As has been the trend here, since summer, it's time for yet another seasonal mix.
It's kind of odd putting "Long, Cold, Lonely Winter" up as Madison heads into a weekend that promises 40+ degree temperatures, rain and possible flooding, but I've lived here long enough to know that we're nowhere near the end of winter yet.
The rule with winter mixes (this isn't a Christmas/holiday mix, mind you) is to keep the tempo and overdrive down. Ideally this should soundtrack snowy drives -- and as snow driving is kind of intimidating in the first place, you don't want music that's going to make your heart beat faster than necessary or persuade you to step on the gas when you probably shouldn't be. I learn that every year. This year it was listening to The The's "Armageddon Days (Are Here Again)" during a pretty bad snowstorm. Just... the wrong choice entirely I realized as I sat halfway off the road entrenched in a snowdrift.
That said, winter mixes shouldn't be havens for simple acoustic emo crap either. There has to be a certain coldness, and oddly enough a bit of stuff of slight techno or electronic persuasion works well because it carries a lot of bite in its sound. It's just important to remember this isn't for a rave...
As it goes, here's a wonderful soundtrack for a snowy drive, a walk through a bit of snowfall (you might actually marvel at it instead of curse it if this is on your iPod) or a grey Saturday spent in with a cup of tea or hot chocolate watching the snow come down outside. Enjoy!
"Long, Cold, Lonely Winter"The "Ain't Superstitious, But These Things I've Seen..." 2008 Winter MixDownload Part 1 (tracks 1-10) Here
(click to go to SaveFile download page)Download Part 2 (tracks 11-20) Here
(click to go to SaveFile download page)
01. Belle & Sebastian - Winter Wooskie
This song still amazes me in the sense that it could come off as a bit creepy and stalkerish, but only achieves a level of sweetness. Not your typical choice for an opening track, but the way I see it, opening tracks should have you amazed by the song's halfway mark, and this song does. Proves Stevie Jackson has just as much heart as Stuart Murdoch and puts you right there looking out the window with him. Gorgeous little tune.02. Peggy Lee - Gee Baby (Ain't I Good To You)
A typically sultry turn from 1952's Black Coffee
album. The production sounds cold and airy and the piano drives that mindset further, but Lee's voice could probably set the Arctic circle ablaze, so a nice juxtaposition is created. Although I still wonder why guys need diamond rings. Wrist watches, cadillac cars, everything, sure, but diamond rings? Really?03. George Harrison - I'd Have You Anytime
The lead track to Hari's landmark All Things Must Pass
has always sounded like a roaring fire on a cold evening to me. I don't know why. It might not make sense to you, but whatever. Phil Spector's rich production and George's careful acoustic and electric fretwork over a song he cowrote with Bob Dylan just makes for a perfect, romantic evening tune.04. Primal Scream - Keep Your Dreams
The lone minute of calm in Primal Scream's near-apocalyptic XTRMNTR
, this track provided that one heartbreaking moment that Bobby Gillespie seems to turn in on every Scream album, whatever style they're taking by the nuts be damned. Since this was from the psuedo-digital era, the song has a bit of electronic augmentation, but as previously mentioned - it gives the song a bit of a cold bite without assaulting your blood pressure or head the way every other track on that album did.05. Jon Brion - Strings That Tie To You
Brion's lone "pop song" turn from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
soundtrack, this track has that "comfort in defeat" tone that a lot of his songs (and this movie, in fact) have, but something about that mellotron makes it all the more wintery. Maybe it's the fact that that old Beatles "Strawberry Fields" promo where they're dicking around in that cold field forever associated the mellotron with a cold feel for me, but there you go.06. Richard Hawley - Born Under a Bad Sign
Hawley's latest album is finding a lot of underground success on these shores on the strength of its two upbeat singles, but this is really the tempo within Hawley's wheelhouse. This cut from 2005's Coles Corner
is one of my favorites, but the whole damn album is pretty majestic. This track just fits here better than any of the others would have.07. Michael Penn - Perfect Candidate
Sean and Chris' big brother has a penchant for writing colder songs, all the moreso after the success of his debut album and the subsequent disinterest that followed when he wasn't willing to write "No Myth" over and over. Still, despite the bit of bitterness he wears on his sleeve, this is a guy that's still audibly Beatle-influenced and that's fine with me.08. Allen Toussaint - Poor Boy, Got To Move
A rare vocal showing from the High Priest of New Orleans at a time when he was busy writing, arranging and producing hits for pretty much everyone else in the city, this song was released as an A-side in 1965 and sounds about as far away from spicy creole as one can get. That said, it's still Allen Toussaint. Ergo, it's still genius.09. The Stone Roses - Your Star Will Shine
While the Roses debut sounded of nothing but sunshine (if in part chemically fuelled), their much belated follow up The Second Coming
