Wednesday 27 February 2013

My Top Ten Charming Songs

What do you mean you already know the Number One? Charming!

10. Black Kids - I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)

A song that begins with a tribute to Sparks before going on to reveal...
And you, you're not doing too well.
All the blogs are about you, girl.
They caught you in the park after dark
giving head to a statue, girl.
Oh, cruel!
 I don't know what happened to Black Kids, but I wish they'd come back.

9. The Ohio Players - Good Luck Charm

Sleazy, in all the right ways.

8. Elvis Costello - Charm School

From my favourite Costello album, when his lyrics were at their most playfully malicious...
You & I as lovers were nothing but a farce
Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's arse...
7. The Divine Comedy - Charmed Life

Neil Hannon looks back on a charmed life in which he may not have made a lot of money, but he always seemed to land on his feet. Which is maybe about all you can hope from life, in the long run...

6. Cinerama - Your Charms

I love the fact that when David Gedge tries to write an out and out love song, he can't help but be self-deprecating...
And darling, I just can't think clearly
It happens when I'm in your arms
And my heart is pounding
How pathetic is this sounding?
5. Aimee Mann - Charmer

Finally got around to buying the new Aimee Mann CD... sorry, Aimee, I'm six months behind schedule, but I don't have a lot of money these days. Thankfully, the record is every bit as wonderful as her earlier releases. Still among my Top Five All Time Favourite Female Recording Artists... that voice!

4. Blur - Charmless Man

Blur's Charmless Man is certainly a boorish oaf in the video... but you can't help but cheer when he gives Damon Albarn a kicking. Much as I love the Blur boys... Damon probably had it coming.

Wikimadeupia tells me this inspiration from this song came from some graffiti on a toilet wall. The title no doubt came in response to another song you're already expecting to find at the top of this countdown. 

3. Elvis Presley - Good Luck Charm

Nobody could "ah-ah-ahh" like The King...

2. Adam & The Ants - Prince Charming

...but nobody could "ah-ahh ey-haa!" like Adam.

What's the biggest problem with pop music these days? Nobody makes video like this... in which Adam plays Jesus, Alice Cooper, Clint Eastwood and a pantomime princess... and there's Diana Dors as his fairy godmother too!
Ridicule is nothing to be scared of...
1. The Smiths - This Charming Man 

Mere words cannot do this song justice. From the opening line, "Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate" to Johnny's jangling-reverby guitars to the infamous refrain, "I would go out tonight, but I haven't got a stitch to wear"... it is perfect.

None of the cover versions are worthy of comment, but if you're a child of the 80s, and a fan of both The Smiths and The Housemartins, you might appreciate this magical mash-up: This Charming Caravan

Those were the songs that charmed me... but which is your four leaf clover?

Monday 25 February 2013

My Top Ten Tramp Songs

This Top Ten is specifically about hobos, bums and "gentlemen of the road". Not any other kind of tramps. We'll get to them. 

Special mention for The Trammps, Supertramp, The Drifters and The Vagrants... and Bruce, of course, because tramps like us, baby we were...

10. Cat Stevens - The Tramp
The only bed he knows is the floor...
9. The Hollies - Lonely Hobo Lullaby

Classic mid-70s ballad from the Hollies, sadly never a hit.

8. Stereophonics - More Life In A Tramp's Vest

Remember when the Stereophonics had potential? Every time I listen to a track from that superb debut album, I shake my fist at the sky and scream, "WHAT HAPPENED!?!"

7. Thea Gilmore - Brother, Can You Spare Me A Dime?

Written back in the "great" depression, recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to George Michael to Mandy Pantikin (Saul from Homeland!) but it's Thea's version that breaks my heart.

6. Terry Bush - Maybe Tomorrow

You'll know this better as the theme tune to The Littlest Hobo.

Sorry, I've got something in my eye. 

5. Marah - My Heart Is The Bums On The Street

Probably my favourite song by Marah, though the live version on youtube doesn't really do it justice.

