Category Archives: To Revisit

24. Anna Begins – Counting Crows

Anna Begins is possibly the greatest love song ever written. The album version sucks enormous ass, so that’s why we return, time and again, to this live, acoustic version from the Jools Holland show in…I don’t know. Before you were born, anyway.

I am not worried,
I am not overly concerned

Yes you are, Adam Duritz, and that’s the reason you wrote the song.

She’s talking in her sleep
It’s keeping me awake

Well, that’s what you get for falling in love with a woman. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Maybe I should just snap her up in a butterfly net and just pin her down on a photograph album

I’m not ready for this sort of thing

You and me both, Adam. You and me both.

Artist: Counting Crows
Album: August and Everything After
Writer: Adam Duritz
Producer: T Bone Burnett
Released: 1993; Geffen

19. Late for the Sky – Jackson Browne

It is with sadness that Threehundredsongs notes the loss of of the legendary musician, multi-instrumentalist and all-round good guy, Mr. David Lindley.

David’s contribution to our musical lore does not need to be retold here. But Martin Scorcese knew it. Not for nothing was David’s guitar solo, coming in after the tense, silent break in Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky, used as the crushing moment in Taxi Driver. The moment when Travis Bickle finally breaks:

I’m not sure a finer guitar moment has ever been put to record.

How long have I been sleeping?
How long have I been drifting alone through the night?
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right?
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
To be the the one you need

Sometimes we all seem to close our eyes, yet we try and try again with all our might.

Artist: Jackson Browne
Album: Late for the Sky
Writer: Jackson Browne
Producer: Jackson Browne
Released: 1976; Asylum

18. Motion Sickness – Phoebe Bridgers

Here at Threehundredsongs, we could talk forever about Phoebe Bridgers, and will continue to do so.

Here’s the song, edited from a longer show on KEXP, well worth a watch:

I have emotional motion sickness
Somebody roll the windows down
There are no words in the English language
I could scream to drown you out

I have emotional motion sickness
I try to stay clean and live without

You and me both sister. You and me both.

Artist: Phoebe Bridgers
Album: Stranger in the Alps
Writer: Phoebe Bridgers; Marshall Vore
Producer: Tony Berg; Ethan Gruska
Released: 2017; Dead Oceans

16. My Body – Eliza Shaddad

Memories of being fortunate enough to see Eliza Shaddad live at the Mental Wealth festival in 2017.

An inspiring day out. A day of love and kindness, confusion, collusion and conspiration, topped off with a beautiful live music show involving Eliza, Ralegh Long, Anna Pancaldi, and the utterly fabulous Douglas Dare.

Eliza didn’t play this song that evening….

…because it hadn’t been written yet. But the passion and love and intimacy and heat and honesty she shares with you are palpable. You’ll hear a great deal more from Eliza in these pages.

Artist: Eliza Shaddad
Album: Future
Writer: Eliza Shaddad
Producer: Eliza Shaddad; Andrew Bond
Released: 2018; Beatnik Creative

What is Folk Music?

As a music lover, and occasional general-purpose Monday-night layabout at Colchester Arts Centre, I’ve had a lot of time to overthink this question: what is folk music?

The easy answer would be to suggest that, if someone plays an acoustic guitar, then that is folk. If it has Morris dancing, that must be folk too.

That’s bullshit. The implication would be that if you pick up an electric guitar, you ain’t folk. Dylan at Newport in 1965 may argue with you there.

I guess the clue is in the name: folk music is the music of the folk, in other words the people.

That’s you and me, humans.

Any time you can sit, stand, dance, share a musical moment, laugh, cry, tease the dogs, tease the children…maybe raise a glass, but mainly feel that warmth and love that only humanity and shared experiences can do for you, that is folk.

If, somehow, the music can get you through the best of times and worst of times, then that is folk.

Forget the chord progressions or the scales or the modes or the instrumentation: they don’t matter.

Once a song passes into the public domain, it is now folk. That isn’t using the legal definition, because fuck that. Folk music is written, adopted and loved by the people. It changes and it changes at will, and you all get involved. Getting involved is the whole point of folk.

Take the iconic riff from Seven Nation Army by White Stripes. Is that an acoustic guitar? No. Does that mean it isn’t folk?

