Sunday 29 September 2013

My Top Ten Father & Son Songs... That Do Mention Fathers and Sons In The Title

Coming up on week three and this is proving the hardest (albeit most rewarding) thing I've ever done in my life. Fortunately, I'm still taking lessons in fatherhood from my record collection...

10. Chicory Tip - Son of my Father

While I have a lot of time for a great deal of 70s chart guff... this hasn't aged particularly well. Yes, kids, there was a time when all pop stars dressed like Chicory Tip...

9. Joshua Kadison - My Father's Son
A fool thinks he ain't bought and sold
Cause every man sells a bit of his soul
To bring his family home some gold
Before he knows he's gotten old
Starting a new teaching year at the same time you become a parent isn't something I'd recommend to anyone... this reminds me why I'm doing it.

8. Hank Williams - My Son Calls Another Man Daddy

Let's not bring the milkman into this, Hank...

7. Gorkys Zygotic Mynci - Sometimes the Father Is the Son

 Gorgeous song from the Welsh weirdos. Reminiscent in many ways of this next gentleman...

6. Brian Wilson - The Child Is Father Of The Man

An off-cut from the legendary SMiLE sessions, finally released in 2004, made even more special by the fact that it serves here as an intro to Surf's Up, one of the greatest Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks songs ever.

5. The Gaslight Anthem - Our Father's Son

Remember b-sides? Remember when b-sides used to be as strong as some a-sides?

4. Queen - Father To Son

From the days when Queen were serious Led Zep fans.

3. Peter Gabriel - Father, Son

Can you recall
How you took me to school
We couldn't talk much at all
It's been so many years
And now these tears
Guess I'm still your child

Out on the moors
We take a pause
See how far we have come
You're moving quite slow
How far can we go
Father and son
2. Father John Misty - Only Son of the Ladiesman

Maybe a little bit of a cheat but there's both a Father and a Son in the link above and this is just gorgeous. Not that my boy will ever have to worry about his old man being described in these terms...
Couldn't see his used up body at the funeral
By virtue of the flailing of his conquests
They tied down his casket with the garter belt
Each troubled heart was beating in a sequin dress
Someone must console these lonesome daughters
No written word or ballad will appease them
1. Johnny Cash - Father and Son

Written by Cat Stevens, ruined by Boyzone... resurrected and immortalised by JC (with a little help from Fiona Apple). I love the original, but this version just floors me...

"Daddy... why do you keep making Top Tens?"

So people will leave a comment, son.

Sunday 22 September 2013

My Top Ten Father & Son Songs... That Don't Mention Fathers or Sons In The Title

Still too busy to write new Top Tens... but fortunately, I stashed a few away in reserve before our new arrival.

Having a son has made me think a lot about being a father, and about my own father and everything he's done for me. These ten songs put those emotions into words I could never write...

(There are lots of father / son records that do mention the F or S word in the title. We'll get back to those.)

10. Dan Fogelberg - Leader of the Band

Big member of the Dan Fogelberg Appreciation Society right here.
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
9. Paul McCartney - Put It There

Those of you who know about the love/hate relationship I have with Sir Thumbsaloft might be surprised to find this one here, yet I always found it to be one his most affecting solo records, based on some wacky old Liverpudlian expression his dad used to come out with.

8. Brad Paisley - He Didn't Have To Be

Brad's first American Number One tells the story of a boy's respect for his stepfather, hoping that when he himself becomes a father, he can be "at least half the dad he didn't have to be". I always presumed this was autobiographical, but iffypedia tells me it's actually about one of Paisley's friends and his son.

7. Mike & The Mechanics - The Living Years

Mike & The Mechanics were an appealing prospect in that they were basically latter-day Genesis minus Phil Collins, with added Paul Carrack. Which is a win-win situation in anybody's book. This is their biggest hit, a heartstring tugger about a son who regrets his fractious relationship with his father once the old man has passed.

6. Nizlopi - JCB Song

Something of a novelty hit, this relies heavily on 80s pop culture references (Zoids, Transformers, BA Baracus and Toberlone) to catch the attention of blokes of a certain age... i.e. me. And although not all our dads will have driven a JCB, many of us can remember a time when we thought our Dad was Bruce Lee...

