Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gym, Night Bus, Morning Bus

As the title of today's post explains, this is a list of the songs I worked out to yesterday at lunch, the songs played on the bus ride home, and the songs played this morning as I came back to work.

I have moved on from David Sedaris and now I am currently reading Michael Chabon's 'The Yiddish Policeman's Union' for the third time. I love this book and it is, along with the iPod, saving me from the shift in bus schedule.

Pumping Iron:

43. Sunglasses At Night - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'

This whole album makes me laugh. It came out during that whole odd cocktail party fad period when everyone was learning to make Screaming Vikings and insisting that their friends come over dressed in zoot suits and chiffon dresses. My thought is that if everyone has to put on a costume and it isn't Halloween you probably don't have the friendships you THINK you do. But this album is great. Like the best cheesy big band wedding band you've ever seen taking incongruous bad/good hits and sleeking them up until they are barely recognizable.

44. Memories Can't Wait - Living Colour from 'Vivid'

This is the best moment on this album and that is because it is a Talking Heads song.

45. On A Plain - Nirvana from 'Nevermind'

Sometimes a Nirvana song comes and goes and I don't think about the suicide of Kurt Cobain. This is not one of them. Sometimes it makes me angry, sometimes sad, and sometimes I move past those into simply wondering what he would be up to if he'd given himself the permission to enjoy this world and his talent in it. Oh, what do you know, I'm back to being angry.

46. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young from 'Harvest'

Is Mt. Rushmore a good statue? Kind of doesn't matter because it's a fucking mountain.

47. Glasshouse Tarot - Sparta from 'Wiretap Scars'

These guys get so much right. The production is impeccable, the playing is ferocious, the song titles are obscure and disturbing, but I get the impression that deep down they wish they were Van Halen. Just write a song about tits, fellas, you'll feel better.

48. Kosciusko - Midnight Oil from 'Red Sails In The Sunset'

I guess I don't think these Aussies get the full respect they deserve. Somehow they got lumped in with U2 back in the day, maybe because they wrote political songs that cried out against injustice. But U2 were great demagogues and propagandists. Midnight Oil were writing about obscure land grabs and mining towns rendered violent after Aboriginal/White Man conflagrations. I find myself WANTING to tune out because it is like being trapped by some righteous history professor. But the music always wins me over. If the lead singer weren't some giant bald freak they might be leading the charge on 3rd World Debt right alongside Bono Vox. Whose real name is fucking Paul, okay?

49. Paperwings - Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Real deal. Great singer, great songs, great records. Heartbreaking and passionate in small and big ways simultaneously.

Night Bus:

50. Talkin' 'Bout You (Live) - Ray Charles from 'Ray Charles Live'

He just makes everybody else look bad. Period.

51. Everybody Hit The Ground - Poppa Foxtrot from 'Poppa Foxtrot'

Cousin Timothy does it again, a strange disturbing back beat threaded with helicopter and strange beeps and buzzes. It makes you feel as if you are being pursued by crooked cops.

52. The Ways Of A Woman In Love - Johnny Cash from 'The Sun Years'

Talk about Mt. Rushmore, holy shit. Every single one of these songs is ultimate perfection. You could run a train on the groove they lay down. You can tell it is all live. They recorded the song a whole bunch of times and then tried to figure out which lump of gold was the biggest. All the overproduced modern country singers should be forced to take off their makeup and sit the hell down and listen to this.

53. You Bowed Down (Demo) - Elvis Costello from 'All This Useless Beauty (Bonus Disc)'

I don't know when it happened but I had to jump off the Elvis train somewhere back down the line. Consequently I have missed his most prodigious output as he has been unbelievably prolific in the past ten years. Hearing this demo made me think I have a lot of catching up to do.

54. Theme From Tokyo - bis from 'Social Dancing'

I remember someone saying this band was going to be the next big thing. Somehow I came across a promotional copy of this 1999 album put out by the now defunct Beastie Boys label Grand Royal. All I'll say is there is something missing.

55. Three Days - Willie Nelson from 'Crazy: The Demo Sessions'

I was all excited to hear these tracks which Willie was laying down before anyone knew who he was in Nashville. But after I heard them all I could think was, well, of course no one knew who he was. These are half-baked boring songs that barely hint at the full-blown artistry that was just around the corner. He was not being himself.

56. Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits from 'Money For Nothing'

This song has come up a bunch of times lately on the ol' iPod shuffle and I usually skip it because I just don't want to hear Mark Knopfler talk about post traumatic stress disorder and soldiers. But in spite of that, he got me. Beautiful song, beautiful guitar playing, beautiful production. And this band was so huge he could have simply rode that wave forever and instead he broke it down so far people barely know who he is anymore. Strange.

57. Bowtie (Postlude) - Big Boi from 'Speakerboxx'

'Idlewild' is a terrible movie but these guys are the shit.

