A List

A few things I've been listening to lately:

Fleetwood Mac's shattering "Silver Springs," specifically this performance from 1997. Just look at what is happening between Lindsey Buckingham and that sonic enchantress, Stevie Nicks, beginning at about the 3:50 mark. Is that real heat between former lovers? Is it a performance? Does it even matter?

Jason Isbell's new tune, "Hope the High Road." This is the song of a defiant optimistic who has lived through a terrible year. That's how I hear it. But the bridge will mess with you and make you question yourself. The band pulls back for a second, and Isbell leaps into the gap, singing,  "We'll ride the ship down, dumping buckets overboard / There can't be more of them than us, there can't be more." Are those the thoughts of a stubborn man who refuses to let a momentary setback change his course or are those the last words of someone whose position has been suddenly and unexpectedly overrun?

"Jubilee Street" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This song has actually been rattling around my brain for a long while, ever since a friend played it for me a couple of years ago in New York. I listen to it just about every week. It's endless in the way that "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" are. I'm about the furthest thing from a Nick Cave fan. He's always seemed like a carny to me, someone whose music was all bombast or delivered with an affected lyrical solemnity (e.g., "I don't believe in an interventionist God") that made me gag. But the theatricality that curdles so much of his other work is tempered here. Don't let the lyrics fool you. They're brilliant, but the heart of the song is a twisting ray of feedback that holds everything together like a cotter key.