Top 5 Lists
Everybody can write a swinging ditty about the weekend, and it only takes a touch of the drags to pen a ballad about Mondays. But if you’re really a compositional master, then you write a hip track about Tuesdays. It’s the day of open-ended uncertainty – the day for drifting – the day for accepting the normal doldrums of reality and expanding one’s position of divine space in the universe. Why do you think Aimee Mann named her band ‘Til Tuesday? Because “Voices Carry” would have never struck so deep otherwise, that’s wise. Or perhaps she was just really hung up on the old wonky David Bowie song “Love You til Tuesday,” which is really too ridiculous to make this heavy list. It probably would have been #6. And no, Trey Anastasio’s “Tuesday” isn’t on here either – it might have squeezed in at #7. Neither of them go as deep as these, the top 5 songs about Tuesdays…
5) Badfinger – “Sweet Tuesday Morning ” - When they weren’t writing songs that sounded like Cubic Zirconia of Paul McCartney tracks, they were writing these massively melancholy early 70′s tracks. It’s a drag for sure, but not a cool drifter.
4) Stevie Wonder – “Tuesday Heartbreak” - If you don’t own Talking Book then do yourself a favor and go buy it right now. Little Stevie is straight-up fucking the clavinet with his fingers on this track.
3) The Rolling Stones – “Ruby Tuesday” – Yes, this is the track where they were just trying to cop The Beatles, and as a young kid this song gave me a rather skewed version of who the Stones really were. It’s a good friggin’ song though. Check out this live clip form 1967 where it sounds like girls are getting stabbed in the audience.
2) The Moody Blues – “Tuesday Afternoon” – What a spooky fuckin’ tune. This is the kind of song that makes you want to wear a faded yellow sweater and rip butts in the rain. This is possibly the best sonic tangent of what a Tuesday actually feels like – check out the guy front row who gets the hell out of there right as the song starts.
1) Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Tuesday’s Gone” – Easily, the best Skynyrd track of all time. No dumb reference to the South, no redneck shuffle beat – just a killer friggin’ song.
If you’re like me, then irrelevant musical tangents are constantly cycling through your head. My latest enamorence is playing name that “black” band. And no, I don’t mean name that black band – I mean that by my casual research there seems to be at least 3,000 bands that have existed in the past 50 years that have included the name Black in their title somewhere. This can obviously lead to a great deal of confusion over whose on first and what’s the name of the guy playing bass on third. So as my gift to the universe, I give you, in order, the 33 Black bands that are truly worth knowing about. And yes, I do realize I’ve neglected a few hip-hop acts here and there… and yes, The Black Eyed Peas are only on there so you can acknowledge how completely retched they are. And yes, The Black Lips really are the greatest Black band of all time. Yep – better than Sabbath… I know, crazy right?
1) Black Lips
2) Black Sabbath
3) The Black Angels
4) Godspeed You! Black Emperor
5) The Black Crowes
6) Black Moth Super Rainbow
7) The Black Keys
8) Black Flag
9) Black Bananas
10) Small Black
11) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
12) Ladysmith Black Mambazo
13) Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
14) Black Sheep
15) Black Label Society
16) Big Black
17) The Black Kids
19) Frank Black
21) Black Ryder
22) The Black Ghosts
23) Black Affair
24) Black the Ripper
25) Black Out
26) Black Box Revelation
27) Black Grape
28) The Black Dahlia Murder
29) Black Oak Arkansas
31) Black Uhuru
32) Nine Black Alps
33) Black Eyed Peas
Rather than using April 1st as a day to post something that is complete and utter bullshit, I’d thought I’d rather use it as an opportunity to post the most absurd Top 5 list in history. Sure it would have been funny to write a post apologizing to any artist and fan I may have ever offended with my opinionated posts, but I didn’t want to do anything to stop the hilarious array of hate-mail from Jackie Greene lovers flooding in. Seriously people, what does the fact that you saw The Grateful Dead in 1982 have anything to do with the fact The Black Crowes made the worst hiring decision of their careers? And as I always say, whatever floats your horrible taste in boats…
Anyway, Disney had a great run in the late 80′s with afternoon TV shows – so great that the majority of them got translated into like 12 other languages. If you really want to waste an afternoon, you can Youtube the numerous Russian and Japanese versions of intro-songs out there, but believe me – hearing them in Dutch is the absolute best. It’s just a ridiculous sounding language, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.
