How Many Times, Sweethearts?

by Belle Waring on August 21, 2018

Like most people (I think?), if I’m listening to an album with a song I dearly love I will hit the back icon on my phone screen and just listen to that joint again. And again. And then, additionally, again. I’m not sure what the limit has ever been. I mentioned this already about the Rolling Stones “Worried About You.” I have listened to it about 12 times this morning, and it’s just starting again. I’m trying to think what other songs demand extravagant repetition. I once made a mix tape to listen to on my long commute to high school that had Van Morrison’s “Madam George” twice in a row at the start, so I only had to go back once, but with the distinctive sound of the rewind clattering softly for such a long time.

Big Star is a little tough because there are so many songs. “Stroke It Noel” is the my one truest, though. I was both in love and depressed when I listened to it first, which may explain my obsessive fondness. When I learned about Big Star (which was in my first year of graduate school, meaning I wasted actual years of my life not listening to Big Star) I had the LP, so I had to sit by the turntable and pick up the needle and move it back again and again. I’m damn good at having the needle slowly settle down into the tiny groove of silent space. I know I’ve told you this, but maybe not all of you. I had the funny experience of going home to my dad’s and playing Big Star and having him say, “is that Alex Chilton?” I said yes, and his response was “I know that guy. I think he’s in Tennessee.” Me, breathless, “could you, like, call him up?” “Yeah, I could get his number from [my godfather.]” Me: soul swiftly leaving body “then–” “I wouldn’t, though, I hate that guy. He’s an asshole.” DAD WHY?! So, that.

Let me think of some other repeats. Mmmm…Sam Cooke “Cupid” live–so piercing and sweet. Teenage Fanclub “December.” I’ll post later about how ideally songs like this are 2:59 or less, because that’s just the perfect length, but also because it’s memorialized in The Clash’s “Hitsville UK: “the band came in and knocked them dead/in two minutes fifty-nine.” However I need the desktop and John is like, doing real work, god (eyeroll emoji). Many of these are longer but arresting; quite a number of my faves are a lot shorter than 2:59, like “Stroke It Noel” coming in at 2:06. You just have to listen to that again. Warren Zevon “The French Inhaler”–how did he convince Stevie Nicks to sing “where will you go/with your scarves and your miracles/who’s going to know who you are?” There are not enough recent songs on here which is not totally representative of what music I listen to but I’m blanking out somehow. The Mountain Goats (not recent, but I just thought of it): “This Year”; this is a gimme, but I had a year to get through or die, so I deserve this song. (Also “Wear Black” off their latest album). Sorry about the radio silence; things have been going epically badly, and we’re by no means out of the woods. My psychologist has suggested that withdrawing from other humans, practical necessities, and the entire world, alone with my sweet headphones, listening to the same song over and over in an OCD way is harmful to my mental health, or at least not best practices. Hah what does he know. Share your “must be listened to multiple times” favorites in coments



CDT 08.21.18 at 3:23 am

REM, Life and How to Live It; World Party, And I Fell Back Alone; Springsteen, Point Blank; Richard Thompson, If Love Whispers Your Name; Game Theory, 24.


Felonious Monk 08.21.18 at 3:24 am

Well, I once listened to ‘I Go Like the Raven’ on repeat for the entirety of a 12-hour drive from Maine to dc…


floopmeister 08.21.18 at 4:04 am

I defy you to listen to Solid Ether by Nils Pettar Molvaer only once…

Last week I think it was around ’12 replays in a row’ as well for this piece of techno-jazz fusion joy. The bass playing by Audun Erlien in particular is simply hypnotic :)


floopmeister 08.21.18 at 4:07 am

And from the sublime to the ridiculous:

Try and get this notorious earworm out of your consciousness: – TISM’s ode to River Pheonix (He’ll Never Be An) Old Man River:


Scott Samuelson 08.21.18 at 5:13 am

My favorite radio-listening moment was when I first heard “Jazz Classics” with H. Johnson, a classic show in Atlanta. He opened with “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Father Tom Vaughn. I was just floored by it and wanted to hear it again, and as it wrapped up H. Johnson exclaimed, “Let’s hear that again!” And that repetition was especially interesting because – as I was to find out – H. Johnson always starts “Jazz Classics” with that tune.

Here are some songs I rarely listen to without immediately putting them on again.

