Tuesday, September 29, 2009

songs for a blue guitar: Red House Painters

Flash flooding. Relentless torrential rains. Studying for a test for a class your humble blogger is taking. What better listening material, considering the day I've had today (when I was initially writing this post), than the album that is perhaps the summation of songwriter/guitarist/singer Mark Kozelek's Red House Painters ethos - melancholy acoustics, yearning vocals, the odd Neil Young-ian guitar workout, mixed with sad, forlorn pedal steel?

A solo record in all but name only, this San Francisco band recorded Songs For A Blue Guitar while under contract with, and for, longtime label 4AD - however, the record only saw release after 4AD dropped Mark Kozelek for reportedly refusing to cut down the Neil Young workout on "Make Like Paper". Eventually signing with Island, Island picked it up and punted it out in 1996. Of course Kozelek didn't stay there either, joining labels Badman Recording and Jetset for some future projects, and Sub Pop for the final Red House Painters LP in 2001.

You'll know after the first three tracks if you're a Red House Painters fan. Those three tracks - "Have You Forgotten" / "Song For A Blue Guitar" / "Make Like Paper" are the RHP tryptych and "HYF" could be up there for the best RHP song of all time. Not to be confused with the rocking-out variant Kozelek re-recorded for friend Cameron Crowe to include on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack of course - though I've tacked that version on at the end as well.

Mark Kozelek is also known for his AMAZING cover versions, a few of which feature on this set: Yes' "Long Distance Runaround", the Cars' "All Mixed Up", and Sir Paul's "Silly Love Songs" which is perhaps the best of the bunch here. Though you absolutely must check out his collection of AC/DC covers, I shit you not (released as a solo LP titled What's Next To The Moon). And who ever knew Genesis' "Follow You Follow Me" was a fantastic song? It is when Red House Painters play a beautiful acoustic cover of it (here!)......

Anyhow... Enjoy the music. And if you get sucked in - as I did from this record back in 1996 - you'll never get out of the Kozelek-universe and you'll be glad for it. He continues to write and record beautiful, amazing music as Sun Kil Moon, and still plays covers.

RED HOUSE PAINTERS Songs For A Blue Guitar

1996 Supreme Records / Island Independent

01 Have You Forgotten
02 Song For A Blue Guitar
03 Make Like Paper
04 Priest Alley Song
05 Trailways
06 I Feel The Rain Fall
07 Long Distance Runaround
08 All Mixed Up
09 Revelation Big Sur
10 Silly Love Songs
11 Another Song For A Blue Guitar
12 Have You Forgotten (electric arrangement from Vanilla Sky soundtrack)

Part I
/ Part II (split RAR files as usual)

Will take requests for additional Kozelek posts ;)


  1. My favorite RHP song is "Summer Dress".

  2. Dude! Yours the best f**king blog ever! Any chance of a RHP Retrospective 2CD compilation?

  3. what about that rarities disk that came with the book?

  4. for the record : the genesis cover is no longer there. the rar files still work though.

    rhp/mk also do three beautiful john denver covers.
    "fly away" "i'm sorry" and "around and around" (with rachel goswell of slowdive)

  5. I love the Around and Around cover...