4. Frank Sinatra - The Lady Is A Tramp

OK, I'm bending the rules with this once, since the lady in question isn't without a home to call her own. Then again, neither is she that other kind of tramp. And let's face it, I could hardly leave it out. Although Frank's version is best, look who else recorded it...

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Frank & Ella 

William Shatner

Frank & Luther Vandross

etc. etc. etc.

3. Roger Miller - King Of The Road

He's a man of means, by no means. So are The Proclaimers.

And, if you've never heard it before, check out Jody Miller's response song, Queen of the House.

2. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - Tramp

This came very close to hitting the top spot, and on any other day it might do. It's also one of my favourite men & women bickering songs (one day I'll compile a list), basically just one big argument between Otis and Carla, with some hilarious trash-talking and zinging comebacks. My favourite is the bit where Carla calls Otis a tramp for not being able to afford to buy her all those minks and sables and stuff she wants and Otis replies, "I can buy you minks, rats, frogs, squirrels, rabbits, ...anything you want, woman." to which Carla comes back,  "Look, you can go out in the Georgia woods and find them, baby." Makes me smile every time I hear it.

It seems this was a subject close to Otis's heart. See also: Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.

1. Cher - Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves

I seriously consider this to have one of the greatest first verses of any pop song ever written. 
I was born in the wagon of a travelling show
My momma had to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple of bottles of Dr. Good...
But what do I  know?

Which one are you taking with you when you hit the road, Jack?

Friday 22 February 2013

My Top Ten Sick Songs

There's a new issue of Department of the Peculiar out - and you can buy it here.

To celebrate, here's ten songs about being sick... I know, how lovely!

10. Disturbed - Down With The Sickness

This is about as heavy as I get... and it's pretty light for Disturbed.

I have to confess though, I first encountered this song via the Richard Cheese cover version as featured in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

9. Fountains of Wayne - Sick Day

All about office romances that might happen one day...

Contains the pun: Lead us not into Penn Station. Which I like.

8. Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - Sick Tonight

In which Scroobius gets a sick-bag for a head...
I remember when I was a kid and that
Way before I found beards and caps
Pencils came with erasers that
Could erase your mistakes erase, retract
But in the real world things just ain’t that easy
You can’t take back your mistakes so freely
You gotta take them in think about them deeply
Not ignore them and just move on discreetly
7. Matchbox 20 - Unwell

Not a band I rave about, but I do love this song. I'm not crazy... just a little unwell.

6. The Indelicates - Ill

Their sex is a sickness...
Because you'll never take enough of those pills
You know you're too clever to be mentally ill
You'll never fashion your damaged soul
Because you're too clever to lose control
5. Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way

Burnt toast, cold coffee, nothing but Bruce Forsythe on the telly... luckily, we have Sarah Cracknell to make us feel better. 

4. The Smiths - Still Ill

Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?

I don't know... but I do know this song inspired one of my favourite Doom Patrol comics.

And, no, sorry, I can't make them Number One every time.

3. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues

In which Bob invents the lyrics video thirty years before youtube.

See also Radiohead - Subterranean Homesick Alien.

2. Alabama 3 - Too Sick To Pray

Any song that begins thus...
I'm in a lonely room
Hank Williams sings a lovesick blues
Winter's walking up the avenue
But I ain't seen the sunshine since the 6th o' June
...well, it doesn't matter how sick you feel: this'll make you feel better.

1. Tindersticks - City Sickness

One of their finest songs, with a video directed by Jarvis and Steve from Pulp.

So, they were my sick notes... which one makes you feel better?

Wednesday 20 February 2013

My Top Ten Telephone Call Songs

You may have spotted a recurring theme over the last few weeks... There were far too many telephone songs for one Top Ten, so I've tried to group them into some more specific categories. (I know, I spend far too much of my life thinking about this, don't I?)

Anyway, here's ten songs that feature actual telephone conversations... mostly.

10. Meri Wilson - Telephone Man

By popular demand... honest.

Look, she's gossiping on the phone in the video. It fits here as well as it would in any of my other phone-based Top Tens. Let's just get it out of the way, shall we?