Jack White’s seven chords have passed into the public domain: visit any football ground on a Saturday afternoon and you will hear the humans singing that riff. Every club has their own version. At SUFC it was Oh! David McGoldrick. At Labour rallies it was Oh! Jeremy Corbyn.

Whatever your sporting or political allegiances, this is about us. Folk is the music of the people. If we all sing along to Rick Astley & Foo Fighters…

…then that is folk music. It is our music. We own it.

13. Casino – Buffseeds

Yes, more from Buffseeds. The album The Picture Show resonates with me on a deeply emotional level, and that’s the whole point of music.

Yes, you’re on the guest list

Everyone, this our new recruit

That rings a few bells if you you work in the arts. But this isn’t a story about work, because:

We do try to have some fun

And then we all take that gamble, and:

Spin the wheel

Artist: Buffseeds
Album: The Picture Show
Writer: Kieran Scragg
Producer: Ian Caple
Released: 2003; Fantastic Plastic/Sanctuary Records

All lyrics © 2003 Kieran Scragg/Taste Media/Fantastic Plastic/Sanctuary Records.

12. Sparkle Me – Buffseeds

It’s midnight o’clock round Threehundredsongs’ house, and that can mean only one thing: miserable music.

Kieran Scragg formed Buffseeds in Devon in 1999, just 23 years after your author was formed, also in Devon. Something about their breakout single Sparkle Me always hit home on an emotional level. Yet when you read the lyrics now, they’re a bit odd and don’t make a great deal of sense:

Suzy was a winner
At every end of year dinner
Drinking the sea and then laughing loudly
Her eyes were made of sequins
They lined up just like penguins
To flap their wings and then kiss her feet

It isn’t clear who Suzy is, but we assume her to be terribly annoying. A lady named Alice later puts in in appearance:

Alice was a poser
The kind who’d take her clothes off
And sit in a room full of frozen faces
I heard she went to find God
In the Indian sub-continent

Usually, Threehundredsongs would fall instantly in love with anyone named Alice. Especially if she’s naked. But this one sounds pretty annoying too. Kieran is clearly a sucker for punishment.

Still, he later went on to become Iko and make even more beautiful music. We’ll be hearing more from them in these pages in due course. In the meantime:

Fall on me
Smash the TV
Rip out the stupid phone, we need a conversation

Quite correct, Kieran. But the redemption:

Your eyes they always sparkle me with love

And, most importantly:

Shake the world alive

Regardless, the album from whence this song originates—The Picture Show—is a thing of beauty from start to finish.

Artist: Buffseeds
Album: The Picture Show
Writer: Kieran Scragg
Producer: Ian Caple
Released: 2003; Fantastic Plastic/Sanctuary Records

11. Joromi – Simi

Memories of sitting out on the balcony with the Official Threehundredsongs Ex-girlfriend. Long autumn evenings, we would sit and talk as the sun set over the river, then play this song. Eventually we’d get drunk and sing along.

But we don’t have the spirit for that now. 4,000 miles of distance between us made sure of that.

I believe that when you love someone, you never can possibly stop loving them. Sometimes the world just gets in the way.

Call me sooner.

Artist: Simi
Album: Simisola
Writer: Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye
Producer: Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye
Released: 2017; X3M Music

9. Elephant – Jason Isbell

How do you write a song about accompanying a close friend who is in the process of dying of cancer, yet retain a sense of humour—albeit it a dry, gallows humour—about it?

Well, if you’re Jason Isbell, this is how. It is the opinion of Threehundredsongs that Jason is among the very finest living songwriters. And it’s my site, my rules so you’ll have to deal with it.

When she was drunk, she made cancer jokes
Made up her own doctors’ notes
Surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone

It’s difficult to select a lyric, let along to add many of my own words, since the song is basically perfect in every possible way from start to finish, but:

If I’d fucked her before she got sick
I’d never hear the end of it
She don’t have the spirit for that now
We just drink our drinks and laugh out loud
And bitch about the weekend crowd
And try to ignore the elephant somehow

You’ll just have to listen to it yourself I guess.

There’s one thing that’s real clear to me
No one dies with dignity
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow

Artist: Jason Isbell
Album: Southeastern
Writer: Jason Isbell
Producer: Dave Cobb
Released: 2013; Southeastern Records

All lyrics © 2013 Southeastern Records/Jason Isbell.