Sounds of Music

Songbook: Da Doo Ron Ron

I might have given you an impression that I only like songs with ponderous, complicated lyrics. Let’s talk this one then.

“Da Doo Ron Ron” by the Crystals

Year: 1963

Category: Golden oldies

Why it rocks:
It’s the best 60s music had to offer: fun, rhythm, a melody that makes you tap your foot and reflections on the modern world. Most of those anyway. It’s such an enjoyable song with a whole lot of instruments you wouldn’t necessarily expect there.

Favorite lyrics:
“And when he walked me home / Da doo ron-ron-ron, da doo ron-ron.”
I’m kidding, the lyrics don’t matter.

Favorite moment:
Intro! And the energy of the whole thing.

Best for: A dance party, baby.

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Sounds of Music

Songbook: Man of Constant Sorrow

Let’s get serious guys: we will be talking lots of Bob Dylan here. Lots. Here’s one less conventional song for a good start.

“Man of Constant Sorrow” by Bob Dylan

Album: No Direction Home: Bootleg Vol. 7

Year: 1962

Category: Best of Dylan

Why it rocks:
Dylan’s bests are rarely covers but this one he completely makes his own (up to and including serious lyrics changes). It’s such a young Dylan, when he was flaunting the bad boy persona like nobody’s business and it’s fun to see him shifting the focus of this story into a more juvenile place where it’s all about a mysterious heartbreak. Also, I’ve always liked Dylan’s early harmonica (I mean since I taught myself to like it but it was so long ago it’s like in a different lifetime).

Favorite lyrics:
“I’ll say goodbye to Colorado / Where I was born and partly raised.” The “partly” is such a fun Dylan-like little shift. And people say he didn’t deserve the Nobel Prize. Heh. Basically, the best part of this lyrics is all the differences he makes to the classic version.

Favorite moment:
The last verse. But also, points for the long notes.

Best for: Arguments with people who think that version from that movie is better.

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Sounds of Music

Songbook: Cleopatra

I think the Lumineers are a great band, one of my favorites among the current performers, but with this song they outshone themselves. I doubt I will even do it justice.

“Cleopatra” by the Lumineers

Album: Cleopatra

Year: 2016

Category: Recent-years favorites

Why it rocks:
For its incredible, heart-breaking humanism. Apparently, the lead singer listened to a Georgian taxi driver and wrote her story in a song. It’s small-scale and grandiose at the same time, random and feels so true to life, both tragic and commonplace. I love the imprecise rhyming pattern which makes the story feel even truer. I also love how simple and direct the song is despite all this emotional burden.

Favorite lyrics:
“I was Cleopatra, I was taller than the rafters.” I mean, come on.

Favorite moment:
This one: “So I drive a taxi / And the traffic distracts me / From the strangers in my backseat / They remind me of you.” But others are close.

Best for: Getting emotional.

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Sounds of Music

Songbook: King of the World

This song by a Swedish (but-they-could-totally-be-American) band was, appropriately, suggested to me by Spotify a while ago.

“King of the World” by First Aid Kit

Album: The Lion’s Roar

Year: 2012

Category: Recent-years favorite

Why it rocks:
I like the tempo and the upbeat rebelliousness of this song. It’s such a good, light – and yet introspective – thing. It talks cheerfully of inner unrest and that’s always interesting.

Favorite lyrics:
“And once you asked me what was my biggest fear / That things would always remain so unclear / That one day I’d wake up all alone / With a big family and emptiness deep in my bones / That I would be so blinded, turn a deaf ear / And that my fake laugh would suddenly sound sincere.”

Favorite moment:
I love the bit with the waitress: so simple and so human at the same time and you can’t help but see the whole scene.

Best for: Swaying happily and feeling like you want to go on a roadtrip. Or maybe for having an existential crisis.

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Songbook: River Waltz

I’m a sucker for triple meter, as you will have many occasions to see, I’m sure. This little pearl I found, like so many songs I like, in a movie.

“River Waltz” by Cowboy Junkies

Album: Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes

Year: 1999

Category: Recent-years favorite

Why it rocks:
It’s such an atmospheric, simple song with many things floating there, never fully realized: a bit of ecological thought, a bit of white-trashy romance, quite a bit of myth. It’s a song (and a voice) to get lost in.

Favorite lyrics:
I prefer the melody to the lyrics in this song but take the opening, for instance: “I’m going to find me a dying river / And strike a deal with her, I’ll say: / I’ll fold you in two and I’ll carry you away.”

Favorite moment:
The third verse in which the story and the melody change and it’s suddenly an imperfect love story more than a myth. Such a beautiful moment.

Best for: Imagining yourself waltzing at a very sad ball.

Side note: Cowboy Junkies is such a good band name.

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Sounds of Music

Songbook: All the Best

Welcome to Songbook, a new type of post where I will focus on a single song: either an all-time favorite or something currently stuck in my head. It’s a natural continuation of my two lists of favorite songs (one, two) where I didn’t get to talk enough about so many great things. Songs don’t really fit into the convention of Mildly Enthusiastic Reviews of Things so they get a new convention entirely. It’s my blog. We start with a soft cover recently suggested to me by Spotify (I love Spotify):

“All the Best” by Carla Bruni and Marianne Faithfull

Album: A l’Olympia (live)

Year: 2014

Category: New acquisition

Why it rocks:
Two lovely ladies of folk come together to sing John Prine’s song and it becomes so much better and more soulful in this peaceful, female rendition. Their voices, so, so different, sound beautifully together and double the subtle power of the song.

Favorite lyrics:
“And when I walked / Love walked with me. / And I got no hate / And I got no pride / I got so much love that I cannot hide.”
And also this: “Then you change your mind / For something else to do / And your heart gets bored with your mind and it changes you.”

Favorite moment:
When both singers come together to sing “I got so much love that I cannot hide.” Powerful.

Best for: A quiet moment of not-too-deep reflection. Old relationships that failed you.

And that’s it really, these will be fairly short and sweet. See you soon for next ones.

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Sounds of Music

I’ll Go Out of My Way to Prove I Still

I’ve started reading Girls on Fire, it made me think of Nirvana and so I played Nevermind on Spotify. If you asked me I couldn’t have name dmore than a handful of song titles from this album but when it’s playing I remember almost every single sound. It’s crazy how many times I’ve heard this album since second grade when I listened to it a lot. Like, a lot.

Also, yes, I still have this blog and maybe I’m still planning on writing it. But I also have a son and it makes it really hard to keep up with non-essential things, and with some essential things too.

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