Friday 29 April 2016

My Top Ten Pants Songs

Potty training is go* and nappies are yesterday's news. Now, we're all about the pants.

(*Actually, the potty may already be a thing of the past as we're onto trainer toilet seats now. Oh, the legacy this blog leaves behind for my boy to celebrate the pivotal moments of his life through VERY old music once he's a man.)

Anyway, to celebrate... ten songs that are anything but. (Pants, that is.)

10. Soulwax - Proverbial Pants

Soulwax were a great band from Belgium who made pretty bix waves with their album Much Against Everyone's Advice in 1998, after which the brothers Dewaele decided they'd much rather muck around as club djs and remixers than making proper records. Which is a shame, because I loved the disc this came from... although Proverbial Pants is a long way from being its strongest cut.

9. Peaches - Tent In Your Pants

I don't get this song at all. Why would anyone put a tent in their pants?
The tent's so big in your pants, baby
Gonna bring my friends for a dance, baby
Gonna sell those tickets advance, baby
An immense gig up in your pants, baby

8. Sparks - Angst In My Pants

This one sounds like Sparks-does-Abba to me. Which is, obviously, brilliant.
You can dress nautical
Learn to tie knots
Take lots of Dramamine
Out on your yacht
But when you're all alone
And nothing bites
You'll wish you stayed at home
With someone nice
But when you think you made it disappear
It comes again, "Hello, I'm here", and
I've got angst in my pants
7. Dr. Hook - You Make My Pants Want To Get Up And Dance

A fun song: remember those, singles chart?

If you don't like this, try Engelbert Humperdink's version. You'll come back to Dr. Hook.

6. Eagles of Death Metal - (I Used to Couldn't Dance) Tight Pants

We should all celebrate Josh Homme's Eagles of Death Metal for bringing the fun back to heavy rock. It'd be a great shame if Paris was all they were ever remembered for.

5. Juliana Hatfield - Leather Pants

(Not available to listen to online so you'll just have to track it down yourself.)

If you're dating Juliana Hatfield, don't ever try wearing leather pants.
Look into my eyes
Where the truth is
Do you realize you look stupid?
Get rid of those leather pants
I can't go out like that
You really don't look phat
I can't get down with a Yankee in a cowboy hat
Actually, I wonder if she was going out with Randy Newman...

4. Randy Newman - Pants

Will somebody please stop Randy from taking off his pants?

3. Brad Paisley - The Pants

What I like about Brad Paisley is that he knows a large chunk of his prime audience are macho rednecks... and yet he still writes songs like this, telling 'em how things really are. We all know who wears the pants in Brad's house... and it ain't the millionnaire country star. 
It's not who wears the pants,
It's who wears the skirt
Plus, this is the only contemporary country song I can think of that promotes cross-dressing...
In the top drawer, of her dresser, there's some panties
Go try on that purple pair, with lace and frills
With your big old legs, I bet you can't get in 'em
With that attitude of yours, hell, I bet you never will
2. John Grant - Snug Slacks

Breaking the rules slightly, but I'm unlikely to ever put together a Top Ten Slacks Songs.

John Grant paints from a pretty vast pallet, but this one is all done in pink. It's the campest thing he's ever recorded, basically what Prince would have sounded like if he'd been gay. (I was amazed, in the wake of Prince's death, to discover some people actually thought he was. Had they never listened to any of his songs?)
Snug slacks, baby, snug slacks
Now you're giving me a different kind of panic attack
Sick joke, baby, crack smoke, now take me out in your pick up for a midnight poke
I said Stonehenge, baby, drug binge
Now you got me all damp down in my underpants
Snug slacks, baby, snug slacks
Now let's get you out of those and see what kind of punch your manhood packs...
And yet... this is still not the campest song in this countdown...

1. Jim Steinman & Karla DeVito - Dance In My Pants

The supreme psychotic genius of Jim Steinman, with possibly his most batshit crazy moment.

