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.

 

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.

 

 

My racial obligation to Coldplay

I was on my own at the gym this evening as the twins purchased tickets for a Batmanathon at the local cinema. Their night started at 6:00PM with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight followed, leading up to a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I didn’t want to see the film at midnight, instead deciding to wait to see it at a lower-priced matinee and with my wife. I was just lucky enough to wake up at 2:45AM and drive to the theater to pick up my children. (At the time, I was blissfully ignorant of the Colorado tragedy–as it should go without saying, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims from that senseless tragedy.) The kids loved the movie and were so adamant that I needed to see it as soon as possible. I’ll get to my thoughts on the film in the next blog, so instead let’s jump into some exercise-fueled music!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

3.00 miles on the elliptical at the gym

  • Cliff Diving–+44
  • Climb Ev’ry Mountain–Peggy Wood
  • Climbing The Walls–They Might Be Giants
  • Clocks–Coldplay
  • Cloissone–They Might Be Giants
  • Close (To The Edit)–The Art of Noise
  • Close To the Borderline–Billy Joel
  • Closer–Kings of Leon
  • Closer To Fine–Indigo Girls
  • Closer To Fine–Indigo Girls
  • Closing–Danny Elfman
  • Closing Time–Semisonic
  • Closure–The Story So Far
  • Cloud Nine–Evanescence

I was pretty sure +44 is a band that my kids enjoy, and when I looked them up on the interwebs, I learned they were a spin-off from Blink 182, so that’s a big yes. That’s not to say I don’t like their music–in fact I found it a great exercise soundtrack, particularly when it is compared to the song that followed, a nun song from the film version of The Sound of Music. Luckily, the next “Climbing…” song was one I enjoy more and started a two out of three They Might Be Giants songs, with both coming from later albums, their last two “adult” studio albums in fact. It is amazing the long and distinguished career the band has carved for itself and I certainly hope the parents that purchased their kid’s albums decided to sample their other music as well. In between the two TMBG songs I got a Coldplay number. According to Donald Glover, I have to like Coldplay because I am white (it’s a punchline to a joke about people asking him if he likes Barrack Obama). Luckily “Clocks” is a pretty good song.

As I got close to the middle of my list, I heard my first “Close…” song, one that I used to listen to far more often in college. The Art of Noise doesn’t seem to pop into the nostalgia rotation nearly as much as other 80s/90s artists (like a proto-Spin Doctors–that’s not fair; I like the Art of Noise more than that and they don’t deserve the cheap shot). I’m not a big fan of the Billy Joel number, and after “Sex on Fire”, Kings of Leon got a little tired for me. I’ll never be tired of “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls, so having to hear it twice was not a problem for me.

After a short Danny Elfman instrumental piece from the Nightmare Revisted compilation, I got Semisonic’s biggest hit of all time “Closing Time”, followed by a Story So Far song my song loves and an Evenescence song my youngest daughter loves.

Friday, July 20th, 2012

3,00 miles on the elliptical at the gym

  • The Cloud Prayer–A.C. Newman
  • Clouds–The Jayhawks
  • Cloudy–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Clown Attack–Danny Elfman
  • Clown in Broad Daylight–Ron Sexsmith
  • Clowntime is Over–Elvis Costello
  • Clubland–Elvis Costello
  • Clubland–Elvis Costello
  • Clumsy–Fergie
  • The Coast–Paul Simon

Before I go on, I’ve got a bit of a confession. With my run of (now 10 straight days and counting) of gym visits leading me to falling behind on my song-list blog posts, I have started to forget the start and stop points of my list. I promise that I’ve listened to every song listed, but one or two may be off by a day. I’ve fixed the problem by creating a word document that lists the range of songs each day to keep me on target when I fall behind. That being said, this was an excellent run of songs (if not exactly an ideal workout playlist). My Cloud trio of A.C. Newman, the Jayhawks, and Simon & Garfunkel kept things ironically sunny, particularly the Jayhawks number. Like the earlier list, I got a Danny Elfman instrumental number, but this one was from the Batman soundtrack. After indy singer Ron Sexsmith, Elvis Costello made three appearances covering two songs, and Fergie’s pop hit Clumsy followed. The list closes with a bit of serendipity as I am sitting in my living room watching a tribute to Paul Simon when he won the Gershwin prize (it’s on Netflix instant if you’d like to see it), but I don’t believe the coincidence  will extend to the extent of “The Coast” showing up on the special as well.

