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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1111–Make a Wish

For my kids, any time they see 11:11 on a digital clock face, they say “11:11–make a wish!” When setting up my post for today, I noticed that I’ve now had 1,111 total page views, so I decided to make some wishes concerning this blog. I don’t believe I can share the specifics of the wishes if I want them to come true, but with the wishes topic being the blog, it’s probably pretty easy to guess their general direction. (And let’s just say I’d like to be making the 11,111 views wish sooner than later).

I have finally decided to catch back up, so this entry is going to be for the last several weeks, as well as 5 Red Sox victories (which will not catch me up with them, but will get me closer seeing that they’ve kindly decided to win only one game in the last week). There will be less total commentary, but you will see that I’m now over 2,000 songs and have crossed into the ‘D’ entries. (I apologize for hitting so many songs at once, but I figure it’s the only way to get back on track and on time, particularly with how little blogging I’ve done the last week, first from excitement that my job hunt may have finally ended, and then my sadness that the job hunt has to continue, and there doesn’t seem to be anything imminent).

August 4-23, 2012

Multiple gym visits plus 5 2+ mile walks to commemorate Red Sox victories 44 through 48 of the 2012 season

  • Crazy For You–Madonna
  • Crazy For You–Madonna
  • Crazy In Love–Beyonce
  • Crazy Life–Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love–Queen
  • Crazy Love, Vol. II–Paul Simon
  • Crazy Man Michael–Fairport Convention
  • Crazy Ones–John Mellencamp
  • Cream–Prince
  • Creatures of Love–Talking Heads
  • The Creep–Lonely Island
  • Creeping Death–Metallica
  • Creeping Out Sara–NOFX
  • Creeque Alley–The Mamas and the Papas
  • Cremation–Lou Reed
  • Crescent Moon–Cowboy Junkies
  • Cressida–Richard Thompson
  • Crime of the Century–Supertramp
  • Crimes of Paris–Elvis Costello
  • Crimes of Paris [Electric Edition]–Elvis Costello
  • Criminal–Disturbed
  • Crimson and Clover–Joan Jett
  • Crocodile Rock–Elton John
  • Cropduster–Pearl Jam
  • Cross Bones Style–Cat Power
  • Cross My Fingers–John Hiatt
  • Cross The Border–Icehouse
  • Cross-Eyed Mary–Jethro Tull
  • Crosseyed And Painless–Talking Heads
  • Crosseyed And Painless–Talking Heads
  • Crosseyed And Painless–Talking Heads
  • Crossroads–Cream
  • Cruella De Vil–Los Lobos
  • Cruella DeVille–The Replacements
  • Cruisin’ in the ATL (Interlude)–Outkast
  • Crumbs From Your Table–U2
  • Crunchy Granola Suite [Live]–Neil Diamond
  • Crush–Glee Cast
  • Crushcrushcrush–Paramore
  • Cry Baby Cry–The Beatles
  • Cry Freedom–Dave Mathews Band
  • Cry If You Want–The Who
  • Cry on My Shoulder–Bonnie Raitt
  • Cry To Me–Solomon Burke
  • Cry, Little Sister (Theme From The Lost Boys)–Gerard McMann
  • Crying–TV on the Radio
  • Crying in the Chapel–Elvis Costello
  • The Crying Scene–Aztec Camera
  • Crying, My Little One…–Natalie Merchant
  • Crystal–Fleetwood Mac
  • Crystal Ball–Styx
  • The Crystal Ship–The Doors
  • Cup of Coffee–Garbage
  • Cupid–Sam Cooke
  • Cupid’s Chokehold/Breakfast in America (Radio Edit)–Gym Class Heroes
  • Curiosity–k.d. lang
  • The Curse–Disturbed
  • Curtain Calls–Old 97’s
  • Cut Flowers–The Smithereens
  • Cut My Hair–The Who
  • Cuts Like a Knife–Bryan Adams
  • The Cutter–Echo & The Bunnymen
  • Cutting Corners–Transit
  • Cuyahoga–R.E.M.
  • Cuyahoga–R.E.M.
