write the song title and artist, regardless of how ridiculous it sounds.
4. Tag your friends, it’s fun for the whole family! **
5. OK, go!
1) IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY?” YOU SAY:
Strangers (The Kinks)
2) WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud? (Elliott Smith)
3) WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Chocolate Jesus (Tom Waits)
4) HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
The Hill (Marketa Irglova, “Once” Soundtrack)
5) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Amazing Grace (Sufjan Stevens)
6) WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Sylfest Mork (Traditional folksong from Norway, “Nordisk Sang”)
7) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
Happy (Brandi Carlisle)
8) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Start Again (Death Cab for Cutie)
9) WHAT IS 2+2?
10) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
The Sulphur Man (Doves)
11) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Parker’s Mood (Charlie Parker)
12) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Age of Consent (Grant Lee Phillips covering New Order)
13) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Coconut Skins (Damien Rice)
14) WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Sweet Talk (Spiritualized)
15) WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Mansard Roof (Vampire Weekend)
16) WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Are the One That I’ve Been Waiting For? (Nick Cave)
17) WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Midnight Show (The Killers)
18) WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Aikea-Guinea (The Cocteau Twins)
19) WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
My Little Drum (Vince Guaraldi Trio, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack)
20) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
21) WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
The Perfect Song (The National) [no fooling, that’s really what came up]