Saturday, January 2, 2010

Andy's Songs

Andy has a lot of CDs--more than anyone I know, myself included--with everything from classical to classic rock, from blues to bluegrass, from soundtracks to sound-effects, from mainstream to alternative, from retro to progressive jazz. I know where he keeps them, too, if you're interested.

Perhaps the only thing Andy has more of than CDs is time. So every year, Andy pours his considerable resources & energy--albeit considerably less considerable--into the creation of elaborate mixes of music developed around a theme. This year, Andy chose a song about each state, an arduous task to say the least. I can't imagine the amount of time--time he could have spent, say, reading comic books or perhaps taking quizzes on Facebook about comic books--he invested in this project.

The first volume begins with John (They Might Be Giants) Linnell's "The Songs of the 50 States," a fitting declaration of Andy's purpose. The next tune, "Everyone Loves Delaware" by Pookey Bleum, seems a bit sarcastic when coupled with Linnell's tongue-in-cheek introduction, for the listener may be misled initially about the quality of the songs to follow. However, this is not simply a silly collection of novelty songs, but a fairly eclectic selection of songs, mostly out of the mainstream, representing a wide array of emotions, ideas & musical styles.

To be fair, I have no idea how difficult it was to find songs about Delaware. Maybe this is "the" song. Indeed, it would be easy to quibble about some of Andy's picks--"Georgia Hard" is too countrified for my tastes--but this collection hits the mark with nearly every song. Some of my personal favorites include Sonic Youth's "New Hampshire," Joe West's "South Dakota Hairdo" & Brian Borcherdt's "New Mexico." In fact, since Andy gave me these CDs last month, they're the only music in my car. I keep them on a constant three disc rotation.

If we recall Sir Philip Sidney said the purpose of poetry is to instruct & delight, then Andy's latest, greatest mix is, in a convoluted sense, poetry. For not only are the songs enjoyable, but Andy showed the foresight to arrange the selections in the order that each state gained admission into the union. "That's educational!" as Black Francis would tell you. Well, he would have if the Pixies' "UMass" were included in this collection--which inexplicably it isn't. Nevertheless, these are some of the best CDs I've listened to in a long time.

Thanks, Andy.

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