by YONA C. RIEL

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My favorite songs discovered this year

      I don't know if it's his dark moody voice or his equally dark and moody lyrics but many songs by M. Ward have appeared on my playlists this year.  I downloaded 'Transfiguration of Vincent" from the libary which I think I like better than "End of Amenisia".  Most notable are "Carolina" and his version of David Bowie's "Let's Dance".   The guy is definitely gifted when it comes to lyrics.  In "Carolina" he sings he "used to feel like California, now I feel like Carolina, split myself in two".  I bet even Tom Waits thought that was a good line for a song. 
     Speaking of Tom and good lyricists I think he is one of the best out there.  Last year I saw the movie 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and just when it gets really intense Tom starts singing "All the World is Green" extracting uncontrollable tears and some serious shock and awe out of me.  It was really hard to leave that movie as they returned to the same song when the credits rolled.
     And then there's Alice.  I do have a really good friend named Alice but I am talking about the Tom Waits song with that name.  If you have never heard it get the cd of the same name from the library and download it.  "....with a secret kiss, comes madness with the bliss, I must be insane, to go skating on your name, and by skating it twice, I fell thru the ice, of al..ICE...".

     Maybe it is because I am in my 50's and I shared similar experiences, but Rickie Lee Jones is another amazing song writer that keeps on giving me 'ear candy' year after year.  Her new album "Balm in Gilead" is all good but my favorite is the one she wrote for her daughter's 21st birthday called "Wild Girl".  This song has everything that I love about Rickie; from her chords, to her pacing, to her particular way of articulating a verse, this song brings forth those salty tears again and again, letting me know she has hit my spot.
     Okay, yeah, I am a sucker for really good ballads.  But I also love a good world music sound.  Balkan Beat Box, who was last scheduled to hit Eugene at the Shed a year or so ago (and was cancelled due to imigration B.S.) put out an amazing song called "Ramallah Tel Aviv".  We are talking middle eastern rap (just for the record I detest rap music) .... and it was music to my ears.  Difficult to describe.  All I can say is it makes me wanna dance unlike any rap song I have ever heard.
     Then there's a band called Bajofondo.  I got into them because I like 'nuevo tango'.  But when I heard "Pa Bailar - Siempre Quiero Mas" I flipped.  Beautifully rhythmic.  Very danceable.  Gorgeous female lead vocals featuring Julieta Venegas.   It gets me all mushy even if I don't understand most of lyrics.
     I also discovered another singer songwriter this year, Devandra Banhart, probably because he was the free single of the week from either Starbucks or I-tunes.  Went to the library to see what else he had done and sure enough his album 'Cripple Crow' is a winner.  I love "Santa Maria da Feira" the most for it's beautiful vocals in spanish mixed with just enough folky guitar to appeal to a '50-something' like me.
   Perhaps none of these are new to you, but if even one is I will consider my list a success.  I would feel even more 'successful' if you left your favorite songs discovered this year.  They don't have to be new, just new to you.  And thanks in advance for reading and responding.
   

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