5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening to is a collection of our newest favorite songs. And Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.
Listen to the whole thing in the player below.
1. Mac Demarco picks “Don’t Ask Me Why” by Billie Joel
Every week we ask one artist that we love to tell us about a song that they love. This week we go back to some of our favorite of those conversations. We re-visit our conversations with Mac Demarco, The Black Keys, Lizzo, Mayor Barrett, AND Fleet Foxes. We kick it off with Mac Demarco.
Justin Barney: Mac, at Pitchfork we talked off-mic about Billie Joel’s “Don’t Ask Me Why”
Mac Demarco: Mmmm, love that song.
Justin Barney: I like that you picked that song because I feel like Billie Joel often gets a bad rap.
Mac Demarco: Well, I don’t know why. He’s like the king. He one of the modern day kings.
Justin Barney: What do you like about Billie Joel?
Mac Demarco: Billie is a con artist. Which is what I like about him.
He’ll write a song that sounds exactly like Cat Stevens, exactly like Paul McCartney, exactly like Bruce Springsteen, Elton John. He will essentially take someone else’s style and then makes the lyrics about New York. So then everyone in New York loves him.
I didn’t really understand it until I lived there for a little while. And then I heard it on the radio all the time and it started seeping in, and you’re like, “ooohhhh!!”
But his songs are great. He’s got a lot of great, beautiful songs.
- “Don’t Ask Me Why” was released in 1980 on his album, “Glass Houses.”
- Listen if you like: Mac Demarco, New York, con men
2. The Black Keys pick “Country Bumpkin” by Cal Smith
Dan Auerbach started off as the guitarist for The Black Keys. He’s gone on to make several solo albums, he has his own studio in Nashville and is a producer in his own right. He has a new album coming out June 2nd, called “Waiting For a Song.” Our guest this week is Dan Auerbach.
Justin Barney: Dan Auerbach, what is one song you can’t stop listening to?
Dan Auerbach: This song called “Country Bumpkin” by Cal Smith. You should listen to that one really loud. It’s super bizarre.
Justin Barney: What is it about?
Dan Auerbach: I mean, I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out what it’s about.
I know it was a top 10 country hit when it came out. And I’d never heard of it and it’s so surreal. I don’t know what it is.
It’s one of the strangest Nashville recordings I’ve ever heard.
There is fuzz, bass, and clavinet. It’s peculiar, and it was a top 10 record.
- “Country Bumpkin” was released in 1974 on the album of the same name and was indeed a #1 record on the country chart.
- Listen if you like: story songs, oddball Nashville recordings, George Jones
3. Lizzo picks ‘Happy Face’ by Destiny’s Child
Justin Barney: Lizzo, we talked a bit off-mic about the influence that Destiny’s Child had on you. What is your favorite Destiny’s Child song?
Lizzo: One of my favorite Destiny’s Child songs ever is called “Happy Face.” And I remember being younger and singing it to myself.
Because it says [Lizzo sings:] “I woke up this morning, and the sunshine was shining. Put on my happy faaaaaace. I’m livin’ I’m able, I’m breathing, I’m grateful, so put on your happy faaaaace.”
And I remember I would sing that to myself when I felt down and it still has a very special place in my heart. It’s my favorite Destiny’s Child song.
- Destiny’s Child’s album, “Survivor,” was released in 2001.
- Listen if you like: Beyonce, Lizzo, inspiration
4. Mayor Barrett picks “Your Heart Is As Black As Night” by Melody Gardot
We are here with the Mayor of Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett.
Justin Barney: Mayor Barrett, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to?
Mayor Barrett: “Your Heart Is As Black As Night” by Melody Gardot. It’s a great song. It’s kind of a lusty song if I can say that. It’s one you’ll enjoy.
JB: We just had it on and it’s downtempo and jazzy and she’s got this beautiful jazzy voice. What draws you to the song?
Mayor Barrett: Well, obviously it’s a woman. Melody’s a woman. And it’s about emotions and feeling not so good about a relationship, and it’s not like I’m in a bad place or anything like that, it’s a song actually that my 22 year old daughter introduced to me. It’s probably a surprise to me that she likes the song.
JB: How did she introduce it to you?
Mayor Barrett: She just said, “Hey, Dad. Here’s a song. Listen to this one.” Or maybe she didn’t even tell me, maybe I was just walking through the room and she was listening to it herself and I said, “I like that song.”
- “Your Heart Is As Black As Night” was released in 2009 on Gardot’s album, “My One and Only Thrill.”
- Listen if you like: Norah Jones, Tom Waits, Billie Holiday
5. Fleet Foxes picks “Isn’t It a Pity” by Nina Simone
Fleet Foxes are from Seattle, Washington. We had absolutely loved their first two albums. Their new album Crack Up is scheduled to be released on June 16. I am here with Robin Pecknold, lead singer of Fleet Foxes.
Justin Barney: Robin, what is one song right now that you have been listening to a lot or one song that you can’t stop listening to?
Robin Pecknold: Oh, it’s the Nina Simone version of “Isn’t It A Pity.” It’s like a live version, of her covering that George Harrison song and it’s just a trance-like/amazing kind of endurance version of that song. Like, it’s just kind of this billowy piano and she’s kind of just ad-libbing some lyrics and changing lyrics and it’s just this kind of epic odyssey through that, through that song.
Justin Barney: What… There’s a point in my life where I was obsessed with that song too. Not too long ago.
Robin Pecknold: Really?
Justin Barney: Yes, I got that whole album and man it just blew me away. What do you like about Nina Simone’s version, or what edge does she have that’s different from the George Harrison version?
Robin Pecknold: Well she just has that singular gravitas and authority. I think I was listening to it after the election a little bit. The woundedness of it but like just so beautiful and so kind of almost hopeful in its take of it.
Justin Barney: Absolutely!
Robin Pecknold: Yeah, it just really does the trick for me haha.
Justin Barney: Same, ugh, such a great pick. “Isn’t It A Pity” Nina Simone.
- “Isn’t It A Pity” was released in 1972 on Nina Simone’s live album, “Emergency Ward!”
- Listen if you like: Fleet Foxes, jazz improvisation, piano