This was a fun list to compile. Perhaps it was because my load has been lightened a bit this week and I feel less stress, thus my playlist has lightened up considerably. But as ever, it's an eclectic mix. The only thing I did not include is the classical music I have been listening to by Erik Satie, who I would also recommend, even though he is quite melancholy at times. The piano is beautiful if you’re into that sort of thing.
This list has many songs about love and lovers who are leaning, yearning, needing, and wanting. The heart wants what it wants and love warps the mind a little. With that said, I present "The List of the Moment, Volume 18." Inherent in the list is all of those things we feel – desperation, elation, endorphins rushing – as love or infatuation begins.
So, summer is full on, the sap has risen in the trees from the spring, and we find ourselves squarely in love. Given that consideration; here is your List. As ever, I look forward to your comments and questions and also, note the new feature which allows you to listen to some of the more obscure songs. Just leave a comment about a song you would like to hear, I’ll upload it for you, and you can hear it at your leisure since it is difficult to define a song – sometimes, you just need to hear it. Amazingly and happily, I’ve worked out a way to do this, so do make your requests.
Thanks as ever for your patience and for reading.
"Young Americans" by David Bowie – A softer side of Bowie to be sure and not the Bowie of the hard-edged "Suffragette City," a great song which I almost had on "The List" but for some reason, "Young American" just struck me this week so it made it.
Perhaps it was because I just saw him performing the song on a repeat of the Dick Cavett Show. It was Bowie in full make-up with his side-swiped blonde hair and parachute pants — pure Bowie.
I hear this song and I hear sex. Well sex and politics, the lyrics bear that out. This is, without doubt, a political song or is that just me. Heck, he even mentions President Nixon at one point. For now, here's a sampling of the lyrics. You can get the full lyrics from lyrics freak, if so moved.
- They pulled in just behind the fridge
He lays her down, he frowns
Gee my life's a funny thing, am I still too young?
He kissed her then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows, shed have taken anything, but
She wants the young American
Young American, young American, she wants the young American
She wants the young American
Scanning life through the picture windows
She finds the slinky vagabond
He coughs as he passes her ford mustang, but
Heaven forbid, she’ll take anything
"Brand New Key" by Melanie – the film Boogie Nights re-popularized this song, which for whatever it’s worth and I probably should not admit to this, I actually really like. I like the idea of hooking up that is conveyed in such simple terms but with the double-entendre that just barely conceals – "I’ve got a brand new pair of roller-skates, you got a brand new key.” and so on. Clearly there is something going on here and how it was used in Boogie Nights. (You may recall Roller Girl couldn’t have sex, for the most part, unless the song was playing.)
"Cubicle" by Rhinocerose – If you’ve been paying attention to the new iPod commercials then you know a piece of this song or at least the word “Cubicle” which sticks out. Well, here it is revealed for you now. The song is “Cubicle” by the group above with that spelling of the word.
Note there are two versions of this song, one a radio edit and the other not. I’ve only heard the radio edit so far. In either case, this song rocks the house and is amazing. It's the best new song I’ve heard in a long time with a great sound. I love how he belts it out. I love turning it up in my Mini, hitting the accelerator pedal, and just letting it all go. It’s just that kind of song that shakes the shit out of you. Take a listen on tant mieux.
"Say Something New" by the Concretes – Another advertising commercial song (I’m outing all of them these days). This one was used by Target for a while. The rest of the album doesn’t hold up quite as well, but this one song is pretty good, I think, albeit repetitive. It still has a catchy rhythm and the woman’s voice reminds me a bit of Nico from the Velvet Underground way back when. If you ever heard Nico sing "Heroes" then you’ll find this recognizable.
"I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick – Well, who hasn’t been in this situation at least once in their life – I certainly have. The want that seems impossible. You just cannot even fathom why, while your want is so great, the other person does not even care or pay attention to you no matter what you do, or much you try. In fact, it seems quite the opposite; the more you try, the less attention and respect you get.
