Thursday, April 16, 2015

Good Songs XXVIII

Crumbs on the Table – D-Nice
Informer – Snow
I Left My Wallet in El Segundo – A Tribe Called Quest
We Want Eazy – Eazy-E
OPP – Naughty by Nature
Murder Rap – Above the Law
Principal’s Office – Young MC
Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em – Eric B. and Rakim
2-Hype – Kid N’ Play
Playground – Another Bad Creation
Straight Outta Compton – NWA
Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc
Doowatchalike – Digital Underground
Mistadobalina – Del the Funkee Homosapian
Fight the Power – Public Enemy
It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock
New Jack Hustler – Ice-T
The Bomb – Ice Cube
How Ya Like Me Now? – Kool Moe Dee
The Gas Face – 3rd Bass

This is the last “Good Songs” tape that I own, which means that this is the last Good Songs blog entry that I am writing. And it’s appropriate that I’m ending this nostalgia quest with a tape that is absolutely reveling in nostalgia. I created this tape in 1999* with the intent of driving around, reminiscing about the good old days.

* I’m pretty sure I subtitled this Good Songs tape “Middle School” because the songs on it definitely weren’t new school and they weren’t old enough to be old school—and by extension, neither was I. I also created a heavy metal mix tape, called Hairy Velveeta (it was cheesy hair metal, get it?) but that tape and a few other Good Songs tapes were stolen from my car one day. Hopefully that thief created a blog where he comments on tapes he stole from cars parked in Revere, MA. If he does, send me an email and we can link blogs!

It was around this time in my life where I began to slow down my consumption of new music. There were some new bands that I liked and that I’d make the effort to listen to, but new music wasn’t as available to me anymore. I had a legit career where I wasn’t able to sit in front of MTV* and be spoonfed the latest hits.

* It was also at this point that MTV decided that playing music 24 hours a day wasn’t paying the bills, so they began focusing on TV shows rather than music. If you read the oral history of MTV entitled, “I Want My MTV” you’ll understand exactly why the channel had to do that.

The radio stations that I listened to became more segmented and I concentrated mostly on rock. The late 90s were a bad time for rock music as third-generation Grunge and nü-metal was really coming into focus and bands like Creed, KoRn, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock were the most popular acts in the country. And I got aboard that train for a little while, but that music was terrible. It was all aggression with zero intelligence, after awhile it became very boring.

Around this time I created this tape, I moved back to my parents’ house in Amesbury and perhaps I was inspired (traumatized?) by living in my old bedroom that I went back into my “old studio”. It’s not a bad mix and does a better job of capturing what I was listening to back in the day than the previous other mixes did combined.

I was a bit surprised that older mixes didn’t have any Ice-T on them because my friends and I listened to Ice-T’s “O.G.” as much as any other tape we collectively had. And I mean we listened to him a lot, even going back to his old tapes like “Power” and “Iceberg” and newer ones like “Home Invasion” and his rock/rap band: “Body Count”—which were both horrible albums.

The one thing that I never noticed was Ice-T’s very prominent lisp. It wasn’t until comedian Paul F. Tompkins brought it up on a Podcast did I start listening to Ice-T’s old stuff in a new light. The juxtaposition of a tough guy and his posturing spit out through a lisp is hilarious.

In the fall of 1991, Naughty By Nature’s “OPP” was everywhere. The title of the song was sly and subtle (at least sly and subtle for an early 90s rap song) and the background beats are awesome. Especially when you layer the Jackson 5 “ABC” cut on top of it. It was a monster hit that produced parodies (MTV got on board with “Are You Down With MTV” that featured the gang from Yo!MTV Raps rapping), t-shirts and headlines alluding to the question. It was NbN’s world that year and we were all just living in it.

I was surprised that “OPP” or at the very least “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (their second single, which sampled Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”) wasn’t included on any Good Songs tapes. Glad to hear that I corrected that mistake.

Since I’ve written about every other song on this tape, that’s pretty much it for this edition. I didn’t exactly stop create mix tapes in 1999, I moved on to creating mix CDs and they were really bad. And not bad in a way that it was fun to listen to some of these bad Good Songs mixes. They were bad in a God-I-never-want-to-listen-to-this-garbage-again, I mean Fred Durst was involved. The fact is, I have the CD booklet in my car and there have been times where I’ve tried listening to the tracks and it’s not good. Maybe in 10 years I’ll revisit, but I’m not ready to do so today.

In the next few days I’ll probably do a Good Songs wrap up where I figure out which track was on the most tapes (early bet is something by Lenny Kravitz, probably “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”) and some other odds and ends.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. The one thing that I wish that I had done differently was make “Funky Cold Medina” the last song on this tape. Why? Because it was the very first track on “Good Songs I” and that would have made for some nice symmetry. Good Songs could have been a Rust Cole infinity circle, man. Start with “Funky Cold Medina” and just keep on going and going and going and going until you get back to the drink that knocks you out. But that’s the thing about life and endings, it is very rare that you understand that something is going to end and that you have the foresight to have it end in a place where it began. 

Thank you for reading and thank you for the comments. For me, this has been a really fun writing exercise and an interesting trip down memory lane. I hope that you enjoyed it too. 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Good Songs XXVII

Pop Song ’89 – REM
Jingling Baby – LL Cool J
Paint It Black – Rolling Stones
Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
Don’t Drink the Water – Dave Matthews Band
Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Danger
I Am the Walrus – The Beatles
Sure Shot – The Beastie Boys
Rock & Roll – Led Zeppelin
Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
Number One Blind – Veruca Salt
School Days – Chuck Berry
The One – Tracy Bonham
Calling Dr. Love – KISS
Mountain Song – Jane’s Addiction
Moonlight Drive – The Doors
Where It’s At – Beck
Manic Depression – Jimi Hendrix
Alone + Easy Target – Foo Fighters
With Plenty of Money and You – Count Bassie and Tony Bennett
Deeper Shade of Soul – Urban Dance Squad
Rape Me – Nirvana
Rhinoceros – Smashing Pumpkins
I Wanna Be Just Like You – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

If you look at two of the last five songs on this mix, guess which movie I was really into at this point in my life? If you said “Swingers”, you win a no-prize. At this time in my life, it was no surprise that I obsessively watched the adventures of Mike, Trent, Sue, Rob and Charles. They were around the same age, they were in the same weird limbo between career and college, they drank a lot, played Sega and looked for girls. This was all stuff that my friends and I did. The only difference is that they were in Los Angeles and I was in Boston.

