Archive for the ‘Rock Lyrics’ Category

I’m heading to see the two Johns again this Thursday for the umpteenth time but for the first time in awhile, so this is a timely blog. Well, at least for me. It may not be timely at all for you. Anywho, I have loved They Might Be Giants and their quirky tunes since 1985, and every show is a joy, a delight and an outright lovefest. Without further ado, my favorite songs of They Might Be Giants:

Everything Right is Wrong Again

As only the boys could do, they incorporated a 1950’s Lucille Ball movie into the lyrics. “The long, long trailer” is a reference to the 1954 movie The Long, Long Trailer. Taking a honeymoon road trip, a trailer creates plenty of hijinks and slapstick problems for Lucy and Ricki, including one scene where the motor trailer, Lucy inside, becomes unhinged from the car, their dishes falling from the shelves, and the car continues away, hence these lines:
Just like in the long, long trailer,
All the dishes got broken and the car kept driving
And nobody would stop to save her .”

Admit it, TMBG fans. You did not know that.

I Palindrome I

Ah, what an amazing tune. It’s about, well, palindromes, which are words or sentences that can be read the same forwards or backwards. LOVE this song and its great opening line . . .

“Someday mother will die and I’ll get the money . . .”

Note – My 5 favorite palindromes:

A man, a plan, a canal – Panama.

Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?

Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

Dammit, I’m mad.

Classics.

Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head

An amazing song about so many subjects, including OCD. However, I love the homage to the line from ‘Guitar Man’ by Elvis that they snuck into the song – “Well, I quit my job down at the car wash, left my mama a goodbye note.

Enjoy.

Don’t Let Start

Includes these immortal lyrics:

“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful,

Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful,

They want what they’re not and I wish they would stop, 

Saying Deputy Dawg dog a ding dang depadepa,

Deputy Dawg dog a ding dang depadepa

D, world destruction,

O-ver an overture

N, do I need

Apostrophe T, need this torture?”

Only TMBG, kids. Only TMBG.

Mammal 

Animal song about, well, the beauty of mammals. So TMBGish.

Standing in between extinction in the cold
And explosive radiating growth
So the warm blood flows
Through the large four-chambered heart
Maintaining the very high metabolism rate they have.

Mammal, mammal
Their names are called
They raise a paw
The bat, the cat
Dolphin and dog
Koala bear and hog . . .

Dinner Bell 

About Pavlov’s dog, among other things.

Birdhouse In Your Soul

The absolute classic, and the song that put the boys on the map. Enjoy, kids.

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) 

This is actually a cover of a song written in the 1950s, and it’s basically a little history lesson. Catchy as hell.

Particle Man 

A science teacher’s favorite, and there are many interpretations to this song, way too many to mention here. Lend it an ear and tell me what you think.

Twisting

Such a rocker live. It’s about a couple that constantly breaks-up and makes- up. We all know the type.

They Might Be Giants

A quirky little song about who-the-hell-knows. You tell me. I think it’s about the band, how they got their name from the movie, and how Don Quixote thought that windmills were giants. Then again, perhaps I’m quite insane.

Meet James Ensor

Love this song about the obscure Belgium painter. Good stuff.

Kiss Me, Son of God

Although this song was written 30-years ago, it could have been written about Donald Trump. Eerie really. Listen . . .

Man, It’s So Loud in Here

A newer song about, according to John, “The dawning awareness of old age.” 

Bastard Wants to Hit Me

Great tune about a weird encounter with a crazy dude. So typically weird it hurts. TMBG through and through.

[BONUS SONGS]

Your Racist Friend

“This is where the party ends, I just sit here wondering how you can stand by your racist friend.”

Timely.

Dr. Worm

Just a simple song about a common subject –  a drum-playing worm who’s also a doctor. Enjoy.

 

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I’ve been an unabashed lover of the Electric Light Orchestra since the early 70s. Man, when I first heard the opening to Roll Over Beethoven it was on. Later, the band just kept getting better. Over time Jeff Lynne proved himself to be a musical genius, and in addition to his ELO stuff he produced some amazing music for George Harrison and was a member of the legendary super group The Traveling Wilburys with George, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison.

Elite company indeed.

And yes, this past summer the Electric Light Orchestra was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, they were elected about 25-years too late, but still.

Which leads me to the point of this blog – my favorite ELO songs. Since Jeff Lynne was ELO, I’ll include his solo stuff along with his group releases. Let us commence:

Save Me Now – This is a great tune hidden at the end of Jeff’s great 1990 solo album Armchair Theatre. It’s a simple, acoustic little number about the environment, Just beautifully written and gorgeous in its simplicity.

If you liked that, here’s an electric version. You’re welcome.

Mama – From ELO II in 1973, it’s a long, haunting song about losing your mother. Again, just achingly beautiful.

It’s Over – From the great Out of the Blue double album in 1977, this song was played by yours truly after every gut-wrenching break-up of my young, relationship troubled life.

It’s all over now, and the way you look don’t even mean I’m down.

