If you’re into the Americana scene, we’ve got some really sweet shows everyday for the next four days.
Hear all 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To:
Matt Berninger is the lead singer for The National. The music he makes with them is serious. It’s brooding, introspective and solemn. In turn, Berninger is expected to be dark, serious and sad. And sometimes he is. Sometimes he is not, ’cause he is a human being. Sometimes he is lighthearted and funny. Maybe even silly.
I always thought that must be one of the most difficult things about being famous. If you are the “funny guy,” people expect you to be the funny guy. If you are serious, we expect you to be serious. All the time.
So EL VY is this opportunity for Matt Berninger to get rid of all the expectations that come with The National. He can be a little sarcastic, a little tongue in cheek, dance it up and just be fun.
And to me it shows that he is human. Sometimes he’s serious, but he can also lighten up. This project makes me like him even more.
Every week we invite at least one artist to pick a song they can’t stop listening to — and explain why. This week T. Hardy Morris picked “Paradise” by John Prine. This is what he had to say:
T. Hardy Morris: “Paradise” by John Prine is probably the song that got me started playing guitar. It’s the first song I remember hearing as a kid.
Justin Barney: When did you remember hearing it for the first time?
T. Hardy Morris: My dad playing it on guitar. I think it’s the only song he knows how to play on guitar. It’s just always resonated with me. He’s an amazing songwriter.
I was doing this thing in Athens for a little bit where different local musicians would go and play at like elementary schools and stuff. And it was crazy. I could play John Prine songs all afternoon and elementary school kids would be nodding their heads back and forth, but lyrically a lot of it is pretty dark and bleak, but it doesn’t come across that way. And it all just seems so effortless to come out of him. He’s just a poet.
Hopefully it’s the last song I hear, too. What’s the last verse? “When I die let my ashes float down the Green River/ Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam/ Be half way to heaven with paradise waiting just five miles away from wherever I am.”
Tenement is a bar band from Appleton. They probably grew up in the Fox Valley, driving by the mills in their dads’ pickup trucks, switching between T.Rex’s “Tankx” and Cracker’s “Kerosene Hat” on cassette, and got a CD copy of Weezer’s Blue Album at an impressionable age.
Then they probably saw the landscape changing. Saw some friends moving on. Maybe moving up. They started shooting pool in bars like Cleo’s and Jitters. And write anthems about those dull joys.
There is something about bar bands in Wisconsin. Sometimes the band makes the bar and sometimes the bar makes them.
Every week we invite at least one artist to pick one song that they can’t stop listening to — and explain why. This week BORNS picked “The Crying Game” by Dave Berry. This is why:
BORNS: I was in like a vintage shop or something and I heard it on the radio and there was almost his Roy Orbison guitar change in there like this ascending aaaa-AAAA like in the chorus and I was like ‘Whoa, what is that?’ Like you never hear that in pop songs. So I looked it up and it came up Pet Shop Boys, then I googled it and found the Boy George version, and then I found the original Dave Berry version.
It’s like a song about sadness and heartbreak, but it’s a new take on it. It’s really melancholy because the chords. Like learning it on guitar I’m like, ‘Why would you ever write a song like that?’ The chords don’t make any sense, but they’re so brilliant. Like in the beginning it’s all these major chords so it’s super happy, but then it hits the minor chords and it totally twists it. And makes it a really emotional. [singing] “Why there are heartaches/ Why there are tears’ It’s so good!”
In 2006 Richard McGraw released an album that touched me profoundly. I found my way into every song on “Song & Void Vol. 1.” It was one of those albums that seemed to pass by everyone else, but I picked it up and it’s stayed with me. I know every word he sings. There was something about Richard McGraw’s voice that seemed to be on the brink of breaking down any second. I felt that sadness. I wanted to take it on myself. I felt like if I took on some of his pain, maybe he would take some of mine somehow. Maybe we could share our burdens. And life would be easier for both of us.
Now that I have this new song, it’s like having an old friend back. I didn’t think that sadness could make me so happy.