 

Celebrating My Musical Moralist

For the most part, I am trying to keep my bonus Red Sox walks exactly that–bonus exercise. So when I go to the gym each day, I don’t want the time I spend doing cardio to double up as the commemorative walks as well. So today I needed to pull double duty and get out and walk and go to the gym. It feels great to do both when I have the time (and right now time is something I have in abundance), but it leads to a large list of songs to discuss…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

4+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victories #37 and #38 of the 2012 season

  • Cars–Gary Numan
  • Cartwheels–Reindeer Section
  • A Case of You–Joni Mitchell
  • A Case of You–Prince
  • Casey Jones–The Grateful Dead
  • Casey Jones–The Grateful Dead
  • Cassie–Flyleaf
  • Cast No Shadow–Oasis
  • Cat Like Thief–Box Car Racer
  • Cat’s In The Cupboard–Pete Townsend
  • The Catalyst–Linkin Park
  • Catch Hell Blues–The White Stripes
  • Catch My Fall–Billy Idol
  • Catcher in the Rye–Guns N’ Roses
  • Catching On Fire–They Might Be Giants
  • Catfish–Bob Dylan
  • Catholic Pagans–Surfer Blood
  • Caught By The River–The Doves
  • Caught By The River–The Doves
  • ‘Cause Cheap is How I Feel–Cowboy Junkies
  • Cautious Man–Bruce Springsteen
  • The Cave–Mumford & Sons

If you asked me to name a quintessential 80’s song, “Cars” has to be a strong candidate, or at least would have been for me until I just found out it was released in August of 1979. So that would have disqualified the song from being an answer and made me look foolish for even considering it as a choice, so I’m glad we never had that conversation.  I guess I could argue that the song, like car models, came out late in the previous year in order to make buyers/listeners feel like they were on the cutting edge. Perhaps it’s best to move on to the next song, another OC soundtrack selection. It’s a favorite of mine, but not one that got me into a new group, as I guess the Reindeer Section were not going to be a full-time act. Next up is an old original-and-cover combo, but the pairing of Joni Mitchell and Prince was certainly unique and worth my time.

I was just thinking about when I was young and used to object to songs that had the wrong message in them. Now that could pretty much wipe out half of all music to me, as sex, cheating, drugs, etc. are all open season, but I am talking about a time when I was really young and subtlety was generally lost on me. The song had to really hit you on the head for me to understand. As a result, three songs really bothered me back then, starting with the Grateful Dead’s cautionary tale “Casey Jones” (how much clearer can ‘Driving that train, high on cocaine’ be?) As an FYI, the other two were Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman # 12 & #25, which I was sure was about smoking pot (and may be more  concerning the literal meaning of stoned), and the Carpenters’ “Top Of the World”, and I’m sure this one takes some explaining, but when Karen sang of being ‘on top of the world, looking down on creation’, my young Catholic mind thought she was equating herself with God and I knew that was wrong. Those were the three biggest offenders in my mind. “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones? They were right, it did taste so good–particularly on oatmeal!

Flyleaf led into my first Oasis song from their incredible (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? album. I was not an Oasis fan when I started watching Lost back in 2004, so I didn’t initially get the Oasis/Driveshaft links that I get now. Box Car Racer is a Blink-182 spinoff band my son loves, but if I met them, I’d have to chastise what I think is their poor syntax. I believe they need a hyphen in the title “Cat Like Thief” between the first two words unless they are expressing the affection their feline has for a burglar. The Pete Townsend song is from his Empty Glass album, a particular favorite of my wife, and the Linkin Park song is from one of my son’s albums. I like the band, but I’m finding that a number of their songs are bleeding together in my opinion. I was able to push myself on the walk thanks to the rocking efforts of the White Stripes, Billy Idol, and Guns N’ Roses.

