The inspiration for “Good in 10” was a playlist I made in 2002. Around that time I started an mp3 music blog and what follows is the inaugural post (with minor edits). It’s interesting to see how my tastes have both changed and stayed pretty much the same. Here is the 2002 version of “Good in 10.”
In November of 2002, a few friends and I each agreed to form a list of 10 songs. The songs could be formative, addictive, whatever—but the list was to epitomize each person’s idea of “good music” and had to include at least one track released in 2002. If i were to do this again i’m sure the list would look different, but here’s the list and notes and you can listen online here: bit.ly/goodin10-2002.
Anisette – June of 44 (1996)
Tropics & Meridians
Tell all the people that he’s fine
So fine, he’s fine, so fine
June of 44 helped me cross the sea of Heavy Metal and “Alternative” genres to the greener pastures of indie-rawk. In 1994 my best friend Markus Lunkenheimer introduced me to June of 44 (then Rodan) and (Steve Albini’s) Shellac. This was the most aggressive but dynamic and sonicly rich music i had heard. This particular song is incredible to listen to on walkman while walking – the groove is such a pushing and pulling (oh my i love it!) I love how they juxtapose the two guitars and bass with similar (but different) loops that mix and mingle. the quietness and the screaming – the anxiety and the peace…
Cut Your Hair – Pavement (1994)
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
I remember lying
I don’t remember a line
I don’t remember a word
But I don’t care, I care, I really don’t care
Did you see the drummer’s hair?
At the time i heard this record i was listening to a lot of more ‘heavy’ groups and some jazz. My friend Jim brought this CD along with us on a road trip from Ames, Iowa to Eureka, California. Pavement’s catchy hooks and good humor kept me going on the road. i must have listened to the tape i dubbed of this a hundred million times walking across campus and singing to myself in the car. Listening through it the other day i guess i was singing along pretty loud… my boss walked in and i realized that i was basically belting it out.
I Was A Stranger – Smog (1997)
Red Apple Falls
Why do you women in this town
Let me look at you so bold?
You should have seen what I was
In the last town
For a depressing year this album was my life. Not only do i love pedal-steel guitar – Bill Callahan (Smog) always seems to sing what i would sing if i were blatantly honest and unredeemed. Here he makes an interesting statement: it’s worse to be well-known than it is to be a stranger…
New Partner – Palace Music (1995)
Viva Last Blues
Now you’ll haunt me, you’ll haunt me
‘Til I’ve paid for what i’ve done
It’s a payment which precludes the having of fun
My studio mate gave me a mix tape that had a song called ‘come little dog’ by The Palace Brothers which didn’t stand out a great deal to me at the time, but later that year i was flipping through records and saw this album and picked it up out of name recognition. Now Will Oldham (AKA: Palace Brothers, Palace Music, Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy) is my all-time favorite artist. I love how Will’s lyrics create a visual picture in my mind’s eye, and the chorus melody and harmony are both a treat to sing along with.
Pretty Eyes – Silver Jews (1996)
The Natural Bridge
I believe that stars are the headlights of angels
Driving from heaven to save us, to save us
Look in the sky
They’re driving from heaven into our eyes
David Berman, singer/songwriter for Silver Jews writes the most beautiful, touching, and tragic lyrics. This song and album kicked off for a period where I started thinking about music at the level of the ‘song’ – rather than: hook, voice, riff, instrumentation, lyric. Something about the rambling connections that the lyrics make through this song endears it to me. David has a way of taking cliches and putting them to use – poking fun at the shallow nature of cliches while acknowledging the power that the phrases wield.
The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is a Straight Line – Simon Joyner (1993)
The light bulb above your head has burned out
We hope that doesn’t mean you’re uninspired
All your bright ideas are
Now suffering in the dark
This is the album brought me out of pop music. Was lucky enough to borrow this tape when i was still hungry for DIY musicians. Simon and his friend Chris ran a tape-label called ‘Sing Eunuchs!’ in Omaha. I used to send them tapes of my music in hopes of getting distribution. Chris and Simon always wrote encouraging letters in reply even when (as i look back) most of what i sent them was formative at best.
Magazine – Pedro the Lion (2002)
Oh look you earned your wings
Are you an angel now, or a vulture?
Constantly hovering over
Waiting for a big mistake
I began hearing about David Bazan within Christian circles in 1998 but at the time was sorely disappointed with all Christian music and had only a passing interest. In late 1999 i went by myself to see Pedro The Lion (David’s band) at Schubas before i had ever heard his music. I was blown away. The lyrics were honest and the music was tight. Pedro has gone from small shows at Schubas to packing the Metro and the music just keeps getting better. This is my favorite track from their newest. David has a way of using sarcasm to communicate truth to the cynical and pessimistic.
Once – Richard Buckner (1998)
Even my heroes are almost gone
Almost folding from the flame
But how low can your fuse glow and warm you
until your torch begins to fade?
I first encountered Richard Buckner when i was reviewing CDs for my college radio station. There was a ‘reject’ bin that was free for the taking so i would grab about 20 every time i went in (most ending up back in the reject pile.) One reject batch included Buckner’s album ‘Devotion + Doubt’ – which really threw me for a loop. it was clearly country music, but had what I considered to be a higher level of musicianship and lyrics/writing than I would have previously connected to the country genre. it became a guilty pleasure of mine – what I was then calling indie-country (and now refer to as ‘insurgent country’). this song is an example of what i like Buckner for: impossibly sad- moody lyrics, melody driven tunes, great musicianship, country twang. His show at Schubas was incredible in 2000.
Over The Ocean – Low (1996)
The Curtain Hits the Cast
If I belong, then I’ll be longer than expected
And if I’m wrong, the mighty and strong will be rejected
So smooth, so slow… sweet harmonies and a sadness that’s not devoid of hope. Basically, this song gives me the shivers i find it so beautiful.
Autumn Leaves – Cannonball Adderly (1958)
Somethin’ Else (with Miles Davis, John Coltrane)
I went through a big jazz phase for a few years (94-97) but don’t listen to it much anymore. this song is one of my favorites. I always want to hear it near the first snowfall of the year. something about the melody here that gets me going. the line-up on this is like late 50s jazz all stars. When these three were playing together—magic.