1 New Book, 8 Is Not Enough, and 10 More Songs! (part 5 of 10)

So, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter you might know that I have a new book that came out Tuesday. If you aren’t sick of saying so, then perhaps I am not doing my job guerrilla marketing enough. So I may as well add a blog post about the book before I get to the 5th group of 10 songs in my top 100 list.

The Book: WWE 100 Greatest Matches. I got to be part of some amazing books during my seven years working at WWE. (Hell, I got to be part of a few amazing wrestling books before my time at WWE. The three books I did at Sports Publishing LLC probably helped me get the WWE gig in the first place.) While I did write one book while working at corporate (10 Count Trivia) and contributed to several others, this is the first book I wrote solo. We solicited authors, wwe.com contributors, Superstars, and more to get a vast range of opinions of the greatest matches in WWE history. I built the list of 100 using these lists as a guide. For each match, I then rewatched them a few times, and wrote about the leadup to the match, the match action, and then the aftermath. Each match is a two-page spread accompanied by several awesome photographs from the WWE library. I also was super lucky, because Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, who’s match with Macho Man Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania III was a no-brainer addition to the list, wrote the introduction, giving the book’s authoring team some much needed star power.

Are you already interested? The book should be at your local Barnes & Noble in the sports section, or you can order it from Amazon Here!

Cover

The reviews: Still not convinced that this should top your summer reading list? How about some awesome reviews that really stoked my ego at a time that my self-esteem could use the boost. Here’s one and here’s another! The real kicker is that WWE even made a video promo for the book. If you ask me honestly, the WWE Encyclopedia is still the project I am most proud of working on, but this is pretty darn close.

The real heroes: Other than my involvement, what is the primary similarity between my new book and the Encyclopedia? The editors, designers, production team of DK/Brady/Prima. I’ve worked in the publishing industry for decades, so I already knew of the magic Rube Goldberg  machine that took text to finished product, but it’s even more stunning when it’s my crappy words that get turned into a spectacular visual product.

I am sure I won’t continue to bring up this book–hopefully, I will soon have another project to announce and I can move on. Worst case scenario, it’s only 3 to 300 more blogs tied to the book. But let’s make this one a best seller in the meantime by buying this book for dads, moms, brothers, sisters, your letter carrier, Seth Green, Bill Simmons, that lady who lives down the street–it’s the perfect gift for anyone.

Back to my music list and the reason for the music list in the first place–listening while exercising. My previous blog, Renewing My Fitbit Vows (part 4 of 10), mentioned that I was back to hitting my 11,000 step, 5.5 mile goal–with 5 straight days. I am now on an 8-day streak, although upping it to 9 will be a challenge, as we are driving to North Carolina tomorrow for a First Communion weekend.

  • Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)–Miami Sound Machine
  • No Myth–Michael Penn
  • Heroes–David Bowie
  • Hip Hop Is Dead–Nas (featuring Will.I.Am)
  • Rapper’s Delight–Sugarhill Gang
  • And She Was–Talking Heads
  • Let’s Go Crazy–Prince
  • I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)–Hercules Soundtrack
  • Crazy For You–Madonna
  • Us and Them–Pink Floyd

I always thought a “Guilty Pleasure” album featuring acclaimed music acts doing covers of  songs you wouldn’t expect them to perform would be a great concept album. If I was such an artist,  I have no doubt that Miami Sound’s Machine’s “Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)” would be my contribution to the project. I’ve always had a soft spot for soft rock. I love Air Supply for example, but I did not put any of their songs on my 100. There is another song that represents this side of my personality to come, but there is no guiltier pleasure than this Gloria Estefan number. The other candidate from this batch is the romantic song from the animated movie Hercules. This song was already on my list, but then my daughter made me love it even more by using it for a college film project.

For a long time, Michael Penn was the ultimate one-hit wonder as I absolutely adored “No Myth” from the first time I heard it. “What if I was Romeo in black jeans?” is a question I can hear sung any time and it makes me smile. The driving chords from the acoustic guitar are also so distinctive. But I had not heard another song from Penn, the brother of actors Sean and Chris Penn, since (by the way, that seems like a brutally talented trio of siblings–what are my kids going to do to match that? No pressure!) But 12 years later, Penn performed a duet with the incredible Aimee Mann (his wife and the former lead singer of ‘Til Tuesday) of the Beatles song “Two of Us” for the I Am Sam soundtrack. (I cannot recommend the movie at all, but the soundtrack is definately worth owning.) That’s a song  that just missed this list.