All said, this is a helluva sexy song and I remember Cheap Trick and their black and white stretch pants in a tile pattern (or was that the album cover or both). In any event, this is a song to revive and listen to again. If it’s been a while, dust it off and take a listen.
"She’s a Beauty" by the Tubes – Yes, one in a million girls, as he says. The only way I know of this song is through my brother Richard, who used to sing it all the time. That and from the times we went to the boardwalk and rode the fast rides while they belted out rock n roll. This song was a favorite. Go to Rehoboth or Ocean City, Maryland or New Jersey and it's the sort of song you hear at the end of the pier where the boardwalk smells like popcorn and fried dough, and the rides are fast and thrilling. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s fun.
"Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart – Everything but the Girl did a great cover of this song and if you’re a fan, I highly recommend it. I chose the Rod Stewart version here simply because he sounds more desperate than ETBG, and that is what this song is about. It’s about longing and yearning and hurting.
I had a relationship once where this song was constantly on my mind and Lo! One day I did see him on the downtown train and, needless to say, all was forgiven at least in the moment. Whether he planed it that way or not is irrelevant to me simply because I too wanted it to happen. I didn’t want “every night to leave me lonely.”
I’m not a big fan of unrequited love. I believe love should be requited whenever possible. (Not that there’s anything wrong with what they call in Vanilla Sky a “proximity infatuation.”) I think there are some loves that are best left unrequited because they would be disappointing if they ever went anywhere and you would lose a good friend in the process.
That said, I think epistolary affairs – a love affair carried on by letter only – are incredibly romantic. Although, this is an old-fashioned way of carrying on. (The modern day equivalent might be and IM, but even that does not require the careful thought that a written letter carries. Eeven a long email requires a fair amount of thought and this too can be epistolary.) I have to say, I find hand-written letters sent through the post office more appealing. Too bad that as of this year Western Union will no longer be sending out any telegrams.
"Dreamsome" by Shelby Lynne – Another great song from Shelby Lynne. The first time I heard it, it actually made me cry. Yes, really. How sad is that? But the lyrics are incredibly moving and it’s all about absence, and again, that longing feeling. The refrain “Did you miss me…” just runs throughout the song and sticks. A mellow song, and probably one to put on a romantic compilation if you were making one. It's good for long-distance relationships or a beautiful reconciliation song, full of questions.
Shelby Lynne’s voice is like heaven – smooth, even, and never grating. It's smooth as honey treacle — just beautiful. Yes it's a bit desperate. But then, when asking the question, who would not be desperate? And it’s the desperation Lynne puts into her voice and intonation that really bring this song back home.
"Within Your Reach" by the Replacements – For some reason this song has always reminded me of helicopters. Maybe because it sounds like a whirly bird with the beat going round and round the way it does. That he could “die within (your) reach” is a great refrain, proving once again, that Paul Westerberg has always had what it takes and took to be a true star. He was great then and is great now. The entire song is well-executed, but the ending is just perfect. One word: Reach, and then full-stop.
"I Confess" by the English Beat – Thank god for some Ska or light Ska, of which the Beat qualified for a while, at least as I recall. Sure, there were heavier Ska bands, but the English Beat made the cut, as far as this reviewer is concerned anyway. "I Confess" is probably their most popular song and with great lyrics and a beat that keeps us alive and awake. We don’t miss, no pun intended, a beat in this song.
Who hasn’t heard this song and memorized the lyrics? God, I remember being in high-school and we had to find something to translate into French. I chose this song. Can you imagine? "I Confess" in French, pretty nutty, but it went over well with the teacher who, thank god, had a sense of humor and gave me an A. Hey, it was a well-done translation.
To me, this is a big break-up song that does not hold anything back. Even when he calls the other “Darling” you can sense his voice dripping with sarcasm; that’s my take. Other takes are most welcome.
