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The List of the Moment: Volume One, 2009

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What kind of sick, warped mind could possibly even think of putting The Stereophonics and Abba on the same playlist? That’s just sick. Don’t even start on the parallels loosely drawn to Dylan (how that gone in there we don’t know but it did. It always does). Well, by way of some explanation all I can say is that I make no apology for that is what defines The List of the Moment.

The List is what strikes us at any given time – ranging all the way from Bongwater to Henry Rollins to Muddy Waters to Odetta to Marvin Gaye to Renata Tebaldi to Louis Vierne and Satie. The List is the soundtrack of the now, which means it is whatever is going through my mind at the moment I write it, which could be this moment now or it could be yesterday if I broke. It depends. Like me, it is mercurial. As such, it is not fixed – or it is fixed in that you can count on its being predictive in that it will always change, it will always evolve and it is going somewhere. The List is a series of journeys and you can come along for the ride, or, if you don’t like here – change the station.

"A Thousand Trees" by The Stereophonics – I forgot how much I liked this song. How much I like the story that it tells and how it flows so easily from one thing to another.  It leads quite naturally lyrically to the, “It only takes one match to burn a thousand trees…” He makes his point, leading us there with some seeming logic and whether it’s logical or not, we seem to follow this quick synapse. The acoustic play and roll of the song help move us along, nodding our heads in agreement. I can swing either way with The Stereophonics because I feel at times they are over-produced and I don’t like that sound, but this, this is doesn’t have that sound.  Inherent in the lyrics are some great ideas and I like it because it’s clever and language is my every day currency. So for this reason, "A Thousand Trees" makes the List of The Moment this round.

"Don’t Get Me Wrong" by The Pretenders – If ever there was a song about being awkwardly in love and the need to explain why it is you flop all over yourself and become a total idiot in this behavior, "Don’t Get Me Wrong" nails it. “If I am acting so distracted – I’m thinking about the fireworks that go off when you smile,” is but one great line, because I think we’ve all been on both sides of this coin. I certainly know I’ve been the insecure one with the other, whom I was sure didn’t love me back (so I got him wrong) because he seemed, yes, distracted. I didn't know it was about what Chrissie tells us. Really. And I know with certainty that “I come and go like fashion…” likely because of my insecurities and so forth. You have to love this, “It might just be fantastic – Don’t get me wrong.” What a way to end a song.

I cannot think of any better way of explaining the ridiculous ways we behave when we are in love, because we are ridiculous. Love itself is ridiculous when you trhink about it, and as such, I think that as a society we afford the newly in-love a bit more slack because we know how silly and absurd love is. It makes fools of us all and in all ways.

"Sheela Na Gig" by P.J. Harvey (Acoustic Only) – I have to say, I really do not like and cannot therefore recommend the electric version of this song, which I just find too hard. Although the lyrics remain the lyrics and are just terrific in their cheekiness. (I’ll print them below because if you don’t know them, they are whimsical, cheeky, funny, and read almost like a schoolyard rhyme.) Sheela Na Gig does have a sort of schoolyard charm to it. It has the “I ran up to you in the playground and kissed you” thing going on, or “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”. It’s funny. Again, I think it really only works in the acoustic, perhaps because that lends it more of a schoolyard feel and the electric makes it too grown up for the what the song is lyrically, in my view. It is harder to find the acoustic version, but not impossible.

"Ive been trying to show you over and over / Look at these my child-bearing hips / Look at these my ruby red ruby lips / Look at these my work strong arms and / You've got to see my bottle full of charm / I lay it all at your feet / You turn around and say back to me / He said / Sheela-na-gig, sheela-na-gig."

"The Winner Takes It All" by Abba – So why should this, of all break up songs, make the list? Because if you ask me this song set the freaking archetypal, pop-ballad MOLD for "I hate you and I hate me and go fuck yourself" and self pity on the stadium level.   Everything these songs tend to say is done in this sort of mythic way. I mean any song that actually directly has the get up to reference the gods, well, you gotta give em props – “the gods may throw a die,” and lines that are just brutally honest and cruel like, “I apologize if it makes you feel bad, seeing me so tense, no self confidence, but you see – the winner takes it all.” Wow, talk about telling him what for – she’s saying, “Sure, yeah, so you win. You devastated me. Proud?” Shame shame, tish tish.

Well, so maybe you’re not ready to join the Abba fan club and I don’t blame you. If I hear “Dancing Queen”, people around me get excited because it’s camp or whatever. I may go on a killing spree (you read it here first: print and save this – it may be worth something someday). Seriously though, regardless of your leanings, I’d say just musically in its genre, you can’t beat this song for what it is meant to be it fully wholly succeeds.

"If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago – Okay, I already went to that place with Abba so it’s too late to turn back now and pretend that I’m cool because I am not. So screw it. I a going to bring Chicago into the mix and this song of all songs – “If You Leave Me Now”. Talk about a break-up, baby let’s not break-up song, or baby-let’s-not-break-up-let’s-go-upstairs-and-fuck song, this is it. Not bad for what is.

