U2 :: :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

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U2 :: :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

In some ways I was late to the musical bandwagon with U2, not getting taken over by them until The Joshua Tree album, in 1987. I knew of them before that. I’d seen their videos on MTV. I’d heard their music at youth group events as they were somehow “blessed” by the church I went to (I spent most of my years in parochial schools, until I jumped ship my Senior year of high school). I even owned their live album, Under a Blood Red Sky – one of two CD’s I bought when my Mom got us a player for the house in the mid-80’s. Still, it wasn’t until The Joshua Tree that their music affected me and got under my skin.

You can read my post just on The Joshua Tree album here.

Songs like Running to Stand Still and Where the Streets Have No Name and With or Without You fit exactly where I was in my life. The songs sang to my dissatisfaction and restlessness, and became a soundtrack to graduating and starting college and breaking out of the girl I once was. The album resurfaced again, in 1990, when I moved out of my childhood home and into my first apartment. Again, it sang to that change in my life, and I clung to it, blasting it from my over-sized stereo speakers that sat in that tiny living room of my second floor new “home” on Truslow Avenue.

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I never did fall for any of their other albums quite as hard as I did for The Joshua Tree, though I would go on to love Achtung Baby and All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and then go backwards and fall for Boy, as well. I would also be hopelessly devoted to some of the band’s b-sides (especially the cover of Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot) and their soundtrack songs (especially All I Want is You).

Now I can finally call myself a fan of U2, even if it was a long-time coming. They have definitely found their place on my list of all-time favorite artists/bands, and will be there for good.

This past week whilst in Portland, Oregon, I picked up a CD (yes, a CD, more on that in a later post) of The Joshua Tree, and this morning I played it through almost twice in my Los Angeles traffic Monday commute. Listening to it this morning I realized how much I still love every single song, and how I know each song so well that it almost felt like listening to a “greatest hits” compilation. Bullet the Blue Sky soared through my speakers as the sun rose in the not-quite-blue sky and I felt beyond moved by the experience. This is what music means to me, I thought, moments like this.

Photo of Adam CLAYTON and THE EDGE and BONO and U2

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion).

The band formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy. By the mid-1980’s, U2 had become a top international act. They were more successful as a touring act than they were at selling records until their 1987 album The Joshua Tree which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band’s stature “from heroes to superstars“.

Reacting to musical stagnation and criticism of their earnest image and musical direction in the late-1980’s, U2 reinvented themselves with their 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour; they integrated dance, industrial, and alternative rock influences into their sound, and embraced a more ironic and self-deprecating image.

The band embraced similar experimentation for the remainder of the 1990’s with varying levels of success. U2 regained critical and commercial favour in the 2000’s with the records All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), which established a more conventional, mainstream sound for the group.

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Their U2 360° Tour from 2009–2011 was the highest-attended and highest-grossing concert tour in history.

U2 have released 13 studio albums and are one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. They have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band; and, in 2005, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

Rolling Stone ranked U2 at # 22 in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time“, and labelled them the “Biggest Band in the World“.

Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes, including Amnesty International, the ONE/DATA campaigns, Product Red, and The Edge’s Music Rising.

u2-rattle-and-hum-1988-08-gMy Top 10 Favorite U2 Songs:

1. Running to Stand Still
from the album, The Joshua Tree

“You got to cry without weeping,
talk without speaking,
scream without raising your voice.”

2. Stay (Faraway, So Close)
from the album, Zooropa

“A vampire or a victim,
it depends on who’s around.”

3. All I Want is You
from the album, Rattle and Hum

“But all the promises we make,
from the cradle to the grave,
when all I want is you.”

4. Red Hill Mining Town 
from the album, The Joshua Tree

“Hanging on,
you’re all that’s left to hold on to.
I’m still waiting,
I’m hanging on,
you’re all that’s left to hold on to.”

5. Bad 
from the album, The Unforgettable Fire

“If I could,
you know I would.
If I could,
I would let it go,
this desperation,
dislocation.
Separation,
condemnation,
revelation.
In temptation,
isolation,
desolation.
Let it go and so fade away.”

6. One 
from the album, Achtung Baby

“Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus,
to the lepers in your head?

7. With or Without You 
from the album, The Joshua Tree

“Through the storm we reach the shore,
you gave it all,
but I want more,
and I’m waiting for you.”

8. Love is Blindness
from the album, Achtung Baby

“The thread is ripping,
the knot is slipping;
love is blindness.”

9. Desire 
from the album, Rattle and Hum

“She’s a candle burning in my room,
yeah I’m like the needle,
needle and spoon.
Over the counter,
with a shotgun,
pretty soon everybody got one.
I’m the fever when I’m beside her,
desire.”

10. The First Time
from the album, Zooropa

“I have a lover,
a lover like no other,
She got soul, soul, soul, sweet soul,
and she teach me how to sing.”

U2-St Patrick's day Parade new york city NEW YORK CITY, 1982

Ryan Adams :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

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Ryan Adams :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

I was in Michigan in the middle of a deadline at work when I first heard Ryan Adams. A friend of mine who I can credit with introducing me to some of my all-time favorite artists and bands, time and again, shared the song Harder Now That It’s Over, and soon after, Sylvia Plath. I remember playing both songs over and over and over that day, the melancholic melodies of both songs soothing my overtired and overwhelmed nerves. I recall doing a frantic search via one of those popular music sharing sites of the early 00’s (was it Kazaa then? I think this was post-Napster), and then going out and buying Gold that weekend. After that, it is a bit of a blur as to what came next for me and Ryan’s music because a part of me feels like his music has always been in my life. I am not sure there is another artist that makes me feel things the way he does, nor any other artist that has so many memories that I associate with his songs.

Years later I would stand in a record store in the Manchester, England, where I was buying another copy of Gold, along with a copy of Heartbreaker, and discussing with the girl behind the counter Ryan’s music, and which album we’d choose as our favorite. Later that night I’d stand in a pub with coins in my hand, feeding a jukebox, setting it up to play La Cienega Just Smiled. I was far from La Cienega, I was far from home, but Ryan was playing and it made the world seem to shrink suddenly, and intersect, connecting with me in a way that only music ever can. I remember the song saying all the things I just couldn’t that night.

