Song of the Moment

Dream to the Rhythm

A brilliant Grace Jones and David Bowie mashup.

Riff Raff

I bought Powerage rather than one of the other, more obvious choices because it includes “Riff Raff,” hands-down my favorite AC/DC song. There’s much to love about this song — the opening crescendo, Angus’s riffs, the driving 8th-note bassline, the unimpeachable beauty of a 3-chord song

Seven Songs

The Seven Songs “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Bob Dylan “Inside a Boy” by My Brightest Diamond “Spirits (Having Flown)” by Bee Gees “A Letter to Both Sides” by The Fixx “Elegie in C Minor, Op. 24” by Gabriel Faure “Tel Que Tu Es” by Charlotte Gainsbourg “Revolution Earth” by The B-52s Bob Dylan Professor […]


“I think it’s Mars Volta. . . . Rush for the new millennium.”

By the Time It Gets Dark

First great show of 2007: Lambchop and Yo La Tengo. Unfortunately, YLT’s last visit to Knoxville was memorable for reasons having little to do with the amazing music that was played that night. But they came back anyway, God bless ’em, and this time they played to a large and rapt audience at the Bijou. […]

Mix: Needle Drops

This mix began with a single iTunes download. My all-time favorite needle drop accompanies my favorite sequence in what also happens to be my favorite film, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

William Wyler’s The Big Country (1958) is one of those westerns about men proving themselves in the unforgiving and sublime conditions of the American southwest.

Aimee Mann at the Bijou

I’d brought along Joanna’s bite-sized Sony Cyber-shot camera in hopes of getting some decent stills, but the light was too low (even from the third row) and, as a result, all of the photos were streaked by motion blurs. So, instead, I experimented with the video capture, and I’m really pleased with the results — especially with the sound.

The Origin of Love

This is the second time “The Origin of Love” has been a Long Pauses Song of the Moment. Again, I was inspired by seeing a live performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch — this time here in our own “scruffy little city,” Knoxville, Tennessee. K-Town did me proud. The Actors Co-op’s production is funnier, […]

Inner City Blues

If I’m remembering theory notation correctly, the change for “Inner City Blues” is i-IV. Two chords. It opens with twenty-four straight measures of the minor root before finally changing to the major IV, where it stays for all of four measures before returning to the root. Would have bored me senseless a decade ago; now, I’ll be damned if that change ain’t transcendent. The song is a chant-like, soul-filled lamentation. An angry prayer.

Silence (and a New Mix)

I had two main goals with this mix. First, I decided to divide it evenly between older and newer music. There’s always a jump of at least 15 years from tune to tune. But I also wanted the mix to be coherent, so I was looking for a tone that could maybe be described as “Songs that might actually sound better if they were played on an old, hissing record player.”

Everything is Copasetic, Now

At Girish’s request, I’ve pasted together a mix of music that features the Fender Rhodes.

Also Sprach Zarathustra

I only know of Deodato because of Being There (1979). Hal Ashby drops his needle on “Zarathustra” during the long sequence near the beginning of the film when Chance leaves his now-dead employer’s estate and wanders, umbrella and suitcase in hand, through the streets of Washington, D.C.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Sufjan Stevens’ recent performance on Morning Becomes Eclectic is now available in streaming video. It’s a fantastic set.

Goodnight for Real

In a relatively short time Beauty Pill has gone through a few members, and with a couple singers and songwriters in the band there is a surprising amount of variety on display. The Song of the Moment, “Goodnight For Real” is representative only in that it features clever lyrics, solid playing (including some fun synth parts), and a really catchy chorus.

Ten Years Gone (and other things)

I’m afraid that Long Pauses is fast becoming an outlet for end-of-the-week rambles, written while I drink away a Friday afternoon. The following is an incomplete list of topics I would cover at much greater length and with much greater insight given the time, energy, and inclination.

Safeway Cart

The new Song of the Moment, Neil Young’s “Safeway Cart,” scores a scene in which the Legionnaires march through a rocky desert, one of their many meaningless exercises in the film. It plays like a dirge and is one of Beau Travail’s few explicit references to the Christian allegory at play.