If you don't know the story behind Steinman's solo album, here's the short version. Following the earth-conquering success of Bat Out Of Hell, in which Steinman finally found an artist who could deliver his Wagnerian pomp-rock with the blood, sweat and conviction it deserved, a sequel was inevitable. Steinman had written most of the songs for the record that would have been called Renegade Angel when a number of terrible things happened: most notably, Meat Loaf pretty much lost his voice. Being bonkers already, and now with an ego the size of Jupiter thanks to the success of BOOH, Steinman decided to record the material vegetarian (i.e. without any Meat). It was a brave attempt, but considering Steinman had neither the voice nor the performing chops of Marvin Lee Aday, the result never really went anywhere. (It was a Top 10 hit in the UK album chart though.) I still consider it a classic album, and prime example of Steinman's  Nothing Succeeds Like Excess writing and recording technique (and his knowing knack for self-parody). Many of the songs on Bad For Good would later be recorded by a rejuvenated Meat: in fact, Dance In My Pants is probably the only one left untouched. Posssibly because it's too mental even for Meat Loaf, as the hilariously daft video proves (I love the bit where "Jim" starts dancing).

In another reality, Jim Steinman is treated with the respect he deserves and his place in the Rock Pantheon is as critically-blessed as Elvis, Jim Morrison and Bruce. But he's a lover, not a dancer... 

Which want gives you dance (or angst) in your pants?

(P.S. If you're wondering where all the songs about hot pants were... come back soon.)

Friday 22 April 2016

My Top Ten Prince Songs

U turn on the telly and every other story
Is tellin' U somebody died
I don't know what's going on now, but it's got to stop.

His name was Prince, and he was funky. He was also amazing at rock, soul, rap... hell, he never recorded a country album to my knowledge, but I'm sure he could have turned his hand to it. (Considering there are more unreleased Prince albums than ones that actually saw the light of day - and there's 40+ of those, chances are there was a country record in there somewhere.*) We may have just lost the most versatile and prolific musical artist not just of his generation, but of any generation... and after Bowie, that's a real kick in the balls.

I've been a Prince fan since the early 80s, so 30+ years of listening to his music... and while I won't claim to have followed his 21st Century output as slavishly as I did his earlier work, there had definitely been signs over the last few years of a return to greatness, with some excellent tracks to be found on albums like Planet Earth, Lotusflow3r and last year's Art Official Age.

So I knew this was going to be a hard post to compile. Because when you start to think about all the great songs in Prince's back catalogue - hits, misses and obscure album gems - it becomes impossible to narrow a list of favourites down to just 10. But we do what we can in difficult times.

In respect to his Purpleness, and taking into account his intense dislike of the way his music was shared online, I'm not linking to any of the songs as I usually do. You'll know most of them anyway.

Bowie and Prince in the same year? I'm getting really worried about Morrissey now...

(*Oh, wait, go check out You're My Love by Kenny Rogers... turns out Prince wrote it under the pseudonym Joey Coco... and it wasn't the only country song written under that moniker.)

10. 1999

He stole the tune (a bit) from Monday Monday by The Mamas & The Papas... and then used it again in writing Manic Monday for The Bangles. He even gave Phil Collins the inspiration for Sussudio. But he was dreaming when he wrote it, so sue him if he goes too fast...
Life is just a party
And party's weren't meant to last...
9. Alphabet St.
That was my first reaction when I heard the news too. 

What makes this song unique amongst Prince's prodigious repertoire is that it must surely be one of the only songs he ever wrote where he wasn't up for it...
Excuuuuuuuuse me.
I don't mean to be rude.
I guess tonight, I'm just not...
I'm just not in the mood.
So if you don't mind...
I would like to... 
Then again, I don't think he's talking about Eastenders.

