Self Tributes, and the Reason for the Star Wars Season

 

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

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

In Some Particular Order (part 1 of 10)

Mission Entirely Possible (part 2 of 10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.