Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In an non-Jian Ghomeshi-centred entry, props to my cousin Mike for a spirited and rocking show at the shoe hier soir. You can download some tracks at their website.

My personal faves also skew to the early 90s but have a more Mancunian bent. The Charlatons, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Ride and Inspiral Carpets formed the soundtrack to my university days so they will always resonate a little deeper for me than some of the other music in the decade. Commercial alternative radio was showing promise up to 1994/1995 but quickly embraced whiny, retread grunge-ish acts like Bush, Moist, Matchbox 20, Days of the New, etc. Anytime I hear the words 'Modern Rock' I shudder and spin the dial towards the all dance stations--at least they know they're insipid.

Anyhoo, my list:

-Vapour Trail by Ride, with its swirling, noisy melody and lovely strings to quietly close

-Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead, which gets better and a little sadder each time I hear it

-Not Too Amused by Sebadoh, with its gradual, growling buildup

-Cannonball by the Breeders for that awesome bass line and the little gap in the middle of the song that suggests an abrupt ending but wait…here come those drums and the screaming chorus

-Today by Smashing Pumpkins, for the layered guitar sound that blazes in after the quiet beginning of the track and the fact that the video successfully recreates some of the cool scenes from Antonioni’s ‘Zabriskie Point’

Honourable mentions/Six place ties go to: ‘Moon Palace’ by Luna, ‘Excursions’ by A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Glory Box’ by Portishead, ‘Sunshine State’ by Superchunk, ‘Only Shallow’ by My Bloody Valentine, ‘Obscurity Knocks’ by Trash Can Sinatras, ‘Elevate Me Later’, ‘Goldsoundz’, and ‘Here’ by Pavement, ‘Venus as a Boy’ by Bjork, ‘Laid’ by James, ‘Connection’ by Elastica, ‘Step On’ by Happy Mondays, and ‘Natural One’ by Folk Implosion.

The CBC will choose:

-Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (obvious)

-You Oughtta Know - Alanis Morissette (cancon, plus big seller)

-Loser – Beck (embodiment of slacker, gen-x angst, with massive airplay in late 1993/early 1994)

-Song 2 – Blur (made the all important step to stadium anthem and beer commercial)

-The Rockafeller Skank - Fatboy Slim (right about now, the funk soul brother, check it out now, the funk soul brother….try to get this out of your head now, i dare you)

I debated adding 'One' by U2 but figured their inclusion in the 80s list negated a second appearance. I like 'Nothing Compares 2 U', which could very well end up in the final list but it was written by Prince, who was already included on the 80s list.

If the Spice Girls, NSync, Backstreet Boys, or Britney Spears are somehow included, I may have to kill.

Best of luck to all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The 90's, my other favourite decade in much promise in the early years, with the movement of commercial radio towards the truly alternative and avant garde, so much great music, and then finally such a crash and burn as the pendulum swung dramatically back towards the safe, the banal, the saccharine, and worse.

In my mind, the majority if not all of the great songs of the decade, the commercial ones anyway, came from the first half. Of course, as we've seen in my previous choices, I clearly have my pulse on the CBC panels (&*!*^&). Then again, Derek's dire warning of the chick factor in the 90's panel has me nervous (chick music in the 90's?) I'm a big guessing-tub-of-goo.

CBC list (wish me luck. I like beer, and I don't like giving it away).

(1) Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
(2) Smashing Pumpkins - Today
(3) James - Laid (the guy wore a dress the time I saw them, and the chicks all thought that was cool)
(4) Sinead - Nothing Compares 2 U (full-on chick)
(5) Beck - Loser (similar to myself)

If Sarah Mclachlan is on the list I'll be pissed on many levels. I also gave some consideration to the Blind Melon song - the 90's was all about the dead guys. Anyone willing to consider half marks for getting the band right (and the song wrong)?

My 5 fave choices - these are a bit random mind you:

(1) Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit. Sure it's predictable but...come on!

(2) Pavement - Goldsoundz. So brilliant and bang on for me I can't begin to describe.

(3) Sebadoh - Think. Got me way excited about lo fi. This one's for my sensitive side. I also love most of Bakesale, but this song is special.

(4) Yo La Tengo- Sugarcube. Thrilling mix of noise and melody that takes Sonic Youth's poppy instincts and runs with it. From maybe the best album of the 90's (excl. Pavement).

