weekly playlist #5.

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it’s a day late (what can i say, i was traveling) and time for the fifth installment of my weekly playslist. this time around, i bet the majority of the people who actually listen to the playlist will like about 9 out of the 20 songs. that’s 45%, and 15% less than last week. as always, leave a comment telling me what you like/don’t like, or what you’re listening to. you’ll find the playlist widget at the bottom of the post, just before the comments section. also as always, if you like the tracks, i encourage you to support the artist and buy the music via your favorite method (because musicians need money to buy new equipment and stuff).

(if you want a small understanding of how this playlist creation process goes, this music post is for you. quick explanation…i have a song or album or band that i can associate with almost everything i remember or experience. as i sat down to write this post, i plugged my ipod into my computer and sorted by “last played” in itunes to recall what i’d been listening to that day, and to try to make sense of how i settled on each song).

you’ll find weekly playlist #5 after the jump…

maddy and i were in puerto vallarta last week…i was doing my best to distract myself from the memories of the worst day of my life and to outlast march 25th (i won). as maddy napped, i sat in a chair under a palapa trying to keep a few inches ahead of the encroaching sun. i had a book in my hands. as i read, i decided to listen to some music.

01. “ascension -(edition i)” by john coltrane from the album, the major works of john coltrane – i love this song. it is one of the most incredible examples of free jazz that has, or will ever be produced. and if you think it’s not “music” well, then you should hear the next song i listened to…

02. “ascension, part 1″ by rova orkestrova – from the album ascension – the same song above, reproduced in 13 parts. it proves that structure can be found in things that seem structureless. like that book i was reading. one sentence. spread over 517 pages. seemingly impossible to read when described. in actuality it propels the reader forward with an almost stream of consciousness feel. i got to a part in the book that mentioned the city of thebes, which sent me to…

03. “thebes” by om – from the album, god is good – this is not what i typically listen to (it’s sort of a very, very serious album that sounds a little like what spinal tap was making fun of with their stonehenge bit), but this song popped into my head when i read the word “thebes” in the book. before the song ended, the band’s name helped me decide that the next song i’d listen to would be…

04. “om” by john coltrane from the album, major works of john coltrane – a stream of unconsciousness. an incantation. a prayer. all followed by an seemingly unstructured burst of screaming horns, and propulsive drums. but once again, there is structure where you least expect it. as i listened to this song, i got to thinking about the fact that i like the other song on this album so much more. that song? “ascension.” then i remembered the song…

05. “the ascension” by glenn branca – from the album, the ascension – i hadn’t heard this song in years, but i suddenly had to hear it. and after a bunch of instrumentals, i decided i wanted to hear something else. which brought me to the other song that came to mind when i thought of the word ascension…

06. “ascension (don’t ever wonder)” by maxwell from the album, maxwell’s urban hang suite – this song brought me back to the time i lent this record to a friend of mine in college to help him fulfill his stated goal of sleeping with the most recent girl for whom he’d fallen. a couple of days later, i got the record back with a post-it note inside. the message? “maxwell is a GOD!” (yes, that means he fulfilled his goal, and this record helped facilitate it). which led me to the memory of singing the first few words of…

07. “dance of the seven veils” by liz phair – from the album, exile in guyville to my friend johnny k. (aka johnny utah, aka the roommate of the maxwell guy mentioned above, which explains how i got here). this song led me to the memory of loading up the jukebox of the biker/hipster bar in my college town with the rest of exile in guyville and knowing it was time to leave when…

08. “strange loop” by liz phair – from the album, exile in guyville finished playing. it was the last song on the album, and by the time it had finished we were sure we’d worn out our welcome in the bar. and that day on the beach, as i listened to this song i read a passage about paris, which reminded me of sitting in a hotel room with maddy and brooke, listening to…

09. “sheep” by gonjasufi – from the album, a sufi and a killer – more than any other, this song reminds me of where i was and what i was doing in paris one year ago to the day i was on the beach. thoughts of paris led me to…

10. “paris is burning” by st. vincent – from the album, marry me and then on to…

11. “paris train” by beth orton – from the album, daybreaker. i like this song a lot, but about a quarter of the way through it i decided i wanted to hear a different song by her…

12. “conceived” by beth orton – from the album, comfort of strangers – i love this song like few others. i listened to it almost constantly during the first few weeks of a 6 month stay during my first trip to india in 2006. i have a ton of memories associated with that time, but at that moment on the beach, i thought about a song by the guy who produced this album…

