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Monday, August 29, 2005

Listen Over My Shoulder

I don't listen to the radio. I haven't for years. I know there are some independent or college stations that are supposed to be worth listening to, but I'd just rather not deal with it. I'm selfish in that regard: I want absolute control over what passes through my ears, musicwise at least. Sometimes, though, despite my best efforts, I find myself in situations where someone else is in control of the music. And not someone who knows me and wants to introduce me to something they think I might take a liking to, someone who's tuning the dial carelessly. It sucks, but it's a fact of life. I've learned to handle it with dignity and grace.

And it's a good thing too, because if I've learned anything in my time as a music junkie, it's that you never know where your next fix is going to come from. I've been introduced to great songs in the supermarket and in elevators. The first time I heard Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "Tracks Of My Tears" I was walking around a shopping mall. There's a fragment of a song I heard once at a poetry reading. The singer was rebelling against guitars being outlawed at the event. That fragment means more to me than many things I've sought out; not a lot of time passes between the occasions when I feel the urge to sing it.

Today at work, someone else had the good computer, with the speakers. They chose the radio. KEXP. I don't have anything against this station, except that they don't play what I want to hear when I want to hear it. Well, and the fact that most radio personalities, if I can call them that, are annoying by nature. But today, KEXP did introduce me to something I liked, a lot. See, you just never know.

What KEXP played was an in-studio session by Seattle singer-songwriter Christy McWilson from August, 2002. The song I heard, sandwiched between your standard, unexceptional indie-rock fare, was called "Can't Stop A Train". It stopped me in my tracks; I've been thinking about it all day since. Luckily, and here's where KEXP gets props, the song is still available for download from their website, even if only as a Real Media file. I feel obliged to share it:

Christy McWilson - "Can't Stop A Train"

This song is originally from 2002's Bed Of Roses, Christy's second album (of two, so far). Her voice is classic and very country, fully possessed of that high, lonesome sound, and this song is perfectly suited for bringing it out. Simple, universal lyrics, a chugging rhythm that aspires to mimic a train, a plaintive melody and a phenomenal, rocking band: this can only be country rock. I challenge you to listen to this and not be moved, one way or another.

Christy McWilson - "The Serpentine River"

Christy McWilson - "Weight Of The World"

Here are two more songs from the same session that KEXP has kindly made available. "The Serpentine River" is also from Bed Of Roses, whereas "Weight Of The World" is from her first album, 2000's The Lucky One. These songs are also available to stream as Windows audio files if you'd prefer, also at the website linked above.

Check out Christy McWilson's website for (a little) more information.

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