Dear Darling Ones,
You know that parable about boiling a frog? The one that says if you drop a frog in boiling water it jumps out right away, but if you put it in cold water slowly heating to a boil you can murder the frog because it adapts to its environment.
I feel this way about the music of The Jayhawks, but without the murder. It’s like one day I was humbly existing listening to The Spin Doctors, Pearl Jam, and The Cranberries, and the next day The Jayhawks were everywhere. And they were my all-consuming aural fixation for awhile.
While I don’t have an exact memory attached to my very first introduction to The Jayhawks, I’m 99.99% sure it was one of those Cross Country Boys who brought them into my life. They brought a lot of music into my life — The Replacements, The Gear Daddies, and The Jayhawks.
It’s a little sad this Minnesota girl had to go to college in Wisconsin to discover everything thriving in her own backyard, but there you have it. I usually like to blame my lack of imagination on discovering these bands that were so close to home so late. The truth is, I didn’t have the mental or emotional capacity to dig beyond what was served up to me on my the radio. Poverty, abuse, and constant bullying at school kept my mind pretty preoccupied.
Anyway, like I said one day they didn’t exist and the next day I was seeing them live as much as possible. BFK and I were recently reminiscing about the early days of our friendship. One of our first non-work friendship outings involved me fifth-wheeling it with her, Atom, and another married couple to the Basilica Block Party where I promptly ditched the marrieds to go watch The Jayhawks. We suspect that might have been the only reason I went along, but aren’t sure.
It was that conversation plus the internal debate about whether “Save it For a Rainy Day” or “Blue” is my favorite Jayhawks’ song that led to this list. I don’t have actual reasons for why I chose all the songs I did. Most of the reason is, “it sounds good and I like it.”
Without further ado: The Jayhawks’ Greatest Hits According to Me (you can listen on Spotify if’n you want).
This is like the Platonic ideal of a Jayhawks’ song. The lyrics. The harmonies. The aching sadness cloaked in such a warm, friendly sound. On certain mornings when it’s been cloudy for too many days in a row and I haven’t spoken to anyone in awhile this song will make me cry.
02. Save it For a Rainy Day
There is a strong bias towards 2003’s Rainy Day Music record. It’s the record I turned to when dealing with my first adult heartbreak. This song in particular was super comforting.
03. Waiting for the Sun
This would be the Platonic ideal Jayhawks’ song if “Blue” didn’t exist.
04. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
I like sweet love songs, sue me.
05. Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces
Use an ampersand in your song title? Right to Greatest Hits.
06. Take Me With You (When You Go)
Remember how I said I loved sweet love songs? I super love sweet love songs that involve dying. See: #16 and Death Cab For Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark.”
07. She Walks in So Many Ways
08. I’d Run Away
Tomorrow the Green Grass is one those solid front-to-back albums. Kinda like Sugar’s Copper Blue, when I hear any song from the record I have to listen to the entire record in order or my brain feels like it’s short circuiting.
10. Bad Time
Do you remember where you were when you learned that “Bad Time” was a cover of a Grand Funk Railroad song? I DO. It was a Sunday morning in, I don’t know, maybe 2012? 2013? I was driving to get a sausage biscuit and a Mocha Frappe from McDonald’s. I was stopped at a red on Marschall & Vierling when the song came on the radio. I was all, “hmm, this doesn’t sound right.” I thought it was someone covering The Jayhawks. I had no idea. I was shook to say the least.
11. Lights (From Sweet Relief vol. 1)
I would venture to guess if I made a Greatest Hits According to Me list for every artist on Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams, every single list would include thier song from that project. Pearl Jam & Crazy Mary? Yes. Soul Asylum & Summer of Drugs? Youbetcha. The Waterboys & Why Look at the Moon? Why do you even have to ask?
12. All the Right Reasons
It’s the line genuflect beneath the starry skies for me. Genuflect has been one of my favorite words since I first learned it in junior high. Any band with the audacity to toss it into a song gets that song automatically added to their Greatest Hits.
It’s pretty basic, but I like the snowflake/ache & winter/linger rhymes in this line, Snowflakes make your bones ache in the winter. Your face will not fade, it will just linger.
15. Two Angels
This one starts, I’d hope to find you this morning, talking to the trees.
My college roommate F.R. Chicken & I used to drive out to the edges of Eau Claire to visit her favorite tree. I had never heard of someone having a favorite tree before, but since then I’m always picking favorites. In fact, this is the time of the year where I actively flirt with trees and cat call them (in my head) as I drive by.
16. Will I See You in Heaven
17. Miss Williams’ Guitar
18. Falling Star
19. A Break in the Clouds
Okay, I’m gonna stop with the jodisplaining because this is nearly one thousand words already.
Thought I was someone, turned out I was wrong,