Jim Shelley & Book Of Kills

One Single Song? How 'bout Five?

Last weekend an older friend of mine who doesn't really know much about Book of Kills asked me if there was a single song online that he could download that would give him a good idea of what my music was like. This isn't the first time someone has asked me that question and in fact I think I might even have written about this before, but whatever...it's an interesting question that I would probably have a different answer for just about every time I considered it.

I'm not sure I could come up with a single track that I think best "represents" Book of Kills. I think, however, I might be able to narrow it down to five choices: "To Dream a New Dream", "Stanley the Steamer", "Caroline", "The Long One", and "Ah Ahh Ahhh!" seem to have most of the things I try to focus on when I write a song...a good melody, an emotional punch, unusual and literate lyrics that avoid cliches (I HATE cliched lyrics), an instrumental hook, and a decent chorus. I think a good song should have a bridge but Bob Dylan has proven over and over again that a bridge isn't a necessity if the rest of the song is strong. Heck, a good song doesn't even have to have a chorus if you can come up with other stuff interesting enough to engage an audience. For instance, "Stanley the Steamer" lacks a chorus, but I'll bet folks don't really notice that when they hear the song...the instrumental hook, the bridge and the solo all sort of divert one's attention away from the chorus-less structure of the song. 

I know what you're probably thinking..."THE LONG ONE"??? Well, yeah. It's an adventurous (for me anyway) medley of six fragments featuring just about every musical trick in the book that I know. It's almost the whole history of BOK all in six minutes and fourteen seconds. I always wanted to play it live. The 2004 band that featured Dustin Bugg, Mike Chiarello, and Brian Temples (certainly the most musically talented line-up I ever had the honor of playing with) could probably have pulled it off.

Writing about this led me to consider what single album I'd recommend to a first-time listener and the answer would probably surprise you. I think I'd tell them to check out FILLING IN HOLES (THE SINGLES REMIXES, VOLUME 1). It's such a musically diverse little album with eight pretty strong tracks that would take up about 22 minutes of your time. Perfect.