Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Attempt at some interaction--the Favorite Three

When I was a freshman in high school, me and my best buddy, Andy Hunt would lay on his living room floor and try to guess the next song that would come on the 5-disc CD changer that his parents had recently purchased (and let me tell you--that thing was high technology!). You got points (it was never determined how many) if you got the right artist (there were always at lest two discs in the changer by the same band--usually The Cure or Morrissey), more points for getting the album right, and then the closer you were to the actual track--you guessed it--more points. If you actually chose the song--well, I don't know that it ever happened. Perhaps the room would have been sucked into a new dimension.

That cute story from my past aside, I know that there are several of you who read this blog who have a favorite group or maybe even a few bands or singers you like. Here's how you play this game. Think of a group that you like and then post a comment that has your top 3-5 songs by that group (I know how hard it can be to boil it down) and some words about why (optional). Then we can post in agreement or disagreement with words of our own.

I'll start:

Ben Folds is probably my favorite songwriter of all time. Yes, even more so than Robert Smith or Billy Corgan. Here are my top three songs by him:

"Selfless, Cold, and Composed"- I already have a soft spot for songs in 6/8. This song came out in the months before I left on my mission and it (as well as "Missing the War" and "Evaporated") had just the right forlorn twinge that suited me then and suits certain moods of mine now (though the other songs I mentioned were more acute back then--"Selfless" has jumped in the rankings since). It is, for me, the consummate Ben Folds tune.
"Army"- you know you can't resist those horns! This song starts off with a swear that I can't condone (though for some reason when BF swears, I can't help but smile usually--kinda like your dad swearing. It's funny!), "Army" is Ben Folds Five at their best. Harmony and Horns--that's all you need (and fuzz bass).
"Trusted"- this tune in on Ben Folds's most recent solo album. I love it. I love how he can be super funny on one track and then super serious on the next. This is one of those serious moments. When I heard this tune I knew my boy Ben would be around for a long time.

Tina and I are going to see Ben Folds and John Mayer together this summer (you got John Mayer, Nick? Tell us your fave three!). It is sure to be magnificent.


  1. Brandon not Michelle...

    So I also dig Ben Folds...but I only know the names to a few of the songs. Lately I like "Rockin' the Suburbs." Clean version that is. It is a comedic commentary on the ridiculous suburb lifestyle. And it has a good hook. As for my favorite band...DMB of course.

    Best song: Pig. This is pick-you-up song in the same category as REM's "Everybody hurts." Only this song sounds up-beat…But not so up-beat that you can't stomach it when in a downer mood. "Don't beat your head, dry your eyes, left the love in here...."

    2nd best: 2-step. One of life’s singular experiences is hearing this song live. The energy is amazing. This song makes you want to rip off your clothes and run naked through the streets (or any other crazy thing you are prone to do). "We climb on two-by-two to be sure these days continue..."

    3rd best: Crash. This is one of the most intimate love songs ever. It captures in music how much you can want another person. Another singular experience is to here this song live while in the company of your one true love. Those feelings will return each time you hear the song. "I can feel the wave comin' crash into me..."

    Honorable mentions: Crush, Ants Marching, All Along the Watchtower (a cover), and Granny.

  2. did MY husband write that? :)

    I'm OVERTAKEN by his romanticalness. :)

    and I was just going to post that the secret about me and brandon is that all our cds are copied from some starmaster that we won't name to get in copyright trouble, so we know no embarrassing! (or just how sneaky)

    so as for the new bf, I can only say, "you know that one that goes 3-7-8 on a Ichord to a IVchord at the intro?" see, I need to do a bit of research in the name department.

