Archive for the ‘Rock Music’ Category

Before we begin, understand that I didn’t choose these songs for their historical significance, their legendary lyrics or for the amazing musicianship contain within. I simply picked the songs that I never get tired of listening to, that make my earholes happy every single time I hear them. So without further ado, let us commence . . .

We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals (1965)

Believe it or not this tune was initially slated to be sung by The Righteous Brothers, who would’ve got the brooding right but would’ve never had the grubby, throaty force legend Eric Burdon brings to the song. Just an amazing song with a soaring chorus that blew me away from the get-go. Listen to the bass that kicks things off.

Caroline No – Beach Boys (1966)

Quite simply the saddest, most beautifully written song I’ve ever heard. Proof that Brian Wilson is an absolute musical genius.

Where did your long hair go?

Where is the girl I used to know?

How could you lose that happy glow?

Oh Caroline, no . . .

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)

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.

Helter Skelter – The Beatles (1968)

Paul McCartney has said that he wanted to record a song, “as long as dirty as possible”. He succeeded. Some say this was the first speed metal song, and I cannot disagree. Wildly original for 1968. Prepare your ears for this one.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

In 1965, Bob Dylan was about to pack it in. Having finished an exhaustive tour of England he’d lost interest in the music game, but the creation of this track – one of his finest moments made even better with Al Kooper’s signature organ line – reinvigorated his love for music. Of course the six minute monster went on to become a worldwide hit and one of the most influential pieces of music of all time. “How does it f-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l?”

I Started a Joke – Bee Gees (1968)

Here’s the deal. The Bee Gees have gotten a bad rap for one reason- disco. However, there is way more to the Brothers Gibb than falsetto dance songs, and this tune proves it. There are a many interpretations of this song, including one that believes it’s about organized religion. Whatever the case, I’ve always loved the plaintive, aching vocals and melody of this song.

Positively 4th Street – Bob Dylan (1965)

I always loved the lyrics to this Dylan song, but especially these:

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And you’d know what a drag it is
To see you.

Burn, man.

Chimes of Freedom – The Byrds (1964)

This is vintage Byrds, complete with the music-changing jangly guitars and beautiful harmonies. It’s easy to why The Byrds were The Beatles’ favorite American band. Many groups to come, including Tom Petty and R.E.M., were heavily influenced by The Byrds. You can tell why after listening to this song.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

It’s hard to explain the allure of this song to me. It’s simple in every way, from the lyrics to how it was written. Still, it touches me on a most basic level.

The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag – Country Joe & The Fish (1967)

Well, if I hadn’t figured out Viet Nam yet Country Joe drove the point home for me with these lyrics:

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send ’em off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

Ouch. Needless to say the song didn’t get a lot of airplay on conservative WLW over in The Natti. After midnight I could get WLS out of Chicago though, and my ears were forever cooked.

Universal Soldier – Donovan (1965)

Universal Soldier” is a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The song was originally released in 1964. It was not a popular hit at the time of its release, but it became a hit a year later when Donovan covered it.

He’s the universal soldier,
And he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away, no more,
They come from here and there,
And you and me and brothers,
Can’t you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.

Touch Me – The Doors (1968)

A lot of people didn’t like this one, mainly because it was a bit of a departure for Jim Morrison and the boys. Why, you ask? Because it had horns. Gasp! As for me, I Ioved it. Here’s Jim Morrison at the peak of his powers.

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane (1967) 

This psychedelic number divvied up Alice In Wonderland references with not-so-subtle winks at drug assisted mind expansion. Grace Slick perfectly captured the mid-60s hope that narcotics could change perceptions and the world. A counter-culture classic, and it blew my young, impressionable mind away.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head.

Groovy, man.

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin (1969)

A beautiful acoustic song from Led Zeppelin II, this one is about two youngsters who can no longer be playmates because one’s parents and peers disapprove of the other because of long hair and being generally from “the dark side of town.” As a kid it really touched me, and it still does today.

I don’t know how I’m going to tell you
I can’t play with you no more
I don’t know how I’m gonna do what mama told me
My friend, the boy next door
I can’t believe what people saying
You’re gonna let your hair hang down
I’m satisfied to sit here working all day long
You’re in the darker side of town.

