No introduction required, but briefly…
The List will be up generally on Tuesdays. As ever, the list is broad-ranging and is a simple collection of what I am listening to or discovering at any given moment. The list is myriad – diverse, because my taste in music runs the gamut and I also sometimes include what I’m not so keen on to get a reaction and to see how others respond, to get valuable input, as well. Enough introduction – likely you know the list already and if not, you’ll catch on very quickly. Thanks, as ever, for tuning in.
“Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds – A huge eighties club band, Simple Minds had many great hits and that echoed through the black-painted walls of clubs with names like “Spit” (or at least the ones I remember) and while I may have heard this at Palladium once or twice, it wasn’t that kind of song. It was, to be sure a fun and still memorable song, but never one that I heard while out in the larger venues. Simple Minds is a memorable band and for die-hard fans there is a great site with everything from discography to tour dates, a tour diary and even a shop (but likely you would know this already.)
“The Ghost in You” and “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs – Is it that mercury-like, ethereal voice of Richard Butler that makes the Furs? It’s a voice drenched in mercury and just one too many cigarettes and yet it works here. The songs and I apologize, I could not choose just one, and each has its merit. “Love My Way” may be more assertive (and in some ways could be construed as a very early precursor to David Garza’s “Kinder” – which made The List a few times back and is worth more than a listen).
“Which Will” by Nick Drake – Life is full of choices, and Drake is not about to let whoever the subject of this song is off the hook, swinging casually between he and some other. She will have to choose and though the choice may not be easy, it is one that must be made. Drake doesn’t sing this song as any kind of ultimatum or threat, but more as a kind of rumination. Drake’s death, much like Jeff Buckley’s (and the two have been compared in many ways), was never completely cleared of suicide. Drake, like his music, always had a mournful side to him and his lyrics and this song in particular bears that out (well, almost any Drake song does…). “Which Will’s” lyrics:
- Which will you go for
Which will you love
Which will you choose from
From the stars above
Which will you answer
Which will you call
Which will you take for
For your one and all
And tell me now
Which will you love the best.
Which do you dance for
Which makes you shine
Which will you choose now
If you won’t choose mine
Which will you hope for
Which can it be
Which will you take now
If you won’t take me
And tell now
Which will you love the best.
I’m not sure he needs to say, or I need to say more than he’s said there. That pretty much sums it up.
“Oceanside” by the Decemberists – This song I had not heard until relatively recently and the words here are full of wist and want and the whole “if… then” equation of love, that it just works. If he could only get the “sweet Annabelle” oceanside, then it would all work out. His self-deprecation doesn’t come off as self-pity here – it comes off as his own sincere concern and desire to be quite simply good enough. That’s my take. A pretty song that sticks very fast the way certain melodies just catch. Nothing too complicated here, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile song… it doesn’t have to move mountains or have some huge social meaning to be important to you personally or to have personal meaning, amen.
“Napoleon” by Ani de Franco – An excellent fuck-you song when required and right up there with my much beloved but impossible to find Dean and the Weanies “Fuck You.” (Everyone’s a Fuckin’ ) Napoleon is what the title here says: that at the end of the day, no matter what you are promised and by whom, that people will ultimately not only live up to your negative expectations of them, they will surpass them. Ultimately, this is a song about being let down by just about everyone and although the target here may be the collective “they” of the music industry (one gathers from the lyrics), the sentiment could be taken that much further and is felt more deeply and is carried forward into such songs as “Untouchable Face.”
“Southern Mark Smith” by Jazz Butcher – Though not so well-known in this country (apparently), Jazz Butcher doesn’t get their due or the chance to get their due. “Southern Mark Smith”, for example, is one of the best songs you could ever hope to hear if for nothing but the jingle-jangle guitar. All the elements fall into place and it’s just right. You can buy Jazz Butcher through Amazon (see link below) as part of a two-CD boxed set and I highly recommend the songs “The Human Jungle” and “Just Like Betty Page,” but there are so many it’s hard to pick one over another. Expensive, so you may wish to try downloading first – if so, try this first or “The Human Jungle.”
“Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile – Well, wasn’t he? Is it wrong to point out his good points? Granted, so much of what King Missile does is tongue-in-cheek but nothing they say here is untrue – or biblically untrue anyway. And more, all of it is said with a good sense of humor, a healthy ribbing, not a hurtful tease or a nastiness (you know how that can get ~ such a fine line and that can so easily be tipped. It takes skill to walk that line.) Not everybody has that skill. What I like in this case is that you can be (as I am), quite religious and (I was not anyway) in the least offended by this song (or by “Dear God” by XTC or any other for that matter so maybe I have a higher threshold?) From the same band who bought you “Sensitive Artist” I would expect nothing less than their very best effort and hey, what better time of year to listen to this? I admit, there is a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek aspect and they are being cheeky, but it wouldn’t be funny without that… if you’re easily offended, don’t bother. If not, anything by King Missile is damn funny.
“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak – This song has been stuck in my head lately like a record on repeat that just won’t move forward or whose arm is set to repeat the way a song gets stuck in anyone’s head from time to time. In this case, I thank my personal god that it’s not a bad song at all.
Was it Twin Peaks that used this song? I can’t recall now, but it was one such popular television program which then added further to the already popular song. The whole notion of ‘not wanting to fall in love’ and the last part, almost an afterthought, ‘with you.’ This is the most haunting song of the whole list here — and the final line here — “nobody loves no-one” could send a shiver up you spine were you to believe it as true. Clearly, it is the guitar and the bass that make this song, and Isaak’s own haunting, lilting and southern-accented voice.
The only time I saw Isaak live was at an impromptu performance at a downtown crossing where he leapt from overhang to overhang of department stores with a microphone singing “Wicked Game.” He was like a snake moving among the crowd, making eye-contact with the women, almost predatory in his manner and it worked. There was something slightly unnerving about the whole thing and there is something slightly unnerving about this song.
“Our House” by Madness – Was literally a song about OUR house, which made this song work because so many people likely felt the same way with the same super-imposed chaos. With so many siblings and comings and goings, not much changed even as we got older. Everybody always had, and still has, a key to my (as the oldest) place, so there you have it. It was the kind of working-class song that came on and just made everybody happy at this time, much the way Cindi Lauper made everyone happy as well with her working class roots presenting a united front. “Our House” had a similar effect. From the same group that brought us the great song and the great video that went with it “One Step Beyond” …. Who could forget.
Thanks for helping us remember.