  • Cyclone–Baby Bash featuring T-Pain
  • Cyclops Rock–They Might Be Giants
  • D & W–They Might Be Giants
  • D Is for Drums–They Might Be Giants
  • D-7 [Live]–Nirvana
  • D.F. [Interlude]–Outkast
  • Dad’s Gonna Kill Me–Richard Thompson
  • Daddy Can I Turn This?–Elvis Costello
  • Daddy Come Home–Tom Tom Club
  • Daddy Go Down–David Byrne
  • Daddy Learned To Fly–Drive-By Truckers
  • Daddy Needs A Drink–Drive-By Truckers
  • Daffodil Lament–The Cranberries
  • Daft Punk Is Playing At My House–LCD Soundsystem
  • Daktari–10,000 Maniacs
  • Damaged By Love–Tom Petty
  • Damaged Goods–Fastball
  • Damnit–Blink-182
  • Damnit–Blink-182
  • Damnit Janet–The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Damn Girl–Justin Timberlake
  • Damn Girl–The All-American Rejects
  • Damn Good Times–They Might Be Giants
  • Damn It, Janet–Glee
  • Damnation’s Cellar–Elvis Costello
  • Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)–All Time Low
  • Dance–Soul II Soul
  • Dance Hall Drug–Boys Like Girls
  • Dance Inside–The All-American Rejects
  • Dance of the Dream Man–Angelo Badalamenti
  • Dance of the Reeds–Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy–Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Dance On Vasoline–David Byrne
  • Dance This Mess Around–The B-52’s
  • Dance With Me–Drew Seeley featuring Belinda
  • Dance With the Devil–Breaking Benjamin
  • Dance, Dance–Fall Out Boy
  • Dance, Dance–Fall Out Boy
  • Dance, Dance [live]–Fall Out Boy
  • Dance, Dance, Dance–The Beach Boys
  • Dance, Dance, Dance–The Steve Miller Band
  • Dancing Bear–The Mamas and The Papas
  • The Dancing Bear–Natalie Merchant
  • Dancing Choose–TV on the Radio
  • Dancing For Rain–Rise Against
  • Dancing in the Dark–Bruce Springsteen
  • Dancing in the Street–Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
  • Dancing Queen–ABBA
  • Dancing Queen–ABBA
  • Dancing Queen–Glee Cast
  • Dancing Through Life–Wicked Cast
  • Dancing With Myself–Billy Idol
  • Dancing With Myself–Glee Cast
  • Dangerous–The Who
  • Dangerous Games–The Byrds
  • Dangerous Politics–WWE
  • The Dangling Conversation–Simon & Garfunkel
  • The Dangling Conversation–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Dani California–The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Daniel–Elton John
  • Danny Says–Foo Fighters
  • Dare You To Move–Switchfoot
  • Dark Hand Over My Heart–Richard Thompson
  • The Dark I Know Well–Spring Awakening Cast
  • The Dark Of the Sun–Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Dark Side (Undertaker)–WWE
  • Dark Sneak Love Action–Tom Tom Club
  • Dark Street–Fastball
  • Dark Was The Night–Kronos Quartet
  • The Darkest Side (Remix)–WWE
  • Darkness–Peter Gabriel
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town–Bruce Springsteen
  • Darkness Surrounding–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Darlin–Avril Lavigne
  • Darlington County–Bruce Springsteen
  • Date To Church–The Replacements
  • Daughter–Pearl Jam
  • Daughters–The Story So Far
  • Daughters of Sorrow–The New Pornographers
  • Dave’s Possessed Hair/It’s What We’re All About–Sum 41
  • David Watts–Ray Davies
  • Dawn of the Dreads–Arrested Development
  • Dawn’s Ballet–Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast
  • Dawn’s Lament–Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast
  • The Day–They Might Be Giants
  • The Day I Tried To Live–Soundgarden
  • A Day in the Life–The Beatles
  • The Day That Love Come To Play–They Might Be Giants
  • The Day The Niggaz Took Over–Dr Dre featuring  RBX, Snoop Dogg, Dat Nigga Daz

