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!

Name:
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!

8.9.06

Great songs, according to me (Part 24)

Man, I went the entire month of August without doing one of these lists. How did you survive? As usual, here's the archive:

Parts 1-15 archived.
Part 16.
Part 17.
Part 18.
Part 19.
Part 20.
Part 21.
Part 22.
Part 23.

Okay, let's get to the next ten! I know you can't wait!

231. Hell's Ditch (by The Pogues on the album Hell's Ditch, 1990): Any song that includes the line "If it ain't a fist it isn't love" has to be great, right? "Hell's Ditch" is a great song beyond that, however, as Shane MacGowan growls his way through a nice misanthropic tune that builds and builds to that excellent line and the final, hate-filled sputter, "Naked howling freedom - Hell's Ditch." Ah, fine, fine stuff.

232. Helpless (by Faith No More on the album Album Of The Year, 1997): The last Faith No More album isn't the greatest thing in the world, but it's a solid bunch of songs, with a few that rise above. "Helpless" is a tragic, quiet song that builds to a painfully beautiful refrain - "You found a way to make me say, help me please someone." On the later Faith No More albums, Mike Patton really brought a disturbing drawl to the slower songs, and this helps make his lyric "I never felt better now" even more ironic. It's kind of a creepy song, but it gets under your skin and grows inside you, like all great songs.

233. Hey, Hey Helen (by ABBA on the album ABBA, 1975): I may have an inordinate love for ABBA, and that's fine, but I don't love every ABBA song, only most of them. And "Hey, Hey Helen," although a minor tune in the pantheon of greatness that is ABBA, is still fine enough to rank as a great one. Why? Well, it's about a woman who has left her husband and is striking out on her own, and is uncertain about her future. It's a quick song that sounds a lot breezier than it is, but even though it's charming, it's still serious. And that's what makes it great.

234. Hey Hey What Can I Do (by Led Zeppelin on the Led Zeppelin box set, 1990): Roger always picks on me when I include a Zep song, because he's always pointing out from whom they ripped it off. Well, here's another one, Roger! This song always pissed me off, because it's so freakin' good but it's not on any album - it's a B side. Stupid Zeppers! What a cool song this is. Nice guitar, fun Plant lyrics about an unfaithful woman (in the Zep Universe, is there really any other kind?), and a lazy kind of drawl that makes the whole thing work. Of course, because it's a Zep song, we get that nice caterwauling at the end, and voila! a great song. The 1990 box set is a billion times better simply because this song is on it.

235. Hey, Johnny Park! (by Foo Fighters on the album The Colour And The Shape, 1997): Tom thinks this is the greatest album of the past decade, and although I can't go that far, this is FF's best, and this song is one reason. It's short but powerful, and Dave's screaming, especially at the end, is sublime. But it's very neat how melodic the relatively quiet parts of the song are - the Foo are very good at harmonizing, rather surprisingly. And when the boys cut loose, as they do, it's great. This song is part of the first seven songs on the album, which are seven brilliant tunes. It's rare to get such greatness in such a nice row.

236. Hey Ladies (by the Beastie Boys on the album Paul's Boutique, 1989): It's difficult selecting one song from Paul's Boutique, which is one of the best hip hop albums ever (and will appear on my upcoming Top Ten Favorite Albums List, coming soon!), but "Hey Ladies" shows up because it can actually be separated from the rest of the album and it's got the freakin' cowbell! As usual with this brilliant album, the lyrics rule: our Jewish Buddhists reference the all-time home run leader, Chuck Woolery, Gabe Kaplan, Scott Baio, Van Gogh, and they fit that brilliant sample from "Ballroom Blitz" in at the end. Holy crap, what a fun tune. COWBELLS!!!!

237. Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway (by Shane McGowan and the Popes on the album The Snake, 1995): The wonderfully toothless drunk Shane MacGowan has a second song on this list of ten, after he left the Pogues and went off on his own. It's a simple song which is perfectly described by the title - and to tell you the truth, if my daughter was dating MacGowan, he'd sing this song about me. Shane gives it his full Irish conviction, and spits out the last line "Her father was a right cunt anyway" with such glorious vitriol that you just have to smile, even though I don't like that word. Fun stuff.