They They Might Be Giants song is one of their quick numbers from the “Fingertips” section of the Apollo 18 album. There was certainly a flavor to the closing of the list that my wife would enjoy, as she has always been the family’s biggest fan of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and the Cowboy Junkies, but her current interest (or I may go so far as to say obsession is Mumford & Sons. Their CD is being worn out in the car and she has finally learned that youtube can be used for band videos and live performances. When I played for her the Ray Davies and Mumford & Sons collaboration from the former’s recent See My Friends album, the joy in her face was evident. The remaining songs were favorites of mine, with a Surfer Blood selection from their first album and two versions of the Doves’ “Caught By The River” (we own it on both an OC soundtrack and an MTV compilation album)

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

  • Cave In–Owl City
  • Cecilia–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Cecilia–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Cecilia Ann–The Pixies
  • Cedars of Lebanon–U2
  • Celebrate Me Home–Kenny Loggins
  • Celebration–They Might Be Giants
  • Celebration Day–Led Zeppelin
  • Celebration Day–Led Zeppelin
  • Celebration of the Lizard–The Doors
  • Celebrity–Barenaked Ladies
  • Celebrity Skin–Hole
  • Cell Block Tango–Music from the film Chicago
  • Cell Block Tango–Music from the film Chicago
  • Cell Block Tango–Music from the film Chicago

Gym time began with the techno pop of Owl City. While it’s not the catchy hook of “Fireflies”, it’s still a fun song to both listen to in stationary mode or while working out. I got to hear two copies of “Cecilia”, which I think is the biggest Simon & Garfunkel song to not make the Concert in Central Park. It did however, get a nice mention in an episode of How I Met Your Mother a few years back, complete with a visual aid to the gag. (I will not spoil it for those who haven’t seen it). I guess the Pixies felt like it wasn’t enough for there to be a song celebrating girls named Cecilia, they wanted to be a bit more specific with their tribute to gals with the moniker “Cecilia Ann”. I think I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t given a close enough listen to U2’s newest album, so I wasn’t familiar at all with “Cedars of Lebanon”, the album’s closing tracks.

Time to celebrate! (Not that I have good news yet, I’m just to the four “Celebration…” songs on my list!) The first is by decades the most recent, and the one I like listening to the most from old friends They Might Be Giants. I also have studio and live versions of Led Zeppelin’s song, and apparently the Doors track was a previously unreleased number from the group, although it’s nice to see our friend the Lizard get his proper celebratory due, particularly as he makes his film debut in The Amazing Spiderman, out today in theaters. (Of course my daughter saw it at midnight and loved it!)  I heard two songs that cover the pitfalls of fame, with Barenaked Ladies singing about how amazing it would be to be famous and Hole covering the darker side of it all. My last three songs were from the film adaptation of the musical Chicago. Now I don’t want to get your hopes up if you haven’t seen it–it’s not like Mama Mia, only with the songs of Peter Cetera and Chicago. It’s a musical about jail, fame, and jazz. It’s supposed to be a great film (it won the Oscar for Best Picture), but to date I have had no interest in seeing it.

 

I can “C” some progress here!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Hope your special day was as nice as mine. We had a delicious bacon-and-egg brunch, I watched a family movie with my wife and kids (Better Off Dead, which none of my children had ever seen, but it’s one that stands both the test of time and works on repeated viewings–I highly recommend it, although perhaps it would work better on Mother’s Day, because you would be wise to listen to Mother, as Ricky would say). On the exercise front, it was a great weekend, as I really feel like I started to get back on track, pulling a rare weekend double-double (3+ mile neighborhood walks both mornings and 45-minute gym sessions both afternoons). All in all, I believe I covered 12 miles in total over the two days–not bad at all! (In the “going against my healthy ways department”, I did eat my first Twinkie in several years, but I don’t see that becoming a habit, as even in my junk-food junkie days, Twinkies were a rare choice for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

2+ mile (actually 3!) neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #31 of the 2012 season

