The SDMB Music Appreciation Society

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Straight Dope Message Board Music Appreciation Society! As the founding (and currently, only) member of the Society, I hereby cordially invite each and every one of you to join the SDMBMAS. Membership is free, and requires just a few simple steps.

Please do:

  1. Listen to the song in the last post in the thread, even if you’ve heard it before. Listen to it all the way through, and try to give it your undivided attention.
  2. Comment on it. You can say anything: you loved it, you hated it, you found/lost your religion because of it, all of the above, and so on. But you have to say why. Your reason can be brief and totally subjective, but you have to at least have a reason. “That sucked,” is not sufficient. “That sucked because the singer’s voice was like pouring Sriracha in my ear holes,” is fine.
  3. Post your own song. It can be anything: something very similar to the previous song, or something completely different. It can even be a song you don’t particularly enjoy, but want to share for whatever reason. If it includes a NSFW video or lyrics, that’s fine, but please warn folks and follow the two-click rule.
  4. Tell us what the song is (artist and title - no blind links, please), and why you chose this song.

As long as you do these four things, you’re set. You can also comment on previous songs or other people’s comments, or say whatever else you want. However, in order to keep the conversation from totally derailing, I have a few simple rules.

Please do not:

  1. Post more than one song per post, even if it’s just for illustrative purposes in a discussion.
  2. Post consecutively, unless no one else has posted for 48 hours.
  3. Post without one of the “do-list” items: comment without adding a song, add a song with no comment on the previous one, etc.

Sounds like fun, right? Okay! Let’s get started!

As I have no previous song to comment on, here is my submission: “Who’s Lovin’ You”, sung by Michael Jackson (with the Jackson 5). Every time I hear this song, I’m blown away by his voice and his musical ability. He displayed an incredible virtuosity, but it wasn’t done to a ridiculous degree, in my opinion. He put in some stunning flourishes, but balanced them with plenty of simple phrases where he just followed the tune, but always with feeling and beauty. In short, he absolutely nailed it. But what really gets me is that he recorded this a couple weeks before his 11th birthday. It’s amazing to hear a kid that young convey such emotion, with such clarity and subtlety. From wikipedia:

Love it, always have. That song has always been Michael Jackson’s finest vocal moment, IMO. All the versions I’ve heard are great - the original Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Terence Trent D’Arby’s cover - but then, it’s a strong song to begin with, and a good opportunity for singers to show off their range.

My pick is Tonight We Fly by The Divine Comedy, because I think it’s the most beautiful pop song on Earth (the lyrics add a lot, for me - previous to this one, my choice probably would have been “Nightswimming” by R.E.M.).

Nice selection Woodstockbirdybird. Didn’t know the group/song (I don’t get out much). I enjoyed the orchestration and the lyrics. Very nice. Thanks for the link.
My selection is Arrow by Cheryl Wheeler. Probably the best love song ever written. I have seen her live a few times. She always talks about her female friend, so she may lean that way. Which just goes to show that love is for everyone.

A great thread! I love music.

I had never heard of Cheryl Wheeler, but she brought out the big guns for that one. It’s a beautiful song.

My song is an old one, recorded in 1988 by Ry Cooder, with backup by Bobby King and some other guys. Always Lift Him Up is an inspiring song that still makes me feel good, though I have heard it many dozens of times. The bridge and the outro is a hopeful Hawaiian song, Kanaka Wai Wai.

Wow, I got pretty lucky. I’m a fan of Ry Cooder’s playing, but didn’t know this song.

It’s pretty representative of the sound he’s known for from the mid-70’s to the late 80’s. It’s laid back, with clean guitar sounds. Beautiful playing by Ry and his band, without moving into show-off territory. Very nice harmonies - Oddly for a Ry Cooder song, I’m most impressed by the vocals, rather than the guitar playing.

And I was very happy to hear “Who’s Lovin’ You”. I wasn’t familiar with it, thankya!

