Self Tributes, and the Reason for the Star Wars Season

 

Happy May the 4th! I do hate how commercialized this holiday has become. With all this starkiller base and pod-racer shopping, as well as Alderan key parties, people forget the true meaning of Star Wars Day–how many midi-chlorians you have in your bloodstream. Also, remember today is more than just Earth Day–remember that the Bluths also set it as Cinco de Quatro.

In honor of such a momentous day on so many levels, it’s time for the third set of songs from my top 100 list. If you missed the first two, well I’m making a sad frowny face in your direction, but I will help you overcome such an oversight with the help of the two links below to parts 1 and 2.

In Some Particular Order (part 1 of 10)

Mission Entirely Possible (part 2 of 10)

  • Mercy–TV on the Radio
  • Ruby Tuesday–The Rolling Stones
  • Smoking Gun–Robert Cray
  • Love, Reign O’er Me–The Who
  • Another Tricky Day–The Who
  • Mandinka–Sinead O’Connor
  • Days/This Time Tomorrow–Ray Davies
  • Man on the Moon–R.E.M.
  • Amie–Pure Prairie League
  • Silent Lucidity–Queensryche

The 2013 song “Mercy” by TV on the Radio is far and away the most recent song to make my list. It’s not even from an album–it’s a single they released that did not hit any charts. The song starts off great and intense, but it kicks it up a notch or twelve as the song goes on–the beat is relentless. I am not a big concert goer these days, but I think I’d go see TV on the Radio just to see this song performed live.

The British Invasion’s Fab 4 bands (the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and the Kinks) are a prominent part of this group of 10, with every group but the Beatles showing up in this list of 10. Of the four, the Rolling Stones is probably the group I listen to the least, but “Ruby Tuesday” is my favorite song of theirs (although I would probably have another three to five Stones songs if the list expanded to 500 or so–I just would be adding many more Beatles, Who, and Kinks songs).

When I first started listening to music, I was more about singles than albums. If I would listen to an album, it was often because three or more “hits” from the record had received radio airplay. The first album for me that was different was Strong Persuader. Sure, the song “Smoking Gun” first attracted me to the album, but it was the first album I remember liking from beginning to end. I think the fact that it was this blues sound I was not hearing in most pop songs that day. I loved listening to that cassette tape over and over, and would even say it was my first “Desert Island Disc.” It even resulted in me buying Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on its release date. I will admit that I did not enjoy that album as much as Strong Persuader, but I still love Robert Cray, with his cover of “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” being my favorite number from the Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll soundtrack.

Back to the standard bearers of the first wave of the British Invasion. I love the Beatles in total the most, but I think there’d be more Who songs on my favorites list in total. I know that I’ve said this repeatedly, but a longer list would be dominated by even more Who songs. A top 200 list would have 2 songs from Quadrophenia for example, but only 1, “Love Reign O’er Me”, made the top 100. (The other song that almost made the list was “5:15”.) I think most people would list Tommy as their favorite Who rock opera, but I am more of a Quadrophenia man myself. When doing some followup research for this blog posting, I was surprised that “Another Tricky Day” was never a chart hit. In my opinion, it is a much stronger single from Face Dances than “You Better, You Bet.”

Speaking of songs that weren’t hits, I was exposed to “Mandinka” through college radio airplay. I was the cliche kid who learned more about alternative music once I went to college. My freshman year in college saw the music acts 10,000 Maniacs, R.E.M., and Sinead O’Connor added to my musical rotation. After The Lion and The Cobra came out, I would have expected Sinead to be a much bigger artists, but her only big hit was the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

My Kinks entry in this batch is more of a Kinks-related entry. Ray Davies released an album in 2011 in which he re-imagined Kinks songs by performing them with other artists. The album has an eclectic batch of contributors, including Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Lucinda Williams, Black Francis [of the Pixies], Jon Bon Jovi, Paloma Faith, and more. But to me, the strongest pairing on the album is the work with Mumford & Sons on the medley of “Days” and “This Time Tomorrow.” Those that have been following this blog know I have a real soft spot for tribute albums (and my number two song of all time is from a tribute album–how’s that for a teaser?), and this is one of the more unique tribute albums as it seems to be an artist paying tribute to himself.

