Musical Favorites I Have Not Heard Recently

Michael Giberson

In honor of music week here at KP, I had Windows Media Player gin up an auto playlist of “Favorites – Have not heard recently.” The first five artists and tunes?

Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Woman” – Not sure that this rates a “Favorite” rating from me. Somehow, in some kind of “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” way, I find that like the general sound of the Stones better than any individual song. My favorite collection of Stones tunes is probably “Paint It Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones,” the House of Blues compilation of covers by blues artists. As it says on the cover, “this ain’t no tribute.”

Beethoven, Symphony No. 9, “Scherzo” – Hmmm, where did that come from? I have a few classical CDs, but not many.

Danny Gatton, “Harlem Nocturne” – Late, local guitar slinger. Absolute musical genius. One of those folks who can alternately have you cheering at the top of your lungs or dumbstuck in silent amazement. Saw him perform this tune live once about 14 years ago, and will remember it forever. Check out the Austin City Limits excerpt on the Audio/Visual page to get a sense of his live performances. Live Gatton was so much better than recorded Gatton, but now recorded Gatton is all we have.

Green Day, “Homecoming” – From American Idiot. A great album, probably their best since Dookie put them on the national map in ’94. Dookie helped bring the generations together, or, at least, it was the first album that I liked and then discovered my kids liked too. American Idiot does it again. (Can you get a sense of how old I must be because I keep using the word “album.”)

Dirty Dozen Brass Band, “Run Joe” – DDBB is coming this Saturday to the State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia. Need a place to crash after the show? Find me bouncing around up front – I live within walking distance. “Run Joe” is one of my favorites off of the Buck Jump CD. Why isn’t this music on the radio?

By the way, it isn’t true that I haven’t heard the song recently, I just carry it on my MP3 player.

Scanning further down the list reveals a little more about my musical inclinations: Skatalites, Pietasters, Eric Clapton, Delbert McClinton, B-52’s, Beny More and his All Star Afro Cuban Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Joey Ramone singing “What a Wonderful World,” John Jackon, Cream, and The Melodians.

The Melodians?

Ahh, yes, The Melodians singing “Rivers of Babylon,” off of the soundtrack of The Harder They Come. Saw Jimmy Cliff cover the song right here in Falls Church at the aforementioned State Theater, which is itself enough to inspire thoughts about the current cultural cornucopia that can be had for cheap.

It is another cover of “Rivers of Babylon” that sends my mind reeling whenever I try to unwind the rampant mish-mash of unabashed cultural intercourse that produced the artifact. I speak of a version by Alvin Breeden and Virginia Cut-Ups, a traditional Virginia bluegrass group that sings, in gospel quartet harmony, this Jamaican rocksteady tune based upon the Old Testament Psalm 137 in which enslaved Jews express their sorrow at being taken from Jerusalem, and their inability to sing their songs as entertainment for their captors. I am amazed.

Hmm, I don’t seem to own a copy, but there it is on for 88 cents. While I’m there I also latch onto the Broken Flowers soundtrack to get the Holly Golightly/The Greenhornes songs. I don’t usually buy my music at, but they topped the search results and featured “only 88 cents” prominently, and that got me in.