Cloudy with a side of kittens. That’s what my morning has been. The day after rain hangover, the sky cloudy, the air cool, the season unidentifiable, as Southern California can often be. My son called to me and said there were kittens outside. Our next door neighbor’s cats, who we’ve known since they were all kittens (and are unofficial aunties and uncles of/or godcatparents to) had kittens recently, and today was the first time a few of them made their ways under the gate to say hello. We sat outside, in the cloudy weather, and played and pet with very small kittens. It’s not a bad way to start a Monday, let me tell you.
Now its a cup of tea with a tea bag that says “Inner peace creates peace in the world”, and songs that I’m feeling today playing in the background. Today is full of a lot of little moments to be grateful for.
Give Me Five – May 17, 2021
Song 1: “Motorbike” by Leon Bridges
“We don’t stop,
but the time do.
Lovers in another life,
let me remind you.
Look back, see me behind you.
When it feels good,
you don’t have to try to.”
I’ve been riding on the back of this song since I heard it in a playlist of New Releases this past Friday. I love the breeziness of the song, the way it feels like riding through the desert on the back of a motorcycle, arms tight around the waist of whoever is driving.
Its been years since I’ve been on the back of a bike like that. Arms tight around the waist of the first boy I’d live with, have a baby with, try to be a family with. That first ride was to the ocean. After a walk by the water, we stopped in at an all-night 50’s diner. Back then, things were simple between us. They would never be quite like that again, but I’m glad to remember every so often when it was a ride to the water on the back of his motorbike.
Leon said this about the newly released single, “Motorbike”:
“The inception of the song started with this afrobeat-type instrumental that my homeboy Nate Mercereau made. Prior to the session, I was in Puerto Rico for my 30th with some of my best friends, and the energy of that trip totally inspired this song. “Motorbike” is about living in the moment and escaping with someone. It’s the personification of that unspoken chemistry you have with that person. A special thank you to my man Anderson .Paak for the stunning visuals.” (source: Stereogum)
To hear more of, and about, Leon Bridges, and to help support his music, please ride on over to here.
Song 2: “Unblu” by Jenny Lewis and Serengeti
“How long will I wait for you,
to become un-blue?
I love Jenny. Any new Jenny-music that hits my ears is a good day thing. “Unblu” is a good day thing today, for sure.
There’s some personal resonance and relatable-ness in those opening lyric-lines, that’s for sure.
I love the dreamy feel of this song, the wistfulness, the wishing, the dream. Jenny’s singing and Serengeti’s spoken words mix so beautifully together that it’s hard to believe they were not together-together when this was “quarantine” recorded. The song was released last December. I’m sad I missed it then, but I am more than happy to have found it today.
Here is a statement from Jenny and Serengeti, about their pairing:
Jenny met Dave down a long hallway in a former Communist Media Center in East Berlin during the People Festival of 2018. Dave asked Jenny to sing on a song about Tom Selleck passing on the part of Indiana Jones. Can you imagine a world where Tom Selleck is Indiana Jones?
A fast friendship was born as they skulked about, cracking jokes and chatting about their mutual love for boxing.
Jenny threw a show for Dave at Dino’s in East Nashville when they returned from Europe. The bartenders said it was the best show they ever had. Jenny was among the 9 fans that attended and danced their asses off.
To cap the torrid evening, Dave said “J, I need 7 tracks! Just piano or guitar or whatever!” Jenny inquired if one would do?
Then the world shut down and Jenny & Dave hunkered down in Los Angeles & Chicago, respectively. Jenny smoked weed every day and Dave stayed totally sober.
The result is five songs made on Jenny’s iPhone, for Dave. Beats, bass, drums, digital tanpura & topline, sent via text, ripe for Dave’s poetry. To accompany the music, Jenny made videos on her phone during the witching hours, editing while under the covers.
Then Jenny texted the tracks to another People alumnus–Andrew Broder in Minneapolis—who co-produced and mixed the songs, taking them from Garageband phone music to music that gently thumps you. Music to dance around your living room in a Day-Glo bathing suit to. Music to go bananas to while watching the news & Forensic Files on mute.
Thank you for reading this.
Enjoy, Jenny Lewis & Serengeti
P.S. It’s almost Christmas!
If you want to hear more of Jenny Lewis, and/or want to help support her music, please go here.
If you want to hear more of Serengeti, and/or want to help support his music, please go here.
Song 3: “What You Do To Me” by Benjamin Gibbard
“There’s something about you,
got me down on my knees.”
“What You Do To Me”, off of Benjamin Gibbard’s reimagining of Teenage Fanclub’s seminal 1991 album Bandwagonesque, feels immediately familiar – but not just its a cover of the Teenage Fanclub song, that I know and dig, but because it feels like it could be either a Death Cab original, or that it could be a cover of something by The Replacements or Paul Westerberg. A cover that sounds like it could be another cover, or by a few different bands/artists. Interesting.
The lyrics above strike me as both sexual and matrimonial. Maybe both.
If you want to hear more of Benjamin Gibbard, and if you want to help support his music, head on over to here please.
Song 4: “A Case of You” by Tristen
“‘Cause part of you,
pours out of me,
in these lines from time to time.”
It’s Monday, so why not have two back-to-back cover songs? I’m all for it (to no one’s surprise).
I’ve been collecting up Joni Mitchell covers lately, and this is definitely one to add to the collection.
Do you have any favorite Joni-covers?
Tristen said this about covering Joni Mitchell:
“It’s a pretty ambitious task to take on Joni Mitchell; her songs are so uniquely hers,” Tristen acknowledges. “She embodies every songwriter’s dream: to be incredibly unique, forward thinking, and still understood. She pulls you into her honesty and clarity, into very personal details of her romantic failures crystal clear — a unique story or character you have the privilege of tuning into — all while giving you a familiar feeling: alone in a bar, homesick, missing someone.” (source: Modern Outsider)
If you want to hear more of Tristen (I know I do, she’s a new discovery for me), and if you want to help support her music, check more out here.
Song 5: “Nobody’s Diary” by Yaz
“For the times we’ve had I don’t want to be,
a page in your diary, babe.
For the good, the bad I don’t want to see,
a page in your diary, babe.
For the happy, the sad I don’t want to be,
another page in your diary.”
As a writer, it is hard not to write about everyone whose been in my life in any significant kind of way – good, bad, a bit of both. Sometimes they are hidden in “fiction”, sometimes not so hidden at all. That said, I get the sentiment in the lyrics of “Nobody’s Diary”. And, yes, I have felt that way at times, too – especially when I’ve been involved with a fellow writer. I can remember wanting to be more than something for them to write about.
Wow. Alison sounds so incredible in the above live clip, from 2011.
To hear more about Alison Moyet, and help support her music, please go here.
What are your songs for today? Any you are willing to share in the comments?
For May’s Give Me Five I’m featuring Kelly Vivanco’s piece “Creekside” as the Cover Art.