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SotD: Fascination Street · This is my fa­vorite Cure song, and the ver­sion I’m rec­om­mend­ing is one of the best-sounding electric-music record­ings ev­er. I like the mu­sic even though I nev­er re­al­ly un­der­stood the whole emo/­goth thing; that’s OK, I can like Dub with­out get­ting Rasta­far­i­an­is­m, and Bach while puz­zled by Lutheranis­m ...
 
SotD: Nulla In Mundo Pax · The full ti­tle is Nul­la In Mun­do Pax Sin­cera, which will leave many blank. A bet­ter way to put it is “Em­ma Kirk­by singing Vi­val­di”, a com­bi­na­tion that will bring a smile to the faces of many who lis­ten to any clas­si­cal mu­sic at al­l ...
 
SotD: All Blues · Ob­vi­ous­ly there’s noth­ing ob­scure about Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, prob­a­bly the best-selling (and one of the most-praised) jazz al­bums ev­er. But All Blues is a lit­tle more sub­dued than the rest of the songs and it’s got a spine-chilling lit­tle high­light that I’ve nev­er no­ticed any­one else point­ing out. With that, and with some notes from Miles’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, I might have some­thing new even for long-time Miles fan­s ...
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SotD: Just Like This · Once again a Song of the Day that’s a song from to­day, more or less; there is ac­tu­al mu­si­cal life out there on the pop chart­s. And Some­thing Just Like This isn’t just pop, it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­py pop fea­tur­ing teen sen­ti­ment and min­i­mal struc­ture; but hey, it’s a pret­ty tune and it’s got a beat, you could dance to it. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Cold­play and The Chainsmok­er­s, and I don’t know the first thing about ei­ther of them ...
 
SotD: Elizabeth Reed · The full ti­tle is In Me­mory of El­iz­a­beth Reed; it was writ­ten by Dick­ey Betts of The All­man Brothers Band and is a high­light on their live al­bum At Fill­more East, a col­lec­tion of songs that is very spe­cial to a lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing me. It’d be pret­ty ob­vi­ous­ly jazz if it weren’t for all the bril­liant rock-guitar im­prov ...
 
SotD: Moustaki · After all that hardass rock the last cou­ple of days, I feel the need of some­thing soft­er. Alors, prof­i­tons d’une très douce chan­son française de Ge­orges Mous­ta­ki… oh wait. I’m talk­ing about Ge­orges Mous­tak­i, a fran­co­phone singer-songwriter of gen­er­al­ly Mediter­ranean ex­trac­tion who was hot stuff when I was in high school a hun­dred years back. This is se­ri­ous­ly sweet sonorous stuff ...
 
SotD: Hoochie Koo · Yes­ter­day I veered glee­ful­ly off the road of High Cul­ture in­to the mu­si­cal gut­ter. So, let’s hang out down here one more day. For your plea­sure I of­fer “Rock & Rol­l, Hoochie Koo”. It was writ­ten in 1970 by Rick Der­ringer, who is OK by me, orig­i­nal­ly for John­ny Win­ter. Rick’s laid down some ace record­ings both on his own and with one or more Win­ter­s ...
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SotD: Sharp Dressed Man · This se­ries has been get­ting kind of re­fined and in­tel­lec­tu­al in re­cent days, so we’re go­ing to fix that right now. I don’t think I’ve ev­er heard a ZZ Top song I didn’t like, and Bil­ly Gibbons’ gui­tar sound is un­equaled in its grit and its steel-spined groove. You al­so have to love the per­for­mances; the guys clear­ly don’t take them­selves too se­ri­ous­ly (I once de­scribed their moves as “a back-beat pa­vane”). Sharp Dressed Man is pure fun ...
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SotD: Mishima · This isn’t a song, it’s a movie sound­track, I hope that’s OK. It’s by Philip Glass, and the movie is Mishi­ma: A Life in Four Chap­ters from 1985. The name refers to Yukio Mishi­ma, a Ja­panese nov­el­ist who went crazy and tried to lead a restore-the-sacred-Empire putsch against the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment in 1970 and, when it pre­dictably failed, com­mit­ted sep­puku ...
 
SotD: Misa Criolla · Writ­ten in 1964 by Ar­gen­tini­an Ariel Ramírez, Misa Cri­ol­la is the Mass in Span­ish set to mu­sic with a sound and struc­ture that com­bines sev­er­al in­dige­nous styles. You know those buskers that set up in pub­lic mar­kets ev­ery­where in col­or­ful South-American out­fits with gi­ant Pan-pipes and gui­tars both huge and tiny? That style of mu­sic. Misa Cri­ol­la is great stuff, sold a zil­lion copies back there, and I can’t imag­ine any­one not lik­ing it ...
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SotD: La Isla Bonita · This is a beau­ti­ful and sim­ple lit­tle Spanish-inflected melody, writ­ten by Madon­na, Pa­trick Leonard, and Bruce Gaitsch. It sold a lot of records for her and is a sta­ple of her live shows ...
 
SotD: Hurt · No, not Trent Reznor singing the moany over­wrought Nine Inch Nails ver­sion; I mean John­ny Cash’s take on Amer­i­can IV: The Man Comes Around, his last stu­dio al­bum. It’s grainy and sad and gen­er­al­ly awe­some. To his cred­it, Trent Reznor said “that song isn’t mine anymore.” ...
 
SotD: Roads to Moscow · Even on the oldies sta­tion­s, you nev­er hear Al Ste­wart any more. In my youth he was a pret­ty big deal though, and had mega-hits with Year of the Cat and Time Pas­sages. Roads to Moscow wasn’t a big hit but it was al­ways my fave among his songs. I lis­tened to it again the oth­er night for the first time in years, and I was moved again by its sto­ry, and by its melod­ic grace ...
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SotD: Doin’ Summertime · I’ve al­ways liked Doin’ Time by Sublime which is (gasp!) ap­proach­ing twen­ty years old. But I have a se­cret rea­son, be­cause the breathy back­ing track is off a record ap­proach­ing six­ty years old by Her­bie Mann that my Dad bought when I was still in short pants, and I still have the orig­i­nal, and love it. Wel­l, and al­so be­cause it’s based on Sum­mer­time; I’ve been in a musically-literate room where some­one called it the great­est song ev­er writ­ten and while some­body else said “What about Good Vi­bra­tions?” a few heads were nod­ding. Let’s take a trip through the times ...
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SotD: White Room · Let me tell you a sto­ry. In 1968 when I was 13, my then-43-year-old Dad, a Pro­fes­sor of Agri­cul­ture, had a busi­ness trip to Lon­don, which was a white-hot cen­ter of the whole Six­ties thing. He walked in­to a record store and asked them to sell him a cou­ple of records for his son, what­ev­er was hot. He came home with two Cream sin­gles: White Room backed with Those Were the Days, and Badge b/w What a Bring­down. Was your Dad ev­er that cool? Any­how, that means I’ve loved White Room for fifty years ...
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SotD: Allegri’s Miserere · The work’s ti­tle is re­al­ly just Mis­erere (“have mer­cy on us”), but since so many com­posers have asked for mer­cy, and since Gre­go­rio Al­le­gri was sort of a one-hit won­der, ev­ery­body says it like in the ti­tle above. I think that we can each use all the di­vine mer­cy we can get, but maybe your need is less than mine. The (Lat­in, of course) text is Psalm 51. It’s a lit­tle over twelve min­utes of sim­ple soar­ing melody, built of a short choral frag­ment re­peat­ed five times, with a vari­a­tion last time around. It’s got a col­or­ful his­to­ry ...
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SotD: Middle of the Road · In case no­body no­ticed, I have a thing for loud-voiced wom­en singing in front of heavy electric-guitar noise. Any list of those has to have Chrissie Hyn­de near the top. She wrote and sings this, pro­vides some of the gui­tar noise her­self, and throws in a tri­umphant har­mon­i­ca break ...
 
SotD: The Boys of Summer · This was re­leased by Don Hen­ley of the Ea­gles in 1984, his words to mu­sic by Mike Camp­bell. It’s on­ly a mi­nor mem­ber of the California-rock canon but it’s spe­cial to me, and I still love to hear it ...
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SotD: Feel It Still · Another con­tem­po­rary  —  well, a year old  —  Song of the Day. What hap­pened was, I liked Feel It Still on the ra­dio, and liked that it quot­ed from Please Mr. Post­man, and when I went look­ing for video to see what Por­tu­gal. The Man were like live, the first I found fea­tured a stage sur­round­ed by pro­ject­ed words read­ing “NO COMPUTERS UP HERE, JUST LIVE INSTRUMENTS”. So I was hooked ...
 
