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


On Tour, Bassist Amy LaVere Loves America, Tinariwen, and Dill Pickles


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 Wednesday we 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.

When asked to submit their most-played iTunes tracks, some artists take a bit of liberty compiling their answers (or maybe I just suck at explaining how it works). Singer-songwriter and upright bassist Amy LaVere responded with more bands and odd quotes than specific song titles, but the Memphis-based musician who once fronted a punk band in Detroit and last year released the Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire) produced Stranger Me, is well-poised to bend the rules. The vocalist brings a feisty style to her blues-inflected Americana, and her dulcet country twang smooths out the edges (see the chillingly soulful "Killing Him" after the jump).

In every game there's an exception, and this week on the questionnaire LaVere adjusts the criteria to reflect her own artistic vision, incorporating tunes from her tour bus and tips for staying awake on a long road trip across the country (hint: it involves pickles).

Amy LaVere rolls through the Sunset this Thursday (6/14) with Shelby Earl and Mark Pickerel.

Amy LaVere: Here are my top 5 most played iTunes of the past week. You should know we've been driving west all week to get to Bend, Oregon from Memphis with a few gigs in between. All of this music has been in the van on long drives.

"America," Bill Callahan: A couple of months ago while on tour in the Northeast my violinist Krista wittily popped on this tune as we were heading into DC after a show in the area, hoping to catch a glimpse of the White House. Turns out it's pretty impossible to get near it at 3 in the morning. It was nonetheless a memorable attempt. While driving through the vastness of Nebraska and Wyoming yesterday, I thought of the song again. That drive required multiple plays.

(Writer's note: Rarely, someone will write in with a song that's also in my top-played picks. "America," with its fuzzy bassline, rhythmic distortions, and wailing psychedelics, is that song.'s a dirty joke from the acclaimed indie songwriter to keep the party going).

"When I drive through Wyoming I listen to Pink Floyd," and you can quote me on that. We did this last time through the state and it is the PERFECT backdrop to the landscape. It seems to mirror the topography. We shuffled what is a near complete catalog on my drummer Shawn's iPod.

Anything by Tinariwen. Featured track above is "Imidiwan Matanam."

Pop Levi: Solid "pull ya through" music when you're getting sleepy driving. Eat crispy dill pickles, turn on Pop Levi, and you'll make the last hour or two no problem. (Featured track above is the groove-addled "Motorcycle 666.")

Bach: You won't believe the good thinkin' you can get done watching the road and listening to Bach. (Writer's note/Fun fact: I used to think this sequence from Disney's Fantasia was the most boring 10 minutes before The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but it turns out it's the best visual to Bach on the internet--take my word for it. You don't know the meaning of boring until you've searched for "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" on YouTube).

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