Some notes about a Christmas music Mix.

December 15, 2020 at 7:01 pm (Uncategorized)

At Christmas, some kids write letters to Santa. This (aging quickly) kid writes letters to a music mix. There’s that whole missing year thing, too. To start off with, you didn’t miss any 2019 holiday music mix from me…I didn’t make one. Or should say, I didn’t finish one. I got about 2/3rds of the way done, realized that for various reasons it felt…not right….to do a mix last year. And so I didn’t.

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Headfirst Into Christmas (Holiday Music Mix, 2020)

December 15, 2020 at 10:17 am (Music Mixes)

On the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving this year, I was out taking a long walk through the neighborhood, enjoying the unseasonably warm 60-degree temperatures (and trying not to think too much about the implications of that happening more and more in Novembers of late.) A couple of houses in my neighborhood already had full Christmas lights and yard displays up and running. While most houses on our street will have some sort of decorations up at some point, this was notable for the way it sort of stuck out. Really? Christmas lights? This early?

And the more I thought about it, the more I thought “Yeah. Hell yeah. This early. I’m all in.”

2020 has been one hell of a year, kind of literally. By the time this post goes live, it’s likely 300,000 Americans will have died from the pandemic. 300,000 people many of whom maybe celebrated Christmas a year ago and thought in terms of “Next Christmas” who never got here because of a brutal disease. And that doesn’t count the millions hospitalized, the families affected, or the trauma of healthcare workers who’ve been had to work through exhaustion for months. It also doesn’t include folks who saw their businesses or careers collapse due to the knock on effects of Covid. And then you add to that the current political climate in this country, and there’s an almost palpable sense of fear, anger, grief, and just general anxiety floating in the air.

So yeah. It’s been a brutal year. And yet, there are folks putting up Christmas lights all over. And making music. And figuring out ways to celebrate even so. You could forgive folks for reining it in this year, and I know that many are. We’re going to celebrate the holidays differently in 2020, through Zoom calls and virtual hugs and with facemasks making up the a big part of the gay apparel we don, and a vague antiseptic whiff of hand sanitizer hanging in the air instead of mistletoe.

But lots of us are going to figure out a way to celebrate the season regardless, whether it’s Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or just the solstice and the winter. And coming in at the tail end of this awful year, any celebration of the holidays almost feels like an act of defiance. Putting up lights, decorating the house, heck, just listening to some Christmas tunes or maybe watching Charlie Brown for the gajillionth time…we’re celebrating, dang it. And if that means putting up the lights too early, and maybe going a little too exuberant on the Christmas tunes in this holiday music mix to extend a big middle finger to the awfulness of the year past…then so be it. Headfirst into Christmas in 2020!

As always, this is a single long MP3 of about 20 or so holiday-themed tunes. You can right-click and “save as”, or it should just stream from here if that’s your thing.

Headfirst Into Christmas (Holiday Music Mix 2020)


Track list:
1. Oh…that girl.
2. “Every Single Christmas” Nicole Atkins
3. “Go Power at Christmas Time” James Brown
4. “It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas” Sam Phillips
5. “Winter Blows” The Waterboys
6. “Headfirst Into Christmas” The Hannah Barberas
7. “Mission Bells” Glossary
8. “Claus vs Claus” JD McPherson
9. “The Blizzard” Camera Obscura
10.”Winter is Blue” Vashti Bunyan
11.”Ringing Bells on Christmas Day” Lisa Mychols
12.”Everyday is Christmas (When I’m Lovin’ You) Charles Bradley
13.”Valley Winter Song” Fountains of Wayne
14.”Merry Merry” The Bird and the Bee
15.”Hark the Herald” The Fall (this is not a typo, btw.)
16.”All I Want for Christmas is You” The Dollyrots
17.”Christmastime Heist” Mikal Cronin
18.”Christmas Love” The Rotary Connection
19.”Shouldn’t Be Alone For Christmas” The School
20.”Winter” The Rolling Stones
21.”The Light Before We Land” The Delgados

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Feliz Navidad, Baby! (Holiday music mix, 2018!)

