Continuing a good thing (or at least, a moderately enjoyable thing) from last year, this is my monthly series called “Five on Shuffle” where I attempt to reconnect with my iPod by using it regularly throughout the year and using it only and continuously on “shuffle.” Once a month I’m going to stop at a completely random interval, snap photos of five songs in a row, and then post and write about them here. The writing may be heavy or light, depending on whether or not I’ve anything remotely clever to say about any given song.
1. Soulsville – Huey Lewis & the News
Huey Lewis & the News, an all-time favorite, know how to do a good cover/tribute album (see Four Chords & Several Years Ago), but Soulsville, the album and the single by the same name, misses the mark for me. There’s nothing technically or musically wrong here — the band sounded as good as ever in 2010 — its more a lack of…a feeling of…damn, I don’t know how to put it. Anyone wanting to pay tribute to the Stax Records catalog has a challenge ahead of them in trying to channel its heartbreaking and soul-lifting sounds. Undoubtedly the band did it’s best, and they sound awesome, but there’s just something missing.
2. Spectrum – Florence + the Machine
Speaking of missing the mark, I don’t know what I was doing circa 2007 when Florence + The Machine hit it big, but I certainly wasn’t paying attention to them. “Spectrum” ended up on my iPod thanks to my iTunes playlist experiment of late 2013. It (or the band, at least) was one of the many musical recommendations that I received, and I like the song well enough. I have a F+tM channel on Pandora, and just the other day I gave it a listen. Some of their stuff came on, along with other artsy indie folksy tunes, and it was…okay. I guess I’m happy enough with “Spectrum.”
3. “Don’t Put it Down” – from the Hair soundtrack
Man, someday I have to go through my iPod’s library to fix all these stupid typos. In “Don’t Put it Down,” the “it” you’re not supposed to put down, literally and figuratively, is the American flag. It’s a short song about our devotion to symbols, and a potentially misplaced devotion at that. Huh…the more things change…
4. No Remorse (I Wanna Die) – Slayer and Atari Teenage Riot
For better or worse, the Spawn soundtrack changed my musical life, for it introduced me to the sordid, grungy sounds of industrial electronica. This particular track, “No Remose (I Wanna Die)” spoke directly to the internal demons with which I was grappling at the time (and often let win). This same person would eventually find solace in the sounds of The Prodigy (post-Fat of the Land) and Mudvayne. My persona is on a much more even keel these days, but driving guitars and raging beats still fuel at least a little bit of my remaining fire.
5. Oh Word? – Beastie Boys
Bless me father, for I have sinned. I have never listened to To the 5 Boroughs in full.
If I’ve learned one thing from this whole “shuffle” project, it’s that my iPod is full of music that I’ve completely ignored. Now, admittedly, that’s because some of it is terrible, but a lot of it isn’t, like this Beastie Boys album. Or…I’m sure it isn’t all that bad, anyway. “Oh Word?” is a good enough song, but that’s all I’ve got. Though I will say that the album has a damn fine and very poignant cover.