of the Day, Volume I
Scott J Miller
Copyright Scott J Miller 2012
Published at Smashwords
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I started doing SOTDs three years ago. I had recently joined a popular social media site and saw that some of my friends were overposting their favorite music. I like limitations, so I limited myself to posting just one song per day (instead of the dozens I wanted to). The only rule was that I had to love the song – so much so that I would include it on a mixed tape (cassette variety). I also tried to make sure each had a somewhat entertaining description. Now, 1,000+ songs later, I’ve compiled them into this book. Hope you enjoy it!
Tomorrow Never Knows
Have you ever wondered what the Beatles would sound like if they were art-school graduates floating around in space? No? Well, give this a listen anyway. It's got fantastic bass, otherworldly synth, guitar that spirals up into the stratosphere, and the "detached egghead" vocals of Brian Eno, all recorded live in 1976. Amazingly great!
Today is the 801st Song of the Day, so, naturally, we feature a song by 801. “Perhaps my brains are old and scrambled,” sings Eno, well before the Master Egghead was actually old and scrambled. The music is lovely – the aural equivalent of floating on a still sea – and features a very nice guitar solo by Roxy Music man Phil Manzanera and his beard. I admire Phil for hanging onto that beard through the glam rock 70s, the skinny-tied 80s and beyond. How many times did Bryan Ferry yell at him to shave that thing off? I wonder.
1000 Homo DJs
Let’s kick off the weekend with an unhealthy dose of industrial noise. The original, by Black Sabbath, was one of my favorites as a wee lad, and this cover more than does it justice. “I’m gonna climb up every mountain on the moon,” shouts Trent Reznor or Al Jourgenson or one of those guys, “and find the dish that ran away with the spoon.” Yes!
The Two Magicians
Some men just won’t give up. The blacksmith in this song pursues a lady, who, of course, refuses him. She changes into a dove, a mare, a hare, a fly, a sheep, a ship, a cloud, a mulberry tree, a griddle and several other things. But does this stop him? No. He turns himself into a pigeon, a saddle, a greyhound, a ram, a ship captain, a cake and (this is getting exhausting) several other things. Today, it would be called stalking, of the magical variety. But back then, it was just the way magicians courted. And you thought dating was hard nowadays!
Be Near Me
I am the least stylish of men, but once in a while I like to mentally put on a tuxedo, pour myself an imaginary cocktail and pretend to be suave and sophisticated. This song is the perfect soundtrack to such adventures.
Ace was always the coolest member of KISS. He wrote the best songs (Cold Gin, Shock Me), and smoke came out of his Les Paul. So it was no surprise that, of the four solo albums, his was the best. It WAS a surprise, though, to hear this subtle and melodic instrumental come from his shaky pen. We won’t ask what Ace, who always was a bit wobbly, was doing with the mirror, or how it was fractured. It was the 70s.
In this clip, an extremely skinny Scotsman sings a quirky Ivor Cutler song. It’s beautiful! And what does “everybody got”? Genitalia, of course. The song makes private parts quite public and asks why “nobody talks about them.” (This was written when nobody did talk about them.) It concludes that they’re a “bloody good reason for a song,” and I must agree. Don’t you?
Adam Ross w/Duglas T Stewart
A Wooden Tree
This video is notable for four things: (1) It features a kazoo solo. (2) The singer forgets the words. (3) It only has 10 views - even Paul Pennyfeather videos get higher view counts than that! (Well, some of them do.) (4) It's a very nice rendition of an amazingly wonderful song. "Hey, look/there at the back ..."
One Of Those Days
Today is the first day of the lad’s summer vacation. On mine, a nameless friend and I tried our hardest not to know the date – that way, we had no idea how much summer was slowly slipping away. We also drank Molson Golden Ale (does this still exist?) in the woods, rode bikes to Wolfe’s Pond Park for free concerts, fought each other on the deck of the pool and bickered endlessly. And, in a primitive version of today’s free-downloading-of MP3s-crime-wave, we exchanged cassette tapes of records that didn’t quite merit the spending of $4. What does all this have to do with our SOTD? Well, it reminds us of summer, and it’s wonderful.
One of those Days
With our world going to heck in a handbasket, it’s nice to listen to a song about life’s simple pleasures: lawn chairs in the shade, barbecues, volleyball, ice cream and nuclear annihilation (just checking that you’re paying attention). I saw the tour for this album (at NY’s Bottom Line), and I must say AB came across as one of the nicest, most humble guys around. I hear he’s also a mean guitar player!
Big Electric Cat (Live)
Lady McMiller and I both fell in love with a cheetah orphan called Tico the other night (as featured on the appropriately titled “The Cheetah Orphans”). Although Tico’s not a leopard, he does have spots, so all I could think of was Uncle Leo and his talk with Jerry’s girlfriend (“Do you know what Jeffrey’s favorite animal is? The leopard. Want to know why? He likes the spots.”) Rock on, big cats of the world!
Lone Rhinoceros (Acoustic)
You can count the number of songs written about rhinoceroses (rhinoceri?) on one hand - OK, one finger. Adrian Belew has always been a big animals guy, and, in this sad tune, presents the point of view of a rhino locked up in a zoo. "I know the zoos protect my species/they give me food and collect my feces," acknowledges the rhino, but laments being locked up and heckled by the visitors: "They say I'm ugly/call me a beast/I hear them snicker/When I'm half asleep ..." I saw Adrian live in 1989 or so, and it was an extremely enjoyable show. You can tell the guy has a big heart. He's also one hell of an amazing guitarist!
Squeezing bees is not an activity I recommend to anyone. For one thing, you’ll get stung. For another, it will make your fingers messy. But I have no qualms in recommending the song of the same name, which is wonderful & strange. Here, it’s performed by a guy with a great name who does cool things with a guitar and an effects pedal. Glad to see Mr Crowley has given up black magic in favor of making nice music!
Anarchy in the UK
Actors are best forbidden from picking up musical instruments, but we’ll relax that rule for Adrian Edmonson (The Young Ones, Bottom), since: (1) he’s funny as heck, and (2) he came up with the brilliant idea of playing punk rock songs on traditional folk instruments. The energy of punk + the sheer sonic assault of pipes, mandolins, etc. = musical heaven! Here Adrian (without his band The Bad Shepherds) performs the Sex Pistols classic, and the tense drone of the pipes perfectly underscores the song's themes of dispossession and working class rebellion.
The last song on a record always sounded like crap, and it’s not just because bands tended to put the crappiest songs toward the end of the album. It had something to do with the spacing of the grooves, which got tighter as you got to the label. What does this have to do with “Combination”? Well, it was the last song on side one of Rocks, one of the first records I ever bought, and it always sounded like crap.
These French dudes really do sound like air. If you close your eyes, you can float away on the light dreaminess of this song. (Ignore the fact that they put the emphasis on all the wrong syllables in "universal." Hey, they're foreign.) For anyone stressed about returning to work or school on Monday morning.
O Lucky Man!
I have to do a triple-posting today, for obvious reasons. The point of this one is that, when it comes to love, I am the luckiest man in the universe. I adore and worship and love and cherish my Irish lass, who is the greatest woman ever in the history of the world. And that’s not hyperbole!