  • Bushleager–Pearl Jam
  • Business On You–Richard Thompson
  • Bust A Move–Glee
  • Bust Your Windows–Glee
  • Busted–Ray Charles
  • Busy Bees–Silversun Pickups
  • But It’s Better If You Do–Panic! At The Disco
  • But Tonight We Dance–Rise Against
  • Butterfly–Jason Mraz
  • Butterfly–Para Para Dance No. 1
  • Butterflyz–Alicia Keys
  • Button My Lip–Elvis Costello
  • Buy You A Drink (Shawty Snappin’)–T-Pain featuring Young Joc
  • Buzz Aldrin: Poster Boy For Second Place–The Wonder Years
  • Buzz Aldrin: The Poster Boy For Second Place–The Wonder Years

 

I hadn’t given Pearl Jam’s “Bushleaguer” a close listen, which is a shame as it’s one of my favorite groups making a song filled with baseball references (for those not familiar with baseball, a bushleaguer is a minor-league player. A mother/daughter combo followed next with Richard Thompson (the mother half of the equation), followed by two Glee songs from Season 1. When I get Glee songs, I now ask my daughter to guess which ones I heard, and she can generally guess correctly with few to no hints. She loves her Glee. When I first saw the song title for the Ray Charles’ number “Busted”, I assumed it referred to him being caught cheating on his woman;  however, Ray zigged when I thought he would zag and the song is about being broke (something I certainly get).

One of my most recent musical additions to the library is the new Silversun Pickups album Neck of the Woods. I’d only heard “Bloody Mary” (which did not make my list because I had passed its alphabetical position before getting the release) on the radio, but I’m liking the rest of the album, including this track “Busy Bees”. I know some people compare the band to the Smashing Pumpkins, which I get, I just enjoy the group on their own merits, style, and songwriting.  Panic! At The Disco had the next song, “But It’s Better If You Do” and frankly they (or just about any other band) seemed a more likely candidate to be the artist behind the song “But Tonight We Dance” as opposed to the actual artist, Rise Against. The title just doesn’t scream Rise Against, but then again, as my son says, once you listen to the lyrics, you think “yep, this is a Rise Against song!

I’m not sure how I feel about Jason Mraz in general and his song “Butterfly” specifically. I get that he’s got a great voice and some of his lyrics are pretty clever, but in this song, it feels like he’s trying too hard to be cool and sexy. Our second “Butterfly” track comes from the Dance Dance Revolution series, one that my youngest daughter liked enough to purchase the song on iTunes. Alicia Keys ends our session in lepidopterology with more than one butterfly, although she uses the not-so-scientific method of creating a plural noun by ending the word in ‘z’. It’s a good thing she’s got an amazing voice, otherwise I might hold that grammatical faux pas against her (which I’m sure she’d find crushing).

After an entertaining Elvis Costello number, I get T-Pain’s handy guide to picking up ladies in the club. I do have to say that I find the whole “shawty” term confusing, as it seems to possibly refer to both youngsters and hot women, so couldn’t someone misunderstand the context and think you are interested in getting with kids? Wouldn’t it just be better to avoid any potential confusion? The walking list concluded with two different versions of a Wonder Years song from my son’s almost complete collection of the band’s work.

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

  • Buzzards And Dreadful Crows–Guided by Voices
  • By My Side–INXS
  • By Surprise–Gemini Club
  • By the Time I Get to Arizona–Public Enemy
  • By Your Side–Sade
  • Bye Bye Love–Simon & Garfunkel
  • C is for Conifers–They Might Be Giants
  • C Moon–Paul McCartney
  • C.O.D–AC/DC
  • C’Etait Toi (You Were The One)–Billy Joel
  • C’mon–Sonic Chaos
  • C’mon Girl–Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Caffeinated Consciousness—TV on the Radio
  • Cage and Aquarium–They Might Be Giants
  • Caged Bird–Alicia Keys

 

Things started of with a Guided by Voices track from its Bee Thousand album (a gift my wife received from a family friend and fellow music afficianado). Normally I’m hoping for a good rocking song to start my gym workout off in a great direction, but the tempo and style of the opening song was fairly irrelevant on this occasion as the fact that my ‘B’ songs were coming to a close was pumping me up–I always get a charge when I know a new letter will be starting soon. “By…” started with an INXS ballad and continued with a Gemini Club release. Next was a great political screed from Public Enemy about Arizona’s (and to a lesser extent, New Hampshire’s) wrongheaded decision to not recognize Martin Luther King Day in the late 80’s. I lived in New Hampshire at the time and remember feeling a deep shame about the choice, but I also remember feeling annoyed that almost all the anger and protest was directed at Arizona. I get that it was (and of course, still is) the much bigger state, but it made me feel like New Hampshire wasn’t worth the attention and effort.

