music friday: thirteen

We recently began watching a series called Thirteen, which revolves around the re-appearance of a woman who had been kidnapped thirteen years before. At one point, an old friend gives her an iPod with a bunch of songs from the time she missed out on, which inspired this, one song from each of the 13 years the fictional character was captive.

2003: OutKast, “Hey Ya!

2004: Franz Ferdinand, “Take Me Out

2005: Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone

2006: Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy

2007: Amy Winehouse, “Rehab

2008: M.I.A., “Paper Planes

2009: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind

2010: Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You

2011: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep

2012: Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"

2013: Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"

2014: Kendrick Lamar, “I

2015: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk

music friday: "post"-punk

Elisa Salasin drew my attention to a list on Paste Magazine, “The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums”. In the accompanying article, they note that they are picking from the period 1977-1987. I have always been far more a fan of punk music than of “post”-punk music, although such labels are always problematic, and I like plenty of post-punk artists. So, working backwards, #46 on the list, Germfree Adolescents by X-Ray Spex, is a great favorite of mine, but 1) it came out at the beginning of their self-imposed time frame (1978) and 2) I never thought of X-Ray Spex as “post” anything. They are one of my favorite punk bands, and I have no idea what they are doing on this list. Again, I should just get over being picky about labels.

At #31 is Crazy Rhythms (1980) by The Feelies. In my mind, The Feelies aren’t punk, or post-punk. Perhaps this is because I loved them most later in their career ... my fave album of theirs is Only Life from 1988 ... maybe they were less punkish by then?

And so it goes. The B-52’s debut album at #26? Another band where I never thought of them as punk or post-punk. Hüsker Dü, perhaps my favorite band on the list, at #18 with New Day Rising? That is my favorite of their albums, too, but if Hüsker Dü isn’t just plain punk, who is?

My dissociation from the list is exemplified by the top two. #2 is a Smiths album, and while I have no idea if they are post-punk, I know I never connected with them or Morrissey. Meanwhile, #1 is Television’s first album, which I love, and once again, I have no idea where the “post” in this punk album is.

The truth, which I don’t want to admit to myself, is that post-punk is when I started missing out because I was “too old”. In many ways, that’s nonsense ... I was only 34 in 1987. But I have created a large, even excessive, number of Spotify playlists, and one of my favorites is “Punk 1975-1980”. After punk, I loved many new artists, but I was no longer part of what could conceivably thought of as a community of genre fans. So I don’t make much of a connection to a post-punk list. (I should be honest ... in the 80s, my favorites, besides Hüsker Dü, were Bruce Springsteen and Prince, neither of whom come close to punk, post or otherwise. Also, my favorite music has always been from the 60s or 60s-based, no matter how modern I pretend to be.)

Here are some songs I love from the albums on that Paste list.

X-Ray Spex, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours! (I’m cheating, this was originally a single that got added to CD editions of the album Germfree Adolescents.)

The B-52’s, “52 Girls”.

Magazine, “Shot from Both Sides”.

Hüsker Dü, “I Apologize”. (I am required, whenever I mention this song, to quote my favorite lyric: “Take out the garbage, maybe, BUT THE DISHES DON’T GET DONE!”)

New Order, “Blue Monday”. (Another cheat, this single was added to U.S. CD releases. It is, in fact, the biggest-selling 12” single of all time.)

Violent Femmes, “Add It Up”.

Gang of Four, “Anthrax”.

Television, “Marquee Moon”.

music friday: black cat just crossed my trail

Happy birthday to Starbuck!

Starbuck on toilet

Duke Ellington, “The Opener”.

Jeff Beck, “I Ain’t Superstitious”.

Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, “Track in ‘A’ (Nebraskan Nights)”.

Cat Power, “I Found a Reason”.

Cat Stevens, “Miles from Nowhere”.

The Stray Cats, “Stray Cat Strut”.

The Kelley Deal 6000, “When He Calls Me Kitten”.

The Rolling Stones, “Stray Cat Blues”.

Janet Jackson, “Black Cat”.