5. David Gates & Bread - Everything I Own

Yes, I used to think this was just another song about a man pining for a woman too. Puts a whole new slant on it when you realise it's about a son missing his late father...
I would give everything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again
4. Bruce Springsteen - Walk Like A Man

Bruce has written a number of songs about his father and my immediate thought for this list was My Hometown in which he rides around town on his dad's lap (no car seats in them days!). But this one gets me in the back of the throat from the opening line...
I remember how rough your hand felt in mine
On my wedding day...
3. Billy Bragg - Tank Park Salute 

A young boy confronts his own mortality... and that of his father.
I accepted the commiserations
Of all your friends and your relations
But there's some things I still don't understand

You were so tall
How could you fall?
And if you think that's a tearjerker... try this:

2. Shirley Lee - The Reservoir

I've written about this song many times before, I'm sure I'll write about it again. Shirley's heartfelt tribute to his late father: it never fails to reduce me to tears. If you can spare the time to listen to it, I challenge you to reach the end without filling up. All the way to the end. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1. Harry Chapin - Cat's In The Cradle

"Frankly," says Harry Chapin in his live introduction, "this song scares me to death."

It's certainly a lesson to busy fathers everywhere... 

Which song reminds you of your father?

Sunday 15 September 2013

My Top Ten Newborn Songs

Sam and his mum are finally home from the hospital so my time is pretty full...but here's another list I prepared earlier. Ten songs celebrating the arrival of a new life... sort of.

10. Lloyd Cole - Brand New Baby Blues

Obscure b-side, not available to listen to anywhere on the internet, but still a damned good song. 

9. Robert Post - Newborn

Tomorrow, Robert will hop a train and come back newborn. I dread to think what the fare will be for that. I hope he booked well in advance for a sizable discount.

8. Morrissey - At Last, I Am Born

The song Moz wrote the day after finally getting a shag. 
I once thought that I had numerous reasons to cry
And I did, but I don’t anymore
Because I am born, born, born
7. Everclear - I Will Buy You A New Life

And you think you have a problem with door-to-door salesmen and Jehova's Witnesses? Just be glad you've not got Art Alexakis singing through your keyhole.

6. Depeche Mode - New Life

I have no idea what this is all about, but I'm pretty sure it's nothing to do with having a baby. Still... vintage Mode.

5. Cat Stevens - Here Comes My Baby

I challenge you to listen to the intro of this song and not feel just that little bit better.

4. Bright Eyes - The First Day of My Life

The idea of a song written from the perspective of a newborn baby sounds like cheese on a stick. Thankfully, it's Bright Eyes... not Sting.
Remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange you said everything changed
You felt as if you'd just woke up
And you said "this is the first day of my life
I'm glad I didn't die before I met you
But now I don't care I could go anywhere with you
And I'd probably be happy"
3. Black Box Recorder - New Baby Boom

A first love song for our brand new son... courtesy of Sarah Nixey, Luke Haines and John Moore. (His two dads?)

2. Suzanne Vega - Birth-Day (Love Made Real)

I've already posted and will post a lot more songs dealing with what it feels like to become a father. This is one of the best I know about what a mother goes through...
Shakin' all over like an old sick dog
There's a needle here, needle there, tremble in the fog
It's a tight squeeze, vice grip, ice and fire
Hot little treasure and the wave goes higher
1. Elbow - Newborn 
I'll be the corpse in your bathtub...
...isn't, perhaps, the most romantic opening to a love song... but that's Guy Garvey's gift: to find beauty in the bleakest of places.

Which one would you want to enter the world to?

Wednesday 11 September 2013

My Top Ten Songs About Becoming A Parent

They had the radio on in the operating theatre. On Monday evening, as our new baby son was delivered into this world, this is the song I was listening to...
Show me the wonder
I have seen the purpose of the universe
 If I'd written that into a story, it would have seemed too good to be true.

Obviously, I have no time right now for compiling Top Tens. So here's one I compiled earlier, to prepare us for our new arrival...

I always swore I'd never become a Dad-Blogger, and I won't, but I hope you'll indulge me these next few Top Tens. Your regularly scheduled dose of cynicism will return very soon. Until then...

10. Colin Meloy - Wonder

Lead Decemberist Meloy ponders all the bits and bobs that going into creating a new life...
My darling, what wonder have we wrought here?
It's weird and it's wonderful, dear

An ankle, an earlobe, an elbow bone
It's weird how it wonderful grows
And it was only me and you
That made this three come out of two
9. Creed - With Arms Wide Open

What if Colin Farrell played Eddie Vedder?
Well, I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, I'll take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life 
I don't know a whole lot about Creed, but you can't google-search "Songs About Becoming A Parent" without some wise-ass suggesting this. And rightly so.
If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he's not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open...
8. Lou Reed - Beginning of a Great Adventure
It might be fun to have a kid that I could kick around
A little me to fill up with my thoughts
A little me or he or she to fill up with my dreams

A way of saying life is not a loss

It might be fun to have a kid I could pass something on to
Something better than rage, pain, anger and hurt
See, Lou, this is why nobody invites you to parties anymore.

7. Embrace - Three Is A Magic Number
A man and a woman had a little baby
Yes they did
They had three in the family
And that's a magic number
Originally written by Bob Dorough for an American kid's TV show, though the most famous version / adaptation is by De La Soul. Embrace covered the original though, keeping the multiplication tables... but also focusing on the lyric above. And now I understand it.

