Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Living with Music: A Playlist by Count Fosco

In spite of himself, Fosco has been intrigued by the weekly NYTimes bookblog Paper Cuts. Especially fascinating is the Wednesday feature called "Living with Music," in which a "a writer or some other kind of book-world personage" is asked to provide a playlist of songs for that month. Sure, it's kinda annoying, like when Miranda July used it to establish her indie cred or when Daniel Handler decided to demonstrate his breadth of musical knowledge (settle down, Lemony... You've impressed us all. You have remarkably catholic taste. We get it.). But then you read a list like Tom Perrotta's and you think, "Those are some good songs. Good work, Book-World Personage!" I must say I like Tom Perrotta a lot more this evening than I did this morning (a fact that's already registered on my Tom Perrotta Q Meter).

Well, let's see if Count Fosco can get his Q Score a bit higher by providing his own September 2007 Playlist.

Count Fosco's September 2007 Playlist

September is that month when it's still kind of summer (especially here in California) and suddenly kind of not. The beaches are sunny, but almost empty. School is about to start, even though you didn't make a serious dent in your summer reading list. Hello September...

  1. For The Actor, Mates of State. I'm digging the Mates of State right now. There's no guitar, but I don't really miss it. The imperfect harmony is ridiculously appealing. This is a good end-of-summer song: not too fluffy, but still upbeat and optimistic. When it slows down for the coda, you can feel autumn in the air.
  2. Don't Stop Believin', Petra Haden. The original version of this song is one of the five best songs ever. EVER. This cover is thrilling, even though it's like a capella (which is evil). She sings all the parts herself, including the guitar solos... Is it good? Is it funny? It's both.
  3. Racing in the Street / I'll Work for Your Love, Bruce Springsteen. A double-header from Uncle Bruce. "Racing in the Street" is probably my favorite Bruce song. It's full of regrets and recriminations--just like September. "I'll Work for Your Love" is brand new. It's from Bruce's album "Magic" (due out October 2). There's kind of a "Thunder Road" vibe going on here in the piano line. The first line, "Pour me a drink Theresa / in one of the glasses you dust off," takes us exactly where we need to be for September. Let's pour a drink and think about stuff.
  4. Yours to Keep, Teddybears (featuring Neneh Cherry and Annie). Just because summer is over, it doesn't mean we can't listen to one more great road trip song. This song is perfect for driving in a convertible (Psst Todd). And yes, that is Neneh Cherry singing! The Neneh Cherry. Her voice is so damn shmoove.
  5. This Woman's Work, Kate Bush. Hmmm. It's harder than it looks to write a paragraph about each of these songs. This is the only Kate Bush song I like, but I really like it. I'm pretty sure she's not related to the Connecticut Bushes, but I can't guarantee that. The best part of the song is when she hesitates before singing "hand" (as in "Give me your... hand.")--that's gold, baby. I just wish they weren't using this song in the new CSI: promos. Is crime scene investigation women's work? Huh? That doesn't make any sense.
  6. Big Casino / If You Don't, Don't, Jimmy Eat World. A twofer by one of Fosco's five favorite bands. "Big Casino" is the first single from their upcoming album. This lyric is irresistible: "I'll accept with poise, with grace / When they draw my name from the lottery / And they'll say, 'All the sun in the world couldn't melt that ice.'" Who hasn't had that fantasy? "If You Don't, Don't" is a ridiculously good song that relies on a strange stuttered chorus. Whenever I hear this song I think of driving home alone late at night on empty streets at the end of summer; it's starting to get cool and there's condensation on the rear window. I just hooked up with someone I want to love me and I'm singing (to that person): "Would you mean this please if it happens?" At least that's how I imagine it.
  7. The Only Moment We Were Alone, Explosions in the Sky. Lyrics are totally unnecessary when you write songs like this. Chiming guitars manage to be plenty expressive here. This song still gives me chills every time I hear it. It's the most beautiful song I've heard this year.
  8. Something More, Aly & AJ. I've already admitted that I'm a tween at heart. But this song is such a (guilty) pleasure. Who doesn't love remembering the beginning of a summer romance? "And I remember the night you said / 'Lets go for a ride.' I didn't want the night to end. / Would we be more than friends?" It totally takes you back to your youth, doesn't it? Excuse me, I have to go put on eyeliner and lip gloss.
  9. The Trapeze Swinger, Iron & Wine. Reasons to love this song: the vulnerability in Sam Beam's voice, the regular addition/subtraction of instruments in an essentially repetitive musical structure, the heart-breaking incantation to "please remember me," the makeout session at the circus, the sense that the entire history of a life-long relationship has been condensed into a ten minute song.
  10. Ocean Breathes Salty, Sun Kil Moon. It's originally a song by Modest Mouse, but their version always leaves me cold; it's like they (purposefully?) refused to express the emotional resonance of the lyrics. Mark Kozelek performs this song as it was meant to be performed: with a sad earnestness that makes the wry lyrics all the more dangerous. "I hope heaven and hell are really there, but I wouldn't hold my breath. / You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death?" And the earnest lyrics? Oh yeah, those are good too. "Your body may be gone / I'm gonna carry you in / In my head, in my heart, in my soul." Summer is over, my friends, but we can still carry it in our head, heart, and soul.

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