Chris’s iPod

I think I started this feature some time ago and never really followed up on it. So, without further ado I shall begin with what my friend Joe terms: my musical imperialism!

Matthew Barber

I first heard Matthew Barber on CBC’s On the Coast. Stephen Quinn played ‘I miss you when you’re gone’ and I was hooked. I am not quite sure how to describe Barber. I hear some Dustin Bentall reflected in his music along with that strong Canadian singer-songwriter tradition. Some of his songs are a little alt-country for me. My favourite songs on his self-titled album released this year are ‘Man in a Movie’ and ‘Lexi.’ ‘Man in a Movie’ has excellent, resonating lyrics that I fell in love with the first time I heard it. ‘Lexi’ is a musical triumph. Barber uses guitar and piano to build layers into the song that work really well. I recommend Barber to anyone who loves Canadian singer-songwriter, roots music. You won’t be disappointed.

Natalie Merchant

I love Natalie Merchant’s voice. I have listened to her over the years and just recently added her back into my main playlist. I really enjoy her live stuff like ‘Dust Bowl’ and her cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity.’ I remember first hearing Natalie Merchant when she sang lead vocals for the 10,000 Maniacs. There is a quality to her voice that gives anything she sings a great edge.


What is there to say about Adele? She is absolutely phenomenal. I have never heard an artist with a voice like hers. She also knows how to use it like an instrument. Her new album ‘21’ is great. Her songwriting is very mature for her age. I just hope she doesn’t continue to name her albums based on age!

Chris’ iPod

As promised here is my post on my latest iPod playlist. I now have my new stereo installed in my car which allows me to listen to my iPod directly rather than through an FM transmitter cord. With the addition of the CBC at 88.1 last year, the numbers of stations on the dial was reduced for iPods. It was becoming increasingly difficult finding a station that was not full of static or commercial stations bleeding through.

I have not figured out an easy way to create this graphic. I thought Fireworks would work but it didn’t work as I thought it would. I ended up doing it in PowerPoint. If anyone has any ideas for good graphic editing software please let me know. Anyway, the graphic is small but you can make it bigger.

My iPod Playlist

As you can see, I have very diverse tastes in music. This playlist is typical of what I listen to on a regular basis. Certain artists stand out for me. I highly recommend Richard Shindell if you like folk music. He is a brilliant songwriter and an accomplished guitarist. Lucy Kaplansky sings back up on most of Shindell’s albums. She is a solo artist as well but I like her better when she is singing backup for Richard.

Tori Amos is another artist I love. I first heard her in graduate school and her “Little Earthquakes” and “Under the Pink” album got me through. I have continued to listen to her music since. I usually only like a couple of songs on her albums. At times her music is brilliant.

I absolutely love Sinead O’Connor. I think her music is amazing. Her reggae album “Throw Down Your Arms” demonstrates her ability to cross genres. The other song on this playlist “Whomsoever Dwells” on her “Theology” album is an example of her relationship with her religious beliefs. The whole CD is religious songs done in different sessions.

I am also really liking the Glee songs. My currents favourites are “Don’t Stand so Close to Me”/”Young Girl” mashup and “You’re Having my Baby.” I love what this show is doing for music – introducing some classic pop music to a new generation.

Music has always been an important part of my life. I can remember the role of music in my life from a young child. It didn’t matter what it was as long as it had lyrics and I could sing along. In my teens music was what got me through. Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp and Queen spoke to me. When I was a teenager I thought I would eventually tire of listening to loud music by the time I was 40. I was wrong. I still listen to music loud, especially in my car. Music keeps me sane and gives me focus. I am able to channel negative energy into singing at the top of the lungs and I feel so much better after I am done. I am so pleased that now I can listen to music in my car again!

Chris’ iPod: Emmylou Harris

What can I say, I have been listening to Emmylou Harris al ot recently. There is something about her voice that just touches my soul. Her voice is full of character and soars beautifully. One of my favourite albums is Red Dirt Girl. There are many great cuts on this disc. One song, “My Antonia,” he sings this song with Dave Matthews and it is out of this world. Their voices work so well together. Emmylou covers a lot of other people’s songs. There is one called Blackhawk that was written by Daniel Lanois. It is quintessentially Canadian referencing the Dofasco steel plant and a book store on ‘St. Clair.’ It is on the Wrecking Ball album, another song written by a Canadian: Neil Young. Other stand outs on this album are “Sweet Old World” which she sings with Neil Young and “Waltz Across Texas Tonight.”

Most people know Emmylou Harris as a country singer. Wrecking Ball marked a shift in the kind of music she made. While it still has that country twang here and there it is by far more eclectic. In 2006 she teamed up with Mark Knopfler and they released “All the Roadrunning.” This album has some great tracks as well. “If this is Goodbye.” is an absolute gem. I also love “This is Us” which is a lovely song about the course of a relationship and how things change. I think this album contributed to the later collaboration of Allison Krauss and Robert Plant. Their album “Raising Sand” seems to be in the same vein: two veteran musicians from very diverse musical genres collaboration to produce something completely different. In my opinion, the Emmylou/Mark collaboration is stronger.

I think what really appeals to me about Emmylou Harris is her unique phrasing. Her style is quite different from mainstream music. She has a bit of an edge to her voice that really appeals to me. I am not really a fan of the ‘perfect voice’ like Celine Dion for example. So, if you are looking for something different I suggest starting with “Wrecking Ball” or “Red Dirt Girl.” You won’t be disappointed.

Chris’ iPod

So those who know me well know that I love music. Those who know me even better know that I can be a musical imperialist. In short, I try to get other people to like my music. Anyone who has ever roadtripped with me can attest to this aspect of my personality. I have been known to inquire several times if my captive is ‘enjoying’ my music. I am not into reciprocity either when it comes to listening to other peoples’ music, I will do it but it is not my favourite thing.

So, I thought – I have a blog and what better place to pontificate about the music I like and why. Chris’ iPod will be  a semi-regular feature of my blog. I will write about what is currently inspiring me musically. It may be new music, it may be old but it will all mean something to me.

Currently, I am discovering tracks on REM‘s new cd Accelerate. Overall, this is not my favourite REM cd. I think REM is at their best when they are doing quieter songs that showcase Michael Stipe’s voice and the outstanding lyrics REM produces. I find Accelerate is too hard-hitting for me. Hollow Man and Until the Day is Done are the standouts on this recording.

Hands down my favourite disc is Automatic for the People. Political songs like Ignoreland got me through the Regan and first Bush years. I love that song. There are so many great lines. I also adored Find the River and Nightswimming. My other seriously favourite REM cd is Up. I never get tired of listening to it from start to finish. In my opinion it is one of their best discs.

Here are the lyrics to Until the Day is Done by REM:

the battle’s been lost, the war is not won.

an addled republic, a bitter refund.

the business first flat earthers

licking their wounds

the verdict is dire, the country’s in ruins.

providence blinked, facing the son

and where are we left, to carry on

until the day is done

until the day is done

so we’ve written our stories to entertain

these notions of glory and bull market gain.

the teleprompt flutters, a power surge brings

an easyspeak message falls into routine

providence blinked, facing the son

and where are we left, to carry on

until the day is done

until the day is done

a voice whispers, “son.”

the blessed vision comes.

what have i done? what have i done?

so hold tight your babies and your guns.

forgive us our trespasses. father and son

providence blinked, facing the son

and where are we left, to carry on

until the day is done

until the day is done