DESERT ISLAND DISCS: MATT MCCARTHY

DesertIslandDiscs_mattmccarthy And now for something completely different... Matt McCarthy is a brilliant comedian and gave what was probably the best best man speech in history at my and Jared's wedding. Jared and I still laugh about it over 3 years later. Anyway, Matt also happens to be pretty passionate about music and I knew he'd bring something different to this little feature. I love this list because it reminds me of late nights at the cabin when Matt has taken control of the iPod... I rarely recognize the songs, but they always fit.

Click here to listen to all the tracks!

1) Soft Serve by Soul Coughing... This is the best song I've ever heard. I don't know. It's simple, melancholy yet funky and you can wiggle your ass to it. I've never heard anything like it. And the lyrics set against that ambient keyboard and sampling in the background. It feels like heartache and the fuck-all of being young and full of confused excitement.

2) We've Got A Bigger Problem Now by Dead Kennedys... "Last call for alcohol. Last call for freedom of speech. Drink up! Happy hour is now enforced by law." This is a version of "California Über Alles" that DK did about Ronald Reagan. It's perfect Dead Kennedys. It's funny, creepy, schmoozie, full of rage and political dissent. At the peak of the song Jello Biafra screams, "Making money for president Reagan! And all the friends of president Reagan!" It's so honest and angry, I love it.

3) Orion by Metallica... For me, this is the song that lifts heavy metal up to the heights of great art. This was not noise. This was not your ordinary beer guzzling scumbag filth rock. This was an opus. It's the best song on their best record, no one could say otherwise.

4) Backs Turned Looking Down The Path by Warren Zevon... I love this song. No one can touch Zevon as a song writer in my opinion. He outdoes them all. This track is him at his best.

5) Mr. Bad Example by Warren Zevon... A lot of these should be Warren Zevon. These are the best lyrics I've ever heard. It's my favorite example of how good Zevon was at rhymes that had a bloody edge. I need to learn to play it on guitar, I love singing along to it.

6) Divided Sky by Phish... Phish is one of the biggest bands in the world and I still think they're underrated. This is the song. It's gorgeous. Trey Anastasio is a chinless ginger rock guitar god. Everyone should stop taking showers and follow Phish everywhere.

7) Dogs and Chaplains by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones... This is a version of "Drunks and Children" that shows up on the Bosstones' last really great record. It swings and slams and grabs you hard by the neck and makes you drink whiskey and tells you you're the best friend it's ever had in its life. I like it!

8) Captain Lou by New Rhythm & Blues Quartet... I should've only picked songs about pro wrestling. Man On The Moon, REM. Pencil Neck Geek, Fred Blassie. The Crusher by The Ramones. To name a few that all hail from parts unknown but Captain Lou and NRBQ is the best of them all. This song makes me smile. I've met a handful of people who know it and love it. If I ever heard it in public I'd shit my pants and jump on top of cars.

Be sure to follow Matt here.

DESERT ISLAND DISCS: KATHRYN BONORCHIS

DesertIslandDiscs_katbonorchis In honor of her upcoming birthday, this month's Desert Island Discs are brought to you by my beautiful sister, Kathryn. Kathryn and I were latch-key kids and instead of doing our homework when we got home from school, we immediately threw on MTV's Top 20 Countdown, chowed down on frozen Ssips, and watched our favorite hair bands duke it out for #1. And while our tastes have digressed quite a bit since then, we'll always have Nikki Sixx playing the piano on "Home Sweet Home" and Slash's guitar solo on "November Rain." So without further adieu, here's her list...

Click here to listen to all the tracks!

1) Bad/40/Where the Streets Have No Name (live in Boston) by U2... I just could not decide between Bad or Where the Streets Have No Name. I love both. Solution? The live performance from Boston that includes both in one track. I have loved U2 for as long as I can remember, and their live performances are second to none.

2) Patience by Guns n Roses... I am pretty sure I have whistled along with Axl Rose (whom I intended to marry when I turned 16, during my lengthy love-of-guys-with-long-hair phase) over 100 times. I used to be notoriously IMpatient, and this song was a calming presence during some tumultuous childhood years.

3) Both Hands by Ani DiFranco... I remember exactly where I was and who I was with the first time I heard this song, and it was love at first listen. Who hasn’t been in a failing relationship but struggled to finally let go? “I am writing grafitti on your body / I am drawing the story of how hard we tried.”

