Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Want To Be Freddy Mercury

I have a bit of an extra bounce in my step today. I've just started a new acting class and it is infusing the rest of my life with inspiration. It's not your ordinary acting class and the vibe has set my brain afire.

1. 'What's Tickling You?' by Jack Logan from 'Mood Elevator'

This song ends with a chorus of high pitched cackles. Supremely spooky. He has a way of isolating moments not normally crystallized in songs. The moment before something happens. A man standing at a podium about to speak. A cowboy floating in the air. He seems to have disappeared lately and I miss him.

2. 'Saviour' by Prince from 'Emancipation'

This triple album is mathematically precise. Each album has 12 songs and clocks in at exactly 1 hour. If anyone else had released even 1 of these that year, the music industry would have set up an awards show for them and them alone. As it was, people just went, 'Oh, 3 more Prince albums? Great...'

This love song is gorgeous and has the Purple One's trademark guitar sound. What else can you say? When I talk about Prince I feel like some Austrian court functionary describing the latest Mozart work. Like, sure, I can say a couple THINGS but I AM TALKING ABOUT MOZART.

3. 'Not A Second Time' by The Beatles from 'With The Beatles'

They are SO young here. It is quite moving because while they are obviously quite confident musically they have NO idea what is about to come. To know where these 4 same guys wound up adds a bittersweet aftertaste to this finger wag of a warning to an unfaithful girl. Dumb girl, messing around with one of The Beatles' heads! Can you imagine if you were the girl in this song?

4. 'Breaking the Girl' by Red Hot Chili Peppers from 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik'

I vividly remember hearing this very song in the music superstore in Orleans, France. It was called FNAC and it was the Tower Records of the frogs. Headphones, listening stations, sulky Euro teenagers. I'd dabbled with the Chili Peppers but always was left a little bored by the frenzy. Well, they cut out the frenzy and what was left was devastating, especially on this track.

5. 'Soldier' by Eminem from 'The Eminem Show'

Speaking solely as a writer, as a connoisseur of language, I become vaguely prosyletic when talking about Eminem. Is that even a word? I feel as if I must convince those who would discount him that their opinion is ill-formed. I feel certain that, given enough time, I could turn even the most devoted anti-rap conservative racist into a drooling Eminem fan. On second thought, if you don't get it I ain't got time 4 ya.

6. 'Love Me Tender' by Elvis Presley from 'Heart & Soul'

Wow. I think I just grew a moist teenage 1950's vagina.

7. 'Problems' by Sex Pistols from 'Never Mind The Bollocks'

How does straightforward rock and roll sound so dangerous? Seriously, I don't get it. This is pretty basic stuff but the intent is so sharp, the attitude is so abrasive, they are still scary. No one had been scary before these guys. They made and broke the mold. All you lead singers are still desperately trying to scare audiences but Johnny Rotten took and ate your cake.

8. 'Young Hearts Run Free' by Kym Mazelle from 'Romeo & Juliet'

She's got a great voice but the whole thing is just not Beyonce.

9. 'Big Gun' by Ice-T from 'Tank Girl'

Ice-T leaves me cold, no pun intended. Now Tank Girl is another story. I saw this on the big screen back in the day and I think it is a lost classic. It prefigures all the comic book hero nonsense swarming the cineplexes these days. And has anyone ever been more not famous and had the lead role in a big budget Hollywood comic book movie than Lori Petty? Seriously, how did that happen? And, after it happened, why did nothing else happen? And how is she so good in that but still so annoying? These are the questions I ask myself as I try not to listen to Ice-T. And how did Ice-T become a TV star? Are we going to have to see Ice-T solving crimes at 97 like Matlock? All old and gangster-y?

10. 'I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby' by Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

Poor Dolly meets the man she's fallen in love with out on the street. He's walking with another woman. Her heart flails. He introduces the women and says, 'I don't believe you've met my baby.' Dolly isn't sure who he's referring to. But the girl on his arm turns out to be his sister who tells Dolly her 'brother plans to marry'! Then they all get on the Dollycoaster and puke their guts up.

Hee hee. It's actually quite a good song.

11. 'Atlantic City' by Bruce Springsteen from 'Nebraska'

Legend has it that Bruce recorded demos to teach the E-Street Band these songs. They then recorded a full band version before Bruce decided to release the demos themselves.

This is the one song on the album that suffers from the spare arrangement. I've always wanted to hear the full blown 70's souped up Camaro version. Don't get me wrong, I love this version but the ghosts of Clarence, Little Stevie and Max are all over the place.

12. 'A Day In The Life' by The Beatles from 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band'

It's really sad when a band tries to do something all mystical and important and fall flat on their faces.

13. 'Things Change' by Dwight Yoakam from ''

This song is on a great album of his called 'A Long Way Home'. It works equally well stripped of all other instrumentation. The rhythm!

14. 'Friends Win' by Bill Doss from 'The Powerpuff Girls: Heroes & Villains'

I love the Powerpuff Girls. And you realized I was kidding about 'A Day In The Life', right? Good Lord that song is insane. Seriously, the instant it kicks in I feel my sanity teetering on the edge of some immeasurable abyss. Somehow the alternating John/Paul verses elicits a manic schizophrenia laced with terror. Thank God the Powerpuff Girls came along and saved the day in the life.

15. 'Save Me' by Queen from 'Greatest Hits'

Last but not least we have Queen. I can still see Freddy Mercury on the tips of his toes holding that weird half microphone stand in white tights and that crazy mustache over those giant teeth. I watched Live Aid just to see Queen play.

And once again my iPod disappoints at the last moment, unable to project me out of my day job. See you tomorrow!

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