Random Rules: Johnathan Rice
The shuffler: Johnathan Rice released his most recent album, Further North, in late 2007; it features Jenny Lewis, lead singer of Rilo Kiley, which recently toured with Rice.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Ramble Tamble"
Johnathan Rice: That's the first song on Cosmo's Factory. My favorite Creedence record is probably Green River, but "Ramble Tamble" is among my favorite Creedence songs. It's the most uncharacteristic, maybe, of all Creedence songs, because it has a really big bam in the middle of it, and it changes tempos constantly. We were just listening to this song in the van and discussing how it's pretty much impossible to cover Creedence, because John Fogerty's such a good singer. I think he's one of the most underrated vocalists in rock 'n' roll history. He just sings every song like it's the last song he's gonna sing. Jeff Bridges, in his love of Creedence in The Big Lebowski, he's kind of reduced it to stoner music. Everything works well stoned, but Creedence are much, much more.
Elliott Smith, "Seen How Things Are Hard"
JR: It's on the second disc of the New Moon record, the unreleased stuff. Sometimes you get a little nervous—the artist didn't intend for me to hear this, necessarily. Should I be purchasing this and listening to it? But even the things that he threw away are better than what most people bet their careers on.
Grateful Dead, "New Speedway Boogie"
JR: Definitely in my top five Dead songs, for sure. This isn't the live version, this is from Workingman's Dead, which is my favorite Dead studio album, because it's their most song-oriented album. It's when they got kinda tough, and I think they started listening to The Band and took that direction a little bit, with just really great results. There's a really great version of it in that movie Festival Express. Right after this record, they went on that Europe '72 tour, which is my favorite Dead live era.
Bob Dylan, "Sara"
JR: From Desire. It has one of my favorite weird Bob Dylan lines.
The A.V. Club: Which is?
JR: [Talk-sings in Bob Dylan voice:] "The beach is deserted, except for some kelp." [Laughs.]
AVC: That's such a strange album overall.
JR: It's a weird genre of music, like some sort of gypsy-folk. That's the last song on the record, and it's kind of a fuckin' knockout. He shouts himself in the song: "Stayin' up for days in the Chelsea Hotel writing 'Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' for you." He name-checks one of his own songs within one of his own songs. That's like something that Lil Wayne would probably do.
The Trashmen, "Surfin' Bird"
JR: That's from a compilation. You know that song that's like, "B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, bird is the word"? It's a compilation that Iggy Pop put together for Mojo magazine, I guess. The Mojo Stooges Jukebox.
Levon Helm And The Hawks, "The Stones That I Throw"
JR: Levon Helm And The Hawks was the band that became The Band. It's Levon Helm as the lead singer, before they gave most of the vocal duties to Richard Manuel, and after they had stopped playing with Ronnie Hawkins. I got this from the Musical History box set, which is this huge box that I think came out about two years ago, and it's just kind of a whole retrospective of them from when they were very young all the way into the late '70s.
The Rolling Stones, "Walking The Dog"
JR: From the Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hit Makers) album, which is their first album, and my favorite album of theirs.
JR: Yeah. They're so young, it's almost all covers, but it's totally killer. It's almost like a punk-rock record. They play it super-fast, they're very excited, and they sound so young, and they're having a really good time.