    i still can't believe that brandon post. jon, way to pull something out of him that I've NEVER been able to do. :)

    more michelle to come

  3. Marisa Thwaits8:39 PM

    I'd like to play a variation of your little game and list three of my fave bands/songs of all time. (Michelle, I'm the same way about names of songs and had to ask my husband for the first two names I've listed- I always have a hard time remembering names of songs that don't have the title in the lyrics).
    Of course, Ben Folds totally ROCKS and is on my list. I've always had the most affinity for "The Last Polka", it's got that amazing energy that Ben is notorious for and the lyrics and music just fit together so perfectly it really makes you feel the words.
    I've loved Portishead forever. My all time favorite song by them is "Glory Box"- it's sooo soulful and again the music and lyrics fit so perfectly. The first time I heard that song the lyrics were really poignant for me ... "I'm so tired, tired of playing with this bow and arrow..." and every time I've heard it since it takes me to that place. My friend had made me a tape (Yes, that long ago) of the album and it's the last song and it got cut off, but I loved what I had. When I finally heard the rest of the song it blew me away. It has an awesome guitar solo that totally rocked my world! and then it symbolically fades on the verse. Awesome!
    Then my girl Fiona Apple, even though I have to say that I wasn't terribly thrilled about her latest album, but after "When the Pawn..." there really isn't anywhere to go but down. Once again , I love "Paper bag" for the symbiosis of lyrics and music. Music, to me, is only really good when the music completely fits the mood of the words. That's when you really feel a song.

  4. After much thought on the matter, I have decided to dedicate my comment on this blog to Weezer. That's not to imply that they are my favorite group of all time. It's just that Weezer, specifically the blue album, reminds me of a very specific time in my life. A happy time when I was in high school, dating Jon, going to concerts, living an almost carefree life.

    Before I begin, I need to give a nod to my other favorites--the chick rockers from the mid to late nineties: Veruca Salt, No Doubt (although technically only one girl here), that dog., and Fiona Apple. My favorite album from the afore mentioned group of artists is "Retreat from the Sun" by that dog. I also need to mention that Anna Waronker's solo album (except for the swears) is almost as good as Retreat from the Sun.

    Okay, now back to Weezer. Rivers is an awesome songwriter. He has a great ability to write a cool melody that is interesting and sing-along-able. Most of my fond Weezer memories involve singing along at the top of my lungs in either the Stone family Buick or at an Only Anything show.

    Here are my three favorites:
    1- Suzanne: This song was on the first mixed tape that Jon made for me at the very beginning of our dating life. It has the same tough rockin' guitar sound, but is slower and the meter changes.
    2- You Gave Your Love to Me Softly: I love how this song starts out with no intro, just a tough guitar and immediate lyrics. The lyrics actually sound like the song should be a slow love ballad. Maybe it was at one point.
    3- I Just Threw out the Love of my Dreams: Same old awesome Weezer format--super tough guitar sound and cool solo--coupled with Rachel Hayden's beautiful voice.

    I just realized that all of these songs were not released on regular Weezer albums, so many of you may not know them. This is very unfortunate. Why is it that the seemingly best songs from an artist don't make it on the released album? The Cure is like that, Smashing Pumpkins too.

    So that is my Ode to Weezer.

  5. Great posts so far guys! I thought I would respond to a few of them (though I hope more are to come!). First, a word or two about Dave Mathews Band: Though I am nowhere near the fan-level of Michelle and Brandon, I am definitely a fan. Tina got into DMB while I was on my mission, so when I came home I got a really big dose. I thought Brandon's choice of Pig as his favorite song was an interesting one. I think it shows a definite DMB sophistication that I don't possess. Kind of like I might say my favorite Cure song is "Drowning Man" or "If Only Tonight We could Sleep" non-Cure aficionado's would be like--"Never heard that one before--couldn't tell ya". I have heard Pig, though, and it's good. I especially like the syncopated part at around 3:07.
    Love 2-step. It's in my top three. In fact, now might be a good time to mention that most of my current DMB listening is from the live Tim Renolds collaboration. My other top songs are also versions from this album. My very favorite DMB song is Seek Up--the live version here is way better than the album version. For me, ol' Dave is at his best when he does the mysterious build to a emotional peak. This tune does this for me precisely. "You seek up an emotion and your cup is overflowing..."
    My top DMB three is rounded out by #41. I like it for the same reason that I like Crash (which are very similar to the articulate way that Brandon described his affinity). This emotional build has more to do with love than Seek Up's spiritual longing. Very good tunes.