(5) Elliot Smith - Bled White. My favourite song by this saddest of song writers (oh yeah, he's dead too), and actually one of his most accessible. The imagery is wonderful and moving. Extra marks for being one I still listen to a lot.

I guess that's it, though there was actually a twenty-way tie for fifth. That makes twenty-six, Stu. Most sincere regrets to the Posies (Flavour of the Month); Hayden (Trees Lounge); Superchunk (Driveway to Driveway), Sloan (Coax Me), Hole (Violet), Eleventh Dream Day (Motherland), The Breeders (Cannonball); Liz Phair (Never Said); Juliana Hatfield (Feeling Massachussets plus plus); Treble Charger (Red), Pavement (most of the rest of their canon but particularly Grounded, Elevate Me Later, Silence Kit, Summer Babe)...and a whole pile of others.

And, just as importantly, let's list out our own favourites as well.

I'm thinking CD Club compilation disks at this point, plus, considering submitting the lists to CBC. The bastards.
That's a pretty solid list, D-Man. Not only does it include some of the most influential and innovative artists of the decade, the songs are popular enough, and received decent airplay on commercial radio/video ,to garner attention from the panel. Good call too on Ms. Morissette--I'd be shocked if 'You Oughtta Know' is absent from the final list (though if 'Ironic' makes it, I may have to kneecap someone). Perhaps an Oasis song or 'Bittersweet Symphony' by the Verve might make it on there. I'll make my picks later today after much consideration.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Well I see no one has posted their 90's picks so let me bat leadoff. I did happen to catch today's first segment and heard the first two songs selected by the panel. It will come as no surprise to any of you that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" has been chosen. It would have made my list anyway so I'll limit my selection to 4 songs. I'm assuming that there's no way in hell that it doesn't make the shortlist of 5 songs. The second song they played today I would never have picked so I'll leave it at that. Word of warning: 2 of the 3 guest judges are women and with Jian coming in at ½ and ½ that means the panel is weighted towards the fairer sex. Alannis anyone?

CBC picks for the 90's:

Beck - Loser
Bjork - Big Time Sensuality
Moby - Porcelain
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees

Thanks to Brian for pointing out that my REM submission for the 80's (Losing My Religion) was in fact released in the 90's. As you can see I wont be submitting it for the appropriate decade.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Not sure how we got on this topic, but as far as I'm concerned the best Monkees song is a toss up between "I'm a Believer" and "For Pete's Sake", though I know Derek likes the lesser known "You Just May be the One". Didn't realize that, like me, you guys were all such big fans.

Additional Honourable 80's Mentions: The Church - Under the Milky Way; XTC - Senses Working Overtime; That Petrol Emotion - Big Decision and Cellophane. Others to follow.

Nice choices for the CBC list by Derek and Kyle - I should have chosen a Prince and/or an MJ, and will pay for it (like Stuart, whose choices seem to me be long shots) in beer. Goddamn it.

Derek, I trust youwill have your people listening to the CBC tomorrow and will provide the earliest possible update.

I, for one, am looking forward to choosing for the 90's, the decade that I grew up in.
My stab at the CBC picks for the 80's:

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Stone Roses - Fools Gold
U2 - I Still Haven't Found...
REM - Losing My Religion
Prince - Little Red Corvette
Here's my pix:

Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
Tainted Love by Soft Cell
How Soon is Now? by the Smiths
Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran
The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Sarah told me she thinks they’re going to choose this one)

A mix of what I think will be there and what I want to be there, never a good combination but...
I like it a list for best monkey songs.... Well in first place has to be monkey man off the Stones Let it Bleed

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Firstly, I liked all your picks. You’re all winners in your own special and unique way. In a more literal way, I am the winner, at least when it comes to guessing what the panel would choose for the 1970s and getting into the mind of Jian Ghomeshi, which, on second thought, may not necessarily make me a winner.

Derek, liked your homily/diatribe on 80s music. Since it was my coming of age music as well, it holds a special place in my heart. As a whole, there is a lot of really shitty mainstream music from the 1980s, and I’m sure we could each come up with a list of at least 30 songs that make us want to kick the snot out of the composer/performer, but I think this is true of mainstream music from any decade.

If I had to come up with a list of five definitive songs (ie. staples at high school dances/clubs, on mixed tapes) of the 80s, it would include:

‘How Soon is Now’ by the Smiths, an anthem to self-pity and self-loathing, which received consistent airplay from its release in 1984 to the end of the decade.

