June 15, 2018 by Darren Clarke
I began this mix on the day Anthony Bourdain died. As someone who, at this point in life, can barely watch any kind of television, Bourdain’s globe trotting, moveable feast, his passion for genuine people, places and things filled many of my sedentary hours with wonder and while I don’t know the guy, as my wife said, he made you feel like you did.
The only problem with my plan to craft a mix inspired by Anthony Bourdain was that I quickly forgot about my idea. So as I bounced around looking for some music to sink its’ teeth into me I was once again only guided by the unpredictable whims of my particular molecular assemblage and whatever fate and circumstance sent my way.
But a funny thing happened along the way to the finish- It ended up being the perfect mix to dedicate to Mr. Bourdain.While many mixes come together in a matter of hours this one was realized quite painstakingly over the course of a week, essentially until I ran into Gil Scott-Heron’s We Almost Lost Detroit and it jumped out at me as the perfect opener. Following Scott-Heron’s musings on the Motor City is South Africa’s Hugh Masekela then Nigeria’s Vis-a-Vis, London’s Kokoroko (many members of the band being of Nigerian descent) before we head to France for the beautiful Francoise Hardy and the always fun Serge Gainsbourg. You get the idea. We’re travelling here.
But we always come back to America. Originally the opener was to be Liz Phair‘s vivid ode to flying the friendly skies at dusk Stratford-on-Guy. Great song but not the opener. My longtime love, my favourite spaghetti-western-slackers Pavement provide a cartoonish ode to a cartoon, in Space Ghost Theme II, which loosens up the middle of the playlist along with fellow nineties icon and the coolest bass player I know Kim Deal and Cincinnati, Ohio’s, Wussy who paint the town shiny with Pizza King. All of these artists I think easily represent a slice of Americana that Bourdain relished- a little left of the dial, a little wobbly, a little irreverently ostentatious, a little bit close close to the bar.
My home and native land, Canada, gets some play here as well with the earnest adrenaline kick of This Heart’s on Fire by Wolf Parade, the arcade on wheels plink-plokkery of Holy Fuck‘s splendid Shivering and Feist singing to the birds and the bees and all things in between in The Park. We’re being passionate here.
Then there is two of England’s finest post-punk bands in The Sound with the riveting I Can’t Escape Myself and Joy Division with Shadowplay. The connection to the Bourdain’s end are obvious but unintentional. My focus is on the substance of what was created, the brilliance that remains.
We live in a time where those who would leverage what is worst about us have run amok. What I loved about Anthony Bourdain is how much of a counterpoint he provided to that poisonous point of view via celebrating what is best about us- Empathy, creativity, passion, love and understanding. And he did it via a context that spans generations come and gone, he did it by sitting down and breaking bread, by raising a glass, by leaning in strangers directions and listening.
He shared that with us. The best possibilities of us. I will miss his voice.