music friday: 2012

Frank Ocean, "Pyramids". A ten-minute single that went gold. Cleopatra, pimps, and a John Mayer guitar solo, and that's not the half of it.

Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care of Our Own". A pissed-off Bruce makes one of his best post-Tunnel albums. Christgau named this his top single of 2012.

Solange, "Losing You". This video looks beautiful.

Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools (Drank)". It's not that this introduced Lamar to the world at large, but it's when he exploded.

Tame Impala, "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards". Trippy video. "I've got my hopes up again, oh no, not again. It feels like we only go backwards, darlin'."

Fiona Apple, "Every Single Night". The album was titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Ever Do.

Sky Ferreira, "Everything Is Embarrassing". Wikipedia says this is "a synth-pop, dance-pop, and alternative pop ballad."

Spiritualized, "Hey Jane". Another really long track.

Santigold, "Disparate Youth". Is it catchy? It's been used on the soundtrack for commercials for insurance companies and Honda automobiles.

Wild Flag, "See No Evil + Ask the Angels". This is a bit of a cheat. Their one and only album was released in 2011. But I saw them three times, the last at the Fillmore in 2012, so here they are, covering Television and Patti Smith.

Spotify playlist (Wild Flag never recorded these songs, so I've added the originals): 


music friday: 2009

I keep thinking I'm going to get to a year where I have nothing to say about any of the chosen songs. But there is at least one here that was so massive even I, at 56 years old, knew it. I also keep waiting for the year when I haven't seen any of the artists in concert. I guess as long as Bruce Springsteen keeps showing up, that won't happen, but there is one other act here that I have actually seen twice.

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind". How big was this one? Let's ask Wikipedia: "A critical success, 'Empire State of Mind' was included in multiple critics' top 10 list of the best songs of 2009; including Rolling Stone magazine and The New York Times. It was also nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The song achieved commercial success worldwide. It peaked within the top 10 in many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Italy and Sweden. In the US, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, becoming Jay-Z's first number-one single on the chart as a lead artist. It appeared in 2009 year-end charts in Italy, Australia and the US, where it was also the last number one hit of the 2000s. As of June 2014, the single has sold over 5.5 million copies in the United States."

Animal Collective, "My Girls". One of the dozen (at least) tracks sampled for Beyoncé's Lemonade.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero". Almost as ubiquitous as "Empire", but it didn't make it into my own sheltered existence. Featured in everything from Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl to a Tony Hawk video game.

Fuck Buttons, "Surf Solar". Hard to argue with their name, if nothing else.

Raekwon, "House of Flying Daggers". This track features Method Man, which always makes me think of this: https://youtu.be/wABDobugvVE

Florence + the Machine, "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)". Here's a band where I know they are important (this track comes from their successful debut album) but I couldn't tell you a thing about them.

Sonic Youth, "What We Know". This is the band I've seen twice, the second being in 2009.

The Roots, "How I Got Over". 2009 marks the first year The Roots worked as Jimmy Fallon's house band, first on Late Night and later on The Tonight Show, immediately becoming arguably the coolest house band in late-night history.

Neko Case, "People Got a Lotta Nerve". Trivia you won't get elsewhere: Neko Case and Raekwon are the same age.

Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball". The album of the same name contained some of Bruce's angriest lyrics, but this title track was written as a tribute to a football stadium. Not to be confused with the Miley Cyrus song.

Spotify playlist, with a substitute for "Empire State of Mind" since Jay-Z doesn't do Spotify.

Bonus: an inspired version of Miley's "Wrecking Ball":

 


throwback to bruce springsteen

For some reason, we've seen Bruce Springsteen a lot of times in October. I've seen him 36 times, which by the averages means we should have seen him 3 times in October. But the first two times we saw him were in October, and there was the road trip in October of 1980 where we saw him five times in a week. In total, we have seen him 16 times in October.

Since it's October 25, I'll play the Throwback Thursday game and look at the three times we saw him on October 25.

