A few weeks ago I picked my teenage daughter up from summer camp, and on the long drive home, I asked her if she wanted to hear all the new favorite songs I’d discovered while she was gone. It was one of the greatest road trips ever because we listened to songs and sang and talked the whole way home. Every day I’m thankful that she and I have a love of music in common and can connect through that. I’m sure all of us can appreciate how rare that is, because even if we’re not all parents, we’ve all been kids. Who doesn’t remember a moment, no matter which side of the generation gap you were on, when a parent yells at their kid to “TURN THAT CRAP OFF!!!”
That just doesn’t really happen in our house. Music is like another family member. Music is in the eye of the beholder, and that is something that is truly respected in my house. Music of all genres, all beats per minute, from every decade since the first Gregorian Chant was invented – it’s all welcome in our house. From the twangiest country whimper to the gutteral growl of Heavy Metal to the delicate strains of Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, all 3,341 songs on my iPod are fair game.
But you know how those 3,341 songs got there? Almost every one of them was at one time my favorite song of the week. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not very much. OK, I’m exaggerating a lot, but not a lot a lot. Just a little a lot. It does seem, though, that I have a new favorite song almost every week.
And they’re not always new songs, but they’re usually new to me. Sometimes I find a gem that’s been out there waiting to be discovered for years before it finally comes across my ears. And sometimes I remember a song from my childhood that’s been lurking in the recesses of my brain, and then I suddenly have a flashback from when I was 10, driving across the New Mexico desert at night with my dad in our 1970 Volkswagen bus, listening to “Dreamweaver” on the radio and looking at the stars in the sky, and whattaya know … my new favorite song of the week is something that hit the top of the charts in 1976.
I play it non-stop for about 2 weeks til I get sick of it, but usually before that happens I’ve got another new favorite song anyway.
This column is dedicated to my most recent favorite songs. There’s so many of them (3,341, right?) that I had to come up with ground rules. So here they are: Every song on this playlist was added to my iPod within the past year. It might be old, might be new, and it’s possible that I already owned the song on CD at some point in my past, but it hadn’t made it onto my iPod. That’s kind of the exception that makes the rule, and there’s only one song that fits that category. So there you have it … 23 songs, each of them my “Favorite Song of the Week” during the past year. With 23 of them, I suppose it’s my Favorite Song of Every Other Week. But who’s counting?
This is probably the best opportunity for you to psychoanalyze what’s going on inside my musical brain. You’ll see clearly that I’ve got a thing for Jack White (to be honest, I’ve also got a thing for Jack Black). I like me a little reggae, and every once in a while the music my daughter and her friends are listening to actually becomes my new favorite song of every other week.
1. Chris Isaak – Big Wide Wonderful World Truly the most incredible concert experience of the year so far. I’m still swooning over this singer’s amazing voice. Maybe it was the 30-pound disco ball mirrored suit he was wearing, and then again maybe this is just an incredible song to end an incredible evening.
2. Battles – Ice Cream Every time I see JPR’s Music Director Craig Shank (who’s moving back to Indiana – major sad face) I ask him what his favorite song of the week is. This was his not all that long ago, and it quickly became mine! The singer is from Chile, and wow, does he have a thick accent. I’m not even sure he’s really singing in English.
3. Alcyon Massive – Ain’t It Fresh (The Oregon Song) Not only do they mention the State of Jefferson in this tune, they’re from the State of Jefferson. This song is always going to have a special place in my heart. And if you’re an Oregon Country Fair lovin’-Sierra Nevada World Music Festival goin’ guy or gal, you’ll love these guys too, even if you’re not a fan of hemp. I am very disappointed that this song wasn’t available on Grooveshark for the streaming playlist, but it is on YouTube.
4. Trevor Hall – Om Shakti Om He’s not even 25 yet, but has opened for one of my all time favs, Michael Franti, Ben Harper, Ziggy Marley, and your kids will probably recognize his voice from the soundtrack to Shrek 3.