Tom Jones, “What’s New Pussycat?

music friday: what I like

Came across an article that prompted me to head straight to Amazon to buy a book. The essence is in the title of the article: “The Gap Between What You Like and What You Say You Like”. I felt this connected to last week’s Music Friday post, wherein I used, which tracks what I listen to, to see which tunes were my favorites of various randomly chosen artists. As I have noted in the past, doesn’t lie ... I may say I like one thing, but it will tell you what I really listen to. This isn’t exactly like that ... I’m not listing my most-played songs. I just find it interesting what songs I play most by artists I like. So here I go again, ten songs, in each case featuring my most-played track by the artist in question.

after they’ve seen paree

It’s a story I’ve told before, but it is Throwback Thursday, after all.

My wife and I made our first trip to Europe in 1984. We stayed with Robin’s sister and her soon-to-be husband Peter in England ... I want to say they lived in Little Bookham, but I’m not sure. As I recall (I’m only going to say that once, but imagine I’ve said it before every sentence ... this was 32 years ago, after all), we quickly took off on a car trip. We were staying for three weeks, so time was tight. We drove down through France after taking the ferry (urp, barf), and crossed over into Andorra, which I probably didn’t know existed at the time. Then to Barcelona, where Peter had family ... he was a true European, English heritage but with time spent in Spain and France at least, conversant in several languages. While in Barcelona, we visited the Museu Fundacio Joan Miro, where Robin’s sister took the following photo, which recently turned up on Facebook:

miro 1984

I’m not sure what order we did things, but either going to or coming from France, we shopped in Andorra, which was duty-free. We also spent a night in the Pyrenees at a place Peter’s family owned ... there was a town named La Seu d’Urgell, perhaps it was there. On our way back through France, we spent one night in Meung, a small town on the Loire where I had the best birthday dinner of my life.

Back in England, Peter took me to Wimbledon. I always say I saw McEnroe and Connors at Wimbledon, which is technically true, although it was in different matches. Connors beat a fellow American, Lloyd Bourne, on Court One, after McEnroe had dispatched Australian Paul McNamee. I have long forgotten this, but McNamee actually took the third set in that match, making him the only player to do so against McEnroe in the entire tournament.

What brings all this to mind is a different sport. Euro 2016 is going on right now in France, and when we vacationed in 1984, the Euros were taking place, also in France. Wherever we went as we drove from England to Spain and back again, people were glued to their televisions. Spain made it to the finals, where they lost to France, 2-0. It was then that I discovered my first soccer hero, Michel Platini, who scored nine goals in the tournament (no one else scored more than three). What I knew about soccer in 1984 would barely fill an English teacup, but I have Platini to thank for getting me interested. (Here's a link to all of his goals:

Platini was indeed one of the greatest soccer players of all time, and after his playing days, he went on to have a significant career in administration, spending eight years as President of UEFA. Sadly, not all stories end well ... he is currently banned for ethics corruption. Not to excuse him, but he was born at the wrong time ... it would seem that every soccer administrator today is steeped in corruption.

I retained a lot from that European trip. It was my first time in Spain (albeit we never got close to Andalucía ... that waited until 2000). When we went to Europe, I had just finished ten years in the factory. I guess it was a case of “How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?”, because within a couple of months, I had walked off the job, never to return.

music friday

Where did this come from? I was listening to a great Spotify playlist from Sasha Frere-Jones, “Perfect Recordings”. I took ten tracks from shuffle play and checked the artists on my page. This page tracks what I listen to, so if I enter, say, Sly and the Family Stone, it tells me that while “Everyday People” is the most-played song by the entire community, my most-played track is “Sing a Simple Song”. Now, if you asked me what my favorite Sly song was, it wouldn’t be “Sing a Simple Song”. But there’s no debating the part where I apparently listen to that one more than others. So, here are ten songs, in each case featuring my most-played track by the artist in question. These are not necessarily the songs on Sasha's playlist. (For what it’s worth, “Kerosene” comes closest to being my favorite song of the artist.)

taste preferences, or, you are what you eat

I just finished a Facebook meme, The 80s Music Challenge, where once a day for a week I posted a favorite tune from the 1980s. With each post, I also nominated someone else to participate. I’ve found their subsequent posts to be fascinating. Most of them haven’t finished all seven tunes yet, but here is what we have so far. I have no idea exactly what we can learn from this, but it seems like a peek into the lives of these people.

