In Some Particular Order (part 1 of 10)

I’ve enjoyed expanding the topical reach of this blog, but I also liked last weekend’s column where I pontificated about Prince songs throughout the years after listening to a playlist of them. It was a throwback to the original point of this blog, where I was going through all my family’s music in alphabetical order by song title. I actually got pretty far into it before life got in the way of constant exercise and constant posts. Now I am back to exercising–particularly thanks to my Fitbit as nothing is more frustrating that looking at the number of steps I have on a particular day and thinking how far I am from 10,000 steps/5 miles. But I use my iPhone as my electronic workout buddy, and it is harder to fit music on it, forcing me to be a bit more selective in my choices.

However, one playlist that is a staple on my phone is DEAN100. This is a list I created of my 100 favorite songs of all time. It’s the kind of idea that starts off easily enough–50-70 songs absolutely have to go on it. Then as the remaining number of slots dwindle, difficult choices have to be made. However, once I settled on the 100, it has remained solid. I think there was only 1 or 2 changes due to me remembering a song I had completely forgotten. One quick note–there was no limit on the number of songs from a particular artist or album. I never understand these types of artificial constraints on these lists. If you are picking the 10 greatest movies of all time, and want 5 of the Fast & Furious films there, go for it! So several artists are represented more than once.

I also started to put them in order 1-100. This proved to be a frustrating experience, and once I realized that I listen to my list in shuffle, I decided it was pointless. However, my top 10 or so did stay up high, so seeing that I will be walking through the list in groups of 10 starting from the bottom, my absolute favorites will only appear at the end of this–properly building up your anticipation. So this batch is not 91-100 by any stretch of the imagination, just the first group.

  • My Way–Frank Sinatra
  • Secret Separation–The Fixx
  • Don’t Answer Me–The Alan Parsons Project
  • The Magic Number–De La Soul
  • Head Over Heels–The Go Go’s
  • (Keep Feeling) Fascination–The Human League
  • Do You Believe in Love?–Huey Lewis & The News
  • Slip Slidin’ Away–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Nuthin’ But a “G” Thing–Dr. Dre Featuring Snoop Dog
  • Word Up!–Cameo

My father died in a car accident when I was seven years old, so my memories of him are spotty at best. One of the things I never really knew about him was his pop-culture touchstones. What movies did he like? What TV shows did he try not to ever miss? (Well, I can guess that there was almost nothing on that second list as he was a bartender so he tended to work nights, and this was before one recorded shows with a VCR, let alone DVR.) I do remember him liking certain hymns at church (“Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “Go Forth” in particular) and I remember being told “My Way” by Frank Sinatra was his favorite song. For this simple reason, I always had an affinity for the song, and I purchased a Sinatra CD to make sure I could always listen to it. Before I bought the CD, the only Frank Sinatra song I owned was his duet of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” with Cyndi Lauper on A Very Special Christmas 2.

I mentioned having to tweak my 100 list a couple of times because of a sudden realization that I had forgotten a song. The first one of those was “Secret Separation” by the Fixx. I think I’d even put a different Fixx song on the list–“Stand or Fall.” I even listened to it on the list once or twice before realizing I meant to include a different Fixx song–“Oh yeah! Secret Separation!” These both come from the same CD, and the only Fixx album I own, React. I had purchased it thinking it was a greatest hits album, not knowing it was a live album until I got it home. I kept it, as their live versions of all their songs are pretty great.

I am hoping this blog is a safe space, one where I can freely admit to some potentially embarrassing choices without being mocked too badly. I would think that having “Don’t Answer Me” is possibly a choice like that. My first encounter with the Alan Parsons Project was winning a 45 of “Eye in the Sky” at a Bar Mitzvah, but it was “Don’t Answer Me” that really caught my ear. It also caught my eye, as the goofy animated video was a favorite of mine as well.

De La Soul came into my life during my year of graduate school as a friend had Three Feet High and Rising on cassette and played it fairly constantly in his car. The album is entertaining beginning to end, but the group’s tribute to Schoolhouse Rock is my favorite track. Years later, I tried to buy the album on iTunes or at a store, but could not find it anywhere. Luckily it was available on Amazon.com, so now the CD is a proud part of my collection. It even came with a second disc of rare tracks and outtakes.

Seeing that I started listening to Top 40 music on the radio in the 1980’s and seeing that 80’s music is awesome, it should come as no surprise that my 100 list has a significant number of 80’s tracks and groups represented, including the next three songs. I figured most people would pick one of “We Got the Beat”, “Our Lips Are Sealed”, or “Vacation” if asked to name their favorite Go Go’s song, but for me it’s “Head Over Heels” and it’s not even close. (Side note–when the Go Go’s reunited and toured in 1991, I got to see them play in Boston. I went with someone from my college, but she was joyless at the show, refusing to sing along or dance to the music. Meanwhile, about five rows in front of me were other friends who I did not know would be at the show and they were having a great time with audience participation. To this day, I wish I had gone with them.) I remember loving “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” when I first heard it back in 1983, and it has remained one of my favorite songs ever since. Finally, I was a Huey Lewis fan, owning both Picture This and Sports on cassette back in the day, but their first chart hit is the one that has most stuck with me.

