The Supply and Demand of Almost Hymns

Okay, this goes back a few posts, more like a few weeks. I went on a little blitz about songwriters a few weeks ago and listed some of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” according to Paste Magazine. Then I went on to add my top 20. What I’ve done for this edition of Supply and Demand is put together some of my favorite songs from my top 20 living songwriters. I had a whole other mix of songs ready to go, but I got frustrated with a couple of the tracks having pops or skips in them, so I relented to this idea I had a few weeks ago. Their in order of my 20, so follow along. A warning, there may be some adult themes or language mixed in. I have realized more than ever that this type of thing really requires me to add my own voice to add some color to it. I got a new microphone last weekend, so maybe the next edition of Supply and Demand will have my not-for-radio-voice mixed in with songs. And as always, let me know what you think. As the title suggests, there has to be demand for me to supply more. Also if you have suggestions or ideas for songs to be included in future editions, send them via email mkinmotion[at]gmail[dot]com. Also if you’re interested in lending your voice to introduce a song, let me know and you can either record it yourself, or I have a way for you to record it via phone. I’d love to get some participation. Enjoy your mix and support these great songwriters by buying their stuff.

Download here.

1. Bob Dylan, Positively 4th Street
This is probably not the best nor your favorite Dylan song, but I love it. The title also makes me think of nights spent on 4th Avenue in Anchorage. Many an interesting night took place on 4th whether it was getting involved in a street brawl cage match or jukebox magic at the Pie Hole, it’s a good street to be caught on in summer and winter alike.

2. Bruce Springsteen, One Step Up
Maybe a bit of a surprise for anyone who considers me a Springsteen fan or a purist if you will. I’ve always loved this song, the sound of it and the words…it all works.

3. Paul McCartney with Wings, Band on the Run (sorry, not available for sale on iTunes)
Probably his most famous song other than “Live and Let Die” that came out of his post Beatles catalog. Sure some will say “Spies Like Us” or “Say, Say, Say” but come on, this song blows all of that away. You can’t help but sing this one and it’s so well crafted into what sounds like several songs put together.

4. Paul Simon, Homeless
As I listen to this song mixed with the others, I’m realizing it’s probably not the best example of his songwriting, but I didn’t want to use a Simon & Garfunkel song so I went through Rythym of the Saints and Graceland and this one stood out as unique. Don’t hold it against me.

5. U2, A Day Without Me
I had to go early…but not too early (U23 might not be the best representation of songwriting). The entire Boy album is full of great songwriting. These guys are just 20 year old kids trying to find their voices (literally, in this song) and this song shows the concepts they were trying to tackle even back then. Three Pauls in a row?

6. Neil Young, Razor Love
I’m sensing a trend here, and that’s that I’m betting that there are diehard Neil fans that are shouting at their screens right now. I picked this song not only because it’s beautiful, but because I love the image of love as a razor wire that “cuts right through.”

7. Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey (again, not interested in iTunes revenue)
Ivan has written so many great songs that I could have chosen from, but I think this is a prototypical song that sums up his skill with words and turning them into almost hymns.

8. Ryan Adams, Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)
Again, I could have chosen from countless songs that Ryan has put out, but I chose something from Heartbreaker that shows that he can take some simple chords and make them into a great song. Do yourself a favor and start collecting this guy’s stuff.

9. Wilco, Hummingbird
Jeff Tweedy is a genius. I know I’ve said it before, but this is one of those songs that makes you feel something. It kind of always rolled by when I would listen to the album, but then when I saw them at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin the night before they played ACL, I fell in love with the song.

10. Counting Crows, St. Robinson in His Cadillac Dream
For my money, I still think there isn’t a better song than “Sullivan Street”, but I already put that song in my first effort. This recording comes from the live album that Adam and the boys released last week. I keep listening to it while I’m at work and find myself blowing through hours of mindless work with this album on repeat. It’s good and this is a great version of this forgotten song.

11. R.E.M., Turn You Inside-Out
This one has all the things that people like R.E.M. for. Guitar, harmony, depth, a little bit country a little bit rock and roll. I’m gonna get sooooo sued.

12. Tom Waits, Downtown Train (link is not the Storytellers version)
Images of Rod Stewart in neon may come to mind when you hear this, but yes, Tom Waits wrote it. This is taken from one of the most fascinating episodes of VH1 Storytellers ever. Gotta love that voice, don’t you?

13. Jackson Browne, These Days
A great song to try to teach yourself basic finger picking on the guitar. Sorrow well blended with melody makes for a great song.

14. David Bowie, Life on Mars?
You know it’s a truly great song that if you don’t know the words but you can’t help but sing along anyway.

15. Radiohead, Karma Police (someday, maybe Radiohead will jump on iTunes)
Besides “Creep”, it might be the most well known song, but there’s a reason for that. I think it’s pure genius. It has an apex in the middle of it, which also happens to be the turning point of OK Computer. Hopefully you’ll pull out your copy of the album and listen for the change that happens in the middle of this song. I’d also say there’s a hidden track, but I wanted to include “Fitter Happier” also, but in this medium there really aren’t hidden tracks.

16. Coldplay, One I Love
I wanted to put a song that wasn’t really on an album on here, I think it’s one of their best songs, especially from that in between period between Parachutes and Rush of Blood. This song happens to be the b-side on the “In My Place” single if you were wondering.

17. Pearl Jam, Nothingman
All of these artists have such huge catalogs of songs to choose from. It makes it hard, but I think this one has several elements that put Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard on the list.

18. Pink Floyd, Brain Damage
I spent a lot of time trying to decide on a song to represent Roger Waters’ songwriting. I looked at his solo albums and then the Floyd stuff. I picked this song because it shows that even outside of the context of the concept album the songwriting is so solid. Within the context of the concept album, his talent is so much more evident.

19. They Might Be Giants, She’s an Angel
I know what you’re thinking. TMBG are all about fun melodies and fun, sometimes funny lyrics. Well, you’re right. This is an example of a They Might Be Giants love song.

20. Kris Kristofferson, Sunday Morning Coming Down
Johnny Cash took this song and turned it into a hit, but Kris Kristofferson wrote it and here he sings it. That’s the story of Kristofferson’s early career, he’d write the song but someone else would sing it. But like Willie Nelson and Jackson Browne, he overcame that to put together some great performances too.

Bonus Tracks

You remember that I left some significant players out of my top 20 and got some emails about who I left out. And while I can’t include everyone, I thought I’d throw on two bonus tracks of songwriter’s who could easily jump into the top 20. My apologies to those of you who where looking to fit this onto a CD because the bonus tracks put you over the top, but these two songs speak for themselves.

21. Daniel Lanois, Death of a Train

22. Matthew Ryan, Chrome

KRex, before you mention that there aren’t any women in this edition, join me in putting together a women’s edition. Seriously, I’d even let Ani slide if you could justify her songwriting skills.

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