"Trouble" by Lindsey Buckingham – Ah, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame. "Trouble" is one of my favorites of his because after this one, most of his stuff became over-produced. And, while it was still good, it lost a bit of its edge. "Trouble" is a good “oh oh, I’ve got a crush” song; as in “oh-oh, I’m in way over my head and didn’t even realize it.”
Been there. It’s easy to fall in love, as they say, without taking a step. One day you are alone and the world seems normal and the next, well, it leaves you squarely in a mess of loving and all of the ickiness that goes along with it. And yes, there is the greatness and infatuation and the crush. This to me sounds like an infatuation / crush song. I’d just leave it at that. If you have a crush, you are in “trouble” as Buckingham says – because you know you are about to fall.
"Cigarettes Will Kill You" by Ben Lee – If you don’t know this song, then get acquainted. The title does not really say much about the song, so I’m not sure what the title has to do with anything unless it is an in-joke and we’re all missing something. Fine by me. All he wants is a “TV embrace” and that seems fair. This song reminds me a little bit of Ryan Adams “Come Pick Me Up” – not in tone but in terms of subject matter.
Here is another song, a good one at that, about being fucked around, about being “cooked in a can” and more. I realize this is a rarer one so I’ll upload this for you to listen to. I want to make converts of anyone who hasn’t heard this song – it’s well worth the time.
"Call Me" by Blondie – Now, is this a woman jilted or a woman just pissed off or both or not at all. Is she a woman just saying "Call Me" whenever you need a lover as a command? Or "Call Me" when you need someone for one reason and one reason only? As I remember, they used this in the film American Gigolo, so that would suggest it has more to do with being On Call as it were.
Still, that said, this is a song you can twist and turn and make your own. It can be a shout-out to someone who literally hasn’t called you and you’re pissed off about it or you can make it a command. God knows I can think of one person I’d apply the song to and likely so can you.
It’s a rougher Blondie than “Heart of Glass” but that’s the great thing about Blondie – she has a great capacity for change, much the same way Madonna has. Blondie morphed with the times and seemed ageless to us.
She seems to have disappeared from the scene but hey, who can blame her. She had her great run; perhaps now she just wants some peace. I still prefer “Call Me” as a command or demand song, even if that is not what was intended. To me, it will always sound like a woman on the verge and that’s okay … I’ve been there.
Perhaps a more apt song for this sort of thing would be “Hanging on the Telephone Line” which is clearly about a jilted lover who is pissed off en extremis. Both go together well: one for the sexual “Call Me” and the other for the woman on the verge.
"Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes – Remember this one? I loved this song, mostly because I loved and still love Bet Davis. Kim Carnes had a bit of gravel to her voice, which in some minor way reminded me of Marianne Faithful (note, I said minor).
I love the atmosphere of this song and the time period of the '80s when the song was a real hit, even though that was not the best time in my life. I remember this song and remember the lyrics pretty damn well. Who could forget “She got Bette Davis eyes” and that background music and the synth. It all just came together and gave us what I would call a masterpiece in its small genre.
"Chimes of Freedom" by Bob Dylan – On the surface, this is a song about a couple taking refuge from a great storm as they duck inside a doorway and try to escape the deluge. This much is romantic and so visual, and that’s what I like about this song – it is very visual. But all around the couple are the “chimes of freedom flashing.” So perhaps after his many denials at press conferences and unwillingness to be pinned down, Dylan sang protest songs after all.
The lyrics here are beautiful and one hopes the "Chimes of Freedom" keep flashing, because even though our couple has sought refuge from their storm, all around them are bells ringing and clanging. This song was and is for "The lonesome hearted lovers with too personal a tale” to tell perhaps. There is some secret here, perhaps.
Beautiful lyrics; but what else from Dylan and though he may hate the term, he stands as a poet, especially in songs like this one. I used to think the song Dylan wrote that suited me best was “Visions of Johanna” but I have been set straight on that and have been told in no uncertain terms that no, this is the one. I’m not sure how to interpret that, so I won’t. I’ll leave the interpreting up to you.Powered by Sidelines