The return of the Friday Random 10 … er, 5

It’s been over five years since I did a Friday Random 10 post. When I was last blogging daily, these posts started out as a group blogging challenge, a fun way to talk music and other stuff. After a while they became mechanical and they stopped along with my other blogging. Now that I’m three full weeks into my resolution to blog every weekday, I thought it might be time to resurrect the format, but with some changes. Namely, I’m not just going to post a list of tunes, I’m also going to write a little bit about each one, and so I’m shortening it from a Random 10 to a Random 5.

Otherwise the rules are the same: turn on your music player, hit shuffle, and list the first 5 tunes that come up… no cheating. I hereby swear to blog about it even if it’s embarrassing.

So here we go:

  1. What Is Your SecretNada Surf (The Weight is a Gift). A favorite band ten years ago, I need to go back and revisit some of their later albums which didn’t stick as much with me. But The Weight is a Gift and its predecessor, Let Go, are in my top 100 albums list, and even a lesser song like this is still a great listen for the harmonization.
  2. Song That Made Us What We Are Today (Demo)Red Hot Chili Peppers (Mother’s Milk). I’m not the biggest Chili Peppers fan in the world but I do love their earlier, edgier stuff, and this instrumental track is all bristly funk.
  3. Oh CarolinaVirginia Glee Club (Songs of Virginia). I’ve written about this track before and it’s still funny. What I didn’t write about is the musical form. A lot of these football songs were written for the spectators to sing at a football game and never had harmonizations, so when the Glee Club went to record this one they had to come up with a new arrangement for it. It’s a fun combination of traditional harmonization and multi-octave voicing that I hope we do as an alumni song someday.
  4. Like the 309Johnny Cash (American V – A Hundred Highways). In the aftermath of David Bowie’s death, it’s interesting to revisit Cash’s. Where Bowie’s was, in retrospect, a premeditated surprise managed for maximum artistic impact, Johnny Cash’s had all the inevitability of Revelations—the public awareness of his health problems, the death of June, the elegiac tone of the last few albums. In that context, his first posthumous release is both moving and comforting, with the bluesy shuffle of “Like the 309” a good representation of the tone.
  5. Above ChiangmaiBrian Eno (Ambient 2 – The Plateaux of Mirror). I went back to find the other albums in Eno’s Ambient series the other week, and was glad I did. This one is mostly composer Harold Budd on piano responding to “tones” introduced by Eno, who otherwise contributes mostly sound textures to the recording. The track “Above Chiangmai” is a soundscape in itself, sounding as though the piano is heard through the bones of the skull rather than the ears, and is hypnotic in its simple melodic improvisation. A little Satie, a little Cage, and all Eno.