"Misunderstanding … love cuts so deep.’ The cool, funky sound of 70s female trio Parlet announces the theme for this week’s playlist, but the mood is soon shattered by the arrival of Van Der Graaf Generator, in a state of some confusion and accompanied by an irresistible riff to get us dancing if we weren’t before. "Oh no, I must have said yes," they complain. We know the feeling.
Next, D’Angelo and the Vanguard tell us that it’s Really Love. Really? A little self-awareness and a few lessons in Spanish might cause the protagonist to re-assess the situation. Gina Figueroa provides the spoken words that he has failed to understand.
‘If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it's like the human voice.’ The words of Stan Getz seem most appropriate here. In Don’t Misunderstand, Houston Person’s tenor sax seems as expressive as Etta Jones’s voice as she warns, "We are only strangers on our way to someone else, to some place we forgot. Don’t mistake my smile,it just means I’m lonely."
In Right Place, Wrong Time, Dr John is trying to make sense of his life and failing, Don’t think about it too much, Dr John, or things can get really depressing. Witness Randy Newman, who, in God’s Song, has concluded that God is a sadist who only loves us because our misery amuses him.
Just as a game of tennis can turn on one point, love can switch to hatred very quickly. In the Cure’s How Beautiful You Are, the protagonist becomes disillusioned in a moment with what he had thought was a perfect love. We may feel very critical of him but as Pascal wrote, "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”
Jens Lekman’s girlfriend has a serious problem with her self-image, which he cannot understand, and when she says that their love is "make-believe", he mishears it as Maple Leaves. Quit while you’re ahead, Jens. This romance is going nowhere.
Billy Joel’s The Stranger is uncomfortably honest and truthful. It seems to question the possibility of ever fully understanding anyone, including oneself.
Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone.
Former US dance-rock band The Bravery desperately want to make things right with an old friend but it looks hopeless. They’ve misunderstood the possibly catastrophic consequences of An Honest Mistake. "I swear I never meant for this."
Next, punk rockers Action Pact sing of the general inability of Human Beings to understand one another, leading to war and conflict. "Humans like us and humans like them/ Same old story again and again." Can’t we do better?
The playlist closes with two Dylan covers. The first, which chronicles a break-up and the misunderstandings surrounding it, is One of Us Must Know, very competently sung by Mick Hucknall, However, to appreciate its full glory you need the original, which is available on Spotify. The second song is sung by Joan Baez, so beautifully and expressively that I wouldn’t want to change it for the original. "You were right from your side, but I was right from mine." Yes.
No mistaking A-list playlist:
1. Parlet - Misunderstandings
2. Van Der Graaf Generator - (Oh No, I Must Have Said) Yes
3. D’Angelo and the Vanguard - Really Love
4. Etta Jones - Don’t Misunderstand
5. Dr John - Right Place, Wrong Time
6. Randy Newman - God’s Song.
7. The Cure - How Beautiful You Are
8. Jens Lekman - Maple Leaves
9. Billy Joel - The Stranger
10. The Bravery - An Honest Mistake
11. Action Pact - Human Beings
12. Mick Hucknall/Bob Dylan - Sooner or Later (One Of Us Must Know)
13. Joan Baez - One Too Many Mornings
Spotify song link to Dylan's One Of Us Must Know:
Let's be clear B-list:
1. The Audience - Eye to Eye
2. The Who - Behind Blue Eyes
3. Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple - Left-Handed Kisses
4. The Streets - OMG
5. Atmosphere - Ms Interpret
6. Bread - Diary
7. The Be-Good Tanyas - Momsong
8. Clint Eastwood and General Saint - Shame and Scandal in the Family
9. Stephen Marley - False Friends
10. Spiers and Boden - Child Morris
11. Fleetwood Mac - Not That Funny
12. Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina
13. Kevin Ayers - Shouting In A Bucket Blues
Guru's wildcard pick:
Karine Polwart - Resolution Road
Hear the link here, or try this live YouTube version:
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