Tuesday October 27th 2009, 5:25 pm
Mixin’ With Learning Music
Filed under: Mixin' With Series,Mixtapes | Posted by:


Los Angeles-based musician John Wood of Learning Music has given us his “Top 10 Songs to Pretend You’re Happy To.” The mix, which you can check out after the jump, features tunes by Dock Boggs, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and more. Learning Music releases an album every single month through a subscription series called Learning Music Monthly. They also just released a compilation today, entitled This May Also Be It, that features tunes from their last six albums. You can download the compilation for free by clicking here.

10 Songs to Pretend You’re Happy To:

1. Dock Boggs – Mistreated Mama Blues
Great song. I really like how old folk songs will take on the voices of different characters in a story. It allows a man like Dock to put himself in the unfortunate shoes of this woman who apparently keeps getting the runaround. She’s mistreated, and she has the blues; but, at least in this version of the song, it sounds like it’s not the end of the world, but just a matter of fact that this mama and everyone else in the world gets the short end of the stick a lot of the time.

2. Frankie Laine – Along The Navajo Trail
This must be by far the best version of this song, I believe made popular by Roy Rodgers in the movie of the same name. The lyrics conjure an idyllic western scene, simple and free from the trappings of modern society. The narrator rises with the sun and listens to the “music” of nature, friendly and peaceful.

3. Tennessee Ernie Ford – The Last Letter
This is from one of the best records I’ve ever found (titled “This Lusty Land”) in my vinyl hunting. It’s Tennessee Ernie Ford (who has an incredible voice) with a small ensemble of woodwinds and rhythm section, with superb arrangements. I’m really crazy for this album. It’s been released on CD in the UK, but still hard to find. I like the lyrics; they really tell a pretty complex story; dark and biting.

4. Woody Guthrie – Hard Aint It Hard
You can empathize with Woody on this one, though he’s probably singing more about the women who loved him than himself.

5. Bill Evans – You Must Believe In Spring
When I hear this recording– this whole album in fact– I imagine Bill Evans being really f*cked up, and just getting by day to day on some necessary (though perhaps untrue) belief in things getting better. Perhaps his “Spring” was his own death. His addiction-induced surmise three years later was called by a friend “the longest suicide in history; this album also includes the M.A.S.H. theme “Suicide Is Painless.”

6. The Mills Brothers – Miss Otis Regrets
One of the saddest songs ever written, sung by one of the greatest groups of all time (though this version is definitely rivaled by Ella Fitzgerald’s).

7. Carter Family (the original 1927 version sung solo) – Wandering Boy
A sad old folk song. You hear the later Carter Family (the descendents of the original three members) singing songs like this and “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” fifty years later and they’ve lost all the interested meter changes; all the rhythm is totally squared up and boring. What a shame!

8. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Guinevere
Pretty haunting. Supposedly Crosby is singing about three different girls he loved, one of whom was killed in a car accident. He later called that incident “the worst thing in my whole life.”

9. Hank Williams – Alone and Forsaken
The rhyming metaphors seem sort of silly now, but Hank really sounds distraught, desperate for help.

10. Billie Holiday – We’ll Be Together Again
“No fears. No tears. Remember there’s always tomorrow…”

2 Comments so far
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been trying to download this for a couple days now, withut much luck. any chance of a re-upload?

Comment by Brett 11.05.09 @ 5:48 pm

Thanks for finally writing about >Mixin

Comment by see More 06.25.13 @ 1:42 am

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