WARMER MIXTAPES #67 | by Amanda Zelina [The Coppertone]
1. John Lee Hooker | Boom Boom
I remember the first time this track came on as it immediately forever changed my life. I was sitting in my dark cigarette box sized studio apartment in Los Angeles. I had just moved there alone to study guitar at M.I. I was 3 months in overwhelmed with studying the technical aspects of music. I grew up on blues, soul, motown, and classic rock. My dad played mixtapes for me in our weekly drive downtown from the country ritual. Anyways, I was sitting there filling some paper...It was midday and the solitude of my dark apartment was the ONLY reprieve from the ungodly heat outside. All of a sudden that riff jumps in and bounces off of my concrete walls. My heart stopped. It's like love at first sight when you see someone and the world around you halts to an abrupt stop. My breath became short as Hooker's voice permeated the air around me. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM, gonna shoot you right down...And shoot me down he did. The growl in his voice reminded me of that same heart defaning sorrow that I found in Howling Wolf years earlier; but John has a swagger about his songs. They were boogie. They were blues. They were everything I wanted in blues: raw, real, heart wrenching truth. This song opened up a word to me. A world filled with foot stomping blues that even in the depths of my pain would lift me up. To listen to a song and uncontrolably have it take you over and force you to stomp your foot so hard on the ground it shoots a pain up your shins to resonate in your whole body....That's a song.
2. Etta James | I'd Rather Go Blind
Etta doesn't get inside you with her voice...She shakes you up while she rocks you cathartically into a bliss; so strong it probably can't be described in words, but more so felt with your soul. She is one of the only female vocalist that I have heard in my entire life that (mind my french) FUCKS you up. Completely. This song is about Leonard Chess, the founder of Chess Records. Their love story has been touched apon in the recent film (Cadillac Records) none the less, the idea of wanting someone so bad and not being able to have them has never been described so perfect as in this song. I was just, I was just, I was just...Sittin here thinkin', of your kiss and your warm embrace, yeah...When the reflection in the glass that I held to my lips now, baby...Revealed the tears that was on my face...She than goes on to say: Baby, baby, I'd rather, I'd rather be blind, boy...Then to see you walk away, see you walk away from me...When she sings these lines you can feel her heart literally cracking alongside her voice. She cries this song...She doesn't sing it. She is living the song, and telling you about it. I've learnt so much from her. See Etta is incapable of just singing a song. She was born to sing, she tells her story through her songs. Etta doesn't sing, she yells you her truth with all that she has. She is a rarity, the real deal. Because, quite frankly; she is the blues.This isn't a front and this song is the proof of that.
3. Robert Johnson | Ramblin' On My Mind
This song was the very first slide song I learnt on guitar. I was in California on my porch, The Sun was setting and the sky was truly painted red. I was feeling passionate about music at this point. So hungry for knowledge, so thirsty for anything I could get my hands on. My boyfriend at the time was over and I heard him noodling on his slide. He was playing the opening riff to Ramblin'...I'm not sure if it was the perfect warm weather, the sunset or the man I loved sitting in front of me playing guitar but I was in heaven. There are moments in life that you want to capture and place in a time capsule so that you can take them out years from than when things are different and re-live them...This was one of those moments. This was what life to me is about. He taught me the song in about 20 minutes and for the next 6 years after I have not stopped playing this song. We recently went on a cross-Canada tour together and both got Ramblin' tattooed on our forearms. As a reminder that music , blues in particular has given me what few people get in a lifetime: complete bliss.
4. Tom Waits | House Where Nobody Lives
Tom has given me the gift of confidence in my music. His total unapollegetic formula to creating a song gave me what I needed to create my own. Waits came into my life when I was searching for something, someone, anything to jolt me in a new direction. I was bored with what I was writing and too scared to really make the music I truly wanted to; blues. I was living in fear that no one would care, or listen because blues was not a genre that most (at least my age) listened to and loved the way I did. But I grew up on it, and no matter what I did I could not run away from my roots. When I put on Mule Variations and this song came on I cried. Tears streamed down my face, not because I was sad...I was deeply, but because it was like hearing a long forgotten voice. The voice of my true self, my true desires. The warm tears reflected back to me the warmth I was feeling from his deep, worn down voice. His lyrics were poetic and direct and told the most touching story I had ever heard. This song is summed up so beautifully in his closing lyrics: If there's love in a house...It's a palace for sure...Without love...It ain't nothin but a house...A house where nobody lives...Without love it ain't nothin'...But a house, a house where...Nobody lives.
5. Ray LaMontagne | Jolene
I was sitting in a Go bus on my way to Welland, Ontario, a very very remote town hours outside of Toronto. I had just moved back home from the sour taste Los Angeles left into my mouth. I had a bunch of songs on my iPod that a failed romance had uploaded for me. I was going through them randomly seeking something new...In reality searching for a song to come and save me. I was so lost, so hurt, so vulnerable, so cold and so exhausted. I had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder a week before this night and was in a deep depression. I had no energy to move, let alone find a song on an electronic device. The lights in the bus were out, people were sleeping around me and the rain outside the bus was crying down the windows. I was resting against the glass and the cold air conditioning was chilling my spine. This song came on, and was literally the answer to my prayers. Ray LaMontagne is our generation's Joe Cocker. It is still hard for me to talk about how much Ray LaMontagne has saved my life. His voice, his voice. If I ever were a great writer and could truly place words on a page to jump out and rip into every emotion you had I would do that now. He crept under my skin...With this one song he had the ability to reach into my rock hard exterior. To this day I don't know how it happened but he managed after months of numbness to make me FEEL. My heart started racing, I got hot flashes, I was alone on a bus surrounded by strangers going someplace I didn't even know what direction...I was running to try and maybe, catch a glimpse of my forgotten self along the way. This song did that. It brought me back into my body and spoke to me. It was my guardian angel, it said what I couldn't and what I was too afraid to: I still don't know what love means.
