There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who’ve made love while listening to Drive All Night, and those who ain’t. You know which camp Little Stevie is in.
Black candle, fire on the fuse
Shaking in the wind like a lame excuse
Never leave the house, barely leave the room
Got nothing to say, got nothing to prove
Whoa. The party must have ended at Elvis’s house. Ryan Adams is back. Righteous.
…from I Just Might, track #9 from his best-named album in half a decade, Ryan Adams, and the best escalating tension song I’ve heard all year.
Last night I dreamed that I woke up with straps across my chest
And something cold and black pullin’ through my lungs
And even Jesus couldn’t save me though I know he did his best
But he don’t live on Ellis Unit One…
…from Ellis Unit One, by Steve Earle, track #8 on Side Tracks, about a very certain stretch of Death Row and originally written for the film Dead Man Walking, and still one of the most masterfully written songs I’ve ever heard.
I’m not sure which is better – Elvis’s voice, his hair, or that clean, clean, clean, clean suit. Somebody should tell Ann-Margret to quit messing around. Like she’s got any say in the negotiations. Sheesh. Come on.
…from Viva Las Vegas.
The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun…
…from Read My Mind, track #6 off The Killers‘ incomparable, dang near perfect, iconic sophomore album, Sam’s Town. In 2009, a UK radio station named it the 57th greatest song of all time. Which may be a stretch, considering that it’s no better than the 3rd best song on the album. But that line. Hooooooo-boy. Top 10 all time? Maybe.
Stuck here in this city, feels like things are closing in
Sunset’s just my light bulb burning out
…from one of the Top-5 Greatest Country Songs ever written, track number five from Heartbreaker, by Ryan Adams, who has never had a platinum record, though he did have a gold, aptly titled, and who for a brief moment was the greatest songwriter of the last century.
Girl, better figure out which is which
Wherefore art thou Romeo you son of a bitch
You’d just as soon fight as switch now wouldn’t you
He’s come to make love on your satin sheets
Wake up on your living room floor
He’s the last of the hard-core troubadours
For the record…this is my all-time favorite song. Not even close.
Your face in these pictures looks like a poem
Your eyes lit up like a river stone
Your body so much like a blanket thrown
On a warm bed at night, like a house in a storm
Ignoring how Jollet completely screwed up that last line there (it should be “On a warm bed at night IN a house in a storm…” come on), and how it’s got a little whiny emo grease on it, the studio version of this song is just about as close as it gets to perfection. You don’t do tension better than that.
As I shouldered through the crowds, iPod buds shoved deep into my ears, I imagined how much better life would be if everyone walked around in a visible cocoon of digital music, a big, pixelated bubble of playlists, like a force field deflecting everyone with piss-poor taste and letting all the Ting Tings strolling within an aura of blue-eyed soul slip right into your life with an easy smile and a first conversation.
currently playing…black eyed peas…rejected.
currently playing…jolin tsai…rejected.
alert…two thousand three hundred sixteen matches…currently playing…
james brown…live at the apollo nineteen sixty eight…
track nine …
i feel alright.
That’s Tunage. If you’ve got an iPhone…check it out.
Townes was…”the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”
See my dreams before my eyes/ Shadows on the wall, I/ Ain’t got no place I can fall
Snowin’ in off the lake/ Punching holes in the dark/ Through the lonely streets of Roger’s Park
Now there’s a lyric that’s poetry in its own right. Punching holes in the dark? C’mon. Are you kidding me? But what makes Justin Townes Earle a brilliant songwriter isn’t the lyrics. It’s how he drops the bottom out of that second line, wrapping it around the chord progression and hammering down on the minor chord. And man, it hits like a sledgehammer. It’s brilliant despite my obsession with wraparound lyrics. There’s a loneliness between the first and second lines you wouldn’t otherwise have, and what do you get for it? Take a listen…
Harlem River Blues was released in 2010 when JTE was 28 years old. His previous album was released a year earlier, so we can assume he was writing these songs at the age of 26 or 27.
Lovers leave and friends’ll let you down/ But you’re the only sure thing that I’ve found/ No matter what I do I’ll never lose/ My old friend the blues
Runs in the family, eh? The way that Daddy Earle opens a trap door beneath that D chord in the next to last line, letting the D7 sway around…you don’t even realize that you’re the one hanging from the gallows. And then he resolves the final line with every songwriter’s favorite chorus-ender, the good ol’ IV-V-I turnaround, which isn’t exactly how Rogers Park ends, but sure as hell feels like it, if only for the way it leaves you floating in the air.
It’s haunting, truly. And apparently it’s something you’re born with.
So it turns out D’Angelo isn’t dead after all. Go figure. Then again, if ?questlove is correct and this insane cover of Soundgarden‘s Black Hole Sun is eight years old, then who knows what D’Angelo is up to, or if his Chinese Democracy-esque follow up to one of my Top-10 albums of the last fifteen years will ever come out.
Over the last week I’ve gotten a grand total of eleven hours of sleep, for no apparent reason. Which really isn’t terribly unusual for me – I almost never sleep more than four or five hours in a night. But it’s not something to complain about, really. Insomnia runs in my family with almost as much bravado as good looks & a preternatural ability to recall National League batting averages. Plus, you get a lot of reading done. Three books this week alone. One of which I’ve drug across continents for the express purpose of five AM reading sessions, for six-plus years. And it still makes me feel like an artsy hipster douche.
But the bad thing about recurrent insomnia is the unsettling. The swings. Pillows thrown against walls. So last night, when a different book ended up in the corner, I went back to my old friend the blues, that same Isakov album, because really, this is a man who knows something about not sleeping…