Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

For you youngsters out there, a deep cut refers to a song that was buried deeply on an album, probably somewhere toward the end of Side 2. The song probably wasn’t expected to be a hit, hence the song placement. Wait. Does anyone under 40-years old even know what an album is? Does LP ring a bell? Nothing? Sigh. See, back then we bought the album, dropped the needle onto Side 1, listened to the 5 or 6 songs on that side, then flipped it over and listened to Side 2.

Let us continue . . .

We all have personal favorites of a particular artist or band, songs that may have never been a hit or played on the radio. Songs that weren’t critically acclaimed but just struck a chord with you. Struck a chord, get it? Musical reference. Boom. Anyway, it’s something that can’t be explained, that chord, that something that can bring tears to your eyes or make you want to listen to the song over and over. Sometimes the song can be something you’re afraid to admit you like.

Full disclosure: “If Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson comes on the radio, I always sing along. Killer pipes, lemme tell ya. Now THERE’S a guilty pleasure. Guilty Pleasures . . . there’s a blog idea.

Anyway, here we go. These are songs that aren’t guilty pleasures, but rather tunes that I’ve always loved but have never been recognized as their artists’ best work.

Enjoy . . .

Guilty – Alice Cooper

Sure, Alice is better known for songs like School’s Out or Eighteen, but my favorite has always been Guilty. It has a great guitar riff to open, then Alice growls out these lines:

Just tried to have fun,

Raised Hell and then some,

I’m a dirt talking, beer drinking, woman chasing minister’s son.

When I was an AD I used to include this song in my pre-game song mix. I still don’t know how I got away with it. Highly recommended. Here’s a link.

Acadian Driftwood – The Band

The Band has a ton of good songs, including The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, but I love Acadian Driftwood, in particular the live version on The Last Waltz. Originally recorded in 1975, it describes the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and the English over what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and part of Maine. 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. Here’s a link.

‘Til I Die –  The Beach Boys

Quite simply one of the most beautiful, sad, and heart wrenching songs ever recorded. I feel it’s one of the rock eras most underappreciated songs. It’s all about Brian Wilson and his slow descent into mental illness. How can you not be touched by these lyrics?

I’m a cork on the ocean

Floating over the raging sea

How deep is the ocean? How deep is the ocean?

I lost my way.

I’m a rock in a landslide

Rolling over the mountainside

How deep is the valley? How deep is the valley?

It kills my soul.

I’m a leaf on a windy day

Pretty soon I’ll be blown away

How long will the wind blow? How long will the wind blow?

These things I’ll be until I die.

Talk about a cry for help. I have never grown tired of this song, and I’m always touched by the lyrics. Here’s the original mix. Be sure and listen all the way through.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson

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 H

ow 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 Wilson harmonies as well. Sigh. Here ’tis.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen

Like a lot of you I’m a big Springsteen guy. If you ever see him live you’ll never forget it. Born to Run, Jungleland, Thunder Road, he has so many great songs. Still, One Step Up hits me the hardest:

Bird on a wire outside my motel room

But he ain’t singin’.

Girl in white outside a church in June

But the church bells they ain’t ringing.

I’m sittin’ here in this bar tonight But all I’m thinkin’ is . . . I’m the same old story, same old act

One step up and two steps back.

Who can’t relate to that? Here’s the video.

Ol’ 55 – The Eagles

I know this may seem like an odd choice, what with all the classic Eagles songs out there. But, if I had one Eagles song to listen to on a deserted island, this Tom Waits penned release from 1973 would be my pick. It was on The Eagles 1974 album entitled On the Border, and although it isn’t an original Eagles song I still think it’s one of their best. It also happens to be the song that first introduced me to The Eagles. Check out this clip.

Junior’s Farm – Paul McCartney & Wings

This song is NEVER mentioned among Sir Paul’s greatest, but in my opinion it ranks right up there with Band On the Run, Live and Let Die, and Maybe I’m Amazed. It’s a rocker and features a searing guitar solo by Jimmy McCullough. Recorded on a farm in none other than Nashville, TN, I dare you to listen to this song without tapping your foot.

