Sounds of Music

Songbook: Seven Curses

Back to Dylan Time! Which should be all the time, basically.

“Seven Curses” by Bob Dylan

Album: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

Year: 1963

Category: Best of Dylan

Why it rocks:
It’s such a simple song, a true illustration of Dylan’s folk roots (I’d argue it’s truer than his protest songs even): with no ornamentation and a very simple, very stark story it raises Dylan’s vision of the Wild West to a mythical realm. And my personal favorite thing about Dylan’s songwriting is how he can tell a story: an actual story with characters, a plot and a resolution. Also, thank heavens they published it on the Bootleg Series because it’s such a loss it was never released on an album.

Favorite lyrics:
I like the simplicity as in a real folk ballad and the vengeful numbers game at the end. I’m not sure if I have a favorite line though, it’s such a consistent text.

Favorite moment:
I like the moment when the narrative changes once the judge has lied.

Best for: It’s a decent sing-along and it could make a decent movie.

Listen here.

Advertisements
Standard
Sounds of Music

Songbook: No Need to Argue

In wake of the sad news of the death of Dolores O’Riordan, I remembered the Cranberries, a band which is different from my today’s taste but to which I listened a lot in school. And so it re-woke the momeries of the 1990s.

“No Need to Argue” by the Cranberries

Album: No Need to Argue

Year: 1994

Category: Old favorites

Why it rocks:
I know the wave of nostalgia for the 1990s is coming soon but let me tell you the 90s wasn’t that great to be around for, at least as a kid and young teenager in a school you hated. The Cranberries’ songs remind me of many things from that time (not all of them bad, mind you, but most of them melancholy) and this song is a beautiful, little outro for the album. It captures the melancholy of the end of a relationship. It uses O’Riordan’s voice perfectly, with its mix of sweetness and trembling sorrow. It allows her vocals to shine with only a minimum of instruments to back her up. And it keeps it all under three minutes.

Favorite bit of lyrics:
It’s too simple to focus on any particular fragment.

Favorite moment:
The beginning and the way her voice sounds then, as if the time has slowed.

Best for: Feeling sad in an almost-good way.

Sidenote: I think my favorite thing about the Cranberries is that both me and my brother liked them. It wasn’t as bonding as listening to Nirvana together, but still.

Listen here.

Standard
Sounds of Music

Songbook: At Seventeen

If I’d known this song in high school I’d probably have checked the closet to see if Janis Ian was not hiding there. Just kidding, of course (I didn’t have a closet in my room) but some things in this song sounded uncannily true to me when I heard it for the first time – though not all of them, and I’m not saying which is which.

“At Seventeen” by Janis Ian

Album: Between the Lines

Year: 1975

Category: Classic charmers

Why it rocks:
For the reasons I hinted at in the introduction: it’s an incredibly well-put description of a certain kind of adolescence. It feels very personal and thus relatable. It creates a nostalgic feeling with its swaying bossa-nova tune but the words clearly oppose any nostalgia – and I’m all for this kind of tension in a song.

Favorite bit of lyrics:
We all play the game, and when we dare / We cheat ourselves at solitaire / Inventing lovers on the phone / Repenting other lives unknown / That call and say: ‘Come dance with me’ / And murmur vague obscenities.”

Favorite moment:
The introduction itself shows you immediately all the strength of the song. And all the moments when her voice gets stronger.

Best for: Feeling glad you’re no longer 17.

Standard
Sounds of Music

Songbook: I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You

Tom Waits. Ah, Tom Waits. I’ve got such mixed responses to his songs but I don’t think any of them are bad: some of them are just so difficult for me to access. This one, though, is one of my favorites.

“I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You” by Tom Waits

Album: Closing Time

Year: 1973

Category: Recent-years favorite

Why it rocks:
While this is not the deepest Waits can go, this song has such a good mix between a movie scene and a slice of life, all of it married to pleasantly flowing guitars. While very casual, it describes such a precise moment you are immediately transported to the smoky bar Waits’ voice fits so well. You also have to admire the emotional changes in the story. And I love how his voice sounds in this one.

Favorite lyrics:
Maybe this: “Well, I turn around to look at you, and you look back at me / The guy you’re with, he’s up and split, the chair next to you is free / And I hope that you don’t fall in love with me” for the pivot in the story.

Favorite moment:
The change of pattern on the “It’s closing time” line and the clear enunciation of the word “stout.”

Best for: Observing people in a melancholy bar and feeling on the verge of making a connection with someone.

Standard