58. Fell In Love With A Girl - The White Stripes from 'White Blood Cells'

I have come to the conclusion that I simply don't care. It all started with the Bond song he did with Alicia Keys. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. I never liked her but I was excited about the strange pairing of these two very different artists. It merely wound up pointing out both of their flaws. He only writes one song and she has style but no soul. As my Mum would say, "Big fakers."

59. Trust - Prince from 'Batman'

The anticipation of this movie cannot be overstated. Michael Keaton was a HUGE star, Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson, the world was still abuzz over Kim Basinger's breasts in 9 1/2 Weeks, and Tim Burton was the weirdo ready to take over the world...and Prince had not yet renounced his name and gone freaky.

And what happened? It was a massive hit. Which was not the definitive Batman. And the Prince songs? Not definitive Prince. The only definitive part of the whole thing was Nicholson. And spare me the Heath Ledger crap, okay? Yes, he was great but if you transplanted Nicholson into 'The Dark Knight' he'd have been just as revelatory.

And while we're on the subject, 'The Dark Knight' is NOT an important movie. Batman is not a metaphor for our souls. He's a CARTOON. So tired of people talking about that franchise as if it is some sort of cultural touchstone. Don't get me wrong, I love both Nolan Batman movies. But, really, you'd think it was '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Apocalypse Now' for chrissakes. IT'S BATMAN.

60. Goin' Out West - Tom Waits from 'Bone Machine'

Great song, great album. I just wish he'd followed it up with something slick and mainstream and accessible just to fuck with everybody. Instead he's gotten successively weirder until it's like some sort of contest to see how weird he can be. You think that was weird? Get a load of this's a bout a spider who becomes the pope but then gets kidnapped by a roving gang of circus performers who are dedicated to the works of Machiavelli combined with manuals that describe how farm machinery works. I recorded it one day when I threw myself into a grain silo!

Hey, Tom, here's an a duet with Beyonce!

61. Open - The Cure from 'Wish'

They have outlasted everybody else and are now in Rolling Stones land where they put out the same album over and over and then tour the world for millions playing songs they wrote thirty years ago.

62. I Know You Know - Lyle Lovett from 'Lyle Lovett And His Large Band'

Take the rant I just wrote for Tom Waits and reverse it for Lyle Lovett. Fuck shit up, Lyle. It's too on the nose.

63. The 6-Teens - Sweet from 'The Best Of Sweet'

This is one of the most ridiculous songs of all time, chronicling the important story of a couple of hippies named Bobby and Billy or Billy and Jimmy or Bobby and Jilly who thought they were going to change the world in '68. But oh so much fun in the badness. Plus I don't know how these guys sing so high.

64. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer - The Afghan Whigs from 'Gentlemen'

This is a killer album, one that sucks me in ever time, one that I try to be cynical about but can't be once it starts playing. There are douchebags in love with the idea of being douchebags, a phase that a lot of guys go through. Guys are systematically taught to deny their feelings and intimidate. This album is the exultation of one of these assholes all grown up, right before something happens that will make him realize he has thrown his life away. What makes it interesting is that it is BEFORE he has the realization. Somehow The Afghan Whigs pull this off, a whole album that never really admits what we can't help but see. Brave and challenging.

65. River's Gonna Rise - David & David from 'Welcome To The Boomtown'

I love this album. And I love that these two sidemen briefly took over the world.

66. Electro-Shock Blues - Eels from 'Electro-Shock Blues'

I simply have no sympathy today.

67. Fruit Of The Vine - Jim White from 'Famous Shovels In Twain'

I don't know where I got this album from and this song reminds me of the annoying grown-up who tries to hijack a three year old's birthday party by cracking open the Pete Seeger songbook. Sit down ya pinko commie.

68. Never Leave My Rhyme Book Without My House - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

I produced this album so I suppose I'm biased but I love every one of the 33 crazy tracks on it. Someday soon I'll get around to putting up a website devoted to the incredibly music my cousin makes and then you will all understand.

69. Safeway Cart - Neil Young & Crazy Horse from 'Sleeps With Angels'

Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young in his suicide note. Neil Young recorded this album for him in response. Need I say more?

70. Margin Walker - Fugazi from '13 Songs'

One of the greatest rock songs of ALL time. I can't ever say enough about Fugazi.

71. It Makes No Difference - The Band from 'The Best Of The Band'

A killer ballad from The Band. Seriously, who could pull of naming themselves The Band? We are The Band. Not a band, not a band named...but simply The Band. This is a heartbreakingly sad song.

Morning Bus:

72. The Scientist - Coldplay from 'A Rush Of Blood To the Head'

I didn't care about these guys one way or another, still don't really, but this song will always have a special place in my heart. I stepped off the plane from NYC here in LA to do my cousin Mike's play 'Searching For Certainty'. It was a huge break for me. I went right to Mike's house and he gave me a mix of songs to listen to that had informed the latest draft of the play. He wanted me to take them to heart.