Roll Over Vaughan Williams
The last time I peeked in on The Albion Band, it was populated by old fogies in their 50s and 60s. (Great musicians, but still fogies.) So I was shocked to see this clip, in which each member has shed a good 30 to 40 years. Good work, lads (and lass) – I’m sure it wasn’t easy! These miraculously de-aged folk plow into an early Richard Thompson song, “Roll Over Vaughan Williams,” with all the vigor of youth and wisdom of the old. Live in fear!
"Love and joy come to you and your jolly wassail ..."
This is a wonderful, hymn-like song about a rather depressing subject: a 1934 mining disaster in which 200+ people were killed. The first half is straightforward Britfolk; the second is almost prog-rock-like with lots of electric guitar and violin, which are wah-wah-ized to great effect. Then it all wraps up with the chilling line, "Don't send your sons down a dark, dreary mine/they'll be damned like the sinners in hell." Powerful stuff!
Albion Country Band
I Was a Young Man
"Act in haste, repent at leisure” could be the title of this song, which tells the story of a young man of 20, “weary of the single life,” who marries and lives to regret it. My sources tell me this was written in 1572, but it could just as well have come from the present day (except for the stuff about wigs and waistcoats and sheep, although I suppose some still do interact with the latter). Great drone!
Albion Country Band
I Was a Young Man
Rarely have the perils of early marriage been more graphically expressed than in "I Was a Young Man." When the song starts, our man says, "The very first year me wife I married/Out of her company I could not stray/Her voice as sweet as a lark or a linnet/Or the song of the nightingale at break of day." By the end, after reeling off a litany of scolding, sleeplessness and misery, he warns, "All young men that is to marry/Don't, they'll grieve you evermore/Death, o death come take my wife/And then my troubles will all be o'er." Young people, take note! Musically, this sounds like it was recorded in 1355 or some such date - it starts with a lone instrument (dulcimer?) and slowly builds up to a droning wall of medieval madness. Drone & roll, people!
Albion Country Band
A Hanged I Shall Be
One of my favorite genres is Gloom Folk; what one critic called “Black Sabbath in clogs.” Tales of murder and mayhem accompanied by accordions and melodeons and concertinas and other squeezy things … is there anything better? The suspect in this wheezy squeezy tune uses the old nosebleed excuse to explain why he has blood on his shirt, but we all know what he did and where he’s going (the gallows, and then, presumably, the fiery pits of Hell). Enjoy over your morning coffee!
Chelsea Hotel ‘78
Some songs just completely and utterly kick your arse, and this is one of them. Backed by a powerful band (cello, violin, bass, drums & two guitars), Escovedo rocks hard as he sings of living in the Chelsea Hotel in New York at the time Sid Vicious was arrested for the murder of Nancy Spungen. (I think Escovedo’s excellently named band, The Nuns, was opening for the Sex Pistols at the time). We dare you to stay in your seat for this one!
Alexander "Skip" Spence
War in Peace
My friend Yuval is visiting, so I'll post a song he likes. "War in Peace" is a lost psychedelic gem from 1968 featuring dreamy vocals, raw-as-sushi guitar, and, in keeping with the era in which it was recorded, lots of weird and wonderful noises. From the awesome "Oar."
Alexander “Skip” Spence
A 10-minute song from 1969 called “Grey/Afro” probably has you thinking, “Oh, that’s just some stoned hippie nonsense.” Well, it IS stoned hippie nonsense, but it’s good hippie nonsense. Spence, a tragic Syd Barrett/Roky Erickson-type figure who wound up losing his mind, plays all the instruments (not at the same time) and fairly wails on the bass guitar. The lyrics, of course, are utterly incomprehensible.
From what I remember, this album came in a snakeskin cover. The days of cool packaging are long gone, unfortunately, but this song sounds just as good now as it did in the 70s. Sonically, it sounds just like "Destroyer" from KISS, which is no surprise, since Bob Ezrin produced both. Lyrically, it's a great opener. Hello. Hooray. Let the show begin. I’ve been ready!
Alien Sex Fiend
Do you ever wish you were from another planet and could return when things on Earth got too difficult? No? Well, Mr Fiend does, and he puts forward quite a strong case for the attractiveness of such an option. His band never lived up to the wonderfulness of its name, but we’ll feature them today since Halloween is only two days away. Be so very afraid!
I Had a Little Boat
I keeping with our Ivor Cutler-on-Monday-morning tradition, here’s a nice cover of one of his songs. It’s about a little boat (as you might have guessed). When it comes to boats, I wouldn’t know starboard from the head, but I do know they float on water and take people from one place to another, and, sometimes, they sink. Speaking of that, I wonder if anyone since 1912 has had the nerve to name their boat “Titanic”?
Amanda Palmer is the prototypical “blackshirt” girl: artsy, lovely and crazy as all get-out. In this unbelievably gloomy song, she laments that, at 26, she’ll probably have to live another 57 years (“my grandma died at 83”). Her goal is to “disappear,” but after careful consideration, she decides to put off killing herself another year. “I have my new Bill Hicks CD,” she sings, “I have my friends and my career.” (I like that she mentions the CD first.) Amanda fronted the Dresden Dolls, a Boston piano/drum duo that wore mime make-up and wreaked havoc on songs like “War Pigs” and “Really Rosie.” (Their cabaret punk originals, such as the frantic “Girl Anachronism,” were also great.) To blackshirt girls everywhere: Long may you lament!
This is a real “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” song for all you female ladies of the opposite gender out there. In the face of adversity, Amy is “like Rasputin” in that she always “gets back up again” (great rhyme, by the way). Christmas bells, retro keyboards, a toy piano, and some rather aggressive acoustic guitar strumming add to the charm.
Andrew Jackson Jihad
Who Are You?
When I first heard this band – courtesy of DM, who plays them constantly – I couldn’t stand them. The name is horrible, the vocals are annoying and the whole thing reeks of slackers in woolly hats and ratty old T-shirts. But this one song grew on me. It’s about the singer’s non-relationship with his father, whom he first meets (over the phone) when he’s 16, and it’s a very sincere account of pain and resentment and hurt feelings. Musically, it’s “folk punk”: the energy of punk, but executed acoustically, and it has some nice instrumentation (trumpet, etc.). “Thank you so much for not raising me/You spent your life on better things/And you would have been an awful Dad.” Powerful stuff!
I used to do a record run in NY, which consisted of hitting every record store in the Village. One day, in Tower, I heard music familiar yet odd: Nick Drake’s “River Man” done by a jazz singer. At the time, Nick Drake was unbelievably obscure—pre VW commercial, tribute concerts—so I was mightily impressed. I bought the CD, Andy Bey’s “Shades of Bey,” and was delighted with its dark beauty. Highly recommended!
