SotD: Lord Huron, “Dead Man’s Hand”

In poker, a “dead man’s hand” generally refers to a specific case of two pair–aces over eights–thought to be Wild Bill Hickok’s holding when he was killed. This song is…not about that.

Instead, it’s a sort of ghost story. I picture it taking place in the Four Corners region, maybe around Monument Valley.

I first encountered Lord Huron a couple of years ago. Strange Trails is their second full-length album; the haunting Western sound you encounter here permeates it (the final track, “The Night We Met,” was featured in the recent Netflix series 13 Reasons Why).

SotD: Sufjan Stevens, “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois”

I wish this song were three-to-four times as long as it is.  The haunting piano line, the unusual time signatures, the understated vocals–it all adds up to one mesmerizing tune.  The images provided by the person who posted this to YouTube only enhance the experience.

There are several great tracks on Stevens’ Come on Feel the Illinoise–I’m suspecting others will appear in the space eventually.

SotD: Maria Taylor, “Song Beneath the Song”

Ms. Taylor is absolutely right that subtext is important and “true meaning” is often not as it might first appear.  I fully expect there’s a song beneath my song in some (much?) of what I think, feel, and write.

Sometimes, though, that top layer is awfully nice, as it is here.  It’s another one of my Pandora discoveries.

SotD: Vulgar Boatmen, “Katie”

In August 91, my last year of grad school, I moved into an apartment with my friend Greg.  It was a bit of an unconventional situation: Greg was married, and his wife Katie was moving to College Park, MD, to pursue a doctorate in applied math at the university there.  He was a couple of years out from finishing his own degree in EE, so they decided to live apart until he got done.  Greg and I had become close friends over the previous 18 months due largely to our mutual interests in bridge and music, and I was the obvious choice for a roommate, at least for that first year.

Early on, Greg suggested we share a “Song of the Day” with one another each evening.  While we certainly didn’t follow through on it every day, it was a great way to expand each other’s musical horizons.  I suspect this ritual had an influence on the direction my tastes evolved in subsequent years.

In that spirit, occasionally, maybe even somewhat regularly, I’ll post a Song of the Day here.  Since there’s usually a tune spinning around in my noggin, I likely won’t lack for material!

While I don’t remember if this was ever officially one of Greg’s choices, I know he introduced it to me.  I purchased Pop Beloved by the Reivers around this time and when Greg heard their version of “Katie,” he no doubt soon afterward popped the original, by the Vulgar Boatmen, into the CD player for me to hear.