Earworms – November 28

“He who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once”
Robert Browning

Them – Hey Girl
I first heard this song when I was about 16. Even then, I thought it a bit creepy. Lots of rock & roll jailbait songs but very few this gorgeous.

Sparklehorse – Cow
Our resident DeadHead recently identified a difference between my’n’his musical likes. He likes longer songs to feature some variety in structure… more often than not, I don’t. I like songs that take a motif and do no more with it than sneakily crescendo. Chris may [perfectly legitimately] get bored, but me? I love to lose myself in the repetition, as in this fine effort from the late, lamented Mark Linkous.

Hussey-Regan – Wichita Lineman
Now, I have never proffered an All About Eve song up as an earworm. And this is not an All About Eve song. It’s not even (quite) an All About The Mission song. But it is a rather splendid cover version, and I feel curiously vindicated in knowing that the arrangement was by the Regan half of the duo.

Kathy Mattea – Late In The Day
This is the perfect post-break up song. Uncompromising country. Bourbon. Heartache. Yessireebob.

Tom Russell (with Lucinda Williams & Calexico) – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
On this bonus track from his fantastic new album, Mesabi, Tom Russell teams up with Lucinda Williams (who previously covered it on her own) and Calexico. That combination brings a more fitting level of menace to the lyrics than Dylan’s sitting around the campfire delivery.

Please send submissions to earworm@tincanland.com – thanks! And don’t forget: Please send those festive Earworms in by 12 December!

54 thoughts on “Earworms – November 28

  1. Oo-er, Zala, are you aware this month’s UNCUT review calls this very version of the song “truly monstrous“?

    Back shortly . . .

  2. Well, yee-hah. Some good stuff here.
    Them. Fabulous. Always liked Van when he was with Them. Really nice track.
    Sparklehorse. Not so keen on first listening, but will give it another go.
    Hussey-Regan. I liked this. An interesting interpretation of the Glen Campbell classic.
    Kathy Mattea. Old tune, new lyrics, pleasant voice. I’m not over keen on some country – music for the Tea Party. However, this was nice, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy it.
    Tom Russell. I really did like this. It ties with Them as my pick of the week.

  3. Much as I love a bit of country I find most of these guilty of “trying too hard”.
    Them have long been a favourite ( is that grammatical ?) and Hey Girl definitely a great track.
    Other than that only Kathy Mattea appealed but even that a tad soporific for me.

  4. Well that set’s made me think!
    Looking at the artist listing before I began, I thought this would do my mood today just nicely, but it didn’t work out like that at all.

    I liked Them. I was composing my response comment along the lines of “don’t find that at all creepy”; in fact I thought it was a quite dignified and thoughtful lyric on the subject . . . until the very last line! Now that did make it creepy. Ugh. Good song though.

    Re my selection: I hope Chris doesn’t think I’m having a pop (I’m most definitely NOT), or that he pulls me up on my sweeping generalization (probably guilty, m’lud, but not deliberately or with malice aforethought). It’s just that when he said it, his line really struck a chord with me about why I like certain longer songs so much.

    I’m not convinced by Wayne on Wichita Lineman at all, but the backing and arrangement do indeed score good marks.

    Like the Kathy Mattea, but if I’m honest, would probably struggle to pick it out of a line-up of the usual suspects.

    Now then … Tom Russell + Lucinda Williams + Calexico x Bob Dylan tune should = a DsD blaze of glory, but somehow this never quite ignites the fires. I’ve played it 3 times, and I’ll keep trying, but Lucinda seems to be too whiny, Tom sounds like someone overacting a portentous Johnny Cash, and Calexico are underrepresented, despite their obvious presence on lovely little signature touches like the guitar shimmer and the trumpet line.

    Beautifully put together, though, Bish, as ever. Thanks, everyone.

    • Are you responding to my comment last week about preferring that two-chord noodles ‘have a little more to them’, DsD? Or is it some other top-of-the-head comment I made without realising the damage it may cause to your psyche?!
      ‘Cos this ain’t no two-chord noodle, in my book. There’s plenty going on to keep the interest alive, even though the underlying chords repeat. I’m rather partial to a bit of Sparklehorse, as it goes. Even when they don’t actually reach a crescendo (which is 95% of the time).

      (I’ll get time to listen to all of them properly later.)

      • “Two-chord noodle”? Don’t recall that one. No, it was something else Chris. Gotta go out now to pick up DsSis from Guides, and am absolutely shattered, so will prob collapse in my own bed as soon as I’ve got her to hers, but hope to explain myself to you tomorrow (in the office on my own most of the day – can’t see much work getting done).

