There is not a radio station that plays all the music I love. I dream of having my own radio station one day, so I can share the eclectic selection of music I love with others—I’m sure there are more of us who defy categorization, who live beyond the borders of “adult contemporary,” “modern country,” “oldies,” or “classic rock.” In fact, I am totally bored with much of the music of my past (all except Jackson Browne, that is—he lives in a category all his own). So here is a totally random and incomplete list of what I am listening to now; it only includes albums that have come out in the last two years or so (I’m not being too specific here), and that hint at what you would hear if you stopped by at my house when I was home. (But please, call first! Otherwise, you never know what you might find.)
1. Avett Brothers. Oh, Avett Brothers how I adore you. First, the records, all of them. But then, see them in concert—oh, my lord! Heaven. Even sweeter is hearing my 4-year-old walk around the house singing, “In January, we’re getting married.”
2. Bruce Springsteen: The Promise. I’m going through a Bruce phase, partly fueled by this “new” album. Some artists never get old, and he is one of them. “Someday (We’ll Be Together)” is my favorite song off The Promise. But lately, also, I’ve been dancing around to “Worlds Apart,” off The Rising.
3. Keith Urban: Get Closer. OK, Keith, I would definitely dump my husband for you if you weren’t so sickeningly in love with your wife. But isn’t that part of why we ladies all love you? Can we dance around at the same time? Will you please let us see the whole tattoo, also? I love this album—especially the Lori McKenna song on the Target-only CD version (damn you, Target, for making me buy a CD!).
4. Lost in the Trees: All Alone in an Empty House. Here is another find that I owe to its mention in one of my favorite magazines, Garden and Gun (the first was the Avett Brothers). It’s beautiful, creepy, orchestra-y, and definitely on the heavy rotation list. Plus, I just love the idea of being alone in an empty house (although the words to the song freak me out, and I don’t really like them).
5. Sufjan Stevens. The Age of Adz is good, but Illinoise is even better. I owe this find to a really cool guy at work who has great taste in music. Dreamy, fresh, and highly melodic (the music, not him!).
6. Ida Maria: Fortress Round My Heart. She’s Norwegian. This is one of those records that I could have downloaded and just listened to once or twice, but it has become one of my favorites. She’s great for exercising to and just dancing around to. Funniest moment last week was watching my 13-year-old’s face as I sang along when “I love You So Much Better When You’re Naked” came on while we were eating dinner.
7. Holly Williams: Here with Me. She’s country royalty (granddaughter of Hank and daughter of Hank Jr.), but she’s so down-to-earth that you can stop and shop at her store in Nashville and she’ll help you pick out clothes. Nice clothes. Really nice ones. Nicer than anything I’ve seen in New York City (comfortable, stylish, fabulously designed, etc.). But more important, her record is the one to listen to when you are in a certain mood and you need a sweet and tired crooner to remind yourself you ain’t the only one feeling a certain way.
8. Court Yard Hounds. This is the Chicks without the Dixie (Natalie Mains), and they are good. Real good. Songs with stories and melodies that are deeply satisfying to listen to. I’m still mad at country radio for banning the Dixie Chicks. In fact, it makes me sick. But until they get back together, this subgroup’s self-titled record is worth buying, in support of some of the most courageous women in music.
9. The Antlers, Hospice. It’s a deeply depressing album if you listen to the words, but the eerie melodies and music fit a certain mood. Sometimes, we do have to deal with these sorts of issues, and it’s amazing to hear how this band has created a whole album around the vast complexity of death and dying. As dark as it is, when I hear it I get a happy feeling. Go figure!
10. Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey. Go ahead, make fun of me. I love this guy. This album isn’t his all-time greatest, but there are enough great songs on it to satisfy me. I can listen to “Seven Days” over and over and over again. He’s famous for his arena rock songs and beach-y drinking songs, but it’s the slow ballads that get me every time. Plus, I am an island girl at heart, and Kenny Chesney fans know what I’m talking about.