Monday, December 7, 2009

Everything Is Moving So Fast

Sara Watkins – Lord Won’t You Help Me

Sara Watkins – All This Time

David Rawlings Machine – Ruby

Animal Collective – My Girls

Owl City – The Tip Of The Iceberg

Great Lake Swimmers – Everything Is Moving So Fast

Great Lake Swimmers – Stealing Tomorrow

Dawes—Peace In The Valley

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Roll Up Your Sleeves

Fanfarlo -- Drowning Men

Fanfarlo - Good Morning Midnight

Devendra Banhart – Rats

Conor Oberst—Roosevelt Room

Magnolia Electric Co—KnoXVIlle Girl

Magnolia Electric Co—Hope Dies Last

Snow Patrol—Give Me Strength

One eskimO—Kandi

One eskimO–Amazing

Anthony Hamilton - Fine Again

Ledisi –Knockin

India Arie –River Rise

Jewel—Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Glasvegas – Silent Night

Monday, November 30, 2009

TOTR 67: Peace, Food, & Anticipation

Moby – What's Going On
Voices Of East Harlem – For What It's Worth
Sweet Honey In The Rock – Stranger Blues
Jessie Mae Hemphill – Lord, Help the Poor and Needy
Stephen Stills – Feed The People
Paul Simon – Homeless
Paul Simon – Peace Like A River
Yusuf Islam – Peace Train
Moxy Fruvous – Gulf War Song
Keb Mo – (What's So Funny About) Peace, Love And Understanding
A Perfect Circle – Imagine
Street Drum Corps – Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
Oliver Schott – Give Peace A Chance
Kerry Gulbranson – The Rebel Jesus
Sufjan Stevens – The Winter Solstice
Sarah Mclachlan – River
Tori Amos – Holly, Ivy and Rose
Sting – Soul Cake
Bob Dylan – Little Drummer Boy
U2 – I Believe In Father Christmas
Johnny Cash – Children Go Where I Send Thee
The Staple Singers – No Room At The Inn
Aaron Neville – Go Tell It On The Mountain
Sugarland – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
The Roches – The Hallelujah Chorus
Over The Rhine – Silent Night

Monday, November 23, 2009

TOTR 66: Grub & Gratitude

(Originally mixed & annotated in 2009; updated for the blog in 2018)

In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday back in 2009, I adopted the theme “Grub & Gratitude” for a late November radio program. 

As always, holidays can be stressful or controversial, but for this musical journey, I decided to avoid some of the social, historical, or political aspects associated with the problematic relationship between the so-named pilgrims & so-called Indians. 

Even food & friendship can be examined with a cultural lens, but it is food & family & friendship that this mix celebrates. Hopefully my notes will add thematic insight while the playlist offers auditory delight.

Hank Williams – Hey, Good Lookin'
Hank Williams – Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
Doc Watson – Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

With “Hey, Good Lookin'” and “Jambalaya (On The Bayou),” Hank Williams offers up the invocation of number one songs from the early 1950s, immediately followed by Doc Watson's “Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy.” These tracks are comfort food for the ears. Immediately, we're reminded that the verb “cookin” has carnal as well as culinary implications, so the love has many dimensions. In classic folk, country, or blues, the poetics of the kitchen inevitably invite romantic antics in the bedroom.

With the Watson number, the allusions resist the subtle, & the adjectives approach the amorous or scandalous suggestions of the song; surely, some would read this to be as sexist as any modern day hip hop misogyny. 

At the same time, these tracks set a regional mood rooted in the south where food & family connect to community, where the physicality of blues/folk/rock/country/pop are forever in tension with the spirituality of gospel music. Watson hailed from North Carolina and Williams from Alabama, with the latter dying before he turned 30—on the road from Knoxville, Tennessee, with the requisite mystery & morphine to add to the myth.

The B-52s – Cake
As we enter the season of “Dessert First,” this party of a song was suggested for this playlist by a Tech colleague. Take what we learned about baking innuendo from Doc Watson & put it in the able vocalization of singers Cindy Wilson & Kate Pierson, & we’re sure to have some icing on the pineapple upside-down cake, chocolate devil's food cake, an angel cake.

Louis Jordan – Beans and Cornbread
When I first moved to the south in the middle of the last decade of the last century, one of the first skills I learned was how to make cornbread; later I learned that my cornbread is considered cake by some of the locals. 

A few secrets I’ve learned over the last decade of my cornbread career include making it in a cast-iron pan, preheating the pan in the oven & melting real butter in the pan while I prepare the batter, & being generous with baking powder & organic sugar in the recipe. The preheated butter helps form the perfect golden crust on the cornbread & the extra pinches of sugar & baking powder keep the cornbread fluffy. 