8. Bob George

One of the first to respond to Prince's death was Spike Lee, who said, "Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humour", and Bob George proves that more than any other song I can think of. Here, Prince takes on the identity of a foul-mouthed, gun-toting asshole who murders a woman and slags Prince off for being "that skinny mother-fucker with the high voice" while also mocking his former manager Bob Cavallo. Many believe it was Prince's reaction to the violence and misogyny prevalent in much rap music at the time, but it's also hilarious, from the slowed down vocal which gives his voice real comedy-menace to the bit where he calls up one of Prince's most critics of the time, author Nelson George, and threatens to "kick your ass... twice!"

7. Purple Rain

Eight minutes and 40 seconds of pure Hendrix-tinged soul. Guns 'n' Roses would base two whole albums on this song, and yet they called that hard rock. (If you don't believe me, listen to this, then pick a random track from Use Your Illusion Volumes 1 or 2.) And you know what? For all the 80s synths and echoey drum machines - unlike so many other songs of that era, this doesn't sound at all dated. Plus, the version released on record was actually recorded live at a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre. He chucked a few overdubs onto the recording and cleaned it up a bit... but you'd never know.

6. Raspberry Beret

Arguably the greatest pure pop song Prince ever wrote, this is surely his Summertime Blues. Although it's hard to imagine a teenage Prince working part-time in the 5 'n' Dime, the rest of the lyrics could well be the true story of young Prince's sexual awakening. Plus, this is the song that gave Ian Broudie his band name when he misheard the lyrics "the thunder drowns out what the lightning sees". What else do you need?

5. Gett Off

My favourite Prince album - against stiff competition from Sign 'O' The Times and Purple Rain - is 1991's Diamonds & Pearls. I think one of the reasons I loved it so much at the time was that the charts were dying in the early 90s. There was so much over-produced dross out there (this was before grunge, Britpop, anything else of import that happened in that decade) and I was 19, for god's sake! I wanted something to get down to! And then I heard Gett Off. From that opening scream, followed by the bit where he says "club mix" so it sounds like "fuck me", he had me. And then he went on to deliver his muckiest single to date...
Something about a little box
With a mirror and a tongue inside...
...what can I say, I was 19 and gagging for it. Prince understood that. Sadly, this was the most action I got that year: but, damn, it was better than nothing.

4. When Doves Cry

Listen to that intro - Jimi would be proud. On top of everything else he did so well, Prince played the guitar like a maniac. I wasn't a big fan of the latest Mad Max film, but I did love the guy with the flaming guitar. Because that, surely, was based on Prince...

Why do we scream at each other? 
This is what it sounds like when doves cry...
3. U Got The Look

The first Prince song I ever bought was the 7 inch of this storming duet (with Sheena f-king Easton... who else in the world could have made Sheena Easton cool?) from Sign 'O' The Times. I was 15, and I thought Prince must surely be the king of chat-up lines...
Your face is jamming
Your body's heck-a-slamming
If love is good
Let's get to ramming
And they played that on the radio, and nobody batted an eyelid. Because it was Prince.

You know, listening back now, I think this is Prince's answer to Paradise By The Dashboard Light. (Maybe it's just the baseball metaphors.) The only difference being that Prince, unlike Meat 'n' Jim, didn't have to promise the earth to get his end away. Because he was Prince.

2. Sign 'O' The Times

It's easy to forget that Prince could - and did - write many songs that weren't just about getting off. I've studied the lyrics to Sign 'O' The Times with my GCSE English students as a lesson in the use of emotive language in pop songs, and it's no wonder that it's the song people automatically reach for when they're trying to prove his worth as a serious artist. But as with Bowie, immediately after his death, these lyrics take on a whole new significance... 
It's silly, no?
When a rocket blows
And everybody still wants 2 fly
Some say a man ain't happy, truly
Until a man truly dies
Oh why? Oh why?

Sign O the Times
1. Let's Go Crazy

Is it possible to choose a favourite Prince song? Probably not. But today, under these circumstances, this is the one I came up with. And here's why...
Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life:
It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here 2 tell u
There's something else:
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night

So when u call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
U know the one - Dr Everything'll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

'Cuz in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You're on your own

And if de-elevator tries 2 bring u down
Go crazy - punch a higher floor!