My Heart Tonight’s in Ireland
I guess my first exposure to Ireland was the Irish Spring commercial back when I was a kid: a beautiful redhead and lots of greenery. As they say, what’s not to like? Then it was the music of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. I remember hearing Phil Lynott on a late 70s radio show (in my friend The Great Montiernay’s room), and I couldn’t believe how thick and impenetrable his accent was (because his singing voice is totally understandable to American ears). Years later, I started going to Irish pubs, drinking Guinness (the #2 beer of all time) and discovering great bands like Black 47. The one quality of all the Irish music I heard, whether traditional folk or rock, was its great vivacity and warmth. Soon I started really exploring the folky side of things: Planxty, Christy Moore, Sweeney’s Men, and Andy Irvine, writer of this wonderful tune. My conversion to honorary Irishman was almost complete. Then I met the love of life, the Irish Lass, and a subsequent trip to Dublin (where I got to pose with the Phil Lynott statue) and the west coast of Ireland cemented the deal. I was officially a “Hibernoheeb.”
As I Roved Out
The hurdy gurdy gets my vote for coolest instrument ever. What’s better than a big box with a wheel that lets out a tremendous drone? Here, we have bearded Irishman Andy Irving turning the wheel and singing a beautiful old tune about roving. He’s the hurdy-gurdy man (well, he was on that night in 1976, anyway).
Andy M. Stewart
The Ramblin' Rover
This is a great anthem for keeping one’s chin up through tough times. Nothing’s tougher than facing the grim reaper, but “if you've been a man of action/though you're lying there in traction/you may gain some satisfaction/thinking, "Jesus, at least I tried." Indeed!
Andy M. Stewart
The Ramblin' Rover
Following on yesterday’s post, here’s another song that celebrates rambling. It’s just wonderful and brimming with charm and wit – one of my favorite songs of all time. (Does ranking things and saying “of all time” make me sound 12?) The rambling rover travels the country ‘round, “drinks another measure” when necessary and celebrates life and friendship and love. And what happens on his deathbed? “If you’ve been a man of action,” sings Mr Stewart in one of the best verses of all time, “though you’re lying there in traction/you may gain some satisfaction/thinking, “Jesus, at least I tried.” Indeed!
Andy M. Stewart
By The Hush
I’m all for Irish emigration to the US – after all, it brought me the most wonderful woman in the world. But this song takes a dim view of the subject, and it’s no wonder: no sooner does Patrick arrive than he’s conscripted into the Union army, given a rifle and told to “fight for Lincoln.” Then he gets his leg blown off and replaced by a wooden peg, which saves him money on shoes but puts a quick end to his dream of being an Olympic track star. Plus, the wood itches. As he hobbles off into the distance, he gives his countrymen this advice: “To Americay I’d have you not be calling.” I'm glad my lass didn't listen!
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
Yeah, yeah, I know … it’s Monday afternoon, not Monday morning, but methinks this song is still eligible for SOTD. It features ex-Silly Wizard singer Andy M. Stewart, whose wonderful voice – my favorite in the world – is like music to my ears (actually, it IS music to my ears, or any ears, for that matter), and some other guy. Since it’s very pro-worker (“make ‘em thank their lucky stars they’ve any job at all”), let’s dedicate it to old friend-turned-people’s activist John Kubinski. Fight on!
Andy M. Stewart & Manus Lunny
Yes, it's an obvious choice - a song called "Monday Morning" on Monday morning. But this is so wonderful that it deserves to be played on any - or every - day of the week. Andy is my favorite singer: It's as if the very essence of Scotland was distilled into one rich, beautiful, evocative voice...
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
The Humours of Whisky
Last night, I dreamt that I met Andy M Stewart in a pub. We exchanged numbers, and made plans to jam. This would be my #1 choice for our first song together. It’s one of my favorite traditional numbers, and Andy’s voice (we’re on a first-name basis now) is superb – like a fine single-malt whisky. Andy, I’ll meet you in the dream pub again tonight about 3 a.m.!
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
Tae the Weaver’s Gin Ye Go
This is another of those magnificent Scottish songs with absolutely incomprehensible lyrics. It’s in English, but 18th century English, so you get phrases like “warp a plaiden wab” and “shame fa me gin I tell.” The CD booklet comes with helpful footnotes, so we can discern that it’s about a girl who, after going off to work at a loom in a textile factory, falls in love with a “bonnie westlin weaver lad.” (I think they run away together.) Musically, it’s pure pleasure – wonderful vocals, pipes and mandolins blasting away, and more. Anyone want to go to Scotland for the weekend?
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
Heart of the Home
For some reason, I find myself getting unusually grateful every third Thursday of November. Here, my #1 singer and #2 Scotsman (after Ivor Cutler, of course) sings about why I am so grateful (and he doesn’t even know me!): “They had made a whole new life/found a whole new way of living/three voices join together … in the heart of the home.” For DM and PMcM!
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
Dinny the Piper/ Amhran Na Tae
Andy M. Stewart is my favorite singer of all time. His voice is like the sonic equivalent of a fine single-malt Scotch whisky (except it won’t get you drunk; a little intoxicated, maybe). On this fantastic track, he tells the tale of a poor Scottish piper and his misadventures with a cow and a Hessian soldier. The drama slowly builds until the song erupts into an all-out piping frenzy. Love it!
Andy M Stewart & Manus Lunny
This is for my very own Dublin lady, who has cheerfully volunteered to prepare a full Irish breakfast for 11 teenagers. Some are vegan, some are vegetarian, some are Super Mutants, and all are probably hungry. I hope they like Guinness and oysters!
Andy M. Stewart & Manus Lunny
Take Her in Your Arms
This is a great song in many ways, but one of the best things about it is the line that says “Go first and ask your father, and I’m sure he’ll set you right.” Are you listening, lad? All kidding aside, he's a grand boy, even if he'll no longer play music with his papa. (At nearly 18, he prefers to play with his pals in Super Mutant.) Can you believe that?
Andy M. Stewart & Manus Lunny
Bogie's Bonnie Bell
Comedian and epic-beard owner Billy Connolly said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter.” Perhaps that’s why the Scots have produced some of the gloomiest music ever. In this almost unbearably sad tale, a casual farm laborer falls in love with – and impregnates – the daughter of the farm owner. He offers to marry her, but is sent away as unsuitable. He leaves and later learns she married a tinker. Here’s what I don’t understand: Why is a tinker – a dude who bangs around with pots and pans – viewed as socially better than a farm hand? Celtic historians and sociologists, your expert advice is required.
Andy M. Stewart & Manus Lunny
Tak it Man, Tak it
Here’s another song for Labor Day. Although it’s in English, it’s practically incomprehensible to non-Scottish ears. (Example: “Nae doot but ye'll think I was wrang o't; Od! I tauld a bit bodie in Fife.”) Luckily, I recall something from the liner notes about a miller who steals to buy drink, and how a voice inside him tells him to “tak it, man.” But what the heck does “the garland and gear for my cogie” mean?