  5. “Beautifully put together, though, Bish, as ever. Thanks, everyone.”

    I’ll dond that.
    Just an idle thought but seeing as you do seem to favour “themed” earworms would it be an idea to ask for worms of a certain type every so often ?

    If I’d known it was country week I could have suggested this one from Miss Skeeter Davis ( Miss Skeeter ?) which has been driving me mad all dum de doo wah week….

    • If we ask for themed earworms we’ll inevitably have more than can be used, as at RR. This way everyone’s gets in eventually, and I like the way it forces us to consider a sing in a new context.

      • Pairubu is onto something there, though… Just don’t do it under the Earworm moniker, but another series could be done out of this. Someone suggests a genre, or an era (the way eJay does with his excellent year-themed series), or whatever, for people to submit songs that fit the bill. The one making the suggestion makes a post out of it, etc…

        Or not…

      • Selfishly, I rather like trying to piece together coherent lists from whatever people have submitted. It’s a bit like concocting a meal out of whatever random ingredients you’ve got in the cupboard: sometimes it works; sometimes it tastes a bit iffy…

      • Good idea lambi

        Earworms sure have evolved from the early days when the list comprised the first six, ok only six, submissions.

  6. Them – Hey Girl

    The use of the flute is quite unusual I think in Country music and but it is really effective in this track. I do not know why people think this is creepy??? I think it is really lovely. But yes the last line does make it seem like the romance in the song was a little superficial ! ! !

    Sparklehorse – Cow

    I like the accordion I this track and the atmospheric singing. The style rock guitar parts are also very nice and match the track perfectly. I found the track quite hypnotic and very soothing in away. It is both new and familiar at the same time. Somehow I think it is like a new cake you make with ingredients of all your favorite cakes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not ! ! ! But I really enjoyed this track.

    Hussey-Regan – Wichita Lineman

    I do love this song as it seems so nostalgic and lonely, but there is strength and integrity in the song that I really admire. So I was very excited to hear a new version of it. This is now my very favorite version ! ! ! The arrangement is really great and the opening made me think this was going to be a nice but unusual version, but then the girl started to sing and thought wow! This is going to be good ! ! ! I think the different focus having a girl sing it as a duet with a guy makes it really different and gives an new view to the song. The voices match really well when they sing their different parts and the vocal harmonies are wonderful also. It made me think that I could fall in love with a Wichita Lineman also.

    Kathy Mattea – Late In The Day

    I love the quite piano accompaniment it matches her voice really nicely, and the arrangement with the guitar is smooth. There are some almost church music parts to the piano parts which I find evocative and really paint the picture of the character and beliefs and history of the girl singing the song. It is a simple and direct song and the honesty of the emotions are really easy to understand. Somehow you know she is a nice girl ! ! ! But one day someone will write a break up song that features cakes and chocolate and not hard liquor ! ! !

    Tom Russell (with Lucinda Williams & Calexico) – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

    Of course I know this song from Bob Dylan, but it is a song I have ambiguous feeling for. Somehow I think should like it but I never have quite managed to ! ! ! I think it is just too obscure for me. It reminds me of the like a drunk man that seem to want to tell me his life story but you can understand anything about it ! ! ! But maybe this what it really is trying to do? In this version it really sounds like a conversation I do not want to listen to at a party that I want to leave. But I liked the voices and the arrangement, but I just cannot get passed my feeling for the song. I feel bad that I cannot like it. But thank you for introducing me to Tom Russell. I will definitely check out the album you recommend ! ! !

    It makes a really nice playlist altogether and it is a nice theme. Country influenced but not just country, and a really nice selection artist, none of whom I had ever heard before, so it was really great!!!

    Thank you everyone and well done Bish for a really smooth running playlist ! ! !

  7. A Fantastic Five this week, quite right given the two longer worms. I like them all and the way they’re assembled.

    It’s Fintan-related Van Morrison on consecutive days for me, having donded You Don’t Pull Your Punches… on RR. It’s indeed lovely, and as Van was only 20 at the time, I can accept it as a slice of real life, that mix of romance and lust that is especially heady in one’s youth, rather than anything creepy.

    The Sparklehorse builds up nicely, with the mandolin, guitar, accordion, bass and drums all doing their bit to colour in the repeated figure and drive it on.

    The Hussey-Regan cover worked really well for me, very seductive arrangement, and I especially loved the way the male-female sharing of the verses reflects the way the lyrics shift from the practicalities of maintaining the network to deepest relationship thoughts.