I’ll keep us in a southwest U.S. feel, and add The Meat Puppets - “Up on the Sun”

Super-duper scabpicker! Never heard of these guys. Loved the guitar work. Got me rocking! Gracias!
For my next selection, gonna do another from Cheryl Wheeler. She is an independent singer-song writer that needs the play. And this one’s gotta be a hit with the cat lovin’ Dopers. It is called My cat’s birthday.

This song didn’t work for me, even though I’m all in favor of a song dedicated to a birthday cat. My biggest complaint that she was singing at the back of her throat in such a way that I kept wishing she would clear it…sorry harmonicamoon. :frowning:

Next up: Andrew Bird’s “Dark Matter”.

For the most part, I’m a fan of Andrew Bird but he makes so many stylistic hops that I run hot and cold on his stuff.

I’ve always found his whistling haunting and evocative and that’s how “Dark Matter” starts off before the guitar and then drums build to a pounding accompaniment to his singing, occasionally breaking the building tension with quiet passages. The interest for me is in these dynamic contrasts between loud and soft, fast and slow but the droning melody leaves me cold. Not one of my favourites. I prefer his follow-up album “Noble Beast”.

My pick is a sadly underrated singer-songwriter: “You Know I Won’t” by Sam Phillips.

Over a sketchy internet connection:

Is it that Sam Phillips? No, most certainly not. Singer songwriter? Hmm this could go either way.

<youtube finally finishes loading and the song starts the first verse>

Aww, hell yeah! Rockin’ beat, and I mean a rockin’ rockabilly beat. Country chord changes, a sweet whiskey voice, love gone wrong lyrics without getting sappy, a country/rockabilly vibrato lead guitar part, with a psychedelic moment in the solo, and fiddle? I love everything about this song. Thankya, I have something new to look for when I visit the record store. Even my wife liked it, and she’s a lot pickier about female singers than I am.

My contribution? Let’s keep it rocking:
Bo Diddley - You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover

Love that song - covers get used in commercials from time to time. Bo brings his own brand of boogie.

Next - perfect power pop, The Merrymakers, Monument of Me:

Note that this is a mobile link - I’m on an iPad.

It is, indeed, perfect power pop: bouncy, hooky, catchy, vocal harmonies… If there’s anything wrong with it, it’s that it’s too much in the standard power pop mold. But it does interest me in hearing more by the band.
Okay: “Film at 11” by the 77s. It’s my favorite of the ones I can find currently on YouTube, by one of the best bands no one’s ever heard of (though it doesn’t show their rockier, bluesier side).
And if I’m allowed to go back now and comment on earlier songs:

Hodge, thanks for the Sam Phillips pick. I have and love a lot of her older work but haven’t gotten around to checking out that album yet.

scabpicker: thanks for the classic early rock and roll by an artist (Bo Diddley) I’ve certainly heard of but am not as familiar with as I should be.

And I’ve been enjoying some of the other songs people have posted.

I don’t know why I never heard that MJ song. The voice control he had at that age was phenomenal. Some good stuff here. Cheryl Wheeler’s style makes me think of Canadian artists like Ian and Sylvia and Neal Young for some reason.

My contribution is Hurricane Season, by Trombone Shorty and his band. He’s a major contemporary jazz talent out of NOLA, and you can certainly hear the New Orleans sound in his music. But more than that, he just comes at you full on with that wall of sound. Enjoy.

That was fun Chefguy.

I saw these guys in concert and this became one of my favorite songs. It never got much, if any airplay because it’s so long, but the end is my favorite part.

Poco: Rose of Cimarron.

It still gives me chills.

Ok, I think I let this thread sit long enough, and I’m not willing to let it die yet.

I’ve listened to this many times now. I was unfamiliar with Poco before you posted this. Rusty Young is a damn good dobro and pedal steel player. I wasn’t aware of him before. He makes me want to like this song. However, the recording’s (over)production (string part, I’m looking at you) gets it most of the way out of my happy zone. I’m also not crazy about the vocal harmonies. The 70’s were a different time though, that style sold well. I’m pretty sure that song was why the Eagles picked up Mr. Schmidt later.