Oh yes it does, Jeff. Oh yes it does.

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head – From 1974’s ungodly album Eldorado. I’ll let Jeff Lynne himself describe this one – “It’s about a guy in a dream who sees this vision of loveliness and wakes up and finds that he’s actually a clerk working in a bank. And he hasn’t got any chance of getting her or doing all these wonderful things that he thought he was going to do.” Fun Fact #1: The song does NOT include the line, “Walking on a wave she came” but rather “Walking on a wave’s chicane” which is the peak of a wave. That line is widely misheard and often repeated even when you look up the lyrics. Fun Fact #2: The album cover to Eldorado, a screenshot of Dorothy’s shoes when the witch tried to take them in The Wizard of Oz, is one of my all-time favorites.

Poker – A little-known but blistering track from 1975’s Face the Music, this tune begins, continues and ends with straight-ahead rock fire.

Showdown – An ominous, sort of threatening song, also from 1975’s Face the Music, about a looming conflict.

She cried to the southern wind,

About a love that was sure to end, every dream in her heart was gone, heading for a showdown.

Roll Over Beethoven – As I mentioned before, this is the song that introduced me to ELO back in 1972. A cover, it begins with those strings, followed by Lynne’s searing guitar. An American classic. So. Damn. Good.

Steppin’ Out – Another song from Out of the Blue, this song has always struck a chord deep inside me. The lyrics speak of getting away, just packing up and rolling out. And not only that, you’re going to prove all your doubters wrong.

Did you hear what he said?

He said they sold me down the river,

They thought I thought I was a fool,

They said the rain would fall,

What did they know?

Hold On Tight – A rocker from 1981’s Time album about holding on tight to your dreams. Who can argue with that sentiment?

When you get so down that you can’t get up,

And you want so much but you’re all out of luck,

When you’re so downhearted and misunderstood,

Just over and over and over you could.”

Hold on tight, man.

Do Ya – An absolute rock and roll song that blows the roof off the joint live. And oh, those lyrics:

In this life I’ve seen everything I can see woman
I’ve seen lovers flying through the air
Hand in hand
I’ve seen babies dancing in the midnight sun
And I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above
I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides
But I never seen nothin’ like you.

Evil Woman – ELO’s first big-time hit, this is a song that rips a poor former girlfriend to shreds. The lyrics are brutal, man.

Evil woman how you done me wrong
But now you’re tryin’ to wail a different song
Ha-Ha funny how you broke me up
You made the wine now you drink a cup
I came runnin’ every time you cried
Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes
Ha-Ha very nice to know, that you ain’t got no place left to go.

Ouch.

Telephone Line – Just a simple, beautiful song about trying to contact somebody you love and not being able to get through. It sort of has an old, 50s doo-wop feel to it, and Lynne’s vocals and harmonies are stellar.

Note: Now that I think about it, he actually sings the words “doo-wop” in the lyrics. Cool.

Rockaria! – A rock opera of the highest order, complete with, well, an opera singer. It’s hard to explain, but the song begins with a woman singing opera, she’s soon joined by ELO, and then they all come together for the ending. Hell, just listen:

Shangri-La – This is the last song of the great 1976 album A New World Record, and I love these lyrics:

My Shangri-La has gone away
Faded like The Beatles on “Hey Jude”
She seemed to drift out on the rain
That came in somewhere softly from the blue.

I’m getting out of love . . .

Just a very, very pretty song.

Oh No Not Susan – From the band’s third album, On the Third Day. It’s about a young woman who lives amongst the wealthy in a society she despises.

Susan met the lords and dukes of everywhere
Smiling kissing wishing that they’d go to hell
And then she’d laugh – wonder why
Take a nap – sit and cry
Oh no not me – I wouldn’t
Oh no not me – I couldn’t
That’s all she says, her money and her place
They just don’t mean a fucking thing.

Rock and Roll is King – Another Lynne rocker from the underrated 1983 album Secret Messages. It’s just a simple song about a girl who loves her some rock and roll.

It rolls like a train that’s comin’ on down the track
She rolled over Beethoven and she gave Tchaikovsky back
Oh, she loves that drivin’ beat, she goes dancin’ on down the street
She said rock ‘n’ roll is king.

Bluebird is Dead – Another great, relatively unknown song from On the Third Day. It’s a song about a lost love, one who passed away, and man is it sad . . .

Why do they say, Bluebird is dead?
I can still see her, touch her, my Bluebird.
The love that she gave, I don’t believe, no, no, I don’t believe . . .

Moment in Paradise – From the amazing comeback album Zoom in 2000, this is a song about finding a new love that gives you a new perspective on life. Lovely melody.

She said that it’s your duty to save your soul,

To save it for someone . . .

Stranger – Another beautiful song from Secret Messages, it’s sort of a an enigmatic tune about seeing the world through the eyes of someone else. Love the guitars in this song.

The streetlights looked so pretty
As they spread into a town
I was lookin’ for another sundown
And my head was spinnin’ round and round
Round and round . . .

