Random Video: Thin Blue Flame

There’s something about this song that is very much of its time and place. Released in 2006, The Animal Years by Josh Ritter is steeped in political disgust and spiritual malaise. Nowhere are those feelings more pronounced than on the penultimate track, the anti-war strummer, “Thin Blue Flame.”

Yet, like the best political songs of Dylan and his ilk, there is also a timelessness in the anger and frustration expressed. We tend to stick by the president when he’s ‘our guy’ and eviscerate him when he’s on the other side, no matter what he does. But sometimes righteous anger isn’t about political parties, but about an entire system that fails the people. That kind of frustration is universal (and unavoidable).

Which is why songs like this will always exist.

The Animal Years

Random Video: Wish You Were Here

This is my favorite love song, even though it’s from Ryan’s most uneven album. This is the sort of song that, if a girl likes this song, I’ll immediately fall head over heels. It’s kind of childish, very nihilistic and totally unhealthy, and in that way, it is pretty much everything that I have experienced love to be.

“You know you’re so fucked up / You know I couldn’t help but have it for you” says it all.

So, here’s to fucked up, nearly unconscious, fall-to-the-ground drunk love, and the girl who I wish was here.

Random (4th of July) Video: American Woman

At one point in my life, I owned The Best of the Guess Who on cassette, CD and vinyl (you know, back when I owned things).  They are one of those bands that aren”t necessarily cool (unless you believe Lester Bang), but they produced some great rock songs, including this one (forget Lenny Kravitz’s nuance-free suck version of it).

I took guitar lessons when I was kid – no surprises there – and came away knowing almost nothing about how to play guitar, but I did know how to play this song, including the quiet intro of the extended version.  I probably couldn’t play it anymore, but the song still rocks, in a completely non-ironic way.

To all the American Women, this one goes out to you.  Happy 4th.

Random Video: Writing To Reach You

Man, this song is morose.  The whole album is, really (it includes that classic of mopey rock, “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?”).  But I still love it, and how could I not?  A song called, “Writing To Reach You” by an ubër-sincere Brit-Pop band at the turn of the century?  It’s like it was crafted in a laboratory specifically for me.

Travis was never given sufficient credit for their sly wit, in my opinion, as their lyrics always had a throwaway line or two that were worth a second glance.  I love this line in particular:
The radio is playing all the usual
What’s a Wonderwall anyway?

A nice little dig at the powerhouse of Brit-Pop in the 90s, Oasis, while perhaps acknowledging that there was no hope of ever achieving that level of exposure.

It’s a song about being sad and lonely and hoping that words might help spark a connection.  So, yeah, if I dated or had a crush on you anytime between 1999 and, say, 2005, this song probably ended up on a mixed CD I made for you.

Happy New Year, and all that shit. 

Random Video: If It Be Your Will

Antony Hegarty’s (of Antony and the Johnsons) cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will” may be the most stunning performance from the entire concert that makes up “I’m Your Man,” the wonderful documentary about the legendary singer/songwriter.  Keep in mind, the other performers include artists like U2, Rufus Wainwright and Nick Cave (and Leonard, himself) , so it is no minor feat to be the stand out performer.

I think he earns the distinction by a country mile, though, with his spine-tingling vibrato and the tangible pathos that he interjects into the song.  There are other unexpectedly great performances throughout the film (Teddy Thompson and the Handsome Family are personal favorites) that makes watching the whole film and owning the soundtrack an absolute must for Cohen fans.  And why wouldn’t you be a Cohen fan?

But again, it’s Antony’s show stealing rendition of “If It Be Your Will” that stops me in my tracks.  I’ve never had the chance to see him perform live, with or without his band, so for now, this has to do.  And that ain’t too bad.