RAMH@5: Cherchez les Femmes (A Playlist)

'Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido: 44 (Yokkaichi),' by Utagawa Hiroshige

[Image: Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido: 44 (Yokkaichi), color woodblock print (1841-34), by Utagawa Hiroshige. For more information, see the note at the foot of this post.]

Well, damn. I just couldn’t quite make it to a thousand posts by today: I’m still a couple dozen short. (On the other hand, if you count all the auxiliary not-actual-posts-as-such pages — the About stuff, and the Propagational Library series, story excerpts and so on — they put me easily over the top.)

If you challenged me on the point, I’m not sure I could answer coherently why I’m still blogging (however fitfully these days), in addition to Facebooking and posting to Twitter. On the face of it, the whole blogging transaction model is upside-down (especially relative to those other platforms): the blogger can spend an hour, several hours, sometimes days of work thinking about, possibly researching and writing-and-editing a given post — for close to zero reward. Post provocatively or hilariously (however briefly) on FB or Twitter, though, and you get a dozen acknowledgments of one kind or another, from simple “Like”s to full-blown dialogue on the subject. It’s… well, I don’t know. It’s weird. Unless you’ve got dozens of followers and regular commenters (a circumstance which I’ve frankly never aspired to), and hence something like conversation, blogging may just be one of those aimless pursuits which some humans follow. You go for Sunday drives in the country; I blog.

I continue to be surprised by how much music is here. Setting aside the Christmas playlists (which don’t really “cover” the songs included so much as dump them into an online pile, however selective), the average seems to run around one song for every one-and-a-half posts, assuming my spreadsheet of songs (yes, I have one of those) is correct. Of course, both the posts and the music are all over the map thematically, in genre, and… uh… feel-wise; I’m convinced that this skipping-around (as in the posts themselves) has done much to limit my regular audience here.

Not that I’ve been (so far) tempted to give it up. It’s still a way to write, and to think — to imagine, if you prefer — that I’m contributing something to the outside world. I think if I didn’t have blogging I’d implode.

Be that as it may, I looked back over the list of songs for a selection which “told the story of RAMH” — except that, duh, of course, the blog has no real story arc. I tried to do a playlist of “representative” songs: nope. Finally I just thought The hell with it, John; make it easy on yourself for a change—

Hahaha. What a kidder. There’s no easy way to select an hour’s music from such a jumble. What suggested itself as a starting point, though, was a playlist of music by women.

This is a natural choice for me — for a number of reasons, not least because (on average) I simply hear women’s voices better than men’s. It does risk a certain uniformity of sound (I favor quieter, singer-songwriter solos over belted-out Big Voices supported by a hundredweight of metal or orchestra). On the other hand, maybe the skipping-around mindset would help…

Anyway, here’s what I came up with. There’s no organizing principle here, except that a given song felt right — to me! — when played before/after the song(s) adjacent to it. Don’t look for deeper meanings. I didn’t repeat anything from the third-year anniversary mix, but otherwise I considered all songs equally. The women in question aren’t necessarily “my favorite women artists” (indeed, I could easily have included a dozen more — and the first-cut version of the list had a hundred fifty songs, with little duplication of names). It’s just a list which, well, which by tomorrow will look to me woefully incomplete or inappropriate.

Which, now that I think of it, is kinda the “meaning” of most posts here after all. :)

So here y’go… The hyperlinks from the song titles take you to the posts where those songs appeared. (If you’re after lyrics, they generally appear directly on the linked page, or on a separate page to which it links.) And, of course, the little audio player thingamabob works as it always does here. [Note: although I consider Peggy Lee’s rendition of “Fever” an integral entry in this playlist, I’ve removed the corresponding audio (MP3) at the request of PRS Music, London, UK. The audio player widget will thus skip right from tracks 13 to 15.]

Track Artist Song Time
1 Linda Ronstadt Trouble Again  3:19
2 The Cookies Chains  2:31
3 Dixie Chicks A Home  4:57
4 Blame Sally Jump Start  3:54
5 Coco de Mer Lakmé  3:56
6 Norah Jones I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight  3:20
7 Janis Ian At Seventeen  4:40
8 Kitty Kallen I’m Beginning to See the Light  3:12
9 Susan Tedeschi* I’d Rather Go Blind  4:54
10 Madeleine Peyroux Half the Perfect World  4:20
11 Klara Kormendi Gnossienne No. 5: No. 1: Lent  3:10
12 Bonnie Raitt Million Miles  6:21
13 Carly Simon I Get Along Without You Very Well  3:26
14 Peggy Lee Fever  3:23
15 Joni Mitchell Passion Play (When All the Slaves Are Free)  5:25
16 Melanie Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma  4:02
17 Barbara Harris It Don’t Worry Me  3:59
18 Lizzy Ross Band Waves
* This one is a little bit of a cheat. It’s actually a joint performance by Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, and Susan Tedeschi. But Trucks only plays bass (albeit exquisitely); Haynes opens the vocals but then turns to his guitar for the balance of the song. The longer — and in my view stronger — vocal is Tedeschi’s: she owns the number.

