In one way or another (both positive & negative), every major event in my life has had a soundtrack. As I write this, I'm a little over two weeks into this quitting smoking project. A soundtrack has emerged, because I'm playing a lot of music to distract me, both at home and in my car.
The following CDs are helping to keep me sane:
First and foremost, the best recording session in history. Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, et al... There aren't enough superlatives available to say how great Kind of Blue is...
One recording or another of Bruce Cockburn's is always in heavy rotation in my house or car. For the last couple of weeks, there have been three. His latest studio release, Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu, is wonderful. You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance is a 6-song 1997 live EP, featuring his amazing small touring trio: Bruce, Steve Lucas on Bass and Ben Riley on drums. I caught them this past summer at, of all places, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Great show. Lastly, my favorite of all of his recordings: Humans.
I gained some kind of points with my pal Shea, who's 18, simply by my owning a bunch of Dave Matthews CDs. I suspect they were "Hey, maybe you aren't quite as much of a geeky weird old fuddy-duddy as you seem to be" points. Or not. Regardless, I'm a big Dave Matthews Band fan. The two CDs that are helping me quit smoking are Crash, my favorite studio album of theirs, and Listener Supported, a 2 CD live set from 1999, which makes me wish I wasn't both old and smart enough to stay the hell away from stadium-sized rock concerts.
Calexico. These guys should be huge. They aren't. Yet. To see why they should be huge, buy The Black Light right now. Perfect mood music for me. I have their latest, Hot Rail, on order.
I'm not sure why it took me until Perfect Day to figure out what a monster musician Chris Whitley is... Here's a CD that sounds like I recorded it in my landlord's basement, and he's covering songs by Robert Johnson, Hendrix, Dylan, and then he pulls the Door's Crystal Ship out of nowhere...and nails it.
(July 2006 Note: In the more than five years since I wrote this "soundtrack page" I've gotten way more into Chris Whitley's astonishing music. It moves me as much as any artist's music has for decades. Chris died of lung cancer in November of 2005. Almost all pictures of Chris feature a cigarette, as almost all non-childhood pictures of me did until I quit. He was 45. Too soon gone.)
OK, I can't help myself. I love Ricki Lee Jones. And I think everyone else should, too. This is her latest: it's like this. Like the Chris Whitley CD above, this one is all covers; from Steely Dan to Marvin Gaye to the Beatles to Gershwin to Hoagy Carmichael. It works.
It took her 5 years, but Joan Osborne made the wait worthwhile with her sophomore follow-up to Relish. Righteous Love. It knocks me out. Great pipes on this gal.