2) Gummi Bears
3) Darkwing Duck
5) Rescue Rangers
So to recap the first half of the list…
22) Facts of Life
21) 21 Jump Street
20) Just the Ten of Us
19) My Two Dads
18) Gimme a Break!
17) Diff’rent Strokes
16) Who’s the Boss
14) Family Ties
13) Greatest American Hero
12) Knight Rider
…and now, the greatest TV theme songs from the 80′s continue…
11) Valerie/ The Hogan Family – Sure they pushed Valerie off a cliff at one point, but that didn’t change the dark groove on the Hogan’s verses.
10) The A-Team – C’mon, if this shit doesn’t pump you up then nothing will.
9) Night Court - One of the foundational grooves of slap-bass. Killer friggin’ track.
8) Charles in Charge – It wasn’t just Scott Baio’s dreamy eyes that made this show great…
7) Perfect Strangers – Again, an epic moment of inspiration.
6) Magnum P.I. – In all actuality, this tune gets me way more pumped than the A-Team groove. God, I love this cut.
5) Chipmunks Go to the Movies - Now I’m basically saving cartoon themes for another list, but this oft forgotten show had the most bad-ass, escalating intro out there.
4) Silver Spoons – This is what I truly call a theme of all themes.
3) Punky Brewster - Straight up, this is probably the most well composed song on the list. So killer.
2) Alf – Again, someone is slapping the shit out of that bass. Another example of the song far surpassing the quality of the show.
1) Kidd Video - Sadly, nobody ever remembers this amazing fucking cartoon, that opens with one of my favorite songs ever.
Grand Champion - Growing Pains – It’s the go-to theme, hands down. It’s so perfect in all it’s glory, it doesn’t even deserve a number on the list. Just stand alone magic. Sorry for the fuzzy version, but I needed the full version.
If you know me personally, then you know that this subject is perhaps my greatest forte. I’m so confident that I have the predominant grasp on all the best TV theme songs of the 80′s that I stay awake at night praying for Remote Control to come back on the air – just so I could dominate in it. Now my two defining factors in this list are songs that are undeniably bad-ass, and songs that are so kitsch and innocent that they blow your fucking mind in their epicness. And of course, a few tunes that straddle the threshold of both. And before anybody complains, there are 3 notable absences here – 1) Taxi – A killer groove, but it’s a holdover from the 70′s and has much more of that decade’s feel. 2) Cheers – One of the greatest theme songs ever. It’s timeless, and that’s the problem. It could work in any decade and has little to no defining qualities of the 80′s to it. 3) Pee-Wee’s Playhouse - Again, too timeless for this list. And Jesus, it’s 2 and half minutes long. I knew there was a reason I’d get extra antsy waiting for it to start. But without further ado…
22) Facts of Life – Oh Tootie, we could never forget you.
21) 21 Jump Street – Obviously this list had to stretch to 21 for this tune. The slow build intro really gets you pumped for earring-clad Depp busting some local dopers.
20) Just the Ten Of Us – Damn, that synthed out bass and killer lyric hook portends to true magic from the Growing Pains spin-off.
19) My Two Dads – A little too much talking on the start, but once that sax starts backing up the groove – look the fuck out dance-floor!
18) Gimme a Break - Very few stars sing their own themes, but Nell Carter wasn’t gonna let her dominating soul growl go to waste.
17) Diff’rent Strokes – What a powerful message this tune exudes…
16) Who’s the Boss – Oh, Milano…
15) MacGyver – The tense buildup into the orchestrated release makes you believe that even you could make a bomb with chewing gum.
14) Family Ties – Maybe the most heartwarming cut on the list.
13) Greatest American Hero – Constanza’s favorite really has the power to inspire.
12) Knight Rider - In hindsight, the theme stand the test of time much better than the show actually does. Except for those awesome episodes with Goliath.
I recently completed my submissions to State of Mind magazine for my top songs of 2012, and while I hate admitting my love for something even quasi-popular, I couldn’t deny the power of The Alabama Shakes‘ track “Hold On.” This led me on a tangent thought about the reoccurring theme of holding on to shit in popular music, and how it’s one overly-used topic that I actually don’t tire of – my affinity for the A. Shakes song being proof of that. Thus, I thought it’d be a good time to correlate my top songs of all time that are based on the theme of holding. Longevity, pause, and tight connections – all united by the hold. Here they are, feel free to add ones that you think are superior. And yes, I did intentionally forget Wilson Phillips‘ “Hold On” and 38 Special‘s “Hold on Loosely” – because both those songs massively suck.
