Thursday, 24 March 2016

My Top Ten Lincoln Songs

Happy Easter. For no reason at all, here's ten songs about various different Lincolns... the President, the car, the county, the town... and the mall.

10. Tim McGraw & Kid Rock - Lincoln Continentals And Cadillacs

Let's start with a bit of shamelessly contemporary country pop. We'll get to the more authentic stuff later...
9. Tony Rice - John Wilkes Booth right about now. Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tony Rice's song digs deep into the tragic tale of the actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln in protest against the president's abolition of slavery, "in the name of God and Dixie".

8. Donald Fagen - Maxine

The Nightfly is one of my favourite albums of the 80s, yet Maxine is probably my least favourite track on there. That's not to say it's a bad song - it fits the late night jazzy feel of the concept very well and tells a typically Fagen-esque tale of love and longing. There's a great sax solo too. But it's no New Frontier, I.G.Y. or Nightfly, is it?

Oh, and in case you were wondering...
While the world is sleeping
We meet at Lincoln Mall
Talk about life
The meaning of it all
Try to make sense of the suburban sprawl
Try to hang on, Maxine
7. Josh Turner - Loretta Lynn's Lincoln

Add a splash of wit to your country and you've got a guaranteed fan on this blog. Great song; always makes me smile.

6. The Gaslight Anthem - Old White Lincoln

If you're going to base your whole career on sounding like a tribute act... you can do much worse than choosing Bruce as your role model.
And I always dreamed of classic cars and movie screens
And tryin' to find some way to be redeemed
Bring a dollar with you, baby
In the cold, cold ground
Paddy McAloon would have something to say about that...

5. Dave Davies - Lincoln County

After the success of Death of a Clown and Susannah's Still Alive, Dave Davies' solo career (extracurricular to the Kinks) looked like it was taking off. Lincoln County sadly put an end to that when it failed to chart (except in Holland, where it made #15). A shame, because this also meant his proposed album, with the excellent title of  A Hole in the Sock (of Dave Davies), was also shelved.

Some debate on t'internet about whether the song is told from the perspective of Jesse James or Billy The Kid. I have no idea.

4. Mercury Rev - Lincoln's Eyes
What explodes like a fractal, pops like a light bulb
Looks really awful at four in the morning
Moves with a dead stare, coils around your ankles
Fangs long as neckties and strikes without warning?
Answers on a postcard.

All Is Dream was the album in which Mercury Rev came closest to disappearing up their own rabbit hole into wispy, dungeons and dragons fantasia. Lincoln's Eyes would be the prime suspect if it weren't so haunting and beautiful. Yet, despite being almost as impenetrable as Nick Kershaw's Riddle, it succeeds through a sly sense of humour in the last verse which makes it genuinely affecting.
What explodes like a fractal, pops like a light bulb
Strolls in like Joel Grey* at four in the morning
Armed with a big nose, fragile as a sea horse
Lives in your soul and loves you like I do?

3. Marvin Gaye - Abraham, Martin & John

I have no idea why Marvin's timeless tribute to Lincoln, King and the two Kennedies isn't on youtube, but I hardly need to link to it: you either know it like an old friend already or you need down purchase a copy immediately.

The original version, recorded by Dion, is pretty cool too. As is Smokey Robinson's cover.

2. Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen - Hot Rod Lincoln

Written and originally recorded by Charlie Ryan back in 1955 - who actually was a hot rod racer (google it) at the time - but I have a definite preference for the 1971 cover by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Maybe it's the name, surely one of the greatest band names ever (not counting Kathleen Turner Overdrive). Question: can a cool name make you pre-disposed to like the band? I would have wanted to hear more of this band from their name alone... although my first exposure to them was through a late night radio play of this very song.

George Frayne IV, aka Commander Cody, did not always take lead vocals on his band's recordings. Indeed, on the album this track hails from (Lost In The Ozone), Billy C. Farlow is the lead vocalist on every track... except Hot Rod Lincoln. 

Thus ends my limited knowledge of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. 

1. Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

I'm very much looking forward to seeing Bruce again this summer, revisiting The River with the E-Street Band (although it won't be the same without Clarence). But the dream would be to see him play Nebraska live the way it was recorded: just Bruce, his guitar, his harmonica and his cassette deck.

The title track starts out in Lincoln, Nebraska... before going full Badlands on us. One of the most powerful songs he ever recorded.

You want to know why 
I did what I did?
Sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world... 

Which Lincoln gets your vote?


  1. Ted Nugent (the voice of reason - NOT) also covers Hot Rod Lincoln
    It's no Nebraska

    1. I need to find a way to shoehorn some Ted Nugent into this blog. He's loud and extremely dumb but fun in small doses.

  2. How funny, I was listening to Mercury Rev yesterday for the first time in five years. Unhelpfully, I'd like a 'nearly' mention for Linkin Park....

    1. That's the Durst idea I've heard dis week.


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