Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Hot 100 Countdown #100

OK, so I decided this kind of long term commitment might be fun. (Or I'll get bored of it after 3 weeks. Let's see.)

I'm going to countdown from 100 and every week I will choose my favourite song with that week's number in the title... or if not in the title, then prominently featured in the lyrics.

No restrictions to whole numbers, so decimals will be allowed... meaning I can choose 76.5 trombones if I want. 

Preference will be given to songs with the number in the title... unless there's a really good one with it in the lyrics only.

Years will be allowed as a last resort, but better if they're abbreviated. (i.e. '72 is better than 1972.)

Points awarded to anyone who can guess what my next choice will be. You can suggest as many songs as you want, but only select ONE as your official guess. If you don't do that, I'll take your first answer.

Ironically, though there are probably hundreds of songs with 100 (or a hundred) in my music library, there aren't many stand-out classics. I considered The Byrds, The Stones, Elvis, Generation X, Nancy Sinatra, Sonic Youth, Sheryl Crow and Nosferatu D2 (among others). But in the end, I had to settle for this...

100. The Handsome Family - The Song of a Hundred Toads

Anyone who's seen the Leonard DiCaprio movie The Revenant (otherwise known as Leo's Very Bad Day... or Leo Wants An Oscar) might recognise certain aspects of the plot of this fabulous Handsome Family tune. Except Brett & Rennie Sparks are far more cheering than anything Leo had to offer...

I think it's fair to say 99 will be a lot easier to guess... but perhaps not the really obvious choice. We'll see. Place your bets now.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Tell Laura I Like Her A Lot

That young hipster friend'a mine (look, he's in his 20s, uses words like "dropped" to describe a new record being released, collects vinyl and mainlines spotify - NO CD PLAYER! - and he has a scruffy/trendy beard - he's a good guy, but he's a hipster) has introduced me to a few cracking records lately (and some less cracking ones my ears are too old and unhip to appreciate). One of the best is worth a click below...

Laura Stevenson used to be the keyboard player in the New York based "musical collective" (friggin' hipsters, can't even call a band a band) Bomb The Music Industry! (The exclamation mark is theirs, not mine.) More on them, and their lead singer / songwriter, Jeff Rosenstock very soon.

Meanwhile, Laura. This is power pop at its very best, and it's great to hear the young hipster people are still making records like this. Makes me feel a little less old for 2 and a half minutes...

Hear more at bandcamp.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #16 - The Answers

No problems this week...

10. Non-stop paintings of the place most of us live in.

Most of us live in a house.

Non-stop paintings would be Endless Art.

A House - Endless Art

Score 1 for George.

9. Betty & Wilma, perhaps? Something tells me none of you will get this.
I don't really think I need to spell this one out.

Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows

Score 2 for George.

8. Marcos might like some new shoes to teach Thunders how to sound.

Imelda Marcos likes lots of shoes.

Might = May.

Johnny Thunders.

Thunder also goes boom.

Imelda May - Johnny's Got A Boom Boom

Imelda has given up on her distinctive quiffy hairstyle, so isn't as recognisable as she once was.

1 point for Charity Chic.

7. Edwyn's gang gets squeezed by a bunch of traitors.

Edwyn Collins was in a gang called Orange Juice.

Squeeze that and it becomes OJ.

Traitors stab you in the back.

The O'Jays - Backstabbers

1 for Alyson.

6. Legendary African city seems even more ridiculous in the dazzling light of tomorrow.

A legendary African city is Timbuktu.

Make it more ridiculous and it becomes Timbuk 3.

Timbuk 3 - The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)

Score 2 for Alyson.

5. Much excitement over the mystery of a Lost Boy.

The Lost Boys is a film starring (among others) Corey Haim.

Excitement is thrilling.

The Thrills - Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?

Much puzzling over this, but George got there in the end... which takes him to 3.

4. A little Italian asks you to double-check your answers.

Poco translates as "a little bit" in Italian.

Poco - You Better Think Twice

Point to Lynchie.

3. Charlie's rival falls into a chocolate Vesuvius.

Veruca Salt was a horrible girl in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Vesuvius is a volcano.

Veruca Salt - Volcano Girls

Score 2 for Lynchie.

2. Titanic lady and some old electric cars go rambling.

Celine Dion sang the theme tune to Titanic... which I'm sure we all have in our collections.

You can google "Belmont electric cars" if you so wish.

Rambling is wandering.

Dion & The Belmonts - The Wanderer

Score 3 for Alyson.

1. A knife puts on new clothes.

Bowie - Changes

Which gets 1/2 a point for Lynchie and 1/2 a point for George, making George this week's winner - by just half a point. Thanks for playing, everybody.

More next week.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Saturday Snapshots #16

It's Saturday.

These are the snapshot.

Guess the artist and song title for each one, please.

10. Non-stop paintings of the place most of us live in.

9. Betty & Wilma, perhaps? Something tells me none of you will get this.
8. Marcos might like some new shoes to teach Thunders how to sound.

7. Edwyn's gang gets squeezed by a bunch of traitors.

6. Legendary African city seems even more ridiculous in the dazzling light of tomorrow.

5. Much excitement over the mystery of a Lost Boy.

4. A little Italian asks you to double-check your answers.

3. Charlie's rival falls into a chocolate Vesuvius.

2. Titanic lady and some old electric cars go rambling.

1. A knife puts on new clothes.

I think these might be a bit tough this week. So it might take you till noon...

Friday, 19 January 2018

My Top Ten "When I Grow Up..." Songs

The other day I received a text from the better half that made me tear up:

"Sam just said 'daddy fixes EVERYTHING doesn't he?' and 'when I grow up, I want to be like daddy'"

The tragic irony of this is almost crushing.