When I Was a Boy – This was the single from the band’s 2015 album Alone in the Universe, and it’s basically the story of Jeff Lynne’s life. Love it.

When I was a boy, I had a dream
Finding out what life could really mean
Don’t want a job cause it drives me crazy
Just wanna sing, “Do you love me, baby?”
When I was a boy, I had a dream.

PS- After seeing ELO live several times from 1973 to 1985, I’m going to see them again next summer in Detroit. Can. Not. Wait.

 

Word for word.

Steve Forbert has been a favorite of mine since his first album back in 1978. He’s just one of those guys that writes music that speaks to me, ya know? He never really hit it big and had only had one real hit, Romeo’s Tune. Still, he’s been churning out albums and touring for nearly 40-years.

It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet, and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him once. Highly recommended.

Factoid: Steve Forbert had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video, playing her boyfriend.

After beginning with about 70-songs I have meticulously narrowed it down to my Top 10. Let us commence . . .

10. Hope, Faith & Love (1988)

Just an optimistic song about three things we all need.

I need hope to look for the good through the bad
I need faith to know I ain’t lost what I had
When they’ve lied and cheated me
And tear what I care for in two
Oh, I need love, to rise up above and renew.

9. Goin’ Down to Laurel (1978)

A beautifully simple song about going to see a girl.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find
Little girl I’m goin’ to see
She is a fool for lovin’ me
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind.

8. Prisoner of Stardom (1982)

A song about a young woman from Ohio who, although she’s hit the big time, finds it’s not all it was cracked up to be.

She’s a prisoner of smiling
It’s expected night and day
Its a burden on her everywhere she goes
Still she’s looking for some magic
Like those teenage magazines
That she read in ’65 in Ohio.

7. Lonely Girl (1980)

Just an absolutely gorgeous song about a sad and lonely girl.

All the guys who dance for you, they’re so unsatisfied

Their hungry hands come reachin’ out, to get your bows untied

And I come ’round to sing to you, starvin’ just like them

As I talk with you and long for you, and sing my midnight hymns

To a lonely girl.

6. He’s Gotta Live Up to His Shoes (1981)

A great song about a guy who’s a big talker, but now he has to back up his big mouth.

So let him walk
Let him walk real proud
And let him talk
Let him talk real loud
And let him do
Anything he choses to
He’s gotta live up to his shoes.

5. Laughter Lou (Who Needs You?) (1980)

Rolling in at #5 is a song that rips some dude to shreds. Everyone has a Laughter Lou in their life, believe me.

You criticize most everything, hey but what have you ever done?

You’re always putting something down or laughin’ at someone.

Can’t never tell what’s somethings like ’til you’ve been there yourself

You’ve spent your whole life sitting down, just watching some else.

You criticize most everyone, but what have you got to show?

At least the ones you’re putting down, got up to have a go.

Tell me Laughter Lou, who needs you?

4. Romeo’s Tune (1978)

Ah, Steve’s biggest hit. It’s been covered by Keith Urban, among others. Just a catchy, pretty, uptempo song with, as always, amazing lyrics. Fantastic piano as well.

Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there’s always something more
It’s lost in talk, I waste my time
And it’s all been said before
While further down behind the masquerade the tears are there
I don’t ask for all that much I just want someone to care.

3. Say Goodbye to Little Jo (1979)

I love this song about a man defending a woman from a guy she wants nothing to do with anymore. In this song some man is completely eviscerated by Steve.

You’ve shown so much of your hate
She’s seen so much of your greed
She’s taken shit for so long, yes, yes
You ain’t got nothin she needs
You don’t deserve her no how
Go fading back into fate
Go sit ya down where ya were
Don’t grab and beg, it’s too late.

2. Search Your Heart (1988)

A beautiful ballad of encouragement that tells us to never, ever give up.

The world is too much with you all of the time
You got no space for grace inside of your mind
Some things can’t be conquered
So your thoughts all say
But if you search your heart
You’ll find a way.

1. Settle Down (1978)

Ever hear a song that just speaks to you? It’s almost as if you could have written it about yourself? This is once such song for me. One of my favorite songs of all-time.

Well, I hear you when you whisper
And I’ve seen your nervous eyes
I’ve known your fear and held your doubtful hand
You’re judging way too soon
You’re underestimating me
Sometimes I rock a bit but I can stand.

So won’t you settle down, settle down
Baby love, my baby love
Don’t quit your faith in me.

So yeah, Steve Forbert. Love his music. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard here’s an entire concert from ’79. Enjoy.

 

Great new song by Jack Johnson. Timely lyrics as well.

One of my Top 10 favorite artists. Never gets old, man.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel,
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah,
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find.
Little girl I’m goin’ to see,
She is a fool for lovin’ me,
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind . . .

With The Eels you never know what you’re going to get. Here are some examples:

Or you might get this . . .

I know, I know. Awkward title. Live with it.