‘She Sells Sanctuary’ by the Cult, with its great buildup at the beginning, simple yet kickass chorus—“The world drags me down”—and staying power (released in ’85 yet played even more in 1989).

‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell, to which everyone I’ve ever known including my parents and possibly grandparents know the words.

‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ by New Order, capturing that simultaneous danceable/listenable quality Derek mentioned, with that swirling pre-chorus synth riff that lifts you out of your seat and makes you want to start flailing your arms in an interpretive dance kind of way. What’s that? I’m the only one who does that? And it's not a good look? Okay, but the song stays on the list.

‘Blister in the Sun’ by the Violent Femmes, which is catchy, easy to sing along to, and has one of those pauses-before-final- chorus that always drives the kids crazy.


‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’? It isn’t even the best song about monkees!
Okay, maybe it is. Infinitely superior to the equally nonsensical if somewhat crueler ‘Shock the Monkey’ by the Biko-crooning Peter Gabriel, and far less silly than either the Beatles’ ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey’ or The Specials ‘Monkey Man’, it may have some serious competition from the Beasties’ ‘Brass Monkey’.

I’ve heard ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ described as lament on environmental degradation and animal testing but I think this one’s more about the music than the lyrics. I prefer ‘Wave of Mutilation’ on Doolittle and ‘Where is My Mind?’ from ‘Surfer Rosa’ over any other Pixies song but I doubt that any of these will appear on the CBC’s list.

I think the panel is going to go a little more mainstream but I’m not ready to pick just yet. Give me another day. And let the baited breathing commence!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Well I'll step up to the plate for the 80's, probably the most unjustly maligned decade in popular music. Sure it was the decade of the big hair bands and I was a sucker for many of them. Flock of Seagulls, Haircut One Hundred, Dead or Alive, the Thompson Twins etc.. all spent many a day firmly ensconced on my turntable. Am I going to apologize? Hell no. Will I be raked over the coals for the rest of my life for my seeming bad taste? Surely.

Before I proceed to my 5 choices for the decade let me just say that the big attraction for me in the music of the 1980's was its combination of danceability and listenability. God knows the first half of the 1970's produced nary a danceable song (Kansas, Yes, Foghat??). The remainder of that decade went way over the top in attempting to correct that imbalance as evinced by the disco era. But nobody ever accused disco of being something anyone would want to listen to at home alone in their bedroom. Much like the techno/house/jungle/drum n'bass music of the past 10 years its sole purpose was to help you pick up chicks. Some would say that is the sole purpose of all music but I digress.

Some of my favourites of the 80's: Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", the Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary", The Cure's "In Between Days", New Orders "Bizarre Love Triangle" and even the Sisters of Mercy's uber-gothic "Marian" were all tracks that went equally well on the dancefloor and on the walkman. Suffice to say I'll always have a soft spot for the decade in which I came of age.

So on to the 5 choices: (in no particular order)

The Jam - That's Entertainment

Something about the British when it comes to writing songs about the working class stiff. The Yanks always seem to come up with music praising the good life and the joys of monetary success. The British on the other hand come up with songs from the streets by the likes of the Jam, Billy Bragg, the Pogues (OK Irish), and surprisingly the Streets. No song better evokes the numbing routine that is everyday life than this classic.

God knows the Jam never even sniffed success on this side of the pond but they had numerous top 20 hits in the UK and this one at the very beginning of the 80's might have been the best of a very good lot.

Elvis Costello - I Want You

I somehow seemed to miss the whole early period of Elvis and have only caught up over the last 10 years or so. My first Elvis purchase was "Blood and Chocolate" and this song was the standout. Its a far cry from Radio, Radio or Pump it Up but it captured all the fucked up feelings I had when I was 22 where the fairer sex was concerned and too often they weren't.

Much to Brian's delight it might have been the first song where the lyrics meant more to me than the music. We can't discuss the best of the 70's and 80's without having Declan
place somewhere in the list.

The Pixies - Monkey Gone to Heaven

To this day I don't think I have a clue what this song is about and I'm happy to keep it that way. Black Francis has always been off on his own planet of sound anyway. This one came in right at the end of the decade and for those (me included) who'd had enough of the sugary dance happy 80's at this point this was the perfect antidote.

Francis' blood curdling yelp of "then God is 7" still brings a smile to my face. Music is still
looking for someone to pick up their mantle.

