"If the beat gets to the audience, and the message touches them, you've got a hit." Casey Kasem

Friday, August 26, 2011

What 21 Feels Like

On August 25, 1992, my friend Veesa and I took off for London to go see Babes in Toyland. We didn't have tickets to see them, but we had hopes that we could get them. When she originally went to get the tickets, she got L7 ones instead, which wasn't a problem since I liked them and she really liked them. And besides, this was the summer of 10,000 concerts. We were averaging about 2 shows every 3 weeks, which was something because we were young and didn't have a lot of money to be traveling to London or Norwich or various other places in southeastern England as much as we were, but we were still off into the NME / Melody Maker world.
All in all, it was a great time to be alive and enjoying music.
That night, instead of Babes in Toyland, we saw a shitty band named Medicine. We stayed for all of 1 and part of 2 feedback heavy "songs," and left. Somewhere in there, she got to meet Tony from Curve, which made her year. That weekend, we saw Henry Rollins speak in London and it changed both of our lives because he was fantastic. That was just the kind of summer it was. It didn't matter that there was no love relationships or anything good on a day to day basis. There was music and friendship and memories, and that was what made 21 such a great summer.
Like Husker Du sang about, it was my celebrated summer of being young.
The year before, grunge had arrived and punk had broke (or so the video said), and we were in Camden Town as often as we could be. At that time, I wasn't thinking, so I got a tattoo. Then, I really wasn't thinking, and I got another one and a pair of Doc Martens, which matched nicely with my No More Censorship Defense Fund shirt - the classic Alternative Tentacles look without the record bag. If there wasn't that one, there was the Corporate Rock Still Sucks SST T-shirt, a definite classic from the day (as was the Black Flag bars T-shirt).
It was a good time to be young and into music. Kurt Cobain was still alive. Drinking all the time and going crazy wasn't a sign of immaturity or lack of direction. In fact, living in an Air Force dorm and drinking was to be expected. When I got to my final base the next year, we literally had a dorm bar. Nevertheless, authority was evil and needed to be put into its place - which sounds as dumb as it was seeing as I was in the military at the time.
Yeah... the early 1990s was what it was: youth culture.
And my life was what it was: a whirlwind of transitions and trying to fit in - musically, if not socially.
That said, not all of the music is as good as it used to be. Nevertheless, the following 60 songs epitomize that period of time in my life. There is some nostalgia for the past years that I had lived since I was in England and some of what I was trying to hang onto from my days in America. There was British Indie (before Blur made it cool to be Brit Pop and the sound became a sanitized and older version of mellowed out Beatles stuff).
So if this is my halfway point (the 40th birthday), then this is what the first 1/4 of my life was and where it was at - musically speaking at least, which is really where my life was at that time.
1. Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - Is Wrestling Fixed
2. Gangreen - Ballad
3. King Missile - Sensitive Artist
4. Camper Van Beethoven - Where the Hell Is Bill
5. They Might Be Giants - Ana Ng
6. A House - I Don't Care
7. Pixies - Head On
8. Husker Du - Makes No Sense at All
9. Nomeansno - The Fall
10. Alice Donut - Mother of Christ
11. Jello Biafra and DOA - Full Metal Jackoff
12. Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Satanic Reverses
13. Jesus Lizard - One Evening
14. Misfits - Bullet
15. Samhain - All Murder All Guts All Fun
16. Jawbox - Low
17. Joy Division - Novelty
18. Sonic Youth - Wish Fulfillment
19. Babes in Toyland - Catatonic
20. Henry Rollins - Ex Lion Tamer
21. The Descendants - Cheer
22. Circle Jerks - Making the Bombs
23. Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing
24. Henry Rollins and the Hard Ons - Carry Me Down
25. Sugar - The Act We Act
26. Lemonheads - Bit Part
27. Boo Radleys - Does This Hurt
28. Adorable - Sunshine Smile
29. Throwing Muses - Not Too Soon
30. Julian Cope - Hanging Out and Hung Up on the Line
31. Angry Samoans - Lights Out
32. Minor Threat - It Follows
33. Leatherface - Not Superstitious
34. Kingmaker - High as a Kite
35. Love and Rockets - Dog End of a Day Gone By
36. Nirvana - Come As You Are
37. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Happy
38. Consolidated - Brutal Equation
39. Faith Healers - Reptile Smile
40. Curve - 10 Little Girls
41. Breeders - Limehouse
42. Wolfgang Press - Kansas
43. Bauhaus - In the Flat Field
44. Pigface - Little Sisters (live)
45. Ministry - So What (live)
46. 1000 Homo DJs - Supernaut
47. Acid Horse - No Name No Slogan
48. PTP - Rubber Glove Seduction
49. Nine Inch Nails - Wish
50. Meat Beat Manifesto - Now
51. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - A Daisy Chain for Satan
52. Skinny Puppy Rodent
53. Pailhead - I Will Refuse
54. Lead Into Gold - Faster than Light
55. Revolting Cocks - Beers Steers and Queers
56. L7 - Shitlist
57. Huggy Bear - T Shirt Tucked In
58. Steel Pole Bathtub - Arizona Garbage Truck
59. Jesus and Mary Chain - Reverance
60. Les Thugs - Moon Over Marin
And in looking back at the songs, there were tunes for breaks ups, jumping around and listening to music in clubs or the dorm room, songs to be frustrated to, and there were songs for energy to get through long train rides. Sadly, there wasn't much music for happiness. Sure, there are songs for a lot of different things... the music of the relationship I was in at the time doesn't really hold up as it represents what I hoped a relationship could be musically - as opposed to what one is. Hence, we lasted a lot longer than we should have, but in the end, we were no more.
Nevertheless, life is where we end up after all of the things that take us somewhere. This was a stopping point on my journey to me, a journey that is in way complete, but at least, it's headed towards somewhere good. I truly believe that - even if I'm still waiting for the inevitable phone call of what should happen, but can't until someone else does something with it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Wife's Anniversary CDs