9. Shelby Lynne - Telephone
I never really thought you would answer.
Now it's a big blown up thing.
I wish you hadn't been at home when the telephone rang.
When the telephone rang.
8. The Wedding Present - It's For You

David Gedge gets well pissed off when his girlfriend's ex keeps calling up...
No, it’s for you but then you didn’t need me to say that
‘Cos you already knew, how many times is it today that
He’s had to call? 

It’s as if you’re still together
I don’t care at all, 

I’m just wondering whether
You think you and he will ever run out
Of things that you have to talk about?
It's for You by The Wedding Present on Grooveshark

7. Jonathan Richman -  I'm Straight

Jonathan has seen the object of his affections hanging round with that loser Hippy Johnny... so he calls her up and offers to take his place. Hippy Johnny's always stoned... but Jonathan's straight. Honest.

6.  The Dead Kennedys - Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round

In which the US Secretary of War calls up the British PM and outlines his plans for a nice war. This was released in the mid-80s... a decade or so later, Tony Blair took the very same call for real.

5. REM - Star 69

There's a lesson here - don't call Michael Stipe without leaving a message. He'll know it was you... and call back, mad as a box of frogs.
I know all about the warehouse fire
I know squirrelies didn't chew the wires
Three people have my number
The other two were with me.
I don't like to tell-tell but I'm not your patsy.
This time you have gone too far with me.
If you're in the UK and you want to know who just called you, you may try 1471 by Arab Strap. I can't find a link to that though.

Still, having included both *69 and Arab Strap in the same post, I'm bound to get a few more hits...

4. Billy Joel - Sometimes A Fantasy

Haunted by a schizophrenic badboy version of himself, Billy (or is that Sly Stallone?) calls up his girlfriend in the middle of the night... the symbolism suggests a heavy bout of phone sex... but then again, it might all be in his head.

I used to like this song... having now watched the video for the first time, it scares the hell out of me. 

3. Department S - Is Vic There?

No, he's out, sorry.

Call back later.

2. Lou Reed - New York Telephone Conversation

Lou gets woken up by the phone... and a most inane conversation follows.

1. The Big Bopper - Chantilly Lace
"Hellllloooooo, baby!"
The only thing I really knew about the Big Bopper was that he recorded this excellent rock 'n' roll song (used to great effect in Tarantino's True Romance) and that he died in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The one thing I didn't know about The Big Bopper was that he was a white guy who looked like Peter Parker's old school bully, Flash Thompson. With a voice like that, I always pictured a black Fats Domino type... and I see from youtube that I wasn't alone in that misapprehension.

I have still got a few telephone songs to feature, but they'll have to wait a while. Meantime, which call would you take... and which one would you let go to the ansaphone?

Monday 18 February 2013

My Top Ten Pope Songs

Because Ratzinger has resigned.

When I first heard that Joe Ratzinger was to be Pope, I thought they meant Cliff from Cheers. Wouldn't that have been preferable...?

10. Tim Minchin - The Pope Song

Let's get the... erm... somewhat controversial one out of the way to begin with, shall we? Not safe for work, or for the easily offended. Though Tim does have a point.

9. George Harrison - P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)

George takes his confessional - one our father, three hail marys - each Saturday night.

8. James Dean Bradfield - Say Hello To The Pope

JDB loses his girl to religion. Prayers get him nowhere.

7. North Sea Scrolls - The Papal Pagan

In the fifth scroll, Cathal Coughlan takes on an Irish junta led by Dana, Johnny Logan and Louis Walsh and tells the Vatican where to go. Not available online, but the album's a must buy. By papal decree.

6. Morrissey - Dear God, Please Help Me

Well, I had to make room for the Pope of Mope, didn't I? And as we featured I Have Forgiven Jesus quite recently, let's have this one instead. Here we find Moz walking through Rome feeling the weight of the explosive kegs between his legs...
Dear God, does this kind of thing happen to you?
5. Billy Joel - Only The Good Die Young

Billy does his best to talk a good Catholic girl into bed... she's having none of it. Banned by many American radio stations back in the 70s... not that that did it any harm.
Come out, come out, come out Virginia, don't let me wait.
You Catholic girls start much too late.
Sooner or later it comes down to fate.
I might as well be the one.
You know that only the good die young.
4. Half Man Half Biscuit - Vatican Broadside

Look it's only 33 seconds long, so you've no excuse not to listen to it.