Well, that is a *lot* of songs–and there’s no way I’ll be able to provide my usual (arguable) high-quality analysis per number that I usually give, so let’s hit some high (and low) points. “Crazy For You” is one of my favorite Madonna songs for a couple of reasons–first of all, I fully admit to being a sap for the slow numbers, second, it’s part of the soundtrack of a great movie, and finally, it was a big slow-dance song during high-school dances back in the day. I finish up the “Crazy…” section of my list with diverse superstar artists including Beyonce, Queen, John Mellencamp, and Paul Simon. When writing the artist for “Crazy Man Michael”, I initially assumed it was Richard Thompson thanks to the album cover, but it was actually a track from Thompson’s early band Fairport Convention–that’s the nice thing about a boxed set; you get the full spectrum of an artist’s career.

I always have had a bit of a soft spot for the Joan Jett version of “Crimson and Clover” as I won the 45 of the song at a Bar Mitzvah I attended in 8th grade. I wasn’t into music yet (that would come a year later), but I was excited to play it and “Juke Box Hero” but had to wait until I could get to the record store as my mother’s record player did not have an adapter for 45’s. So I think I had to wait until the following weekend until we could get to the Strawberries at the mall to listen to my new music. The John Hiatt song is just one of many from the awesome Perfectly Good Guitar album, a decade-plus staple on my “Desert Island Discs” list. As I have shared before, the Icehouse album Man of Colors is also on that list, which led me to purchase another selection from the group, Great Southern Land, which contains “Cross the Border”, but I did not connect with that album as much.

One effective test of a good song is how much you can tolerate consecutive listens, and three “Crosseyed and Painless” copies worked just fine for me. (Full disclosure, one was from the Stop Making Sense soundtrack, so there was some variety.) But I can honestly proclaim that I would have enjoyed a few more listens. “Cuyahoga” works with two listens for me as well. By the way, I can’t be the only person stunned that the Replacements covered a Disney song, right? I can always count on They Might Be Giants to open a letter with something from their ABCs album, but here the hit double duty, as their “Cyclops Rock” got to close ‘C’ before we started on the ‘D’ songs.  Another funny double-up happened when the Drive-By Truckers hit consecutive “Daddy…” songs as apparently he “…Learned to Fly” and “…Needs a Drink” (hopefully in that order as I assume drunk flying is just as bad as drunk driving.

I’d like to call attention to “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” by LCD Soundsystem. When it first came out, I was drawn to the song through a pair of unusual methods, with one (OC soundtracks) being a bit more unusual than the other (a video-game soundtrack, specifically an SSX game for my PSP). I will admit loving the song has yet to inspire me to purchase more LCD Soundsystem, although I did enjoy the song and video for their “Drunk Girls” song. I had another one of those grammar choices splitting to versions of a song when the Glee folks broke from the soundtrack of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and turned Damn it into two words. I’d tend to side with the original source material, but I will say that every time I type
“Damnit” as one word, I get the annoying red squiggle underline indicating a misspelling.

It’s always fun to see how quickly a new acquisition shows up in this alphabetical endeavor. My oldest daughter recently purchased the Once More With Feeling soundtrack from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and two days later I get a pair of “Dawn…” songs from the release. The irony is that she’s my least favorite character from the show. The “Day…” song that must be mentioned is the amazing “Day in the Life” by the Beatles. I’m happy that iTunes has the rights to the Beatles catalogue because otherwise I’d be afraid that Billy Crystal’s joke about kids not knowing who the Beatles are will come true. (It probably does have a kernel of truth these days–after all, the Beatles have not released music in 40+ years and two of them are no longer with us.) The last song and artist was a bit problematic for me. I love the album “The Chronic”, and I of course want to faithfully record the song and artist, but one of the words on each side is a bit problematic to type (I think it’s fairly obvious which word I mean.) But type it I did, but just don’t ask me to say it.

