Mission Entirely Possible (part 2 of 10)

What better way to spend the weekend (or the weekend time between going for exercise walks and getting your car stuck in mud) than to follow up the last post with the second group of songs from my 100 favorites of all time playlist? So on to the second batch of songs!

What? You actually care about how I got my car stuck in the mud? It is a treacherous tale that involves high-speed chases, attempts on my life, homemade explosives, stolen government defense plans, illicit love affairs, and a wisecracking robot sidekick. Unfortunately, if I shared the details with you dear reader, I would be putting your life in danger–they will stop at nothing to silence anyone that knows the truth. So instead, I will share the cover story. I was heading to our local branch library to return a book (Stephen King’s The Dark Half), CDs by the Gin Blossoms and Pistol Annies, and the movie Furious 7. Unfortunately, the library had some sort of fair going on in the parking lot, so parking was limited. However, a number of cars were parked in the grass in front of the library, so I parked there and ran in with my returns. (My wife was with me, but she stayed in the car. She had also suggested that I pull up to the front, drop her off with the returns, and circle around, eliminating the need to park. I nixed this solution as I wanted to go in and make the dead drop see if I wanted to check anything else out.) When I returned and tried to leave, the wheels started spinning–we were stuck. My wife got behind the wheel while I pushed. In a terrific visual bit of luck , the wheel threw some mud up and over my legs, which were now caked with wet dirt (and not the blood of the countless ninjas and assassins trying to steal the plans). I was able to move the car a bit, but luckily some young men helped us push and get the car back on firm asphalt. I know this story makes me look like an idiot, but if that is the price I have to pay for our nation’s security, so be it.

  • For What It’s Worth–Buffalo Springfield
  • Smoke–Ben Folds Five
  • Against All Odds–Phil Collins
  • Secret Garden–Tom Cochrane and Damhnait Doyle
  • Gypsy–Suzanne Vega
  • Shadow of the Day–Linkin Park
  • Dirty Work–Steely Dan
  • How Deep Is Your Love?–The Bee Gees
  • Africa–Toto
  • Out of Touch–Hall & Oates

Is there a Vietnam movie out there that doesn’t feature “For What It’s Worth” on its soundtrack? Until today, I always assumed this song was a protest number about the war. However, according to the never-wrong folks at Wikipedia. the song is about the Sunset Strip Riots (also known as the “Hippie Riots” Read Wikipedia if you don’t believe me!). Really saps a lot of power from the song, right? I did not know this information when I put it on my top 100, but I don’t think it’s enough to bump it off, unless Beyonce writes an amazing tune about Jay-Z actually cheating on her with Rachel Ray.

Before the advent of iTunes/steaming music services, it was fun to occasionally make a “roll the dice” album purchase. You know, you hear one song from an artist you don’t know and decide to buy the whole album because of it. I think the first time I did that was after hearing “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits and deciding to grab Brothers in Arms. That clearly worked out great, and it got me to work backward on their musical catalog. In fact, an old song from the band will be appearing later on this list. One of the other great leaps for me was buying Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five based on the strength of “Brick” (now there’s a song to listen to anytime you want to feel good!). Again, I loved the album and “Smoke” is my favorite track from it.

Like “Don’t Answer Me” from the last list, “Against All Odds” might be another ashamed to admit favorite. It was also one of two Phil Collins soundtrack hits from the 80’s I am ashamed to admit liking. The other “Separate Lives” (a duet with Marilyn Martin) is not even part of my music collection these days–I had the 45 but have not added the song in the digital era. If I was going to add a Phil Collins duet to my collection, it would be “Easy Lover” with Phillip Bailey from Earth, Wind, and Fire, a song that would probably make my Top 200. The interesting thing about these two soundtrack hits is that while I love the songs, I have not seen either movie (Against All Odds and White Knights). Ironically, I haven’t seen three other movies that Collins contributed soundtrack songs to either–Tarzan, Brother Bear, or Buster. The first two are odd misses as my kids were right in that Disney animation sweet spot when they were first released, while the last miss makes complete sense.

I assume that almost anyone who creates this list will have a few songs that most people would say “who or what is that” when they see it listed. The “Secret Garden” song is probably that. It is a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song featured in Jerry Maguire. Now I love the Boss, but I am telling you this duet version from Light of Day, a double album of Bruce Springsteen covers, is an incredible improvement over the original. The male/female duet makes the lyrics seem more poignant and sadder. Another one people might not know is “Gypsy” by Suzanne Vega, the first of two songs by her on my list. This one is on her Solitude Standing album, which also has her most famous hit, “Luka.” That is her only top 80 hit in the United States, which I find crazy. She has a rich selection of songs, but none are as beautiful as “Gypsy,” with the chorus

Oh, hold me like a baby
That will not fall asleep
Curl me up inside you
And let me hear you through the heat

(I know I haven’t quoted lyrics until now, but I’d like to make a secondary mission of this particular blog entry to get people to sample more Suzanne Vega.)