13. “memory lame” by jim o’rourke – from the album, insignificance – one of the most evil, downright hateful songs you’ll ever hear, but only if you listen to the lyrics. one time liz said, “i really like this song” to which i replied, “have you been listening to the lyrics? it’s actually quite awful. i mean, i think it’s great, but he just said, “these things i say might seem to offend, but not half as much as i’d like to intend, ’cause listening to you reminds me of a motor’s endless drone and how the deaf are so damn lucky.”” she said, “yeah, it really is awful.” as the song was within about 20 seconds of ending, the author of the book i was reading mentioned tunisia, which made me think of the song…

14. “a night in tunisia” by dexter gordon – from the album, our man in paris – one of the most instantly recognizable jazz songs ever and it doesn’t suck at all. the title of the album brought me back to paris and for some reason reminded me of my hatred for jim morrison (who’s buried in paris) when suddenly i searched out the song…

15. “i’m jim morrison, i’m dead” by mogwai – from the album, the hawk is howling – yeah. this is exactly what i wanted to hear. the name of the book i was reading on the beach was called zone, and the author mentioned “the zone” which made me think of…

16. “interzone” by joy division – from the album, unknown pleasures – such a great song. but a short one, so i was soon in search of something else…

17. “quien?” by juana molina – from the album, segundo – she was the next artist on my ipod after joy division so i found my favorite song of hers and listened to it while i stared out at the ocean. the rest of the album played on while i napped in my chair. i woke up when the silence started and then went back to reading my book. i read in silence for awhile, until the author of the book mentioned drinking pear brandy which got me to thinking about the one and only time in my life i had ever had pear brandy. it was the second time i’d seen joe henry live, which made me want to hear one of his songs…

18. “richard pryor addresses a tearful nation” by joe henry – from the album, scar – in the summer of 2009 my literary agent invited me to see a show during the week i was in nyc trying to sell my book. not one to turn down live music, i said yes without hesitation. when the night of the concert arrived, she told me to meet her at some restaurant “and from there we’ll head over to the village vanguard to see allen toussaint.” i was pretty fucking excited. i mean, the chance to see a jazz legend at one of the greatest venues of all time? what luck…then she told me that we’d be dining with her friend joe and some of his friends. “fine,” i said, again, not one to turn down dinner with strangers. then she said, “they won’t be able to stay the entire time because they have to get back to the vanguard for soundcheck.” “oh. this should be interesting,” is what i thought. as we sat at our table, in walks her friend joe and some of his companions. joe, was joe henry (the guy singing this song, incase you forgot) i recognized him instantly. i’d been listening to him since i was in high school, and had been waiting to meet him for years after realizing it to be an actual possibility because he was the neighbor of one of my coworkers. anyway, he sat down at the table, and after a short time my agent told him a little bit about me. we had a nice conversation during which he seemed genuinely interested in hearing my story. i talked to one of his friends about music, not realizing at the time who he was…marc i think he said. after the guys quickly finished eating their meals, they said goodbye and headed to the venue. we weren’t far behind them and when we arrived we found the last couple of seats in the place, at the bar, about as far away from the stage as one could possibly get. well, i didn’t give a shit i was happy just to be in the place. when the bartender asked me what i wanted, i scanned the shelves behind the bar. pointing at a random bottle i said, “that.” without a word, he pulled the bottle from the bar and poured me a glass. pear brandy. i drank it as the band played. during the show, the guy who i sat next to at dinner was introduced along with the rest of the band…marc ribot. “damn,” i thought, “i have some of his records at home.” anyway, a few more pear brandies into the evening, the show was over and we were ready to leave. as we walked to the door, my agent stops to say hi to joe and joe says, “wait just a second…i want to introduce you to elvis.” now, there are only two, and one of them is dead. so elvis costello walks up. joe introduces him to my agent then turns to me and says, “matt, this is elvis. elvis, this is matt. he’s going to be writing a book.” one of the highlights of my life. now, i never, ever imagined a night like this could happen to me. and you might think i imagined all of this after a few too many pear brandies, but i swear to you that everything i just wrote is true (besides, i couldn’t make up something that awesome). oh. the joe henry song on the playlist was not played that night, but a guy named ornette coleman plays the sax on the song and so i suddenly wanted to hear…

19. “the good old days” by ornette coleman – from the album, “the empty foxhole” – this man is a national treasure. and this song is incredible. i know many of you hate jazz, but if you just spent a few minutes of your life listening to this song, you’d probably be a lot happier. and finally…

20. “ole man trouble” by otis reading – from the album, otis blue/otis redding sings soul – after that ornette coleman aond, i just wanted to hear something different. the next artist on my ipod was otis redding, so i went straight to my favorite of his songs.

(i listened to several more songs that day on the beach as i finished up that book and started another one, but i’m keeping these playlists to 20 tracks a week so i’m stopping here).

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