December 19, 2018 at 6:00 am (Music Mixes)

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Although this Christmas feels more soggy than snowy this year, it’s absolutely that time  again, and so we’re back with a little bit of holiday musical cheer for you. I have been making these goofy music collections for 20 years now, and in all honesty this year’s mix might be my very, very favorite of all. And I don’t say that lightly either! See, when I’m putting these things together, I sometimes listen to the tracks dozens of times in a short span of time. Even with some good songs, the listener fatigue that sets in is very real.

But this year I just keep hitting repeat and starting over again. And though I’d love to take some piece of credit, I can’t. This mix is good because the artists made great songs and made putting it together a dream. I mean, let’s check some of these songs….

Early on in the mix, we’re hitting you with a snippet of an incredibly rare thing. Back around 1989 or so, Scott Miller of Game Theory recorded this goofy, sprawling thing called “A Child’s Christmas Saving The Whales” and sent the tape out to people on the band’s mailing list. It’s mostly spoken word narrative, and most of the jokes are pretty dated…but then in the middle of this thing the guy reveals some stunning musical geniusness by tossing off this 90-second song that I can’t imagine he didn’t mostly make up on the spot and then recorded to a cheap tapedeck in his bedroom. And the danged thing is just glorious even so.

And then there’s some JD McPherson. He put out a Christmas record this year called “Socks” which is the best album of all original Christmas – themed music since…ever. Really. It’s that good. This track is just a taste, but you should be spinning that record throughout the Christmas season.

Continuing, I know next to nothing about who Fascinations Grand Chorus is, other than I think they do a kind of indie dreampop thing. But their song is just a wallop of gorgeous, Spectorian production. And then there’s The Duke Spirit song. It starts off sounding like it’s a pretty OK song, and then you get to the chorus and there’s a key change and it’s goosebumps time and the track transcends into greatness.

There’s some familiar names all over this — you get a chance to put some Kacey Musgraves on your mix, you should do that, especially with Willie Nelson — including that Dean Martin track. He’s singing one of my favorite holiday-ish songs, and I can’t believe I’ve never used his original. Well, until now, anyway.  And you all know Kimberley Rew, even if you don’t realize you know him. Kim has all the hipster bona fides as Robyn Hitchcock’s songwriting foil in the legendary Soft Boys in the early 1980s, but when that band broke up, Kimberley went and started a new band called the Waves, wrote a certain song about strolling around on Sunshine, and I would imagine sits around collecting royalties for it.  Here he riffs on a goofy but typically memorable seasonal tune.

There’s other stuff here that should be less familiar. Whyte Horses are new, and their ebullient Christmas song would be juuuuust a little better if the verse melody wasn’t a note-for-note copy of The Replacements’ paean to bleak loneliness, “Swingin’ Party”.  And then there’s the Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace song. I gather Ms. Aplin is famous-ish in some quarters for singing covers on Youtube. Which is a thing that people do now.  And so I was expecting “December” to bounce off me pretty hard. But holy crap, what a revelation that song is. It’s an original that suggests she or Hannah Grace or both of them need to be writing a lot more originals. And the arrangement is simply spectacular.  It’s rare that a song I’m expecting to hate leaves me with tears in my eyes by the first chorus, but there you go.

OK, I’ve yammered enough about the songs here. Only one or two repeats from previous years are on this mix as well, and I hope it brings to you and yours as much joy as its brought me to make. Merry Christmas, or Happy whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, even if it’s just some time off work or school!

As per usual, this is all one big MP3 file, with everything sequenced and mixed just so. You can stream it or save it to your own computer/device as you like.

