Archive for the 'All-time Classic' Category

Randy Newman – I Love L.A.

You will have to forgive me this (probably) one time indulgence. I was born in Southern California. I lived there for 25 years. Despite spending the most recent third of my life in the Midwest, the blood coursing through my veins is that of an Angeleno. Nearly 12 years in Chicago has done nothing to change that. This became all the more relevant on Wednesday night, when the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings, setting up a Western Conference Finals between the local Blackhawks (for whom my feelings vary between loathe and indifferent), and my Los Angeles Kings, a team I have loved since I was old enough to remember going to hockey games. The series begins tomorrow. Gonna be a fun two weeks!

The Kings play a snippet of this song after every goal, which is why I’ve chosen it. I still remember when this song came out. It was in the lead-up to the 1984 Olypmics in Los Angeles, and everyone was convinced that L.A. needed an official song, so Quincy Jones and some other people wrote a song for Frank Sinatra that would sound like New York, New York, or Chicago, My Kind of Town, or whatever. It really fell flat and no one liked it (at least that’s how I choose to remember it). But Randy Newman’s song, warts and all, really captured the L.A. aesthetic at the time, and resonated with the local populace. It was the like the music version of the era’s Showtime Lakers. It’s been a staple (no pun intended) at Kings and Lakers games ever since. It’s cheesy, but somehow this song always makes me feel connected to Los Angeles.

Go Kings!

The Boy With the Arab Strap

One of my favorite songs ever. This version is exceptionally good. While it is quite similar to the album version, in this case the execution of such a facsimile enhances the feeling of vibrancy and connection. Certain songs can make your spine tingle a bit when you hear a live version that hits the tiny parts that you treasure, and because you are hanging on waiting for those brief moments, when they arrive they are that much more powerful.

Key aspect of this version is the faithful reproduction of the outro, which can be ad-libbed in other renditions. Also the volume gets pretty low on the album fade out so it can be very hard to catch, but here it is right there.

Non, Je ne regrette rien-Edith Piaf w/ Marion Cotillard

I’m not sure why this song resonates so much with me. I wonder if its placement in a variety of films has imprinted it on my consciousness. I think it is in Babe, Pig in the City, one of my litmus test films. Polarizing does not begin to describe it. GC is excluded from this litmus test because she is basically allergic to talking animals. I was just on YouTube reading comments from people acting like they were scarred for life by Babe, Pig in the City. I suggest that these people are also likely to embrace juvenile philosophies such as Objectivism or Notgetitism. To those people, I dedicate this song, which somehow seems so defiant and strong that it comes across as a polite yet firm “f*** you.”

Hang on to Your Ego-The Beach Boys

What can be said, that has been said better somewhere else. Sometimes no matter how great the critical adulation or reevaluation or geekster pop love for the Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, some will always consider them ultradorks and deeply insufferable. They are the ultimate in wonder bread, and some will refuse to appreciate. To them, I say check it before you wreck it. Not all people that don’t like the Beach Boys are crusty bumsicles, but some are, and they are in such a way that you know their taste in things is sad. What can I say? They isolate their heads and stay in their safety zones! What can you say that won’t make them defensive??? They come on like their peaceful but inside they’re so uptight. They trip through the day and waste all their thoughts at night.

To bad Brian Wilson super genius wrote a song to burst their bubbles. This isn’t the usual version of this alternate-lyric-ed original take on “I Know There’s An Answer”, it’s an alternate alternate version.

All I Need-Radiohead

I find Radiohead’s In Rainbows to be an exquisite collection of songs but one that gives me pause. I find them to be wonderful, yet with the semblance of odds and ends, and essentially this is what the album is. Many of the songs seem perfect yet half finished, opaque, secretive. Out of all of Radiohead’s work, In Rainbows most reminded of the My Iron Lung EP, a collection of non-album tracks circa The Bends. If I compare In Rainbows to the last Radiohead album, Hail To The Thief, I feel HTTT is both much more cohesive but also not as good. I wonder if the band is somehow losing steam or energy, the dissipation of which still leaves a residue of genius and wonder. I guess I am thinking these things because I wonder if a time will come when all Radiohead will have all but evaporated into warm and elusive half tones and murmuring (tasteful and great, though). I find that “All I Need” reaches a clarity that is sublime.

Parachute Woman/Jig-Saw Puzzle-Rolling Stones

Love these two from Beggar’s Banquet. The Rock and Roll Circus (live) version of “Parachute Woman” is decent and on YouTube, but it loses an edge, as opposed to gaining one as many songs do. Just some skeezy blues (the former) and some Dylan apery (the latter), but quite good.

It’s Just My Soul Responding-Smokey Robinson

This song is very interesting. A reflection on the treatment of African and Native Americans in America. It is very hypnotic. The Native American musical portion seems somewhat odd, but the song is heartfelt. Just imagine someone singing this on American Idol.


The only thing that could make this set cooler is a giant Snacktator in the background, covered with snakes I guess.


Tiger T has all the neighborhood children over for turkish delight or some such treats, nor does he/she/it/bird/notplover mind if they trail breadcrumbs throughout the parlor, he’ll/she’ll/it’ll/bird’ll/notplover’ll just sweep them up with a handy broom!

BUT WILL THE BAKED GOOD STAY JUICY? Perhaps they need to stay hydrated with some gatorade.