One of the other college alternative artists I began listening to as a freshman (thanks to my record album purchase of Document) was R.E.M. I have come to love their early work, but the two songs that make this list are later releases. The one in this group is from another desert-island disc candidate for me–Automatic for the People. Every song on the album is phenomenal, but “Man on the Moon” is my favorite. I also loved hearing it on the trailer for the movie by the same name. That’s a movie I have not seen in years, but I think it might be worth revisiting with my kids this summer when they are home from college.

When making these kinds of lists, it’s always interesting to think about when I first really connected with a song. For the Pure Prairie League’s “Amie,” it was thanks to Freaks and Geeks. (If you have not watched that show, go an do it RIGHT NOW, and not just because it launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Siegel, Busy Phillips, and Linda Cardellini. Every one of the 18 episodes is so powerful and raw–it was the first show that got the high school experience perfectly down. I believe it is on Netflix instant, so go and watch it. One episode featured them going to the local planetarium for a laser Pink Floyd show, but show up on the wrong date and end up seeing a country and western show instead. Sorry for the spoiler, but I promise it will not lessen your enjoyment of the entry. Over the closing credits, “Amie” plays–by the way, the acting and writing are the best thing about the show, but the soundtrack is also pitch perfect.

The last song on this batch is a power ballad and one of three songs that makes me think of my father. I already mentioned “My Way” by Frank Sinatra in part one, and “The Living Years” probably the most on-the-nose choice, by Mike + the Mechanics, did not make my 100 (but would make the 200). “Silent Lucidity” in specifics and the album Empire more broadly, feels like the closest another band got to re-creating the Pink Floyd sound. This song is one of my go-to numbers if I want something to help me drift off from a stressful day–it is the perfect capper to a tough day, and the perfect ending to a group of ten songs.

 

Musical Statements of Identity

I’ve been working out and still listening to my alphabetical listings of songs, but not nearly as much as I should. My posting has fallen off a cliff…if a woman found out she was pregnant the day of my last post, she could be reading this entry holding her newborn child. But it’s a new year, and time for resolutions of improved activity. Both exercising and writing would be excellent choices for promises that I’d ultimately break, but I think I’ll settle for just exercising and writing today and then seeing how tomorrow goes.

 

January 4, 2014

1.75 miles of treadmill work plus upper arm weight work.

 

  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow–The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow–The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)–John Hartford
  • I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)–John Hartford
  • I Am a Paleontologist–They Might Be Giants with Danny Weinkauf
  • I Am a Rock–Simon & Garfunkel
  • I Am a Scientist–Guided by Voices
  • I Am a Town–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • I Am Africa–The Book of Mormon Soundtrack
  • I Am an Animal–Pete Townsend
  • I Am Here for You–The Book of Mormon Soundtrack
  • I Am Mine–Pearl Jam
  • I Am Superman–R.E.M.

For Christmas, I got my wife the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis and we are just starting to get into it. I think it will ultimately be a successful release, particularly as the movie sees wider release. It is similar to me to an older Coen brother film O Brother, Where Art Thou? While the movie had a great soundtrack, four variations of the same song is a bit of a bother when you are listening to your entire music collection alphabetically. At least two were only instrumental versions. Back to Llewyn Davis; both my wife and I are excited to see the movie–it’s one of two “Oscar bait” movies we’d like to see, with American Hustle being the other. Those are it for theater needs; the rest can wait for Blu-Ray, Netflix, or TV as far as I’m concerned.

There aren’t enough songs that serve as effective job descriptions, but “I Am a Paleontologist” certainly fits the bill. It’s of extra interest to me these days, as my company is releasing two sets of Dinosaur-themed books, so the term is coming up repeatedly in manuscripts these days. They Might Be Giants went with the specificity of position, while Guided by Voices were more general, speaking only of the broad category of Scientist. Every time I get a Guided by Voices song, I try to remember how we added Bee Thousand to our collection, as I think it was a gift to my wife. I don’t have much time to think about it, as all the album’s songs tend to be a bit on the short side. I have no problem remembering how Simon & Garfunkel, who contributed “I Am a Rock” between the two job songs, got into the collection–they are all mine. I was hoping a new generation of fans would come to Paul and Art when the Rock Band video game released the aforementioned song plus “Sounds of Silence” as downloadable content, but I am guessing it didn’t ultimately matter.

