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!

28.4.07

Great songs, according to me (Part 30)

300 songs that I think are great. I'm sure impressed with myself!

Let's link to the previous entries: Parts 1-15, archived, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, and Part 29. Now, let's move on to the next 10 songs.

291. Interior Lulu (by Marillion on the album marillion.com, 1999): Marillion just released a new album, which is decent but not great. I didn't mean to have yet another Marillion song on this list just as they release a new album, it just worked out that way. "Interior Lulu" is a monster song, sprawling and jazzy and just a bit funky. It tells a tale of isolation even as the Internet allows us to "connect" but severs our link to the actual world. It's a sad song, but it never descends into gloominess. The music powers the song along, starting with a sly beat and a groovy bass line before becoming a cacophony in the middle section of the song, reflecting the spiral of madness our world has become. The heart of the song comes when Hogarth sings, "If you can break it, it's already broken," a heartfelt cry that yearns for meaning in a meaningless world. Not the most fun song in the world, but a powerful statement nonetheless.

292. International Bright Young Thing (by Jesus Jones on the album Doubt, 1991): Doubt is a good album, helped by some stellar songs, of which this is an example. It has a great groove, and although the lyrics aren't anything fantastic, Edwards does give us a wry critique of pop culture even as he indulges in some funky dance music. It's a great song to play loud and bop your head to. There's nothing wrong with that!

293. Is it Too Late? (by World Party on the album Goodbye Jumbo, 1990): As usual with a great many World Party songs, this has a strong environmental bent to it, and unlike some of Wallinger's tunes, it doesn't get overwhelmed by it. The song has a nice exotic flavor to it, with almost dreamy music and oddly surreal lyrics. Wallinger sings about rescuing the world and ourselves, and does so without beating us over the head. At the end, when Wallinger whispers about the elephant's graveyard, it's slightly chilling, which is a nice way to end the song.

294. Is This Desire? (by PJ Harvey on the album Is This Desire?, 1998): The final song on Harvey's weakest album yet has nothing to apologize for. Despite the uneven quality of the other songs, this somewhat breathless paean to yearning for more in life is a nice coda. Harvey always seems to come up with at least one gut-wrenching song on every album she releases, and this one stands with her best. Her vocals, which are muted on almost every other song on the disc, come through with the power we expect from Polly Jean. It's a wonderful call for positive emotion in a world that doesn't have enough of it, and it almost redeems the entire album.

295. Istanbul (not Constantinople) (by They Might Be Giants on the album Flood, 1990): Great songs don't necessarily have to be all that meaningful, and so it is with TMBG's cover of this old Jimmy Kennedy/Nat Simon tune. It's a perfectly lightweight song about, well, the name change of the great city on the Bosporus (which isn't really a name change, since "Istanbul" is, as far as I know, simply the Turkish version). TMBG's version is very fun, though, and the violin and accordion bring a nice Turkish flavor to the song. It's a quick piece of musical wonderfulness, and that's all it needs to be. Why did Constantinople get the works? Well, that's nobody's business but the Turks.

296. It Can Happen (by Yes on the album 90125, 1983): Although in the 1980s Yes left the 20-minute opera behind to concentrate on money-grubbing, "It Can Happen" remains a magnificent song, with Jon Anderson in fine high-pitched form and the rest of the band (whoever they were at this point) soaring with him. It's a wonderful melding of vocals and music, and when Anderson wails, "There's a crazy world outside, we're not about to lose our pride," we feel both his despair and his hope. Yes fell too quickly into the just-another-rock-band category (you may not have liked their 1970s noodlings, but at least they were weirdly unique), but this is a nice blast at glory before they landed.

297. It'll Probably Make Me Cry (by Mary's Danish on the album There Goes The Wondertruck ..., 1989): Another song by the criminally underrated Mary's Danish (whose first two albums, including this one, are brilliant), this one is sort-of country, with a nice twang by Julie Ritter (again, I'm assuming it's Julie, even though they have two female singers) and weepy lyrics. Like all there other songs, however, they sell it well, and we feel the pain of loss and the power in the relatively simple lyrics. A wonderful heartfelt song on a great album.

298. It's a Mistake (by Men At Work on the album Cargo, 1982): I probably still have this album on LP, because I'm so old-school. What a fun band Men At Work were, and occasionally, they wrote really brilliant songs. This tune, which has a bit of a Dr. Strangelove vibe to it (at least from the lyrics), also has that hauntingly bizarre music that complements the paranoid lyrics very well. Colin Hay's odd Aussie vocals give the lyrics a wry component that makes the song both more chilling and more ironic. Great stuff.

299. It's Raining Men (by The Weather Girls, 1982): What can I say? It's one of the greatest disco songs ever. And the subject of a very funny sequence in The Simpsons: Moe gets angry at Homer and tells him he's taking Homer's favorite song off the jukebox. Homer, aghast, cries, "It's Raining Men!" and Moe answers, "Not no more it ain't" and hurls the 45 out the window, where it passes through an open car window and hits Smithers in the head. He can't believe his luck! I also played this for my students in the spring of 2002 and a fellow teacher and I sang along at the top of our voices. Needless to say, my students thought I was very odd. I don't care.

300. Jerusalem (by Steve Earle on the album Jerusalem, 2002): In a complete tonal shift, we get the title track of this very good album. Earle sings a simple song about the violence in the Middle East and his hope that things will get better. Earle, despite a seemingly bleak outlook in the short-term (he doesn't like Bush), is often upbeat when thinking about the future, and this song is a perfect example. At the end of the song, he sings, "And there'll be no barricades then, there'll be no wire or walls, and we can wash all this blood from our hands, and all this hatred from our souls." It's a song that looks to a point where we can live together in peace, and Earle gravelly voice does a much better job of selling it than if he were smoother.

Look at that - another ten songs in the books. Feel free to let the vitriol fly when you tell me I know nothing about music!

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