Hailing from Arkansas, known as “King of the Jukebox,” & having once played in a band called Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Louis Jordan was one of the most popular African-American musicians of the twentieth century. “Beans and Cornbread” was recorded in 1949.

Don Cherry – Brown Rice
Avant-garde jazz musician Don Cherry was a contemporary of John Coltrane’s, & this track comes from 1975. It’s about as “out there” as this mix gets.

Booker T & The MG's – Burnt Biscuits
Booker T & The MG's – Red Beans And Rice
Keeping us fueled with funk, Booker T &  the MG’s make it magic with the infectious sound of Memphis soul. On the culinary tip, they keep it to the basic staples, just as their music was the staple at Stax Records in the 1960s.

Otis Grand – Cheese & Crackers
Carole King – Chicken Soup With Rice
This singable ditty about an always sippable delicacy was born as part of a made-for-TV special called Really Rosie from 1975—with ideas & lyrics by none other than Maurice Sendak.

Lyle Lovett – Church
My colleague, friend, & mentor Kurt Eisen added this to the playlist when I sought suggestions & requests on Facebook. My friend Justina seconded the nomination. After listening, I knew that this song had a lot of “something” for me—my kind of hymn to dance-in-the-aisles, wave-my-arms-in –a-testifyin’-of-way. To match the night’s lyrical theme, just check the lyrics:
To the Lord let praises be
It's time for dinner now let's go eat
We've got some beans and some good cornbread
And I listened to what the preacher said

Arlo Guthrie – Alice's Restaurant Massacre
I am not sure when I first heard Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving classic or why its legendary blend of stand-up commentary has forever secured its place in pop-rock-cultural mythology. I did hear that when some radio stations play the song around this time of year, it’s not uncommon to cut the mix from its full 18-minute-form, leaving out some of the anti-war commentary.

Ryan Adams – Thank You Louise
My good musical friends & regular listeners to this program know how I feel about Ryan Adams (love him). These lyrics nail the mood I’ve sought for this show:
Mother of three
Waiting in the check-out line
The supermarket, Christmas time
She eyes someone who doesn't have the change
Takes a dollar from her purse
She pays and doesn't say a word
She winks and grins and ‘Merry Christmas, friend!'
Thank you Louise

Dan Fogelberg – Illinois
While I remember listening to the light rock of Dan Fogelberg in middle school, I don’t think I ever heard this song. A friend from Chattanooga suggested it for the lyrics: “I may miss the harvest, but I won't miss the feast.”

Natalie Merchant – Kind And Generous
In the 1980s, I was mad for 10,000 Maniacs, logging “Almost Famous” fanboy memories about Natalie Merchant as I did with Maria McKee, even more memorable, personal, & vivid than when I followed REM &  U2. While not as familiar with her later solo work, this song embodies the mood of gratitude with so much sweetness, intimacy, & grace. 

Foscoe Jones – Thanksgiving
I’d never heard of Foscoe Jones of Austin, Texas before compiling this mix, but this song grabbed me among many with the title “Thanksgiving” as perfect for tonight’s mix—perhaps because of what I perceive as its sundry, ironic, bittersweet emotions about family, about America, about everything.

John Mellencamp – Thank You
Of all the populist, rust-belt anthemic Americana singers to emerge from the Reagan & Bush years, to endure through the Clinton & Bush II years, to still be with us with choruses as wide & cheap & believable as biblical metaphors ready-made for American car commercials, John Mellencamp can still make the hair on your arms tingle. Mellencamp can be the man, never as revered by the rock intelligentsia as Springsteen but still kicking it anyways.

My Morning Jacket – Thank You Too!
While not my favorite song from last year’s Evil Urges, the tender & heartfelt “Thank You Too!” is one Jim James’ best ventures into softer rock balladry.

Sly & The Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Who doesn’t want a little Sly Stone? This song says it all!

Pistol Pete & Popgun Paul - Thanksgiving Day 
One of the first Thanksgiving songs that I ever heard, the love & tenderness in this one gets me every time. 

Sarah Vaughan – If Not For You
Led Zeppelin – Thank You
We all have many, many things to give thanks for in the world—just this life, just food to eat, just shelter over our heads, just something meaningful to do with our time. But love itself is perhaps the greatest thing we give thanks for, & these songs, one by Dylan interpreted by Sarah Vaughan, & the other by Led Zeppelin, really do this & do it well.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
(Meister Eckhart, 1260–1328, a German theologian, philosopher and mystic)

The Annotated Mixtape Project!

