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Modern Pea Pod’s November 2005 Mixtape

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“Songs We’re Thankful For”:
The Modern Pea Pod’s November 2005 Mixtape

Do you mind if we get a little personal? This time of year, as you’re surely aware, is about giving thanks for the things in life you appreciate. So why should the Modern Pea Pod’s music page be any different? We don’t write about music for our health, or because we like the sound of our own voices (although, to be fair, the latter is true as well). We write about music because we’re passionate about it; because somewhere along the line, some great song touched each of us the way only the best music can. This isn’t a list of the greatest songs ever written, or even our all-time favorites – that kind of objectivity is beyond the grasp of mere mortals. Instead, we offer for your consideration 22 songs that we love…as simple as that. Our reasons for loving them are as varied as the tracks themselves, but it’s the sincerest way to celebrate Thanksgiving we can think of. And we hope that this inspires you, too, to reflect on the music that can make any season in your life special.

Side A

0:05 – Smokey Robinson: “I Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying” (2:39)
“This track’s incredibly morose lyrics of heartbreak contrast a bit with an upbeat ’60s soul tune that just can’t help but swing. Yet the result is a song so incredibly fantastic that it’s become the first thing I reach for when I need something to lift me out of a gloomy mood. Something getting you down? Do what Smokey does: dance your mother fucking ass off.”
(Available on Early Classics)

2:44 – De La Soul: “Eye Know” (4:13)
“This is the song I want to play for everyone who says they don’t like hip hop. It encapsulates everything I love about 3 Feet High and Rising and about good hip hop in general: tight samples and inventive, flawless rhymes that wind up sounding unexpectedly perfect. Plus, who can resist a groovy sample of Otis Redding whistling?
(Available on 3 Feet High and Rising)

6:57 – Elton John: “Amoreena” (5:02)
“Hey, indie kid. Yeah, you with the haircut. Think you’re too hip to dig Elton John? Well, fuck you – Tumbleweed Connection is a great album, and ‘Amoreena’ is one of its indisputable highlights. With soaring melodies, barrelhouse piano and proto-glam guitar runs (not to mention a notebook full of Bernie Taupin’s evocative pop poetry), the future Sir Elton spins a tale of down-home longing that sounds as much at home nestled between odes to Jack Daniels and arsonous sacrilege as it does over the credits of Dog Day Afternoon. Forget the gap tooth, the Lion King soundtrack and that self-prostituting duet with Eminem. This, my friends, is the real deal.”
(Available on Tumbleweed Connection)

11:59 – The Oblivians: “Bad Man” (2:42)
“Honestly, I’m just thankful for Greg Cartwright’s voice. I saw him with the Reigning Sound at the Magic Stick this Fourth of July, and when he sang (or I guess you might say howled) this song, I got goosebumps. Every note comes straight from this man’s soul.”
(Available on Popular Favorites)

14:41 – The Clash: “Safe European Home” (3:51)
“This piece is the definition of punk rock. It must be that riff that just calls out to your fist to rise violently in the air again and again, to the beat of a pulsating rhythm that sounds suspiciously like the colonies of a former empire coming home to strike terror in the heart of the Queen. All of that on top of lyrics that cut through the establishment like a scalding hot political switchblade. It is the sound of the angry youth of Thatcher’s England. It is a sound that resonates with us to this day.”
(Available on Give ‘Em Enough Rope)

18:32 – Sam Cooke: “Bring It On Home to Me” (2:35)
“Sam Cooke’s ‘Bring It On Home to Me’ is one of those moment-making songs. I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard it and I can tell you that when I did hear it, I froze. Maybe it was the gentle pleading in his voice, or that piano, or the call and response, or the simplicity of the lyrics. I don’t know. But if you had to make a mixtape of my insides, this song would probably be side one, track one.”
(Available on Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964)

21:09 – Elliott Smith: “Twilight” (4:29)
“This is Smith at his best: raw. Well, sort of. His voice cuts through the song in such a vulnerable, innocent way that I end up wanting to cradle his head in my hands. It evokes emotion and doesn’t just make me feel as though I’m the only one who’s supposed to listen to it; it makes me feel like Smith wrote this song to show that everyone has a vulnerable, innocent side.”
(Available on From a Basement on the Hill)

25:38 – Curtis Mayfield: “Give Me Your Love (Long Song)” (4:20)
“If somebody doesn’t smile when hearing this song, they’re probably an asshole. When the sparse piano line hits with that wonking guitar in the background, it’s like musical heaven. How Curtis Mayfield could make a song soft and seductive yet so powerful at the same time is beyond me.”
(Available on Superfly)

29:58 – The Rolling Stones: “Loving Cup” (4:26)
“Let’s face it: ‘sincerity’ and ‘Mick Jagger’ should rarely, if ever, be used in the same sentence. But as this classic Exile on Main St. cut demonstrates, the little guy does have a way with expressions of desperate, degenerate love. He moans those lyrics like he really is dying of thirst and the only thing that will save him is a ‘little drink from your lovin’ cup.’ And when Keef’s guitar sneaks into the mix? The sound of a classic being born. If you like ‘Beast of Burden,’ then ‘Loving Cup’ is your new favorite song.”
(Available on Exile on Main St.)