The Elliptical Fallacy

The gym is great and all, but there’s nothing like taking your hard work outdoors. So we decided that an incredibly hot and humid Sunday would be a perfect day to go on a family hike at Sleeping Giant State Park. Normally, we take the nice-and-easy trail to the tower at the top of the mountain, but the last time we went, the twins split off and found a path that traveled by some stone arches, a scenic valley, and wound along a stream before coming out in the parking lot. So we decided to mix things up and try the route. Now my kids did warn me that it was a bit more challenging than the normal flat path, but why should I worry? I’ve been going to the gym regularly, doing 3+ miles on the elliptical, even setting it on steep settings. So I should be fine, right? Well, the soaked shirt I was sporting 30 minutes into the hike would indicate otherwise, although the extreme heat and humidity probably had something to do with it as well.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

4+ mile hike to commemorate Red Sox victories #41-42 of the 2012 season

  • Church of the Poison Mind–Culture Club
  • Cigarette–Ben Folds Five
  • Cinderella–The Cheetah Girls
  • Cinderella–Play
  • Cinema–Yes
  • Cinnamon Girl–Prince
  • Circle–Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
  • Circle–Flyleaf
  • Circle Dream–10,000 Maniacs
  • Circle of Fire–Sam Phillips
  • Circle of Friends–Better Than Ezra
  • Circle of Life–Lion King Cast
  • Circle of Life–Disney Channel Circle of Stars
  • Circle of Life–Ronan Keating
  • Circles and X’s–Lucinda Williams
  • Cities–Talking Heads
  • City–Hollywood Undead
  • City Lights–Rick Trevino
  • City Love–John Mayer
  • City of Angels–10,000 Maniacs
  • City of Blinding Lights–U2
  • City of Delusion–Muse
  • City of Dreams–Talking Heads
  • City of Love–Yes

So the previous list closed with the “Chruch…” of my kid’s pop music generation (courtesy of Cobra Starship), and this list opened with the “Church…” of my generation, Culture Club’s “Church of the Poison Mind”. (Shouldn’t it be “Poisoned”?) That was followed by a great Ben Folds Five number from their amazing Whatever and Ever Amen. Now I’m sure everyone is particularly interested in which version of “Cinderella” I prefer–the Play version or the Cheetah Girls. (I believe the Play version came first then the Cheetah Girls). My answer is that I do not have a favorite among the two (that’s a nice political way of putting it, right?)  Today’s list had early and late Yes songs, both from their 90125 album–“Cinema” and “City of Love”.

Prince’s “Cinnamon Girl” is completely unrelated to the Neil Young song, so it makes me wonder why use that title a second time. Reading about the song on wikipedia, it apparently had a highly controversial video attached because Prince had the gall to suggest that we treated US-based Muslims shabbily post 9/11. The next set of songs all fit within the same “Circle…”, and interestingly enough, the first four “Circle…” songs are performed by female-fronted bands or solo artists. My least favorite of the batch is the 10,000 Maniacs number “Circle Dream”. My wife always argues that I’m too hard on the song, but I just find the repetition of “I dreamed of a circle…” so tiring, particularly when compared to the rest of the album. The first “Circle…” number sung by a male comes from the family favorite soundtrack to Empire Records. I then got to hear three different versions of the “Circle of Life”, but none were the original from the film–I got the Broadway version and two from the Disney compilations. Just as women started the “Circle..”, they closed it as well, as Lucinda Williams provided an excellent topper to the theme.

After the circle theme, things took an urban turn with nine “City…” themed songs to close the list (and it’s not an exhaustive list, as my next list will continue with “City of…” songs). Two of the songs are two of my favorite Talking Heads selections. “Cities” comes from Fear of Music, an album I used to listen to every night the summer after my senior year, and the only Talking Heads release I owned as an LP. Meanwhile, “City of Dreams” is one of my favorite songs of all time (not just Talking Heads) and I think it’s one of the greatest closing credits songs in film history when used at the end of True Stories.

