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Trampled By Turtles fans weigh in on the band's best songs

Trampled By Turtles plays Saturday at Bayfront Festival Park. 2015 file/News Tribune

Codeine, codeine, it's the nicest thing you've ... heard. In an informal poll of strangers, friends, colleagues and Twitter-heads, it's a song from Trampled By Turtles' 2005 album "Blue Sky and the Devil" that is seemingly fans' top pick.

It's not just Ryan Nelson's favorite — it's the first Trampled song he ever heard.

"I was real new to the scene, and it was the first song that could be played on their MySpace page. MySpace," said Nelson, drummer for The Farsights. "That was how I got a chance to listen to local bands as I was slowly getting my skateboard-shoe clad foot in the door."

The Duluth-formed band returns for a show that includes Bad Bad Hats, Charlie Parr, The Last Revel, Superior Siren and Teague Alexy Band on Saturday at Bayfront Festival Park. It's the first mega show back at their point of origin — and the return of a summer gig that had for a while been a mainstay on the harborside venue's calendar. They played an unscheduled, sorta secret, at-capacity show at Pizza Luce during Homegrown Music Festival. But that was for a mere couple hundred.

Since then, Trampled By Turtles released "Life is Good on the Open Road" and has been touring.

As for picks by other musicians, Gabriel Douglas of 4onthefloor offered up his personal rankings via Twitter: "'Midnight on the Interstate,' followed by 'Codeine,' followed by 'The Middle' followed by 'The Good Land.'"

Let's talk about Duluth

Duluth loves Duluth, right? Local music fan-pilot-writer-outdoors enthusiast Eric Chandler said he loves all the songs that mention Duluth, including "Duluth."

"But the song that gets me is 'Bloodshot Eyes,'" he said. "Perfectly captures how lost and lonely you can feel sometimes. The last lines just slay me every single time: 'And lie on the earth / for better or worse / let it swallow you whole.' Every damn time. Even while I was typing it."

But you don't have to be from Duluth to love a Duluth reference. Minneapolis journalist Michael Russo of The Athletic and co-host of the "The Russo-Souhan Show," picked "Winners."

"It depicts Duluth perfectly and beautifully at the end. He also lets me use it at the end of my podcasts," he said, referring to singer-songwriter Dave Simonett.

Russo's talking about the lines: "Pretty little city built on a hillside / Music in the bars and fire in the sky / We went to the beach and it was covered in ice / And I used to call it home."

And it's no surprise it plays on the podcast. Simonett leans super-sporty.

Those words, though

Speaking of lyrics: Trampled-ites are a word-minded folk. Beverly Godfrey, this reporter's editor, picks "Alone." She likes the way it starts simply, then builds on itself. It reminds her of how often she will feel one emotion, only to have it shift into another. The lyrics, she said, are sparse, but there is a lot of meaning packed into it.

"Something little can happen that snowballs, layers of complicated wants, needs, thoughts and feelings piling up," she said. "When that happens, I think it's good to strip everything down, figure out what's really important. That's what I see in this song, a message that's sad but undeniably true, reminding us to hold on to the people we love."

For Brooks Johnson, an investigative reporter at the News Tribune, it's "Victory."

"Simple melody and soaring fiddle work that parts the clouds, with some help from lines like, 'Your light in the windowpane said come on in,'" he said.

Jimmy Gilligan of Duluth said the band's best line of all time is in the lesser known song "Like An Empty House": "Don't you tell me honey that your heart is mine / Just tell me how to make it last."

For Gilligan, Trampled By Turtles plays music that is best enjoyed on the way to an adventure — especially this song. He's into Erik Berry's "smooth mandolin stylings" and how the lyrics aren't all sunshine and rainbows, but also the real and the ugly, he said.

"And (Simonett) sings them so beautifully," Gilligan said. "I think this is one of the best examples of their solemn, ethereal sound that's just so catchy."

But what about no lyrics

For as many people who have found lyrics that resonate, Mike Novitzki of The Local Current's Duluth chapter, likes one with no words at all: "Sounds Like a Movie," from Palomino.

"(It) starts out insanely fast and accelerates to a simply unfathomable speed," he said. "They've played it at every show I've been to since the release of that album in 2010. It usually comes at about the halfway point of the performance, really showcases each individual member's mastery of their craft, and signifies to the crowd that playtime is over and s— is about to get real.

"Most people think it's just an improvisational breakdown and forget it's an actual song, but it really kicks the evening into high gear."

Full coverage

While they have plenty of original material to mine, it can't be ignored that Trampled can kill a cover — whether it's the Pixies' "Where is My Mind" or Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" or some Grateful Dead.

The band went live on Facebook with a Tom Petty cover the day after his death. No preamble, just the cracking-open of cans and then they filed into the room and began playing "Wildflowers" — which later ended up on a limited edition album.

It's Breanne Tepler's current pick.

"It was what so many of us needed in those early stages of grief," said Tepler, who fronts Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners. "I could listen to that on repeat all day. I hope they play it on Saturday."

Speaking of Saturday, it's the memory of a past concert that sticks with Duluthian Joel Wuorio.

"When they closed with 'Whiskey' at Bayfront a few years ago is still my all-time favorite live music experience," he said via Twitter.

If you go

What: Trampled By Turtles, Bad Bad Hats, Charlie Parr, The Last Revel, Superior Siren, Teague Alexy Band

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bayfront Festival Park

Tickets: $25; Available at etix.com or the gate. Younger than 12 are free.

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