Top Ten Songs I Listen To The Morning After
don’t get drunk that often, but when I do it’s always with other people. Usually the next morning there are people to deal with and often I have to go to work. But some days everyone’s gone, and I don’t have to go to work. With no plans and no responsibilities, I can lounge around my apartment disheveled for most of the afternoon, slowly drink liquids to try to satiate my head, and my stomach, and listen to some music. Is it fun? Anyone who has overindulged in alcohol can tell you that it isn’t, but as a wise man once said, “If it was always fun everyone would do it.”
As a result, this isn’t going to be a list of gentle songs intended to soothe and comfort. I did the drinking and I’m more than willing to live with the result. Instead, on this kind of afternoon I tend towards the darker bits of my collection, the sad and the jagged, and even occasionally the loud; I’d rather listen to something noisy and dark that reminds me of my headache than something bright and shiny, as the latter always makes me feel worse.
10. The Inbreds – Any Sense Of Time
I neither know nor care much about the Inbreds; I think they’re Canadian, but this is all I’ve ever heard from them. And it’s very good—a solid, stomping backbeat, nicely distorted guitar and a murmur-and-yell chorus that is one of my favorites. That the song is so cryptic works for me on these days; in the middle eight when they slow down and sing “you just laugh and you call him a man” it fits perfectly, even though you have no idea what they’re talking about. The song is sad, hints at dark truths and is vaguely contemptuous. Perfect.
09. Scannerfunk – Spinique
I think Robin Rimbaud has gone back to just Scanner as his nom de plume of choice, but as long as my copy of the under-heard Wave Of Light By Wave Of Light says Scannerfunk, that’s what I’m going to call him. The gnashing “Spinique” is one of my favorite tracks on that album, propulsive yet (courtesy of the strings in the background) reserved, almost stately. It feels busy and calm at the same time, and is actually enhanced by listening to it with a head full of junk. The slower pace I move at when I’m hung over works in the favour of longer tracks like this as well, as I’m much less apt to skip ahead to the next song (a bad habit of mine). “Spinique”’s dense repetition needs all of its almost eight minute length to really get under your skin.
08. The Sick Anchors – Whole Again
Songs that I might otherwise find lachrymose or maudlin in other moods often seem just perfect on days like this. Normally I often prefer the original Atomic Kitten version, but slumped on the couch with a paperback and some leftovers I need to hear Aidan Moffat and his translation of “Whole Again” to minimalist arrangements and Scots accent is one of the saddest things I’ve heard.
07. Loop – Pulse
With Loop, one of those bands who found a distinctive sound and stuck with it to nearly the extent of self-parody, there are so many choices for this sort of exercise. “Pulse,” from their second album Fade Out, gets the nod for the naggingly insistent guitars that lead out the track. Eventually my headache will go away from the sheer embarrassment of being outdone by three British guys determined to beat Spacemen 3 at their own game.
06. Tom Waits – Innocent When You Dream (78)
Both versions of “Innocent When You Dream” are great, but this one is better for a lazy hang over morning because when you’re slumped over on the couch something that sounds like it’s coming out of an old gramophone trumps everything that doesn’t, obviously. More sorrow, tinged with rueful affection and Waits’ reluctant howl, and more proof that Broadway lost a genius.
05. Tindersticks – No Man In The World
There are moments on Tindersticks’ Can Our Love… album that pick up the pace, crib some tricks from soul and R’n’B, and see some tentative sunshine poking through the dourness. Not “No Man In The World.” The music is oh-so gentle as Stuart Staples mutters a soliloquy on a doomed relationship, one too fiery, “Never understood what we had / Never knew how to deal with it,” and then he suddenly starts the chorus in the middle, his rich sob choking out “Wanted you” before starting again at the beginning: “Make you feel like no man in the world wanted you / Make me feel like no woman in the world wanted me.” Dickon Hinchliffe handles the asides after a while so Staples can concentrate his inhuman voice on the raw heart of the matter. Think Darren Hayes’ “Unlovable,” but worse.
04. Blur – Bugman
Blur has written some sad songs too, of course, but they don’t quite make the grade for this morning. The supremely fuzzed-out “Bugman”, however, replete with backing “na na na”s and completely nonsense-yet-paranoid lyrics, might as well be tailor made. It’s a bit posturing, but that sort of thing is a lot easier for me to get into when I feel like this. That massive humming noise that swarms into view near the end is great, and this is the only track from 13 where I don’t mind the weird disjointed directions it goes off into at the end, Damon’s Sun Ra homage included.
03. Moby – When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die
I realize Moby’s critical stock is (justifiably) at an all-time low, but this is still one of my very favorite late-night/hung over songs. It’s apparently sung by one Mimi Goese, but until I looked it up I wasn’t sure of their gender. In any case it’s a beautiful voice, and it’s beautifully supported, dense slabs of strings and keyboards gliding past each other, an ocean flowing calmly under that voice, eventually swallowing it. There are some people so embattled, by illness or circumstance or emotion, that when they pass away it’s said that it is in some ways a relief for them. That’s what this song sounds like to me, as Goese’s voice slowly ebbs out of hearing.
02. Can – Yoo Doo Right
As mentioned above, one of the (few) nice side effects of my state the day after overindulging is that my attention span seems to lengthen. I never seem to have problems with the twenty-minute “Yoo Doo Right” under any circumstances, however. I can’t claim to be a big fan of Can, but I am a big fan of their first album Monster Movie, and this, the second half of the album, is just mindblowing. More than enough has already been written on Can, and by people far more talented (and less hungover than me), so let me just say if you’ve never heard this you have to. It’s transporting.
01. Stars – Heart
After I’ve listened to music for a while, I’ve got my appetite for a great chorus back. And “Heart” has an incredible one. But I’m not forgetting what I’ve been listening to all day; the resignation in Amy Millan’s voice as she sings “All right, I can say what you want me to… I’m still in love with you,” the catch that almost halts Torquil Campbell on “You tilt your head and turn it to the setting sun,” the muted trumpet, the way “He held the flame I wasn’t born to carry / I’ll leave the dying young stuff up to you” is neither bitter nor mocking, and most of all, the utterly crushed way Campbell, near the end, starts singing “I want more / Give me more” under the chorus. Resignation and the refusal to settle in the same breath. Stars made one of the most uplifting songs I’ve heard elsewhere on this album (“Look Up”), and here on the title track they make the most comforting sad one I’m likely to hear. After this, it’s the perfect time for a nap.