The two music giants that we lost this year are represented on this group of ten. I had already talked in some detail about Prince in the blog entry Royal Discography but David Bowie was another crushing loss in 2016. Like Prince, I do not ever remember a time in my life when Bowie wasn’t cool. He was making his “comeback” so to speak in 1983 when I first started really paying attention to music.  His three hits from the Let’s Dance album were mainstays on American Top 40 that year, and they are such incredible songs to sing along with anytime they play on the radio. Loving those songs inspired me to work backwards on his catalog, and I was so delighted to discover his earlier work. Again, any number of songs could make a favorites list, but “Heroes” is theone that makes the cut for me.

I am glad that the premise of the Nas song that makes my list, “Hip Hop is Dead,” is decidedly not true. Not only is this a song that I love hearing any time it comes up, but often I have to tilt the randomness of my ipod by specifically selecting the song to play. The sampling of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is inspired and the wordplay on the song about the commercialization of the genre is fantastic. I can’t say I am a hip-hop/rap expert, but I have loved having it in my life back to the days of “Rapper’s Delight.” I remember being obsessed with that song in 1980. I was in fifth grade and I would constantly rap the lyrics anywhere and everywhere. I have a lasting memory of (I thought) quietly doing them at my school desk and the girl sitting in front of me turning around and hissing the request that I please shut up.

My favorite band for years was the Talking Heads. They were my first real break from Top 40 music, even if “Burning Down the House” was a top ten hit. Seeing the concert movie Stop Making Sense as well as listening to “And She Was” and the rest of the Little Creatures album did it for me. Not seeing them in concert was one of my great musical regrets. I am not proud to finally admit that the only reason I started to listening to them in the first place was to impress a woman. I was a bus boy in high school and Danielle, two years older than me, was a big fan of the band. I wanted to impress her, so I started listening to their music to have something to discuss. While my initial reasons were not pure, I loved what I heard and they remain a favorite of mine. In fact, another song will be coming as well as a song featuring David Byrne.

The first of two Madonna songs to make my list was the absolute greatest slow dance songs from my high school years. We used to have dances in our church basement, and my friend Aaron and I would DJ them (this is not to say we were DJs in the way people DJ now–we just played one song after another and would come up with idiotic prizes for dance contests–thank god cameras were not so ubiquitous back then–I would not liked to have seen my moves preserved on  YouTube for the rest of my life. But “Crazy for You” was an excellent tune to slow dance to if you could convince a girl to do so. Looking back, it is amazing I ever got anyone to do so. I was a dork back then, not the dashing and suave hero I am now.

Finally, my love of pop music, American Top 40 (or more specifically Billboard  magazine charts), numbers, and records intersected with the amazing fact that Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd spent more than a decade on the Top 200 album charts. Don’t get me wrong–like all white American middle schoolers, I eventually got into Pink Floyd and love that album, as well as the song “Us and Them” in particular. But that is just an amazing number–more than 700 weeks and 15 years on the chart. I’d settle for 700 readers or 15 straight Fitbit goal days in a row.

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“Falling” back into a routine

I can’t believe that I have been completely ignoring this blog recently–what is it, the emotional needs of my family? I have been going to the gym, or exercising at all, less often recently. I’ve had the usual excuses–bad weather, trying to launch a freelance business while continuing to desperately search for a full-time position, on the run from shadowy government organizations–I know, I know, if you had $1 for each person with that troika of problems, you would be swimming in candy.

But as my birthday approaches, I need to get back into the good habits of working out. So last night, after an excellent St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage (I don’t think I need to tell you that beef is my favorite of the corned dishes, crushing corned chicken, corned lamb, corned corn, with only corned candy coming close), my son and I hit the gym for a little exercise time!

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

3.30 miles on the eliptical machine

  • Fallin’–Alicia Keys
  • Fallin’ Apart–The All-American Rejects
  • Fallin’ for You–Colbie Callat
  • Falling–Angelo Badalamenti
  • Falling for the First Time–Barenaked Ladies
  • Falling for the First Time–Barenaked Ladies
  • Falling in Love (Live)–Lisa Loeb
  • Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)–Miami Sound Machine
  • Fallout–Linkin Park
  • Falls to Climb–R.E.M.
  • The Fame–Lady Gaga
  • Fame (’90 Remix)–David Bowie
  • Fame < Infamy–Fallout Boy
  • Family Friend–The Vaccines

I have not picked up any of Alicia Keys’ recent albums (and certainly none since she started adding her branding AK logo to them), but I do enjoy “Songs in a Minor” which I picked up well over a decade ago. Not to get all contemplative on you (although it will happen when one is so close to a birthday), but it kind of blows my mind when I see that someone like Alicia has been releasing albums for more than 10 years–she seems like an impressive new artist to me, as opposed to a season veteran of the industry, which is a far more apt description. The All-American Rejects fall into that category for me as well. I think “what a great new band! I really like that new Move Along album, ignorant to the fact (willfully in all probability) that the album was released eight years ago. In a weird way, the Colbie Callat song “Falling for You” hits me in the opposite direction. I know it’s a newer song, but to me, it sounds like it is the opening theme of a workplace romantic sitcom that aired in the 80’s. I don’t mean that as an insult–I enjoy sitcoms and the 80s.

