In honor of me turning 30, I’m making mix CDs of my favorite songs from each of my 30 favorite musical artists/groups. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for this list. They’re simply my personal favorites. Coming in at number 21 is The Farewell Drifters.
I feel like I have a personal connection with every band/artist on my 30 at 30 countdown, but even more so with The Farewell Drifters. When I first discovered The Farewell Drifters, my high school classmate (Cathedral Prep Class of 2003!) Christian Sedelmyer was playing fiddle in the band.
In addition to purchasing their 2010 album Yellow Tag Mondays, we were fortunate enough to see the band play live in Erie. Yellow Tag Mondays landed six tracks on my compilation. From a sweet love song like “Love Me Good & Plain” to the storytelling of “Sunnyside Drive” to the feel-good “River Song” featuring a trademark Sedelmyer solo at the 1:50 mark, there is a lot to love about Yellow Tag Mondays.
Yet as good as Yellow Tag Mondays was, the band’s 2011 follow-up Echo Boom was even better. In my opinion, Echo Boom was the group at its absolute best. With tight vocal harmonies and amazing musicianship, the Farewell Drifters blended elements of folk, bluegrass, and melodic pop to create a masterpiece of an album—one of my all-time favorites. Getting the opportunity to see them showcase songs off the album in Erie and Buffalo further cemented its and their legacy.
Of Echo Boom‘s 12 tracks, eight made the cut for my compilation. From the initial strumming on the album’s lead single “Punchline” to the final harmony on their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York”, Echo Boom delivers again and again with music that makes you want to play it on repeat. “Little Boy” is one of my personal favorites, offering the following bit of advice from an older brother to a younger brother:
Oh little boy, you are alone,
but you don’t understand
that you can’t become a man
on your own.
What you need
might be a girl
to see the other half of the world.
Then you can be a man
just like me.
The more you grow,
the less you’re gonna need me,
but the heart will break,
and being a man’s not easy, easy…
“We Go Together” also deserves special recognition for its inclusion on this compilation as Jessie and I asked our DJ to play it as the final song at our wedding reception. That night was a blur, and hours flew by like minutes. However, I still remember the euphoric feeling that rushed through my body dancing the night away to “We Go Together” with dozens of my favorite people. It was such a cool moment, and among my favorite memories from an unforgettable day. I’d like to think we made a few other people Farewell Drifters fans by closing the night that way.
As a fan of the group, it was sad when Sedelmyer parted ways with The Farewell Drifters some time after Echo Boom. The good news is that Sedelmyer continues to record awesome new music, and the Farewell Drifters have moved on as a foursome. At least I’ll always have Yellow Tag Mondays and Echo Boom.
My Farwell Drifters compilation also includes one pre-Sedelmyer track, “Sweet Summer Breeze” from the group’s 2007 album of the same name as well as five tracks from 2014’s Tomorrow Forever. It’s different without Sedelmyer’s fiddle, but the remaining group members are excellent musicians as well, and the new album again illustrates their ability to write great songs. I particularly like “Modern Age”, “Tomorrow Forever”, and “Bring ’em Back Around.”
Ironically, as I sing along with the lyrics of “Bring ’em Back Around”, talking of summer days gone by, it reminds me of the summer of 2011, when The Farewell Drifters and Echo Boom became the band and the album most frequently listened to by Jessie and me.
Do you remember those summer days?
I could use a few more right now.
Let’s bring ’em back around.
The Farewell Drifters are likely the band on my countdown you’re least likely to have ever heard. If that’s the case, and you like good music, go listen to them, now, preferably the tracks listed below.
MM 30 at 30: The Farewell Drifters tracklist (finalized April 6, 2014)
1. Bring ’em Back Around
2. We Go Together
3. Tip of the Iceberg
4. River Song
5. Everyone Is Talking
6. Sweet Summer Breeze
7. Sunnyside Drive
8. Heart of a Slave
9. A Bed of My Own
10. You Were There
12. Modern Age
13. Tomorrow Forever
14. The Hour That the Ship Comes In (Live in Buffalo, NY 6/11/11)
15. Love Me Good & Plain
16. All We Need
18. Little Boy
19. Starting Over
21. The Only Living Boy in New York
22. Somewhere Down the Road