2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 15 on the list:
15. The Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music (2003)
Every so often the buzz or hype around an album is that the band is "getting back to its roots," releasing an album of songs like they used to in the good old days. That was definitely the buzz around U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind and seems like every new REM album has the same discussion surrounding it. It's basically a recognition by the record company that a band's recent albums sucked, were too experimental, or explored other musical genres but now the said band had seen the light and recorded new songs that certainly you will like. After the sonic explorations of Sound of Lies and the slickly commercial sound of Smile, The 2003 album Rainy Day Music promised an old school Jayhawks album, like Hollywood Town Hall.
From the Bryds-like jangly opening, the listener realizes that yes, this is the Jayhawks how I used to like them and the album enters into a comfortable, folk-rock vibe. The first half of the album is classic Jayhawks, songs about relationships with a down home country feel. Gary Louris' songwriting is top notch as is the guitar work and the classic Jayhawk harmonies. The album title says it all - this is music for a rainy day, a little slower, introspective lyrics, subdued guitars. The album loses a little steam at the end as some of the other Jayhawks try their hand at songwriting but they don't match the level of Louris. The album ends on a high note with the achingly beautiful Tampa to Tulsa and then a short acoustic version of the album's first song Stumbling Through the Dark.
As someone who has liked all the Jayhawks albums, especially the unfairly maligned Sound of Lies, Rainy Day Music was a nice coda to an apparent end of the Jayhawks. The country folk atmosphere is just perfect for background music when you need or want to kill time and this album is always played whenever I have a long road trip. As much as a "lifetime achievement award" as a recognition of it's own brilliance, Rainy Day Music has a well-earned place on my 30 best loved albums.
What's your favorite Jayhawks album?
Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.