OK, so I put together a list... and now I'm going to hit 'Publish' and walk away. Because this was truly an impossible task, and if I start thinking about it anymore I'm going to want to include Diamonds & Pearls, Kiss, Peach, Batdance, Pope, Girls and Boys, Anotherloverholeinthehead, Little Red Corvette, Come, I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, Gold, 7, Guitar, Partyman, New Power Generation, Controversry and three dozen others.

You think you can do better? Be my guest.

Good night, sweet Prince...

Friday 15 April 2016

My Top Ten Misunderstood Songs

I often feel misunderstood. I reckon this blog is very misunderstood. We try our best, but it's so easy to sow the seeds of misunderstanding wherever we go. This week - ten songs that feel the same.

Special mention to 60s psych-rockers The Misunderstood.

10. Pink - Missundaztood

It all goes back to Madonna. If Lady Gaga is David Lynch Madonna, then Pink Alecia Beth Moore is Riot Grrrl Madonna. To be honest, this isn't one of P!nk's best - it's pretty average pop-filler material, although it was the title track of her second album. It does sum up her character quite well... but she'd record far better pop songs as time went by.  

9. The Grapes of Wrath - Misunderstanding

Forgotten (by me, at least) Canadian alt-rockers of the late 80s, this was their debut single from 1985.

8. Mötley Crüe - Misunderstood

Yes! It's been far too long since I managed to find room for a decent slice of poodle rock on this blog. It's always good to piss off the musos (then again, maybe that's why I have so few readers... do they misunderstand me?)

This is pretty sedate and serious compared to the Crüe's usual excesses, perhaps because it comes from the era when regular lead singer Vince Neal had buggered off to go and play with race cars. His (as it turned out, temporary) replacement was John Corabi, a man who obviously took things a little more seriously. Or maybe the record company were just trying to reposition the band to capitalise on the success of Guns 'n' Roses at the time. I don't claim to be a poodle rock expert, but I don't mind a little mosh now and again.

7. Electric Soft Parade - Misunderstanding

2007 single from this extermely under-appreciated indie band ("psych pop", according to iffypedia) made of up Brighton brothers Alex & Thomas White. Sunshiny guitar music that's always worth a spin.

6. Wilco - Misunderstood

Here's an interesting one, as Jeff Tweedy takes on the perspective of a disgruntled fan, still bitter over the break-up of Tweedy's previous band, Uncle Tupelo. According to what I read on t'internet, anyway. It's all a bit vague to me, just what Jeff is whinging about. Good song though.

5. Gene Clark - Some Misunderstanding

Before Roger McGuinn took over (with a little help from Bob Dylan), Gene Clark was the lead singer and songwriter of The Byrds. Later, he released a number of unsuccessful solo albums which would become far more influential and critically acclaimed after his death. Clark always claimed the album this song comes from, 1974's No Other, was his masterpiece. Forty years later, the likes of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear would surely agree. 

4. The Contours - A Little Misunderstanding

Great lost Motown nugget, co-written by Stevie Wonder (he also plays drums). The Contours are more well-known for their earlier smash Do You Love Me? (which, if you're my age, you'll probably have encountered first on the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing). The lead vocal is performed by Levi Stubbs' brother Joe, having replaced original singer Billy Gordon. He only lasted one song though before Dennis Edwards of the Temptations took over. Although Joe Stubbs' doesn't quite have his brother's pipes, I still think this sounds like prime Motown - it could well have been a Four Tops song.

3. Eric Church - Mr. Misunderstood

I kind of cocked up my Best Albums of 2015 countdown by including Eric Church's The Outsiders, which it later turned out had been released the year before. This, however, is the title track from the album Eric actually did release last year (he's a prolific bugger)... and damn, if it isn't even better.