While it doesn’t always feel like it, it’s quite clear that time truly flies. In November of 2007, we were communicating with one another via e-mail, and then, on December 1, 2007, we were going to see Fred Claus. By February, we were taking in dinosaurs and national monuments in Washington D.C. with the feeling of fresh love in our minds. Less than a year later, we were getting engaged on October 11, 2008. About 2 and a half months later, we made the New Years Eve decision to get married on August 15, 2009, which has become THEE moment that became the greatest day of my life.
Everything after that night was a whirlwind of energy and planning to get to the Everybody Loves Raymond tribute. There were days spent journeying to the waterfalls of 6 different states, and there were afternoons and evenings spent wandering through the flowers of Longwood Gardens. There were beautiful vistas that we looked out from, and there were places of historic significance. There were moments spent walking in the footsteps of my grandparents, and there were moments spent creating memories for the future. There were trips to the biographical places of both of our lives. There were get-togethers with our families and friends. There was a lot of quiet time spent snuggling while watching mindless television. There was our house that gave us quiet time in the Siesta Zone with the fire fully blazing to the lowest branches of the tree, and there was food fresh from the Grill Zone. There were a lot of dreams, hope, and flowers. There was always a lot of flowers! And sadly, for the last 8 months, there was a lot of tough times thrust on us by the world, but with tough times, good things are sure to come, and I do believe that the best things are yet to come because I have you to make everything better.
In this, there was always you, and with you, all of the good things come.
I wouldn’t want to be in a world where I didn’t say, “I do.” I wouldn’t trade anything that I got with you for anything that anyone else could give me. You are beautiful and intelligent and kind and dedicated and wonderful to me. Your strength and understanding through all of the ups and downs that we have seen will continue to grow and keep us heading towards the Promised Land, where we walk on Caribbean beaches, climb in Californian mountains to get to waterfalls, gaze out on the geysers that rest above the super-volcano of Wyoming, descend into serpentine slot canyons in Utah, stroll along seaside walkways in Italy, and helicopter over Hawaiian volcanoes, beaches, and waterfalls. And while sometimes, it all might feel like these things are a million days away, time isn’t stopping, and we are heading towards our paradise, which is what keeps me going.
You are my everything.
Knowing that you’re thinking the same things that I’m about to say, dreaming many of the same dreams as me (you don’t think about slot canyons the way that I do), and feeling the same definition of love, romance, and future joys that will carry us through to greatness when all of this stuff with two job hunts mellows out in the very near future.
And while nobody is ever perfect and always everything that he or she should be, I long to be better and more patient and compassionate and expressive and kind and dedicated to making all of my promises of August 15, 2009, and the times before and afterward into something that is so precious and real in our lives. I know that there are possibilities… just as there were 2 years ago today when we drove into the sunset of western Pennsylvania to get married and to honeymoon in West Virginia with the promise of a masters degree and a new house and growing old together happening for us when we returned home.
I think of that, and I know that all is good. At my most optimistic, I can see the summertime glory of relaxing while drinking iced tea from mason jars and listening to mellow songs of an America that once was (and still can be) when we return from hiking to a serene waterfall (even if it was discolored from the runoff of the coal mines!). At my most pessimistic, I can feel defeated, but then I remember that you are my teammate, and that together, we can make it to the World Series of life (obligatory baseball reference). I can think of that and know that with love and goofiness, all things come. You are the person that I want to love. You are the woman that I want to impress by doing great things that just come naturally from inside me. You are the companion that I want with me when I see all of the good things that life has to offer.
HG… I love you more than anything. Happy 2nd of many wedding anniversaries!
The musical love letter of our anniversary - Disc 1:
1. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (The lyrics say everything about power, hope, and smallness - “I was raised up believin' I was somehow unique like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see And now after some thinkin' I'd say I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.”)
2. Tomorrow from the Annie Soundtrack (she’s not quite Miley singing “The Climb” from the mountaintops, but when she sings “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you’re only a day away” I challenge you not to get goose bumps).
3. For the First Time by The Script (In all of the difficulties of life, there is frustration and this song captures that. Despite its radio friendly nature, there’s still something to it when they sing about getting through the problems that a bad economy can add to life in lines such as “Trying to make things work but man these times are hard”)
4. If I Had a Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies (What I wouldn’t do for you with 8-9 figures of Powerball winnings!)
5. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times by Michael Penn and Aimee Mann (It’s actually a Beach Boys song, but it just seems to sum up the way it feels when everything that we do that we know is right just doesn’t work. When he stopped singing surfing and girl oogling songs, Brian Wilson was actually really introspective).
6. Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World by Israel kamakawiwo'ole (who would have thought that a ukulele a Hawaiian guy going all emotional over songs a half century old could express hope perfectly? Well, that and snorkeling amongst the denizens of island paradises?!!)
7. I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash (“the rain has gone… gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day.” And it really is, Pookie Bear.)
8. Wasted on the Way by Crosby Stills and Nash (“There’s so much time to make up everywhere we turn, time we have wasted on the way.” And there will be… and it will be good when the time comes. I promise.)
9. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO (“Sun is shinin' in the sky There ain't a cloud in sight It's stopped rainin' ev'rybody's in a play And don't you know It's a beautiful new day hey, hey” One can’t forget that Jeff Lynne of ELO was a Wilbury with George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan. How could a Wilbury not sing a song so optimistic and cheerful?)
10. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (If ever there was an anthem to get through adversity, it was that of Sylvester Stallone getting ready to pummel the tar out of Mr. T, who I must say would still make a great GPS voice).
11. I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles by the Proclaimers (Would still be a great song, but it seems to represent How I Met Your Mother, which has become a part of the last several months of our lives).
12. Temptation by New Order (I love this song, but I would love it more if they did it in a slowed down acoustic version – kind of like the charcoal commercial where they play the Human League’s “Keep Feeling Fascination” – “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before.”)
13. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (“I know you get me so I let my walls come down.” I don’t care how pop this song is because it’s actually radio music at its best. There’s something really vulnerable about the first lines of the song before it turns into repetitious dance music, and if you asked me, it would play well with acoustic guitars and a piano).
14. Hey Soul Sister by Train (Of all of the music for middle aged people (35-55), there’s something fun and nostalgic (the 80s references) about this, and frankly, I don’t want to miss a single thing that you do either).
15. When You’re Smiling by Frank Sinatra (this was playing at Longwood Gardens the last time that we went. The throwback 1920s group was jamming while we were eating ice cream, and frankly, this said, “this is what America and life is supposed to be.” I think you’ll agree).
16. Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest (Ok, it’s not Van Morrison, but it could be and it works really well for feeling happy and drinking iced tea or just driving down the highway and feeling good about the world)
17. Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer (Well, it is! And I will always love you and want to hold you close and just adore all that you are)
18. Moondance by Van Morrison (It’s always a marvelous night for a moon dance. Here’s to the late summer and autumn giving us time to get away and just stare at the stars and feel young and in love).
19. Broken by Jack Johnson (This was playing when we went to the beach in Delaware. It just makes me realize how much more whole and good I can be because of what your love does for me – even in the midst of feeling the world around me. “Without you I was broken, but I’d rather be broke down with you by my side.”)
20. One Love / People Get Ready by Bob Marley (they advertise Jamaica with this song. I think it’s a really good ending to the midpoint of these CDs and I really want to go be mellow in Jamaica with you! “Let’s get together and feel all right.”)
Disc 2
1. Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O’ Connor (while it may be a break up song, it’s still A) a song that was written by Prince, and that’s something good, and B) it reminds me of you singing eighties songs. And no matter what, I’ll always look forward to you being back by my side – no matter where we might be apart from one another).
2. Baby I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton (“I want to be with you night and day.” More mellow summer goodness that reflects what marriage is and should be about)
3. I’m Yours by Jason Mraz (Feel good summer stuff with a happy island adventure video to match. I’m ready for that kind of vacation.)
4. Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Callet (“Lucky I’m in love with my best friend.” Nuff said.)
5. Lashes by Rhett Miller (“I could live on your love and nothing else if I had to.” For a guy who once sang angry cow punk, he sings a lot of songs about love, too.)
6. Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello (I always thought this was a clever song, and being an expressive English teacher guy, I like the idea of how life can be a story or a movie. In that, I look forward to getting to the part where we’re sitting mellow on the beach at the end of the movie that we’re in (of course, it would be an 8 part series!))
7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman (Like Up, Toy Story 3 says everything that matters about life, and this song is just really simple, and despite its playfulness, it reflects all the good things that life and marriage should be).
8. Your Love is the Place Where I Come From (There is something soaring and beautiful in the guitars as the lyrics melt into the mix and just carry you away to the glory of love and togetherness in spite of all things. “I disappear when you’re not here in my life”).
9. Desert Rose by Sting (If I think of an expression of you, I think of this song. Perhaps it’s the fact that you listened to it for an entire trip to Ohio.)
10. Pink Moon by Nick Drake (This song mellows you out, so I put it on here for you.)
11. In My Life by The Beatles (Ok, so it’s one of those overplayed video montage of life songs, but isn’t that what these lyrics are trying to do as they take us from the moments of frustration that should just drift away into the hope and optimism of all the things that are to come?)
12. Waste by Phish (All of the things that don’t need to be expressed perfectly into the poeticness of love that comes from the lyrics “come waste your time with me.” In that, it’s never wasted time being with the woman that I love more than anything in the world.)
13. Changes by David Bowie (When I was young, this was one of the first hip songs that I ever got into. Now that I’m old, I think it reflects so much of the transitions that life has given to me.)
14. I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack (This was playing when we drove home from West Virginia. I always liked it and felt that she was a much better country singer than 99% of what’s out there as they croon with southern twang while not being that lyrically different from the bubble gum pop that is on the radio. Maybe this is a little adult contemporary or graduation song oriented, but it still resonates clearly with its hopeful message.)
15. Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid Soundtrack (Ok, I’ve been looking at Travel Channel countdowns and Sandals ads way too long now!)
16. May This Be Love by Jimi Hendrix (Is there any reason other than the imagery of waterfalls and the lyrics that spill out from “nothing can harm me at all. My worries seem so very small” that say that this has to be on a CD compilation of love and all the good things that will come?)
17. Stars Fell on Alabama by Jimmy Buffett (A great song of summer love and the feeling of sitting in a hot tub watching life go by. I want to be sitting in a hot tub watching life go by under the stars – preferably not in Alabama, but anywhere romantic and with you will do!)
18. I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys (Zooey Deschanel does a version of this, too, but I think the Beach Boys version is better, so I put it on here to drift through a sense of the power of music and summer and positive love all rolled together into one).
19. Ants Marching by Dave Matthews (Every time that we think that life and work and the rat race seems to matter, all we need to do is listen to this song – Dave Matthew’s best song done live – and know that nothing matters except the good things in life and pulling ourselves towards them and never losing track of each other amidst all of the white noise like the people in the song have done – time to stay under the table and just dream and bathe in the positive of life.)
20. The Joker by Steve Miller (I really love your peaches and will always want to shake your tree. I’m just saying.)
Thank you for 3 years and 8½ months of living, laughing, and loving. You are my bestest bestest.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spring 2011 Happy Spring CD Discs