Joan Armatrading, “Down to Zero” – for the rhythm of her singing
Antony and the Johnsons (with Lou Reed), “Fistful of Love” – for the sound of the guitar
The Band, “It Makes No Difference” (off The Last Waltz) – for the sound of the whole thing
The Rolling Stones, “Let It Loose” – for “I’m in the barroom getting drunk/ I ain’t in luck, I ain’t in love” and for those amazing backing vocals at the end
John Lee Hooker, “Whiskey and Wimmen” – for its magic
The Impressions, “Fool for You” – for those horns with that guitar, and for that voice
Eddy Giles, “Losin’ Boy” – a groove I never want to end
Junior Walker and the All Stars, “Way Back Home” – because it fills me with joy and the feeling of summer


nick j 08.21.18 at 6:07 am

Eurythmics love is a stranger

lady gaga poker face

goldfrapp oh la la

Florence and the machine spectrum

etc etc


CDT 08.21.18 at 7:17 am

Saw Alex Chilton 15 or so years ago headed into a gig n Phoenix and asked how it felt to be a living legend. Old, I guess, he replied.


Belle Waring 08.21.18 at 8:14 am

Felonious Monk: impressive!


Lee A. Arnold 08.21.18 at 9:00 am

I had to hear this six more times, the first time I heard it. “I Saw My Twin” by Hop Along (2015)


Dave Heasman 08.21.18 at 10:11 am

Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town”. – “Everybody told me I won’t get far with twenty-seven dollars and a Jap guitar..” the single mix I think, it’s not quite the same on the album.
Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On”.


Hickory Bow 08.21.18 at 11:07 am

The young–the very,very young– Bonnie Raitt, ” Love Has No Pride”

Whoever uploaded it to YouTube ensure that it would play twice in a row…


Jim Buck 08.21.18 at 11:48 am

Back in the dock of the bay, when the juke-box ruled the Earth, I would gladly skint myself of some comely 45. Leader of the Pack, River Deep Mountain High—spring to mind; as does this, on which I ran through a full half-crown’s worth of thruppences:

These days, I defer gratification when something trumpet-calls my old dopamine. So Lemonade was an entire album of (metaphorical) C&BT–in the knowledge that I could have it again straight away. Oddly, though, last night I did hit play again, for this:


MIJ 08.21.18 at 12:10 pm

Roll ’em East – Little Feat
Midnight Cruiser – Steely Dan
Moanin’ – Art Blakey
The Shape I’m In – The Band
Unk in Funk – Muddy Waters
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys – Traffic
Hittin the Jug – Gene Ammons
People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield
Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus – Spirit – the entire album over and over


Bill Benzon 08.21.18 at 12:51 pm

At the moment, Dave Brubeck, Autumn in Washington Square.


Chris 08.21.18 at 2:01 pm

I’m (intermittently) a three-pack-a-day Rosenkavalier Trio listener.


Glen 08.21.18 at 2:46 pm

White Denim – I Can Tell (1:57)


Mrearl 08.21.18 at 4:38 pm

“This Year” has gotten me through more than one year (“I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me . . .”) and “Let It Loose” has always been an anchor (heck, I could turn down Jagger’s vocal track and just listen to the backup singers and be satisfied), but lately the repeat listen has been Jason Isbell’s “Hope The High Road” (“There can’t be more of them than us, there can’t be more . . .,” the most hopeful thing I’ve heard since Trump got elected). Here with lyrics:


rcriii 08.21.18 at 5:19 pm

For today it is “I’m not Jesus” by Apocalyptica, played it twice.


Joseph Brenner 08.21.18 at 6:09 pm

I was raised on the doctrine of never playing something more than once a day– it was an abuse of the music, you risked taking something you liked and getting sick of it (and not incidentally, it was hard on the vinyl).

Much later– in the late 90s, I think– I wondered about the way a lot of the newer things I liked (much of it weirder, “experimental” stuff) didn’t really stick in my head the way my teenage enthusiasms did– could it be it was just because music was much more rare when I was young, and I focused on the few new albums I bought much more than as an adult?

I picked an exceedingly small press run release that I liked– P.I.S.S. short for Perkis, Ingalls, Shiurba and Sperry, published as a CD-R of only a few hundred on the Limited Sedition labelette– and intentionally listened to it repeatedly for several days. Consequently there are some burbles of guitar and electronics I can call to mind off of this disk, much in the same way I can recite Patti Smith lyrics…


marcel proust 08.21.18 at 6:13 pm

Back when the Pointer Sisters’ Jump was all the rage in aerobics classes (c. 1984 ?), I bought an endlessly looping cassette and recorded the one on the other for my wife’s birthday. She loved the song, but I think she rarely listened more than twice in a row, an tired of it pretty quickly.