The second song I chose was Touch, Feel and Lose, and the lyrics stung more than the second shot of whiskey I downed. The facts were plain as day, as they say, even in that rainy city so far from my home, that I would never be her. I could bend in half, scream his name, give in to each and every whispered whim, but I could never be her. I never wanted to be her, either, no, I just wanted him to love me, as me. As the song wound down I asked for one more shot, closing my eyes tightly as I tossed it back, telling myself “now is not the time to feel anything, now is not the time to cry.”

Another memory is of a very early morning. I was heading out to the car of a best friend who was picking me up for work. She rolled down the passenger side window, and turned up the car stereo. Come Pick Me Up was playing and we both started singing-a-long. Me standing in the street, and she behind the wheel, belting out how we wished “someone” would steal all our records and fuck us up. Maybe it was one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it is one of those moments that define us, the kind of reckless abandon that connection that is rare and real; the stuff of best friendships.

There are so many more, enough to fill pages and pages, and many more posts, but I think for now I leave it at those snapshots of my life and Ryan’s music within it. Because honestly, I am not sure I could ever fully explain what his music means, and has meant, to me. I think it’s better to just flip the photo books of random memories that reflect some of what impact his music has had on me.

RyanAdams

David Ryan Adams is an American singer-songwriter, musician and producer. He is best known for his prolific solo career, and as a former member of alternative country band Whiskeytown, with whom he recorded three studio albums.

In 2000, Adams left Whiskeytown and released his first solo album, Heartbreaker, to critical acclaim. The album was nominated for the Shortlist Music Prize. In 2001, Adams released the UK certified-gold Gold, which included the hit single, New York, New York.

He released five albums with the rock band The Cardinals. Adams left The Cardinals and announced that he was taking a break from music. He resumed performing in October 2010 and released his thirteenth studio album, Ashes & Fire, on October 11, 2011. The album peaked at # 7 on the Billboard 200. In September 2014, Adams released his fourteenth album Ryan Adams on his PAX AM label.

Adams has also produced albums for Willie Nelson, Jesse Malin, Jenny Lewis, Butch Walker and Fall Out Boy, and he has collaborated with Counting Crows, Weezer, Norah Jones, America, Minnie Driver, Cowboy Junkies, Leona Naess, Toots and the Maytals, Beth Orton and Krista Polvere. He has written Infinity Blues, a book of poems, and Hello Sunshine, a collection of poems and short stories.

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Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He is the middle child, with an older brother and younger sister. His father left his family when he was five and he was raised mainly by his grandparents.

When he was eight, Adams began writing short stories and limericks on his grandmother’s typewriter. He is quoted as saying, “I started writing short stories when I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby, Jr., Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac.”

At the age of 14 Adams began learning to play the electric guitar that his mother and stepfather had bought him, and shortly afterward joined a local band named Blank Label. Although Blank Label did not stay together long, a three-track 7″ record exists, dated 1991 and lasting less than seven minutes in total.

Adams attended Jacksonville High School but dropped out in his first week of tenth grade, moving to live with bandmate Jere McIlwean at his rental house just outside Jacksonville. Around this time he performed briefly with two local bands, Ass and The Lazy Stars. Following this, Adams joined The Patty Duke Syndrome and once played in a bar in Jacksonville. After obtaining his GED, Adams left Jacksonville for Raleigh, shortly followed by McIlwean. The Patty Duke Syndrome split in 1994 after releasing a 7″ single containing two songs (The Patty Duke Syndrome was on one side, while the other side was a band called GlamourPuss).

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Following the breakup of The Patty Duke Syndrome, Adams went on to found Whiskeytown with Caitlin Cary, Eric “Skillet” Gilmore, Steve Grothmann and Phil Wandscher. The founding of Whiskeytown saw Adams move to alt-country, describing punk rock as “too hard to sing” in the title track of Whiskeytown’s debut album Faithless Street. Whiskeytown was heavily influenced by the country-rock pioneers, most notably Gram Parsons.

Whiskeytown quickly gained critical acclaim with the release of their second full-length album, Strangers Almanac, their first major label release. A third album, Pneumonia, was completed in 1999, but record label problems delayed its release. It was eventually released by Lost Highway in 2001, by which time the band was effectively done.

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Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker, produced by Ethan Johns. Emmylou Harris sang backup on the track Oh My Sweet Carolina. Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Pat Sansone, and Kim Richey as Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.

Adams released Gold, the follow-up to Heartbreaker, in 2001. It was well received; however, Adams initially refused to promote the record through radio station meet-and-greet and other music industry conventions, instead opting for more recording and some live gigs to promote the music. A video was eventually made for the album’s first single, New York, New York. The music video featured Adams performing in front of the city’s skyline four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. The video was played often on MTV and VH1 after the attacks and became Adams’s breakthrough to mainstream music consumers.

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Following the success of Gold, in 2002 Adams was blocked by his label from releasing his choice for a follow-up. This would be the second time this happened, the first being with Gold; Adams had recorded The Suicide Handbook which was rejected on the grounds that it was “too sad“. The label opted this time around to cherry pick from the four recorded albums already dismissed as releasable full albums (48 Hours, The Suicide Handbook, The Pinkhearts and The Swedish Sessions) for a mix tape type record assembled without his involvement. Demolition, a compilation of tracks from these recording sessions, was released in 2002. Although the album garnered more critical attention, it failed to sell as well as Gold.

That same year, Adams produced Jesse Malin’s first album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, and later worked with Malin to form the punk-rock group The Finger (under the pseudonyms, Warren Peace and Irving Plaza respectively), who released two E.P.s which were collected together to form We Are Fuck You, released on One Little Indian Records in 2003. He also starred in a Gap advertisement with Willie Nelson, performing a cover of Hank Williams’s Move It on Over.

In May 2002, Adams joined Elton John on CMT Crossroads, which brings together country artists with musicians from other genres. During the show, John referred to Adams as “fabulous one” and spoke of how Heartbreaker inspired him to record Songs from the West Coast, which at the time was his most successful album in several years. Also in 2002, Adams reportedly recorded a cover of The Strokes’ debut album Is This It, though it has never been publicly released.

cxr_ryanadams_eltonjohn_024-x365In 2002 and 2003, Adams worked on recording Love Is Hell, intending to release it in 2003. Lost Highway Records deemed that it was not commercially viable and was reluctant to release it, leading Adams to go back to the studio. Two weeks later he returned to Lost Highway with Rock n Roll, which featured guest musicians including Melissa Auf der Maur, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and Adams’s girlfriend at the time, Parker Posey. Adams’ songwriting received additional exposure when Joan Baez included his song In My Time of Need, from his debut release, on her 2003 album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar.