The second live song in this initial group comes from the famous Simon & Garfunkel concert in Central Park. (Spoiler alert–this will not be the only appearance of a song on this list, but you will have to wait to the final group–my top 10–before you see them again. I have always said that I think Paul Simon continued to write Simon & Garfunkel songs for the first decade after the duo broke up, and “Slip Slidin’ Away” is a perfect example. The Paul Simon version of the song is good enough, but when he performs it with Art Garfunkel, it becomes transcendent. It just sounds like it was written specifically for their combined vocal styles. To be fair, this may be true of all music and not just 70’s Paul Simon.

My relationship with West Coast rap got off to a rocky start. I remember not wanting to listen to Straight Outta Compton because the song “Fuck tha Police” seemed disrespectful. (I was a bit of a toe-the-line kind of teenager.) However, thanks to MTV I was able enjoy the first few releases from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. After purchasing the album on CD, I have made it a regular part of my listening rotation, and the track “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” almost made the top 100 as well, and would certainly make the top 200 list. But “Nothin’ But a ‘G’ Thing” was a lock for this list, and if I had order the top 100, it would have been much higher, in the top 50 for sure. By the way, thanks to the film last year, I finally picked up Straight Outta Compton and I regret not doing it sooner. The album is dynamite from top to bottom, and “Express Yourself” is just below the top 100 for me.

The last song from this first group is another 80’s hit and another song that’s been in my favorites since I first heard it on the radio 30 years ago. (Do you ever find yourself catching your breath when you realize how long ago something happened? Here’s one–next year is the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.) I just knew that “Word Up” was completely unlike any other pop song I’d ever heard, so I bought the album back in high school and still own this track to this day. I am all for this song getting as much exposure as possible, and I often love covers, but I think it is a crime that the Korn version of this song is the one available in the Rock Band video game franchise. It should be Cameo all the way.

 

Fixing the Presidential Debates with a little help from Community

So we’re going to have a bit of a temporal shift today. I’d like to talk about my time at the gym last night (Wednesday, October 3rd) even though the songs being discussed are from earlier in September. I just feel it would have a bit more impact to be more timely in my openings. Wednesday night I was working out at the gym from 9:30 to 10:30, and while I was listening to my music, I was reading the debates on the overhead TV screens. It felt like my childhood a bit, as the televisions at my end of the gym are set to ABC, NBC, and CBS, the three networks from the first 15 years of my life (this always comes as a complete surprise to my children when I tell them there was a time when Fox was not a network–well, surprise or boredom; I can’t always read their expressions when I’m telling them stories about the olden days). So all three networks were showing the debate, and while I had no sound, I was able to follow the close captioning.

While I agree with the general consensus that Romney outperformed Obama, my larger question is “Who Cares?” For years, debates have been worthless, a test of who can memorize pithy platitudes about why their position is beneficial to the American people and their opponent is looking to destroy our country. It’s not a true debate because there’s no true back-and-forth, no discussion of key issues/topics, in fact, I’d argue that neither side truly listens to what his opponent even says–each is too busy feeding red meat to his party base.

So how to fix? You can’t just eliminate the debates, but maybe we could radically restructure them. Then I thought about Community. Last season they had an episode where two students were each trying to form a school Model UN club, and to settle which group would get the school’s charter, a “Model UN off” was held. A moderator would pick random crisis topics out of a fishbowl and each group had to work out how to solve the proposed problem. (Trust me, it was very funny.) Comedy aside, wouldn’t this make a better format for a debate. Each candidate, and perhaps 3-5 advisors on stage with them, would have scenarios that might happen over the next four years tossed their way that they then have to suggest how they would solve. Wouldn’t that better inform us of the Presidential mettle of each man? Now, the moderator would probably be some venerable journalist, but I would prefer they use Erik Charles Nielsen from that episode of Community, just to re-create his awesomely shrill cries of “Crisis Alert!” before announcing each topic–“Crisis Alert! Russia declares war on Germany!” or “Crisis Alert! A large-scale hurricane devastates Houston, Texas”. It’d be better than what we’ve got right?

