I enjoyed doing the previous ‘songs from the vault’ post so much, as did some of you, that I thought I’d do another one. As before, there aren’t any themes, just good tunes that you may or may not know.
First up is Picture in a Frame by Tom Waits, off of his highly rated 1999 album, Mule Variations. The song is dripping with a timeless quality. You could easily imagine hearing it in an old Clint Eastwood western. You can hear the creaking of the piano bench before Waits plays and you can almost feel the sun clawing its way through the wooden beams of a frontier dwelling. Well, that’s what comes to my mind anyway. See what you think…
Next up is Stephanie Says, recorded in 1968 by the Velvet Underground. It’s a simple but perfectly constructed tune and one of their best, featuring, amongst others, Lou Reed on vocals, John Cale on viola and, I think, Cale on glockenspiel. I first heard it on the soundtrack to the film The Royal Tennenbaums both of which are well worth checking out.
Winding the clock forwards 40 years to 2008 we have Polmont on my mind by the Glaswegian band, Glasvegas. The song relates to the band’s experience of the young offenders institute in Polmont, Falkirk, having played there. The song has a massive sound that grows even bigger as the song moves into its anthemic climax (at around the three minute mark for the impatient amongst you!). The rest of their eponymous 2008 album is equally good (well almost) and is well worth a listen.
15 miles south east of Glasgow is Motherwell, the birth place of The Delgados. Their album The Great Eastern (2000) included some cracking tunes. My pick of the bunch is the subdued and minimalistic Make your move. Like Stephanie Says, the classic band line-up is complemented by other instruments, this time by flute and dobro. Not that you’d really noticed, everything is as it should be and in service of the song.
Continuing along the slightly melancholy path of these tunes, but recognising that Christmas is almost upon us, it’d be remiss of me not to include something Christmassy. A Charlie Brown Christmas first appeared on U.S. television screens in 1965. The TV special, like the animated show, features the music of the Vince Guaraldi trio, a jazz piano trio based in San Francisco. The soundtrack includes a mixture of traditional Christmas songs and Guaraldi’s own compositions. It’s these originals which make the album and have become classics, including Linus and Lucy and Skating. The stand out track, which I first heard on the previously mentioned Royal Tennenbaums soundtrack, is Christmas Time is Here. The Guaraldi-penned tune has been covered by a veritable who’s who list of singers including Tony Bennett and the mighty Kenny Loggins! You don’t need to know any more than that.
It remains for me to say have a Happy Christmas and I hope you continue reading in 2017.