Adams and Lost Highway Records eventually agreed that the label would release Rock N Roll as well as Love Is Hell, on the condition that Love Is Hell be split into two EP installments. Rock N Roll and Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 were released in November 2003, followed by Love Is Hell, Pt. 2 in December. Both albums were well received by critics, and in May 2004 Love Is Hell was re-released as a full-length album.

Love Is Hell included a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall, which Adams had previously performed live, and about which Noel Gallagher once said, “I never got my head round this song until I went to [see] Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it.” The song earned Adams a Grammy nomination for “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance“.

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While on tour to support Love Is Hell in January 2004, Adams broke his left wrist during a performance at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Adams fell off the end of the stage into the lowered orchestra pit six feet below, while performing The Shadowlands. Dates from Adams’s European and American tours had to be canceled as a result of his injury.

2005 saw Adams join with backing band The Cardinals to produce two albums, Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights. Cold Roses, a double album, included backing vocals from Rachael Yamagata on three songs; Let It Ride, Cold Roses and Friends. His second album of the year, Jacksonville City Nights, featured a duet with Norah Jones on Dear John. As well as releasing two albums with The Cardinals, Adams released the solo album 29 late in the year.

Adams toured the United States with The Cardinals, including a performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Adams and The Cardinals then returned to the UK in the summer to begin a tour of Europe.

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Adams produced Willie Nelson’s album Songbird, while he and The Cardinals performed as Nelson’s backing band. The album was released in October 2006.

Late in 2006, Adams experimented with hip hop music, adding to his web site 18 albums worth of new recordings under various pseudonyms, featuring humorous and nonsensical lyrics, as well as covers of two Bob Dylan songs (Isis and You’re a Big Girl Now).

Adams released his ninth album on June 26, 2007, titled Easy Tiger. The album includes many tracks which were debuted during 2006’s tours, as well as other older tracks which were previously unreleased. Later that year, Adams revealed that he had endured “an extended period of substance abuse” that ended in 2006. Adams indicated that he routinely snorted heroin mixed with cocaine, and abused alcohol and pills.

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On October 23, 2007, Adams released Follow the Lights, an EP featuring three new songs: Follow the Lights, Blue Hotel and My Love for You Is Real, along with live studio versions of other previously released songs and a cover of Alice in Chains’ Down In A Hole. Adams also appeared as a guest musician on Cowboy Junkies’ 2007 album and DVD Trinity Revisited, a 20th-anniversary re-recording of their classic album The Trinity Session. In 2007 Adams co-wrote a song with Australian singer/songwriter Krista Polvere for her debut record Here Be Dragons; he also played guitar and piano on the album, which was recorded in New York.

A new album with The Cardinals, Cardinology was released on October 28, 2008. Adams has also announced plans to release a book, entitled Infinity Blues.

On January 14, 2009, Ryan Adams announced that he was quitting the Cardinals after their final show on March 20, 2009 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Adams cited hearing loss due to Ménière’s disease as well as disillusionment with the music industry, the media and audience behavior as reasons for his decision. He also stated that he has been working on two new books, in addition to Infinity Blues. The second book, released in the fall of 2009, was entitled Hello Sunshine.

In April 2009, Adams uploaded three new tracks under his black metal moniker Werewolph, and five hard rock tracks under the name Sleazy Handshake.

The Cardinals, without Adams, have recorded together alongside Gin Wigmore for her debut album. Adams dismissed any possibility of a reunion at that time, saying it wouldn’t be right after the death of Cardinals bassist Chris ‘Spacewolf’ Feinstein.

In August 2009, Adams began posting on the fan-site, Ryan Adams Archive, discussing the possibility of a Whiskeytown reunion, new songs and releasing his many ‘unreleased’ albums. In August, Adams also began blogging for The Awl. In September 2009, Adams debuted a new song online, entitled Happy Birthday, and began releasing singles, featuring previously unreleased material, from his new record label, PAX AM.

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In March 2010, Adams announced a new metal influenced album, entitled Orion, to be released on his PAX AM label. Orion was released on vinyl only on May 18, 2010 and was sold through the PAX AM online store.

On October 29, 2010, Adams played his first live show since stepping down from the Cardinals in March 2009, at a benefit hosted by Judd Apatow. He was backed by Marshall Vore, Sebastian Steinberg and former Cardinal Jamie Candiloro, who were billed as “The Ryan Adams Band“. They debuted three new songs and were joined onstage by Mandy Moore for Oh My Sweet Carolina.

In November 2010, Adams announced the release of Cardinals III/IV, his twelfth studio album, which was recorded in 2006. This album is his fifth with The Cardinals and was released on December 14, 2010 through PAX AM.

In 2011, Adams announced a European tour, and noted that he was working on a new studio album with producer Glyn Johns.

On April 21, 2011, Adams was the surprise opener for an Emmylou Harris show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. He performed several new songs, as well as Oh My Sweet Carolina with Harris, a track they recorded for 2000’s Heartbreaker.

In the September 2011 issue of Q Magazine, Ryan revealed details of his first solo release since leaving The Cardinals, entitled Ashes & Fire. He also discussed the possibility of releasing a third book, Phoenix, which he says concerns “a loveable rat.”

In early 2012, Ryan was nominated for a Brit Award for Best International Male. On June 18, 2012, Adams released a live box set chronicling his return to live performances, entitled Live After Deaf. His album Ashes & Fire was nominated for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

On April 21, 2013, Adams released an EP, 7 Minutes in Heaven, with his newly formed punk rock band Pornography, featuring Make Out vocalist Leah Hennessey and frequent collaborator Johnny T. Yerington.

In July 2013, Adams collaborated as a producer with rock band Fall Out Boy at his PAX AM Studio, which resulted in Fall Out Boy’s PAX AM Days EP.

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On July 1, 2014, stories emerged that a self-titled album, Ryan Adams, would be released on September 9, 2014. Since that announcement, Adams released a 7″ vinyl EP, entitled 1984 and released tour dates through mid October 2014. He debuted several new songs from the self-titled album in a series of festival concerts in late July 2014. On September 9, 2014, the self-titled album Ryan Adams was released on PAX-AM records.

