I made an iTunes Genius playlist starting with 10,000 Maniacs' "A Campfire Song" this morning. It grabbed a motley mix of stuff, some expected (other 10,000 Maniacs songs, some Natalie Merchant solo and Indigo Girls) and some not so much. (Toad The Wet Sprocket? Annie Lennox's "Keep Young & Beautiful"?) The common thread between them for me is, as I've talked about in previous posts.
Although there are better known songs from In My Tribe, I think that "A Campfire Song" is my favorite 10,000 Maniacs song. That whole album just screams early November to me, so it's no shock that I've rediscovered it. I don't know what it is about the song that appeals to me so much. I think it's the whole let's-be-socially-conscious-without-hitting-you-over-the-head-with-it vibe of the song. And can you imagine that there was a time when I heard Michael Stipe's voice on the song and had no idea who he was? His countervocal to Natalie's during the bridge is just fantastic. It is jangle pop at its finest.
Also, I remember playing that song for my college roommate - the one responsible for destroying their Unplugged CD for me due to continual and incessant playing - and how when Natalie was singing "no devil or redeemer" he thought she was saying "no devil or edema." Probably a joke that only a health professional can appreciate, but I always think of it when I listen to the song.
The other song that showed up on there that I had completely forgotten about was Michelle Shocked's "Anchorage". Actually, I had forgotten about it until it showed up on a Genius playlist I made based on Suzanne Vega's "Ironbound/Fancy Poultry". I vaguely remember this song from when it was released - from right around the same time that I discovered 10,000 Maniacs, Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega - and while it's been in my iTunes forever, it just never got much play.
And speaking of Suzanne Vega, I am quite surprised that none of her songs showed up in the "A Campfire Song" Genius playlist, because I was listening to "Cracking" the other day and realized just now how well it would have fit in with the rest of the songs. "Cracking" is probably the ultimate rainy fall day song - Vega's entire debut album is much in the same vein without ever feeling repetitive or samey. For those that think Suzanne Vega begins and ends with "Luka", play the following.
(also, if I hear one more person rhyme "Luka" with "puke-a", I think I will "puke-a". It's been done and it's NOT original.)
These songs are so perfect for these gray fall days. Trashy dance pop just doesn't seem right at this time of year, which is not to say that I don't listen to it (quite the contrary), but it's hard to get into an album like Kylie's X when the weather outside is telling you to look inward a bit.