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Fred FM playlist: 14 November 2010 “NaNoWriMo”

November 14th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Today, as I write this, is Monday, the 8th of November, and I am plowing my way toward a 50,000 word count in the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I traditionally find that I write best when I can lose myself in it, which means no music.  I love music, but it is completely distracting to me, even if it is something I am familiar with.  Especially if it is something I am familiar with.  So for most of the past week, I’ve been scribing in silence, but it started to get to me – the silence began diverting my attention.  I decided to reverse-psychologize the situation and play some music. I led off with some Beethoven piano sonatas, but couldn’t stop following the music in my head and soon I was humming along. Then I went the route that least resembled the one before it: I put on Boston‘s first album.  Suddenly, I was back on my high school campus, running for class vice-president and failing as badly at this writing project as I did as a candidate.  So I stepped back into silence, which made my garage office the writer’s garret that it’s supposed to be, but I quickly got fidgety.

The character I am working with at the moment is a red-headed Scottish newlywed who shares a small apartment with her mother and very young brother, waiting out the end of World War II and the return of her American G.I. husband who is stationed on the European mainland.  In an effort to maintain geographic consistency, I put on the English folk-rock group Fairport Convention and the disc played all the way through without incident.  Then I tried some June Tabor, then a Tom Rush album.  I realized that what was working for me in this phase of the project was British Isles-based folk music.  So I kept it going, one modern troubadour after another, and the inspiration started coming back, though slowly.

That’s the story, really.  How a handful of musical artists in one niche genre helped me get through a hump in my quixotic writing project.  Best part: I was able to squeeze a playlist out of it.

Approximate playing time: 76 minutes.

  1. June Tabor  “Apples and Potatoes”  (1994)
  2. Peter Yarrow  “Take Off Your Mask”  (1972)
  3. Eddi Reader  “Please Don’t Ask Me to Dance”  (1999)
  4. Fairport Convention  “Fotheringay”  (1969)
  5. Sandy Denny  “It Suits Me Well”  (1972)
  6. The Roches  “Hammond Song”  (1979)
  7. Lucinda Williams  “Lately”  (2002)
  8. Leonard Cohen  “Love Calls You By Your Name”  (1971)
  9. Greg Brown  “Brand New ’64 Dodge”  (1994)
  10. The Swell Season  “In These Arms”  (2009)
  11. Robinella & the CC Stringband  “Man Over”  (2003)
  12. Gillian Welch  “Caleb Meyer”  (1998)
  13. Buffy Sainte-Marie  “Guess Who I Saw in Paris”  (1970)
  14. Tom Rush  “No Regrets”  (1968)
  15. Archie Roach  “Beautiful Child”  (1990)
  16. Joan Baez  “When Time Is Stolen”  (1971)
  17. John Gorka  “Blue Chalk”  (1996)
  18. Judy Collins  “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”  (1968)
  19. June Tabor  “The Irish Girl”  (1994)

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Some notes on the songs:

  • Freshman year in college, I took a class called Folklore & Mythology, taught by Professor Albert Lord, a very respected scholar of balladry and a kind gentleman, to boot.  Two of our sessions were guest lecture “demonstrations,” concerts of folk music performed by Jean Redpath and Tom Rush.  I don’t remember what Tom played, but “No Regrets” is one of my favorite songs of his.
  • The Lucinda Williams recording of “Lately” is a cover of a Greg Brown-penned song.  Sandy Denny wrote “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” which is sung here by Judy Collins.  Both Brown and Denny have recordings in this playlist, too.  The folk community is artistically incestuous, so these things are bound to happen.
  • Archie Roach is an indigenous Australian singer-songwriter.  He is a member of the “Stolen Generations,” referring to the aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their homes by the Australian government up through the late 1960s. A great percentage of his songs deal with this tragic period of Australian social history, and “Beautiful Child” – though it deceptively begins as an ode to familial love – is no exception.
  • Oddly, there are no songs on this playlist dating from anywhere in the decade of the 1980s.  What do you think of when you think of ’80s music? I bet it’s not a folk tune.

Tags: Fred FM · music

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David Pinto // Nov 14, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    The ’80s? I think electronics. In cars. Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Obsession. Blinded Me with Science. Don’t You Want Me, Baby? Take on Me.

    That and big hair, and Bonnie Tyler.

  • 2 Blair Cox // Nov 14, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    I think of the ’80’s as a decade dominated by pop/rock icons, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Boss and Prince. The albums released in the ’80’s that I still listen to with any regularity include:
    Paul Simon-Graceland
    Robert Cray-Strong Persuader
    Sting-Dream of the Blue Turtles
    Linda Ronstadt-Cry Like A Rainstorm
    U2-The Joshua Tree
    Rosanne Cash-Seven Year Ache
    Bruce Springsteen-Born in the USA
    John Cougar/John Cougar Mellencamp-American Fool, Uh-Huh, Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubilee

  • 3 Sam // Nov 14, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    Great list! Huge fan of Sandy Denny and June Tabor, nice to know I’m not the only one.

  • 4 David Pinto // Nov 15, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    I forgot to mention that the other day, I was telling my wife about Hum 9. We were watching House Hunters International, and a family from Slovenia was looking for a house in Croatia. Naturally, The Singer of Tales came up.

  • 5 Carolyn // Nov 17, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    I think I took Hum 9 the same time you did–captivating stuff. Bumped into Emily Culpepper, my TA, a few weeks back.

    I started getting into the folk stuff in the eighties, so my first imprints of Greg Brown, Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler et al must date from then; the Shawn Colvin on her Live ’88 album took me back to what I heard her play opening for GB at Passim–can I sound any more geezer? So yeah, the eighties are meaningful, but I guess I’m not stuck there.

    I like writing to music with no verbal track (and I’m supposed to be writing now, but here I am…sigh.) Sometimes that’s Butch Thompson or Bill Bolcom, sometimes Brahms intermezzi or Bach partitas.

  • 6 spitballarmy // Nov 17, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Carolyn~ It would be another layer of coincidence if we were in the same section, because the name Emily Culpepper sounds really familiar to me. I guess it is even possible that you, David and I all were in that same section. David, do you remember? Somewhere I have my notes. I hated The Tain; dug Sir Gawain.

    I agree about non-vocal music while writing, but even that can be distracting to me. It’s usually Beethoven on the piano or early music (with dominant cello or gamba) that works the best. But silence really does the trick.

    I do miss Passim. I hope you go there still from time to time. And Patty Larkin can do no wrong in my eyes.

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