The Friday Five: December 23, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Santa Claus” by Throwing Muses (from, Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Xmas, 1996)

This does not bode well. Here we are at the start of the final holiday themed Friday Five, and iTunes shuffles up the angst ridden in my library.

“It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Claus” by Harry Connick, Jr. (from, When My Heart Finds Christmas,1993)

Okay, this is a little bit better. Before Bublé came along, ol’ Harry was the crooner’s only hope. Which, of course, mandated that he release a holiday record every other year. This one, his first, was not awful.

“Last Christmas” by Wham! (from Music From the Edge of Heaven, 1986)

Somewhere in Manhattan, Jason Hare’s ears just perked up.

“Santa’s Beard” by The Beach Boys (from The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas, 1987)

I don’t care for this song, nope. Not at all. See Also: Fuck Mike Love.

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love (from A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector, 1963)

Ok, I cheated. I broke the cardinal rule of the Friday Five. I purposely played this track. I did it, however, for a good reason: to remind all you good boys and girls to watch Late Night With David Letterman tonight to see Darlene Love perform her holiday classic. It has become a long standing tradition in the Parr household, and it really just isn’t Christmas until we sit down at that late hour to watch Ms. Love perform my favorite Christmas tune.

And with that, we conclude 2011’s holiday Five. I’d like to take a minute to thank every one of you that continue to support the Friday Five, and wish each of you a very merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and a joyous new year.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Justin Townes Earle sings “Harlem River Blues” on Letterman

In my recent Best of 2010 post, I crowned “Harlem River Blues” by Justin Townes Earle as my song of the year. Last night, Justin made his network television debut on Letterman. With Jason Isbell on guitar, and Paul Shaffer providing the organ riffs, Justin blazed through this great song in his one-of-a-kind fashion. He has some kind of style doesn’t he? Dressed like a Depression-era accountant or college professor, Justin stands straight & stoic as he sings, pivoting from one direction to another. Truly a unique guy, and so different from the performing style, look and feel of his old man, Steve Earle…

If you haven’t heard the album of the same name, I recommend picking it up. Harlem River Blues is available on Amazon for just $5.

June 22 in Tempe: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Next on my live music calendar is June 22nd for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I knew little about this group until I caught their set on the Coachella webcast. It was the highlight of my armchair weekend at Coachella.

The group is the brainchild of Alex Ebert (aka Edward Sharpe). They definitely bring the communal, hippie vibe; and it’s hard not to see Ebert as the prophet-like Jesus figure among his merry band of peace loving misfits (at least they look & act like they love peace). The music itself is highly infectious, supercharged positive-energy folk rock. Last year’s full length debut, Up From Below ($5.99 for the mp3 album), comes highly recommended.

If you’re in AZ, come join me at the Clubhouse in Tempe on Tuesday the 22nd. I’m not crazy about the choice of venue, but hopefully the band can transform the gloom and doom atmosphere of the place. You can pick up tickets on the Stateside Presents web site, or in person at Zia Records, Stinkweeds or Hoodlums.

Check out this nice 3 song set, where the band crowds into NPR’s studios for “Janglin'”, “Home”, and “40 Day Daydream…

Also, here’s the band’s first network TV appearance on Letterman last September…

John Prine and Jim James: “All The Best” on Letterman

I did a double take earlier this week when I noticed the music guests scheduled for Wednesday’s Letterman: John Prine with Yim Yames (Jim James) of My Morning Jacket. Much to my surprise, the song they sang is one of my all-time Prine favorites, “All The Best”, which was actually the song that turned me on to John Prine back in my college years. The song was included on the soundtrack for Falling From Grace, a 1992 movie directed by and starring John Mellencamp and written by Larry McMurtry (Prine also appears in the film). “All The Best” was also featured on Prine’s standout 1991 album, The Missing Years, which became one of my most treasured albums.

The duo were out to promote what looks to be a stellar John Prine tribute record called Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs Of John Prine. Other artists covering Prine on the album include Bon Iver, Justin Townes Earle, Conor Oberst, Drive-By Truckers, Avett Brothers and Deer Tick. If this isn’t worthy of a pre-order, I don’t know what is.

As for the performance itself, well, how can you go wrong? John and Jim trade verses, then share the last one. The low burn of John Prine’s voice coupled with Jim James’ higher register voice makes for one beautiful performance.


Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs Of John Prine (out June 22)


The Missing Years

Band of Horses: Laredo on Letterman

They made the record, now it’s time to sell!

Band of Horses showed up last night on Letterman to perform “Laredo”. Of note: Tyler Ramsey’s finger pickin’ electric guitar work, Ben Bridwell’s determined delivery, and Bill Reynolds’ get-up. Looks like Bill could have walked out of the Ed Sullivan Theater and straight onto the set of Boogie Knights. Slick, man!

Ryan Bingham on Letterman: “The Weary Kind”

If you caught the end of Letterman on Monday night, you caught Ryan Bingham‘s “The Weary Kind” – a Golden Globe nominated tune from Crazy Heart (a movie which by all accounts is fantastic). The song was written by Ryan and T-Bone Burnett.

I’m still waiting for the opportunity to catch Ryan live. Until that day, performances like this hit the spot. Make sure to watch the funny exchange between Dave and Ryan afterward.

Late Night Christmas

With things being as hectic as can be in my household, it’s the little things that bring home the holiday spirit. Last night, after spending some time shopping with my wife, we collapsed into the couch and flipped on Letterman just in time to catch Darlene Love perform her classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Wilco w/ Feist on Letterman

Before I venture off to watch Paul McCartney on Letterman, I thought I’d post last night’s Letterman, in which Wilco and Feist took over the Ed Sullivan Theater for a nice version of “You and I”. The band is clearly completely in synch and enjoying their time together. The vibe is relaxed, loose, and just pretty damn nifty.

The Gaslight Anthem

I got a note in late September alerting me to a band from New Jersey called The Gaslight Anthem. In the note was mention of Springsteen and the Clash. So naturally, I went to eMusic and downloaded ‘The ’59 Sound’ right away. I have to be honest, I struggled with it for a while. The music was passionate and filled with great riffs and catchy hooks. But lyrics-wise, I thought they were trying a little too hard to pay obvious homage to Mr. Springsteen. Case in point: “Meet Me By the River’s Edge”…

See I’ve been here for 28 years.
Pounding sweat beneath these wheels.
We tattooed lines beneath our skin.
No surrender, my Bobby Jean.

We’ve been burned by all our fears.
Just from growing up around here.
Our father’s factories marked our cars.
While Eden burned against the stars.

And with song characters like “Sally”, “Janie” and “Mary” throughout the album, well, though I could appreciate the idea that they were hugely influenced by the Boss, it initially grated on me a bit.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve been softening, and opening up more to them. Drawing me in especially with the very affecting song “Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid”.

The Gaslight AnthemHere’s Lookin’ At You Kid (mp3)

And then, they showed up on Letterman last night. And they played “The ’59 Sound”.  And they played it with such passion and intensity… The bass player striking Paul Simonon poses. The drummer pounding hard with some amazing fills. And lead singer / guitarist Brian Fallon as the ultimate front man.

Last night on Letterman, I “got it”. What a performance (and Dave was obviously impressed too)… I am fully converted now. Locked in.

Buy The ’59 Sound.

Visit Gaslight Anthem’s Official Site.