I may have recently mentioned that I’m moving home to Portland soon to go to grad school (believe it or not, beloved Bollocks! readers, yours truly is going to become a social worker) and I know I’ve mentioned my love of Portland and Portland bands many times in the last three years. My brain apparently couldn’t be bothered to come up with anything worth writing about the Cults record today so I’m gonna put on a pot of Flavor Aid and work on that over the weekend. In the meantime, I’ve put together a Moving Edition of The Lazy Friday Mix for your enjoyment. The songs aren’t all about moving per se; some are about long distance relationships (no, I will not be having a long distance marriage – my wife and dog are accompanying me on the trip to Oregon and, as far as I can tell, they are happy to do so), travel, freeways, and whatever else I can shoehorn into the conversation.
The first song I thought of for this mix was “Phone Went West” by My Morning Jacket. It’s an epic, reggae-tinged jam from At Dawn (you know, I’ve got a list as long as my arm of albums that need the Great Fucking Albums treatment and now I have to add At Dawn to that list) about a dude who has mounting anxiety over his girl’s move across the country. It ends with Jim James howling, “There’ll be a knock on your back door” over and over again. When I saw My Morning Jacket a few years ago, I got to get stoned for free while they played this song.
If I can continue in the direction of slightly country-inflected, broken-ass music for a second, one of my favorite recent songs about wanting to get the fuck out of whatever town you’re in (a feeling all sensible people have about Van Nuys, California) is the opening track from Lucero‘s 1372 Overton Park, “Smoke.” It’s a simple story of a girl trying to get a guy to run away with her on a motorcycle but the chorus is one of the finest vocal performances to ever emerge from Ben Nichols’ shredded throat.
Hey, if I’m moving to Portland, shouldn’t this mix include a Portland artist or two? Yes, yes it should. And now it does. Laura Veirs released a vastly underrated album in January of last year called July Flame and one of my favorite tunes on it is “Where are You Driving?.” It’s a banjo-driven tune (proving that banjos don’t always have to be used to annoy people) with some stunning harmonies on the chorus, which tells the tale of a person who can never stop getting up and going. It’s a goddamn beautiful song on a goddamn beautiful album and you should listen to it promptly.
We’ve only just found an apartment to which we’d like to apply for our move (due in large part to the fact that a lot of landlords are fucking dog racists) and that’s put me in mind of “Home Sweet Home” by Emmylou Harris, in which she sings, in that ethereal, lovely voice of hers, from the perspective of someone who is literally homeless. Hard Bargain contains a fistful of sad tales, of which “Home Sweet Home” is among my favorites because it provides a handy dose of perspective for people like me who are lucky enough to only worry about when I’ll find the right home and not if I’ll find a home at all.
Damn. I keep thinking of depressing aspects of moving, leaving, and distance. Like the title track to Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, an album that was standard issue to every single dude at my college back in 2003. “Transatlanticism” is a slow-burning tune that builds from Ben Gibbard singing, “I need you so much closer” to the sound of a jet landing and then awesome shouts of, “So come on!.” This might still be my favorite Death Cab tune.
Okay. Time to find some upbeat, cheerful songs about getting out of town.
Well, not sure this qualifies, but Brother Ali put a pretty hilarious song about switching apartments on 2009’s totally fucking badass Us. It’s called “House Keys” and it’s about new neighbors who sell drugs and the narrator sneaks in one day, steals and sells their stash, and listens to the ensuing fireworks. It’s been two years since Brother Ali graced us with his mad skills and I think it’s time for another Ali album any day now.
I think songs about trains probably qualify for today’s Lazy Friday Mix. One of my favorites is “Driver 8” by R.E.M.. I like the images of trees along the outskirts of farms and, two weeks ahead of moving time, the line “We can reach our destination/ but we’re still a ways away” has particular resonance for me.
I guess I could probably do an entire Lazy Friday Mix of Tom Waits traveling songs but for today, I just wanna hit you with a particular favorite, “On the Road,” which actually gets the bulk of its lyrics from the Jack Kerouac book. It’s a jaunty number about running around to all the little towns that show up in so many Tom Waits songs and it ends with Waits gleefully acknowledging, “Home I’ll never be.” I get the feeling that the narrator of this song could have a very interesting conversation with the narrator of Emmylou Harris’s “Home Sweet Home.”
For some lovely pop about arriving home, I can think of no better song at the moment than, “Home” by She & Him. There’s nothing complicated about the song (or any of their songs) but, it’s got a great melody, M.Ward’s guitar channels Wes Montgomery, and you just can’t argue with Zooey Deschanel when she sings, “I wanna be where your heart is home.” In fact, I’d kind of like this song to play when I walk in the front door of my new apartment in Oregon, but I’m not holding my breath.
Well, that’s pretty much what I could come up with today. You know, it’s still pretty tough to cobble together a Lazy Friday Mix; after all, it’s an endeavor born of laziness so the trick is to somehow generate meaningful content and still cater to my own laziness. Come to think of it, that’s a tightrope we walk every single day here at Bollocks! Next week, we’ll have a review of the Cults record and…um… probably some more stuff too. See ya Monday, kids.