The big news for this week? That idiot DJRadiohead has stopped running this feature and has turned it over to me. There are a few of you who will get that joke. The rest of you would do best to keep reading forward, as there are some great entries in this week's Listening Room.
Speaking of great entries in The Listening Room, if you want to tell the world what you have been listening to, feel free to join us in the comments. You can also participate in the series by joining us in the BC Forums.
These may not be the best songs ever, they may not even be our favorites, but they kept us entertained last week. You could do worse than to try a few of them out and see what they do for you.
Josh Hathaway: "The Great Beyond" from In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 by R.E.M.
I've been thinking about R.E.M. a lot lately as they make plans to release their new album. As you might expect, that has resulted in my listening to several R.E.M. tracks this past week. A day or so ago, I would have sworn I'd be writing to you about "Feeling Gravity's Pull." This morning, my iPod randomly dialed up "The Great Beyond," and I've been listening to it ever since.
It's hard to argue R.E.M. has been at the top of their game these past few years, but "The Great Beyond" and "Leaving New York" (from the truly awful Around The Sun) stand with the very best songs this band has ever produced. I'm not saying they are the best, but I'll argue with anyone that they belong in the discussion. So, what do these two latter-day songs have in common? Great Michael Stipe vocals. Somewhere, when we weren't looking, the charismatic mumbler of Murmur became one hell of a singer. His lead and overdubbed harmony vocals on "The Great Beyond" sometimes give me chills- like now. Yes, boys and girls, Mike Mills is also in the mix but the vocal power of this song comes from Stipe.
Speaking of Mills, he and Buck give top-notch performances creating a musical soundscape that is lush without being overblown. R.E.M. can knock a dozen of these songs out in their sleep. Let's hope Jacknife Lee on a Pogo Stick coaxes a few out of them.
A. Hathaway: "All the Wrong Reasons" from Into The Great Wide Open by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Most of my music listening time is spent while driving out to the animal shelter I volunteer at on Thursday evenings. It's the most time I spend in the car on any given day and I listen to most of my music in the car. At home, my hubby and his 1,000 CD collection intimidates my meager 60 CDs.
Anyway, this past Thursday evening drive was spent in the company of Tom Petty and "All the Wrong Reasons." The first time I heard this song (and I mean within the first second and a half) I connected to it. The music is beautiful and the lyrics are profound – at least in my opinion. If I had to pick an anthem for the current times we live in, then this would be it. I don't want to say too much more because I can't do the song justice in writing. But here are a few of my favorite lines from the song:
Well she grew up hard and she grew up fast
In the age of television
And she made a vow to have it all
It became her new religion
Oh, down in her soul, it was an act of treason
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons
Michael Jones: "Fool For Your Lovin'" from Ready And Willing by Whitesnake
In celebration of that most revered of days for children — or all those with the same sense of humor as a child — April Fool’s day, I had an incredibly difficult time picking just the right song. Sure, there were the obvious choices such as “The Fool On A Hill” by the Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66 by way of the Beatles, “Fools Rush In” by Rick Nelson, “A Fool For You” by Ike and Tina Turner, and “Foolish Little Girl” by the Shirelles, but in the end I decided to go in a totally different direction.
A classier direction, if you will.
Of course, I’m talking about the supremely awesome “Fool For Your Loving,” which can be found on “Ready An’ Willing,” the 1980 masterwork by Whitesnake. Has there ever, in the history of recorded music, been any better lyrics than those featured in this track? I think not.
Don’t come running to me, I know I’ve done all I can
A hard loving woman like you just makes a hard loving man.
Angel wept, really. But then, just when you think the emotion has reached a climax and that the heart simply cannot anymore, David Coverdale croons the chorus…
So I can say to you babe, I’ll be a fool for your lovin’ no more.
A fool for your lovin’ no more!
I’m so tired of trying. I always end up crying. Fool for your lovin’ no more.