The first person I nominated was my sister Sue. She said the 80s were known by her kids for “riding in the car with Mom” songs. She’s posted five tunes:

  • Huey Lewis and the News, “The Heart of Rock & Roll”
  • Wham!, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
  • Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”
  • Taylor Dayne, “Don’t Rush Me”
  • Kenny Loggins, “Footloose”

Next, I nominated my old friend Marc:

  • Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Southern Cross”
  • U2, “I Will Follow”
  • U2, “With or Without You”
  • Bruce Springsteen, “The River”
  • Dire Straits (to be honest, I’m not sure which tune he chose)
  • George Harrison, “Got My Mind Set on You”

Then came a friend from way back, Barbara:

  • Electric Light Orchestra, “Calling America”
  • Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train”

I tagged fellow Bruce fan Eileen:

  • The Go-Go’s, “You Can’t Walk in Your Sleep (If You Can’t Sleep)”
  • Dexys Midnight Runners, “Come On Eileen”
  • Steve Winwood, “Higher Love”
  • Van Halen, “Jump”

And Ray L:

  • Fischer-Z, “So Long”
  • Wall of Voodoo, “Back in Flesh”
  • Our Daughter’s Wedding, “Lawnchairs”
  • Public Image Ltd, “Careering”
  • Blancmange, “Living on the Ceiling”
  • Screaming Blue Messiahs, “I Wanna Be a Flintstone”
  • Jerry Harrison, “Rev It Up”

Don’t you feel like you know these people, just a little bit, after seeing their lists?

OK, here are the seven tunes I chose ... analyze this!

  • Cameo, “Word Up!”
  • Laurie Anderson, “O Superman (For Massenet)”
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message”
  • The Go-Go’s, “Our Lips Are Sealed”
  • Eric B. and Rakin, “Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness – The Coldcut Remix)
  • Pretenders, “Precious”
  • Bruce Springsteen, “Brilliant Disguise”

music friday: the 1980s music challenge

I’m participating in a Facebook meme, The 80s Music Challenge (“Post a favorite 1980s tune for each of seven days. Nominate someone to do the same.”). Here are ten tunes, one for each year of the 1980s. I won’t list any tune that I used for my Challenge. (All quoted material from the inevitable Wikipedia.)

1980: Kurtis Blow, “The Breaks”. “It was the first certified gold rap song for Hip Hop, and the second certified gold 12 inch single in the history of music.”

1981: Black Flag, “Rise Above”.Damaged ... has been recognized as a punk classic and one of the most influential punk records ever made”.

1982: Pretenders, “My City Was Gone”. “It has been used as the opening theme 'bumper' for Rush Limbaugh's popular American talk radio program since 1984”.

1983: Cyndi Lauper, “Money Changes Everything”. “It has been released in over 27 variations across the world”.

1984: Ashford and Simpson, “Solid”. “In 2009, Ashford & Simpson remade the song in honor of President Barack Obama, calling it ‘Solid (As Barack)’.”

1985: The Cramps, “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? “The album was dedicated to Ricky Nelson”.

1986: Public Image Ltd., “Rise”. “The song contains the phrase 'May The Road Rise With You', which is an old Irish blessing.”

1987: Los Lobos, “La Bamba”. “When the Los Lobos cover of Valens' version peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1987, Valens was retroactively credited with writing a No. 1 single.”

1988: Lucinda Williams, “Passionate Kisses”. “Carpenter's hit cover adheres closely in tempo, feel, and instrumentation to Williams' original recording similarly relying on the catchy guitar riff to anchor the record.”

1989: Bonnie Raitt, “Thing Called Love”.Nick of Time topped the Billboard 200 chart, selling five million copies, and won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year”.