It’s May: Top Ten Now
We just returned from scenic Sylva, NC, which, among its many other attributes — like a cool bookstore named City Lights that agreed to carry my books on consignment, a record store head shop called In Your Ear, and a town patriarch named Shulman — was the town where last year’s hit film — my favorite of the year — 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, was shot. So relaxed again at home and with a glass of Bulleit by my side, as well as Max and Morgan, I turn to the music that’s been haunting me this week.
10. “Lemon Glow,” Beach House. Their new record hits the stores this coming Friday. I feel so giddy. We saw them in Asheville a few years back. Took our daughter with us. At least one of us felt his life change that night.
9. “Coney Island Baby,” Lou Reed. For my high school friend, Don Bowen, who did play football for the coach. I didn’t because I was too lightweight to play linebacker, or anywhere, and, yes, too scared. Don and I sat in his yellow Mustang Mach One on a late Friday night, and he said listen to this: I did. Still am.
8. “Backstreets,” Bruce Springsteen. For Les. “One soft infested summer me and Terry became friends/Trying in vain to breathe the fire we was born in.” We weren’t born in fire, and we met in late September, 1979. We always loved the epics, and this one by Bruce could hardly get more epic.
7. “Sketches of China,” Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and David Frieberg. I run the risk of getting this song stuck in my head again. Don’t ask how or why. This one was on a cassette I made long ago, preceded by the previous two on this list. We were driving back from New York — Jimbo, Les, his wife Martha, and me. Jimbo was driving and I put this in, and Jimbo asked what was going on, what this was. I didn’t know what to tell him. We drove all night, and it snowed in Virginia. I was smiling.
6. “You and I,” Local Natives. I get that this list seems a constant downer, but don’t take it that way. It’s a Saturday night and I’m so tired and the Bulleit is barely kicking in. Things might get happier soon, but not just yet. Besides, listen to the production of this one toward the end. Man.
5. “Superstition/You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” Stevie Wonder. I couldn’t separate these two, and so I turned to Stevie’s Original Musiquarium for the mix. I was in tenth grade, 1972, when “Superstition” hit. I can remember driving my mother’s Gran Torino up the Super Highway towards who knows what, and blasting this one from that old Ford’s AM. And then he brought out the second song. I think I wrecked, though it didn’t wow the guests at the wedding we went to last week.
4. “The Bottom Line,” Big Audio Dynamite. Happy now? Ready to dance? For Derby Day: “The horses are on the track.” Were the 80’s this cool? Yep. Mick got himself up off the Clash floor and gave us this “tune of economic decline.” Unemployment is way down now. But that hush money…
3. “Starman,” David Bowie. Why do I think I’ll never accept that Bowie is dead? I just heard a comedian today say that the average person is more scared of speaking in public than he/she is of death. “There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky; he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds…” Watch this video. I wanted my hair to look like that once. And I’d want it again, too. That blue guitar, and Mick Ronson by him. 1972 again.
2. “Rattlesnake,” St. Vincent. From Coachella, just a couple of weeks ago, but really from her 2014 record. She’s such a trip, our Annie. My daughter Layla and I saw her in Greenville. Layla said, “I don’t know about that chick.” Right.
1.“Simple Song,” The Shins. “When I was just 9 years old, I swear that I dreamt, your face on a football field, and a kiss that I kept, under my vest, apart from everything I’d hide in my chest.” I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. Is it the lyrics, the rhythm guitar chords, strummed to infinity? Yes. Things can really get tough when you go it alone. Hope that isn’t your case, but come back next week even if it is, or especially if it is.