Song of the Day #1,558: ‘Humankind’ – Grant-Lee Phillips

If I get nothing out of this musical genome project but an introduction to Grant-Lee Phillips’ 2001 album Mobilize, I’ll consider it a roaring success.

While the name Grant-Lee Phillips is somewhat familiar, I couldn’t have told you a thing about him. And I had certainly never heard a note of his music, or else I’d already be a fan.

Phillips fronted the band Grant Lee Buffalo in the 90s. They lived in the shadow of similar bands like R.E.M. (whose Michael Stipe called their debut album, Fuzzy, the “best album of [1993] hands down”) and Counting Crows.

After the band broke up in 1998, Phillips embarked on a solo career that has thus far spanned six albums, all released in the 2000s.

I’ve listened to a handful of songs from both Grant Lee Buffalo and Phillips’ solo work, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Sound-wise, it’s on the folk rock and Americana side of the spectrum — Wilco was clearly influenced by these guys.

But the one album I’ve heard in its entirety — several times now — is Phillips’ solo debut, Mobilize, and that one is simply stunning. It sounds different from much of his other output — more moody and ethereal. I’ve read comparisons to R.E.M.’s Automatic For the People and I can hear that.

It’s always exciting to discover new music I know I’m going to love. Sometimes it can feel like work, knowing how much is out there waiting to be unearthed, but nothing beats that feeling when a brand-new song creeps into your brain and takes root.

And the point of my life is what
What if it doesn’t add up
And the trouble was all for naught
Chalk it to the state of the world
Revelations are soon forgot

If only humankind was not so heartless now
Heartless now
It’s hard to love your fellow man
However can I help myself
From harboring such evil

And the reason of pain is clear
Never learned the lesson of bliss
All the riches to squander here

If only humankind was not so selfish now
Selfish now
It’s hard to love your fellow man
However can I help myself
From harboring such evil

Heartless now
Heartless now
Ooh oh oh

And the point of the stars is to shine
Shine a little light in our way
When the fear in my heart leaves me blind
Even in the light of the day
Come stumbling out
Ooh ooh ooh

If only humankind was not so heartless now
Heartless now
It’s hard to love your fellow man
However can I help myself
From harboring such evil

Whenever we’re so heartless now
Heartless now
Oh oh oh

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,558: ‘Humankind’ – Grant-Lee Phillips

  1. Andrea Katz says:

    I could listen to this many times. Good selection.

  2. Dana says:

    So you bought this during or after your genome project started or before? Nice sound, though it doesn’t immediately grip me in the way automatic for the people did. Maybe just a bit too ethereal.

  3. Clay says:

    I haven’t bought it (yet) but I’ve listened to it on Spotify after the genome project. I found Phillips by looking for artists similar to my genome favorites.

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