NewsWhistle’s Nick Kraus curates some of his favorite songs to help you enjoy the cool-down days of autumn.
1- Skyway / The Replacements — This Midwest lullaby is a Replacement’s classic. Luckily, a whole new generation can meet the Mats, who recently re-formed to play a couple of festival shows. Additionally, the music world has rallied around the group’s stroke-stricken guitarist Slim Dunlap with the Songs For Slim Project.
2- Please Come Home Before It Rains / Otis Taylor — I hate when people make me listen to a song they like; look at their art; or read their poem or story while they are looking at me. A new friend made me do just that. I sat in his car and listened to Otis Taylor. I’m glad it happened. This song’s a sliver of blues magic – even though my friend was staring my way.
3- Glory Bound / Martin Sexton — One night, Martin was to play the Stephen Talkhouse to a packed house in Amagansett, New York. Right before the show started, the power blew out from a Nor’easter blowing through town. Martin still went on stage. He played guitar. The drummer used an empty case of beer to do percussion and not overwhelm Martin’s vocals. And the house lit the show using candles and flashlights. The power came back on at the start of this song.
4- Sherry Fraser / Marci Playground — I was always hoping for more from this band.
5- Just The Other Side Of Nowhere / Johnny Cash — Another artist I thought I knew. And then sitting alone in a dark bar on a snow-filled afternoon in New York City in January of 2007, I heard this tune. Super-depressed about a girl who got away and falling in love with the bartender standing in front of me (who I’m certain would rather I not be there), she put this song on and it made me love her more. I can’t remember the bartender’s name, but I’ll never forgot the song.
6- I Second That Emotion / Jerry Garcia Band — Always liked the Grateful Dead, but always liked hearing Garcia play other group’s classics more. Jerry’s voice and guitar arrangement on this hits just right.
7- Memo From Turner / The Rolling Stones — Just when I thought I had heard every Stones song ever made I stumbled across this Mick Jagger solo number recorded in 1970 with Ry Cooder on slide guitar. Blew me away. Great song to play loud in the car.
8- Josephine / Wallflowers — Bob Dylan’s son Jakob assembled this one. But it’s a great piece of song-craft no matter who your dad is.
9- American Music / Violent Femmes — Love this song. 42 now and when this came out it made the kids just a bit older than me nuts. It still stands up. A couple years ago I had the great opportunity to meet Gordon Gano himself and have what ended up being some great late night conversation about music – even if it ended up in an argument. I blame that on the hour and nothing else.
10- Pale Blue Eyes / Velvet Underground — One of those songs that I “discovered” 20 years after it came out as none of my friends knew it and it didn’t matter because I liked to listen to it by myself. Great song. After listening, you know why Lou Reed will be missed.
11- Cyprus Avenue / Van Morrison — Every person’s first Van Morrison experience usually starts with “Brown Eyed Girl.” I played that song on a jukebox when I was 17 inside a New York City bar. A pretty girl danced with me. The guy she was with got mad. Fight started. I was kicked out. My wingman no help at all. I started listening to Van Morrison afterwards and fell in love with this song.
12 – Mansard Roof/Vampire Weekend — I like what they do. No story really.
13 – I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You / Tom Waits — Former President Bill Clinton had just set up office in Harlem and my mother wrote him a letter to try and help a kid we knew get back into school after a major illness. Clinton got the letter. Wrote back. Actually got involved and sorted things out. Then he stepped up to speak at the school, but 9/11 happened. Still, Clinton honored the date and made it his first public speech after the attack. My mom asked me to join her there. Small problem: I had to settle a dispute and ended up pulling an all-nighter a 100-miles away. I drowsily raced into NYC and found myself boxed up in a room with Secret Service and my mom. Look, you gotta love everyone involved, but it was hard going. Listening to this Tom Waits’ song was one of the day’s saving graces.
Nick Kraus is a partner of The Stephen Talkhouse, a live music venue in Amagansett, New York, as well as a founder of the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit dedicated to helping honor and empower wounded service members.