To doubly prove yesterday's post, I will now go down the same list through the eyes of a newly smitten lover...
# 1: Lyle Lovett: Yes his hair is too much. Yes his face is lopsided. Yes he sings not out of the SIDE of his mouth but seemingly from all the way in BACK of his mouth. Yes his brand of goofy artsy cowboy/ranch-hand can seem like the flimsiest of poses. But then he comes out with something as classic and honed as 'If I Was The Man You Wanted.' You forget about him for a second and are transported into some world where dust and rope are what men know best. Where the beat of hooves is heard more often than the beat inside a woman's breast against your own. Where the sky can not contain your grief.
# 2: Van Morrison: It is harder for me to dig into why people love Van Morrison because my opinion of him has twisted so greatly from appreciation to disdain. But if you want to figure out WHY Van Morrison is one of THOSE artists that still seem to make news decades after starting out go back and listen to 'Astral Weeks'. He and his acoustic guitar are a band in and of themselves. Around him play members of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Their parts seem almost like angels. He is a soul in trouble and they are buoying him, helping him cope. This was well before he started believing he was the next coming of Ella Fitzgerald so his vocal serves the song instead of the other way around. 'Slim Slow Slider' is amazing.
# 3: Primus: When Les Claypool stops wearing penguin suits and takes himself even the slightest bit seriously the results can be astonishing. There is something terrifying in his view of the American experience which makes him the perfect author of the 'South Park' theme song. How can you dance to Columbine? Well, you shouldn't but he'll make you. Try 'My Name is Mud' on for size. Probably their biggest hit, it tells the strange little tale of two friends. Shoes are stepped on. Murder ensues. Murder songs are a grand tradition in rock and roll; Primus brought that history into a much more disturbing realm...reality.
# 4: Wilco: Sure Tweedy is tired. But is there a rock band out there right now that epitomizes American music more than this one? They are like The Band in that they are so authentic that they are almost anonymous. I won't even bother to highlight a song they have so many. Now that I think about it, I don't know why I included them on yesterday's shit list.
# 5: Bob Mould: Here's another one! This guy is a rock legend, a true guitar hero and I tore him a new asshole yesterday. I ought to be ashamed of myself. He is a genre unto himself. On 'Workbook' he brought a delicate acoustic feel to songs of emotional fury so intense they could only be categorized as bombast. 'Brasilia Crossed With Trenton'? I mean, who else could write that song? Something changed lyrically along the way and he stopped reaching me directly but his riffs are always tasty.
# 6: Leonard Cohen: Whenever I try to give up on Leonard Cohen, I try to remember that as we speak he is probably preparing gruel for a society of monks that he lives with. This guy is a true renegade. One song in particular is ruined for me forever and it is probably my favorite. On Rob Wasserman's amazing 'Duets' album, he covers 'Ballad of the Runaway Horse' with Jennifer Warnes. (Yes, Joe Cocker 'Love Lift Us' THAT Jennifer Warnes). It is 6 minutes of a stand up bass and her voice and the story of a girl trying to tame a horse. Somehow this elegy to unrequited tragic love seemed like a good song for my ex-wife and I to dance to as our first dance at the reception of our wedding. Yikes. You could practically hear people saying, "Maybe I should have objected when I had the chance."
# 7: Pearl Jam: Here are two things I like about Pearl Jam. They hit worldwide fame and then deliberately went anonymous. They downsized. That makes them very cool in my book. They have lasted. That's one. The other one is a little more involved. My sexy girlfriend had/has a deep crush on Eddie Vedder. Now, she is a true music fan who has turned me on to many of my favorites, so I have to respect her opinion. When she was in college, Pearl Jam were at their height of fame/visibility/powers. She went to see them, front row, and she ripped off her shirt to throw up to Eddie Vedder. She wore a bikini top underneath because she anticipated this frenzy. The world needs hot girls like her to show their appreciation in this manner. I applaud.
# 8: Roxy Music: In the 1990's you could get a girl to sit in the dark with you if you gave them a little bit of wine and happened to play 'Love Is The Drug'. At first they'd be all 'His voice is funny!' Then they'd ask how you heard of this band. Then they'd ask to see the album cover. Then they'd giggle at the nipples. Then you both knew that girls had breasts with nipples. Then they'd make you turn the light back on. But it was close!
# 9: Weezer: I actually really love Weezer. My aforementioned sexy girlfriend put 'El Scorcho' on a mix tape for me and it blew my mind. Still does! The goofy rap lingo in the gnarly punk riff; the beats! Man, they have sick beats. We saw them play at Jones Beach and they were ON. Weezer shouldn't be on yesterday's list, actually. Their latest song 'Beverly Hills' had me toetapping but then I soured on it really fast. However, this is an original American sound. Rivers Cuomo is such a wild card; he could wind up serving 20 terms on some Town Council and turn his back on rock entirely. The only frontman who seems like your Civics teacher.
# 10: Arcade Fire: I am not wrong about these guys. They suck.
Grand Prize: REM: The little band that could. Has there ever been a more unlikely success story in rock? They aren't sexy; they aren't scary; they aren't funny; they aren't loud; they aren't soft; what the hell are they? But I gotta hand it to 'em for 'Losing My Religion'. A perfect pop song about...uh, about...umm. A perfect pop song!
My apologies to these artists for stringing them along and flip-flopping emotionally. But like I said. Love is a bitch.