1. Blind Willie Johnson- „Dark was the night, Cold was the ground“
It’s difficult to talk about a song and performance as chilling and beautiful as this. Just listen to it, and take it personally. This song is in a space capsule orbiting around the earth, launched with the intention of exhibiting the rare beauty humans are capable of, to the aliens that find it. I wish more humans would listen to it.
2. Jack Nitzsche- „One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Opening theme)“
Clocking in at just under a minute and a half, Jack combines sounds and instruments from two opposed cultures and finds the harmony inherent in their combination. I don’t want to give too much away, but the high melody sound is a bowed saw, an old lumberjack instrument.
3. Simon Joyner – „Songs for the New Year“ (Album)
Every song, a gem of rare luminosity. Empathy, hard times and love seep through these songs. These songs and lines helped me through the horror of hospitals and the moments of heartbreak. Everybody needs a record like this that they can turn to, that never lets them down. All his work is great.
4. Etta James – „Etta James Rocks the House“ (Album)
A live record, and it looks like it was recorded in a living room. Etta is a teen in this performance, and she hoots and snarls like a woman of great experience. She riles up the crowd and delivers one two punches better than any James Brown I ever heard.
5. Mihaly Vig- „Werkmeister Harmonies“ (Filmscore)
As precise and perfect as any film I have seen, the undercurrent of the score; broken, out of tune (slightly), simple and beautiful reminds us of the great beauty created out of chaos and garbage and hopelessness. You’re not supposed to pay too much attention to a film score when watching a film, so sometimes I just play the film and listed to the music from another room.
6. Tom Waits– „Telephone Call From Istanbul“
When I was young, I wanted to learn how to tie a song together using just lines and images. No narrative strain, just some slight of hand and melody. This one taught me how it’s done, and then some.
7. John Cage – „4’33“
I take it back, I do have a favorite song, and this is it. I listen to it everyday, everywhere I go. Sometimes I cover it when I’m walking around town and the sounds on the inside are distasteful. I worked this song into one of my own, and play it on the radio every chance I get. If you think you’ve never heard it, you’re wrong, you just haven’t been listening for it.
8. Blaze Foley – „Clay Pigeons“
„I’ll start talkin‘ again when I know what to say“
9. Memphis Minnie – „Take me down an alley“
I like being frightened by the narrator of a song, and Ms Minnie plays a role here I wouldn’t want to turn the wrong corner with. This woman will eat you alive, and not in a German way.
10. Townes Van Zandt – „Nothin“
One of about three really dark songs Townes wrote, and it’s so powerful that he was forever deemed a „doom and gloom“ songwriter. Actually, he told jokes during his shows, and about 90% of his songs are up, lighthearted, and kind. But you cannot deny the power of this tune, and it is a dark power.