Looking through my soon-to-be-a-dead-format CD collection, I noticed a few discs that could be labeled arty-farty — or artsy-fartsy, if you like the letter S. Why not throw them into the blender and see what kind of mix pours out …
“Language Is a Virus,” Laurie Anderson
I used to be a huge Laurie Anderson fan. So much so that I bought United States Live and, for some reason, never listened to it. I guess I’m a fair-weather fan, but I always liked the fact that she tried to do a pop song in the ’80s, and MTV actually played the video every now and then.
“March Into the Sea,” Modest Mouse
I remember that when this band was initially getting mainstream exposure, many people were comparing them to the Talking Heads. I can hear the similarities, but I don’t think David Byrne could’ve come up with this great line: “If food needed pleasing you’d suck all the seasoning off. Suck it off!”
“The Dreaming,” Kate Bush
Mid-’80s Kate Bush falls under the category of “College Years: Crushes.” There’s just something about her that I find appealing — in an arty-farty way, of course. I know that I featured Kate in a recent mix, but I’ve always loved how she was able to not only blend some wonderful styles of music in this song but also phrase the lyrics in a way that it’s not clear she’s singing in English.
“Lay My Love,” Brian Eno and John Cale
Leave it to Brian Eno and John Cale to come up with an appealing pop sound complete with lyrics that make you wonder what kind of person would describe him or herself in this manner when professing love to someone: I am the termite of temptation / I multiply and fly my population / I am the wheel / I am the turning / And I will lay my love around you.
Um, call the police!
“It’s Nearly Africa,” XTC
If I were to assemble my own personal “Greatest Hits” mix of XTC songs, I don’t think this one would be on there. However, if I made a “Greatest B-Sides” I think I would lead with it.
“Kyrie Eleison,” SinÃ©ad O’Connor
With all the artistic changes SinÃ©ad has made since she peaked in the early ’90s with “Nothing Compares 2 U,” I think it’s easy to forget that she can really use her voice in a lovely way.