Name of iTunes Playlist: The Older Faves Rules: Rating is greater than *** (3 stars). Last played is in the last 12 months. Last played is not in the last 6 months. Date added is in the last 24 months. Play count is greater than 5 times. Skip count is zero. [See all lists.]

Top 10 From the List

1. "Sirena" by Calexico on "Convict Pool" Playcount: 8.

2. "Summersong" by The Decemberists on "The Crane Wife." Playcount: 8.

3. "Story of an Artist" performed by M. Ward on "The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered." Playcount: 8. 4. "Yawny At the Apocalypse" by Andrew Bird on "Armchair Apocrypha." Playcount: 7.

5. "Modern Age" by Eric Hutchinson on "...Before I Sold Out." Playcount: 7. 6. "Carballo" by The Essex Green on "Everything Is Green." Playcount: 7.

7. "Leisure Suite" by Feist on "Let It Die." Playcount: 7.


8. "The Angels Hung Around" by Rilo Kiley on "Under the Blacklight." Playcount: 7.

9. "My Body Is a Cage" by Arcade Fire on "Neon Bible." Playcount: 6.

10. "Click Click Click Click" by Bishop Allen on "The Broken String." Playcount: 6.


The purpose of this list is to identify newish songs that were in heavy rotation on my musical devices about six to eight months ago, but which I no longer play -- songs that I might want to reconsider. I was still in the heart of a Calexico phase, apparently, but it's a different album than has popped up on other lists. This track has a lilting country Grateful Dead-like feel, with a haunting chorus of women singing in Spanish near the end, followed by the inevitable end in the Greek myth of the sirens:

To save this sad, tragic soul Sorrow's worse than the tide's pull Sinking deeper, gasping for love Till desire navigates you Into the arms of sirena... Caught in the rip tide, smashed on the reef Joining the mass of bones underneath

Follow that up with The Decemberists, and phrases like "..slip into a watery grave," and I have to wonder what's up with the morbid nautical theme. "...swallowed by a wave." I was thinking about heading to the beach last spring. Whatever the words, both of these songs sound beautiful. A lot of Decemberist tunes are too otherworldly for repeated listening, but this is one of the exceptions, with some interesting instruments in the background. No idea what they are, but I like them.

I went through a serious M. Ward phase in 2006, bleeding into 2007. I bought everything I could find. No. 3 was a cover tune off a Daniel Johnston tribute album. Back in 1997 or 1998, I saw the schizophrenic Johnston perform live twice in Manhattan in separate clubs. For the second show, about 10 of us were in a circle around him about two feet away. He was obviously a painfully disturbed man. It was hard to watch, and while he writes beautiful songs, I have a hard time listening to him. Ward teases the beauty out of Johnston's song and his pain in this cover, the best on the album of covers. I recommend the 2005 documentary on Johnston, who, despite the title of this tribute, is still alive. And I also recommend you buy anything M. Ward does.

The Andrew Bird track is an instrumental off his followup to 2005's "The Mysterious Production of Eggs," and I am surprised to see it here. It's a great song, though, haunting and mysterious.

I don't know much about Eric Hutchinson. I think I downloaded his album on impulse one night on iTunes. There were songs I liked more than this one, but there's no arguing with the list. The track is live and ends with some chatter at the audience that grows old with repeated listens. His lyrics are a little political and funny:

How did we every get by before data was sent? I can’t believe I got around without electrical cars

The Essex Green, a Brooklyn-based neo-psychedelic pop band, has a sweet sound, and I like a lot of their songs, including this one. I would recommend the album "Cannibal Sea" over this one, but they're all great.

Feist, of course, had a breakout moment when her song "1 2 3 4" was featured in iPod ads in 2007. I had a few of her songs from somewhere before that, and I downloaded more after that. I like this earlier album from 2005 more than her breakout, and while I thought liked other songs on it, like "Mushaboom," I guess there's no arguing with the playlist.

I bought a bunch of Rilo Kiley albums in 2006 and 2007, and bought "Under the Blacklight" hoping it would be as good, but I'm not sure it was. Still, this was a pretty good song. Watch the video. Jenny Lewis is definitely the talented half of the duo, though her first solo effort struck me as a wee too precious.

Arcade Fire is another band that I started listening to a few years ago in my Canadian music phase, having no idea what they were about or who followed them. They had a breakout moment with "Neon Bible," which is indeed an awesome album. If you asked me to name a favorite track, I would say "No Cars Go," but the list thinks I like the far more emo "My Body Is a Cage." So be it. My body is a cage that keeps me dancing with the one I love? Untrue, but moving. I still remember what that used to feel like, to be so out of place:

I'm living in an age That calls darkness light Though my language is dead Still the shapes fill my head

I'm living in an age Whose name I don't know Though the fear keeps me moving Still my heart beats so slow

Oh, young Arcade Fire fans, your pain will never again be this sweet. But the old people might prefer "Funeral" (2004).

Bishop Allen first came to my attention in the so-called mumblecore films of Andrew Bujalski, "Funny Ha Ha" and "Mutual Appreciation."

Rent them now. Watch them. I'll wait. Then read the latest N+1. Harvard was cool for 20 minutes around the turn of the decade, so what? It's already over.

I saw "Mutual Appreciation" with my friends Teresa and Brett in a small theater in the Village. Bujalski was there and answered questions from the audience about the kind of film stock he used and how he got non-actors (including his Harvard pals like Justin Rice, the lead singer of Bishop Allen).

Fast forward to August 2007. Teresa, Brett and I were on our way to a show featuring a number of bands including Bishop Allen, which was touring to promote "The Broken String." We had spent the afternoon at a barbecue. My boss called me about a fire at the the former Deutsche Bank Building downtown. Brett and Teresa went on to the show, as I stepped out of the cab in Times Square and walked to work and worked on live-blog coverage of the fire, which killed two firefighters.

By 11 p.m., we had put the first print edition to bed and there was nothing more to say on the blog. I hopped into a cab and reached the club just as Bishop Allen was taking the stage at midnight. It was a good show. I flipped a switch in my head and felt nothing about the sad story I had just been covered, because that is what I have learned to do.

The rest of the list after #10 is dominated by Bishop Allen tracks from the monthly EPs they were putting out in 2007, songs from Radiohead's "In Rainbows," (I paid $5 to download it) and more from the Decemberists and Feist albums, a snapshot of a year that now seems distant, another era.

The only anomaly lower on the list is R.E.M.'s 1987 hit "The End of the World as We Know It," which I listened to several times as I turned it into a ringtone on my then-new iPhone. It is the song that plays as my wake-up alarm. It is the song that plays when the newsroom calls. The choice is sardonic. This was only one day in my career that felt like the world ending, and nobody called. I just went.