lacked that carefree charm. While it's been horribly slighted ever since, it's still a good album and this little track written about John Squire's fears of fatherhood might be it's prettiest moment. Depending on what day you ask me. Come summer, I'll probably go for "Ten Storey Love Song."10. The Style Council - The Paris Match
I don't know why Paul Weller decided this version shouldn't be the ultimate and rerecorded it as a jazzier number with Everything But the Girl's Tracy Thorn singing lead, but I guess that's part of Paul Weller's charm too. Whatever the case, this Paul-led original version from Introducing the Style Council
remains the ultimate in my book, a straightforward venting about love lost and with the Modfather singing a bit of French too. Suits you splendid, sir.11. Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale
Anyone know how that whole court case from last year ended up? Did people just stop caring? Whatever the case and whoever the author, this is still a brilliant song and if the title doesn't put you in a wintery mood, that organ will. You're still under no obligation whatsoever to make sense of the lyrics, though.12. Metric - Calculation Theme
I was hanging out with my great friend Mike in December of 2005 and it was about 3 a.m. and we were about 11 beers apiece in when he said "You gotta hear this one." I'll admit it, I wasn't hooked right away or even after the first couple of minutes. But this song's ending blew me away. "Play it again," I said, and so it goes with this song. Stark, cold, but also utterly beautiful.13. Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk
Probably the greatest instrumental in rock history and as important a lick for young guitarists to learn as the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" is. This song has a habit of popping up almost everywhere and sounding pretty damn fantastic soundtracking anything, but to me it's always sounded like a winter night.14. Ocean Colour Scene - St. Cecelia
Probably the best thing Ocean Colour Scene have done since the turn of the century and they left it to a B-side on CD2 of a dismal single off a (pretty much) dismal album. Thank God they've got fans like me or else this thing would've been lost to the ages. A lot of us may lament Simon's retreat of the band from "Riverboat" guitars to acoustic, folkiness, but when things like this bubble up, we see it's not so bad after all. Oh who am I kidding, it's the organ that makes it.15. Brian Wilson - Let the Wind Blow
In 1995, the Disney Channel (before it turned into this horrible MTV for bands of 13 year olds) did a special on Brian Wilson called I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
which spawned a soundtrack of him doing old Beach Boys songs, but what made it great was that they included a lot of the Boys' deeper cuts. Brian's not in his best voice, but to hear him doing things like "Wonderful" 9 years before SMiLE was realized and "Let the Wind Blow," which was an obscure track off the Wild Honey
album was pretty cool. As it goes, I actually prefer this version.16. Spoon - It Took a Rumor To Make Me Wonder, Now I'm Convinced I'm Going Under
A B-side to the UK version of the "Sister Jack" single, this track has also found new life as a bonus track on some editions of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
Good thing too, cos as weird as this is, it's also pretty astounding. It sounds cold and almost sterile, and it sounds like Britt's singing to you from behind a window. I can't decipher all the lyrics either, but that's not the point. The point is, goddammit, that it's yet another great Spoon song.17. Rhett Miller - Terrible Vision
My introduction to Stuart Ransom Miller came when he opened for Neil Finn in Chicago in February 2003. It was just him on acoustic and given that I don't like opening acts much, let alone lone acoustic troubadors, the fact that he blew me away like he did speaks volumes. I went back to Milwaukee, bought this album and listened to it on my CD walkman (remember those?) on walks back and forth to class everyday. One night as I walked back from a late class to my dorm, it was snowing and this track played. It seemed to be exactly what the song was written for.18. Crowded House - Not the Girl You Think You Are
And speaking of Neil... this is one of the Crowdies final cuts (that is 1996... pre-obligatory reunion) and this song feels a lot like Harrison's "I'd Have You Anytime" does for me at least. It just sounds like a fire in the cold. Gorgeous song too, though I don't know how a sales pitch of "He won't deceive you or tell you the truth" works. What will he do then?19. Dean Martin - Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)
Killer little cut from 1960's This Time I'm Swingin'!
that has a good amount of bite to it, but Deano carries it off with his trademark coolness. You can't have a winter mix without Dean. It's like doing a summer mix without Darin's "Beyond the Sea." It's just not done. You need a bit of figurative coolness to go with the literal coolness.20. The The - August & September
While "Armageddon Days" isn't a good winter song, this one (titled after late summer months strangely enough) is. An airy, jazzy go by Matt Johnson from 1988's Mind Bomb
, this song fleshes itself out on a lot of regret and self deprication, and while it's certainly not the coldest thing Johnson's ever written, it's something that balances itself with a light enough musical background to sound pretty as opposed to stark. Then again, maybe some credit for that is due to Johnny Marr?
Have a great weekend and enjoy this mix.