1. “Cold, Cold Heart,” Nora Jones
Lying in bed awake at 3 a.m. looking to clear your head? Queue up “Come Away With Me” and take time to appreciate Nora Jones’ soothing cover of this Hank Williams tune.2. “Jesus of Suburbia/Another Broken Home,” Green Day
I bought “American Idiot” after hearing it proclaimed as a rock opera for the postmodern era. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Billie Joe and the boys since I had only heard “Time of Your Life” prior to listening to this album, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Green Day has a real talent for storytelling (not to mention for rocking out).
3. “Wisconsin,” Bon Iver
I can’t get enough of Bon Iver. With his soulful melodies and no-frills music, Bon Iver (a.k.a. Justin Vernon) sounds like he’s welcoming listeners right into the snowy cabin in the North Woods where he recorded this album. When he sings, “That was Wisconsin – that was yesterday,” I feel it in the pit of my stomach every time.
4. “In My Life,” The Beatles
A classic. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the “people and things that went before,” put this song on your own iPod and take a road trip down memory lane.
5. “Limenviolet’s Podcast”
I actually listen to podcasts much more frequently than music on my iPod. This hilarious one features two Nebraskan knit-chicks and their friends taking about all things knitting (and many, many things not at all related to knitting). One of my favorite features of this podcast is “Yarn Porn,” in which the hosts recommend hand-dyed yarn sellers, knitting gadgets, knitting books, etc. The perfect weekly dose of fiber goodness! Available via iTunes or at http://limenviolet.blogspot.com/
6. “Going to Chicago Blues,” Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
Lavay Smith has a great voice; the combination of her steamy vocals and the swinging band can’t help but make me smile – even if she is singing the blues.
7. “Tainted Love,” Soft Cell
This pop song reminds me of hanging out at the park circa 1982 while wearing my very first Walkman – or “Personal Stereo Cassette Player with FM Tuner” – which I received as a birthday present from the family I babysat for most often. Good times.
8. “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants
Who else but TMBG could write such a touching song about a night-light? The equally clever and quirky writers of the now-defunct TV series “Pushing Daisies” featured this song, sung by the amazing Kristin Chenoweth, in one episode, a fact which delighted me way more than necessary.
9. “Ev’ry Time We Say Good-Bye,” Ella Fitzgerald
There are probably more Ella Fitzgerald songs on my iPod than music from any other vocalist. Classy, heartfelt and retro-fabulous. I could listen to this album over and over. In fact, I have.
10. “Planxty George Brabazon,” The Chieftains
“Planxty,” I’ve discovered, is a Gaelic song in praise of a person. In this case, the tune comes from a composition by Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan (1670 1738), written for a young bachelor from County Mayo, homeland of my Irish ancestors. The Chieftains are joined here by the Belfast Harp Orchestra, and hearing this song makes me want to pull up a chair in a pub and sip a Guinness next to a peat-stoked fire.