“Missing” won Song of the Moment honors in a close race with “Black Tambourine” and “Hell Yes,” both of which, it must be said, are even more ass-shaking than “Missing” but not quite as perfect. All three sound even better in multi-channel.

Evening on the Ground

Joanna and I just made what we hope will be the last of many recent trips to southern Alabama. It was another rough one — the type of experience that is supposed to give us “closure.” Everytime someone says that to me (and always with the best intentions, I know), I think of Philip Roth’s […]

Riff Raff

The Song of the Moment was supposed to be Mark Kozelek’s version of “Riff Raff” from What’s Next to the Moon, his album of Bon Scott-era AC/DC covers. Something in that combination of Kozelek’s voice and his tasteful acoustic guitar arrangements unearths the roots in AC/DC’s rock. That album is borderline bluegrass–not the arrangements or […]

Strange Waters

I asked Bruce about “Strange Waters” yesterday, and his answer was a tense, beautiful sermon.

God Rest His Soul

iTunes just landed on “God Rest His Soul” by The 31st of February, which was a happy coincidence given the content of yesterday’s post. Recorded in 1968, it’s a beautiful prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr., sung by Greg Allman of all people.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Yeah, I know. There’s nothing less hip than Elton John, but while walking through Toronto last month, my iPod randomly landed on “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” and it was, at that moment, the single greatest song I had ever heard.

La Villa Strangiato

“Listen to this song,” he told us. “It’s the coolest.” Robbie was something of an authority on such things, and so I listened. Intently. Sitting stone upright on Dave’s bed. And Robbie was right. It was most definitely the coolest. This wicked keyboard sound introduced a simple, shuffling drumline.

The Shadowlands

I would like to play piano/keyboards in a rock band, and I would like that band to sound as much as possible like Ryan Adams’ “The Shadowlands.” I would also be perfectly content if it sounded like “Political Scientist” or “English Girls Approximately” or almost any other track from Love is Hell.


Since watching Caveh Zahedi’s In the Bathtub of the World on Sunday, I have probably listened to The Innocence Mission’s “Snow” thirty times. Hopefully I’ll find time to write about Bathtub in the next day or two. It’s been a long time since I was so moved by a film.


If you’re too hip to like Tori, do me a favor and tell me what you think of this song. It’s a nice change of pace for her. No acoustic piano. A bit of distortion. Borderline lo-fi.

Bartok’s Fifth String Quarter

Several years ago, in a seminar on modern and postmodern lit, I wrote a fun paper on Ezra Pound’s music criticism. In particular, I was interested in Pound’s admiration for Bartok’s String Quartet #5.


It’s a heckuva song from Greetings from Michigan. I’ve added it and Stevens’ latest, Seven Swans, to my Amazon Wish List. Can anyone make a strong case for one album being better than the other? Any other Sufjan fans?

Cucurrucucu Paloma

I’ve been meaning to post this one for some time now. I’m not sure how well “Cucurrucucu Paloma” will work for those of you who haven’t seen Almodovar’s Talk to Her, but I had to buy the soundtrack for this song alone. I just can’t imagine being able to sing like Caetano Veloso. I’d never talk again.

South Side of the Sky

When I was 19 I played piano in a big band. One night, during a break, I started playing part of “South Side of the Sky” and within a minute the rest of the rhythm section joined in. It was really sloppy, but we made it from the end of the piano solo through most of the “la la la la la la la la” part.

Glenn Tipton

I’m pretty sure that this will be the last time I post a Song of the Moment that is named for one of Judas Priest’s guitarists. This song is what the inside of my head sounds like these days.


“America” will always be my favorite Paul Simon song. There’s something so beautifully melancholy about the chorus.


“Chain” by The Fire Theft. Why? Because the world needs a good emo waltz, that’s why.

Cross Bones Style

The oft-repeated but still-juicy line from Godard: “The history of cinema is boys photographing girls. The history of history is boys burning girls at the stake.” You can confirm the second sentence by watching TV for three minutes. To confirm the first sentence, watch the Cat Power videos available here at the Matador website.