Need further persuading? It tells the (true, surely?) story of what happened when the singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope. The Pope's response is priceless. 

Also covered by Frank Turner, which is always a good sign.

3. Shane MacGowan & The Popes - The Church of the Holy Spook

Shane asks forgiveness from the Holy Spook too. He'll be in that confessional all day...

2. Prince - Pope

You can be the president, but Prince will always be the Pope. Imagine if the Vatican actually announced him as the successor to Ratzinger? Wouldn't that be fantastic? Especially if he came out on the balcony doing this song... the opening exclamation would be worth the price of admission alone.

(This would probably have been Number One had His Holiness not banned it from being heard on the internet. I wish he'd stop that. Maybe he will, when he takes office.)

1. Elbow - An Audience With The Pope
I have an audience with the Pope
And I'm saving the world at eight
But if she says she needs me, she says she needs me
Everybody's going to have to wait, ah, ah
Guy Garvey -patron saint of romance.

Those were my favourite popes... which one do you want to see elected XVII?

Thursday 14 February 2013

My Top Ten Songs For Young Lovers

Happy Valentine's Day. Remember being young and in love? These guys do...

10. Air Supply - Young Love

This week's token cheesy 80s power ballad. Caution: unless you're a special kind of sick (like me), you will hate this record. Do not watch the video.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

9. John Mellencamp - Young Without Lovers

A cautionary tale, best summed up by its chorus...
Young without lovers
Old without friends
8. Sonny James - Young Love

Apologies to the Donny Osmond fans out there who might have been expecting his saccharine 70s Number One version of this song... but really, I have to draw the line somewhere. Wasn't Air Supply enough for you?

7. Morrissey - The Youngest Was the Most Loved

This week's token Moz track... typically has very little to do with normal young love, but then again:
There is no such thing in life as normal
One day I'll do a Top Ten Songs Featuring Ill-Advised Kids' Choirs...

6. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - Young and Lovestruck

You ever find a song in your record collection that you're not sure you've ever listened to before... yet it's really quite marvellous? Where did I put that Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly album?

5. Bruce Springsteen - So Young and So in Love

This week's token Bruce track...
Rat traps filled with soul crusaders
They're soppin' 'n' boppin' 'n' moppin' with Little Melvin and the Invaders
 Further evidence where Geldof got his inspiration.

4. This Many Boyfriends - Young Lovers Go Pop!

A new discovery. I only got this record a couple of weeks ago, it was only released last year... yet it could well have been a lost classic from 1986... in fact, this band wouldn't have sounded out of place on the original C86 tape.

If further proof is needed, they have a song called I Don't Like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels).

3. Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do

For a famously cantankerous grumpy old git... Van does recall something of his youth.

2. Mystery Jets (featuring Laura Marling) - Young Love

The Mystery Jets meet a girl, have one magical night of love, she writes her number on the back of their hand, it comes off in the rain, they wander around in frustration trying to find her again. He should have taken a tip from The Jags in my Top Ten Phone Number Songs.

Also - laziest video ever. They can't even be bothered to stand up.

1. The Marvelettes - When You're Young And In Love

Truly epic. Motown at its most magical and life-affirming.

Which one makes you feel young and in love again?

Tuesday 12 February 2013

My Top Ten Paranoia Songs

I'm not paranoid. I know you're all out to get me.

10. Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid

Garbage kind of passed me by during the 90s. Listening back now, I should have paid more attention.

9. The National - Afraid of Everyone 

Matt Berninger has little voices swallowing his soul and can't even defend his family with his orange umbrella. What's worse: he doesn't have the drugs to sort it out. 

8.  Barry Andrews - Win A Night Out With A Well-Known Paranoiac

A lost, twisted classic from the ex-XTC Shriekback man. Makes Kafka seem like Jackanory.