Like Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All”, in it’s genre, this song succeeds. It’s memorable and speaks to its time. No, before you go thinking this was the love song of my generation, the answer is no. But I do recall snickering with my brother as our parents got all googly-eyed and stupid over this and Peaches and Herb and crap like that. So, it is in some ways, the music of our generation, in that we grew up with it in the background.

The ultimate in this genre? I don’t know – there is just so much competition for bad   songs like this that it’s hard to say, but this one is pretty good. I welcome additions and your thoughts. For just a straight come on from that era and a song in which the guy proves he’ll say anything before stating his case clearly (which I sort of admire), hands down Peter McCann “Do Ya Wanna Make Love (Or Do Ya Just Wanna Fool Around)” wins hands down.

"It’s In His Kiss" by Betty Everett – Truer words have never been sung (or spoken). Say what you want and reason it out with all of the good logic you can muster and I may even agree. (I studied logic at university, so I think it is absolutely illogical to think you can decide if someone loves you or not based on how they kiss). That said, I also know that love, real love defies all laws of logic. Love is not something you choose, I’ve always maintained that – Love is not a choice. It chooses you, the way a virus chooses you and you are down for the count. That is it. You cannot “unchoose it”.

I know that you can rationalize all you want as to why you ought love someone and you and I both know that if the chemistry ain’t there in the kissin’, well, it isn’t them you’ll be missin’ because that relationship is over. There has to be some chemistry to make it work and it is there in the kiss. Let me give you some logical reasons if you are the sort that needs logic and thinks me the soppy romantic and so on. We know for a fact that pheromones play a huge role as to why we are attracted to who we are attracted to. It is our sense of smell reacting to them. Sometimes our pheromones find a mate with theirs somehow (magic! Alchemy!) and voila, they want you and you want them but you can’t sort out why but it’s not up to you – you caught the scent of him, he of you, and boom, you are done for.

Your brain got intoxicated by the smell of the other and you got an endorphin rush, and I believe oxytocin is released as well, another powerful chemical that are all like opiates to your brain and have the same effect as opiates: You feel good. You feel dizzy, dreamy, soppy, and high in his or her presence. When they are gone, you want more, more, more. You are a junkie for their love. For their smell. Kissing brings you closer to their smell. Apparently, if I recall this correctly (I read this a while ago, so I have to double check on this, but I believe this is correct), we have a lot of our scent around our nose fold and our mouth and lips. It makes sense that we would want to connect with that other person in this way if we are drawn to their smell, we would go there. So, it’s in his kiss has some logic to it. I prefer to just believe that there is no logic to love at all – that brain chemistry or not – whatever it is that makes that happen in the first place – Eros – is born of the gods.

"It Must Be Love" by Rickie Lee Jones – So after saying the above, I am with Rickie Lee on this. What can you say but this – “It’s you and me…that’s where I wanna be….oh, it must be love…” I can only take so much Rickie Lee Jones, but when I like her I really like her. I feel the same exact way about Joni Mitchell and they remind me of each other a little bit – or my response to them is similar. I think Joni Mitchell can be tremendous and she does what she does, that whole Joni-Mitchell-Blue-I-Could-Drink-A-Case-of-You-River thing really, really well and you are there with in the moment.

Rickie Lee puts you in the thick of “in-love” because if you’ve ever been in love, I think this song is relatable and that is what makes a thing succeed or not succeed. Not, not everyone is going to relate – of course not. But that anyone does – her target market (to put it in crude buiness terms) – then she has succeeded.

"The Ghost In You" by the Psychedlic Furs – I remember listening to this rather magenta/pink covered vinyl album when it first came out and thinking it was depressing as hell. All but this one song, which I always found rather hopeful. Wistful, perhaps, but hopeful. The lines, "A man in my shoes runs a light and / All the papers lied tonight / But falling over you / Is the news of the day," say it all because he says directly in these lines that falling all over her is “the news of the day.” It screams, PAY ATTENTION TO ME. LOOK HERE. He’s right. He’s in love. He certainly wants her to know it. By the end we know that he’s serious (just n case you didn’t believe him), he is pleading: "Don't you go / It makes no sense when / All your talk and supermen just / Take away the time / And get in the way / Ain't it just like rain? / And love (love, love) / Is only heaven away."

Why would anybody go given those terms? Well, this is life and they do. Love does not always prevail, alas. These lines just slay me every time; " A race is on, I'm on your side and / Here in you my engines die I'm / In a mood for you / Or running away."

I understand what he means: “I’m on your side” and god, who doesn’t know the ache of the engine purring and dying, what is is to be in the mood for someone. Queen Elizabeth the first said that with love comes grief. So given that if we accept that this is true (and I think I do), then who doesn’t understand that last line, “…or running away.” Cheers, Elizabeth, but let me add to your “With Love comes…”, “With Love comes terrible fear and the compulsion to run away from what we most fear, that which we do not understand…” We fear what is numinous. We fear that which is greater than us. We are right to.

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About Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti