Music discovery and obsession come to me from all kinds of places. Sometimes I wake up with a song stuck in my head, sometimes I’ll happen on a song that stirs a memory up, or elicits a feeling, sometimes I’ll be watching a film, or series, and a song will hit hard in connection with a scene, and sometimes I’ll get introduced to a track, via a streaming recommendation, or from a friend, or family members playlist, or song play in my car, or in my house. There are other ways that I’m sure I’m forgetting just now, but no matter the way a song hits my radar, becoming a press play priority, music is the one art form that moves and inspires me daily, since forever. I don’t see that ever changing. Like the voyager tendencies I wrote about in my last post, my sense of adventure and discovery is with music, too. My gypsy soul has an ever-growing soundtrack, and she is always hungry for something new.
I never grow tired of new, and new-to-me music. I always want more.
Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions come from various music discovery and obsession moments. Two came from recent binge-watches of BBC’s Killing Eve and Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, one came from a “song I woke up with”, one came via a Spotify suggestion, and one just came to mind while I was compiling the five, a song that has so many memories attached to it.
Shall we begin?
Top 5 Music Obsessions – May 27, 2019
1. “When a Woman Is Around” by Unloved
from the album, Guilty of Love (2016)
“An eye for an eye,
is a blind man’s rule.
I wasn’t born to follow.
I’m nobody’s fool.”
Unloved is a new discovery of mine, one I heard in my current TV binge-obsession, Killing Eve. The music is almost as good as Jodie Comer’s acting is. I am team Villanelle, without a doubt, and also a fangirl for the music in this show (as well as the locations and clothes, and the writing, oh my stars).
The show makes me want to get back to writing. It also nudges (hard) at my restless, gypsy soul. I’m craving travel so fiercely I can hardly contain it. For now, though, music, books, film, tv, and my own writing will have to suffice until I can sort out life and money stuff.
2. “Blood In the Cut” by K. Flay
from the album, Every Where is Some Where (2017)
“Guess I’m contagious,
it’d be safest if you ran.
Fuck, that’s what they all just end up doing in the end.
Take my car and paint it black.
Take my arm,
break it in half.
do it soon –
it’s too quiet in this room.”
Another show I’m obsessing and binging is Netflix’s take on the Archie comics character, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Sabrina and Josie (and the Pussycats) were my Archie-jams, back in my childhood days, so I was interested and excited to see this darker, new take on Sabrina.
It took me a while to clear some time and space for the show, but I’m so glad I (finally) made it. I am digging it, so far – the story, the look and feel, the writing, the casting, and the music.
I’m glad it led me to this track, and to K. Flay’s 2017 album, Every Where Is Some Where. I foresee many listens (and song obsessions) in the near future, as well as a spot in some upcoming playlists.
Do you have a favorite song from the series?
3. “Atomic” by Blondie
from the album, Eat to the Beat (1979)
“Ah, oh your hair is beautiful.
Blondie was the first music (45’s) that I bought with my own money (second would be the Xanadu soundtrack). I’d walk the 9 blocks to this tiny record store in the Alpha Beta parking lot and use my saved up allowance to buy 45’s.
“Atomic” wasn’t one of those first 45’s, but it would become my favorite Blondie song of all-time after years of loving the band, and Debbie Harry herself, and having so many music-moments and memories that would attach to this 1979 track.
I remember dancing (so much dancing) to “Atomic”, kissing (and other things) to “Atomic”, driving in Hollywood in my first car to “Atomic”, and so many other memories.
It is forever a song in my life-soundtrack. One of my favorites in the ever-growing, my-life playlist.
4. “(The Girl With the) Raven Hair” by Jody Reynolds
from the album, Endless Sleep – Rockabilly Best (2010)
“Alone in my sorrow,
with no one to care,
dreaming of someone,
but no one was there.
A big flash of light,
broke through the mist,
revealing the angel I could not resist.”
Whilst making this Top 5 playlist Spotify dropped this track into the suggested for this playlist spot.
I have a deep love of 50’s and rockabilly music, borne of a 12-year-old girl who fell for a rockabilly boy and befriended a 50’s obsessed girl, who led me into the abyss of throwback tunes and tracks.
Sometimes I forget how much I dig this era of sound and style until I hear it again.
I never heard Jody Reynolds though, at least not to my knowledge – though I fancy I’ve heard a track or two in a movie, or tv series – at least once.
This track is so good. Thank you, Spotify.
I think I may go on a 50’s era, Rockabilly-style binge listen soon. Keep an eye on the Top 5 lists this week, you may see/hear more in this vein.
5. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan
from the album, The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
“Thrown like a star in my vast sleep.
I opened my eyes to take a peek.
To find that I was by the sea,
gazing with tranquility.
‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man,
came singing songs of love.”
I woke up with “Hurdy Gurdy Man” in my head, with Donovan’s voice singing to my subconscious, a leftover sound-track from my dreams, I think.
I’ve been having nightmares lately. The kind that I fight to wake from. The kind that I can feel myself conscious of, lucidly trying to scream and kick and wrestle my way out of. This is the consequence of increased anxiety and unhappiness that I’m having so much trouble conquering. I put on a happy face, and wear my best dress of optimism, but inside I’m hurting so much.
I’m hoping that writing more will help. That more music will help. That time and change will help.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of May 27, 2019
Last tracks and title tracks. I’ve always had a fascination for both, as well as first tracks. Back when I lived in albums. Lying on my bedroom floor, or in the living room of the house I grew up in, big headphones on, or leaning up close to giant speakers. This was before I made mixtapes. This was when I lay album covers out in front of me, sliding the inner sleeve out, devouring liner notes and lyric sheets, taking in each in every song the way they were meant to be heard. Like reading a book from page one to the last.
It wasn’t all that long until grabbing favorite tracks and putting them with others became a thing. I suppose its what radio play was. Singles and top lists. DJ favorites. I spent hours and hours with my fingers poised and ready on the play, pause, and record buttons, in the quest for the perfect mix. I still do it. Weekly, sometimes more than weekly. Except now its search and drag into place. The ease of finding music, and making the perfect playlist is a blessing, but also a curse.
How often do we listen to an album from its start-to-finish? I try to pride myself on doing just that, but I don’t do it as often as that young girl me did back in the ’70s. Music was a voyage of discovery, and it took time. A lot of it. It was worth it though. Those albums from back then, start-to-finish, are among my all-time favorites.
The Voyager, the album, is one of those recent albums I’ve listened to in that old start-to-finish way, many times over. I’ve played it, along with Jenny’s other two albums, and a few Rilo Kiley ones, in that album-love kind of way ever since getting a hold of each one. I only wish I had actual albums of each (someday).
What is it about Jenny Lewis that has me enamored with each album in its entirety? I know it lies in the songwriting, as much as it lies in her voice and the music itself. I know here love/hate relationship regarding Los Angeles plays a part, too, as well as her take on being a woman in this world. Each album feels like a voyage in itself, and each song resonates with me on different levels, frequencies, and emotions.
“The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis
from the album, The Voyager (2014)
Song of the Day
“By the time I got your letter,
I lost my mind.
I was trippin’.
“When you gettin’ better?”
It’s a jagged line.
Nothin’ lasts forever,
when you travel time
I’ve been sippin’ that Kool-Aid at the cosmos.”
Time travel has been a lifetime love of mine. The fascination that goes beyond my gypsy soul who loves road trips and traveling, whether planned or spontaneous. The notion of traveling time also hits on my obsessions/fixations on the past. It may fuel my anxieties, or be part and parcel to them, and I may strive to be in the moment with all my mindfulness endeavors, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find myself often looking back.
Maybe if I could travel time I would lose my mind. Maybe that kind of kool-aid would do me in more than any possible addiction or self-destructive choice ever could. Would I get lost somewhere in a portal from one time to the next? Would I choose to voyage, never wanting to come back? Would I find myself stuck in a loop of trying to recreate, and do better, the same moments over and over? Or would I simply shoot through the cosmos, landing at certain music events, time periods, moments of art and experience that are not my own?
Maybe it’s a blessing that I don’t have access to time travel. That my voyages are limited, though I’d certainly like there to be more. I am itching for an adventure, even if just one of the weekend afternoon variety.
“The Voyager (live) by Jenny Lewis
my weather vane collects tears in blue bottles
a playlist for May
“Medicine” by Daughter
“Crystalised” by The xx
“Otherside” by Perfume Genius
“Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode
“Affection” by Cigarettes After Sex
“Rimbaud Eyes” by Dum Dum Girls
“Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground
“Plainsong” by The Cure
“Young Blood” by Birdy
“Waiting” by Alice Boman
“Foolsong” by Still Woozy
“Roller Girl” by Anna Karina
“When a Woman Is Around” by Unloved
“I’m On Fire” by Chromatics
“Killer Shangri-Lah” by Psychotic Beats and Pati Amor
“Carolyn’s Fingers” by Cocteau Twins
“Someone Else To Be” by Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres
“Futile Devices” by Sufjan Stevens
“Rival” by Ruelle
“Addicted to Love” by Skylar Grey
“Jenny of Oldstones” by Florence and the Machine
“Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” by The Killers
“Alison” by Slowdive
“Ordinary World” by Joy Williams
“I Love You” by Billie Eilish
“Korean Dogwood” by Devendra Banhart
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Mumford and Sons
“Venus Stop the Train” by Jay Bennett and Edward Burch
“Cherry-coloured Funk” by Arctic Lake
“Pearl” by Chapterhouse
my weather vane collects tears in blue bottles
a playlist for May
The first song I heard today was a track from one of my all-time favorite musical voices, Sam Cooke. “You Send Me”, today’s Song of the Day, was written and recorded by Sam Cooke. Historically, though, the song has been credited to Sam’s younger brother, L.C. Sam gave the writer credit to L.C. because at the time he did not want his own publisher to profit from the song.
