Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

It's been a while since I did a playlist round these parts, partly because all the themes I came up with seem a little contrived compared to just doing some good honest reviews - but mostly cause i just got really sick of having posts taken down cause of links and such. As you (should) know though, this Sunday is Father's Day, and to celebrate I thought i'd give another mix cd a shot. Now I won't bore you all with a full autobiography, but my own father was integral to my musical development - always having the radio or vinyl on around the house - and he certainly encouraged my flourishing musical tastes and rabid appetite for collecting cd's. On top of all this i think he's been endlessly supportive of all my musical writing - compostion and critical wise - and of all my pursuits in general. So this list is dedicated to him, and though he probably won't like most of the selections (he's a hip-hop/R&B kinda guy), MediaMark, this one's for you.

Father's Day Playlist
Super Furry Animals - Father Father #1
The most famous Welsh outfit in indie offer a sunny instrumental that induces a kind of shimmering nostalgia that'll set the mood for the tracks ahead.
Bluebottle Kiss - Father's Hands
Jamie Hutchings
offers a semi-autobiographical tune about seeking out his family's history. It's road-weary and intelligent but also offering a kind of naive innocence in its imagery and narration. The kind of song every artist wish they'd written about their own dad. Well, unless you're Yussef Islam...

Cat Stevens - Father and Son
Forget all the bad cover versions and cut straight to the classic original, with its timeless lyrics and Stevens' cracking voice that renders the emotion so palpable. It offers a darker side to father-son relationships but in doing so provides a slice of tangible realism in which the emotion is powerfully visceral.
George Michael - Father Figure Though it's artificial production air and backing gospel choir screams early nineties, this is still an intriguing ballad. It not only showcases Michael's still-impressive breathy timbre but also mixes an ambiguous sexual element with its yearning romanticism. In any case, it also serves to remind us that fathers and hereoes don't have to be biological.

Paul Simon - Father And Daughter
Taken from his 2006 "comeback" album Surprise, this track originally appeared in, of all things, The Wild Thornberrys Movie. Nevertheless, it doesn't play it so much cute, as breezily honest, Simon's love for his child beautifully captured in the simple efficiency of the chorus:
"As long as one and one is two/There could never be a father/
Who loved his daughter more than I love you."
Loudon Wainwright III - Daughter
Another song with a movie connection, playing over the credits of Judd Apatow's dramedy
Knocked Up, a cover that betters Peter Blagved's original. It's an interesting choice for Wainwright too, considering the strained relationship he has with his own kin, Martha Wainwright, who obviously didn't return the favour when she wrote Bloody Motherfucking Asshole.
Radiohead - Sail To The Moon
One of the group's most beautiful moments from a catalgoue that has no shortage of them. Written as a lullaby for his son Noah, Yorke croons and sways his way through an aching melody and ethereal backing, ruminating on the future of his child "maybe you'll/be president/but know/right from wrong/or in the flood/you'll build an ark/and sail us to the moon." Sumptous without being sentimental, it's actually one of Radiohead's most deceptively direct songs.

Neil Finn & Liam Finn -
Two Of Us
The son of the Crowded House/Split Enz/solo star is not only a spitting image of his dad (be it with a great grizzly beard), but he also followed in his father's musical footsteps. Here they cover The Beatles for the I Am Sam soundtrack (mmm detecting a theme yet?), there's something beautiful about hearing the nearly indistinguishable voices of the Finns singing in harmony about the simple pleasures of life. One of the rare instances of a father and son musical duo captured in a recording.

Keith Urban - Song For Dad
Forget George Michael, here's the cheesiest song on the list. A shamelessly schmaltzy ode from the country superstar better known as Mr. Nicole Kidman, to his old man. Despite the cringe factor, if you pay attention there's quite a lot to endear to; such as the images of jangling car keys, wrapping of fingers on table tops and Urban's realisation that he's become the image of his father even despite his stoic upbringing. It's not quite Father and Son but it can't be so easily dismissed either.

Ugly Kid Joe - Cat's In The Cradle
A fleeting one-hit wonder band best remembered for
their snotty band character and this, their take on a 1974 Harry Chapin number. Interestingly, the original lyrics were actually from a poem written by Chapin's wife of the time. Still, it was Ugly Kid Joe who gave the song a resurgence into pop culture, later referenced in the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy, Scrubs and even Shrek. Everclear - Father Of Mine
's strength always lay in bolstering their cartoon-rock with Art Alexakis' unique world-view of confusion, anxiety and personal experiences. Father of Mine is perhaps then the band's watershed moment. In brutally honest lyrics, Alexakis turns his semi-confession of anger and bitterness into a resolve to better his own role in fatherhood to his little girl. Equally rocking and meaningful.

Glasvegas - Daddy's Gone
Another song about a dad who up and ran out on the family, and the resulting repercussions. The little boy longing in this case is James Allan, whose Scottish brogue - broad as the English channel - renders the song with a highly personal touch. It's a symptom in Glasvegas' overall pattern of tear-jerking fuzz-rock, but no less powerful for it.

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill
Aparrantley written by Gabriel after a spiritual experience he had atop the titular hill after qutting as the frontman and chief songwriter of Genesis. Nevertheless, there's a fatherly vibe thanks to the jaunty off-kilter acoustic pattern (in 7/4 for you music buffs) and key line of "son, he said/grab your things i'm going to take you home".
Wilco - On and On and On
Changing pace from previous songs in the list about fathers writing about their children, here's a song written by a child to their father. Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy wrote the closing statement to 2007's Sky Blue Sky as a comforting hymn to his grieving father after his wife passed away. The bittersweet mood is reflected by the circling dissonance, the resulting effect is a song that, ostensibly is about death, but manages to be forthright and uplifting without pandering to sentimentality.

U2 - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
A slow-burning ballad written by Bono for, and about, his father. Even though it was written four years after his passing in 2001, Paul Hewson as he was known to his papa, is obviously still smarting - and learning - from his loss. Rather than a grieving, funereal tune however, U2 turn in a wonderfully understated performance that balances Edge's guitar echoes with the slow-chug of the rhythm section. Rising to a chorus that acts as a perfect bed for the call and response falsetto of the chorus "and it's you when I look in the mirror/and it's you when I don't pick up the phone/sometimes you can't make it on your own."

Super Furry Animals - Father Father #2
Bringing the mix to a close is the second half of SFA's Father Father instrumental
, bringing everything full cirlce - much like the relationship between a father and son. Awwww.


Perry Como - Papa Loves Mambo Though it doesn't quite fit in the tracklisting, I just had to include this swingin' ditty from the '50s.

Happy Father's Day for Sunday to all the Papas out there

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