Jim James and Calexico: Goin’ To Acapulco
From I’m Not There (Sony, 2007)
The Flying Burrito Bros: Wild Horses
From Burrito Deluxe (A&M, 1970)
Cam’ron: Just Us
From Public Enemy #1 (2007)
Freeway: When They Remember
From Free At Last (Roc-A-Fella, 2007)
Kanye West + Jay-Z: Never Let Me Down (9th Wonder Remix)
From The Graduate (2007)
Phoebe Snow: Poetry Man
From S/T (Shelter, 1974)
This isn’t the most elegant way to go about things but with the end-of-the-semester crunch in full e.f.f.e.c.t., a mondo-posting, written while I’m vegging to college football, is about as good as things are going to get right now. Besides, these days, a playlist like what you see above is par for the course. Genres? Bah, where we’re going, we don’t need genres.
To start with…
I went to go see the new Todd Haynes film, “inspired” by Bob Dylan, I’m Not There and one of the musical moments that lingered most with me came during the Richard Gere/Billy the Kid thread, where Jim James and Calexico eerily performed Dylan’s “Goin’ To Acapulco” (from the Basement Tapes originally) as part of a funeral. Covering Dylan is not an easy task; in most cases, it’s really not worth trying (see the rest of the I’m Not There soundtrack for other examples) but I thought James does a fine job here putting his own spin on a tune most folks (save hardcore Dylan-ites) probably don’t even associate with Dylan. Think of it as a more erudite “Margaritaville.”
Speaking of covers…my friend Hua recently hit me with this cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” sung by the late Gram Parsons when he was with the Flying Burrito Bros (one of the worst names in rock, evah). Parsons, to me, just nails this. It’s a cover but it sounds like it should be the original given that Parsons’ heroined-out voice and affect makes the song even more melancholy. I wonder if Mick heard this and thought, “damn, I just got sonned.”
Just to switch up gears really abruptly, now we get to Cam’ron. His new double-CD mixtape is a bounty for any Cam fan, especially since it’s been a minute since he’s had an album out. His signature rhyme scheme has become even more playful and intricate of late though I picked this song more b/c I’m down to listen to any rap song that loops Journey (Steve Perry, represent). I wonder if anyone could actually get this cleared in real life…
The Cyril Neville is a song I’ve been playing out more of late. Neville’s backed by The Meters (he was a member, of course) and this appears on the B-side of his first solo single, “Gossip.” Personally, I’d put it up there with the best of any Meters-related song I’ve ever heard. The band is on fire in backing Cyril and along with Neville’s vocals, they lend the song a marvelous energy.
No less energetic is Freeway. I admit…I wasn’t always into him given his voice but with time, I’ve really appreciated the intensity he brings. The new album, Free At Last is incredibly good. It’s definitely one of the best rap albums I’ve heard in a long time; Free may complain that Just Blaze didn’t “chirp back” but you’d hardly miss the Megatron Don here given that much of the production is already indebted to his style. It’s hard to pick any one song off this album; the whole thing is so good and I was tempted to go with “Roc-A-Fella Billionaires) but in the end, “When They Remember” comes out ahead for sheer power. The song is so loud and grand, it’s cinematic.
The Kanye remix comes off The Graduate mix-CD, put together by Mick Boogie and Terry Urban. The original was on College Dropout and I was never that crazy about the O.G., production-wise, but I really like what 9th Wonder does here (I’m sure it has something to do with its nod to Primo’s remix of
Show and AG’s “Next Level”Das Efx’s “Real Hip Hop”); it strips the sound down and gives the verses an added poignancy by being so sparse.
Laslty, I recently went to go see Queen Latifah in concert at Royce Hall and she has her own version of Snow’s classic “Poetry Man” on her new Trav’lin’ Light CD. Much as I’d like to back Latifah here…her voice just can’t quite cut it and ultimately, though a loyal cover, it’s not as satisfying as enjoying Snow’s original (Zap Mama has a decent cover of it too). “Poetry Man” has a distinct Joni Mitchell quality to it (which might be why I like it so much) and it’s one of those songs that go down so easy on a weekend afternoon.