Song of the Week: “Not” by Big Thief

by Douglas Cowie on 30 August 2019

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Not” by Big Thief:

My friend José sent me this song last week. I love the way music and lyrics combine to create a building–a slowly building–tension here. The commitment to repetition to the word “not” but not–nor–without variation is total, and the urgency that builds in Adrienne Lenker’s voice until it almost breaks commands your ear. This song builds and builds and feels like it might explode, but–and this is maybe what I like most–it doesn’t explode. Instead, it overflows its edge and tumbles over, never really losing control, but just driving and hanging onto it and riding to the end, never releasing any of us into a chorus.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Black Sabbath” by Venetian Snares:

My friend Geoff shared this song a while back. It sort of speaks for itself. I love hearing familiar songs reinvented into new versions, because the listening changes the way you hear the original the next time, too.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “The Dark End of the Street” by James Carr:

There are roughly a billion recordings of this song, give or take a couple, but I recently heard this, the original James Carr version, while having dinner at a friend’s house, and it made me stop eating or paying attention to anyone else just so I could listen. The song was written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman and this recording was made in 1966, and released in 1967. James Carr’s voice is just unbelievably beautiful, and the arrangement here is about as perfect as it gets, right down to that final quiet guitar chord.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Dog Patch Creeper” by The Velveteens:

I’ve posted a handful of songs that feature in Chicano Soul by Ruben Molina because I’ve spent quite a lot of time reading and rereading various parts of it for a project I’m working on. “Dog Patch Creeper” is the kind of song title that makes you want to hear what’s going on, and “Dog Patch Creeper” doesn’t disappoint. This song is from 1959, and it was their second release, after “Oh Baby.” The B-side to “Dog Patch Creeper” is “Johnny’s Jump.”

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