When I was young, I thought the video to be the sexiest, most erotic one I’d ever seen, and the Pointer Sisters were the least of that. (I’ll try to embed the video below – never done that before, so it may be a mess: please don’t jump all over me for that;) )


daniel peters 08.21.18 at 7:17 pm

at the moment

No Joy Moon in my mouth


TheSophist 08.21.18 at 9:02 pm

Piper To the End – Mark Knopfler (Will be played at my (hopefully) far distant memorial)
Desperadoes Under the Eaves – Warren Zevon (The best song about alcoholism and depression ever written)
Hymns to the Silence – Van Morrison

Also I’ve been listening to a lot of Mogwai recently. Are You a Dancer and Earth Division seem to get replayed a lot, along with all 25 mins of My Father My King.


TakomaMark 08.21.18 at 9:27 pm

A couple I’ve discovered recently from a potentially mockable source…I’ve always had a soft spot for the show Chuck (NBC on Monday nights from the late naughts to the early teens) and have been watching it again since it started streaming free on Amazon Prime.

Two songs that play beneath scenes that I looked up on Spotify: Can You Tell by Ra Ra Riot and God and Suicide from Blitzen Trapper. Neither song is particularly new but they’re new to me. I’d heard of both bands and back at the time (late naughts) was listening to similar groups – The National, The New Pornographers, Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver (whose falsetto I’ve started to find rather grating but I really liked at the time) etc. but somehow never gave those two groups a try back then.

On The Stones’ Exile on Mainstreet – that whole album is worthy of constant replay if you have just discovered it.


Wschuck 08.21.18 at 9:40 pm
I’ve listened to this song a thousand times.


Helen 08.22.18 at 1:03 am

Riches and Wonders (Mountain Goats again, but it’s the Eliza Rickman version with the cello which I listen to on repeat)
Water Wheel – Steve Gunn (such joy! How good is he?)
Roundabout – Ryley Walker
You and I – Jade Imagine (A local! Australian.)
You can tell I’ve got the dreamy stuff on repeat at the moment


floopmeister 08.22.18 at 2:14 am

Felonious Monk: impressive!

Wasn’t there a story in which Bill Clinton was interviewed by a music journalist who asked him to name his favourite band/musician.

Clinton said ‘Thelonious Monk’, and the younger journalist asked who “The Loneliest Monk’ was…


JPL 08.22.18 at 3:34 am

Hi Belle, I’ve been missing your music posts!
I hope you don’t mind if I take this opportunity; I wanted to remember Sister Re, who’s gone on ahead. I wanted to pick out a few songs that seem to have been neglected by the tributes (the ones I’ve heard anyway). That whole album “Lady Soul”, I played it so much it got worn out. It was much better than the much praised previous album (“I never loved a man …”). My favourite at the time was “Chain of fools”. “Think” from the following album was big: why are people not mentioning that one? Outside of that era, I liked “Daydreaming” and “Until you come back to me” (a Stevie Wonder song). ( ) But I think my favourite on “Lady soul” is “Ain’t no way”. Sadly, I don’t think I’m somebody who listens to songs multiple times in a row, but I’ll come back to them frequently.


peter ramus 08.22.18 at 3:41 am

Just now I listened to this three times running without complaint:



Douglas C Alder 08.22.18 at 4:16 am

I could and have listened to this over and over again


Another Nick 08.22.18 at 5:51 am

A few songs I’ve been known to repeat, especially the first time I heard them. Hope you like, Belle.

Dion DiMucci – Now

Margo Guryan – Love

Amon Düül II – Manana


floopmeister 08.22.18 at 7:30 am

Amon Düül II

YES – a thousand times yes… :)


CDT 08.22.18 at 7:59 am

I’ll second Let It Loose for the backup singers and add Gimme Shelter for Merry Clayton’s hair-raising vocals. And one must always repeat at least once the perfect blues song — Otis Rush’s Double Trouble — and the perfect pop spng — the Records’ Starry Eyes.


maidhc 08.22.18 at 9:25 am

In these parts we have have a weekly radio show that plays, basically, “oldies that you have never heard before”. It’s on 4 hours a week (KSJS, 10AM–2PM Fridays Pacific Time), you can get it online.

Most weeks there is a Record Reprise Award (“So nice you have to hear it twice”). That involves playing a record twice in a row. Most of the ones he picks, I have to admit, are worth the double play.