Mr. Misunderstood starts out as a song about not being into the same music as your mates... something I presume most of the regular readers of this blog have experienced at one point or other in their lives.
Now, your buddies get their rocks off on Top 40 radio
But you love your daddy's vinyl, old-time rock and roll
Elvis Costello, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and think Jeff Tweedy is one bad mother
Mr. Misunderstood, Mr. Misunderstood
 (And now I have to go out and find me some Ray Wylie Hubbard.)

Typically for an Eric Church record, though, it then goes on to tell a much bigger story (which is probably why I like Church so much - he does love words, and he ain't afraid to use them). 

2. Richard Thompson - I Misunderstood

I saw Richard Thompson play live a few years back and I was mesmerised: he may well be the greatest guitar player I've ever seen up-close. But it wasn't the fretwork that originally made me fall for him, it was the dark yet heartfelt lyrics, of which this is prime example. Here he misreads a polite brush-off as an encouraging come-on... and by god, if we haven't all been there.
She was laughing as she brushed my cheek
"Why don't you call me, angel, maybe next week
Promise now, cross your heart and hope to die".

But I misunderstood, but I misunderstood, but I misunderstood
I thought she was saying good luck, she was saying good bye...
If the synthy 90s mix from the video doesn't quite push your buttons, try the rawer live version from a few years back. Shivers.

1. Elvis Costello - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Originally recorded by Nina Simone in 1964 (and you've got to go some to beat her version), then perhaps most memorably by The Animals a few years later. The disco version recorded by Santa Esmerelda & Leroy Gomez that Quentin Tarantino appropriated for one of the Kill Bill soundtracks is also pretty cool (as you'll see above, they win top prize in the record cover contest). Most recently recorded by Lana Del Rey, a contemporary artist I used to have a lot of time for (the Chris Isaak Madonna?)... until she revealed herself to be a one-trick pony.

So why does Elvis Costello's 1986 cover from King of America take the crown for me? It's the voice. And the conviction. I believe every word he sings. Plus, I was a teenage Elvis Costello fan, and the records of your youth stay with you to your grave...
Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad.
But don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel?
When things go wrong, I seem to be bad.
But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good:
Oh Lord! Please don't let me be misunderstood...

Which is your most misunderstood record? No prizes for saying 'Born In The USA' or 'The One I Love' by REM... that's an entirely different Top Ten.

Saturday 9 April 2016

My Top Ten Elephant Songs

I was genuinely surprised by how many elephants I found in my record collection. So many great songs featuring playful pachyderms, I couldn't even find room for 'When I See An Elephant Fly'...

Special mentions to Cage The Elephant, The White Stripes (classic album) and to Elephant Elephant by Evelyn Evelyn which, much as I love Amanda Palmer, is a bit too quirky even for this blog...

10. Boomtown Rats - The Elephant's Graveyard (Guilty)

After two classic albums and a well-regarded debut in three consecutive years, the Rats took a year off and let the quality slip on their fourth, 1981's rather muddled Mondo Bongo. It was the beginning of the end for a once-great group, and the second single, Elephant's Graveyard, ably demonstrates why. It's not a bad song - but neither is it I Don't Like Mondays or Rat Trap. The ridiculous B-movie is an object lesson in record company excess ripping the soul from a band as it pours on the cash.

9. Vashti Bunyan - 17 Pink Sugar Elephants

Some debate recently over on Charity Chic's blog when he had the temerity to throw a bit of Vashti Bunyan on the playlist. A bit too hippy-dippy, twee-diddly-dee for some, but I always liked this one myself.

Bad Seed Mick Harvey also did a song called Pink Elephants as the original title track of his excellent album of Serge Gainsbourg covers. Can't find a link for that though.

8. The Stone Roses - Elephant Stone
Down through the heavens
Choke in the cotton clouds
Arctic sheets and fields of wheat
I can't stop coming down
Your shrunken head
Looking down on me above
Send me home like an elephant stone
To smash my dream of love
Who says the drugs didn't work?

Apparently, the Roses are currently in the studio recording their first new material in 20+ years. That should be interesting...

