Here are the next five songs on the Best of 2013 CD. Enjoy!
15. “Treasure,” Bruno Mars. I put this song here to highlight the fact that this “mix” isn’t really a mix at all. If I were constructing this CD not in descending order, I’d never juxtapose Mark Kozelek’s gentle folk with this rollicking 70s jam. The artistry this project demands is superseded by its structure (much like the mix CD itself, which is sonically superior to the mix tape but structurally inferior — I need a side A and a side B! I need to build to a crescendo and then cool it off a little…and then build it back up, only to cool it off again.) This song recently snuck into my top twenty, and I can’t stop listening to it. Yes, it’s corporate and derivative (it could be a lost track from Off the Wall), and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Bruno Mars in general, but this tune is an “ear worm” of the first order. This may be the #1 pop song of the year.
14. “A Faded Star,” The Deadly Gentlemen. This one sounds like “picking on the Wallflowers” (which is a good thing in my view.) I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s another track that insinuated itself late in the game. I’m a fan of (good) bluegrass and have featured multiple tracks by Trampled by Turtles (check out “Empire” — great stuff) and others over the last few years. Apparently the lead singer/banjoist of The Deadly Gentlemen has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from M.I.T., and he can play the banjo, which makes me feel doubly lame. Their website describes their new album as “winsome” and “irreverent,” which is how I like to think of myself.
13. “Julie (Come Out of the Rain),” Josh Rouse. I remember buying one of his first CDs in a Starbucks in Charlottesville years ago. Though he still tends to fall in love with certain genres and styles too often for my tastes, he has never lost his innate sense of melody (in full effect with this track.) I saw him live at the Kentucky Center in Louisville this summer; I used the concert as a mid-week lifeline to help me endure the soul-crushing, spirit-razing experience of grading AP exams. Rouse was just over from Spain. It was the first night of the tour, a Wednesday, and JR was a bit put out because the “Derby City” wasn’t mustering the Ibiza-like energy he was used to. Still, a great show. And it helped me survive the AP Reaping, so I feel like I owe him.
12. “The A-Team,” Ed Sheeran. Actually, I prefer the acoustic versions of this song you can find on the web. I especially like this one. Is he in a canal? It’s canal rock. With herbs. Dude looks like he needs a skateboard and a can of spray paint. Still a great song.
11. “That’s the Way the World Goes Round,” John Prine. This is an example of a song that has existed long before I discovered it (it first appeared on Prine’s 1978 album Bruised Orange.) Its inclusion here is more about my celebration of the discovery than anything else, though it’s also a fantastic song. I first heard it played by The Old Habits, the Raleigh-based bluegrass band that plays at our Senior Dinner each year (they, too, are fantastic.) This song opened up Prine’s entire catalog to me, which was a real gift. And I’m a sucker for the tin whistle.