Song of the Day #4,578: ‘The Things That Everybody Does (Live)’ – Tift Merritt

Concluding the chronological presentation of my 25 favorite songs…

Easy From Now On‘ – Miranda Lambert (2007)

The last time I posted Miranda Lambert’s ‘Easy From Now On,’ during a series on my favorite female vocalists, frequent commenter Dana suggested that Lambert was “this year’s model” and that “with time and perspective” I might not list her in my top ten.

That was a little more than a decade ago.

Lambert might have been that year’s model, but she proved to be a classic, so much so that I recently called her my favorite musical artist.

As for today’s song, it’s a bit of a non-traditional choice. Written by Susanna Clark and Carlene Carter (daughter of June Carter), it was originally recorded by Emmylou Harris for her 1978 album, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town. That makes it the only cover in my list of 25 favorite songs.

Emmylou Harris is a legend, no doubt, but her version of ‘Easy From Now On’ doesn’t do much for me. But in the hands of a 24-year-old Miranda Lambert, as the closing track of her wonderful 2007 album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it is absolutely sublime.

This is a song that stops me in my tracks, wanting to just close my eyes and listen. It’s soul-stirring. Can’t put it any simpler than that.

The Things That Everybody Does‘ – Tift Merritt (2010)

I hope friend of the blog Peter checks in from Germany to see that our beloved Tift Merritt landed a song in my list of all-time favorites.

It’s a running joke around here that Merritt has few fans, but the few she has are hopelessly devoted. Songs like this one are the reason why. She is such a thoughtful and empathetic writer, with a gift for melody and a heavenly voice.

Written right before her wedding, this is a song about the gravity of love. I see ‘The Things That Everybody Does’ as a companion to Lucinda Williams’ ‘Side of the Road,’ but one that plays up the comforting warmth of the relationship more than the freedom of solitude.

Hero‘ – Family of the Year (2010)

My final selection is the only song I know by its artist (it shares that in common with one other song on the list, A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’).

I first heard Family of the Year’s ‘Hero’ during a poignant scene near the end of Richard Linklater’s 2014 film Boyhood. I call it poignant, but it simply depicts the lead character driving across Texas to college, stopping along the way to snap some pictures at a gas station. But after watching the kid grow up before my eyes over two hours, it packed a punch.

And of course this simple, lovely song has a lot to do with that. It’s a case where the song makes the scene more effective and vice versa. I don’t think I can ever separate this track from my love of Boyhood, nor would I want to.

It seems crazy to me that a song this good was released four years earlier and just sat around waiting for Richard Linklater to find it and pair it up with his masterpiece.

It turns out ‘Hero’ had a halfway decent run on the alternative charts, enough to touch one of Boyhood‘s music consultants, who listened to the song to soothe a heartbreak. Linklater turned it down at first, feeling like it might be “too much” for the movie, but then decided the scene in question could benefit from “too much.”

Boy, was he right. In this case, too much is exactly enough.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed my list of thoroughly depressing favorite songs.

I can’t wait to read about your top 25 (or 10, or 5, or whatever) in the comments below.

Everybody told me this is who you have to be
My hands in my pockets as deep as they go
I walked home and packed up my cases to leave
I walked all over this country, I went down to the sea
I talked a lot with the sun and the sky
I didn’t talk much with anyone else really
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
I never knew exactly what it was
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you
‘Til There was you

You found me up in the attic, singing down to the leaves
You caught me reading love letters aloud
To horses and children, to stars and to trees
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
I never knew exactly what it was
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you

But a mountain is still a mountain, a mountain goes to the sea
No matter what I’d like to pretend, no matter what I’d like it to be

No I don’t have to stay here, I could fly off and leave
On the wings of a unicorn’s breast, my typewriter strapped with diamonds to my chest
But how could I go with breakfast not over yet?
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
But what a lovely morning that it was
When there was you
When there was you
When there was you
When there was you

13 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,578: ‘The Things That Everybody Does (Live)’ – Tift Merritt

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It’s interesting, but not surprising, that most of your favorite songs were chosen from a reductive process beginning with your favorite artist, then your favorite album from that artist and/ or your favorite song from that artist or a favorite movie and a favorite song from that movie. This tracks with how you have generally discovered and listened to music for decades, thus leading to the joke/observation I made years ago that you have blind spots for a great deal of music you would otherwise have come to know from radio play. This is why you were the only person on the planet who had never heard “I’ve Got a Feeling,” the song of that year’s summer. Admittedly, you took some corrective action by launching your occasional “what the kids are listening to” series on the blog, but I suspect that is the only time you dip into radio play or the modern equivalent which is playing “stations” created by Apple, Pandora etc., which is a great way to discover music you like since these platforms draw from the music you already like (kinda like how Amazon would recommend books based on what you read or Netflix suggests movies/shows based on what you watch).

