Great songs, according to me (Part 21)
As usual, in case you came in late, you can check out my first two hundred selections: the archive of the first 15 parts; Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, and Part 20. Now, let's get it on!
201. Gallows Pole (by Led Zeppelin on the album Led Zeppelin III, 1970): It's been a while since we had a Zep song on the list, but let's kick it back up with a song about whoring out your sister! Yippee! The starkness of the lyrics in "Gallows Pole" is nicely accompanied by the slowly building frenzy of the music, which of course culminates with the hangman banging the condemned's sister. Page really shows off his chops here, as he goes from plucking his guitar to full blast honky-tonk. Whyever is Plant on the Gallows Pole in the first place? It's a mystery for another day!
202. Genie (by Marillion on the album Marbles, 2004): If there's a slight weakness to this song, it's that Steve Hogarth's vocals aren't what they used to be - he can't quite reach the higher registers, and he should stay away from them. However, it doesn't wreck the song, which is a tragic tale of a man who is scared to take risks and find happiness even though he has a woman (the genie, presumably) willing to show him the way. It starts quietly and builds majestically, until you can hear all the fear and sadness because of that fear in Hogarth's voice. A tremendously beautiful song.
203. Gentle Groove (by Mother Love Bone on the album Apple, 1990): I really can't stress enough how brilliant Mother Love Bone was on their one album. I've mentioned them before, and whenever they come up again on this list, I'll tell you again how brilliant they are and how you should track down this recording (the original of which is out of print but which is available packaged with their EP, Shine). "Gentle Groove" is just one of their typically wonderful songs, as the guitar comes in slowly but powerfully, and Andrew Wood's nasal voice with its hint of nastiness wraps around bizarre lyrics that are far more than the sum of their parts. When he reaches the end and sings, "And nobody's gonna take my love away, and nobody's gonna slow my gentle groove," you're pretty sure he's talking about drugs, which makes his death all the more stupid and pointless. All of the songs on the album have some added poignancy because Wood was an idiot, but they're still excellent rock-n-roll, and this one is one of the great ones.
204. Get Out The Map (by Indigo Girls on the album Shaming Of The Sun, 1997): Sure, this is a typical Indigo Girls songs, which means I'm going to like it anyway, and although it doesn't have that special something that lifts other songs by our two favorite folk lesbians above the others, the reason it's a great son is because it sounds sad but is really quite joyous, and when Emily sings, "I'm gonna love you good and strong while our love is good and young," you just can't help but smile. It's also a song that makes you want to literally get out a map and just hit the road. So that's why it's great.
205. Get The Funk Out (by Extreme on the album Pornograffiti, 1990): Yes, it's an Extreme song on this list! While that may invalidate my opinions in the future for anyone who happens to stop by here, I would challenge you to actually sit down and listen to this song before you start bashing me. Great horns, fun guitar, goofy lyrics, and a plea for hedonism. What's not to like? It's just a wacky rock song by big-hair guys who don't take themselves too seriously. Nuno Bettencourt has some great chops, and Gary Cherone has a fantastic rock star voice (his awful Van Halen album notwithstanding), and you can't help but bop your head and sing along at the top of your voice. Don't resist!
And just wait until I get to songs from their 1995 release, Waiting for the Punchline. Why? Let's just say the words "forgotten" and "classic" will be thrown around a lot.
206. Gett Off (by Prince and the NPG on the album Diamonds And Pearls, 1991): Prince is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance these days, but that doesn't mean we should forget his past! Diamonds And Pearls, unfortunately, isn't really that good of an album, but "Gett Off" kicks major ass. Only Prince could make a flute funky, I believe. He has that great greasy vocal working for him in this song, and it has that early-1990s wheeze to it (like in House Of Pain's "Jump Around"), and of course, great lyrics about how hot some girl is and how nasty she likes her sex. Come on, it's Prince, what do you want? People tend to forget about this great dance tune when they think of Prince, which is a shame. It's excellent.
207. Ghost (by Indigo Girls on the album Rites Of Passage, 1992): Holy crap, this is a great song. As usual with the Girls, it's the lyrics that drive it, although the music is powerful enough. It's another Emily song, which is a bit surprising because I tend to like Amy's songs more, but Emily can certainly write kick-ass songs about lost love. Her voice aches as she begins with "There's a letter on the desktop that I dug out of a drawer, the last truce we ever came to in our adolescent war" and when she reaches "You kiss me like a lover then you sting me like a viper" you can almost imagine her weeping as she sings. It's a marvelous evocation of love gone by, a love that probably wasn't that healthy but is missed nonetheless.
208. The Ghost Of A Smile (by The Pogues on the album Hell's Ditch, 1990): Hell's Ditch is a decent Pogues album (of course, I'm a fan, so I think they're all good), but it doesn't reach the heights of their classic albums. That's not the fault of this song, though, which is light-hearted enough, but contains just enough edge to push it to greatness. Shane is smitten by a girl, who can get him to do anything she wants, but he also tells her "Don't wait too long, or I'll be gone." That simple little lyric, coupled with the slight increasing urgency of the music, twists this sweet song just enough to make you realize how ephemeral love can be, and we need to seize it while it's there. Beautiful.¹
209. Give It All Away (by World Party on the album Bang!, 1993): Wow. I just found out, looking for a web site about him, that Karl Wallinger and World Party have a new album out. Just another thing I have to pick up. I mean, it's only been 9 years since the last one. Take a few more years off, Karl! Anyway, Bang! is a good album, helped by this song, in which Karl rocks out a bit more than usual, and gives us biting lyrics about (what else) man's destruction of the earth. Sure, it's a theme he really likes, but it's still relevant, and his anger and sadness comes through very well on this song. How can you argue with lyrics like "It seems to me you're killing all the things you love the most"? See? You can't.
210. Give It Revolution (by Suicidal Tendencies on the album Lights ... Camera ... Revolution, 1990): Mike Muir must have a lot of anger in him, what with the name of the band and then the songs they write. But that's okay, because we reap the benefits with loud punkish thrash metal with some excellent lyrics and bass lines to die for. And, of course, songs about revolution! I love songs about revolution, because it means I'll have a soundtrack for when I take over (after which, like the French one, the revolution will become a dictatorship, but I'll be a good one, I promise), and this song will be near the front. It's just a kick-ass tune, and with lyrics like "Well you can put a bullet in my head but you can't kill a word I've said," you know you want to join the fight! The whole album is brilliant, thanks to this song and a host of others.
Well, that's it for this installment. I know you're always excited and interested in peeking into my twisted musical mind, and I like to accommodate! Enjoy!
¹ Yeah, I used "ephemeral" to describe a Pogues song. You gotta a problem with that? I'm a snooty English major, after all.