The style was consuming for awhile; I tried being a martini drinker, dressing nice(r), listening to swing music (I bought the Swinger soundtrack AND a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy CD), but it didn’t stick. By the summer I was back to my beer-drinking, slovenly-dressed, rock and rap ways. It was a nice suit to try on, but it didn’t fit.

This was a pretty decent Good Songs, on this listen I enjoyed pretty much all of the songs* and it’s one that I’ll probably fire up again. What I found interesting, is that not only do Count Bassie and Tony Bennett make their first appearance on the penultimate Good Songs tape but Prince, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones do too.

* I haven’t heard DMB’s “Don’t Drink the Water” in years, but I remember it being one of the last songs of his that I actually enjoyed. On this relisten, I can say that the song is excruciatingly terrible. It’s plodding, masturbatory, directionless and the lyrics are so ham-handed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Porky Pig was listed as a co-writer. Even the uncredited background vocals of Alanis Morissette doesn’t help much—though the way I felt about her at this point in my life, I’m sure it was a strike against the song. I always thought that it was DMB’s fans that drove me away, turns out it was him all along.

I wonder what took me so long to include the Rolling Stones on a Good Songs tape? The answer to that question is because I don’t own any of their albums, tapes, CDs, 8-tracks or MP3s (except for this one). It’s not because I don’t like the Rolling Stones, they’re an all-time great band, but I’ve never been inspired to transfer money from my wallet to a store’s cash register in exchange for one of their albums.

This isn’t a situation like Bruce Springsteen or Pink Floyd where I’m not crazy about their music, but I get why they have fans. I like the Stones and all of their hits and I’m sure I’d be crazy about their deep cuts too. But the Rolling Stones seem to be everywhere and they’ve never left us, which I think is the big differentiator from other bands that are seemingly everywhere like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin*.

* The Who fit into this mold too and I don’t own anything by them either, despite really enjoying their music. There’s a lot of great Who songs and they’re different and they’re loud and they’re smart and they have great lyrics and music, but I’m just not a Who guy. There’s not even a Who song on any of the 28 volumes of Good Songs, which is kind of surprising. I also don’t have a Tom Petty song on any Good Songs tape, which is even more surprising.

But the Rolling Stones won’t go away. The Beatles’ songs are still everywhere but the band broke up, John and George died, as a collection of individuals they did their own things. And some of that thing includes Beatlesque stuff, but they aren’t coming back. Same with Zeppelin. John Bonham is dead and Robert Plant—for whatever reason he’s giving this week—doesn’t want to reunite with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.  

This is my problem with bands like the Stones or the Who, they’re old (in their 70s) and they’re still touring. And yes, they’re still pulling in fantastically large crowds and are selling out arenas all over the Earth, but at some point, enough is enough. One could argue that these bands love what they’re doing and they’re moved by the spirit of the music. But when was the last time the Who or the Stones played at a small club? They’re playing in places designed to get as many people as they possibly can for as much money as they possibly can.

And that’s fine, I am not of the mind to tell a person when he or she has too much money*. But at the same time, it starts to look a little embarrassing, doesn’t it? I understand that baby boomers and the like will still feel youthful as long as Mick and Keith are prancing around a stage at Madison Square Garden like they did almost 60(!) years ago. But they’re not fooling anyone and they haven’t for quite awhile. Aside from Lorne Michaels or a few investment bankers, who thinks that Mick Jagger is cool**?

* Around the time that I created this mix tape, Led Zeppelin announced that they were going to lend their song, Rock & Roll, to a Cadillac commercial. It made me so angry and I mentioned that to my roommate, who was an accountant at a (then) Big Six accounting firm in Boston. We had a heated debate on selling out and how much money should a band make and whether commercial music is art. Not surprisingly I was on the liberal side of the argument and thought that this was abhorrent as Page, Plant and Jones had plenty of money and were ruining their song. My roommate said I was crazy and that pop music is a commodity and if someone wants to buy it, they should get cash for it. I was adamant that he was wrong, but after going over that debate, I was the one who was wrong. There is integrity among artists, but there’s never a time when one has “too much money” and for me to suggest that was dumb and naïve.

** Keith Richards will always have some semblance of coolness only because of what he’s done in the past. As a person, right now in 2015, Keith Richards isn’t really cool at all. He's old, he's broken down, unintelligible and is miming his way through old age. But the life that Keith Richards has lead is undoubtedly cool, so it carries over into his present day-to-day life. And I know how ridiculous it sounds for a 40-year-old man to be judging who or what is cool, but it’s my blog and it’s what I do.
As I get closer to the end of this project, the idea of youth and nostalgia is becoming more and more clearer. No one wants their youth to end—actually I should amend that, no one wants the youth that they have encased in amber (like the dinosaur DNA hidden in the mosquito in Jurassic Park) to end. But like that dinosaur DNA, if you try to replicate that youth now, it would go horribly wrong. And that’s what the Rolling Stones and their ilk are caught up in—though caught is probably the wrong word. Maybe partake? I don't know.

Audiences have long struggled when it comes to deciding how they want their entertainers to age. Do you want them to keep going on and on and on and on doing the same stuff year after year, decade after decade like the Stones or the Who? Do you want them to evolve as people and as artists so that their new stuff sounds nothing like their older stuff that you grew up with, like the Beastie Boys did before MCA died?

I don’t have the foggiest idea and often go back and forth on the topic as there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. The Rolling Stone solution (for lack of a better term) is good because you can pay for your seat, hear the songs that you love, take a stroll down memory lane and for awhile feel like you’re young again. No one wants to hear a new Paul McCartney song or a new Stones song because you love the old ones so much and don’t want to sacrifice a hit for a song that will probably suck*.

* Musicians are like athletes. They peak in the late 20s and by the time they’re in their 30s (especially if they’re successful) it’s all downhill. There’s nothing worse than a millionaire trying to remember what it was like when he or she was poor.

But at the same time, that visage of nostalgia is smashed when you look on the Jumbotron and see octogenarians singing about banging chicks, taking drugs and being street fighting men. It’s embarrassing. And after the embarrassment wears off you look around and see all of the old faces and it dawns on you that you’re old too. That realization, juxtaposed with the music echoing your youth can be a real mindfuck down depression road.

