(EDIT: Scroll to bottom to see Division A results.)
A few weeks ago we lost a dear friend and beautiful soul when Guillermo passed away. Among his close friends, there was no question that this was going to be one of the ways we were going to honor his love of music, and fondness for bringing people together through music tournaments.
For the uninitiated, a music tournament is what it sounds like: songs going head to head in single-elimination match-ups, until a champion is chosen.
You can do them at home alone, with a buddy on a road trip, with dozens of Hands On volunteers after dinner every night, or with people across the world on a random internet site like livingthedream.org. We’ve done it all.
For the 64-song memorial tournament, we’ve asked Gmo’s friends from all walks of life to offer a song or two as fitting tribute. As you’ll see, many of these songs come with accompanying stories from the nominators. You can see the full list here.
Here’s how the tournament works. Every two days we’ll spin through eight songs, one division. In a little over two weeks we’ll finish the first round, and be down to 32 songs. And we’ll keep going.
Anyone who wants can vote once per set of songs Scoring works on a 10-point scale. (Any of the old-timers have a description?) Basically, a “10” is like listening to pure bliss, “7” is good, “5” is ‘wouldn’t change it if it were on the radio, and “2” is ‘my ears are bleeding, but I finished.’ So a person might score a match “Good Vibrations” (8) – “Satisfaction” (7). We then add up everyone’s scores, and 48 hours later, we have a winner! Feel free to ask questions in the comment section.
Folks have until 12pm on Friday to vote – please vote in the comment section below.Without further ado, here is Division A:
“Africa” (Toto) vs. “Josaphine” (Dispatch)
“Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) vs. “Girl from the North Country” (Bob Dylan ft Johnny Cash)
“Thunder Road” (Bruce) vs. “We’re all in this together” (Old Crow Medicine Show)
“Papa Was a Rodeo” (Magnetic Fields) vs. “When My Time Comes” (Dawes)
We’ll be using Spotify for this tournament, but feel free to use whatever streaming you prefer – and thank you to Aiko for lending her time to make these daily playlists.
Stories from the vault…
“Africa” by committee. Ryan: Who didn’t hear Gmo squealing this out in his pitchy falsetto from the corridor of HOUSA or in the field? This is the first song he learned to play on the guitar, and definitely not an easy one. But I remember fondly him working these chords and trying his damndest on this classic tune. Janos: Gmo and I road-tripped back to the northeast for the weekend in 2005, and held a tournament along the way. This song, widely favored, indeed prevailed.
“Josaphine” by Salem: Guillermo was a hopeless romantic. It seemed that just about everyone of his blog posts had a section of “I met the most amazing girl last week and we immediately fell head over heels in love. Then things went sour but she’ll always hold a special place in my heart.” This sweet little song always reminds me of that.
“Thunder Road” by Cristina: Classy song for a classy guy.
“We’re all in this together” by Jim Rock: I don’t have a particular story to relate this to Guillermo, specifically. Wagon Wheel was huge at this time, as we all remember. This song, more than any other on the album, stood out to me. Many friends of mine have passed away over the years and I listen to this song every time. It gives me chills and tears me up.
“Girl from the North Country” by Carrie: Rather than a specific story (and how much I waffled about song selection), I’ll share an excerpt from a Guillermo-made mix CD enclosure I recently stumbled upon. It underscores his obsession with mix CDs, and by extension, how exciting he would find this music tournament. “…It’s [this CD] not just a playlist – I’d call it a testament. A testament to awesome. It’s the kind of music you’d listen to while inventing Rollerblades, or coming up with the idea for Neapolitan ice cream…”
“Change Gonna Come” by committee: This song is included because Sam Cooke was Guillermo’s artist in the iconic “Last Band Standing” tournament of 2013. And this particular song is poignant for this moment.
“Papa was a rodeo” by Aiko: I knew Guillermo almost exclusively through the Music Tournament, so I went back into the archives to remind myself what the field looked like. I found the “Wall of 10s,” which is a list of songs that received a 10 from at least two voters; “a score of 10 is a statement that in that moment that you listened to the song, it was absolutely perfect.” I scanned through to see which songs Gmo and I matched on, and all of those but this song had already been included. I’m not sure if Gmo was otherwise a fan of the Magnetic Fields, but this song about finding connection in a rambling, on-the-road, rough-and-tumble life resonated with him that summer.
“When my time comes” by Ryan: This song has a few implications. I fell in love with it when it first came out and I think I entered it into one of our 2010-11 music tournaments but I need Janos to confirm that… I loved the line “you can stare into the abyss, but it’s staring right back” because it comes from a Nietzsche quote that Gmo once used as a warning to me long, long ago about some existential crisis going on in my life or something. Anyways, fast forward to this year and it became a steady play for him again and he texted me in January “Do you ever have those moments where you hear a song like 50 times and all of the sudden the 51st time it hits you?” Yep, I sure do and now more than ever.
“Africa” (Toto) def. “Josaphine” (Dispatch), 156-108.
“Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) def. “Girl from the North Country” (Bob Dylan ft Johnny Cash), 153-150. Sorry, Carrie, your song should have been seeded higher!
“Thunder Road” (Bruce) def. “We’re all in this together” (Old Crow Medicine Show), 138-117.
“When My Time Comes” (Dawes) def. “Papa Was a Rodeo” (Magnetic Fields), 127-121.