Thursday, September, 6, 2012

3.15 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Die, All Right!–The Hives
  • Diesel Blues (Diesel)–WWE
  • Different Finger–Elvis Costello
  • The Difficult Kind–Sheryl Crow
  • Dig A Little Deeper–Peter Bjorn & John
  • Dig A Pony–The Beatles
  • Dig A Pony–The Beatles
  • Dig For Fire–The Pixies
  • Dig It–The Beatles
  • Dig My Grave–They Might Be Giants
  • Digging in the Dirt [Live]–Peter Gabriel
  • Dignity–Bob Dylan
  • Dime–CAKE
  • Dime Mi Amor–Los Lonely Boys

While there are some out there, it’s not often you get a song with a really mean title, but I think the Hives telling me to “Die, All Right!” certainly qualifies. I am willing to forgive the brusque nature of the title because it is a kick-ass song, like just about every offering from the group. It’s a return of a pair of music-list standards next, starting with another WWE theme, this one for the Kevin Nash persona Diesel and then Elvis Costello. I can make a mental tie from Costello to the next artist on the list, Sheryl Crow, as I believe the two performed at a online concert before the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis. I remember watching it on my laptop so that my wife could see her favorite, Costello, do his thing.

I enjoyed the next seven songs, starting with my favorite track from Peter Bjorn & John’s most recent album (which if you think you’ve never heard of the band but you watch 2 Broke Girls, well, then you have heard the band, as the opening theme is performed by them. Thanks to Let It Be and Let It Be Naked, I got three Beatles songs about digging, with a Pixies number snuck in there as well.  Things got even better with a fun They Might Be Giants song, and then a live track from Peter Gabriel. Speaking of Peter Gabriel live, he’s apparently coming to Connecticut for a concert later this year. I’m getting to an age where I think going to a concert seems like a hot of hassle, but for some reason I’d like to see Gabriel (although finances make it unlikely).

For the last three songs, I get “Dignity” from Bob Dylan, which I find a little ironic seeing that when I saw Dylan perform live a few years back, his voice was so shot that if he had any dignity, he wouldn’t be touring any more. I enjoy CAKE so much, but often forget about this enjoyment, so I forget to listen to their music at times.  The final number in today’s list was a Spanish-language track from Los Lonely Boys.

 

3-Day Workout Weekend!

I’m not saying that you can jinx yourself, but I should have known better. After my last post where I practically broke my arm patting myself on the back for gym visits on six consecutive days, I casually mentioned that I had to go Thursday in order to make it a solid week. Can you guess what happened? If you chose Dean worked out for a solid hour and felt great about himself afterward, well, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but unfortunately circumstances (a nice way of referring to my laziness) prevented me from getting to the gym. To make up for it, I worked out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. (Couldn’t get to the gym on Monday as it was only open until 1PM due to the holiday and those circumstances–sleeping in–reared their ugly heads again.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

(Before the Friday list, a miss from Wednesday’s list:)

  • The Democratic Circus–The Talking Heads

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Demon’s Eye–Deep Purple
  • Demons–Guster
  • Demons Are Real–Guided by Voices
  • The Denial Twist–The White Stripes
  • Dental Care–Owl City
  • Denver–Willie Nelson
  • Deora Ar Mo Chroi–Enya
  • Depending On You–Tom Petty
  • The Deportees Club–Elvis Costello
  • Derelict–Beck
  • Derezzed–Daft Punk
  • Descent Into Mystery–Danny Elfman
  • Desecrate Through Reverence–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Desecration Smile–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Desire–The Gaslight Anthem
  • Desire–U2

I have to admit that normally, if I realized that I missed a song, I’d probably just ignore it instead of calling attention to my error. However, I decided to mention the song due to its incredible timeliness over the past two weeks. I usually get to the gym at night, and so recent workouts have been accompanied by the Republican and Democratic conventions. I’m obviously listening to music, so I didn’t get to hear the speeches, which was almost perfect conditions for viewing the conventions. The only flaw was the presence of close captioning, so I did have to read the BS on occasion.

Deep Purple has played a musical role in my life longer than most other bands, simply because I remember when I was 7 or 8 that we had a family stereo with an 8-track player and a K-Tel 8-track with “Smoke on the Water” was one of the songs in the selection. Nothing seemed dumber to me than when a song was broken across more than one section of an 8-track, and you had to hear “duh-duh-duh-duh Click-Click!” and then the song would continue. Guster is a band that has seen my interest in them grow from my introduction to them (they opened for Barenaked Ladies at a concert) to the first album of theirs I owned (Goldfly, a Christmas present) through Easy Wonderful. Another gift album track came next as a work friend of my wife and I gave us a copy of Bee Thousand.

I’d like to see a triple bill concert featuring the White Stripes, Owl City, and Willie Nelson just to see the different fanbases interact. That’s always an underrated aspect of attending concerts live–in college I saw Squeeze open for Fleetwood Mac (this was in 1990 or 1991) and while I was a fan of both, it seemed like most had chosen one side and one side only. I’m not entirely sure why I own an Enya album, and I’ll be honest–it doesn’t get a lot of play. After a trio of song regulars (Tom Perry, Elvis Costello, and Beck), it was back-to-back instrumental soundtrack numbers, starting with a Daft Punk song from the Tron reboot and then some Danny Elfman.

