don’t make friends with the rock stars;

If I was wanting to change the subject to something more cheerful, it really doesn’t get any better than wandering round the most amazing sweetie shop in Glasgow with my good friend Sarah – something that is becoming a post-physiotherapy habit, and which makes changing buses in the West End so much easier to bear.

And how’s this for an awkward seague: as well as being my good friend, Sarah is also (as many of you will know) an an extremly talented musician). However, she is not one of my Official Top Ten Artists, although she did link me to this meme in which I get to talk about ten bands who are clunkingly obvious to anybody who has been reading this blog longer than a week.

My Top 10 Artist List, according to Last FM (as of Jan 22nd 2008)

1. Ryan Adams
2. The Mountain Goats
3. Death Cab For Cutie
4. Elliott Smith
5. Jesse Malin
6. Bob Dylan
7. Sleater-Kinney
8. The Weakerthans
9. Whiskeytown
10. The Replacements

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
I don’t think it was the first song I ever heard by Bob Dylan, because the music that your parents listened to almost breeds itself into your DNA along with the pieces of theirs. I didn’t have a “Bob Dylan moment” when I heard a song on the radio, or a mix, and stopped still while the music played around me and the story of my life slowly rewrote itself. What I do remember is being crammed into the back seat of a car without enough seatbelts on the way back from my cousin’s wedding in deepest darkest Falkirk, and “Mr Tambourine Man” coming on the stereo, and my dad and I singing along.

What is your favourite album of 2?
All Hail West Texas, followed by The Coroner’s Gambit although I can only listen to the latter if I am in the right mood and it has to be all the way through. But if I could onyl take one Mountain Goats’ album to a desert island with me, it would be Tallahassee. Go figure.

What is your favourite lyric that 5 has ever sung?
Sentimentality would have me point out the last year’s girl bit from “TKO”, for obvious reasons, but it’s a pretty cheesy line – as is much of Malin’s stuff, if you try to analyse it as poetry rather than rock and roll. My favourite lines are probably “Hotel Columbia”‘s you can cross me off your list of all the pretty things you’ll miss and the Joni Mitchell-referencing raised on robbery and rock ‘n’ roll from “Broken Radio”.

How many times have you seen 4 live?
None, and of course I never will. Miss you.

What is your favourite song by 7?
Different songs for different moods. “Little Babies”, and indeed most of Dig Me Out, reminds me of nights out in Edinburgh with Amy, but my all-time favourite Sleater-Kinney song is probably “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”.

What is a good memory you have involving the music of 10?
Well, given that the only reason I’m living with Jay is that girls in the Midlands don’t like the Replacements I figure there’s plenty but they’re all linked with him so ew, gross boy stuff. There was the night he’d been listening to the Open Season soundtrack, for example, and he wouldn’t let me sleep because he was jumping around the bedroom singing “Right To Arm Bears”. But probably my favourite Replacements/Jay memory dates back to before I’d even met him: he had wanted to come up for my birthday party but I didn’t want a “new” friend there because I would have felt guilty about not really speaking to him. “Message To The Boys”, the first new Replacements song in sixteen years which was coming out on that year’s “best of”, had become “our” song because I’d sent it to him when it leaked, and when it came on my party mix I sneaked into the kitchen, turned the speakers up loud and called him.

MOAR LYG:  album review: sufjan stevens - carrie & lowell;

Oh, and playing Replacements songs backstage with Jesse Malin (ie artist #5) was pretty cool too ๐Ÿ™‚

Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
Well, Death Cab For Cutie make music for teenage emos these days, but in the best of ways. The delecate “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, from 2006’s Plans, makes the heartstrings break every time. “Transatlanticism”, too, if I allow myself such self-indulgence. Other tracks from that album made me cry during the break-up of my last relationship, but they don’t anymore.

What is your favourite lyric that 2 has sung?
Jay and I regularly have fights about the world’s greatest living lyricist, and although he can swither me on occasion with some well-timed Westerbergian cynicism I’m usually firm on Team Darnielle. How then, to select one lyric as my favourite? Here, have a selection and tell me you aren’t convinced:

if i ever want to drive myself insane
all i have to do is watch you breathing

(“There Will Be No Divorce)

lean in close to my little record player on the floor
so this is what the volume knob’s for

(“Dance Music”)

people say friends don’t destroy one another
what do they know about friends

(“Game Shows Touch Our Lives”)

my love is like a powderkeg
in the corner of an empty warehouse
somewhere just outside of town
about to burn down

(“International Small Arms Traffic Blues”)

And ALL of “No Children“!

How did you get into 3?
Slow, creeping, like a virus. The first time I ever heard Death Cab For Cutie was on one of two mixes that my friend Staci sent me one Easter along with piles of marshmallow peeps. Back in those days I was just getting started with the internet, I was a naughty girl who used to be a member of all these LiveJournal filesharing communities where people would upload full albums on YouSendIt. I’d download anything by any band I’d ever heard of in the hopes that it might be something I’d like. In Death Cab’s case, I did.

What was the first song you heard by 1?
Everyone knows this story: it was “The Resue Blues” on Q magazine’s best songs of 2003 compilation. I loved it, and the idea of this gorgeous, shaggy-haired country boy, enough to go out and buy the album (Gold) that day, and its predecessor, Heartbreaker, the next. The story came full cycle in December when he played that song with the Cardinals in this vacant, dickhead-filled arena, and it was as beautiful as what I fell in love with in the first place and I cried.