    Marisa: I can't agree with you more about "Last Polka" it is one of my favorites too. I used to imagine a fake break-up situation where that song would be in the background. I love the line (and piano exclamation marks) "She said, you been pushing me like I was a sore tooth" BANG BANG BANG BANG.. Brilliance. That first Ben Folds Five album is nothing short of classic. It reminds me of 1995-1996.
    I have been listening to Portishead lately too. I love their use of sampling--especially on the tracks where the scratchy record sound is an important part of the aesthetic of the music. Glory Box is one of those tunes. Oh so jazzy. It reminds me a lot of Jon's Never Told.
    But I must say, we like Extraordinary Machine around my house. Seth can sing a number of the songs and frequently asks for them while driving around town. Fun stuff.

    Finally, a response to Tina's post about Weezer. Her top three could easily be my top three. I love Susanne as well. I think Brian Bell, the band's guitarist, sites it as his favorite tune as well. It is one of those consummate tunes. It defines the Weezer that I love (and wish was still around).
    Other favorites? Gosh. About the entire first album (from Jonas to Dreams) throw in Why Bother, Getchoo and Tired of (you know) for good measure.

    Alright--let's hear some more!

  6. My main musical indulgence through the years has been "Mellon Collie and the infinite Sadness" by Smashing Pumpkins. It pretty much captures the essence of my teenage years. Some of lesser-known songs that I like are:
    - Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
    - Beautiful
    - Cupid De Locke

    Ben Folds... well he's great. Army is especially great if you listen to the Ben Folds Live album version. Very funny. Also "Magic" is a great song from BFF that was not written by Ben.

  7. okay, two weeks later.

    this has been hard for me, because I can't decide whether to comment on other people's comments or drum a whole new artist up. since neeky has been tardy with the john mayer bit, I think I'll start there. Except, I can't choose just 3. I think that's another reason why I have procrastinated this. I just can't decide. so, from the first album, top 3, 3x5, why georgia, my stupid mouth. then the most recent album, heart of life, belief, and stop this train. I think the whole reason I love all those songs is because of the harmony involved. they are great to harmonize to. even if I'm not doing the harmony, but the guitar is, like on so many.

    Also, honorable mention to clarity on heavier things, because I love the 4 second horns.

    i'm so lame. :) sorry I couldn't pick just three.

    now for DMB, jon, glad to know you've dipped and enjoyed a little. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE a song called granny, off that tim reynolds at luther college one. and I'll have to get you a copy of this nice acoustic set of 5 I got with his solo album. It's again with tim, this time seek up, when the world ends, grey street, jimi thing, seek up, and stay or leave. awesome stuff. totally made me dig even the songs that I wasn't particularly fond of in their original form.

    I think anything acoustic, and I love it from Dave.

    weezer, love it all for the same reasons as tina: know every word to every song (at least of the older, tucson days stuff), and love singing it as loud as possible. how could you guys pick favorites? brandon hasn't heard any of those songs, by the way..besides me trying to sing all parts plus guitar solos..

    hooray for a fiona mention. good piano, good anger, nice stuff. :)

    i hate to say it, but I tried to show brandon all the ben folds stuff mentioned, as well as the albums included, but remembered why I stopped listening so much when I kept saying, "oh, push mute, cuss word." sorry to be so G rated still. nice to delve back there though. lots of good BFF stuff. can't play it at all on the piano either. baffling. too bad. oh, and i didn't know "magic" wasn't written by ben. that's my favorite on that album.

    okay, you've now heard enough from me!

  8. I thought long and hard about who i would say, and pretty much without a doubt my answer is John Mayer. Mayer's music is loved by all generations. My mom likes him, my older brother likes him, I like him, my little brother likes him, and even my little sister can be caught every once and a while singing a mayer tune. Debuting with what I would call his "pop" album Room for Squares gave us hits such as "No Such Thing" "My Stupid Mouth" and "Why Georgia" and Mayer very quickly became one of my favorite music artists. After the release of his second album Heavier Things so came "Clarity" and "Bigger than My Body" (and the overly played on the radio) "Daughters." Then he did something awesome. He decided to team up with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan to create the John Mayer Trio where I first heard one of my all time favorites: "Vultures." As sad as I was to not get a chance to hear them live like my brother, Jon, Try! is an album frequented on my iPod. With newest album Continuum, I feel like Mayer has outdone himself. He included my favorite "Vultures" on the album with the amazing song "Stop the Train."

