A.C. Newman Holds Us Captive

Canadian singer-songwriter A.C. Newman has produced four beloved solo albums in addition to his work with his band project of 15 years, The New Pornographers, which features fellow notable-in-their-own-rights musicians Neko Case and Dan Bejar, among others. The group has a new album this month, "Brill Bruisers."

Hi, this is A.C. Newman, from The New Pornographers. We just put out a record called “Brill Bruisers” a few days ago, last month… who can say? And this is my dinner party soundtrack.

“With Us Soon” – Doug Tuttle

The first song I want to play at my dinner party is called “With Us Soon” by Doug Tuttle. It’s a record that came out early this year. Doug Tuttle used to be in a band called Mmoss. With two Ms. M-M-O-S-S.

It’s sort of mellow – nice entry music. It’s got a very classic, late-60s, Byrds feel to it, without being decidedly retro. When there’s nothing but the retro styling, and no song, that really bugs me. But when somebody knows how to sound like The Byrds circa 1969 and they can knock it out of the park, I love that stuff.

It’s a strangely obscure record. It’s one of those records I listen to and think, “Why is this not hugely popular?”  You know, sometimes you want to convince your friends of new music and they won’t listen to you? Well, if you have them captive at a dinner party and you put on this record, then I think you could reach them.

“You Better You Bet” – The Who

The second song I would play at my dinner party would be “You Better You Bet” by The Who. “You Better You Bet” is my favorite Who song. I’m not saying it is the best Who song. It came out when I was a kid. It was on the radio. So, I tie “You Better You Bet” into a time when I was like 8 years old, when music on the radio sounds magical to you.

The lyrics are verging on terrible. But, Pete Townsend, guitar player, head songwriter, was so confident in what he does that he didn’t second guess himself and that’s what makes the lyrics so great. He puts a line in there like, “You know I’ve been wearing crazy clothes and I look pretty crappy sometimes.” If I wrote that, I would put a line through it and go, “No. No, you’re not putting that in the song.” But he put that in the song! And Roger Daltrey just yelled it with everything he had. And it’s brilliant.

I guess I would play this at my dinner party because there is just a part of me that wants to annoy my dinner party guests with this conversation, which is not a conversation, it’s a monologue, actually. My dinner guests would stare blankly at me while I pontificate on the genius of Townsend’s lyrics in “You Better You Bet.” I think there would be a few people, like, saying, “Excuse me, our babysitter just texted me, I think we have to go.”

“What a Fool Believes” – The Doobie Brothers

The last song I would play at my dinner party would be “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers. Just because, hey, everybody loves “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers. It’s got that dunt-dunt-dunt-DUN-DUN-dunt-dunt which, if it wasn’t the first song to do that, it was the first to really nail it. I know Robbie Dupree’s “Steal Away” [sings]… I don’t know which one came first. They’re definitely of a similar school.

A friend of mine did “What a Fool Believes” at karaoke very badly and I realized, wow, these lyrics are very asymmetrical. It is a long run-on sentence. There is no real, simple like, lyrical hook to remember, except for the line “What a fool believes.” But it’s a song that just lodged into my head. It reminds me of collecting baseball cards. And I think, at some point in my life, maybe I thought I was too cool for school and that I didn’t like music that sounded like Michael McDonald. And then you come back to it and realize, no, this guy has got the most killer voice.

“Brill Bruisers” – The New Pornographers

If I was gonna play one of our songs at my party – although it is something I would never do – I would pick “Brill Bruisers.” A straight-down-the-middle rock song. Not as interesting as the “You Better You Bet.” It’s actually got closer ties to “We Will Rock You,” actually. Back when we first started working on it, I think it’s working title was “Rock You” because, at the heart of it, it’s got this pulse that’s very similar. It’s got this buum-buum-BAM, buum-buum-BAM.