The Perfect Note: Part 1

About 7 years ago, before I was a father, before I'd ever lived in New Orleans, before I had ever been married, before I'd graduated college, I made a mix CD. You whippersnappers with your iPods and whatnot, might not remember what it was like to be limited to only 20 or so songs at a time, but that's what we dealt with back in MY day!

I had burned a million cd's by this time, but mostly they were just collections of songs I wanted to listen to right then. Occasionally, I'd get an idea though. A concept, if you will, and would need to follow it down the rabbit hole putting together songs with a common theme or that together told a larger story.

It was early spring of 2003. I was about to graduate. I was in love, and winter's cold and heavy hand had lifted and revealed the first few warm sunny days before the oppressive Louisiana summer heat flew in. It was a good time to be alive. Richard introduced me to The Velvet Underground. If you don't know who they are, listen to the song that inspired this mix cd. Then listen to "Heroin". You'll have a really good idea of who The Velvet Underground is.

The song that Richard played for me was "Sweet Jane". It's a perfect spring song (although the past week or so, I've been enjoying it a lot in the fall). Richard played the song in response to our discussion about "The Perfect Note". "The Perfect Note" is that moment in a song where everyone wants to sing along. No matter how terribly out of tune, or off pitch you might be "The Perfect Note" sounds good to you. It calls to something deep within us. It's an ancestral memory kind of thing, something from our tribal nomadic past perhaps. Whatever it is, Richard said that "Sweet Jane" had it. And boy, was he right.

I listened to "Sweet Jane" on repeat for a week, then I immediately began putting together this album. There are too many tracks to put in one post with any kind of commentary, but I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy these tracks themselves, so here is part one of the tracklist of "The Perfect Note". Click through the links to play the songs in their entirety.

Sweet Jane (Live) -- I need to admit a shameful thing. I don't know who the band is on this version of the song. It's not the version that Richard first played for me all those years ago (that one is below), but when I began to look for songs to build a cd with, I found this one and couldn't let it go. It's track one on the cd, and this long and rambling live version is the perfect way to get you in the laid back spring groove that this cd is all about.

"Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction -- It's a nice companion to the cornerstone song of this album. It's also my favorite song by a group a lot like The Velvet Underground. Jane's Addiction was never super commercially successful, but they were very influential to other bands that followed them. Great, great track 2.

"Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead -- The Grateful Dead had to show up on album of songs made for people who can't sing to sing along with, right? Let's be honest, the Dead weren't the best musicians, they weren't the best singers, but somehow their hobo's stew of coolness always mixed into something delicious. This is one of the more recognizable and catchy examples of that. Listen to it, and try not to sing along..."Drivin' that train/ high on cocaine..."

"Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead -- This one isn't QUITE as catchy as it's twin above, but "Friend of the Devil" is a great story song in addition to being immanently singable. A man on the run, from the law and love, "cry(ing) away each lonely night..." how can you not wanna hear from that guy?

"Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground -- Here it is. A song so good, I had to get a bunch of other songs to perform in its honor. Yeah, just listen to it already.

"Always See Your Face" by Love -- If you've seen "High Fidelity" you may have heard this song. If you haven't, you probably haven't. It's wonderful (like pretty much everything about "High Fidelity" and is now one of my favorite songs of all-time.

"Dry the Rain" by The Beta Band -- The Beta Band is original and interesting. They're very "electronic" yet always have great harmonies and generally appeal to people who would never claim to be interested in "electronic" sounds. "Dry the Rain" is probably their best song.

So, there's part 1. What are your thoughts? Have an early favorite yourself? Are there some songs you think have to go on such an album? Let me know in the comments below.??