List Three Songs You've Been Listening To--and Write Something About 'Em!

Somewhat similar to any other music-related poll here in CS, but I’m less interested in a top ten list containing just titles. Song titles or album titles don’t really tell us all that much; I’m more inclined to learn something about three particular songs you’re listening to. Share some thoughts, insights, opinions or your personal experiences with your three songs, not just the track names.

(In the interests of laziness, the more traditional list of ten has been trimmed to three. But feel free to cover more than three, if you’re enthusiastic!)

These don’t necessarily have to be your favourite songs, or even “good” music–just three songs which currently stick in your mind or CD player. They can be old, new, singles, album tracks, good music, bad music, in good taste, in poor taste, whatever.

My current three, a bit of a mix:

(3) Eels "Last Stop: This Town"

This is a song about ghost coming back after death and flying around a small town neighbourhood–but it’s not as kooky as it sounds, surprisingly! It’s taken from the album “Electro-Shock Blues”, which was written by Eels frontman E in the aftermath of his sister’s suicide and his mother’s terminal illness. Despite the dark tone, “Last Stop: This Town” remains a touching and positive little tune (in fact, the whole album is quite uplifting). The song lurches along, it stalls, it resumes and it rocks. I love it.

(2) Michael Franti & Spearhead "Never Too Late"

I don’t care much for Michael Franti’s heart-on-your-sleeve socialist politics – and his occasional forays into lyrical triteness make me groan – but the man is frikkin’ fantastic to see live in concert. The last Franti show I went to totally blew my mind–and as a result, this song is still pretty special to me. “Never Too Late” is musically and thematically simplistic, but Franti’s earnestness and optimism are undeniably genuine. The first time I heard the lyric “Don’t fear your father/Because a father’s just a boy, without a friend”, it resonated so strongly I felt like I had been physically kicked in the guts.

… and I don’t even have big father/son issues.

(1) Lauren Hill "Doo Wop (That Thing)"

First up, I’m not a hip hop fan. Nothing against the genre, I just haven’t had much exposure to “good” hip hop (although I’m learning). I still like Lauren Hill, though. The chorus of “Doo Wop” is carried along by two jangling notes and a blaring horn section. The verses featuring rapping and a heavy base line but it’s all pretty melodic stuff. The moralising lyrics are forceful enough, but the song is just too damn stylish to take to heart.

(Then again, some guys really are only about that thing…)

So what are the three songs in your current playlist which stand out? Why not share something about them with the rest of the class?

By Your Side by Jimmy Sommerville

There is something about his voice that makes me feel less lonely, less isolated. I was introduced to him( well I was a Bronski Beat and Communards fan in the 80s) a couple years ago by someone who doesnt talk to me anymore. But Jimmy just seems to reach out to my soul even still.

Sex Type thing by STP

Umm what can I say? Its a very erotic beat and pacing. There seems to be more than one way to interpret the lyrics… and I am probly wrong in my interp but :smiley:

Zombie by The Cranberries

Just read a bit about the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Dolores O’Riordan has such a powerful voice and so much feeling. This is something she “feels” deep inside her.
I have been in a bluesy kind of mood so the whole of U2’s Rattle and Hum has had heavy rotation in my truck.

Katie Sings by the Minstrels of Mayhem

Written by group member Ty Billings, this is a sweet folksy song I just never get tired of hearing. In the song, there are three men singing about their small town in Ireland, and each guy sings a verse about who he is (the miller, the smith, a tinker) and hints that there is one high point to his otherwise mundane working day. The last verse reveals that when the baker’s girl, Katie, sings as she bakes bread, every man in town feels like a king. The three voices work wonderfully together, and the song is just utterly charming.

Ghost of the Molly Maguires by Hair of the Dog

More folk music - this one tells the story of three men who were hanged for being mine union organizers. I didn’t know anything about the incident prior to hearing the song, and it inspired me to do a little research (ditto for another HOTD song, Come Out Ye Black & Tans). As far as I know, these songs are covers, but I’d ever heard them before. Since I’m not much good at history in general, I like learning about things I missed in school this way.

Love Song for a Vampire by Annie Lennox

This is just a really neat song - I like the way it starts out, soft and sorta eerie, and then builds. One thing I find very interesting about the song is the way the lyrics don’t rhyme, but work together well (I asked about this on the boards here awhile ago, and found out the rhyming pattern is called “slant rhymes”.) Plus Annie’s voice just goes right through me, in a good way, if that makes sense.

