Friday, 20 January 2017

My Top Ten Songs Called America



I imagine quite a lot of people will be heading down into their cellars, bunkers or fall-out shelters today. I'm not sure how good your internet connection is down there, so if this is the last post you read of mine... let's remember, it's not America's fault. Well, not all of them. And we Brits can hardly criticise them, given the extreme idiocy we voted for last year too. Anyway, since I already did My Top Ten Trump Victory Songs, here's ten songs just called America. Sadly that meant that Kids In America, Living In America and Breakfast In America weren't allowed. We must follow the rules while we still can...


10. Killing Joke - America

Never really known for their subtlety, the Jokers...
West is best and might is right
And with our allies - fight the good fight
A first class, five star enterprise
Now everybody's got to compromise
My moral code's on overload
Liberty still takes its toll
Take a look at the losers wasting in the bars
Where they cut their losses!
9. Imagine Dragons - America

I've no idea how I ended up with an Imagine Dragons album in my record collection. I have more of an idea how I ended up with an Imagine Dragons record I've never listened to. (Sad fact: there are many, many songs in my digital record collection that I have never listened to. Many of them, I even paid money for!) I understand Imagine Dragons are quite popular with The Young People (or some of them: The Young People rarely agree on anything like we did when we were The Young People).
From farmers in the fields
To the tallest of the towers that fall and rise
1-7-7-6
The names upon the list
For all the ones that gave until they died
Don't you hold back
I can see in your mind, and your mind will set you free
8. The Vapors - America

The Vapors are torn between going to America and staying with you.

They could have taken you with them... cheapskates.

7. Razorlight - America

This is a great song. Like the best stuff Razorlight did, it sounds like the Boomtown Rats. If only it was the Boomtown Rats instead of Razorlight.

6. Waylon Jennings - America

Here's one that won't play well with the Trump voters...
And my brothers are all black and white, yellow too
And the red man is right, to expect a little from you
Promise and then follow through, America
Good on you, Waylon.

5. Prince - America
Aristocrats on a mountain climb
Making money, losing time
Communism is just a word
But if the government turn over
It'll be the only word that's heard
Hmm. Seems pretty apt this week...
Boom, boom, boom, boom
The bomb go
Boom, boom, boom, boom
The bomb go boom.
Teacher, why won't Jimmy pledge allegiance? 
4. James - America

The b-side to my second favourite James song (which I'll feature here soon), the lyrics to this are a bit... well, rude. Not rude in the sense of being insulting, but rude in the sense of being X-rated. Or maybe, 12A rated nowadays. They would have been X when I was a kid, but, y'know, kids these days...

I've no idea about what Tim Booth's on about here. Then again, I rarely do. 

3. Neil Diamond - America

OK, first things first: this song from The Jazz Singer soundtrack features one of the greatest intros in the history of recorded music. Put that in your mental microwave and wait for it to ping.

On the surface, this is the most patriotic song on the list... but with it's pro-immigration stance, I doubt it's one Donald will be retweeting any time soon.

2. The Indelicates - America

Ah, The Indelicates: still my favourite new band of the 21st Century, largely on the basis of their debut album from 2008 (though they've done some excellent things since). I've tried explaining their appeal before: in short, it's a combination of Simon's gruff and Julia's angelic vocals, the Steinman-esque bluster, and irony-laced lyrics such as these...
This little England, it's dingy and it's mean
I've flirted with her mewling gods and petty jealousies
These edited-reader rebels with their simulated causes
Their weak-chinned snarls and red guitars, I disregard them all

When they pin me to the wall I'll say:
I'm with America
With godless America, I'll stand and I'll fall
Though it cuts me to my soul that
It must be America
It must be America
Or nothing at all!
1. Simon & Garfunkel - America

I may do a Top Ten Greyhound Bus Songs one day, and this would probably come top in that too. If anyone ever challenges me on Paul Simon's genius as a lyricist, this would be exhibit #1 in the case for the defence. On the surface it's a road trip love song, but as is so often the case, the devil is in the little conversational details...
Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, "be careful - his bowtie is really a camera!"

"Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat"
"We smoked the last one an hour ago"
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field




Oh, say, can you see anymore...?


20 comments:

  1. What about Hugh Laurie's America from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, m'colleague? ;)

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  2. Bowie's mournful, post 9/11 reading of the No.1 feels particularly appropriate today. Unfortunately the slightly more powerful version from the Concert For New York has disappeared from YouTube, but there's still this one.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMnm69s-rtg

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    1. Hmm. Was the Concert For New York version also accompanied by John Shuttleworth?

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  3. First of all, Rol, much writerly kudos to you for the phrase "put that in your mental microwave and wait for it to ping." Love it.

    Secondly, how about The Nice's instrumental version of Leonard Bernstein's America, from West Side Story. Yes, I know, I know... but it sort of rocks. And Keith Emerson (in The Nice pre-EL&P) has described it as the first ever instrumental protest song, so it sort of fits for today's Trumpton Riot. See what you think at https://youtu.be/Dg9jHTYZ-6U.

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    1. That was also in consideration. I foolishly rejected it because it was an instrumental. Call it #11.

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    2. Oh, and I wish I could take credit for the mental microwave, but it was stolen from Gus Hedges in Drop The Dead Donkey 20 odd years ago. Strange the things that stick in my head.

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    3. Ah well, talent borrows, genius steals!

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  4. Excellent call Martin, most excellent.

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  5. Ok so first it was Peter Sarstedt and now its songs with the title America. I noticed some time back that in my digital library the most repeated title by different artists was indeed America and was going to do a post about it at some point - Most covered above although interestingly I also had a track called America by that Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana! Wonder how he's feeling today (still with us, just checked).

    Watched Neil D by the way in his sparkly shirt - fabulous performance and shirt but all wrong now in terms of the direction of travel. Was also impressed by the mental microwave line - Shouldn't have owned up as none of us would have remembered it from that great show (although 20 years ago, seriously?).

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    1. Apologies for stealing your thunder. Great minds, etc. etc.

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  6. Good stuff, I had forgotten that one by Prince. There's a track on Destroyer's excellent album Kaputt called 'Song for America'. The band are Canadian so they can observe the US from a distance.

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    1. I like that a lot, thanks. Will check out some more by that guy. Really though, if you call your band Destroyer... and your album Kaputt... surely you should be METAL?

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    2. You're welcome. Could be an appropriate name for a metal band. Be sure to get The European CD version of Kaputt which includes the epic The Laziest River. I covered Destroyers albums here, if has interest: http://moviesandsongs365.blogspot.com/search/label/Destroyer

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  7. Sadly, before your comment I had already bought the standard 9 track version from emusic. Then again, if I'd waited till I could afford the CD... It would have been a long wait at the moment!

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