The Beasties solution is the other side of the coin where you know you need to change, you do it and hope that your fans come along for the ride. It would have been real easy for the Beasite Boys to release License to Ill 2, LtI 3, LtI 4 and so on. The records would have sold a bunch, they’d have made a lot of cash and they’d be the heroes to bro-frat boys everywhere. But they realized that that wasn’t who they were and they changed it up for “Paul’s Boutique”, which was so far ahead of it’s time (it’s probably my favorite album ever) that it was a bomb.

No one knew what to do with a non-wiffle-ball-bat-raping Beastie Boys.

They released “Check Your Head” and their audience started to catch up. By the time they released “Ill Communication”, the Beasites were back on top and they were given carte blanche to do whatever the hell they wanted. 

Full disclosure: I love the Beastie Boys, they're one of my favorite acts. So I think that the way that their career trajectory went was probably the way I'd do it if I was in a band. But it was a struggle to go from hasbeens to geniuses and I bet they lost a lot of fans who thought that they “sold out” or “got weird”. Not a ton of bands can do this and the road to Cleveland is littered with acts who tried to switch it up and got left in the dust. If MCA hadn't died and the BBoys toured until they were 80, I'd probably line up to see them (though I'd have wondered if maybe they should change their names) so maybe it has more to do with the generation. On the whole, Baby Boomers are obnoxious and I've been waiting for them to exit the stage since I was a teenager, so there's a good possibility that I'm transferring my frustration with a whole generation on a five dudes from England. 

Because I get why these nostalgia shows are so popular. The last two concerts I saw were Living Colour (who played the entirety of their first album from front to back) and the Kings of Rap Tour (De La Soul, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and LL Cool J), so it’s not like I’m trolling for new music every weekend. It’s cool to take that DeLorean back to 1993 and relive your youth, I get it. I mean, I do it once or twice a year at most, but I wonder if it takes a toll on the artist?

And as terrible as this sounds, the only solution is death. Not your death, of course—that's crazy, but the death of your favorite rock star, which is terrible thing to wish for. But with the death of an important band member, that band stays crystalized in amber forever.

I’m not a person who puts too much stock in legacies—I think for the most part people who talk about that stuff are full of shit—but do you know how terrible the Doors would have been if Jim Morrison lived? He was would have spent the 1970s doing one embarrassing thing after another, recorded sloppy albums with messy poetry and it would have been bad. The 80s and 90s would have seen a revitalization in the Doors (like our 80s and 90s) and there would have been reunion concerts and Morrison being paraded around on talk shows like some relic from the dangerous past.

Jim Morrison, the one that we know, could have only existed in one time and that was the late 1960s. People had a higher tolerance for bullshit back then and the stuff he used to pull was considered whimsical and free-spirited.

“He doesn’t kow-tow to the Man, man.”

But you know who the Man is? It's us. If you paid money to see the Doors and Jimmy decided to tie one on or whip out his penis and the show was cancelled after two songs? That sucks, no matter how good of a story it is. You paid to hear music, not some drunk slurring through his songs*. I went to a Jane’s Addiction show where security was a joke and a crush of people bum rushed the stage in the opening minutes. The concert was postponed for an hour and when the band came back, they played for 40 minutes (all slow jams) before splitting. I felt ripped off.

* I know I wrote about this in a previous entry, but I bought a Jimi Hendrix/Jim Morrison "bootleg" that I thought was going to be magical. It was terrible. Hendrix was way too wasted to play the guitar and when he brings Morrison on stage to sing some song, Jim is too drunk to remember the words. I felt as if both of the ripped me off from beyond the grave. Stupid hippies. 

It’s almost better to go out early and leave a pretty corpse.

A few things:

Harvey Danger – When this song came out, I had a girlfriend and she said that every time she heard “Flagpole Sitta” she thought of me. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure if she still feels that way, but it was an interesting observation to make*. That got me thinking, I wonder if there are other songs that people associate with me? I know that there are a ton that I associate with people I know. I should probably make a list, I bet that would be interesting.

* My friend Ryan’s sister Keri said that every time that she hears Living Colour, she thinks of me. That’s probably because when I was at Ryan’s house, I’d make him play Vivid over and over and over again. It’s probably a PTSD thing. Sorry about that, Keri.

Veruca Salt – This song (Number One Blind) is on a very short list of my favorite songs of all-time. It wasn’t particularly popular, it doesn’t hold any special significance to an event that happened in my life, but for some reason I really love it. Okay, it’s the guitar solo at the end, so awesome. If I end up drinking too much and have my laptop in front of me, I will watch this video (only shown on MTV five times) on a loop.

REM – I put this song on here because it reminded me of a really tough time in my life and how I get past it. I was living in Winthrop with some friends and I couldn’t take my fund accounting job any more, so I quit (for the second time in four months). It felt awesome to leave and the last day was fucking great. However, after two months of no job, that awesome feeling was not so awesome anymore. I missed my work friends, I missed having money and I was getting worried that I’d never find a job.

I found one. For about a month I worked as a sales associate at J. Crew in Danvers, MA. There was nothing good about this gig: the commute sucked, the job was mind numbing, the money was horrible, no one there liked me and I used to let Gordon College coeds steal as much stuff as they wanted because I was so apathetic. But the muzak played “Pop Song 89” a few times during my shift (also George Harrison’s “What is Love?”) and it was the only good parts of my miserable day.

Things eventually got better, I ended up getting a job that I loved which lead to better jobs and experiences but when I hear both songs now, I think about those long, sad days and how tough it was.  It’s been a difficult few months for yours truly, but after listening to these two playlists and remembering where I was when I created them, I know that things are going to get better. There is some darkness in every life, but you have to keep plugging away and push and eventually that spring light is going to come cascading in.

I’m sure of it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Good Songs XXVI

Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve
Novocain for the Soul – The Eels
Santa Monica – Everclear
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over – Lenny Kravitz
Time – Hootie and the Blowfish
Life in Mono – Mono
Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley
The Way – Fastball
What I Am – Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
I Alone – Live
Lucas With the Lid Off – Lucas
Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai
Detroit Rock City – Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam
Hippy Chick – Soho
ABC – The Jackson Five
Mo Money, Mo Problems – Notorious B.I.G.
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Loved One – INXS
Laid – James
We Got the Beat – The Go-Go’s
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding – Elvis Costello
Pass the Dutchie -  Musical Youth

This was the first tape that I ever went on location to make, driving all the way to Needham, MA to make use of my friend, Shawn's extensive CD collection. Shawn had well over 1,000 CDs and I remember buying two extra-long cassette tapes (100 minutes total!) to harness all the music he had. This is the reason why the playlist looks like a collection of one-hit wonders and songs from bands whose albums I didn’t own.