My list is skewed to older songs, but I do have a few post-2000 entries, including “Shadow of the Day” by Linkin Park. But my list jumps back four decades after it with a pair of 70’s efforts that feature in films too. Obviously “Dirty Work” was originally just an album cut from Steely Dan’s debut album Can’t Buy a Thrill. But after seeing it in the opening credits of American Hustle, I added it to my digital music collection and listened to it enough to add it to my top 100. The other 70’s song, “How Deep Is Your Love?” probably gets a little lost in the anti-disco fever that erupted at the end of the decade. Actually, I am not sure where we stand these days–is disco awful, cool, retro, kitsch–where do we stand? Regardless of that answer, “How Deep Is Your Love?” is a generational ballad that transcends the genre anyway.

It will almost always come back to the 80’s for me, and the last two songs on this list are square in that wheelhouse. I started listening to top 40 music regularly in 1983, so I missed the peak of the album Toto IV by a year. (Side question–who’s four was better? Toto IV with “Rosanna” and “Africa” or Foreigner 4 with “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl Like You”, and “Juke Box Hero? Do you give bonus points to Toto for its fancy use of Roman numerals? Or do you vote for Chicago IV? That last on is a trick–Chicago’s fourth album, between Chicago III and Chicago V, is titled Chicago at Carnegie Hall. So they are out of the running!) Anyway, I didn’t need to hear it on the radio daily to appreciate the joy of the song “Africa” and it has been a list candidate for decades. My last song is the only top 100 entry from one of my favorite bands, Hall & Oates. They were, along with Men at Work, my first favorite artists. I think if I made a top 500 list, they’d have a dozen songs, but “Out of Touch” has always been my favorite from the group.

Musical Candy and Commentary everybody wants

Nice to see the Red Sox reeling off some victories these days that have forced me to add two-mile walks to my daily routines, so that on days when I don’t get to the gym, I still get out and do something. It was particularly important this past weekend after I took Friday off from exercising and had to eat out twice in a row. I know what you’re thinking–“Had to? Right…” but it’s true. As I continue to look for work, I have applied for managerial work at Plan B Burger, an outstanding Burger, Beer, and Bourbon chain here in Connecticut (but coming soon to DC and Boston), and as part of the application process, I had to eat at two locations. I was so excited to do so that I ate both lunch and dinner at the chain Friday. I highly recommend Plan B–their burgers are outstanding, and everything else I’ve tried on the menu has been a distinct treat as well. In particular, you should get the Disco Fries–french fries covered in cheese and gravy (probably not the best thing to discuss in an exercise column, but treating yourself every once in a while is important in life, right?).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #36 of the 2012 season

  • Can’t Stand It–Wilco
  • Can’t Stand Losing You–The Police
  • Can’t Stop–Maroon 5
  • Can’t Stop the Rain–Cascada
  • Can’t Stop This Thing We Started–Bryan Adams
  • Can’t Take It–The All-American Rejects
  • Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You–Lauryn Hill
  • Can’t Tell Me Nothing–Kanye West
  • Canadian Idiot–“Weird Al” Yankovic
  • Canajoharie–They Might Be Giants
  • Canary in a Coalmine–The Police
  • Canceled Check–Beck
  • Candle in the Wind–Elton John
  • A Candlelit Dinner with Inamorta–Asking Alexandria
  • Candles–Hey Monday
  • Candles–Glee
  • Candy–Jackson Brown
  • Candy–The Presidents of the United States
  • Candy Everybody Wants–10,000 Maniacs

I mentioned recently that Wilco’s collaboration with Billy Bragg was when I first became interested in the band, and that initial spark grew when I started listening to my wife’s copy of Summerteeth. I enjoyed the album enough that I bought the next Wilco album, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, on its release, which turned out to be an excellent decision, if I do say so myself. But “Can’t Stand It” is from the previous album, and while I love the song, I do understand why it wasn’t a mainstream hit for the band, despite their record label’s best efforts. During this walk I would get two different early Police songs, with the first, “Can’t Stand Losing You”, being the bigger hit of the two, but as I get older in life, I’m finding myself enjoying the less-known “Canary in a Cole Mine” more.

I hit a run of pop hits starting with Maroon 5. One thing I’ve noticed about Maroon 5 songs is that they all sound like hit singles even if they were never released as singles. The Cascada song was a hit single, but one my kids enjoyed more than me. The last pop hit in the run was from Bryan Adams. In the 80’s I was a big fan pf the Canadian superstar, but as he released later albums, I was less interested in the songs. I think this was equal parts of my musical interests changing and Adams’ music getting a little more soft rock than it had been. The All-American Rejects broke me out of my top 40 run with an album cut from their breakout album “Move Along”. By the way, if you get a chance to see them live, I highly recommend them. In fact, they are the last act I’ve seen in concert.

While I enjoy Lauryn Hill’s version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (she gives it, like all her songs, an ethereal soulful quality), I still can’t hear the song without thinking of Heath Ledger’s performance of the song in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen romance version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, (see, learning the classics can be fun), which gives the song a sad edge. Kanye ends the “Can’t…” portion of my list with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, which is such a great song that I’m willing to overlook the double negative.