Speaking of the 80’s (or 1990, to be exact), hearing any of Angelo Badalamenti’s compositions take me back to college when Twin Peaks was on the air. I don’t think fans of today’s serial dramas appreciate the debt dramas of the last decade, like Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Horror Story, and more, owe to Twin Peaks. The show was appointment television, particularly that first season, and Badalamenti’s haunting music helped set the show’s tone. It’s certainly jarring to then move to the Barenaked Ladies, so it was nice to have two versions of the song (studio album and greatest hits) to really complete the tonal shift.

My family owns a number of CDs–many came from my collection, some came from my wife, and my kids have added quite a few over the years as well. The rarest category of CDs is the “I have no idea where these came from” offerings, and the Lisa Loeb “Falling in Love” single comes from one of theose–a live CD from Lilith Fair (to be more accurate, disc one of a two-disc live CD collection from Lilith Fair, although to make things even more confusing, we only seem to have the first disc). I’m not sure where we got it, but I do enjoy several of the tracks on the album, as well as studio albums from several of the performers. I think it’s not a confession to admit to enjoying that album as much as it is to admit how much I like the Miami Sound Machine’s “Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)”. I freely admit it is a bit of schmaltzy pop, but I have no problem listening to it (and singing along if no one is around). The Linkin Park song comes from an album that my kids added to the collection. I am not trying to deflect blame–I enjoy some Linkin Park. I just thought you might want to know.

My children are also the Lady Gaga fans, although I have been know to embarrass the kids by singing along to one or two of her catchier numbers. So I may enjoy the music of Lady Gaga, I would take Bowie’s “Fame” over her’s on any day of the week. It’s not a complete wash for her though, as I find her “Fame” far superior to the Irene Cara title song from the movie and TV show (I am not sure if Cara’s version made it into the recently remade movie, I would guess not. More importantly, seeing that if I asked 100 people on the street who sang the title track to the 80’s movie Fame, the over/under on correct guesses would be, what 5, I have to dispute Ms. Cara’s assertion that she is “gonna live forever…”

Fallout Boy was responsible for a great deal of excitement, bitter disappointment, jubilation, bitter disappointment, and finally relief in our house over the last month or so. Please allow me to explain. My oldest daughter absolutely loves Fallout Boy and was so excited to learn than not only were they releasing a new album, they planned to tour to support the album, with several shows planned for cities in our area. The excitement turned sour when she could not get tickets as all of the shows would sell out within a minute of the tickets going on sale. Luckily for her, it was eventually announced that Fall Out Boy would be headlining a festival in New Jersey and she, her brother, and a friend were all able to get tickets. This led to my bitter disappointment as I thought I would be driving them to an all-day concert at least an hour south of New York city, and would have to kill time down there in order to avoid two round trips. However, they are riding with someone else, so the relief was mine–I hope they enjoy the show.

The last song comes from the Vaccines debut album. I believe I’ve pumped up the group in the past, but if I haven’t let me recommend them here. They’ve got a great and raw garage band sound, and I am looking forward to more from the group in the future.

 

Where’s Waldo? (Exercising Dean Edition)

I have been horrible about updating this blog recently. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, for the first half of the month of September, my updating became horribly spotty, but I was still regularly exercising. So again, less than one month after I did a massive song list entry to clean out the queue, I’ve built things back up again (I am in the “Do’s, a bit of distance from today’s “Devil…”-starting list.) But at least I was still getting in gym time and that is the primary goal of this undertaking. But over the last week and a half, the gym time has started to fade (not completely disappear,just down to 3 times a week as opposed to 5 or 6). I’d argue that at least it slowed down the buildup in my song queue, but as I just stated, the first goal is to exercise, so this is bad, not good. If I’m looking for reasons why this happened, I’d probably point to my continued search for my next job. Although it’s probably better to categorize that as an excuse and not a reason. Calling it an excuse can push me to overcome it. Or at least, that’s the October plan!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3.28 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Devil in the Wishing Well–Five for Fighting
  • Devil Inside–INXS
  • Devil Song–Camper Van Beethoven
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia–The Charlie Daniels Band
  • Devils & Dust–Bruce Springsteen
  • Devotion–Indigo Girls
  • Dharma Lady–Geronimo Jackson
  • Dial Up–Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
  • Diamond Dogs–David Bowie
  • Diamonds in the Rough–Social Distortion
  • Diamonds and Pearls–Prince
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes–Paul Simon