The Happy Summer CD is a concept that I have embraced for quite some time. In the beginning, it would be the kind of thing that would come about because of a lot of songs that were played over and over and that would make me happy while listening to them (1995). Not all of those songs were necessarily happy. They represented a time that I would refer to as the best and worst of times even while living through it. In hindsight, there are great memorable images and memories from my time in England, but leaving the UK was the event that made all things in my current life and the present life of the British gal that I was with possible. To this end, we're now happily married - just not to each other, and our lives have become many things for what we experienced together. I'm too American to ever go back to England and be expatriated again, but for what I had over there, it's made me the American that I am today.
Other times, the Happy Summer CD would be a mellow mix of songs that represented all of that vibe of the summer of love (or how a year that existed before I was born or came of age) sounded as a reincarnated memory of a time that never really was (1996). This year's mix was a lot of the same bands over and over, but it's still very listenable - even if it violates a lot of the rules of a traditional mix CD (such as no more than 2 songs by one artist - and they're on different sides of the mix - unless they run into one another).
And still other times, the summer mixes were a representative sample of music that would allow for road trips to function in sheer driving joy. (1998). The opening salvo of Hendrix > Phish > Moe > Weezer > Bare Naked Ladies is still an awesome memory of a 22-hour drive to Biloxi looking at the sides of the road and embracing a beautiful America in a most perfect expression that Walt Whitman himself would have felt honored by. It's also images from a coast to coast journey that was remembered and retried at other times, and for that, the music on the disc bring back a lot of memories - even if they're sung by Big Punisher (who needed to be weighed on a truck scale when he died - though by his own admission he had a lot of sex).
Not all Happy Summer collections turn out well. In 2002, there was the first happy summer CD, but it pretty much sucked, and I can't remember too much that's on there at all, and so I won't even mention anything that's on it. I still have it tucked away somewhere, but frankly, it's not like I'm longing to listen to it again.
Most of the music from that summer was a depressing haze of acoustic whine with a lot of alternative country and grunge stuff thrown in. I can't think that celebrated summer very much, so... Rather, it represented a stupid relationship that I carried on way too long (the first few weeks should have been enough, but as some relationships go, this went on about a year too long). Isn't hindsight and songs that brought giddy memories of the few good times and excessive memories of the mopey times things to learn from and then forget how you came to them forever?
To sum it up, Son Volt, Wilco, The Drive By Truckers, and Silver Jews were the best things that I was listening to in that summer of blah. When I finally went on my cross country trip, I had tons of acoustic / indie sadness on mp3, and there actually came a point where I wanted to throw everything out of the window and start fresh - instead of constantly carrying around the ghosts of a failed relationship, some doomed friendships, and a first year of teaching that wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be. I was looking to heal from all of this via the road, the national parks of America, and a lot of music. There were a few brief minutes of something with images like the Milky Way over Mesa Verde, but the ghosts of America's archaeological park make the ghosts of life that much really. In the end, nothing worked until I finally got home and  heard Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" as the final song of the trip when I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex.
If you haven't heard it, it's a beautiful song.
The next year, there seemed to be more ground rules of what would be on the disc and less regurgitations of past happy summer stuff. For that same reason, there was happy summer driving music in 1999, but all things considered, there is no official tape until the next year's road trip. That's the good thing about CD mixes (over tapes); it's easier to record them in a quicker amount of time. You can get rid of what doesn't work and stick with what does. Thus, the later CDs have embraced multiple generations of the same disc or they have gotten longer to compensate for this rule. A tape took forever to make, and sometimes, there just wasn't enough hours in a day to redo a tape the way that it should be. It became a painting that didn't turn out, and it filled a tape case in hopes that it could be rediscovered years later and made into some nostalgic piece of something better.
Now, when I make mixes they're more diverse. Prior to meeting my wife, I listened to very little pop music. Sure, some of what I listened to got popular, but it usually came to me via someone else or it came to be because things that I listened to finally arrived as something that the world as a whole could digest. Over time, things have changed. In 1995, I embraced mainstream grunge (Pearl Jam) and classic rock while making peace with the Grateful Dead. In 1996, I embraced a whole host of sixties stuff, which led into coming back to America and doing Phish concerts until 1999/2000. Somewhere around the time I came back, I morphed into a lot of alternative country and went back for a lot of indie rock stuff around 2001. Now, my tastes are geared towards all those things, but as I travel with my wife, I do listen to pop and hip hop. As my life is consumed by teaching, I also tend to listen to a fair bit of mellow fifties, sixties, and seventies stuff to keep me upbeat and positive. This is in as much a part of listening to AM radio in England (coming across the channel - Radio Dingol or whatever it was - that's what it sounded like) as remembering a childhood that I have pieced together from memories (I'm obviously too old to remember many things from that far ago - just generalizations of what happened).
This year, there are 4 discs, and it's not a summer thing. It's a spring thing. I've been doing this since 2009. I couldn't wait for the happy summer CD (still just 1 disc long), and well...
The first disc is the seventies classic rock disc. The second disc is the fun CDs brought together and made better with new songs and the extraction of the Jackson 5. That's a good thing. The third disc is the mellow disc that doesn't necessarily work for driving since it takes things down about 30 notches from the energy of disc 2 (even with the show tunes ending). The 4th disc is the one I listen to the most because it features a lot of stuff that my wife likes (she just doesn't get James Brown, which is sad because I do and I would play him a lot more if she could handle songs that go that long).  Usually, we don't make it into the newer indie rock. It's the pop and the new wave that works for her. She loves her eighties music, and I can enjoy some of it, too. I tried to put some of that on here on an earlier version, and it just didn't work (Hall and Oates "Kiss Is on My List," Prince "Delirious," and Madonna "True Blue"), so they were removed for things that did work.
On my own, I listen to a lot of disc 2. The Spencer Davis Group does perhaps the best song of the late sixties ("Gimme Some Lovin") although Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" could be equally good on a lot of days (as could the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine." I'm sure that if I ever heard Olivia Newton John covering "Gimme Some Lovin," I'd feel as betrayed as the Glee cast doing Jay Z's Empire State of Mind (and let it be known that I'm not that much of a musical snob - I do watch Glee and enjoy some of their versions).
The feeling that permeates much of this disc... points like the Bar Kays doing "Soul Finger" and Midnight Train to Georgia" (what is a "soul finger" or a "pip" for that matter)... it's a place in America that we all look forward to going back to. It's parties, picnics, sun, and fun. It's driving down the highway with everyone singing along... and everyone is looking to "get on the good foot."
That's the point of the spring CDs. Sure, there will be a true summer CD later. For now, let's let spring carry into summer as the longest day of the year goes and I await going home to some Yuengling and a seat in the Siesta Zone.