…and here’s the playlist-player doo-dad itself. (Total length of all songs together: ~73 minutes. So, settle in.)

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter — and a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thanks so much for coming by here, all.


About the image:

The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido… is a series of ukiyo-e woodcut prints created by Utagawa Hiroshige after his first travel along the Tokaido in 1832.

The Tokaido road, linking the shogun’s capital, Edo, to the imperial one, Kyoto, was the main travel and transport artery of old Japan. It is also the most important of the “Five Roads”, the five major roads of Japan (Gokaido), created or developed during the Edo era to further strengthen the control of the central shogunate administration over the whole country…

The Hoeido edition of the Tokaido is Hiroshige’s best known work, and the best sold ever ukiyo-e Japanese prints. Coming just after Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, it established this new major theme of ukiyo-e, the landscape print, or fokei-ga, with a special focus on “famous views” (meisho). These landscape prints took full advantage of the new possibilities offered by the Western representation of perspective, that Japanese artists had by now fully assimilated. Hiroshige’s series met with full success, not only in Japan, but later in Western countries.


The image at the top of this post, #44 in the series, depicts the 43rd station along the Tokaido road, called Yokkaichi(-juku). (The first print in the series shows the start of the journey, not one of the numbered stations.) Personally, I love that its subject pursues his hat in solitary, unobserved determination. The fellow behind him simply leans to keep his own hat in place against the wind — and is much less interesting for it. (The monochromatic tan cape isn’t the only dull thing about him.)

Maybe that, finally, supplies the “Why blog?” metaphor I’ve been seeking.

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  1. Hyocynth says:

    If I had to decide what song would be representative of the “why I blog” thinking it would have to be “Somewhere Out There” from the cartoon, An American Tail. Because frequently, someone’s thinking of me, maybe because of something I wrote? I like your eclectic mix, John, and hoping you keep posting because someone is indeed thinking of you…and it’s just good to hear your voice.

    • I have to confess I didn’t know the song — or of the song — since I never saw that cartoon. A clip is available on YouTube, naturally (e.g., here, with lyrics). And I have to add that one probably would have to be a parent of young children not to instantly wince at the singing, per se — it’s like an episode of Rodent’s Got Talent!

      But it’s a pretty good song for this subject, yeah. :)

      (And for the rest of your comment, back atcha, cynth.)

  2. The reward is that you won’t implode. And what you do here is simply explosive! (In a good way. ;))

    Excellent play list. Enjoying it this sunny Saturday morning. :)

    • “Explosive, in a good way”: I’ll have to add that to my stock of potential epitaphs. :)

      Glad you liked the mix. One thing I found when combing back through all those music-including posts was how much music I’ve latched onto following suggestions from women: obviously family members like The Missus and The Musical Sister, but more recently women bloggers: you, Jules, Marta, Nance, Kate… One of the final selection filters I used here, in fact, was NOT to include music I’d been turned onto by any of the latter — which had nothing to do with the caliber of the music y’all have recommended, and everything with my own neuroses about seeming to play favorites: “Well, if I include THIS artist I found out at this one’s site, then I really have to include THIS artist I found out about at this site…” Without that filter in place, I wasn’t finding enough room for the music I’d found on my own, haha.

      [Odd reCaptcha here, which seems awfully… um… Francophile: epponder Lhássa. Do you know French? Is “epponder” a real verb? (Google Translate doesn’t seem to think so.)]

  3. Congratulations on the anniversary, JES. I hope you’ll keep going for many more yet.

    And thank you for the ‘birthday present’ – it is a very pleasant accompaniment to a lazy Sunday morning (when it is still too cold to go outside in England – and scarcely even warm enough to get out of bed).

    • Thank you very much, as ever, for continuing to drop by. Glad to hear you’re back home-home, however briefly — I am jealous of the lingering low temps there. (Approaching 80° F right now here, an hour before noon.)

      Meant to mention, by the way, that I intentionally kept this mix within CD length. If you or any other RAMH “regulars” are interested in one or more of the songs for your own purposes, just drop me a line. (Two of the songs in the playlist — #s 9 and 17 — are not available anywhere else, I believe, for purchase or otherwise.)


  1. […] an eye to RAMH‘s recent fifth anniversary, I’ve fretted over what, exactly or even approximately, I aim to accomplish here. Does it […]

  2. […] of Tokaido: 44 (Yokkaichi) served as the “somebody chases a hat” annual image heading the anniversary RAMH post, in […]

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