Andy M. Stewart & Manus Lunny
The Haughs O' Cromdale
It's been said that all Irish/Scottish songs are about drinking or fighting, and it's mostly true. This song is of the latter category and tells of some Braveheart-ish battle between the Scots and the English. I love Andy's incredibly rich voice (he's my favorite singer), the way that a million words are crammed into three and a half minutes, the rising drama of the story and the glorious racket of the pipes. The lyrics are in English, but you'd be hard-pressed to figure 'em out: "I met a man in tartan trews, I speir'd at him what was the news/Quo' he the Highland army rues, That e'er we came to Cromdale ..." Andy was, of course, the singer for Silly Wizard and the composer of at least two songs commonly thought to be traditional: "Rambling Rover" (often heard at Renaissance festivals and Irish pubs) and "The Queen of Argyll" (not about socks). Last I heard, he was working as an audio technician for the BBC and performing sporadically, but I really hope he returns to recording and follows up the delightful 1997 LP "Donegal Rain."
Rock n Rollers
I couldn’t help thinking of this song, which is about heading out to the highway and rocking people’s faces off, during last night’s misadventure. Like all good rock and rollers, we hit the road dressed in cool clothes and armed with mighty axes (well, ukuleles). Upon arrival, we find that, not only is no one there, but that the sound guy hasn’t bothered to show up. The choice: play with no mikes and no amps to a basically empty room, or go home. We chose the former and gave it all we got (well, most of what we got). My bandmate, who shall remain nameless, decides the whole thing is pointless and walks off the stage after the second number. I bravely soldier on alone for two more songs before realizing, “You know, he’s right.” I graciously thanked the three people in the audience, finished my Magners and went home to watch Seinfeld. As a great man once said, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.”
Don’t Leave Me Lonely
Ah, the winter of 1978. I remember cold, snow and Angel’s White Hot LP, which I bought after seeing a colorful ad in Circus magazine. It was a bit wimpy by metal standards, but what else would you expect from five guys with perfectly coiffed hair, white spandex outfits and names like Punky and Barry? Still, listening to it was a heck of a lot more fun than practicing for my bar mitzvah and shoveling the stoop!
Got Love if You Want It
One of my first concerts was Angel & Molly Hatchet. What a mismatch! In one corner, you had effete LA boys with perfect hair, white spandex and a guitarist named Punky. In the other, some grizzled Southerners with big mustaches and a singer named Danny Joe. What was it like backstage? “These gals sure are pretty,” I can hear the Hatchet saying as they popped open cans of Bud and approached the quivering Angel…
I wish I could say I knew who Robert Sherman was before he died yesterday, but I can't. Turns out he wrote classics such as “It’s a Small World” and Jungle Book-stuff, as well as some pop songs. This one is irresistibly strange and catchy, and the video is downright bizarre. Dick Clark acts as puppetmaster while Annette’s head pops up and down on a dwarf-puppet body. GWAR and KISS and Alice Cooper have got nothing on this!
Living by the Water
You awake in your cottage as the sun shines through the curtains. You pat the dog, say good morning to the cat and walk down to the sea, coffee in hand. The breeze blows through your hair as you reflect serenely on your life. Then a giant shark jumps out of the sea and eats you. You’re – well, were – living by the water.
I Hate People
Remember when 70s TV shows like “Quincy” would have stories about punk rock? The fictional band’s singer would invariably be named something like “Animal,” and the band would be decked in black leather and chains, usually singing something about hating humanity. Well, the Anti-Nowhere League was (were?) all those clichés rolled into one. For one thing, the singer’s name really is “Animal,” and one of their best songs is this lovely rant about hating people. They toured a lot with Motorhead and The Damned in the early 80s, but never reached the same heights of popularity or, really, quality. Still, they’re good for an occasional larf: according to Lemmy’s autobiography, one of these filthy dudes once ate a carrot out of someone else’s arse. Now that’s rock and roll!
Antony & the Johnsons
Hope There’s Someone
My FB status got me thinking about openly gay artists that I like. Antony is one: He has an absolutely incredible voice and a real gift for knocking our gorgeously sad songs. This one, for example, is one of the most depressing songs I’ve ever heard, but also one of the most beautiful. “Oh, I'm scared of the middle place between light and nowhere,” he sings, and you can really feel his pain and despair. The end, with its steadily rising tension and Antony’s soaring vocals, is one of those rare musical moments when you think, “God, THAT is true art.”
Two men, an 80s Casio keyboard, a toy train and the disembodied voice of Barry Gibb are trapped in a tin can. The can gets buried for 100 years, then unearthed, then buried again. An elephant stomps on the ground above. A tiny bird on the elephant’s back flies off and digs out the can with its beak. A bear eats the bird and has the can for dessert. The two men, 80s Casio keyboard, toy train and disembodied voice of Barry Gibb stage a concert inside the tin can in the bear’s stomach. That’s what this song sounds like.
San Francisco on the Water
I was in San Francisco once, but it was only for a few hours, and it was rainy and cold. This song, though, by the marvelously named Arik Einstein, is lovely and warm. The fretless bass, electric piano and smooth vocals combine to form a comforting cloud that just take the listener away to another place. For Yuval Bar-Kokhba, of course.
San Francisco on the Water
I was in San Francisco only once, and just for six hours, and I liked it. But it seems to have made more of an impression on Israeli songwriter Arik Einstein, who wrote this absolutely gorgeous song about the place. Einstein, who may or may not be related to the Albert we all know and love, really captures the winsome feel of being someplace new and special and wishing that your mate/lover/spouse could be there with you. Mellifluous vocals, amazing fretless bass playing and references to basketball legends Dr J and Kareem Abdul Jabbar add to the fun. For the great Yuval Bar-Kokhba, who introduced me to such delights as hummus, babaganoush, falafel and wonderful music like this.
Moeris DancingThe name “Art Bears” was a misnomer, as no actual bears were in the group. But one could easily imagine bears wrestling to this off-kilter dance music, which features everything from harmonium to xylophone to violin (mostly played by guitarist extraordinaire Fred Frith). It also features vocals by German chanteuse Dagmar Krause, who is lovely and most certainly not a bear (not even the cute teddy kind).
I love strange little songs that sound like they were recorded in a far-off time or place. This one, featuring the enigmatic Fred Frith on violin, sounds like it was recorded in the middle of a Russian winter in the 1800s. French Frith Kaiser & Thompson fans will note that parts of it sound like “Bird in God’s Garden/Lost and Found.”
Get in Your Shelter
Life in WWII-era Britain was difficult—ration books, bombings, sleeping in shelters, etc.—but, for me, it’s always had a romantic appeal. Everything was drab and rainy, but at least there were no cell phones or Starbucks. A man was a man, a woman was a man (she had to be, with all the men away fighting) and Suze Orman hadn’t yet been invented. Plus, no one said “Have a nice day.” Here’s a tune from that era.
Friday the 13th
Only one song could be today’s SOTD, and that’s this one. Perhaps as punishment for naming a song “Friday the 13th,” fate cursed Atomic Rooster with bad luck, and now all three members are dead. Still, they were good while they lived – just check out Vincent Crane’s wild, hair-flying Hammond organ solo. Note: In a strange coincidence, drummer Paul Hammond is wearing the same shirt that Black Sabbath’s drummer, Bill Ward, wore around that time. Money was still short then, so I guess the two of them shared one shirt. And it’s a cool shirt – starry and hippy-ish! I’d like one.