I got a blast from the past with Sade’s “By Your Side”, a track we own courtesy of the Japan relief album. I remember their hits from the 80’s, but apparently they kept making music through the next decade, but their sound was far more successful in the UK. ‘B’ closes with the most successful duo of all time (Simon & Garfunkel) covering a hit of one of the original great rock duos (The Everly Brothers). The song is a live track from the pair’s last studio album, which was an unusual choice that still stands out to this day.

They Might Be Giants manage to entertain and educate (edutain or entercate) with “C is for Conifers”, a song that teaches us all about pine trees. Thanks to their alphabet album, They Might Be Giants get to lead off several letters like this one. The ‘C’ silver medal goes to Paul McCartney for one of his less remembered tunes (at least by me) off his greatest hits collection. AC/DC sings about a concept that’s (other than food) virtually non-existent these days, “C.O.D”. For those that don’t know, “C.O.D.” stands for “Cash On Delivery” and I guess you used to be able to mail-order products and when the postman would deliver the item, you’d pay for it then. I remember as a kid, when I’d watch TV commercials for things like K-Tel records, they’d always clearly state “No C.O.D. please!” Frankly, as society becomes more cashless, I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more food options demand you pay via electronic payment when you order.

I’ll have to play the Billy Joel track for my daughters so see how much of the French they understand (I never took it, so the answer for me is none). Sonic Chaos sounds like a cool band name for an alternative or rock outfit, but the song comes from the Cheetah Girls soundtrack, so don’t get your hopes up–in fact, just stick to Sonic Youth in the Sonic band category. Things do take a turn for the alternative with the return of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and my first track from TV on the Radio. “Caffeinated Consciousness” is the last track from their 2011 Nine Types of Light album, which may be the group’s final album as a member of the band passed away from cancer soon after its release.

They Might Be Giants followed with a song from their second album, Lincoln, and I then got my second track today from Alicia Keys to close things out.

Listening to a musical 45 (songs, not a song)

Well, I told you in my last column that I had been walking, and that I’d just fallen behind in the blogging side of the equation. As I went to the gym on Saturday, I did a count of the songs that I’d listened to over the past week, and was shocked that it was 45, representing 8 miles of walking (which still puts me two Red Sox victories behind the pace, but that will be taken care of by midweek. So I could have engineered 4 mini-posts or one mega-post.  As you will see from the following list, I went big, partially due to the cool symbolism of the number 45.

June 5-8, 2012

8+ miles to commemorate Red Sox victories #24-#27 of the 2012 season

  • Breathe–Taylor Swift
  • Breathe–U2
  • Breathe [2AM]–Anna Nalick
  • Breathe Me–Sia
  • Breathing–Yellowcard
  • Breed–Nirvana
  • Breed [live]–Nirvana
  • Brian Wilson [live]–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brian Wilson–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brian Wilson [live]–Barenaked Ladies
  • Brick–Ben Folds Five
  • Brick By Boring Brick–Paramore
  • Brick By Brick–Train
  • Bricks–Rise Against
  • The Bride–Dirty Projectors
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water [live]–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bright As Yellow–The Innocence Mission
  • Bright Red–Laurie Anderson
  • Brighter–Paramore
  • Brilliant Disguise–Bruce Springsteen
  • Brilliant Disguise–Elvis Costello
  • Brilliant Mistake–Elvis Costello
  • Brilliant Mistake–Elvis Costello
  • Bring It (Snakes on a Plane)–Cobra Starship
  • Bring It On Home–Led Zeppelin
  • Bring In On Home To Me–Sam Cooke
  • Bring Me To Life–Evanescence
  • Bring On The Dancing Horses–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Bring On The Dancing Horses–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Bring On The Night–The Police
  • Bring Tha Noise–Public Enemy
  • Bring The Noise–Public Enemy
  • The Broad Majestic Shannon–The Pogues
  • Broadway–Old 97’s
  • Broke In Two–They Might Be Giants
  • Broken–Elvis Costello
  • Broken [home demo]–Elvis Costello
  • Broken Bicycles/Junk–Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello
  • Broken Glass-Cyndi Lauper
  • Broken Man–Boys Like Girls
  • Broken Mirrors–Rise Against
  • The Brokenhearted–Bruce Springsteen
  • Brompton Cocktail–Avenged Sevenfold

