Hokey Cokey ‘Spill Game: Week 3

You vote one in
You vote one out
In, out, in, out
Shake it all about

You all know the rules by now. Or maybe you don’t. Actually, I’m not sure there are any rules, are there? Maybe. Who knows?

Here are 11 songs. Tell us which you’d save from a burning building and which you’d throw from a deflating hot air balloon. Or something.

It’s surprisingly difficult to choose a playlist with no parameters whatsoever. Tincanman began this game by trying to find the 10 most perfect songs of all time, so here are 11 perfect songs which particularly wanted you to hear them. I’m going to be terribly hurt whichever one you choose to vote off, so please be gentle.

Warning: may contain music of a melancholy and/or romantic nature.

Artists and titles after the break…


1. Frida Hyvonen – Dirty Dancing
2. Joan Baez – Diamonds and Rust
3. Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game
4. Dusty Springfield – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
5. Tindersticks – Dancing
[I unilaterally decided that Tindersticks were last week's winners, so they stayed on. This may or may not become a rule.]
6. Cowboy Junkies – Darkling Days
7. Bonnie Prince Billy – After I Made Love To You
8. Gillian Welch – Black Star
9. John Martyn – May You Never
10. Gram Parsons (and Emmylou Harris) – Hearts on Fire
11. First Aid Kit – Emmylou

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61 thoughts on “Hokey Cokey ‘Spill Game: Week 3

  1. I’ve been kind of daftly looking forward to this list for a couple of days now.

    First one to go is .. the first one, Frida. I think you’ve posted some of her songs before, but i haven’t taken to her yet.

    First one to stay – Joan, of course. Love it, love it, and as much as i love my rock, Priest cover is a travesty.

    Amy stays of course, Dusty stays, and i knew it was the Tindersticks, even though i hadn’t heard that one before. It was gorgeous. Cowboy Junkies was kind of lovely. Bonnie Prince Billy pleasant but kind of meh. The Gillian Welch was drop dead gorgeous, that definitely stays. John Martyn was ok, And i knew #10 was Emmylou. Bit country for me, but still gets to stay for the voice. Didn’t guess the First Aid Kit as Emmylou, and that was too country for me, voice notwithstanding. So that’s the runnerup to be scrapped.

    Thanks Barbryn! (was expecting a Tindersticks on here, bit surprised not to hear a Dylan or REM.)

    Next week is Carole, and after that it’s open.

    • Amy, what do you have against Swedish people, huh? (First Aid Kit are singing about Emmylou, but she doesn’t sing on the record… though I won’t be surprised if she and someone [possibly Bright Eyes] records a cover one day).

      I deliberately tried to avoid artists I know some people here don’t like, hence no Dylan, REM or Beatles. After posting I realised how country heavy this is. My original shortlist contained soul/R&B, drum’n’bass, indie rock and a show tune.

    • Dusty stays
      Uh, no, she does not!
      Tin can at my feet
      I think I’ll kick it down the street

      Or maybe you’ll like this new song I’ve written. I call it <Anger Management and it goes a little something like this:
      Imagining amylee as a pinata
      smack it, I think I outta

  2. May You Never has to stay for me. If the others are as good or thereabouts, I’m off to do the washing up and listen to them !

  3. many thanks Barbryn. Tuesday is my turn to wreak havoc in the kitchen .. wrong kind of bubble and not enough squeak .. so am I enjoying these playlists to drown out my complaints .. even the beans are burnt
    wouldn’t vote any off tho’ they are far from my kind of thing. The Old Grey Whistle Test never had quite enough noisy stuff and plenty of things that were clearly what Bob loved .. Emmylou frequently .. but I’m mellowing and think Bob may have been right … Plant’s Band of Joy have taught me to love a bit of country
    .. particularly liked this Gillian Welsh chap .. bet she wears long dresses and big boots

  4. I’ve been looking forward to this list too, as Barbryn has the sort of taste in music I wish I had (but am generally not cool enough for).

    Frida starts off on the wrong foot for me by naming her song after Dirty Dancing, which is one of those films I just don’t get (ie, have never managed to sit through). Plus, it’s cheap shorthand for blanket 80s mainstream nostalgia that says nothing to me about my life (then or now). See also Footloose. But perhaps that’s her point. And actually, this is rather lovely. She can stay – nobody’s putting Frida in the corner of the bish house, etc.

