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Heavy rotation here on a cloudy day in early October:

  1. “Running,” Ryan Downey. “Hey, that’s the best song Chris Isaak has come up with in years!” thought Newsome on first listen. Well, no, but silly/earnest promises of love delivered via a clever extended metaphor is always going to land in my sweet spot. “You better get your Nikes on/I’m about to start my song for you honey.”
  2. “I’d Ask the Questions,” The Proclaimers. These guys are still around? Maybe they are still huge in Scotland. But this is a charming little ditty about an absent friend and the types of conversations you have with someone you’ve known forever somewhere around the third round. Is the absent friend gone on holiday, moved to America, dead? At my age I’m thinking dead, although Charlie and Craig’s voices seem too cheerful for that. But on the other hand, they do things differently in Scotland (and everywhere else). “I’ve lost my bounce/Without you to bounce off.”
  3. “Confidante,” Paul McCartney. “Hey, that’s the best song Paul McCartney has come up in years!” thought Newsome on first listen. And this time, a happier ending. I wouldn’t trade the nice uplifting Paul but a little dose of vitriol occasionally does everyone some good. “My underneath the staircase friend” captures a certain kind of relationship well, but I also like the butterflies in army boots verse as a terrific example of the stupid, embarrassing things lovers actually confide. Among his many well-deserved accolades, Paul McCartney is truly the king of the unembarrassed.
  4. “Slow Burn,” Kacey Musgraves. I’m not just Mr. Indie! I like popular stuff too! I picture two lovers in bed, or the singer waiting for a lover to arrive, anticipation leading to free association. I love Kacey’s dreamy voice, I love the sense of time as freefall when you know something good’s about to happen. “Old soul, waiting my turn/I know a few things but I still got a lot to learn.”
  5. “Nobody,” Mitski. And sometimes you can be Mr. Indie and like popular stuff! One of the most self-possessed expressions of loneliness I’ve ever heard. “Nobody, nobody, nobody” the singer says over and over again, baiting her own emotions, but there’s no way she’s going to settle for just anyone…or maybe she will, but just temporarily, and what’s up that these are the options? It’s desolation viewed through a gimlet eye, informed by the age-old Elvis Costello question of who put these fingerprints on my imagination. “Give me one good movie kiss and I’ll be all right.”