Here’s the tracklist (Click the title to listen or “save as”):

Felix Navidad, Baby!
(Holiday Music Mix, 2018)

1. “Jingle Bells/Welcome” – Esquivel
2. “Santa Teach Me To Dance” – Debbie & The Darnells
3. “A Child’s Christmas Saving the Whales (excerpt)” – Game Theory
4. “Every Single Christmas” – JD McPherson
5. “Merry Merry Christmas” – Fascinations Grand Chorus
6. “Melt By The Morning” – The Duke Spirit
7. “Willie Nice Christmas” – Kacey Musgraves w/ Willie Nelson
8. “Love the Holidays” – Old 97s
9. “Lonely Man of Winter” – Sufjan Stevens
10.”Christmas Is” – Lou Rawls
11.”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Dean Martin
12.”Whatever You Want (For Christmas)” – Dressy Bessy
13.”Thank God It’s Not Christmas” – Sparks
14.”Dear Mr. Claus” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
15.”All I Want is You For Christmas” – Kimberley Rew
16.”World Of Love” – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
17.”Gee Whiz, it’s Christmas” – Carla Thomas
18.”December” – Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace
19.”Next Year Will Be Mine” – Whyte Horses
20.”Winter Wonderland” – Darlene Love
21.”Eight Dates A Week” – The Holiday Scene
22.”Beatnik’s Wish” – Patsy Raye & The Beatniks
23.”Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – The Beths
24.”Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues w/ Kirsty Maccoll

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Well Turn It Up, Man!

July 4, 2018 at 10:33 am (Uncategorized)

13 years ago (!) my buddy Rob Morton and I made this mix. I’d sort of forgotten about it but he reminded me of it today and well…it’s pretty damned good if we do say so ourselves. Enjoy and happy Good Riddance Day!

Popnarcotic


So yeah, that Family Dynamic mix is a corker, right?

I’ve known Rob for a few years now, and he and I have musical tastes that are eerily similar…but with slight variations, too. There’s enough overlap and dovetailing in the musics we both tend to listen to that, well, we had to do a CD mix together.

So yeah. He and I labored over this thing for a few weeks now, and here’s the results. Hope you like it. A holiday weekend gift from Morton and me, for you to listen to and enjoy. Again, it’s all joined together as one long .mp3 file to preserve the continuity and flow and segues. If you want to burn it to CD, be sure you used the “disc-at-once” method, or you’re likely to get weird “hiccups” in the transitions.

Oh! One other thing: Have a terrific weekend, folks!

Get Yerself Some Freedom…

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We’re All Skating on the Same Thin Ice (Christmas Music Mix, 2017)

December 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm (Uncategorized)

ice-skating-santa-download-videohive-18839308-free-hunterae-com-8Whew, just enough time to get this year’s Christmas music mix down the chimney and into the ears of every (mostly) good little boy and girl on Santa’s list. 2017 has had its share of ups and downs, but for the season I’ll set the bad bits aside and focus on the merry stuff. 2017 has been quite good to me personally, so I hope some of my good fortune rubs off.

This year’s Christmas music mix feels a little bit more “indie” than previous years. As I kept wading through the folder of prospective holiday tunes I keep, I kept noticing that there were so many major, obviously talented artists who utterly mail it in when they try to do a Christmas song. There’s a songwriter’s trick for creating a song within a certain theme that involves the writer simply listing some things associated with the subject, and then using that to get some inspiration to write a song with.

Far too many holiday pop songs sound like that’s as far as the songwriter got. There’s an absolute glut of songs that open with either cheap winter wind sound effects or sleigh bells ringing (always a sign that you’ve got more of a bad Christmas cash-in than real song). That eventually moves to a singer spending a couple of verses singing a grocery list of Christmas-ish non sequiturs with as much fake emotion as can be mustered.