After disappointing me with “Circle Dream”, 10,0o0 Maniacs comes back strong with their brutal condemnation of Los Angeles, “City of Angels”. As they describe it, that’s not a city I’d want to visit, a theme shared by “City of Blinding Lights” by U2.

Blind and Bleeding, but at least there’s ice cream!

Happy Mother’s Day to the tens of thousands of moms that read this every day! As a special aside, I’d like to also wish a happy anniversary to my wonderful bride of 17 years.  It’s been a tremendous adventure for me, and although things are a little scary and open-ended these days, I do look forward to where the journey takes us and our children in the next decade and beyond. One final note, a special birthday salute to a sister-in-law hitting a big milestone that I cannot specifically name out of simple fear for my life if I do.

May 13, 2012

Bonus walking while mowing my front and side yards

  • Blee Blop Blues–The Manhattan Transfer
  • Bleed–Collective Soul
  • Bleed It Out–Linkin Park
  • Bleeding Love–Leona Lewis
  • Bleeding Me–Metallica
  • Bleezer’s Ice-Cream–Natalie Merchant
  • Blessed Assurance–Iris Dement
  • A Blessing and a Curse–Drive-By Truckers

It seems that no matter where they appear on my lists, the Manhattan Transfer are always quite the curveball compared to the music that proceeded them (or in this case, the songs that follow). I think that’s an important subcategory of music that everyone show own–the change-up. If you love thrash metal, throw a country song in the mix. Break up your rap with a show tune, and vice-versa. It makes you appreciate your favorites all the more, and you might find yourself liking what you hear. (If you need this message delivered in a more entertaining method, read Green Eggs and Ham, only available in book format until it’s made into a blockbuster live-action movie starring Jim Carrey.)

A quartet of “Bleeding…” songs, by four distinctly different artists followed, with Collective Soul coming first. They’re a group perfect for a greatest hits collection, and I don’t feel I need their individual studio releases (truth be told, I might not have even added their greatest hits to my collection, except the CD was at my local library and I thought “why not”). Linkin Park and Metallica seem like the groups far more likely to have songs about bleeding, but the most famous song in this grouping that I own is the Leona Lewis number, which is a great, memorable pop hit.

Every year I make a mix CD of that year’s songs I enjoyed the most to send to family at holiday times and the 2010 version included “Bleezer’s Ice-Cream” by Natalie Merchant from her Leave Your Sleep album. The listing of the goofy and somewhat disgusting flavors really won me over the first time I heard it, and I still enjoy the song and the combinations, although I’d be hard pressed to pick one to eat.  I’m not hard pressed to name a gospel singer I enjoy–I have found myself gravitating toward a favorite of my wife’s, Iris DeMent (although I still enjoy calling her “Irish” DeMent just for the rise it gets out of my wife. I can be a jerk–who knew?) I closed by grass-cutting exercise with the title track of one of the Drive-By Truckers albums.

2+ mile walk to commemorate Red Sox victory #14 of the 2012 Season

  • Blew–Nirvana
  • Blew [Live]–Nirvana
  • Blind–The Talking Heads
  • The Blind Men and the Elephant–Natalie Merchant
  • Blind Willie McTell–Bob Dylan
  • Blind Willie McTell–The Nightwatchmen
  • Blinded by Love–The Rolling Stones
  • Blinded in Chains–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Blinding–Florence & The Machine
  • Bling (Confession of a King)–The Killers

It’s a real treat when you realize a band you like did earlier material that you haven’t sampled yet–it can be like they’ve released a whole new album. I know that this will make the hipsters groan, but I didn’t know anything about Nirvana until Nevermind. While my love of that album led me to move forward with future albums, it also gave me the opportunity to go back and enjoy Bleach, including the lead song from the album “Blew” (a nice homonym for the color, which I should be getting to fairly soon). The live version is excellent as well. The same concept worked for the Talking Heads, where I moved forward from Speaking in Tongues, but also went backwards. The only album I picked up at the release date was Naked, and like “Blew”, “Blind” is the lead song off that album as well.

