Random 10 for March 3, 2008
1. Joni Mitchell, “Free Man in Paris.” This past year brought a much deserved reappraisal of Mitchell’s music, which never really fell out of favor but, like all things, rides the sine wave of relative popularity. Unfortunately, none of the three discs that came out — Nonesuch’s all-star A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning River: The Joni Letters and even Mitchell’s own comeback, Shine, could do justice to the catalog. I was especially taken aback by Sufjan Stevens’ cover of “Free Man in Paris,” which nearly did away with Mitchell’s melody in favor of a plodding new interpretation that undercut the song’s great narrative. One could scarcely do better than the jazzy, music industry-skewering original from 1974′s Court and Spark, a song written about her old roommate, David Geffen.
2. Alice Smith, “Desert Song.”
3. Gruff Rhys, “Lonesome Words.”
4. Evangelicals, “The Water is Warm.”
5. The Glands, “I Can See My House From Here.” While it does not specifically sample The Four Seasons’ “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” mainly because Frankie Valli turned the Athens band down, the central rhythm, piano riff and nostalgic lyrical bent perfectly evoke that childhood gem. No word on whether this band still exists, but their self-titled 2001 disc was such a beautiful avant-pop confection, I can imagine that The Glands felt they had said it all and didn’t need to say any more.
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