SotD: Plutonian Nights · The Nu­bians of Plu­to­nia was record­ed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra be­fore 1960 and re­leased in 1966, but it’s not re­al­ly mu­sic of ei­ther pe­ri­od, it’s of the dis­tant fu­ture. Or at least that’s what Sun Ra claimed; mind you, he al­so claimed he was born on Saturn and that aliens were go­ing to be ar­riv­ing any min­ute. Hav­ing said that, Plu­to­ni­an Nights is one of the coolest jazz tracks ev­er record­ed in any galaxy; I’m glad it was this one ...
 
SotD: Crazy on You · Back in the Seven­ties when di­nosaurs walked the earth, Heart was a pret­ty big one, and unique among hard (oc­ca­sion­al­ly) rock bands in be­ing woman-fronted, by sis­ters Anne and Nan­cy Wil­son. Crazy on You was their de­but sin­gle and for my mon­ey their best song ev­er, and one of the bet­ter ar­gu­ments why Rock & Roll at its peak reach­es above all oth­er forms of mu­sic ...
 
SotD: Up On Cripple Creek · This is a chest­nut from The Band, writ­ten by Rob­bie Robert­son and sung by Levon Helm. It’s from 1969 but sounds like it’s hun­dreds of years old, part of the un­der­ly­ing fab­ric of ev­ery­thing. I sup­pose near­ly everyone’s heard it, but it’s worth an­oth­er lis­ten ...
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SotD: Nocturne No. 1 Op. 9 · This is the first of Chopin’s Noc­turnes, writ­ten when he was on­ly about twen­ty. My love is not specif­i­cal­ly for this piece but for all twenty-one Noc­turnes, but that’s hours of mu­sic and you have to start some­where. No more beau­ti­ful mu­sic for pi­ano has ev­er been writ­ten ...
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SotD: Let’s Go Downtown · The Song of the Day needs a rock­er ev­ery so of­ten to keep up the en­er­gy lev­el, and it’s nev­er had any Neil Young ev­er, so let’s solve both prob­lems with Come On Ba­by Let’s Go Down­town, co-written with the late Dan­ny Whit­ten. A tri­umphant rock holler car­ried on arch­ing gui­tar lines, it’s a cen­ter­piece of Tonight’s the Night, which is a tri­umph and a tragedy ...
 
SotD: Desafinado · This is a 1959 bossa no­va by An­to­nio Car­los Jo­bim and New­ton Mendonça; the ti­tle means some­thing like “Out of Tune” and is exquisite­ly in­cor­rec­t. It has been record­ed a stag­ger­ing num­ber of times. I’m here to talk about my fa­vorite ver­sion, with Jo­bim guest­ing on a record­ing by Stan Getz and João Gil­ber­to ...
 
SotD: Moana Chimes · Dear Read­er­s, as I write this I am sit­ting near the blue Pa­cif­ic in a place called Napili on the is­land of Maui. When I post this, it will be from Van­cou­ver on the morn­ing af­ter this Pa­cif­ic ex­pe­di­tion. Moana Chimes is Hawai’ian mu­sic, per­formed by Led­ward Ka­panaa and Bob Broz­man. It swings soft­ly and com­plex­ly and yeah, sounds like Hawai’i feel­s ...
 
SotD: Highway Star · Ah… Deep Pur­ple, now that’s what I call Max­i­mum Rock And Rol­l. And High­way Star is the max­i­mum max­i­mum. Al­so, it comes with a per­fect live record­ing. When I say “Deep Purple” I refer, of course, to any it­er­a­tion of the band that in­clud­ed Jon Lord, Ritchie Black­more, and Ian Gil­lan ...
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SotD: Blue Moon · Blue Moon was writ­ten in 1934 by Rogers and Hart, and has been per­formed since then by more or less ev­ery­one. It makes any­one sound good, good per­form­ers sound great, and great per­form­ers melt your heart. No­body could ev­er say whose ver­sion is the best, but to­day I’m shout­ing out to Bil­lie Hol­i­day, Elvis, and the Cow­boy Junkies ...
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SotD: Pork Pie Hat · Good­bye Pork Pie Hat is a Charles Min­gus jazz stan­dard, first record­ed by his band in 1959, and since then per­formed by many oth­ers, with voice and with­out. The ver­sion clos­est to my heart is a Jeff Beck electric-guitar in­stru­men­tal. [Wait, didn’t you have one of those yes­ter­day!? -Ed.] [You say that like it’s a bad thing. -T] The song was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived of as a trib­ute to Lester Young, a sax­o­phon­ist, re­cent­ly de­ceased back then, who had worn one ...
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SotD: Ended as Lovers · The full ti­tle is Cause We’ve End­ed as Lovers and for al­most ev­ery­one it’s that beau­ti­ful slow in­stru­men­tal on Jeff Beck’s fab­u­lous Blow by Blow al­bum, with a ded­i­ca­tion to Roy Buchanan, who’s al­ready con­tribut­ed a Song of the Day. That was my take un­til I start­ed writ­ing this and found out it was not on­ly writ­ten by Ste­vie Won­der, but was record­ed on Ste­vie Won­der Pre­sents Syree­ta, fea­tur­ing his then-wife. I’m most­ly here to talk about Jeff’s ver­sion but Ste­vie and Syree­ta do it up very nice­ly too ...
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SotD: Sour Times · In the ear­ly Nineties there was sud­den­ly this thing called Trip hop, which man­i­fest­ed out of an­oth­er di­men­sion and came to earth in Bris­tol, not oth­er­wise fa­mous for very much. Its dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic is be­ing slow and dreamy and, I al­ways thought, kind of sexy. Sour Times is prob­a­bly the most fa­mous Trip-hop song ev­er, by Por­tishead, along with Mas­sive At­tack the canon­i­cal trip-hopheads ...
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SotD: At the 100th Meridan · Al­most ev­ery Canadian’s list of Songs-of-the-Day is go­ing to in­clude a Trag­i­cal­ly Hip num­ber or two, and I’m no ex­cep­tion. They had a lot of great tunes and this one is right up there. Can’t write this with­out get­ting kind of damp, be­cause we lost Gord yes­ter­day it feels like. If you’re not Cana­di­an and have no idea who The Hip are or who Gord was, lis­ten to this any­how and if you like rock mu­sic you’ll prob­a­bly like it a lot ...
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SotD: A Love Supreme · I’m talk­ing two tracks to­day, named Ac­knowl­edg­ment and Res­o­lu­tion, but there are mil­lions of peo­ple who love them but don’t know their names. They are the “A Side” of A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, record­ed in 1964 and one of the best-selling jazz records of all time. Thing is, most peo­ple just start at the be­gin­ning of the al­bum and stick with it till the end. Or if you’re a tra­di­tion­al­ist like me, the LP. Either way ev­ery­one just thinks of it as A Love Supreme ...
 
SotD: Appassionata · For­mal­ly, Piano Sona­ta No. 23 in F Mi­nor, Op. 57, by Lud­wig van Beethoven. The name “Appassionata” was at­tached not by Lud­wig but by a mu­sic pub­lish­er ten years af­ter his death. But it’s stuck be­cause well, the mu­sic is re­al­ly pas­sion­ate; soft and in­ti­mate then loud and fast. It’s usu­al­ly the high­light of any con­cert where it’s per­formed. I heard some­one say on the ra­dio on­ce, about Beethoven: “Maybe not the best melodist or or­ches­tra­tor to have ev­er com­posed, but unique in cre­at­ing the feel­ing that each suc­ces­sive note is ab­so­lute­ly the on­ly one that could pos­si­bly have been chosen.” This is like that ...
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SotD: Barton Hollow · The Civ­il Wars were on ev­ery ra­dio for while there around 2010, and I liked it when they were; a re­fresh­ing break from elec­tric noise (hey, I like elec­tric noise, but stil­l) and es­pe­cial­ly from synthetically-constructed pop sugar-candy. Bar­ton Hol­low is def­i­nite­ly my fave track, and I can’t imag­ine any­one not lik­ing it ...
 
SotD: The Man Who Sold The World · This is a David Bowie song that I gath­er was most­ly for­got­ten  —  I’d cer­tain­ly nev­er heard it  —  until it popped up on Nirvana’s MTV Un­plugged In New York. This was in 1993, af­ter which Bowie ap­par­ent­ly added it to his reg­u­lar live set; which is cool ...
 
SotD: That’s Right! · This is a cheery bright fast polyrhyth­mic acous­tic gui­tar in­stru­men­tal by Jesse Cook. Like a few oth­er num­bers here at Song of the Day, I dis­cov­ered this one by killing time in a record store; mind you, this was HMV in its de­clin­ing days, not one of the cool-magnets of yore. But I loved the tune and asked the clerk and bought the record ...
 