238. Hoof (by Mary's Danish on the album Circa, 1991): I love bands that are so old and obscure that they don't even have a web site. Mary's Danish is such a band, but I still love them. This song is wonderful, and the kind of song I absolutely love, in that it starts small and slowly builds. It's a nice enough song, but it has a killer short guitar solo that infuses it with just enough majesty to raise the song up from its grimy country roots (and that's not an insult, by the way). Julie and/or Gretchen (I never know who's singing) bring that great twang tinged with a hint of sadness, and it's superb. I miss Mary's Danish.

239. Hope Alone (by the Indigo Girls on the album Become You, 2002): Yes, it's another typically haunting Indigo Girls song, but I don't care - even if many of them sound the same, they always come up with a different way to make great music. This song has such a beautiful chorus ("You were looking for your distance, and sensing my resistance, you had to do your will/I had to learn the hard way, we were just an empty dream too big for hope alone to fill") and Emily sings it with such power even through the sadness that it just takes you along. She's very good at this kind of thing, and it makes you recall any sad moment in any relationship you've had, but in a good way.

240. The Hounds of Winter (by Sting on the album Mercury Falling, 1996): I'm not the biggest Sting fan, but Krys likes him, so I get to hear some of his music, and this song, the first off his 1996 album, is a beautiful piece of work. Sting's wonderful baritone is strong and contemplative, as it is on his best songs, and the lyrics speak of the remembrance of lost love among despair, always a good theme in a tune. When we reach the end and Sting sings, urgently, "It's easy to remember, remember my love that way" and then finishes with "the hounds of winter, they harry me down" and we slowly fade out, it's sad but still powerful, and the song lingers throughout the album and makes it, frankly, better than it actually is. Now that's the mark of a great song!

As we wrap up another ten songs and move ever so slowly toward our ultimate goal, I'd dare you to denigrate my musical taste, but for two things: you can't because it's so awesome, and nobody reads this anyway! I can expound on great songs according to me with impunity! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Chance said...

Much love for the very foul-mouthed (in two senses) Shane, whether Pope or Pogue.

9/9/06 7:57 AM  
Blogger john sweet said...

I agree, Chance. Funny, but I just finished listening to that album whilst running parts across the robot. I always have to listen to "Hell's Ditch" twice, because it is so "beautiful" in a twisted way... Shane's nod to Jean Genet and references to his own troubled past in a mental hospital. Tom Waits (another fave of mine) wrote of the Pogues, "Their music is like the brandy of the damned." Well, I must be damned...

Good set, Greg.

UncleMonster

9/9/06 9:00 AM  
Blogger tomthedog said...

Greatest album of the '90s, yes, I do believe that, and I will fight to the death (someone else's) to defend it. And thanks for the mention. Greatest album of the last decade, as in "the previous ten years," I'd probably go with American Idiot. Wow, my musical tastes are so diverse.

9/9/06 8:09 PM  
Blogger Roxy said...

I must say the first time I heard Zep's "Hey..." it was at Karaoke. My boyfriend said he had a song to sing for me. The first lines - so sweet. Then I realized it was about a hooker and I beat the living crap out of him.

10/9/06 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though you refer to Mary's Danish as old and obscure, thanks for the compliments re: Hoof. It's Julie singing, by the way.

13/9/06 6:09 AM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

Hootie & the Blowfish did an INCREDIBLY bland version of Hey Hey What Can I Do on Encomium, but I was looking at Amazon's posts and some people like it. Eh.

13/9/06 6:56 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's good to know, Anonymous - if I needed to guess, I would have said it was Julie. And you can't deny that Mary's Danish is old and obscure! That doesn't change the fact that they were a great band!

13/9/06 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Old and obscure".....a description they'll have to live with, I guess. Too bad the description wasn't "groundbreaking and longlastingly influential." The band probably would've liked that a tad bit more, don't you think?

13/9/06 6:20 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yeah, I guess so. I'll definitely go with groundbreaking, especially the first two albums. How influential are they, though? I'm not being snotty, I'm just wondering. I haven't heard too many bands that sound like them, and I have never heard anyone cite them as an influence. I kind of wish they were more influential, though. Then people wouldn't look at me funny when I mention their name!

13/9/06 6:43 PM  

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