I got another fun and visually imaginative song from Natalie Merchant’s most recent album that tells the story of the six blind men with the elephant, a favorite of mine. Bob Dylan doesn’t need five others to paint a complete picture of “Blind Willie McTell” and the cover from this year’s Chimes of Freedom does an excellent job with the song as well. The Rolling Stones song was one I thought was a cover for some reason, but I guess it’s a Jagger/Richards original. I go back and forth on my feelings for Avenged Sevenfold, but “Blinded by Chains” is one of their songs I really like. I’m also liked the last two numbers today from Florence & The Machine as well as The Killers.

A list my daughter would love

While this entry is super-late, I promise I did the exercise on Saturday. It’s just been a busy day filled with family time, starting with a group trip to the cinema for my second (but my wife’s first) viewing of The Avengers. As an FYI, it is even better on the second viewing, and after thinking about it, I’d move it ahead of X-Men: First Class, making it my favorite Marvel superhero movie and second only to The Dark Knight (which I watched last night to be sure) in the favorite superhero film pantheon.

Close of the weekend and I’m hoping to have the need of a bonus walk tomorrow, but the Red Sox haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, with their last win coming Monday. The last three weeks have been quite the roller coaster, with an 0-5 week followed by a 6-1 followed by a 1-4 week with one last game to go.

May 5, 2012

3+ mile walk in the neighborhood

  • Big Weekend–Tom Petty
  • Big Yellow Taxi–Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton
  • Big, Blonde, and Beautiful–Hairspray Soundtrack
  • Big, Blonde, and Beautiful [reprise]–Hairspray Soundtrack
  • Bigger Than Us–Either Hannah Montana or Miley Cryus
  • Bigmouth Strikes Again–The Smiths
  • Biko–Peter Gabriel
  • Bill–Talking Heads
  • Billie Jean–Michael Jackson
  • Billie Jean [long version]–Michael Jackson
  • Billie Jean [single version]–Michael Jackson
  • Billie Jean 2008–Michael Jackson
  • Billionaire–Glee Cast
  • Bills, Bills, Bills–Glee Cast

Tom Petty kicks things off with a number from his most recent solo album, Highway Companion, followed by the Counting Crows cover of the Joni Mitchell environmental song “Big Yellow Taxi”. What Joni clearly hasn’t considered is that maybe we have too much paradise, and not enough parking lots. Then things mostly took a turn in the direction of a playlist programmed by my youngest daughter (I think her stage name would be DJ Broadway Warbler), beginning with two different versions of “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” (the original and the reprise) from the Hairspray soundtrack. As an FYI, on the song listing, they went for AP style and did not list the comma after “Blonde”, but I am showing my support of the Chicago Manual of Style by listing the Oxford Comma. There’s no middle ground in this war (like abortion or the death penalty), you have to choose a side in the never-ending serial comma saga, and I can be counted with Vampire Weekend.

Some Miley Cyrus pop followed before the list took a turn more toward my songs, starting with another Smiths number, as well as something from Peter Gabriel for a second consecutive day. “Biko” is, of course, Gabriel’s moving protest song about anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, from his third solo album. I like that Gabriel refused to give any of his first four albums unique names, so all four are called Peter Gabriel and the imagery on the album cover is what differentiates them. “Bill” is a bonus track from the Talking Heads’ last album Naked. It was a sad day in the Miller household when the band officially confirmed that they were done as an entity. With death preventing the obvious choice (The Beatles) from ever happening, the Talking Heads have been for the last 20 years the group I’d most like to see in concert.

Four versions of “Billie Jean”, and each was different. with one from a greatest hits collection, and three from the 25th Anniversary anniversary of Thriller. Listening to the opening strains of the song never gets old, so having to listen to it so many times in a row was not a burden in the least. I’m still not sure how I feel about the Kanye-mixed 2008 version of the song. It feels like he’s changing the colors of the Mona Lisa.

I got to close with more favorites of my youngest from our vast collection of Glee covers, both of which we own only the Glee versions and not the originals.

