Day 19 – A song from your favorite album – “Rocks Off”

“Rocks Off” –  Rolling Stones (opening song from Exile on Main St.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones

I listened to a bagful of records the other day during a day of driving — to Charlotte, NC and back — to see if I my choice of favorite album may have been surpassed. Dylan, Costello, Beatles, Waylon, Willie, Thin Lizzy, Kinks? Nope, it’s still Exile on Main Street. Rock on, Rocks Off.

Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio – “The Knife Feels Like Justice”

“The Knife Feels Like Justice”  – Brian Setzer

In my opinion this song had it all: a great, Byrdsy riff (it is, quite literally, the reason I own a 12-string guitar);  a strong melodic hook; and a killer lead vocal from Mr. Setzer. However, nobody was ready for Brian Setzer as a cow-punk rock star in late 80’s. The Stray Cats were still fresh on everyone’s mind, Dwight Yoakam wasn’t cool yet, and alt-county was still a half-decade away. So this excellent song, and the kick-a$$ album it came from – which I still own, thank you very much – quickly hit the bargain bins. Still, I dream of the day when I hear this tune bursting out of the radio speakers, where it really belonged … and still belongs.

Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio – “Waitin’ for the Bus” / “Jesus Just Left Chicago”

“Waitin’ for the Bus” / ” Jesus Just Left Chicago” – ZZ Top

My car radio is set to four stations: WETS (the local public radio station), the local AM sports station (which I only listen to during football season), the local ‘modern rock’ station (for the Bob & Tom morning show, when I just can’t take listening to the news some mornings), and WQUT, our local ‘classic rock’ station. I was raised on FM/rock radio — specifically WIMZ out of Knoxville — and it’s in my blood. Mention just about any AC/DC, ZZ Top, Bad Company, or Lynyrd Skynyrd song, and I could half-a$$ play it for you right now. I’m not bragging; it’s just the truth.

tRes hOmBres

All that being said, I can’t stomach everything on classic rock radio. Some things will make me change the station immediately. I will not bear another airing of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold,” for instance. So, I interpreted this one as “a song that you hear often on the radio … that you don’t switch away from automatically.” My all-time keeper is ZZ Top’s double-sided single “Waitin’ for the Bus” / “Jesus Just Left Chicago” from Tres Hombres (1973) — what a great record, by the way: probably their best, with Eliminator a close second. Billy Gibbons was one of my first real guitar idols, and his lead and rhythm playing on these two tunes is absolutely primo. Recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios, just FYI, and the rhythm guitar on “Jesus” has some of that Big Star glisten to it, in my opinion, while that rhythm guitar on “Bus” is fatter than Booker T and the MG’s all standing on the scale at the same time!

Day 20- A song that you listen to when you’re angry – “Conservative Christian”

Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry – “Conservative Christian”

When I’m angry, it is more than likely something to do with pig-headedness, religion, politics, or some combination of the three. This brilliant Todd Snider song gives me some perspective by making fun of both extreme stereotypes (extreme right and left): it definitely makes me laugh, and (usually) helps pull me out of the funk. My favorite line, referring to us “lefties”: “We who have nothing, and most likely will till / we all end up locked up in jail / by conservative christian right-wing Republican straight white American males.” Some times it feels like that, for sure. If you’re not familiar with this tune, definitely have a listen — I think you’ll enjoy it, whatever your political persuasion!

Day 16 – A Song You Used to Love But Now Hate: “Synchronicity II”

“Synchronicity II” – The Police

hold on, sting, legitimacy is coming!

I’ll probably take one from the 80s hit squad, including my wife, for this one, but the fact that I used to find this song somehow “deep” fills me with horror and confusion. Random events, general ennui, and references to Jung and, uh, Lovecraft?, do not a lyric make. And the music? I think Andy Summers had just given up by this point. The video drives the point home: “You want me to do what, Sting? Make my guitar sound like a moaning goat? Sure, whatever. And wear these rags that look like Tina Turner’s cast off wardrobe from Beyond Thunderdome? What the heck. Why not?” Stewart Copeland’s trying to sell it though. Either that or he’s just so pi$$ed that the anger just makes him go all method and he is Mad Max.

Another suburban family morning.

Grandmother screaming at the wall.

We have to shout above the din of our Rice Crispies

We can’t hear anything at all.

Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration,

But we know all her suicides are fake.

Daddy only stares into the distance

There’s only so much more that he can take.

Many miles away something crawls from the slime

At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.

Another industrial ugly morning

The factory belches filth into the sky.

He walks unhindered through the picket lines today,

He doesn’t think to wonder why.

The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts in a red light street,

But all he ever thinks to do is watch.

And every single meeting with his so-called superior

Is a humiliating kick in the crotch.

Many miles away something crawls to the surface

Of a dark Scottish loch

Another working day has ended.

Only the rush hour hell to face.

Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes.

Contestants in a suicidal race.

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance,

He knows that something somewhere has to break.

He sees the family home now looming in his headlights,

the pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache.

Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door

Of a cottage on the shore

Of a dark Scottish lake

Many miles away …

Day 15 – A Song that Describes You: “Vincent O’Brien”

M. Ward – “Vincent O’Brien”

“He only sings when he’s sad / But he’s sad all the time, so he sings / the whole night through / Yeah, he sings in the day-time, too.”

My wife picked this one, but only, she says, on the basis that I  used to put it on all the mix CDs I made. I guess that’s code for “this song describes me”? Probably.

Like Luli once described herself, this song is “sad, and angry, and sad” in equal amounts. Like me. But it’s also quite nice and easy to get along with in places, and I’m also that. Anyway, I think you’ll like it, or I wouldn’t have put it on that mix CD I gave you …

The lyrics:

He only sings when he’s sad

But he’s sad all the time, so he sings the whole night through

Yeah, he sings in the day-time, too

He only dreams when he’s sad

And he’s sad all the time, so he dreams the whole night through

Yeah, he dreams in the day-time, too

There may be  mermaids under the water

There may even be a man in the moon

But Vincent, time is running out

You better get yourself together soon

Out of Buffalo, the man

Below the belt, he swung, and then after the bell has rung

Another cheap shot, here it comes

Another cheap shot, here it comes

He only laughs when he’s sad

And he’s sad all the time, so he laughs the whole night through

Yeah, he laughs in the daytime, too

There may be  mermaids under the water

There may even be a man in the moon

But Vincent, time is running out

I hope you get yourself together soon

I hope you get yourself together soon

Day 14 – A Song that No One Would Expect You to Love: “Mmmbop”

“Mmmbop” – Hanson

She said she was 18

Call me crazy, but I still marvel at this as a masterpiece of bubblegum rock production.  The Hansonlet’s sub-Winwoodian adenoidal bleat has all the sexual heat of a guinea pig, but the B-3 pumps as if this is the Winwood-era Spencer Davis Group reincarnated. It hits much harder and with more authority than other sounds of similar vintage (try listening to EMF’s “Unbelievable” now and not gag). I’m sure we should credit the production of the Dust Brothers and the playing of the studio musicians who probably account for 99% of the riffage on here … but aren’t these chicks cute?