The Cream. What I Listen To.

By: Conor 14. December 2010 12:51

Things are winding down for Christmas here at Redwind and for the first time in a long long time I found myself genuinely asking the question "What will I do today?". Sure there's been days when we haven't been overly busy or days when we've been on the beer till 6 or 7 in the morning and the only thing we are capable of doing is sleeping. But today is different, it's genuinely not busy and I think we all deserve a nice relaxed few weeks before kicking into what is going to be a big big year for us.


So back to the point, wondering what to do I considered the multitude of blog posts I've written in my head this last 2 years. But most of them are very programming and app centric and to be honest today I don't want to think about that. Instead I'll give a quickish insight into probably my biggest passion, music and listening to it. Straight from my iTunes "The Cream" playlist, below is my 20 most listened to songs with a five star rating. I'll include my playcount too because that's the sort of information I love seeing! It's a little bit indulgent but after all I am the person who insisted on creating two apps (#nowplaying & Now Playing!) just so I could easily post what I was listening to on Twitter and Facebook.

 

There's not really that much variety here which is strange seeing as I listen to music all day long and I would say I have the very definition of eclectic taste - but the stats don't lie! A lot of songs I expected to be here aren't and a few that are here surprised me.

 

Great Expectations • The Gaslight Anthem • The '59 Sound • 458

 

Probably the least accomplished band and musicians on this list, The Gaslight Anthem have a raw energy that is reminiscent of Green Day before they started wearing makeup and painting their nails. Think Blink 182 but not crap. The Gaslight Anthem are a band that are often joined on stage by The Boss and often invited to join him on stage and if you only ever heard their most recent 2 albums you would understand why. I saw these guys play in the Olympia a couple of weeks ago and it was a simply awesome gig. They played everything I wanted to hear and well, anyone who has ever been to a gig in the Olympia knows that there is no better venue in this country (Ireland).

 

And I learned about the blues from this kitten I knew.

Her hair was raven and her heart was like a tomb.

My heart's like a wound.

 

 

The '59 Sound • The Gaslight Anthem • The '59 Sound • 434

 

On the album The '59 Sound, Great Expectations is the first track. The second track is the title track The '59 Sound. I honestly couldn't pick which one I prefer though. Unlike a lot of people I love to read and analyze lyrics and the deeper the better. The '59 Sound is about a friend who died in a car crash. It's pretty heavy stuff when you listen closely to the words. 

And I wonder were you scared when the metal hit the glass?

See, I was playing a show down the road

When your spirit left your body.


 

Plus Ones • Okkervil River • The Stage Names • 380

 

There's probably going to be a couple or maybe even a few artists on this list that you have never heard of and it's almost certain that Okkervil River are one of them. So I can state pretty confidently that they are the very best band that you have never heard of. A very mellow rock band, bordering on folk music, they can still turn it up and turn it on when they want to. Plus Ones is a delicate song with insanely clever lyrics. In fact the name of the song "Plus Ones" is a reference to the fact that they have added 1 to all the numbers in the song, which themselves are references to famous songs from other artists. One of the nicer things about unknown bands is you can often get to see them perform in venues that are a lot more intimate than you usually get. And that's how it was when I saw Okkervil River play in Galway's Roisin Dubh. A truly brilliant gig, and getting to talk to the band in the bar afterwards was an added bonus.

Stripped away by days of being hailed as "your highness"

And what's new, pussycat, is that you were once a lionness

They cut your claws out


 

Assassin • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 356

 

To anyone who has ever had a conversation with me the only surprise here is that John Mayer comes in as low as number 4! I've travelled to Manchester specifically to see JM perform, I even scheduled a trip to Sydney around his show there so I could go to that. A couple of somewhat unfortunate early singles (Your Body Is a Wonderland for one) and a seriously bad/good reputation as a womanizer put a lot of people off ever listening to Mayer properly. The fact of it is though that John Mayer is a phenomenal musician, one of the greatest blues guitarists you will ever hear and the closest thing our generation has to it's own Eric Clapton. Interestingly, while I do love this song, I'm amazed it is so high up here.