After a song by the underrated Mary Chapin Carpenter, I got the first of my two songs from the musical The Book of Mormon. That soundtrack is from the Maggie wing of our musical museum. It’s an interesting path of parenting. When your  kids are young, they like and listen to either the music you expose them to or what corporate marketing machines like Disney serve to them. We tried to find music that we liked that also was accessible to youngsters, like the Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, and They Might Be Giants (and this was before TMBG smartly started releasing targeted children’s albums. However, this didn’t stop the occasional Jonas Brothers or Aly & AJ from sneaking through. As the kids get a little older (say middle school and early high school), pop music becomes the must-listen. Again, this is completely understandable, as all their peers are listening to the same radio- and TV- (and now internet-) generated content, and everyone wants to fit in. But for your children, at some point they will start listening to something just because it’s what they like, and not because someone in their family or circle of friends told them to like it. For my youngest, I think musicals got her there.

 

Strong ending with three great artists, including Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Pete Townsend. I think “I Am Superman” is a great song to push cardio to the next level of speed or incline, at least for a few minutes. After all, after doing some solid exercise, that’s exactly how I feel.

 

 

“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.

 

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.

 

Back in Business (at least the blog business)

Been a few days since I last updated the blog, as I got sidetracked helping a friend out with a project. But I can’t ignore my public any longer, particularly with my list of songs continuing to backlog. (While I didn’t blog over the weekend, I did get to the gym both days, so the list continues!) So today’ list will blow through the week (or at least the Monday through Thursday portion) of 7/30 through 8/2, which featured a pair ofT gym visits sandwiched around hosting Indiana in-laws. The visit was great–everyone had a relaxed, fun time, so I didn’t mind missing the workouts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

3.10 miles at the gym on the elliptical machine:

  • Cotton Alley–10,000 Maniacs
  • Cough Syrup–Young the Giant
  • Could I’ve Been So Blind–The Black Crowes
  • Could It Be Magic–Barry Manilow
  • Could You Be Love–Bob Marley
  • Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4–Elvis Costello
  • Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4 [live]–Elvis Costello
  • Counterfeit Fake–They Might Be Giants
  • Countin’ On A Miracle–Bruce Springsteen
  • Counting Airplanes–Train
  • Country Comfort–Elton John

Monday began with a selection from 10,000 Maniacs (sort-of) first album. (I know they released Secrets of the I Ching first, but I tend to ignore that album, and I’d argue they do as well, seeing that they re-recorded three of the songs for inclusion on The Wishing Chair.) Things get a little more recent and trendy with “Cough Syrup”, although I dodged a bullet when I only had to hear the original and not the Glee cover. I then got to hear a song from the debut album of the Black Crowes. I’ll admit that for Black Crowes, one album is more than enough for me. I think I’m supposed to like the Black Crowes more, but they’re a group that a little goes a long way in my musical sentiments. That sentiment is also true for both of the next artists as well, although there aren’t many other reasons to group Manilow and Marly.

My next four songs come from three of the family’s most represented artists, starting with studio and live versions of an Elvis Costello number. I am trying to wrap my mind around the title of the They Might Be Giants’ song–is a “Counterfeit Fake” the genuine article? The only thing that might have improved the title was adding the Elvis Costello flair and calling it “Couterfeit Fake No. 4”. My trio of familiarity ends with the Boss and a song from “The Rising”. That’s not to say I’m not familiar with Train or Elton John–I just don’t own the same large percentage of their musical catalogue.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

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

  • Country Comforts–Rod Stewart
  • Country Darkness–Elvis Costello
  • Country Feedback–R.E.M.
  • Country Girl: Whisky Boot Hill/Down, Down/Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty)–Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Cousins–Vampire Weekend
  • The Coventry Carol–Alison Moyet
  • Cover Me–Bruce Springsteen
  • Coward Of The County–Kenny Rogers
  • Cowboy Killers–The Wonder Years
  • Cowboy Romance–Natalie Merchant
  • Cowboy Take Me Away–Dixie Chicks
  • Cowboy Take Me Away [live]–Dixie Chicks
  • Cowtown–They Might Be Giants
  • Coyotes–Jason Mraz
  • Crab–Weezer
  • Crackin’ Up–Paul McCartney
  • Crackity Jones–Pixies
  • Cracklin’ Rosie–Neil Diamond
  • Crank It Up–WWE

I closed the previous section talking about owning a percentage of an established act’s collected works, and my Rod Stewart ownership calculation would be tiny–1 over however many albums he’s released. And again, one is more than enough for me–Rod’s a .0001 on the Simple Minds Scale, particularly once he decided to subject the aural population to his interpretations of “The Great American Songbook”.  I think I’d be far more impressed with him delivering the Great Scottish Songbook. I also made particular mention of three artists in the last section that are significant parts of our library, and as if they wanted to further the point, each shows up again on this list, starting with Elvis Costello. The Bruce and TMBG songs that follow are more familiar to me, as the Springsteen song comes from the first album of his I ever purchased (Born in the USA) and the They Might Be Giants’ number is from their second album, Lincoln.