Gene Clark…(Byrds,Dillard and Clark)
“In a Misty Mourning” 1972
A picture set to words…Gene’s brilliant vision of a young man on
the run,probably a draft dodger trying to sneak back to his rural
hometown,with the law hot on his trail…

Peanut Butter Conspiracy
“Peter Pan” 1967
A hooky three-part Harmony, Folk-Rock Song about Peter Pan
After listening to this Song,I whistle it for 3 days
The Song was previously unreleased and was a CD Bonus track
on, The Great Conspiracy Album.

“Another Time Another Place” 1968
Australian Lead Singer, Kerilee Male, Makes this Song Sizzle
with her magnetic vocals, “So Try to Find a Way to Understand”
she repeats this verse over and over…I want to Understand!
What do I have to do to Understand?

Be Chrool To Your Schuel ~ Twisted Sister
Don’t ask me why this popped into my head the other day, but it’s been stuck there for three or four days, now. So of course, I hadda dig up the tape and listen to it again.

It’s got Billy Joel on the piano, Clarence Clemons on the sax, Brian Setzer on guitar, and Alice Cooper and Dee Snider on the vocals. Something for everybody whose brain is stuck in the late seventies/early eighties. This tune is a lot more fun than it has any right to be, despite the talent involved. Off the Come Out And Play album. It is, quite simply, the ultimate beer and pretzels song.

Well, that, and a barely recognizable remake of a Beach Boys tune.

Johnny B. Goode ~ Judas Priest
This one’s more of a cover than a remake, but only just. The lyrics of the Chuck Berry classic are the same, with the chorus reworked, but set to an eighties metal sound. It would be, well, sacreligious, to do this to a song like the original, if this version wasn’t so damned catchy. The spirit of the original song is untouched. Worth tracking down, even if you’re not a fan of Priest.

Dead Ringer For Love ~ Meatloaf and Cher
Yeah, really. You’ll hear this one once, and be hooked. It’s the only Meatloaf tune that wasn’t penned by Jim Steinman that I can recall without checking an album cover. Why no one ever tried harder to get these two to put out an entire album of duets I’ll never know. It knocks every other Meatloaf tune into a cocked hat, with the exception of Paradise By The Dashboard Light.

And I’m pretty sure it’s the only Cher song I’ve ever listened to all the way through, voluntarily.

Josh Rouse - Sparrows Over Birmingham
One of the last tracks on his new album, 1972, itself an attempt to put together a hit LP from that year. Seriously. This track is the only song I’ve ever heard where the choir changes the lead singer’s tenses: “Wedding bells rang” “Wedding bells ring” “Church choir sang” “Church choir sings”… It’s as if the lead singer is remembering the event, but the choir is living it.

Rufus Wainwright - Vibrate
Somehow, this song melds the tender and romantic with the mundane and overly plausible, creating a sweet sentiment out of pragmatic mundanity. “My phone is on vibrate for you.”

The Decemberists - Red Right Ankle
I’ve been recommending the new album, Her Majesty The Decemberists, to everyone I even barely know, in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be able to talk about it with me. The album has all sorts of astonishing moments scattered all over it; the magnificence of the climactic I Was Meant For The Stage, the elegant sadness of The Gymnast, High Above The Crowd. But I keep coming back to the simple guitar-and-vocals piece entitled Red Right Ankle. It’s strange, tender, nostalgic, and odd. One of the best songs I’ve ever gotten addicted to. It’s the song that’s inspired me to start practicing guitar again. I can’t recommend it highly enough, if only because I really want someone else on the planet to hear what I’m talking about.

Goldenboy ft Miss Kittin - Rippin Kittin
People talk about rap lyrics being violent, but this piece of electroclash makes your average gangsta sound like he’s posessed with the utmost respect for human life. Miss Kittin pleads in her perfectly emotionless voice Mummy/ can I go out and kill tonight? I feel/ I feel like taking a life, accompanied by synths as cold as the blade of the kitchen knife in the next line. It’s murder without cause, and the minimal lyrics make it totally engrossing. Who does Miss Kittin want to kill? Why? It’s scary and fascinating and even alluring, all at the same time.