#6 – The Beatles – “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
It’s hard for us younger folk to really imagine what if felt like to first hear this song on the radio and realize that pop music was about to take a dramatic leap into the future, but there’s no doubting that the tune still holds up today. It was also the 1st song that made me realize fairly complicated chord structure can sound simple and pop-friendly when in the right hands. And c’mon, the desires of youth summed up in a simple phrase…
#5 – Beastie Boys – “Hold it Now Hit It”
This was my favorite track off of Licensed to Ill as a kid, and was potentially the biggest foreshadowing on the first album of The Beastie’s real power that was yet to come. The song is essentially all one big breakdown – and the allure of the dramatic pause that was presented fully affected my obscure dance moves for the rest of my life.
#4 – The Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”
Like I said before, the power behind this track is fucking undeniable. And I love the fact that it’s referencing the tight grip but also uses the big pause and hold to launch their attack. Good shit.
#3 – Smokey Robinson – “You Really Got a Hold on Me”
So many people have tried to release versions of this song, and I don’t know why the hell you would even try when Smokey just straight up crushed it from the get-go. It’s perhaps the greatest vocalization of the death grip on one’s heart ever put to a beat, and everyone’s had it hit home at some point.
#2 – Thompson Twins – “Hold Me Now”
What a fucking banger! That fuzz bass is just massive. Honestly, don’t say there hasn’t been a time in your life when this came on the radio and you just cranked the living fuck out of it. The pleading hold has never been pushed stronger. Ever heard this huge nine and a half long version?
#1 – Sam & Dave – “Hold on I’m Coming”
Probably one of the most bad-ass tunes of all time. Slow your roll bitch, I’m on my way!
With yesterday’s release of the new Flying Lotus “Tiny Tortures” video, something truly struck me deep – when the hell did having Frodo in your music video be the new hip thing to do? Including yesterday’s brilliant release, the past 2 years have found Elijah Wood as the official centerpiece in videos for three of my favorite musical acts of the past half-decade. A little research and a quick firing of some underused neurons from my youth made me realize it’s been going on for quite some time though. Thus here are the Top 5 music videos starring Mr. Wood. And I’m starting with #1 – because the brilliant new Flying Lotus feature doesn’t deserve to be buried at the bottom of this blog.
#1 – Flying Lotus – “Tiny Tortures”
If you haven’t gotten on the Lotus tip yet, then you’re seriously denying yourself one of the most incredible, and true “artists” existing in music today. There’s a reason Thom Yorke has a permanent boner for him, and this beautiful video off the recent Until the Quiet Comes album shows every reason why.
#2 – The Apples in Stere0 – “Dancefloor”
I honestly believe that the Apples are the most underrated and greatest unknown band of the past 20 years. Front-man Robert Schneider has had an incomparably prolific run that doesn’t seem to show any signs of waning. This video from 2010 is one of their bouncier tracks, but still features a dark, ironic chorus hook that is the true definition of the band.
#3 – Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Can you fucking believe MCA is really no longer a resident of planet Earth? Goddammit – well at least they went out with a bang. And while boy-faced Elijah wouldn’t be my first pick to portray Ad-Rock, it does all seem to make sense in this video. If you haven’t seen the full half-hour version yet, than definitely work it into your day somehow.
#4 – Paula Abdul – “Forever Your Girl”
Don’t act like you didn’t watch this video every afternoon on MTV in 1989. Shit’s catchy as all hell – don’t deny it. Well actually deny it, because it does basically make you want to stab yourself. But yes, cut to 1:45, and the stressed-out Robert Palmer looking kid at the desk is none other than El Senor Wood.
#5 – The Cranberries – “Ridiculous Thoughts”
Man, The Cranberries really didn’t age well. I remember in the early 90′s hearing one random song of theirs and thinking, “Ah man, this tune is actually really fucking good.” Can’t remember what it was though – and it wasn’t “Zombie” and it’s definitely not this. But at least they were forward thinking enough to get Elijah in, so I guess they were slightly hip before new hip was hip.
As a lyricist myself, I know that one of the hardest things to do in music is to put your emotions into words. Usually the easiest things to write about are the internal struggles that you face that you feel define you, and ironically sometimes one of those struggles is figuring out how to write lyrics. That’s why, I myself am a big fan of tunes that include lines like “this song” in them. I’m a sucker for moments of self-referential clarity, and thus there’s a lot of songs I could have put on this list, but here’s my top 7 that really hit home.
