"Baby, Now That I've Found You" by Alison Krauss and Union Station, 2002

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I should say right up front that the more famous version of this song, by the Foundations in 1967, is way better. It's WAY better. I just learned this moment by reading a little of the band's entry on Wikipedia that the Foundations were not an American soul group, as I always assumed. In fact they formed in London. Somehow they managed to craft this perfect little pop-soul tune that to me has always sounded like a bridge between the doo-wop vocal groups of the previous decade and the rousing horn-blast soul to come. So yeah. I've always loved this song. On its own, though, it wouldn't make my Top 100. It took a pop bluegrass group and a toddler on my lap for that to happen.

When my son was about two, I used to sit down with him at the computer and bring up the songs I thought his toddler ears might especially enjoy, typically ones I liked a lot as a small child. (Not that I remember toddlerhood. But I do remember being four, five, et cetera, and I remember the songs I especially enjoyed. Most of them were from the 1950s and 1960s.) One song I tried out was "Baby, Now That I've Found You."

Upon clicking once on a link, though, I found myself watching the Alison Krauss version. I watched it once with Sam, mainly because he seemed a little interested, and then found the Foundations version. He didn't care at all for that one, but over the next few months, whenever he caught me sitting at the laptop, would say, "Baby song. Listen baby song."

I'm pretty slow, but I did figure out that "baby song" meant this song, and for about a year it was the boy's favorite and the one we'd listen to together most often. I think my son prefers Krauss's soothing and slow arrangement, making the song actually sound like a song sung to a baby, rather than to a lover.

"Ann Jane" by the Jayhawks, 1995

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm not the biggest Jayhawks fan ever. I got very into the alt-country/No Depression sound right after college, though, particularly via Wilco's A.M. and Son Volt and those bands' respective leaders' shared history in Uncle Tupelo. Of the Jayhawks, I only knew "Blue," so I bought Tomorrow the Green Grass, and I liked it a lot. But it was not an everyday listen, and lots of the deeper cuts didn't leap out at me as fantastic right away. It took years. It took nearly two decades now for "Ann Jane" to present itself as my favorite track on the LP. This is odd to Jayhawks fans, who apparently regard the second half of Tomorrow the Green Grass as something of a throwaway. Apparently.

It's something of a dirge, with a persistent hi-hat that gives the song a marching feel, as if accompanying a funeral. I don't know exactly what the song is about, if I'm honest, but it feels to me like a big brother doing a shitty but touching job of comforting his little sister, though their father is dead or dying. If I'm wrong, I don't want to know. (I have a suspicion that the narrator here could be a man of God, or God Himself. I don't know. Like I said, don't wanna.)

I can't find a video for this track on YouTube, so here's a link to the MySpace version. You might have to watch a little ad first.

GUY IN REAL LIFE cover reveal

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We'll take a short break from my Top-100 Songs posts (sorry those are taking so long, by the way; I had several deadlines this summer, and I had to make those my priority) to focus on my writing for a change.

If you follow my Twitter or like my Facebook, or if you keep up with the Epic Reads blog, you probably saw this already: the cover for GUY IN REAL LIFE (May, 2014 from Balzer+Bray) has been unveiled. If you missed it at any of those places, or if you just loved it so much and want to see it again, here it is!

First, the description from Epic Reads:

Lesh and Svetlana, two teens from St. Paul, Minnesota, are adrift in a sea of social coterie, desperate for something to change. When they crash into one another in a drunken bicycle accident at two am, they don’t yet know how close they are to finding it. For now, Svetlana is simply looking for a fifth member to legitimize the Central High School Gaming Club, and Lesh is looking to escape his being grounded for said drunkenness by entering, reluctantly, the world of online role playing games.

Lesh’s gaming life takes an interesting turn as, unable to figure out how to speak to Svetlana, he “becomes” her in-game. When real life and in-game life inevitably become entwined, Lesh and Svetlana both start to realize that the lines they draw to keep their lives in order are not so easy to maintain. Especially when you no longer understand why you drew them in the first place.

I love it to pieces. I hope you do too.

Coming up next, "Ann Jane" by the Jayhawks. . . .