Category Archives: Great Rockers

Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh: “Let’s Rock and Roll”

“Let’s Rock and Roll” – Bobby Bare, Jr.

the luxuries of van living

Thanks to my brother Andy Russell for turning me on to this song. Truer lines have never been written about the indignities of the ‘rock and roll lifestyle.’ I laughed, I cried … because it quite literally had been a part of my life for twenty some-odd years. Not to the extent it has been BB, Jr’s, but I’ve seen the vomit running down the walls, and when I heard the opening verse, I knew that this song would be one I’d be listening to again and again:

I live in the floor of a mini-van

Driven by drunks across this land

And I wake up in the worst part of your town

Drink free beer and sing until I fall down

Let’s rock and roll, let’s rock and roll

May the good lord of wine, women and song bless the road warriors like BB Jr who are still out there doing it every night. My rocking and rolling is now limited to once a month or so, and very seldom does the van get more than an hour away from home base. The days of draft beer dinners and crashing on strange, cigarette-stained couches or six dudes sharing a cheap motel room (“we don’t take checks!”) are fading into the fog of memory. And I can laugh about it now, thanks to this song.


Day 22 – A song you listen to when you’re sad – “End of the Rainbow”

“End of the Rainbow” – Richard & Linda Thompson

The Whole Records is ALmost tHis hapPy

This is a harsh song. Brutal even: “There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow / there’s nothing to grow up for anymore.” Whenever I’m sad, very sad, this is the soundtrack playing in my head. Tough stuff. But there’s something about the absolute rawness of the lyric, the clarity —  “I feel for you, you little horror” — that’s somehow cleansing. When you see the world that bleakly, and you’re feeling bleak, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Right?

300 Songs, and 20 or 30 of them are pretty good!

I have a feeling that this article is going to bring hours of joy to our household. T and I were discussing the other day that K (our 11 year-old) is probably ready for They Might Be Giants now. I’ll never forget the genuine geek thrill of discovering TMBG’s first record via a blurb in Rolling Stone [An important aside: really the only way that anything approaching cool entered into my early teens was through my Aunt Liz’s subscription to RS. Other rock and roll publications existed at the time — Creem, for instance — but only RS appeared in our our sleep little East Tennessee town. Thank you Aunt Liz, God, and Jan Wenner.].

I can’t find the actual RS piece highlighting TMBG’s signing (it was probably 1985), but the quote was something like, “We’ve written over 300 songs, and 20 or 30 of them might be good.” I found that both unbelievable and hilarious. Little did I know that they were being honest.

John T bought that first cassette — I almost alway had to rely on JT to actually buy the records we both were craving, as his Dad (despite being a hardcore bluegrass record and live tape collector) felt that any music was good music [I don’t know if he would’ve approved of VU or the Flaming Lips, but he funded their purchase. John T’s Dad also had a killer dubbing system — record to tape, tape to tape, reel to reel, etc. I have a boxful of old TDK’s just bursting with awesomeness.] Between the ridiculous song titles, the glorious word-salad of the lyrics, and the stylistic mimicry, we were hooked.

My favorite TMBG’s song? While the songs on the debut have a big place in my heart, my #1 has to be “Birdhouse in Your Soul” from Flood.

Here’s UGO’s top 50. Spend a little time with They Might Be Giants today …

Over the last 30 years, They Might Be Giants have gone from an alternative, Brooklyn-based musical duo to one of the most influential rock bands of all time. They’ve dabbled in every genre, instrument and subject matter possible. We love’em – and that’s why we’re counting down our 50 favorites.

via 50 Best They Might Be Giant Songs –

The Jayhawks family tree

Fun stuff! BTW, the Louris/Olson Jayhawks are reuniting … so very timely!

LOL/OMG: The Jayhawks family tree.

Christmas Songs: “Merry Christmas, Baby,” Otis Redding, 1968 « This Black Sista’s Page

A Christmas shout-out to the big O:

If he had lived, Otis Redding would have been 69 years old. To me, he–as well as Al Green–was the epitome of male soul: life-affirming and exuberant, and from a working man’s ethos and sweat. Redding had his feet on the ground–and you can say in the soil–of black Southern music.

via Christmas Songs: “Merry Christmas, Baby,” Otis Redding, 1968 « This Black Sista’s Page.

Stomp And Stammer – Feb.05 Cover – Neko Case

“Are you givin’ me the wiggle-butt?!” squeals Neko Case across a crackling long-distance cell phone connection. “Hi, Wiggle-Butt! Wiggle-Butt, Wiggle-Butt! Wheeeee-eeeee, Wiggle-Butt!”

via Stomp And Stammer – Feb.05 Cover – Neko Case.

Brian & the Nightmares … the beat goes on

Some of you may have read the remembrance of Brian and the Nightmares I wrote for their reunion get-together (originally in the local entertainment paper and more recently posted to this blog) in 2002. Very recently, another Nightmares fan posted video –originally shot for a local cable show — of that gig to YouTube. As a public service, I’ve assemble it below.

If you remember the Nightmares, this is a great reminder of their unique energy and musicianship. If you weren’t around or didn’t get the chance to see them during their late 80’s heyday, do yourself a favor and catch a sampling below.

I can honestly say that I’ve never been in a band, post-1988, that I didn’t in some way compare, unfavorably, to the focus and energy of the ‘Mares: it’s a goal that I’ve always shot for, and whenever someone has said to me, “man, your band is tight,” I’ve always wanted to say, “then you never saw Brian & the Nightmares!”

“Bored Games”

“Easy Way Out”

“Desperate Highway”

“Lizard Song”

“Primitive Rose”

“Keep on Walkin'”

“She’s So Tall”

“Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” (Standells cover)

“I Am A Rock” (Simon & Garfunkel cover)

“Can’t Touch an Angel”

“Little Bit of You”

“Route 66”

“All You Want to Do Is Sin”

And from way back in 1989 … Brian, Kurt, John and Mark doing “Warm California Sun” (Rivieras/Ramones/Dictators) and “New Kind of Kick” (The Cramps)