WARMER MIXTAPES #1462 | by Steven R. Smith [Ulaan Khol/Ulaan Markhor/Ulaan Passerine/Hala Strana] of Mirza and Thuja
OK, so I couldn’t really pick my favorite 10 songs of all time—that wound up being much harder than I imagined, so these are just 10 songs that I have listened to hundreds of times throughout my life and I have repeatedly gotten lost in these.
1. Townes Van Zandt | Rake
Most of the songs I’ve picked here probably do not fall into the singer-songwriter type of song. It seems like I’ve gone for the longer, more abstract type of thing, but this one is certainly a really well written song by one of the best singer-songwriters. I can’t say for sure what it’s all about, although loss of Youth, Regret, Frailty and drawing near the End are what I get out of it. I had a tape of this record stuck in my car’s tape deck for the longest time so it reminds me of listening to this over and over while being stuck in Los Angeles traffic on the 110 freeway.
2. Richard & Linda Thompson | Calvary Cross (Live! (More Or Less) Version)
So Richard Thompson is also a great singer-songwriter, but I’m picking this particular live version of Calvary Cross mainly because he uncorks an amazing 10-minute guitar solo at the end of this which is just pure magic. A 10-minute guitar solo sounds self-indulgent, but I assure you there isn’t a note wasted. This can be found on a record that came out in the U.S. called Live! (More Or Less).
3. Arvo Pärt | Tabula Rasa (Performed by Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra with Gidon Kremer, Tatjana Grindenko and Alfred Schnittke; Conductor: Saulius Sondeckis)
This piece of Music and some of his other well-known things get used a lot in films and documentaries which sort of waters down the effect, maybe it’s a little overexposed, but every now and then I’ll sit down and focus and just take in the whole 25 minutes of this and it’s really something, it’s just a really beautiful piece, so seemingly simple but very complex and moving.
4. Sleep | Dopesmoker
This is a good one to pick because it's 60 minutes long so you get a lot for one song. People always say it’s just one riff for 60 minutes as if that’s a bad thing! And anyway, that really isn’t true. I mean, sure, the song sort of circles around the main riff for most of that time, but there’s a lot going on in this song and they push into a lot of different spaces… And it’s also one hell of a riff.
5. Nina Simone | My Man’s Gone Now (Ruby Elzy Cover)
This is the version from Nina Simone Sings The Blues. I don’t know what to say about this one, just an amazing performance. Old man sorrow indeed…
6. Drive Like Jehu | Luau
This song just reminds me of when I was younger and really loved watching this band play, I saw them a bunch of times and this song was always an epic jam. They always reminded me of a freight train running off the rails so their band was aptly named. Great interlocking guitars, great vocals… Rick Froberg is way underrated, he’s one of the great Post Punk singers and I basically taught myself to play drums by following this drummer, Mark Trombino, as well as Mick Harvey from The Birthday Party and Crime & The City Solution which leads me to…
7. Crime & The City Solution | Steal To The Sea
I love all the Crime & The City Solution stuff, and I could have named a bunch of their songs, in fact I could have just done a list on my 10 favorite Crime songs… But anyway, I’ve listened to this one an awful lot—it’s a longer one and has a number of build ups and a lot of dynamics. It’s just really well done.
8. Popol Vuh | Aguirre I (Aguirre Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
They also have so many great songs it’s hard to pick one, but this is just so quintessential and pairs up so wonderfully with Werner Herzog’s film—just a perfect match. I would love to get a hold of the choir organ he used to record this… As far as I understand it’s like a mellotron of some sort, uses tape loops of a choir which you play with a keyboard. I don’t really know, but I do know that I’ve tried to approximate that sound many times and never really get it right.
9. Erik Satie | Trois Gnossiennes (Performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet)
+ Gnossiennes Nos. 4–6... Like Arvo Pärt, on the surface it seems so simple and Minimal, but there is a lot going on here in these pieces. It’s very melancholy and a little wistful, but there’s also some playfulness in there as well. Satie was sort of a master of making that unlikely combination work and that’s not easy to do.
10. Lungfish | Fearfully And Wonderfully
Like Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Lungfish also gets saddled with the it’s only one riff critique, but I have to say again, it’s one hell of a riff, and Lungfish have so many great riffs over a bunch of great records. I guess I really like Repetition. Anyway, Lungfish not only have great riffs but also a great singer/lyricist in Daniel Higgs. I just love them and this song is one of my favorites.