Many apologies for lack of input here at Brewster's Millions. Last week just got away from me. I should have lots of posts comng this week. And to start it off I've got a 10 song version of Random Shuffle
“Father and Daughter” – Paul Simon
from soundtrack to The Wild Thornberrys
A lovely latter day Paul Simon pop ditty. It has wonderful cascading guitar part, and a nice bouncy rhythm. Simon is still a master of the pop craft. He can write a brilliant buoyant melody coupled with his artful, poetic lyrics.
It plays like an update to “St Judy’s Comet” both are simple, lovely songs sung which won’t win any literary awards for lyrics, but will surely be sung by countless parents to their countless children.
“Outta Mind (Outta Sight)” – Wilco
from Being There
Being There is the first Wilco album I ever bought. I was a member of BMG’s music club at the time. You know how it goes, you get 8 free CDs at first and have to buy several more over the next year. They ran a blurb about how great Wilco were so I got the sucker then didn’t know what to do with it.
At first listen the songs sounded two weird, the melodies were off and I couldn’t really sing a long to the lyrics. I dug the more countrified songs like “Forget the Flowers” but the distortion and loud guitar noise turned me way off.
Still, periodically I would pull it out and give it another listen. In time I always found the song craft to be really interesting. I’d listen to a disk, think I had misjudged the album, vow to listen to it more and promptly put it aside and forget about it for months.
Eventually I got a copy of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and fell in love with it. Revisiting the Wilco back catalog, of course, brought me back to Being There which I now elevate quite a bit higher than ever.
This is one of my favorite songs from the album, and of the band, truth be told. The album is a two disk set and contains this song twice. In this version it is more acoustic and has a little country twang, on the other disk it becomes more electric, more rock. I’ve always preferred this one, but the other will do in a pinch.
And though I originally thought there were no lyrics to sing along to, this one is full of new favorites worthy of road trip shout outs.
“You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon
Another Simon tune, this time one of his best, with one of the all time classic videos to go along with it. Funny, I grew up watching MTV where my wife never had cable growing up. So I spend my days asking her if she remembers this video or that and her having absolutely no clue.
This one was so simple, just Simon and Chevy Chase sitting in chairs. But Chase is singing the lead vocal with Simon doing the bass line in the chorus. It is so simple, but brilliant in its deadpan delivery.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s backed by a great freaking song. My favorite off of the South Africa inspired Graceland album.
“Friday I’m in Love” – The Cure
Ah, remember when the Cure tried to be happy? It never really worked, but this one song is pure joy. It is a song that doesn’t remind me of a specific time or place, but more of a season of my life.
I was a teenager, thinking I had discovered something new, exciting and different. I had recently discovered “alternative” music and with it, the Cure. This was post Nirvana’s onslaught to the world, where me and about a billion other depressed teenagers found the “alternative” and thought ourselves unique.
Still, much of the music I found was really rather good, and can still move me to this day. This one is shake your booty, bob your head nostalgic happiness.
“Let it Bleed” – The Rolling Stones
from Let it Bleed
If the music wasn’t so danged good, I’d be disgusted by the lyrics. Changing the lyrics from lean to bleed to cream to cum all over me gives the listener that ‘did he just say what I think he said’ feel.
No matter, the rhythmic country honk of the music washes over any disgust in the lyrics.
“Something’s Got A Hold On Me” – Steve Forbert
from Evergreen Boy
I first heard this song listening to the fabulous East Tennessee radio station WDVX while tooling down the road twixt the rolling mountains. There is a lyric that goes
Oklahoma looks alright, when I’m in Montreal
The rest of the song is all about being on the road, and the sense of longing one gets when not in the place you really want to be. This particular lyric hit me pretty hard because the girl I was dating at the time, who did become my wife, was spending the winter in Montreal and I’m originally from Oklahoma. It was as if Forbert was speaking directly to me.
Actually I’m getting my history a little wrong. I wasn’t actually dating her at the time. We had discussed it quite a bit, because initially she was going to go to graduate school in Tennessee instead of Indiana, where she wound up. The lyrics gained new meaning for me because I wondered if I wasn’t something more to her because I was away.
I feared the idea of this dream guy who was hundreds of miles away might not be stronger than the reality of me when we finally were in real physical space together.
It all turned out all right, and this song is still a beauty.
“Heart of Gold” – Tori Amos
from Strange Little Girls
Where I had the Cure to speak to my teenage insecurities, it seems every girl my age had Tori Amos. Her first album Little Earthquakes is still a masterpiece of angst, loneliness and being misunderstood. I pretty much tuned out after that, but she still has legions of fans.
This is from her album where she covers very masculine songs, like Eminem’s tribute to murdering his wife. Most of it is pretty awful, and this song is no exception. I only have it because my wife is still a periodic Tori fan, and she wanted this album to add to her collection.
This sounds nothing like the original Neil Young song. It is all dark synthesizer and squelching from Tori. Where is your piano Tori?
“Lean On Me” – Rockapella
This mp3 says this is Rockapella, but after some internet searching they don’t seem to have ever released a version of this song. My guess is another similar a capella outfit covered it, and some Gnutella kid labeled it Rockapella not knowing any other group it could be.
At any rate, it is a decent, upbeat version of the classic soul ballad. Nobody can beat Bill Withers, but these kids do a decent job. The soul is taken out of the song, but there is a nice dance rhythm that the kids might like.
“Plush” – Stone Temple Pilots
Nobody mimics Eddie Vedder like Scott Weiland. In the wake of Nivana’s flood, seems everybody was trying to be grunge. Stone Temple Pilots are one of the better bands that stole the sound trying to grab a piece of the alternative pie.
There were a lot of Pearl Jam comparisons to STP, and this song certainly shows you why. It sounds like something cut out of Ten, and Weiland does his best Vedder impersonation, even mimicking the earnest facial expressions in the video.
All jokes aside, this song is still a butt kicking rocker. All loud guitars and dense baritone.
“Jack Straw” – Grateful Dead
from Dicks Picks 7
The primary Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, took much of his inspiration from the myth of the old west. Many of his songs sound as if they were lifted right out of the tumble weed. This is one of his best.
It is a story song about two outlaws running from the law. The lyrics tell a concise story in just a few versus. Yet Hunter allows the listener to draw his own conclusions. As the song draws to a close the singer laments
Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down Dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down
Are we to assume Jack Straw killed his friend and took the money for himself? Or has he cut him down from the gallows and given him a final resting place? This is the beauty of Hunter’s lyrics. In a sense we make of the story what we like.
The show is from the late 1980’s and it certainly isn’t the Dead’s finest musical moment. It is performed aptly, with Jerry and Bob Weird trading versus on lead vocals. They don’t expand upon it musically, and thus it clocks in at a paltry 5 minutes and 19 seconds. It is a song worth tracking down in other versions, though. Personally I’d try to find something from 1972.