Tyler Darling is the producer and broadcaster of “I Turn My Podcast On”, a podcast devoted to American band Spoon. Starting in June 2020, Darling has guided listeners through many of Spoon’s albums with interviews of the band and members of their team [editor’s note: if Tyler Darling lived in Britain, he would have to struggle with countless “Blackadder” style jokes in the same way the TV series’ Captain Darling was the butt of re-occurring gags about his name – “Captain darling? Funny name for a guy isn’t it? Last person I called darling was pregnant 20 seconds later” – luckily TD lives in the US]. As of May 2022, we count sixteen episodes of the podcast, and we suggest you check it out.
Spoon’s most recent album, Lucifer on the Sofa, is their tenth album, so we asked Darling, a true expert on the band, to pick a favourite track from each Spoon album to date, his top 10 from 10 – starting with Lucifer on the Sofa back to their debut, Telephono. He also kindly gave us the background to the podcast.
Tyler Darling: When it comes to the band Spoon, sometimes I am speechless. Leaving me speechless is a hard thing to do since I talk about this band a lot. They’re a band that I officially crowned as my favourite band of all time in 2009. After seeing them live for the first time in the summer of ’09 I decided to go and collect anything that I did not own by them already. In that research I discovered their official message board msgboard.spoontheband.com. With my extreme talkativeness (to the point of annoyance depending on who you ask), this became a community I cared a lot about. I loved starting conversations about collecting bootlegs, vinyl and the occasional album art conspiracy theory.
Years went by and I found the community dwindling. I was no longer hearing from Nefarious, The Doctor, monkfishblues, iamthekey, captain_arz, pixiechickrocks, pherron, Gabriel, Zman and middlenamewayne (hey peeps, hope you’re all well). I knew then that I wanted to do something to foster this great community. I had been listening to podcasts for around ten years when I had the idea that maybe, just maybe, I could make a podcast all about Spoon. The idea was kicked around for years until COVID-19 happened. Like everyone I had a lot more time on my hands being at home, and like everyone that’s when I started a podcast called “I Turn My Podcast On”.
As I was putting on the finishing touches for episode one, I realized there were a few questions about the early years of the band that were unanswered. I decided to reach out to Britt Daniel of Spoon. Over the past few years, we had exchanged messages here and there about the band’s message board and the band in general. I had mentioned the idea of doing a podcast and he said that it sounded cool, and he would help promote it when it came out. While we did not talk on a regular basis, he would always respond when he had time. I felt comfortable enough to ask him the questions I had regarding information for my first episode. His first response was, “Working on it. If you have any more specific questions send them my way”.
After sending additional questions his next response was, “Remind me again the format of this podcast. Is it an interview with me or are you just reading stuff?”. At that time I was shocked! I told him that while that was not my original idea (as I did not know it was an option), I would love to interview him! He agreed to a one hour interview which turned into over 16 hours of interviews in the span of four months. After many conversations with him I reached out to as many people as I could that had something to do with the band. I talked with producer Mike McCarthy, engineer Jeff Byrd, and many other surprise guests are coming.
After talking about Spoon on a regular basis for 13 years with two of those years being on a podcast, I started to feel the weight of the responsibility I had. I realized that the initial idea of the podcast being a fan’s journey wasn’t good enough. I wrangled this big group of people whose hand’s shaped the history of this great band and I had to do something with it. I have worked harder than I ever initially thought would be required and I really hope you enjoy it.
Being the type of fan that I am, I have made many playlists of Spoon songs over the years. I made one for the #MyBestofSpoon playlist contest a few years ago which was trying to connect to a large audience. However I have also made some really pretentious ones where I re-sequenced my favourite albums because I feel they could be “better”. I know, it’s a problem. Today though, I present my favourite ten Spoon songs (one from each album). Catchy title, huh?