SotD: Persephone · My fa­vorite liv­ing jazz mu­si­cian, and some­times my fa­vorite liv­ing mu­si­cian, is Pa­tri­cia Bar­ber, a Chicagoan song­writer, singer, pi­ano play­er, and ban­dlead­er. She’s re­al­ly good at all four of those things, and an evening with her band is one of the most in­tense mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ences you can track down at this point in the twenty-first cen­tu­ry. Modern jazz­bos don’t have “greatest hits” as such, but if they did, Perse­phone would prob­a­bly be her­s ...
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SotD: I Put A Spell On You · This song was writ­ten in 1956 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as a bal­lad, but he claims the pro­duc­er got him drunk in the stu­dio and that’s when he start­ed Screamin’, and peo­ple loved it, so he nev­er stopped. Since then, it’s been record­ed a whole lot. I’m here to rec­om­mend a mi­ni video festival’s worth of takes, and one record­ing, and this may be a lit­tle weird but I think it’s the best out there, by Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival ...
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SotD: Spanish Pipedream · John Prine, now there’s an orig­i­nal. He’s an or­di­nary guy with a beat-up face and a beat-up voice, and his songs get played by folkies and rock­ers in bars and base­ments across Amer­i­ca. Not out­side it though I bet, he is just so Amer­i­can, and I mean that in the best pos­si­ble way. Span­ish Pipedream is a cheer­ful lit­tle up­tem­po num­ber that’ll make you smile. It’s from a long time ago but the sen­ti­ment is fresh: Blow up your TV / throw away the pa­pers / move to the coun­try / build your­self a home. ...
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SotD: The Dry Cleaner · I al­ready blogged about The Dry Clean­er From Des Moines, by Joni Mitchell and Charles Min­gus, eleven years ago, so if you want a deep-dive on the mu­sic and con­tex­t, go read that. To­day, just lis­ten to it, and if it doesn’t get you smil­ing and bop­ping, there’s noth­ing I can say that will help you ...
 
SotD: Downpressor Man · In the ear­li­est days, The Wail­ers were Bob Mar­ley, Bun­ny Wail­er, and Peter Tosh. Peter was the guy in the band who was a foot taller than ev­ery­one else; al­so the on­ly one who could play any in­stru­ments. A huge guy with a huge voice, his songs nev­er in a hur­ry, and there are a few that peo­ple will be lis­ten­ing to cen­turies from now. For in­stance, Down­pres­sor Man ...
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SotD: Barrett’s Privateers · I sus­pect ev­ery Cana­di­an of a cer­tain age has heard this, prob­a­bly on CBC or maybe sit­ting up late of a hazy evening. It’s a sad bois­ter­ous sto­ry of ru­in at sea, men’s mu­sic writ­ten for men’s voic­es, and you’ll nev­er for­get it once you’ve heard it even on­ce ...
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SotD: Gimme Sympathy · I think I’m prob­a­bly a big Met­ric fan even though I’ve nev­er ac­tu­al­ly sent any mon­ey their way, be­cause when­ev­er a song comes on the ra­dio I find my­self hum­ming and smil­ing. Espe­cial­ly Gimme Sym­pa­thy ...
 
SotD: K.515 · I be­lieve its of­fi­cial name is Mozart’s String Quin­tet No. 3 in C, but say­ing “K” then a num­ber tells ev­ery­one that it’s by Mozart, and since he wrote like fifty in­stances of ev­ery known form of clas­si­cal mu­sic, it’s eas­i­er to just re­mem­ber your fa­vorite K-numbers. 515 is right up there among mine; strong Mozart, which is all you need to know ...
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SotD: After Midnight · After mid­night, it’s gonna be peach­es and cream… mm­m­m­m. This, orig­i­nal­ly by J.J. Cale, is one of the Twen­ti­eth Century’s sweet­est lit­tle electric-music out­ings, gen­tle, sexy, and fast. Now, J.J. made a whole lot of mon­ey on this song when Eric Clap­ton de­cid­ed to put it on a cou­ple of al­bums and play it at a whole lot of con­cert­s, and both ver­sions are worth hear­ing ...
 
SotD: Atomic · Oh… your hair is beau­ti­ful  —  well, that lyric di­vides peo­ple. I’ve read high-falutin’ rock crit­ics slam its su­per­fi­cial­i­ty, em­bed­ded in a track that hard­ly has words any­how, and cer­tain­ly none that make sense. But you know, ev­ery time she sings that phrase, I melt. And love the whole song ...
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SotD: Phase Dance · So back in the Seven­ties, if you were a col­lege stu­dent and it was sum­mer, you’d sit around smok­ing weed and then some­one would say “Let’s go to the record store.” And in those days the peo­ple who worked there knew all the coolest mu­sic. So in the mid­dle of the head-banger er­a, you’d float in­to the record store and there’d a fast bril­liant jazz-guitar in­stru­men­tal, and you’d sud­den­ly find you’d be­come a fan of Pat Metheny ...
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SotD: Love Me Like a Man · This was com­posed by Chris Smither (no, I’d nev­er heard of him ei­ther) but was a hit for, and is now sort of a trade­mark of, Bon­nie Raitt. Bonnie’s record­ed a lot of good mu­sic over the years, but the thing with her is you need to see her play live, it’s at an­oth­er lev­el en­tire­ly ...
 
SotD: Riding On The Rocket · I’ve prob­a­bly seen Sho­nen Knife (Wikipedia if you don’t read Ja­pane­se) more than any oth­er currently-performing rock band. When they get on stage you can count on a cou­ple of hours of pure high-energy high-melody high-rhythm hard-rockin’ fun, and you just can’t have too much of that. Rid­ing the Rock­et is just one of a cou­ple of dozen to­tal­ly great as-good-as-Rock-gets tunes ...
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SotD: Ashes to Ashes · It’s hard to pick a Bowie be­cause, ob­vi­ous­ly, there were so many Bowies. One time my son and I, he then fif­teen or so, were driv­ing some­where, and he asked me “Dad, who’s David Bowie?” and I said “A mu­si­cian who…” then I was stuck. For me, there are re­al­ly two big Bowie songs, Heroes and Ash­es to Ash­es, and while the for­mer has more emo­tion, I think Ash­es has more mu­si­cal depth. Oh, yes, and This Is Not Amer­i­ca, but that’s a niche taste ...
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SotD: Brothers in Arms · Dire Straits’ records have al­ways been no­tably good-sounding, and Brothers in Arms be­came the oc­ca­sion for the pur­chase of a brand-new CD play­er back in the day for many mu­sic geeks  —  I was one of them. The ti­tle song sounds good too, but to­day we’re ac­knowl­edg­ing its beau­ty and sad­ness and mes­sage ...
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SotD: Am I Blue? · Wel­l, since yes­ter­day I reached all the way back to the Nine­teen Twen­ties for a show tune that went through many hands in­clud­ing Wil­lie Nelson’s, let’s do it again to­day! Am I Blue was writ­ten by those big stars Har­ry Akst and Grant Clarke (Who? A cou­ple of Tin Pan Al­ley type­s) in 1929 for the screen, and Wikipedia says it’s made it on­to 42 dif­fer­ent screen­s. It’s a cool tune and up to the Song of the Day stan­dard, but most­ly here be­cause I was charmed by video ...
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SotD: Blue Skies · From waaaay back in 1926, this one. What hap­pened was, I want­ed the se­ries to drop by Wil­lie Nel­son, and my fave Wil­lie al­bum is Star­dust, and song on it is Blue Skies. That whole al­bum is salve for the wound­ed soul I think, and Blue Skies maybe the sweet­est and strongest. But, boy, does this one ev­er have a his­to­ry ...
 