So pleasant, so festive! Ahh, relax and hit the nog, dudes and dudettes.

Thanks, fishwagon.


So perfect, yet hiding in plane sight, like a Chuck Norris roundhouse to the head that you knew to expect but never saw coming.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Mono)-The Beatles

John Lennon is of course great, but when he doesn’t mutlitrack himself or have some effects, sometimes he can sound a little nasally, or at least nasally in a way I never remembered him to sound on the CD version of “Lucy in the Sky…” from Sgt. Peppers. My memories were from playing my parents’ orginal vinly copy, and the CD sounds different. I never realized this was because the mixes are different- the mono mix on the record is a totally different mix (beyond its monophinic nature). Cue up your CD and listen and then compare with this:

Much better.

Kathleen has a Song of the Day coming up, when I get my act together.

Bonus “She Said She Said”

Someone pointed out the drumming on this track to me as being amazing. Now I am addicted to it.

Electric Avenue-Eddy Grant

Have we done this one before. I’m sorry to say that this song is super duper. I expect that when Blue Girl is not:

A) Motorin’


B) Not breaking her stride

she is taking it higher, etc.

A Quick One While He’s Away-The Who

Kind of wanky some might conclude, but total genius. To be honest, I’ve always thought The Who were fine, but the sound is always so clean it was hard for me to understand for what purpose this band was once “the loudest on Earth.” I heard a bootleg “Live at Fillmore East” on the radio and my mind was changed. To compare we have two versions of the epic “A Quick One While He’s Away.” Please note there are only three people playing instruments, and yet the band does not sound like Rush, they sound good. You might note a slight Beach Boys influence, yet instead of using a studio to create the different mini-vignettes within the opera, they just kind of happen.

Here’s the Who at Monterey Pop (awesome, very clean):

For comparison, though, here’s the same song live at the Fillmore East (1968), where you can sense how much more powerful they could be. Pete’s still playing super cleanly, but there is a muscularity there under the 60’s tone, he’s playing the Who’s sound, but it is more raw and crunchy. What is evident is how unbelievably well they performed. I mean Zep (whether you like them or not) could show flashes of awesome but I think it is clear they phoned it in sometimes.

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Sundown-Gordon Lightfoot

Do I need to even explain myself on this one? I imagine Gordon Lightfoot squaring off against Bon Scott in hell, but with the tiniest most imperceptible shrug of his Canadian shoulders, Bon Scott explodes, defeated by Gordo. Then Satan bows his head in shame.

Testament to Youth In Verse-The New Pornographers

Many people will not like this song because of Dan Bejar’s voice, which I guess I can understand, but Geenie C. hates if for a different reason, the reason most people think that this song is altogether excellent. She hates the fact that the bells, they ring, and that they ring no no no no no no no no no no, and they do so in a like million part round. Here’s Geenie C.- “I GET IT. The bells FRACKING go NO NO NO NO NO. MOVE ON.” Wow, super harsh. Anyway, the last minute is great, and GC will freak her shit out if she watchs this because it is a random Harry Potter fanvid from You Tube! Hee hee. The point is the song and the very negative yet awesome bells. Listen for the delightful Neko Case and her wonderful voice going “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” at the end like the coolest, most refreshing drink of water imaginable.

Sharky’s Day – Laurie Anderson

Deep in the heart
Of darkest America
Home of the brave
Hah hAh Haaah
You’ve already paid for this Listen to my heart beat

One of those utterly necessary recordings (the original anyway, the video edit is rather truncated and feels somewhat choppy). All the details are pieced together, large and small, from the *pwhict* as the sun comes up over the grocery store to Adrian Belew’s landscape gone to seed. (In an interview, Anderson said something to the effect that Belew wasn’t playing a guitar, “I think it’s some sort of animal”.)

I don’t think I’m likely to say anything coherent here, this one is too much in my bloodstream.

I Am The Resurrection-Stone Roses

For Ann Emu.

Your tongue is far too long
I dont like the way it sucks and slurps upon my every word

Dont waste your words I dont need anything from you
I dont care where youve been or what you plan to do

I am the resurrection and I am the light
I couldnt ever bring myself to hate you as Id like

I am the resurrection and I am the light
I couldnt ever bring myself to hate you as Id like

This gist is that you’d need to be the big J to deal with her ridiculousness.

Eyes Are at the Billions-Cortney Tidwell

Your mind has just been blown by the Uncanny Canadian. Pitchfork gets their death sentence commuted for infinity for allowing this awesomeness to permeate your eardrum. This song will change your life. No it won’t, but it should, with it’s almost Sundays-ish intro, followed by a hazy fuzzy concussion bomb. You will become instantaneously and inexplicably sad when you hear it.

The song is supposed to be right here:

If not, go here.

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division / performed by June Tabor & Oysterband

Both June Tabor and Oysterband are mostly known for (British) folk music. However, they often seem to do things from other genres when they get together. There’s a cracking version of Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on the album they did together — said joint album actually being the only thing I knew by either of them until recently.

It looks like Oysterband is now putting on these “Big Session” concerts every year, with this video being taken from the 2006 one. A live album was released of the first of these concerts which also includes this song. Sadly, it’s never been released in the US — I’d love to hear this with better sound quality.