 

I was a killer, was the best they'd ever seen

I'd steal your heart before you ever heard a thing

I'm an assassin and I had a job to do

Little did I know that girl was an assassin too


 

The Geese Of Beverly Road • The National • Alligator • 340

 

It's my opinion that right now there is no better band in the world than The National. The 2 best gigs I have ever been to in my life before last week were 1) Springsteen solo in The Point, and 2) Springsteen with the (Seeger) Sessions Band. Then last week, I saw The National in the Olympia and that changed everything. The National are one of those bands you simply will not like on first listen, maybe not even on the second listen. But if you can give them a little more time they grow on you in a way you never see coming. Some of the best lyrics being written today, sung in a deep Nick Cave-esque baritone against the most deceptively intricate arrangements. The Geese Of Beverly Road is about being young, being reckless and being "…the heirs to the glimmering world". It's a song that resonates with me and in fact I have the lyrics printed out in full and pinned to my wall at my desk. 

 

We're drunk and sparking, our legs are open

Our hands are covered in cake

But I swear we didn't have any

I swear we didn't have any


 

A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene • Okkervil River • The Stage Names • 340

 

The first Okkervil River song that I got into. I had listened to a few of their songs without going crazy for any of them but something about this struck me. It's got a real old school rock 'n' roll beat and smart quick lyrics. I really have no idea what the song is about but I love it anyway.

 

I'm a man in a dream and there, dancing in front of my eyes

Is the queen, formed out of flaws with her eyes all gone odd and a rod bolted into her spine

She rises up like a yawn, grips my heart like a claw, splits apart like a jaw, like an eye

And she asks me with a sigh


 

Heartbreak Warfare • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 329

 

The album Battle Studies has a bit of an annoying undertone of Jennifer Aniston. This is the opening song and it's evident from here pretty much until the album finishes. Of course that doesn't stop the song or the album from being top class. I'm not sure John Mayer is the greatest lyricist in the world but he does have his moments and sometimes he sings something so raw that you can't help but feel it yourself. "Drop his name, push it in and twist the knife again". Like most of his recordings the guitar is somewhat understated but works beautifully, almost a jazzy feel to it. I've seen him perform this song twice in person and multiple times on YouTube and what not, amazingly he does not seem capable of singing the hook line live correctly, ever.

 

Red wine and Ambien

You're talking shit again

It's heartbreak warfare

 

 

Who Says • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 321

 

The first single from Battle Studies and on first listen a really boring and somewhat juvenile song. Then you listen to it a few more times and it just makes sense. 

 

Who says I cant get stoned?

Call up a girl that I used to know

Fake love for an hour or so

Who says I cant get stoned?


 

Crossroads • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 320

 

If you don't know the song Crossroads then there's already about 5 excellent versions you s hould be listening too. Personally I love Mayer's cover of it and in particular I think the guitar solo is stunning, but I've read a lot of fans hate this so there you go.

 

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

asked the lord for mercy... said, "help me if you please"


 

Half Of My Heart feat. Taylor Swift • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 318

 

Happier times between Mayer and Taylor Swift, until he used and abused her like he does with most women - according to the interwebs anyway but who really knows what happened. Although "Dear John" from Taylor's new album probably says all there is to be said. As JM is here so many other times I will take this opportunity to say that once again I amazed… I listen to a LOT of Taylor Swift so I don't know how she hasn't made it into this list. She's a truly gifted songwriter who probably puts more truth into her lyrics than she should do. She writes, sings and plays with an innocence that is endearing. I never really think of her as a big artist but she is one of the most successful singers in the download era which shocked me to find out. I think she is awesome, but I'm surprised her country-pop sound is as popular as it is.

 

Half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a paper ring

And half of my heart is the part of a man who's never truly loved anything


 

Perfectly Lonely • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 312

 

Poppy and corny. Yet sometimes that's exactly what I like listening to, 312 times it seems. 