Disc 1
1. Neil Young - Love and Only Love
2. Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced
3. Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
4. Faces - Stay with Me
5. Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman
6. Billy Joel - Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
7. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Call Me the Breeze
8. Charlie Daniels - Uneasy Rider
9. Bruce Springsteen - I'm Going Down
10. Dave Matthews Band - Crash into Me
11. Queen - You're My Best Friend
12. James Taylor - Sweet Baby James
13. Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back
14. Cat Stevens - Another Saturday Night
15. Simon and Garfunkel - Mrs. Robinson
16. Beatles - Help
17. John Cougar Mellencamp - Pink Houses
18. Kansas - Dust in the Wind
Disc 2
1. Sam and Dave - Hold on I'm Coming
2. Spencer Davis Group - Gimme Some Lovin'
3. The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine
4. Chicago - Saturday in the Park
5. Jimmy Buffett - Margaritaville (live)
6. Paul Simon and Willie Nelson - Graceland (live)
7. Steve Miller Band - The Joker
8. Sly and the Family Stone - Everyday People
9. Eddie Floyd - Knock on Wood
10. The Staple Sisters - I'll Take You There
11. Jean Wilson - Mr. Big Stuff
12. Otis Redding - Respect
13. The Bar Kays - Soul Finger
14. James Brown - The Good Foot
15. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - You and Me and the Bottle Makes 3
16. 3 Dog Night - Joy to the World
17. Nancy Sinatra - These Boots are Made for Walking
18. Gladys Knight and the Pips - Midnight Train to Georgia
19. The Rat Pack - When You're Smiling / The Lady is a Tramp (live)
20. Little Mermaid - Under the Sea
21. Zooey Deschanel - Fabric of Our Lives
22. Tony Bennett and KD Lang - Dream a Little Dream of Me
23. Les Miz Cast - Master of the House

Disc 3
1. Grateful Dead - Uncle John's Band
2. Richie Havens - Here Comes the Sun
3. Randy Newman - You've Got a Friend in Me
4. 5 Stairsteps - Ooh Child
5. Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me
6. Jack Johnson - Bubble Toes
7. Rolling Stones - Emotional Rescue
8. The Who - Magic Bus
9. The Doors - Love Her Madly
10. Crosby, Stills, and Nash - Marakesh Express
11. Beach Boys - Don't Worry Baby
12. Plain White Ts - Rhythm of Love
13. Michael Frenti - Say Hey I Love You
14. Madness - It Must Be Love
15. Dixie Chicks - Landslide
16. Pink Floyd - Summer of 68
17. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
18. Golden Smog - Cure for This
19. Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait
20.  Drive By Truckers - Everybody Needs Love
21. Otis Redding - Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Disc 4
1. Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song
2. Jessie J - Price Tag
3. Katy Perry - Teenage Dream
4. Black Eyed Peas - Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night
5. Prince - 1999
6. The Trammps - Disco Inferno
7. MGMT - Flash Delirium
8. Elvis Costello - Pump It Up
9. Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Impression That I Get
10. New Order - Run
11. Electronic - Getting Away with It
12. Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart in Your Heartbreak
13. Vampire Weekend - Horchata
14. Monsters of Folk - Gotta Lot of Losing
15. Police - Can't Stand Losing You
16. Girl Talk - Smash Your Head
17. Surfer Blood - Catholic Pagans
18. The Walkmen - Angela Surf City
19. The Baseball Project - Don't Call Them Twinkies
20. Camper Van Beethoven - Eye of Fatima 1+2
21. Best Coast - When I'm With You
22. Phish - Lengthwise

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Younger Yesterday

There are memories in music that we all hold dear and drift off into. I sit currently listening to Radiohead's "How to Disappear Completely" (off of Kid A, an album I have only recently been able to get all the way through and still enjoy), and I think about all of the moments and feelings in life. There is something in music that takes us to these places, to the people, and to these events.

I'm not here
This isn't happening
I'm not here, I'm not here
In a little while
I'll be gone
The moment's already passed
Yeah, it's gone

Sitting, waiting, wondering... what brings us to these memories. With Radiohead, it's all about alienation and loneliness, but with the Polyphonic Spree, it's all of the opposite things - even in the darker songs ("It's the Sun"). When I think of the happiness, I think of one of the first songs I ever gave to my wife. And even if she didn't appreciate the long flowing robes and the choruses and Tim Delaughter's voice, there is something beautiful in the lines of "Younger Yesterday," which makes me feel good about life, and that's what I'm focusing on as I write this now (even if I'm listening to words that are so far from it):
Cause together we can make it great
Now we know, were beautiful we've always wondered
No we know, together were alright
Now we know, were beautiful we've always wondered
Now, we know, with everyday, everyday is a fight
You will make it right
You were misunderstood
The world wants
You to make it right
We were misunderstood
The world wants love

This concert review  included after this was originally written in 2007 after the Polyphonic Spree Show at the Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia.

Before the finale of Happy Birthday to some lucky gal getting serenaded and somewhere during the eternally beautiful encore, Tim Delaughter said it best - We needed this. It was a sentiment that he repeated over and over during the night, and somehow, he and his 20+ bandmates also realized that something special was going on here.
In the wait for the show to go on, I moved back towards the soundboard just to be out of the crowd. The show moved slowly through a song I didn't recognize and then went into John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" with words flashed on a red sheet that blocked the instruments from being seen by the audience.
When the song finished, a long artsy solo came on as Delaughter cut through the curtain to reveal the band. I was standing in the back wondering what the hell was going on, vaguely aware that the Polyphonic Spree has an incredible live reputation, but at the same time, I've been jaded by standard fare concerts and live music from bands that do it all the same way in a manner that has been done before.
Hell, it's been 40 years of rocking the house if VH1's Monterey Music Festival video is to be believed.
But then they finished the solo and the lights went on to reveal the band, and WOW!!!
They burst into The Fragile Army's energetic turn and then did both parts of "Hangin' Around the Day." By the time "Hangin' Around the Day" was in motion, I was up front jumping and singing along. In that, I apologize to those people that had to hear my out of tune voice, but alas, it's been a long time since I've had this incredible feeling inside me from seeing a concert. Something like that feeling when you're falling in love or watching a certain home run in 1998 or being in the presence of natural beauty, the movements of Delaughter and the 7 beautiful women behind him belting out harmonies and dancing and moving as the 2 drummers, guitarists, bassists, harp player, brass section, flute player, pianists and string players move in time and feel the vibe of summer's joy served up eternally for all to see forever, and it is (in the words of a former English teacher of mine) won-der-ful!!
At many shows, the fans are left to lose classics in favor of the new album of sub-standard fare, but here, the only song missing was "Soldier Girl." However, for at least a 20 minute version of "When the Fool Becomes a King" segueing into "Together We're Heavy" (off the disc of the same name) complete with solos AND a 5 minute freeze where the band held still and Delaughter went around trying to spook them or make them play their instruments as if he was the puppet master was intense.
Of the new album, the best tracks were "Running Away" and "Younger Yesterday," which is truly the happy track of the summer, which featured the lyrics "Now you know, you're beautful, you always were!!" as it fills up your ears and heart with its joyous melody.
The whole new album features shorter songs that are way more upbeat, but still hold true to the Polyphonic Spree's style of deviating and moving all over the place. Some songs are more female fronted, but no matter what they do, it just comes out amazingly.
And just as Delaughter said that they needed this, so did I. Not just to get over the hump of a frustrating week or a drought of great live shows (I've seen very good - but since 1992, I haven't seen one this good). The signing on the new CD at the end was sweet, but it was more about the vibe of the show.
Sometimes, we all just need that happiness.
And so, for the hundreds of shows I've seen in the last 25 years, the new top 5 is this:
1. Fugazi at the Norwich Waterfront 1992: the show rocks, I sit on the stage, and we meet the band afterwards, but my friend's camera screws up and no pictures exist.
2. Nine Inch Nails at the London Marquee 1991: Incredible Pretty Hate Machine gig that ends with the destruction of the set.
3. Ramones at the Silo 1989: last show before the Air Force. All my friends are there and everyone is blown away by the sound between the 1,2,3,4's!!!!
4. Lemonheads at the Norwich Waterfront: Made better for 2 reason A) Evan Dando became a stoner loser that screws up all of his shows and B) because I went to see them on Lovey, but had to catch a train back before the band hit the stage. But then again, let's not forget, this is where I met Evan and got my picture with his goofy ass.
and replacing Ben Folds Five at the Electric Factory in Philly 1997 (with its "kick ass" jam and so many great songs from those 2 amazing albums that started off Ben Folds Five's career), Polyphonic Spree at the Theater of Living Arts in Philly June 2007.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Waiting Room

When I was in 12th grade, I discovered Minor Threat. There's pretty much a shelf-life on hardcore bands that ends at about the same time that the pre-frontal cortex is fully formed (21-25) or when one starts paying his / her own bills and doesn't live at home with his parents. This rule can be completely neglected if one is 53 years old today (happy birthday, Jello!) and is pretty much angry at everything... spurning making good money on it to keep their punk rock cool by not allowing his bandmates to sell "Holiday in Cambodia" to Levi's.
That said, if a sound financial plan and vacations are in the cards, uh... the above rule is enforced thoroughly.
I grew up with a mix of heavy metal in junior high school and pop / new wave prior to that. I don't want to turn this into songs that changed me because a few of them (David Bowie's "Changes" and The Smiths "There Is a Light That Will Never Go Out") deserve entries all their own, but there were songs that changed me, and somewhere in 10th grade, there was a kid named Nate who turned me on to punk rock. My friend and next door neighbor Tom knew him, and he was willing to record his vinyl and tapes if we got him tapes, so I did, and I got a bunch of Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, and other bands I can't quite remember (forgettable crap like the Surf Punks) as well as a list of "cool" bands before he moved to a different state.
Over time, I would buy to experience (it's not like going on Youtube or Myspace to hear something now), and there was some good stuff, and there was some not so good stuff. For example, my cousin Michelle had a tape by the Exploited (Punk's Not Dead), and she lent it to me. It was OK. Frankly, it was better if you
hadn't heard much punk music. And I'm not talking about good punk stuff like The Ramones. I'm talking about loud and annoying British mohawk sporting 1970s leftover bands still trying to perform in the 1980s while doing too much bad needle drugs and taking too much dole money. Well, unfortunately, I got stuck buying that tape because somehow Tom lost the case, and I ended up having to buy a new tape of it (not exactly easy to do at Mall stores), which left me stuck with the original tape and short of $10 (and you wonder why Napster was so revolutionary for those of us who felt that the music industry owed us thousands of dollars for all of the crap that we bought just to try it since it wasn't on commercial radio at the time - thank God for used CD shops at the time that were at least willing to trade our crap for better crap).
And there were some good bands then. Minor Threat was one of them. A lot of the DC bands on Dischord were really good, and they seemed to stand the test of time better than some of the other stuff (especially the New York stuff that seemed to want to be metal or skinheads). Alternative Tentacles offered some great non-Dead Kennedys choices as well (Alice Donut and Nomeansno), but it's hard to listen to them the same way as I did when I wasn't a quarter of a century old (though I will say, I can still listen to them more than a lot of other stuff that was SOOO... cool back then).
There was some good stuff on SST as well; however, it's not like anyone over the age of 25 can listen to Black Flag or Bad Brains for longer than a couple of songs either (if that long). Nevertheless, at 16, I was captivated by the guy at the mall who looked so cool with his Black Flag jacket. He wore Misfits shirts, so I discovered them, too, and let me tell you (in another column at length), they're still awesome (at almost age 40).
Some bands moved on and became mature than straight up noise and angst-filled short "fuck the world" songs. Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr were some of the best, and I can elaborate on them in other columns, too (and I will).
But Minor Threat and their 1-2 minute songs were anthematic... at least at the time.
And they did it with a lot of stuff that related to why high school life sucked so much (instead of real world politics that I thought I understood better than I did).
Now... not so much. The same is true with other good Dischord hardcore stuff like Dag Nasty. Even some of the Ian Mackaye side projects (Egg Hunt and Pailhead) have lasted, but other stuff (Embrace) is simply nostlagic pre-emo / straight edge history of a time long since forgotten in the course of daily life (though thinking about them here makes them come alive again).
But Fugazi... and that first 7 Songs vinyl release... and we all had the 2nd one for Margin Walker, too. They were liberating forces of life in 1989. Blueprint was equally fantastic in 1990, and by the time Steady Diet of Nothing came out prior to that tour in 1992 where my friends and I met them and took a million pictures (none of which came out - damn you digital age for not being here soon enough and damn you Tony for not loading or removing the film correctly!), they were the greatest. However, by 1993, In on the Killtaker was good, but it wasn't the same as the live versions of the songs or the older discs. The later albums like Red Medicine and The Argument didn't match the intensity of a full on band's assault and timing with lyrical and musical masterpieces like the ones that comprised those first 13 songs. Those 13... they were and still are the greatest example of what the days of hardcore music could mean. Twenty two years later, they're still awesome as I listen to the digital versions from my computer's speakers.
And "Waiting Room" can be mixed with Destiny's Child and Rihanna and still be great, but when it's by itself, it's still one of the best of all time, which is a lot more than I can say for anything that the Butthole Surfers ever did, but you didn't need me to tell you that.
Or did you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paris and Rome

The Cranes always had that little girl lost in the woods voice from their British waif / Goth wannabe singer Alison Shaw, and it really worked from the get go (her brother was in the band, too, but who cares - he was a dude, and nobody pays to see the guys in a female fronted band). Had she walked into the orange walled Listening Booth that I worked in post high school, she would have surely been a "dead girl," and despite the descriptions listed above, at 19/20, she was the hopeful dream woman. At 39/40, she would just try my patience way too much. But at the time, she was my Kim Gordon, my Bjork, my Kat from Babes in Toyland, or any other indie princess that could be thrust out there.
As for the Cranes, sure, the early stuff (Self non Self) was very poorly produced, and while some bands can sound over-produced, let's be honest: If you're going to record an album, it has to sound like it wasn't done in a wind tunnel or a closet (no matter how much John Peel thought you were the bomb). Sound needs room to breathe and come alive. However, for their first REAL single, a term I use as in the line of demarcation for where I picked up with the Cranes, I have to say that "Tomorrow's Tears" off of Wings of Joy was fantastic. The review in the NME / Melody Maker said kill for a copy, so I went out and got the disc, and yeah... I was hooked, so hooked that I made a pair of friends go to see them in London. It was a great show, but unfortunately, that was the same night that Nirvana played in London, and I was never forgiven. I'm sure that I deserved not to be forgiven, but I had seen Nirvana (and it was good), and my friends didn't (nyah nyah nyah!!!). For the life of me, even looking back on hearing that one song I really liked, it wasn't live music or at least music to spend time with in a live paying venue. It was mopey bedroom music or alterna boy love music or whatever it was, but it wasn't a live show to be reckoned with (the same can be said of Dead Can Dance when I saw them a few years later).
The disc itself didn't have much shelf life. I still have songs from it, but it's not something that I listen to all the time. Recently, I've been listening to their next proper disc Forever, which is really good, and it's a nice touch when I'm working on stuff for school on my computer and trying to drift into solace. I can't say that I'll be loading it into my mp3 player for the car since that DEFINITELY won't happen, but yeah... it's been getting some rotation, which has been making me want to go back and get the entire disc of Loved.
In looking at the aforementioned Forever, there was "Everywhere," "Cloudless," "Jewel," and "Adrift," and  they were big and beautiful and dark and eerie and driven and sweeping with that aforementioned sense of little girl lost in the world at its ultimate perfection and the simple piano of "Tomorrow's Tears" sounded so simple and unrealized into what the band could be if they ever got out of Southampton (if it's the last thing they ever do), and thisdisc, Forever, was the moment of all things great and possible, and there was nowhere else for them to go.
But then there was "Paris and Rome."
And the sound was so hauntingly wonderful and sweeping into indie rock's "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" as she sang into a kicked in purpose with its totality."Shining Road" was good too, but it wasn't as good, and frankly, it's been so long since I listened to the rest of the disc and thought anything more of it other than the fact that the cover is actually a Degas painting (at 23, who knew?).
Does it matter what she was singing? Like Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, there was a sense that she could be making up sounds and still making beautiful music. Sure, there were the points where it was clear and real what was being said by Liz (I suddenly have a hankering for This Mortal Coil's version of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" at this very instance: Did I dream you dreamed about me...), but did it really matter? Who cares what a "sugar hiccup" is? It was just a moment in time to drift back and remember and feel so 1980s / 1990s - even if one looks at her now in that video for "Song to the Siren" and thinks... that's a bad haircut - even for that time.
Does it matter that "Paris and Rome" is lyrically far less than the great American male poet Ezra Pound's "River Merchant's Wife," which is one of the most incredible poems ever?
For in Pound, there is a sense of that realization of love and forever that comes with the lines:
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.

But for the Cranes, there is simply a sense of hopeful yearning... a remembering of all things that were good. Both lovers are separated from their loved ones. Both have a desire for the destination and a hope that they will get to it.
And there is hope... if nothing else there is a sense of purpose and promise.
So we go back to Annie, and we sense the feelings of Alison Shaw as we hear:
Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!
When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow

Is it really so different for mid 1990s quasi goth / alternative bliss / dream pop other than the lyrics, which know that there is nobody coming back? Couldn't Pound have planted a sense of doom for his narrator with a twist that her lover was never going to come back to her (killed in battle, abducted by aliens, tempted by a woman on the other side of the river)? Sure, Annie was going to end up with a home and Daddy Warbucks (this is Broadway), but might that have not happened at all? Isn't there a plot twist that could make it NOT SO?
And what will happen to me, to you, to any of us when this day ends?
Do we keep our hopes up high? Do we subscribe to the painful reality of all things that could happen and confront the brutal truths of the Stockdale Paradox and just say to ourselves that nothing good is ever guaranteed to happen, so why not assume the worst and it can only get better while we remain optimistic to our own powers of immediate control. But does that mean that we should accept our lonely, miserible existential void and live as if nothing is to happen, for who knows? That may be the truth... or maybe not.
So how do we find a new meaning beyond the lyrics and hope for a better tomorrow in spite of all things? If we can't count on the lyrics of our songs to do it for us, can we just ascribe them hope and drift into the things that we want to hear?
In Paris and in Rome
And in places far from home
From the mountains to the sea
To wherever the road may lead
I wonder where you'll go
Will the sun shine as you go?
There's all the World, you know
Just beyond the things we know
Don't be lonely now
If you can try to be brave
Maybe the sun will come back
To wash your tears away

