The Rob Gordon Shuffle: 5/2-5/8 Birthday Edition!

Today is my birthday. Here are my favorite birthday songs. Download at the bottom!

1. Andrew Bird – “The Happy Birthday Song”
My favorite song on Bird’s fantastic & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs. It starts out a little slow before transitioning into this string suite and a full-blown chamber pop chorus, featuring Bird’s tremulous falsetto. “Gonna be our last day,” he sings. What a way to finish off a record.

2. Fiona Apple – “Love Ridden”
“Love ridden, I looked at you/with the focus I gave to my birthday candles/I wished on the lidded blue flame/and baby, I wished for you.” When The Pawn is still no less than a masterpiece. If I was keeping track back then, it probably would’ve been the best album of 1999, and in the last half-decade, I’ve heard maybe 10, 15 albums I would place above this one. I’m reserving judgement on Extraordinary Machine until its release, but I have a feeling this one will remain the classic. “Love Ridden” also follows along nicely with the chamber music motif.

3. The Beatles – “Birthday”
I never listen to disc 2 of the White Album. We put it on last night while eating over-priced but amazing Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake, and it still doesn’t do nearly as much for me as side 1 one does, but what list would be complete without it?

4. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – “Tears At The Birthday Party”
Chamber pop #3, sorta. Painted From Memory is no less than a modern classic. This song opens with a slinky sax flourish that belies the darker nature of the song. Much like Bacharach’s best songs with Hal David, “Tears At The Birthday Party” merges an optimistic, hopeful musical approach with Costello’s forlorn words. “I see you share your cake with him” never sounded so bad.

5. Rose Melberg – “Happy Birthday To Me” (Download)
A classic slice of Rose, The Softies’ primary singer/songwriter. Much like Paul McCartney, her songs are so good that she doesn’t even need two minutes to destroy you with melody. Listen and see. This song = the mope-folk version of “It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To.”

There are more. I can’t remember. Greg got me a harmonica holder so I have no excuse not to learn the Bob Dylan back catalog now.

Next week: The Rob Gordon Summer Music Preview, featuring The Fruit Bats’ amazing new album and maybe the new Belle & Sebastian singles collection. And actual mp3s. I’m thinking a midweek Glossy Rock Mag Review with The Russian Futurists and The Pernice Brothers should tide you over, eh? Eh?


The Rob Gordon Shuffle is a weekly Sunday rundown of fascinating songs and albums without any particular regard to genre or timeliness. It is absolutely not a top 5.