Walk Away Renee – The Left Banke (1966)

I love this song mainly for one reason – the soaring, gorgeous chorus. The vocals, the harmonies, they just blew me away. Bill Bragg did an exceptionally funny and poignant spoken word version of the song which us great as well.

Lightnin’ Strikes – Lou Christie (1966)

Again, the soaring chorus won me over again with this song. It’s nothing special musically or lyrically, it’s just has a melody that gets me every single time I hear it. Can’t help it kids, I love this song.

Do You Believe in Magic? – The Rascals (1965)

From the moment John Sebastian begins strumming that autoharp at the beginning of this song I was sold. Again, it’s a just a simple song about the power of music, and it contains this great line – It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n roll.

Fun fact: Prior to starting The Lovin’ Spoonful, Sebastian was in a band called The Mugwumps. The Mugwumps broke up when Mama Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty left NYC to go to California, where they formed The Mamas & the Papas.

People Got to Be Free – Rascals (1968)

Featuring a lead vocal from Felix Cavaliere, this is a musically upbeat but impassioned plea for tolerance and freedom. Believe me when I say it is very relevant today. Read these to the lyrics and tell me I’m wrong:

If there’s a man
Who is down and needs a helpin’ hand
All it takes is you to understand and
To pull him through,
Seems to me
We got to solve it individually, 
And I’ll do unto you what you do to me.

Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Sly and the Family Stone was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup, and they were incredible. They called their sound “psychedelic soul” and this was my favorite song of theirs. Just an amazing groove.

Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1967)

Oddly enough, this great song wasn’t a hit until it was re-released in 1970. Although essentially a sad song, it’s sung with an upbeat melody. Awesome vocals by Smokey as well.

Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf (1968) 

This is the first song where the term “heavy metal” was used, and it is famous for being included in the legendary movie Easy Rider. John Kay growls out the lyrics like the badass that he was, and the crunchy guitars give it a tough, gritty vibe. Love it.

Love Is All Around – The Troggs (1967)

I’ve just always loved the slow, dirge-like melody of this song. The other big hit by The Troggs? None other than Wild Thing.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys (1966)

Yep, Brian Wilson again. It wasn’t the lyrics that blew me away with this song, but rather the music. Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphony” showed me that a rock song could go deeper musically than it ever had before. The varied instrumentation was groundbreaking (A cello? Are you serious?). And what the hell was that woo-woo sounding thing? I found out later it was an electro-theremen, but all I knew at the time was that it sounded cool as hell. We all know that Lennon and McCartney were trying desperately to keep up with Wilson in the studio production department during the mid-60’s. The album Pet Sounds, and this song, illustrates why.

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967)

Morrison’s most enduring song, and although it’s been covered by a million people, nobody does it like Van the Man.

Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire (1965)

Loved the lyrics to this one, and it was played repeatedly on the stereo on Taylor Street in Southern Ohio back when I was a kid.

You may leave here for four days in space,
But when you return it’s the same damned place.
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next-door neighbor,
But don’t forget to say grace.

So, what did I miss? What are your favorite song from the 1960s? And don’t tell me it was before your time. You’ve heard the songs. Music is timeless. Let’s hear it.

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A company called Sachs Media Group partnered with a photo restoration and manipulation company called Phojoe to create a gallery of rock legends who passed away and what they’d look like today. Interesting stuff. Credit to Bored Panda for the pics.

[click on the first photo and scroll to read the captions]

I’ve said it a million times – Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame, and until he is the whole thing is meaningless. I’ve written about it many times, including my latest and cleverly titled blog Put Todd Rundgren in the Hall of Fame! Bottom line, Todd should be in and it’s a damn cryin’ shame that’s he’s not there already. But back to the point of this blog, and that is my Top 15 favorite Todd songs. Read, listen and I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. Let’s do this . . .

I’ll include Utopia as well.

Hello, It’s Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

I know, I know, it’s a simple love song. But this gem was on the “live” side of the legendary Something/Anything? album and it was done in one take. ONE. TAKE. Give a listen to absolute pop brilliance . . .