Of particular note from the last four songs is my first number from the Gaslight Anthem, who’s album, Handwritten, is a new addition to the music library. So far it’s excellent, and I am sure one of their tracks will make my year-end sampler for sure.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

3.21 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Desolation Row–Bob Dylan
  • Desolation Row–My Chemical Romance
  • Desolation Row [Alternate Take]–Bob Dylan
  • Desperado–Clint Black
  • Desperado–The Eagles
  • Desperados Under The Eaves–Warren Zevon
  • Despertar–Aisha Duo
  • Destination Moon–They Might Be Giants
  • Destiny–Richard Thompson
  • Destroya–My Chemical Romance

It’s not Led Zeppelin-level, but half of my workout was devoted to one song, although it was three different takes on that number. We own two long versions of “Desolation Row”, at 8+ and 11+ minutes, and a more radio-friendly 4-minute version, and as you could probably imagine, the two Dylan takes are the long takes. We also have two different versions of “Desperado”, but as anyone who watched Seinfeld can imagine, that song is more of a punchline than composition to me these days. I don’t think “Witchy Woman” ever really stuck for Elaine.

It’s good that I had excellent Warren Zevon and They Might Be Giants songs sandwiched around “Despertar” as I hadar no idea where that song came from or even who Aisha Duo is. Every time I hear “Destination Moon” I think it has been too long since the last listen–sometimes I wish iTunes had a feature that would allow you to mark certain songs on your larger playlists to increase the probability that they would show up in a shuffle. Richard Thompson make his seemingly daily appearance on my list, followed by a poorly spelled, yet enjoyable, My Chemical Romance number.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

3.30 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Destroyer–The Kinks
  • Destroyer–The Kinks
  • Destoyer [Live]–The Kinks
  • Details in the Fabric–Jason Mraz featuring James Morrison
  • Detroit Rock City–Kiss
  • Detroit Rock City–The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Deuce–Lenny Kravitz
  • Devil’s Arcade–Bruce Springsteen
  • The Devil’s Been Busy–The Traveling Wilburys
  • Devil’s Dance–Metallica
  • Devil’s Haircut–Beck
  • Devil in the Eye–Big Country

Nothing gets you pumped for exercising like the Kinks’ “Destoyer”, so hearing it three times in succession was just fine by me. It does remind me that I need to get some older (60s and early 70s) work by the band, and it’s not the easiest task if you’re lazy like me–none of their earlier albums are on iTunes and it’s not like modern stores carry a deep selection of older albums.   I love when I get a song that “features” a performer I’ve never heard of in my life–that is, assuming that Jason Mraz didn’t do a song with the long-assumed diseased singer of the Doors who is using a formal first name to throw us off the track.

I actually don’t own much Kiss, which is funny as they were the first musical act I ever saw in concert. I was in sixth grade at the time, living at the National Asthma Center in Denver, Colorado. A bunch of us talked the councilors into letting us go. We didn’t know the music that well–it was the makeup, breathing fire, spitting blood, and the rest of the performance art that hooked us. (I do believe the councilors that took us got into a lot of trouble for letting us see the band. For that, I am sorry.) In a rare coincidence, I then got back-to-back Kiss covers from the Kiss My Ass compilation album, and I love them both, particularly the Lenny Kravitz version of “Deuce”.

The Devil continues his musical run thanks to the Boss, the Wilburys, Metallica, and Beck. The last song today (another “Devil” number) comes from the Big Country compilation shared with me by a friend this summer. It’s quite a treat as the only work I had by the band before was their seminal “In A Big Country” (which is still my favorite), but the music in the A to Z sent to me is very different and shows the band’s range.

 

My senior moment times two

Well, in the “I feel really old” department, these two gym visits covered today occurred on the last day of summer vacation for my kids and their first day of school (my forced vacation continues unabated, but I do have some hopeful prospects cooking). For my twins, they are starting their senior year in high school, but to make this about me and not them, it means I have two children that are less than a year from completing their high-school education. That of course means figuring out where they’re going next in terms of college and career. It’s strange to think that at this time next year, our household will be down to three. It’s also another reason to get healthy–the desire to see where their journey takes them next.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3.29 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • December–Collective Soul
  • December–Norah Jones
  • Decent Days And Nights–The Futureheads
  • Deciever–Disturbed
  • Deck the Rooftop–Glee
  • Deck the Stills–Barenaked Ladies
  • Decode–Paramore
  • Dedicated To The One I Love–The Mamas and The Papas
  • Deep–Pearl Jam
  • Deep & Wide & Tall–Aztec Camera
  • Deep Blue Sea–Grizzly Bear
  • Deep Dark Truthful Mirror–Elvis Costello
  • Deep Dark Truthful Mirror [unplugged]–Elvis Costello
  • Deeper And Deeper–The Fixx
  • Deeper And Deeper–Madonna