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tomorrow Never Knows

If the Beatles are the most important act in musical history, and one could argue that Bob Dylan has equal importance for offending the sense of the Puritanical folkies by "plugging in" and for "turning the Beatles on" to all things recreational and many things literary / music, then what better place to begin than with them?
For it was that in 1996, I heard the song "Tomorrow Never Knows" for the first time. I was turned on to the CD Revolver by Andrew, a British guy that I was friends with when I was stationed in the United Kingdom during the Air Force and for the time that I had lived in the country after I got out of the military. In a sense, it feels like a million years ago, but in fact, it was only 15 calendar cycles ago. Prior to Andrew, I had never read Catch 22 (he bought me a copy), Slaughterhouse 5, and The Plague (he had me borrow copies of both of them, but I never read them until I returned to America). All 3 of those literary choices were dynamite in my life when I opened them and absorbed them, and they surely did much to make me want to become an English teacher (in the same way that the poetry of e.e. cummings, an experience introduced to me by a gal from my past, did). But alas... that's another entry.
Andrew and I would go back and forth on a lot of different musical choices, both of us being students of Melody Maker and the NME, and we would (and we still do) send each other music to listen to. Other than his interest in Blur's "This is a Low," I don't know if I can say that I still have a lasting appreciation for anything he introduced me to other than the Beatles' Revolver. My interest in music was so intense that I had heard of most of what he did, or we listened to all new forms of it at the same places - either an upstairs attic room at a Bury St. Edmunds pub called the Grapes with a DJ and the same 10-15 people every week or Viennas, the original club that the DJ at the Grapes started out at before he lacked "fan support." At the time, Andrew listened to the Jesus and Mary Chain and Mudhoney, as well as much of the Britpop and Sub Pop stuff that was popular at the time. We all did. That was 1994-1996. It was a great time to be alive and into music - even if much of what was popular was the derivatives of the Grunge scene of 1992 (Oh, how great it was to know that I saw Nirvana before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a single). Now, he listens to early 1970s stuff like the Stooges or more modern stuff like The White Stripes mixed with Brit Pop that I'm too far away from geographically in much the same way he is lifetimes away from the Grateful Dead, who I tried to introduce him to in 1996 (I can still remember him asking me if my parents listened to the music; thus, I would have a disclaimer for listening to such mellow "crap").
But when I think of the Beatles, and I listen to that disc (Revolver), I think of where it is in the Beatles canon. There is Rubber Soul, and there are some great things on that disc. "Taxman," the ultimate guide to libertarian politics delivered via musical beat kicks off the show, and then we go straight into "Eleanor Rigby," which is one of the monumental moments in pop music. The introspective darkness that mixes with pop music in such a way (later echoed in "She Said, She Said") shows what the Beatles could do and would do as an extension of where they had already been ("Nowhere Man").
And Rubber Soul had some really great and lasting moments ("In My Life" being the soundtrack to every memory show before Green Day released "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." "If I Needed Someone" + "Drive My Car" were the other standouts - at least for me). But Revolver was moving miles away from where they had been. There was no longer an option to play some of the music live because their sound was more advanced than the live technology. The lovable Muppets that had released "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" were long since gone. Of course, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was still on the other side of the Beach Boys' "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," and the psychedelic 1960s were ready just about ready to kick in in full swing with Pet Sounds leading the charge.
To think that this was long before the effects of the Beatles' greatness were considered to be so everyday with how modern bands plagiarize them left and right, though it still sounds awesome in bands like Oasis.
To think as well that everyone had a Beatle that expressed them (mine was George) except for the Elvis people (I never really got him though I could appreciate some of his songs).
There was the feud with the Rolling Stones fans, but really, the Stones were great in their own right... though not as great as the Beatles. They were a skilled cover band that found originality in heroin at just the right time (not that I'm encouraging drug use because I'm not, but it sure seems to do wonders for artistic ability), and then, they knocked out some really awesome songs like "Dead Flowers," "Sway," "Gimme Shelter," "Monkey Man," "Sympathy for the Devil," and pretty much every single Martin Scorcese soundtrack that has been made since then.
And it's not that Revolver is perfect or better than every other disc ever. It's not. It's not even the Beatles best disc (but I couldn't tell you what is since they're all so unique and I don't want to say the best is a greatest hits album, but the Blue CD is the one I would choose over all others - either that, or an 80 minute burned CD). Then again, Let It Bleed isn't the best album ever - though it's my favorite Rolling Stones disc. Both of them suffered from that song that is played so damn much that it's not worth listening to more than once a year or so (if at all). The Beatles had "Yellow Submarine." The Stones had "You Can't Always Get What You Want." For the Stones, this isn't the fault of their creativity since the aforementioned tune was great until it was overplayed, and for the Beatles, the drugs just took over and got too out there for its own good in some stupid kid's song for adults kind of way.Well, that and how stupid writing a song about drugs to make adults seem like idiot kids (when they wink knowingly at the references that the "squares don't catch") can be.
But in the end, most of what the Beatles did is far better than what anyone else does. However, for the fact that only one of their songs is on the top 100 of all time, it's more about the ground rules that I have set up than the quality of the music. For this, it becomes important to note
1. A band can only have one contribution.
2. A singer can perform with multiple bands or solo and with a band.
3. A song must be from a time before this calendar year to make sure that it has a lasting effect on music as a whole.
4. A song can be from any genre or gender. In fact, the Top 100 is pretty diverse to all forms of music except jazz, opera, and classical. Oh, there are no prison work songs either.
5. This list is alphabetized - it was hard enough to get it down to 100 without putting them in order.
6. Songs that take on a meaning from my life are placed in The Soundtrack to My Life section. If I can't divide the song being in my wedding from rocking out to it on the CD player... it's not in the top 100. 
7. Other great songs by the same artist will be placed in the other great songs section. That is an ongoing project (as is the Soundtrack of My Life).
8. I have tried to include original versions of all songs on the list. You can listen to 99 of the songs on the chart at You Tube and 1 at Last FM. I should probably find a way to get the last 1 in musical form, but alas.
For The Beatles, the choice for the top 100 was "Dead Prudence." Is this because it was better than "Hey Bulldog" or "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "All You Need Is Love?" Probably not. In all honesty, it's more because the "Abbey Road Medley" (Because to Her Majesty) is actually 10 snippets long - even if it plays as a song, and if you asked me honestly, that's my favorite Beatles contribution of all time (unfortunately, it was the last contribution they made to music except as solo performers).
So why begin with "Tomorrow Never Knows" instead of "Dead Prudence?"
Something about the precipice that I sit on as my life changes and moves into new places. For that, I'll sweat out a new post every few days for the faithful. It won't be every day like my baseball blog, but it will be, and it will be a good time all of the time.
I hope you enjoy it. I've been meaning to start this for a while, so here it is a homage to my 4 favorite music books - Nick Hornby's Songbook and High Fidelity and Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City and Killing Yourself to Live.
Like "Bon Scott singing: Let there be rock."