In addition to the self-titled album, Adams announced a project he calls the “PAX AM Single Series“, with a new seven-inch release each month. Adams stated, “I’m going to release a single every month until I can’t do it any more.”

within minutes of being released through PAX AM’s website, the singles remain available for digital download.

On December 5, 2014, Gimme Something Good was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

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My Top 10 Favorite Ryan Adams Songs:

1. La Cienega Just Smiled
from the album, Gold

“And I hold you close in the back of my mind,
feels so good but damn it makes me hurt,
and I’m too scared to know to how I feel about you now,
La Cienega just smiles…”see ya around”“

2. Starlite Diner
from the album, 29

“Is it possible to love someone too much?
You bet.”

3. Oh My Sweet Carolina
from the album, Heartbreaker

“Up here in the city feels like things are closing in,
the sunsets just my light bulb burning out.”

4. Touch, Fool and Lose
from the album, Gold

“I thought maybe I could be some kind of shelter,
but oh, your storm how it raged.
You know your kisses they like lightnin’ and thunder,
and your smile is sweet and come down like rain.”

5. Come Pick Me Up
from the album, Heartbreaker

“Come pick me up,
take me out,
fuck me up,
steal my records.”

6. I See Monsters
from the album, Love is Hell

“Baby,
I know you cannot hear me now,
’cause you’re fast asleep,
but I love you now.
Colors inside your head go spinning around,
like a ferris wheel,
exploding and falling to the ground.”

7. Two 
from the album, Easy Tiger

“I got a really good heart,
I just can’t catch a break,
if I could I’d treat you like you wanted me to,
I promise.”

8. Magick
from the album, Cardinology

“Zombies running all around,
eventually we hit the mall,
knock it down at nightfall,
So turn the radio on.”

9. Chin Up, Cheer Up
from the album, Demolition

“I took a walk with you,
and I busted up my shoe,
in an old yellow canoe,
out in Hollywood.”

10. Dear Chicago
from the album, Demolition

“She picked me up on Friday,
asked me if she reminded me of you?
I just laughed and lit a cigarette,
said that’s impossible to do.”

I could list at least 30 more favorites…easily…

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Pete Yorn’s You and Me California Tour

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If you are in California you should go now and pick up a ticket to see Pete Yorn this upcoming April. The “You and Me” tour is a night of Pete Yorn with a guitar (and harmonica at times) and no defined set-list, just songs requested and songs that seem right each night. I highly recommend a show, or two, or hey, join lyriquediscorde and go to three of them.

From the post-show set-lists I’ve seen from other legs of this unique tour, there have been a lot of covers done, including songs from The Smiths, The Lemonheads, Bruce Springsteen, Junior Kimbrough and Warren Zevon. A great cover is the best thing ever, but a great live cover is even better than the best thing ever, and Pete Yorn is known for his great live covers so you really don’t want to miss this.

Here’s a sample of what you might here, recorded in November, in Washington D.C.:

Atlantic City/Murray (live)

and here’s one more, a favorite song of mine, recorded this past February, in Dallas:

Burrito (live)

So, yeah, what are you waiting for. Get your tickets here.

The National :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

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The National :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

All the Wine was my first time with The National. The song, All the Wine, was introduced to me by a lover at the time, and friend all the time, who sent me a YouTube video link of it. My first impression, besides initial confusion (the YouTube video had a still picture of a James Brown Christmas album through the entire song), was one of enthralled awe for the singer’s voice. There was something unique about it, calm, yet edgy and dark, soothing, yet disarming all at once. I played the song over and over, albeit some of that was due to sentiment and that flush of attraction when first in love, but even after we split and time went by, I kept returning to it, playing again.

My next go around with The National came about when I stumbled on the song Mistaken For Strangers. The song tied somewhat back to the lover who had introduced the first song to me, as this song came around right after we had parted ways. I was in the grips of heartbreak and misery, and there was something in this song, loneliness, desperation, and isolation, that fit with how I was feeling. Misery loves company, and a good soundtrack, too.

Over the last few years I got to know the rest of The National’s offerings, and have fallen hard for their music. It is still the lead singer’s voice that slays me. Matt Berninger’s voice, and his songwriting, are something that haunt me and delight me and seduce me, and have me returning time and time again to the songs and albums. I still hold a soft spot for All the Wine, but I have a slew of other favorites now, too. They hit me deep and find their way on playlists and mixes, and into my own full album listening time. I love that more people I know are discovering them, too, and are realizing why they are one of my favorite bands.

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The National was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, in 1999, and they are currently based in Brooklyn. The band’s lyrics are written and sung by Matt Berninger, a baritone. The band’s music is composed and performed by Aaron Dessner (guitar and keyboard), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). The band has recorded six studio albums; the most recent, Trouble Will Find Me, was released in May 2013 and was nominated in the 2014 Grammys for Best Alternative Album.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner write and develop the music which Matt Berninger then responds to, building lyrics off of the music Aaron and Bryce have written. Matt has said that the melody and the rhythm come first and then words and imagery will start to stick to a melody.

In 1991, Matt Berninger and Scott Devendorf met while attending the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP college of graphic design program, where they also met Mike Brewer, Casey Reas and Jeff Salem. Together, the five of them formed the lo-fi garage band Nancy, named after Berninger’s mother, aspiring to sound like Pavement. The band was together for five years, but only released one album, Ruther 3429, on Wife Records before breaking up after Berninger, Devendorf, Reas and Salem moved to Brooklyn.

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Matt Berninger

Bryan, Bryce and Aaron were childhood friends who played in several bands together over the years. When their last effort, Project Nim, broke up in 1998, they joined Matt and Scott in Brooklyn via the Devendorf relationship.

When the band was formed in 1999, it was called The National, although the domain name of the band’s website is americanmary.com because, according to Matt Berninger in an interview with Sixeyes, “[i]t’s a song off our first record. We never thought of changing the (website) name, although we should have.”

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Several of the members continued to work day jobs while performing free Sunday night shows regularly at the highly regarded NYC Lower East Side venue, Luna Lounge, throughout the early years, including being involved in New York’s dot-com boom in the late 1990’s.