SotD: I’m a Man! · “Wait…” you say, “that’s two Steve Win­wood songs in a row!” In­deed. On­ly, this one is short­er and hot­ter. And any­how, it’s a Spencer Davis Group song, so there ...
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SotD: The Low Spark · The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys was the al­bum and the song, and it’s a song that’ll nev­er die. It was record­ed by Traf­fic, writ­ten by Win­wood/Ca­paldi, and last time I checked, Win­wood still goes out on the road and plays it for peo­ple. Play it for your­self, but sit back and lis­ten care­ful­ly, there’s a lot hap­pen­ing ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Wish I Knew You · Another Song of the Day that got here be­cause it’s on the ra­dio right now, and I smile ev­ery time they play it. The lyric in full says “I wish I knew you when I was young.” It res­onates pret­ty deep for some­one of my age. Of course, the guys in the band (The Re­vival­ists) are young, but that doesn’t seem to get in the way ...
[1 comment]  
SotD: Can’t Get There From Here · For a lot of band­s, there’s one song that’s spe­cial be­cause it’s the first one you heard on the ra­dio and you thought Who’s that?! I don’t know if Can’t Get There From Here is my ab­so­lute fa­vorite R.E.M. song; Man on the Moon has great surge-and-flow, Los­ing My Reli­gion is the great­est car sin­ga­long ev­er. But any­how, it’s a fine piece of work ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Cello Suite #5 · To­day fea­tures the first artist to make a re­turn Song-of-the-Day ap­pear­ance: J.S. Bach. The mu­sic is the Cel­lo Suite #5, a show­piece for ba­si­cal­ly ev­ery cel­list who’s ev­er per­formed, and an ob­ject of study for ev­ery se­ri­ous stu­dent who gets a cou­ple of years in­to the in­stru­men­t ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Mannish Boy · This even­tu­al­ly be­came Mud­dy Waters’ sig­na­ture tune, which is sort of a pity be­cause there were usu­al­ly more in­ter­est­ing songs in his set, but he seemed to gen­uine­ly love it, and brought so much to each per­for­mance that you had to join in the love ...
 
SotD: Cream · This my fave Prince song, by a mile. I sus­pect that makes me a heretic, and is al­so wild­ly in­con­sis­tent be­cause it’s got none of his gui­tar shred­ding on it, which al­ways makes me grin ear-to-ear. But it’s a pure pop gem, a thing no song should ev­er apol­o­gize for in any com­pa­ny, no mat­ter how au­gust ...
 
SotD: Spinning Centers · This is from Un­known Rooms, a very beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion by Chelsea Wolfe. It’s a lit­tle un­usu­al for this se­ries in that it’s hard­ly a song al­l, just a float­ing, ethe­re­al mu­si­cal mo­ment three min­utes and nine sec­onds long. But you won’t re­gret lis­ten­ing to it ...
 
SotD: Submission · Sub­mis­sion was a late ad­di­tion to (most ver­sions of) Nev­er Mind the Bol­lock­s, Here’s the Sex Pis­tols, which any­one will tell you is Cul­tur­al­ly Im­por­tan­t. But most­ly it’s just a re­al­ly great rock song, which re­veals that in among be­ing Cul­tur­al­ly Im­por­tan­t, the Pis­tols were a high­ly com­pe­tent and heav­i­ly re­hearsed hard-rock band ...
[1 comment]  
SotD: Walk Like an Egyptian · By The Ban­gles; OK, one of the most cheer­ful songs ev­er record­ed, with a hi­lar­i­ous video. But it’s got a good beat, you could dance to it. And at 50° North Lat­i­tude where I live, we’ll take any Fe­bru­ary smiles we can get. Se­ri­ous­ly, lis­ten to the song, watch the video, you’ll smile, how could that not be a good thing? Even bet­ter, stand up and do the dance around the of­fice ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Take Me To The River · You can call this one of the great songs in just about any mu­si­cal con­ver­sa­tion and you’ll get no ar­gu­men­t. A great big swirl of the sa­cred and the sen­su­al, with a ra­zor rhythm and lots of chances to show of­f ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Into the Dark · In ful­l, I Will Fol­low You In­to the Dark, by Death Cab for Cu­tie off their al­bum Plans. This is a so­lo acous­tic thing, stripped down to noth­ing but a love­ly tune and a haunt­ing mes­sage; both will stick to you, even if you heard them a mil­lion times on the ra­dio a decade back ...
 
SotD: Do You Love Me? · Nor­mal­ly I write Song of the Day a few days ahead, and to­day I woke up on Valentine’s day and re­al­ized that day’s “song” was sym­phon­ic stuff by Brahm­s, which is great but not per­haps the Lan­guage Of Love. To make up for that, I’ll send you all along a Hap­py Valentine’s for a few days back with a song that’s about noth­ing but love, by Nick Cave ...
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SotD: Fine and Mellow · This is a song not on­ly per­formed but writ­ten by Bil­lie Hol­i­day; it was a hit in 1939, the flip side of the beau­ti­ful but grue­some Strange Fruit (the fruit was a lynch­ing vic­tim). Fine and Mel­low is sad too, but a fair­ly stan­dard man-treats-me-bad blues. It’s a treat for the ears and the heart ...
 
SotD: Death Don’t Have No Mercy · Death Don’t Have No Mer­cy is a very old, very dark blues by Rev. Gary Davis which has been cov­ered lot­s, by Dy­lan and the Dead among oth­er­s. But to­day I’m plug­ging a live ver­sion record­ed by Hot Tu­na in 1992 ...
 
SotD: Ashes the Rain and I · The James Gang was a stripped-down band that most­ly played prim­i­tive rock and roll (which I love) very well, and Rides Again is an ex­am­ple of that, but Ash­es the Rain and I isn’t prim­i­tive at al­l; five min­utes of con­tem­pla­tive beau­ty ...
 
SotD: Brahms’ Variations · To­day, let’s do clas­si­cal mu­sic, as in a great big splodge of or­ches­tral goo by a dead Ger­man. Brahms op. 56a and 56b is a set of vari­a­tions on a the­me; he thought the theme was Haydn’s, thus called it Vari­a­tions on a Theme by Joseph Haydn. But now they think the Haydn at­tri­bu­tion on the theme is sketchy, so now you’ll see ’em la­beled some­times as the Saint An­tho­ny Vari­a­tions. Any­how, this is a su­per tasty splodge of goo, the kind of thing or­ches­tras ex­ist to play ...
 
SotD: Jah Glory · Third World have al­ways had had a dif­fer­ent sound, lean­ing quite a bit on sweet har­monies and in­stru­men­tal fla­vors. It’s reg­gae all right, but im­pure like most great mu­sic, and sounds as tasty as any­thing you can imag­ine. Jah Glo­ry is such a sweet wel­com­ing thing, a soar­ing song of wor­ship. (You don’t have to be­lieve in Jah.) ...
 
SotD: Dear Darling · Mary Mar­garet O’Hara, a daugh­ter of Toron­to, hasn’t record­ed much and hasn’t had hits and these are ter­ri­bly sad things be­cause she’s a gem, a won­der­ful un­con­ven­tion­al song­writ­er and singer. Her stuff gets pret­ty far out over the edge some­times, but Dear Dar­ling is a love­ly straight-up coun­try tune, hard­ly weird at al­l, or on­ly in places ...
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SotD: Mercy Street · No­body could call this ob­scure; Peter Gabriel’s So sold a kazil­lion copies and was right in the cen­ter of the zeit­geist for months back in the late Eight­ies. The songs were good, the sound was good, and (e­spe­cial­ly) the videos were good, which re­al­ly mat­tered in 1986. Mer­cy Street was not one of its big hit­s, which al­ways as­ton­ished me; I thought it by far and away the album’s high­light ...
 
SotD: Fantaisie Impromptu · After the hot gui­tar a cou­ple days back, I thought some more flashy solo­ing would be fun, and the world cur­rent­ly has no­body flashier, on any in­stru­men­t, than pi­anist Yun­di Li, who seems to have re­brand­ed him­self as YUNDI. But I end­ed up at this Frédéric Chopin Fan­taisie which has, yes, flash, but lots of mu­sic among and be­tween it, and Mr Li re­al­ly seems to un­der­stand Mr Chopin ...
 
SotD: Broken English · This the ti­tle track from Bro­ken English, an al­bum by Mar­i­anne Faith­full, on which ev­ery song is good and some are ter­ri­fy­ing (not this one) ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Pride and Joy · It’s been most­ly gen­tle and so­phis­ti­cat­ed around here re­cent­ly. Let’s turn to Texas and fix that; Pride and Joy, by Ste­vie Ray Vaugh­an, is about the sim­plest blues holler you can imag­ine, with a hap­py mes­sage and some smokin’ hot gui­tar ...
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SotD: Sodade · Cesária Évora is prob­a­bly the on­ly per­son you’ve ev­er heard of (now that you’ve heard of her) from Cabo Verde, which is an is­land group 570km west of Africa’s west­ern­most point. She was a re­al­ly great singer and record­ed lots of fine col­lec­tions of mu­sic. It’s hard to pick from among them, but So­dade is a fine ex­am­ple ...
 