Anyway, this was a tough one. The Fab Four have put out over 70-albums of material and recorded over 1,000 songs since parting ways in 1970. Narrowing these lists down to a mere 5 was difficult, and for that reason I’ve taken the liberty of adding honorable mentions. Hey, it’s my site. Let us begin with Mr. Lennon . . .

JOHN LENNON

Imagine (1971)

You have to start with Imagine, right? Just a hauntingly beautiful song. Love its simplicity too. An iconic and era-defining song for certain, and it is generally ranked as one of the best songs in music history. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #3 on its Top 500 Songs of All-Time list.

#9 Dream (1974)

Surreal and dreamlike, John said this tune came to him in a dream. He also said that the song was just “churned out” with “no inspiration.” Yep, John didn’t like it. I, however, loved it. Factoid: The phrase repeated in the chorus, “Ah, böwakawa, poussé, poussé”, also came to Lennon in a dream and has no specific meaning. Originally he pronounced it “pussy, pussy” but the record company bitched, hence the safer pronunciation. Factoid #2: The record peaked at, coincidentally, #9.

Beautiful Boy (1980)

This was written for John’s final album, Double Fantasy, and it includes one of my favorite lines ever written for a song:

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

The song is all about the love John Lennon had for his son Sean, and he conveys that love beautifully. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song. Factoid: That quote can be traced back to a 1957 Reader’s Digest article which attributes it to some dude named Allen Saunders. I’m still giving John credit though.

Mind Games (1973)

John had this song in his back pocket since 1969 and finally released it in ’73. It’s one of John’s most upbeat and positive songs, evidenced by lyrics like “Yes is the answer . . .” Factoid: The song’s original title was “Make Love Not War.”

Woman (1980)

Another beautiful song, this time written for John’s wife Yoko. It was also on his last album, and he said in interviews prior to the album’s release that the song was written for all women. Factoid: At the beginning of the song you can barely hear John whisper, “For the other half of the sky.” He was referencing a Chinese proverb that was about women and men.

Honorable Mention: Working Class Hero (1970), Nobody Told Me (1980).

PAUL MCCARTNEY

Jet (1973)

This one was named after Paul’s dog. It was on Band on the Run, and I’ve always loved it. The soaring chorus just blows me away every time. I’ve seen McCartney live several times (OK, it’s 9) and “Jet” always blows the roof off the joint. It’s a Power Pop gem, and legendary music critic Dave Marsh referred to it as a “grand pop confection” that represented the only time McCartney approached the “drive and density” of his tenure with the Beatles. I agree. Factoid: I have never understood the lyrics to this song.

Junior’s Farm (1974)

This might be my favorite Paul McCartney tune of all-time, and the searing guitar solo by Jimmy McCullough is incredible. Not kidding, watch the video and tell me it isn’t. Love. This. Song. Factoid: McCullough wrote and performed a song called “Medicine Jar” for a Wings album a couple years after “Junior’s Farm” was released. It was an anti-drug song. A few years later McCullough died of an overdose.

Band on the Run (1973)

Love the change of pace I this song. It’s like three songs mashed together, a multi-part song. The first verse has a folky feel to it, complete with harmonies. The second verse is almost an early grunge sound, and finally, the last part of the song features that infectious, melodious hook that made it a hit. Part of the critically acclaimed “Band on the Run” album.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

Stitched together from snippets Paul had from the Abbey Road sessions. It’s loaded with sound effects, vaudeville jokes and time and style shifts that make it one of the wildest-ever Top 40 hits. The song is a rare combination of playfulness, experimentation and a gorgeous melody that I love. The “Hands across the water” chorus still touches me today.

Here Today (1982)

Paul’s touching tribute to John Lennon, written shortly after he was murdered.

And if I say I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today
For you were in my song.

‘Nuff said.

Honorable Mention: (I Want To) Come Home (2009), At the End of the End (2004), Maybe I’m Amazed (1970), Getting Closer (1979), Magneto and Titanium Man (1975).

GEORGE HARRISON

Blow Away (1979)

This song is relatively unknown but I love it. Released during the disco and punk era, it stood on its own as a straight, simple rock recording, and I loved the catchy melody. Factoid: George said that the song arose from feelings of frustration and inadequacy resulting from a leaking roof at his home in England.

My Sweet Lord (1970)

The first #1 song by an ex-Beatle. George was later hauled into court, and lost, on charges of copyright infringement because of the song’s similarities to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” The courts said he subconsciously copied the melody. Still, “My Sweet Lord” remains a masterpiece of rock spiritualism as well as an amazing song.

This Is Love (1987)

I don’t know why but I’ve loved this tune from the first moment I heard it. I also love these lyrics:

Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love.

It’s produced by Jeff Lynne, and you can certainly tell if you’re a Lynne fan like myself. Beautiful tune.

You (1975)

George wrote this gem for Ronnie Spector, formerly of The Ronettes. The song has a series of amazing sax solos by the appropriately named Jim Horn. Not kidding. Factoid: George has said this song is a tribute to 60’s R&B. Just a pure rock classic.

