Songs That Have Helped Twin Peaks’ Colin Croom Through Quarantine

The Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist shares fifteen songs he’s been jamming over the past few months.

With lyrics about a “government check getting lost in the mail,” Twin PeaksSide A EP is yet another record released during the pandemic that was, surprisingly, completed way back before we were sneering at pictures of our former high school classmates on social media carelessly hitting up bars. Yet the TP dudes have been laying low since the record dropped at the beginning of the month, with no word of, say, a Side B EP following the brief set of tunes.

In the meantime, we checked in with multi-instrumentalist Colin Croom to get a sense of what the band would be jamming in the van if they were on the road right now. The fifteen tracks Croom compiled range from Italian and Peruvian psych rock to prog-country, reminding us of just how dull our quarantines probably are in comparison.

Stream the playlist below and read on for Colin’s commentary. Side A is out now via Grand Jury—order it here.

Illicit, “We Wish to Be Listened”

I stumbled on this song by way of We Are Not Together, a compilation of Peruvian bands from the ’60s and ’70s that I came across a few weeks after quarantine started. I was feeling pretty down and out thinking about when we might be able to get together and play music again, so upon first listen it hit me pretty hard. It’s a tender cut, a soft song about coming up with solutions together, playing rock ’n’ roll, and real love—all things that I feel we could use right about now. 

Michael Nesmith, “The Crippled Lion”

I bought a new pedal steel guitar back in April, which has admittedly taken up most of my time and mental energy. I had owned a six-string beginners model for the past two years, but had been really wanting a full ten-string steel for quite a while. I kind of figured this was the opportune moment to take the plunge, too, because of how complex of an instrument it is…it can be equally as frustrating as it is beautiful. Anyway, this was the first song I learned how to play after I got it all set up. I am a huge Red Rhodes fan, and he played throughout the Magnetic South LP.  Really good stuff. I didn’t really like The Monkees growing up, but Nesmith has some good ones for sure.

Silvano Chimenti & Enrico Pieranunzi, “Cat Theme”

This song is just a jam, man. I have been really into a lot of the Italian soundtrack composers from the ’60s and ’70s, so after falling down a few YouTube rabbit holes I discovered this tune.  Chimenti played guitar on a fair amount of Piero Umiliani’s compositions—a really wild player.  And Pieranunzi’s way around the piano is pretty fantastic. From what I understand, Pulsar Music LTD. was written as the soundtrack to Mario Caiano’s 1976 film Milano Violenta. The whole LP is really great, never seen the movie but I just watched the trailer and it looks pretty fuckin’ sick. 

Ned Doheny, “If You Should Fall (Demo)”

I have been a fan of Doheny’s for a couple years now, but this song ends up getting stuck in my head more than I’d like to admit. The song is labeled as a demo version, but personally I think it sounds so good. The production, that Wurlitzer, sounds way better than any demo I’ve ever made. 

Dennis Wilson, “He’s a Bum”

I’ve only recently dove into Dennis Wilson’s solo career, but this song stuck out and stuck with me since I began investigating. Sounds great—in all honesty it sounds like a Nilsson song that didn’t make the grade for Pussy Cats, and I am not mad about it at all. Nothing wrong with feeling good about feeling bad, and that attitude is what cut through to me. “Everybody lives alone / Together we all live” seems appropriate for the present date.

Rusty Kershaw, “This Day and Time”

Rusty Kershaw’s falsetto sounds so rich and powerful in this song. You can really feel the emotion that’s put behind it—it’s got this “I know we’ll get there, but right now it’s tough as hell to see the light at the end of the tunnel” vibe going on. It also feels pretty easy to relate to the lyric “Being called a fool by the fool” amidst what’s happening in this country at the moment.

Red Rhodes, “Lunar Nova”

One of my favorite Red Rhodes tracks to turn on and just space out for a bit. This instrumental track is certainly one of his more jazzy, out-there tunes, but his use of overdubbing steel guitars and building as the piece progresses is really unique and sonically interesting. By the end of the song it feels like there’s twenty guitars noodling around before it eventually fades out. This also is one of my favorite bass lines, and possibly one of the longest chord progressions I’m aware of (0:00-1:22).