After an R.E.M. song, I get a visit from CSNY and the appearance of  one of the 70’s more pretentious musical trends–the long songs with multiple parts (popularized by Yes, but then taken to new heights by Rush with songs having multiple parts that straddled different albums). You don’t see that as much these days. That’s not to say artists aren’t self important–they just express it in other manners (Thanks social media!). As I’ve mentioned before, but each Vampire Weekend song I hear mixes my enjoyment of their music and my anticipation of their upcoming third album, which I’ve heard is releasing before the end of the year. The end of the year would have been a better time to hear the Alison Moyet song, but when you listen to an entire list alphabetically, Christmas comes year round!

Do you ever think about memory–specifically, what stays in your mind and what you’ve forgotten? I ask because when I was a child, we didn’t listen to a lot of music, but one album (actually, 8-track to be precise) that received heavy rotation  was my mother’s Kenny Rogers album (one of his many greatest hits collection). Now I’m not the biggest fan of Rogers, but his story songs were easy to follow to be sure. Now, here it is, decades later and when a song like “Coward of the County” comes up (one I can honestly say that I haven’t heard for years), and I can sing along with it, remembering all the lyrics. I just have to wonder what important dates, facts, or issues have been pushed out of my brain so that “Promise me son, not to do the things I’ve done” can stick around. Moving on, it seems fitting that a Kenny Rogers song would serve as prologue for my “Cowboy…” section of songs, although truth be told, if I’m thinking about artists doing songs about the profession, the Wonder Years and Natalie Merchant do not come to top of mind. Dixie Chicks? They make more sense.

Not a lot to add about the Jason Mraz and Weezer that follow, and the Paul McCartney number almost shouldn’t count as a song–it’s more of a 45 second sorbet from his live album. Now getting a Pixies song is always a treat, particularly when I close the list with Neil Diamond and WWE.

 

Can’t get through all the Can/Can’t songs in a day…but did get the pseudo-Stones!

After taking a exercise breather on Tuesday because we were running all over the place with it being the last day of school. To celebrate, my twins went to see Prometheus and my youngest  (not a fan of scary films or TV shows unless they feature the brothers of Supernatural) attended Rock of Ages. Combine that with my wife working and my oldest daughter participating in her high school’s graduation ceremony, and it led to a lot of running around. To make up for the lack of movement Tuesday, Wednesday was a double-activity day, particularly with the Sox winning Tuesday night:

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

2+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #34 of the 2012 season

  • Campus–Vampire Weekend
  • Can I Have This Dance?–High School Musical
  • Can I Sleep in Your Arms?–Willie Nelson
  • Can You Be True?–Elvis Costello
  • Can You Dig It?–WWE
  • Can You Feel It–Timbaland feauturing Esthero & Sebastian
  • Can You Feel The Love Tonight?–The Lion King Cast
  • Can You Feel The Love Tonight?–S Club
  • Can You Find It?–They Might Be Giants
  • Can You Hear What I’m Saying?–Toto
  • Can You Rock It Like This?–Run D.M.C.
  • Can You Tell–Ra Ra Riot
  • Can’t Be Seen–The Rolling Stones

Always nice starting off a walk with an artist you really enjoy, and for me, Vampire Weekend certainly fits that description. They seem like the perfect band to discover when you get to college, so “Campus” seems like a apt first-album song. Getting through the High School Musical song as quickly as possible is fine by me, particularly when there’s so many more musical questions that need to be asked, starting with Willie Nelson’s “Can I Sleep in Your Arms?”, followed by Elvis Costello’s “Can You Be True?” It seemed like the start of a nice theme, as the questions (even the High School Musical one) seemed like the type you would progressively ask the same person. Not sure if the next question kept the theme going. I listed the artist as WWE as it came from a WWE album, but it was WWE Originals, a release featuring Superstars performing their own hits,so this was Booker T’s first (I think) and last (hopefully) rap number. Nothing against the guy personally, I just don’t think his talents lay in the musical arena.