SotD: Both Sides Now · Anyone’s list of top song­writ­ers would in­clude Joni Mitchel­l, and any list of her top songs would in­clude Both Sides, Now. There’s lit­tle I can say that will add val­ue here, just give it a lis­ten and it’ll im­prove your day, any day ...
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SotD: Joan of Arc · This is a song by Leonard Co­hen, but I’m talk­ing about it as per­formed by Jen­nifer Warnes. It may not even be Warnes’ best cov­er of a Co­hen tune, but it’s good enough to be any day’s song, and the record­ing is spe­cial ...
 
SotD: Diaraby · Today’s song comes from Africa (first in the se­ries); Diara­by is a slow dreamy elec­tric African blues with exquisite singing and gui­tar, by Ali Far­ka Touré; sev­en min­utes of pure mu­si­cal joy ...
[1 comment]  
SotD: Happy · The song-of-the-day re­cent­ly has been trend­ing a lit­tle bit to the eclec­tic and the ob­scure. Enough of that, let’s dish up a hearty serv­ing of meat-and-potatoes rock-n-roll. Hap­py is a sim­ple stripped-down hard Stones rock­er, vo­cals by Keef, with a nice tune, tasty chord changes, and you know what? I need a love to keep me hap­py too ...
 
SotD: Ne Nehledej · I’m pret­ty sure Ne Nehledej, which is said to mean “Stop Searching”, is in the Czech lan­guage, be­cause Iva Bittová is Czech. I don’t know that much about her and frankly this Song of the Day most­ly ex­ists to high­light re­mark­able video, but Ne Nehledej is a nice song and Bittová is a great en­ter­tain­er while al­so be­ing out there on the edge. She sings and plays vi­o­lin, and is as much per­for­mance art as mu­sic. But (un­like some per­for­mance artist­s) this per­for­mance is all about mu­sic ...
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SotD: More White Flags · Yesterday’s White Flag isn’t the on­ly song of that name. I want to share one in par­tic­u­lar, a mi­nor hit by a mi­nor band (“one-hit wonder” would be char­i­ta­ble) called the Leg­gatt Brother­s, be­cause I think it’s bril­liant, a for­got­ten gem. But there’s no live video and it’s not for sale dig­i­tal­ly, so I load­ed up the en­try with a few ex­tra White Flags ...
 
SotD: White Flag · Here we have a sweet sad love song by Di­do (full name Di­do Flo­ri­an Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Arm­strong) who was born in 1971 and is thus younger than many oth­er Songs of the Day. It was a huge hit, hard­ly ob­scure (the al­bum Life For Rent sold 10+ mil­lion copies). It’s OK to be main­stream some­times, and White Flag is more than OK, it’s bril­liant ...
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SotD: If I Had a Rocket Launcher · Bruce Cock­burn is suf­fi­cient­ly Cana­di­an that his name may ring no bell­s. But I think If I Had a Rock­et Launch­er made a few waves back in the day and may jog a mem­o­ry. He’s an in­ter­est­ing guy, and this is a nice, lilt­ing melod­ic song about want­ing to kill peo­ple ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Canones Diversi · Al­most a month in, and we haven’t had a vis­it with J.S. Bach yet. Long past time, and we’ll be back a lot too, if this se­ries stretch­es out much. We’re go­ing to start out with min­i­mal Bach; we’ll get around to thun­der­ous Bach, pas­sion­ate Bach, and show-off Bach in lat­er in­stall­ments. To­day we’ll sam­ple from a small se­ries en­ti­tled Canones di­ver­si su­per The­ma Regium, part of a larg­er work called Musikalis­ches Opfer, or in English The Mu­si­cal Of­fer­ing, com­posed in 1747, BWV 1079. To­day we’ll take on the Canon a 2, per aug­men­ta­tionem, con­trario mo­tu and the Fu­ga canon­i­ca in Epidi­a­pente. They’re not the two deep­est frag­ments, but they’re a good place to start. This is se­ri­ous­ly beau­ti­ful thought­ful, pa­tient mu­sic ...
 
SotD: Slavery Days · I sure do love me some reg­gae; my island-music tastes are main­stream, but once you get past Mar­ley, the names are fad­ing from mem­o­ries. Maybe I can re­verse that a bit. Let’s start with Win­ston Rod­ney; his first band was Burn­ing Spear, then he just adopt­ed the name for him­self. His mu­sic is a lit­tle deep­er, his singing a lit­tle edgier, his horn ar­range­ments ex­cel­len­t. Slav­ery Days has all of those things, and de­serves to live forever ...
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SotD: Beck + Call · I run a lot of old mu­sic but I’m not some­one who re­al­ly thinks it was all bet­ter back in the day, or is all trash now. So from time to time, the Song of the Day is go­ing to be some­thing I liked on the car ra­dio while I was driv­ing around to­day. To­day, it’s Beck + Call by Ju­ly Talk. Who knows if it’ll still have lis­ten­ers decades from now like most of the se­lec­tions here, or even cen­turies like some. Who cares? It’s a nice tune, needn’t hang its head in the cur­rent com­pa­ny, and Ju­ly Talk are hot stuff live ...
 
SotD: Habanera · The full ti­tle is L’amour est un oiseau re­belle (“Love’s a rebel bird”), a big so­pra­no aria from Car­men, writ­ten by Ge­orges Bizet in 1875. That’s right, an opera! We’re in­to scary ter­ri­to­ry here, at risk of chas­ing away fol­low­ers of this quixot­ic New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion. But bear with me, it’s quite a song ...
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SotD: I Thank You · Mr Moore and Mr Prater dropped their last names and were big soul stars as Sam & Dave be­tween 1961 and 1981. That kind of mu­sic has been pret­ty far off the charts for a lot of years, al­though they got some help from the Blues Brother­s. They’ve got two or three per­for­mances that be­long in this se­ries. I think that I Thank You was the first ev­er soul song that pen­e­trat­ed my con­scious­ness, and is maybe still my fa­vorite ...
 
SotD: The Heart of the Sun · In ful­l, Set the Con­trols for the Heart of the Sun by (the very ear­ly) Pink Floy­d. While Floyd writ­ten some beau­ti­ful mu­sic, if you want some­thing that’s new to, well, any­one, you pret­ty well have to go way back in time to be­fore Dark Side of the Moon. Set the Con­trols is an easy, pleas­ing, soar­ing lis­ten, with or with­out the help of hal­lu­cino­genic drugs ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Visions of You · Jah Wob­ble grew up in East Lon­don with the Sex-Pistols-to-be, and his han­dle comes from a drunk­en Sid Vi­cious at­tempt­ing to pro­nounce his re­al name (John Wardle). He joined John Lydon’s post-Pistols Public Image Limit­ed and then formed In­vaders of the Heart. Vi­sions of You is the lead-off track on the Invaders’ Ris­ing Above Bed­lam disk, which I of­ten play end-to-end. It’s a lightweight pop song with an icy slow-funk back­ground, a re­al treat for the ears ...
 