(I’m gonna break) 500 views

I want to thank anyone that’s reading this–I am happy to proclaim that I  just broke 500 total views, which in the aggregate of almost 50 posts (this will be the 46th) isn’t a lot, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? Also I need to remember that the primary reasons I do this is to force myself to exercise every day, write every day, and become more familiar with blogging. I’ve got some ideas on improvements to the blog but in a chicken or egg style dilemma, I need to decide whether to first increase average daily readership or make the changes first and hope they lead to more readers.  The latter makes the most sense to me…

May 2, 2012

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

  • The Big Big Whoredom–They Might Be Giants
  • Big Boys–Elvis Costello
  • Big Branch–M.I.A.
  • The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine–Simon & Garfunkel
  • Big Brown Eyes–Old 97’s
  • Big Cheese–Nirvana
  • Big Chimney–Richard Thompson
  • Big Chimney–Richard Thompson
  • The Big Country–Talking Heads
  • The Big Country–Talking Heads
  • Big Daddy–Talking Heads
  • Big Empty–Stone Temple Pilots
  • A Big Fan of the Pigpen–Guided by Voices
  • Big Girls Don’t Cry–Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)–Fergie
  • Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)–Fergie

I owned the first two They Might Be Giants albums on cassette, so when they wore out, I purchased Then: The Earlier Years, a double CD that contained the first two albums in their entirety, as well as bonus songs from EPs and just general rarities like “The Big Big Whoredom”. I finally heard a song by this Elvis Costello fellow everyone’s been talking about; I’m sure I’ll be hearing more from him in the future. “Big Branch” is a bonus track from M.I.A.’s Kala album, and bonus tracks, like deleted scenes from DVDs, are a hit-or-miss proposition. For most, it is readily apparent why they were not part of the album (or movie), but some, like “Big Branch”, feel like an extra treat.

“The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine” just doesn’t work for me, a rarity on Simon & Garfunkel songs. I think the title is just too silly for me to take it seriously–it sounds like the title of a Sid & Marty Krofft show instead of a protest song. I’m still digesting, but enjoying, my first Old 97’s album, and I could listen to any Nirvana song all day.

I feel like I got a minor wish granted with today’s list when I hear “The Big Chimney” by Richard Thompson. The instrumental opening is (to me at least) reminiscent of the opening strains of the 60’s Batman theme, so it instantly becomes on of my favorite Richard Thompson songs. Speaking of favorites, I got one of my favorite bands, the Talking Heads, next, first two copies of “The Big Country” (studio album and greatest hits collection, which I had to buy for the unreleased tracks on it, which like bonus tracks are again hit-or-miss). A second Talking Heads song, “Big Daddy” (from their last album Naked) followed.

Things got even more alternative with the Stone Temple Pilots and Guided by Voices before the list went old school, with the original “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. Is there a more distinctive falsetto voice than Frankie? And I like Fergie, but I think it was wrong of her to name her song the same as the classic, although I like the reference to Uno cards contained within

The World’s Creepiest Theme Song

Unrelated to my musical journey, I cannot recommend tonight’s Community highly enough. Britta continues to crush it, and I think Pierce has had a great season as well. If you haven’t watched to show, go to your Free In-Demand section or Hulu and get caught up. As good as tonight’s was, last week’s episode concluding the Pillow Fort versus Blanket Fort war was even better. But don’t pick–watch them both, or all episodes you can. You’ll laugh a lot (and most episodes are funnier on a second viewing–a rare thing these days). Maybe the show will eventually join fellow NBC Thursday comedies 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks & Recreation on Netflix Instant so everyone could enjoy the first two seasons. To loosely tie it back to music, I think “Lyin’ Junkie Banana” would be a great name for a band.

