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Get Your War On

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I tend to label mix tapes with some sort of phrase that reminds me of when and where it was made. They tend to be a little cryptic in the usual album title/band name manner: “Geographic Vagaries” refers to a time when I seemed to have a gift for meeting attractive, interesting women who lived a very long way away from me; “Bronfman Two Twenty” is the room number of the lab I worked in as an undergrad; “Fines Doubled in Work Areas” is a tape I made to listen to on the long drive across Pennsylvania. Occasionally this produces really odd results– another tape is labelled with the spectroscopic designation of a particular transition in rubidium (as getting a laser locked to that transition was my concern at the time), which leads to much bafflement whenever I have an atomic physicist in the car…

The post title, then, refers not to the profane clip-art comic, but to the most recent tape I made. It’s not exactly the Poor Man’s party-killer, but the title was sort of unavoidable given recent events. As usual, it’s skewed toward things I’ve acquired relatively recently (which doesn’t necessarily mean recent albums).

Lacking better blogging inspiration, I’ll list off the songs, and a comment or two on each. If I were ambitious, I’d provide links to MP3’s or something, but I don’t have time for the RIAA, so take what you can get:

Side One:

  • “Hallelujah,” Jeff Buckley. It’s a Leonard Cohen song (which, weirdly, turned up in Shrek), but it’s hard to beat Buckley’s unearthly delivery. I’ve wanted to put this on a tape for a good while, so it was a place to start.

  • “People Get Ready,” Blind Boys of Alabama. Blind gospel singers do Curtis Mayfield. Why not? It’s a decent transition from the opener to:

  • “The Rising,” Bruce Springsteen. From real gospel to gospel-influenced rock songs about September 11th.

  • “Hallelujah,” Ryan Adams. Not actually a religious song, save maybe in a really cynical sense. Anyway, it fits fairly well.

  • “Do You Realize?,” The Flaming Lips. Running out of gospel-tinged songs, so we’ll go with ear-wormy electronic pop songs about anime characters and philosophy. Or something.

  • “Have Love, Will Travel,” Tom Petty. The best song (and possibly the only good song) off The Last DJ.

  • “When I Get to the Border,” Richard Thompson. This works better than you might think. It probably fits in the “There has never been a happy Irish song” cosmology somewhere.

  • “Blue Heaven,” the Pogues. Definitely not a happy Irish song.

  • “Surf Colorado,” Bowling for Soup. Kate’s well and truly sick of hearing this album, I think, but it’s a catchy song about getting dumped.

  • “Always On My Mind,” Phantom Planet. Max Fischer, not Willie Nelson.

  • “And Your Bird Can Sing,” the Beatles. Off Revolver, with a nifty guitar line and that unmistakable Beatles harmony.

  • “I Can Wait,” Steve Earle. I bought Jerusalem immediately, specifically because it sent right-wing bloggers into a censorious snit (I draw the line well before the Dixie Chicks, though). Transcendental Blues is a better album, and this is a better song than anything on Jerusalem.

Side Two: (And, just as an aside, it’s probably only a matter of time before side distinctions become a thing of the past, in this era of recordable CD’s…)

  • “Down in the River to Pray,” Alison Krauss. Off the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, picking up the gospel-ish theme from the start of the first side.

  • “Moment of Forgiveness,” the Indigo Girls. They get something like two good songs per album. This is one.

  • “Lost Cause,” Beck. One of very few songs to stand out from the fairly indistinct Sea Change.

  • “Mary’s Place,” Bruce Springsteen. Maybe the best song from The Rising, and the least mopey song about a widower going to a party ever.

  • “A Praise Chorus,” Jimmy Eat World. From a widower going out for the first time, to a wallflower psyching himself up to dance.

  • “Girl All the Bad Guys Want,” Bowling for Soup. She’s the reason the guy in the last song is at the party.

  • “You Get What You Give,” New Radicals. I first heard this in Tokyo, and said “Hey, a new World Party song…” It’s not World Party, but it is catchy. This turns out to be a better album than you might think.

  • “Lost in the Supermarket,” the Afghan Whigs. Best. Clash. Cover. Ever. I love the Ben E. King bit at the end.

  • “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” John Mayer. Any mix tape invariably contains at least one song so indescribably cheesey I’m half ashamed to let anybody else hear it. This is that song.

  • “Why Should You Come When I Call?” Counting Crows. Appropos of very little, when I saw the band photo on the new album (visible here), I said “When did Patrick Nielsen Hayden join Counting Crows?”

  • “All the Time in the World,” the Subdudes. I first heard this on a staticky radio while driving through the middle of nowhere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, some of the most anonymous landscape anywhere. The song is an unplaceable sort of clanky Tom Waits-ish blues, and it occurred to me that, from all the context provided by the view and the radio, I could’ve been anywhere at all, at any time in the last sixty or eighty years. I’ve wanted to put it on a tape since, so here it is.

There you go. I have no doubt set myself up for all kinds of mockery of my strange taste in music, but, hey, it’s not about basketball… Physics posts next week, definitely.

(Originally posted to Uncertain Principles.)

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About Chad Orzel