Things take a turn for the humorous and offbeat with a Weird Al parody of Green Day, and a They Might Be Giants song, “Canajoharie”, which I thought at first was a made-up name, but is in reality a town in New York. The Beck song reminded me of how much I like listening to Beck and that I let too much time go between album plays for the group. I’m glad the only version of “Candle in the Wind” that we own is the original version–I found the newer version tweaked for Princess Di a little bit tacky. I got to hear another Asking Alexanderia song (still not a fan), followed by original and Glee versions of “Candles”.

Three versions of “Candy…” songs closed the list, and each approached a different take on the subject. The Jackson Browne version is about a woman named Candy, while the Presidents of the United States are singing about literal candy. 10,000 Maniacs sings about metaphorical candy in their song (television), which was even better when the Kinks did it a decade earlier in “Give the People What They Want”.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #37 of the 2012 season

  • Candy Everybody Wants–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Everybody Wants [live]–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Everybody Wants [single version]–10,000 Maniacs
  • Candy Floss-Wilco
  • Candy’s Boy–Bruce Springsteen
  • Candy’s Room–Bruce Springsteen
  • Candy’s Room–Crazysloth
  • Cannibal Resource–Dirty Projectors
  • Cannonball-The Breeders
  • Cannonball–Supertramp
  • The Cap’n–They Might Be Giants
  • Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa–Vampire Weekend
  • Capri–Colbie Caillat
  • Captain Jack–Billy Joel
  • Caramel–Suzanne Vega
  • Caramel–Suzanne Vega
  • Carbon Monoxide–CAKE
  • The Card Cheat–The Clash
  • Careful–Paramore

After closing the Saturday walking session with the unplugged version of “Candy Everybody Wants”, I opened with three more versions of the song, including the album cut, a live version that includes Michael Stipe from a CD single for “Few and Far Between”, and the version from its own CD single. Hearing this song three more times reminded me just how much I loved 10,000 Maniacs in college and the first few years out of school. Seeing that I got into the Talking Heads to impress a girl, I feel like 10,000 Maniacs were the first band I discovered without radio airplay for me. And that run of In My Tribe, Blind Man’s Zoo, Our Time in Eden, and Unplugged was just spectacular. The other amazing aspect of their run was the CD singles, particularly those mentioned earlier. I’d buy them even though I owned the album with the hit because there’d be three other songs with each, such as the group’s cover of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” or their version of “Let the Mystery Be” done with guest David Byrne. I don’t seem to see releases like that any more.

I got another Summerteeth track from Wilco, and it helped me learn that candy floss is a synonym for cotton candy. My run of “Candy…” ended in symmetry as I got a final group of songs about “Candy…” that referred to a woman with that name. The first was from the Bruce Springsteen album The Promise, and was an earlier version of what would eventually become “Candy’s Room”, which we also own a cover version from the Light of Day album. After a Dirty Projectors number, I got to hear two different, yet both highly entertaining songs with the title “Cannonball”. If forced to pick, I’d choose the Breeders version, but I’d have no problem listening to the Supertramp song as well.  Things take a turn for the awesome with one of my favorite more recent They Might Be Giants songs and another travelogue from Vampire Weekend’s first album.

Colbie Caillet led into an early Billy Joel hit, “Captain Jack” (see how smart They Might Be Giants were to name their track “The Cap’n” so theirs came before “Captain Jack”!) Excellent close to my workout list with Suzanne Vega getting me hungry for dessert, a hunger that grew when I realized my next song was performed by CAKE–so tasty they should be in all capital letters. Any time you get a song from London Calling, one of the greatest albums of the Rock era, is a good time, and I also enjoyed the track from Paramore to close the weekend’s work.

 

Who ya gonna call? Dr. Love!

It’s a new week, and a big one–just two more days and my kids will be finished with school for the year. Then we’ll be together in the house, spending quality time in a house without central air with temperatures set to reach triple digits by the end of the week…good lord, will someone please help me get a job as soon as possible!

Monday, June 18, 2012

2+ mile neighborhood walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #33 of the 2012 season

  • Calling All Nations–INXS
  • Calling All the People–4 Non-Blondes
  • Calling Dr. Love–Shandi’s Addiction
  • Calling For You–Iris DeMent
  • Calling You–Blue October
  • Calm Before The Storm–Fall Out Boy
  • Calm Inside The Storm–Cyndi Lauper
  • Calm Like A Bomb–Rage Against The Machine
  • The Calvary Cross–Richard Thompson
  • Calypso–Suzanne Vega
  • Calypso–Suzanne Vega
  • Came Out Swinging–The Wonder Years
  • The Camera Eye–Rush
  • Camisado–Panic! At the Disco
  • A Campfire Song–10,000 Maniacs
  • Campfire Song Song–Spongebob Squarepants

I own and enjoy both Kick and by INXS, but have never bothered to purchase the group’s earlier albums or the later ones before they tragically lost lead singer Michael Hutchence. I know the band eventually added a new lead singer thanks to the power of reality TV, but I never bothered watching the show or listening to the new band that resulted from the show–I think I’d like to keep them preserved as the lineup from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’ve spoken in the past about albums I’ve purchased on the strength of a first song, and whether it turned out to be a wise decision or not. I’d probably categorize the purchase of Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non-Blondes decidedly in the “not” side of the ledger. The look of the group and their sound feels like an early 90’s time capsule that has not aged well.

