2011 Soundshot (or Maybe Snaptrack)
It’s a fun tradition, and one that I’m sure I share with a number of folks in this community. At the conclusion of every year, I put together three or four CDs that contain my favorite songs from that year. The results are part snapshot and part soundtrack (trademarks pending on the terms “snaptrack” and “soundshot”). It’s always entertaining and enlightening to revisit the year-end CDs five or ten years down the road, not to mention revisiting year-end cassettes from fifteen or twenty years ago.
I’ve already assembled my three 2011 CDs, rushing the effort a bit so I’d have them to listen to on a solo five-hour drive to Knoxville for the V-Roys reunion on New Year’s Eve. The discs were perfect company, and, to echo the ‘Roys, I had no regrets – that is, there were no “damn, why did I include that song?!” moments.
Anyway, thanks for your kind indulgence as I include the 2011 song list below, along with some footnotes. If anyone else would like to share his or her list, I’d love to read it. Without fail, such lists lead to discoveries and further good company.
CD 1 – Trusting Hearts
1. Odetta – Joe Henry1
2. Ink and Grief – The Gourds2
3. Coming Back to a Man – Dawes
4. Let’s All Go to the Bar – Deer Tick
5. Million Dollar Bill – Middle Brother3
6. Sheetrock Hanger – Rod Picott
7. When You Need a Train It Never Comes – Amanda Shires
8. Spare Parts – The Rolling Stones4
9. Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown – Social Distortion
10. Sirens and Thunder – Kasey Anderson and the Honkies
11. Our Fathers Sons – The Gaslight Anthem
12. Your Hero? – Scotty Alan
13. Johnny Ace Is Dead – Dave Alvin
14. Cold Front Blues – Southeast Engine
15. Learn to Say No – Lydia Loveless
16. Warning Signs – Eilen Jewell
17. If I Can’t Trust You with a Quarter (How Can I Trust You with My Heart)? – Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers5
18. Last Great Guitar Slinger – John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff
19. Kerosene – The Bottle Rockets6
20. Lament – Mount Moriah
1 The Tragically Hip: “Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.” Me: “Get Joe Henry to sing my eulogy.”
2 Tip: Grief is not kept with the writing supplies at Staple’s. You can find it in aisle 7 between sorrow and toner.
3 The Dawes-Deer Tick-Delta Spirit (although they didn’t release a record in 2011)-Middle Brother orbit has proven to be an entertaining place to hang out. Never would have thought my world needed a 2011 version of Crosby, Stills & Nash, but the Middle Brother disc ended up scratching an itch I didn’t know I had.
4 Pairs quite nicely with Kevn Kinney’s “Broken Hearts and Auto Parts” in a two-song radio-show set.
5 Best title and best question of 2011.
6 Live version of the greatest alt-country/No Depression song ever written.
CD 2 – Wanting Hearts
1. Sensitive Man – Nick Lowe
2. North Side Gal – JD McPherson
3. Mayhem – Imelda May1
4. Bad Luck Baby – John Paul Keith2
5. Eloise – Michael Fracasso
6. Holiday – Mke Doughty w/ Rosanne Cash3
7. Broken – Whitehorse4
8. Jesus Fever – Kurt Vile5
9. Joe Tex – The Black Swans
10. This Is Why We Fight – The Decemberists
11. Rider – Okkervil River
12. Coney Island Winter – Garland Jeffreys6
13. Quick Sand – Ry Cooder
14. When the Night Was Young – Robbie Robertson
15. Hell and Highwater – Mike McClure
16. Convince Me – Lucinda Williams7
17. Missing Things – JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
18. Heart Full of Wanna – Glossary
19. Blue Skies Again – Jessica Lee Mayfield
20. Price Tag – Jessie J, featuring B.o.B8
21. We Had It All – Candi Staton9
1 Alt-Wanda Jackson.
2 Alt-Bobby Fuller part 1, followed by alt-Bobby Fuller part 2.
3 One of the odder pairings of the year, but it works beautifully.
4 One of my favorite lines of the year: “You’ve got to have a heart to have a broken one.”
5 Alt-Lloyd Cole. Okay, I’m stopping with the alts now.
6 Thus begins the three-song distinguished veteran portion of the disc.
7 Thus begins the three-song country-soul 2011-style portion of the disc.
8 Yes, this doesn’t exactly fit in with most of the other offerings (although I think it’s a swell teammate for “Blue Skies Again”), but it’s the song that dug the deepest gopher hole in my brain in ’11. Whether you call it neo-soul or pop-soul, there’s definitely soul present.
9 One more moment of county-soul, of the old-fashioned and sublime variety.
CD 3 – Golden Hearts
1. Don’t Call Them Twinkies – The Baseball Project w/ Craig Finn1
2. I Will Do the Breathing – Matt the Electrician
3. Solid States – Centro-Matic
4. If I Ever Stray – Frank Turner
5. Powder Keg – Ken Will Morton2
6. Birthday – P.J. O’Connell3
7. Crush – The Horrible Crowes4
8. Rey Ordonez – Kate Jacobs5
9. Sydney (I’ll Come Running) – Brett Dennen
10. Middle of Love – Ron Sexsmith
11. Hard Bargain – Emmylou Harris6
12. Everybody Needs Love – Drive-By Truckers
13. Burned – The V-Roys
14. Don’t Cry No Tears – David Dondero
15. Heart of Gold – Charles Bradley
16. Ruby Soho – Jimmy Cliff
17. Redemption Song – Youssou N’Dour
18. Hold on Hope – Glen Campbell
19. Let the Mystery Be – Greg Brown
20. Strange Language – Cowboy Junkies
21. I Love My Label – Wilco
1 “In the fall of eleven, I was pretty much in heaven/Got the Project and Craig Finn, and the Yanks didn’t win the pennant”
2 My second favorite song ever with “Powder” in the title, and I don’t think any song will ever overtake “Powderfinger.”
3 P.J. O’Connell’s Join the Crowd, the home of “Birthday,” is well worth seeking out. Among the guests are NRBQ’s Terry Adams and the Figgs’ Mike Gent (and, sadly, Tom Ardolino’s work on the album most likely represents some of the late drummer’s last recorded efforts). If more folks don’t pick up on Join the Crowd, it will go down as one of the great lost albums of 2011. And on a related note, “Birthday” would have fit in perfectly on the Liquor Giants’ Here, one of the great lost albums of the ‘90s.
4 With this entry, Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem, The Horrible Crowes) joins John McCauley (Deer Tick, Middle Brother) and Tyler Goldsmith (Dawes, Middle Brother) as the only vocalists with two appearances on the 2011 CDs. I believe this to be the kind of break that could propel young Mr. Fallon’s career to the next level.
5 The best song about a middle infielder since Cheap Trick’s mid-‘70s smash “Don Kessinger,” which alas exists only in my mind.
6 Thus begins the lengthy cover songs portion of the final disc, with Emmylou Harris’ take on a Ron Sexsmith song conveniently following a number from Mr. Sexsmith himself and with Neil Young receiving a fine three-song tribute. (Sure, “Burned” flies under the Buffalo Springfield banner, but it’s still a Neil Young song.)