    Kathy Mettea is new to me and that’s a lovely country song. To further reassure Mitch, from her website she appears about as far from the Tea Party as possible, an “environmental activist” from a mining family, with albums including Coal (2008). I shall to listen to some more from her…

    Tom Russell and friends’ version of Hard Rain is indeed grimly effective, menacing as Tinny says.

    Cheers everyone !

  8. Another good set, bish. Nothing really grabbed me this week. Personally, I don’t usually like covers of well-loved originals, but the Dylan cover worked for me (and the Glen Campbell didn’t). Sparklehorse could do no wrong, and keeps his record with Cow. The Them I remember were a hard rockin’ R&B outfit, so this track is unfamiliar and uncharacteristic to me, and presages Van the Man’s solo career. I liked Late in the day, but prefer alt-country, and in that genre my real fave is k.d. lang’s ‘Absolute torch and twang’. Here’s Pullin’ back the reins’

  9. I’ve just read your comments Sakura, I loved the “cakes and chocolate” line, and the shocking confession to not getting every detail of a Bob Dylan song. Don’t worry or feel bad, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. One just has to go with the flow of his lyrics I think.

    I suppose one could have cakes and chocolate AND hard liquor…

  10. Can’t say the Hussey-Regan or Mattea moved me. I’m not a fan of songs with Henry Mancini arrangements (as I call them) because, like the trilling mandolin, it feels like a gimmick to use when the singer can’t convey the emotions of the lyrics on his/her own.

    Enjoyed the Sparkelhorse and Them; I imagine it’s considered wrong to say but Morrison needs to be part of a band to counterbalance his pompousity and capriciousness.

    • I don’t know if he’s pompous in real life or just comes across that way at times; but certainly the Van earworm I contributed a few weeks ago was him in a regular band with Georgie Fame and other complementary characters.

  11. Fab theme, bish. As you know, I love country (all of it) and so I really wanted this to float my boat. Partially it did. It was very well put together, and as a playlist really works. Well done.

    Them – Hey Girl
    I liked this very much. Lovely instrumentals, very folky. Sort of an Otis Redding/Stones feel to it, somehow.

    Sparklehorse – Cow
    Great track. Very yummy. My earworm of the week.

    Hussey-Regan – Wichita Lineman
    I didn’t like it very much at all, sorry Zalamanda. 😦 I just found something very unusual, by Friends of Dean Martinez (which comprises members of Calexico, Naked Prey and Giant Sand) which I much prefer for lushness and likeability, which I’ll add on at the end for anyone who wants to listen.

    Tom Russell (with Lucinda Williams & Calexico) – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
    Nice – but I kept waiting for this to enter warp drive and it never did.

    @Sakura. To heck with cake. Bourbon every time for me, girl!

    • The proximity of the word “bourbon” to the word “cake” made me think of those chocolate cream biscuits that are inexplicably known as “Bourbons”. I never did work out why. (But I don’t really like them anyhow.)

  12. Them: OK. I bet that young singer goes on to greater things….
    Sparklehorse: lovely, particularly the various oddnesses tinkling and swirling around. (btw, DsD, 7 minutes is not long in my book.)
    Hussey-Regan: what an odd mix. Interesting, but I’m not sure it works for me. Perhaps a little over-ambitious.
    Kathy Mattea: I like the opening build-up and the guitar. Hateful back-beat rim shot again (Van’s song didn’t keep it going, fortunately). Good quality overall, but I’m not sure it distinguishes itself from many other songs/singers of this type.
    Tom Russell: I could do without the tremor in his voice and Lucinda Williams channelling Macy Gray. Calexico are great. It definitely builds up some power and sadness. I think it’s actually one of those songs that is better read as a poem, so that the rhythms are not tied to a beat.

    Thanks once more to all and bish. I do wish some more of you would express an opinion on the Dead tracks I post. As you may have gathered, I don’t mind saying I don’t like something; why not exact revenge?!

    • Confession time: I’m terrible for only really investigating Spillposts on particular groups/genres when I already think I (will) like them. Why not slip a few more Dead/related tracks into the Earworms pile, Chris – for those of us who have yet to be sufficiently converted to check out Dead-specific postings? It’s been ages since we’ve had a ‘worm from you…

  13. In brief from me: I like all of these, obviously! Them was lovely gentle stuff. The lyric didn’t bother me, but then I sometimes think I don’t pay sufficient attention to lyrics… (See later.) The Sparklehorse made me think I should check out more of their music, even if it did meander a little too long for my taste. It took me a while to get into Wayne as a Wichita Lineman, but I was eventually converted – just. LOVE “Late in the Day” – I can imagine having a heartbroken weep to this one day… And finally, that version of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” has forced me to listen to the lyrics – in fact, to feel the lyrics (I couldn’t claim to understand them either, Sakura!) – far more than any other I’ve heard. So for me, it really works. I love the way the storm builds toward the end too. Thanks everyone!