    Anyway, II say all this because, in trying to create my own list, I began with a similar reductive process and, to be sure, there will be songs from my favorite artists. However, as I thought further about my list, I considered emphasizing a different criteria with the primary question being, “What are the songs that, were they to come on the radio, I would never turn them off and would instead crank up the volume no matter how many times I had heard the song over the years?” Now, as Maddie pointed out, the answer to that question might depend on your particular mood or state of mind at that moment (you might not leave a dance track on if you were mellow, might.not leave a melancholy song on if you were in a less contemplative or somber mood). However, I believe what this criteria does is open the door wider to individual songs that are not derived from a favorite artist, album or movie.

    So I am going to try to pull together my top 25 using this methodology, even though it makes whittling down that list far harder. I’ll try to finalize this weekend and post here when it’s done.

    • Clay says:

      I’ll quibble a bit with your characterization of my list. Ten of my selections don’t come from favorite artists or albums. I think that’s a pretty high number given my tendency to stick to the artists I know and love best.

      • Dana Gallup says:

        How many of those ten don’t come from a favorite movie?

        • Clay says:

          A few of them appeared in movies but not necessarily “favorite” movies. I first heard ‘Life on Mars’ in The Life Aquatic, for example, but it wasn’t the movie that made me love that song. And ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ was a favorite of mine before I even knew it was from a movie.

          ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ is more along the lines of what you’re talking about, I think.. I certainly associate that song with the movie. But isn’t that how our experiences form lasting memories, whether it’s a song you heard in a movie theater or on the radio during a road trip?

  2. Peg says:

    I would have to say that my favorite songs would have to come from my favorite artists as I don’t listen to a range of music. So that said my favorite songs would be from Sinatra, Paul Simon, Elvis, Maria Callas arias, Carol King and Daniel Gallup ❤️

  3. Maddie says:

    I’ve been adding playlists of everyone’s top 25 to my apple music since you’ve started this series and I love listening through and getting to know the songs I’d never heard. As someone who now uses my apple music radio religiously as a way to come across new music, I’m loving this way of discovery just as much. Gathering lists from my friends and family adds more meaning to the new exposure.

    My own list has been tough to make and I still keep returning to it with tweaks… but this is what I have right now, for all interested. I think the discussion of criteria and how people arrive to each song is almost as interesting as the list itself. But I’m a sucker for the list. Oh and anyone with apple music is welcome to reach out for links to the playlists I’m making 😂

    -“Barlights”- Fun.
    -“Begin Again”- Taylor Swift
    -“Chelsea Morning” – Joni Mitchell
    -“Easy Silence”- The Chicks
    -“Eyes Wide Open”- Gotye
    -“Helplessly Hoping”- Crosby, Stills & Nash
    -“Hold my Hand”- Hootie & The Blowfish
    -“How”-Maroon 5
    -“If I Had Eyes”- Jack Johnson
    -“Land of Canaan”- Indigo Girls
    -“Love on Top”- Beyoncé
    -“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”- Elton John
    -“Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”- Counting Crows
    -“Orpheus”- Sara Bareilles
    -“Private Conversation”- Lyle Lovett
    -“Red Eye”- Vance Joy
    -“Run”- Vampire Weekend
    -“Something to Talk About” – Bonnie Raitt
    -“Saturdays”- Twin Shadow (feat. HAIM)
    -“Something in the Way She Moves”- James Taylor
    -“Still Fighting It”- Ben Folds
    -“Summer, Highland Falls”- Billy Joel
    -“These Are Days”- 10,000 Maniacs
    -“Welcome to the Family”- Watsky
    -“You Don’t Know How It Feels”- Tom Petty

    • Maddie says:

      Also, both mine and Clay’s list ring in at an hour and 42 minutes long. Not sure if that’s interesting, but noting it anyway lol

    • Clay says:

      Very nice. I’ve never heard eight of these songs, so definitely some new fodder for my own playlists!

  4. Amy says:

    First, thank you for the great activity these past weeks, both in reading about and listening to your picks and debating and creating lists of our own. I had a list of 40+ songs, whittled it down to about 28, which I felt I couldn’t possible cut any further, and then added back several more to get to my current list of 35 (2 hours, 19 minutes :P) I know that’s “not the game,” but it’s where I’m at. Out of these 35, there are a solid dozen that would show up on any list of any length (well, 12 or fewer), but the other 23 would do major battle for the final 13 spots, so I’m sharing them all here today.

