Back in February, Target released Jason Mraz: Influences. Aside from the fact that they call him a “funky, folky troubadour” in the liner notes, it’s a very cool CD, comprised of 11 songs that influenced the Mraz sound along with Jason doing one of his versions of “Rainbow Connection”.
I suppose these things are usually done very corporately, with some anonymous assistant putting together a list of possible songs and the artist just signing off on it, but I get the feeling our Mraz isn’t that kind of guy. It’s not that I think he’s super uptight about putting his name on something he doesn’t have full control over, I just think he’s a big music geek (in the pink – Yeah yeah, I know, I stepped right into that one).
I think the idea of making a mix tape for the world, of getting to share his favorites with us, showing us what we might hear on his stereo if we were cruising around town with him, made him a little giddy, in a manly way, and he probably spent hours trying to get it just right. I like to picture him sitting on his floor, surrounded by tapes and CDs and records, scribbling notes and deciding which song should lead into what, John Cusak-High Fidelity style. I love John Cusak. But I’m just guessing. No matter how it came together, we now get to benefit from his devotion to these other artists.
Listen to it for yourself and decide what you think. I’ll just make a couple of observations.
Biggest treat – Kenny Rankin. I have no idea who this guy is, but one listen and it’s obvious he was a big influence on our Prophet. I think the best thing about this mix CD is that people who have never heard of Rankin, or one of the other artists, will be introduced to some great new music.
Biggest suprise – INXS. To me, this is just further proof that Jason Mraz and I may have been the same person in a former life. I don’t know why, but this selection doesn’t seem to fit with anything else on the CD, and yet it works really well. I was a massive INXS fan in high school and into college, and one of my biggest regrets is turning down the chance to see them while I was in college because, at the time, $20 for a ticket seemed like an extravagant purchase. I figured I would catch them the next time around, but then Michael Hutchence died and I was damn near devastated. “Need You Tonight” still gets me hot.
What’s missing – Chris Issak. His smooth tunes combined with his twisted sense of humor and on-stage goofiness make him a perfect match for Mraz, and I love when Jason puts a few bars of “Wicked Game” into his act. Maybe he’ll make it onto the next CD.
Best comment – Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze”. In his blurb about this one, Jason calls the song “Tasty”. I thought I was the only one who referred to inedible objects and abstract ideas this way. I’m telling you, in a past life…
|1||Aretha Franklin||Respect (2:25)|
|2||Bill Withers||Use Me (3:47)|
|3||Seals & Crofts||Summer Breeze (3:26)|
|4||Jeff Buckley||Morning Theft (3:40)|
|5||Kenny Rankin||In The Name Of Love (3:25)|
|6||Daryl Hall & John Oates||I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (3:45)|
|7||Michael Franks||Night Moves (4:02)|
|9||Soul Coughing||Screenwriter’s Blues (4:29)|
|10||The Globetrotters||Rainy Day Bells (3:07)|
|11||Young M.C.||Pick Up The Pace (3:19)|
|12||Jason Mraz||Rainbow Connection (4:59)|
At 98 we all rotate,