Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 19 – The Band

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Didn’t think much of this playlist first time through, until I got to the final track, which really woke me up. I’ve listened to it quite a few times since, and am really getting a lot out of it.

1. **Caledonia Mission** from Music From Big Pink – I love the slight brokenness to the vocalist’s delivery, and the verse to this song reminds me of *One With The Birds* by Bonnie Prince Billy. The chorus is much more jaunty though. Piano and guitar really fit together nicely. And I like the way that in the bridge, the organ and backing vocals sort of merge together and become whole. Great bassline. Reminds me of the sort of basslines that I write.

2. **Up On Cripple Creek** from The Band – I love songs that tell a story like this. But who is Bessie? Is she the narrator’s mistress? A prostitute? Or a metaphor for alcohol? Quality singalong chorus. And it’s got yodelling. I’m considering suggesting this as a cover version for my band’s set list. Great bassline. Reminds me of the sort of basslines that I write.

3. **Whispering Pines** from The Band – not the most infectious song on the playlist, but undeniably a fine demonstration of songwriting, with a very restrained performance by all of the musicians which leaves the song with the right feeling of spaciousness.

4. **W. S. Walcott Medicine Show** from Stage Fright – it’s a good, fun song, but doesn’t strike me as exceptional in any way. Another very groovy bassline.

5. **Chest Fever** from Music From Big Pink – this song is massive. Immense organ intro, earth-shaking drums, soaring vocals. Hey, remember how I used to complain about hard-panning? Yeah, I’m going back there again. Bass and lead guitar both panned hard-right. It’s fucking awful through headphones. The chorus should have been more climactic too. It’s a bit of a shame, because I want this song to be perfect.

6. **King Harvest** from The Band – there’s not much wrong with this song at all. Oodles of different ideas all mixed together nicely, and with great coherence. Jazzy rhythms that make you funk along in your chair. Guitar solo is short, ending is a bit damp.

7. **It Makes No Difference** from Southern Cross – it’s a fine ballad, but it’s still just a ballad. I’ve heard so many ballads in my life, and this one just blends into the crowd. It’s drawn out to 6 and a half minutes by dint of lengthy guitar and saxophone solos. Why?

8. **The Shape I’m In** from Stage Fright – this one’s a sort of country ditty, fairly simple but singalongable. It can’t be denied that it achieves what it sets out for, though I’m not sure that it necessarily needed this many guitar and organ solos. Maybe they had a contractual obligation to make it 4 minutes long.

9. **Don’t Do It** from The Last Waltz – I’m not sure that I have the words to describe how much I like this version of this song. Great bass, piano, brass. Superbly co-ordinated. Exquisitely paced. It’s not a complex song, exactly, but it’s so well formed. It’s like the perfect omelette. It’s just eggs and milk and stuff, but when they are put together in exactly the right proportions, it’s a whole new experience. It’s originally by Marvin Gaye but there are also versions by The Who and The Small Faces. This one could beat all three in a fight, simultaneously.

10. **All La Glory** from Stage Fright – the first time I listened to this playlist I was barely listening, because I was so immersed in the book I was reading. But this song wrenched me out of it. It’s utterly beautiful, and the frailties in Levon Helm’s voice just make it all the more endearing. The last time that I was this overwhelmed by a song’s beauty was *When You Dream* by Barenaked Ladies. It’s quite a rare occurrence for me.

So, in conclusion: here’s the Spotify playlist because I really think there’s too many great songs in there to not share it. The last two songs, especially, are, in my opinion, unmissable. And The Last Waltz is now on my FILMS TO WATCH: URGENT pile.

The next week’s playlist

Random number: 102
Only one playlist on this page – Nick Drake. The book says:

> The ultimate cult singer-songwriter, Nick Drake’s idiosyncratic brand of reserved British folk-rock melancholy went virtually unheard in his brief lifetime – but that cult just grows and grows.

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