Dreamin’ Songs – “Cherish” By Madonna

200px-madonna-cherish-5328.jpgI admit it. I liked Madonna when I was a boy. I’ll even admit I had something of a boyhood crush on her. Or maybe it was boyhood lust, I don’t know.

This was pre-married to that Brit who used to make interesting, funny, violent films until he got married to an aging pop star and dropped completely off the map. This was pre- way over the top kinky sex and bad teeth Madonna. This was even mostly pre- pushed the envelope way too far with a big, expensive photo book that everyone talked about but no one bought Madonna.

No this was when Madonna was mostly known for her excellent pop music and her pushing the envelope (but not too far) videos. As a kid I dug her catchy singles, and her risqué (but not too risqué) profile.

“Cherish” came in the latter part of my favorite period Madonna (her next album would be the too kinky, too weird, not very interesting Erotica where I lost all interest.) It is a decent, if not all that memorable little tune, but one I still keep on the dial when I find it on the radio.

It is the video, however, that I remember most. It was shot in beautiful black and white by glamor photographer Herb Ritz. It is essentially Madonna dressed in a low cut, short black dress cavorting in the ocean with a little mer-kid. She looks stunningly gorgeous and appears to be having a great deal of fun. Mainly though I liked the low cut, short dress in the ocean part. Madonna was always good at showing some skin in those days, and as a pubescent boy I was always willing to watch.

I don’t have the slightest idea why this song popped into my head this morning. I don’t believe I have heard it recently and lawd knows I don’t really listen to Madonna anymore, but there it was, and here it is.

Dreamin’ Songs – “World Leader Pretend” By R.E.M.

b000002lfu01lzzzzzzz.jpgOur air conditioner is broken again, and as it was 86 degrees inside our home last night, the wife and I decided to take a trip to some fine air conditioned air in the local Barnes and Nobles. As most of our CDs are now locked inside cardboard boxes we were limited in our music choices for the drive.

We wound up choosing REMs major label debut, Green. I say we, but it should be noted that in fact the decision was really nothing but my wife putting it in the CD player. I make that distinction as I probably would not have chosen that particular album. It turned out to be a good choice, as it is an excellent album. A fact I tend to forget.

I say all this to point out the sheer simplicity of understanding why “World Leader Pretend” floated back into my brain this early morning.

It is what I would call an underrated classic. “Pop Song” and “Stand” tend to get the glory from this album, or even the beautiful “You Are Everything” but “WLP” should get high praise as well.

Musically it is a little mid-tempo number with lilting guitars and a bit of a cadence on the drums. It sounds a little military – well military with background vocals by Mike Mills. The sound fits the lyrics which use a great deal of military language to discuss deeper, personal ideas.

It juxtaposes the concept of governments raising walls and preparing its defenses with the singers own emotional walls and defenses, proclaiming at last that he raised these walls and he will have to be “the one to knock it down.”

That’s a pretty universal sentiment, and one that has struck large chords with me at various times in my own life, when I raised my own defenses.

It is also, I believe, the only time REM have printed a songs lyrics in their liner notes.

Dreamin’ Songs – “Believe It Or Not” By George Costanza

Yeah, that’s right. The song stuck in my head is the Seinfeld spoof where George’s answering machine is him singing the theme song to the Greatest American Hero with lyrics changed to match an I’m-not-home message.

I loved Greatest American Hero growing up. I don’t really remember much about it except for the red suit and how the guy never could really fly. I picked up season 1 from the library but didn’t get past the first episode.

Some things are better left to nostalgia.

The Seinfeld episode is one where George’s girlfriend is taking him to a ball in a beautiful dress and George thinks this is his one chance to make a great entrance. Of course George now thinks the girl is trying to break up with him, so he is avoiding her. We hear the answering machine outgoing message (one too many times) as he is screening his calls.

Not a bad episode, but not a great one either.

I saw that episode not too many days ago and I guess it got recycled in my sleep.

Dreamin’ Songs – “Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)”

You really shouldn’t expect more out of me this week than Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams. My excitement, while not yet peaking, is reaching all new heights. I’ve also been listening to him pretty much non-stop for the last week, which explains why he is serving up Dreamin’ Songs twice in a row.

There actually was a non-Ryan song in my head when I first woke up this morning, but instead of waking and writing it down, I drifted back to sleep and when I awoke a second time in stuck was this song.

“Damn Sam” is off of Heartbreaker, which is sometimes my favorite Ryan Adams record (when it isn’t relinquishing it’s thrown to Cold Roses, or the unreleased Destroyer.) It is also his most, well, heartbreaking. I simply can’t listen to most of those songs without drowning in a depressed stupor. And this particular song constantly sees me in a puddle of tears.