Their first album The National was eventually released in 2001 on Brassland Records, a label founded by band members Aaron and Bryce Dessner, along with their friend Alec Hanley Bemis.

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The National’s second album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, released in 2003, was the band’s first collaboration with record producers, Paul Heck and Peter Katis, who would later also produce the band’s critically acclaimed albums, Alligator and Boxer. After the release of the album, renowned DJ Bernard Lenoir invited them to perform on his Black Sessions twice on France Inter. Publications such as Uncut and the Chicago Tribune named it an album of the year.

In 2004, they released the Cherry Tree EP which included live favorite About Today, as well as All the Wine, which would appear on their next record. The release of the EP garnered further success and landed them on a successful tour with The Walkmen.

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Also in 2004, the band quit their day jobs and signed to a new label, Beggars Banquet Records, because the process of running their own label was becoming “too complicated.”

The National’s first album on Beggars Banquet, Alligator, was released in 2005. The album was met with much critical acclaim and featured highly in “Album of the Year” charts in the Los Angeles Times, Insound, Uncut, and many other publications. The album allowed the band increased exposure. NME and Pitchfork Media ranked Alligator as a top album of the 2000’s.

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Alligator brought the band increased attendance at concerts, including sold-out shows at The Troubadour in Los Angeles and Webster Hall in New York. They also played at numerous festivals including the 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Pukkelpop, and more.

Alligator went on to sell over 200,000 copies worldwide.

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Their fourth album, Boxer, was released on May 22, 2007, and also received widespread critical praise. The album features contributions from various guest artists, including Sufjan Stevens and Doveman (a.k.a. Thomas Bartlett).

In the summer of 2008, along with Modest Mouse, they opened for R.E.M. on the promotional tour for the R.E.M. album Accelerate. That summer they also played many festivals in North America and Europe, including Coachella, Roskilde, Sasquatch, Glastonbury, Haldern Pop, Rock Werchter, Optimus Alive!, Oxegen, Benicàssim, Lowlands, O2 Wireless, T in the Park, All Points West, and Lollapalooza.

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In May 2008, the band released their first feature-length documentary film entitled A Skin, a Night on DVD. The film, directed by filmmaker Vincent Moon, documents the lives of the band surrounding the recording of Boxer and just before a show at the London venue Koko. Along with the release of the DVD was a CD collection of B-sides and rarities titled The Virginia EP.

On February 17, 2009, a compilation album titled Dark Was the Night was produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner and released by 4AD (the band’s new label after Beggars Banquet Records merged into 4AD). The two-disc, 31-track compilation was released for the benefit of the Red Hot Organization, and featured a new song by The National and Nico Muhly titled So Far Around the Bend. In the same year, The National collaborated with St. Vincent to contribute a cover of Crooked Fingers’ Sleep All Summer to the Merge Records compilation Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers!.

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The National contributed a track to Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy in September 2009, an album in support of the former Polaris frontman, who lost his wife. They covered the Polaris track Ashamed of the Story I Told, from their album Music from The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

The album High Violet was released on May 11, 2010 in the US to widespread critical acclaim.[ The album also debuted with first week sales topping charts across the world, ranking # 3 in the US, # 2 in Canada, # 5 in the United Kingdom, and # 3 in Portugal, among others.

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The National recorded The Rains of Castamere for the Game of Thrones season 2 episode “Blackwater“.

They also recorded a cover of the song I’ll See You in My Dreams for the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire, and a cover of the Thanksgiving Song from the Fox TV series Bob’s Burgers.

On December 9, 2012, they debuted three new songs I Should Live in Salt, Humiliation, and Graceless at the All Tomorrow’s Parties event in Camber Sands, United Kingdom.

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Trouble Will Find Me was released via 4AD Records on May 21, 2013 in the US to widespread critical acclaim. The album debuted with first week sales topping charts across the world, ranking # 3 in the US, Canada and the UK, among others. In its first week the album sold 74,722 copies in the US and has since sold 250,000 copies in the US alone. Following the release, the band embarked on a world tour in support of the album. Trouble Will Find Me earned a Best Alternative Album nomination in the 2014 Grammys.

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On February 28, 2013, they announced the upcoming release of a documentary chronicling the lead singer’s brother Tom Berninger’s journey of touring with the band. The film, titled Mistaken for Strangers, premiered at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival on April 17. Mistaken for Strangers has been described as “a funny, eccentric and finally deeply poignant depiction of art, family, self-sabotage and the prickly intricacies of brotherly love.” The film recently had its theatrical release in theaters across the United States and Europe.

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My Top 10 Favorite The National Songs:

1. Mistaken for Strangers
from the album, Boxer

Make up something to believe in your heart of hearts,
so you have something to wear on your sleeve of sleeves
.”

2. All the Wine (live)
from the albums, Aligator and Cherry Tree EP

“I carry the dollhouse safe on my shoulders,
through the black city,
nightlights are on in the corners,
and everyone’s sleeping upstairs,
all safe and sound.”

3. I Need My Girl
from the album, Trouble Will Find Me

I know I was a lot of things,
but I am good,
I am grounded
.”

4. Fake Empire 
from the album, Boxer

“Turn the light out say goodnight,
no thinking for a little while,
let’s not try to figure out everything at once.
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky;
we’re half awake in a fake empire.”

5. Slow Show (live)
from the album, Boxer

“I wanna hurry home to you,
put on a slow, dumb show for you,
and crack you up.”

6. It Never Happened
from the album, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers

“Lover put me in your beautiful bed,
and cover me.”

7. I Should Live in Salt
from the album, Trouble Will Find Me

“Don’t make me read your mind,
you should know me better than that.”

8. Conversation 16
from the album, High Violet

“We belong in a movie,
try to hold it together ’til our friends are gone.
We should swim in a fountain,
do not want to disappoint anyone.”

9. Anyone’s Ghost
from the album, High Violet

“Didn’t want to be your ghost.”

10. Pay for Me
from the album, Self-titled

“I can’t get used to your new name.”