    Love Joan of course – though as I’ve mentioned before, it irritates me that she thinks a light year is a unit of time. Distance, Joanie, DISTANCE.

    Not my fave Winehouse although I did get it zedded, RR factfinders – and for that alone, she may stay. Lord love ‘er.

    Dusty Dusty Dusty, have you ever recorded anything rubbish? Oh yeah, just remembered Reputation. I’ve got this song recorded by Neil Diamond. Dusty’s version is, unsurprisingly, better. Stay!

    Ah the Tindersticks… what is he saying? Sounds like “I stand and scan on the strand of sand” from Jane Siberry’s Mimi on the Beach. It isn’t. Stop mumbling, Stuart! Lovely of course, but the competition is stuff. The slacker vocal may just get it ejected. And I’m not sure about the ending.

    Back for Part Two after the Great British Bake-Off…

    • Ha, flattery will get you nowhere if you diss Frida… I thought she’d have won you over with the reference to dancing to Kylie, but I think she manages to undercut the Dirty Dancing cliches by transporting them to small-town Sweden: “It felt almost like Dirty Dancing / Minus the United States, and instead of a resort / It was the Folkets Hus basement” (and then making a unashamed romantic ballad out of it).

    • What a very lush, tinkly background to the Cowboy Junkies. I never thought I’d say this of anyone, but I think I prefer them more minimal/austere.

      Speaking of minimal… Bonnie “Prince” Billy is lovely as ever. My favourite so far.

      Ooh it’s the Radiohead “Black Star”. Hm. Nice vocal, but the original takes some beating. But Gillian Welch can stay.

      I know the John Martyn of course. Lovely. All this loveliness is getting a bit much. I think I might be starting to crave something filthy.

      Gram and Emmylou… well, of course this is lovely too.

      First Aid Kit are one of the few current acts I’ve independently (of RR) discovered in recent years. I love this – even if it seems a bit wrong to hear someone singing about Stockholm in that accent.

      So I’m afraid Tindersticks are being jettisoned by me this week.

  5. Great list barbryn. but I’m going to say that Amy is the one I would drop without hesitation.
    And if it is our task to replace a song with another of a melancolic/romantic bias then I would suggest this…………..

    Eva Cassidy……….”Penny to My Name”.

    • That was lovely too, though I tend to like a little more grit in my country (though some of the choices here may suggest otherwise).

      The rules of this game are still evolving, but I like the idea of suggesting a tune to add to the list.

  6. True confession. I have been attempting to stockpile a list of eleven tracks on the off chance that I ever master the skill of uploading them into the music player thingie.
    I’ve had two goes so far and ballsed it up both times. Oddly enough, one of the songs I was going to put on the list was May You Never so clearly that’s staying.
    I feel the same way as Bish about the Dirty Dancing film but I also rather liked the voice and the song. Dusty can sing anything and Randy Newman can be sung by almost anyone (except Tom Jones) so that’s a winner.
    In fact didn’t dislike any of them but the one which made the least impact on the first listen (a completely unfair test) was Bonnie Prince Billy so he’d go on that basis.

    • Severin, if you can’t get it to work, i’ll post them for you if you want to take a turn, do you want to go the week after Carole? SpottedRich or Tfd of someone did it for Beth, i’ll be happy to do it for anyone having problems.

      PS – did you all see Maki’s guide under the “manual” tab at the top?

      • I did read the manual but I must still be doing something wrong. Yes I’ll take the week after next. should I email the tracks and the blurb to you?

      • If you know how to upload the tracks to WordPress, Severin, it saves a lot of mailbox space to do that and e-mail the links, ready to paste into the post. Maki helped me with the Webcores’ ruby anniversary post and that’s what we did (I have done short playlists, usually one song, but It look Maki much less than the day it would’ve taken me).

    • I wrote this out for Goneforeign – as he was perplexed by the player – he seems to have managed from it so I will paste it here too:

      Put the mp3′s you want to into a folder on your computer.
      Click on the music icon and drop the MP3 into the ‘drop files here’ flash uploader and load them into wordpress:

      Click on the “musical notes” icon. A dialogue box will open.
      Choose the option upload from computer (There are three – from computer, from URL and from Gallery).
      Find the folder on computer with all your songs in it and select them all – Flash uploader option – They will then start uploading. This takes some time.
      Once they’ve finished uploading you will see that the dialogue box has disappeared and that your post is blank.