I’ll Be Gone

I have no idea why I’ve been listening to American Music Club’s San Francisco so much lately — I mean, other than because it’s a great album. “I’ll Be Gone” is a damn fine song.


My wife surprised me yesterday afternoon with the Angels in America soundtrack. “Quartet” accompanies the scene that holds the rare honor of having made me cry two nights in a row. What can I say? Art is my refuge from a life of hardened cynicism. I can only imagine what condition I’ll be in on Sunday night when Louis delivers the Kaddish.

Big Dipper

“Big Dipper” is one more track from a mix CD that I received recently. I’ve never been a big fan of Cracker, but this song really works for me. I love the spare arrangement, especially the acoustic piano and steel guitar, but mostly I like this song because of the lyrics and because of David Lowery’s delivery of them.

Wayfaring Stranger

“16 Horsepower is a Gothic country-rock quartet from Denver, but their version of “Wayfaring Stranger” feels so fated, so instinctual, it spreads the South all over the American map, a dusting of damnation on wherever you might be as you listen.” — Greil Marcus

The Wind

A friend and I exchanged mix CDs this week, and apparently I now have to go buy PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire? You know you’re dangerously obsessed with a song when WinAmp is set to repeat and the playlist includes only one track. “The Wind” is totally that song.

Are You Awake?

“Are You Awake?” by Kevin Shields is almost literally a song of the moment. At 1 minute, 35 seconds, it’s my shortest selection yet. I grabbed it from the Lost in Translation soundtrack, which I’ve been listening to all day at work. There’s something beautifully hypnotic about it.

The Gloaming

Radiohead broke with routine on Monday night by opening with “The Gloaming.” Like so much of the material from Hail to the Thief, it played better live than on the album. I especially like Colin Greenwood’s new walking bassline.


I just discovered that Supergrass will be opening for Radiohead Monday night. Very nice! I know that this opinion is terribly unhip, but I’ll say it anyway: More bands need keyboard players, and more songs need keyboard riffs like the one in “Mary.”

Sneakin’ Sally

Robert Palmer has passed away. For years, I knew him only as the “Addicted to Love” guy, but then a friend with a killer CD collection moved into the dorm room across the hall from mine and fired up Sneakin’ Salley Through the Alley (1975). The first three songs on that album are as good as it gets. Of course, that might have more to do with his collaboration with Little Feat than with his own talent, but Palmer obviously had good taste.

Blood on My Hands

I just didn’t get the whole groupie phenomenon until about ten years ago, when I caught The Sundays at a club called The Moon in Tallahassee. Looking up at Harriet Wheeler, my elbows resting on the raised stage, I fell instantly and deeply in love. Or maybe it was lust.

Blinded by the Stars

If there were any justice in this world, Joe Pernice would be on the cover of Rolling Stone and John Mayer would be cleaning Jan Wenner’s pool.

Dream Brother

Even before Jeff Buckley drowned at 30, his voice was thick with melancholy and tragedy. Grace is without question one of the finest albums of the 90s, and “Dream Brother,” the disc’s closer, is proof. Amazing.

Next to You

These are dark days in K-town. On Saturday night, the Jack Astronauts played their farewell show at Manhattan’s in the Old City, and they will be missed. Along with their usual fare — loud, fast surf rock — they also threw in some great covers, including The Ramones’ version of “Happy Birthday” (for our friend’s 28th), “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead, and “Next to You” by The Police.

Exit Music (For a Film)

Brad Mehldau is such a ridiculously talented pianist, composer, and arranger. His cover of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” isn’t particularly representative of his work, which is often more improvisatory and freeform (check out his Elegiac Cycle album), but it seemed a timely choice. Mehldau’s also been known to cover Neil Young, Nick Drake, […]

There There

Yeah, so like everyone else of my general demographic, I’m listening to the new Radiohead. I mean, it’s, like, required, right? So far, “There There” is my favorite track. Especially at high volumes.