The thing about it this morning is that I couldn’t remember the opening line. I kept singing, “As a man, I aint never been much for….” and I couldn’t remember the rest. I got the follow up line, “I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York, and maybe as strange,” but that first one kept ending in question marks.

I kept adding in words that might make sense: “picking up dames?” or “lying lame?” I knew it had to rhyme somewhat with “strange,” but that doesn’t leave a lot of options. It tormented me out of bed, into the shower, and through breakfast. Finally moments ago, after finally leaving it along for a bit, it came during laundry. “as a man, I aint never been much for sunny days.”

Ah, that makes tons of sense, sense Ryan is kind of a dark dude, and this song is all about his manic obsession with the rain. Seriously the guy throws in a line about the rain at least once an album. He’s the John Cusack of the songwriting business.

Dreamin’ Songs – “Tennessee Sucks” – Ryan Adams

1747385_radams_200.jpgAmazingly, I have not yet mentioned the Ryan Adams/Gillian Welch decision around these parts. I shall surely do my best to discuss that very thing around these parts soon. For now, I shall only say that I’m going to see Ryan Adams in less than two weeks.

Because of this, I have been listening to my Ryan Adams records with great dedication. The queer thing is that despite my obsession with Mr. Adams, there are a few records that I have not listened to very often.

Full blame goes to my bootleg collection. I have quite the large stack of bootlegs, and I have a tendency to go for those rather, than the studio albums – with the exception of Gold, Heartbreaker, Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Lights and occasionally Love Is Hell. That’s a big exception, I know and for the records the records that have not received a lot of spins are – Demolition, 29, and Rock N Roll.

With the new found studio dedication these less loved albums have received my full attention. Early reasons for not listening to them as much comes from lack of absolute love during initial listens. I am learning to really love Demolition and 29 is growing on me, though I don’t know if I’ll ever much care for Rock N Roll.

All of this, however, brings me to “Tennessee Sucks” and the simple fact that I awoke with it in my head (where it still remains.” The album as a whole has continued to grow on me with repeated listens. Where, at first, I found it too soft and depressing, I have learned to appreciate it’s simple melodies and poetic lyricism. This song is a good example of that with it’s pretty piano emphasis and it’s refrain of “Tennessee sucks in the summer/what have you got that can put us under?” Which gets bonus points for mentioning one of my favorite states, and nails a certain teenage feeling I often receive.

Dreamin’ Songs: “I’m The Man Who Loves You” – Wilco

ktv.jpgAs I’ve been writing about these Dreamin’ Songs, I’ve come to realize how my brain interacts with music a little better.  Or rather, how my weird little noggin’ meanders from song to song.  More than once I have awaken with no particular song in my head, but because of this feature, my mind begins immediately scouring its earth to find something. 

At other times, I will wake up with a song in my head, but before I have a chance to write it down another song pops in.  Truly, throughout the day a whole slew of songs come in and out of my head.

This morning, for instance, I awoke singing Wilco’s “I’m the Man Who Loves You” but by the time my head was lathered with shampoo it had transitioned to Wilco’s “I’m a Wheel.”  For the rest of the morning, including now, those two songs have been playing in constant rotations, like a giant medley.

At least in this case, understanding where those songs came from is very easy.  My wife came home last night singing, “I’m the Man Who Loves You.”  Later when we drove to the bookstore, the song was still queued in her car stereo.  It was the live version from Kicking Television, which to be honest, hasn’t impressed me.

The thing is, I have a couple of live Wilco bootlegs already, and they are not a band that changes much in terms of song performance from show to show.  They are high energy, and a heck of a lot of fun to see live, but the difference between my bootlegs and this official live disk is pretty small.

Why “I’m a Wheel” also popped into my head is slightly more complicated but probably owes itself to my greater love of that particular song, and being more familiar with it’s lyrics (which isn’t hard, since it’s lyrics are minimal and very silly.)

Dreamin’ Songs Grudge Match: Willie Nelson Vs. The Romantics

willie-songbird.jpgI awoke about 5:30 this morning to the sound of my window blinds tapping up against the window due to an increased gust of wind, AND my need to urinate.  Blinds raised and urine urinated, I went back to bed singing Willie Nelson’s “Songbird.”  Being the perpetual blogger that I am, I immediately realized this would have to be this mornings “Dreamin’ Song.”  I even began writing the thing as I drifted off to sleep.

5:45 the alarm went off and I still had the song in my head.  Snooze button snoozed, I once again drifted back to sleep writing this post.

