Steinbeck on Random: 4.7.06

Every couple of weeks I’ll be delving into the robot I affectionately call Steinbeck. I will shuffle the songs and discuss, shortly, the first ten songs that pop up.

Thanks to Scott Hudson for planting the seed by showing his iPod playlist screenshots every few weeks last year, and thanks to Eric for showing how cool it is. Oh, and thanks to Steinbeck. My best electronic friend.

So, as promised, let’s get started.

– – – – – –

1. “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” – Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

The first song off of the first Wilco album I ever owned. Coincidentally, this song owns, and it set the stage for my off-again, mostly on-again love affair with Wilco. On-again with their albums, off-again with their concerts: Wilco was extremely sub par when they played the Pavilion here in Sioux Falls.

2. “What You Want” (live) – The Roots
The Roots Come Alive

Sometimes all of The Roots’ songs sound the same, but this one I recognize. It features Jaguar, whoever that is. It’s one of my favorites, especially live since The Roots is a live band first, an album act second.

3. “Arms and Dangers” – The Promise Ring
Very Emergency

Ah yes, the nearly too-poppy follow up to The Promise Ring’s best album, Nothing Feels Good. They went over and above the great sound they had perfected, so the saccharine seemed a little too thick. Still, there are some very good songs – this is one of them. I love the first line: “I was born in 1968, born to replace Bobby Kennedy.”

4. “’Comes A Time” (live) – Ani Difranco
So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter

This is one of the reasons that putting an entire artist’s discography on an iPod has its downfalls – you end up with 15 second long intro tracks to live concerts. This is from Ani’s So Much Shouting… double disk and is a short snippet of some of Utah Phillips’ spoken word. It’s just something to get the crowd fired up, I’m sure, and it does; the attendees, about 80% of whom are females, start shrieking as soon as the track starts.

The short track phenomenon shows up a lot on hip hop albums as well. I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll see.

5. “Cadence” – Boy Sets Fire
The Day The Sun Went Out

Haha. Boy Sets Fire. I loved this album. A lot. If I would have done a “Top-100 CDs of my first year of college” list, it would be in the top-10. Unfortunately it aged very poorly. Their lame 15 minute politipunk speeches during their shows and subsequent womanizing afterwards kind of undermined their entire gimmick. Whoops. Of course, according to this song, they’d “rather starve than lose your acceptance.” Whatever.

6. “I Shall Be Released” – Bob Dylan
The Essential Bob Dylan

I have no idea about this song.

Some songs, especially those from all of my The Essential “greatest hits” collections, are completely unknown to me. It’s not unusually to hear a Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, or Willie Nelson song that I’ve never heard before in my life. This is one of those songs.

Still, it seems good. I guess it’s Dylan, so it IS good.

7. “Alice Childress” (live) – Ben Folds Five
Naked Baby Photos

Another live song. I never knew this CD was even coming out until I saw it at Best Buy. That’s when I knew I was becoming out of touch with music. Even now I’m a full year-behind all of the trends.

Speaking of which, have you heard this band called The White Stripes? They’re pretty good.

8. “Fireman” – Jawbreaker
Dear You

Because we all know how awesome Blake Schwarzenbach is at writing lyrics, I’m never going to comment on Jawbreaker or Jets To Brazil songs. I’m just going to let you read some lyrics.

“Dreamed I was a tidal wave/I ravaged your coast there were no survivors/Dreamed I was your landlord/I showed you place when you had lovers/If I was a vampire, I wouldn’t suck your blood/Then I dreamed I was you/Sweetest dream I have had.”

9. “California” – Rufus Wainwright

We saw Rufus Wainwright open for Tori Amos when we still lived in Minnesota. He’s the type of guy that I would never actively go out and listen to, but whenever he shows up on Steinbeck’s screen I end up turning it up.

This song is a perfect example of it. And there’s a Bea Arthur name-drop, so that’s always killer.

10. “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” – Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary

Thanks to Dave Stadley for Wolf Parade, a pet project of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. He produced this, and you can hear the influence at times.

Of course, I’ve rediscovered so much music since getting the iPod that I haven’t really fully soaked in a lot of the bands that I’ll eventually end up loving. Wolf Parade is one of them. I like all the songs I hear from them, but I couldn’t even pick one out of a crowd. It’s pretty sad, actually – just another consequence of the American Way; we want everything, right now, and now I’m suffering from overload.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 9th, 2006