I like the “Calling Dr. Love” cover, but apparently the band, Shandi’s Addiction, was a one-time gathering, featuring artists from Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Faith No More. So don’t waste your time looking for that 20th Century Masters Collection featuring all the band’s hits–you’re more likely to find Dean Miller’s greatest hits (that joke doesn’t actually work because there is a country artist that has tried to steal my identity–I had it first, and just because I wasn’t doing much with it (and the fact that you were born four years earlier) mean that you can take it from me.

I don’t own a lot of Blue October (in fact, this song and “Into The Ocean” are it), but I do enjoy what I’ve heard. This song comes from the American Wedding soundtrack, and is one of my favorite tracks from the movie. The next two songs create an interesting debate–which would be better to be in–Fall Out Boy’s “Calm Before the Storm” or Cyndi Lauper’s “Calm Inside The Storm”? While in Lauper’s version you’re already halfway through the storm, you still have more storm to go. If you are in the calm before the storm, there’s always a chance the storm will miss you. I’d suggest the best is “Calm After the Storm” because you know that there’s no more storm to come. Of course, if your calm is “…Like a Bomb” as Rage Against the Machine suggests, there’s not much difference between it and the storm.

Richard Thompson goes and gets all religious on us, singing about the “Calvary Cross”. I remember playing Calvary Christian in basketball my senior year. I was the last player off the bench, going in when the game was way out of hand. Calvary Christian had a player who was bragging before the game that he was going to dunk on us, a rare talent in small-school New Hampshire basketball. He just needed the right circumstances, a breakaway, which he finally got in the last few minutes of a blowout. I was heading back on D, realizing the crowd was on the feet, knowing what was to come. Not on my watch–he wasn’t going to dunk on me. I knocked him dow from behind to prevent the layup, but really angered the crowd and the opposing team. And there I thought they were good Christians…

After two slightly different versions of Suzanne Vega’s “Calypso”, the tempo certainly increased, first to pop punk from The Wonder Years, followed by a track from the seminal Rush album Moving Pictures. After a Panic! At the Disco song, I got a track from the album that introduced me to 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe. Michael Stipe guests on “A Campfire Song”, and I guess early 10,000 Manic tours were with R.E.M. and he’d come out and sing it with Natalie and the boys. When I saw 10,000 Manics on their Blind Man’s Zoo tour, they were the headliners and Stipe was nowhere to be seen, so she picked someone out of the audience, and the idiot didn’t even know the lyrics. If you think I was bitter in the back, knowing how much I would have wowed the group with my musical stylings, you are way off…time for the next (last on this list) song…oh, it’s another Spongebob song, the “Campfire Song Song”. I just mentioned it to my daughter, specifically my 18-year-old daughter, and she immediately sang it to me. Ahh, to be young…

 

The Musical Circumstances of One’s Birth

Opening graf

May 24, 2012

2+ miles walking (behind a lawnmower!) to commemorate Red Sox victory #22 of the 2o12 season

  • Born As Ghosts–Rage Against the Machine
  • Born at the Right Time–Paul Simon
  • Born for This–Paramore
  • Born Free–M.I.A.
  • Born in the U.S.A.–Bruce Springsteen
  • Born of a Broken Man–Rage Against the Machine
  • Born on the Bayou–John Fogerty
  • Born this Way–Glee Cast
  • Born this Way–Lady Gaga
  • Born this Way–Lady Gaga
  • Born this Way [starsmith remix]–Lady Gaga
  • Born To Be My Baby–Bon Jovi
  • Born To Hand Jive–Sha-Na-Na
  • Born To Love Volcanos–The Dead Milkmen
  • Born To Run–Bruce Springsteen
When you’re at the gym, it’s nice to start a workout with Rage Against the Machine to kick things off and get you moving. You don’t need to move this way when you’re pushing a lawnmower however. Slow and steady wins the race with mowing, and moving too fast can lead to problems like running over a rock or clogging the mower deck. However, even though I don’t want to move too quickly, it’s still nice to get not one but two Rage songs from The Battle of Los Angeles. It’s the first of many “born” decisions and scenarios this list covers. Which would be better–to be born as a ghost or born of a broken man? I would say the latter, because although your dad may be broken, you can still make something of yourself.
I probably don’t give the Paul Simon album The Rhythm of the Saints enough credit simply because it followed Graceland and there was no way I could love the new album as much as that one. It’s not fair, as the album is still excellent, particularly with songs like “Born at the Right Time”.  Paul gives way to a couple of modern women-led songs, first Hayley Williams with Paramore, then M.I.A. “Born Free” was the first single from her album Maya, and it’s a song that I didn’t find appealing at first, but it grew on my with additional listens. Speaking of additional listens, I still find it humorous that the Reagan people clearly didn’t give Bruce’s “Born in the U.S.A.” enough listens to actually understand the lyrics in order to ascertain that it wouldn’t be an appropriate campaign song. My iPod listed “Born on the Bayou” as a John Fogerty song, but it’s clearly Creedence.
Seeing that I got almost twenty minutes worth of “Born this Way”, it’s a good thing I’m a fan of the song. Every once in a while you hear a song and know that it will remain popular for years to come and not fade into the “remember this one?” category. This song, with its amazing message, should fall into the first category. Not necessarily the Glee version that started things off, but the Lady Gaga song that I heard three times (the original twice and a dance remix). She really does channel 80’s Madonna on the number.  After Bon Jovi, I got another Sha-Na-Na song from the Grease soundtrack. I remember hearing the song as a kid and being convinced that “hand jive” is a euphemism for something dirty.
My mowing session ended with the Dead Milkmen giving me the strangest “Born…” scenario (and who wasn’t born to love volcanoes?) and  another Bruce Springsteen classic.
May 25, 2012
3.44 miles on the elliptical machine plus upper arm weight work at the gym
  • Born To Run–Cowboy Mouth
  • Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)–The Talking Heads
  • Borrowed Time–Richard & Linda Thompson
  • Borrowing Time–Aimee Mann
  • Bossy Boots Song–Spongebob SquarePants
  • Boston–Augustana
  • Both Crosses–The Hold Steady
  • Bottle and a Gun–Hollywood Undead
  • Bottle of Blues–Beck
  • Bottle of Smoke–The Pogues
  • Bottom of the Ocean–Miley Cyrus
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams–Green Day
  • Bounce–Timbaland featuring Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott & Justin Timberlake
  • Bouncing Off the Walls–Sugarcult
  • Bound–Suzanne Vega
  • Bout to Get Fruit Punched, Homie–The Wonder Years
  • Box Set–Barenaked Ladies