The massive catch-up entry starts with pop country star Taylor Swift. I find it a bit funny that Swift is categorized as country, when to me she’s pure pop, just with a southern accent. My second “Breathe” song comes from U2’s most recent album release, No Line On The Horizon. There’s supposed to be a new U2 album, the follow-up to No Line, coming out this year, and with Danger Mouse the producer, I’m very excited to hear it. The Anna Nalick song is one I don’t really know, but that’s the consequences of not listening to current pop radio. For fans of the HBO series Six Feet Under, the song “Breathe Me” played during the series finale of Claire driving to New York intercut with the fates of each major character. I always thought it was one of the better and more emotional sequences to ever end a show, and it convinced me to buy the song.

Yellowcard apparently falls into a genre known as pop punk, and it’s a style I’m getting to know well, as it has become a favorite of my son. Other than the super obvious first choice, “Breed” may be my favorite song from Nevermind, so I certainly enjoyed hearing both the studio and live versions of the track. I loved when 2K sports used the song as part of their ad campaign for their baseball video game–any time a song like that is getting played for the general public is a great thing.

Thanks to our extensive collection of Barenaked Ladies albums, I got to hear “Brian Wilson” three times. It’s one of the rare songs that the live version seems to be more famous than the studio cut (as the live version is on the greatest hits collection we own), so I heard the song live, studio, live. I was looking up the discography of BNL when writing this entry and I was surprised to learn that they’ve only had one top 10 hit in the US (“One Week”), and only one other top 40 hit. Their music is so good? What is wrong with people?

After hearing “Brian Wilson”, a song about a man dealing with depression, three times, I sure needed a pick-me-up, and boy did Ben Fold’s “Brick” really deliver. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Brick”, particularly for the fact that it deals with a difficult issue in a sensitive manner, but that the song directly led me to purchase Whatever and Ever Amen. And my wife and I absolutely love that album. But it is a real bring down of a song and you need to be in the right mood to listen to it. It also is the only “single brick” song on my list, as the next three songs deal with multiple building blocks. Train is more interested than Paramore in masonry I guess, as they go brick by brick without editorializing that said bricks are “boring”. Meanwhile, Rise Against doesn’t believe in taking things one at a time, so they just go for all the “Bricks” at once. My load of bricks ended with a Dirty Projector’s song “Bride.”

Just as I recently had to hear a classic Simon & Garfunkel song “The Boxer” three times, I got it again, this time with three copies of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, two studio and then one from the classic Central Park show. I once read years ago that Paul Simon originally wrote it as a two-verse song, and that the third verse, the “Sail on, Silvergirl” verse, was added later. That final verse is nowhere near as strong as the first two entries, and while it would have been a shorter song, Simon maybe should have stuck with his original version.

A pair of primary colors follow in their “bright” form. First, I got yellow from the Empire Records soundtrack in the form of “Bright As Yellow” by the Innocence Mission, a fun alternative song from an awesome soundtrack. I tend to overlook some of the other tracks on the album because of my undying love of “Free” and “‘Til I Hear It From You” but everything is on the album is worth listening to over and over again. The red entry is part of a bizarre number from Laurie Anderson, “Bright Red”. Listening to her music leaves me with a “what the hell did I just hear?” feeling, and this song was no exception. Just as Paramore joined the brick brigade, they also wanted in on bright, with their song “Brighter”. It’s too bad they couldn’t add the color blue to their title, which would have given me all three primary colors. While they don’t have a color in their title, they do try to top the other songs by going superlative, and “brighter” than “bright”.