SotD: Lust For Life · I sup­pose that in 2018 Lust For Life is an ob­scu­ri­ty, some­thing you might have heard on the ra­dio or in an ad. That’s in­sane, it’s ob­vi­ous­ly one of the great rock songs of all time, and has giv­en Ig­gy Pop, who co-wrote it with David Bowie, a per­for­mance ve­hi­cle that he’s tak­en a long, long way ...
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SotD: Cry Me a River · Oc­ca­sion­al­ly, the Song of the Day idea starts with a Greatest-Hits record that has mul­ti­ple can­di­dates, and I pick based on which turns up the best live video. Today’s Great­est Hits are those of Julie Lon­don, and it was a tough choice, but what a beau­ti­ful piece of singing Cry Me a Riv­er is ...
[4 comments]  
SotD: Israelites · The sum­mer I turned four­teen, Is­raelites by Des­mond Dekker and the Aces was the biggest hit in the world. I thought it was the best song of that sum­mer and maybe the next sum­mer too. I’d go to the beach, where ev­ery­one had a ra­dio, and as you walked along you’d hear Is­raelites com­ing at you in super-stereo from a dozen di­rec­tion­s; it sound­ed so great ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Travelin’ Prayer · In the mid-Seventies, a wom­en we found with a clas­si­fied ad moved in­to my stu­dent house, and of course brought her record col­lec­tion. It in­clud­ed some­thing called Cold Spring Har­bor by a guy I’d nev­er heard of, Bil­ly Joel. We were pret­ty well a heavy-music joint that didn’t lis­ten to fluff with­out gui­tar solos, so Bil­ly got no re­spect then, just like he gets no re­spect now. But, in among the cheesy bal­lads there was this song that got way un­der my skin, and still does: Travelin’ Pray­er. It’s great, pret­ty well flaw­less ...
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SotD: No Woman, No Cry · Bob Marley’s been gone a long time; longer than most peo­ple read­ing this have lived, I bet. But more than most de­ceased mu­si­cian­s, it feels to me like he’s still out there; a qui­et dub track wo­ven in­to the uni­ver­sal quan­tum back­ground hum. Try to prove me wrong. No Wo­man, No Cry is a good first en­try for reg­gae in Song of the Day; Warm-sounding warm-heartedness; what could be bet­ter in a Northern-hemisphere win­ter? ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Pärt’s Cantus · Since I’ve been rock­ing the house the last cou­ple of days, let’s do seren­i­ty in­stead. Specif­i­cal­ly, Can­tus in Me­mo­ri­am Ben­jamin Brit­ten, for string or­ches­tra and bel­l, by Ar­vo Pärt, one of my mu­si­cal heroes. Here’s how good this is: It just about got me killed, the first time I heard it. Which was on a rent­ed car’s ra­dio in Eng­land, head­ing up the M3, where they drive fast; I was jet-lagged and I caught my­self clos­ing my eyes at 85mph to sa­vor the fad­ing tones of the church bel­l ...
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SotD: Clampdown · Yes­ter­day, I used the phrase “best Rock song ev­er recorded”. Wel­l, why not two days in a row? Be­cause an­oth­er fine can­di­date is Clam­p­down from the Clash’s won­der­ful Lon­don Calling al­bum. That record was a high­light of 1980 and Clam­p­down was a high­light of the record ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Day Tripper · If some­one asked me what the great­est rock&roll song of all time was, I wouldn’t be able to pick. But if they kept ask­ing, and you got a se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, Day Trip­per would be in that con­ver­sa­tion ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Missionary Man · If I ac­tu­al­ly had any se­ri­ous mu­si­cal tal­en­t, I would have cho­sen rock&roll over all oth­er pro­fes­sion­s. I guess I haven’t been run­ning that many pure sim­ple rock songs here, and that’s wrong. So let’s turn today’s space over to An­nie Len­nox, Dave Ste­wart, and Joniece Jami­son of the Eury­th­mics for some nice pol­ished pas­sion­ate BritRock ...
 
SotD: Gravity’s Angel · Pos­si­bly you haven’t en­coun­tered Lau­rie An­der­son, and pos­si­bly if you did you wouldn’t like her, be­cause she’s pret­ty far out there. Gravity’s An­gel is at the near end of out-there, a simple-ish song with a love­ly tune and a cool ar­range­men­t; a good place to start ...
 
SotD: Please Don’t · I mean Baby, Please Don’t Go of course, the blues chest­nut to end all blues chest­nut­s. No­body knows who wrote it, al­though ap­par­ent­ly Mud­dy Waters first made it a hit; Wikipedia of­fers sev­er­al plau­si­ble back­grounds dat­ing from slav­ery days up to about 1925. The ver­sion I’m chiefly rec­om­mend­ing was record­ed by Lightnin’ Hop­kins in the ear­ly Six­ties ...
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SotD: The Other 5:15 · No, I’m not talk­ing about the Who song from Quadrophe­nia (though it’s a fine tune), I’m talk­ing about the song by Chris Isaak. No, I’m not talk­ing about Wicked Game ei­ther, which I may fea­ture here some day. I’m talk­ing about Chris’ 5:15, one of the sev­er­al ex­cel­lent songs on San Fran­cis­co Days, one of the sev­er­al ex­cel­lent al­bums Mr Isaak has re­leased ...
 
SotD: Troy · I bought Sinéad O’Connor’s de­but, The Lion and the Co­bra, be­cause Mandinko was on the ra­dio and I liked it. The first time I played it, not hav­ing looked at the track list­ing, I no­ticed some med­i­ta­tive croon­ing about “Dublin in a Rainstorm”; the next time, a gut-grabbing throaty chan­t: “You should have left the lights on”; and then an­oth­er time a howl­ing dec­la­ra­tion about ris­ing, a phoenix from the flame. It took me a while to no­tice that all of these were from the same track: Troy. It’s a hell of a song ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Temporary Ground · This is the best song from Jack White’s 2014 Lazaret­to al­bum, and it was the cen­ter­piece of the show last time I saw him play. It’s most­ly acous­tic, thus has to stand on its own sans bom­bas­tic gui­tar flour­ish­es. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jack’s bom­bas­tic­s, but it’s good to let a song speak for it­self, and Tem­po­rary Ground has a lot to say ...
 
SotD: Voodoo Runner · Today’s song is Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, from Bitch­es Brew. In the se­ries in­tro I said “I won’t be rec­om­mend­ing abra­sive free-jazz jams…” and well, this is kind of abra­sive and while it might not be free jaz­z, it’s pret­ty loose. But it’s won­der­ful im­pro­vi­sa­tion and pro­duc­tion, full of deep mu­si­cal in­tel­li­gence, and if you like any­thing at all in the electric-jazz space, you’ll prob­a­bly like this a lot. If you’ve nev­er checked the space out, this might be a good place to start ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Solveig’s Song · Hey, there are songs in Clas­si­cal Mu­sic, too! Maybe you think you don’t like that stuff? Stick around and give this one a lis­ten. This Song is the last move­ment of Peer Gynt Suite #2 by Nor­we­gian com­pos­er Ed­vard Grieg, dat­ing from 1876. It’s ex­cep­tion­al­ly beau­ti­ful, one of the great melodies of all time. I en­coun­tered it some decades ago, when my cel­lo teach­er as­signed it to me, and it works well on that in­stru­men­t. I loved play­ing it and now I love lis­ten­ing to it ...
[2 comments]  
SotD: Pete’s Blue · This is a min­i­mal­ist gui­tar in­stru­men­tal by Roy Buchanan (1939-1988). Gen­uine­ly ob­scure stuff, but I’m pret­ty sure you’ll find it worth sev­en min­utes and sev­en­teen sec­onds of your time ...
 
SotD: Cannonball · Mu­sic comes in lots of fla­vors, most of which I’d hate to have to live with­out, but the ones clos­est to my heart in­volve well-played elec­tric gui­tars, fe­male voic­es, and raw rock en­er­gy. The Breeders’ Can­non­ball has all three in­gre­di­ents ...
[4 comments]  
SotD: Ooh La La · This by The Dit­ty Bops, from their self-titled de­but al­bum in 2004. I’d nev­er heard of them be­fore, nor have I since; but this is a re­mark­able song and more than one friend, hear­ing it in the back­ground, has stopped talk­ing and asked “What’s that?” ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Identikit · This is from Radiohead’s re­cent A Moon Shaped Pool, which I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a whole lot, and oh my good­ness what a beau­ti­ful song ...
 
SotD: Western Stars · No­body, and I mean no­body, brings more to a per­for­mance than k.d. lang. But she’s not on the road that much, so you might have to set­tle for record­ings. A good record­ing to set­tle for would be Shad­ow­land, fea­tur­ing pro­duc­tion by country-music leg­end Owen Bradley and guest ap­pear­ances by oth­er divas-with-twang. This is prob­a­bly the best song on Shad­ow­land ...
[2 comments]  
Songs of the Day · Here’s my New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion: I’ll try to try to pub­lish a short piece ev­ery day rec­om­mend­ing a song that I think is ex­cel­len­t, and apt to please at least some read­er­s. Let’s see how far in­to 2018 I get; a quick run through the col­lec­tion turned up around 240 can­di­dates, so a whole year’s worth of songs would be a stretch goal. Read on for mo­ti­va­tion, lo­gis­tic­s, and me­chan­ic­s. Or just read the song notes, start­ing to­mor­row. Or don’t ...
[4 comments]  
SotD: New Year’s Day · Back in the late Eight­ies, for a few months I went to aer­o­bics class, and once ev­ery ses­sion the in­struc­tor put this U2 chest­nut on and ev­ery time my beats-per-minute cranked right up. Not in the slight­est ob­scure, but worth re­vis­it­ing at least once a year, ide­al­ly on this day ...
 