In my past I used to listen to albums like this as well. Not so much any more, but I could easily go back to it when my life style settles down a bit.

Sorry I can’t think of too many examples from the radio show, but Ape Call by local Bay Area artist Nervous Norvus is one of them.


Fergus 08.22.18 at 10:35 am

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Blue Sky Mine – by trusty Australian 80s outfit Midnight Oil – without repeating it at least once.


Tyrone Slothrop 08.22.18 at 3:51 pm

Late Seventies Scorpions judiciously borrowing the riff from Simple Man but levering it up to standard tuning, and then producing one of my favourite winter evening drive-home-from-work tunes, ofttimes finding itself replayed during the whole trip…


Shirley0401 08.22.18 at 6:06 pm

It’s sad as hell, but my #1 could-never-get-tired-of-it song is probably Flirted With You All My Life by Vic Chesnutt. I’m not even that big a fan of his, generally, but that song? Good lord. Gives me shivers.

And re: Big Star, as much as I love both Bell and Chilton’s songs, the one I love the most is Way Out West. It’s just so damn sweet. It’s the kind of song that’s so sweet and guileless most songwriters not named Johnson or Fair would be embarrassed to admit they’d written and most bands would refuse to record, but since he was just the drummer I think everyone just figured, “what the hell, let’s throw Jody’s song on there. It’s so sweet.”


PatinIowa 08.22.18 at 6:07 pm

Reading “The Hard Stuff,” and listening to this over and over:

I wonder what Fred “Sonic” Smith thinks of it all.


Shirley0401 08.22.18 at 6:23 pm

Oh, and while I’m definitely not up with the new music, I was lucky enough to stumble across a truly great new band called Idles. They somehow managed to land upon a wholly original combination of earnest positivity + ridiculously catchy tunes + righteous bile, and their song Mother is undoubtedly the greatest song of this decade that I’ve yet heard.


Helens 08.22.18 at 11:18 pm

Imma make a Spotify playlist based on this thread.
Also, I meant to say, Belle, I’m sorry to hear times are hard. I always love to see a new Belle Waring post!


oldster 08.23.18 at 11:33 am

Have been listening to many repetitions of Kenton Chen and Scary Pockets, esp. this one:

I love it for the groove, for the vocals, for the flamboyantly fabulous Mr. Chen, and especially for the interactions between the players–when Chen pulls off a beautiful vocal run, you can see all of the other guys smiling involuntarily and shaking their heads in wonder.

The group is a spin-off from Pomplamoose, which I was led to by my age-mate, Jim Fallows. You know that you are a cutting-edge band when duffers who worked in the Carter administration are grooving on your material.

Also find repeat listens to this one extremely soothing, like warm rain.

I’m not usually fond of “praise music” but the harmonies are golden, and Trey is a sweetheart.


ph 08.23.18 at 4:11 pm

Music works and repetitive listening can be part of constructive disengagement in a healthy way. Got a friend – talented professional musician who teaches, plays, does whatever spent sometime in a monastery, which is still his preferred back up life.

My mind is not always my best friend, or always looking out for my best interests – so, I go with the tried and true, I’d rather be happy than right. I let go of it all cause it’s all on loan, then choose the parts I choose to keep and be grateful for – top o’ the list – physical mobility – that’s going to go – guaranteed, then there’s a long list of other stuff with use-by date. So, I fucking ignore everyone and everything, make a list of what’s right – being kind, thoughtful and considerate, which requires some conscious focus and effort from me, then just try to get through the day without going too ape-shit about nothing at all. I like Prince, but Chopin works better for the prayer, meditation and am yoga. Keeping moderately clean and in-shape is a great and easy way to feel better.

So, I’m going to go with things that make my life better for me. Make sense?


CDT 08.23.18 at 6:05 pm

And another one, given the Big Star prompt: Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos.” I’ve never made it past that one to hear the rest of the album. Belle, take the headphones on a day-long solitary hike, and you’ll feel a lit better. If you are in AZ again, I have lots of suggestions, starting with Sedona West Fork and Aravaipa Canyon.


retaliateddonor 08.23.18 at 6:27 pm

Snail Mail’s “Pristine” demands of me 2 or 3 listens every time.


Sumana Harihareswara 08.24.18 at 3:35 pm

My best wishes to you in a hard time, Belle Waring — please know that no matter whether you ever post here again or not, I will think well of you and care about whether you are doing ok.