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Sam Cooke :: My Favorite Artists

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Sam Cooke :: My Favorite Artists

I was nineteen the first time I really listened to Sam Cooke. I’m sure his music had been in my life before then, but in more of a musical adjacency, than in my conscious music reality. I have vague memories of singing the lyrics “don’t know much about history” as a little girl, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who sang the song. It was at nineteen, though, that I got my first record store job and started to become exposed to a variety of people’s taste in music, not just the music I grew up with, and had sought out (so far) on my own. The experience was much like going to a foreign country, or a new city, or spending the night at a friend’s house for the first time in that it expands your horizons, and makes the world suddenly seem so much bigger. I was surprised at some of the music I fell for. Music that before that had been in categories, or genres, that I didn’t associate myself with, and I was digging the new discoveries, and the different sides in myself I was discovering, too.

Sam Cooke’s Greatest Hits was an album that one of the morning shift supervisor’s used to play. It was a departure from her usual heavy metal leanings, and was definitely not a sound, or style, I would have ever guessed she’d enjoy, but she did, at least in her mornings. There was something so warm about his voice, so smooth and soothing, and so full of hope. Even on days when my heart hurt from some unrequited love or break-up, or when I was nursing an ugly hangover, or mornings when things just seemed bleak as some mornings can, Sam’s music would be there to lift me up and make me think that this was a “wonderful world” I was living in.

That same year I met a boy would become many “firsts” in my life. We went to a wedding from someone in his family, a cousin or something, and they played Bring it On Home to Me and we danced to it together. It was one of those perfect moments that never leaves you completely, one I will remember when I’m old and gray(er). It was one of my favorite moments of that boy and I, if not the favorite.

I’ve never lost my love for Sam Cooke’s music, and it always, without fail, makes me feel better. His music still carries so much hope to me

Photo of Sam Cooke

Samuel “Sam” Cooke (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964) was an American recording artist and singer-songwriter, generally considered among the greatest of all time. Influential as both a singer and composer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Billy Preston and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown.

Sam Cooke had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, plus three more posthumously. Major hits like You Send Me, A Change Is Gonna Come, Cupid, Chain Gang, Wonderful World, and Twistin’ the Night Away are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the Civil Rights Movement.

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On December 11, 1964, at the age of 33, Cooke was fatally shot by Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. After an inquest, the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been consistently called into question by Cooke’s family and his wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Cooke was born “Cook” in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He later added an “e” onto the end of his name, though the reason for this is disputed. He was one of eight children of the Rev. Charles Cook, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Annie Mae.

He had a brother, L.C., who some years later would become a member of the doo-wop band Johnny Keyes and the Magnificents.

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His family moved to Chicago in 1933. Cooke attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, the same school that Nat “King” Cole had attended a few years earlier. Sam Cooke began his career with his siblings in a group called The Singing Children when he was 9. He first became known as lead singer with the Highway QC’s as a teenager joining at the age of 14. During this time, Cooke befriended fellow gospel singer and neighbor Lou Rawls, who sang in a rival gospel group.

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My Top 10 Favorite Sam Cooke Songs:

1. A Change is Gonna Come

“It’s been a long,
a long time coming,
but I know a change gonna come.”

2. Bring it On Home to Me 

“If you ever,
change your mind,
about leaving,
leaving me behind,
Oh-oh,
bring it to me,
bring your sweet loving,
bring it on home to me.”

3. You Send Me (live)

“You thrill me.
I know you, you, you thrill me.
Darling you, you, you, you thrill me,
honest you do.”

4. You Were Made for Me

“As sure as there are stars above,
I know I know you were made for me,
you were made for me.”

5. I’ll Come Running Back to You

“I try to forget,
have no regrets,
this love of ours could always start anew.
Just call my name,
I know I’m not ashamed –
I’ll come running back to you.”

6. Wonderful World

“But I do know that I love you,
and I know that if you love me, too,
what a wonderful world this would be.”

7. Chain Gang

“All day long they’re singing…”

8. Cupid

“So, Cupid, draw back your bow,
and let your arrow go,
straight to my lover’s heart for me.”

9. Nothing Can Change This Love

If I go,
a million miles away,
I’d write a letter,
each and everyday,
‘Cause honey nothing,
nothing can ever change this love I have for you.”

10. The Coffee Song (They’ve Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil)

“Way down among the Brazilians,
coffee beans grow by the billions,
so they’ve got to find those extra cups to fill.”

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You make it easy to let the past be done :: SOTD

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Keep Art Alive :: Art by Mimi Yoon

How’d you do it, how’d you find me?
How did I find you ?
How can this be true,
to be held and understood?”

The back room in the basement with those high, nearly touching the ceiling windows that were always cracked open, the mingling scent of cigarettes and incense, and the glitter of white twinkle lights framing the room in a fake cheer, that’s what I remember when I hear this song. That room, and you in it.

It was anything but easy to love in the shadows of broken picture frames and drunken kisses, but we managed to cling to one another all the same, at least for awhile. Some nights we just turned up the volume and turned down the lights, slipping ourselves into a soft refrain of tears and dreams.

We were always down there wishing for the love we had before the “happily ever after” hangover set in.

You Make It Easy :: Air, featuring Beth Hirsch

You don’t want to waste your life :: Counting Crows :: My Favorite Artists

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Counting Crows :: My Favorite Artists

August and Everything After came into my life when I was still trying on my life, sorting out how to be a young Mother, how to be in a relationship that had been fraught with the challenges of moving too fast together, deciding who it was I wanted to be, and trying to figure out exactly how to be a so-called adult. I was 23. Some days I felt so much older, and other days I felt like I was still an adolescent. I felt scared much of the time, vulnerable and confused. My heart wavered, as did my desires and dreams, but is that not par for the course in your twenties?

I did a lot of journal writing back then, as well as long, rambling letters that I would walk to the post office to mail once or twice a week. I worked nights mostly, so my afternoons were spent walking around downtown Fullerton with my baby daughter in tow, wasting hours at the Winged Heart Cafe writing in notebooks, talking with friends, watching bands play. This album was around all the time that year, playing on the stereo of my “on its last legs” first car, and on the stereo in our last apartment together. I wrote the lyrics in letters, at the top of journal pages, the sung out words bleeding and becoming parts of my poetry, my diary confessions, my handwritten letters of longing.

Years went by and my life changed, taking me to many places and through the results of change and connections, of heartbreak and new love, of moving and coming back, and of all that so-called growing up that I was (am) always trying to get through. August and Everything After stayed with me like a best friend, and then Recovering the Satellites came along to steal my heart, and oh my stars This Desert Life that I loved and am inspired by so much that it is the “working title” of my novel, and then Hard Candy and Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, and most recently, Somewhere Under Wonderland, and all of their albums, they have become a part of my personal soundtrack, there to serenade me, to comfort me, to let me cry to, love to, learn about myself to.