7. Art of Noise featuring Max Headroom - Paranoimia

Children of the 80s - be afraid. Be very afraid. Max Headroom is your future.

6. The Kinks - Paranoia, The Destroyer

Or: What happened when Ray took Lola home.

See also the much earlier Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues.

5. Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me

Rockwell was Berry Gordy's son. Paranoid music fans claim that this was only ever a hit because Michael Jackson sand the chorus. I claim bollocks: the verses are far more entertaining.
When I'm in the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair
'Cause I might open my eyes and find someone standing there
People say I'm crazy, just a little touched
But maybe showers remind me of Psycho too much
4. Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta
Been around the world and found
That only stupid people are breeding
The cretins cloning and feeding
And I don't even own a TV
You may also recognise this as the theme tune to the appropriately paranoid Peep Show. If you're gonna be a one hit wonder, make it a cracker.

Paranoia, paranoia
Everybody's comin' to get me
Just say you never met me
I'm runnin' underground with the moles
Diggin' holes
Hear the voices in my head
I swear to God it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored then you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me, whoa!
3. James - Out To Get You
Insecure? What you gonna do?
I've seen James perform this live a number of times. Never fails to raise the hair on the back of my neck.

2. Black Sabbath - Paranoid

If you weren't paranoid already, Tony Iommi's relentless riff will do the job. As for why Ozzy's so paranoid... wouldn't you be if you were married to Sharon?

1. Radiohead - Paranoid Android

Having already given this the number one spot in my Top Ten Robot Songs, I thought twice about letting it win this battle as well. But in the end, it's Radiohead's Bohemian Rhapsody. I've have been more paranoid about bumping it down to #2. Plus, it's Thom Yorke taking the piss out of his own image - how often does that happen. Recorded in Jane Seymour's house, named after Marvin (my old nickname) from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, when I am king you will be first against the wall.

What's that?

See also every single record Morrissey has recorded since The Smiths broke up (and quite a few before that). Far too many to narrow it down to just one choice.

But which one is following you home tonight...?

Sunday 10 February 2013

My Top Ten Prayer Songs

As it's Sunday, I thought we'd give praise via the medium of song...

10. Bloc Party - The Prayer

I'm sure Bloc Party fans will be most put out to see this at 10, especially considering some of the songs below. What can I say? I never claimed to know what I was talking about.

9. Duran Duran - Save A Prayer

Oh, give me a break, you'd only have moaned if I left it out.

Don't watch the video though, it'll only annoy you.

8. Billy Joel - Travelling Prayer

Not listened to this in years. It's bloody excellent.

7. Otis Redding - My Lover's Prayer

Now that's what I call a voice.

6. Cousteau - She Don't Hear Your Prayer

Cousteau: should have been massive.

5. Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer

Scottish band Danny Wilson were originally called Spencer Tracy. Sadly, Tracy's estate objected, so they instead nicked their name from a character in an old Frank Sinatra movie. This was their biggest hit: the video has some serious quiff action going on, though not from lead singer Gary Clark.

4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Idiot Prayer
This prayer is for you, my love
Sent on the wings of a dove
An idiot prayer of empty words
Love, dear, is strictly for the birds
Happy Valentine's to you too, Nick.

3. Madonna - Like A Prayer

I only ever fancied Madonna when she had dark hair, pretty much for the duration of this, her best album (in my humble opinion). Of course, the fact that I was 17 at the time might also have had something to do with it. A couple of years later, she took all her clothes off... and I lost all interest.

2. Bon Jovi - Living On A Prayer
Tommy used to work on the docks...
When I came up with the idea for this Top Ten, I was pretty certain this would be Number One. Confound anyone who thinks I try too hard to be cool and indie when I compile these things. (I don't, I just pick the songs I love.) And I so wanted to give it to the Jove... but damn it, then I remembered...

1. Aretha Franklin - I Say A Little Prayer

Burt 'n' Hal. 'Nuff said.

See also the Gene cover version. Do not also see the Glee version or the one by Bomb The Bass featuring Maureen. (Yes, Maureen.)


