Whenever I hear the REM song "Losing My Religion" it brings me right back to the scene in Beverly Hills, 90210 when Brenda and Dylan are breaking up. I still remember where they were parked, overlooking the water, seagulls overhead and waves crashing on the shore, and how the whole thing went down, with this song playing. I remember it better than some of my own breakups. That's embarrassing.
My friend Bruce and I theoretically should talk about sailing, but instead we've been talking about music. It turns out we have overlapping tastes. He just introduced me to the music of a dobro player named Jerry Douglas, and I've been listening to one of his albums for the last couple of days, mesmerized.
(Actually, to be technical, I've been listening to a cassette tape. Remember those? Listening to it reminds me of some of what I've lost converting to digital music; there is definitely a diminishment in sound quality when you compress something into mp3, and listening to this analog recording I find all this richness in the string sounds, the texture of the instruments that somehow deepens the sound. You get melody on mp3, but there's something flat about it. I'd forgotten until I started listening to this cassette tape.)
Bruce also reminded me about a guitarist I listened to years ago, a guy named Michael Hedges. It's great to remember how much I like the acoustic richness of stringed instruments: well-played guitar, mandolin, dobro, cello, upright bass. It's like running into an old friend you haven't seen for years, or rereading a favorite book and finding yourself surprised to rediscover the parts you've forgotten.
I forgot a favorite song. I love "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright."
There's a version I remember from a mix tape I had long ago, back in 1994. That's the version that's my favorite version. I don't know who the singer was. Not Dylan. More tuneful. iTunes didn't locate my phantom memory version, but there's a nice cover by Eddie from Ohio. What a haunting sad song.
My friend TK asked me for my favorite song. He makes a mix each year and gives it to friends; this year, the theme is his friends' favorite songs. He said, "I've noticed that men see this as a simple question and just give me their favorite song, and women say, 'I have lots of favorite songs,' and have trouble deciding." I rolled my eyes and thought, "silly women." And then was unable to come up with my own favorite song.
I asked my iPod, which has a handy list of my top 25 most frequently played songs. The top two are Radiohead songs. Then there's an Old 97s song, then a Willie Nelson song. I was pleased to see "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate in the top 10. None of those would have occurred to me as my favorite songs.
I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles Such are promises. All lies and jest till the man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest. mmmmmmmhmmmm....
When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy In the company of strangers, in the quiet of the railway station, running scared. Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go Looking for the places only they would know.
(Join in, everyone!) Lie la lie, li la la li lie lie, Lie la lie.
Seeking only workman's wages I go looking for a job but I get no offers Just a come on from the whores on Seventh Avenue. I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there, la la la la la.
Now I'm laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone, going home Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me.....bleeding me, going home.
In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade And he carries a reminder of every glove that laid him down Or cut him till he cried out, in his anger and his shame I am leaving I am leaving but the fighter still remains mnnmmmm...
ZZ Top Grateful Dead + Little Feat The Jerry Garcia Band The Dead Milkmen Jimmy Page Robert Cray (once solo, once with the Neville Brothers) Pink Floyd Phish (several times) -- including HORDE, when they appeared with Blues Traveller and Widespread Panic) Crosby Stills & Nash James Taylor Cowboy Junkies (twice) The Spin Doctors Maceo Parker Lucinda Williams (3x) Willie Nelson (with Ben Harper making a guest appearance) Wilco Ashley MacIsaac Natalie McMaster The Jayhawks The Sadies (3x) Fred Eaglesmith (lots of times) Charlie Hunter Trio Slaid Cleaves (3x) Robbie Fulks Martin Sexton Josh Rouse Ray Wylie Hubbard Butch Hancock Joe Ely Jimmie Dale Gilmore (2x) The Legendary Shack Shakers (2x) Gillian Welch Martin Hayes (2x?) Ryan Adams (2x, and he was drunk and bad both times) Thad Cockrell (2x) Caitlin Cary Jesse "Guitar" Taylor Kasey Chambers John Hiatt w/ Shawn Colvin Rickie Lee Jones
Plus a lot more small names, obscure artists, and people I've forgotten. The best shows were Joe Ely at Raoul's, Lucinda Williams at the State on the Car Wheels tour, Wilco at the Asylum, and Maceo Parker at the Asylum.
The concerts I'd most like to see: the Old 97s, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens.
I'm looking for a song by Bob Dylan that begins "Ramona come closer / shed softly your watering eyes". It was on a mix someone gave me years ago. Other lyrics I remember: "Your cracked country lips / I still wish to kiss / and to be by the strength of your skin / Your magnetic movements still capture the minutes I'm in."
What's the title of that song? What album is it on? Where can I get it on MP3?
UPDATE: Sorry. I don't know what came over me, but I forgot about Google for a second there. It's called "To Ramona." 99 cents later, it's mine off of iTunes. And it's as good a song as I remember.
Just like everyone else, I think Sufjan Stevens' album Illinois is great. That's getting heavy play these days. Also still listening to old school REM, Wilco, and Blue Rodeo. Blue Rodeo might be my favorite band that I never really got excited about. Alejandro Escovedo is like that, too. Very talented musicians, but not folks you wave your arms about and press into your friends' hands.