My gym time began with the same song that closed my mowing time, as Cowboy Mouth covered “Born to Run” as well. It is a straight cover, perhaps a little more rocking than the the Boss’s version. The final “Born…” song is courtesy of the Talking Heads from the awesome Remain in Light album. With my weight-loss aspirations right now, this last “born…” song might be the one for me, as I’d love to be able to say “I’m so thin”. The next two songs are in the proper order alphabetically, but it seems like they’d make more sense thematically if they were reversed. After all Aimee Mann’s “Borrowing Time” should com before Richard and Linda Thompson sing of the time they borrowed. Thanks to my kids, SpongeBob was once again part of my exercise routine.

I love Augustana’s “Boston” as it makes me think of my college days. “Both Crosses” is the first song I’ve heard from the Hold Steady’s 2008 album Stay Positive, which is a great collection of music and one I’d highly recommend to anyone.  I then jumped into a run of three “Bottle…” songs, first from Hollywood Undead, then Beck gave me a “Bottle of Blues” before old friend the Pogues finished things off with their bottle filled with smoke. Miley Cyrus then took me to the bottom of the ocean, before Green Day hit it with the awesome “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from American Idiot. While I do love the album, I don’t have much interest in seeing the musical. Green Day does not scream musical theater to me for some strange reason.

Timbaland delivered a track from “Shock Value”, one that is incredibly over the top with its sexuality, and I also heard another track from the American Wedding soundtrack (the Sugarcult song, not the Suzanne Vega selection) followed by a number from The Wonder Years, a pop punk band my son is really into these days. I haven’t given them enough of a listen to decide where I land opinion-wise, but with the volume of music my son has picked up by the band, I’m going to have a chance to do so. My last song of the day was a clever number from Barenaked Ladies’ first album Gordon that spoofs career-spanning retrospectives of musicians, which is particularly enjoyable when you think about where the band would be going over the next few years.

6 miles at a blistering pace with a stop for boiled goose

Finally got caught up on Red Sox walks the last two days–my preference is always to walk outside but we’ve had consistent and frustrating rain for most of the beginning of this week, so Tuesday night I was able to get some treadmill time in at the gym before I had to race my daughter home for the third season finale of Glee (you may not have been able to tell she was a big fan if you ignored the clue that we own about 300 songs from the show). Then yesterday finally saw the much-needed break in the rain that allowed some extended outside walking. By the way, no need to call Guinness about the title–it referred to the blister I got from walking too much in a single day. But don’t worry about me–I’ll soldier on, and I’m only needing to walk 2 miles for yesterday’s Red Sox victory.

May 22-23, 2012

6+ miles treadmill/neighborhood walking to commemorate Red Sox victories #19, #20, and #21 of the 2012 season