Lysistrata (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Todd recorded this song with his group Utopia, and believe it or not it’s about an ancient Greek queen that caused a war. Just typical rock content, right? I think not. What a great song.

I Saw the Light (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just an absolute confection of pure pop magic. So good. Here’s Todd performing the song with Daryl Hall in Hawaii. Enjoy.

It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just a great song about the insanity of jealousy. I mean, if someone is going to be jealous of you even though you’re faithful, then what’s the point? “If I ever thought of lyin’, I’d rather think of dyin’ instead.

We Gotta Get You a Woman (Runt) – 1970

Todd’s first big hit, from the album Runt. LOVE it. It had me from the opening chords.

It Takes Two to Tango (Something/Anything) – 1972

An apologetic song about Todd’s lost loves. Sort of. Because you know, it takes two to tango. Plus you must admit you learned a bit . . .

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (Utopia) – 1982

Love the Beatlesque harmonies in this one. Another song Todd recorded with his band Utopia. Roger Powell actually sings a lot of the lead, but it’s still a great Rundgren song.

One World (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Yet another Utopia release, and it’s one of Todd’s signature rock anthems. Good stuff.

Can We Still Be Friends (Hermit of Mink Hollow) – 1978

From the underrated Hermit of Mink Hollow album. I wore this record out in my apartment at 178 West 8th Avenue, Apt. C just off the Ohio State campus. Ah, the memories. The song reflects on the age old and difficult task of maintaining a friendship even after the intimacy has ended. Here’s Todd, again with Daryl Hall:

Drive (The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect) – 1982

Have you noticed how prolific Todd was in 1982? Anyway, this may be my second or third favorite Rundgren tune. The guitar intro, the soaring vocals, the harmonies. Just a stellar song.

One More Day (Something/Anything?) – 1972

A pretty amazing song about having just one more day, whether is be in Vietnam, a relationship, a job, whatever. Poignant.

Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Some think this song was a prelude to punk, and who am I to argue? The raw vocals, the distorted, loud guitars, it’s all there. Todd? He refers to it as “power pop” and it’s that too.

Piss Aaron (Something/Anything?) – 1972

This is a song about high school we can all relate to. It’s about kids who were, well, a little weird. The outcasts if you will. Todd had literally no boundaries where song content was concerned.

Some Folks is Even Whiter Than Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Straight ahead rock and roll with a message that’s entirely relevant today. Listen to Todd shred on guitar, and the sax wails as well. Love. This. Song.

You Left Me Sore (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Yeah, this song is pretty much what you think it’s about. There’s no misreading the lyrics, man. Only Todd could make a cool song about STDs. It’s from the famous Side 4 of the album, where everything is live and loose, hence the false starts and laughing during the song. Just a great little inappropriate pop song.

Yes, I know a lot of the songs I chose came from one album, and that’s ok. You know why? Because Something/Anything? is one of the best albums ever recorded. So there. Click on that link for my opinion.

As some of you know, I’ve had a lifelong habit of running into famous people, and it happened with Todd too. From an earlier blog:

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago when I literally ran into the man himself. My hands flew to my face as I yelled, “TODD RUNDGREN!” Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded, “YES!” Bastard was mocking me. After a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Nice life-moment for me I must admit.

Todd, man. Appreciate him.

 

 

Great cover of a great Byrds song, originally written by Bob Dylan.

So good.

Love it.

While researching artists I thought should be in the Hall of Fame, Warren Zevon in particular, I came across this gem of Eddie singing Zevon’s last song before he died. Blew me away. So damn good. Enjoy.

To me, the Rock Hall of Fame has become a bit of a joke. I mean, some of the artists who have made it in are a bit of a joke. I mean, Chic? Really? Anyway, what follows are 10 bands or artists that I think should be in, some obvious, others not so much. Let us commence . . .

Todd Rundgren

How is Todd Rundgren not in the Rock Hall of Fame? HOW? Todd Rundgren not only recorded what is in my opinion one of the greatest albums in history, Something/Anything?, he’s an amazing, ground-breaking producer as well. He produced the albums Straight Up by Badfinger, Stage Fright by The Band, We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad, Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf, and New York Dolls by the New York Dolls among many, many others. Folks, those are some amazing, historical albums.

