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PLAY IT AGAIN

every so often a song compels me listen to it over and over and over. in the past this required recording the same song repeatedly on to one side of a 90 minute tape (mix schmix). now i can just use the repeat function on my ipod. technological advancement is truly amazing, huh? anyway, these are love letters to the songs that i can't let go. -- karl


WILDFLOWERS BY THE HANG UPS

i've actually been listening to the whole last hangups record a lot lately. drove up north with my best friend and played it several times straight through. wildflowers is special because of its overwhelming exuberance. a song about how great wildflowers are, a celebration of wildness and of familial love and a lament of the distractions that keep pulling us into our heads and away from the beautiful chaos of living. thank you hangups.

THINK PINK! BY KAY THOMPSON (WRITTEN BY ROGER EDENS)

This song is in the movie musical 'Funny Face.' I end up listening to it a lot. I couldn't find a copy of the record anywhere so I ended up downloading the soundtrack from iTunes. If you have any potential for being a slave to fashion this song will put you in shackles in a hurry. Sample lyric: 'Think pink! Forget that Dior says black and rust. Think pink! Who cares if the new look has no bust!' It's a slight and silly song but captures something about the appeal of fashion -- about that feeling of having a great new pair of sneakers that you can't stop looking at. Also, I like pink, especially with brown. Most of the songs I like are heavy and/or sad. Everyone's got to lighten up once in a while, right?

THESE DAYS BY PAUL WESTERBERG (WRITTEN BY JACKSON BROWNE)

When 'Come Feel Me Tremble' came out I read an interview where Paul Westerberg was asked what he thought of Jackson Browne. He said he'd only heard the Nico version of 'These Days'. I like that about songs. Once they're out there you can come at them in a million different ways and take what you need from them or reject them as worthless only to discover their greatness later. My first impression of Jackson Browne was probably hearing 'Tender is the Night' at 13 on the easy listening stations my mom prefered. I had no clue about his long success as a songwriter. He was just some lame guy on a radio station that didn't rock. Years later, after falling in love with Nico's 'Chelsea Girl' record, I was shocked to discover Jackson Browne's central role in making the record. Jackson Browne is way cooler than I'll ever be. I never would've guessed that at 13. This version of 'These Days' comes at the end of a ramshackle, i'll-play-all-the-instruments
-and-make-up-half-the-lyrics-on-the-spot record that has flashes of sheer beauty. On 'These Days' Westerberg's voice and his playing are shaky and soothing and clear-eyed and sad and hopeful. It's a great match for Browne's lyrics that describe a life in crisis but not out-of-control from the point-of-view of someone who's learned from experience what not to do but isn't sure what to do. It's a great moment -- two people who've never met teaming up to make one of the best things ever. Awesome.

I DON'T BELIEVE YOU BY MAGNETIC FIELDS

The first line goes like this ... 'so you quote love unquote me'. i heard stephen merritt say something about how he's more interested in song form than in autobiographical expression of his emotions. what ever he's doing it really works. a melody you'll never get sick of.

TENNESSEE WALTZ
BY PEE WEE KING and REDD STEWART

I've been listening to the Patti Page version that was a huge hit in 1950 and a version by mary ford and les paul. a song about heart break and loss. love at first sight and the power of music. i've been trying to write new verses to the song cuz i like it so much. don't know if that's respectful but i just can't help myself. a song you have to sing along with.

THIRTEEN BY BIG STAR

the meaning of this song changes every time i hear it. sometimes it's sweet and sometimes it creeps me out. brilliant description of a moment in life when some kids are worldly wise and others are still wide-eyed. elliot smith did a great version of this, i'm told. still haven't heard it myself. while i was in the midst of my obsession with this one i went to see a mary lou lord show. it turns out she has a re-write of 'thirteen' that's called '43' on her new record. the new song was written for her by nick soloman of the bevis frond.

(KNIFE IN A) MARATHON BY BREAKING CIRCUS

i first heard this song on a mix tape made by my friend dylan (one of the all-time best mix tape makers). it was love at first listen. a great song that's political without telling you how to feel. "an unidentified third world athelete/was wrestled to the ground by security/he came up slashing/and was cut down like a dog/they said he had a knife in a marathon." reminds me of 'hattie carroll' by bob dylan, in a way. breaking circus is a chicago drum machine punk band from the mid-80s. this song is on an e.p. called 'the very long fuse.' i found a used copy of the e.p. some time after wearing out that mix tape and discovered that it included an insert that quoted my dad's catch phrase. small world. steve bjorklund was the leader of the band. he was in an early version of balloon guy. they recorded a song of his called 'drug testing in the work place.' i just had a pre-employment drug test today. not fun.

FAERIES WEAR BOOTS BY BLACK SABBATH

if i could ask ozzy one question, i'd want to know if this song was autobiographical. i like to think it is. this is one of the most ridiculous, ludicrous songs ever. and it totally rocks. a drug song that incorporates dwarves and faeries. amazing. perfect. read the lyrics, buy the record and rock. the lyrics ...

Goin' home late last night,
Suddenly I got a fright
Yeah, I looked through a window and surprise what I saw:
Fairies with boots are dancin' with a dwarf
All Right Now!

Yeah Fairies wear boots, and you gotta believe me
Yeah, I saw it, I saw it I tell you no lies
Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it I saw it with my own two eyes
Woah Right Now!

Yeah Fairies wear boots, and you gotta believe me
Yeah, I saw it, I saw it I tell you no lies
Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it I saw it with my own two eyes
Alright Now!

So I went to the doctor, see what he could give me
He said, "Son, son you've gone too far,
" 'Cos smokin' an trippin' is all that you do." Yeah