52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Friday, August 29, 2008

stars fading but I linger on, dear....

Earworms of the Week

> "Last Stop:This Town" - Eels

Eels have featured rather prominently on my internal jukebox over the last twelve months. My stats on Last FM stats show that I've listened to them nearly twice as much as the next nearest band (the next nearest band? Flight of the Conchords, but then Elbow and Nick Drake...ok?) It's probably not all that surprising really. I discovered them years ago when "Novocaine for the Soul" was first a hit back in 1996, but I only really started listening to them properly about a decade later when I finally gave "Electro-Shock Blues" a fair go and fell head over heels in love with E's unique and often stunningly beautiful music formed on the back of some pretty terrible personal tragedy. Awesome. This song comes off that album too. I know I keep banging on about it, but there really are very few albums that come anywhere near this one for sheer emotional impact. Brilliant. Not cheerful, sure.... but brilliant.

> "Five to One" - The Doors

I'm never quite sure about The Doors. I haven't listened to them properly in ages, and I think that's partly because their music reminds me of an unpleasant guy I went to school with, but mainly it's because I always get the distinct impression that Jim Morrison was a bit of a tit. In fact, I think he was a lot of a tit. Sure, he was talented, but he was only talented up to a point, and not half as talented as he clearly thought he was. "The End" is a case in point: it's a very interesting song, but for me it quickly degenerates into nonsense as Jim Morrison decides that his stream of consciousness rubbish is more interesting than what was actually a pretty good song. Still, this song popped up on shuffle the other day and it's a classic, with Morrison's voice and that instantly recognisable keyboard sound. Thankfully it doesn't slide into self-indulgence and thus helps me to retain my interest throughout. Mind you, looking at the wikipedia entry for this song, Morrison was so drunk when they recorded this, that he needed to be helped by studio staff on when to start singing and the song contains some of his nonsensical drunken rambling, and listening to it again... indeed it does. Wiki also contains the interesting nugget of information that the ratio of the title may refer to the proportion of whites to blacks, young to old or non-pot smokers to pot smokers in the USA of 1967. I'm guessing that Morrison didn't put that much thought into it.

> "Hoppípolla" - Sigur Rós

A crushingly obvious choice, but I was listening to "Takk" the other day, and this duly and inevitably took up residence inside my skull. Good song, mind.

> "Names" - Cat Power

Not the catchiest or most cheerful of songs, this is nonetheless a standout track on "You Are Free". It's a rollcall of awful things that have happened to children: a ten year old physically abused by his father, a sexually active eleven year old, a twelve year old sexually abused by her father, a thirteen year old drug dealer, and a fourteen year old driven to become a rent boy by his crack addiction. The song is carefully personalised by making sure that each child is called by name before the abuses are catalogued. Not cheery subject matter, for sure, but achingly beautiful nonetheless, with just Chan Marshall's lovely voice and a lone piano. Powerful.

> "I Know What I'm Here For" - James

Quite why "Millionaires" didn't take James up into the stratosphere after the success of their Greatest Hits album beats me.... but it also kind of sums the band up: somehow managing to always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Forget what the record sales might say, it's a cracking album with a string of songs that are equally as good as anything on that hits collection. This is a real corker. Classic James with a chorus as tall as the sky. Oh hold on, is this used in the coverage of Champions League football games? Crap. That might be the reason I'm earworming it. Good song. Great band.

> "Get Rhythm" - Johnny Cash
[just look how good Cash looks in this clip...]

Cash has been haunting me this week. I listened to an old playlist I'd put together of his early stuff at the beginning of the week, and then successively and persistently songs from his "American Recordings" period kept popping up on shuffle. Not that I'm complaining, of course, because Johnny Cash was a collossus, and shame on the Republicans for trying to suggest - on the basis of nothing at all - that John McCain would have been Johnny Cash's kind of president. For shame! This song is one of the really early ones, and the who driving rhythm of the song conjures up images of a boy on the streets, cheerfully shining shoes for a living. Also a fairly memorable scene in "Walk the Line", although I'm fighting not to have my mental image of Johnny Cash replaced by that of Joaquin Phoenix.

> Theme tune to the Muppet Show

We've been planning our campaign to get tickets for the 2009 Ashes series against Australia. Demand is certain to be high and there's no Trent Bridge Test to look forward to, so we've been carefully working out when tickets go on sale at each of the grounds and how we can maximise our chances of success. Clearly, we can't have a conversation about the cricket without turning our minds towards what fancy dress we might wear to the game. I think that the muppets is impractical, but it's funny trying to assign characters to everyone. Statue John is definitely Beaker, anyway. Coincidentally, it seems that the Muppet Show may be making a TV comeback! Aces! I wear a Kermit badge on one of my jackets (it's in aid of the MS society), but I've always had something of a softspot for Rowlf, myself, but apparently Miss Piggy is the one that all the stars want to work with.....

> "Dream a Little Dream" - Doris Day / Mama Cass / Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

> "Mr Sandman" - The Chordettes

I've been reading a lot of comics recently. Initially inspired by "The Dark Knight", I've trawled my way back through some of the Batman graphic novels I've got. Then I made my way through the Marvel Civil War series, and I've finally alighted back onto possibly my favourite of all: Neil Gaiman's Sandman. It's the story of Dream, but it's also so much more than that. I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan at the best of times, but his storytelling here is absolutely sublime, seemingly effortlessly creating his own mythology out of some very disparate strands. I love it. Anyway. Early in the "Preludes and Nocturnes" volume, one of the characters is haunted by songs that all somehow refer to dream in general and the figure of the Sandman in particular. Not surprisingly (and they're generally classics), a couple of them have stuck....


Right, well that's your usual motley lot for the week. I'll no doubt be back next week with some more, but I'm starting to think I might want to host a few guests in this slot soon.... Del has volunteered, but anyone else fancy (another) go? All welcome. Just leave me a comment here or send me an email to the address in my profile.

Have a good weekend, y'all.



  • At 8:12 pm, Blogger Charlie said…

    i'm ready for round...4? in that slot.

  • At 3:11 pm, Blogger Rol said…

    I could go for another shot if you gave me enough notice!

    Agree about Millionaires - I thought it should have been much bigger too. (Can't understand why Fred Astaire wasn't a massive hit.) What did you make of their comeback album?

  • At 3:45 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    Rol - at the risk of sounding like Louis Walsh, "I liked it". It's good. It lacks the really big tunes of something like "Laid" or "Millionaires", but it's a real grower for me, and I was only listening to it the other day. I saw James touring both "millionaires" and "pleased to meet you", and by the latter they looked completely beaten, and packed it in not long after. The world, it seems, just wasn't listening, and they'd gone from an Arena tour back to Rock City as the greatest hits faded back into the distance. Really good, interesting band... but also one riven by conflict. You only have to watch how much Saul tries to step on Tim Booth's toes onstage. A frustrated front man if ever there was one.


  • At 3:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lots of nice tunes there.


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