Morrissey - Everyday is Like Sunday

I guess this precludes me from picking a Smiths track in my list. So be it. Perhaps like the Beatles I have a hard time judging the Smiths songs from an objective point of view as they were listened to so many times and meant so much in my life at the time. So I cop out and pick this track.

At the time of its release I was just glad that with the demise of the Smiths our boy Morrissey put out a record and it didn't suck. The smalltown / small life ennui that this song evokes made this a keeper, especially having spent much of my early childhood holidaying in dismal places such as Blackpool and Scarborough.

Peter Gabriel - Biko

Back in the land of all that is deep fried in the summer of 1980 and still starry eyed at 16 the lyrics and music in this song were overwhelming. In many ways this track and Kate Bush's "The Dreaming" opened my eyes to music from beyond the UK/US axis. Biko might have been the start of the whole world music movement and it could not have a better progenitor. I didn't know who Steven Biko was when I first heard this song and yet it roused me no less. Politicized songs can often feel tawdry and overdone but when they are as heartfelt as this song you can't help but be moved.

The last line says it all, "And the eyes of the world are watching now".

My apologies to the Stone Roses, the Undertones, Billy Bragg, Lloyd Cole, the Housemartins, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Public Enemy on their absence from my list.
Well I took a different approach then you Brian, Here are 5 great songs that I think have a chance to be on the list;
1) Farytale of New York - Pogues
2) With or without you -Ubiquitous 2
3) Comfortably Numb (OK Dec 79, but dominated the 80's)- Pink Floyd
4) Fall on Me - REM
5) Fishermans Blues -Waterboys
6) Ashes to Ashes - Bowie
Sorry Brian one extra just to piss you off....
OK, here are the best 80's as likely to be chosen by the CBC gurus:

(1) Pride (in the Name of Love) - U2
(2) How Soon is Now - The Smiths
(3) Fight the Power - Public Enemy
(4) The One I Love - R.E.M.
(5) Once In a Lifetime - Talking Heads

And here are my faves:
(1) Teenage Riot - Sonic Youth
(2) South Central Rain - R.E.M.
(3) Monkey's Gone to Heaven - The Pixies
(4) Undertow - the Feelies
(5) The Cure - In Between Days

Honourable Mention: The Psychedelic Furs - Ghost in You; Guadalcanal Diary - Fear of God; The Replacements - I Will Dare; The Smiths - This Charming Man; The Thompson Twins - Doctor Doctor (just kidding).

Probably forgotten a few but this will do for now.

Monday, August 16, 2004

OK boys, it's eighties week. Right in your respective wheelhouses.

I'll be posting my faves, and my best guesses for CBC (although I clearly haven't a clue) in the next day or so. And I'll try to keep the passionate outpourings to a mininum.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Wow, you really can't turn that thing off.

Hmmm...three consecutive postings referencing "Brandy" (by Lookinglass). I'll have to check with the founding fathers, but I believe that is cause for ex-communication from the Blog site.

AAAAAH I cant turn this thing off................., Brandy by Lookinglass, Waterloo by ABBA, Lean on me, Withers...HELPPPPPP ...... Cover of the rolling stone, Me and Mrs Jones, Having a baby what a lovely way of saying how much you love me, Cant get enough of your love babe, Shaft....AHHHHHH, Dont give up on us baby by AHHHHH David Soul ,,, Beth by KISS AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
AAAAAH I cant turn this thing off................., Brandy by Lookinglass, Waterloo by ABBA, Lean on me, Withers...HELPPPPPP ...... Cover of the rolling stone, Me and Mrs Jones, Having a baby what a lovely way of saying how much you love me, Cant get enough of your love babe, Shaft....AHHHHHH, Dont give up on us baby by AHHHHH David Soul ,,, Beth by KISS AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
C'mon Stu, stay focused. It's about five songs. Five. Gimme five.

The seventies have been chosen by CBC. Ironically, they chose six (a tie for fifth).

