Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

14.3.05

Great songs, according to me (part 1)

What good is a blog if you can't throw idiotic opinions out there and open the floor up for discussion? I will now discuss songs that I think are great. Why are they great? Because I said so. Feel free to disagree.

There's really no absolute criteria here. I'm not afraid to go low-brow (see Southern Culture on the Skids or, heck, Cinderella, both of which have songs on my list), and I'm not afraid to tell you when the lyrics to a song are incomprehensible (Mother Love Bone's songs fall into that category - Andrew Wood was doing some serious drugs). I'll explain a little about each song, but these are great songs because I feel it in my gut that they're great. The inclusion of a song does not mean that the album it appears on is particularly great, or that the band is one I particularly love. It's my opinion that everyone has one great thing inside them, and some of these bands struck gold only once. These songs are also from CDs and tapes that I own, so if I don't own it, it ain't on here. Hence the lack of Beatles songs (sorry, I only own one album - Sgt. Pepper's) and Dylan (don't own anything by Mr. Zimmermann). Maybe that makes me the worst person to comment on good music, but what the hell - that's why we live in America!

The songs are in alphabetical order. I couldn't rank them if I tried. Away we go!

1. Abigail, Belle of Kilronan (by the Magnetic Fields on the album 69 Love Songs, vol. 2, 1999): Stephen Merritt is the twisted genius behind this excellent album (and yes, there really are 69 love songs) and this is a good one on it. Most of the songs on these albums are short and sweet, and this one is no exception. It has a lilting Irish-type melody going on, the deep, deep bass of Merritt, and sad lyrics about going off to fight the war (WWI, presumably) and leaving the girl you love behind and encouraging her to find new love.

2. Absolution (by Carol Noonan on the album Absolution, 1995): Carol Noonan writes folk music, so if you're not into that, you'll hate her. Some of her songs can be a bit ponderous, but Absolution, though slow, is not. Her powerful alto works really well in songs about despair, and this is one

3. Add It Up (by the Violent Femmes on the album Violent Femmes, 1983): Come on, sing along with me: "Why can't I get just one kiss ... Why can't I get just on screw ... Why can't I get just one fuck!" Well, Gordon, it's because you're weird. But we still love you. (Check out their web site - they got old!) Of course, this song also features the great couplet: "Words all fail the magic prize/Nothin' I can say when I'm in your thighs." I get chills.

4. Adore (by Knots and Crosses on the album There Was A Time, 1999): Before she went solo, Carol Noonan fronted this band. Back in 1993, I was working in a factory that made U-Haul decals (you all know what they look like). I used to listen to a lot of radio, and most of it made little impression. However, I kept hearing this song and its tale of a woman who can't keep away from a guy who's no good, and I loved it - lots of pain/joy in Noonan's voice. I never found out what group did it, but years later, I finally did, and more than that, they released this compilation disc, since their only two albums have been out of print for years. Really beautiful music, and this is a gem.

5. Afraid Of Sunlight (by Marillion on the album Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995): Marillion is the greatest band ever. There, I've said it. I will brook no argument (yes, I know the top of the blog says ABBA rules, but Marillion is better). Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I can say that the title track from this album is a haunting tune about loss and fear of the unknown. It builds to a stirring climax, too, which is something I like in a song.

6. Afterglow (by Genesis on the album Wind & Wuthering, 1976): Genesis used to be my favorite band, and I still like them, even though it's sad that Phil became a hack. This was their second album after Gabriel left, and it's a very good one, ending with this song. I'm a sucker for songs beginning and ending albums well, and this is a perfect album-ender (the band used to use it in concert to end a long instrumental set, with good effect). Banks wrote this, which may account for it not being schlock. It keeps building and building until Phil cries out, "I miss you more," and the instruments kick in and you feel like you've just heard a great song on a great album, and you have.

7. Alexis (by the James Gang on the album Bang!, 1973): I'm not a big fan of the James Gang, and this album is simply fair-to-middling, but Alexis is a great song. It's the typical late '60s/early '70s folk-rock tale of a girl who gets in over her head and the guy who's way too old for her, but it's the guitar solo at the end, all gritty and grungy and majestic, that clinches its greatness.

8. All Apologies (by Nirvana on the album In Utero, 1993): Nirvana was a great band, and this song, their "last," is even better today since it seems to anticipate Cobain blowing his brains out. It's a creepy little song: "Choking on the ashes of your enemies." Brrr.

9. All For Leyna (by Billy Joel on the album Glass Houses, 1980): You know, part of the reason I'm doing this list is because BeaucoupKevin recently bashed a co-worker of his who said Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 is the most talented musician alive. Now, that deserves bashing, but Kevin went on to bash Billy Joel, and while that's certainly his prerogative, Joel has a ton of talent, even when he tries to "rock out," like he does on this album and, sort of, in this song. Excellent piano playing, as usual, and nasty little lyrics about how horrible Leyna is ("She didn't tell me there were rocks under the sand") and how it doesn't matter, because he's smitten. Guys can probably relate (hell, women can). A great song.

10. All I Ever Wanted (by Lenny Kravitz, on the album Mama Said, 1991): Lenny breaks out the cliches waaaay too often, and he does here, but there's a lot to be said for sincerity, and Lenny can sing with the best of them. Nice soft piano by that Lennon kid, and when Lenny screams, "When I know I want you, and baby you want me," well, that seals the deal.

Well, that's all for now. Feel free to bash away. Or, you could always read more about these people here if you're so inclined. How can I take over the world if you don't know what music will be playing ALL THE TIME and give you time to prepare yourself?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

Is the "title track" to Mama Said actually called "Mama Said" or "Always on the Run?" I'm not a big Lenny Kravitz fan (he's too derivative of other music I dig for my tastes, but he's made some good music), but I love that particular song.

"Add It Up" is the best Violent Femmes song, period, because it has a habit of showing up when I'm alone in my car and having the kind of day when I really, really need to yell along with the radio for a few minutes. It is considerate enough to not show up if other people are in my car and would be off put by a top-of-my-lungs, to-hell-with-tune-or-pitch rendition.

23/3/05 6:11 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

The "title track" is indeed "Always on the Run." A great song. It will show up on this list soon (next time I do one of these, I think).

23/3/05 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Dave Lartigue said...

Yes! Someone else who enjoys "All For Leyna"! That's an awesome song.

"Instead of my old man saying STOP! kidding yourself, wasting your ti-ee-ime"

25/3/05 7:46 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I like most of Billy Joel. I'm a sucker, I guess.

26/3/05 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Ray Mcanally said...

Enjoyed reading your posts.

23/12/05 12:46 PM  
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