Category: songs

individual songs

Shout to the TopShout to the Top

by Style Council

~ My Son’s First Favorite Song ~

I’ve been a fan of Paul Weller since the mid-80s when I saw a Style Council video on an MTV videotape that was sent to me while I was living in Germany. Cafe Blue was the soundtrack to a great birthday weekend trip that my wife and I took up the California coast one year.

Their greatest hits exude cool.

This track was mixed in with several others on a CD I used to keep in my old convertible and my son used to ask for me to play this one over and over when he was about 3 years old and cruising around in his car seat with the car top down. It’s a rock song with a string section as the lead instrument and it’s a perfect slice of heavenly britpop with the Modfather smoothly crooning over the top.

Flat TopFlat Top

by The Goo Goo Dolls

~ Lyrically ambiguous genius ~

It’s not one of the hit singles from the Goo’s, but it might be one of their best lyrical performances.  Sandwiched between 5 other classic tunes on what was arguably one of the half dozen or so best album sides of the entire 90s, Flat Top gets political in a way that comments on all of 90s-era US society, and not just the half that someone hates, like you find all over social media today.

A television war between the cynics and the saints / flip the dial and that’s whose side you’re on

Was far more prescient than it was given credit for at the time

A visionary coward says that anger can be power / As long as there’s a victim on TV

Seems so tailor made for today that it’s hard to believe this a 25-year-old song

Is That Me?Is That Me?

by The Uninvited

~ How many times can you record one song?

To the rest of the world they were from San Francisco, but to folks who lived in Northern California and knew their way around a map, they were actually from Santa Rosa. The Uninvited were one of those fringe bands you hear on the radio once or twice in your life and would play to sold-out club crowds all over the country but somehow would hit a ceiling of about a few hundred fans in any given market.

We’ll talk later about how many times we’ve seen these guys live, but for now just chill with this song of wistful regret that they’ve managed to record about five different times. The best version is the one that was on the last independent album before they got signed to a big label (Tragically Hip); it’s the one with the acoustic guitar higher in the mix and with Bill’s harmony vocals over the outro. This one here is from their self-titled major-label debut, that didn’t make a major dent in the music world largely because the record company didn’t seem to give a shit.

Checking out while we’re still young? Sure, the first time I saw these guys over 20 years ago…

Incidentally, Celtic-rockers The Young Dubliners recorded a pretty solid cover of the song, too, with a fiddle in the mix

Take It To The LimitTake It To The Limit

by The Eagles

~ Wide open western highway landscapes ~

Certain songs transport you to a specific time and others transport you to a specific place. The latter are especially effective when the place is as timeless as those enormous landscapes of the American West. Whether you’re cruising I-40 west of Albuquerque or I-70 west of Grand Junction, those enormous plateaus, mesas, and buttes are magnificent to behold and truly stunning.

The soaring chords of this classic Eagles tune were tailor made for cruising those western landscapes. You can get off the interstates too, just like Lightning McQueen figured out by the end of the first Cars movie. You can get on Route 66, or cruise the reservation roads to Four Corners, or take the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Silverton to Ouray.  It really doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve got a mile-wide sky in front of you, tree-covered peaks on two sides and dust covered peaks on the other two, and the Eagles blasting through the speaker with the top down

Stop Kickin’ My Heart AroundStop Kickin’ My Heart Around

by The Black Crowes

~ The groove you can’t hum along ~

Think about all those great Crowes tunes.  Now hum one of them.  Easy, right?  You can hum & air guitar the opening of Twice as Hard or Remedy, or the main riff from Sting Me or the chords from Sister Luck or the underlying riff in Conspiracy.  Now do this one.

You can’t.  You’re not even close.

This one is 4 minutes of straight up slide guitar riffing with a pissed-off Chris Robinson over the top telling someone to fuck all the way off.  You can sing along with this one real easily.  It’s a great shout-along song and gets a huge live chorus from the audience belting back at the stage.  But it’s a very rare Black Crowes tune that you can’t hum along with the riff, because it just isn’t there.


by Guns ‘ n Roses

~ Who the hell is West Arkeen? ~

Somewhere there’s a snippet of MTV footage in the Scrap Bar in NYC, with Axl and West just jamming along with an acoustic guitar, about a year or so before the Illusions were released, and they’re tackling the first verse and the bridge from this one with just the two of them, and West continually forgetting the chords.  And that’s it.  It’s 2 dudes, half-singing and half-playing while obviously ripped in a bar, and forgetting the words and chords and it’s kinda like the scene where Dirk Diggler & Reed Rothchild are trying to work their way through “Feel My Heat” in Boogie Nights.  Except that Axl and West are actually good at what they do, and their impromptu hack session is still better than 95% of what you got on MTV at the time, and the resulting song was one of a half dozen masterpieces on Illusion II that fell like mana from heaven in 1991 when we finally got our hooks into those records.

and while you get a bunch of still shots of Izzy Stradlin in the video, it sure looks like Gilby Clarke playing in the live cut


by Beautiful Creatures

~ The blast-back ~

You how you’ll be driving around town, just digging on your own groove with some tunes loud enough to drown out the world, but not so loud they drown out your neighbor’s world?  It’s a nice state of flow, and can make intolerable traffic more bearable while gettin’ where you gotta go.  And then, some chucklenut with about $1700 of stereo in his trunk pulls up next to you with enough subwoofer to start an avalanche, and your nice little self-containted groove is now drowned out by some combination of n-words, f-bombs, bad rhymes, and worse rhythm.

This was my blast-back song.  I’d immediately flip over to this one and crank it right back up – easier to do in a convertible with a bunch of independently-amp’ed speakers – and let the soaring guitars and staccato delivery of clearly loud hard-rock vocals fight my fight for me.  This one’s been superceded a bit by some other tunes in my collection, but even at over 15 years old, it still does the trick.