My Five Songs (Whatever That Means)

I’ve been trying lately to force myself to fill out a playlist that I titled simply “My Five Songs” and left empty, with the goal of creating it…and then seeing what I meant by that title. The songs that most define me? Probably not, no, but close. The songs most often on my running playlist? Perhaps, but that selection process is a bit different. The songs I like most? Maybe. But, limiting myself to one per artist, the Stones and Pearl Jam are grossly underrepresented by that standard; Heartbreaker and Not For You would be unjustifiably missing. So, maybe they’re just the five songs that, when pressed, I’d put on a mix CD as sure-fire representations of me, what I like, and just how rooted in derivatives of 70s AOR rock particular (?) my taste in music is. (I like that one. Let’s go with that.) So, without further ado, here they are:

  1. Corduroy by Pearl Jam (live, with a Pink Floyd intro – stick through it)
  2. Gimme Danger by Iggy & the Stooges
  3. Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones
  4. Lookout Mountain by Drive-By Truckers
  5. Everlong by Foo Fighters

And there you have it. With two honorable mentions, only barely beaten out by Honky Tonk Women, in Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother (I saw Ray Wylie Hubbard at SXSW recently, btw, and he’s still got it—in spades—but I’m partial to Jerry Jeff’s version) and Too Drunk to Dream. (List should’ve been eight, clearly, to include those two and Fooled Around and Fell in Love, but we can’t have it all, can we?)

And, no. Those last three aren’t ironic. They almost made it. (As did Ain’t Goin’ Down Till the Sun Comes Up, but I can’t find an acceptable youtube version.)

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A new article and a theme song for the blog

This post isn’t going to be long on substance, but I’ve got two updates for the interested reader.

First, my article co-authored with Johannes Urpelainen and Terry Chapman, titled “International bargaining, endogenous domestic constraints, and democratic accountability,” hit the web today as part of the April issue of the Journal of Theoretical Politics. In this piece, we endogenize the patterns of rewards and punishments that define constraints on leaders in international bargaining; in other words, rather than assuming that some leaders are constrained and some aren’t, we wrap an theory of how domestic audiences choose to reward/punish their leaders up into an examination of the effects of those constraints. I won’t belabor the results, but one of the primary ones is that the effect of domestic constraints in one state depend on the level of constraint in the other—making absolute claims about the effects of domestic politics more problematic than we realized before.

Second, at SXSW this week, I came across a Dutch band, traumahelikopter, who, in addition to a pretty great name, have a song called—you guessed it—“Wolf”. Check it out below, complete with all the howling one should expect.

Of course, I’m not clear on all the lyrics, so if you find something odd in there, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Live on Ten Legs…

…we’ll leave out for the moment how I’ve gotten my hands on it, but the new Pearl Jam live record is effing great. Great performances? Sure. The new (superior) version of (the erstwhile un-improvable) Porch? You bet. But the choice of covers (Joe Strummer and Public Image, Ltd.)? Stellar.

Plus, how can anyone anywhere not like a brutal take on Animal and a strangely swinging Nothing As it Seems? Answer: no how.

Next up: trying to explain why I like the new Ryan Adams double record so much…

Keef…and the November mix CD

Since (roughly) my senior year of college, I’ve made a monthly mix CD (February 2002 might still be the crowning achievement), capturing what I was listening to, where I was, and what I was into at the time. Well, almost every month: a few months here and there I’ve slipped, but only, of course, to ensure that the next month’s mix was all the more glorious. Of course. And, inspired by my recent purchase and early reading of “Life,” Keith Richards’ autobiography—which, a few chapters in, is the most facemeltingly badass thing I’ve ever read—I’ve decided to grace this space with an account of my monthly mixes, with contemporaneous commentary on their construction, as appropriate.

Before we get into the down and dirty, though, I might as well (like any honest mix CD connoisseur) lay out the ground rules. First, it must clock in at less than 80 minutes. Thus, it must be burnable. Second, it must contain a significant number of recent finds, whether new songs or rediscovered ones, yet it must also reflect that month in the life of Young Master Wolford with as much fidelity as possible, whether lyrically, musically, or both (note that track 10 below falls squarely in the “musically” category, not the other two). Third, repeats across months are admissible (witness the shockingly frequent recurrence of Uncle Tupelo’s “Gun” from 2004 to 2005), but they must be significant (as in, my brief fascination with Kid Rock’s “I am the Bullgod” likely won’t result in frequent appearances). Fourth, the title must be both absurd and devoid of relation to the common thread of the songs themselves; it must be awesome, yet make no sense (sort of like my research agenda, no?). Finally, the sequencing must be flawless: to quote an old friend, anything less than the best is a felony.

With that said, here’s the October 2010 mix CD, entitled “Free Enes” (Google it if you’re curious, and if you’re a basketball fan, well, Free Enes) in all its glory:

  1. The End – Kings of Leon
  2. Rebels – Drive-By Truckers
  3. All Your Lies – Soundgarden
  4. Road Cases – Drive-By Truckers
  5. Church on Tuesday – Stone Temple Pilots
  6. No Money – Kings of Leon
  7. John the Baptist – The Afghan Whigs
  8. What Are You Willing to Lose – Lucero
  9. Wolves (Song Of The Shepherd’s Dog) – Iron & Wine
  10. No One Loves Me & Neither Do I – Them Crooked Vultures
  11. 3’s & 7’s – Queens of the Stone Age
  12. Shot Shot – Gomez
  13. (Bang a Gong) Get It On – T. Rex
  14. You Wreck Me – Tom Petty
  15. Bring Your Lovin’ Back Here – Gomez
  16. Low Light – Pearl Jam
  17. No Hidden Path – Neil Young

All in all, a great month musically, but it’s certainly dominated by the Kings, yet punctuated by my recent re-discovery of how much of a badass Greg Dulli is (expect some Twilight Singers in November, folks). And, in the interest of full disclosure, track 2 (as well as Pearl Jam’s “Corduroy”) could be on every mix CD I ever make. It just happened to be on this one…and, perhaps, the next nine. November’s shaping up well, showing at this point a healthy dose of The Dead Weather and Pink Floyd…but we’ll see where it ends up…

…oh, and long live Ben Nichols. Just saying.