Imagine – John Lennon
God Save the Queen – The Pistols
Stairway to Heaven – Zeppelin
Heroes – David Bowie
Tie: Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed / River – Joni Mitchell

Ok now I cant stop going thru all these 70's tunes in my head, Fleetwood Mac Dreams, Joni Mitchel -free man in paris and maybe Gordon Lightfoots Edmund Fitzgerald (mainly because Gordie is in poor health).....
Ok miss a couple of weeks on the site and look what happens. Only had time to skim your comments but for 70's Stairway to heaven has to be there as it ended every greatest songs list .
American Pie - Don McClain will be there , If there is Elton John it will more likely be Bennie & the jets unfortunatley... The Who maybe Baba o Reilly? Beatles song Let it Be? (or is that 60s)
Marvin Gaye Whats going on.... (you now peace message and all that)... Imagine - Lennon (ditto
about peace) Stones ???? not on a seventies list ....same for Dylan...same for Clapton
Dylans Like a rolling stone should be there for the 60's. All this stuff is based more on pop sucsess and important songs-not necessarily my choices. More to come....

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Well parried, old man. Can't say I agree re She Loves You (OK, I already did say that), but I do get your point. "Paradigm shift", you asshole. For the record, my Beatles top five would be (never really thought of this before): "She Said She Said"; "For No One"; "A Day in the Life"; "And Your Bird Can Sing"; and "Norwegian Wood"...and "Hey Jude" and "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" and "Hard Day's Night" and "If I Fell". OK top ten.

Re Heroin, well, I love the Stranglers tune too, but I don't think it compares as a piece of art. It's a beautiful song, without a doubt. But "Heroin' is so uncompromisingly ambivalent and chilling, and sonically wild. Imagine Sonic Youth without this song...I can't, honestly. To add critical weight to my's what All Music says about it - if I could do fancy links this would look much more impressive.

(Note to myself, not sure if All Music is considered "critical weight" or not, but they got this one bang on)
Song Review
by Mark Deming
In 1966, when the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" and Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" were generating no small controversy for daring to flirt with the subject of recreation drug use, the Velvet Underground crossed a then-unthinkable threshold and began performing a song called "Heroin." Actually, Lou Reed had written the song in 1964 while still a songwriter for hire for Pickwick Records, but his employers were understandably wary about allowing him to record it, and it wasn't until the Velvet Underground began performing in late 1965 that the song made its public debut. While "Heroin" hardly endorses drug use, it doesn't clearly condemn it, either, which made it all the more troubling in the eyes of many listeners; at a time when marijuana was still legally classified as a narcotic, the notion of a rock & roll song discussing a dangerous drug without openly condemning it was practically the same thing as a ringing endorsement. Musically, "Heroin" was every bit as challenging as it was thematically; few rock songs of the period made better or more intelligent use of dynamics, and the slow build through the verses into the manic frenzy of the song's conclusion sounded like nothing else in rock music at the time. In addition, John Cale's screeching, atonal viola helped introduce the use of serious dissonance to pop music; along with Roger McGuinn's guitar breaks in "Eight Miles High," it was one of the first examples of the lessons of free jazz or the avant-garde finding a willing student in rock music. While Lou Reed's solo recording of the song on the live album Rock n Roll Animal smoothed out a few of the rough edges, even in its meekest recorded version the song remained a dark and troubling masterpiece.

Nice. I particularly like the incidental affirmation it adds to my Eight Miles High choice. Those guys at All Music are geniuses!

On a less smug note, I've just visited the CBC website and can confirm four of the 70's nominations - "Imagine", "Hotel Calafornia", and apparently (this from Derek and not the site), "God Save the Queen" and "Take A Walk on the Wild Side". Interesting. Their supposed to have eight songs by tomorrow (10:30 - 10:45 on CBC One) I've missed a couple at least. They choose five on Saturday at 11:00. So it looks like each of us has one in the running for the big all-alcohol prize. "Take a Walk on the Wild Side", nah.

Stuart, for Christ's sake. Hello?

The 80's should be good.

Apologize for the delay in reposting.

The temptation to post merely a flippant ‘Cool’ or ‘No, you’re wrong’ was great. But I overcame the urge to be a fucking prick (at least in this instance) and decided to attempt to craft a worthy response. And by the way, I didn’t leave your article until you mentioned scotch, whereupon I googled ‘single malt’ and came across this link.

Also, ‘You’re right’.

How so? Well, you’re right that I made some great picks. Hats off to me. Cleary, I know my music and am in the zone....uh, maybe I missed the stop for ballsy and went straight to ass.