I heard a Timbaland number from Shock Value II (which I did not enjoy nearly as much as the first) before getting two versions of the famous Lion King ballad “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” Ironically, neither is the original film version–one is from the Broadway adaptation and one is from one of Disney’s bubblegum pop cover collections. While I know the latter is targeted more at kids, particularly toddlers and preteens, if you’re looking for music for that group, They Might Be Giants is a much better bet. “Can You Find It?” comes from their second “kids” album, Here Comes the ABCs, and is an excellent example of why they’re a much better kid’s act than most–their songs are intelligent and both kids and adults can enjoy them.

After my TMBG, I traveled back to the magical world of the ’80’s for a pair of songs, first the boys of Toto, then the pioneers from Run D.M.C. As a rule, I think I’m going to love any song that uses the term “homeboy” as they do here. Things got a little more modern with Ra Ra Riot, then took a term for the confusing when things went from the positive (“Can”) to the negative (“Can’t”) with the last song on the list, “Can’t Be Seen.” When listening to my songs, I like to quiz myself with the question “who is the artist?” I’m pretty good at it, but this song had me stumped. I figured it must have been someone my wife or kids liked or an obscure artist from a soundtrack or compilation. Turns out I was way off–it was a Rolling Stones number. What threw me is that it’s the rare Stones hit not sung by Mick Jagger, which makes me argue that it’s not a true Stones song (and I’m not just rationalizing because I couldn’t get the song right…well, maybe a little).

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

  • Can’t Be Tamed–Miley Cyrus
  • Can’t Buy Me Love–The Beatles
  • Can’t Buy Me Love–The Beatles
  • Can’t Buy Me Love [live]–Paul McCartney
  • Can’t Cry These Tears–Garbage
  • Can’t Fight This Feeling–REO Speedwagon
  • Can’t Fight This Feeling–Glee
  • Can’t Get Enough–Bad Company
  • Can’t Get Around (Flash Funk)–WWE
  • (Can’t Get My) Head Around You–The Offspring
  • Can’t Get There From Here–R.E.M.

I don’t have a problem with Miley Cyrus (although I do think singing “Can’t Be Tamed” is a little problematic for someone of her age), but I was happy to get multiple listens of a Beatles classic (2 studios and then Paul McCartney live in concert). My oldest daughter has been on a Beatles run recently, which is always nice to see a new generation of fans get into the greatest band in the history of rock music.  After a track by Garbage, it was back to the 80’s and another band my wife would rather not hear, REO Speedwagon. This is the song I use to tease her the most, as I constantly tell the kids that “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was our wedding song, and it never fails to get a rise out of her. It may be to the point where she prefers the Glee version (who am I kidding–it hasn’t gotten to that point!).

Things closed with first a classic hit from Bad Company, a classic wrestling theme, and then music from the Offspring and R.E.M.

 

What? Who said I saw Twilight at midnight?

QUICK MOVIE REVIEW FOR A MOVIE THAT I CAN’T ACTUALLY REVIEW FOR FEAR OF RUINING THE MOVIE:

I saw Cabin in the Woods with my oldest daughter today. What a great movie–we both loved it even though we’re not fans of horror movies. I do recommend that if you’re going to see it, see it sooner than later because the less you know about the movie, the more you’ll enjoy it. It’s a unique mix of horror, humor, and sci-fi, and if you’ve loved any of Joss Whedon’s previous work (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, etc), you will recognize and enjoy the well-written dialogue.

April 29, 2012

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #10 of 2012

  • Behind Closed Doors–Joe Diffie
  • Behind Closed Doors–Rise Against
  • Behind the Rain–Herb Albert
  • Behind the Sea–Panic at the Disco
  • Behind the Wall–Tracy Chapman
  • Behind the Wall of Sleep–The Smithereens
  • Behind the Wall of Sleep–The Smithereens
  • Behind the Wheel–Depeche Mode
  • Behind these Hazel Eyes–Kelly Clarkson
  • Beige Sunshine–The Dead Milkmen
  • Bein’ Green–Andrew Bird
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite–The Beatles
  • Being from Jersey Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry–Cobra Starship
  • Belfast Child–Simple Minds

My love of compilations and the Dixie Chicks led me to borrow from the library Tribute to Tradition, a collection of classic country songs as performed by modern artists. I have always enjoyed the Charlie Rich song “Behind Closed Doors” as I feel it’s a precursor to raps today that talk about how their woman is such a freak when the lights go out. As enjoyable as it would have been to hear Rise Against cover the song as well, their’s is a completely different song. The Herb Albert song is another instrumental piece from his Rise album.