And so I found a lot of stuff like that. But then I also found a lot of stuff like The Spook School’s winsome post-breakup gloriousness,”Someone To Spend Christmas With”. I found a spot for Belle & Sebastian’s “Are You Coming Over For Christmas”, which starts off sounding like a a flirty-but-without-the-rapey-stuff take on the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” formula, but then turns into something utterly beautiful and transcendent. At least for this year, it’s the lesser-known artists who are bringing the feels.

That isn’t to say I didn’t find some old favorites bringing the heat. Whomever in Cheap Trick suggested they cover The Move’s Wizzard’s (we’re all Roy Wood anyway) “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day”, that person is a genius, because this is inspired. And hey, it’s time the Ventures returned to this annual mix, but this time marrying The Zombies to Greensleeves with a surfy twang.

It was also fun to go diving back into my 1990s alt-rock roots a little bit. I can’t believe I’ve never used the Pixies before in a Christmas mix, but I just love Frank and Kim’s call-and-response on the coda of this Neil Young cover. I found a great spot for a Cocteau Twins take on an old familiar kid’s song from back in the day. And then there’s the Throwing Muses track. If Tonya Donnelly’s guitar riff on this doesn’t get you going, you may need to get your ears checked.

It is also both great to find a spot for a terrific new Minus 5 track, “A New Christmas Hymn” while at the same time hearing that Minus 5 main man Scott McCaughey has recovered well enough from his stroke two months ago to be able to play guitar and bass again. That’s the song that provides the title for this year’s mix, too. For all the shouty-ness of 2017, this feels like a good summing up of things:

I’m offering this Christmas hymn
Not for any ghost or Tiny Tim
For both the naughty and the nice
We’re all skating on the same thin ice.

Wherever and however the holiday season finds you in 2017, I hope it’s a happy one for you and your loved ones. I hope you enjoy this mix of rock, soul, funk and a little country, all mixed together as one long MP3, and that it helps provide a little more good cheer. Let’s cue this sucker up and hit play!

We’re All Skating On The Same Thin Ice (Popnarcotic Christmas Music Mix, 2017)  (Right click to download and save.)

  1. Elf practice is not to be trifled with
  2. “Christmas All Over Again”, Tom Petty
  3. “Wake Up Christmas”, Lisa Mychols
  4. “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”, Cheap Trick
  5. “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul”, Saints Orchestra
  6. “Purple Snowflakes”, Marvin Gaye
  7. “Blizzard of ’77”, Nada Surf
  8. “Snowflakes”, The Ventures
  9. “Frosty the Snowman”, The Cocteau Twins
  10. “Someone To Spend Christmas With”, The Spook School
  11. “It’s a Marshmallow World”, Dean Martin
  12. “Santa Claus”, The Throwing Muses
  13. “New Christmas Hymn”, The Minus 5
  14. “The Reindeer Boogie”, Hank Snow
  15. “Christmas Time is Here Again”, The Flirtations
  16. “Are You Coming Over for Christmas?”, Belle & Sebastian
  17. “Winterlong”, The Pixies
  18. “White Christmas” Otis Redding
  19. “Cold, Cold Christmas”, Army/Navy
  20. “Remember (Christmas)”, Harry Nilsson
  21. “Song For A Future Love”, The Frank & Walters
  22. “Happy When it Snows”, Seafang
  23. “Winter Beats”, I Break Horses
  24. Sing us out, Shane and Kirsty.

 

 

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What Happened, 1972-1974

September 25, 2017 at 9:24 am (Uncategorized)

5-HYATT

It’s easy to adopt a worldview on the history of popular music that goes something like this: The Beatles break up, for six or seven years music sucks, and then punk rock and rap and new wave come along to save everyone. If, like me, you grew  up in the postpunk era, you were trained to believe implicitly that the early 1970s were the famine years, the bleakest of eras in rock and soul music. As the yearly mixes from Scott Miller’s Music — What Happened show, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The barren years are indeed coming, but 1972 through 1974 are are a rich and vibrant musical landscape.