I wonder … are cowbells only used by drummers, or do actual farmers use them, too? I’m not sure about their effect on cows, but they certainly add zing to a drum beat. As far as I know, “Tomorrow Night” (1970) is one of the earliest songs to feature this much-maligned (by SNL, at least) percussion tool. Can anyone confirm or deny?
What was the “devil’s answer”? I don’t know – what was the question? If the question was, “Is this a perfect Halloween song?,” then the answer is a definitive “yes.” As a side note, every member of this line-up is now dead.
A friend's Arthur Brown posting reminded me of Atomic Rooster, a band I adored back in my teen years. This is their best song - I don't think any fan would argue with that - and it actually dented the UK charts in 1971. The band was notable for not having a bass player (Crane played the bass lines on his Hammond organ) and going through lots of musicians, including future Spinal Tap drummer Mick Shrimpton (RJ Parnell), who so famously said, "As long as there's sex and drugs, I think I can do without the rock and roll." This performance is from Top of the Pops and features the best line-up: Vincent Crane, John du Cann and Paul Hammond. Of the three, only du Cann is still alive (both Crane, who was manic depressive, and Hammond, who had a serious drug problem, took their own lives). After Atomic Rooster, Cann briefly played with Thin Lizzy, had his own band called Hard Stuff and attained some sort of fame with a UK television advert. From what I know, he's now dragging a bogus version of Atomic Rooster around Europe.
Head in the Sky
With John du Cann’s death last week, every member of the classic Atomic Rooster line-up is now dead. A reunion, therefore, is unlikely. But we can still enjoy their records, which feature a ripping interplay between the late Du Cann’s guitar and the late Vincent Crane’s organ, all nailed down by the late Paul Hammond’s drumming. (That’s a lot of lates.) Interestingly, they had no bassist, but if they had, I’ve no doubt he would have expired by this time. A stroke of luck for some unspecified British bass player from the early 70s!
Sleeping for Years
Combine huge sideburns, wispy mustaches, a wicked Hammond organ, a blistering guitar and a frizzy fro, and what have you got? A perfectly explosive bit of early 70s prog-metal, squire! Atomic Rooster was notable for the absence of a bass player (centuries before The White Stripes), the presence of Spinal Tap’s Mick Shrimpton on drums (in a later incarnation of the band), and the frantic organ stylings of the late, great Vincent Crane (who, in an inexplicable move, joined Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the 80s). This version of the Rooster – Crane, guitarist John DuCann and drummer Paul Hammond, now also sadly deceased – was undoubtedly the best, and even produced somewhat of a hit single in 1971’s “Devil’s Answer.” Later, Crane steered the band in a more funk/soul direction, enlisting 60s crooner Chris Farlowe on vocals and some other dudes (including the aforementioned Shrimpton, who went by the name RJ Parnell at the time) on other instruments, but it simply didn’t work. This lineup reunited in the early 80s and recorded some great singles and one album; Crane then did a solo album (though still billed as Atomic Rooster) that featured Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour and future Randy Rhoads replacement Bernie Torme on guitar, did some theater work and then killed himself. John DuCann made potloads of money from a UK advert, and Paul Hammond overdosed. At their prime, though, the band were masters at the building and release of tension, which I think is the key to exciting hard rock. In this song, for example, they hammer out the same riff for about two minutes, and then at the 4:05 mark abruptly change, producing a wonderful effect and showering the listener with waves of guitar noise. Not for the timid! P.S. Carl Palmer, of the much-maligned ELP, was also in the band at one point.
Friday the 13th
This is noteworthy for several reasons: (1) It’s called “Friday the 13th, and it’s Friday the 13th. (2) The drummer is Mick Shrimpton, who went on to fame, fortune and early death with Spinal Tap (“As long as there’s sex and drugs, I could do without the rock & roll”). (3) AR was one of my teen favorites – like an organ-fueled Black Sabbath. (4) It still sounds good today. Now best of luck with your F13!
Atomic Suplexed by a Girl
One would think that the human ear would only like pleasant melodies and “nice” sounds. Yet, there is something undeniably appealing about a ferocious tidal wave of noise and feedback augmented by a loon in a crash helmet screaming unintelligibly about God-knows-what. If you purposely tried to blow your speakers by blasting “Funhouse” by the Stooges at an unbearable volume, it would sound something like this. Painful to listen to? Yes. The best thing I’ve heard all year? Double yes!
Rock & Roll Party in the Streets
Sometimes one has to drop everything and have a knock down, drag out rock & roll party in the street. That’s what we’re doing tonight, except it won’t be in the street, the likelihood of anyone getting knocked down or dragged out is slight, and to call it “rock & roll” is to interpret that term very loosely. Your arse will still be rocked, of course, but it will also be serenaded, psychedelicized and gently lifted to the heavens above. It’s the Pennyfeather way.
Babes in Toyland
He’s My Thing
Rock chicks. Screaming. Evil dolls. Loud guitars. The lovely Kat Bjelland warns other females to stay away from her man (who she somewhat disparagingly refers to as “my thing”). Hey, I wouldn’t mess with her. Would you?
Back on My Feet Again
I remember opening the New York Post in the mid-70s and seeing a headline screaming “Paul Stanley of KISS Unmasked!” Below it was a photo, taken at Studio 54, of a rock star-ish dude with curly hair. Turned out that it wasn’t the Starchild at all, but the guitarist from The Babys, whose name escapes me right now. Who knew that newspapers could be wrong? The song below is typical wimp rock, but still good.
Cashing in on Christmas
This year, I listened to the Bad News LP about 1,000 times. This is my least favorite song (the between-song arguments are actually much better than the music), but it IS a Christmas song.
Dividing Up The Spoils
This isn’t a song, but it IS on an album, so maybe we can slip it past the SOTD censors. Here, the hapless Bad News discuss the “disparity in wages” in the band. (The singer/lead guitarist gets 20,000 pounds and the bassist gets 11 pounds and a taxi ride home.) Den, the rhythm guitarist who knows just two chords, is incredulous when hearing about the 20,000. “You’ve SEEN the money?” he asks. “What did it look like?” This is followed by a discussion over who deserves what (“And the rhythm guitarist isn’t important? That’s a load of bollocks!”), which ends in – of course – a violent scuffle. Hilarious!
It’s Friday, so let’s get it going with an absolute barnstormer of a song from Spain. Monte Conner and I discovered “Volumen Brutal” (great album title, or what?) in 1982, and it royally kicked both our asses. As one of the comments points out, “Asi es el buen Rock”! Note: Air jamming mandatory.
Kick in the Eye
As a crotchety middle-ager, I hate when trendy new words creep into the language. I was reading Newsweek the other day – why do they keep sending me this rag when I never subscribed? – and threw it at the wall after reading about a “reboot” of some movie. No one used that word in 1982! Speaking of 1982, here’s a gothic rocker from that year made only slightly ridiculous by Peter Murphy’s melodramatic vocals.
Uncle Leo was my favorite character on Seinfeld, and now he’s dead. I’m not sure he would like Bauhaus’ version of this song – in fact, I prefer the original (by Eno), but it was already SOTD on 10/26/09, and I refuse to repeat myself – but it’s the only song I could think of with “uncle” in the title. And it does fairly cook, building up into a veritable cacophony of percussion and gloomy gothic noise. RIP!