“The Annotated Mixtape!”

  1. Design a playlist or mixtape of roughly 5 to 15 (really, no limit in either direction is required) songs that represent you or a theme that interests you: you as a person, you as a student/professor/activist/writer/parent/child [fill in the blank with word or vocation that embodies you], you in relationship to this time in your life, you as you interpret the changing of the seasons, you as a consumer of pop culture, or some other theme that you can articulate.
  2. Create an “annotated playlist” document to accompany this mix. To do this, don’t just choose your favorite songs; explain how the songs develop or represent a theme, supporting that explanation through reflection about yourself and your relationship with music.
  3. Document formats for your playlist’s commentary may vary, but at minimum will include a title, an introduction, & a complete list of songs chosen, with artist’s names & comprehensive or selected comments for each song or section of songs.
  4. Share this mix or playlist with your friends as a gift (mix CD with handmade booklet containing your annotated commentary/liner notes, Facebook ‘note,’ playlist distributed using various interactive websites or music programs created for this purpose, etc.)

I've been mixing music & making playlists for as long as I can remember. Before my first days as a DJ on 88.3 FM in Southfield, Michigan back in 1985, my family made mixtapes for long roadtrips, taking votes from each of the Smiths about which songs to include. Even as a preteen, I was obsessed with consuming music, buying albums, & making amateur mixes with my mock radio commentary recorded on one of those hand-held cassette players with the built-in microphone.

All semester, I've dreamed of designing the “Annotated Playlist” assignment as an alternative (or addition) to the reflective letter required of writers to be included with their Final Portfolios in English 1010 or English 1020. To teach this idea, I've decided to annotate a playlist of my own, in this case the songs planned for the sixty-sixth edition of the Teacher On The Radio program, which airs each Monday night on 88.5 FM in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Monday, November 16, 2009

TOTR 65: Blood Is Life

Gorillaz –Dracula

Slightly Stoopid – Blood of My Blood

Suzanne Vega – Blood Makes Noise

Frightened Rabbit – Fast Blood

Doug Burr – Blood Runs Downhill

Peter Gabriel – Blood Of Eden

Eels – Fresh Blood

Queens Of The Stone Age – The Blood Is Love

Death Cab For Cutie – Meet Me On The Equinox

Editors – Blood

Editors – No Sound But The Wind

Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage

Lykke Li – Possibility

Bon Iver – Blood Bank

Bon Iver & St. Vincent – Rosyln

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Done All Wrong

Grizzly Bear – Slow Life

Urbantramper – Eucharist

Jars of Clay – Nothing But the Blood

Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head

Norah Jones – Young Blood

Annie Lennox – Love Song For A Vampire

Monday, November 9, 2009

TOTR 64: Movin' On

U2 – Disappearing Act

U2 – Sixty Seconds in Kingdom Come

Blk Jks – Standby

Blk Jks – Skeleton

The Dynamites and Charles Walker – Do The Right Thing

The Dynamites and Charles Walker – Can’t Have Enough

The Dynamites and Charles Walker –The Real Deal

Rickie Lee Jones – Wild Girl

Rickie Lee Jones – Old Enough

Rickie Lee Jones – Eucalyptus Trail

Rickie Lee Jones – The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith

Rain Machine – New Last Name

Rain Machine – Driftwood Heart

The Flaming Lips – I Can Be A Frog

The Flaming Lips – Silver Trembling Hands

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Sleep All Day

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Four Night Rider

The Rural Alberta Advantage – In the Summertime

Kris Kristofferson – Holy Woman

Kris Kristofferson – Let The Walls Come Down

Kris Kristofferson – Good Morning John

Rosanne Cash – I’m Movin’ On

Rosanne Cash – 500 Miles

Rosanne Cash – Long Black Veil (Feat_ Jeff Tweedy)

R.E.M. – Until The Day Is Done [Live At The Olympia]

R.E.M. – Little America [Live At The Olympia]

R.E.M. – Harborcoat [Live At The Olympia]

Monday, November 2, 2009

TOTR 63: Breathe!

