Monthly Archives: February 2008

“Evening comes too early for a stroll”

Neil Young – “Campaigner” from Decade (1977)

Forgive me if I return to Neil Young more often than you might like.

Neil wrote this song on the bus while touring with Stephen Stills and “The Stills-Young Band” in 1976. The tour was conceived as 30 dates but lasted only 8 before Young quit.

The lyrics for “Campaigner” are some of Neil’s more beautiful and melancholy abstractions, akin to earlier songs like “Broken Arrow” or “Expecting to Fly.” It also features his terrifically percussive guitar playing. Of all songs where it’s just Neil and a guitar, this is far and away my favorite.

Buy Decade here

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1970s, Acoustic, Singer-Songwriter

“Nabokov wrote on index cards, at a lectern, in his socks”

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “There She Goes, My Beautiful World” from Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)

Sometime SWR scribe Bailey introduced me to this song when I stayed with him in NYC recently. Nick Cave never quite did it for me until I heard this song, an exhortation to make art by any technique necessary. It’s kind of silly, but kind of totally inspiring.

Many of the artists Nick Cave invokes SWReaders are no doubt familiar with, but I must call attention to poet (and jazz fan/pornography aficionado) Philip Larkin (who “stuck it out at a library in Hull”). Read his “High Windows,” “Annus Mirabilis,” and “The Explosion.”

Also, there’s a pretty good live performance of this song on YouTube.

Buy the Bad Seeds

Posted by Glenn


Filed under 2000s, Rock


Rick Wakeman – “Merlin the Magician” from The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975)

It’s been some time since my friend Ben introduced me to Rick Wakeman’s solo work. I recall fondly my whirlwind romance with Wakeman’s first three records: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and this gem.

“Merlin the Magician” is the stand-out track from Myths and Legends. It displays several shades of Wakeman’s brilliance and arrogance. It is, at turns, very beautiful and agonizingly pretentious. But I suppose that is the very hallmark of good prog rock.

Buy RW here

Posted by Jordy


Filed under 1970s, Prog Rock

“I sing evil, I sing good”

Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Only Someone Running” from Superwolf (2005)

What does it mean that, once upon a time, Glenn and I independently put this song on mixes for our girlfriends?

This was one of the best records (and best collaborations) of the last five years and so many overlooked it.

Buy it here

Posted by Jordy


Filed under 2000s, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Total eclipse of the, uh…moon?

The Rolling Stones – “Moonlight Mile” from Sticky Fingers (1971)

To commemorate tonight’s total lunar eclipse, we offer this Stone-cold classic from Mick, Keith, & Co.’s best record. Enjoy it outside, in a lawn chair, with a beer, as you bask in the blood-red moon. That’s my plan, anyway.

Check out NASA’s Eclipse page

Like anyone here doesn’t already own all the Rolling Stones records

Posted by Glenn


Filed under 1970s, Rock

“And all of a sudden I’m relatively sane”

Guided by Voices – “Echos Myron” from Bee Thousand (1994)

It feels like spring down here in the North Carolina Piedmont, and spring sounds to me like distorted lo-fi ’90s indie rock. Enjoy.

Guided by Amazon

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1990s, Pop, Rock

Hold Steady members talk baseball

The Hold Steady – “You Can Make Him Like You” from Boys and Girls in America (2006)

Check out The Spot Starters’ interview with Hold Steady members Tad Kubler and Franz Nicolay and producer (of their upcoming album) John Agnello. The gentlemen share their thoughts on the Great American Pastime.

Buy the Hold Steady here

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 2000s, Rock

“Go consult your elders”

Vic Chesnutt – “Swelters” from About to Choke (1996)

I don’t know a whole lot about Vic Chesnutt, but this song, along with a few other of his fragile tunes, are the perfect way to slow down and appreciate the weird beauty of mid-week gloom.

Vic’s site

Buy Vic Chesnutt

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1990s, Acoustic, Folk, Pop, Singer-Songwriter

“Call me when you try to wake her”

R.E.M. – “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” from Automatic for the People (1992)

I celebrate most of R.E.M.’s first decade but I have a special place for AftP. I admire its pop-punctuated darkness and find the lack of jangle quite refreshing (What’s so great about jangle anyway?)

This tune features the masterful string arrangements of Led Zeppelin’s most underrated member, John Paul Jones.

Check out Matthew Perpetua’s ambitious and excellent Pop Songs 08 blog for more R.E.M. insights.

Buy R.E.M.

Posted by Jordy


Filed under 1990s, Pop, Rock

“I took my shirt off in the yard”

Microphones – “Ice” from It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water (2000) & “The Glow, Pt. 2” from The Glow, Pt. 2 (2001)

Blake asked for my opinions regarding Phil Elvrum’s Microphones, so here goes:

I’ve cherished the Microphones since a friend lent me their masterwork, The Glow, Pt. 2, in the summer of 2002. At their best (and they can be very spotty), the ‘phones combine classic songcraft and intricate melody with really great sounding four-track experimentation and the kind of wide-eyed prophetic lyrics that the Elephant Six bands tend to indulge in. The Microphones, however, offer songs that are tied to human tragedy–they evoke particular feelings particularly well. I offer two of my favorite songs for your listening pleasure: “Ice,” which, after a fuzzed-out intro, sounds like the lunar surface (the moon: another Microphones obsession), and “The Glow, Pt. 2,” an epic I’ve always thought would sound good played by a brass quintet.

Also recommended: “The Moon,” “I’ll Not Contain You,” “You’ll Be in the Air,” “The Pull,” and “The Glow.”

Get your Glow on

Posted by Glenn


Filed under 2000s, Experimental, Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Friends of Dean Martinez – “When You’re Gone” from A Place in the Sun (2000)

When it rains in the desert, it’s a very special time.

This composition from Tucson natives FoDM is one of the most gentle and beautiful tunes in my library.

Please enjoy it with your eyes closed.

Buy the Friends here

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 2000s, Instrumental

“I’m not singing the song only for myself/I’m singing it for you too”

James Brown – “Lost Someone” from Live at the Apollo (1962)

This is one the most incredible performances of all time. I always thought that James Browns’ many nicknames were mere showmanship but now I realize that they were, indeed, deserved. That man was possessed and so were his audiences at times.

Buy one of the greatest live albums of all time

Watch Glenn’s sole contribution to YouTube

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1960s, Live, Soul