A funny thing happened when I finally crawled out of bed at 6 in the AM.  “Songbird” had flown and was replaced with The Romantics “Talking in Your Sleep.”  Crap!  I already had half the “Songbird” post written.  And it is so a better song than the Romantics.

It took me a minute to even figure out why the Romantics were in my head.  Then I remembered that my wife has a habit of watching something called the Tube while she’s grading homework.  The Tube plays lots of classic videos and they had played the Romantics Friday night.  I have to admit the video is pretty funny, what with the crazy hair-dos, incredibly 80s fashion, and that bevy of girls in their underwear.

Ok, really the songs pretty good too; it’s just that I am so over the 80s.  I grew up during the decade and had a pretty hard cored nostalgic fetish with it in the late 90s, but I’ve since moved on.  There’s better music out there than all of those one hit wonders.

But yeah, “Songbird” is a great song off of a really cool Willie Nelson album.  That’s the new one where he’s backed up by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.  It’s kind of pretty and surreal and contains the line “and the songbirds are singing like they know the score,” which is one of the best lines of the year in my book.

It’s also got a fantastic version of the Grateful Dead’s “Stella Blue” and a rather creepy, scary version of “Amazing Grace.”

Dreamin’ Songs: “Happier” – Guster

This aint your daddy’s Dreamn’ Song.  Typically, of course, my Dreamin’  Songs are songs that I either dreamed about, or wake up singing.

Technically this one doesn’t count, because neither of those things are true.  However, sometime between waking up and getting out of the shower, this song got stuck in my head, which is close enough in my books.

It’s not really difficult to figure out how this song became stuck. After listening to a Guster concert on the Archive, I got a copy of this official live disk.  “Happier” like I said on the Listening Room, is intensely fun.  The lyrics aren’t exactly poetry, and the music isn’t exactly deep, but it’s totally a roll down the windows and sing at the top of your lungs kind of song.  Sometimes that’s all you need.

It’s been in the car all week, and I usually play “Happier” twice through.  Especially love the line:

“You’ve wasted every moment of your Saturdays and your Sundays”

Who doesn’t love to waste away their weekends?

Dreamin’ Songs: “Tiny Daggers” – INXS

inxs-kick.jpgINXS immediately brings a bunch of random memories to my mind.

There’s laying out in our back yard, trying to catch a tan while listening to Kick This immediately makes me think of my brother writing “Neal” across his skin in sunscreen so that he would tan everywhere else and leave his name etched across his body.

There’s driving to the beach in college listening to X.

I remember watching the band play live on MTV’s video award show. Michael Hutchence had his long hair pulled back and tied with a rose, which I found terribly cool.

And on and on. I don’t have the slightest idea why this song is singing in my head this morning. If a dream involved it, that dream has been swept away. Though it does come up periodically in my iPod, I haven’t’ heard it for some time. I suppose it will have to remain a mystery.

Dreamin’ Songs: “The Righteous And The Wicked” – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

blood_sugar_sex_magic.jpgOften is the morning that I wake up with a song stuck in my head.  Sometimes it is simply a song that I was listening to not long before I slumbered.  Sometimes it weirdly has something to do with whatever is going on in my life at the moment.  Sometimes it’s just weird and freaky. 

I’ve been meaning to make a feature of the songs that I awake to for ages, and after reading the Now Playing In Holly’s Head every day for weeks, I’ve finally decided to give it a go. 

Of course, like all my features, this one may only last once.  Being that, it isn’t every morning that I wake up with a song in my head, it will also be very random if it lasts at all.

“Righteous and the Wicked” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’d like to pretend that I was a Pepper fan from way back.  I’d like to be all old school and hip and punk and say that I had all their records before “Under the Bridge” ever hit MTV and then make sly understatements about how they’ve sold out.

Well, they have sold out, but I didn’t get into them until they had taken that first big plunge into being the godfathers of emo.  Blood Sugar Sex Magic might have been the beginning of the end, but it was still a great freaking record.  So funky for a bunch of white guys with funny hair cuts.

In my recent years of listening to Adult Alternative, alt.country, and folk music I’ve left behind my days of loud guitars, pounding bass, and screaming lyrics.  In the last few weeks I’ve been going through the painstaking process of adding my entire music collection to my computer and iPod.  Because of this I’ve been hearing songs I haven’t even thought about in eons. 

Enter the “Righteous and the Wicked.”  It’s probably been several years since I dusted off BSSM but when this song came on it immediately got stuck in my head.  That was several days ago, and I thought that I had finally pushed it back into the alleyways of my brain.  But alas, I awoke this morning singing

“POP prodigies of peace…the killing fist of the human beast.”

 Whatever that means.