It’s a mess, but a nice mess.

By the time I made this tape it was the spring of 1998, I was just starting a job as a reporter for the Revere Journal and living with three friends in a Winthrop, MA apartment. Life was good. I had disposable income (actually, not that much), a job that could conceivably be a career (though it didn’t turn out that way), a girl I started dating sorta seriously (we broke up by the beginning of the summer) and a place less than a block from the beach that I thought that I’d live in for a long time (I was back in Amesbury by fall of 1999).  But at that point in time, I thought that the future seemed very rosy and everything was coming up Byron.

That’s what I hear and what I feel when I listen to this mix, not the disjointed, almost manic squashing of artists such as Soho and the Jackson Five together, but the life of someone who had gotten over the hump since an unwanted college graduation and a terrible first job.

Since there is no real thread tying all of these songs together, I’m going to cheese out and write one-sentence about them. Just once sentence, that’s it. I promise*.

* Alright, maybe more than one. But I promise you that I will try to try. It won’t happen.

The Verve – I love this song, it makes me agitated, but in a good way. Like the lead singer in the video, I want to walk down a crowded street and bump my shoulder into everyone. That would be therapeutic. What’s not therapeutic (at least for the Verve) is that because they nicked a six-second sample of an obscure Rolling Stones song, they didn’t make a dime off their biggest single.  People got these guys confused with the Verve Pipe at this point in time.

The Eels – They had the theme song, Hombre Loco, for the brilliant HBO documentary “The Jinx”. This song is shockingly different from that song, it almost makes me want to check out the Eels’ back catalog. Almost.

Everclear – Lead singer Art Alexis whines a lot. Around this time I was kinda getting into Everclear because a bunch of Patriot players (include Drew Bledsoe and some of his offensive linemen) got into big trouble when they went crowdsurfing at an Everclear show and seriously injured a twenty-something woman. If the Pats liked them, why shouldn’t I? Anyway, Everclear was brought into the lexicon of a lot of 50-year-old sportswriters.

Lenny Kravitz – How many damn times is he on one of these mix tapes? God.

Hootie and the Blowfish – I like this song then and I like it now. I don’t care who knows it. Darius Rucker has a great voice and this song sorta has something to say. I’m okay with my choice.

Mono – This was the “haunting song” from the movie “Great Expectations”. I know nothing about this band, but I do like this song.

Jeff Buckley – If I was going on a date, this is the song that would be queued up and ready to go when I returned to the car. I thought that it made me seem sensitive and deep. Don’t laugh, it was on for my first date with my wife and we had a long, icebreaking conversation about Jeff Buckley*. How about that?

* What I did not know was that my wife's ex was a Jeff Buckley superfan who created a website dedicated to the man and his music. He also spoke to Buckley's mom on the reg, so my bullshit only went so far. 

Fastball – I like songs with a story to them. This song has that with an added southwestern flair. I feel like I should be enjoying a chicken fried steak and fighting off rattlesnakes as I listen to this.

Edie Brickell – This song reminds me of being in ninth grade and hanging out at my friend Ryan's house watching MTV on a mid-sized TV in his wooden paneled living room. That's pretty much it. I thought that Brickell was cute and looked like Simone (Khrystyne Haje) from "Head of the Class" and the Corey Haim movie "Lucas", I wonder what Paul Simon thought? Better yet, what did Lorne Michael think?

Live – I think that the reason why this band went away was because lead singer Ed Kowalcyzk was so intensely sincere. Every band has a bit of bullshit and myth in them and that’s what makes the bands tick. It’s what people latch on to, like Jim Morrison portrayed himself as this modern-day rock poet, but he was a drunk who liked to hear himself ramble. Kowalcyzk seemed so heartfelt and genuine and serious that he became a parody of himself. In the early 90s, most rock frontmen acted like Kowalcyzk, but you had an idea that they weren’t totally serious about it. Maybe I’m cynical, but I never bought it. Plus, their lyrics were pretty dopey too, “to cradle a baby in space.” Okay, dude.

Lucas – You should search for this video, it’s pretty awesome. When he first came out, I used to get him confused with MC 900ft Jesus or Us3, even though his song was called “LUCAS With the Lid Off”. Not to be confused with aforementioned Corey Haim move, "Lucas". Nor my nephew. 

Jamiroquai – If it wasn't for this video and his hat, I don't think anyone would have been ga-ga for this song. I mean, it's a good song. But good songs are a dime a dozen. This thing was all over the place in 1997 and 1998. I never figured out if Jamiroquai was one guy or a band. And he should have toured with Jodeci. That would have been dope.

Mighty Mighty Bosstones – This was an excellent cover by the Bosstones because it was so different from the original KISS version. This was a time where it seemed that every mildly popular band from the 70s and 80s were getting albums devoted to covering their songs and they were played the exact same way, as if the record companies hired really expensive bar bands. On the cover of this album – “Kiss My Ass” (a truly clever title) – the nuclear family is decked out in KISS makeup, except the little boy is not wearing Ace Frehley grease paint. That bugged me mainly because Ace was the coolest member of KISS, and it's not even close. 

Pearl Jam – This was the song to own if you were a “real” Pearl Jam fan back in the day. It was the B-side to the “Jeremy” single and record store workers would go crazy when someone asked what album Yellow Ledbetter was on*. If the universe was fair, this should have been former Boston Mayor Thomas Mennino’s go-to karaoke song.

* My old college roommate used to work at the Wall, a record store that was located in many of America’s malls. Just about every night in 1993 and 1994, he’d come back to school after his shift and complain about “idiots” asking about the album that YL was located on. He really became crazy about it. So, we’d ask him every time we saw him. Mainly because we’re assholes.

Soho – This song was featured in an episode of “Beverly Hills 90210”, though I can’t remember which one. I do remember that this was playing in a scene where Brandon was driving around and thinking about something important. I’d get this song ready for some important driving and thinking times too. Have I ever mentioned how much I loved 90210? It was a sickness.

The Jackson Five – These kids could really sing, huh? Damn it.

Notorious B.I.G. – For a song that’s credited to Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy and Ma$e won’t shut the hell up. But you know what? That was late 90s hip hop. Bigger is better and mo voices means mo money (which leads to mo problems*). This video was the first time that I saw anyone wear a Yankee hat that wasn’t dark blue. Mas$e started a trend that was copied by douche bags around the world (see Durst, Fred). Though I will say, I’m happy to see the gospel of baseball spread.