Jurassic 5 - Verbal Gunfight
Some time after the release of their last album Power in Numbers, I read an interview where one of the J5 crew (prolly Cut Chemist) said they’d just started using Pro Tools, something which near every other producer has been using for years. Now I don’t know whether Verbal Gunfight is one of those Pro Tools tracks, but it certainly sounds a lot more polished than you expect from J5. Fortunately, the song, from a soundtrack, the name of which escapes me at the moment, released some time after PiN, doesn’t suffer for it. The beats are fatter, and it rides a great wah-wahed guitar sample, over which the Jurassic MCs paint themselves as wild west gunmen - a metaphor for their lyrical skills, of course - Jurassic 5 haven’t given up their “keep it positive” mantra. But hearing Chali2na and Akil rap lines like "I use my rhymes like a glock automatic " and “Brothas who was harassin we was doin the blastin/ Yo suit go get us the bucks out the safe” gives us an insight into what it would sound like if Jurassic went all ghetto on us.

Ashanti - Aww Baby (Dizzee Rascal Remix)
No idea where this comes from. I got it from P2P, and it sounds a bit dodgy, so I can’t be sure that it’s authorised, or whether Dizzee’s just done it of his own accord. It works nicely, though; Dizzee adds a bit of those Roll Deep noise synths to the melody, and gives us a great verse at the beginning. It falls a bit flat when he lets Ashanti take over - let’s face it, she’s nothing special as far as pop goes. But Dizzee’s verse is extraordinary, and almost carries us through Ashanti’s by-the-numbers R&B warbling. If he’d popped up again later in the song, it’d be perfect, but as it is, it’s a nice vehicle for some more Rascal, and it gives a nice look at what Britain’s most promising talent sounds like over American style beats.

Sufjan Stevens - For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti

This comes off his CD Greeting From Michigan. I guess you could say this is an homage to folk music. Stevens plays most of the instruments with skill, but his horn players sound like junior high band students. It doesn’t make the music sound amateurish; it makes it sound more honest. Widows in Paradise is a sad little song with a melancholy banjo plucking in the background. It stays in my head and I like it that way.

Yonder Mountain String Band - Peace of Mind

YMSB is quirky modern-day bluegrass. They do traditional stuff, but mix it up with some Stones, Floyd and raggae. This is off their CD Mountain Tracks: Volume 2. They harken back to the American Frontier days, where you had to mete out your own style of justice by ridin’ down the bastards that killed your son and gunnin’ em down…then they’ll mix in 2 hits and the joint turned brown for some counterpoint. Anyhoo, Peace of Mind is more instrumental hooks and chorus refrains, but it lingers in my mind like an echo off a mountaintop—Straaaaaiiiiiiaaaaight into darkness, baby you and I [sub]you and I[/sub] you and I [sup]you and I[/sup] you…and…I…

Underworld did a remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s “B” Movie off their album Back to Mine. It’s mainly a jazz music rant GSH did during the Reagan administration, but Underworld’s remix makes it more hypnotic and driven. I guess it strikes home for me because it’s a look back at the 80’s without the superficial hair styles, fashions, and new wave music that was prevalent during that time period.

Timorous Me - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Even my little sister is in love with this song, and her typical musical tastes run more along nsync lines. It’s an unbelievably catchy piece with bluesy guitars and clever lyrics about lost opportunities (“There was an awkward pause and something that should have began / just passed us by…”) When the drums and handclaps kick in, it’s almost impossible to not sing along.

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash

Does this song need any introduction, really? I love the vocals. Catchy and reggae-influenced, wonderful bass–it’s a classic. And probably my favorite Clash song ever.

Banned in D.C. - Bad Brains

Well, it’s Bad Brains. Frantic early 80’s hardcore–fast, short, not particularly melodic. But this is a surprisingly catchy song, all things considered, and I love the guitar solo halfway through.

“Drumshanbo Hustle,” by Van Morrison (Philosopher’s Stone Disc One) - Morrison’s hate/hate (as opposed to a love/hate) relationship with record companies really comes through in this song. “You were puking up your guts, when you thought of the standard contract you just signed.” It also goes to show that most, if not all, of Morrison’s unreleased material is head and shoulders above what most performers put out as product.

“Crazy Fingers,” by the Grateful Dead (Blues for Allah, and various live versions) - According to Hunter, this was a set of haikus that he had in a journal. Garcia found them and set them to music. Just a beautiful, beautiful song. “Your rain, falls like crazy fingers…peals of fragile thunder keeping time.” That phrase (“fragile thunder”) has always described the band (on a really good night) to me.