Think about it: after a year of post-Beatle breakup shock, you have a number of heady artists leaping into the fray to fill the void…some of whom are even represented here. During the early 1970s, Bowie, Zeppelin and The Stooges put out great records. Roxy Music exploded onto the scene. Badfinger  was ever present. The gas tank is about to hit empty…but Miller makes a great case here that 1972 through 1974 was a wonderful time to just stomp on the accelerator and enjoy things while they last.

And so here it is, three years of an end-of-the-world-and-I-feel-fine bacchanal for rock and pop music. This is where rock earns the whole “sex, drugs, and …” sobriquets, where the excesses truly manifest. The next three are going to be slim pickings, even accepting the premise that disco and prog rock were pretty good. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, and let’s jump into some notes on the year-by-year mixes.

1972: The biggest culture shift noted here is part of Scott’s writeup of “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”. This was the peak — and also the end — of musical racial integration. As the 1970s proceeded, FM radio caused a huge split and segregation of radio audiences and pop music fans in general. Miller notes that “By 1977, the tribe that had become disco people did not talk to the tribe that had become heavy metal people, and radio that wasn’t market-specific had become commercially unviable.” This final Temptations hit was the kind of song that would suffer the most in this break.

Also ushered in for 1972 is glam. We’re at peak Bowie with “Hang on to Yourself”, and Roxy Music comes zooming in with “Virginia Plain.” If you’ve ever wondered why the nerdiest of guitar nerds champion Richard Thompson above all others, the track here should answer that for you. Jethro Tull brings us another song in a 5/4 time signature, and also an anachronism alert. “Living In The Past” had been released in the UK as a single years earlier, but didn’t show up stateside (and become an FM radio hit) until the early years Tull compilation of the same name arrived in ’72. There’s a generation who won’t understand how perfectly Jethro Tull segues into Pure Prairie League, but that generation didn’t grow up on 1970s FM radio; that Miller takes it right into Curtis effing Mayfield is some kind of awesome genius. The year concludes with my favorite two songs from this year, one from Yes (don’t hate me) and one from Todd Rundgren.

1973: Buckle up kids, this is the longest single yearly mix to date. This particular year contains a number of radio edits that you’re unlikely to notice unless you’re a wonk, but I didn’t try to duplicate Scott’s homebrew edits of “All The Way to Memphis” or “Jet Boy,” and both are just fine as is. Miller also cleverly insists on the 45 rpm single version of “Everyone’s Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine” by Stealer’s Wheel. I agree with him that the album version is far inferior, so the single version is the one I used.

This year’s mix is full of crowd-pleasers. We get our first and only Eagles cut, and it’s the only Eagles song I don’t actively dislike. I also love the way Miller describes beeing a 13-year-old kid in a record store and hearing Roxy’s “Do The Strand”, and how that probably transformed his life and career. Also, “Sweet Lady Genevieve” never gets mention with the greatest Kinks songs ever, and it should. Finally, although Scott Miller passed away in 2013, his eerie prescience on interesting music stuff written about in 2017 begins here with his inclusion of “So Very Hard To Go”, which is an incredibly amazing song, and whose inclusion at the opening credits of the game “Watch Dogs 2” this past year was one of the most noted uses of licensed music in a video game in recent memory.

1974: Look, buster. You got through 2 minutes of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy in 1968, you can get through 2 minutes of The Residents to kick off 1974…especially as the “song” intriguingly finds a melody of sorts after all that noisy craziness in the beginning.

Scott specifically notes that he segues out of that with the radio edit of “Radar Love”, and I’m happy for that. The song loses nothing with the loss of 3 minutes of single-note bass riffs. And then comes out of that with Barry Manilow. Take that, radio programmers. Elsewhere, Miller captures the quintessential Roxy Music track, “All I Want Is You”. Dave Marsh I think described the peak Roxy years as basically sounding like a DC-10 revving its engines, and that perfectly encapsulates the wall of beautiful rock noise here.