 

I'm perfectly lonely, yeah

'Cause I don't belong to anyone

nobody belongs to me.

I see my friends around from time to time

When their ladies let them slip away


 

Lost Coastlines • Okkervil River • The Stand Ins • 311

 

For about 2 minutes towards the end, the only words in this song are "Lah lah la la la la la". Yet it's neither annoying or boring. I don't know if there are any or at least many other acts that could pull this song off but it really is amazing.

 

We sing, is that marionette real enough yet to step off of that set and decide what a dance might mean to it. Ruining the place where the ensuing melee escape. We packed up all of our bags the ship's deck now sags from the weight of our tracks as we pace beneath flags black and battered rattling our swords in service of some fated, foreign, war. 

 

 

Black • Okkervil River • Black Sheep Boy • 291


In my opinion this is Okkervil River's greatest achievement. They didn't play it when I saw them in Galway which was the biggest disappointment for me of the whole night. A song that sounds upbeat but has some of the darkest lyrics you are likely to find, in my iTunes anyway. Not necessarily from personal experience but this song hits me deep and hard, perhaps more than any song I've ever heard. There is so much emotion in these few minutes that I get goosebumps every time I listen to it. It's a song about abuse, about the victim wanting to forget and the narrator wanting revenge.

 

I cant believe all that you're telling me,

What is cutting like the smoke through your teeth as you're telling me forget it.

But if I could tear his throat,

And spill his blood between my jaws,

And erase his name for good, don't you know that I would?

Don't you realize that I wouldn't pause,

That I would cut him down with my claws

If I could have somehow never let that happen?

Or I'd call, some black midnight,

Fuck up his new life where they don't know what he did,

Tell his brand-new wife and his second kid.

And I tell you, like before,

You should wreck his life the way that he wrecked yours,

You want no part of his life anymore.

Oh Cynda Moore.


 

The Great Defector • Bell X1 • Blue Lights On the Runway • 285

 

The happiest song on my list! Bell X1 are the best Irish band around at the moment and I don't say that lightly. This song is one of the most upbeat feel good songs you're likely to hear and it's full of witty and very Irish lyrics. I'm not convinced non-Irish people could ever really appreciate these guys the way that we do because their whole repertoire is crafted very closely around Irish-isms and Irish culture. Tremendous. This is definitely not their best song either and quite how "Eve, The Apple Of My Eye" isn't in my top 20 is beyond me.

 

You're the chocolate at the end of my Cornetto

I love the way your underwire bra

Always sets off that X-ray machine

 

 

I'm On Fire • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 284

 

There's not many people who can cover Br uce Springsteen and John Mayer admits as much himself. But this is a great song and a great cover. Alongside Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen is the greatest solo artist the world has ever seen. An understated cover version of an understated song, this is beautiful stuff.

 

At night I wake up with the sheets 

Soaking wet and

A freight train running

Through the middle of my head - 

Only you can cool my desire

oooh I'm on fire...... 

 

 

A Girl In Port • Okkervil River • The Stage Names • 268

 

I just read someone on songmeanings.net call this a pretty song and well that's just exactly what it is. Very slow, very quiet and very pretty.

 

Let fall your soft and swaying skirt

Let fall your shoes

Let fall your shirt

I'm not the lady-killing sort

Enough to hurt

A girl in port

 

Edge Of Desire • John Mayer • Battle Studies • 263

 

Definitely a song that took me a few listens to appreciate, and I can distinctly remember skipping this a fair amount when I first bought Battle Studies. But as of this moment it's probably my favourite song on the album. Musically it sounds so layered and deep it could be a U2 song, and I really love the solo, simple but powerful.

 

Don't say a word just come over and lie here with me

'Cause I'm just about to set fire to everything I see

I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe

There I just said it, I'm scared you'll forget about me


 

Our Live Is Not A Movie Or Maybe • Okkervil River • The Stage Names • 261

 

We're all about over dramatizing everything these days. This is a great song about just that.

 

Its just a life story, so theres no climax.

No more new territory, so pull away the IMAX.