#7 - Elton John – “Your Song”
Well duh, obviously this had to be on there. Bernie Taupin and the Big E wrote a shitload of killer tunes, but I always felt this one was the most deserving of its’ widespread recognition. If you don’t listen to terrestrial radio anymore, then hopefully it hasn’t been as overplayed in your mind as it has for most of normal society.
#6 – Weird Al Yankovic- “Six Words Long”
There’s probably a few Weird Al songs that fit int his category, (“Smells Like Nirvana”) but this is one of those songs that even overshadows the original in my mind sometimes. And fuck, I love that 80′s George Harrison tune too, but Al seems to do a great job of calling out the go-to repetitive chorus of any of the late greats here.
#5 – Tenacious D – “Tribute”
Sure the glory days of the D are gone, although the new Simply Jazz release is pretty fucking genius, but “Tribute” always rang a special bell in my head. It happens to the best of us: you wake up in the middle of the night with a killer new song in your head and you say to yourself, “Fuck it, I’ll remember that shit in the morning,” and then the sun rises and that tune is forever lost in the universe.
#4 – My Morning Jacket – “Slow Slow Tune”
This is my favorite track off the latest MMJ album “Circuital” and I think it’s one of Jim James’ finer lyrical moments. I love the notion of future projection used here – “You, somewhere in the future listening/ I hope the present for you is glistening.”
#3 – Built to Spill – “You Were Right”
For 10 years I tried to write this song and failed, and then I discovered Doug Martsch and realized he had already written and perfected it years before. It calls out the idiotic fall-back of saying “everything’s gonna be all right” which so many songwriters go to for some reason. Oh, shit’s crazy but it’ll be all right – yeah, we’ve got mothers to say that, we don’t need to hear our rock stars say it. The rest of the song is calls of respect for the truest, and darkest lines in popular rock history.
#2 – Wilco – “Someone Else’s Song”
This is one of the simplest, and most brilliant songs Jeff Tweedy has ever written, and it positively crushed me to the floor when he closed with it at a solo performance I saw years ago. The same chord progressions are used so much in music, over and over again, and they’ll continue that way for eons. This may be the greatest self-admittance of that fact.
#1 – Blues Traveler – “Hook”
The irony that his song became popular is the greatest thing John Popper ever pulled off in his life. The entire lyrics to the songs are about how the song is about nothing: It doesn’t matter what I say,so long as I sing with inflection
That makes you feel that I’ll convey some inner truth of vast reflection
But I’ve said nothing so far and I can keep it up as long as it take. And then of course the chorus reveals that you dig it because it uses the catchiest hook of all time – Pachelbel‘s “Canon in D Major” – The inescapable I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V – believe me, it’s the pattern to at least 3 of your favorite songs, whatever they may be.
There’s a ton of unwritten but wholeheartedly valid rules about rock and roll bands out there, but I’d say the Top 5 has to include “Don’t let your wives get a say in the band.” Straight up, that’s all there is to it. The relationships band members forge with one another can, in a way, be even more involved and complicated than any marriage. There’s usually more than just 2 people in the situation, you have a whole network of employees and fans to worry about, and most likely there’s no amazing sex involved. Obviously, Yoko Ono is the go-to example of said situation, and that’s led to God-knows-how-many labeling of an over-involved woman who people start calling Yoko So-and-So, or So-and-So Ono. I mean for fuck’s sake, I love John Lennon, but the world’s most obscure performance artist had no place suddenly joining the greatest Pop act of all time. Anyway I bring this up due to my recent frustration over the Gener Ono situation.