When he does grow up and realises his Daddy isn't McGuyver, what a huge disappointment I will be.

Here's ten songwriters considering what they want to be when they grow up...

10. The Humblebums - Rick Rack

Gerry Rafferty before Stealer's Wheel & Baker Street.

Billy Connolly before stand up comedy fame.

Together, they were humble bums who dreamed...
When I grow up I want to be an engine driver
But if I can't be that I'll be a deep sea diver
9. The Byrds - I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician

You can imagine young Donald singing this back in the 60s...

(Though more than likely he was listening to this.)

8. Style Council - Confessions Of A Pop Group

Even when he was doing lite pop soul, Weller was a grumpy old cuss...
When I grow up I want to be
All the things you've never been
And your opinion will count for none.
7. First Aid Kit - When I Grow Up

A cover of the Fever Ray song. I'm sorry, but First Aid Kit win this one hands down for me.

Whichever you prefer, they both want to grow up to a forester. Better than growing up to be a Forrest Gump, anyway.

6. Morrissey - All You Need Is Me

Oh, bloody hell, it's him again. Do I need to print the disclaimer?

And then you offer your one and only joke
And ask me "What will I be,
When I grow up to be a man"?

Me? Nothing!
Self-deprecating comic irony at its Mozziest. And here's a few words for those who have left him behind...
There's so much destruction
All over the world
And all you can do is complain about me!
I was a small fat child in a welfare house
There was only one thing I ever dreamed about
Fate has just handed it to me
You don't like me but you love me,
Either way you're wrong
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone

5. My Chemical Romance - The End

A classic anti-growing up song. When I grow up I want to be nothing at all!

4. Frank Turner - Eulogy

Frank Turner + brass band. What else do you need?
Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,
Not everyone was born to be a king,
Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury,
But everyone can raise their glass and sing.

Well I haven't always been a perfect person,
Well I haven't done what mum and dad had dreamed,
But on the day I die, I'll say at least I fucking tried.
That's the only eulogy I need,
That's the only eulogy I need.
3. Michelle Shocked - When I Grow Up (I Want To Be An Old Woman)

Pure class. Don't be shocked.

2. The Pixies - Debaser
Wanna grow
Up to be
Be a debaser.
'Nuff said.

1. Beach Boys - When I Grow Up To Be A Man

I could have saved this for one of my mid-life crisis posts...
Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn't done what I did?
Will I joke around and still dig those sounds
When I grow up to be a man?

Will my kids be proud or think their old man is really a square?
When they're out having fun yeah, will I still wanna have my share?

Won't last forever
It's kind of sad
Won't last forever
It's kind of sad

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #13: Holding Mum's Hand

While dad was in hospital over Christmas, I drove mum into hospital to see him. Due to failing eyesight, she hasn't been able to drive for about 20 years now. We joke that this is a blessing to road users everywhere. The stories about when she was a driver are legendary. The time she drove up a one way street the wrong way. The time she nearly drove my grandma and me off a cliff. The time she drove over an open manhole just as the workman ducked his head back under the ground...

I have so much respect for how my mum has coped with her failing senses. She can't read anymore. Can't do crosswords or jigsaws. Sees faces mostly as blurs. Her hearing's going too (it's a family trait) and her hearing aid is even bigger than my dad's. But I've never once heard her complain about it. That generation, they went through the war as kids... they just get on with it.

Coming out of the hospital after visiting dad, it was starting to get dark.

"You'll have to help me," she said. "I can't see too well in this light."

I took her hand and walked her back to the car.

"It doesn't seem two minutes," she said, "since I was was holiding your hand as a little boy to keep you safe. It goes so quickly..."

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Support Your Local* Author

(*"Local" as in "from our neck of the blogosphere".)

After reading the aforementioned Morrissey Autobiography, for a little light relief over the Christmas period, I splashed out on a copy of Drawn To The Deep End by Martin - yes, that Martin - Pond. I've got to say it cheered me up no end...

Martin will no doubt think I mean that sarcastically, but it really did, despite (or maybe because of) the rather downbeat subject matter. DTTDE is a novel Martin serialised while he was writing it on one of his old blogs a few years back , getting feedback as he went along. I remember reading parts of it there and always looked forward to seeing the finished novel. Well, it turned out Martin had stealth-published it a few months ago via Amazon, both digitally and in paper. And because I'm old-fashioned and always prefer to read books on paper (if god had wanted us to read books on kindles, he'd have made tree trunks out of microchips), I jumped at the chance to hold an actual copy in my hands for the ten minutes of reading I manage each night before nodding into unconsciousness.

Except... it actually turned out that Martin's book was so good I didn't nod off at all, and raced through it faster than I've read a book in ages. (Ah, how I remember those days when I used to read a book a week. Before I got a life.)

Drawn To The Deep End is an intense character study of Peter, a man driven to the verge of depression by the death of his girlfriend, trying desperately to claw his way out, grasping at any straw (often straw women) that bends his way. It's a book that has a lot to say about being a lonely 30-something man in this day and age... and as someone who was just that ten or so years ago (and maybe only my age has changed, in some ways), I related to it very much. It's also very funny - shot through with dark observational humour that makes you wince and nod and wish you'd written it yourself. You may end up screaming at Peter. He does make some very unwise decisions. But you'll understand why, every step of the way. What is "happiness", anyway?

Anyway, go read it. Find out more at Martin's other website, here.

Oh, yes, and obviously it goes without saying this book is named after one of the best albums of the 90s. Here's a truly great track from that...

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