The first two songs are two takes on the last month of the year, which will be extra significant this year if those Mayans were right. I don’t know how much stock I’d put into a society that you could probably enrapture with an Etch-a-Sketch or Silly Putty. The Collective Soul number is one of their normal songs, while the Norah Jones track feels like a pseudo-holiday number. It was also a great bargain, one of the free songs of the week on iTunes. The Futureheads’ song was part of one of the OC soundtracks, which as I’ve mentioned before, really helped to broaden my musical spectrum at a time I wasn’t listening to radio (which was inexcusable as I was living in Champaign, Illinois, so I’m sure there had to be some good college stations at the time). After the  Disturbed track, I went from Jones’ kind-0f-holiday music to two actual numbers, although the Glee one is the more earnest of the two, with Barenaked Ladies paying winter tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

“Decode” is a track from the soundtrack to Twilight. Back when the movie came out, it felt like both the film series and the artist performing the number (Paramore) were pop-culture stalwarts my oldest daughter would stick with, and it turned out I was half right. She is still a fan of Paramore, but has seemed to lose interest in the Twilight saga  (and that is a trade-off I will take any day of the week). Things went rock old school next with a Mamas & the Papas tune, and then grunge old-school with Pearl Jam. The Aztec Camera song is a deep album cut (at least as deep as a cut on a greatest hits album can be).

I think all the indy rock band fans tend to love Grizzly Bear, so I probably should give them a deeper listen. As it currently stands, this track from the Dark Was The Night is one of only two songs we own by the band, with the other, a duet with Feist, also on the same album. The Elvis tune that followed is one I remember well pre-marriage as I purchased Spike while in college. Two acts that launched in the 80’s complete the list with two distinct takes on the title “Deeper and Deeper”, although neither is the original studio track–the Fixx version is a live recording and Madonna’s is a dance remix on my MTV Party to Go CD.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

3.25 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Deeper Understanding–Kate Bush
  • Deez Nuuuts–Dr. Dre
  • Defenders of the Flag–Bruce Hornsby & The Range
  • Defy You–The Offspring
  • Defying Gravity–Wicked Cast
  • Defying Gravity–Glee
  • Deja Vu–Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Deja Vu–Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Deja Va (All Over Again)–John Fogerty
  • Delirious–Prince
  • Deliver Me–Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • Deliver Us–Elvis Costello; Brodsky Quartet
  • The Delivery Man–Elvis Costello
  • Demolition Man–The Police

Crazy fans of the world rejoice! Kate Bush is back (on my list, not with a new album or anything–sorry if I got your hopes up there). I don’t want to get into a celebrity blogger/rapper feud with Dr. Dre, but he really should have proofread his song list on The Chronic–“Deez” is not a word, and the spelling of “Nuts” is off by two additional ‘u’ ‘s (one I could get a chalk up to a simple typo, but the double is a little hard to take). I got into Bruce Hornsby & The Range thanks to their The Way It Is album and single (although I ironically never purchased the first album, I started with the Scenes From The Southside album).  I get a trio of “Defy..” songs, starting with an Offspring number from their greatest hits and two takes on the Wicked signature song Defying Gravity, which my youngest daughter recently ranked as one of her top five all-time songs.

If you have to hear a song two times in a row, “Deja Vu” is an appropriate title for such a pairing, right? Of course, you don’t get the feeling when you hear the third song titled “Deja Vu” when Fogerty’s song is a completely different number with the same name (although they do use a parenthetical to better differentiate). “Delirious” is a great Prince single from 1999 that doesn’t get its deserved credit, as the title track and “Little Red Corvette” have had a longer lasting impact. Three solid songs out of the final four close the list, with a Tom Petty number from Long After Dark, an experimental Elvis Costello instrumental interlude before his “Delivery Man” number and then a great old Police track.