      If you click on the musical notes icon in Gallery there will now be a number in brackets. That number should correspond to the number of songs you have uploaded. Click on the tab and a list of the songs will appear.
      On the right hand side of each line there is the word “show”. Click on this word and a new dialogue box appears. This includes info about the music file you have uploaded. There is an option four lines or so down marked Link URL. Under that is a box that says: none – click none and the the box: insert into post.

      you’ll get it in your post something like this:
      [audio http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20-song-name.mp3%5D

      if it's one song you're done - if you want more songs - delete the last ] and swap it for a comma. Leave the curser there and click the musical note again – add your next song:

      [audio http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20-song-name.mp3,%5Baudio http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20-song-name-two.mp3%5D it will then look like this.

      what you do then is delete the [audio (the middle one - leave the one at the beginning)

      so it then looks like this:

      [audio http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20-song-name.mp3,http://readersrecommend.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20-song-mane.mp3%5D

      do that for all the songs you have - so between song is just a comma - at the start is [audio and at the end of ALL the links is a closed]

      there’s fancy ways of adding track listings – but I just cut and paste that in the text.

      I don’t know if this is correct – but as a technophobe it’s always worked for me – If there’s a shorter way – please shout out.

    • Hey Severin, noticed you’d loaded some tunes when was cleaning out my old ones, & was looking forward to a post. Think some of them were mp4s though & the player only seems to work with mp3s.

  7. This playlist is ending the day on a sweet note. I was very tired getting the children to bed, too tired to make it happen early but wanting grown-up time once they were settled.

    I haven’t shifted from saving John Martyn though. I can’t think of any song that can replace it for its sentiments of friendship and goodwill. The are other heartbreak songs, post-coital songs, but I don’t know anything quite like May You Never. The guitar playing is a zillion light years from the aimless strumming that too many singer-songwriters default to, it has both rhythm and decoration, and matches the lyric for both passion and gentleness.

    Out of the balloon for me, is a song with melody and charm – but Bonnie Prince Billy made me want, like Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, to invoke the spiriti of Charlie Rich singing Behind Closed Doors. It was too up close, personal and felt too Millsy Boony for me – my loss in a way, but if I had to choose, that would be the reason. (Ironic given how purple my prose got a moment ago).

    I’ve enjoyed this, thanks ever so much Barbryn.

  8. Phew. I think this was the antidote to the happy Earworms this week. I’ve been making celery soup and weeping, I’m not sure if it was the onions or the playlist.

    Is it just one ‘on’ and one ‘off’? in that case, John Martyn has to stay. Dusty has to go. I just don’t get Dusty, never have – sorry.

  9. Think I’d have to declare Amy the winner – if there is a better voice in the last 30 years, I can’t think of it. Heresy warning, don’t usually like Dusty’s voice, but she doesn’t seem to be doing whatever it is that I don’t like on this one, so she can stay.

    John Martyn has to go, in a close call, country style but not quite authentic enough – needed to go all out country or pull back more to completely work for me.

    Very tricky to pick arbitrary winners & losers in a playlist that works so well as a whole.

  10. Bonny Billy was by far the winner for me….I’d vote out maybe Frida or Joan – sorry!

    The surprise of the pack for me was Dusty. Of course she is really famous and everything, but I’d never really heard anything except ‘the hits’ by her before…this was great though and I loved her voice…will have to investigate further.

  11. Diamonds and Rust is one of my favourite ever songs, so that has to stay. I liked all the others, so difficult to pick one to jettison; a toss-up between Amy and Bonnie Prince for me, leaning slightly towards the former.

  12. This is a hard game ! ! !

    I think for me I am between Frida Hyvonen and John Martyn to go . . . .Ummmm maybe Frida Hyvonen as I thought it sort of did not fit with the feel of the tracks that came after.

    A track I think would fit well and start the play list nicely would be Lia Ices – Little Marriage so this would be my nomination for the track to go in.

    Lia Ices – Little Marriage

  13. Afraid I didn’t like Frida, there are certain mannerisms female vocalist use that just irritate me. Joan Baez has to stay for me, I appreciate the John Martyn track, but don’t like him, if you see what I mean, or that would stay.