I didn’t try to copy Miller’s homebrew edit of John Cale’s “Gun”, and I think it stands as is just fine; if your only exposure to solo-era Cale was his hyperserious 1990s and onward work, finding out that he could rock like hell back in the day absent his Velvets compatriots is a revelation. Finally, ’74 concludes with the monumentally influential “Back of a Car” by Big Star. Miller requires this to be a vinyl rip, and so it is.

The other thing worth pointing out though is that with the Residents’ weird experimentation alongside Big Star, Roxy Music, Bowie, and yes, Barry Manilow in the same mix, we’ve essentially got the building blocks of inspiration on which Miller would build his own entire music career on.

What Happened, 1972

1972 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “Joy” Apollo 100
  2. “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” The Temptations
  3. “Virginia Plain” Roxy Music
  4. “Lean on Me” Bill Withers
  5. “C Moon” Paul McCartney and Wings
  6. “Living in the Past” Jethro Tull
  7. “Amie” Pure Prairie League
  8. “Superfly” Curtis Mayfield
  9. “Dirty Work” Steely Dan
  10. “Rocks Off” The Rolling Stones
  11. “Give Me Another Chance” Big Star
  12. “Roll Over Vaughan Williams” Richard Thompson
  13. “Big Brother” Stevie Wonder
  14. “Hang On to Yourself” David Bowie
  15. “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” Gary Glitter
  16. “All the Young Dudes” Mott the Hoople
  17. “And You and I” Yes
  18. “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” Todd Rundgren

 

What Happened, 1973

1973 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “Can You Hear The Music” The Rolling Stones
  2. “Needle in the Camel’s Eye” Brian Eno
  3. “Speak to Me/Breathe/On the Run” Pink Floyd
  4. “So Very Hard to Go” Tower of Power
  5. “Everyone’s Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine” Stealer’s Wheel
  6. “Jet Boy” New York Dolls
  7. “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” The Main Ingredient
  8. “Gimme Danger” Iggy and the Stooges
  9. “All the Way from Memphis” Mott the Hoople
  10. “Sweet Lady Genevieve” The Kinks
  11. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” Bob Dylan
  12. “International Feel” Todd Rundgren
  13. “Certain Kind of Fool” The Eagles
  14. “Drive-In Saturday” David Bowie
  15. “The Song Remains the Same” Led Zeppelin
  16. “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” Elton John
  17. “My Old School” Steely Dan
  18. “Do The Strand” Roxy Music
  19. “Living for the City” Stevie Wonder

 

What Happened, 1974

1974 mp3 to download and track list

  1. “Boots/Numb Erone” The Residents
  2. “Radar Love” Golden Earring
  3. “Mandy” Barry Manilow
  4. “Home” Roy Harper
  5. “All I Want Is You” Roxy Music
  6. “Jungle Boogie” Kool and the Gang
  7. “Boy Blue” Electric Light Orchestra
  8. “Just a Chance” Badfinger
  9. “Sweet Home Alabama” Lynyrd Skynyrd
  10. “#9 Dream” John Lennon
  11. “Gun” John Cale
  12. “Free Man In Paris” Joni Mitchell
  13. “Tell Me Something Good” Rufus
  14. “Amateur Hour” Sparks
  15. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” Steely Dan
  16. “Killer Queen” Queen
  17. “Tangled Up in Blue” Bob Dylan
  18. “Sweet Thing/Candidate” David Bowie
  19. “Back of a Car” Big Star

 

What Happened,  1972-1974

What Happened 1972-1974 three-year mix to download or stream.

 

What’s all this then? It’s what happened, musically, during these particular years. No really! Hit that link for more info.