6. Billy Bragg - Brickbat

Billy will return on another list with a top song about his own father... but this one's more about how becoming a dad had a profound effect on his philosophy...
I used to want to plant bombs at the Last Night of the Proms
But now you’ll find me with the baby, in the bathroom,
With that big shell, listening for the sound of the sea,
The baby and me
5. Will Smith - Just The Two Of Us
From the hospital that first night
Took a hour just to get the car seat in right
People driving all fast, got me kinda upset
Got you home safe, placed you in your bassinette
That night I don't think one wink I slept
As I slipped out my bed, to your crib I crept
Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt
Cause I knew I loved you more than life itself (life itself)
Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please
Let me be a good daddy, all he needs
Love, knowledge, discipline too
I pledge my life to you
I'm sorry, there's something in my eye.

4. Paul Simon - That Was Your Mother

Paul Simon's written more emotional songs about being a parent, but I kind of like the cheek of this one. Because it's possible to feel like both Will Smith and Paul Simon at the same time...
Well, that was your mother
And that was your father
Before you was born dude
When life was great
You are the burden of my generation
I sure do love you
But let's get that straight
3. Kate Bush - This Woman's Work

Because, after seeing what Louise has been through over this last week (and before): men have it easy.
Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman's work,
This woman's world.
Ooh, it's hard on the man,
Now his part is over.
Now starts the craft of the father.
2. David Bowie - Kooks

I always liked this song, but I never really got it till recently. Written for Duncan Jones, the director of the excellent films Moon and Source Code, a long time ago... by his dad.
And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up this old fool
Don't pick fights with the bullies or the cads
'Cause I'm not much cop at punching
Other people's dads
And if the homework brings you down
Then we'll throw it on the fire
And take the car downtown
1. Brad Paisley - Officially Alive

It's no secret that I had some resistance to the idea of becoming a parent. As a younger man, it was a path I never saw myself taking. Even when Louise and I got together, it was something I struggled with. I've never been what you'd call kid friendly... so I just kept praying it'd be true what people say: "It's different when they're your own."
It’s not the double kick of an ultrasound
Or a piece of paper on file downtown
It takes more than a beat and a breath and a name
It’s when you’re so in love and so in pain
I wasn't ready for the emotions I'd feel during the pregnancy. The way it changed me. In the weeks leading up to the birth of our son, I listened to the new Brad Paisley album, Wheelhouse, a lot. And whenever this song came on... I couldn't help myself...blubbing like a baby.
Yeah, it’s a tragedy to go through history and simply just exist
You’re gonna realize how quick it flies by and everything you missed
And suddenly you’re standing there in scrubs
Love has found new flesh and blood
It’s a feeling you weren’t ready for
When you’re looking in eyes that look like yours

Parents! (I know there's a fair few reading this blog.) Which song most expresses the biggest change in your life?

Thursday 5 September 2013

My Top Ten Waiting Songs (Volume 2)

We're still waiting...

10. Beach Boys - I'm Waiting For The Day

Much to Steve's horror, it came down to a toss-up between this and Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx... and you know how I love my shocking 80s tat. You'll be glad to know that sanity prevailed. For once.

9. Kathleen Edwards - What Are You Waiting For?

Any excuse to hear the gorgeous, smokey tones of one of Canada's finest...

8. Bruce Springsteen - Waitin' On A Sunny Day

Oh, I'm tired of trying to sell you on Bruce. You either believe or you're missing out.

7. The Rolling Stones - Waiting On A Friend

In which Mick 'n' Keef play pimps more interested in each other than Da Laydeez.

Back in 1980-something, somebody actually thought this video was a good idea. Nice sax, though.

6. The Flaming Lips - Waitin' For A Superman

Already included in My Top Ten Superman Songs, but too good to leave out. 

5. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Waiting In Vain

Listen to Bob and it's always a lazy sunny day. 

4. Thin Lizzy - Waiting For An Alibi

No matter what video I click on tonight, youtube keeps trying to sell me the new Justin Timberlake album. Please, youtube: check my viewing history. Am I really going to bite?
Valentino's in a cold sweat...
3. The Velvet Underground - Waiting For The Man

Although Lou Reed doesn't actually sing that, does he? One wonders if the record company tinkered with the title because it was sung by a man... although they didn't seem too bothered about all the thinly disguised drugs references. Oh, those swinging 60s...

2. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - The Waiting
The waiting is the hardest part...
A great Byrdsy riff opens this classic from one of the most underrated bands in the world. I know they've had loads of success over the years, but Tom and the Heartbreakers still deserve more recognition.

