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.
Seattle guitarist Jessica Dobson has toured with The Shins and Beck and backed up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Spoon, but its her work with her own band Deep Sea Diver that's cementing her place on the map as an axe-slaying lead guitarist. What's more, according to the trusty ol' iTunes test, she's got requisite taste in music to back the pedigree. The artist is touring in support of her first full length album History Speaks but took a few moments to share her top-played iTunes tracks, revealing a fondness for indie rock royalty and the David Bowie tune she and her husband (and Deep Sea Diver drummer Peter Mansen) strode down the aisle together as newlyweds.
Deep Sea Diver play Neumos this Friday (11/30) with Wild Belle and Pretty Broken Things.
"Golden Hours," Brian Eno: We listen to this song a ton because of its simplicity and its strangeness. The guitar solo played by Robert Fripp (at the 2 minute mark in the above video) is one of the most alien, snakelike, twisting, wonderful melodies that this world has known. It is easily one of our most played albums and the most played song off of it.
"Strange Overtones," Brian Eno and David Byrne: Two of our biggest inspirations who are well into their grey hair and no hair days and are still making such wonderful, relevant music that stands up to anything being made today as well as anything they have done in the past. "Strange Overtones" is one of few examples that I can think of a perfect pop song. The melody is infection and will take over your brain moments after your first listen.
"Frates," Arvo Part: Arvo is one of our favorite minimalist composers. He is an Estonian badass who has a following of other greats like Bjork and Phillip Glass. "Frates" is an epic, other planet-sounding arrangement that always lifts us out of the doldrums.
"Two Weeks" Grizzly Bear: A modern day masterpiece that in every way deserved its acclaim and popularity. Beautifully composed and arranged, with musicianship that is unmatched in music today. This song is the pinnacle of what they are capable of in terms of melodic coherency, harmonic proficiency, and rhythmic brilliance while retaining such a sensibility that anyone can grasp and relate to the actual song without being a pretentious dickwad.
"What's Going On," Marvin Gaye: While being a great song in its own right, you can listen to this song purely for the bass playing by the late James Jameson in isolation. The song itself is a great example of a sort of snapshot of '70s culture and politics in musical form that transfers you into another world and gives a depth of understanding into the mindset of a brilliant songwriter and world class musicians, and spreads a message without being "preachy." Such pure emotion and profound insight both musically and lyrically.
"Red Right Hand," Nick Cave: Nick Cave is the foremost lyricist in music today and sets such a dark tone throughout his songs. It's impossible not to engage the song, and he brings you into his demented and fallen world in which he writes. This song in particular is so simply and starkly constructed and new sounds are introduced that weave in and out creating a piece of sonic art that effectively destroys our face.
"Paris," Moondog: Who else could boast being a self-decided homeless gentleman who composed beautiful pieces of music whilst dressing up as his own interpretation of the Norse god Odin on the streets of New York City? This song "Paris" is the perfect morning music to wake up to, to get you in the mindset of Phillip Glass mixed with a late '80s John Hughes movie. We love Moondog and his eccentric musical wanderings.
"Sound and Vision," David Bowie: This song played a large role in the writing of "You Go Running," and though it sounds vastly different, it has a certain purposeful, yet carefree vibe that was very inspirational in its structure, textures, rhythms, melodies and overall sonic quality. Side note, we love the song so much that it was the song that was played when Jessica and Peter were introduced to the world as betrothed. Pop music at its finest.