 

Letters to my Parents, God, the President, and The Man

Well, it hasn’t happened for some time, but nobody’s perfect, as I demonstrated by publishing this post with the placeholder [opening graf] before the exercise lists. So this is an edited second edition! Labor Day weekend is coming to an end, and hopefully so is my summer at home. I’d like to hear from prospective employers and I’m thinking that the odds of it increase after Labor Day as tons of people took the last week or two of August off and now places should be running at full capacity again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Deadbeat Club–The B-52’s
  • Deadly Game–Theory of a Deadman
  • Deadly Game (“Survivor Series” Theme)–WWE
  • Dear Agony–Breaking Benjamin
  • Dear God–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Dear John–Cyndi Lauper
  • Dear John–Taylor Swift
  • Dear John (I Sent Your Saddle Home)–John Prine
  • Dear Mary–Linda Thompson
  • Dear Mr. Man–Prince
  • Dear Mr. President–4 Non Blondes

Today’s list began with my last three “Dead… songs, with a B-52’s number from Cosmic Thing and two versions of the WWE theme song “Deadly Game”. I’d say that it’s nice to see a cover of a WWE song indicating it’s general success, but seeing that the cover also appears on a WWE album, that seems to be a bit of a stretch. Next up was the title track to Breaking Benjamin’s fourth album and another band my kids love, Avenged Sevenfold. (Although I will admit that in certain moods and situations I enjoy A7X–awesome abbreviation, by the way–songs as well, including “Dear God”).

The next three songs are “Dear John” numbers. I wonder if Dear John letters are a concept that kids today understand, or if they just think of it as a Channing Tatum movie. It was easier to know the concept when I was growing up when M*A*S*H reruns would occasionally hit the topic and Judd Hirsch starred in a sitcom named after the idea (and it had one of those “explain the concept” title songs). Of the three songs, I like the John Prine  number the most, although it was the only song from his In Spite of Ourselves that was not sung as a duet. After all the John letters (which is the name of my father), the next song was named after my mother, Mary, which is good as she would have been upset to be left out. After the personal letters, we get to letters to the people in authority, with Prince seeking out Mr. Man and flash-in-the-pan 4 Non Blondes reach out to Mr. President.

Monday, August 27, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Dear Old Man of Mine–Linda Thompson
  • Dear Old Shiz–Wicked Cast
  • Dear Prudence–The Beatles
  • Dear Sweet Filthy World–Elvis Costello
  • Dear Yoko–John Lennon
  • Dearest–Buddy Holly
  • Death and All of his Friends–Coldplay
  • Death of a Martian–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Death of Me–Crooked X
  • Death or Glory–The Clash
  • Death to My Hometown–Bruce Springsteen
  • Debaser–The Pixies

I was going to say that the letter-writing continues, but I believe the use of “Dear…” at the beginning of the first two songs is more a term of endearment that a salutation. The first is the second Linda Thompson number in this update (which is interesting as we only have one of her solo albums total) and the second comes from the Wicked soundtrack, a favorite of my youngest daughter. With all due respect to Broadway showtunes, but the list really picked up after that starting with a Beatles’ White Album track and then an Elvis Costello number.

I like to give my wife a hard time about Paul McCartney, and yesterday I was getting under her skin by referring to Sir Paul as the leader of  the Beatles. She angrily exclaimed that he was not the leader of the group, but then I continued needling by (I believe correctly) pointing out that if John was the leader, Yoko’s name would have been in so many more songs, like today’s “Dear Yoko”. I figured we would have had “Yoko’s Silver Hammer”, “Hey Yoko”, “Let It Be Yoko”, and more. She did not like that point. A great Buddy Holly song from the Juno soundtrack followed. I really liked that movie and if it helps introduce kids today to great music like Buddy Holly, the Kinks, and Sonic Youth, all the better.

After Coldplay, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Crooked X, I get the excellent bonus of  London Calling and Doolittle tracks with a Bruce Springsteen number in between.

Back into a routine

Boy that was quite the list of songs I dumped on you last time, and if it got to a point where your eyes glazed over and you skipped to the bottom, I understand completely and apologize. I’m attempting to make sure that doesn’t happen again, although I am now six visits behind again, although it’s for a good reason–while I was preparing that massive list, I’ve found my exercise inspiration and have gone to the gym each of the last six days (so I have to go tonight to make it a solid week!). It feels great to be back on an exercise routine–it may be my imagination, but when looking in the mirror this morning, my face looked thinner. I think I’ll have a cheeseburger to celebrate!

Friday, August 24, 2012

2.75 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper-arm weight work at the gym

  • Day Tripper–The Beatles
  • Day Tripper–The Beatles
  • Daybreak–Barry Manilow
  • Daylight–Drive-By Truckers
  • Days/This Time Tomorrow–Ray Davies
  • Days Go By–Keith Urban
  • Days Like These–Asia
  • Daysleeper–R.E.M.
  • Dazed and Confused–Led Zeppelin

There’s certainly no problem hearing a song two consecutive times when it opens with an amazing guitar riff like “Day Tripper”, which is certainly my favorite Beatle opening and is in the all-time running as well. As an added bonus, hearing the name of the song makes me think of The Daytrippers, a great independent movie from the 90’s featuring Parker Posey. (Boy, she truly was the Queen of the Indys back then–Party Girl, Clockwatchers, The House of Yes, and more.) If you are looking for a musical talent to pair with the Beatles, there aren’t many candidates that can hang with the power of Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starr, but Manilow is one that works, right? (I kid, I kid, for the most part, but I still enjoy the occasional Manilow number.)

