Music What I Listened To Over My Summer Vacation...

Written by Randall Wixen
Aug 03, 2023

I'm often asked what kind of music I like or what I'm listening to now. True fact: I actually got into the music business because I love music and I still have an entire room of my house filled with thousands of vinyl albums and singles and CDs that I play back through a tube amp setup.

The first album I ever bought was The Doors' debut album in the summer of 1967 because my summer camp friend, Adam knew the band and thought they were cool. His Dad had started a label called Elektra in his college dorm and signed The Doors. The first concert I ever went to was Sly and the Family Stone at the Hollywood Palladium in October of 1973.

In college, I was the music editor of the UCLA Bruin, and also wrote fanzines like New York Rocker which gave me the chance to interview classic artists like Steely Dan and Del Shannon, and (then) newcomers like Talking Heads. Before I ended up working with him, my initial impression of Tom Petty was that he sounded like he "escaped from a Nyquil commercial." He eventually became one of my favorite singers. Ahh, to be young and dumb.

Somewhere along the way, the music "business" became more of my focus than the music itself. At some point, my tastes became so esoteric and/or political that it became a sure sign that a record would become a huge hit if I hated it or that it would die a miserable commercial death if I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I once predicted that the Mumps would be bigger than the Eagles. Ahh, to be young and dumb. (Did I say that already?)

I've always been drawn to personal songs which express a deep emotion, typically written by an individual or duo and not by a committee. Think of Leonard Cohen agonizing over 150 verses of "Hallelujah" and you'll get the idea of what kind of craft I like and respect. I love well-recorded masters made by virtuoso musicians that make it sound easy and I generally think that too much echo is added to the recording process and that rough edges show a truer human side. Too much polishing and production works against the intended expression.

The albums I listened to over the past weekend were Donovan's Greatest Hits and Iggy Pop's New Values (one time to the CD, and once to vinyl - the vinyl won). So that's where I'm coming from. Anyway, without further ado, here are a few recent songs from our clients that I think deserve close listening. (There are a lot more if I ever do this again.)  
John Fullbright - "Social Skills"
I love the lyric and I wish more artists would express the uncomfortable sentiment they feel in a song instead of over-doing it in real life.

Mike Stinson - "Forever Is Too Long A Time"
Although he has been covered by artists like Dwight Yoakam, he is primarily known for his cult following and Tuesday nights at the Continental Club in Austin. This would make an amazing recording for someone like Adele who could "slay" a good torch song like this.

Lucinda Williams - "Rock N Roll Heart"
I still feel her kicking me under the table at The Old Place when I asked the wandering guitarist going from table to table playing songs for tips if he knew anything by Lucinda Williams. He didn't. Pretty good backing vocals on this one from some guy.

Ryan Ulyate - "How Many More"
I know Ryan through Tom Petty. This one addresses one of the tragedies of our times. Not a happy cheery song, but it says something that needs to be said.

Citizen Cope - "The Victory March"
Cope called me when he finished this song bursting out of his mind with how proud he was of this one, and with good reason. Am I allowed to say Wixen Music Publishing made him a millionaire? (He said "yes.") Soon to be in a major motion picture.

Joanna Sternberg - "People Are Toys To You"
They are a bit quirky, but so are David Byrne and Daniel Johnston. I have bonded with them over moose, an animal which we both love. So I'm quirky too. Actually, I've been called a lot worse.

DE'WAYNE - "Die Out Here (feat. POORSTACY)"
He will be the next big thing overnight eventually. This I know. Hear that, other publishers? Stay away from him. We were there from the beginning, busting our asses to make him happen. And he has now forgiven me for my practical joke at the Angels' game.

Parker Millsap - "Front Porchin'"
If I could sing like him, I would. His writing's not bad either. Steve Porcaro wanted to write with him. Elton John did.