Nothingman – Pearl Jam

From 1994’s Vitology, Nothingman is one of Eddie Vedder’s best songs. Here’s his take on the lyrics. “The idea is about if you love someone and they love you, don’t fuck up, ’cause you are left with less than nothing.”

Amen to that brother. Of all Pearl Jam’s tunes, this is my favorite. Close second? Alive.

Paranoid Eyes – Pink Floyd

Big Pink Floyd fan here, and I think the album this song came from, The Final Cut, is one of their most underappreciated and underrated albums ever. It was Floyd’s last album before Roger Waters vamoosed, and it’s basically all Waters all the time, which is fine by me. Check out these lyrics:

Button your lip don’t let the shield slip

Take a fresh grip on your bullet proof mask

And if they try to break down your disguise with their questions

You can hide hide hide

Behind paranoid eyes. 

You put on your brave face and slip over the road for a jar

Fixing your grin as you casually lean on the bar

Laughing too loud at the rest of the world

With the boys in the crowd

You hide hide hide

Behind petrified eyes. 

You believed in their stories of fame fortune and glory

Now you’re lost in a haze of alchohol soft middle age

The pie in the sky turned out to be miles too high

And you hide hide hide Behind brown and mild eyes.

True dat, no? Trust me, when you’re 50 you’ll get it. Here ye be.

So there ya go. I’m sure y’all have some deep cuts. Let’s hear ’em.

People have been asking me since I started this site to list my favorite all-time bands. I kept putting it off because the task seemed way too daunting. Well, I began breaking it all down a couple weeks ago and finally I’m prepared to unveil my picks to the masses. Remember, these are my personal choices, so chillax. You may be shocked to find there’s no Rolling Stones, no Nirvana, no Aerosmith. Sorry, good bands all, just not in my upper echelon. Without further ado, my favorites.

1. THE BEATLES

Beatles

George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

I know, shocking right? If there ever was a no-brainer this is it. My respect and love for The Beatles is well documented, and you can check out a few of my Beatles blogs by clicking any or all of the following titles:  The Transformation of a KidThe Fab 30: My Favorite Beatle Songs, Tomorrow Never Knows, but The Beatles Did, and The Beatles overrated? You, sir, are an idiot. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times – The Beatles advanced music more in 7-years than music has advanced in the years since. As much as I love the bands that follow, they are all very, very far behind.

2. R.E.M.

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I have loved these guys since the early 80’s and saw them live at several small venues back then. It’s hard to imagine now, but their sound was so different at the time. There have been so many imitators that their sound doesn’t seem so unique anymore, and that’s a testament to how influential they were. Any student I had in class from 1984 to 1996 will tell you – I’ve been an R.E.M disciple for a long time.

3. Eels

e

Mark Oliver Everett, A Man Called E.

Eels are basically a one man band, and that man is Mark Oliver Everett, also known as “E”. I wrote a pretty extensive piece about him called Mark Oliver Everett: A Man Called E awhile back that pretty much explains my love for him and his music. His music can be hauntingly beautiful, but he also plays full bore, raw rock and roll. Love E and The Eels.

4. Paul McCartney

paul

Sir Paul.

Listen, I love Lennon and Harrison’s solo work too, and they almost made the cut. However, I’ve always been a McCartney guy at heart. John is always looked at as the “experimental” and “avant garde” Beatle, but Paul was actually the first to begin experimenting with different sounds and alternative styles and methods. Because of his wonderful ballads like “Yesterday” and “My Love” great, one-of-a-kind rockers like “Helter Skelter” and “Junior’s Farm” get lost in the mix.

5. The Beach Boys

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Bottom: Mike Love, Carl Wilson. Top: Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Dennis Wilson.

I wrote extensively about The Beach Boys in my two blogs entitled “The Beach Boys: America’s Most Misunderstood Band” and “Just a Little More on the Beach Boys”. Brian Wilson was a musical genius if there ever was one. The harmonies he arranged, the beautiful melodies he constructed, and his ground-breaking work in the studio have been unsurpassed in music history. In addition, the album “Pet Sounds” is widely considered, along with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” as the best ever recorded.

6. The Band

band

Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson.

