Song of the Day #2,169: ‘New Strings’ – Miranda Lambert

miranda_lambert_keroseneAbout a year ago I started running three miles a day, four or five days a week. Maintaining that pace requires the right listening material — I’m not able to run in silence.

But as much as I love music (see: this blog), it doesn’t help me run. I don’t get lost in the songs, but rather find myself waiting for each one to end. Music actually drags out the process rather than quickening it.

So instead I listen to podcasts. For about 6 months, I listened to the official Breaking Bad podcast — show-runner Vince Gilligan’s dissection (along with various cast and crew members) of every episode of my favorite show. But eventually I ran out of episodes.

I moved on to other TV podcasts, including True Detective and Justified, before that well ran dry.

Finally I stumbled upon Filmspotting, a weekly podcast that has run for nine years and 496 episodes (and counting). Hosts Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen are smart, witty and thoroughly entertaining as they dissect both new film releases and classics. The archive could keep me running for years.

One mainstay of Filmspotting is the weekly top five list. Adam and Josh come up with a new theme every week, usually tied in some way to their main review. “Top 5 Films with Place Names in their Title” was the list accompanying their review of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. Other recent lists have covered “Top 5 Actor-Director Pairs,” “Top 5 Car Scenes,” “Top 5 Hostage Films,” “Top 5 Christ Figures,” “Top 5 Disney Villains” — you get the picture.

The list that has inspired my next week of posts is “Top 5 Desert Island Directors.” Josh and Adam didn’t approach it as their five favorite directors, but really took to heart the idea that these would be the only films you’d see while living alone on the proverbial island.

Adam, for example, chose documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, who has made dozens of films about everyday people and settings. His most recent film was At Berkeley, a 4-hour look at life on the storied campus. Adam’s rationale was that getting to experience the regular lives of so many different kinds of people would be essential for his mental health while trapped on the island.

I don’t like people enough to go that way on my own list (and I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that such a list is coming). But I like the idea of taking the desert island theme seriously. What range of entertainment do I want at my disposal in such a remote and lonely locale?

I’m giving myself a triple challenge, naming not just my top five desert island directors but also my five musical acts and television series. Next week I will name five honorable mentions, a practice the Filmspotting duo adheres to as well (because lovers of film — or music, or TV — can never just stop at five).

So here we go… starting with my #5 selection in the Music category.

Desert Island Musical Artists – #5 – Miranda Lambert

As you’ll see over the next four days, my desert island picks are largely dominated by men. I wanted a feminine presence in my music picks and it’s hard to beat Miranda Lambert.

She has released five solo albums plus two with Pistol Annies (side projects count for this exercise), every one of which is excellent from start to finish. In fact, she’s the only artist on this list who has yet to record a song I skip. Her songs run the gamut from brash and funny to bittersweet and melancholy. She has one of my favorite singing voices and all of her albums sound great.

I’m putting her in the fifth slot but I wouldn’t be surprised if she winds up getting played the most on this island.

Desert Island TV Series – #5 – Seinfeld

Just as my musical artists skew male, my TV picks skew toward drama. So I wanted to add a straight-up comedy to the mix, and you can’t do better than the most quotable TV show in history. Nine seasons of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer should keep me laughing on those lonely island nights.

Desert Island Movie Directors – #5 – Richard Linklater

The movie director list was the hardest to compile. I’ve had to leave some of my very favorite filmmakers for the honorable mentions. I wanted to have a mix of favorites and the opportunity for discovery, and Richard Linklater gives me a bit of both.

Dazed and Confused and the Before trilogy sit on my list of all-time favorites. I’ve loved films as varied as School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly and Bernie. And I have yet to see such titles as Tape, Me and Orson Welles and Fast Food Nation.

Additionally, so many of Linklater’s films, such as the Before trilogy, Slacker and Waking Life, involve deep, but natural, conversation. Watching those films is like joining those conversations, and I’m sure I’d welcome that opportunity on the island.

Finally, while my island rules do not allow for the delivery of every new work by my chosen artists, I will have access to the most imminent film, album or season. So Linklater’s Boyhood, my most anticipated film of 2014, would make the trip to the island. I look forward to its oceanside premiere.

I bet this road will take me out of here
Take me far away from Amarillo
I bet this car will go real fast
The wheels might even drive me past
The places that you said I’d never go

The Texas Sky is the biggest one I’ve seen
But it still ain’t big enough for you and me
All the things that make you mad
And all the baggage in your past
Don’t leave much room for a girl like me to be
So I’ll fill her up with hope and worn-out dreams

And I’ll grab the wheel and I’ll point it west
Pack the good and leave the rest
I’ll drive until I find the missing piece
You said I wouldn’t get too far on a tank of gas
And an empty heart
But I got everything I’ll ever need
I got this old guitar and a brand new set of strings

Mama said I never should have done it
I should have ended us before we ever started
Daddy knew about my pride so he stood there
And he smiled inside and I pretended that I
Didn’t notice a little tear that fell when I said I was going

And I’ll grab the wheel and I’ll point it west
Pack the good and leave the rest
And drive until I find the missing piece
You said I wouldn’t get too far on a tank of gas
And an empty heart
But I got everything I’ll ever need
I got this old guitar and a brand new set of strings

I’ve worried about life and
If it’s arriving right on time
I guess if you don’t jump
You’ll never know if you can fly

You said I wouldn’t get too far on a tank of gas
And an empty heart
But I got everything I’ll ever need
I got this old guitar and a brand new set of strings

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,169: ‘New Strings’ – Miranda Lambert

  1. Dana says:

    Well, this post covers quite a lot and portends of fascinating posts in the weeks to come.

    As for your running selections, perhaps you don’t have enough high energy songs in your collection to make that run go faster and smoother. At the gym, where they regularly play music, I find there is nothing quite like “Eye of the Tiger” or “Lose Yourself” and similar motivational songs to get me running a bit more energetically. While you probably have some of these type songs in your collection, I suppose your overwhelming penchant for melancholy probably drives you to the podcasts. If I had to run to Rufus Wainright or Elliot Smith, I would probably run right off a bridge.

    Anyway, it sounds as though this podcast you have stumbled upon is tailor made for you. Will you be sharing their selections along with your own?

    Of your first round of selections, only Seinfeld would likely make my list. And if, as before, I was stuck on that island with you, I would vetoe your other two selections.πŸ˜„

  2. pegclifton says:

    Interesting and I look forward to the upcoming blogs. I agree with Seinfeld but I would not pick the singer or director you chose today; just not my favorites. We’ll see about the other choices. And please watch out where you are running when you are listening πŸ™‚

  3. Amy says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t milk three weeks of blogs out of this idea – actually six weeks once you added all of the honorable mentions. Love the idea – and the focus on choosing songs/directors/tv shows that will nurture your soul while on this desert island.

    I, too, would take Seinfeld as one of my 10 (not sure if it’s it my first five or the honorable mentions, but it’s there). As eager as I am to see Boyhood, I could not fathom listening to Delpy and Hawkes whine their way through my years on the island. As for Miranda, I don’t know her well enough to pick her, but I’ve heard and read enough to appreciate why you’ve chosen her.

    So my first picks will be Friday Night Lights, Steven Spielberg and Lyle Lovett (guess I gave away my top spots first πŸ™‚ )

  4. Clay says:

    Whining their way?? Bite your shingles-infested tongue!

    • Amy says:

      My tongue is shingles free, thank you very much!!! But I would not want to watch them bicker through my shingles infested eye! ;P

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