I have gotten the opportunity to see them play live twice, and I hope they come back around in 2015 to support Somewhere Under Wonderland, because seeing this band live is fucking amazing. The live versions of their songs, especially the ones that they have revised live, lengthened and added to, and often ad-lib to, are something beyond description. I am always so emotionally moved by their concerts that I invariably wind up in tears. They are one of those bands that I want to drag everyone I know to see, even if they think they are not a fan.

As for me, I know I am forever a fan, and Adam Duritz is forever one of my favorite singer-songwriters. If I ever were to even consider writing songs, he would be one of my inspirations, someone I’d love the chance to try and write a song with.

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Counting Crows are originally from Berkeley, California, where they formed in 1991. The band consists of Adam Duritz (lead vocals, piano), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (accordion, keyboards), Dan Vickrey (lead guitar), David Immerglück (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Jim Bogios (drums) and Millard Powers (bass).

Counting Crows gained popularity following the release of their debut album, August and Everything After (1993), which featured the hit single Mr. Jones. They have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and received a 2004 Academy Award nomination for their song Accidentally in Love, which was included in the film Shrek 2.

The band lists their influences to include Van Morrison, R.E.M., Mike + The Mechanics, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, and The Band.

Singer Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson began playing San Francisco coffeehouses together, performing under the name Counting Crows. The name was taken from One for Sorrow, a British divination nursery rhyme about the superstitious counting of magpies, a member of the crow family. Duritz heard the rhyme in the film Signs of Life, which starred his close friend, actress Mary-Louise Parker. Developing a following in the Bay Area and deciding to expand the band, Duritz and Bryson kept the name as they added members.

The most common modern version of the rhyme:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

The rhyme is featured in the third verse of the song A Murder of One on the band’s debut album August and Everything After.

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Counting Crows, and Adam Duritz in particular, have become renowned for the energetic, passionate nature of their live performances. Duritz frequently extends and rewrites songs live, adding extra verses or alternate middle sections and/or endings, sometimes fitting most of another of the band’s other songs into the middle of the first. Duritz often uses other artists’ lyrics in these sections as well, ranging from well-known acts, such as Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison and George Gershwin, to obscure Bay Area bands, including revisiting material from his days working with Sordid Humor.

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My Top 10 Favorite Counting Crows Songs

1. A Murder of One
from the album, August and Everything After

I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow,
casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows:
one for sorrow,
two for joy,
three for girls and four for boys,
five for silver,
six for gold
and seven for a secret never to be told
.”

2. Holiday in Spain
from the album, Hard Candy

I’ll be your engine drive in a bunny suit.”

3. Round Here
from the album, August and Everything After

She walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land,
just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus
.”

4. Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
from the album, This Desert Life

If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts.”

5. Anna Begins
from the album, August and Everything After

‘If it’s love’ she said, ‘then were gonna have to think about the consequences’.”

6. Catapult
from the album, Recovering the Satellites

All of these quiet battered voices,
wait for the hunger to come.
We got little revolvers,
and stupid choices,
and no one to say when we’re done
.”

7. All My Friends,
from the album, This Desert Life

I just wish I had known to go out walking in the sun,
to find out if you were the one
.”

8. A Long December
from the album, Recovering the Satellites

And it’s one more day up in the canyon,
and it’s one more night in Hollywood.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean,
I guess I should
.”

9. On Almost Any Sunday Morning
from the album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings

Wash your eyes clear of anything,
make them empty circles.
Dress yourself in black of gray
.”

10. Palisades Park
from the album, Somewhere Under Wonderland

It’s a long wait and a long life,
cars frozen in flight,
all the traffic stops to stare,
at a crosswalk in Reno, Nevada,
where nothing but air and a pair of gray paper wings
.”

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You’re my favorite flavor :: Air :: My Favorite Artists

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Air :: My Favorite Artists

I have been wracking my brain all morning to recall when I first heard Air’s music, but it all seems a blur. I think it was when around early 2000, right after I got married the second time, right around the time we were packing up to move out of state (my first time to leave California). Moon Safari was in our collection, though I can’t for the life of me remember if it was his, or mine, originally. I know the music quickly became ours though. There was something to it, the soothing feeling the music evoked, the eroticism, the trip hop deliciousness of it. The music sounded to me like a bridge between the 90’s and the 00’s, like it carried the flavor of a new millennium in the sound waves.

The Virgin Suicides had come out the year before, and I’d seen it a few times in the theaters. It was my first experience with Sofia Coppola’s films (she is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers) and I had loved the book, as well. The music was incredible, and I do remember going out and buying the soundtrack at a small record store in Salt Lake City (where we were living in 2000). I fell hard and fast for Playground Love, and it became one of those songs that I slipped into mix tapes, and wrote stories to.

A good friend and myself would go on to create a short-lived music blog called “I Heart Moon”, which was borne from a conversation we both had about Air, and the song and video to Sexy Boy. We had aspirations to have tee shirts made that said Sexy Boy and “I Heart Moon” on them, and wear them in our individual cities whenever we went to music venues or events, so that we could snap a picture to include in our reviews.

Later albums, 10 000 Hz Legend and Talkie Walkie also found their way into my ears and heart, though it was those two earlier albums that remain my favorites. They are a go-to band when I want to ease my anxieties, when I want to feel relaxed or romantic, and often it is what I turn on to write to. Their songs still make it on to quite a many mix and playlist I make, too.

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Air are from Versailles, France. They are the musical duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel.

Air’s debut EP, Premiers Symptômes, was followed by the critically acclaimed album Moon Safari, the re-release of Premiers Symptômes, The Virgin Suicides score, and subsequently albums 10000 Hz Legend, Everybody Hertz, Talkie Walkie, Pocket Symphony, Love 2, and Le Voyage Dans La Lune.

Air’s sound is most often referred to as electronica. Their form of electronic music has been stated to be influenced by the synthesizer sounds of the 1970’s such as Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, and Francis Lai. Other influences named include psychedelic and progressive rock pioneers Pink Floyd; film composer Ennio Morricone; krautrockers Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. Other inspiration has been drawn Space, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Claude Perraudin, as well as fellow French music maker Serge Gainsbourg and soft rock duo The Carpenters.