The “Devil…” wasn’t done with me on Labor Day weekend, as Satan appeared on five final songs, starting with the Five for Fighting’s “Devil in the Wishing Well”. I think it’s a fair assumption that if the Devil got caught in a well, townspeople wouldn’t be lining up to save him–they’d probably leave him down there, unlike when a child gets caught in the well. Now if it’s a child devil, people might want to help, even if they knew the identity of the child. (Like when Bart got caught in the well in an early episode of The Simpsons (if I remember right, Sting was a guest voice that week, contributing to a benefit song for the “boy stuck in the well, halfway down to hell”. Of the remaining four “Devil…” numbers, my favorite is the INXS number, but far and away, the most iconic selection is from the Charlie Daniels band. I have to say a solid-gold fiddle would come in handy right now. I wonder how much the “Cash for Gold” mall stores would give for one of those–it probably would cover several month of living expenses, even with the addition of COBRA.

After the Boss and the perennially underrated Indigo Girls, I got a blast from my TV-watching past with “Dharma Lady”, a song and musical group (Geronimo Jackson) created for the show Lost. The song isn’t bad, particularly considering that it was free on iTunes, and it was always entertaining listening to the show’s creators try and convince the world that the band was real, an obscure ’70’s act that broke up after an album or two. Maybe twenty years down the road, people will again think the band is real, or at least as real as Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. After all, which of the two sounds more like a made-up band name?

The riches continue after Charlie Daniel’s golden fiddle, as I then hit a cluster of “diamond…” song, and a strong quartet at that. David Bowie tracks are just intrinsically cool, and worth repeated listens, and frankly I would also put the music of Social Distortion and Prince in the same category. I was always partial to “Diamonds and Pearls” by his royal purpleness as well. It has always been one of my favorite ballads by Prince.  The list ended with a strong number from Paul Simon’s Graceland album, a release that if it doesn’t make my desert-island discs list, is certainly in the honorable mention section.

A son ten years older than the father?

BBoy am I getting behind on this thing–I am going to have to pull some all-nighters to get back on schedule! Well, I’m also going to give a bit of the short shrift to the songs that I heard the week of July 9th–when I get to them I think you’ll completely understand. Meanwhile, I hit the gym to make up for lost missing car time.

Friday, July 7, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Cheyenne Anthem–Kansas
  • Chicago Is So Two Years Ago–Fall Out Boy
  • Child In Time–Deep Purple
  • Child Star–Ron Sexsmith
  • Child’s Play–WWE
  • Childhood Memories–Iris DeMent
  • Childhood Remembered–Danny Elfman
  • Children Go Where I Send Thee–Natalie Merchant
  • Children of the Dark–Richard Thompson + Danny Thompson
  • Children Play with Earth–Arrested Development
  • Chimes of Freedom–Bob Dylan
  • Chimes of Freedom [live]–Bob Dylan

Boy isn’t “Anthem” a correct (if a bit pretentious) term when describing a Kansas song? Their songs are so sweeping and over the top–I can only take them a bit at a time and then I’m all set for quite a while (and my wife is just like me, except she can do just fine with no Kansas and then she’d be all set.) Speaking of pretentious, if the song title is long, overinvolved, too clever for its own good, and possibly not actually tied to the song itself, then you’ve probably got yourself a Fall Out Boy song. The funny thing is that I like their music; I just don’t get the titles. My list then swung back to 70s power rock with a Deep Purple track. Back in the 70s, when I wasn’t a big listener of music, I do remember hearing “Smoke on the Water” quite a bit, but that was the extent of my Deep Purple knowledge.

While my Ron Sexsmith knowledge is equally shallow, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve heard from the two albums a friend gave my wife years ago. “Child’s Play” is one of my least favorite WWE Entrance themes, as I never was the biggest fan of the Eugene character. It almost feels like Iris DeMent and Danny Elfman should combine the next two songs, as “Childhood Memories Remembered” makes a lot of sense, although seeing that Elfman’s piece is from the first Batman movie, and probably refers to Bruce Wayne thinking about the brutal murder of his parents, perhaps DeMent would like to stay as far away from that childhood as possible. Iris is probably a better match for the next artist, Natalie Merchant. (After all, Natalie did cover DeMent’s “Let The Mystery Be”.) Here, Merchant is contributing one of my favorite underrated Christmas songs.