    I think what keeps me going back to Mayer is his incredible ability to write catchy poetry-like lyrics to an amazing melody:

    "played a quick game of chess with the salt and pepper shakers."
    "had a talk with my old man, said help me understand; he said turn sixty-eight, you'll renogotiate.
    "some of us--we're hardly ever here, the rest of us were born to disappear. how do i stop myself from being just a number?"
    "i make the most of all the sadness, you be a bitch because you can. you try to hit me just to hurt me"

    the list could go on... point to make: mayer is brilliant. he may be dating an idiot, but his ability as a musician to have such a broad spectrum of fans ranging from many different generations is proof of true talent that will be around for decades to come.

    SO in conclusion: My top three songs:

    #1 vultures (live version) tied with stop this train
    #2 why georgia tied with 3x5
    #3 my stupid mouth tied with bigger than my body

  9. I wanna play!!!

    I feel so musically inferior when speaking about music in the midst of you all, but I'm gonna go for it... I couldn't choose any other artist than Sarah McLachlan. She has been my absolute favorite since I first discovered her in 1998. I had just graduated from high school, was living on my own for the first time, then moved to NY, etc, etc- but through all those changes, Sarah was my constant, and still is. Like the rest of you, choosing my top 3 is near impossible, so let's just say these are among my faves:

    1- Path of Thorns (Terms): This is off of Sarah's second album, Solace, although it also appears on Mirrorball. For some reason this song has always touched me deeply- I love songs that you not only hear but FEEL, and this is one of those. This song also shows off her amazing vocal range.

    2- Good Enough. Off my favorite album of hers, Fumbling Toward Ecstacy. This song was so comforting to me when I had just moved to NY, and just resonated with me through so many different relationships in my life. "Don't tell me why, he's never been good to you... he's never been there for you, don't tell me why- he's simply not good enough... you're so much more than good enough."

    3a- Elsewhere- also off of the Fumbling record. This one is all about the lyrics:
    "I believe this is heaven to no one else but me, and I'll defend it long as I can be left here to linger...would you try to understand?"
    "Mother, can't you see I've got to live my life the way I feel is right for me, might not be right for you, but it's right for me."

    3b- Fumbling Toward Ecstacy. Title track off of Fumbling. Brooke & I went to see Sarah on Long Island one year, and Sarah spoke about this song before she sang it, and Brooke immediately looked at me and said "Did you hear that? That's you." This song encompasses my biggest weakness. Fear.

    3c (I know I'm cheating, but one more)- Possession, of course, off the Fumbling album. The best version however, is an iTunes Original- just Sarah and the piano.
    This song was almost ruined for me when Sarah came out and said it was about a stalker she had, but I try not to think of that, and just enjoy the melody and lyrics...
    "You speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes. My body aches to breathe your breath, your words keep me alive..."

    OK I'll stop now, although I could probably list five more at least!!

  10. Well it would seem that I have a lot to comment about before I put this post to bed. Thanks for all the responses—even if some of the ones we were waiting most anxiously for were a bit delayed.

