I was a DJ for several years in college at a bar where there wasn’t dancing. Music simply provided a lively, entertaining environment. That was tremendously freeing because I didn’t have to play familiar music intended to get people dancing. The music choices could be lively, even if they were unusual; they just had to fit that night’s crowd. This became an early impetus for me seeking out great music far off the beaten path of popularity.
In recent years, I haven’t kept up on current music nearly as much. I tend to mine online sources for older, eclectic music that I may have missed With the internet and online music stores (particularly iTunes) this is much faster and cost-efficient than scouring cut-out bins used to be. In fact, I’ve characterized iTunes as bringing together two of my strongest passions – music and research – in a very seductive way.
Between iTunes, eMusic, Pandora, and Google (for searching lyrics snippets to find song titles), my iPod is filled with a wide variety of songs, many of them little-followed. I usually play these songs over and over for weeks listening for interesting lyrics, melodies, and chord progressions with a tolerance for repetition that drives my wife crazy.
Liz Phair certainly fits this category for me. When “Exile in Guyville” came out, I was already well into a career focus and didn’t get into her music much although I was aware of her. Rediscovering her now has put her early work into my heavy rotation.
In wrapping up Phair Weather Week, here’s a top 25 of these heavy rotation songs from the past year. Some artists and songs will be more familiar than others, but for me, they all have the musical elements I would have included in the mix back at the Brass Rail. Enjoy the discovery process!
- “Never Said” – Liz Phair (from Exile in Guyville)
- “All in a Day” – Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (from Streetcore)
- “Vincent O’Brien” – M. Ward (from Transfiguration of Vincent)
- “Failure” – Ian Ball (from Who Goes There)
- “Glory Box” – Portishead (from Dummy)
- “Brand New Day” – Chris Duarte (from Love Is Greater Than Me)
- “Renegade Master” – Fatboy Slim (from The Fatboy Slim/Norman Cook Collection)
- “Alright” – Supergrass (from I Should Coco)
- “Euro-Trash Girl” – Cracker (from Greatest Hits Redux)
- “Ain’t That Good News” – Sam Cooke (from 30 Greatest Hits – Sam Cooke Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 Remastered)
- “Don’t Make Me Come over There and Love You” – George Strait (from George Strait)
- “Happy Woman Blues” – Lucinda Williams (from Happy Woman Blues)
- “Honky Tonk Part 2” – Bill Doggett (from The 50’s – A Decade to Remember: Do You Wanna Dance)
- “Ice Cream / Basin Street Blues” – George Lewis (from At Club Hangover 1953, Vol. 2)
- “Not an Addict” – K’s Choice (from 10: 1993 – 2003 Ten Years Of)
- “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” – The Clash (from London Calling)
- “Rehab” – Amy Winehouse (from Back to Black)
- “A Little Less Conversation – XL-Vis Remix” – King Junior (from A Little Less Conversation Remixes)
- “Casino Royale” – Herb Alpert (from Sounds Like)
- “Rule of Three” – The Lemonheads (from The Lemonheads)
- “The Cap’m” – They Might Be Giants (from The Else)
- “Georgia Buck” – The Carolina Chocolate Drops (from Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind)
- “Brimful of Asha – Norman Cook Original Radio Edit Remix” – Cornershop – (from Digging In the Crates: 1998, Vol. 1 – EP)
- “How Great Thou Art” – David Jeremiah (from Live at Crossroads)
- “Locked Out” – Crowded House (from Recurring Dream – The Very Best of Crowded House)