What is your favourite song by 4?
It’s cruel asking you to pick favourite songs by favourite artists. I suppose my actual favourite, as most things, changes pretty frequently but my traditional favourite Elliott Smith song, if you can understand the distinction, is “Between The Bars”.

How many times have you seen 9 live?
None, as Whiskeytown had split by the time I fell in love with their dreadful frontman. However, I have seen said dreadful frontman live four times, and had tickets for another three gigs that were cancelled due to injury on the part of that Ryan Adams.

What is a good memory you have involving 2?
If I write about this again, my dear American friend will shoot me. However, if you want to read about the time John Darnielle screamed in my face and handed me his setlist, if by any chance you missed it a month ago, click here.

MOAR LYG:  cause it's getting winter and if you want any flowers you gotta get your seeds in;

Is there a song of 9 that makes you sad?
I generally find Whiskeytown more joyous than Ryan’s solo stuff (perhaps it’s the unashamedly more countrified sound), but there are so many exceptions:

i get so tired of missing you
i get so tired of wanting to
compared to things that are easy to do
like the reasons you lie to me
the reasons to lie to you

wanna live in a beautiful house
somewhere up in the hills
with some people making fun of us
you refer to with your two cares
then it wouldn’t be somebody else
that you’d grow accustomed to
reasons to lie to me…


What is your favourite album of 5?
Glitter in the Gutter, Jesse Malin’s latest, is probably his most complete. But I’m a traditional girl so it has to be The Fine Art of Self-Destruction preferrably while navigating the New York subway.

What is your favourite lyric that 3 has sung?
Most of Transatlaticism is AMAZING, lyrically, although you really have to be the sort of person who idenitifies with the lyrical content in a teenage diary. Thankfully, I am that someone:

do you remember the JAMC
and reading aloud from magazines
i don’t know about you but I swear on my name they could smell it on me
i’ve never been too good with secrets…

What is your favourite song of 1?
The marvellous “Come Pick Me Up”, which I still haven’t heard live. My tastes are so mainstream.

What is your favourite song of 10?
My three favourite Replacements songs are all on Don’t Tell A Soul, which is by no means their best album, how about that? They are, in order: 1. “I’ll Be You”; 2. “Achin’ To Be”; 3. “Talent Show”.

How many times have you seen 8 live?
The Weakerthans are the only band I obsess over who are still in existence that I haven’t seen live. C’mon guys – you’ve just had a new album out, let’s make it this year eh?

What is your favourite album of 1?
Nothing has ever come close to matching Ryan Adams’ debut, Heartbreaker, in terms of fragile beauty and brilliance which frustrates a lot of fans. It doesn’t bother me as long as I continue to enjoy his music; I think it’s the sort of album only a young, frustrated, broken-hearted genius could make.

What is a great memory you have concerning 9?
I… don’t think I really have any. The problem with Whiskeytown splitting up before I even knew them is that anything I could connect their music with I could connect Ryan’s solo stuff with as well. Did I tell you about the time I stalked Ryan Adams, outside the stage door of the Barrowlands with these two boys I had never met before, and Parker Posey glowered at me, and then we went to get cheeseburgers?

What was the first song you heard by 8?
I think it was “Left and Leaving”, through one of those LiveJournal communities. I remember listening to it and being blown away by how something could be so fragile and perfect and true.

What is your favourite cover by 2?
John Darnielle has done some amazing covers, but the live version of “The Sign” by Ace of Base that I have (by the time we get to the second chorus, if anybody isn’t singing along I personally will OPEN FIRE!) is by far my favourite.

  • Fun meme. I missed out on seeing Elliott Smith, too, though I probably had plenty of times I could have.

  • sarah sea

    Ahhhhh, you’ve linked me! *scrambles to update website in case anyone drops by*

    I hadn’t realised you’d never seen Elliott live. This probably isn’t a good time to mention that I, erm, have. (Sort of – at a festival – does that count?) He made me cry.

    You’ve written so passionately about these people, I feel I should be spending this evening on Soulseek downloading bits and bobs to listen to.

    Oh, and I highly recommend the strawberry bon bons from the sweetie shop. They’re top drawer.

  • douglas martin

    i filled this out and myspace’d it to you. i was going to leave it in a comment, but that would have made it absurdly long. so, i’ll just leave notes about what you wrote here:

    + ah, death cab. transatlanticism was my first death cab album. i have some really great memories attached to that record.

    + i think “between the bars” is my favorite elliott smith song, as well.

    + OMG my friend melissa sent me the EXACT SAME version of “i saw the sign!” i looove the “don’t lie to meeeeeeeee” part!

    + i won’t shoot you, but only because i don’t think i could sneak a gun through customs.

  • Kathy: I expect to see this turn up on Five Dollar Radio later. Jay’s been working on his version for the past hour though, I warn you, so clear up some free time… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarah: You’re always in my sidebar ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had the strawberry bonbons last time I think, as well as the lemon ones. Have been eating sour apples all day and my tongue has furred over. I also totally want you to elaborate on “sort of” so I can live every detail!


    Am totally curious to see your answers since I know you are your own top ten ๐Ÿ˜‰