34:24 – Cat Power: “I Found a Reason” (2:00)
“For me, Chan Marshall has the best voice in the universe. And with ‘I Found a Reason,’ she takes an already good song and makes it phenomeonal. If there was justice in this world, all of those ballad bitches (Celine Dion, Bonnie Tyler, Mariah Carey) would be forced to take singing lessons from Cat Power so they could learn the true meaning of emotion.”
(Available on The Covers Record)

36:24 – Split Enz: “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” (4:26)
“Early photos of Split Enz show a band decked out like harlequins of the New Wave Era. This song is a bit like that mentality – a little bit silly, a little bit over the top – but it’s fun (in a very ‘dangerous boat journey song’ sort of way). And hey, sometimes silly is all you need.”
(Available on Time and Tide)

40:50 – Wilco: “I Got You (At the End of the Century)” (3:57)
“I’m thankful, for those times I’m on the go, that I can listen to Wilco’s entire catalog in four minutes. This song’s got the tremolo guitar, the Stones pastiche, the harmony, the effects pedals, the twang, the piano, the breakdown, the adorably parenthetical title — everything, I say!”
(Available on Being There)

Final Runtime: 44:40

Side B

0:05 – Sonic Youth: “Teen Age Riot” (6:55)
“I’m thankful that ‘Teen Age Riot’ was written with some crazy-ass alternate guitar tunings. Had it been easier to play, a song this catchy and this indie-credible would be covered into oblivion by the same class of slacker college band which is presently responsible for ruining ‘Where is My Mind?'”
(Available on Daydream Nation)

7:00 – Bootsy Collins: “Psychoticbumpschool” (5:22)
“In 1976, while his day job Parliament mixed their funk with increasing amounts of jazz and pop, Bootsy and his Rubber Band were laying down some of the hardest, nastiest shit in the P-Funk canon. Bass-heavy, sublimely silly and funky as hell, ‘Psychoticbumpschool’ is like an ass-shaking Rosetta Stone…it’s one for the ages. And if by the fade-out you aren’t bumping right along to the schoolyard chorus, you might as well get your sorry ass into Sir Nose’s prep academy.”
(Available on Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band)

12:22 – The Undertones: “Teenage Kicks” (2:27)
“This isn’t just the late, great John Peel’s all-time favorite song. It’s hands down one of the best, most perfect pop songs ever written: a breathless rush through exhilirating springtime youth. After ‘Teenage Kicks,’ there was really no need to write any other music; consider your favorite bands from 1980 on to be just the icing on the cake.”
(Available on The Undertones)

14:49 – The Lucksmiths: “Southernmost” (2:37)
“Not my favorite song by the Lucksmiths, but definitely one of the most meaningful songs for me by any band. This came on a 45 that was like the second or third piece of vinyl I ever bought; but more to the point, when the guy at the record store handed it to me, he opened up a whole new world. ‘Southernmost’ marks my discovery of the Lucksmiths, and the start of my passion for music. They were the first band I could really call my own.”
(Available on Happy Secret)

17:26 – Bob Dylan: “I Want You” (3:08)
“I’m thankful Bob wasn’t very cute to the dancing child with the Chinese suit and the propensity for lying and the, uh, flute. Fucker got what he deserved.”
(Available on Blonde on Blonde)

20:34 – Sly & The Family Stone: “Family Affair” (3:04)
“I am convinced that ‘Family Affair’ contains the greatest pop vocal performance of all time. Sly toes the line between broken-down and badass in a way that nobody has managed since the cotton blues of the 1930s. Just listen to the way he sings ‘newlywed, a year ago’: he sounds like the saddest pimp in the world. Behind him, the band plays the most successful weary funk that I have ever heard. I listen to ‘Family Affair,’ and then nothing else sounds like soul music.”
(Available on There’s a Riot Goin’ On)

23:38 – Iggy & The Stooges: “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” (4:54)
“I’m thankful that Messrs. Pop and Williamson more or less conclusively put to rest the idea that the fidelity of a recording really has any relation at all to the quality of that recording.”
(Available on Raw Power)

28:33 – Johnny Cash: “One” (3:52)
“I’m going to tell you this: I hate U2. I hate Bono and his ugly hair. I hate the fact that the guitarist calls himself The Edge. But when Johnny Cash covered this song on his American III, he redeemed U2 for me. I hate admitting the fact that Bono wrote something that takes my breath away, but it does. And I’m just going to have to live with that.”
(Available on American III: Solitary Man)

32:25 – Howe Gelb: “This Purple Child” (5:41)
“No one I’ve met yet likes this song. Maybe I like it because of that weird horn sample. Maybe it’s the snapping, train station percussion. Whatever the case, this song makes the lo-fi aesthetic its bitch. It’s great. Trust me.”
(Available on Hisser)

38:07 – The Flying Burrito Brothers: “Wild Horses” (6:20)
“This song always brings me to tears. I don’t know if it’s Gram Parson’s voice or if it’s the lyrics, but without failure I start tearing up. I love this song.”
(Available on Sin City: The Very Best Of)

Final Runtime: 44:27

Total Runtime (Sides A & B): 89:07

The Runners-Up
MC Paul Barman: “MTV Get Off the Air”
Johnny Cash: “Man in Black”
The Faces: “Ooh La La”
John Lennon: “Look at Me”
Nico: “The End”
Pavement: “Shady Lane”
Jonathan Richman: “Velvet Underground”
Rilo Kiley: “Portions for Foxes”
Sufjan Stevens: “Say Yes! To Michigan!” and “Seven Swans”
The Stooges: “Down on the Street”
The Strokes: “Last Nite”
Talking Heads: “Psycho Killer”
The Yardbirds: “Stroll On”
Yo La Tengo: “Cherry Chapstick”

Lovingly compiled by the Modern Pea Pod Staff

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