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What Happened, 1969-1971

September 15, 2017 at 11:49 am (Music What Happened Mixes)

jann

On April 10, 1970 in a tersely worded press release, Paul McCartney officially “broke up” the Beatles. (The reality: George and Ringo had checked out a year or two earlier, and John told Paul he’d had enough in September of ’69.) Although the breakup of the band shouldn’t have surprised anyone (and didn’t surprise most tuned-in observers), it still created a seismic shift in the music world. The Beatles and their sound became nostalgia overnight. Artists who espoused a similar creative worldview found themselves dismissed for being old-fashioned. Welcome to the 1970s and 10-minute songs about elf maidens.

This three year span coincides with of one of the great reigns of error in modern cultural history. In the UK, the two major weekly music magazines — NME and Melody Maker — had found new audiences and thrived as serious critics and commenters on modern rock and soul music. In the States, an entrepreneur named Jann Wenner sought to do the same thing and launched Rolling Stone magazine.

Say what you will of early Rolling Stone issues being too beholden to their time, but by 1970 Wenner was eager to “professionalize” everything about the magazine, and began to assert a strong editorial authority over the music reviews. That’s a poor practice in general, exacerbated here by the the sad fact that Jann Wenner had terrible taste in music. If your record had slick production, a flat, mushy compressed sound, and a few million dollars backing it, Jann Wenner probably loved and would insist it be championed in the pages of his highly influential magazine.

Wenner’s influence and tastes are the reason why, inexplicably, venerated bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were brutally ripped by the critical cognoscenti of the times. Only a handful of critics at upstart magazines like Creem dared challenge the notion that heavy loud rock was, you know, good. With that said, there was still some fine rock and soul and now funk being made if you just knew enough to follow your own ears.

Let’s get to the actual yearly mixes!

1969 This ends up being a really terrific yearly mix. Miller describes ’69 as the cresting of a wave, and I think the strength of this material clearly shows it. The big hits are here, but so are some more obscure threats. Todd Rundgren’s songwriting chops and production skills (check the sound of that snare) on “Forget All About It” are mind-blowing. And if “Goodbye” has a familiar lilt to it, it’s because it was a song gifted to Mary Hopkin by Sir Paul himself. Also, send the kids outta the room for the Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin cut, which is hilariously over-the-top and single handedly establishes the Gainsbourg legend.

Also, the Marianne Faithfull track is a Goffin/King song with Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman backing her. It’s a new song to me, and man….I sure wish there was a lot more of this combination where it came from, but alas.

Miller mentions that he edited the Sly and the Family Stone cut and also the Neil Young track. I’ve left them intact here. Also: I knew I’d chosen the right music critic to follow when Miller displays as much affection for the Shocking Blue version of “Venus” as I have. I think that song is just tremendous, and it makes me absurdly happy that it’s here.

1970 arrives and we get some Chicago (with Scott Miller noting that they were once a really good band with horn arrangements second to none) and a smart notice that “Come Saturday Morning” has way more in common with The Velvet Underground than it does the easy listening schmaltz with which it’s sometimes associated. We also get the first appearance of many by David Bowie in these mixes.

Of all the 1970 tracks here, I think the most revelatory to me is the pre-Buckingham/Nicks, Fleetwood Mac song “Jewel Eyed Judy”. I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of this, but listening to the song it sure sounds like it had an incalculable influence on Chris Bell and Alex Chilton. It feels like a song that would’ve felt right at home on the first Big Star album a few years later, directly impacting the way songs like “Don’t Lie To Me” and “When My Baby’s Beside Me” were written, played and arranged. So: Danny Kirwan, proto-godfather of 90s alternative rock…you heard it here first.

One other cool thing: I really, really hate the influence of Rolling Stone’s awful record reviews that kicks in around this year in history mostly because I think they helped contribute to the segregation of popular music that came later in the decade. And to hear that in practice, dig how great the segue from “Fire and Rain” into “Paranoid” sounds here. James Taylor and Black Sabbath fit like hand in glove in the right context.