In the slot that you sliced through the scene there was no shyness.

In the plot that you passed through your teeth there was no pity.

No fade in: film begins on a kid in the big city.

And no cut to a costly parade (thats for him only!).

No dissolve to a sliver of grey (thats his new lady!)

Where she glows just like grain on the flickering pane of some great movie.


 

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room • John Mayer • Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles • 260

 

Just like you probably know that I'm a massive John Mayer fan, you probably also know that "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" is my favourite of all of his songs and maybe my favourite song ever. It's spectacular stuff about when a relationship goes bad, but wrapped up in what sounds like a love song. The imagery is vivid, the guitar is astonishing, the lyrics are superb, I cannot fault this song. The album version from Continuum is great but this live version is extraordinary. 

 

I'll make the most of all the sadness 

You'll be a bitch because you can 

You try to hit me just to hurt me 

So you leave me feeling dirty 

Because you can't understand 

We're going down 

And you can see it too 

We're going down 

And you know that we're doomed 

My dear, we're slow dancing in a burning room 


 

Unless It's Kicks • Okkervil River • The Stage Names • 260

 

Another song I've really no idea what it's about but I sure as hell love it. Upbeat and makes you want to jump and dance and shout. Great stuff.

 

And the sound in the sky

Coming down from above

It surrounds you and sighs

And it's whispering of

What pulls your body down, and that is quicksand

So, climb out quick, hand over hand

Before your mouth's all filled up

 

 

And that's that! My 20 most listened to 5 star songs. Not necessarily my favourite 20 songs which I think would be a very different list, likewise if I had to do my favourite 20 artists I think there'd be a lot there that don't look right beside each other or beside this list!


Maybe you know them all, maybe you hate them all or maybe you can pick out a song or two and give them a go yourself. I'm pretty obsessed with music, from the moment I get up I have music playing. When I'm working I'm playing music on my Mac mini in the office and also streaming it to the kitchen and the living room for when I enter those rooms as I don't want to miss a beat. When I go to b ed I listen to music or I can't sleep. When I'm outside my iPhone or iPod nano is playing constantly and the same in the car. I probably have some pretty high playcounts compared to most people but that's me, when I love a song I could easily spend a full week listening to it on repeat, music never gets old for me, unless it's shit.


For completeness here are the rest of the songs making up the full playlist.

 

 

 

John Allyn Smith Sails

Okkervil River

The Stage Names

259

In Your Atmosphere

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

255

Secret Meeting

The National

Alligator

253

Savannah Smiles

Okkervil River

The Stage Names

253

You Can't Hold The Hand Of A Rock And Roll Man

Okkervil River

The Stage Names

251

Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979

Okkervil River

The Stand Ins

251

Mr. November

The National

Alligator

240

Light Catches Your Face

Bell X1

Blue Lights On the Runway

238

Free Fallin'