4) All You Need is Love by The Beatles... So simple, so true, and so very appropriate for someone who wears her heart on her sleeve. I grew up listening to The Beatles with my dad and sister, and I have fond memories of being silly and singing their songs at the top of my lungs. If I’m going to be stuck on a desert island, I’ll need an uplifting and hopeful song that takes me back to happy kid moments. And at the end of the day, I really believe all we need is love. The rest can fall in line.

5) Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd... I could have easily chosen 8 Pink Floyd songs I can’t live without, but this particular song is in my Top 3 of all-time favorites. I could be in the worst mood ever and this song will make things better. “How I wish, how I wish you were here / We’re just two lost souls / Swimming in a fish bowl / Year after year / Running over the same old ground / What have we found? / The same old fears / Wish you were here”

6) Feeling Good by Nina Simone... Oh how I adore Nina Simone. Total girl crush. This song is soulful, sexy, and would be the theme song of my desert island experience. From the opening line of “birds flying high” to the climactic end, this song is flawless.

7) Fix You by Coldplay... As with Pink Floyd, I could have easily chosen 8 Coldplay songs I can’t live without. But I chose “Fix You” because it’s the kind of song you want during hard times. It helped me get through 2009. “When the tears come streaming down your face / When you lose something you can’t replace / When you love someone but it goes to waste / Could it be worse? / Lights will guide you home / And ignite your bones / And I will try to fix you.” We all love, lose, and pick ourselves back up again. For me, this song is equal parts “cry your eyes out” and “hang in there, it’ll be okay.”

8) Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls... Because it’s fun. And it reminds me of college, which was the most fun, responsibility-free time in my adult life. I know this song by heart, pretend I can actually sing while singing it, and it puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it.

Thanks, Kat!! Happy Birthday! :)

DESERT ISLAND DISCS: AL GIESLER

DesertIslandDiscs_algiesler

DesertIslandDiscs_algiesler February's Desert Island Discs are brought to you by another Texan and one of the most genuinely nice guys I know, Mr. Al Giesler. (Check out his equally super nice wife's amazing sewing blog, Moon Thirty.) I first met Al in the Galaxy Barn at Pickathon 2010 while waiting for Langhorne Slim to play what was to become one of the best shows I've ever seen. Al is an avid concert goer, and has seen most everyone worth seeing (and usually right before they got huge), so it doesn't surprise me at all that so many of the tunes on Al's list are live recordings. There's just something different about the energy from a live show, and few people appreciate that more than Al...

Click here to listen to all the tracks!

1) The Weight (live at The Last Waltz) by The Band (featuring The Staple Singers)... Volumes have been written about this song and its impact on the landscape of history, musically and otherwise. One of the best things I have ever done is see Levon Helm perform. Frail and ill of health, he presided over his drum kit with the energy of a twenty year old. It breaks my heart knowing how much Levon didn’t want to see The Band come to an end.

Fact: Mavis Staples' clapping in this song is the best clapping in any song of all time. Period. - Allie

2) Let Me Roll It (live on Wings Over America) by Paul McCartney & Wings... I saw my first concert of my choosing when I was 12 years old. I have watched people perform on stage as often as I can ever since. I haven’t seen Sir Paul live, but this song represents to me what a concert should feel like… the energy of the crowd, that guitar lick, lighter in the air, singing along at the top of your voice … absolute bliss! (For the record, that first show was current Geico pitchman Eddie Money opening for April Wine.)

3) The Next Best Western by Richard Shindell... Good songwriting will put you right in the heart of the story. Richard isn’t writing hits, but he is writing songs that inspire other songwriters.

“At four a.m. on 80 East, It’s in the nature of the beast To wonder if there’s something missing… I am wretched, I am tired. but the preacher is on fire And I wish I could believe”

4) All Things Must Pass by George Harrison... I have a lot of love for The Beatles, and have also spent a fair amount of time with the solo works of both John and Paul. Outside of a greatest hits compilation, I had not given George’s offerings much attention. But recently I purchased a turntable, and I have hit a few jackpots at the casinos (read: really good vinyl at Goodwill stores). My love for George grows with every spin of this tune.

5) Dreams Can Chase You Down (Daytrotter version) by The Low Anthem... A band that I had to see live to fully appreciate. They make music with the most unique and unconventional instruments ever to grace a stage. This song was written by Dan Leftkowitz, a founding member of the group. He had left by the time they recorded this as a bonus track on a numbered, letterpress printed version of their third studio album Smart Flesh. The version they recorded for their second Daytrotter is absolutely gut wrenching with the emotion they deliver.