April 12, 2012

3.32 miles on the elliptical plus upper-arm weight work

  • Arrested for Driving While Blind–ZZ Top
  • The Arrival at Tatooine; The Flag Parade–John Williams & The London Symphony Orchestra
  • Arrival Notes–Set Your Goals
  • Art  Lover–The Kinks
  • Art Lover [Live]–The Kinks
  • Art No. 24–Johnny Socko
  • The Art of Losing–American Hi-Fi
  • The Art of Subconscious Illusion–Avenged Sevenfold
  • Artists Only–Talking Heads
  • As Hard As It Is–Fine Young Cannibals
  • As I Am–Miley Cyrus
  • As If We Didn’t Know–The Byrds
  • As If We Never Said Goodbye–Glee Cast
  • As Long As You Follow–Fleetwood Mac
  • As Long As You’re Mine–Wicked Original Cast
  • As Long As You’re There–Glee Cast

I think the over-the-top nature of ZZ Top’s biggest hits (like “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Loving”) undercuts the bluesy power of some of their earlier work (like “Arrested For Driving Whil Blind”), That being said, the only ZZ Top I own is a greatest hits collection, which is fine by me, a .75 Minds on the Simple Minds scale.

While I have (correctly) stated how little I enjoyed the Star Wars prequels, I was more than a little sad that I didn’t get to see the 3D version of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in theaters. (I know, I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense). It’s just that for every Star Wars film release, I was there–the originals, the re-releases of the originals, and the three prequels. But I can’t watch 3D movies–ever since my detached retina, 3D glasses don’t work for me, so I would have sat in a theater getting a headache from a blurry screen. So for the first time ever, a Star Wars film came to theaters and I wasn’t there.

I don’t know much about Set Your Goals, and this instrumental interlude I heard today is probably not going to help me understand their style–for that, I’ll probably have to wait to hear some of their other work.

If you were going to have a theme song for your life, would there be a creepier choice than “Art Lover”? Like most Kinks songs I’ve heard, I really enjoyed this song at first, and still do at some level. But really listening to the lyrics tempers the love of the song. I get that at a basic level, it’s about a man losing his child through divorce, but the whole “come to daddy” chorus and the lyrics about watching a little girl play move the song right into pedophile territory. That’s why, if someone ever told you “I think “Art Lover” really sums me up”, grab your daughters and any other kids and run. Johnny Socko was a ska band my fellow IU Bloomington grad students and I used to see at local clubs, and I enjoyed them enough to pick up their debut album.

The “Art of Losing” is from the soundtrack to American Wedding.  I own the soundtracks to the first and third films, but I do not forsee purchasing the soundtrack to American Reunion. There just doesn’t seem to be enough new and fun material on it for my liking. While I’m not the biggest Avenged Sevenfold fan, I can’t argue with the value of their music in a workout environment. Any time I get an early Talking Heads song is a good day as far as I’m concerned, and I also tend to forget how much I enjoy all the songs of Fine Young Cannibals’ album The Raw and the Cooked.

Having two daughters growing up during the Hannah Montana era led to some obvious for them, but less enjoyable for me album purchases. One I didn’t quite understand was the second Hannah Montana soundtrack, as it was a two-disc album set, with the first disc being Hannah-Montana-performed songs, and the second CD was titled Meet Mily Cyrus, and we got songs from the actress that played Hannah. But, to me at least, both sets of songs sound the same (ooh, alliteration!) I could understand if Miley was a different kind of sound, like she was going to follow her dad’s achy breaky footsteps into country, but it’s bubblegum pop no matter who she is. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s successful bubblegum pop, but not enough to need the split album idea.) Too bad my Byrds 2-disc greatest hits CD couldn’t have done the same with one disc being “Meet the Byrds” and the other being “Meet a Bob Dylan Cover Band”.

This week they officially announced the 4th-season renewal of  Glee, which I assume was really a formality–hell, I think my daughter’s iTunes purchases alone make the show profitable, and I got to hear two of them toward the end of today’s workout. I was a little lost hearing them, as I had stopped really watching the show halfway through season 2, and these songs were not familiar to me, as one was from a musical and the other was an original number. Also unfamiliar to me was the song from Wicked. The only number from my collection at the end was the Fleetwood Mac song.