    I’d dump Emmylou, sorry, I have an allergy to that much country, but her voice is lovely. I really pleasing selection though :-)

  14. I started out being charmed and intrigued by Frida Hyvonen but the conversational tone squeezed into song form, with added melodrama, started to grate after a while. I might have loved it with a bit of lyric editing.
    The backing on the Joan Baez track is fantastic and her voice is magnificent….but, again, the lyrics needed a scythe taken to them. Just because a song is autobigraphical, it doesn’t have to be in diary form.
    Did you all see the wonderful TV doc of Amy W’s 2006 concert in Dingle, with just bass and guitar? What a voice and what an ability to use it! She may not always have sung my favourite songs but I can’t fault her as an artist. Shame: she came across the genuine article.
    Dusty’s voice, by contrast, just doesn’t have enough about it, although it has a lovely tone. The song is nice enough.
    Tindersticks: The guitar riff is nicked from the VU (Waiting For The Man) and someone should have given the singer some strong coffee before recording started. Not bad, but not good.
    Cowboy Junkies. Nice. Pleasant. Sounds like The Carpenters (in my head), which is not a recommendation.
    Bonnie Prince Billy is a great contrast to the last one (excellent sequencing right through this list, barbryn). Nice, pleasant, but with a depth of emotion and fragility that elevates it above the norm.
    Great guitars and country harmonies in the Gillian Welch track. Not 100% convinced by the guitar solo but full marks for intent (although it reminded me that I miss Jerry).
    I know and love the John Martyn track. This studio version may seem a little too smooth for some but, remembering his live versions, I know there was always fire in John’s belly. (btw, shoey, I don’t think he ever had ‘country’ ambitions, so that’s a bit of a strange yardstick to measure him by.)
    I’m afraid the Gram Parsons track is a little too vanilla-flavoured to light my fire. Great voices and good playing but nothing special.
    First Aid Kit is, again, pleasant. I understand why the track is here but I’m not sure it stands upright on its own.

    Amy, Bonnie Prince Billy, Gillian and John have to stay. Cowboy Junkies can go, for being the most bland and inoffensive.

  15. For reasons I won’t go into (though Chris touches on one aspect) Joan is getting the toss from me. I couldn’t listen to this list more than once with that in. As for perfection, Gram & Emmy Lou without fail. One my favorites from Gram. Gram’s voice is like Icarus flown too close to love’s fire with only the cooling of Emmy Lou’s backing keeping the wax intact. Just gorgeous & very nearly perfect it is.

    • Oh & I had never heard Dusty’s version of I Think It’s Going To Rain Today. Not surprised that it’s stunning. Well done, Barbryn

  16. Like the way the new challenge is shaping up. Would it be better to cut down the number of songs, 5 maybe? Would struggle to know what to pick unless there was a common theme – perhaps we could revisit some old RR themes & folks could replace one, instead of just voting one off the island. Might bugger up the carry over idea though.

    • Shoey; I just made a list and the first edit was 30+, I got it down to twenty which was painful and then down to 14 which was excruciating, can’t imagine how I’m going to lose those last 3!
      So I won’t vote for your 5 limit.
      ps; mine have a theme.

      • Just thinking that not too many have time for an album length playlist (not that that will ever stop us, am I right Shane?). It’s also a little cruel to be voting out someone’s best of.

        Think the replace with idea has legs, perhaps ‘Spill points could be awarded if the host manages to get through the thread with at least one survivor?

        Looking forward to your themed take on our new game.

  17. Thanks to all of you for some fascinating responses and kind words – it wasn’t as painful as it might have been. Some thoughts of my own:

    Frida – Over the last 3 years or so I’ve found myself wanting to listen to her more than pretty much any other artist. She has her moments of melodrama, certainly, but I think she earns them with her delivery, the precision of the lyrics and the arrangements. But several of you voted her out, and she was nobody’s favourite, so I guess she has to go.

    Joan – More reawakened memories of long-lost love. I love the brooding backing, and she shares with Frida Hyvonen a gift for undercutting herself with sly humour ( “As I remember your eyes were bluer than robins’ eggs / My poetry was lousy you said”, “Speaking strictly for me, we both could have died then and there”). I think the greatness of this is that it’s both intensely personal and specific (not many of us have had a relationship with His Bobness) and universal (because we’ve all paid for the diamonds and rust at one time or another, right?)