  • Body to Body–Miami Sound Machine
  • Bogie’s Bonnie Belle–Richard Thompson
  • Bohemian Rhapsody–Queen
  • Bohemian Rhapsody–Glee Cast
  • Boho Dance–Bjork
  • Boll Weevil–The Presidents of the United States
  • Bombay–Timbaland
  • Bombers Bay–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Bone Broke–The White Stripes
  • Bones–The Killers
  • Bonfire–Childish Gambino
  • Bonny [live]–AC/DC
  • Bonus–Johnny Socko
  • Bonus–Johnny Socko
  • The Boogie Monster–Gnarls Barkley
  • Book of Dreams–Suzanne Vega
  • Book of Dreams–Dion
  • Bookends Theme–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Bookends Theme–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Bookhouse Boys–Angelo Badalamenti
  • Boom Boom Pow–Black Eyed Peas
  • Boom Box–The Lonely Island
  • Bootleg [live]–John Fogerty
  • Boots of Spanish Leather–The Airborne Toxic Event
  • Boots of Spanish Leather–Bob Dylan
  • Booyaka 619–P.O.D.
  • Bop to The Top–Sharpay & Ryan (High School Musical Cast)
  • Border Song–Elton John
  • Borderline–Alison Krauss
  • Borderline–Madonna
  • Borderline–Madonna
  • Borderline/Open Your Heart–Madonna

We all have out guilty pleasure music/tv/movies, and in the first category, I would list “Miami Sound Machine”. While I don’t own the band’s complete catalogue, I do enjoy almost everything off Primative Love, with one song in particular (which I will discuss in deeper detail when I get to it) holding a special place in my heart. Speaking of Gloria Estefan, she popped up on the season finale of Glee that I mentioned earlier (I promise I was only watching in passing!). For a woman looking to celebrate her 55th birthday this year, she looks great. She could be described as either a “bonnie” or a “belle” so she hit two-thirds of the Richard Thompson song title that followed–I would not describe her as “bogie” so she’s not the trifecta.

The defining song of Queen came next, one that gets a pop culture revival every few years. It shouldn’t need it, as with its shifting styles and tempos and grand feel, the song is a must-own for everyone. But thanks to Wayne’s World, Rock Band 3, and Glee, the song has seen popularity boosts in the last few decades (with the first being the largest boost). But man, it is a long song, and I got to hear it twice–although the Glee version doesn’t hold a candle to the original of course. Going from a Freddy Mercury song to a Bjork seems like a fairly natural transition, even if the latter’s contribution is only a tribute to Joni Mitchell.

I remember from history classes that boll weevils were a blight upon the cotton growing industry, but thanks to POTUS, they can be a blight on my musical lists as well! (Only kidding, the song, like most Presidents of the United States selections, is a fun rocking tune.) Speaking of fun, “Bombay” is probably my favorite Timbaland song. I love the exotic music mixed with his beats. Now in their song, Echo & The Bunnymen travel quite a bit, but I’m not entirely sure where “Bomber’s Bay” is located, but if we cut out the ‘ber’s ‘ in the middle, it could be Bombay as well. I’d like to visit Bombay (or Bomber’s Bay) some time, but at this point in my life, extensive travel is not on the menu. I won’t say that I’m “Bone Broke” despite the fact that it would be an awesome transition to the next song on the list. The song is another reminder that I’d like to pick up the new Jack White solo album as I’ve heard a couple of the tracks on the radio and have enjoyed them. The anatomy lesson continued with the Killers “Bones”, another excellent track from their Sam’s Town album. I then got a Childish Gambino track “Bonfire”. I know I’ve said that I’m still trying to figure out whether I like his CD, but “Bonfire” is great, and it’s received some repeat listens from me recently.

The next three tracks passed quickly, as they were all effectively transitional songs from albums. “Bonny” was from an AC/DC performance in Scotland–the band treated it as an instrumental, but the fans provide the vocals. It’s a pretty cool demonstration of the power a large crowd can have when united to accomplish something, even something as simple as a song.  That was followed by two tracks with the same “Bonus” name from the debut album of Johnny Socko. When things returned to normal songs, I heard my first Gnarls Barkley song on this list, “The Boogie Monster”. My wife recently joked that if I ever passed away, she’d consider having an affair with Billy Bragg’s voice. I think she’d also consider the voice of Cee-Lo Green as well, as she loves his dulcet tones. I do as well, but I wouldn’t go that far.

Time to head to the library as I got two “Book of Dreams” releases, first by Suzanne Vega, which I enjoyed more, with the second being a Dion cover of a Bruce Springsteen song from “Lucky Town”, one of the rare Bruce Springsteen albums we don’t own–so we get the cover but not the original. Things stay bookish but get transitional again with the “Bookends” themes from Simon & Garfunkel that opened and closed side one of their same-titled album. The first is instrumental and the second has a small amount of lyrics. The last volume of my “Book…” collection is an instrumental piece from the television program Twin Peaks. Like much of the soundtrack album, “The Bookhouse Boys” is such a unique piece that it immediately puts me back to when I was in college and each new episode was an event. It’s too bad that cable networks didn’t exist then, as I believe an HBO or AMC could have given Lynch the time and  creative freedom to make Twin Peaks last five seasons.

Despite their lackluster Super Bowl halftime performance, I continue to be a big Black Eyed Peas fan, and will mix tracks in from The E.N.D. in any and all playlists. I’ve heard people complain that the group was overexposed on radio, but where I don’t listen to radio and instead choose my own tracks, I didn’t have to suffer through that issue. The Peas were followed by another monster rap-influenced group, the Lonely Island. Their “Boom Box” track, like most of their songs, has a great beat and hilarious lyrics, particularly their obsession with boiled goose throughout the number.