If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums
What do you say about a bearded band named The Beards that writes songs exclusively about beards? There really is nothing to say, other than, “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums.” Thanks to Michael Hunter for this!
Something wonderful happens when master musicians get together to play straightforward pop. That was the case with The Bears, which featured guitarist extraordinaire Adrian Belew and three other guys, all of whose names escape me right now. In this clip, they perform a great number about a magical little boy who "can't wait to get his hands in the machinery" and who "lives here among the dinosaurs." A nice song for anyone who has sired (or given birth to) male offspring.
I've Just Seen a Face
Last night, I pulled myself away from Facebook for long enough to watch a movie about Facebook. It was very good. This song wasn’t in the Facebook movie, and, while it was written 50 years before the advent of Facebook, I still feel it says something important about faces (no mention of books). A jolly fine tune, as well!
I Think I'm in Love
I wonder how Jeff Beck feels about Beck? There must be some confusion with gig listings, etc. When it comes to guitar, Beck is no Jeff Beck, but, then, again, Jeff Beck is no Beck when it comes to off-kilter pop. And while Jeff Beck has a famous ‘do adopted by no less than Nigel Tufnel, Beck’s blonde mane is also pretty cool. One thing is certain: Beck, and not Jeff Beck, is the one who thinks he’s in love.
Truckdriving Neighbor Downstairs
%$$#@!!!! upstairs#111stop with the $%$@ hammering%$#@youf@#!!9$!!$&bald@!$!#!goatee(*!71616b*stard@!!stop!&%$.
Truckdrivin’ Neighbor Downstairs
Do you like songs that start with "Yeah, I'm a @!#$ drunk! But you're a lousy lowlife who can't do nothing for himself”? If so, this is the perfect tune for you. Odd stuff!
The Bee Gees
Sad to hear about the death of Robin Gibb. “Jive Talking” was one of the first songs I really liked, and it still sounds great today. A few years later, in the midst of the disco vs. rock wars, I used to secretly listen to my dad’s “Saturday Night Fever” eight-track. (Yes, I was a traitor to the cause!) RIP.
All That I Wanted
Not to be confused with the metal band Belphegore, Belfegore dished out catchy, gothy new wave before dissolving into the mists of time. This video, in which strange folk run to and from the camera, is as fab as the song. I saw it on WHT (precursor of modern cable) in 1984 and loved it, and it still sounds great today. With lyrics like “I painted your lips to the back of a spider,” how could it be otherwise?
All That I Wanted.
A great song is a great song, even if it has a drum machine and sounds hopelessly dated. I saw this on WHT in the 80s and fell in love with both the song (which rocks like a mofo in an industrial goth-type way) and the video (scores of people running past the camera for four minutes). Unfortunately, the rest of the album sucked, but ... buyer beware, right? Kids, this is not to be confused with the death metal band "Belphegor," who are unspeakably bad. Actually, I've never heard them, but I won't let that stop me from condemning them outright. Long live "short-lived European gothic new wave" bands!
You probably couldn’t get away with a song titled “Bacon Fat” nowadays, but, then again, nowadays ain’t no fun. I love bacon fat – if I could, I’d wrap myself in it and bathe in it and eat it all day long. But with the cholesterol being what it is, I have to satisfy this craving with Morningstar Farms fake bacon, which, actually, is not too bad. Plus, unlike the real kind, it’s probably kosher.
The Outlandish Knight
Can you imagine the logistical, personal and financial problems of getting 11 people together to practice, perform and record music? Who’s sleeping with whom? Where’s the sodding drummer? One can only imagine the chaos. But the result is worth it, as this clip shows. Interestingly, Martin Carthy’s solo version of the tune is far superior, and an instructive case of “less is more.” Still, this fairly rules!
Cold Blows the Wind
Some people are just ungrateful. Here, a woman goes to the trouble of wailing and weeping at her true love’s grave for 12 months and a day, and how does he repay her? He rises from the dead, tells her to cut the crap and leave him in peace, and pops back into the grave from whence he came. About 40 musos bring this old tale to life, if you’ll excuse the pun, and it makes it for a blaringly nice wall of sound.
The Rochdale Coconut Dance
Bellowhead has more members than a membership gathering of everyone who ever wore a Members Only jacket. (Confession: I did.) Besides boasting the population of a small country, Bellowhead kicks out the folk-rock jams like nobody’s business. Tuba, melodeon, cello, trumpet, violin, bouzouki and lots of other blowy, stringy things all combine to produce a joyful wave of jiggery reeliness that makes this listener long for a pint of real ale in an English country pub. Who’s buying?
“I can't believe I'm going dancing,” said Jerry Seinfeld to Anonymous Girlfriend #367, who replied, “You don't go that often?” “No,” he said, “because it's so stupid.” And that pretty much sums up my feelings about dancing and dance music. But once every few years, a good dance song pops up its frivolous little head and demands to be liked. This one was so good at persuading me to like it that I actually bought the entire album, which sucks big-time. (I still have it.) “Hello” names names, lots of ‘em, and it’s got a good beat. And you can dance to it. As Uncle Leo would say, “Jerry, HELLO ….”
Bert Jansch has a song called “Poison,” but, as far as I know, Poison never returned the favor by titling a song “Bert Jansch.” That’s rude! Perhaps they can remedy the situation by recording “Every Bert has its Jansch,” “Talk Bert Jansch to Me” or “Bret’s Bandana Boogies to Bert Jansch.” Lots of words almost rhyme with Jansch – pants, dance, chance – so it shouldn’t be too hard. Get to work, boys!
Black leather, stacks of Marshalls, electric guitars, angry rock chicks … some things will always be cool. This video has all those elements, and it ROCKS. Hard.
I'm in Love with a Girl
I could put hundreds of songs up today – “You Make Me So Very Happy,” “This Guy’s in Love with You,” etc. – but this one gets the message across most succinctly: “I’m in love with a girl.” For a certain pale Celtic girl with Viking eyes.
I’m in Love with a Girl
In memory of Alex Chilton, who died yesterday at the age of 59. “I’m in Love with a Girl” is one of my favorite Chilton songs – so simple, touching and brimming with sweet melodies. This was track #1 on my recent “Belated Valentine’s Day Mix,” and, really, it says everything I’d like to say to my sweetie.
The Ballad of El Goodo
Is it possible for a song to shimmer, shine and sparkle all at once? I say: "Yes." Everything about this is brimming with shimmer, shine & sparkle: Alex Chilton's mellifluous voice, the rousing us-against-them lyrics, the gorgeous melody and the soaring backing vocals. Big Star have inspired more critical hullabaloo than almost any other band, but the hype is well deserved. This is perfect power pop, performed perfectly. (Yes, I know: alliteration is the last refuge of the creatively bankrupt). Thanks to Y. for sending me this song.
Somebody once said, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Well, I don’t know much about Bill Fay (nice beard, though) or the town of Warwick, but I do know that I like this song. A lot.
Why Was I Born?