Crackerbox Palace (1976)

It’s just an odd little song about a man George had met, but I love the catchy melody and quirky lyrics, beginning with the opening line . . .

I was so young when I was born,

My eyes could not yet see . . .

From his great Thirty-Three & 1/3 album.

Honorable Mention: This Song (1976), It’s What You Value (1976), What Is Life (1971), Give Me Love (1971)

RINGO STAR

It Don’t Come Easy (1971)

Don’t think Ringo had a bunch of good songs? You are incorrect, sir. Or madam. Because Ringo had arguably the greatest post-Beatle hit ever with this song. It was co-written by George, but Ringo’s voice gives it its identity. A true rock classic that grabs you at the opening notes.

Photograph (1973)

Another #1 hit for Ringo, and once again George helped out on guitar and co-wrote. Great chorus that is catchy as hell. It’s basically about a photograph being the only thing left from a broken relationship.

Every time I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I’ve got is a photograph
And I realize you’re not coming back anymore.

Walk With You (2009)

Ringo got a guest appearance from none other than Sir Paul McCartney on this beautiful number, which is one of his prettiest songs ever. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song.

Liverpool 8 (2007)

This is an autobiographical song about Ringo’s days with The Beatles as well as growing up in Liverpool. It’s a touching yet upbeat song that includes crowd involvement at the end. Great song.

No No Song (1975)

This song, written by Hoyt Axton, reached #3 on the US charts. Incredibly, the song described attempts to sell marijuana, cocaine, and moonshine to a recovering addict who refuses it all. Helluva theme, right? Factoid: Hoyt Axton also wrote Three Dog Night’s classic hit “Joy to the World.”

Honorable Mention: Oh My My (1974)

So there ya go. I’m sure you have your post-Beatles faves. What say you?

There’s a new day breakin’.

One of their most beautiful songs.

Beautiful song.

My favorite Tom Petty song.

Update: Glen Campbell passed away on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017.

Yesterday was Glen Campbell’s birthday. In addition to being one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, he was an amazing singer. Before he hit it big later in the 60’s, Campbell played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector. He even toured with the Beach Boys. After that he had an amazing solo career that included the songs Gentle On My Mind, Galveston, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights. In 2011 he released an album called Ghost on the Canvas that included collaborations with guys like Paul Westerberg (writer of the title track), Jakob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Rick Nielsen and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Great stuff.

In 2011 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, and hasn’t performed since 2013. Anyway, Happy Birthday to the great Glen Campbell, an incredible and sometimes forgotten music legend.

Here he is in the late 00’s still sounding great. At the bottom is an even more recent song. Good stuff for real music lovers.

Wichita Lineman

Galveston (unbelievable guitar solo)

By the Time I Get To Phoenix / Galveston

Gentle on My Mind

Finally, here’s “Ghost on a Canvas” written with Westerberg.

Beautiful.

A friend of mine and I have been discussing Pet Sounds, the amazing Beach Boys album that is widely considered as one of the top one or two in music  history. Legend has it that when The Beatles first heard it they believed they could never top it, and its debatable that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band actually did. I own the Pet Sounds Sessions Box Set, and it’s simply amazing. You can hear all the talking in the studio, Brian Wilson instructing the musicians, everything, and it’s fantastic. The Set includes the music without vocals as well as the vocals without music. Listen to the songs below. Just heavenly, and pure genius.

True Beatles fans are well aware that the boys from Liverpool were capable of some crazy stuff, especially later in their career. After all, they wrote a song called “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” about a murderous bro who killed people with a hammer. The song was done with such a pleasant, melodious tune that people didn’t really care. They also recorded weird songs like “Revolution #9” that has to be heard to be believed, because it’s that damn weird.

Still, it began way before those two tunes, as early as 1965 on their Rubber Soul album. At this point The Beatles were still sort of thought of as four lovable Mop Tops and not the anti-establishment hippies they’d be looked at as later. Once again, the song I’m about to talk about is upbeat, with a pretty melody. But, when you listen to the lyrics it paints a much darker picture.

The song is called “Run for Your Life” and it is downright frightening. A video is below, but let’s examine the lyrics first. Since the Beatle that wrote the song always sang lead back then, we can assume John Lennon penned this little ditty. Why am I not surprised? With a deep breath, let us proceed . . .

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man.

Well, well. Didn’t beat around the bush, now did we? That’s a little harsh, man. Jeebus.

You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am.

So basically John is saying, “Sweetie, better keep your head or I’ll lose mine.” Good God.

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

A-n-d, there it is. Cheat on me and die. Boom.

Well I know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line.

I know, I know, not a real New Age way of thinking for sure. Making a woman “toe the line” is a little outdated, fo sho.  Then again, so is threatening to commit homicide if they don’t. John actually touched on his jealousy issues later on when he wrote “Jealous Guy” as a solo artist. However, Mr. Lennon wasn’t done making his point.

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead.

Because nothing makes a song come together better than combining religion and manslaughter, amirite?