Those were my favourite prayers. Which one makes you get down on your knees?

Friday 8 February 2013

My Top Ten Songs About Bruce Springsteen

This year is the 40th anniversary of Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., the debut album by the one artist whose music has meant more to me throughout my life than any other (sorry, Moz). While I still don't feel able to compile a Top Ten Springsteen Songs... maybe I never will... here's the closest I can get to a tribute. Ten songs that mention The Boss...

10. Ezio - Bruce Springsteen

Only just discovered Ezio in the course of compiling this Top Ten. They're from Cambridge. You wouldn't know it...
I'll never be the boss just lower management I guess
I've never had a Thunderbird
A beat up Volvo is less absurd

I'd do anything to impress you
I'd do anything to caress you
I grew up in a town called Whittlesey
I've never been to New Jersey
I don't know too much about you
But your friend said you like Bruce Springsteen
9. Rick Springfield - Bruce

Jessie's Girl coveter Rick Springfield finds himself confused for his more famous (half-)namesake. A witty song about not being as famous as that other guy.

8. Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union 

Fellow New Jersey-ites Titus Andronicus mix Bruce with Billy Bragg on this, one of their best songs, when they declare...
No, I never wanted to change the world
But I'm looking for a new New Jersey
Because tramps like us
Baby, we were born to die
7. The Gaslight Anthem - Meet Me By the River's Edge

Another New Jersey act, unkindly dubbed by some critics a "Springsteen tribute band", and tracks like this, baby, they were born to back up that argument. "No surrender, my Bobby Jean" the GA sing, amid lyrics that sound like Bruce's songbook chopped up and reassembled Bowie-style. But, as I've said before, if you're gonna wear your influences on your sleeve... these cufflinks are 24 carat gold.

6. Nosferatu D2 - Springsteen

Ben Parker released one album as Nosferatu D2 (with his brother Jamie) prior to taking on the solo mantle of Superman Revenge Squad. This song, a tirade against Ben's hometown of Croydon, was written around a loop of the guitar from Springsteen's 'My Hometown' before Ben ditched that in favour of a somewhat more aggressive backing track.
Throw away your autographs
Of people you don't care about
Andy Peters, Andy Crane
They're all the same, they're all the same
5. Lana Del Rey - American

It was obvious the second I first heard Video Games that Lana was a Springsteen groupie. And like Titus Andronicus before her, she too is Born To Die.
Play house, put my favorite record on
Get down, get your crystal method on
You were, like, dark tan driving round the city
Flirting with the girls like you're so pretty
"Springsteen is the king, don't you think?"
 I was, like, "hell, yeah, that guy can sing."
4. Frank Turner - Redemption

 There are few bigger Bruce fans than Frank Turner. Frank just gets it...
I was walking home to my house through the snow from the station 
When Springsteen came clear in my headphones with a pertinent question
Oh, is love really real and can any of us hope for redemption?
Or are we all merely biding our time down to lonely conclusions?
3. Bran Van 3000 - Speed

In which the Bran Vanners pay tribute with a Born To Run rap. God, that really shouldn't work. And yet...
Sliup - Ummm - Crack
Goes the backscreen door
She wanted to go for coffee
But I sleep an hour more
See Mary dancing across the porch
She put her rolled up Ziggys in her rock and roll jersey
Jersey, she was born to run
She was the spirit of midnight
She was blinded by the light
She was holed up in jungleland
Straight up
The rock and roll big boss
Turnpike down by the river of desire
Just off Thunder Road
Where you catch her in the Tenth Avenue
Freeze out
She was lost in a flood
Mary, Queen of Arkansas
Dreaming of a Cadillac ranch with a hungry heart
But most of all she was born in the USA
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Inner state babe
To be exact she was her own rock and roll video
Rolls Royce, low riding
Speed climbing, driving by the sea
Making mad love on other people's private property
While being on the run from the local law for unpaid parking tickets! bloody does.

2. Prefab Sprout - Cars & Girls

There's tremendous irony at work here: Paddy McAloon (of all people!) having a sly, if affectionate, dig at Bruce for being a lyrical romantic.
Brucie dreams life's a highway, too many roads bypass my way
Or they never begin. 