6) Houses on the Hill by Whiskeytown... Oh to be a fly on the wall when Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary and crew were penning these songs. Musically and lyrically this gets about as close to perfection for me as it gets.

7) Box of Rain by Grateful Dead... Damn, that A chord comes crashing in and is your entry to one of the most important recordings of the last 50 years. American Beauty and the Grateful Dead shaped my musical horizons permanently. Their live energy was the benchmark that all others are held against. It’s not about musicianship, but they can hold their own. It’s not about lyrics, but they are strong. It’s about that sense of “we are all in this thing together,” about enjoying the show with every sense of your being with all your brothers and sisters in synch. Not many measure well against this benchmark but every once and awhile a band comes along with another course correction…

8) Salvation Song (live at Merlefest 2006) by The Avett Brothers... I live a blessed life. I see a lot of live music and I love sharing the experience with my friends. Several years ago my wife, best friend and I went on a roadie to see Dylan in Vegas. On the trip we were spinning the current (Feb/Mar 2006) Paste Magazine sampler disc. One of the tunes kept coming into our consciousness and inevitably one of us would ask, “Who the hell is this again?” The tune was Talk on Indolence by The Avett Brothers. To be honest I wasn’t sure if loved or hated it, but the song got my attention. We all saw them live later that year and a new benchmark was set. Maybe it’s their live show…with its unfiltered, give-all-you-got-every-time performance. Maybe it’s that they (band and crew) are some of the most genuine people you could ever meet. Maybe it’s the absolute respect they give to their fans, their peers and themselves. Maybe it’s the tunes. Whatever it is, it is pure, honest and true and you are missing out if you haven’t heard about “our” little secret.

Note that I couldn't find the Merlefest version, but the one in the link is from the same year and similarly awesome...

Thanks so much, Al!!! :)

turn it up: my desert island discs

Welcome to another new feature on the blog: Desert Island Discs! In the spirit of the long-running BBC program, I'll be asking my friends and fellow bloggers to send me the 8 tracks they couldn't live without. I thought I'd start things off by sharing my own...

1) Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen... This might be my favorite song of all time. It's everything I want in a song and I'm never NOT in the mood to hear it. "Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold, but with you forever I'll stay." <---- Kills me. Every. Single. Time.

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2) Bring It On Home To Me by Sam Cooke... Is there a better Sam Cooke song than this? Not if you ask me. From the first notes of the piano my head is swaying and I get lost in Sam's soulful voice. His girl can do him all kinds of wrong and he still wants her back. We've all been there, Sam. (PS. Betty Harris has a shoulder for you...)

3) Cry to Me performed by Betty Harris... As far as I'm concerned, the female soul singer buck stops with Betty Harris. Excuse my language, but she sings the absolute shit out of this song. If I could sing one song well, this would be it. (I can't, for the record. But I sure do try.)

4) Don't Think Twice it's All Right (demo version) by Bob Dylan... There are about a million versions of this song, and I'm pretty sure I've heard them all. But this (THIS!) is the best version. I promise. It's so raw and simple and just perfect. "I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind / You could have done better but I don’t mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time / But don’t think twice, it’s all right." Perhaps the most poetic FU of all time.

5) Feelin' Good performed by Nina Simone... Please tell me I'm not the only one who spent many a morning in her 20s singing this in front of the bathroom mirror. It's the ultimate pick me upper, which might come in handy if I really was stuck on an island forever.

6) Let It Be by The Beatles... I prayed a lot when I was a wee lass, like a good Catholic school girl should, but found I didn't quite relate to God or Jesus, so I would ask them to "put Mary on" (ha!) and she and I would chat about stuff. So when I was old enough to understand the lyrics of this song I was like, "Mother Mary comes to me, too!" It became my anthem for coping with my parents' divorce, and it still makes me feel better when I find myself in times of trouble.

7) Swept Away by The Avett Brothers... Obviously.

8) Tonight Will Be Fine performed by Teddy Thompson... I love Leonard Cohen, but I have to be a bad music snob and admit that I like other people's versions of his songs better than I like the originals. No song is that more true for than this version of Tonight Will Be Fine. It's such a genius song, and Teddy Thompson covers it so beautifully. The last verse is probably the best verse in all of music and it gives me chills every time I hear it... "Sometimes I see her undressing for me / She's the soft naked lady love meant her to be / She's moving her body so brave and so free / If I've got to remember that's a fine memory."

(PS... The Spotify tracks don't show up in the RSS feed, so if you're viewing this in a feed reader click on the link so you can hear the tunes!)