“The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, II (performed by Dame Kiri TeKanawa) - Susan and I have only been married a few weeks, and in our house only a week longer than that - we’re “The Folks Who Live On The Hill.” Overly sentimental, but still a lovely song performed by a great artist.

The Doors - End, the Apocalypse Now version. Amazing atmosphere. Lot of feeling coming through in Morrison’s vocals.

This is the end, Beautiful friend
This is the end, My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be, So limitless and free

Pink Floyd - Coming Back To Life Great moody intro, as is most of Floyd. Didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics in this one.

Beethoven - Pathetique Sonata - 1st movement (Richter) One of the best piano pieces out there…

Lemon Jelly : The Staunton Lick

Decried by dance music elitists as middle-class blandness personified, Lemon Jelly have taken over from Air as masters of chill-out tunes. Downbeat without being po-faced, quirkily humourous without being self-satisfied or gimmicky, I’ve never understood why dance music elitists feel the need to sneer at such “student music”. This particular song has a slightly wistful, nostalgic feel, and was perfect background for the “happy ending” scene in the TV show Spaced. Acoustic guitar, occasional unintrusive vocal sample and just enough drums to keep you conscious (although you won’t be hitting the dancefloor to it in this lifetime).

Röyksopp : Remind Me

Another band verging on the blandness reputation, but with some funkier backup to fight the claims. The album version of this track is not bad, but the “Someone Else’s Radio Remix” version released as a single is a lot better. Slightly clinical, harking back to early '80s electro-pop, with a downbeat guest vocal by Erland Øye. The video is superb; airline safety card style graphics tracking a woman from breakfast to the end of the day, as she travels and works against a background of statistics and diagrams.

Never ever see Röyksopp live. They’re rubbish. When I saw them last I’m sure they just played the CD: all tracks note-for-note perfect, in the same track order.

The Streets : Stay Positive

I don’t know what The Streets’ shelf-life will be - intelligent, humourous white-boy rap probably doesn’t have a vast market outside NME reviewers and university campus’ - but this chap knows how to make a rap interesting. Not the most ear-catching tune on the album, not the funniest or cleverest (The Irony Of It All gets that award), but a curious offering bullish advice to those whose world is looking grey, as well as a warning that it could happen to you. The slightly depressing note is struck with lines that pretty neatly summarise the world’s ‘not my problem’ attitude:

“One last thing before you go though
When you feel better tomorow you’ll be a hero
But never forget today. You could be back here
Things can stray
What if you see me in that window?
You won’t help me I know.
That’s cool, just keep walking where you go.
Carry on through the estate, stare at the geezers so they know you ain’t lightweight
And go see your mates”

Looking at this selection, I must be really depressed but…

"I Stole A Bride" - Hefner. Just the best song ever written. A completely barmy yet passionate tale of obsessive love, guilt and self-loathing. It starts off like any other cheesy indie tune with lyrics like “Was it you who wrote ‘porn is woman hatred’ on my overcoat”. Then the music swells and everything takes an epic turn as the theme swings into the Trojan war, the singer comparing himself to Paris who abducted Helen. The lyrics are funny, sexy and impassioned, and the unsteady singing matches them perfectly. Also has an excellent double entendre about the narrator standing sword in hand. This is definitely the most brilliant song about feeling too unworthy to be in love or be loved.

"Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush. It has to be Rush’s version. I’ve heard some truly horrible and passionless versions of the song that totally fail to understand what it’s about. It’s about wanting someone to sleep with and not caring if they’re still interested in the morning. It’s about needing to not be alone, even if it’s only for sex and they don’t even wake you up to say goodbye. Rush’s version is the only one that communicates the true desperation and need in the lyrics.

"The Wu-Tang Clan" by The French. This song is pretty unique in subject matter, but brilliantly sums up the anomie of a middle class woman from London in love with black gangster rappers a continent away. The lyrics describe her shitty real life “And on the train home everyone moves away, because she stinks of work, and she knows, so it doesn’t hurt.” But also it describes how dancing alone to rap music helps her transcend this. I’ve never read or seen, and still less written, anything that so well sums up the relationship between disenchanted adults and the music they listen to. It’s a perfect portrait of urban loneliness. And unlike most of the rest of The French’s first album the electronica in the background isn’t an intensely annoying cacophony of beeps.