  14. Oh, bother. I’d nearly finished writing a wonderful critique of these ‘worms and then I massed it all up and it’s gone! All gone! You shall have to make do with the bits I remember…

    • The Them song is, indeed, gorgeous. The babysitter line jarred a little, but, like DaddyPig pointed out, Van wasn’t very old at the time… but even so. When I heard it to start with I thought he was referring to her as the babysitter – which worked better for me. It was striking, to me, how very unIrish Van sounded here. In fact, he sounded rather unVan, too – in later years, he seems to have acquired that pomposity that Tinny referred to, which I usually find a little offputting.

      The Sparklehorse track did ramble everso slightly but it was so lovely that I really didn’t mind.

      The Hussey-Regan was my choice. Usually I don’t say much about my own, but this is a rum ‘un, not least because I’m not enormously fond of Wayne’s voice (he’s got a bit croony in his old age, which doesn’t suit him any better than his brand of pomposity did). But, of course, Julianne could sing the ‘phone book and it’d still be wonderful (having said that, she did somehow find a couple of songs that didn’t suit her voice on the album that this song comes from, which must have been difficult), and I love the idea that this song could become a duet. Julianne is on record as saying that this is a truly romantic song, free of cliche and – well, she’s right. It’s a fabulous song.

      The Kathy Mattea is really, really lovely. I think it just squeezes in as my favourite, ahead of…

      Tom Russell and friends, which is a brilliantly foreboding version of a song that I first knew through Edie Brickell’s upbeat version. Another song recast as a duet where once it was a single voice! And here, no quibbles about daft Bristolians pretending to be hardworking Wichitans.

  15. Well I mean no offense & maybe it has a lot to do with my age and being American but I’m still waiting for the country. Is this a British euphemism for the Lake Country? May be that expectation that’s made this list a little off putting for me. Sparklehorse create a wonderful musical palette to work from. It made me warm to them but I’m still waiting for them to grab the bull by the horns. Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman is too ingrained in my brain cells to accept this kind of arrangement I’m afraid. Borders on a Broadway version. Sorry. Kathy Mattea is very pleasant & does have a country tinge that works but it reminds me of too much that’s passed off as country these days. Would love to hear her voice of an evening though. Very nice. A Hard Rain … Well sorry Tin but too earnest by half & though I love Dylan it’s a song way past it’s shelf life. The mindset that made it powerful in the wake of the Cuban Missile crisis doesn’t exist anymore. Ooh – I’m sounding a little harsh. Maybe it’s just me. Glad some of you liked Them. DSD hit on the key line for creepiness I thought. I mean you could view it as all innocent or you could think he’s just shagged her & now he’s eyeing her baby sister. I’ve loved the song for 45 ,years mostly the way Van wraps his way around the flute, but I’m glad he still doesn’t attempt it. Ugh.

  16. Potted reviews since everyone has probably moved on by now:

    Them – lovely – didn’t really listen closely to the lyric but the vocal and the music were beautiful.

    Sparklehorse – somewhere between a trot and a canter – not my usual kind of thing but fitted in perfectly here – if the Velvet Underground had “gone country”……..Why were those voles singing at the end?

    Hussey-Regan – One sings, the other doesn’t – no that’s unfair but I much preferred her contribution. I still love the Glenn Campbell version best though.

    Kathy Mattea – Great voice, great song – I can’t drink whisky (or any spirits) any more so I’ll take the chocolate and a glass of pinotage.

    Tom Russell etc – I can’t read the name Lucinda Williams without thinking of Lucinda Belle (which is something I like to do a lot). I still love this song – Their version seems to start a bit tentatively but wins me over as it continues. Just seems to gain momentum and increasing menace. Still enjoyed it on the fourth listen which is a good sign. Kept getting visions of the book/film “The Road”.

    Overview – brilliantly put together as usual – top marks to Bish.

  17. Terribly late and terribly tired, found them all a bit depressing this week but it’s probably me, so sorry. Sparklehorse wins out for me, I think. I’ll dond the compliments for Bish’s hard work, though.

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