    Your list doesn’t seem “reductive” to me at all, though I do appreciate Dana’s thought process. As we discussed earlier in your series, there sometimes is a desire to be representative, if not of a particular sex or race, certainly of a particular artist who is a favorite. My current list suffers from a bit of that, to be sure, but it also has songs that cemented their place here because of their appearance in a favorite film (I have to go back and watch that amazing ending of Boyhood STAT!) or because of my association of them with a particular moment in my life or live concert performance. There may be other songs that I love just as much, but these have earned their spot for both the quality of the songs PLUS (to go back to a movie debate from decades ago). Without further ado, in no particular order, here you go:

    “The Road to Ensenada” – Lyle Lovett*
    “Feels Like Home” – Randy Newman*
    “A Long December” – Counting Crows
    “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes
    “The Luckiest” – Ben Folds
    “Broken Arrow” – Robbie Robertson
    “Kiss” – Prince*
    “O-O-H Child” – The Five Stairsteps*
    “These are Days” – 10,000 Maniacs*
    “Vienna” – Billy Joel*
    “Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles
    “Come to My Window” – Melissa Etheridge
    “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac
    “Closer to Fine” – Indigo Girls*
    “Fields of Gold” – Sting
    “Begin Again” – Taylor Swift*
    “Angel from Montgomery” – Bonnie Raitt
    “Southern Accents” – Tom Petty*
    “Come Fly with Me” – Frank Sinatra
    “Chelsea Morning” – Joni Mitchell*
    “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters” – Elton John*
    “Green Grow the Rushes” – R.E.M.*
    “Something in the Way She Moves” – James Taylor
    “Into the Mystic” – Van Morrison*
    “The Carter Family” – Carly Simon

    “Back in the High Life” – Steve Winwood
    “Baby Can I Hold You” – Tracy Chapman
    “It’s Too Late” – Carole King
    “Lose Yourself” – Eminem
    “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley
    “More than a Feeling” – Boston
    “Faithfully” – Journey
    “She Will Be Loved” – Maroon 5
    “She Drives Me Crazy” – Fine Young Cannibals
    “The Weight” – The Band

    As I typed these out, I recalled, in horror, the songs I intended to add but never got around to… songs such as “Tunnel of Love” by Bruce Springsteen and “Post-Mortem Bar” by Zane Campbell (another of those powerful movie songs!) and “In the Sun” by Joseph Arthur (this one from an alternate ending to a film! 🙂 … none of them would have made a final 25, but they were all songs I love enough to have wanted them in the mix to be considered.

    Let’s face it, this endeavor would lead to a different list on almost every week of the year. Maddie and I want to create a separate list of just Broadway songs, as we didn’t allow ourselves to consider favorites such as “Season of Love” or “One Last Time.”

    • Clay says:

      Love it! Lots of songs here that made my long list, or that are adjacent to songs on my long list. Tom Petty, Lyle Lovett and Carole King were all in the running, for example, but I didn’t have the ONE SONG for any of them that means more to me than any other. ‘Road to Ensenada’ was definitely a contender.

  5. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I had never heard this Tift Merritt song before, but it is truly beautiful. What an incredible guitar player and singer! Love the lyrics and can easily see why this made your Top 25. “Easy from Now On” I also had never heard. It’s pretty classic country and Lambert’s version is great. As far as “Hero”, this is one of those songs that feels cinematic every time you listen to it. Every time you play it in the car or listen to it, you feel like you’re in a movie. I’ve loved this song ever since “Boyhood”, but also can’t help but remember that immaculate brother/sister cover that went viral on Youtube after! Another great pick!

  6. Dana Gallup says:

    Okay, here is my list. Despite my suggestion of how I might approach this, I think I ended up largely skewing closer to favorite songs from favorite artists.

    “An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy” – Lyle Lovett
    “Month of Sundays/Sunset Grill – Don Henley
    “Fast Car” – Tracy Chapman
“New Lace Sleeves” – Elvis Costello
    “Desperado” – Eagles 
“Cha Cha Loco” – Joe Jackson
“Tangled Up in Blue” – Bob Dylan
“Vienna” – Billy Joel
“In My Life” – The Beatles
“Halfway Home” – Billy Pilgrim 
“Renaissance Eyes” -Don Dixon
“Black Coffee in Bed” – Squeeze
“Angel from Montgomery” – Bonnie Raitt
“American Girl” – Tom Petty
“Superstition” -Stevie Wonder
“Mona Lisa and Madhatters” – Elton John
“Nightswimming” – R.E.M.
“The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac 
“Moondance” – Van Morrison
    “Closer to Fine” – indigo Girls
“Landed” – Ben Folds 
“Strong Persuader” – Robert Cray
“Train in the Distance” – Paul Simon
    “My Old School” – Steely Dan
    “Walking in Memphis” – Marc Cohn

    • Clay says:

      Good stuff. I considered ‘Nightswimming’ and ‘New Lace Sleeves,’ and ‘American Girl’ would likely be my Tom Petty choice if I had to narrow it down.

      You, Maddie and Amy all went with ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.’ Will Daniel make it a clean sweep?

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