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.

Song 41: "René and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War"  

"René and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War" was originally released in 1983 on Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones album. I first heard the song in 1988, when the compilation Negotiations and Love Songs was released. It was one of my first CDs and one I couldn't stop listening to. My conscience must have been telling me, "You may think you love new wave and punk rock but this is what you really love so embrace the facts Jack, get off the bus Gus, and make a new plan Stan."

I love Simon and Garfunkel. I like his solo albums too. But for me, it's Negotiations and Love Songs that make him one of the greatest songwriters of our time. This collection of songs brings me a lot of comfort. 

My recording features Mike Johnson on piano. 

Song 40: "From St. Kilda to Kings Cross"  

I lived in Australia from 2011 - 2015. One day, my neighbor brought me a couple CDs to listen to. One was by The Go-Betweens and the other was by Paul Kelly, a much celebrated songwriter in the country. I devoured his third album, Post, released in 1985. It is stellar. "From St. Kilda to Kings Cross" is the opening track, and what I love most about it is the sparse arrangement of guitars and vocal. This simple structure allows Kelly's voice to tell a story. I went the simple route as well, recording it using just my iPhone.