As opposed to our favorite songs, or songs we'd like to think define our listening habits, taking a look at what a person actually listens to can be far more revealing. With that in mind, every so often we'll ask an artist to take a look at the most-played songs in their iTunes libraries and share with us the results. We do this on the honor system, and we ask our subjects to share a few words about each song.
Singer-songwriter David Dondero was fresh off a tour down under with Aussie songwriter Darron Hanlon when I approached him for our iTunes Questionnaire. "I have to be honest," Dondero began in an email. "I don't have an iPod or a smart phone. I haven't used iTunes. I still use CDs in my car," he explained.
What he submitted were these 12 titles, a few he says, were found "on Darren Hanlon's iPod last month." While not iTunes legit, Dondero's contributions are in step with the ever-roaming ways of a man who can't sit still long enough to make the technology upgrade worthwhile. The man's a notorious troubadour with as many official tours under his belt as impromptu road trips, his rich, bantering folk steeped in details of the changing American landscape. His 7th and latest release, # Zero With a Bullet, rounds out the oeuvre with songs of po'boys, the famous hoagie of New Orleans, grizzlies fishing for salmon in Alaskan streams, and Carolina women "meaner than an acre full of snakes."
Sufjan Stevens once boasted he'd score an album for each one of the 50 states, but Dondero has stories about them all in his songbook. "Yes, I've been to all the states," Dondero says. "The only one I haven't done a show in is Delaware--hopefully someday soon."
Dondero brings his caravan of tales to the Tractor Tavern this Wednesday (1/11).
1. "Watercolor," Vigil Shaw: I love this song. I keep going back to it. No one puts words together like Virgil. I just did a show with him last night in San Francisco and he's sounding great. Glad he's back!
2. "Bedbug," The Mighty Spoiler: This was a favorite in the van during the Aussie tour with Darren Hanlon last month. I'd never heard of this before but now it's one of my favorites.
3. "Shadowman," Barton Carroll: Barton Carroll should be recognized, in my opinion, as one of the finest. He's a writer, a plumber, a working class man who plays the hell out of the guitar. I've known Barton over 20 years and this song is one of the best epic tales, a true great song. I love Barton. He took me in at his house last year in Seattle and tried to train me to be a plumber but I was too much of a drunk and I pissed him off. Sorry, Barton. I love you and your songs. Thanks for being my friend.
4. "The Unguarded Moment," The Church: I got kicked out of a bar in Katoomba, Australia for playing this song 10 times in a row and singing along with the jukebox. They thought I was annoying. They were right. We were trying to learn this song and to get [The Church lead singer] Steve Kilbey to sing it with us but he couldn't because his band was playing the same night at the same venue, the Powerhouse in Brisbane. I did get to see them play which was awesome.
5. "Little Decisions," Paul Kelly: We heard a lot of this in the van. Like Australia's Bob Dylan. He's coming to the states soon to do his A to Z concerts..
6. "I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You," Darren Hanlon: My traveling comrade and one of the best ones I've seen. The song makes me cry, even after seeing him play it over 30 times. He's made friends with Eli Wallach and got him to star in his video.
7. "Cocaine," Davey Graham: I've been searching for this record Folk, Blues and Beyond for ages. Anybody out there got a copy? Worth a listen. I was turned onto him in Columbus, Ohio last summer while staying with a typewriter repair lady friend of mine. It was on vinyl.
8. "The Ocean," Richard Hawley: The best modern crooner. He really brings it up at the end.
9. "Blues On The Ceiling," Fred Neil: "I'll never get out of these blues alive," I understand that. Play it again please.
10. "You Can Have Your Women, I'll Stick To My Booze," Chad Morgan: Australian country/folk singer since the early '50s. He's still going strong around Queensland and actually goes fishing regularly with Darren Hanlon's aboriginal next door neighbor in Gympie.
11. "Don't Take Her, She's All I Got," Johnny Paycheck: I play this a lot in the car. On CD. First concert I ever went to. Still love the song.
12. "Lonesome Low," Al Scorch: The great Al Scorch from Chicago. I've been going back to this song a lot and it always makes me feel better about everything.