Sam’s transition from gospel to secular pop was complete when he penned “You Send Me.” Already a star in the gospel world as a member of the legendary Soul Stirrers, Sam really hit it big in 1957 on this, his first single under his own name (his first pop song, “Lovable,” was released under a pseudonym) — a number one smash for Keen Records, selling roughly two million copies.
Though he had been released from his Soul Stirrers contract with Specialty Records, the company nevertheless filed a lawsuit for royalties, claiming that the newly crowned superstar singer wrote and recorded the song while still under the company’s contract. Sam defended himself by claiming that the song was written by his brother, Charles L.C. Cooke (see above).
Sam had also hoped that L.C. would record and release “You Send Me”. It was meant to be a gospel track. A demo in that vein was recorded by Sam in 1955, but it was later, in 1957, that the classic track would be recorded, and then released that year as a single. It was released as the “B” side to the track “Summertime”. But radio DJ’s preferred the “B”, and with that “You Send Me” went on to be the hit, staying in the #1 spot for two consecutive weeks in December of 1957.
“You Send Me” by Sam Cooke
released as a B-Side to the “Summertime” single (1957)
Song of the Day
“At first I thought it was infatuation,
but, woo, it’s lasted so long.
Now I find myself wanting,
to marry you and take you home.”
“You Send Me” is said to be the catalyst to Sam Cooke’s fame. The same year as the single’s release, Sam had been living in his producer’s apartment. But, after the single sold more than 1.5 million copies, Sam became a musical someone.
As was common practice in the 1950s, though, when it was unusual for hits in the black R&B market to crossover to the Pop charts, a cover version of “You Send Me” aimed at the Pop charts was cut by the white singer Teresa Brewer and released in October 1957.
“You Send Me” by Teresa Brewer
Symptomatic of the changing music scene, Cooke’s original was able to repeat its #1 R&B chart performance in the Pop field, eclipsing Brewer’s version. However, Brewer’s version of “You Send Me” reached as high as #8, representing a strong improvement over her five prior single releases, although “You Send Me” would prove to be Brewer’s final Top 20 hit. (from Wikipedia)
Since “You Send Me”‘s 1957 release, the song has become a landmark record of the soul genre, which Cooke helped create.
It was named as one of the 500 most important rock and roll recordings by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Rolling Stone magazine listed Sam’s original version of “You Send Me” one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time (#115).
“You Send Me” has been covered by many artists. My personal favorite cover is by Aretha Franklin, released on her 1968 album, Aretha Now!
“You Send Me” by Aretha Franklin
Do you have a favorite cover of “You Send Me”? Do you have any other favorite Sam Cooke covers?
Let’s hear it for a new month and for a new set of Top 5 Music Obsessions that includes 3 out of 5 new to me bands. Following suit with a musical obsessive friend of mine (who shares my first name), I’m trying to incorporate more new music into my May. She’s doing all new music to her all month. I’m not going that far. But, I am challenging myself to more new music all month. Starting off with 3 out of 5 for today is a pretty good start, I’d say.
Track 1 I heard on an NPR Podcast this morning (“All Songs Considered“). They are also responsible for introducing me to Track 3. Track 2 came from a story that the bassist from Patio told about writing Track 1. The band Washer is was a costar in a dream she had that led to the song, and they are also name-checked in the song itself (“Boy Scout”, today’s first track). The last two songs for today are from two favorite bands of mine that I fell for in the ’90s. Since the three new-to-me tracks remind me a bit of the ’90s it seemed fitting to add in some favorite ’90s bands of mine.
It’s always a good time to listen to The Lemonheads and The Breeders, I think.
Today feels like its rushing by a bit too fast. I’d like a few more moments to breathe. I’m grateful though that I took time for mediation this morning, that the sky is a beautiful blue, and that I’m going to the movies tonight with my boyfriend. Mid-week date night is a nice way to start the month.