First Breath - first breath

Pink Floyd - Speak To Me / Breathe

Pink Floyd - Breathe (Breathe In The Air)

The Police - Every Breath You Take

Pearl Jam - Breath And A Scream

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

R.E.M - Try Not to Breathe

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Fields Are Breathing

Telepopmusik - Breathe

The Prodigy - Breathe

U2 – Breathe

Jimmy Buffett - Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Leaves – Breathe

Mat Kearney - Breathe In Breathe Out

Mike Peters - Breathe

Alexi Murdoch - Breathe

Sarah Brightman - You Take My Breath Away

Melissa Etheridge – Breathe

k.d. lang - The Air That I Breathe

Anna Nalick - Breathe (2 AM)

Tony Sims - One Breath

Tony Sims - Last Breath (Tunnel of Light)

Monday, October 26, 2009

TOTR 62: Avetology!

All Avett Brothers!

Album - Song

Emotionalism - Die Die Die

Emotionalism - Shame

Emotionalism - Paranoia in B Major

Emotionalism - The Ballad Of Love And Hate

Mignonette - Hard Worker

Mignonette - Salvation Song

Mignonette - Nothing Short of Thankful

Carolina Jubilee - Love Like The Movies

Carolina Jubilee - Me And God

Carolina Jubilee - Do You Love Him

Carolina Jubilee - Smoke In Our Lights

Country Was - Jenny and the Summer Day

Country Was - November Blue

The Second Gleam - Bella Donna

The Second Gleam - The Greatest Sum

I and Love and You - I and Love and You

I and Love and You - January Wedding

I and Love and You - Head Full Of Doubt Road Full Of Promise

I and Love and You - The Perfect Space

I and Love and You - Ten Thousand Words

I and Love and You - Laundry Room

I and Love and You – I’ll With Want

I and Love and You - Tin Man

I and Love and You - It Goes On and On

I and Love and You - Incomplete and Insecure

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Feeling of Feeling: On Loving the Avett Brothers' New Record

Contemporary music fans understand all too well the double-barreled blessing-and-curse of falling in love with a “buzz band.” On the one hand, many songs still singe under the skin in such soul-wrenching wonder that you’re sure the artist wrote them specifically for you. Then, on the other hand, when you hear the artist on the radio or hear someone superficially praising the band’s breadth and depth, you feel oddly betrayed, because you realize that the musical magic the tunes cast upon your entire being is doing a similarly alchemical number on the spirits of thousands of other fans across the world. This is the delightful dilemma of pop culture fandom in the internet age.

With the Avett Brothers of North Carolina, truth be told, I only caught the next-big-trendy wave with the tremendous new blockbuster of a breakout album, so my marvelously mixed feelings must stray far, far from the partisan loyalty of I-knew-them-when-die-hardery.

Apparently, the consensus among some of the oldcore leans toward a skeptical levity about the alleged overproduction found on the new disc.Any self-consciousness I might have about merely jumping onto the bandwagon late and succumbing to the buzz simply falls away when I listen to I and Love and You, the Rick Rubin-produced tour de force that dropped to the world at the end of September 2009.

From the first to the final of thirteen tracks, each song speaks to the contours of my heart, bares the burdens and shares the blessings of life’s tattered and tenacious spirit.Through an utterly gorgeous audio vortex of ageless vision, this instant classic carved timeless niches in my brain and across my body. With melodies like autumn smells and lyrics of earnest wisdom, the Avetts invoke life lessons for an always learning, ever passionate community of listening humans.

Comfortably centered in the realm of folk-rock-pop, I and Love and You sounds memorable and epic in its genre at a level shared by the likes of Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Cat Stevens’ Tea for The Tillerman, or Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme. Did you ever wonder what kind of internet buzz would have been created by the likes of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel back in the day?

Thanks to the mimetic mystery of the evermodern world, of course, even a rootsy record with a stripped-down, old-school sound gets shared in digitized devotion, a downloadable communion with ever-widening masses of more folks, all attending a technological and ceremonial mass to merge with this masterpiece. I imagine the Avetts acutely aware of the contradictions inherent to the popular music culture, now a decade into the 21st century.

Somehow spiritually consistent with a sound that reeks of retro anomaly, the Avetts decided to release the vinyl version of the new record two weeks before the CD and MP3 versions. But the digital consumer was never cut off from the buffet table at the Avett family picnic, because in the days preceding release, that bastion of modest and mature hipness, NPR, was streaming the record for free.

Far from developing a full-blown philosophy about the pure philos fusing guitarist Seth to his older brother and banjo player Scott, I revel in jaw-dropping, ear-popping awe at the fraternal eternal confection of folk-rock-pop perfection. An album that is ever-so-simply about (as the lyric to “Tin Man” goes) the “feeling of feeling” could readily be dismissed as an overly simplistic string of sappy arena rock clich├ęs, or as the world-renowned cynics over at Pitchfork remind us: “a similar potential yearbook quote in every song—every verse, just about.”

