The Serpico Mixes: The One Disc

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)

"What? No, I'm not lonely. Maybe you're lonely, huh? Ever think of that?!"

"What? No, I'm not lonely. Maybe you're lonely, huh? Ever think of that?!"

Mix #30

Theme: One

"Dude. They're talking to me. And yes I am. I'm the most lonely."

"Dude. They're talking to me. And yes I am. I'm the most lonely."

“You Remember That One Day…” from THE WIRE- This wasn’t my childhood—one simply does not do “piss balloons” in Newington, CT—but this was so evocative for me (which is ironic, given the last line). Maybe it was the use of the crickets in the background bed. I don’t know. But I could feel the summer creeping in around me as I listened.

Number One by Harlem- This commits one of my biggest music pet peeves, the mix buries the lyrics. Michael Coomers sound like he’s singing at the mic from several feet away.

Which is too bad because, despite the rather simplistic lyrical content, the rest points to me enjoying this tune.

One by Johnny Cash- “One” is a song that lends it surprisingly well to covers from a variety of musical approaches. Cash’s here is not as emotion eliciting or as raw as his cover of “Hurt” but it’s not bad. If his voice could’ve just conjured a bit more hurt or anger here, it could drive it right over the top.

One by Busta Rhymes ft. Erykah Badu- This isn’t the kind of music I usually turn to Busta Rhyme for, but…I like it. He’s got a surprisingly smooth voice when not applying his “Busta-ness” to it that works well with his collaborator Badu.

I even dig the goofy beginning (“What I’m gonna do with…”). It has a weird earworm quality to it that I quite enjoyed.

Of course, because I am me, I do have to mention that it goes on too long. It’s not bad at the 4:38 running time but it’d be more effective at a 3:00-3:30 get in, affect the listener, get out approach.

One on One by Hall & Oates- Wow, this song is so brutally of its era. I mean, that sax and drum machine…wow. I’d be lying if I denied it had some charm though. I mean, full out cheesy charm, but charm nonetheless.

That said, to scratch that kind of itch, I’m way more a fan of the lighter side of Phil Collins’ catalog. That’s right, much like your favorite hip hop singers, I love me a good Collins’ tune.

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces by Ben Folds Five- Quick singing, quick witted, and snotty Ben Folds is the best Ben Folds.

Sadly, my interest takes  notable nosedive around 1:35 on the song when he goes into a minute or so long piano riff. It re-establishes itself but as a complete composition, that twinkling of the ivories really knocks out its knees from underneath it.

One of These Things from SESAME STREET- My daughter’s going to love this one. The “here’s some more sounds” part though? Garbage.

One Mic by Nas- Do you need me to review this? A classic of the genre, a towering work?

One Evening by Feist- Not my thing. So very much not my thing. I think, from a music and vocal standpoint, it is probably technically strong but…not my thing.

One Day by Wordsworth- So, as is my wont, I’m not particularly down with the “One day I…” looping lyrical sample.

However, this song is strong enough that I only intermittently tuned into its grating repetitive presence. Overall, I appreciated this exploration of the tiny tragedies of daily life and the protagonist’s attempts to avoid them by not answering the phone and oversleeping. His alternating between lackadaisical flow and more on-point staccato rhyming enhancing the effect of the composition, putting you in the same exhausted yet anxious (or anxious yet exhausted) space as Wordsworth is in.

The horn part is pretty solid too.

One More Chance, Stay With Me by The Notorious B.I.G.- I enjoy Biggie’s (can I call him Biggie? Is that cool, you think? I mean, I never met him or anything…it might be presumptuous of me.) rapping here. His voice and his cadence undeniably have “something” to them. I mean, there’s a reason he got as famous as he did, yes?

Production-wise, though, I am neither a fan of the light nearly easy listening music nor the female vocals. They’re bland and unnecessary, parsley that adds no flavor and blunts the taste of the main dish.

One More Time by Joe Jackson- I sort of can’t believe this song is from 1979. I don’t have a specific era it might be from but it feels more current. The opening guitar riff feels very much apiece with similar openings from the Return of the Garage Band era (think The Hives, The Strokes, etc), the moment where the music mostly falls away and it’s just Jackson singing nearly is a capella is New Wave after five years too early and so on. There’s no much here, lyrically, so I doubt I’ll return to it very often but I do appreciate it.

One More Time by Daft Punk- So ridiculously repetitive and yet…pure party in a song. I can’t explain the alchemy that gets me onboard with a song that uses, I don’t know, maybe twenty words in different combinations over and over again over a mostly looped beat, but this one does. I feel like a hypocrite signing off on this sort of this thing, but can I say. It works for me.

1 Thing by Amerie- People who like to bag on Rihanna as if she makes the same music as Beyonce (you all know who you are), here. This is your new example. It’s way more accurate. I mean, if you don’t here this and think “Wait, where’s the Jay-Z part”, well, I don’t know.

That’s a “Crazy in Love” joke in case you don’t get that.

Also, besides for reasons of inaccuracy, you all need to stop with the looking down your noses at Rihanna because her music is awesome. We good? Good.

This One by Diamond D- This is almost a prototype of a mid-90’s (although it was released late 90’s) hip hop song. Minimal looping beat? Check. A neighborhood story in which our singer is the protagonist? Yes. A slow style in which nearly every line is immediately rhymed by the line that follows it? Mmhm. A casually aggressive use of profanity? Of course. A repeated vocal track that either backgrounds the action or doubles as the course? Indeed.

If that’s your jam, this here will be your jam.

This One by Foo Fighters- This is the Foo Fighters sounding an awful lot like Queens of the Stone Age—in the verses, at least. The verses also happen to be the parts of this song I like.

On the other hand, I strongly dislike the chorus. Generic and ugly.

U R The One by Mos Def- The verses are good. The “You are the one, You’re the onnnnnnnnnnnne. FUCK YOU!” part is the worst.

The One That I Love Best by Jessica Lea Mayfield- Feels like a much shorter song than it is, which is a compliment. I do wish it cut loose just a bit though. Is it wrong of me to want a little crescendo in my music?

The Only One I Know by Mark Ronson- So bland.

No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age- My favorite Queens of the Stone Age song. Given I’m not fully onboard with them, take that as you will.

No One Will by Cody Chestnutt- Apparently Cody is allergic to energy. Or maybe he’s a somnambulist.

No One Else by Weezer- I have liked this song. I do like this song. I think. Today I was just not feeling it though. But I’m pretty sure it’s me, not Weezer. Honestly guys, don’t feel bad. It’s me, not you.