Great songs, according to me (Part 34)
331. Little Guitars (by Van Halen on the album Diver Down, 1982): I've mentioned this album before, because it's chock full of cover songs that for some reason get played on the radio and really good original songs (e.g. "The Full Bug") that nobody has ever heard of unless they own the album. This song, for instance, begins with a nice little Spanish guitar intro, and then David Lee and the boys launch into a somewhat sweet song about a sexy senorita. There's actually some nice longing in Roth's vocals as he sings, "I can see you don't know which way to turn but the sun still shines/Don't you know that you can dance with me anytime." Eddie, of course, is in fine form, finishing the song with a bouncy pluck-fest that's pure Van Halen, and it's just a breezy, brilliant tune. So why do radio stations always play their lame cover of "Dancing in the Streets"?
332. Little Suzi (by Tesla on the album Mechanical Resonance, 1986): Tesla isn't a very good band, but they have a few transcendent songs, and this, off their first album, is one of them. It's a simple song with that jangly guitar that metal bands sometimes use to "be more real," and it has your typical "girl looking for fame" lyrics, but for some reason, it works. There's an undercurrent of despair that makes the song, which ostensibly is uplifting, much sadder. On an album (which is probably Tesla's best, not that that's saying much) full of mediocre hair metal, this song stands out. Bizarre.
333. Living With The Big Lie (by Marillion on the album Brave, 1994): Hey, it's a Marillion song! Who would have guessed? This song, the first "real" song on Marillion's "comeback" album (there's a brief prologue song, and this is a comeback because their previous album was probably their worst), is a marvelous tune about a child getting beaten down by the world and learning to indeed live with the big lie. Steve Hogarth has never been the lyricist the band's first singer, Fish, is, but he does a fine job here, painting a picture of innocence and despair, followed by resignation. The song starts quiet as the child sees his home life fall apart, then bursts into a cacophony of screeching noise as the child grows up. The music is suited well to the lyrics, and as it fades, with Hogarth singing "I got used to it," we feel the bleakness in his voice. Sure, it's depressing, but it's still powerful.
334. Looking Through Patient Eyes (by P. M. Dawn on The Bliss Album ...?, 1993): A somewhat upbeat tune (for P. M. Dawn, that is) is next on the list, as Prince Be smoothly raps his way through a love song that, as the title suggests, calls for patience. As with many P. M. Dawn songs, there's a subtle spiritual element to it, and the lyrics are typically weird but still give us a reason to feel hopeful. It's right there in the opening couplet: "Whatever it is I do, I try to think about you, I have a love for you that nothing hides." How sweet. A great song on a wonderful album.
335. Loose! (by Prince on the album Come, 1994): This was Prince's "death of" album, where he burns off songs so that he can get out of his Warner Bros. contract and start recording under his weird sigil. Therefore, many people consider this a pretty poor Prince album, but there are a lot of good songs on this album, with "Loose!" a great example. It's just a raucous rocker, but Prince is so ebullient when he sings that it makes the song better than it should be. Plus, we get a funky and fun guitar solo, part of the thudding beat that drives the song along. It's a song you can't help but dance to. Even Prince's lesser albums are full of great songs!
336. London You're A Lady (by the Pogues on the album Peace And Love, 1989): October 4 was the 25th anniversary of the first Pogues' gig, at a pub in London. Interesting. Anyway, this song, which ends their fourth album, in a fairly typical Pogues ballad, with a rollicking Irish beat and Shane MacGowan's odd nostalgic/bitter lyrics: "Your heart of gold it pulses between your scarred-up thighs." As usual with Pogues songs, part of the allure of the song is in MacGowan's barely intelligible growl, and we really get the sense of a man trolling the dark places of a living city and refusing to get beaten down.
337. Lordy Lord (by Stress on the album Stress, 1991): I have mentioned this short-lived band and their one album before, and this is one of the few songs on it that I consider great (even though I enjoy the album). The psychedelic influences of the band are on full display, with some lush instrumentation, changes in tempo, and a yearning in the lead singer's voice (it might be Wayne Binitie, but I'm not sure) that's tough to fake. It's a cool song on a neat album, one I thought was out of print. However, you can find it on Amazon, if you're interested.
338. Lost Cause (by Beck on the album Sea Change, 2002): Sea Change, the wonderful change of pace by Beck, features a lot of moody, brooding songs, none better than this song, which takes its time moving, but is heartbreaking throughout. The person to whom Beck is singing is indeed a "lost cause," and he's tired of fighting for it. It's more than just a faded love song, though: Beck points out that it's part of where the person lives, part of the society, and that makes it harder to let go. It's a tragic song about misunderstanding love ("No one left to watch your back now ... That's what you thought love was for") and giving up because of it. Beck's beautiful low-key vocals help make the words more powerful, too. He's not sad, just resigned, and that makes the song even sadder.
339. Love (by The Cult on the album Love, 1985): The Cult is such an odd band, as they went from their first two albums (this was their second), which featured some weirdly ethereal music with lots of production, to a stripped-down heavy metal band with Electric in 1987. I like both incarnations, although the metal got old quickly, and wonder why they did it. This album was pretty popular, thanks to "She Sells Sanctuary," but this song is also a very strong track. it actually has a bit of the heavy thump we find on later Cult albums, even though it's a bit drenched in jangly guitars and keyboards. But Ian Astbury does a good job with the simple lyrics, and the chorus is a primal howl, and the song works much better than it probably should. But why the shift in tone?
340. Love Buzz (by Nirvana on the album "Bleach", 1989): I honestly can't remember the last Nirvana song I had on this list, even though I love the band. They just didn't release enough albums, I guess. But this short tune from their first album is great despite the paucity of lyrics - there are only five lines of words in the song, as Cobain repeats the one verse twice and repeats one line for the chorus. However, his slurring delivery, along with his nerdy je ne sais qua that he often has in songs, makes it an interesting song. Of course, the music on this album is somewhat rough, but the talent is certainly there. This is an interesting album not because it's all that good, but because of the potential there, and sometimes, as with this song, we can see why Nirvana exploded a couple of years later.
How about those songs, eh? Let me know if I'm just kooky or if I actually know what I'm talking about!