The “I’m listening to…” project update and Friday Top Ten
A few weeks back I started a collaborative Spotify playlist that I dubbed the I’m listening to project and invited everyone to either make their own contributions or to send me songs or suggestions about what to add. The idea was to make an evolving and diverse playlist of music both old and new that represented divergent tastes and preferences that would push anyone who listened out of their comfort zone and introduce them to some great music they may not otherwise have heard.
To date the playlist has had 12 contributors and has grown to 89 tracks, with everything from The Melvins to The Beastie Boys to (gulp), Florida Georgia Line – ok, I’ll admit, that one tested my commitment to diversity and open source playlist, but it’s all good!
Anyway, I plan on keeping the playlist open and using it as my new music (or sometimes, old music rediscovered) repository, and I invite you to do the same. Those of you who have already contributed, keep adding or sending me your ideas. If you haven’t yet, feel free to join us. If you’re a Spotify user and want to contribute directly, simply follow the playlist and then you are free to add songs at will. Don’t worry about if you think I will or won’t like something (you’d be surprised), I’m just looking for the songs that YOU are listening to while dancing/falling asleep/exercising/causing shenanigans.
I’m starting a new weekly tradition, due to popular demand (and by popular demand I mean I felt like doing it and think it’s fun), the Friday Top 10, where I pick an artist, theme, era or any tenuous thread I can think of as an excuse to make a playlist. Paying homage to the blog namesake today and giving you my Top 10 REM tracks, counting down in reverse order. Narrowing this to just 10 is the hardest task I can set myself, so I’m setting the bar high. (SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY): Nothing from Around the makes this list.
Wendell Gee – Fables of the Deconstruction: I’m likely the only person alive who has this one in their Top 10 REM songs, but I love it unabashedly and wholeheartedly. A wonderfully weird piece of Gothic Southern poetry with a wicked little banjo solo to cap it all off. (ugh, ending a sentence with a preposition – the Furman English department just felt a collective chill run down their spines).
Letter Never Sent – Live at the Olympia: More than just about any other song, this one highlights Mike Mills invaluable contributions to the band with the cool walking baseline and some pretty transcendent backing vocals that lift off at the 1:13 mark. Originally on Reckoning, I’m a big fan of this version on the Live at the Olympia record.
Sitting Still – Murmur: Epitomizes everything great about Murmur and early REM: the “lead” bass, arpeggio guitar, and vocals blending into the mix.
E-Bow the Letter – New Adventures in Hi-Fi: Favorite track from favorite REM album. Plus, Patty Freaking Smith.
Begin the Begin – Life’s Rich Pageant: Defy you listen to this and not move.
Find the River – Automatic for the People: Michael’s crowning lyrical achievement. Likely the only pop song ever to name check coriander stem.
So. Central Rain – Reckoning: Even my mom recognizes the “I’m Sorry” song. My favorite Bill Berry drumming in this one.
Radio Free Europe: I’ll take the original single version you find on Eponymous every day of the week, though the one that made it Murmur is pretty awesome in it’s own right.
You Are the Everything – Green: The imagery in this song still makes the hair on my arms stand up every time I hear it. Best played late at night when you are straddling the borderline between sleep and consciousness.
Shaking Through – Murmur: My favorite song the first time I heard it 30 (!) years ago and time hasn’t changed a thing. Listen to the remastered anniversary edition to get the full richness of the piano and backing vocals.
Whew. That was exhausting. Apologies to the 30 or amazing songs that I considered and had to leave off the list. That final list of available on Spotify for your listening pleasure.
Now, a challenge for you. Give me a topic, artist, etc and I’ll do my best to make a Top 10 playlist for it and feature in a Friday Top 10. The more obscure the better. The only one I outright refuse to do is Top 10 songs by artists with $ in their name though, so be warned.