ND Festival Spotlight: Jason Dodson of the Maldives
The Maldives are a bit of a community center, if you will. Their lineup-of-ever-fluctuating-size has included members of a number of other Seattle bands, and its members have an apparently compulsive habit of branching off into side projects. Yet, for every side project and peripheral collaboration, revolving door and conveyor belt, the band in some incarnation persists. Not only are they one of the most populous groups in town, they’re also one of the most prolific, playing gigs every chance they get, regardless of venue size or location.
That kind of unabashed dedication to their craft can either make a band burn out or thrive. So far, it’s been the latter. As they ready for the opening slot at this weekend’s 2nd Annual No Depression Festival, the Maldives are switching their lineup yet again. They’re down a bassist and drummer this weekend, but not to worry. Maldives banjo picker Kevin Barrans will take to the drum kit for this show, while Shim bass player Micah Simler (who plays in the Cosmic Pantherland Band with Maldives frontman Jason Dodson and the Moondoggies’ Kevin Murphy) will round out the rhythm section.
And so, in the interest of spotlighting some of the artists on this year’s lineup, I hopped on the phone with Dodson this week, and put him on the spot when I asked for his five favorite songs of all time. (Hey, it worked with Sera Cahoone.) Dodson gave me seven, and I’ve posted them in the order he recited them, below, along with his comments on each.
Catch the Maldives at 1:30 p.m. sharp to kick off the ND Festival this Saturday at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Wash. According to Dodson, they’ll be playing mostly “songs we just started playing this summer.” Something to look forward to. And now for Dodson’s Top Seven Favorite Songs:
Sam Cooke – “A Change Is Gonna Come”
JD: It’s probably the first song I felt seriously emotionally attached to. It’s a song that is kind of devastated me on an emotional level, and also on much more than a political level. It’s a really important song. Despite its cultural significance, I think it’s one ofthe first songs that effected me personally. It was moving me to some other place, as opposed to a pop song that simply makes you happy or makes you wanna dance.
TIE: Bruce Springsteen – “Thunder Road” and “Born to Run”
JD: This is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. This is a toss-up. “Thunder Road” is just an awesome song.
“Born to Run” is probably the most perfectly created pop song of all time. It’s got everything in it. I can’t say which I’d like better. I’d have to go with both of those for one pick.
KR: They’re so different from the Sam Cooke tune, too…
JD: Yeah, kind of. They kind of operate in the same vein, though. They both have an immediacy to them. There’s an urgent quality to both of them – they want to be heard, but for different reasons. The Sam Cooke song was much more cultural and political at the time, as opposed to the Springsteen songs, which were obviously important to him. But all of those songs needed to be heard.
James Carr – “At the Dark End of the Street”
JD: James Carr is a soul singer, and the song is “At the Dark End of the Street,” which is a song that Percy Sledge made famous, but it was covered by the Burrito Brothers. The James Carr version is by far my favorite. He’s one of those deep southern soul guys. The song was written by…I’ll be a total geek here. Dan Penn. Dan Penn was a songwriter who wrote both country and soul songs – a dude out of Nashville.
Neil Young – “Revolution Blues”
JD: There’s gotta be a Neil Young song in there. I’d probably go with “Revolution Blues off” of On the Beach. That’s a song that was pretty topical at the time he wrote it. It’s largely about Charles Manson and the crazy stuff that was happening at the end of the ’60s and going into the ’70s. That song just kind of captures …it’s really heavy for Neil Young. He usually has out-there lyrics, but these are some of his most coherent, feverish lyrics, talking about 10,000 dune buggies rolling downt the mountain. That song is frightening, but it’s also infectious. I never get tired of hearing that song.
The Band – “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
JD: I have to go with the easy answer on this [last] one. I love “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” by the Band. I’m from the south. I obviously live in the Northwest now, so maybe that doesn’t really matter. But, when Robbie Robertson wrote that song, it was pretty sympathetic toward the south. It gets the sadness the south must have felt as they were losing the Civil War. That kind of political incorrectness aside, it’s a heartbreaking song. It has probably one of my favorite Levon Helm vocals of all time.
JD: I’m surprised I didn’t have a Dylan song in there. I’m a huge Dylan fan. I don’t think I’d be able to decide which Dylan song.
KR: Do you think Dylan’s kind of more of a full catalog guy?
JD: I think so. I think you can pull out songs like “Like a Rolling Stone” or something like that that’s epic and awesome, but you can’t go wrong with “Tangled up in Blue.” Then there’s some of the weirder b-sides off of Desire like “Oh Sister” and “Sara.” I’d say Dylan’s [allure is] the full catalog. I wouldn’t be able to choose a single song. He’s my favorite ever.
My alternate, if i can throw in an alternate, would be…
Waylon Jennings – “Waymore’s Blues”
JD: That’s a song that, whenever it comes on I’m totally happy. It’s a perfect song. The fade-out at the end of that song…when they were recording it in the studio, they were just kind of ad-libbing the whole thing. They had to cut it off at the end because Waylon got mad, or something. I can’t remember the exact story, but someone got mad and ended up cussing up a storm at the end of the song, and they had to just fade it out before the temper set in.