6. Otis Redding | Try A Little Tenderness
Soul music. Alongside Sam and Dave, Otis Redding was one man I looked up to as I do my father. I grew up with him, listened to his every word, obayed his every request. This song, throughout the years has molded, shape shifted and meant so many different things to me. I think it's done that because of its delivery. Otis has the same thing Etta has, truth. His voice is stunning, it can lift you up so high, higher than the clouds, it can drop you down to the depths of its despair and along the decent from the clouds to below the ground it has a way to give you goosebumps. Every time I hear this song I wanna scream Hallelujah!
7. Kings Of Leon | Use Somebody
This is a more contemporary choice. This whole album is genius. Every time I hear it I am in a constant state of nostalgia. Everything balances out so perfectly, it pushes and pulls and tears you apart, than puts you back together again with a soft kiss goodnight. This song is my favourite of the album. It comes in with vocals wailing in the distant background painting a picture in my mind of racing down a highway at dusk with the windows down. Than his voice pierces that air and whips into my heart. His words...I've been roaming around, I was looking down at all I see...Painting faces, building places I can't reach...You know that I could use somebody...You know that I could use somebody...Someone like you and all you know and how you speak...Countless lovers undercover of the streets...You know that I could use somebody...You know that I could use somebody...Someone like you...They reach a part of me that brings me desire. It's hard to explain but this song makes me passionate, and ready. For what?...I'm not sure, but I know it's something amazing. The guitar lines in this song are perfect. They sing what the lyrics shy away from in fear of being to obvious. The tone of the guitar is a voice, and that voice is opening up to you and telling you stories, infectious, delicious, passionate stories.
7. Carina Round | Come To You
I love Carina, literally. I met her as we were neighbours in L.A., we both lived in the same 5 house lot on Wilcox Ave in California. She was introduced to me by our mutual friend Miles. I fell in love, yes, real love. She was everything I wanted to be: bold, eccentric, sexy, talented, successful, funny, endearing.. The very first time I heard her sing I got weak in the knees. It was this song. I was standing in the Viper room on a first date and as she took the stage and commanded attention I was like a little puppy right there, wagging my tail, waiting for the ball. She opened her mouth and literally screamed at the top of her lungs, the sound vibrated the whole room and everyone was in a trance. She has buckets of attitude and millions of years lived behind those huge chesnut eyes. We quickly became friends and would jam together, go to the beach, talk about life, love and music. I desired Carina, she was a woman and a man and a life changing beast. This song reminds me of everything I egnited over her... The passion, the story, the love, the turmoil, the secrets/mystery, the confidence, the blood, the life. Carina breathes life, and is so humble yet so fucking blunt about it. And as she says : You tell yourself, it's the wrong time, it's the wrong time, and things go by, in the mean time, in the mean time.... And I will not come to you , I will not come to you, I will not come to you, I...I am again devoured.
8. The White Stripes | Ball And Biscuit
Jack White is my musical crush. Let me break this down. When Jack plays guitar he doesn't strum it, he rips it open and throws it on the ground, and wails it above his head and smashes it into the walls of your ears. His voice is his own, no one has it, no one ever will. Alongside Meg's barbaric way of playing the drums this band has for many obvious reasons been a major influence on me. I love this song because it's all about the riff and the groove. Meg's pockets as Jack has a tantrum and it sounds so damn good. Jack's guitar solo on this song is exactly what I want from a solo....Strong, no bars hold, weird/tension building notes and placed in a manner that is unusual and yet familiar. He breaks boundaries when he plays and teaches you how to listen.
9. The Black Keys | Strange Desire
Another blues rock duo that I fiend for. Dan Auerbachs main riff in this song seduces me. His voice is a whole other story; a whole other story that involves me having a heart attach every time I hear it. I LOVE this band. I love the way Patrick plays his parts so thoughtfully and unkempt next to and alongside dans guitar/voice. I couldn't pick one Black Keys song as my favourite but I figured this one has all the element I love about them: the riffs, the simplistic arrangement, the voice like a trigger impounding my heart as it shoots off cleverly written lyrics.
10. Ray Charles | Georgia On My Mind
When people use the word GENIUS to describe Ray Charles this song comes to mind. In fact, this song comes to mind everyday as I work on music. There are those songs that you go through your entire life and wish you had wrote. The songs that will be timeless and will touch more people than the human mind can fathom. Georgia On My Mind is perfect. It is eloquent, its arrangement is stunning, the story is such a classic love song, and the man behind the sun glasses...Ray, oh Ray, he will never be matched. I think that every few centuries a man or woman comes to this Earth to sweep up all up and show us something so beyond what is going on that it shakes us to the core. This shaking brings us to new higher levels of thinking and feeling...These few individuals I believe are the chosen ones. They are the Ray Charles, the Stevie Wonders, the Joe Cockers, the Janis Joplins...They are the ones that come and will go and will leave behind them a legacy. If there was one song I could hear before I die to carry me up to heaven this one may just be it.