DM heard me playing this in the car the other day and said, “It feels like we’re in Fallout.” Blank stare on my part. “It’s a video game.” “Oh.” Turns out the game presents a post-apocalyptic wasteland in which old swing and jazz are the only musical forms left. What will these young folk get up to next? (This actually makes me feel more like I’m in a Woody Allen film than a video game, but, hey, I’m 44.) I love this song for its bleak worldview, which flat-out points up the essential futility of human existence. Or perhaps it’s just a clever song about unrequited love. Whatever the case, it’s simply grand, darling.
Rockin’ the Bronx
When entering Paddy Reilly’s pub on New York’s Second Avenue, one is immediately struck by an unusual sight: eight draft taps, that, when taken together, spell out the word “G-U-I-N-N-E-S-S.” (And, from what I remember, that is the only alcoholic liquid on tap.) I used to frequent the place about 20 years ago, when a hot local band called Black 47 rocked the place to the rafters once a week. They played an unusual mix of instruments, from a drum machine to Uilleann pipes, and put on a hugely energetic performance, marching across the top of the bar and working the crowd into a frenzy. Good times! Frontman Larry Kirwan went on to write plays and novels, but he still cranks out “Rockin’ the Bronx,” their theme tune, whenever the band plays. This is the spirit of Irish New York in its purest form. (As an American Jew, I’m probably not qualified to say that, but, hey: I do have an Irish girlfriend, and that should count for something.) Slainte!
Following on yesterday’s post about TVs blaring everywhere, all the time, here’s Black Flag’s ironic take on the issue. This was recorded in the early 80s, so the shows Rollins & Co. mention – That’s Incredible, Dallas, Hill Street Blues, Fridays (which featured both Larry David & Kramer!) – might not be familiar to younger listeners. Speaking of younger listeners, DM, who is 15, introduced me to this. In fact, he recently forced me to watch a documentary called American Hardcore, which featured punk bands from the early 80s such as MDC, Minor Threat, etc. The music, for the most part, was “dreadful” (to use an Irish friend’s term), but Black Flag and the Bad Brains were good. I much prefer 70s British punk, though – The Damned, in particular – to this type of stuff. Teenage Middle-Age Rage fans might be interested to know that the band once considered covering this, but, no: SOMEONE didn’t want to play music with his father anymore …
Black Oak Arkansas
I used to have a Black Sabbath at the California Jam poster. The rainbow was cool, but Tony Iommi didn’t have his signature handlebar mustache (must have left it on the plane), and that bothered me a bit. Black Oak Arkansas also played that day, and they rocked. You can see where David Lee Roth (I know someone who calls him “David Van Halen” – tee hee) got his look from! Smokin’ hillbilly music for Monte Conner and all you other hard rockers. P.S. Check out the delectable "kissin' cousin" Ruby Starr!
Never Say Die
I try hard not to keep up with what’s going on in the world, but, sometimes, a bit of news slips through. This time, it was the reunion of Black Sabbath, as reported by Reuters. These nincompoops made two errors: (1) they called metal god Tony Iommi “Tommy” (although, I must admit that, as 12-year olds, we thought his name was “Tommy Lommi”), and (2) they said the last LP with the original lineup was “Never Say Never.” IT WAS “NEVER SAY DIE,” YOU FOOLS! Now let’s have a listen to the awesome title track from that so-so album.
Behind the Wall of Sleep
Some songs stay with you for a while. I first heard this when I was 12, and I STILL find myself absentmindedly tapping out the song’s drum beat on desks, tables, etc. Am I doomed to live the rest of my days with this in my head? That’s OK by me! Duh-de-duh/duh-duh-de duh …
Ah, 1977. One minute I was a fresh-faced innocent who liked baseball and comic books, and the next I was a longhaired freak in a Black Sabbath T-shirt with one goal in life: to get more Black Sabbath records and Black Sabbath T-shirts. This was one of the songs that provoked my fall from grace. Still sounds good today!
Rickey Medlocke has only one lung, is part Native American, has been both the drummer and guitarist in Lynyrd Skynyrd, and is the manliest man I know. His band, Blackfoot, rocked. I got this LP for Chanukah in 1980, and this song blew me right out of my chair. Note: Rickey’s hairline, which was receding back then, hasn’t receded further in the ensuing 30 years. He stopped it with the sheer force of his manly mind!
I can’t improve upon this comment – “Great song. Makes me wanna get sh*t done!” – so I won’t try. Saw Blackfoot in 1981, and a then-unknown band named Def Leppard opened. Def Leppard opening for Blackfoot! How’s that for old? But that’s as it should be, since Blackfoot kicks their ass. P.S. Rick Medlocke’s hairline, already receding in 1981, has not moved an inch in 30 years.
Castle of Thoughts
When I was a kid, we derived great joy from finding and championing the most obscure bands in the world. (As you can see, I’ve changed quite a bit since then.) I still remember racing Monte Conner up Broadway to get J&R Music World’s best copy (i.e., the one with the best side) of “Bloodrock U.S.A.” Good times! Bloodrock had a bit of popularity in the early 70s, but had long since ceased to be by the time we discovered them. Their one mild success, “D.O.A.,” was an eerie eight-minute dirge narrated by a dead crash victim, which may have something to do with their limited appeal. “Castle of Thoughts” is considerably more upbeat, and is about … I have no idea. I used to think it had something to do with college, but I just discovered singer Jim Rutledge is saying “cottage” and not “college.” Anyway, it rocks quite hard, and has some very cool percussion. For Monte and Stephen Glegg.
It’s a Sad World
The problem with a name like “Bloodrock” is that it leads to certain assumptions. Sure, the band was loud and heavy and did songs like “Melvin Laid an Egg,” but by the time “USA” was released (1972), they were pretty tasteful, with flutes and other wimpy instruments added to the mix. I loved this album as a teenager, and was pleasantly surprised by how listenable it still is. Thanks to Monte Conner for sending it to me. P.S. The album cover rules!
Melvin Laid an Egg
Today, we feature an egg tune for Easter. As kids, we had no idea what this song was about, but we were crazy about the sledgehammer riff, the wicked organ and the “I just wanna go home/and have myself an ice cream cone” lyric. Found out later it’s about Melvin Laird, Nixon’s defense secretary, which actually makes the title kind of clever. If you like Black Sabbath, check this out! For Monte Conner and Stephen Glegg.
Further to my Jim Morrison post, this song is about a guy sitting in jail wondering how he got there. “All I did was kill my wife,” he says. Well, don’t you think that might have something to do with it? This album (1968's Vincebus Eruptum) had mythical status for us as teens – it was supposedly the heaviest ever made. It is quite noisy! Your thoughts, Monte Conner?
Blue Öyster Cult
The Marshall Plan
The original Marshall Plan was instituted in the 1940s to help post-war Europe. BOC’s Marshall Plan was instituted in 1980 to help Johnny, the befuddled character at the heart of this song, to win back Susie, who ran off with his favorite band. The video features a beardless and sunglasses-less Eric Bloom as Johnny, and he looks about 10. From what I remember, this was shown right before BOC took the stage on the Cultosaurus Erectus tour. (Monte Conner, do you remember?) For Jim Marshall, founder of the iconic Marshall amp, who died yesterday. Thanks for the hearing loss!