1. Leonard Cohen - Waiting For The Miracle

I first encountered this song in the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. It has the perfect mix of menace and magic.
The Maestro says it's Mozart
But it sounds like bubble gum
When you're waiting for the miracle 

For the miracle to come.

Don't tell me you're still waiting for another song?

Tuesday 3 September 2013

My Top Ten Waiting Songs (Volume 1)

Louise's due date was today... but as I write, there's no sign of the newest addition to our family. And so, we're waiting... just like these guys...

10. Jack Johnson - Sitting, Wishing, Waiting

Look up "laid back" in the dictionary. If there isn't a picture of Jack Johnson, I'd buy a new dictionary. 

9. Foreigner - Waiting For A Girl Like You

Yes, Foreigner.

No, I'm not kidding.

When I first considered this Top Ten... this was the first track I thought of.

Child of the 80s!

8. Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip - Waiting For The Beat To Kick In…

I learnt a new initialism the other day. IDM: Intenillgent Dance Music. The only kind I'm remotely interested in. This track begins like many rap records, focusing heavily on the chorus and rhymes... and then, Scroob' goes off-message and starts telling us about a crazy dream he had. Mesmerising.
Now I'm sure you've had times when you've felt down or angry,
Wanted to lash out, punch a wall and be manly,
But the question I pose now will offer you a plan B,
And maybe some peace and quiet for your friends and family,
How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood,
And then just be... in... a good mood?
That's all I have to say because it's a straight up fact,
You control your emotions it's as simple as that".
7. Noah & The Whale - Waiting for My Chance to Come

One of my favourites by the band that named themselves after director Noah Baumbach and his movie The Squid & The Whale.

6. The Kinks - Tired Of Waiting For You

 Ray is proper fed up.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - (Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?

As with a lot of Nick Cave records, this rewards repeated listening, taking us deeper and deeper into the story the more we here it.

4.  The Stone Roses - What the World Is Waiting For

As with most Ian Brown lyrics, I've no idea what this is all about. Donkeys, wise men, the promised land... sorted. Take me any way the wind blows... 

3. The Doors - Waiting For The Sun

I'd placed this lower down the chart until I remembered that crashing guitar riff... wow.

2. Diana Ross - I'm Still Waiting

An unrequited childhood romance leads Diana into heartbreak... and she's still waiting.

1. Billy Bragg - Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards

No other song sums up everything that's great about Billy Bragg like this - the relationship angst, the outspoken politics, the clever wordplay, the self-deprecating wit... it's crammed full of quotable lines. (One of my favourite T-shirts reads 'The revolution is just a T-shirt away'.) And every time Billy performs it live, he updates the lyrics. Beam me up, Scotty!
Mixing pop and politics
He asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrasment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the great leap forwards

So many great waiting songs, one Top Ten just wasn't enough. If Louise and I are still waiting later in the week, I'll post Volume 2. If you're still waiting for your favourite, you might find it there.

However, if our waiting is rewarded in the meantime... you'll have to wait.

Monday 2 September 2013

My Top Ten Hurricane Songs

Hold onto your hats... there's ten hurricanes coming.

10. Catherine Feeny - Hurricane Glass

Much consternation on youtube over the way Catherine treats her guitars in this video. I'm amazed people have the time.

9. Athlete - Hurricane

Impending doom for the Athlete lads as a hurricane threatens to strip them of all they hold dear.

8. Florence & The Machine - Hurricane Drunk

In which Florence gets self-destructive... she's gonna drink herself to death.

7. Black Kids - Hurricane Jane
It's Friday night and I ain't got nobody.
Oh, what's the use of making a bed?

6. Alice Cooper - Hurricane Years

Mr. Cooper: legend.

5. The Hold Steady - Hurricane J

Jessie's like a hurricane... but Craig might not be the one to save her from herself.
I know you're gonna say what I know you're gonna say
I know you'll look at the ground, I know you'll probably cry
You're a beautiful girl and you're a pretty good waitress
But Jessie, I don't think I'm the guy
4. The Auteurs - Johnny & The Hurricanes

Luke Haines' tribute to forgotten fifties rock 'n' rollers, gets extra points for mentioning Spider-Man in the lyrics.

3. The Horrible Crowes - Behold The Hurricane

Gaslight Anthem mainman Brian Fallon's side-project, this was the Horrible Crowes' debut single, and it may well be the best thing they've done. From an album called Elsie, so extra points for that.

2. Bob Dylan - Hurricane
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.
At 8 minutes 36 in length, Bob beats our Number One today by just 13 seconds. It's a wonderfully noirish, novelistic piece of storytelling... yet not quite strong enough to knock this one off the top spot...

1. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Like A Hurricane

The trick of making an epic 8 minute plus rock song is to make it still seem too short.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.

So... which hurricane blows you away?
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