It’s not that I don’t love Elvis Costello, I just don’t feel as passionately about his work as my wife. I have, however, noticed that if he’s singing a “Brilliant…” song, I am definitely on board. The first of these is his cover of “Brilliant Disguise” by Bruce Spingsteen, a song that came off the first Bruce CD I ever purchased, Tunnel of Love. I always liked the Boss’s version of the song, but I actually enjoy Elvis’s cover even more. He makes the song more mournful than the original. I also really like the Elvis original “Brilliant Mistake”, which I got to hear two times. It does remind me of a funny story. When the computer book company I worked for in the 90’s was originally purchased by Pearson, they had a consultant come in to discuss future direction. As I sat with her and told her of our publication plans, she kept saying “brilliant”. I thought she was really impressed by what I was saying–after all, “brilliant” is such a superlative term. I later found out she was saying it like I might say “ok” when hearing a long presentation. My ego, after being so pumped up, was popped like a child’s balloon.

After the Elvis section, the list began to zig and zag a bit, starting with a band my kids love, Cobra Starship. That’s probably not fair, to pass them off on my kids, where I enjoy them as well, but if you don’t think they’re cool, I can say “oh, they’re a band for my kids.” The new of Cobra Starship gave way to a couple of classic acts, first the hard rock of Led Zeppelin and then the classic soul of Sam Cooke. Both come from me, and I’ve got to say I tend to listen to the Sam Cooke music more out of the two. Then I got one of my youngest daughter’s favorite acts, Evanescence, contributing their biggest hit ever, “Bring Me To Life”, followed by two copies of the song that introduced me to Echo & The Bunnymen. The first copy came from an album I owned first on cassette and then replaced with CD, the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink. My interest in Echo was always limited to that song and their cover of “People Are Strange” from the Lost Boys soundtrack, but I recently added two of their albums thanks to my local library.

The Police’s “Bring On the Night” came next and this song was one I always associated more with Sting (as he named his live solo album this) than the Police. I love the two versions of the Public Enemy song, both Public Enemy on their own and with Anthrax. The pure Public Enemy version talks about “…The Noise” in the title, while the Anthrax collaboration is “Bring Tha Noise” so I have to wonder about the bad grammatical influence Anthrax had on Chuck D and his mates. It’s odd hearing “The Broad Majestic Shannon” as it was always a special song my wife sang to our youngest daughter at bedtime when she was young, so I identify the song more with her than the official version. Speaking of my youngest daughter, she’s such a big fan of musical theater that I need to take her to Broadway some day to see a show, but if that doesn’t work out, I can always play the Old 97’s song for her. I don’t think she’d find it to be remotely the same, however.

I believe we have more They Might Be Giants songs than any other musical act (if not, they are definitely in the top 2-3), but it feels like awhile since they’ve made an appearance on this list. “Broke in Two” comes from The Spine, an album that gets lost in the shuffle for me, as it’s not as beloved as the group’s early work, different like the children’s albums, or in the rotation like the last two albums. It’s unfortunate and it calls for an entire album listen sooner than later. After raving earlier about Elvis Costello’s “Brilliant…” songs, I get three more by him (well two by him and one where he’s like the supporting actor for an Annie Sofie von Otter. Of the three, Annie’s song is the one I enjoyed the most. I really enjoyed the Cyndi Lauper song “Broken Glass”, which was one I really hadn’t heard because I’ve given her third album, Hat Full of Stars, short shrift (well, technically, it’s her fourth album, but I got a three pack of Lauper CDs from work, and Lauper’s third album, A Night To Remember, was not included in the pack–so that album is really getting the short shrift from me.