Innocence coming to grief
At the hands of life's stinking car thief, 

That's my concept of sin.
Does heaven wait all heavenly over the next horizon?
But look at us now, quit driving, 

Some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
That said, Paddy can't help but conclude:
Brucie's thoughts - Pretty streamers
Guess this world needs its dreamers 

May they never wake up.
And the same goes for you, Paddy. 
1. Eric Church - Springsteen

One of my favourite songs of last year. It's not so much a tribute to Bruce as a tribute to the kind of golden sunset nostalgia he used to reflect on songs like Glory Days and Bobby Jean. Good times...

When I think about you, I think about 17.
I think about my old Jeep.
I think about the stars in the sky.
Funny how a melody, sounds like a memory.
Like a soundtrack to a July, Saturday night....

I don't expect anybody else will have much of an opinion about this Top Ten... but it's my blog and I've got to keep my number one fan happy!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

My Top Ten Jennifer Songs

They're Ten A'Jenny...

Get it? Ten A'...

There's no pleasing you people. 

10. Everly Brothers - Poor Jenny

I don't always think of the Everly Brothers as being among the wittiest of lyricists... but this one's a good old fashioned hoot.

9. Belle & Sebastian - Photo Jenny

Only Stuart Murdoch could get away with singing...
It's getting cold, I'll catch the bus
I'll see my friend when she's finished working
Get some fish and chips
Lalalala, what's on the box?
'Man about the house' with Paula Wilcox
OK, Stuart, but what about Richard O'Sullivan?

8. Strangelove - Jennifer's Song

Patrick Duff at his most romantic. Aww.

7. Donovan - Jennifer Juniper

Also featured in my Top Ten Jupiter and Saturn songs. Because I was lazy.
Jennifer Juniper, sitting very still.
Is she sleeping ? I don't think so.
Is she breathing ? Yes, very low.
Hold a mirror under her nose, Donovan. Just to be on the safe side.

6. Fight Like Apes - Jenny Kelly

Excellent song from the Irish alt-rockers who indulge in a spot of cheese rolling in the video.You won't catch Bono doing that.
You're famous for your awkward smile
Your purple hair
Your wayward smile
5. The Killers - Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine

There was genuine excitement to early Killers songs that's gone awol since they became stadium-filling superstars. This is one of those rare early tracks where you can hear the Johnny Marr influence as much as the Springsteen.

4. The Hollies - Jennifer Eccles

A classic 60s Brit-hit... though I have to admit, I prefer the heartbreaking cover version by Eels.

3. Flight of the Conchords - Jenny

Saw them do this live, though sadly I don't think they've ever released it. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. If you've ever bumped into someone who recognises you but you can't remember them at all... watch the link above.

2. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Jennifer She Said

If not for my rather unorthodox selection below, in any other reality, this would have been Number One. It's written there in blue, with a heart and an arrow through.

1. Stephen Malkmus - Jenny & The Ess-Dog

Probably a surprising choice, but this is my all-time favourite Stephen Malkmus song, including everything he did with Pavement. The lyrics are just so good: like an award-winning short story. The details make it.
They kiss when they listen
To "Brothers In Arms"
And if there's something wrong with this
They don't see the harm
In joining their forces and singing along

Those were my spinning Jennies. Which one is your Eccles cake?

Monday 4 February 2013

My Top Ten Sheep Songs

They're flocking baaad.

10. Pink Floyd - Sheep

Look, I don't mind if you skip this one. It's 10 and a half minutes long. According to the lyrics, it does apparently feature a rather amusing version of The Lord Is My Shepherd in which the sheep wreak their revenge through karate "and make the bugger's eyes water"... but you have to listen VERY carefully. I certainly couldn't hear it.

9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Sheep May Safely Graze

Being an Australian sheep seems a hell of a lot more dangerous than being a British sheep. Having to worry about crocodiles, poisonous spiders and Nick Cave... brr!