At a time when such droplets of everyman’s lyrical acumen populate Facebook status updates the planet over, the temptation to tire of (or at least ruthlessly poke and parody) such staged sincerity certainly exists.

But that “feeling of feeling” this listener got upon listen after listen both embraced and evaded such cozy reductionism; that is, I never questioned the “chest wide open” chills and thrills of transcendence from the tender inside of understanding. Instead, I celebrated the breeze outside, without the sleaze of second guessing that contaminates far too many fan experiences.

Monday, October 12, 2009

TOTR 61: Circle Around The Sun

Blind Melon – No Rain

Poi Dog Pondering – Circle around the sun

The Beatles - Good Day Sunshine

Yeasayer – Sunrise

U2 - Three Sunrises

Cowboy Junkies - Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning

Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant

Fleet Foxes - Sun It Rises

John Denver - Sunshine on My Shoulders

Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun

The Police - Invisible Sun

Nirvana - Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam

Keane – Sunshine

The Rapture - Live in Sunshine

M.I.A – Sunshowers

Peter Tosh - Here Comes the Sun

Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun

Rusted Root - Laugh as the Sun

Ryan Adams - The Sun Also Sets

Grateful Dead - China Cat Sunflower

The Doors - Waiting for the Sun

Hair Soundtrack- The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)

Sunday Morning - Velvet Underground

Delta Spirit - Ode To Sunshine

TV on the Radio - Staring at the Sun

U2 - Staring at the Sun

Monday, October 5, 2009

TOTR 60: Road to Somewhere

Sly & The Family Stone – Everyday People.

Arrested Development – Tennessee

Aaron Neville – The Roadie Song

Ben Harper – Amen Omen

Eddie Vedder – Setting Forth

Eddie Vedder – End of the Road

Simon And Garfunkel – America

Allman Brothers – Revival

Allman Brothers – Midnight Rider

Kris Kristofferson – Me And Bobby McGee

Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride

The Who – Magic Bus

The Replacements – Kiss Me On The Bus

The Replacements – Here Comes A Regular

Elton John – Tiny Dancer

Cat Stevens – On the Road to Find Out

Cat Stevens – The Wind

Fleet Foxes – False Knight on the Road

Nick Drake – Road

Goldfrapp – Road To Somewhere

Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

Nanci Griffith – Ford Econoline

Porter Hall Tennessee – Middle Tennessee

Pickin' On R. E. M.: The Bluegrass Tribute – Driver 8

R.E..M. – You Are the Everything

Monday, September 28, 2009

TOTR 59: Super Duper Grouper Trooper!!

Emerson Lake & Palmer - Lucky Man

Emerson Lake & Palmer - You Turn Me On

Captain Beyond - Myopic Void

Captain Beyond - Sufficiently Breathless

Blind Faith – Can’t Find My Way Home

Humble Pie - Black Coffee

Dylan & The Dead - Queen Jane Approximately

The Highwaymen - American Remains

The Highwaymen - The Road Goes On Forever

The Band - The Weight

The Raconteurs – Level

The Raconteurs - Store Bought Bones

The Dead Weather - I Cut Like A Buffalo

The Dead Weather - So Far From Your Weapon

The Dead Weather - Treat Me Like Your Mother

Monsters Of Folk - Say Please

Monsters Of Folk - Man Named Truth

Monsters Of Folk - Map of the World

Monsters Of Folk - His Master’s Voice

A Perfect Circle - 3 Libras

A Perfect Circle - Peace Love and Understanding

A Perfect Circle - Gravity

Monday, September 21, 2009

After The Flood / Autumn Sun

Lone Justice – After The Flood


Black Keys – I Got Mine

Staind – Epiphany

The Black Crowes – Shine Along

Lucero – On The Way Back Home

Charlie Louvin – My Long Journey Home

Those Darlins – Mama’s Heart

King Sunny Ade – Ja Funmi

Squirrel Nut Zippers – Dancing On The Moon

The Small Faces – Autumn Stone

Yo La Tengo – Autumn Sweater

Achim Wendling – Autumn Sun

Bop Harvey – Autumn Melancholy

Ashtar Ron Allen – Fall Equinox

Lightning Dust – Take It Home

Lightning Dust –Waiting On The Sun To Rise

Lightning Dust – The Times

The Cave Singers – Bricks Of Our Home

Mary Travers – Rhymes And Reasons

Peter, Paul and Mary – If I Had A Hammer

Johnny Cash – One

CMH Celtic – Where The Streets Have No Name