John Fogerty was the last song before a pseudo-Spanish run began, starting with two versions of “Boots of Spanish Leather”, first a cover by the Airborne Toxic Event and then the original by Bob Dylan. Listening to the song, it seems like the title should be “Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather” but Bob didn’t want redundancy in the title even if it’s in the lyrics. I guess I should just be thankful it’s not called “Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather”. P.O.D.’s theme song for Rey Mysterio keeps the Hispanic flavor coming, but then the cast of High School Musical really stretch things with the two whitest kids in the cast singing a song with lots of Spanish words and phrases. Perhaps they learned them from the household help.

I knew the list was coming to an end as I reached the border.  Elton John gave me the first clue before I reached the “Borderline”. Of course when I hear that title, I automatically assumed it was the Madonna version, but first I got a different song with the same title from Allison Krauss. I don’t remember the song, but I really enjoyed it. I then got the “Borderline” I first remembered, with two versions actually, one from her debut self-titled album and one from a greatest hits collection. Things closed with a “Borderline” mash-up with “Open Your Heart” from the Madonna-themed episode of Glee, which I feel was the strongest themed episode of the show.

 

 

Entering my Blue Period

Well, it’s been a while, but I’ve hit another milestone! With today’s list, I’ve now heard more than 1,000 songs. The milestone song would have made my son happy, as it was a Sum 41 song, “Blood in My Eyes”. Looking at the songs in the vicinity, there wasn’t one I’d have been excited to be the one, which is sad as milestones should always be special.

May 14, 2012

2+ miles on the treadmill to commemorate Red Sox victory#15 of the 2012 season

  • Blinuet–Zoot Sims
  • Blood–Pearl Jam
  • Blood (Gangrel)–WWE
  • Blood & Roses–The Smithereens
  • Blood Doll–Anarchy Club
  • Blood in My Eyes–Sum 41
  • Blood is Thicker Than Water–Wyclef Jean featuring G&B
  • Blood Makes Noise–Suzanne Vega
  • Blood on My Hands–The Sundays
  • Blood Orgy of the Atomic Fern–The Dead Milkmen
  • Blood Pt. 2–Buck 65
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik–Red Hot Chili Peppers

While you may not recognize “Blinuet” by name, if you’re a fan of the Wes Anderson movie Rushmore, you may remember this distinctive jazz track from the man who’s name inspired the Muppet character. Pearl Jam must be all about simple titles–when I started the “Black…” section of my list, they led off with the simple song “Black” and now they also begin the “Blood…” section with another one-word title. I guess the like getting to the point, or they’re a fan of the “Yankee Taciturnity” that my first writing teacher in college used to talk about. The other simply titled “Blood” song is the theme used by WWE Superstar Gangrel and the Brood. I always thought they were a cool group (and Edge and Christian obviously went on to bigger and better things) and I wished they (the Brood) could have stuck around longer.

I’m already a fan of the music of the Smithereens, and I particularly enjoyed the visual imagery of the song “Blood & Roses”. While Rock Band led to my children and me discovering new musical likes, some of the artists in the game didn’t connect. Anarchy Club, who’s “Blood Doll” is included in the original game, is an example. As I mentioned earlier, “Blood in My Eyes” was my 1,000th song–and as I guessed, my son was happy to hear it, telling me that he really liked the song, so at least it worked for someone in the family. Speaking of families, “Blood is Thicker than Water” gave me a chance to remember how much I enjoyed watching the Sopranos (the song is from the soundtrack) and it might be time to start rewatching the entire arc.

It’s interesting to think that to many music fans, Suzanne Vega is a one-hit wonder, particularly if the remake of “Tom’s Diner” goes to DNA. Her catalogue of songs is so strong and diverse, yet most will only think of  “Luka” when her name comes up, which is truly a shame. After the Sundays, and yet another serious “Blood…” song, we finally got a tongue-in-cheek “Blood…” number courtesy of the Dead Milkmen. My favorite part of the song is when he deadpans “God I hate poetry” in the middle of the lyrics, ironic because all pop music is a form of poetry, including the Dead Milkmen. Things get a little serious once again with Buck 65, but the Chili Peppers are another band that brings a little fun and joy to their music.

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

  • Blood to Bleed–Rise Against
  • Bloodbuzz Ohio–The National
  • Bloodbuzz Ohio–The National
  • The Bloodmobile–They Might Be Giants
  • Bloody Mary–Lady Gaga
  • Bloody Well Right–Supertramp
  • Blow it Up–The Vaccines
  • Blow Me Away–Breaking Benjamin
  • Blowin’ in the Wind–Bob Dylan
  • Blowin’ in the Wind–Joan Baez
  • Blowin’ in the Wind–Ziggy Marley
  • Blowin’ in the Wind [live]–Bob Dylan
  • Blown Away–Pixies
  • Blue–The Jayhawks
  • Blue–The Jayhawks
  • Blue–Joni Mitchell

Nice start to my elliptical work with Rise Against and then two copies of a National Song. (I really should delete one of them, which I got free from iTunes when I preordered their last album High Violet. I just have trouble getting rid of tracks, but when there’s nothing unique about it, it makes no sense to keep the second copy.) Things took a turn for the educational with a They Might Be Giants song about the circulatory system. I’ve probably said it before, but if you have children, nephews, nieces, grandkids, friends of the family, any children you want to introduce to awesome music, you should pick up the They Might Be Giants albums about the 123s, ABCs, and Science. You will learn something and love the songs as well.