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

From this point forward the boys pretty much repeat their morbid threats of death until they merrily fade out at the end.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the song is that their was no public outcry, no wringing of hands, really no complaints at all about the song. Nobody said, “Hey, isn’t that Beatle dude threatening to kill his girlfriend? That doesn’t seem right.” Hey, it was a simpler, more naive time. Folks just rolled with it.

Then again, there were artists like Liberace and Little Richard who in retrospect were clearly gay, but I don’t remember that occurring to anybody either. On the other hand, I was 9-years old so what the hell did I know about the world?

Maybe this song was the beginning of the end of the innocence, you know? Because shortly thereafter music took a turn from being mostly about love, cars, and dancing to being about the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, sex, and doing drugs.

The Beatles. Always ahead of the times, man. Anywho, turns out YouTube has been scrubbed of all Beatle tunes, which sucks.Still, I found the song being performed by a Beatles cover band, and quite nicely, it turns out. Enjoy.

Note: The song “Baby, Let’s Play House” actually featured the lyrics “I’d rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man” back in 1954 by Arthur Gunter, then in 1955 by some dude named Elvis Presley. People were weird back in the day, man.

What a song.

ADKX33 BOB DYLAN at Mayfair Hotel London 3 May 1966

Boy, was this a hard one. How to narrow down such a list? First off, I had to come up with some sort of criteria, and after weeks seconds of deliberation I came up with one. These are songs that I simply never get tired of hearing. They don’t have to have great lyrics, although that’s a plus.  Sometimes it’s just the melody or the tune, and sometimes it’s sort of undefinable. You like what you like, right? Hey, I’ve admitted my appreciation of Kelly Clarkson and The Osmonds before. I ain’t skeered. And as for all you high-falootin’ judgemental musical elitists who don’t think my favorite songs are up to your standards, you can go straight to hell. Merry Christmas everybody!

So in no particular order, let us commence. Click on the title to hear the song.

Caroline, No – The Beach Boys (1966)caroline

  • Just a heart-wrenching, sad, gorgeous song. Touches me every time I hear it to this day. Brian Wilson’s writing at its peak: “Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow? Oh Caroline, no.”

So Very Hard To Go – Tower of Power (1973)

  • Those horns, man. The Tower of Power horn section is legendary. Once again, it’s a beautiful song about lost love. “Cause I could never make you unhappy, no, I couldn’t do that girl. I only wish I didn’t love you so, it makes it so, so very hard to go.” Seriously though, click on the link and listen to the horns.

Imagine, Take 1 – John Lennon (1971)

  • Sure, the released version is great, but this pared down outtake is simply stunning. Recorded at John’s house, you can even hear someone say, “Quiet in the kitchen, please” at the beginning. Note: I own a piece of the front door to that house. Not even kidding. Thanks, second wife.

Church of Logic, Sin and Love – The Men (1992)church

  • Just a blast of Rock & Roll that came out of nowhere from a completely unknown band. Released during the height of grunge but not grungy at all, it has everything – melody, a searing guitar, and cool but rather weird and enigmatic lyrics. I can’t get enough of this tune. On a related note, I got to know drummer Dave Botkin on FB and am happy to report he’s a pretty righteous dude. Love. This. Song: “The Thing ahead sixty miles, do not miss. Not for the squeamish or depressed, Not for the unbelievers, truly obsessed. Something you just don’t wanna miss. It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 when Kennedy was in Life Magazine, And everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Dialogue Parts 1 & 2 – Chicago (1972)

  • In Part I of this song, the lyrics are a dialogue between two young people with different views. The first person (whose lines are sung by Terry Kath) is very concerned about events of the early 1970s, such as war, starvation, and “repression closing in around.” The second person (whose lines are sung by Peter Cetera) maintains that “everything is fine.” Musically, the song is also a dialogue between Kath’s rhythm guitar and Cetera’s bass. As Part I comes to a close, Kath’s character sarcastically endorses the other character’s worldview, saying “You know you really eased my mind, I was troubled by the shapes of things to come.” The response, which hints at an acknowledgment of culpability: “Well, if you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb – you’d always think that everything was fine.” Just an outstanding song, and both Kath and Cetera tear it up on their vocals. Part 2 is the whole band singing, “We can make it happen.”Awesome stuff.

Have You Ever See The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)

  • In my opinion the best song by the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR leader John Fogerty has said in interviews that the song is about rising tension within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. He said the song was written about the fact that they were on the top of the charts and had surpassed all of their wildest expectations of fame and fortune, but somehow all the members of the band at the time were depressed and unhappy. Thus this famous line: “Have you ever seen the rain, coming down on a sunny day?” It touched me deeply, and I still love it today.

Sitting Still – REM (1983)rem

  • Listen to that jangly guitar. That was the beginning of alternative music for me. It seems rather unremarkable today, but that sound led to the creation of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Beck, The National, Pavement, and yes, Radiohead, Coldplay and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain himself said that Nirvana was heavily influenced by REM. REM created the model for alt music, and this song is vintage, classic REM.

Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites (1972)

  • Again, a song straight from an aching, broken heart. 70’s R&B as only The Chi-Lites, and lead singer Eugene Record, could sing it. A beautifully sad song of despair, and one of my favorite tunes ever.

Acadian Driftwood (Live from The Last Waltz) – The Band (1976)

  • Here’s what’s beautiful about music – that a Canadian song describing the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and English could have such an effect on a 20-year old kid from southern Ohio. Robbie Robertson’s lyrics were influenced by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of the Acadians. Just a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written song that still touches me to my core.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

  • “How does it feeeel?” This was one of Dylan’s first “electric” tunes, and it still soars majestically today. Rolling Stone magazine named the song the #1 rock song of all-time, and that’s hard to disagree with. We used to discuss this song in my 8th grade Reading class because it was so well written. Dylan, man.

Do It Or Die – Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979)

  • I’ve always loved the mood a good ARS song could bring to the table, songs such as “All Night Rain” and this one. It’s an ultimately uplifting song about surviving, and I loved lyrics like this: “Do it or die now, stand your ground. Don’t let your bad breaks go gettin’ you down.
    Even when times get rough, and you’ve had enough, you still gotta try. Do it no matter what the people say, they don’t even know you.” Rodney Justo’s soulful, heartfelt vocals make the song even better.

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)the_beatles-nowhere_man_s_8

  • It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen (1987)

  • There’s just something about this song that hits home with me. Something about a guy trying to find peace and to keep his head above water is sort of universal. “When I look at myself I don’t see, The man I wanted to be, Somewhere along the line I slipped off track, I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.”

E’s Tune – E (1992)

  • One of my man Mark Oliver Everett’s early songs, before he founded the Eels. Who can’t relate to these lyrics? “Life’s just an ugly mess, The angry souls in such distress, Still there is a time when moments can be sweet, And it feels like someone’s smiling down on me.” Amen brother. This song strikes a chord with me on every level. Period.

Over the Rainbow – Eric Clapton (2002)

  • Probably my favorite song of all-time, and this is my favorite version. I am touched every single time I hear it. Sad and plaintive, but uplifting at the same time. It’s performed not particularly slow, but not fast either. Mid-tempo I guess. Whatever it is, I love it. Oh, and it’s performed live, folks. Love Clapton’s vocals on this one too. And oh, by the way, if it’s not played at my funeral I’ll come back and haunt all y’all.

We’re the Same – Matthew Sweet (1993)

  • Rolling Stone called this quite possibly the best song of 1993, and I couldn’t agree more. Just a pure pop confection of jangly guitars and gorgeous melodies. Matthew Sweet at the height of his powers. Sweet once said he was inspired to play guitar when he first heard “Sitting Still” by REM.

I Can Stand a Little Rain – Joe Cocker (1974)

  • This is a song about fighting back when you’re at your lowest, and the melody reflects that. It starts out slowly but builds to a crescendo towards the end, giving the listener hope that it’s going to be O.K.: “I can stand a little sorrow, I can stand it till tomorrow, I can stand a little strife, Just another taste of life, I can stand a little love, But when I’m on my last go-round, I can stand another test, Cause I made it before and I can make it some more.” Hell yes.

Looking for Space – John Denver (1975)

  • This song is about looking for the definition of who you are, by finding out where you are, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The lyrics are quite profound in a simple way:  “It’s a sweet, sweet dream, Sometimes I’m almost there, Sometimes I fly like an eagle, And sometimes I’m deep in despair. All alone in the universe, sometimes that’s how it seems, I get lost in the sadness and the screams, Then I look in the center, suddenly everything’s clear, I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams.” Another song that just hits home with me on an emotional level.

Oh, Shenandoah – Van Morrison (1998)

  • This is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century, and it’s about the Missouri River. There are many, many versions, and the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to Tennessee Ernie Ford. However, I love this version by Van Morrison the most. Just a gorgeous song that I’ve loved since I was a kid, when I first heard it on a TV show called “A Man Called Shenandoah.” Every time I hear it I get hit right in the feels. Love this song.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson (1998)brian

  • Another Brian Wilson tune, this is a song from his great Imagination comeback album in 1999. It’s another sad one about the death of his brother Carl, and again he lets us in on his innermost feelings: “So many years spent running away, How many times I wished I could stay, Too much emotion a hole in my heart, Feeling alone since we’ve been apart, And if I had the chance I’d never let you go, Just want you to know. Lay, lay me down, lay me down, Lay down burden.” Gorgeous melody and classic Brian Wilson harmonies as well.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

  • One of the simplest songs Paul McCartney ever penned, yet one of the most beautiful. On the “White Album”, this tune was a favorite of mine and my best friends Tom and Andy. In fact, Andy sang it to us a few days before he passed away. I’ll never hear it again without thinking of him.

So there ya go. What are your all-time favorite songs?

Note: I lied. I listed 21 songs.

Great song.

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Big Nick Lowe fan here. I’ve got all his stuff from the beginning. Love him.