* Around this time Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn took his talents to Anaheim when he signed with the Angels. His career went right in the crapper after that. I wonder how many times any “hip” copy editor ever used “Mo Money, Mo Problems” as a headline of a story detailing how Vaughn should have stayed with Boston? Probably a billion, right?

David Bowie – I really should get into David Bowie, he’s someone that I have a feeling I might like. Maybe I’ll just tell everyone I’m into him. That’s just as good.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – As much as I like the Stevie Wonder version, I really like what RHCPs did with this song too.

INXS – Do you realize that this is remake too? It is. I had no idea, but man oh man, this was my favorite song off of my favorite album (circa 1988). You really can’t go too wrong with INXS on a mix tape. Who doesn’t like INXS?

James – It’s hard to listen to this song anymore. It was fun. Then it was fun and a bit overplayed. Then it’s just overplayed. Now it has transcended to shorthand. Like when you hear the first few guitar chords in a movie trailer, you know that something wacky is about to occur. “Uh oh, here comes ‘Laid’ and here comes a guy screwing a pie. Just like how God intended.”

The Go-Go’s – Their “Behind the Music” was awesome and is probably the reason why I put them on this tape. Sex, debauchery, drugs, booze, bitchy cat fights, selling out, punk roots, squalor. It’s all there. Go YouTube it, you’ll love it. I also probably put this on here because it’s in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, which I was obsessed with at this point in my life (I wanted to go to California and be a script writer – specifically for high school comedies. But I chickened out.).

Elvis Costello – I had a name burn my a disc with Elvis Costello’s best songs on it (he also did the same for The Smiths) and I still listen to both. Thank you Steve Kelly for that.

Musical Youth – Were you surprised when Musical Youth admitted this song was about marijuana? Yeah. Me either. I don’t care how old those kids were.

I did a bad job at keeping this to one sentence per band. Really bad. Sorry.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Good Songs XXV

Stop! – Jane’s Addiction
Closer – Nine Inch Nails
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Down With Disease – Phish
South of the Border – The Simpsons
The Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra
The Choice is Yours – Black Sheep
Louder Than A Bomb – Public Enemy
I Stay Away – Alice In Chains
Drive In, Drive Out – Dave Matthews Band
Egg Man – The Beastie Boys
Rocket – Smashing Pumpkin
Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
Deeper Shade of Soul – Urban Dance Squad
The Reflex – Duran Duran
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana
Crush With Eyeliner – REM
Love Fool – The Cardigans
Crazy – Seal

NOTE: When I typed the words "Dave Matthews Band and Phish" into the Google machine, the second picture came up before the first picture. The first picture, if you don't know, is Dave Matthews and Phish lead singer Tre Anastasio. Infer what you will from that.  

This is part two of a two-cassette tape set that I created in the spring of 1997. You read about the first half in Tuesday’s mammoth entry. I don’t think that this Blog post is going to come anywhere near 3,000 words, so let’s dive right in.

This tape has two bands that I don’t like very much anymore: the Dave Matthews Band and Phish. Add the Grateful Dead from last entry’s mix and you have an unholy trinity of jam bands that love nothing more than to waste their audience’s time. That’s my biggest issue with jam bands as a whole, I don’t like being at a concert and waiting 20 minutes to hear the next song.

And this goes double for bands that I do like, I have a Led Zeppelin live CD and there is a 33-minute version of “Dazed and Confused”. You know how many times I’ve listened to that track? Never. Not once. You know why? Because I have better things to do with my time than listen to Jimmy Page act as if he’s never seen a guitar before. Moby Dick is on that album too. Who wants to listen to a 20-minute drum solo? TWENTY MINUTES of John Bonham banging on the drums. You’re right Slater, you do need strong acid to handle that shit.

Actually my problems aren’t entirely with the bands—I likea bunch of the Dead’s studio stuff*, there are a handful of Phish songs I can tolerate and DMB, ugh—but it’s the fans of these bands who, for the most part, drive me crazy. Dead fans are the most benign of this lot, as they get high, trade tapes and stay smiling in the corner. Though there are some exceptions. When I was in college, nothing was worse than the newly minted Dead fan, the guy (and it usually was a guy) who “just found the Dead”. Ugh. There’s not a more annoying person alive than the person who was recently baptized in lake Jerry. And they’re all so eager to convert you. No, I do not want to hear the Dead live in Munich from 1973, Larry—especially if the band is going to jam on a “Box of Rain” for 37 minutes. 

* Do I think it takes talent to jam on a song for more than 10 minutes? Sure. But lots of things take talent and there are a lot of things that I don’t have the patience to watch. Much less spend $100 for a ticket. The Dead have some good music, some nice harmonies and wrap songs up in less than five minutes on most studio albums. I enjoy that. Music isn’t like baseball, I don’t want it to go on forever. Like David Spade once said, “Play the song like it is on the record. NO TRICKS!” Ugh. I can’t believe I quoted David Spade. See what you’ve done to me, Grateful Dead fans?

On a personal note, I had to live through that very sad day in August of 1995 when Jerry Garcia died. That was a truly troubling day. Not because Garcia died, but because I had to listen to every two-bit Dead fan cry about how “Jerry” and how his death was “really going to affect them”. No. You got over it, just like people got over the death of Kurt Cobain, John Bonham and Shannon Hoon. You just got extra high that night, because “that’s what Jerry would have wanted”. The same Jerry Garcia who died of a drug overdose, yup that’s exactly what he would have wanted.

I was working in the Merrimack College library that summer and my friend came in all dejected. I lived with this guy for a year and he knew about my musical taste and he solemnly said, “Dude. Dude, did you hear? Dude, did you hear about Jerry? What a bad day. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t sit in class.” Ugh. You just started liking this band six months ago, which was a year after your Saigon Kick phase. You’re going to be fine.

The one interesting aspect of the day Jerry Garcia died was that Dead member Bob Weir was at the Hampton (NH) Beach Casino that night performing with his band. Since I lived six miles from the venue at the time, I took a drive to see what the scene was like.

I wasn’t a big fan (obviously) but the scene was sad as hundreds of people from around the area came to sit outside the small theater to pay their respects to the man that they loved so much. That was amazing because Hampton Beach is about as far away from the Dead’s stomping grounds as you could get. But people were sad and didn’t know what else to do with their grief but they collectively thought to go to a place where they knew that there would be a collective of their people. And that was nice. There were tons of television crews outside, interviewing Deadheads and talking to them about Garcia and his impact on their lives. That was therapeutic too, I imagine.