7. Bo Diddley - Elephant Man

From 1970, so pretty damned late in Bo's career; this is interesting because it takes the familiar Diddley guitar sound (which, let's face it, had a pretty big hand in the creation of rock 'n' roll), then wraps it in a kind of Steppenwolfy organ of the day. The lyrics tell of how Bo actually created the elephant... which, as we've just established, isn't too far off the truth.

See also Elephant Man by Suede: not bad, but not quite up to Bo's standards.

6. Bobby Goldsboro - Me & The Elephant

Lesser spotted hit from the man who sang Honey, the song Tony Blackburn used to dedicate to his wife Tessa while their divorce was going through (cruelly parodied years later by Smashie & Nicey). When I was putting the longlist together for this post, I didn't think this track stood a chance. Then I listened to it again. Just call me an old romantic...
Well, the monkey forgot you
The hippo forgot you
And so did the kangaroo
But me and the elephant,
We'll never forget you...
5. James McMurtry - See The Elephant

On first hearing, this is a song about a kid wanting to go see the elephants at a travelling show. The commentators on youtube claim that it's also a metaphor for a young soldier going off to face battle in the Civil War. By the end of the song you start to hear more hints of that as Pete and Johnny are "dressed up in their navy blue". "Seeing the elephant" is an American expression for growing up and realising the world's a bit of a shitty place, really.

4. Tame Impala - Elephant

A lot of fuss was made about Tame Impala off the back of this single: understandably as it's a classic slice of fuzzy glam that owes more than a little to the Doctor Who theme tune. Couldn't get into the album though. I'm coming around to the idea that I'm getting too old for a lot of this stuff now...

3. Henry Mancini - Baby Elephant Walk

You may think you've never heard this, but if you're over a certain age (I dunno, 29?), chances are you'll know it very well. It was written for the movie Hatari, which I've never seen, but I always loved the tune.

2. Jason Isbell - Elephant

I've been looking for a way to get some Jason Isbell on this blog for a few weeks now as his latest album, Something More Than Free, has been a firm favourite in my car since I bought it a couple of months back. Typically, when I do get the chance, it's a track from his previous album, Southeastern, that fits the bill. But as an example of why he's making serious waves in Americana at the moment, this'll do fine... a heartbreaking story about a guy who falls for a woman with cancer. A sensitive subject, but Jason pulls it off with class.
But I'd sing her classic country songs and she'd get high and sing along
She don't have a voice to sing with now
We burn these joints in effigy and cry about what we used to be,
And try to ignore the elephant somehow, somehow
1. R.E.M. - The Great Beyond

In which Michael Stipe pushes an elephant up the stairs to give REM their biggest UK hit. Taken from Man On The Moon, the biopic of Andy Kaufman, and one of the very few Jim Carrey films I can bare to watch (see also Eternal Sunshine & The Truman Show). What's it got to do with elephants? Why is Stipey pushing one up the stairs? As with all R.E.M. lyricism you'd be better off looking for answers from the great beyond...

Which elephant song will you never forget?

Monday 4 April 2016

My Top Ten Toaster Songs

So last week, Martin set me a challenge (perhaps jokingly) to see if I could come up with 10 songs featuring toasters. Well, I always like a challenge... here's the best I could pop up. No burnt offerings. Etc. Etc.

10. Streetband - Toast

Let's start with the obvious one to make things harder. Before he started laying his hat in the lap of the common people, Paul Young was in a bunch of different bands (including Kat Kool & the Kool Cats and The Q-Tips). Some still consider this novelty b-side (flipped into a hit by Kenny Everett) to be his greatest moment.

See also Yeah, Toast!, which the internet claims is by Arcade Fire. I'm not sure I believe the internet though...

9.  The Ataris - Lately
Lately I've been thinking bout' stickin' my hand in a toaster...
...sings lead Atari Kris Rose on this track from the band's punky (if not Punky - that's #6) debut album from 1997. Woman problems, obviously. Sadly, the live version on t'internet doesn't do it justice.

