Sunday, December 31, 2006

10 Songs We Made Our Own In 2006

2006 was the year that music seemed to emerge from its long slumber. You didn't have to look for the exception (Green Day) and wonder where everyone else was, 2006 was overflowing with good music. In addition to the new stuff, we also found ourselves embracing some older stuff heavily. This was part of a list of thirty that we finally broke down to ten. Our rules were it had to be brand new to at least three of us [The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot] no earlier than 2005 and it had to be played or sung often by us during 2006. That elimates Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas and many others because we knew their songs long before 2005.

1) "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)," Melanie, Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits of Melanie.

How can you not love a song that includes the following: "For sometimes when we have reached the end, With the velvet hill in the small of my backs, And our hands are clutching the sand, Will our blood become a part of the river, All of the rivers are givers to the ocean, According to plan, according to man"? Near the end of 2005, we heard this and adopted it strongly in 2006 (core six listened to the CD four times last week alone).

2) "We Can Be Together," Jefferson Airplane, Vounteers.

If you ever wondered what the Airplane could do but only had time for one song, this is the one. They do it all in this song. Soft harmonies, vocals that attack, mellow to marching, it's all here.

We can be together
Ah you and me
We should be together
We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fuck hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life's too fine to let it die and
We can be together

A favorite of Flyboy's as well. (Flyboy is Rebecca's husband.)

3) "Both Hands," Ani DiFranco, Living in Clip

We're going with that version but any is wonderful. Memory most tied to this? The Troops Home Fast. C.I. did it for over thirty days and near the end, when the will was sagging, this was the song that would get played. You only think "Napolean," "32 Flavors," "Educated Guess," etc. is the best song Ani DiFranco ever wrote until you hear "Both Hands:"

I am watching your chest rise and fall
Like the tides of my life,
And the rest of it all.
And your bones have been my bed frame
And your flesh has been my pillow
Ive been waiting for sleep
To offer up the deep
With both hands
In each other's shadows we grew less and less tall
And eventually our theories couldn't explain it all
And I'm recording our history now on the bedroom wall
And when we leave the landlord will come
And paint over it all

4) "Bomb The World" Michael Franti and Spearhead, Everyone Deserves Music.

Jess, Kat and C.I. knew Michael Franti and Spearhead's music. The rest of us? Not really. (In fact, even NY days when Jim, Jess and Ty were roommates, Jess would not let any Michael Franti be borrowed by the other two for fear that it would walk off -- we now see why.) When Yell Fire came out, C.I. bought copies for everyone and that was most of our introductions to Franti & Spearhead. We quickly dug deeper and this is probably our favorite song other than the tracks on Yell Fire. Somebody play it for the Bully Boy.

We can chase down all our enemies
Bring them to their knees
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace
Whoa we may even find a solution
To hunger and disease
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace

5) "Comfortably Numb," Dar Williams and Ani Difranco, My Better Self (Dar Williams).

Pink Floyd. Man. And it's got to be the best Floyd cover ever. During the week-plus we were all together, it seemed like either Elaine or Mike was always playing this song so, now that we know they are a couple and were then, we always think of it as their song. When the chorus kicks in and Ani comes in, forget "waves," it's like a refreshing rain. "I can't explain, you would not understand, this is not how I am."

6) "The War Drags On," Donovan, Fairytale.

Like every other member of the community, when this song started being quoted every week at The Common Ills, we were like, "Huh?" (It's now quoted twice a week.) Why this song and not some other song? It started on the Sunday entry which was the international scope entry with many highlights from community members outside the US so it made sense to use Donovan. The lyrics also applied to Iraq. This was one of the first thing the five relocators (Jim, Dona, Ava, Jess and Ty) listened to when we left NY. The album, Fairytale, also contains several other strong songs (such as Donovan's cover of Buffy St. Marie's "Universal Solider" and his own "Colours"). "They're just there to try to make the people free, But the way they're doing it don't seem like it to me, Just more blood letting and misery and tears, That this poor country's known for the last twenty years And the war dra-a-a-a-a-gs on."

7) "(Up On) Cherry Blossom Road," Heart, The Road Home.

If you ever doubt the power of Ann Wilson's voice or her ability to shade and interpret, check out this live track from 1994. If you enter the Heart canon after their mid-80s comeback, you'll be shocked by how much Wilson can cut loose when given the room (fans of the group's seventies work will be less surprised but still impressed). If you don't love it, maybe you need to hear Dona and Betty cut loose as they sing along.

8) "The Flesh Failures," The Actors Fund of America Benefit Recording, Hair.

Track credited to Norm Lewis, Harris Doran, Tribe. Blame Rebecca for this one. She loves, loves the Hair soundtrack. This is the track we all love to sing along with, swooping low for the deep notes: "We starve, look at one another short of breath, Walking proudly in our winter coats, Wearing smells from laboratories, Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy, Listening for the new-told lies, With supreme visions of lonely tunes."

9) "Follow," Richie Havens, The Best of Richie Havens.

Kat got this as a gift when we were all enroute to meeting in DC for the September 2005 protests. She brought it along and Mike and Wally couldn't stop playing it. This was the song they zoomed in on. In the time since, we've all learned the lyrics and if Mike's out here and a guitar's handy, he demands Jess play it and we all sing along.

Let the river rock you like a cradle
Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able
Let your hands tie a knot across the table.
Come and touch the things you cannot feel.
And close your fingertips and fly where I can't hold you
Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you
And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you,
If all the things you feel ain't what they seem.
And don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream.

And that's just the first verse.

10) "Diamonds On The Inside," Ben Harper, Diamonds On The Inside.

Is this a country song? Or more of a nod to Jimi Hendrix? We don't know, we just know we love it. Ben Harper we all knew. Some, like C.I., Elaine, Rebecca and Kat, knew all his work. Others of us knew some of his work. When Both Sides Of The Gun blew us away and we were wanting more, this was the most pleasant discovery as we dug into his earlier work. "What you say and do not mean, Follows you close behind."
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