5★♫: The Köln Concert · What hap­pened was, I was gonna make the tra­di­tion­al Sunday-morning pan­cakes and ba­con and, as I do ev­ery oth­er week or so, told the eight-year-old to turn the damn car­toons off al­ready be­cause I want­ed mu­sic. I threw the an­cient vinyl of The Köln Con­cert by Kei­th Jar­rett on the turntable and all these years lat­er, I kept hav­ing to stop mak­ing pan­cakes be­cause Kei­th had grabbed me where you have to lis­ten when they grab you there ...
[2 comments]  
5★♫: Jeff Beck Rock ‘n’ Roll Party · I saw the LP on the new-vinyl rack in a record store and was sur­prised, be­cause I’ve been a pret­ty big Jeff Beck fan for quite a few years now, but I’d nev­er heard of it. It turns out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Par­ty is a col­lec­tion of tra­di­tion­al pop chest­nuts with a su­per hot band, not like a Jeff Beck record at al­l, and ex­cel­len­t. This is hap­py, hap­py mu­sic. But maybe the YouTube ver­sion is all you need. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[3 comments]  
5★♫: Hard Again · In the mid-Seventies, old Mis­sis­sip­pi/Chica­go blues­man Mud­dy Waters had record-label prob­lem­s, but still an au­di­ence. Young Texas blues­man John­ny Win­ter had nev­er been a pop star, but had one too. So John­ny pro­duc­ing and play­ing on an al­bum by Mud­dy wasn’t re­al­ly a long shot; and Hard Again came out great. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)  ...
[2 comments]  
5★♫: Benefit · What hap­pened was, I glanced at my brows­er and saw a ran­dom turn of phrase, The free­dom to be who you want to be…, and thought “That re­minds me of something”. It turns out that it re­minds me of With You There To Help Me, a love­ly song on the al­bum Ben­e­fit, a 1970 of­fer­ing by Jethro Tull. So I pulled out the vinyl and have lis­tened to it three times in the last two week­s; it’s re­al­ly just un­rea­son­ably good. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)  ...
[15 comments]  
5★♫: Broken English · This is a 1979 record­ing by Mar­i­anne Faith­full, of whom many won’t have heard. If it doesn’t wrench your soul well then you don’t have one.
(“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)
 ...
[10 comments]  
5★♫: Jets Overhead · Wow, it’s been 2½ years since I did a Five-Star Mon­day piece, and this is for a disc I just bought to­day, so it may well be too ear­ly as well as too late. Jets Over­head are from Vic­to­ri­a, BC, which is near me; what I think de­serve the stars are the first two songs from their 2009 No Na­tions, I Should Be Born and Head­ing For Nowhere; bril­liant pure-pop tunes and can they ev­er sing. Al­so there’s a geek an­gle. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[3 comments]  
5★♫: Mixed Up · I’m not a fan of The Cure, par­tic­u­lar­ly. I am not nor have I ev­er been a Goth, and I laugh cru­el­ly at Emos giv­en the op­por­tu­ni­ty. I think Robert Smith looks ridicu­lous. But Mixed Up, a 1990 set of remix­es and re­takes (I own none of the orig­i­nal ver­sion­s), which was poor­ly re­viewed and sank like a stone on the chart­s, well, it’s just out­stand­ing­ly great mu­sic. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[11 comments]  
5★♫: Arrau Plays Chopin · Yet again, one dead guy play­ing another’s mu­sic (I promise a re­turn to the liv­ing af­ter this): The Noc­turnes by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), as record­ed in 1977 and 1978 by Clau­dio Ar­rau (1903-1991). Each of the last three (this, Mozart/Brain, and Bach/Kre­mer) are fine mu­sic which has been record­ed by many fine per­form­er­s, but where I nev­er both­ered check­ing any oth­er per­for­mances out af­ter hear­ing the record in ques­tion. The Noc­turnes have no raw edges, no stark­ness, but are rav­ish­ing­ly ro­man­tic and ir­re­sistibly pret­ty, while still be­ing in­volv­ing and deep. They’re noc­tur­nal all right; two sol­id hours of sweet dark-brown ebb and flow, bed­time mu­sic for sure. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[4 comments]  
5★♫: Brain Plays Mozart · Con­tin­u­ing the theme (from Au­gust, argh, maybe I don’t have a 5★ life) of mu­sic writ­ten by dead guys, and in this case al­so played by a dead guy. The dead com­pos­er is Mozart, the per­former Den­nis Brain. I re­fer to Brain’s 1955 record­ing of the Mozart horn con­cer­tos with the as­sis­tance of Von Kara­jan and the Phil­har­mo­nia Orches­tra. You al­ready know this mu­sic. You may not think so, but trust me, as soon as it starts play­ing you’ll think “Oh, yes”. I’m not sure whether it’s ev­ery­one ac­tu­al­ly hav­ing heard it, or whether Mozart tapped in­to some­thing so smooth, pol­ished, and el­e­men­tal as to con­vince us that we’re on fa­mil­iar and well-loved ter­ri­to­ry. No­body could call this ob­scure, it’s sold a kazil­lion copies; but per­haps not in re­cent decades. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[2 comments]  
5★♫: Kremer Plays Bach · I’ve been fish­ing in Twentieth-century five-★ wa­ters of late, so let’s cast our eyes back on mu­sic writ­ten by dead guys. There have been a few clas­si­cal works that I’ve heard one artist play, then nev­er both­ered to take the time to lis­ten to any­one else’s take. For ex­am­ple, Gi­don Kremer’s 1980 record­ing of the Vi­olin Sonatas and Par­ti­tas by J.S. Bach. This might be a tough sel­l: two hours of mu­sic con­tain­ing no notes much be­low mid­dle C, and no more than two notes ev­er played at the same time. And Kre­mer is all about Truth not Beau­ty, which is to say he doesn’t sugar-coat Bach’s rough edges. But I think that truth is beau­ty, and I think that this mu­sic has so much of both that you re­al­ly ought to sit down some­time and lis­ten to all of it. Wel­l, and it sounds good. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[7 comments]  
5★♫: Cinquième Saison · This one is kind of ob­scure, but worth hunt­ing down; the full ti­tle is Si on avait be­soin d’une cinquième sai­son, record­ed by Har­mo­ni­um in 1975, who were a Big Deal in Québec back then. I’m sure it would ap­pear in my per­son­al top-ten-of-all-time list, com­put­ed by how many times I’ve lis­tened; mind you, that’s with 32 years of ac­cu­mu­la­tion. But I still put it on, and I’ve nev­er played it for any­one who didn’t like it. It’s mel­low, sweep­ing, and full of beau­ti­ful melodies, beau­ti­ful­ly per­formed, that you’ll find your­self hum­ming while you walk down the street. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[7 comments]  
5✭♫: The Texas Campfire Tapes · Just like the ti­tle says, this was record­ed by a camp­fire in Texas in 1986 (on a pre-digital Sony Walk­man). Voice and gui­tar and bril­liant mu­sic burst­ing out in all di­rec­tions by Michelle Shocked, one of my per­son­al mu­si­cal heroes. But there’s some con­tro­ver­sy about which ver­sion to get. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[7 comments]  
5✭♫: Coltrane and Hartman · That’s short for John Coltrane and John­ny Hart­man, record­ed in one session—most songs in one take—on March 7, 1963. It sold a zil­lion copies back then, and was in­fa­mous­ly nom­i­nat­ed as the Great­est Record­ing Of All Time by some rock&roll-hating snob in a glossy mag in I think the ear­ly Eight­ies; but that was then, and I’m bet­ting that a lot of peo­ple who’d re­al­ly like it have nev­er heard of it. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[10 comments]  
5✭♫: The Hot Spot · Den­nis Hop­per di­rect­ed The Hot Spot in 1990, and I’ve nev­er seen it. He hired Jack Nitzsche to write the mu­sic, and they got Miles Dav­is, John Lee Hook­er, Taj Ma­hal, and some oth­er re­al­ly good mu­si­cians to play on it. It’s the on­ly record I know of in which Miles Davis plays straight blues so­los in front of a straight elec­tric blues band, and while there’s some oth­er good stuff too, that would be enough for me. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[2 comments]  
5✭♫: Misa Criolla · Ariel Ramírez is an Ar­gen­tinean com­pos­er born in 1921; Misa Cri­ol­la, a 1964 mass for tenor, mixed cho­rus, per­cus­sion, key­board and (e­spe­cial­ly) An­dean folk in­stru­ments. It ap­pears on sev­er­al disks; I’m go­ing to rec­om­mend two fea­tur­ing José Car­reras and Mercedes Sosa. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[2 comments]  
5✭♫: The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines · This song is by Joni Mitchell and Charles Min­gus (re­cent­ly dis­cussed in this space). It first ap­peared on Mitchell’s Min­gus in 1979 but I no longer have that ver­sion; this is about the ver­sion on the 1980 Shad­ows and Light, a live set fea­tur­ing Ja­co Pas­to­rius, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Breck­er, Don Alias, and The Per­sua­sion­s. The whole record is worth­while, great in spot­s. Dry Clean­er is pure genius-level mu­si­cal fun. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[6 comments]  
