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5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with Rhiannon Giddens

Spring is finally coming up all around us. Sometimes it can take forever with these Wisconsin winters. And with the new flowers, and new smells, we thought we would give you a new playlist. Play it on your way to the park, take a walk outside and put it on, take these songs with you and let them carry you through the season.

Hear all 5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To:

1. Rhiannon Giddens picks Vivaldi – “Four Seasons” suite

Every week we have a guest on 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To. This week Rhiannnon Giddens, Grammy award winning vocalist for The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The New Basement Tapes, and her own solo work, stopped by and told about why she loves Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” suite.

This is what she had to say:

“It’s kind of clichéd. You know, one of the movements is usually in the Top 100 Classical Pieces in Readers Digest, but the whole piece is just incredible. There’s lots of quote unquote “tunes” in there, but it’s just the way that it’s done. It showcases the violin in such a neat way. And some of the darker sides of it, they go really dark. It’s really beautiful. You kind of have this idea of it this classical lite background, or part of a cartoon or something, but actually the whole piece is quite complex and beautiful.

I was at Big Ears festival recently, and I saw this guy had taken the Vivaldi four seasons, and had done some interesting things to it. He added synthesizer, and, ahh, I’d like to say I enjoyed it, but it really just made me want to go listen to the original, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

  • Listen if you like: Classical music, violin, composition.


2. Hot Chip – “Need You Now”

This song shows the power of words. Repeated over and over is a sample from a 1983 house song by Sinnamon, called “I Need You Now” and in it, she repeats that line again and again, “I need you now. I need your love.” But what is more interesting to me is the phrase that follows it. She insists, “Say it now.”  The emphasis is on saying it. On getting that confirmation. Being put at ease by someone else’s words.  Of course you can’t make anyone say it. And when they don’t it’s the most helpless feeling in the world. But getting that affirmation that you are loved, is important.

You have power with your words. And if you love someone, say it now.

  • Listen if you like: 80’s house music with soul, Hot Chip’s theory of “emotional intelligence” in music, wanting.


3. Paul de Jong – “Hollywald”

In the opening scene of Wes Anderson’s film, Moonrise Kingdom, one of the children lays on the ground and places the needle on a record. The album is The Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra. It’s an instructional album on how to listen to the orchestra.  I always loved that the movie starts with this procedural look at music.  And I could see how you could think that deconstructing music like that could take some of the magic out it. But I think that it deepens my knowledge and I find myself appreciating it more.

In this song, Paul de Jong starts this song with the same way Anderson starts the movie. He tells you the procedure. He says exactly what he is doing on the guitar. You can almost hear him learning it himself, picking up the muscle memory, and building the song. You could call this, The Young Person’s Guide to Paul de Jong’s Music.

  • Listen if you like: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Dan Deacon if he played with acoustic instruments, old timey folk music done in a new way.


4. Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out”

Shouting indecipherably into a microphone goes far back in the rock 'n' roll tradition (insert “Louie Louie.”) In 1963 the Kingsmen released their now classic, “Louie Louie” and hoards of teenagers mumbled along with unsure confidence until they were able to loudly shout the only words anyone could actually figure out, “Louie Louie whooooaaa woaaa” The lyrics were actually so unintelligible that the FBI launched a paranoid investigation into whether or not the lyrics held obscenities that could corrupt our nations young minds.  This was before youtube lyric videos. The lyrics were so mumbled that the FBI couldn’t conclusively figure out what was actually being said, and they had to take the bands word for it.

Like “Louie Louie,” the lyrics to “Dimed Out” are pretty unclear until you get to the refrain, but that doesn’t mean they are not saying anything. They’ve got plenty to say, and some of it may even be obscene, I’d say it’s worth an investigation.

  • Listen if you like: screaming indecipherably into a microphone, anthem songs, loud and fast punk.


5. Torres – “Cowboy Guilt”

In this song Mackenzie Scott, AKA Torres, gets down to her roots. Scott was born in Macon, Georgia to a family of strong Baptists. They were church going people. They were content with that. She wasn’t. But she still believes in something. She calls herself, a “Christ-following mystic.” And she says that on this new album, she wanted to speak to hypocrisy in the church, and also in her own life.

Both come across in “Cowboy Guilt” where she is dressed in her Sunday best, but maybe not exactly following the letter of cannon law, as her friend sings of reparations with the Native Americans as part of a George W. Bush impression all the while donning the guilt of nation that has made mistakes, in a church that has made mistakes, being sung by a person who has made mistakes too.

  • Listen if you like: St. Vincent, St. Vincent, St. Vincent.