I’ll be a fool for your loving no more…
Speaks for itself, really. I’ll sit here and gather myself back together as you all rush about and gather your keys so that you may head out and purchase this masterwork, for yourself. No, no. I insist. You’ll thank me!
Uh. April Fools, heh. Okay… I’ll admit to actually liking the damn song. Sigh. I guess I’m the fool here.
Mat Brewster: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" from Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
For the longest time I have resisted the urge to become a Bruce Springsteen fan. Sure, there was the odd single here and there that I dug ("Glory Days" immediately comes to mind) but he always seemed to be so earnest and political, that it just rubbed me the wrong way. Then I bought The Seeger Sessions and I finally started to see what everyone else said. Slowly, I've been buying his back catalog, and just this week hit upon Born To Run. Sweet Molly Ringwald's lips, what was I waiting for?
This here is a freaking brilliant album. After about a dozen listens this week I can firmly say I love every last note, but it is this song that makes me smile even brighter than the rest. It's got that booty shaking rhythm coupled with a horn section that makes me feel like a warm summer's night.
Sterfish: "The Garden'" from The Audience's Listening by Cut Chemist.
Hip-hop group Jurassic 5 announced recently that they were breaking up after their current tour. I was a little sad at the news given that I've been a fan since the release of their major label debut Quality Control. However, things just didn't seem to be the same for the group after one of its DJs, Cut Chemist, left to pursue a solo career.
It's kind of funny, then, that I would start getting into Cut Chemist's solo debut, The Audience's Listening only days after the announcement of Jurassic 5's breakup. I've been enjoying the album immensely but one song I've really been feeling lately is "The Garden."
I'm always a sucker for world music with a beat put behind it, and "The Garden" is an excellent example of this phenomenon. I don't know if it's the sounds of the berimbau or the sampled Portuguese vocals that does it, but I just kind of float away whenever I listen to this song. Then, when the drums kick in, I'm rattled back to reality in a good way.
"The Garden" is a little more than six minutes long, but it never feels like it. It really could've been another two or three minutes long and I still would love it. Now all I have to do is try to listen to it a little less so I don't make myself sick of it. That would be a damn shame.
Glen Boyd: "Changing Of The Guard" from Street Legal by Bob Dylan
With this week's surprise announcement that Bob Dylan will be a guest judge on next week's "all-folk music edition" of American Idol, I thought it might be a good time to bone up on my Dylan in preparation for that certain to be fun episode. Patti Smith does a really good cover of this song on her upcoming Twelve release of songs written by other artists–on Patti's version you can actually make out the words for one thing.
But I still love the swirling carnival organ and cheesy Vegas style horn arrangements of the original. Street Legal is one of those great lost Dylan records that kind of got lost in the shuffle, sandwiched as it was between records like Blood On The Tracks,Desire, and Slow Train Coming, and "Changing Of The Guard" may be the best song on the album.
Hopefully Dylan will whip out the electric guitar and perform it on next week's "all-folk night" on American Idol. Better yet, maybe they can get Sanjaya to tackle something like "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands." Talk about your must-see TV!
Tom Johnson: "How It Is" from Vapor Trails by Rush
In reading Rush drummer Neil Peart's Ghost Rider, I've developed a new respect for this song, so often overlooked and dismissed by fans as one of the lesser Vapor Trails offerings. Here, as in the book, we get a more humble, simpler Peart, a man facing a change in his life and opting to, for once, simply surrender instead of struggle against it.
Peart, having lost both his wife and his daughter in the span of a year's time, was a man who desperately needed to surrender to the changes wrought by his past, and this song is more than just a simple ode to the struggles we all face with the difference between what we plan and how things turn out. It's about turning the corner from spending every day dragging the past behind you as a weight, to making the past a part of your life and letting it help carry you forward. “How It Is” might not be one of Rush's more popular songs, but it is one of Peart's more heartfelt lyrics.