Todd was a forerunner in creating music videos, and his video for the song Time Heals was one of the first videos played on MTV. In addition, his song “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” has had a major influence on artists in the power pop musical genre.

Oh, and in 1985 Todd recorded the incredible album A Cappella, which was recorded using his multi-tracked voice, accompanied by arrangements constructed entirely from programmed vocal samples. Again, no instruments, just his voice imitating instruments. I’d like to see Hall of Famer Robin Zander of Cheap Trick try that.

Rundgren has also played nearly every instrument on many of his albums, and he’s played them well.

If you want to read my blog about his greatest album, click this link:

Something/Anything?: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus

Todd needs to be in The Hall, man.

The Replacements

Quite simply, The Replacements are considered one of the pioneers of alternative rock. Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars formed the group, and their catalog is one of the most admired in rock. From the high octane “Kids Don’t Follow” and “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash” through their mid-period stuff like “Hootenanny” and “If Only You Were Lonely” they never let up. And everything that contributed to the band’s failure to achieve breakthrough success — contempt, self-doubt, drug and alcohol abuse, and pure hatred for each other — also contributed to their mythology. This is one band that deserves a Hall of Fame nod precisely because they didn’t make it big. Westerberg’s solo stuff is amazing as well.

Big Star

Big Star’s potent mix of power pop, psychedelia and adolescent angst made them the definitive cult rock band and informed generations of indie rockers. They were formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by the legendary Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel. The group broke up in 1974, and reorganized with a new line-up nearly 20 years later. So damn good. Groups like REM and Pearl Jam bow at the feet of these guys. Give a listen to September Gurls and tell me they’re not great:

The Pixies

The Pixies became a defining leader of alternative rock in the 1990’s, which ought to be enough for the them to earn consideration for a place in the Hall. The Pixies introduced introspection, poetic absurdity and killer hooks into punk rock, establishing a template for those to follow like Nirvana, Pavement, Guided by Voices, Liz Phair and, even later, Weezer and Green Day. Formed in 1986, the original line-up comprised Black Francis (who performed awesomely solo as Frank Black), Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering.

The Smiths

The most English of England’s major ’80s alternative-rock bands, the Smiths never rose above cult status in the United States. But their unique style — nostalgic, understated, sarcastic, a little snarky — has been enormously influential, especially in Scotland (Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, the Vaselines). But whatever chemistry went into the Smiths’ brief, electric career has never been rediscovered — not even by former Smiths Morrissey or Johnny Marr.

Television

The offbeat guitar heroes of New York’s original CBGB scene, Television defied the punk ethos with long, intricate songs that were part prog rock, part New Wave, with elements of garage rock and jazz fusion thrown in. Television owes an obvious debt to the Velvet Underground, but dozens of other important bands — from U2, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth to XTC and the Talking Heads — owe something considerable to Television. Television was AMAZING. Check them out and tell me if you agree:

Kraftwerk

Electronic music has been such an important part of rock music in the ensuing decades. Can’t these guys get in under the “influences” tag if nothing else? In fact, where are any of the great German bands, like Fury in the Slaughterhouse? My first introduction to Kraftwerk was in the 1981 when I heard “Pocket Calculator” on the album Computer World. Classic stuff. Listen up:

New York Dolls

Madonna made it in. David Bowie made it in. Iggy & The Stooges made it in. What kind of grassroots push is it going to take to put in these guys? Or will Buster Poindexter be admitted first? Can they at least be considered “influences”? Good God man. I am proud to say I once saw The Dolls at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus as part of the really weird lineup of the New York Dolls, The Babys and REO Speedwagon. Crazy stuff.

Warren Zevon

I swear to God I had to research this because I was convinced Zevon was in. How? Why? And do you know how many times he’s been nominated? ZERO, although he’s been eligible since 1994. This makes no sense on any level. With songs like “Werewolves of London”, “Excitable Boy” and his final song just before he died of cancer, “Keep Me in Your Heart” he just has to get in soon. Artists like REM, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have all publicly agreed with me. Fun Fact: I was in the Serene Lounge just off Ohio State campus in 1978 when a friend walked in and told me he had an extra ticket to see Warren Zevon at what was then Zachariah’s Red Eye Saloon. I’d never heard of him, but I said sure and was blown away. Anyway, put him in!