8. Squeeze - Woman's World

Great female empowerment tune from the fourth Squeeze album, East Side Story, in which a housewife has enough of housework...
Press the button on the toaster, it's a woman's world
Tuck the sheets in on the bed, it's a woman's world
Take your apron from your holster, it's a woman's world
Shoot the crown off of your head, it's a woman's world
7. Tobin Sprout - Toaster

Sometime member of Robert Pollard's US indie band Guided By Voices, Tobin has also released a loaf of solo records over the years. This was his debut solo single from 1995.

Sadly the toaster in question is someone making a toast, rather than making toast. Still, it was the only song I could find that was actually called Toaster, so it deserved a place.

6. Simon & Garfunkel - Punky's Dilemma

Even when he was writing piffle, Paul Simon still made gold. This was submitted for The Graduate soundtrack but the producers rejected it - perhaps it was a bit too goofy for them, but it still sounds great to me. Somehow far less annoying than when Paul McCartney wrote the same kind of nonsense...
Wish I was an English muffin
‘Bout to make the most out of a toaster
I’d ease myself down
Comin’ up brown
I prefer boysenberry
More than any ordinary jam
I’m a “Citizens for Boysenberry Jam” fan
5. Don Henley - Sunset Grill

I wanted to include Henley's earlier song Long Way Home in which Don moans...
The heat don't work
The toaster don't work
The car don't work
And I guess I know why
This house don't work and this dream don't
Work no more
And lover, neither do you and I
...sadly, it's not available on youtube (not in this country, anyway), so I had to settle for using the grill... which, given the toaster isn't working, seemed like a viable option.

4. Bobby Bare - She's My Ever-Lovin' Machine

A delicious slice of whimsy written by cartoonist and children's author (not to mention the songwriter who gave Johnny Cash A Boy Named Sue and got Dr. Hook to call Sylvia's Mother) Shel Silverstein. When Bobby's girl leaves him for another man, he goes down to the cellar and cobbles together a mechanical replacement. You can guess the rest...
She always did what she was supposed to
Right up to this evening but then
She had an affair with a toaster
And they ran off and left me again.
See also Tim McGraw's What She Left Behind, in which Tim's lady buggers off and takes the toaster with her. Tim's not smart enough to build a replacement.

3. Crash Test Dummies - There Are Many Dangers

Some serious Health & Safety advice from the Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm dudes...
If your toast gets stuck in the toaster
Do not put a fork in the toaster while it is hooked up, or look out
I did and I got caught in the current
Pulled me in and shook me while it held me tight...
2. Carly Simon - Coming Around Again

A song about the frustrations of being a mother, particular if all Daddy does is breeze in every now and then and your toaster is constantly on the blink.
Pay the grocer
You fix the toaster
You kiss the host goodbye
Then you break a window
Burn the soufflé
Scream the lullaby
If you can get past the big hair and 80s power-drums, this is still a classic. If you can't, try this cool cover by Ash.

1. Grandaddy - Broken Household Appliance National Forest

Possibly Grandaddy's finest hour, an epic protest song about people dumping their old electrical appliances in areas of natural beauty. You might think that's not a fitting subject for a rock song, but if you ask me, it's a lot more relevant than anything Sting or U2 ever wrote.

Sit on the toaster like a rock
No need to worry about a shock
All of the microwaves are dead
Just like the salamander said
The refrigerators house the frogs
The conduit is the hollow log...

Which one is your pop tart?

Friday 1 April 2016

My Top Ten Flight Attendant Songs

Air hostesses, stewardesses, flight attendants... trolly dollies, as my old friend Ian jokingly describes himself (he's allowed to use that otherwise sexist term since... hell, that's his job). They pop up in pop songs more than you might expect. Here are ten high-flying examples...

Special mention to Flight of the Conchords - The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room). If there was a prize for the song I've shoehorned into this blog more than any other, this would be a strong contender. It never fails to make me smile...
You're so beautiful - you could be an air hostess in the 60s...