I did try hard to be a jam-band guy when I was in college. I did. I tried my best to grow my hair out*, not care about my appearance, and really get into the music, man. But I couldn’t. I just don’t have the patience. And no band tested my patience more than Phish.

* This was a disaster. When my hair gets long, it gets incredibly bushy. I already have a long head, I don’t also need a house plant sitting on the top of it.

The first few dozen times I heard Phish, they were okay. They had some interesting melodies, clever-ish lyrics and a nice mythology. “Dude. They’re from Vermont and they love their fans because they let them tape their shows for free and someone I know knows someone who knows them and he says they are really good people.” But my college roommate was really into Phish and he got my other roommates really into Phish and he got some of my hallmates really into Phish. After a while, it was wall-to-wall Phish, around the clock. And when they weren’t playing Phish, they were talking about Phish. “Do you know that Phish drummer John Fishman plays the vacuum cleaner on stage?” That makes sense, because they both suck.

After a few months of listening to Phish and the endless supply of bootlegs* that my roommates procured, I couldn’t take it any more. The interesting melodies had become ponderous, plodding guitar solos that had become boring and masturbatory. The clever-ish lyrics had devolved into a bunch of random words thrown on a page and sung quickly to masquerade the fact that they held zero meaning. By 1995, the sight of the Phish logo made me want to gut some neo-hippies.

* I will say this, Phish fans were one of the first to understand the power of the internet. One of my roommates used to logon to Usenet (a prehistoric Reddit) and scour for people trading tapes. He’d contact them, they send a tape (often for free) and my buddy would have two hours of new music to listen to. That was Jetsons-like in 1995.

This leads me to the question: if I hated a band so much in 1995, why did I constantly add them to a mix tape over and over and over again? I can’t answer that question. Maybe I just liked these particular songs. Maybe on some level I enjoyed being the only anti-Phish outsider* and listening to the songs reminded me of my college friends. I don’t know why I did it then, but listening to Phish now, maybe I took my hate for the band a little too far.

* To be truthful, I did enjoy being the Big Bastard on this one. I remember one night where my frustration got the most of me and ripping into Phish in front of my roommates, deriding the bands’ entire catalog as a “four assholes mindlessly noodling on their instruments”. I had to leave the room because I thought that they were going to hit me. And looking back, they had every right to. I was being the asshole that night, not Tre Anastasio.

I’ve seem to have made my peace with Phish and the Dead in the last few years, but I can’t do it with Dave Matthews. I don’t know whether I just outgrew them or what, but listening to a DMB song now is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Like the Phish phungus, DMB was brought into my life by the same college roommate – he also was fond of Blues Traveller (before they went commercial), Rusted Root (I still can’t believe they nabbed a national commercial), God Street Wine, New Riders of the Purple Sage and another band whom I can see the cover of their CD but can’t remember the name. Each band was terrible, aside from Dave Matthews.

We played “Under the Table and Dreaming” a lot in my room during the spring of 1995 and I liked it. In fact, I liked Dave Matthews quite a bit; eagerly anticipating their follow-up to UtTaD, “Crash”, watching their videos on MTV and seeing them in concert in the fall of 1996 (which was really good—though the next day I saw Pearl Jam in concert and that was wayyyyyy better). Yeah, DMB were a jam band, but they were an interesting jam band – they had a saxophone AND a violin! That made for some totally different music.

I don’t consider myself a hipster—and if you look back at these Good Songs entries, I’m sure you don’t either—but as DMB got more and more popular, I liked them less and less. Which is dumb, I know, but I couldn’t stand to be lumped in with the same people who I saw at the second Dave Matthews Band show I went to. I stood behind one girl who screamed for “Satellite” for the entire show. By the end, she was losing her damn mind pleading and yelling for “Satellite” over and over and over and over again. Side note, the group did not play “Satellite” that night and the wailing banshee went home very sad.

It was at the very moment that I decided, “I don’t want to become part of this” and started to distance myself from the band. I bought the group’s third album and half-heartedly gave it a listen, but I was done. My friend was a super Dave fan at the time and he got a bunch of tickets to a show in Foxboro* which I went to. But I only stayed for the opening acts (Ben Fold Five and Beck) and then I went back to the party bus that he rented to transport us to the gig. I’m a notorious cheapskate, if I paid money to see a movie that turns out to suck, I’ll stick with it, but I didn’t feel bad about leaving that show early on that night.

* The Dave Matthews Band is the first band I’ve ever seen in concert where the shows moved to progressively larger arenas. First one was at the TD Garden, second was at GreatWoods and the last one was at the old Foxboro Stadium.

I am all done with Dave.

The rest of this tape is still really good. Some quick hits:

The Simpsons – they actually didn’t sing “South of the Border”, Gene Merlino did, but I first heard it on the “Kamp Krusty” episode and it blew me away. Maybe it was because that episode was one of my favorite episode endings of all time, “Get ready for two weeks in the happiest place on Earth! TIAJUANA!” and then the drum hits. What a song.

Beastie Boys – this song reminds me of a lip sync my friends did in high school, but aside from the high school nostalgia the song itself is pretty awesome. This whole album (Paul’s Boutique) was the beginning of a long stay at the top for those guys—even though no one knew it at the time.

Duran Duran – “The Reflex” is the best pop song of the 1980s. I believed it when I was in fifth grade and I continue to believe it now. DD may have bottomed out in the 90s (find their album of covers) but they knew what they were doing when they were famous.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good Songs XXIV

Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) – The Doors
Battle of Who Could Care Less – Ben Folds Five
Six Underground – Sneaker Pimps
Celebration Day – Led Zeppelin
Manic Depression – Jimi Hendrix
The Distance – Cake
Devil’s Haircut – Beck
Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion – Grateful Dead
Fortunate Son – Credence Clearwater Revival
Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
Linger – The Cranberries
Run Like Hell – Pink Floyd
(Theme from) Shaft – Isaac Hayes
Red Mosquito – Pearl Jam
Supervixen – Garbage
Free Ride – Edgar Winters Group
Kids in America – The Muffs
Lump – Presidents of the United States of America
Seether – Veruca Salt
Nearly Lost You – Screaming Trees
Where Did You Go? – Mighty Mighty Bosstones

I created this mix in April of 1997 and this is my favorite one that I’ve ever done. When I finish with this blog series (only four more entries!) this is going to be the Good Songs playlist that I listen to the most. So instead of having one overarching theme, I’m going to write quick hits about each song/artist.