5. The Rescues – Can’t Stand The Rain I was driving to an eye doctor appointment, listening to Open Air on JPR. This song came on. I sat in the parking lot until it was over. I didn’t care if I was late. In the radio bidness, that’s called A Driveway Moment. And that’s how new favorite songs of the week are born.
6. The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes There’s just something about Jack White. Every incarnation of him has resulted in a favorite song of the week. I think this song was several years old when I discovered it.
7. The White Stripes – Hello Operator Please refer to the previous favorite song for explanation.
8. Band of Skulls – I Know What I Am If you loved The Pretenders back in the day, I think you’ll dig this group.
9. Gregg Street & Nappy Dread – Good Day I discovered this tune while writing It’s A Beautiful Day – a recent installment of Mistress of the Mix – and so far, I’m still charmed by it.
10. Family Force 5 – Wobble I have to give credit to my daughter’s friend Amanda (aka Bob the Poptart) for bringing this song into my home during a recent sleepover. It’s ridiculous, and hilarious, and I luuurv it!
11. Butthole Surfers – Dracula From Houston Props to the best durned chick jet pilot on the west coast for bringing the soundtrack to Scrubs into my house, plopping it onto the counter, and saying, “You got this yet? You’ll want it.”
12. Rock Mafia – Big Big Bang It was a Sunday morning. VH1 must’ve been on, but I wasn’t really awake. A few hours later I was singing to a song I guess I’d thought I’d written while I was asleep. But my boyfriend recognized it, and that was when I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming.
13. Andy Grammer – Keep Your Head Up Another hit from a recent playlist, this one was from Let’s Give Cancer The Finger, back in June.
14. Sergio Mendes – Waters of March Another playlist inspiration, this was on the first Mistress of the Mix column, Take ‘Em To The Bridge.
15. Gabriel Mann – Artichoke This is truly the most adorable ballad of the year. Especially if you like eggs for breakfast. Unfortunately, this song also isn’t available yet through Grooveshark. Instead, I put on a runner up Gabriel Mann song, Free At Last. There is a live version on YouTube, but it’s a tad more raucous. Still amazing, just not quite as sweet. By the way, if Mann’s voice sounds familiar, he’s the heartbroken guy singing song #5 (Can’t Stand The Rain) with The Rescues as well.
16. k.d. lang – I Confess Truly the most incredible concert experience of the year so far. I’m still swooning over this singer’s amazing voice. Wait, didn’t I already say that?
17. Cyndi Lauper – Mother Earth In high school, I loved her sense of style but thought her voice was a little weird. Now it’s the other way around. (Truth be told, I still like her style.)
18. Plan B – She Said This is an obscure British song I heard a snippet of once on some television program, and just had to know who it was. It took me a few days, but I’m diligent.
19. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home There’s a really funny story to go along with how I came to know this band involving a pair of goofy glasses I bought for my boyfriend at the Dollar Tree for Valentine’s Day.
20. Asteroid Galaxy Tour – Golden
Spot (Correction: Golden Age) Recognize this little ditty? A little embarrassed to say that you know this catchy tune from a Heineken commercial? Me too. But I’m all about full disclosure. So I should probably admit that Song #8 from Band of Skulls first hit my ears on a television show too.
21. Wagon Christ – Harmoney This was a random CD that I picked up off of the “Not quite right for airplay” giveaway shelf at JPR. This British band is weird, weird, weird, so we get along pretty well.
22. Yolanda Be Cool & DCup – We No Speak Americano Sometimes you hear a song and you think, “It’s got a good beat, but you can’t really dance to it.” Then you go to the 501 and realize you were wrong. Not only can you dance to it, someone can even dance to it on the top of a pool table!
23. Crazy Frog – Crazy Frog In The House Hip Hop Remix I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I loved this song for about a week this last spring, but I finally overcame my shame and admitted it right here, in public, in print. Please don’t think less of me. Just help find me a new favorite song.
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.