5✭♫: Better Get Hit In Your Soul · This piece ap­pears on Min­gus Ah Um, a 1959 al­bum by Charles Min­gus, and on Min­gus at An­tibes, record­ed live the next year. There may be a few rock-&-roll fans who haven’t heard this and don’t know how hard jazz can be played; I can’t imag­ine any band ev­er play­ing hard­er. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[4 comments]  
5✭♫: Rough Mix · This is a 1977 al­bum by Pete Town­shend of the Who and the late Ron­nie Lane of the Faces. It’s a rar­i­ty in that most of it, while un­ques­tion­ably rock mu­sic, is al­so gen­tle. Of its eleven songs, eight or nine are ex­treme­ly beau­ti­ful, the singing is tune­ful and heart­felt, the play­ing (lots of stars sit­ting in) is great, even the lyrics will grab you. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[3 comments]  
5✭♫: Brahms’ First & Haydn Variations · If I were asked to pick my fa­vorite sym­pho­ny, well, I couldn’t. If I were backed in­to a cor­ner and re­al­ly pres­sured, I still couldn’t. But if it were a mat­ter of life and death and I were mak­ing short list­s, Sym­pho­ny No. 1 by Brahms would be on all of them. Some have ar­gued that the First isn’t re­al­ly his first sym­phon­ic work; that would be Vari­a­tions on a Theme of Haydn. Which, if grant­ed, might not change my an­swer. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[7 comments]  
5✭♫: Patti’s Gloria · Pat­ti Smith is an in­ter­est­ing per­son and a fine mu­si­cian, al­ways worth lis­ten­ing to; I par­tic­u­lar­ly en­joy her re­cent record­ings. And in her youth, she record­ed Glo­ria by Van Mor­ri­son; it’s a con­tender for the best single-song rock per­for­mance ev­er. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Tabula Rasa · This is the ti­tle of an al­bum of mu­sic by Ar­vo Pärt, and of a com­po­si­tion on that al­bum. I have a lot of mu­sic by Pärt, but if I had to rec­om­mend one record, or one piece, both would be Tab­u­la Rasa. It’s com­plex, deep, and aus­tere; and con­tains some of the most beau­ti­ful sounds ev­er record­ed. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Israelites and More  · Des­mond Dekker just died; I had to do a quick rip on his Great­est Hits so he’d qual­i­fy for the 5-✭ treat­men­t. A lot of peo­ple un­der 45, and a lot of Amer­i­cans of all ages, won’t know about Des­mond, and you’re miss­ing some pret­ty good mu­sic. You might on­ly have heard Is­raelites and that’s an out­stand­ing song, but there are lots more, and a greatest-hits disc is a no-brainer in­vest­men­t. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Wrecking Ball · The last 5-✭ song, Dylan’s One More Cup of Cof­fee, got there in large part due to har­monies from Em­my­lou Har­ris. Emmylou’s nev­er re­al­ly been a Big Star I think, which is un­fair; she’s sung more beau­ti­ful songs beau­ti­ful­ly than al­most any­one. Wreck­ing Ball, her 1995 out­ing with Kana­di­an Karmick Kon­sul­tant and over­pro­duc­er Daniel Lanois and fea­tur­ing lot­sa Big Stars, is per­haps not ab­so­lute­ly her finest work; but it’s what I have on my com­put­er and it’s very good. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: One More Cup of Coffee · I’m not re­al­ly a Bob Dy­lan fan. A voice like that, and a tune­smithing tal­ent like that, come along on­ly a few times per cen­tu­ry, but he’s still kind of ir­ri­tat­ing. That aside, the song One More Cup of Cof­fee, from the 1976 al­bum De­sire, can’t be ig­nored; won­der­ful tune, won­der­ful or­ches­tra­tion, won­der­ful per­for­mance. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Take Five · You’ve all heard this, it’s the biggest hit Dave Brubeck’s band ev­er had, on­ly Dave didn’t write it nor does he play a solo. The tune’s cool enough, you’ll hear it and think “Oh, I know that” but ac­tu­al­ly you prob­a­bly don’t, it’s an al­to­geth­er as­tound­ing per­for­mance and re­wards lots of close lis­ten­ing. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Francesca da Rimini · This is an twenty-odd-minute or­ches­tral suite writ­ten in 1876 by Tchaikowsky. It’s in­tense­ly ro­man­tic, ridicu­lous­ly melod­ic, and should be played re­al­ly, re­al­ly loud. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Rock n Roll Animal · The last five-star piece, from two weeks ago, was about the Cow­boy Junkies. They cov­ered Sweet Jane on their ex­cel­lent The Trin­i­ty Ses­sions al­bum, and Lou Reed was quot­ed as say­ing that their ver­sion was defini­tive. He’s wrong; his own take on this 1974 live set is at an­oth­er lev­el en­tire­ly. So is much of the record. If you had to name the great­est live rock record of all time, well you couldn’t, but if you had to name the top five, this would be one: it shows how hard rock ought to be played. There are some prob­lem­s: it’s kind of bom­bas­tic in places, and it does glam­or­ize the use of ad­dic­tive nar­cotic­s; but let’s not be pick­y. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Pale Sun, Crescent Moon · Three tracks from this 1993 al­bum by the Cow­boy Junkies earned five stars, pret­ty good for pop mu­sic. Plus there’s one from The Trin­i­ty Ses­sions, but let’s leave that for lat­er. There are a lot of Cow­boy Junkies al­bum­s, and they’re all good as far as I know; I find my­self ashamed that I haven’t bought any for a decade or so, so I’ll fix that Real Soon Now. Read on for an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of good songs, good singing, good play­ing, and good word­s. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Plutonian Nights · This is a track by Sun Ra from his al­bum The Lady With The Gold­en Stock­ings, record­ed around 1958 and re­leased in 1966. Sun Ra, full le­gal name “Le Sony’r Ra”, born Her­man Bloun­t, said a lot of crazy stuff and played some crazy mu­sic, some of which I like. But this isn’t crazy, it’s 4:22 of low-voiced cool funk per­fec­tion. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Come On-A My House · This song was made fa­mous by Rose­mary Clooney, but the ver­sion I’m writ­ing of here is by Julie Lon­don, who record­ed 32 al­bums but is no longer a house­hold name. Julie’s ver­sion of Come On-A My House is just the thing for Valentine’s-Day week: Come on-a my house (my house­), I’m gonna give you can­dy... Pure, pure sex. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Burning Farm · Sho­nen Knife formed in Osa­ka in the ear­ly Eight­ies and, a decade lat­er, sud­den­ly had a North Amer­i­can au­di­ence; it helped that they opened for Nir­vana on a 1993 tour. Burn­ing Farm was the ti­tle of their first record but al­so of a song; the ver­sion I have is off of 1993’s Let’s Knife, prob­a­bly the group’s es­sen­tial al­bum. It has a lot of good songs with great melodies, su­perb light-hearted vo­cal­s, high-energy per­for­mances, punk gui­tar, and ami­able Ja­panese looni­ness; but Burn­ing Farm stands out. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Any Time · Leon Red­bone is alive and per­form­ing, but he’s not ac­tu­al­ly a con­tem­po­rary artist; he per­forms sen­ti­men­tal and jazz songs from the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, with acous­tic ac­com­pa­ni­ment and pe­ri­od ar­range­ments. Which doesn’t sound very com­pelling; ex­cept for, Red­bone picks ter­rif­ic tunes and sings them beau­ti­ful­ly. The song in ques­tion is the ti­tle track from his 2001 al­bum Any Time, and it might just be the sin­gle best vo­cal per­for­mance of our young cen­tu­ry. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) [Up­date: Sam­ples at the iTunes UK store.] ...
 
5 ✭ ♫ Mondays · The idea came from JWZ in late 2005: why not rate all the mu­sic in your juke­box? If your juke­box is iTunes, you cre­ate an “unrated” smart-playlist con­tain­ing all the tunes with no stars, then you set up the Par­ty Shuf­fle to draw from it, then you rate them as they go by ex­cept when you’re not lis­ten­ing, and af­ter a few month­s, you have them all rat­ed. I haven’t got them all rat­ed, but I have quite a few la­beled ✭✭✭✭✭, which means “a tune that in some way gives me as much plea­sure as mu­sic can.” I care a lot about (and am rea­son­ably lit­er­ate about) mu­sic, so I de­cid­ed I to share some of this five-star stuff with the world. I’ll try to post some­thing most Mon­days. [Does the ti­tle look bro­ken? Here’s why (Up­dat­ed 2006/01/30).] ...
 
5✭♫: BWV 131 · I think I should start with J.S. Bach, since we have a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship. BWV 131 is one of his can­tatas, based on Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Her­r, zu dir (from Psalm 130), com­posed in 1707, and if you buy it you’ll like it. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
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