I went out into his guest house. It wasn't a rehearsal or anything but I was WORKING. And those 45 minutes set the whole process off for me in a profound way. Some of the songs I knew, some were new to me. I don't think I knew what Coldplay sounded like so this song wasn't tainted by any scorn I might have had for them as an entity. It was the straw that broke the camel's back and I broke down and cried for what the character I'd be playing had lost, what he'd endured, what he still hoped for in spite of it all.

And I cried a little bit just for me.

73. A Change Is Gonna Come - Graham Parker from '1989 Live! Alone In America'

Love this album. Great version of the classic soul protest song from Sam Cooke.

74. Smile - Weezer from 'Weezer (Green Album)'

These guys have curdled for me like a sweet cheese with too much sugar. Only the sweetness keeps it from being completely moldy and gross. But when they get it right there is nobody better.

75. Closer To The Heart - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'


76. Darling Nikki - Prince from 'Purple Rain'

Still shocking. Still a great song.

77. Have A Drink On Me - AC/DC from 'Back In Black'

Thank you, I will.

78. Torture - The Replacements from 'Don't Tell A Soul'

I wore this album out as I jetted off to France nursing a broken heart.

79. Red-Haired Mary - The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem from 'In Concert'

When these guys get rolling it is a total blast.

80. The Kid In The Well - Lenny Bruce from 'The Lenny Bruce Originals - Volume 1'

Impossible to explain.

81. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) - Bruce Springsteen from 'The River (Disc 1)'


82. Give It Up - Amos Lee from 'Amos Lee'

Very talented guitar player, very talented singer...boring ass songs.

83. It's About Time - The Lemonheads from 'Come On Feel The Lemonheads'

Way underrated.

84. I Can Love You Better - Dixie Chicks from 'Wide Open Spaces'

Whenever I hear these gals now I can't help but think of the documentary about them, 'Shut Up And Sing' in which they face the backlash from the comment made by the lead singer about George Bush. I kind of don't care about all that but the fiddle playing sister was fascinating to me. She seems to know somewhere deep inside that she is the luckiest chick on earth so she wanders around saying vague things about wanting to make sure that they always evolve and what if this is the best we'll ever be and wah wah wah. I wanted to smack her and say, 'Look, bitch, you won the fuckin' lottery, quit yer bitchin'.'

I know the title of the documentary was supposed to be a poke in the eye at the right wingers who were attacking them for expressing their views about Bush but I kind of wound up agreeing with it. Shut up and sing.

85. Back In The U.S.S.R. - The Beatles from 'The Beatles Disc 1'

In one song they pack The Beach Boys up in a nice little package and tell them how it is done. The original rap feud.

86. When Big Joan Sets Up - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band from 'Trout Mask Replica'

I remember reading about this mysterious album in Rolling Stone where it was named one of the Top Ten Albums of all time. I was in high school and I'd never heard of these guys, how could they have made one of the top ten albums of all time? I don't know about top ten but it is certainly magnificent. And nearly impossibly to listne to.

87. Chinatown - Jets To Brazil from 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary'

These guys are for me like those hammers they hit your knees with to see how your reflexes are. No matter how much I gird myself I'm never ready for it.

88. Dumb - Nirvana from 'MTV Unplugged In New York'

Amazing that he pulled this show off considering how far down the rabbit hole he'd already fallen. Oh, mad again.

89. Lucky Day - Tom Waits from 'The Black Rider'

See above. Beyonce, are you listening?

90. ...And Justice For All - Metallica from '...And Justice For All'

This was the album that brought these guys across the metal divide. They would drive that spike through our collective hearts on the next one, the black album 'Metallica', but this one made people nervous. Like, metal bands aren't supposed to write 9 minute epics about war veterans. Where are the girls in bikinis and pussy jokes? As much as I love this album, it is clear that they desperately needed an editor. Enter Bob Rock. Rock history ensues.

91. Power & The Passion - Midnight Oil from '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1'

Boy, that's an annoying title to type. But a great song. Great album.

Whew. Finished with those segments. Next up I'll be off to the gym to begin the three-pronged iPod shuffle pattern all over again.


DBrooks17 said...

Just thought I would let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your running commentary on these songs. You are a little younger than I am, and that is reflected somewhat in the song list, BUT you are full of surprises(Captain Beefheart, Louis Armstrong, Sam Bush, Miles Davis), and the comments are great. Initially, I started reading one of the posts just to pass the time, but I am now hooked. Great stuff. BTW, I am the DBW who comments on your sister's site.

Brendan O'Malley said...

thanks DBrooks!

i can't rest until i own whatever is considered the best of any genre out there. i might not LOVE it but i want to know about it. i love rap, punk rock, standards, classic rock, folk, metal, i honestly think i own something in every genre.

okay, polka i can do without but that's about it.

thanks for commenting and reading and please throw out musical suggestions whenever they come to you...