These quick hitters tend to be longer blog entries, so strap yourself in and get ready.

The Beatles – I like pretty much all of the Beatles music, as does most of the civilized world. But my favorite genre of Beatles music is their experimental, psychedelic stuff. I enjoy that the songs are a bit aggressive, unnerving and discombobulating all at once. There’s a mismatch of sound and lyrics that suggest drugs, but at the same time a lot of talent. I think that “Tomorrow Never Knows” is the best representation of that (though “I Am the Walrus” is right up there too). I can’t even imagine what a Beatles fan’s initial thoughts were when they heard this track for the first time. It must have been mind-blowing. To go from mop-topped pop singers to counter-culture revolutionaries in less than five years is amazing.

I think that the reason why I love the psychedelic era of the Beatles so much is because I was terrified of it when I was a kid. I remember watching "Yellow Submarine" is a very young boy (three or four) and almost crapping my pants. The colors were too bright, the Blue Meanies were too mean and the Beatles (who actually weren't voiced by the real Beatles) were strange looking with weird accents. When I was in seventh grade, my music teacher spent a month teaching us about the death of Paul McCartney. That scared the bejesus out of me too. More than it should have. When I read "Helter Skelter" there was a lot devoted to Charles Manson and his connection to acid-dripping Beatle albums. This was nerve wracking as well. I'm sure in my twisted brain, my new found love of the middle era of Beatledom was probably a middle finger to the wimp that was younger Byron. 

The Doors – I’m not going to apologize for like the Doors, I’ve done it enough. But whether you like the band or not, this is a really great track that’s a deep cut. You won’t find it on any Greatest Hits compilation and I think I’ve only heard it once on terrestrial radio (and I may be imagining that). I enjoy the imagery of the lyrics and I really like the way the guitar rises at the end of the song. This was from their last album and by this point in their careers, I think all of the Doors were tired. You can feel the weariness in this particular single (and the entirety of the album of “LA Woman”) however I think that weariness, that exhaustion added something special.

Ben Folds Five – I bought this CD (“Whatever and Ever, Amen” – such a late 90s title) with money from my first check from my first job out of college*. I finally had some money in my pocket and I remember thinking that I was going to buy a new CD every week and really get into music. That lasted two weeks. When I first played this CD it hit me that there was no guitar at all on any of the tracks and I immediately was pissed and put it away for a long time. But after rediscovering it a few years later, I realized that there are a lot of good songs here.

* Oh man, did I hate this job. I didn’t get a full-time position until ten months after I graduated, so I grabbed whatever I could. I did some stuff to make money in that time: delivered pizzas and substitute taught (the latter was a good gig). Becoming a fund accountant was not the path I was destined to go down. I didn’t last more than seven months.

Sneaker Pimps – this was the second CD (“Becoming X”) I bought after I got my first real job. This is the CD that my friend Ryan makes fun of me most for owning. And he’s not wrong to do so. Aside from this single, which I seem to remember was played a lot of WBCN in the spring of 1997, this is a dog of a CD. The only cool thing about this band is that their name comes from a Beastie Boys song.

Led Zeppelin – this is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs ever. You don’t hear it very much because it comes from a less ballyhooed* album (Led Zeppelin III) but man, is it ever a good song. The summer after I graduated college, my brother brought home an electric guitar and an amp. I don’t know how to play guitar, but I convinced myself that if I sat in a room and screwed around with a guitar long enough that I’d be able to play this guitar solo. It didn’t sound that complicated and really, how hard could it be. Apparently it was very hard. I don’t think I hit one note and gave up after 20 minutes.

* Ballyhoo is a great word. People should use it more.

Jimi Hendrix – speaking of 60s guitar gods, I haven’t said too much about Jimi Hendrix in these blog pieces. I think it’s because the way I feel about Hendrix is the way that one of the Gallagher brothers (Noel, I think) felt about the Beatles, “They’re just wallpaper.”* What he meant by this is that the Beatles were always around and he’s heard everything by them so much that the majesty of their songs just blended into the background. That’s how I feel about Hendrix. We’ve already established that I’m no guitarist, so his musical acumen is way above my head – though I know enough to be blown away by it. His music is everywhere, so I think I’ve heard most of it before. But he’s still awesome, he’s still Jimi fucking Hendrix. Out of all of his songs though, this is my favorite, bar none. I love the driving beat, the way it builds up and lets down. It’s a great tune. The worst CD I ever bought was a “bootleg” (and it wasn’t really a bootleg because I got it at Circuit City) where Jim Morrison “jammed” with Hendrix. It was awful. The sound quality was horrible, Morrison was completely bombed and Hendrix was messy. Maybe the 60s weren’t so great after all.

* Gallagher was full of crap by the way. I think he said this quote because he was sick of people saying that Oasis ripped off the Beatles. They kind of did, but so has everyone else. It’s not like they’re the first band to do so. People got bent out of shape over stupid things way too easily back in the 1990s.

Cake – The lyrics in this song capture some of my favorite imagery, “Assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.” With the staccato voice of lead singer John McCrea and the horns behind him, Cake had one of the more truly distinctive sounds of the 90s. Due in part to the opening theme song (a sped-up version of “Italian Leather Sofa”) of the criminally underrated animated series “Mission Hill” I went all-in with Cake and bought the entirety of their disc catalog in 2008. And I’m glad I did. They aren’t all gems, but there are more hits than misses. For some reason when I daydream about myself as an alternative comedian trying to make it in mid-90s Los Angeles, this is the band that I think that I’d be really into. I have very specific daydreams.

Beck – Early Beck is the best Beck and this is his greatest song. The screaming at the end is a nice contrast to today’s Beck, which is Sleepy Time Beck. This is a description I heard of him on a Jimmy Pardo’s podcast last week. The moniker is so appropriate that I’ve been dying for a chance to use it but no one really talks about Beck too much any more. Which probably has to do with the fact that he makes such boring music now – 2015 Grammy Award be damned.

Grateful Dead – My younger brother went to see the Dead when he was a sophomore in high school*, I should ask him if they played this song. The album version is just a few Jer-Bear hairs over two minutes. I wonder how long it would be live? I bet they’d stretch it out to 35 minutes. More on jam bands in the next entry, but spoiler alert: I hate them. A lot. Mostly because I’m not patient (or chill) enough to be in the music at that particular moment in time. Every time I go to a show, I wonder what’s the next song the band is going to play next. The Living Colour show that I went to two years ago was great because it was the 25th anniversary of  “Vivid” and they played the entire album from front to back, in order. No wondering!