    Amy – Some divided opinions here. I think it’s important to keep reminding the world that behind the tabloid caricature she was a true artist with a voice for the ages and a handful of songs that have already become classics. I can imagine Ella or Billie singing this one – and not singing it any better.

    Dusty – Confession: I don’t know much Randy Newman beyond the Toy Story films, and hardly have any Dusty Springfield records. I discovered this song (along with Nina Simone’s version) during RR Songs About Rain week, so thanks to whoever put it in the ‘box. It’s the restrained string arrangement that makes this for me.

    Tindersticks – If we’d had that sort of wedding, I might have chosen this for the first dance. I love that they’ve made a song called “Dancing” which is so perfectly still. It almost rouses itself to walking pace… then it stops again for the chorus. Less is more…

    Cowboy Junkies – …but not always. I actually love the lushness and the tinkling which, as Bishbosh mentioned, is out of character for them. The refrain – “The beautiful is not chosen / The chosen becomes beautiful” – is a mantra to live by. And “darkling” is the most poetic word in the English language. This was the one song I knew I was going to include on this playlist, so I guess it’s the one I’m voting to keep.

    Bonnie Prince Billy – Interesting… jettisoned by some, hugged close by others. I have a particular personal attachment to this one. Perhaps it makes more sense too in the context of Will Oldham’s career – there’s so much pain and darkness in his music that a song as pure, happy and generous as this seems especially precious.

    Gillian – One of those voices that could sing the telephone book, so of course she can make one of Radiohead’s most moving songs into something of ineffable beauty. Every note here seems to belong – even the little imperfections in the guitar solo.

    John – I have nothing to add to what DaddyPig said: I don’t know anything quite like May You Never. The guitar playing is a zillion light years from the aimless strumming that too many singer-songwriters default to, it has both rhythm and decoration, and matches the lyric for both passion and gentleness.

    Gram and Emmylou – Fintan sums up this one perfectly: Gram’s voice is like Icarus flown too close to love’s fire with only the cooling of Emmy Lou’s backing keeping the wax intact. Just gorgeous & very nearly perfect it is.

    First Aid Kit – Swedish teenagers singing a country song about Gram and Emmylou… it doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

    Anyway, this was fun. I’m still not sure about the whole idea of this game, but it’s a good way of sharing music and our thoughts about it – and that’s kind of what we’re all here for, isn’t it?

      • I’m listening again as I potter around waiting for 10pm to come around – it’s such a lovely playlist, barbryn. Hope you weren’t upset/offended by any of my off-the-cuff comments (I’m sure you weren’t!). I did enjoy that Cowboy Junkies track – it’s just not my favourite of theirs. But I can see how that line in particular would resonate.

        And I’m totally with you on the specific/universal: I’m far more likely to be moved by someone singing in detail about their life and experiences than by the musical equivalent of what my acting tutors would have described as “a general wash of emotion”. It takes courage to lay oneself bare. And courage is nearly always moving – to me anyway! (And of course it provides something concrete to relate to as a listener.)

        Anyway, thanks for sharing what are clearly important songs to you.

  18. Hmm, overall a good set of tunes. Gillain Welch and Bonny Prince Billy would be for the chop, except they are saved by the presence of Frida.

    She goes, because I hated the song.

    John Martyn, Joan Baez, Amy and Dusty are all beyond reproach.

  19. As soon as I saw the list I knew there was going to be trouble. There’s some sacred cow artists here that you know you are supposed to like. Who’s going to put their hand up and vote out Emmylou? Or say they think Bonnie Will Oldham is a tad overrated? (OK, I will).

    The toughest thing this week was listening to the songs as if I didn’t already know the artist and have an opinion about them. Like someone above said, everyone knows Dusty by her hits. We all know Amy from her press and her hits.

    Hard to listen to a song blindfolded, as it were.

    If we had to vote out two, I’d be stumped. But one is easy because I listened with an open mind but came to the same conclusion about First Aid that I always do. They don’t work. It’s not because they are Swedish and shouldn’t be allowed to do americana, but because they needs a producer. What they’ve done here is collected all the raw ingredients for a country song, thrown them in a slow cooker for a day’s simmer and spooned it out onto white bread for a cheap and easy midweek family supper. (I also don’t think their harmonies work as well as they seem to think they do)

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