I’d love to know what you are listening to, and obsessing over, on this first day of May. Please share in the comments, if you are so inclined. I will give every song a listen, and may even obsess over them myself.
Bonus points if you introduce me to something new (or new-to-me) so I can keep on with my May new music goal.
1. “Boy Scout” by Patio
from the album, Essentials (2019)
“I went shopping the other day.
I can afford to feel better.
I still wear all the same clothes.
Maybe by Friday,
I’ll feel better.
Maybe I’m just under the weather.
Maybe, I’m just.”
Discovered Patio, and their latest album, Essentials, this morning. I’m at once reminded of the late 70’s/early 80’s New Wave/Punk and 90’s female fronted bands, as well as both alt (think Breeders, Throwing Muses) and riot grrrl ’90s sounds/sensibilities.
“Boy Scout” is my first listen favorite, and the track that was featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. During the NPR segment, they featured a short interview with Loren DiBlasi (vocalist and bassist) who said the song came to her in a dream.
She went on to describe the dream. That in it she dropped her guitar pick down a hole and when she reached down it to grab it and pulled it out, it had the words BOY SCOUT scrawled on it, in all caps. Also, in her dream, she and the band were playing with Washer, a band who is name-checked in the song with the lyric “I think I’m gonna go home and listen to Washer/ Instead of spending any more time with you.”
2. “Elbow” by Washer
from the album, All Aboard (2017)
“When you get angry,
scream into this bag and bury it.
From its place will grow,
a tree of everything you fear,
that you hold dear “
Talk about ’90s reminiscent, and of post-punk/punk. Something about Washer reminds me of Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., and Sebadoh. They also remind me of Patio, the band that led me to them (see above).
I can picture these two bands playing together, like in Loren DiBlasi’s dream. Can’t you?
The lyrics to “Elbow” really resonate with me. They remind me of some of the mindfulness practices I’m doing. They also remind me of how I would bury artwork I made that I filled in with wishes, dreams, and fears when I was a kid – decorated with glued on leaves and flower petals and sprinkled with glitter. I used to think they were magic spells. That I was magic.
Maybe I was.
Maybe I still am.
3. “Drunk II” by Mannequin Pussy
from the upcoming album, Patience (2019)
“And everyone says to me,
“Missy, you’re so strong”.
But what if I don’t want to be?”
Those lyrics above hit right in the gut, and the heart, all at once.
I’ve been told by so many people in my life – all my life – “you’re so strong”. But, yeah, not only “what if I don’t want to be?” but what if I’m not? What if I need help? What if I fall from all that strength once in a while?
I sometimes think its a cop-out for people to say that. It’s justification for them to not help me, to not be strong for me, to lean too hard on me, to not be strong themselves. She’s strong. You’re so strong. That way no one has to show up for me. Not really. Not completely. Sometimes not at all.
Maybe that’s not what it is. Maybe that’s not what it is, at least not all the time. But, a lot of the time it really feels like that.
The strongest of us need things and help and people. And, we need a good post-punk song like this, too.
4. ” Hannah and Gabi” by The Lemonheads
from the album, It’s a Shame About Ray (Expanded Edition) (1992)
“I’m out wandering around.
You’re but one thing I’ve found.
I don’t mean to bring you down.
I’m out wandering around.”
There are certain bands and artists that I will forever associate with my twenties and the ’90s. Evan Dando and The Lemonheads are part of that associated twenties/’90s list, for sure.
I’ve been revisiting The Lemonheads lately, digging into some of the deep cuts that I’d forgotten about, or at least haven’t heard since I first owned the albums. It’s been a fun audio-ride filled with memories and nostalgia. That said, I’m also finding myself relating differently to some of the songs, making them more a part of my life now, and not just part of “thinking about the past” recollections.
“Hannah and Gabi” has been one of those seeing, and hearing, in a new light kind of songs which has led to a music obsession with the track (and inclusion into today’s Top 5).
5. “Divine Hammer” by The Breeders
from the album, Last Splash (1993)
“You’re the rod,
I’m just looking for the divine hammer.”
Maybe its because I saw Avengers Endgame a few days ago, but the first thing I think of with this song today is Thor and Thor’s hammer (along with a few other spoiler-things that I won’t mention here).
Beyond that, though, I’m reminded of dancing around my apartment to this song, my baby daughter in my arms, dancing with me. Or playing this song, and the album Last Splash, on many drives to-and-from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Do we ever find our “Divine Hammer“?
Do you ever not want to dance to this song?