1971 hasn’t really got any technical issues to note, but it is the year of the big hits, and also some songs that I personally cringe at. If the inclusion of overplayed chestnuts like “Maggie May”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Imagine” and “Wild World” seem like a bit much, we also get some pre-ELO Move with “Ella James” and a truly underrated Stones cut with “Sway”.

One interesting thing I’d never consider that Scott Miller notes here: Eric Clapton — who I think most of us normally associate with being an excellent blues stylist and guitar player — wrote some of the most beautiful, soaring pop melodies of anyone in the immediate post-Beatle era. “Easy Now” (best to not give those lyrics too hard a think, eesh) fits that to a tee.

Finally, the bane of my existence, the pop standard of all pop standards I truly despise, is here: “American Pie”. And it’s hard for me to fault Miller’s logic in including it, that it may be the catchiest chorus in history. From personal experience, I can tell you that the insistent, instantly memorable chorus was the first piece of any rock song I learned to sing, running around the house at age four annoying anyone and everyone with my off- key toddler warbling of “Bye bye Miss American Pie…” At any rate, it fits the mood, and deserves to be here, and so it is.

What Happened, 1969

1969 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Long Time Gone” Crosby, Still and Nash
  2. “The Dust Blows Forward ‘n the Dust Blows Back” Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
  3. “Something” The Beatles
  4. “I Want to Take You Higher” Sly and the Family Stone
  5. “Cymbaline” Pink Floyd
  6. “Forget All About It” The Nazz
  7. “Goodbye” Mary Hopkin
  8. “Candy Says” The Velvet Underground
  9. Christmas” The Who
  10. “Frank Mills” Shelley Plimpton, Hair Original Cast Recording
  11. “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin
  12. “Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus” Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
  13. “Come and Get It” Badfinger
  14. “Gimme Shelter” The Rolling Stones
  15. “Venus” Shocking Blue
  16. “Fortunate Son” Creedence Clearwater Revival
  17. “Victoria” The Kinks
  18. “Something Better” Marianne Faithfull
  19. “Down By The River” Neil Young
  20. “Come Together” The Beatles

 

What Happened, 1970

1970 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Two of Us” The Beatles
  2. “25 or 6 to 4” Chicago
  3. “Come Saturday Morning” The Sandpipers
  4. “I Think I See The Light” Cat Stevens
  5. “Fat Old Sun” Pink Floyd
  6. “Fire and Rain” James Taylor
  7. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” Creedence Clearwater Revival
  8. “Sweet Jane” The Velvet Underground
  9. “Tangerine” Led Zeppelin
  10. “Maybe I’m Amazed” Paul McCartney
  11. “Tell me Why” Neil Young
  12. “The Love You Save” The Jackson Five
  13. “Nature’s Way” Sprit
  14. “Holy Holy” David Bowie
  15. “Octopus” Syd Barrett
  16. “Jewel Eyed Judy” Fleetwood Mac
  17. “No Matter What” Badfinger
  18. “Bell Bottom Blues” Derek and the Dominos
  19. “Lola” The Kinks

 

What Happened, 1971

1971 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Maggie May” Rod Stewart
  2. “Sway” The Rolling Stones
  3. “Day After Day” Badfinger
  4. “Aqualung” Jethro Tull
  5. “Hope I’m Around” Todd Rundgren
  6. “Ella James” The Move
  7. “Easy Now” Eric Clapton
  8. “When the Levee Breaks” Led Zeppelin
  9. “Fearless” Pink Floyd
  10. “Wild World” Cat Stevens
  11. “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” The Doors
  12. “Life On Mars?” David Bowie
  13. “Too Many People” Paul and Linda McCartney
  14. “Imagine” John Lennon
  15. “American Pie” Don McLean
  16. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” The Who

 

What Happened 1969-1971

What Happened 1969-1971 mp3 3-year mix to download or stream.

 

What’s all this then? It’s what happened, musically, during these particular years. No really! Hit that link for more info.

 

 

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