The flow of blood finally ended after the dyamic duo of Lady Gaga and Supertramp. I need to listen to the Lady Gaga song more carefully to figure out whether she’s singing about the drink or the urban legend. The Supertramp boys are pretty clear in their meaning. I then got a number from one of the new acts I enjoyed discovering this past year, the Vaccines. I think their work has charted in their native UK, but has not seen much traction here in America, but I’m hoping that will change soon.

One of the greatest rock songs of all time, and probably one of the most covered, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, followed. We have four versions of the song, including original and live cuts by the man, Bob Dylan, as well as a Joan Baez cover from back in the day and a more recent version performed by Ziggy Marley. This is such a great song, one who’s lyrics are even more apt and important today than when the song was first released 40 years ago (and I wonder how Mr. Dylan would have reacted to hearing that back then).

After a Pixies song from Bossa Nova, things got “Blue…” around here, starting with two copies of the amazing Jayhawks. I completely understand that when the average music fan hears the song title “Blue”, they are far more likely to think of the Joni Mitchell number (which closed today’s list, and is an awesome song as well), but I do think the mournful number from the Jayhawks is getting the short shrift and deserves more attention.

 

(The Angels Wanna Listen to) Christmas Carols

I hope I’m not a jinx. I hope my proclamation yesterday that I’d walk 2 miles for every Red Sox win didn’t lead to them losing a heartbreaking ninth-inning game this afternoon. It’s funny the way sport fans can feel that our actions can have a specific effect on wins, or more likely, losses. I don’t think fans of a film or TV show believe that show they sit, what they wear, or any of a dozen other affectations can change the end result of things. But if we could, I must have absolutely sat in the perfect spot this evening for tonight’s episode of Community. I highly recommend it for fans of comedy or Ken Burns documentaries.

April 5, 2012

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

  • Angel Eyes–John Hiatt
  • Angel of Harlem–U2
  • Angel’s Doorway–Suzanne Vega
  • Angelina–Bob Dylan
  • Angelina–Herb Albert
  • Angels–Jessica Simpson
  • Angels and Girlfriends–Five for Fighting
  • Angels Running–Cher
  • The Angels Took My Racehorse Away–Richard Thompson
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes–Elvis Costello
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes [Live]–Elvis Costello
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes–Elvis Costello
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes–Elvis Costello
  • Angels We Have Heard on High–Michael McDonald
  • Angels We Have  Heard on High–Aretha Franklin
  • Angels We Have Heard on High–Christina Aguilera
  • Angels We Have Heard on High–ZOEgirl

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a big John Hiatt fan, and on his live album, I got a few of his songs that while he wrote, they became hits for other artists. The first of which is “Angel Eyes”, which was a Top 10 hit for the Jeff Healey Band. Healey was the blind guitarist that was the house act during the Citizen Kane of Ivy-league bouncer movies, Road House. While looking up info for this paragraph, I was saddened to learn that Healey died in 20o8.

“Angel of Harlem” was another hit from U2’s Rattle and Hum album. I then got a Suzanne Vega song from her Close Up albums. She’s re-recording her past songs in a more simplified acoustic manner, and I’ve added volumes 1 and 2 to my collection. I mean to add volume 3 soon, and a fourth and final volume will come out later this year.

Two different takes on “Angelina”, with the first coming from Bob Dylan and the second being an instrumental piece from Herb Albert. I bought an Albert CD based on my love of one song–“Rise”–but was happy with the rest of the album as well. I used to put it on in college and fall asleep to it (which isn’t to say it was boring–I just found it soothing. Things were a little bit of a blur for the next few songs, as I glossed over Jessica Simpson, Five for Fighting, and Cher. I did enjoy the Richard Thompson song which came from a 4-disc box set I got my wife for her birthday two years ago.

I got a deep run of Elvis Costello as we own four versions of one of his biggest hits, “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”. I know that alphabetically iTunes drops both definite and indefinite articles, but they also drop symbols like open parentheses. One of the versions was a live song, in which Elvis identified the song as just “Red Shoes”, which makes me want to disregard the entire parenthetical beginning to the title.

Here’s the thing–if you’re a fan of Christmas music and own more than a dozen CDs of holiday collections, you’re going to get multiple copies of certain Christmas standards (just wait until I get to “Silent Night”). When it comes to holiday songs, I’m a big fan of the traditional religious hymms, and “Angels We Have Heard On High” has always been a favorite. Ironically, I feel like I’m still looking for the best version of this song, but of the four today, the ZOEgirl is the one I enjoy the best, even though I usually prefer the more faithful adaptations and their’s is the most jazzed up interpretation. I will get one more shot at the song tomorrow, as I still have a fifth version, a Glee version, to go.