14 tracks of MOPS antidote

Just in case you were wondering what the final MOPS Antidote playlist turned out to be, here they are, in order, with comments:

1. "I See a Darkness," by Will Oldham, covered by Johnny Cash on American III. I love everything about this song. I love the title, and I love the content of the lyrics: sure, let's go ahead and laugh and be happy, but let's not forget that darkness is always there, waiting for us to fall into its clutches.

2. "Hurt," by Trent Reznor, covered by Mr. Cash on American IV. What was it with Cash? He just had this amazing ability to take songs that are iconic for their original performers and completely own them, and I think his cover of "Hurt" may have been the pinnacle of such works (although his cover of "Personal Jesus," which I love but didn't find appropriate for this playlist, is also an incredible example of the transformative power of Cash). Anyway, again, great content: I'm broken. Don't you forget it.

3. "I Let Love In," by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. "Despair and deception,/ Love's ugly little twins,/ Came knocking on my door,/ And I let them in./ Darling, you're the punishment for all my former sins./ I let love in, I let love in." Ouch. Also, really wonderful opening guitar.

4. "The Mercy Seat," by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Ooof. What an amazing and tightly packed contemplation of the intersection of grace and judgment, self-delusion and repentance. (Cash covered this one, too, but I have ever so slight a preference for the Cave version.)

5. "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Think apocalyptic western-- if John Ford were a poet and wrote the Book of Revelation, chapter 13 would be this song. And yet it's so groovy and whimsical; it makes me want to twitch my head robotically, if you know what I mean.

6. "Past the Mission" by Tori Amos. Nobody does violated rage like Tori Amos. This is one of the best murder ballads I know.

7. "New Age," by the Velvet Underground, covered by Tori Amos on Strange Little Girls. For sheer, heroin-tracked, lipstick-smeared dissipation and depravity, you just don't get any better than this one.

8. "Out of Touch," by Lucinda Williams. And now for shift in tone. There's a sense of loneliness and isolation in this song, but not hopelessness. Just...fatigue at having to deal with it all. Gorgeous song-- the kind that's most appropriate played in the car as you drive down a dark country toad on a humid summer night, alone and melancholy, cigarette hanging out the window.

9. "Not a Drop of Rain," by Robert Earl Keene. If there's anything at which Texas singer-songwriters excel, it's songs of regret and loss. This is a particular favorite of mine-- understated. Nice.

10. "Horseshoe Lounge," by Slaid Cleaves. Another Texan, more regret and loss. There are worse regrets to have than lost opportunities, but few harder to release. Again, nothing overdone, just pure country heartache.

11. "Comfort" by Matthew Ryan. I love this man's voice. Think Bob Dylan, but less nasal. And this song really shows it off-- so bitter. Mmmmm, bitterness.

12. "The Golden Age" by Beck. More isolation; another song best accomapnied by a cigarette and an open car window. I'm not a terribly ardent Beck fan, usually, but Sea Change just blew me away.

13. "Left Behind," by Bedhead. Bedhead does here what few artists are able to do: wrench tears from me. This song manages to make quite vivid the loneliness at the point of death without wallowing in self-pity. Plus it just rocks in that dreamy, tons of reverb and layered guitar way that I like.

14. "With the World Behind," by Lift to Experience, may they return someday in glorious resurrection. The song itself is lovely, and Josh Pearson's voice pierces the heart. As an aside, if you are unfamiliar with Lift or Josh, you are missing something truly incredible. Josh is the best live performer I have ever seen, period. He is also somewhat of a cult figure in the indie music world. The last rumour I heard was that he was still hiding out in central Texas somewhere, although I've heard he occasionally surfaces in Austin. So, if you happen to be in Austin and see a skeletal figure with a battered cowboy hat, a patriarchal beard, and haunted blue eyes...see if he happens to be singing somewhere. You will not be disappointed.


quarto said...

Lift to Experience. Check. Will look them up.

El Miguel said...

Say, that's a good soundin' disk. I've never gotten LtE though. I haven't heard much, but what I've heard I thought was pretty underwhelming. I know that's blasphemy in some quarters. It's a shame Bedhead broke up. They never really got the respect they deserved. I saw them open for Fugazi at the Bomb Factory in Dallas in the early 90's, and they were amazing. Still, I'm a little disappointed that none of my music made your list :)