Canned Heat, “Poor Moon”

l hadn’t heard this one in a few years, but always been a favorite of mine. Such a unique groove and feel. The bridge popped into my head on the night of July 4 during the lunar eclipse, and it felt impossible to not redirect Alan Wilson’s lyrics back down towards Mother Earth. Heavy shit, man.

Blue Magic, “Tear It Down”

Opens up with one of the most sampleable loops, has such a cool groove. This whole LP showcases dynamic composition in R&B so well, with an arsenal of different instruments poking through at the perfect moment and disappearing as fast as they arrived. The production on these drums are relentless, too.

Ernie Graham, “Only Time Will Tell”

This is just a good rock tune from one of my favorites. I always really loved Ernie Graham’s use of lead guitar during the verses of his songs—it fills the space between words so eloquently. It flaunts style without being too overbearing, which can certainly be a tough line to toe. And I don’t know who’s ripping that sax but it’s pretty wild.

Piero Umiliani, “Guitar Improvisation”

Umiliani was seemingly never too fearful of experimentation, and this is not much more than a continuation of that. Looking into his catalogue, there’s compilations stacked on compilations of music that he presumably made without any specific project in mind. Loads of material detailing his experimentation with synths, tinkering with studio toys, among other things. 

This one seems to be as the title reads, a guitar improv piece. Upon researching a bit, I only found Piero Umiliani listed as the primary artist, however I wouldn’t be totally surprised if this is Silvano Chimenti in the spotlight. During this quarantine I have been trying to break away from some of my habits when improvising on guitar. Personally, when improvising, I notice a couple phrases I’ll end up returning to if I feel I might be drifting a bit out of my comfort zone. At times these licks or phrases can act as a foundation that may feel stable, but more often than not I look back on them as crutches that may have kept me from discovering something new to me.  Always learning, hopefully progressing. Anyhow, this track is a pretty good representation of blending safety riffs and drifting ideas, in my opinion.

Cuasares, “Mutación”

I first heard this song while riding on the Blue Line from O’Hare airport towards downtown Chicago, weaving through tunnels and underneath overpasses. I remember it being a dark and gloomy afternoon, and it was one of those moments where the song encapsulates that present moment perfectly. Without this song, it more than likely would’ve been a completely forgettable train ride. Either way, I have been diving further into pianist Waldo Belloso’s music, who started this Argentinian band in ’72. This record strays further from his more piano-based dance tunes and sails closer toward the beat up, overdriven combo organ psychedelia that was prominent in much of South America. Very cool thematic instrumental piece.

Joe Liggins, “Pink Champagne”

This has been my feel-good, “let it all roll off your back for a minute” song throughout 2020. Whether I’m taking a break from working on music or just dawdling around the apartment…fuck it. “Pink Champagne.” 

James Booker, “Feel So Bad”

I fell in love with a lot of James Booker’s music over the spring and start of summer. Man, talk about underrated genius. The way he intertwines elements of classical playing and NOLA funk is just unbelievable. One of the most gifted piano players to ever touch the instrument in my opinion. 

This track is from a set of sessions in LA that he flew out for in the early ’70s—he cut the record in a day. The story goes that when he got to Paramount Recording Studio in Hollywood he was asked which piano he’d like to use, and from the array of options (including multiple grands and baby grands available) he immediately opted for the beat up, tacked spinet that was sitting in a corner and said “that’s the one.” Without a doubt some of Booker’s best recordings are of him sitting at a full grand piano, but this record just wouldn’t hit the same had it been played on one of those. If you haven’t watched the documentary on him entitled Bayou Maharajah, I highly recommend it.

Bobbie Gentry, “Somebody Like Me”

Bobbie Gentry just gets it. Incredibly talented songwriter, painter, singer, etc. Patchwork is her final LP, released in 1971, and is nothing short of a wild ride between the interludes and reprises that the record offers up. She was seemingly just too good for this world and fell out of the public eye in the ’80s. Definitely an underappreciated artist. I hope wherever she is in the world she’s doin’ alright.  

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