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As always, with the anniversary of John Lennon’s death coming up on December 8th he’s been on my mind. I wrote about the night he died and how it affected me in a blog entitled December 8th, 1980 a couple years ago. For a fan like myself his assassination was a stunning, heartbreaking and life-changing event to put it mildly.

After John was murdered, anything and everything written about him was of interest to fans like me. There were several songs written about him but only three really touched me, probably because they were written by his true friends and not somebody trying to make a buck off of his death.

That said, here are my three favorite songs ever written about John after his passing. All three are straight from the heart. I’ll post the video, preceded my observations along with my favorite lyric.

Empty Garden – Elton John

A song Elton John wrote about his good friend. Clearly from the heart.

Favorite Lyric:

Who lived here?
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot,
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop,
And we are so amazed, we’re crippled and we’re dazed,
A gardener like that one no one can replace.

All Those Years Ago – George Harrison

This tune by George was criticized for being “too upbeat” but to me it’s George through and through. Paul and Linda sing background, but they’re sort of muted. So post-breakup Beatles it hurts. Still, I love the song.

Favorite Lyric:

Now we’re left cold and sad
By someone the devil’s best friend,
Someone who offended all.

Here Today – Paul McCartney

The best song written about John after his death, hands down. This is Paul telling it like it was . . .

Favorite Lyric:

And if I said I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today . . .
For you were in my song.

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Love this version of the song.

muddy

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Oddly enough there have been a few songs that, coincidentally or not, seemed to foretell the future. I know, weird, but I wouldn’t lie to y’all. Anyhoo, let’s take a gander . . .

Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (album)

A lot of folks believe this album predicted 9/11. Let’s take a look.

First of all, from the song “Jesus, Etc.”:

“Tall buildings shake, Voices escape singing sad sad songs,

Voices whine, Skyscrapers are scraping together, Your voice is smoking.”

Well, that is a little unnerving I suppose. Let’s continue . . .

From the song “War on War”:

“Moving forward through the flaming doors, You have to lose, You have to learn how to die if you want to be alive.”

Yikes. Still, not that bad I guess? Wait . . .

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was to be released on September 11th, 2001.

Want more? Here are a couple of other nifty notes about this album:

1) It features another song called “Ashes of American Flags” and

2) The cover art bears a passing resemblance to a couple of tall buildings.

wilcoalbum

Holy . . .

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors (album)

On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of the now unfortunately titled Street Survivors, the plane Lynyrd Skynyrd was traveling in crashed in a forest near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The line “the smell of death surrounds you” in the song “That Smell” took on a whole new ugly meaning after three bandmates, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, perished. As if the song and the album title weren’t enough, thanks to the plane crash, Street Survivors now had quite possibly the most inappropriate album cover in the history of albums covers.

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Oh boy.

Yep, that’s Lynyrd Skynyrd and yep, they are indeed on fire. Unfortunate, man.

Hank Williams: I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive

Well hell, that pretty much lays it out there, huh? Then again, we’re all dying at some point so maybe it’s not that big of a deal. Then again, there’s this little nugget – “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” was the last single Hank Williams released in his lifetime. Consider the chorus:

“No matter how I struggle and strive. I’ll never get out of this world alive.”

Ole’ Hank barely made it out of the rest of the year alive. On the morning of January 1st, 1953, just months after the song was released, he was pronounced dead at the Oak Hill Hospital emergency room.

Note: After Hank’s death his record sales skyrocketed, so he was the first artist whose family and record company benefited from his passing. Elvis, John Lennon and many others followed. Wait. Does Beethoven count?

Jimi Hendrix: The Ballad of Jimi

hendrixIn 1965 Jimi Hendrix waltzed into a New York recording studio and cut a new song about how some brother named Jimi was going to be dead in five years. “The Ballad of Jimi” starts when Hendrix declares that the song is dedicated to the memory of his best friend. That the friend’s name is a guitar player named Jimi is apparently to be chalked up to coincidence. Seriously, that’s what they thought at the time. Then again, they were all probably drugged out of their skulls so there’s that.

If you don’t mind being weirded out of your mind, take a gander at these lyrics:

Many things he would try, for he knew soon he’d die, Now Jimi’s gone, he’s not alone, His memory still lives on. Five years, this he said. He’s not gone, he’s just dead.”

And nearly 5-years later to the day, he was dead, having choked to death on his own vomit. Sweet son of a mother that’s creepy.

The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star

video_killed_the_radio_star_single_cover

Visionaries I tell ya!

Sure, there were music videos as far back as the 60’s (see The Beatles, man), but it wasn’t until MTV was unleashed on the world at 12:01am on August 1, 1981, when this video was first shown. The thing is, the video predicted exactly what was to come. Cool.

There’s another song that purported to predict the future called “Murder Was The Case”, but it was by Snoop Dogg and predicted he’d be charged with murder, which came true a couple years later. But seriously, is it that much of a stretch for a rapper to predict he’d be charged with murder? I think not. Because of this I left a song by Tupac out as well.

Have a great weekend.

Who remembers?

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Still so good.

gn