Some songs I love to listen to multiple times:

* “Grand Hotel” by Regina Spektor
* “Sharpen Up Those Fangs” by the Presidents of the United States of America
* both the “Spent Gladiator” songs by the Mountain Goats
* “Sourdoire Valley Song” by the Mountain Goats — a great accompaniment to Jon Bois’s online scifi graphic novel 17776
* “Tomorrow Is a Highway” by Pete Seeger
* “Flyweight Love” by Vienna Teng
* “Don’t Go To London, It’s Under Construction” by Lawsuit


JVA 08.25.18 at 2:12 am

Too much fun to resist.

1. Angie: the Rolling Stones
2. Gracias a la vida: Mercedes Sosa (with Milton Nascimento, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarte).
3. Wooden Ships: Jefferson Airplane
4. The Promise: John Coltrane Quartet
5. If I had a ribbon bow: Maxine Sullivan
6 Birdland: Sarah Vaughan
7. I say a little prayer: Aretha Franklin
8. Dusty Springfield: Just a little lovin’.
9. Dinah Washington: What a difference a day makes
10. Israel: Bill Evans


James Grimmer 08.25.18 at 1:10 pm

Speaking of Warren Zevon, I’ve listened to this song on repeat for nearly twenty years:


James Grimmer 08.25.18 at 1:23 pm

Here is a song I listen to incessantly as I worry about my daughter.


JPL 08.26.18 at 8:54 am

Sorry for my mistake above: I didn’t mean to post the whole Lady Soul album; I only meant to post “Ain’t no way”. The recording I had was part of an album playlist and the whole thing got put up there. (“Ain’t no way” is I think number 10 on the playlist.)

I do recall one time I may have broken my “no more than three times in a row” rule, and it was for this song by Brazilian singer Joyce Moreno. Even fussy psychologists must recommend this one for repeated listening.


JPL 08.26.18 at 10:33 am

@JVA (45):

Nice to see some of my own favourite artists there. (I shouldn’t do this, but ….) My own always repeatable ones (if I want 4 I have to put another one in between):

Gal Costa: Aquarela do Brasil
Milton Nascimento: “Ponta de areia” (I’ll listen to all the different versions, and this way I can listen to the same song as many times as I want)
Coltrane: oddly, “I want to talk about you”
Sassy: “Shiny stockings” and “Dreamsville”
Bill Evans: “Sometime ago”


bob mcmanus 08.26.18 at 6:18 pm

I am with Brenner at 19, I always tried to avoid repetition to avoid burnout and keep ears fresh.. During my second early-80s period of collecting 3-4 albums every Friday, I got to a point where I was saying dammit I bought the Hindemith cause I wanted to hear it what’s with Clash one more time so I bought a notebook and would add my acquisitions at the end of the list and listen in order of purcheses and cheat like hell in OCD ways.

Repeating this season, once a week, thrice a month whatever, what I stick with when shuffle provides

Haydn String Quartets, esp Op 33 and 50, Auryn/Salomon mostly
Bach Partitas and Sonatas, assorted transcriptions: guitar, lute, cello, cats, baritone guitar, harp, flute, more cats, string quartet, sax quartet, klezmer, gamelan, steel drums, lol cats, motorcycle engines, tubular bells
Metric f-tons of classical and Spanish guitar
Federico Monpou, Debussy, Scriabin, Satie
Ash ra Tempel/Gottsching, Tangle Dream, Ozric Tentacles;Steve Roach
Blue Train/Traning In/Ole; Etta James At Last; endless Billie H;Don Byas;early Chs Lloyd
Boz Scaggs “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”

Listened to something the other day three times in a row and thought forget the rage and grief and maybe nihilist celebration when global warming finally manifests as species extinction what do I want on endless loop as I watch the world end? This is embarrassing but old fools have no shame

Montserrat Figueras, Ninna Nanna Lullabies


JVA 08.27.18 at 2:33 am

JPL @49. Thanks for these. The Bill Evans is lovely! I too love the Milton Nascimento.

Here is a link to a wonderful performance of Gracias a la vida, beautiful singing and the rapport between the great Argentinian and the four great Brazilians.

Bob McManus @ 50 great choices all! There is a double CD of Michelangeli playing Debussy and Mompou, among others, at a concert in London, which saves one the trouble of replaying because it included a tape of a hypnotic rehearsal!

And among the hardest to resist repeating: Signore Ascolta sung by Montserrat Caballe.

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