To celebrate Spoon’s tenth album Lucifer on the Sofa I wanted to pick my favourite song from each of their ten albums. Sadly EPs couldn’t be considered under these fake constructs I have created. Honestly it was really hard, and I thought a lot about it. At the end of the day I decided to go with my heart and not my head. There were some really special songs that did not make this list, but when you have a lot of great material to pick from it is bound to happen. I hope this gets you excited to check out more from Spoon, and please let me know what you think. I would also be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to check out the podcast. It is a true labour of love. At the end of every episode I hope that not only can you gain deeper appreciation and super fan right along with me, but also get inspired. This band’s story, the highs and the lows should make you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. When you listen to the stories about the blood, sweat, tears and green teas it took to make these records I hope you get inspired to put your all into something you love too. That’s my real hope after this show is all said and done and I really hope you enjoy the journey with me.
10. “Wild” (from Lucifer on the Sofa, 2022)
This new album is pretty great, huh? It was really hard to pick just one track off of this album as it has changed several times over the last few months, yet I just keep coming back to “Wild”. “Wild” is just special to me, allow me to overshare. The last few years have been tough on everyone. After home-schooling both of our kids for two plus years and doing all the amazing things that moms do, my wife took a week vacation to visit family. I was so happy for her. I was doing the solo Dad thing for a week and it was all going great. It was the day that the “Wild” 7” came out as a delayed Black Friday record store day drop. My Mom was watching my kids and I travelled to my fav record store The Exclusive Company to get a copy before starting work. After a long day working I got home, poured a drink and put on “Wild” for the first time. A ton of emotions washed over me. I was sad my wife wasn’t home, I was happy my favourite band released new music, I was sad over everything going on in the world, I was happy I believed the world is going to get better. The song said to me, “yeah, the world is a wild place, but it is going to be ok”. The piano midway in the song amplified that message to me in such a comforting way. The song is an infectious triumph that oozes with joy, and we all need a little joy.
9. “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” (from Hot Thoughts, 2017)
I really loved the Hot Thoughts record and this song in particular could be the concept of the record all in one song. I love how it slowly sucks you in with the synth/string build. It’s a vibe! That seamless transition midway through the song makes my hair stand up and I mean that in a literal sense. I try to always play this one as loud as possible. I love to feel the swell and transformation into a rock song. At the midpoint we hear a great bass line, a guitar solo, some guitar lines and that mood of the introduction is forever lost, until you replay it and take the trip again.
8. “Rainy Taxi” (from They Want My Soul, 2014)
I remember the first time I heard this song – I played it over and over in my car. I was fortunate enough to get the 10” Vinyl Gratification record that the band gave you when you pre ordered the They Want My Soul LP. That being the case, I was familiar with “Rent I Pay” and “Inside Out” as track one and two on the album. As much as I loved those two songs, “Rainy Taxi” sounded like magic to my ears playing from my car stereo via my iPod. Things that really stood out were the bridge part at 1:56 and the piano stabs at 2:30. It didn’t sound like any other song they had done in their catalogue up to that point. The song’s dark minor key, driving bass line, piano line and awesome drum beat brought the song title to life for me, but I was not riding in a taxi, I was behind the wheel.
7. “Out Go the Lights” (from Transference, 2009)
Transference is a really special album to me, and while there are some fantastic moments on it I chose “Out Go the Lights” as my one and only. This song leaves no mystery to its intent. It’s a sad song about longing for a past love but it does it so well. Being from Illinois I may be a sucker for the line about Illinois, but there is more to it than that. I really feel this may be one of the saddest and most introspective moments in Britt’s song-writing career, and there is really not another song quite like it. It’s not all wallowing in sadness though as at the 2:45 mark of the song the bass takes over. The bass riff leads the song into a bit of different territory and I think this portion is one of the most beautiful things Spoon has ever recorded. Last year there was a time where I had this song on repeat for about 20 plays and by play 15 I was just waiting for that part to come on. Beautiful.