8. Cake - Sheep Go To Heaven
I just want to play on my pan-pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as you're born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time
7. Scott Walker - Black Sheep Boy

Written by Tim Hardin... who did very well in our previous Top Ten... but in all fairness, he's no Scott Walker, is he?

6. Airhead - Counting Sheep

Not quite as all-conqueringly astounding as their previous single, Funny How (The Girls You Fall In Love With Never Fancy You... Funny How The Ones You Don't Do)  but then, few things are.

Plus, they got some actual sheep in for the video. 

5. Morrissey - Yes, I Am Blind

OK, this would probably be higher if it actually mentioned a sheep in the title.
Little lamb
On a hill
Run fast if you can
Good Christians, they want to kill you
And your life has not even begun!
Oy! Morrissey! No! Didn't you tell us Meat was Murder?
You're just like me, just like me
Oh, your life has not even begun!
Oh. Fair enough then.

4. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

See, it's still cool to admit to liking Peter Gabriel era Genesis.

And probably very uncool to admit you haven't got a bloody clue what he's on about.

(Still preferable to the Pink Floyd track though.)

3. John Grant - Leopard and Lamb

Don't be surprised if I compile a Top Ten Leopard Songs one day just to feature this track again.
Watch the Simpsons to remember how you laugh
I miss your dark blue eyes, and staring at your back
My leopard, my lamb
2. Kate Bush - And Dream of Sheep

In which Kate falls asleep counting sheep and listening to the shipping forecast.
Ooh, their breath is warm
And they smell like sleep,
And they say they take me home.
If anyone else sang those lyrics, I'd snigger. Kate makes them magical.

1. The Housemartins - Sheep

You're right, of course, sometimes the only reason I compile these charts is to give me the opportunity to proclaim the supreme majesty of records such as this one.

By my calculation, Paul Heaton and Norman Cook were in their early 20s when they filmed this video... even though they both look about 12. Heaton still dresses like your grandad though.

Those were my sheep songs - no room for Woolly Bully, but that had its day in my Top Ten Knitwear Songs.

Which one is your baa-baa-best?

Friday 1 February 2013

My Top Ten Songs With Reasons

I have ten good reasons why you should listen to this blog post...

10. Franz Ferdinand - You're the Reason I'm Leaving

Was it something I said? (Was it 'cos I told you the band's name is pronounced R-E-M, not "Rem", you bunch of idiot-twits?)

9. The Unbelievable Truth - Higher Than Reason

OK, I'm stretching the criteria to include this one, but it's a lost classic from a songwriter who deserves to be remembered as more than just Thom Yorke's younger brother.

8. Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty - You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly

I was introduced to this via the excellent Indelicates cover, which manages somehow to be even more bitchy. Sadly, it's also too ugly for youtube.

7. Jeff Klein - Five Good Reasons

Jeff's got five good reasons why he never sleeps alone. One of them being: he writes some lovely songs.

6. Half Man Half Biscuit - Reasons to be Miserable (Part 10)

Of course, Nigel Blackwell has hundreds of reasons to be miserable. He's built a career writing songs around them. That's why we love him.

See also Paradise Lost (You're The Reason Why).

5. Roddy Frame - Reason To Live

Wow. Forgotten how good this one was.

4. My Life Story - 12 Reasons Why I Love Her

Ah, Jake Shillingford. Where are you now?

Reason #11 is the one I couldn't get down with. She leaves the pie but always eats her greens? Who the heck leaves pie?

3. Tim Hardin - Reason To Believe

Or, you may have reasons to prefer Rod's version. Nothing wrong with that. I, of course, have a very special place in my heart for Bruce's song of the same name... philosophy from roadkill.

2. Frank Turner - Reasons Not To Be An Idiot

Reasons why I love Frank Turner #84.
So why are you sat at home?
You're not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying "no"
So get up and get down and get outside
Cos it's a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You've only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside
1. Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)

If you're struggling to find reasons to be cheerful... any of these should suffice:
Something nice to study
Phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying hokey-dokey 

Singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

Be reasonable - don't just tell me your favourite. Tell me your reasons...

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