For the past few months, the devoted followers of the Boognish like myself have been trying to comprehend exactly what led to Gene Ween breaking up Ween. Obviously he’s been having a tough time staying sober, but more info seems to be dropping about Deaner and Gener just totally not being the pals they once were. They aired a lot of their frustrations towards one another publicly a few days ago on the awesomely absurd Ween Forum – you can dig through the rants HERE. Basically they’re pissed at each other – you know, shit happens. And Deaner made the simple comment that he doesn’t really know Gene’s wife of 8 years, and that she doesn’t fully understand what the band is all about, and thus she shouldn’t be joining into the argument. But I’ll be damned if the lady didn’t post a solid 1,000 word rant on the forum – butting in about what Gener says about the band off the road and other stupid shit. It’s not only completely pointless, (because who gives a fuck what Gener’s wife has to say,) but it also make him look like a complete douche by having his unknown wife suddenly jump into the argument to defend her husband’s breaking up of the band. I’m sorry Pollyana, but you have nothing to do with Ween and your interference only makes it seem like you potentially had something to do with Ween breaking up. I’m gonna rank this as the#4stupid wife of band butt-in of all time. Here’s the rest of my Top 5 -
#1 – Yoko – duh
#2 – Phil Lesh’s Wife – It’s been well known that the woman has taken quite the controlling hand in Phil’s affairs since Jerry died, but her biggest mistake was causing Steve Kimock to quite Phil and Friends in 1999. All Kimock ever really said about the subject was that he “wasn’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more.” The rumors are that she wasn’t into Steve’e backstage heroin abuse, but c’mon, the dude’s trying to fill in for Garcia. If he wants to poke a little smack before he launches into the nether-realm, then let him. Complicated topic, but still not hers to get involved in.
#3 – David St. Hubbins’ Wife – Ugh, we all hate Jeanine Pettibone and how she nearly broke up Spinal Tap. But nothing was worse than when she fucked up the sound-check for the rare oldie “Gimme Some Money.” Hell, the boys are finally busting out “GSM” and she has the nerve to come on the mic – “Hellllloooooo darling!” What a bitch.
#4 – Gener’s Wife
#5 – Warren Haynes’ Wife - If you ever listen to the JamOn station on Sirius/XM satellite radio, then you’ve probably wondered why the hell Stefani Scamardo is so fucking obsessed with the Southern axe-shredder. I mean honestly, nobody should be that obsessed with Warren Haynes, but she can’t go 15 minutes on the radio without mentioning how amazing he is. Once you realize she’s his wife, her voice become even more annoying. It’s like some asshole Mom whose son has the lead role in the 4th Grade Christmas Spectacular.
Oh well, let’s watch some decade old videos from before Ween let someone nose in on their business. Here’s a couple lovely acoustic numbers a fan posted on the forum the other day.
Now sure, you can drool over all the Neil Peart and Stewart Copeland clips you want, but when it comes down to it these are the only 5 videos worth showing your friends when you’re half in the bag at 3 in the morning. Let’s start at the top – which was my inspiration for this list in the first place.
1) Korean Drummer Steals the Show
This guy is truly one of my personal heroes. Kwon Soon Keun is a straight-up entertainer, no friggin’ doubts about it. Since I was shown this clip a week ago, I’ve probably watched this video about 10 times. Watch the waiter at 1:09 who definitely knows an epic display is about to start. Seriously though, how can you not completely love this guy?!? I can’t believe the bassist is remaining so somber throughout.
2) Drummer For the Worst Band Ever
If you haven’t seen the dominating 5-piece known as Hush, then obviously you don’t troll youtube in your underwear late at night. God, their ability to butcher tunes is completely unparalleled, and most of it has to come from the overwhelming hesitation on the drums. This version of “Cocaine” kind of makes you want to slap him in the head and say “Just keep the fucking beat buddy,” but for some reason technology won’t let me reach though my computer screen just yet.
3) Tony Royster Jr. @ Age 12
This one never fails to flabbergast me. Tony was one of the best drummers on the planet at an age before I even knew what my dick was for. He’s most well-known now for holding down the ferocity in Jay-Z’s live touring band. The man is a fucking force of nature, and this video proves he has been for quite some time.
4) Buddy Rich’s Drum Kit Collapses
It’s hard to find any recording of Buddy Rich that doesn’t prove him to be one of the greatest drummers of all time, but I usually fall back on this clip of him with Mel Torme on the Merv Griffin show in 1978. Watch at 3:48 when the entire kit nearly falls off the stage, but he just picks it up and keeps his left hand rolling like he’s powering a nuclear reactor.
5) Steve Moore – The Mad Drummer
Sure, this video has over 20 million hits on Youtube, but it’s still worth a glance if you’ve never seen before. Dude rocks over the shoulder rolls like it’s nobody’s business, let alone he’s almost getting caught in his coattails each time. The only thing that turns me off about this is if you go to the dude’s actual webpage, you realize he’s a complete, obnoxious prick who literally thinks he’s the most amazing drummer on the planet. Guess he doesn’t realize that 19.9 million of those views are from people laughing their asses off.