You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.
That could easily be the strap line for the Song Bar for some weeks it’s heaving and people are jostling each other, spilt drinks on suede shoes, and at other times it’s a quiet Tom Collins and some nachos on a wet spring weekend.
Some weeks you’re a multi-lister and others you draw a blank. So apologies in advance if it’s not you this week!
There were many interpretations of rough: living, justice, surfaces and weather to name a few and smooth: suave, even, gliding, and even fabrics – lots of fabrics.
Our opening song on the Song Bar Jukebox may well have ‘rough’ in the title but it’s far from uneven in fact that sax is smoooooth; as one poster said of the nomination it’s swooningly gorgeous, I agree and covers both aspects of the topic in one glorious song from Van Morrison: Rough God Goes Riding.
It’s rough being left by a lover, even more so when it’s a Dwight Yoakam sing-a-like from a ‘rough’-sounding Sarah Shook and the Disarmers.
Now listen here, ladies. Maybe you’re not after Dwight Yoakam, but someone who "spits fire, roars like a mountain lion" but "kisses right and holds you tight", so perhaps like Aretha Franklin you’re after a Rough Lover.
I’m not so sure and reckon you’d need Rhino Skin to put up with that type of behaviour!
Turning to rough weather and the true story of a great lake ship that set many a record traversing Lake Superior with its ‘DJ’ Captain who liked to play music on board 24/7, until one fateful November storm sank the ship and took all 29 lives aboard with no trace ever found of the crew from The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.
Mark Knopfler sings of rough treatment due to race meaning you can’t eat in white restaurants and end up eating Baloney Again in your car.
From eating and sleeping in your car to sleeping rough with a pillow made of concrete. It must be awful, doubly so if you’re mentally ill or illiterate as depicted in Pearl Jam’s Even Flow.
Another true story set to song this week about four men tried and convicted for a murder in Alaska that they couldn’t have committed but the law dismissed their alibis – rough justice in Lucinda Williams’ Concrete and Barbed Wire.
I assured amylee there was no such thing as a Led Zep rough mix but I do agree with her reply that some of the old stuff does sound shit on mp3 / YT uploads, and because I also love Mr Page’s guitar playing, here’s a reworking of Bron–Y–Aur Stomp as a blues instrumental. It uses a rough mix of all the guitar overdubs from that recording and is named after the place Plant stayed in the 70s: Jennings Farm Blues.
The portrayal of a swan smoothly gliding upon the surface of water yet underneath is the furious turbulent paddling that propels it forward provides a perfect segue between our rough tunes and some smooth offerings.
In the composer Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela is from a Finnish mythological poem that refers to a legendary swan floating through the realm of the dead.
Black is the colour of mourning but I’m not sure there’s too much about death in Songs: Ohia’s Hot Black Silk.
Are instrumentals the audible version of smooth? A rhetorical question. Of course they are. Another one this time from Count Basie and the sublime Silks and Satins.
Oh how I love music. And so staying with the smoothness of satin, this list couldn’t be right without The Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin.
That’s enough silk and satin this week and so to finish it all off, a surprisingly unzedded tune with the smooth crooning voice of Bobby Vinton and Blue Velvet.
The a Bit of Rough (and Smooth) A-list Playlist
Van Morrison – Rough God Goes Riding
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Dwight Yoakam
Aretha Franklin – Rough Lover
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Rhino Skin
Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Mark Knopfler – Baloney Again
Pearl Jam – Even Flow
Lucinda Williams – Concrete & Barbed Wire
Led Zeppelin – Jennings Farm Blues
Sibelius – The Swan of Tuonela
Songs: Ohia (Jason Molina) – Hot Black Silk
Count Basie – Silks & Satins
The Moody Blues – Nights in White Satin
Bobby Vinton – Blue Velvet
The B Smooth (or Rough) B-list Playlist:
Queens of the Stone Age – Go With the Flow
Jethro Tull – Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day
Sun-Ra – Velvet
Roger Daltrey – Satin & Lace
Santana – Smooth
Don Cox – Smooth Southern Highway
Sade – Smooth Operator
Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal
Gene Pitney – True Love Never Runs Smooth
Susan Tedeschi – Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Bloc Party – Like Eating Glass
Ryan Bingham – My Diamond is Too Rough
Johnny Cash – Wrinkled Crinkled Wadded Dollar Bill
Kilburn and the High Roads – Rough Kids
Mischief Brew – Dirty Pennies
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
Smooth by title but a little rough and ready this week’s Guru’s Wildcard is Queen of the Stone Age's Smooth Sailing:
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Ready to rock? Or roll? Songs about all things rough and smooth. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.