Hi, here's a little background on my choices for the recent Total Absorption mix.
The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
I was a latecomer to The White Stripes. I could even go so far as to say I was willfully ignorant of them. I don't know -- I just get stubborn that way, especially when it comes to music that grabs the popular imagination. Something is popular and I get all pissy about it. I finally broke down and listened to De Stijl, then White Blood Cells and then Elephant. I now must admit their music is great, and insanely catchy. It's this song in particular, the first off their album Elephant, where I just have to hear the whole thing every damn time.
Gang Of Four - Natural's Not In It
Off the incredible album Entertainment. If you want to witness the sad spectacle of me doing air guitar, play this song.
Luna - La Poupee Qui Fait Non
Luna put out a lot of great music, but this cover of a Michel Polnareff song on Pop Romantique, a compilation of "alternative" bands covering French pop songs, has always been a favorite of mine.
Magnetic Fields - I Don't Believe You
This isn't my absolute favorite Magnetic Fields song, but I always have to hear it all the way through. Stephin Merritt's lyrics are always great, and he often has a habit of having a big whammy lyric at the end that you gleefully anticipate. It doesn't hurt that the line uses the word "ampersand", one of my all-time favorite words. There are at least a couple versions of this song -- there's a single version that is more synth-pop and quicker, but I included the version from their album i because I like the cello part.
The Beta Band - She's The One
An eight minute song? On a mix tape? Yes and yes! I know putting such a long song on a mix tape can be a little risky, but believe me, it's warranted in this case. There are occasions when I hear a song, and I am basically mesmerized by it until it finishes. If you asked me how long this song was after hearing it, I'd say four minutes. This song just sweeps you away and doesn't let go.
The Shins - New Slang
I first heard this song when I got a copy of it from Tim, who I *think* might have been hipped to it from the Garden State soundtrack. Just compiling this little post, it occurred to me that Tim has contributed some integral pieces to my musical makeup. It was Tim who, in my freshman year of college, gave me a cassette of what would become my most treasured music, The Feelies' album The Good Earth. Thank you again, Tim! In addition to the Garden State soundtrack, "New Slang" can also be found on The Shins' record Oh, Inverted World. It's a really mellow, haunting song.
Robyn Hitchcock - The Speed Of Things
This song is off the uniformly wonderful album Moss Elixir. For some reason, this song really grabs me. It's just Hitchcock singing over an electric guitar, but that's all it needs. The lyrics especially affect me.
Here's just a sample:
I fed you in your chair this morning
You made a mess of everything
By afternoon, you drove a sports car
You were driving at the speed of things
The 13th Floor Elevators - I Had To Tell You
If you aren't hep to them, the 13th Floor Elevators were a fantabulous psychedlic band from Austin, Texas that were around in the late 60's. The main creative force in the band was Roky Erickson. Roky Erickson is sort of like Neil Young. Both are capable of rocking out, but there's this delicate fragility that runs through their work.
A lot of the songs in the 13th Floor Elevators repertoire have a freaky sounding instrument in it (called the "Electric Jug"), but this song doesn't. It is a quieter, acoustic affair, and really beautiful.
Sam Cooke - Change Is Gonna Come
I knew a lot of the big hits by Sam Cooke back when I was a kid -- "Wonderful World", "Twistin' The Night Away", "Another Saturday Night", etc. It wasn't until I was an adult that I heard this song. It really displays Cooke's gospel roots. It gets me every time, every single time.
Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets
I had to pick up the pace a little for the next person in the mix. Most of this song is instrumental, with some faraway singing and drumming fading in near the end. I don't know exactly what it is about this song, but it's got my name all over it.