First was 1980 in Portland, the first day of our 1980 Road Trip. It was our 6th Bruce concert, and the only time we've seen him outside of California. That was the year Mount St. Helens erupted, and while the most damage was done in May, in mid-October there were more eruptions. In honor of this event, Bruce played "On Top of Old Smokey" for the first and only time in his career. Here is the audio from the entire show ... "On Top of Old Smokey" comes at 1:28:35:

Our second Bruce/October 25 show came 19 years later, in 1999. This was the Reunion Tour ... we saw three shows in Oakland, the first of which came on the 25th. Not much is easily found from that show, so here is "Light of Day" from the second night, including a touch of Moby Grape's "Omaha":

Our third, and thus far last, Bruce on October 25 show came in 2007.10-25-07. I saw "Our", but in fact, Robin didn't go to this one, the first time I was there without her ... she went with me the next night. One advantage was that I was in the pit for the show on the 25th ... Robin doesn't do pit. Here is a photo of me and my friend Tom at that show:

Oakland pit 7 edit steven tom

This was the only one of these three shows that came after I started this blog, so:

"Night One"


music friday: 2008

It's time to end the pretense that I know much about these songs. I turned 55 in 2008, and the only ones of the following ten songs that had an impression on me were the Bruce song and "That's Not My Name". So I present these without comment, which will mostly be the default the rest of the year, as I use Music Friday to catch up on music I missed.

Hercules and Love Affair, "Blind".

Lil Wayne, "A Milli".

Portishead, 'The Rip".

Bruce Springsteen, "The Wrestler". The title song from an Oscar-nominated film. Bruce won a Golden Globe for this one. I saw him sing this in concert once, in 2009.

Estelle featuring Kanye West, "American Boy".

Erykah Badu, "The Healer".

Girls, "Hellhole Ratrace".

Ting Tings, "That's Not My Name". I saw them open for Pink.

Chairlift, "Bruises".

TV on the Radio, "Golden Age".

Spotify playlist: 


music friday: 2007

M.I.A., "Paper Planes". Straight to hell.

LCD Soundsystem, "All My Friends". Covered on the B-side by Franz Ferdinand and John Cale (not together).

MGMT, "Time to Pretend". Supposedly inspired by a praying mantis.

Arcade Fire, "Keep the Car Running". When Bruce Springsteen invites you onstage, you better bring a car song.

Kanye West, "Stronger". After his visit to Donald Trump, his past work may be reevaluated.

Feist, "1234". I dare you to click on the video link.

UGK, "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)". Featuring OutKast.

Robyn, "With Every Heartbeat". For some reason, this video is from a Nobel Peace Prize event.

The National, "Fake Empire". By this point, there will always be at least one song about which I have nothing to say.

Bruce Springsteen, "Livin' in the Future". Magic wasn't his best album, and this isn't the best song from that album. But I've always been intrigued by the line, "We're livin' in the future, and none of this has happened yet."

Spotify playlist: 


music friday: 2006

Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy". Grammy winner. Pazz & Jop winner. Best song of the year in Rolling Stone.

Amy Winehouse, "Rehab". Three-time Grammy winner. Pazz & Jop winner. She said she wouldn't go to rehab. How's that work out?

Hot Chip, "Over and Over". I'm getting old, Exhibit A: I've never heard of these guys.

Ghostface Killah, "Shakey Dog". OK, I know this one. Christgau gave the album an A+.

The Hold Steady, "Stuck Between Stations". First line namechecks Sal Paradise.

Pink, "U + Ur Hand". I'm not here for your entertainment.

The Raconteurs, "Steady As She Goes". By 2006, Jack White's presence meant a band was called a "Supergroup".

Cat Power, "The Greatest". She was already a veteran, having released her first song 13 years earlier.

Lupe Fiasco, "Kick Push". On the other hand, this was his first single.

Bruce Springsteen, "O Mary Don't You Weep". First recorded in 1915. No, not by Bruce.

Bonus:

Spotify playlist: 


music friday: 2003

OutKast, "Hey Ya!" A favorite song of so many, a favorite video of so many ... count me among the many in both instances.

The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army". Amazing that two such iconic songs came out the same year.

Beyoncé, "Crazy in Love". Amazing that three such iconic songs came out the same year.

Nacho Vegas, "En la sed mortal". New to me, which happens more often as I get closer to the present.

Bruce Springsteen, "Waitin' on a Sunny Day". Cheating a bit ... from a 2002 album, released as a single in 2003. Popular with audiences, but not much of a favorite to the hardcore fans.

Missy Elliott, "Pass That Dutch". Never sleep on the importance of Missy in her prime.

The Thrills, "Big Sur". The first two tracks on their debut album were "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)" and "Big Sur". They are from Ireland.

Pharrell, "Frontin'". His first solo single. Jay-Z pops up on this list for the second time, which is pretty good considering I didn't include any of his own records.

Girls Aloud, "No Good Advice". Huge in the U.K. (20 straight top-ten singles), a nonentity in the U.S. (as far as I can tell, they never released any music in the States).

Dizzee Rascal, "Fix Up, Look Sharp". A story similar to Girls Aloud, in terms of chart presence.

Spotify playlist: 


music friday: 2002

Bruce Springsteen, "My City of Ruins". The ultimate 9/11 song, except it was written in 2000 about Asbury Park.