Two of the next three songs fit into the broad “country” label, with my preferred group being the Drive-By Truckers. The Keith Urban song is one I’m less familiar with, even though it was on one of my daughter’s first CDs she ever owned, Now That’s What I Call Music 17. Those modern-day K-Tel collections always collect 20 songs and 18-19 are pop, rock, or hip-hop, with one of two country songs thrown in, and Urban filled the quota on Volume 17. Sandwiched between the songs was one of my favorite numbers from the Ray Davies compilation of re-imagined Kinks numbers See My Friends, the medley of “Days” and “This Time Tomorrow” with Mumford & Sons. The Asia song “Days Like These” was an add-on song to their greatest hits collection (isn’t releasing a best of album after three studio albums a little ridiculous?).

After the R.E.M. song “Daysleeper”, it was time for some live Led Zeppelin. Usually I get to hear 12-15  songs during a gym workout, but today was only nine, owing to the 26-minute length of “Dazed and Confused”, meaning I thought this song would never end. (I guess when The Song Remains the Same was released as a double-record, this song was a side unto itself–easier to skip!)

Saturday, August 25, 2012 

3.12 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da–The Police
  • De Todo Un Poco–Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  • Deacon Blues–Steely Dan
  • Dead–The Pixies
  • Dead–They Might Be Giants
  • Dead End Street–Ray Davies
  • Dead Hearts–Stars
  • Dead Horse–Guns N’ Roses
  • Dead Letter–Elvis Costello
  • Dead Man (Undertaker)–WWE
  • Dead Melodies–Beck
  • Dead Men Tell No Tales–Set Your Goals
  • Dead of the Night–Bad Company
  • Dead on Arrival–Fall Out Boy
  • Dead on Arrival–Fall Out Boy
  • Dead on Arrival–Fall Out Boy
  • Dead or Alive–Journey

Old school Police is an excellent way to get the exercise ball rolling, even if an instrumental number from the second Dirty Dancing soundtrack follows and attempts to kill all forward momentum. When I play the “worst CD purchase I ever made” game, that secondary bonus soundtrack is a strong, strong contender. It’s so bad that I even feel guilty trying to pass it off as something my wife brought into our relationship. I have to take full responsibility for it. I will also take credit for the Steely Dan in our collection, although it is only a greatest hits collection, which I think is more than enough for me.

The music of the “Dead..” starts next, and I’m talking literal titles, not selections from Jerry Garcia’s band. I own two simple “Dead” songs from great sources–The Pixies and They Might Be Giants. I’m more attached to the TMBG song historically, but who doesn’t love the source of the Pixies’ number, the amazing album Doolittle?  I then got another Ray Davies offering from See My Friends (it seems like an inordinate number of tracks on the album start with ‘D’–3 of 14 to be exact). I highly recommend this album, which has received a significant bump in plays in the family household recently.

“Dead Hearts” is an excellent number from the Montreal-based band who, if you’re looking for a new album to enjoy, will be releasing their latest, The North, next week (9/4/12).  This was followed by a hate/love combo for my wife, as she cannot stand Guns N’ Roses, but I think I could have gotten her to hang on through the song with the promise that Elvis was coming up next. Of course, a WWE theme following would have gotten her to leave post haste, even if it is one of the many cool variations on the Undertaker’s music. She’d eventually regret leaving, as she would then miss an awesome Beck number (it’s like the alphabetical list is playing tennis with my wife’s musical emotions!)

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Set Your Goals, one of the many new musical acts my son got into this past summer. I probably need to give their work more attention before making a decision. I do feel fine about one of my daughter’s groups, Fall Out Boy, but they’ve been part of our library for a much longer timeframe. (Although I’m not a big enough fan that hearing “Dead on Arrival” three times in a row made me happy.) My list closed with some Raised on Radio Journey, the album that made us realize that group was effectively “Dead…” and is now just a touring nostalgia act.

 

Live Versions, Duplicates, and Dance Remixes

As regular readers will remember, I pledged to walk 2 miles for each victory of the Red Sox season in addition to any gym visits I had. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 2012 World Series–the Red Sox became a mediocre team. Honestly, I can take a .500 season–it’s unrealistic to expect the playoffs every year and after two World Series victories in 4 years after nothing my entire life, I can be patient, particularly if something better is being built. But this team is so unlikable. It started in the off-season with the hatchet job the Sox did on Terry Francona after they let him go; he skippered the team to 2 World Championships including the biggest comeback in the history of the sport against our most hated rivals, so how about a little dignity on the way out? They compounded that with the hiring of a self-serving blowhard who seems to think people follow a team to watch him and not the players on the field. Combine that with a tone-deaf front office and jerk players, and this is far and away the most unlikable Red Sox team of my lifetime, topping the “25 players, 25 cabs” squads of the later 70’s. But a promise is a promise and I’m more than 10 wins behind so I’ve done some bonus walking recently, and one of those walks is covered today.

