Weekly Top Ten: Eclectic California
Things slow down when the sun gets high. We’re in San Rafael, my wife and I. She’s meditating at the Spirit Rock Center, and I’m doing what I do each week about now: having a cafe au lait and writing about the songs that I love this week. Love might be too strong a word for some of these, but when songs speak, I listen. Again and again. I left my wife with a glowing rock I bought from the Meditation gift shop, which seems funny when I write it, but hey, everyone has to survive in the capitalist land of dreams. Anyway, her rock said “Let It Be.” So, when I find myself in times of trouble…
10. “Waiting (for a Girl Like You),” Foreigner. It was 1981, and this song kept playing whenever I tuned my car radio to Knoxville’s Rock 104, the classic station. I think I deflated every time it came on. So last night at Le Garages at the Sausalito harbor, as I ate my bouillabaisse and my wife sampled a stuffed squash salad, I heard this song again. It was popular before I knew my wife, and when it was popular, she was a girl, just seventeen. Imagine.
9. “Woman,” John Lennon. In 1980, my wife was sixteen, attending Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy, near Knoxville. I was in my second year of UT’s MA program in English. I didn’t know of her on that morning in December when my pal Les called to tell me Lennon had been killed the night before. My fucking world shattered and I wonder if I ever truly recovered what I lost in those horrible moments. And that’s not close to what Yoko experienced. Later, a teenaged girl told my wife and me that we reminded her of John and Yoko. Thank you Beth. It helps.
8. “Transcendental Blues,” Steve Earle. I keep telling my wife that I’m more Zen than she is. It’s not true, but it’s fun. We both love Steve, and saw him in Asheville a few years back. Shit, he didn’t play this song from way back in 2000, the year my father died. I had it in my car stereo coming home from Bob Sykes BBQ in Bessemer on Dad’s last Iron Bowl weekend. Bama lost to Auburn 10–0, in Mike Dubose’s thank God for it swan song. Dad was too out of it to see the game or to eat BBQ. The paradox of the song’s title, though, says it all.
7. “Goodbye,” Emmylou Harris. As we lay semi-dreaming last night, this song appeared on my playlist. Steve wrote it, but Emmylou owns it, as she does with everything she touches. I can’t believe she played at Furman U. back when Wrecking Ball, her album with this track, first appeared. The audience was angry that it wasn’t a typical bluegrass show, or at least some in the audience were angry. We weren’t. How the hell could you be mad at Emmylou, especially when she sings like this? “I can’t remember if we said, goodbye.”
6. “Suspicious Minds,” Dwight Yoakam. The first of two by this California man. His voice goes straight to my heart, and he is on my top 3 I gotta see him live before I die list. I don’t enjoy many Elvis covers, and don’t think many transcend Elvis song to song. This one, though…
5. “You’re Always on My Mind,” Pet Shop Boys. Here’s another, though Elvis didn’t record it originally. He does it well, Willie does it maybe better, but to dance? Give me the Boys. Sometimes it’s the audacious that’s called for. Not very Zen, but we can’t be mindful all the time.
4. “Five Seconds to Your Heart,” Twin Shadow. His new record is out soon, but this one from five years ago, brought me to a few moments of being above myself. I keep seeing me driving from Charleston to Litchfield on highway 17, this song pounding along, the sun setting behind me. Transcendental.
3. “I Love My Dog,” Bottle Rockets. My wife’s favorite song. And why not? You knew I’d have to have a I love My Dog and Miss the crap out of him entry, right? We saw these guys at the Albino Skunk festival fall before last when things were so peaceful. It’s their only hit, but so what? We’re face timing with Max while we’re gone. Don’t ask how.
2. “One Woman Man,” George Jones. Should I comment here? Do I really have to? Maybe George wasn’t, but I am. This wasn’t his original song, but when it’s there, who would ever know, or tell? Look at his haircut on the link. If you ever wondered why he was called the Possum…though it was definitely more than that.
And in true Zen tradition…
- “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” Dwight Yoakam. “Time don’t matter to me.” That’s what it feels like anyway. To be away, out from under time, though my wifi limit is getting close, just a matter of a few minutes, so I’m hurrying. Damn it. Where’s the Zen? Dwight, Dwight, please come to town, don’t be so far away. I need to see to believe. Ok, I guess the sounds will do, from wherever you are. Here, there, and nowhere.
Happy Trails to all, and truly, there’s no place I’d rather be…than right here, right now.