* My brother and I shared the same parents, who were the same people who wouldn’t let me go to a Public Enemy concert when I was a senior in high school (chaperoned by some college friends) because concerts are “too dangerous”. Okay, mommmmm. God.

CCR – I like John Fogerty mainly because of his song “Centerfield”. Then I started listening to his CCR stuff and that’s pretty great too, especially this song. There is so much anger against the man in “Fortunate Son”, that if it was sped up, some masturbatory guitar special effects were added and there was a rap, Rage Against the Machine could have released it in 1998. I’m not sure if that came off as a compliment, but I guess you don’t have to be loud to write a proper pissed-off protest song.

Mazzy Star – I think that this would have been a terrific wedding song but my wife did not agree. The song that we chose, “The Way You Look Tonight” was a better choice (easier to dance to and recognizable to all in attendance) albeit a safer one. I wonder whatever happened to Mazzy Star? According to Wikipedia, they went on hiatus in 1997 and reformed in 2010. They are on Facebook, so check ‘em out.

The Cranberries – I’ve already gone on and on about them. No need to do so again. BTW, did you notice the playlist’s pattern: two classic rock songs, two newer rock songs. It all goes to shit after Seether though.

Pink Floyd – they were never one of my favorite bands. I heard them a lot because they happened to be one of my friends’ favorite bands and terrestrial radio loved them, but I never bought any of their CDs. There is no discounting how good they are though and of their catalog, this is the song that I like the best. It’s a bit faster than most of their other stuff and it’s a great driving tune. One of these days I’m going to make a great driving song playlist, only now I don’t have anywhere to go. When I do have somewhere to go, it’s usually with my kids and they abhor my music. Hate it like poison, they do. They’re so uncool.

Isaac Hayes – on a tape with a bunch of good songs, this might be the best. How could you not love this song? The thumping grooved bass, the chicka-chicka-wah-wah guitar, the pounding rat-a-tat-tat drum beat, the string section that busts in like the Kool-Aid Man. Add that to Hayes’ voice and who he’s singing about? Holy cow. If you are listening to this song while you’re making your way down the street, you’re not walking, you ARE strutting. You are the baddest motherfucker on the planet when this song is playing, it doesn’t matter what your life’s lot is. You CAN dig it.

Editor’s note: we have reached 1900 words right now. I am going to speed it up.

Pearl Jam – they’re probably my favorite “new” group. I put new in quotes because they’ve been around for almost 25 years. In any event, this is an underratedly great song of an underratedly great album. I thought that PJ was following Zep’s album trajectory: first two are incredibly popular and awesome, third one is not as well-received and the band bounces back with an all-timer for their fourth album.* But that’s not really the way it went for Eddie and the boys, did it? This is a deep cut, but it’s an all-time favorite song of mine (not just in the Pearl Jam category either).

* I even thought that “Present Tense” would be PJ’s answer to “Stairway to Heaven”. I may have been the only person on Earth that really tried to make this work. Retroactively, I feel like the girl (Regina?) from “Mean Girls” who tried to make “Fetch” a thing. “Present Tense” was definitely not a thing.

Garbage – I wrote a bit about them last week and as much as I loved the three singles from this first album (“Queer”, “Only Happy When it Rains” and “Stupid Girl”) I felt that this was the best of the bunch. This was the first song off their first album and damn it if they didn’t lead off with their strongest piece. Good for them. Those guys definitely knew what they were doing.

Edgar Winters Group – if you are paying attention to the Good Songs playlists, you’ll notice that I haven’t added too many songs from the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. This is the only that survived my “I totally wished I lived in the 70s, man” era. That’s because this is probably the best song and reminds me of my favorite part of the movie, when they’re all getting ready to go to the party at the Moon Tower. D&C is such a tremendous movie, I should watch it again real soon.

The Muffs – one of the best parts of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was the soundtrack. And the same could be said for another Amy Heckerling directed movie about high school kids, “Clueless”.  I know that “Kids in America” was in “Clueless” and I’m pretty sure that it was also in “Fast Times”, but I’m not 100% about this. If it isn’t, it should be. Anyway, I think that the Muff’s version is one of the rare exceptions where the remake is better than the original. Sorry Kim Wilde, but we’ll always have Good Times roller skating rink in Salisbury, MA*.

* This song and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” always seemed to be playing while I was skating around on my Pac Man skates with my green-sleeved 3/4 ‘s t-shirt with “BYRON” on the back. I thought that I was pretty damn cool.  

POTUSA – Ho, ho what a clever acronym! This was a delightfully weird song from a delightfully weird band (that came out of Seattle, naturally) that achieved some modicum of fame back in the mid 1990s. Videos from the Presidents of the United States of America was featured a lot on MTV back in those days, either for this song or their other strange ode, “Peaches”. They seemed to be strange because they looked like they were having fun and were in on the joke. Most rock stars in the 1990s never seemed to be having any fun. This is probably the main reason they didn’t last too long.

Veruca Salt – Man, did I have a crush on the girls in Veruca Salt. I’ve already written ad nauseam about me having a thing for girls who played in a band when I was a lad, but these girls were the top of that mountain. Too bad Dave Grohl had sex with both of them (not at once) leading to the band’s breakup. In the last year or so, I’ve been having a bit of a Veruca Salt renaissance and realizing that they are pretty decent band (“Number One Blind” may be in my top ten list of all time greatest songs). Last year I attempted to see them at a small club in Boston—the girls put Grohls behind them and reunited—but the show was sold out! Apparently VS has some fans. Good for them.

Screaming Trees – sadly, my only exposure to the Screaming Trees is this song, which was included on the “Singles” soundtrack. Number one, the name is amazing. It’s probably the best one to come out of this era. Two, I like this song a lot. There have been times where I’d play this song three or four or five times in a row. I’m not sure why I didn’t explore the band further. I should have.

Mighty, Mighty Bosstones – I am a clever one, aren’t I? Putting “I Nearly Lost You” back-to-back with “Where Did You Go?”, such a scamp I am. This is another track from the “Clueless” soundtrack. When I was making this tape, MMB were supernova and while I liked them a lot (Boston pride, I guess. Plus I remember them from a 1991 Converse All-Stars commercial, this is when the band only wore plaid) I was getting sick of hearing the same songs over and over again. This was a nice change.

This is literally the longest entry I’ve ever done. If you made it to the end, congratulations.