The children’s section wraps up with songs from Richard and Danny Thompson and Arrested Development, both of which (I thought) have an extra touch of irony on the kid’s front. I was prepared to discuss how Danny is the son of Richard Thompson, and it’s nice to see him performing with his father, but actual research taught me that Danny is not related to Richard (and is actually 10 years older!) So thank God for research! The second “Child..” song, “Children Play With Earth” is from the Christian rap group Arrested Development, which is of course a great childhood term. My list closed with two versions of “Chimes of Freedom”, one of which closes the 4-disc Dylan tribute set we’ve been listening to often recently.

Saturday, July 8, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper-body weight work at the gym

  • China Girl–David Bowie
  • China Girl–David Bowie
  • China Girl–David Bowie
  • Chinese Democracy–Guns ‘N Roses
  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)–The Chipmunks
  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)–The Chipmunks
  • Chiquitita–ABBA
  • Chiron–All That Remains
  • Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns–Mother Love Bone
  • Chop Me Up–Justin Timberlake Feat. Timberland & Three-6 Mafia
  • Chop Suey!–System of a Down

Well, if you have to hear a song three times in a row when working out, “China Girl” isn’t that bad a candidate to fill the role. As aptly demonstrated in The Wedding Singer (the soundtrack of which produced one of the versions today), it’s a great song to sing along with, but I wouldn’t recommend doing in on an elliptical machine at the gym–people give you the strangest looks. The other interesting note on the three versions of the song is that even though they are all studio cuts, and none are extended mix versions or anything like that, each has a different song length, and while there’s only a 4-second difference between the two compilation versions, the one from Bowie’s greatest hits is 1:12 shorter–I guess he was in a hurry to get to his other classic songs.

Like many Guns ‘N Roses fans, I was so excited when they finally released Chinese Democracy, the title track of which came next. And don’t get me wrong, it is great to have Axl back in my musical life. But I think the band should have a different name, as Axl without Slash doesn’t feel like GnR. But I was pining for more from that album after having to hear the Chipmunk’s signature song twice. I do have two thoughts on this group. First of all, the Chipmunks sound awesome when you’re a kid, but one of the first signs of growing up is when you realize just how grating their songs are. Second, if the Department of Child Services also covered animated talking chipmunks, I think I’d feel obligated to call them to investigate David. He just sounds evil when pushing the boys to pay attention, sing their songs, and sing them RIGHT!

ABBA is definitely a “Greatest Hits only” band (.45 on the Simple Minds Scale), and I wasn’t even aware that “Chiquitita” was one of their biggest international hits–I honestly thought it was a song about a banana. All That Remains is a band my son likes–they’re frankly not for me. The Mother Love Bone song is great and of course two members of the band went on to form Pearl Jam, so I was probably predisposed to like the song. I also enjoyed the two songs that closed the list as Timberlake is always quality music and the System of a Down song is goofy and fun as well.

Twin gym times two

So after two days of taking my daughter to the gym and one day of bringing my son, I knew there’d be days when both wanted to go with me. However, with my gym membership, I can only take one guest at a time, so what to do? The solution that keeps them exercising and is best for my health–two gym visits! So far, it’s only happened once (today), but it led to almost six miles of elliptical work for me! It also led to a real sense of pride in my kids–exercising for the sake of exercise is not something I did enough in my teen years, and if I had, I might not have the fitness hill to climb. (Although my devotion to eating extremely large portions of bad food wasn’t the smartest decision either!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

2.5 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Champagne Supernova–matt pond PA
  • Champagne Supernova–Oasis
  • Chances–Air Supply
  • The Change–Evanescence
  • Change–Taylor Swift
  • Change–Tears for Fears
  • A Change is Gonna Come–Neville Brothers
  • A Change is Gonna Come–Sam Cooke
  • Change It–Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Change My Needs–Scars on 45
  • Change Of Heart–Cyndi Lauper

Often it’s great to start with a cover of a signature song followed by the original, so you get the “this is how it’s really done” vibe, but matt pond PA does “Champagne Supernova” and Oasis credit. In fact, he does so well that I hope it helps his self confidence enough that he starts using capital letters on the first letters of his name in the band. Listening to the two versions clocked in at almost 15 minutes, taking more than a third of my gym time, and setting the tone for this entire list–soft rock. Almost all of the songs on this list cold easily be played on one of those “lite fm” radio stations. The next song, from Air Supply,  is one of those obvious exceptions (I kid! I kid!) Shameful confession time–in the early 80’s, when I was a young teenager, I really loved Air Supply (I still enjoy their music, but I was a big fan back then–by the way, why do I insist on these embarrassing revelations on this blog? This is a permanent record after all!). My uncle took me to Hershey Park in PA and I was so mad because Air Supply was performing at the park the following week–I was a teenaged boy upset that he was missing an Air Supply concert by a week. What was wrong with me?