6. “Black Like Me” (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, 2007)
This album might be their best album of all time, which makes choosing just one favourite very difficult. But I went with my heart on my pick and chose “Black Like Me”. It is the greatest closing track to any Spoon album, and I could argue any album period. The acoustic guitar led track grips your soul (or sole?) from the very first second. The song goes from sombre, to feeling a bit upbeat, to having this magical ending and it does it all in three minutes. I love all the instruments and recording – some things sound so dry and other things have so much reverb. Then there are the lyrics, which are vague and yet very specific which makes you keep trying to figure it all out on every listen. I always misheard a line as, “street tourin’ summer can do a job on your soul” as if to say this guy is just exhausted from being on the road all the time, and that’s why he needs someone to take care of him. It turns out that the real line is, “street tar and summer can do a job on your soul”, which kind of gets the same thing across but also has the great play with words of “soul” and “sole”. If that wasn’t enough, towards the end of the song you get the moniker of “The Weird Kids Upfront” which in a meta way, Spoon super-fans have worn with honour for years. Then just moments later, like a humanized vacuum sucking all the air out a room, the song evaporates into thin air.
5. “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” (from Gimme Fiction, 2005)
This is my favourite Spoon song of all time. Gimme Fiction was my gateway into Spoon. Even though this song is the opening track, I did not connect with it immediately. “I Turn My Camera On” was the first standout to me and the one I wanted to keep hitting repeat on. It took me a little time to realize how brilliant it was, but then one day I said to myself, “this is the best Spoon song of all time”. It has a great descending melody, a huge brilliant drum sound (loud toms), Britt’s amazing vocals, a weird noise guitar solo (if you can call it that), fantastic lyrics that include references to the album, and a huge epic sound. It truly has everything that makes Spoon great in one song.
4. “Paper Tiger” (from Kill the Moonlight, 2002)
“Paper Tiger” sounds like a breakthrough for the band. It’s a lonely and moody soundscape unlike anything they had made up to that point. However, that is not the reason it is my favourite from this album. On this one it’s about the lyrics. I adore that first sentiment of “I’ll never hold you back, and I won’t force my will”. That tenderness carries all the way through until the closing line of “I will be there with you when you turn out the light”. It’s essentially 13 lines, but it does a lot with a little (just like the music does).
3. “Anything You Want” (from Girls Can Tell, 2000)
This song is just special. It’s very short and to the point. It’s a song about a relationship that is not going too well. The idea of being exhausted to the point of saying if there is anything you want. If I have any redeemable qualities that you enjoy, I mean any, you can come back to me. In fact you know exactly where to find me, beer in hand. It’s very different from many songs that talk about doing anything to win your lover back etc. However it’s not all doom and gloom. Feeling alive and alone also lends itself to that illusion of destiny and someone being “the one”. Young love, amirite? The music also paints the scene of positivity. That little electric piano intro bit sounds so jaunty. You also get an outstanding vocal performance that ramps up by the end and really shows Britt arriving as an elite vocalist.
2. “Metal Detektor” (from A Series of Sneaks, 1998)
“Metal Detektor” is among the two stand out tracks on this album for me. This song is really gorgeous. Their early stuff gets overlooked a lot, but I think this song belongs in everyone’s Spoon playlist. The drum patterns are so good on this song. I love how Jim [Eno] plays that tom fill and also when he plays it. This is also one where I barely pay attention to the lyrics. It’s about robbing a bank…I think. However to me the lyrics are just cool phrases and it’s the music that moves me on this one – those falsetto “oohs” are just so good!
1. “Dismember” (from Telephono, 1996)
This song has everything that you could want in a rock song – quiet moments, loud moments, distorted guitars, clean guitars. Then you add the “Spoon moments” to the mix with great drum parts, sound effects, great vocals and lyrics where half the time you think you understand what the song is about and the other half you are left guessing. I think it also does a great job of summing up the sounds of their first album in just one minute and 45 seconds.
ABOUT TYLER DARLING
Tyler Darling is an independent podcast creator and producer. He started work on his first project “I Turn My Podcast On” in 2020. The podcast is about the band Spoon and contains over 16 hours of recorded interviews with front man Britt Daniel. With listeners in over 50 countries the podcast is truly a global phenomenon (relatively speaking).