The Roots, "The Seed 2.0". Who would have guessed that a dozen years later, The Roots would be the house band on The Tonight Show.

Missy Elliott, "Work It". Ti esrever dna ti pilf, nwod gniht ym tup.

Solomon Burke, "Don't Give Up on Me". The album earned Burke his first Grammy, at the age of 62.

Eminem, "Lose Yourself". My choice as his greatest song.

Ms. Dynamite, "Dy-na-mi-tee". A Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Nirvana, "You Know You're Right". Released 8 years after Cobain's death.

Sleater-Kinney, "Sympathy". Corin Tucker's finest moment, and another ultimate 9/11 song.

Norah Jones, "Come Away with Me". The album earned Jones her first Grammy, at the age of 23. Also her second, third, fourth, and fifth Grammy. It was her debut album.

Pink, "Don't Let Me Get Me". I obsess over this video. I used it in the classroom. I've written about both the song and the video before. After seeing her live for the first time, in 2002, I wrote:

The show had many highlights ... the oddest one for me came with the final song of the night, "Don't Let Me Get Me." This was the anthem all the girls had been waiting for, and seeing and hearing them sing along to this complex song was bizarre. What does it mean when a bunch of kids happily shout out "I wanna be somebody else"? The closest thing I can think of is when the audience would sing along with Johnny Rotten's "No Future!" ... as if in the act of proclaiming our nihilism, we were expressing our love of life. Except I don't ever remember wanting to be Johnny Rotten, while I think a lot of people in that audience would have been happy if the "somebody else" they got to be was in fact the woman who introduced those words to us in the first place: Pink.

Spotify playlist: 


music friday: 1995

Pulp, "Common People". Named the greatest Britpop song of all time by Rolling Stone. Later covered by William Shatner.

Alanis Morissette, "You Oughta Know". Spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Alternative charts. Later covered by Britney Spears.

2Pac, "California Love". Joe Cocker also knows how to party. No one covered this that I know of, although since there are at least 7 2Pac versions, covers aren't really needed.

Oasis, "Wonderwall". According to ChartMasters, Wonderwall is the most streamed pre-2000 song on Spotify. Later covered by Paul Anka.

Tricky, "Black Steel". In this case, we're looking at the cover version. The original, "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy, is from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back".

PJ Harvey, "Down by the Water". Her biggest hit in the U.S. No covers I'm aware of, but it was featured on Beavis and Butthead.

Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad". To an extent, this video represents Bruce covering himself. The original was mostly acoustic. Later it was covered by Rage Against the Machine. Finally, Rage guitarist Tom Morello joined Bruce and the E Street Band for this version, which to my mind is easily the best.

Coolio, "Gangsta's Paradise". This is something of a cover version itself, given how heavily it samples Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise". Wonder even gets a songwriting credit. According to the inescapable Wikipedia, there are no profanities, because Wonder wouldn't have it.

Jewel, "Who Will Save Your Soul". At last, my cover version conceit is defeated ... I don't think anyone ever covered this. So I'm left with this anecdote: in 1995, I saw Jewel open for the next act on this list.

Liz Phair, "Whip-Smart". She headlined a show I saw in 1995 that featured Jewel as the opening act. Borrows from Malcolm McLaren's "Double Dutch".


music friday: 1992

Radiohead, "Creep". I'm one of those Don't Get Radiohead geezers. But I love this song.

Dr. Dre, "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang". Dangerous, because Dre's music sounds so good, and Snoop's rapping sounds so good, and that's fine until you actually listen to the lyrics.

PJ Harvey, "Sheela Na Gig". You exhibitionist.

Bruce Springsteen, "If I Should Fall Behind". Took on added meaning after the E Street Reunion. On the last day of the last lecture class I ever taught, I played this video at the end.

k.d. lang, "Constant Craving". When she went from Patsy Cline to  Julie London.

The Pharcyde, "Passin' Me By". You do not know me but I know you very well.

Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover". Surprised by the Led Zeppelin sample?

Mary J. Blige, "Real Love". Hip hop soul.

Body Count, "Cop Killer". Law and Order.

The Cure, "Friday I'm in Love". For me, the difference between The Cure and Radiohead is that with The Cure, I like more than one song.

Bonus: What Bruce Springsteen actually sounded like in 1992. He toured with the unfairly maligned Other Band. Maligned because the albums he was touring behind weren't as popular/good as what came before. Maligned especially because they weren't The E Street Band. We saw him twice with this band ... they were fine.

 A disappointing Spotify playlist ... missing Dre and Body Count.