Now if I was a teenager now, perhaps Evanescence or Taylor Swift could have played that Air Supply role. Frankly, with the attractive female singers both acts present, that would have been a better choice overall. But these are acts for my youngest daughter, not me. Tears for Fears is my act, and “Change” is a song I don’t think of when I consider their greatest hits, and that’s a shame, as it is an excellent song and it deserves more attention from me–and from you, readers! My opening remark about hearing the cover first and then proceeding to the superior original really hits the mark with the next two songs, and I don’t mean that as a slight to the Neville Brothers; I just don’t think anyone will ever come close to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. There’s a reason it’s such an appropriate close to my Sam Cooke compilation. The song had so much meaning when it first came out, and it continues to be timely.

The last three songs from my afternoon workout started with the blues of Stevie Ray Vaughn, followed by Scars on 45, a group who’s debut album I’m enjoying on a regular basis and who almost assuredly will make an appearance on my best of the year mix CDs I make for relatives at the end of the year. Things close with the pop queen of the 1980’s (non-Madonna and Whitney edition), Cyndi Lauper.

3.2 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Change of Heart–Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • Change of Season–Hall & Oates
  • A Change Would Do You Good–Sheryl Crow
  • Change Your Mind–The All-American Rejects
  • Change Your Mind–Camper Van Beethoven
  • Change Your Mind–The Killers
  • The Changeling–The Doors
  • Changes–David Bowie
  • Changes–Stars
  • Changes–Yes
  • Changes in Lattitude, Changes in Attitude–Jimmy Buffett
  • Changing of the Guards–Gaslight Anthem
  • Channel Z–The B-52’s

After the milder tunes of the first gym visit, it was nice to kick the evening session off with a rocking tune from Tom Petty, particularly when it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs (not my absolute favorite–we won’t be getting to that for another 12-18 months, as it starts with ‘W’–feel free to guess its identity. Hall & Oates was another favorite of mine in the 80’s. I remember starting my new high school and seeing a girl in a Hall & Oates H2O concert shirt and being so jealous that I didn’t get to see them live. I did correct that when a saw them play an acoustic show on Valentine’s Day my senior year in college (dateless, sadly–although at the time, I’m not sure taking a girl to see Hall & Oates on a first date would have led to a second date). It’s amazing the number of hits Sheryl Crow has strung together over the years, and I am a fan of almost all of them, including “A Change Will Do You Good”.

Three distinct artists look to “Change Your Mind”, and what an eclectic trio they are. I think the Killers are the most convincing of the three, but the unique sound of Camper Van Beethoven is an underrated candidate as well. I do think their band name is a classic “trying to hard” example, one that probably sounded like a excellent idea the first time, but got a little less cool each time they heard it (or maybe that’s only how I feel about the name). I enjoy the All-American Rejects “Change Your Mind” the least of the three, but this is an example of three different takes on the same title that I enjoy listening to at any time. Ironically, the same can be said for the three “Changes” songs that followed a little bit later on my list. The Bowie version is the most famous and rightfully so–it belongs on everyone’s iPods in my opinion. The Yes “Changes” is also a fun listen, one of the many hits from their 90125 album (which to this day I far more frequently mistakenly call 90210 for obvious reasons, but hey, I get 4 of the 5 digits right and two in the proper position, so I would get two white pegs and two black pegs if we were playing Mastermind!). The Stars song is undoubtedly the least known of the three, even to me, but I still highly recommend you listen to some of Stars work; you’ll be glad you did.

Between my two sets of three, I got a Doors track and after the second grouping, it was time for Jimmy Buffett. I think I’d enjoy his songs even more if they were performed by Warren Buffett, just to see him with a Hawaiian shirt on. I don’t have anything to add about the Gaslight Anthem song, but I was particularly happy to get another track from the B-52s’ Cosmic Thing album to close my workout.

 

Counting down the top Blue Christmases

I’d like to open with a couple of music recommendations, one free and one that’ll cost ya! First, the free–the free iTunes single of the week is “Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon. I cannot more strongly recommend that you go and grab it–it’s an awesome song. I like it so much that I’m not even that bitter that I paid for it a few weeks back and it’s now free because I got to enjoy it these past few weeks. For the casual music fan, it’s worthwhile to stop at iTunes every week (I promise I’m not an Apple evangelist) and see what the free songs are–I’ve discovered a few new interesting acts that way. The not-so-free recommendation is to head to Best Buy, Amazon, wherever you buy music, and get Billy Bragg & Wilco–Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. I’ve lauded the first CD by this collaboration, but this have three volumes plus a DVD on the making of the music collection. I didn’t even know this existed until I was at the store today, and now I’m so excited to explore the later volumes of this set. If you’re not familiar with the albums, Billy Bragg and Wilco took some unreleased lyrics by Woody Guthrie, set them to new music, and released them. And not only do Billy Bragg and Wilco sing these songs, they have Natalie Merchant performing on them as well.