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

235

Mistaken For Strangers

The National

Boxer

231

Vultures

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

220

The Best Day

Taylor Swift

Fearless

213

Waiting On The World To Change

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

211

Sorrow

The National

High Violet

211

Gravity

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

203

Only Heart

John Mayer

Heavier Things

202

Spaceman

The Killers

Day & Age

201

Daughters Of The Soho Riots

The National

Alligator

196

Human

The Killers

Day & Age

195

Belief

John Mayer

Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles

186

Slow Show

The National

Boxer

183

Fake Empire

The National

Boxer

181

Bloodbuzz Ohio

The National

High Violet

181

Squalor Victoria

The National

Boxer

179

England

The National

High Violet

179

Guest Room

The National

2.0px Calibri;">Boxer

164

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Brandon Flowers

Flamingo

158

Belief

John Mayer

Continuum

156

Not Ready to Make Nice

Dixie Chicks

Taking the Long Way

142

Desire

Ryan Adams

Demolition

141

Fans

Kings Of Leon

Because Of The Times

133

Hard Sun

Eddie Vedder

Into The Wild

130

Ever The Same

Rob Thomas

...Something To Be

130

I Still Remember

Bloc Party

A Weekend In The City

128

Crossfire

Brandon Flowers

Flamingo

122

Covered In Rain

John Mayer

Any Given Thursday

120

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room

John Mayer

Continuum

120

Long Live

Taylor Swift

Speak Now

118

The High Road

Broken Bells

Broken Bells

117

Gravity

John Mayer

Continuum

116

Viva La Vida

Coldplay

Viva La Vida Or Death & All His Friends

115

Girl Sailor

The Shins

Wincing The Night Away

112

Vultures

John Mayer

Continuum

110

Not Afraid

Eminem

Recovery

109

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room

John Mayer

The Village Sessions

106

Joy Ride

The Killers

Day & Age

106

White Houses

Vanessa Carlton

Harmonium

105

(Antichrist Television Blues)

Arcade Fire

Neon Bible

102

Eve, The Apple Of My Eye

Bell X1

Music In Mouth

102

When You Were Young

The Killers

Sam's Town

101

Murder Incorporated

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

97

1979

Smashing Pumpkins

Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness: Twilight To Starlight

93

Uniform

Bloc Party

A Weekend In The City

92

Waiting For The 7.18

Bloc Party

A Weekend In The City

89

Another Radio Song

Okkervil River

Black Sheep Boy Appendix

88

Falling Slowly

The Swell Season

The Swell Season

88

My City Of Ruins

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

85

Youngstown

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

84

Atlantic City

Bruce Springsteen

Live In Dublin

83

No Cars Go

Arcade Fire

Neon Bible

79

American Skin (41 Shots)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

79

Snow Is Gone

Josh Ritter

Hello Starling

79

Empty Sky

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

78

Atlantic City

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

78

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (1)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

78

Run

Snow Patrol

Final Straw

77

American Girl

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Anthology Through The Years

77

The Rising

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

75

The Cave

Mumford & Sons

Sigh No More

75

Roll Away Your Stone

Mumford & Sons

Sigh No More

74

Bitches Aint Shit

Ben Folds

Supersunnyspeedgraphic

72

Cain & Abel

Interference

Interference Live In Dingle

70

Streets Of Philadelphia

Bruce Springsteen

Greatest Hits - Bruce Springsteen

69

Wires

Athlete

Athlete: Live @ The iTunes Festival

68

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (2)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Live In New York City 

66

Violet Hill

Coldplay

Viva La Vida Or Death & All His Friends

66

La Cienega Just Smiled

Ryan Adams

Gold

64

The Heart Of Life

John Mayer

Continuum

61

Fistful Of Love

Antony & The Johnsons

I Am A Bird Now

58

Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell

The Flaming Lips

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

58

Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

Florence + The Machine

Lungs

58

Kissing The Lipless

The Shins

Chutes Too Narrow

57

Cannonball

Damien Rice

O

56

I'll See Your Heart & I'll Raise You Mine

Bell X1

Music In Mouth

55

American Townland

Interference

Interference Live In Dingle

55

Anna Begins

Counting Crows

Across A Wire

54

All I Want Is You

U2

Rattle And Hum

52

Countin' On A Miracle

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

51

The Fuse

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

51

Reste Avec Moi

Codeine Velvet Club

Codeine Velvet Club

51

El Capitan

Idlewild

Warnings/Promises

51

Teardrop

Massive Attack

Mezzanine

51

Worlds Apart

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

47

How To Be Dead

Snow Patrol

Final Straw

47

Further On (Up The Road)

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

46

What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

R.E.M.

In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003

46

Lonesome Day

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

45

Clampdown

The Clash

The Essential Clash

44

Still Fighting It

Ben Folds

Rockin' The Suburbs

43

Paradise

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

43

The Best Of What's Around

Dave Matth ews Band

Under The Table And Dreaming

43

Skylarking

Mic Christopher

Skylarkin

43

Crash Into Me

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds

Live @ Radio City

42

Crash Into Me

Dave Matthews Band

The Best Of What's Around, Vol. 1

42

Mary's Place

Bruce Springsteen

The Rising

41

 



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