Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dispatches from the iPod

The next five songs to come up on shuffle on the iPod:

1. “I Believe in You” by Neil Young. Professor Neil. From After the Gold Rush, of course. Like the best of Neil, it’s beguilingly simple and affecting and perfect. And it’s got a great mix of acoustic guitar (right), piano (center), and electric guitar (left).

2. “Maggie’s Farm,” by Bob Dylan. Bob and Neil back to back. Every once in a while, that little hard drive gets it right. “They say, ‘Sing while you slave,’ but I just get bored” still gets me, no matter how many times I hear it. And how many times have I heard the song? A thousand? Would that be an overly grandiose number?

3. “Animal Sings Gershwin (A Foggy Day)” from one of the Muppet Show albums. Eleven seconds. Animal hits the drums, cries out, “A foggy day in London Town” and the song ends. Who’s going to argue with that? Nada y pues nada.

4. “Donuts (Intro)” by J. Dilla. Okay, I’m not really hip enough to justify this, and the album works better in long chunks than when just one of the little 70-second segments pops up, but, even so, when they do, I feel like Bobby arguing the merits of soul food: “Because it makes me happy.” Plus, it makes for much better hipster listening than, say, the Arcade Fire. I don’t have a particular problem with histrionics, as such, but which old god done decided that what indie rock had really been missing all these years was a disco beat?

5. “Hat and Beard,” by Eric Dolphy. From Out to Lunch, a great, leaping, jarring album with incredibly angular playing and crazy rhythms. And, it’s got vibes. And Tony Williams plays drums on it, kicking all kinds of 1964 rump: over the beat, under the beat, around the beat, up and down the pulse. Rumplestomping of the third degree.

And a bonus, since Animal's number was only eleven seconds long: "Everybody Loves to Cha-Cha-Cha," by Sam Cooke. I have nothing bad to say about Sam Cooke, but, if I tried, I could come up with a few relatively negative things to say about this song. But, then, in the end, it's Sam Cooke, and there's some cowbell, and, if nothing else, it's an excuse to think, for a moment, about Real Genius: "Okay, just take a step back. And a step forward. And now we cha-cha."

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