May 16, 2012

4+ miles walking in the neighborhood to commemorate Red Sox victories #16 and #17 of the 2012 season

  • Blue–R.E.M.
  • Blue–Sarah McLachlin
  • Blue Blue Ocean–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Blue Chair–Elvis Costello
  • Blue Chair–Elvis Costello
  • Blue Chair–Elvis Costello
  • Blue Christmas–Ann & Nancy Wilson
  • Blue Christmas–Glee Cast
  • Blue Christmas–Johnny Cash
  • Blue Christmas–Jon Bon Jovi
  • Blue Chrismas–Sheryl Crow
  • Blue Christmas–Wynonna
  • Blue Collar Man–Styx
  • Blue Eyes Blue–Eric Clapton
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain–Willie Nelson
  • Blue Jay Way–The Beatles
  • Blue Jean–David Bowie
  • Blue Jean Blues–ZZ Top
  • Blue Letter–Fleetwood Mac
  • Blue Minute [demo]–Elvis Costello
  • Blue Monday–New Order
  • Blue Monday (’88)–New Order
  • Blue Moon–Sha-Na-Na
  • Blue Moon of Kentucky–Paul McCartney

I continue to get “Blue” songs after they started on my last list.  While the R.E.M. version is an original composition, the Sarah McLachlin song is a cover of the Joni Mitchell song, giving Sarah two famous covers in the past week or so, following up on “Blackbird.”  I’m finding that each Echo song I hear grows on me, making me wish I’d paid more attention to the band in the 80s, but then again, that would have taken away valuable Hall-and-Oates-listening time (which I will NOT apologize for!). I’m a little embarrassed that I asked my wife her opinion of the Elvis Costello song “Blue Jail” when he was singing “Blue Chair”. To make matters worse, it’s not like I can say it was a simple, one-time mistake, as thanks to her extensive collection of Elvis albums, I heard the song three times in a row–you’d think I would have eventually gotten it right. Perhaps I shouldn’t beat myself up; after all, listening to “Blue Christmas” six times seems like an equitable penance. (And for the record, my preferences were 1. Johnny Cash 2. Ann & Nancy Wilson 3. Sheryl Crow 4. Glee Cast 5. Jon Bon Jovi 6. Wynonna. And not that I want a seventh version, but it seems odd to not own the Elvis Presley version of the song.

An interesting pairing of songs came next, as the first, “Blue Collar Man” is a song that is definitively Styx, while “Blue Eyes Blue” doesn’t feel like an Eric Clapton song–the sappy ballad feels more like an Eric Carmen number. It’s probably not a well-known selection from his canon as I got it from the soundtrack to the Runaway Bride (in my defense, I only borrowed it from the library for the Dixie Chicks cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love”, but ended up keeping all the songs because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a digital hoarder). I don’t often look to the music of Willie Nelson as a first choice, but there’s something soothing and enjoyable about his work.

I’ve known some hardcore Beatles fans throughout my life, and if you were truly a Beatlemaniac, wouldn’t you attempt to live on Blue Jay Way (I mean Penny Lane is way too obvious.) Actually, some real estate developer should create the ultimate Beatles subdivision with parks named Strawberry Fields and Norwegian Wood, a playground named Octopus’s Garden, charge a premium saying it’s the ultimate homes for the ultimate Beatles fans–they could sell out a subdivision, right? I liked “Blue Jean” as a followup to the Bowie hits from Let’s Dance, and it can be strange to reconcile that the band that released “Blue Jean Blues” is the same that gave the world the Eliminator album, but that’s growth, right?

I know when it comes to Fleetwood Mac and the mid-to-late 70s, Rumours is universally accepted as their pinnacle release, but I prefer the previous album, Fleetwood Mac. I enjoy every song, including today’s entry “Blue Letter”. I will admit that I can’t imagine what it was like to be a fan of the band’s previous lineup and then to get this new sound and direction once Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came on board. But from a commercial standpoint, it was clearly a successful shift. The Elvis demo was a bonus track on a remastered CD, and then I got two different versions of “Blue Monday”, with the first coming from the Wedding Singer (my favorite Adam Sandler comedy) soundtrack and the second being an updated version of the track from a greatest hits compilation.

