October Days, November Nights

As December dawns, I thought it only appropriate to share the music that I’ve been listening to the last couple months.

October was filled with mornings. I found myself up-and-at-’em earlier and earlier. Whether it was for a run, for an assignment, for a meeting, or just for fun, I greeted the sunrise and it greeted me right back. I recall a particularly early, particularly trying morning run on Chicago’s lakefront trail listening to the Beach Boys. I nearly broke my stride hearing Carl Wilson strain that long “eeeee,” “Rise up early the day won’t let you sleep.” And on that very same lake — but in Milwaukee this time — I rocked out to Shuggie Otis‘ solo on “Bury My Body” which starts at minute 5:20. I looked at my handy-dandy Nike Plus app, and I’d had my fastest mile ever during that song. Thanks, Shuggie.

November, on the contrary, was all about the nights: mingling too long with Manhattans after midnight at Meat in Louisville; bolting some past-my-bedtime bacon pizza at a bowling alley with the likes of Christine Mitchell and James Fox; eating pho with Roy and Tanya’s family in this strip of down-and-out Vietnamese restaurants; and staying up later than I’ve stayed up in a long time, running all over town to raise a glass in honor of my old friend Mike on the eve of his birthday (that night, we even made him DJ. He’s a much better jockey than I. You should hire him to make your music).

Also, I kept returning to all this music from time spent living with Blake Royer (in Indiana, Ireland, New York, and here in Chicago — kind of), who I learned this month is leaving for the whiter pastures of Canada.

And here it is December, my birth month. Another year has come and gone. What a year it’s been. Plenty of good to go with the bad. I’m sad to see one of my oldest friends move away. Again. At least Toronto is closer than Tallinn. But I’m happy for the new opportunities presented to each of us at year’s end.

In tribute to Blake, these mixes end with the words from one of my favorite standards, “It Had to Be You.” I like to think of this as the unofficial theme song to When Harry Met Sally. While we were roommates, after hours and hours of viewing and reviewing (seriously, you’d think it was the only movie we owned), Blake and I — and by hook or by crook our significant others — would say this is our favorite movie. And so it is with some sadness, I present Nilsson’s timely interpretation. He ends on a rather bittersweet note, as only he can with, “It had to be me, unlucky me. It had to be… me.”

And the strings play out to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Here’s to uncovering that pot of gold in 2013.

October Days
1) Sam Cooke – Humming
2) the bird and the bee – I’m Into Something Good
3) The Intruders – Fried Eggs
4) White Fence – Balance yr heart
5) Guy Clark – Texas 1947
6) Lyle Lovett – Church
7) Curtis Mayfield – The Makings of You (Live at The Bitter End)
8) Ride – Vapour Trail
9) U2 – A Sort of Homecoming (Danny Lanois Remix)
10) Ramsey Lewis – Do What You Wanna
11) Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis – Bury My Body
12) The Beach Boys – Country Air
13) The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
14) Cat Stevens – Miles From Nowhere (Demo)
15) Broken Bells – October
16) The Helio Sequence – October
17) Guy Clark – Stuff That Works
18) Lyle Lovett – Anyhow I Love You
19) Elvis Presley – So High
20) The Soul Stirrers – He’s My Guide

November Nights
1) Stereo Total – Push It
2) The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
3) Ian Dury – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
4) Blur – Tender
5) The London Suede – Beautiful Ones
6) Oasis – She’s Electric
7) The Streets – Fit But You Know It
8) Art Brut – Good Weekend
9) King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew
10) Dan Auerbach – The Prowl
11) Rahzel – If Your Mother Only Knew
12) Wale – Slight Work (featuring Big Sean)
13) Childish Gambino – All The Shine
14) Hopeton Lewis, Henry Buckley, & The Gaylettes – Mighty Quinn
15) Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You
16) Susan Cadogan – Hurts So Good
17) Jackson C. Frank – Can’t Get Away From My Love
18) Karen Dalton – Green Rocky Road
19) Guy Clark – Desperados Waiting For A Train
20) Netherfriends – St. Louis, MO
21) Wild Belle – Backslider
22) Lord Huron – Ends of the Earth
23) Bruce Springsteen – Because The Night
24) J.J. Cale – River Runs Deep
25) Titus Andronicus – In A Big City
26) Harry Nilsson – It Had To Be You