I didn’t give Panic! at the Disco much of a listen when they first entered my house as I (wrongly) assumed they weren’t someone I’d enjoy. However, hearing more of their music, like today’s song “Behind the Sea” makes me realize how much their music is influenced by the Beatles and how that makes for entertaining songs. As up as it got me, Tracy Chapman brought me down with “Behind the Wall”, a mournful ballad about the tragic end of a domestic abuse situation in her apartment building that the police would not interfere with.

Chapman may have been talking about any wall in the title of her song, but the Smithereens decided to further specify things in “Behind the Wall of Sleep” a great rocking track that I was more than happy to hear twice. Depeche Mode is a band that owning a greatest hits collection would be more than enough, although I don’t know if they’ve yet to release a single comprehensive album like that as the hits collection I own is only for the years 1986-1998. Just a few days after getting one of her big hits “Because of You”, Kelly Clarkson returns with another, “Behind These Hazel Eyes”. Looking her up on the ‘net, it’s easy to forget that she’s had a consistent and impressive career with 10 top 10 hits.

The Dead Milkmen track is the opening number from their Metaphysical Graffiti album (a title that still makes me laugh every time I say it or see it). I think the title “Bein’ Green” is misleading as “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green” would make it more identifiable to listeners, although pithy is not always bad, it’s sometimes fun to have a longer and more twisting title, like the next track “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, which sounds more like a Victorian-era novel than a Beatles song. Not to be outdone, Cobra Starship makes an even longer and more involved title before Simple Minds goes back to the “brevity is the soul of wit” school.
3.49 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Belgium Polka–Bowling for Soup
  • Believe–Breaking Benjamin
  • Believe–Yellowcard
  • Believe Me Natalie–The Killers
  • Believe–The All-American Rejects
  • Bell Bottom Blues–Eric Clapton
  • Bell Boy–The Who
  • Bell Jar–The Bangles
  • Bella Notte–Glee Cast
  • Bella Notte—Los Lobos
  • Bella’s Lullaby–Carter Burwell
  • Bells are Ringing–They Might Be Giants
  • Belong–R.E.M.
  • Beloved–The Working Title
  • Beloved Wife–Natalie Merchant

I think Bowling for Soup joins Weird Al as the only current artists that perform polkas, although the Soupsters are rank amateurs compared to Al, as they have one and he does one per album. Three different songs named “Believe” and all were done by bands my kids love, including Breaking Benjamin, Yellowcard, and the All-American Rejects. (Technical note than no one probably cares about, but the AAR version of “Believe” is listed after the Killers “Believe Me Natalie” because for some reason when I imported all the songs from the All-American Rejects album When the World Comes Down, they end in the parenthetical (wtwcd), so the song in iTunes reads “Believe (wtwcd)”. I don’t get it either.

Just a day or two after mentioning that I enjoyed the Blues-y power of an Eric Clapton song (“Before You Accuse Me”), I get a specific blues anthem from the man, although the title is a painful reminder of one of the many poor fashion choices I suffered as a child. Why did anyone think those flared-out pants were a good idea? The Who song is a rare release from the band that features Keith Moon as the singer, and the Bangles song is another one from the Everything album that is still in rotation for me.

I got all excited when I realized the next song was going to be “Bella Notte”, forgetting that I had to hear the Glee version before I got to the Los Lobos cover of it. Nowadays, if you mention Bella, most kids are going to think of the protagonist of the Twilight series, and the next song is from the score of the first movie, a piece that plays throughout it. (yes, yes, I saw the Twilight film…ok, even worse, I saw it in theaters…ok, ok even worse, I saw it at midnight with my daughter. (She needed someone to go with her. Luckily I didn’t feel creepy at all. It’s not like I was the oldest guy in the theater by more than a decade or anything!)

I got to close the day out with songs by three favorite artists (They Might Be Giants, R.E.M., and Natalie Merchant with the oft-repeated caveat on the latter that I prefer her 10,000 Manics work). I also heard “Beloved”,  a song that wasn’t inspired by the Toni Morrison novel, but was a part of the American Wedding soundtrack, although I’ve heard many say that the two share a number of underlying themes.