Crepes vs. Enchiladas

As mentioned in last week’s features, “Sacrifice” and the first “Letter From Paris,” TMN chiefs Andrew Womack and Rosecrans Baldwin are currently traveling away from New York to their other loves, Austin and Paris, respectively.

As an exercise in sharing their new homes with each other—cities that the other one has never visited before, not even once, and only has vague ideas about—Baldwin and Womack each picked several songs they find reflective of their new towns, clichés and all. Below are why they picked them, and then each one’s responses to the other’s songs, picturing faraway places through sound.

(The Morning News, it should be noted, will continue to keep its headquarters, operations, and heart in New York, as will Womack and Baldwin, probably forever.)

Andrew on the songs he chose: I spent 25 years trying to get the hell out of Texas, and it took seven in New York before I yearned to go back. It’s this longing that’s probably to blame for my more recent appreciation of (gasp) country music, which was just bound to happen and I’m as surprised as you about that. I’m immensely proud of the state’s musical history, and the number of exciting Texan artists whose work has provided the soundtrack to all your favorite car commercials.

Rosecrans on the songs he chose: I was tempted to go with classics. The welcome song I heard when I arrived in Paris three weeks ago, in the airport near the taxi stand, was an old Yves Montand sawhorse, but only a few hours later, at a cafe near our apartment, they were playing a reggae cover of Radiohead as we walked in.

Given the blanket coverage around town of both Paris kitsch and Radio Nova, both seem like classics, so instead I went with songs that have played roles in trips I’ve taken to France in the last couple years, either because I discovered them there, or they were on the radio on the time, or they somehow just ended up in my iPod in time for the flight. But I did include a Serge Gainsbourg song, because it feels required, and anyway it’s a cover that’s very good for dancing.

The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, “Slip Inside This House”
Rosecrans: Having never been there, I picture Austin as a large university town like Chapel Hill or Ann Arbor but dryer, with zany pockets, and dot-com zillionaires, with more tacos, more hippies, but cowboy hippies, hippies that customize Dells with Mac stickers, hippies in punk pants, hippies who grind on the side, hippies who hate hippies. Do Austin people have bonfires? I’m listening to this song and seeing bonfires, a lot of bandannas—which could be as much circa 2006 as 1976.

» Listen to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators at the ill-ec-tro-nic

Bertrand Burgalat, “Ma Rencontre”
Andrew: This song has me smiling and bouncing my head. It’s in French, too—which means I don’t understand a word of it. Listening to it transports me into the future, to the first time I’ll try and order something at a Parisian boulangerie. There I am, grinning and nodding, comprehending nothing around me, eventually running out amidst a hail of thrown croissants.

» Listen to “Ma Rencontre” by Bertrand Burgalat

Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson, “Pancho and Lefty”
Rosecrans: Whole Foods started in Austin, right? But I bet it’s a better Whole Foods, a friendlier Whole Foods. I bet they have greeters, like in Wal-Mart. I bet this song plays from a speaker near the greeters’ podiums, and people refer to Willie as Willie and Merle as Merle, and there’s always someone in the store who went to Merlefest the year it started.

» Listen to Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson at the Presidential Award for Aural Fitness

Gonzales, “Paristocrats”
Andrew: Ah! My favorite song from one of my favorite, unexpected albums in the past couple of years. This piece is such a favorite, in fact, I didn’t even know its name, which is how good and evocative that album (Solo Piano) is—the songs are a grand movement, I’ve never thought to parse them. Right now I’m burning CDs for my drive to Austin, and I added Gonzales to the list just now.

» Listen to “Paristocrats” by Gonzales

Christopher Cross, “The Best That You Can Do (Arthur’s Theme)”
Rosecrans: I have no idea why this is an Austin song, I thought it was a New York song, obviously it’s about our leaving for the moment. (Actually, Cross is from Austin, which I know is weird; more importantly, though, I appreciate the sentiment. —AW) I love this song, I loved this movie; as a kid I had a strange fantasy of wanting to be a butler, which I associate with Dudley Moore. I’m sincerely really glad you’ve brought this song back into my life. That sax solo made my morning, I’m smiling as I write this.

» Listen to Christopher Cross at BadmintonStamps

Gonzales, Feist, and Dani, “Boomerang 2005 (Comme Un Boomerang)”
Andrew: We used to know a Russian kid who’d learned English from the skaters at the Astor Place cube. Rote repetition (mixed with kick-flips, one would imagine) had taught him to address everyone as “dude,” and to apply approval with varying generosity of the word “pimp” (“seriously pimped out,” “pimp-ass shit,” etc.). This song’s nonsensical repetition reminds me of those conversations. Not only are the lyrics inconsequential, but the central rap is totally pimped-out, dude.

» Listen to “Boomerang 2005” by Gonzales, Feist, and Dani

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, “Mistakes and Regrets”
Rosecrans: This is the side of Austin I’m not so sure about visiting. The random drug violence, the Robert Stone side, the cartoon punks. I miss going to shows and going nuts. This song takes me back to when I first moved to New York. I am feeling inspired. Pause. I just threw a chair through the cafe window and knocked over an old man going by on his bicycle, maiming the little boy sitting on the back in gray flannel shorts, now I am eating his baguette.

» Listen to “Mistakes and Regrets” by …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Peter, Bjorn & John, “Paris 2004”
Andrew: Peter, Bjorn & John are ridiculously popular I know, and I love them as well, but do you ever think their name sounds kind of like a gay leather mag from the late ’60s? Sort of like: “See the tight situation Peter, Bjorn, and John find themselves in this month?” No? Well surely you can agree that as with sauces and wines, there’s no proof the French invented pornography, but they certainly perfected it.

» Listen to “Paris 2004” by Peter, Bjorn & John

Mike Jones, “Like What I Got”
Rosecrans: Andrew, please, if I call Mike Jones from Paris, do you know how much that costs?

» Listen to Mike Jones at Fluo Kids

Mathieu Boogaerts, “Super Nova”
Andrew: This is totally new to me and I totally love it. Whoever this guy is, whatever he’s doing right now is way cooler than anything I’m even considering. Is it because he’s in Paris? Well, it sure doesn’t hurt.

» Listen to “Super nova” by Mathieu Boogaerts

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers

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