Thanks to the Grease soundtrack, I own Sha-Na-Na songs, including “Blue Moon”. I never was a big fan of the group, and I even remember actively disliking them as a child, particularly when I would want to watch some TV after school and their show was on the local UHF station (the only non-network Soap Opera choice back then in the days before cable) as opposed to something I’d prefer like cartoons or The Monkees. For a minute I thought the last song on the list was a secret double song, as after McCartney plays “Blue Moon of Kentucky” he launches right into “We Can Work It Out”. However, he halts realizing that he screwed up the lyrics and jokes about it with the crowd, pointing out that he can restart, and then the song ends because his singing it the right way is its own track, one I won’t hear for a year and a half.

Adding a European Correspondent

Well, the reporter is headed for Europe, but we won’t have reports, anecdotes, and stories filed with the blog for a week or so.  My oldest daughter is on a one-week trip with her classmates to Ireland, Wales, and England.  As a parent, I am proud that she made this happen through her own hard work, excited that she will experience new countries (including two I’ve never visited), and nervous about her on her own (and that extra viewing of Taken sure didn’t help on that front). In order to take my mind off her travels, I hit the gym, and I’m already planning a bonus 2-mile walk tomorrow morning for the Sox (although the Ellsbury injury is brutal–tomorrow’s starting outfield will be filled with guys that the Mets point at and laugh about).

April 13, 2012

3.42 miles on the elliptical plus upper-body weight work at the gym

  • As The Disco Ball Turns–The Tom Tom Club
  • As Ugly As I Seem–The White Stripes
  • Ashes in the Fall–Rage Against the Machine
  • Ashes of American Flags–Wilco
  • Ashes to Ashes–David Bowie
  • Aside–The Wonder Years
  • Ask–The Smiths
  • Ass Man (The Billy Gunn Theme)—WWE
  • Assassin–Muse
  • Assassin–Muse
  • At Different Times–Ron Sexsmith
  • At Last–Robert Cray Band
  • At Last (The Christian Theme)–WWE
  • At My Most Beautiful–R.E.M.
  • At My Window Sad And Lonely–Billy Bragg & Wilco
  • At The Zoo–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Athena–The Who

At first I felt I had to like the Tom Tom Club because I loved the Talking Heads (sort of like when your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc. introduces you to one of their siblings or cousins and even though you find them a little off-putting, you have to like them for the sake of your loved one. But then something happens when you spend more time with them–they’re actually kind of awesome to the point that seeing them is a highlight of crappy holidays). Like that, I found myself buying more of the Tom Tom Club’s catalogue and enjoying it greatly, like “As The Disco Ball Turns”.

I have to admit to confusion concerning the whole worked controversy about the relationship between the White Stripes Jack and Meg White. Isn’t that gimmick the kind of thing you do if you’re not talented and therefore need the attention? Most everything Jack White does rocks, so he should have let his work stand on its own merits. Speaking of things that Rock, there’s nothing like the raw anger of everything on the Battle of Los Angeles album.

Just as I found the White Stripes and Rage Against the Machine to be excellent back-to-back musical partners, hearing Wilco followed by David Bowie was an enjoyable double, particularly when you lead with a track fromYankee Foxtrot Hotel. The Bowie “Ashes to Ashes” comes from a greatest hits CD, as does the next song from the Smiths. I purchased that CD last year with a birthday gift card, and I am so glad I did. The Smiths were a band I ignored during their heyday, and I’m now sorry I did.

Two of my next six songs were WWE theme songs–please don’t judge me, even though they are two of the worst theme songs ever. Ironically, I think the Christian one is worse because there’s something inherently goofy about a man singing “I’m an ass man!” in an earnest manner. And Billy Gunn was a bad singles wrestler, so he deserved a bad entrance song. Christian, on the other hand, was (and continues to be) a phenomenal talent and should not have been saddled with that song for even a day.

Another fun pairing with Muse (pretending I only had one version of the song) with Ron Sexsmith, as I think they are both artists with fervent fan bases who constantly wonder why their favorite artist isn’t loved by all. Then I got more Robert Cray blues and R.E.M.

Thanks to “At My Window Sad and Lonely” I’ve been given the excellent opportunity to remind you how awesome Mermaid Avenue is. Luckily I have 13 more chances to hip you to this fact, but you really should act on it now and buy this album. You won’t regret it. I got to close today with two lesser hits from favorite acts, including Simon & Garfunkel’s “At the Zoo” and “Athena” by the Who. Here’s where I could have taken advantage of my European correspondent. I’d tell my UK-bound daughter to report on Leeds or the childhood home of John Entwhistle, but the school thinks visiting the home of William Shakespeare is more important.

I don’t get it either…