The Band may be the finest group of musicians and vocalists ever assembled. They started as a backup band for the legendary Ronnie Hawkins, and then for some cat named Bob Dylan. When The Band went solo, however, their true talents were unleashed on the world. Do yourself a favor and rent “The Last Waltz” to watch these guys live, or buy the entire “Music from Big Pink” album, put on your headphones, turn off the lights and get lost in everything that is The Band. Quite possibly America’s first real country rock band.

7. Todd Rundgren

toddrungrenredferns_500

A Wizard, a True Star (look it up).

Todd Rundgren is not in the Rock Hall of Fame and that’s an absolute travesty. Not only did he record what in my opinion is one of the greatest albums in history (Something/Anything?), he’s 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 others. Folks, those are some amazing, historical albums. Rundgren also plays nearly every instrument extremely well, so there’s that. If you want to read my blog about his greatest album, click this link: Something/Anything?: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus. Seriously, though, Todd needs to be in The Hall, man.

8. Bruce Springsteen

bruce

B-r-u-u-u-u-c-e!

Young rock fans don’t realize this, but Bruce came along right when we needed him. In 1975 the rock world was full of glam, rhinestone covered jumpsuits, laser shows, dudes with makeup, elaborate stage shows, and overproduced bullshit. Along came Bruce with his straight ahead, hard-drivin’ rock and roll that was delivered with a no-frills, pared down stage show. Bruce and his  band wore leather or jean jackets, boots, and depended on the music to make the show, not a giant inflatable pig or dancing midgets. In addition, he’s a great songwriter, with the evidence being “Born to Run”, “Jungleland” and “One Step Up.”  Just a legendary, electric performer.

9. Paul Westerberg

westerberg

Paul Westerberg.

Paul Westerberg was the lead singer of the legendary alt band The Replacements, and Mats fans will be infuriated that I chose the solo career of Westerberg over them. Tough luck, because I love Paul’s stuff as much or more than anything the Replacements ever did. He can rock with the best of them, then turn around and write a beautiful ballad like “Good Day” or “Sunrise Always Listens”. I took a buddy to a Westerberg show a few years ago, and as we walked to our car he said this: “That’s the first time I ever felt like I was watching a real rock star.” Amen brother. You can read my take on Westerberg here: Man Without Ties: Paul Westerberg.

10. Steve Forbert

forbert

Steve Forbert.

Steve Forbert is a rock troubadour, a master of the turn of phrase and a lyrical mastermind. He never made it big and had just one top selling single, called “Romeo’s Tune”, way back in 1979. Back then he was compared to Bob Dylan, which set expectations unrealistically high but never stopped me from buying every album he’s released in the last 37-years. He’s one of those guys that somehow, someway, fell through the cracks. He’s had a solid career, but nothing like he deserves. Just as amazing singer, songwriter and lyricist.

So there you have it. Believe me, cutting it to the Top 10 was tough for me. Leaving out some of the bands and artists below was nearly impossible. That said, I’ve separated my remaining bands into three categories: Extra Special Mention, Special Mention and Honorable Mention. Here ya go:

Extra Special Mention (Just missed the cut): John Lennon, George Harrison, Warren Zevon, Al Green, Electric Light Orchestra, Bob Dylan, They Might Be Giants, Carbon Leaf, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Avett Brothers, Neil Young, Traveling Wilburys.

Special Mention: Tom Petty, The Byrds, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, The Replacements, Cracker, Jimmy Buffett, Fountains of Wayne, Matthew Sweet, America, Dramarama, Jim Croce, Nerf Herder, Hoodoo Gurus, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, Johnny Cash, The Ramones, Del Amitri, E, Eric Clapton, The Flaming Lips, James Taylor.

Honorable Mention: John Mellencamp, Ronnie Hawkins, Chi-Lites, Social Distortion, Blue October, Michael Jackson,  Alan Parsons Project, The Moody Blues, Meat Puppets, The Alarm, Alanis Morissette, Bob Marley, Chicago, Dan Fogelberg, The Doors, Frank Sinatra, The Stylistics, Meat Loaf, Sister Hazel, Teenage Fanclub, The Who.