Air use many of their studio instruments (like Moog synthesizers, the Korg MS-20, Wurlitzer and Vocoder) live on stage, where their ability to improvise is more clearly highlighted. The band performs the well-known tracks from the albums live as extended or altered versions. Air often works together, both in the studio and live on stage, with artists like Beth Hirsch (Moon Safari), Françoise Hardy (Jeanne), Jean-Jacques Perrey (Cosmic Bird), Gordon Tracks (Playground Love and Easy Going Woman), Beck (10,000 Hz Legend). During their 2004 tour they featured Dave Palmer, and on the 2007 tour, drummer Earl Harvin, Vincent Taurelle and Steve Jones. Much like their music, they have worked with quite an eclectic group of fellow musicians and artists.

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My Top 10 Favorite Air Songs

1. Playground Love 
from the album, Virgin Suicides

I’m a high-school lover,
and you’re my favorite flavor.”

2. Sexy Boy
from the album, Moon Safari

Moi aussi un jour je serai beau comme un dieu.”

3. All I Need
featuring Beth Hirsch

from the album, Moon Safari

All I need is a little time,
to get behind this sun and cast my weight.

4. You Make It Easy
featuring Beth Hirsch

from the album, Moon Safari

You make it easy to watch the world with love.
You make it easy to let the past be done.”

5. Cherry Blossom Girl
featuring Hope Sandoval

from the album, Cherry Blossom Girl

I don’t think to feel like being shy,
don’t think I wanna stand it anymore;
I just want to say ‘Hi’.”

6. The Vagabond
featuring Beck
from the album, 10,000 Hz Legend

“I could lose my soul right here.”

7. Alone in Kyoto
from the album, Talkie Walkie

8. The Duelist
featuring Jarvis Cocker & Charlotte Gainsbourg
from the album, Pocket Symphony

“In the time it takes a handkerchief to fall to the ground,
one of our lives will be over.”

9. Do the Joy
from the album, Love 2

The world is on the brink,
the brink of our extinction,
the end of an era,
the end of a genre –
do the joy
.”

10. Kelly Watches the Stars
from the album, Moon Safari

“The stars,
the stars.”

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I’m not the kinda girl who gives up just like that :: Throwback Thursday

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The Tide is High :: Blondie
from the album, Autoamerican
Throwback Thursday

Every girl wants you to be her man,
but I’ll wait my dear ’til it’s my turn.”

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A Little History:

The Tide is High is a 1967 song written by John Holt, originally performed by the Jamaican group The Paragons, with John Holt as lead singer. The song went mainly unnoticed in the rest of the world, until it was rediscovered in 1980, when it became a US/UK # 1 hit for the American band Blondie.

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Blondie covered the song in a reggae style that included horns and strings. It was released as the first single from the band’s fifth album, Autoamerican. It was Blondie’s third # 1 smash on the Billboard Hot 100 and their fifth in the UK.

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The Tide is High also went on to reach the # 3 on the Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, and was popular throughout the world, reaching # 4 in Australia, and # 15 in West Germany. It was the last UK # 1 single for the band until Maria in 1999.

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The B-side of The Tide Is High was Suzie and Jeffrey, which appeared as a bonus track on the original 1980 cassette edition of the album Autoamerican and was also included on EMI-Capitol’s re-issue of Autoamerican in 2001.

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The music video (see above) was produced and directed by Hart Perry. It depicts the band waiting out on the street for singer Debbie Harry, who appears to be trapped in a flooding apartment. All the while, she is being monitored from outer space by what appears to be a Darth Vader-like alien being. She soon reunites with the band on the street and they drive to a rocket launch and fly into space. They then crash into the spaceship or space station. Harry confronts the alien being and begins dancing with him.

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Official remixes of the Blondie version have been issued twice. First by Coldcut in 1988 on the Blondie/Debbie Harry remix compilation Once More into the Bleach and the second time in 1995 by Pete Arden and Vinny Vero on the album Remixed Remade Remodeled: The Remix Project (UK edition: Beautiful: The Remix Album).

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In November 1980, the song was played on radio stations across the state of Alabama in anticipation of a football game between the University of Alabama, whose nickname is the Crimson Tide, and the University of Notre Dame.

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Blondie re-recorded the song for the 2014 compilation album Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux. The compilation was part of a 2-disc set called Blondie 4(0) Ever which included their 10th studio album Ghosts of Download and marked the 40th anniversary of the forming of the band.

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“I first heard ‘The Tide Is High’ on a compilation tape that someone had given me while we were in London. Chris Stein and I both fell in love with the song and decided it was too good to resist.” ~ Debbie Harry in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh:

Blondie wanted to give the song a Jamaican feel, so they hired 3 percussion players and created a new string and horn arrangement to give it an authentic sound. According to Chris Stein, the percussion includes “8 tracks of drum sticks tapping on a piano bench.”

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Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were both fans of the British Ska revival band The Specials. Stein revealed to Mojo magazine May 2008 that they asked The Specials to back Debbie Harry on this recording. However they didn’t want to do it.

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In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Sean Lennon said: “My father had an old Wurlitzer in the game room of our house on Long Island. It was filled with 45’s, mostly Elvis and The Everly Brothers. The one modern song I remember him listening to was ‘The Tide Is High’ by Blondie, which he played constantly. When I hear that song, I see my father, unshaven, his hair pulled back into a ponytail, dancing to and fro in a worn-out pair of denim shorts, with me at his feet, trying my best to coordinate tiny limbs.”

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A Little Memory:

In 1980, I bought my first 45″ single. It was The Tide Is High (A side) and Suzy and Jeffrey (B side). I had seen Blondie sing The Tide Is High on Saturday Night Live, and was enamored by Debbie Harry. Debbie overtook my Olivia Newton-John obsession, and became my style icon, my musical hero, and a head over heels crush. I couldn’t decide what I wanted more, to be her, or to be with her. I nearly wore out the single (I have it still, and it does still play) and ended up buying another one, this time the Call Me single, soon after. Then, when I had enough money saved from babysitting and allowances, I bought the Autoamerican album from the music section of Montgomery Wards. Oh the joy a trip to the record store, or music department, could bring.

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