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #43 of the 2012 season

  • Crank That (Soulja Boy)–Soulja Boy
  • Crank That (Soulja Boy)–Soulja Boy
  • Crash–Sum 41
  • Crash & Burn–Blues Traveler
  • Crash And Burn–The Bangles
  • Crash Course–Crash Test Dummies
  • Crash Into Me–Dave Mathews Band
  • Crash Years–The New Pornographers
  • Crawl–Breaking Benjamin
  • Crawl–Kings of Leon

We all have those “I used to like that song? Really?” spotty moments in our past history, and for my son, Soulja Boy is a shining example of that phenomenon. Now to be fair, “Crank That” was a big hit when he was in middle school and everyone in his peer group, including his twin sister, were into the song, but I think he really looks at the track as a past embarrassment, unlike a Sum 41, which starts the “Crash…” section of the playlist. The rest of the “Crash…” songs come from artists beloved by either my wife or me, starting with the boys from Blues Traveler. They’re a band my wife likes and they are apparently the more informal band, as they put an ampersand between “crash” and “burn” as opposed to the Bangles, who decided to spell out “And”.  I can’t be the only one surprised that Canadian superstar band (nominated for 11 Juno Awards!) Crash Test Dummies haven’t hit it bigger here in the US…I can’t be the only one that understands I’m kidding, right? If I’m looking to get invested in a Canadian group finding greater US success, I’d rather see the last “Crash…” band, New Pornographers, reach those heights. Squeezed between those two Canadian bands is Dave Mathews.

For the last two songs on my walk list, I got two versions of songs with the single-word title “Crash” from bands in my kids’ wheelhouses. I think of the two, I prefer the Breaking Benjamin entry.

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

  • Crawl Back (Under My Stone) [live]–Richard Thompson
  • Crawl Back (Under My Stone)–Richard Thompson
  • Crawling to the USA–Elvis Costello
  • Crawling to the USA–Elvis Costello
  • Crazy–Barenaked Ladies
  • Crazy–Gnarls Barkley
  • Crazy–Gnarls Barkley
  • Crazy–Icehouse
  • Crazy ‘Midnight Mix’–Icehouse
  • Crazy 12″ Mix–Icehouse
  • Crazy Amanda Bunkface–Sum 41
  • Crazy As Me–Alison Krause
  • Crazy Dream–Los Lonely Boys

Not a ton of variety on today’s gym list, as the first 10 tracks are actually five songs with repeats thanks to live versions, duplicates, and dance remixes. When my kids were young, my wife was always looking to expose them to good music, rather than Raffi and other kids-only artists,a plan I heartily supported. While my attempts were artists that could serve as intermediate steps between kids’ and adult music (like They Might Be Giants before they released kids’ albums), my wife just played artists regardless of their positioning. One album that the kids heard often in the car and at home was Richard Thompson’s Mock Tudor. From that, my son loved “Crawl Back” most of all, and would even sing along in the back of the vehicle. It seems like we own multiple copies of every Elvis Costello song thanks to deluxe double remastered CDs that contain early versions, sound checks, live presentations, and more. As I always mention, this plethora of Elvis songs is more of a boon to my wife more than me.

Now, it’s time to get “Crazy…” We own several songs that start with “Crazy…” and the word will also begin my next list, but things begin with three different artists hitting the one-word song title. Ironically, I was unaware that Barenaked Ladies had a song with that title, even though I’m a big fan of the group. It may just be that I haven’t paid enough attention to their first album, Gordon. Forgive the tangent, but when my kids get fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants, they have a little silly tradition (no, not adding “…in bed” to the end of their fortunes). When they get a Chinese word on the back of the fortune, they say you have to “say the word while acting the word out”. The reason I bring this up is that my wife is a big fan of the Gnarls Barkley song “Crazy” and when she discovered the song years ago, she was busy working on a freelance editorial project. While working, she would play the song on repeat on iTunes, and the song’s count got up over 200 in less than a week. I’d call that listening to the song while acting it out, wouldn’t you?

The last “Crazy” comes from one of my guilty-pleasure artists and albums, Man of Colors by Icehouse. I do love every original song on the album, but I do feel like the second and third versions of “Crazy” that come at the end of the album, the “Midnight Mix” and the “12” mix” feel like album filler at best. I’m not sure that this song is the type that needs dance mixes and multiple versions, but maybe that’s just crazy talk. Of my last three songs, the one that’s grown on me the most is the Alison Krause number from her Lonely Runs Both Ways album, which is squeezed between Sum 41 and Los Lonely Boys.