Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ballads, anyone?

I'd love to make a mix cd (or a mix tape - my mutant 1999 Ford Escort does not have - nor can it be altered to hold - a cd player) of good ballads for long car trips. And by "ballad" I really do mean good songs that tell a story, not long, drawn out sappy crap described as ballads by pop radio.

So far I have:

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
The City of New Orleans (Arlo Guthrie's cover of the Steve Goodman song)

Not a long list yet, but I'm working on it. Any suggestions? I have no idea when I'm next taking a long car trip (that would require moolah and a destination), but, ever the Girl Scout, I like to be prepared. Oh, wait. Damn. That's the Boy Scouts, isn't it? Well, same idea.

Whenever I think of a Warren Zevon song - even one as demented as "Roland" - I get a little bummed out. He came to DC a number of times in the decade before his death, and I foolishly never went to see him. Going to movies alone is one thing - got no problem with that. Going to clubs to hear music alone - it seems a little sad to me. I should have gotten over it and gone to see him. After he died, I found myself listening to "A Quiet Normal Life" quite a bit, and I'd get choked up listening to one of my fave songs, "Johnny Strikes Up The Band."

Enjoy every sandwich.

He was a hell of a songwriter and a storyteller. Before I knew anything about Zevon's family background, I said to somebody that he reminded me of the Russian balladeers. Russia has a pretty amazing, centuries-old tradition of ballady. It all goes back to the real-deal medieval balladeers who traveled and told stories to share news of victories and defeats to people who would never otherwise know what was going down in distant cities. Then, shortly before Zevon died, I read that he was the Chicago-born son of Russian immigrants, and it all fell into place for me. The art of the balladeer, the gift of the troubadour, was in his DNA.


Okay. I look to y'all for suggestions. I'm looking for great songs that tell a story. Let me know what you'd put in this mix.

Muchas gracias, amoebas!


suze said...

how happy am i that the first ballad on your list is a good 'ol canadian classic that we were forced to study in grade 9 english. whoot!

i would recommend a ballad by another canadian - Loreena McKennitt's setting of the Lady of Shallot is gorgeous! (and her christmas music is fantastic!)

Merujo said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I got to hear Gordon Lightfoot perform live back in high school. Local high school theater students in my home town had the chance to usher for shows and concerts at the local fancy-schmansy theater (where Cary Grant suffered his fatal heart attack.) I volunteered to usher for the Lightfoot show, and I was so excited to hear Lightfoot sing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", I had huge goosebumps all night.

Merujo said...

I am sadly Podless, my friend. A tragic situation, no doubt. I am Phishless, so I will take your recommendation and go forth and seek on


Merujo said...

Oooh, I didn't realize the date. How weird. Now, I need to go listen to the song.

I've been considering which TMDR song to add to the mix. Actually, I guess I could do "Europa and the Pirate Twins" followed by "Eastern Bloc" and consider it one whole story. :-)

author said...

Since you mention Russia and all, I guess there's no need to remind you of a certain Vysotski?