50 Songs! 50 Years! 

"I know it's over - still I cling 
I don't know where else I can go 

I can't believe this is over. Maybe I'll start my 100 songs for when I turn 100. Wait, how will that even work? Will I still have an email list? I guess we shall have to wait and see... Actually, forget it. This was challenging enough for one lifetime.

For now, let's just focus on wrapping this up by thanking two people that have really helped me make this happen. Christina Wenger, my love, thank you for editing every single blog post. She will tell you that I don't lack courage, just the comma. Hey, I should have recorded "Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon." Seriously, thank you Christina,, you bad ass editor.

Hey, how 'bout some bad ass mastering... Let me allow you to put a face to a few faders. Warren Gardiner is a great mate of mine from Melbourne, AUS. He recorded a song for Super XX Man ages ago and was just a joy to work with. When I started blog-posting my songs a few years ago, he offered to master everything for me. He is incredibly generous and good at what he does. I'm proud of all this work we have done together. He also mastered this album, which I'm very proud of too. If you or anyone you know is in need of mixing and mastering services, you can email him at gardineraudio@gmail.com.

If you have been following along from the beginning, then you know these songs are not available anywhere else. In case you missed one, you can get them all here. I ended up with a few extras and they are included in this compilation as bonus material. They are, "Ring of Fire," "The River," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Nowhere Man." 

I made a Spotify playlist called "At 50."  It was useful for me and helped me make many tough decisions. It's a fun listen for sure. There are many, many, many more songs that I would have loved to attempt. The playlist grew to be 214 songs in total.

By the way, this post has not been edited or mastered or very well thought out so if it sounds funny or reads all wrong, please forgive me. My experts have been dismissed. You my friends have not. You deserve my heartfelt thanks as well so here it is: BIG HEARTFELT THANKS!!! I love you all and appreciate you.

So, is it over?

"...I don't know where else I can go  
Over and over and over and over  
Over and over..."

Yes, it is over indeed, but I would love it if you shared this collection with your friends and family. I would also love to hear from you. What did you think of this project? Any favorite songs? Any artists you've never heard of before? Let me know...



Lyrics at the start and end of this post are from the Smith's classic, "I Know It's Over" 


Song 50: "A Million Years Or So"  

I give you cover song number fifty. It's been a journey, everybody. Thanks for being with me. My birthday is next week and I'm hoping to look as happy as my dad does in this polaroid from 1986.

My dad and Roger Miller were both born on January 2, 1936. My dad passed away in 2008. Before he left this earth, he introduced me to a lot of great music, including Roger Miller. The first Roger Miller record I ever heard was Walking In the Sunshine, which featured "A Million Years Or So." I believe it was a pre-loved copy from my parents' collection. This last one's for you dad! I will miss you in a million years or so...

Song 49: "Powerful Man"  

At family week with my mom at WSU (photo: Wendy Trigsted)

During my last semester at WSU, the station manager at KZUU was going through CDs to be added to rotation and cataloged. I asked, "What about this one?" She said, "Oh not that one." It was East River Pipe's 1995 release, Poor Fricky. I took it home and immediately embraced the drum machine, synths, and guitar work of F.M. Cornog, the mastermind behind East River Pipe. I was intrigued for sure. The lyrics, melodies, complete album quality of tracks -- done by one person on a Tascam 388 Portastudio.

When I was living in Austin, I sent Mr. Cornog my first two Super XX Man cassettes, one of which had a cover of an E.R.P song. He wrote back, clear that he had listened. I was thrilled. I no longer have the letter, but I do remember his last line before signing off: "Keep on walking and I will too."


Song 48: "Stockholm Syndrome"  

Here in my house there's a saying, "You can listen to anything you want as long as it's Yo La Tengo." Just kidding it's actually, "If there can be only one band in this world, please let it be Yo La Tengo." At least get them to play at my 50th!

I learned about them while DJing at WSU's KZUU in the spring of 1992. At the time, their latest album was Painful, but the station only had New Wave Hotdogs and Ride the Tiger, both which were wildly different than Painful. I was thinking, What? Who is this band? It can't be the same band! But of course it was Yo La Tengo, a band that can be any damn thing it wants to be.

"Stockholm Syndrome" is from their brilliant 1997 album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One.

Song 46: "Mother of God"  

Hendy Woods (Oct. 2022) - photo by Christina Wenger

Patty Griffin is a Texas-based songwriter whose music brought me much comfort while learning to be a music therapist between 2002 - 2004. It was an uncertain time for me, and listening to her beautiful voice was a huge hug. I had a little Nissan pickup truck with a cassette deck. I rattled down the road, unsure of the destination and eventually found my way to a beautiful place. I wouldn't trade a single bump.

Song 45: "Here"  

"Here" is where the magic happens

Pavement's album, Slanted and Enchanted, defined the summer of 1993 for me. I was living in my first apartment, attending classes at Washington State University, playing hacky sack (don't ask), and moving away from skateboarding in favor of music as a full-time obsession. A cassette tape of this album lived in my Walkman full time. The melodies, the abrasive sounds, and those classic Stephen Malkmus lyrics entertained my brain as I walked to and from my photography classes. My professor asked me what I was listening to one day. He put my headphones on and said to me, "Oh this reminds me of the Velvet Underground." 

Song 44: "Two Hands"  

I fell in love with the band Big Thief. They snuck up on me and it took a while, but I eventually got there. They create textures with their music and I can almost reach out and feel how rough it is at the edges. They don't labor over the productions. What they do labor over is camaraderie, because I can feel it as it works its way into every song. I especially like this song, "Two Hands." I hear a great vocal delivering an interesting lyric with pulsing rhythm, clicking sticks, random snare shots, and fuzzy guitars. The bass knows exactly when to ask for a group hug. They are friends who trust each other. This I can hear.   

Song 43: "Wichita Lineman"  

Jimmy Webb wrote "Wichita Lineman" in 1968. Glen Campbell recorded it in the same year, and released it on his album of the same name (pictured above). 

I can't help but think about the brilliant film, released in 2014, I'll Be Me, which documented Glen Campbell's 2011 "Goodbye Tour." The tour was meant to be brief. Instead, it lasted a year and a half. This is remarkable because he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease just prior to beginning the tour. The film documents it all. It's amazing, courageous, and very entertaining. 

Song 42: "Prove My Love"  

"Prove My Love" is just one classic song from an entire album of classic songs - the debut self-titled album by Violent Femmes, released in 1982. I was in Lewiston, ID the first time I heard it, sitting on the flat bottom of Chris Gage's unfinished halfpipe. I had no idea a commercial album could say the things this one did. This small-town kid was a little shocked, but also smiling.

My original plan was to record "Good Feeling" as a piano ballad. Then one day, while strumming the ukulele, I stumbled upon "Prove My Love." I set up a few microphones in the stairwell and tried to get a quick recording of it. I was nearing the end when I heard the garage door open and knew it would be a race to finish it before my wife walked into the stairwell with groceries from the farmer's market. As you can hear in this take, I didn't make it. Christina walked in and waited for me to finish. We improvised and decided upon playback that it was too silly and precious not to use as is.