Music my wife and children brought into our household collection closed the list, with the first selection coming from Boys Like Girls, an act primarily liked by my girls. Now all of my kids love Rise Against, and it’s a band my wife and I both enjoy listening to know, so that was an excellent reverse osmosis musical effect. (I think the musical education has generally traveled in  the opposite direction with the two of us exposing our kids to different styles of music.)  While I spoke earlier of buying Bruce Springsteen albums, make no mistake–my wife is the truer and deeper fan of the boss. I did purchase The Promise, the recent album that produced “The Brokenhearted”, but it was a Christmas present for her. After such a long and diverse collection of music, it is always nice to kick back and relax with a cocktail, although the Avenged Sevenfold song is many things, relaxing is probably not the best term to describe it.

 

How much Lai-Lai-Lai can one boy take?

Can I just say one again that it sucks not working? My latest reminder comes courtesy of Memorial Day. When you’re working full time, 3-day weekends are gold–you look forward to them, counting the hours and then everything about the weekend is awesome. Saturday ends and you remember that you’ve still got two more days! Sunday ends and you get excited because you don’t have to wake up early tomorrow to go to work, and after the bonus of Monday, you head back to work for a shorter week. To compound it, I’m getting sick (summer cold) so my exercise and blogging may slow down over the next few weeks. All-in-all, not a great Memorial Day weekend.

May 26, 2012

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

  • The Boxer–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Boxer–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Boxer [live]–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Boy Blue–Cyndi Lauper
  • The Boy in the Bubble–Paul Simon
  • The Boy is Mine–Glee Cast
  • A Boy Like That–Glee Cast
  • Boy With a Problem–Elvis Costello
  • Boy with the Thorn in his Side–The Smiths
  • Boyfriends, Girlfriends–The Byrds
  • The Boys Are Back–High School Musical Cast
  • Boys Boys Boys–Lady Gaga
  • Boys Cry Tough–Bad Company
  • The Boys of Mutton Street–Richard Thompson
  • The Boys of Summer–Don Henley

When you have  three copies of “The Boxer”, you get a lot of chorus, specifically the duo’s “lai lai lai, lai lai lai lai lai, lai lai lai,…” (well, you get the idea. It’s probably the second-most famous non-word chorus in music history, trailing only all the “na’s” in the “Hey Jude” chorus. (I guess you could make another “na” argument with the chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” because of how often it gets used in sporting events, but I’m still going with “The Boxer”). By the way, the live version of the song is from my The Concert in Central Park album and if you’ve seen the video, this song contains the second-most awkward moment in the show, when Art comes in a little too early with the second line of the song. (The most awkward of course is Garfunkel’s introduction to “A Heart in New York.”) The other cool element to the live version is the introduction of a new verse. Not many musical acts would put in the effort to update a standard like that.

Cyndi Lauper’s “Boy Blue” is a remarkably personal song Lauper wrote about a friend that died from AIDS. People (at least I do) tend of overlook the power of Lauper’s songs–I think I put her in a specific bucket thanks to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and never rethought things. After three “Boxer” songs, you’d think I’d be sick of Paul Simon and not be wanting more just yet. But when the more is “The Boy in the Bubble”, one of my favorite songs from Graceland, more is definitely not a problem. While I don’t want to upset my youngest daughter, I do have to admit that more Glee can be a problem, particularly when it’s two songs from episodes I don’t even think I saw, so I can’t make any kind of connection between the story and the music.

The Glee songs should have served as a bit of a harbinger as much of the rest of the list, as I mostly good musical acts I’m not a big fan of or songs I don’t enjoy by acts I do enjoy. The next three songs on the list, by Elvis Costello, The Smiths, and The Byrds, fall in the latter category, leading me to have little to add (as opposed to the quality I usually add, so sorry folks!)  I should have enjoyed these songs while I could as things took a turn for the saccharine when the boys from High School Musical sang of their return, followed by Lady Gaga, then Bad Company (not one of their greatest hits, but a single from my ill-reasoned CD purchase of their 1990 album Holy Water. I cannot honestly tell you why I purchased the CD except that I was enjoying their greatest hits and wanted to give them another shot. Back then we didn’t have iTunes, youtube, and music services to sample music; you had to take a leap of faith, and in some cases you were jumping into a swimming pool with no water. Richard Thompson and Don Heley closed this list, but there are still some “Boys…” to come in my next walk.