Blue Oyster Cult
Oct, 18th, 1980: The Black & Blue Tour – Black Sabbath & Blue Oyster Cult – comes to Madison Square Garden. I, a fresh-faced 14-year old, stand in the orchestra pit, desperately trying to see above the heads of everyone taller than me. One guy, a huge drunken lout, stands on his chair, completely blocking my view and screaming, “$#@% Ozzy!” (Ozzy had been booted from the band a year earlier and was nowhere to be seen.) All of a sudden, he topples backward and falls like an enormous sack of cement right on top of me, knocking both of us onto the floor. I forgot what happened next, but I assume I kicked the crap out of him, went on stage with Sabbath to a standing ovation and sang “Paranoid.” Or maybe not. Anyway, this is a really bizarre BOC song that was not performed that night.
Please Warm My Weiner
This song is for all my friends who are freezing their arses off. It’s apparently about a man who wants a woman to warm up his daschund. Why doesn’t he just get it a sweater? Or warm it himself? And if the first line is any indication, the woman doesn’t even like dogs: "I got something to tell you, baby/Don't get mad this time." A mystery!
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
When I was in high school, my friend Eric Glass brought a Dylan album into Music Appreciation class. The teacher praised it extravagantly, and that was all it took to put me off His Bobness for the next few decades. But once I got over the trauma of the teacher/rock music collision, I realized all I was missing. This song is one of my favorites: the guitar playing is phenomenal, and the lyrics, well, how can you beat “While one who sings with his tongue on fire/Gargles in the rat race choir/Bent out of shape from society’s pliers/Cares not to come up any higher/But rather get you down in the hole/That he’s in.” (On a side note, I now know where the Long Island band Rat Race Choir got its name.) In fact, the entire album – “Bringing it all Back Home” (1965) – is unbelievable. How could one LP contain “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” “Gates of Eden” AND this? It just ruins my theory about the inverse relationship between popularity and musical worth (actually, I think this is just an exception; the rule still holds fast). I dedicate this to my cousin Michael Lintz, who has seen Bob more times than I’ve had hot dinners (and probably cold ones, too). Enjoy, Michael, and keep giving Bruce Willis hell!
Ramblin Gamblin Man
I love songs about free spirits who roam the world, loving and living and having all kinds of wild adventures. It all sounds very appealing from the safety and comfort of my living room couch. Here we have a pre-bearded Bob Seger banging out one of these tunes while rocking a bizarre furry vest.
Mack the Knife
Talk about cool! This is from a time when men were men, tobacco & booze were good for you, and “health food” consisted of a parsley garnish on your rare T-bone steak. I was -6 at the time and unable to enjoy all this, but I know from watching “Mad Men” that it was all pretty great. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to a three-martini, high-cholesterol lunch at Lunesse, followed by cigars and brandy and a secret rendezvous with a little dame I know downtown. (To my sweet woman: I’m actually heading out for a garden salad and bottled water, but don’t tell the FB people. They think I’m macho.)
Bobo Stinson Trio
Lugging a grand piano, an upright bass and a drum set through the Swedish woods could not have been fun, but that’s what Bobo and his mates did. (Quiz for Seinfeld fans: In what episode does “Bobo” appear?) To make things even cooler, they’re performing Silvio Rodriguez songs. The trees and horses seem to like it, and I do, too. And not a stick of IKEA furniture in sight!
I'm a big accordion man - I love all that wheezing and squeezing and droning. This song, about a randy young man who has what can only be called an overly close relationship with his teacher, the devil and the devil's wife (among others), is driven by a great accordion riff that makes it utterly irresistible. It's also raw as can be and sounds as if it was recorded in a garden shed somewhere in the backwoods of Louisiana. Note: This is the "naughty" version and not appropriate for respectable folk, upstanding citizens (or sitting citizens, for that matter) and those with sensitive ears.
Old Hag You Have Killed Me
Sometimes a song has such a great title that the music itself is almost irrelevant. And has there ever been a better title than “Old Hag You Have Killed Me”? This is a set of some heavy-duty Irish “rigs and jeels,” and it’s played in front of one of the least enthusiastic audiences I’ve ever seen. Come on, people … get dancing!
The Maid & the Palmer
A maid meets an old man, who asks for a drink. Like Jamie Gertz in that Seinfeld episode, she says she can’t spare one. He then accuses her of having borne nine children and casts a variety of curses upon her, including this doozy: “seven years to run as an ape through hell.” That’s not very nice, but this song, which features a racket of squeezeboxes and brass, is.
Brian Jonestown Massacre
It’s hard not to love a band that features a full-time tambourine player and records for a label called “The Committee to Keep Music Evil.” The BJM is led by an insane megalomaniac named Anton, features about seven guitar players and plays dreamy psychedelic music straight out of 1967. Rockumentary fans will want to check out “Dig!,” a fabulous film about the band and its friends, including The Dandy Warhols.
Closer to the Light
The title is a bit of a cliche, but this is a lovely song nonetheless.
Kiss and Tell
Bryan Ferry was the subject of a put-down song yesterday, so today he gets his chance to get back at somebody. “Kiss and Tell” is directed not at Brian Eno, but Ferry’s ex, Jerry Hall, who had published a book that told a bit too much about her relations with Mr Ferry. Musically, it’s a rhythmic monster, and impossible not to dance to. Get out the suit and the martinis – it’s a suave revenge/dance party!
Buddy Rich Big Band
PBS always shows artists that are popular in some alternate universe of bad taste. They’re always playing at some huge outdoor place in Italy or somewhere, and there’s always lots of dancers and a big stage set. So imagine our surprise when we stumbled across this delectable bit of authenticity last night. It cooks! Mr Rich has some great facial expressions, and, because it’s 1978, we get lots of bad haircuts and facial hair (and everyone is wearing big glasses). The person who posted this on You Tube used 10 exclamation points, and, while that’s a bit much, I do understand the enthusiasm. For all the drummers and bassists out there!
My pal Yuval Bar-Kokhba called to tell me he got this on vinyl. He was excited, and rightly so, as this is the kind of warm, flugelhorny pop that sounds best on record. It’s also one of the few songs that includes the word “grip,” an old-fashioned word for suitcase. My Aunt Ethel uses the word “valise” and was surprised to learn that none of her grandkids knew what it meant. These kids today! The most recent pop culture usage of “grip” was in the Seinfeld episode “The Keys.” George and Jerry corner a nervous Newman, who spills the beans and tells them that Kramer has fled to LA: “He packed a grip for the coast” was the exact line, I believe.
Welcome to the Real World, Kid
This is a great life-knocking-you-on-your-ass song that makes one determined to go on in the face of adversity. "I tried to shake my aches and pains/I tried the highways, I tried the trains/I don't know how they always found me, but they did ..."
Revolution Parts 1 & 2
In addition to having the best name in the history of recorded music, the Butthole Surfers are also the strangest band to ever have signed to a major label. Their live shows, which featured a nude dancer, “piss wands,” strobe lights and films of disgusting medical procedures (including penile reconstruction), were legendary, and their albums, one of which featured obscene drawings in place of song titles (exampl