Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Repeat - Thanksgiving 2010

My dad chooses the songs at Thanksgiving. While normally I’m incredibly itchy to play the newest ish on my iPod for anyone who will let me talk their ear off about my new favorite band, at Thanksgiving it seems appropriate to let the old man take over and fill the silence with American roots and roots-inspired songs. For this week’s On Repeat, here are the songs that mean the most to my family this time of year. You can listen to/download all the tracks here in case you need some background tuneage while your stuffing your face. Hey, can you guys tell that my cute little dragon dude is eating a turkey? Sorry Vegan friends…

***First, a disclaimer: when making any Thanksgiving playlist, one must make the decision to wholeheartedly embrace or completely ignore Arlo Guthrie’s epic song-story “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre.” I am of the opinion that it should be included. All of the classic rocks stations are going to be playing it, you might as well play it too. But as the track is a whopping 19 minutes long, I haven’t posted it here…I’m sure you can find it on your own.

UPDATE: A friend just pointed out that my dropbox links are acting all kinds of shady. Unfortunately don't have the means to correct them now, but hit me up if you want me to email you the mp3s ( Sorry!

The Band – When I Paint My Masterpiece

The original roots band, their early music sounded like they time travelled from 100 years ago and landed in a recording studio.

Bob Dylan – It’s All Right Ma, I’m Only Bleeding

This song always seems to make everyone in the room go silent and fall deep into introspection. Plus, the title could refer to some bizarre turkey carving incident. By the way, Dylan is totally This Week’s Show, even though I have to brave the horrors of Terminal 5 in order to cross him off my concert bucket list.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

A tour de force of song and vocals. We always listen to CSN around the holidays. I think it’s because of the warmth of their sound. Their harmonies always sound inclusive, like a group hug.

Simon and Garfunkel – America

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are from the same neighborhood in Queens that my family is from, so “America” feels especially roots-y for us.

Johnny Cash – Long Black Veil

“Long Black Veil” is one of my favorite folk songs of all time. The story is sad and frightening but heartbreakingly beautiful. And Johnny Cash is pretty much a given in the American roots movement.

Lyle Lovett – If I Had A Boat

I’ve always had such a soft spot for this song. One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar, the image of a man and a pony in a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean has never failed to make me smile when I’m feeling down. And the sense of freedom the words evoke makes it seem like everything is always going to be OK.

Chris Smither – Origin of Species

A great guitar player and songwriter with an American sense of humor.

John Prine – Illegal Smile

John Prine is an American treasue, turning simple song structure into poignant statements and barbed commentaries. That mostly make you smile knowingly.

John Hiatt – Crossing Muddy Waters

Timeless American songwriter, but this is kind of an anti-Thanksgiving song, about the anguish of a family break up.

Bonnie Raitt – Angel From Montgomery

Ms. Raitt’s version of the John Prine song at the No Nukes concert is the definitive version of the song. Period.

Ry Cooder – Across the Borderline

Ry Cooder is the Master Gardener of American music, the Roots Master. Here he teams with John Hiatt on a story of the perils of reaching for the American Dream.

The Subdudes – (You’ll Be) Satisifed

This band absorbs the full gumbo of American music and serves up something unique and soulful each time (har har).

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant – Please Read The Letter

My favorite song from last year’s spectacular collaborative album, their voices blend together way better than your mom’s lumpy mashed potatoes.

James McMurtry – Choctaw Bingo

This is the story of perhaps the most dysfunctional family get together on record, so completely appropriate for Thanksgiving.

Joe Ely – All Just To Get To You

Joe is a West Texas songwriter par excellence, and this song talks about traveling home.

J. J. Cale – Cajun Moon

Another great Texas songwriter. He’s been covered so many times that he has become the root.

The Derek Trucks Band – Down In The Flood

Trucks is a relative newbie in the genre of roots music, but he sounds like he’s been playing forever.

Josh Ritter – The Curse

This song is the perfect song for a family get together…when you’re my family. Ritter is a favorite of my dad and this song is about a mummy from Egypt, the country my mother’s family is from. Plus, anything Josh Ritter writes is just pretty much perfect.

Have a good one you guys!

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