I expect the live version was probably pretty good, but that recording wasn’t really for me.

I liked Trombone Shorty, nice jazz/funk. If I had one complaint, it’s terribly tight (yes, a weird complaint). So tight that I had to look up and make sure it was a band, and not a creation of a sequencer. Damn, they’re tight.

My contribution in return: Pierre Henry “Psyche Rock”.

If you don’t know it already, it’ll probably seem really familiar. It’s an old song, but I wasn’t aware of it until just a couple of years ago.

Now that was happy and upbeat. I liked it. The intro sounds like a desolate Sergio Leone film, and then it breaks into that happy three-chord pattern, Louie Louie with a rock beat instead of the halting rhythm of The Kingsmen. Three chords and The Truth has always worked for me. At six and half minutes long, you’d think it would be repetitive but he breaks it up enough that it doesn’t get tedious. I couldn’t keep from tapping my fingers on the desk along with it. Thanks for that.

For my contribution, I’m semi-embarrassed to offer Je Suis Une Dolly, a cover of a Bill Wyman song by a silly girl band from Britain, the Dolly Rockers. I have no excuse other than it’s just plain bouncy and infectious.

Well Esox, I loved watching the women dance around! The tune was jaunty, electric, and I feel, although it is not my type of music, that I would certainly be caught singing along if it were in my language. Oh…wait…it is? Hmmm…UK English in pop music is undecipherable to me. I liked the production of the music - if you know what DDR is (Dance Dance Revolution) this would be a FUN song to dance to!

I’ve been consuming massive amounts of prog rock lately and just discovered this band. Since discovery, two weeks ago, I have listened to this album at least 50 times. The song, Pain from the album The Human Equation by Ayreon is day 3 of a character in a coma. Prog rock opera. Never though I’d listen to this as a kid.

That’s a good one, but it’s not the track from the same album featuring Devin Townsend, so it comes off a little weak in comparison.

After some deliberation, I’m going to go with Therion’s Wine of Aluqah. It’s ostensibly heavy metal, but it’s unlike any other work in the style that I’ve ever heard, and I’m curious to hear what someone else thinks.

I’m an old fart and I actually like that. The combination of heavy guitar with orchestral sound is interesting. An update of what The Moody Blues were trying to accomplish back in the stone age.

I’m a big fan of West African music. This is Diaraby, as played by Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder from the album Talking Timbuktu (Grammy winner). The singing is in Bambara, not English. To my ears, this is very soothing stuff.

Ha! I heard that almost every day as the sound bed intro for “The World” on PRI, and never knew who it was. I’d get it caught in my head all the time, so I’m very pleasantly surprised to find out Ry Cooder is playing on it. He and Ali Farka do dual leads all over the song, and never step on each other. Loved it. I agree it’s got a soothing sound, but there appears to be a weariness, worldliness to the song. I wish I understood the lyrics.

Thankya for letting me know what it was I had caught in my head so many times.

And for those of you who prefer theater, we have more slide guitar: Blind Willie Johnson “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”.

Why? Because it’s easy to get behind for a religious song, even for an atheist-whatchamacalit like me. It’s full of personal responsibility for educating yourself. Plus, I still can’t play it on guitar. Who’s fault is that?

This one’s not new to me, but I never tire of it. Big difference from Zep’s ripoff. BWJ makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck because of his sheer conviction. I know many folks that can’t deal with such a gravely voice (see Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits…); I found Blind Willie Johnson’s music needs repeated listening to truly appreciate the genius. Sorely underrated.

Next up…a semi-obscure Band tune, “Sleeping”, sung by the late great Richard Manuel. Chosen because Richard has the same hair-raising ability. (I was looking for a live video of him singing “You Don’t Know Me”, but the quality is subpar.)