10. Busted - Air Hostess

Busted make me laugh in a 12-year-old-British-lads-play-at-being-Blink-182 kinda way. You've got to admire them for getting away with it as long as they did / have (living on now as McBusted - or in lead singer Charlie Simpson's rather dull in comparison "grown-up" solo career). Air Hostess is the kind of sexist nonsense you can only really get away with if you're a teenage lad... you can't really hate them for it.

9. Weird Al Yankovic - Airline Amy

If you only know Weird Al from his amusing (in small doses) parody tunes, you may be surprised to hear one of his own compositions such as this. The lyrics are as sharp as the parodies and the tunes offer some great power-pop rockin'.

8. Dawes - From A Window Seat

A few weeks back, I was singing the praises of Dawes' "debut album", All Your Favourite Bands. And nobody corrected me. Which only goes to show that a) nobody reads this stuff or b) Bob Harris doesn't read this stuff. Anyway, I've since discovered that AYFB is actually Dawes' fourth long-player. This is from their third, and it encourages me to dig further into their back catalogue...
I buckle my seat belt, plug my headset in a chair
And to the music, I watch flight attendants move
They are pointing out the exits, but it looks more like a prayer
Or an ancient dance their bloodline reaches through
7. Richard Thompson - Let It Blow
He was a species on the verge of extinction
She was an Air New Zealand hostess
They were mystically joined, like Rawicz and Landauer
Like Pinky and Perky, like Porgy and Bess
Extra points if you don't need to google 'Rawicz and Landauer'. I did. Richard Thompson: never will the word 'genius' be hyperbole.
But the fourth week, the whole thing was toast
And she dragged her tail back to New Zealand
With threats of High Court and revenge
Meanwhile his eye did stray to the ample bustier
Of a novelty dancer from Penge
6. Liz Phair - Straford On Guy

Liz Phair scares the bejeebus out of me like the worst kind of femme fatale.

A bad girl in a good way.

5. Fountains of Wayne - Seatbacks & Tray Tables

I think this is actually written from the perspective of a tired-of-touring rock star (although FoW dispute they are anything of the sort), but it could so easily be a first person narrative of a fed-up-with-flying attendant.
Trade one town for another
Delayed now, why do we bother?
And X on the calendar square,
New city - same stuff
Seatbacks and tray tables up...
4. The Replacements - Waitress In The Sky

I guess Paul Westerberg had a bad experience with an air hostess...this was his typically grumpy response.
And the sign says, "Thank you very much for not smoking"
My own sign says, "I'm sorry, I'm smokin'"
Don't treat me special, don't kiss my ass
Treat me like the way they treat 'em up in first class
3. 10CC - I'm Mandy, Fly Me

One of my favourites from the British spoonful (google the origin of their name if you don't know it), this has a rather interesting story behind it (which you can read here, I refuse to copy and paste from iffypedia). You can hear the way it's clearly three or four different songs stitched togethed - just like Bohemian Rhapsody or Paranoid Android - and when I listen to something like this, it makes me sad that bands aren't allowed to be this experimental in the mainstream anymore.

2. Foo Fighters - Learn To Fly

On the surface, Learn To Fly isn't really to do with flight attendants at all. As with most of Dave Grohl's lyrics, it's all so metaphorical it could be about anything.

The hilarious video, on the other hand, suggests otherwise...

1. Hall & Oates - Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)

On the classic 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette, one of the best tracks is this laid back, slightly jazzy tribute to Daryl Hall's longtime girlfriend Sara Allen, a stewardess who would go on to become a frequent songwriting collaborator for the duo. (She was also the inspiration for their breakthrough chart hit: Sara Smile.)
And any night well she's here, half way 'round the world, oh I could cry
And so I know I've got to pray for delays and for days 'til she's besides me
All alone in her room and her scattered clothes remind me
Sara please

Which one lifts your tray table up?

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