    John Mayer is the last artist that begs a significant response back from me (though I will make a few other remarks about the rest of the posts/artists in conclusion). I enjoyed both Michelle and Nick’s posts and it is always interesting to me that we can all like the same music for sometimes very different reasons or with attention to very different songs. First of all, I think that we are in all agreement that “Stop this Train” is one of the best, if the THE best John Mayer tune ever. I posted about this song earlier in the year so you know how I feel about it. I don’t, however, really like “Belief” or (especially) “Vultures” all that much. In fact, I was actually disappointed (instead of elated, like Nick) that Vultures got pulled over to the official John Mayer album (I felt the same way about “Something’s Missing” and Heavier Things. I didn’t really like the song on Any Given Thursday that much…and then it shows up again on the studio album and then AGAIN on Try! John must really like that song. Though on both Belief and Something’s Missing, there are parts that I really like, for example “I wish there was an over-the-counter test for loneliness.”) Anyway—the other songs that get mentioned a lot are the three brilliant songs “Why Georgia,” “3x5” and “My Stupid Mouth” off the first album. All great. My favorite among them is probably “3x5”. I love how it feels like traveling or movement. You get a definite tour bus-across-the-usa feeling on this tune.

    It’s a few days later now so I have moved onto feeling a bit guilty for being so enthused about a dude (Ben Folds) who has such a potty mouth. Aw well. Can’t help it.

    Katie just posted about Sarah M. Hi Katie! Good to see you here. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a response except to say that in 1999 I bought Mirrorball along with the rest of America and found myself often in the arms of the angel.

    Way to go everyone! I encourage you all to do similar participatory blog posts in the near future.

    Real new post soon.

  11. Jon Thwaits11:37 PM

    There's so much great music out there. It's difficult to narrow it down, it takes a lot of pondering. Picking favorites and making decisions aren't my stregnths.

    It could be Morrissey, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead or others but today I might go with The Cure, that's what I would have said years ago with no question but I don't really listen to The Cure like I used to. I don't neccessarily listen to it less than I listen to other things though. There are some cure songs that I still feel are really great. Close to Me and Lovecats I find unique and interesting. I think those songs have something that makes them not get old to me, but they don't really have that quality that made me the huge cure fan that I used to be. That quality is desperation, the kind of irrational and over reacting desperation that was with me a lot when I was a teenager. I also related to the other kind of pop cure song but I think they were just an added bonus. I remember waiting for the release of Wish, that album made a big impression. End, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, To Wish Impossible Things, especially End. End sounds like a warrior weakened from a laborious battle who faces an enormous and exceedingly powerful dragon, the warrior knows he will be utterly wasted by his foe but he exausts the last of his energy in a final unsucessful attack. A good candidate for a favorite song? sense would tell us no but for some reason I found some relation to it.

    I want to also give you 3 songs that are some of my most favorite songs by any artist.

    Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles. In eighth grade I discovered that my dad had some old Beatles records: Sgt. Pepper's, Rubber Soul, Revolver. What a goldmine of good music! Songs that had a loner theme were strangely poingent with me (e.g. fool on the hill), Eleanor Rigby has a great sound, it paints an interesting picture and of course there's desperation. I imagine this song in the same category as many Ben Folds songs with respect to the voice of the storyteller. The ending cadence that trickles down into an E minor chord also reminds me of how I decided to end 6 inches. It wasn't concious, I didn't realize it till recently.

    Waters of March (Águas De Março), by Antonio Carlos Jobim. various recordings, specifically the Tom Jobim version.
    I first found this song 4 years ago and it is just a complete smile of a song. After I realized there's more music in the world than just alternative new wave I found that some jazz, funk and "world music" can just thrust itself right into your innards and shake your very soul. It's a very happy sound and it comes off as cheezy to some I know. I make no pleas to those who don't hear it, it may be my indulgence alone and that would be fine with me. I just can't help myself from smiling when I hear it. The sound of portuguese resonates with me and the translation if I'm not mistaken is like a jumble of things, experiences, memories, random events that create life as we know it. It makes me think of a person who was locked up in jail for 10 years and then is freed and walks through the streets and just takes it all in. I've stolen the cycling feeling of the chord progression and added it to the end of my Like Nobody Else.

    Fight, The Cure.
    This song, more than the other listed cure songs, speaks to me. Things are difficult, many many things. There is a phrase that probably Jon can tell where it comes from but it's something like: there's nothing worth having that's not difficult to obtain. The easy things are easy to forget, so we look back on life and it's full of difficulties, it's just been one long ugly fight hasn't it? That's what life is, that's what makes it memorable, that's what makes it something at all, the fight.