If you noticed a hiatus here on the blog – or anything else awry with the universe, for that matter – I have a very good explanation: artistic temperament.
“Andy Warhol” – David Bowie
At the David Bowie Is exhibit, I learned that Andy Warhol didn’t think much of this song, but as far as I’m concerned it’s brilliant. Incidentally, Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol in Basquiat is spectacular too.
“Stage” – Live
They’re loud, they’re from the ’90s, they vehemently refuse to give up the stage. I can get behind that.
“Little Egypt” – The Coasters
You can tell this song is old because when the dude falls in love with the mindblowingly talented burlesque dancer, she has to give up her art for the priviledge of bearing him seven children. This wouldn’t happen now because women have made tremendous strides towards gender equality. She’d only have two kids, three tops.
“Do It With a Rockstar” – Amanda Palmer
Wait, needy lonely rockstars actually exist? Asking for a friend.
P.S. Awesome video, which I set to start 2 minutes in, where the song begins. Do watch the whole thing if you have time.
“Paperback Writer” – The Beatles
The only song about writers I could find is by a band I absolutely loathe, and the sad reality of this is not mitigated by the fact that the lyrics are actually pretty good.
“The Piano Has Been Drinking” – Tom Waits
And speaking of amazing lyrics…
Now I want a drink. Wait, that’s how the blog ended up on hiatus. Nevermind.
Did you know that Hugh Laurie released a blues album a couple of years ago? He often played piano and guitar on House,Fry & Laurie and Jeeves & Wooster, so he’s clearly been secretly planning this for years. I don’t love his singing voice, but the album is still well worth a listen. There’s also a charming and hilarious introductory essay by him in the liner notes on why it’s ok for a white middle-aged British dude to sing old black men’s music.
Something else that Hugh Laurie wrote, incidentally – and I recommend this without any reservations, because it’s brilliant and not the least bit a vanity project – is a novel called The Gun Seller. It’s a humorous thriller that reads like a Wodehousian parody of noir fiction and it’s very, very good.
“Tangerine” – Molly Johnson
I chanced upon Molly Johnson performing at the Toronto Jazz Festival nearly ten years ago, and was captivated by her singing. She seems to have gained in popularity since then – winning a Juno and even recording a promotional clip for Ontario. Rumor has it though, that junk mail addressed to her still occasionally arrives at the Cameron Public House, where she used to room in her less-renowned days.
“Yellow Submarine” – The Beatles
Since we’re rumor-mongering – I heard that these guys have something of a cult following? They’re not my cup of tea, but neither is the colour yellow, so they are welcome to each other.
Moreover, research conducted while putting this playlist together indicates that yellow is the least musically inspiring colour and there are really no good songs out there that feature it, aside from this one and “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”.
“Green Grass” – Agathe & Fine
What do you mean I include Tom Waits in everyplaylist? He’s so well disguised here, I didn’t think you’d notice.
But since you did, I should tell you that Female Tribute to Tom Waits is an extraordinary three-volume collection of Tom Waits covers by women, full of startlingly beautiful, poignant and whimsical interpretations of his songs. There are big-names artists like Marianne Faithfull, Norah Jones and Holly Cole, but also many singers that I discovered here for the first time. There are covers in Spanish, impromptu live recordings, and charismatic French-accented voices. No other tribute collection I’ve heard reveals the depths of beauty lurking in the original songs quite as powerfully as this one.