The Hoodoo Gurus

OK, maybe the Gurus are a stretch. Still, I believe these guys are one of the most underappreciated bands in rock history. In fact, I wrote about them in a blog called The Best Band You’ve Never Heard: The Hoodoo Gurus. The Gurus style is based on straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, no doubt about it. From 1960s power pop to garage punk to hard driving rock and funky psychedelic kitsch their music pretty much covers the spectrum. The kicker for me though, as always, is the hook. Gotta have the hook in my opinion, and the Gurus deliver them in abundance. They also are a lyrically intelligent group who invariably bring a smile to my face whenever I hear them. So, if you want to hear some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll peppered with a dash of wit, catchy hooks, jangly guitars, and some occasional scathing social commentary, The Gurus are for you. And although they won’t get in, they should be considered.

So, who ya got? Anyone you think needs to be in? Then again, like I said, KISS, Donovan, Chic and ABBA are in there, so what does it all mean anyway?

I’ve said it 17-million times. It’s a damn shame Todd Rundgren is not in the Rock Hall of Fame. I wrote about it in the acclaimed blog Something/Anything: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus. Bottom line? Todd should be in the Hall of Fame. Anyway, take some time and listen to one of the Top 10 albums of all time and get back with me. Thank you and goodnight.

Great song with great lyrics. Incredibly, Jackson Browne wrote this song when he was just 16-years old.

These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do for you,
And all the times I had the chance to . . .

So noisy, so amplified, so distorted, so rock and roll.

Stunning performance. Although Paul McCartney, Sting, Elton John and David Bowie all performed in Wembley Stadium that day, Queen was the band that blew everyone away. My favorite Freddie Mercury story is this one – when he joined the band as a vocalist after they had tryouts for a lead singer, they told him they planned to be the biggest band in England. His response? “England? We’re going to be the biggest band in the world.” And for a while they were.

The actor Creed Bratton went by his actual name in the TV sitcom The Office, playing Creed Bratton. He was also a member of the band The Grass Roots.

 

Creed Bratton, far right.

 

 

The Beatles had a specific clause in their contract, even in 1964, that stipulated they would never play for a segregated audience.

 

On Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, the music on most of the tracks was played by the band Toto.

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.

 

A few years ago I wrote a lukewarm widely acclaimed blog called 9 People I Hate at Rock Concerts. It included idiots like people who sing too loud, text during the show, bitch about the opening act, stuff like that. Do yourself a favor and read it. Well, recently another habit has reared it’s ugly head at concerts, and it is not pretty. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tablet Guy:

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.

 

“And all over town, little kids will get down.”

A sentimentally festive song about Santa being mugged by hooligans. Enjoy!

“Baby Jesus, born to rock.”

You guys know how all these wild conspiracy theories interest me. JFK, the supposed death of Paul McCartney, hell, I even posted about cartoons and the movie Back to the Future predicting 9/11. And have I mentioned that Stevie Wonder may not be blind? Anywho, this stuff make compelling reading even if you’re 99% certain it isn’t true.

Still, there’s that 1%. That’s what makes it all fascinating.

Anyway, what you’re about to read and see may be the wildest, most outlandish theory of all – Elvis Presley was an extra in Home Alone.

Because of course he was.

There is a scene midway through the film, where Catherine O’Hara’s character is bartering with an airline employee over a ticket counter in a Scranton Airport. A bearded man in a sports coat and turtleneck hovers over her left shoulder, occasionally expressing his impatience with his body language. This man, many believe, is played by none other than The King himself. Let’s take a gander . . .

Huh. Well, Elvis grew a beard for the movie Charro back in the 60’s. Let us compare:

Damn, that is a close resemblance. But oh, there’s more.

Well, now I’m all shook up. Say no more. I’m convinced. I know suspicious minds won’t concur, but Elvis was in the movie Home Alone 13-years after his alleged “death.” Come on Elvis. Don’t be cruel. It’s now or never. It’s time for your big comeback.

Have a blue Christmas everybody!

PS- If you know that actor’s name please don’t tell me. Let me keep on believin’.