You’re right in the sense that my choices were less about favs than about what I thought was an appropriate pick. Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones, and Motown pretty much define the decade musically so I chose what I assume to be the most important or signature tracks. I like ‘A Day in the Life’ a lot more than ‘She Loves You’ and appreciate the fact that there is so much more going in, musically and lyrically in the former than in the latter. I think there’s something to be said, though, for the infectious simplicity of a song like, ‘She Loves You’. Though I wasn’t around at the time, I think what happened, collectively, when people first heard ‘She Loves You’ was an instant recognition that something was different, new, and exciting, that had nothing to do with hair or cute Liverpudlian accents. Can I use the words ‘paradigm shift’ and not expect a smack upside the head when next we meet?

A comparison from when I was actually living would be the experience that I (and most of the people I hung out with in university at the time) had the first time I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. Though in part a distillation of the sound of the Pixies, REM, and hard rock, there was something about this song that people seemed to recognize as significant without having to ever say, ‘This is significant’.

‘A Day in the Life’, is a great song but seems more like a shift in tone and songwriting for the Beatles than for pop music as a whole. By 1967, when Sgt. Pepper’s was released, there were other musicians who were taking far more musical risks and experimenting with sounds. (Side Note: For the Beatles, my top five would include: ‘In My Life’, ‘For No One’, ‘I Will’ and ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘A Day in the Life’)

Which brings us to your selection of Velvet Underground. Albeit balsiness personified, it seems a tad idiosyncratic a choice. You dig them, I dig them but my god man, it’s not even the best song about heroin! (Stranglers, Golden Brown, different decade but still).

There are probably 15 Rolling Stone songs from the 60s that I like better than Satisfaction and Street Fighting Man is definitely one of them. The guitar throughout the verses and the call-to-arms-like lyrics that epitomize the era…I need to learn to play an instrument so I can better articulate what I like about a song—I’m sure you’ve got it nailed down with ‘arpeggios’ so I’ll just say it’s got a good beat and you can groove to it.

I now leave the floor open to resident contrarian when it comes to all things Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starr to lament our misguided deification of the Fab Four. Over to you, Mr. Mercer.

[And incidentally, Stuart, get off your ass and type something—I know you’re breathlessly awaiting your impending mid-August ‘window of bachelorhood’ but surely you have a few seconds to name a few songs and make a few observations. Clearly I’ve proven that reservations about banality shouldn’t be a deterrent).

When does CBC reveal their 1970s list?

Monday, August 09, 2004

Kylie - good picks all for the sixties, you're absolutely right that none of those artists could be excluded, and there are at least another five in the same boat.

Funny thing is I didn't really get the sense that you were picking songs you love, just ones that you knew to be important, influential, etc...which of course is the point of the exercise, it's just a different conundrum than the one I have. Am I right? More importantly, am I engaging in a general, far-from-subtle dis-ing designed to antagonize and produce "ballsy" eighties picks from Kylie? (you be the judge).

To focus on your choices for a moment, I'll say that, while The Beatles have to be there, I wouldn't have chosen an early number, 'cause, though it was these recordings that created the phenomenon and showed amazing promise, the songs don't have the complexity, either musically or lyrically, that their middle/mature/late work offers. To put it another way, She Loves You is a great and fun pop song, but if they hadn't gone on to make Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, or the White Album would it still be on yourt list? "Satisfaction" is a great choice, can't miss, shoulda been on the CBC list, and can't be faulted (though I'll choose a different Stones later). Dylan is also a great choice but I prefer his early electric work from '65-'67. He never quite worked for me as an earnest cause-based folk writer, once I came to know him as the king of biting sarcasm and surreal wit. Frankly, your choice here smacks faintly of a cynical "must include Dylan" reflex (getting ballsy yet?). I love the Mamas and Papas and that's a great song...but only top twenty for me, likely. As for Motown, I reluctantly admit it has to be there, assembly-line music or not there are tons of memorable songs that emerged. The Four Tops are among my fave Motown acts and that's also a great song (damn, I finished a little weakly on the whole ballsy thing).

Music from the sixties is, generally, some of my very favourite - I went through a phase when I was about fifteen where I got totally hooked, and searched out and listened to as much of it as I could. Kind of like your first girlfriend (well, not mine, but that's a separate story), when I hear it again (no matter how many times, apparently) it just gets me right in the heart. OK so maybe that's not like your first girlfriend, either. I had real trouble narrowing this down to five, and ended up just going with the songs I like the best.

My 60's choices and (not all that) brief explanations:

The Beatles - A Day in the Life...... haunting melody, sadly surreal lyric (sung so beauitfully), post-modern bridge, amazing use of the orchestra, this one was so far ahead of its time that time may not yet have caught up. Sure we've all heard it a few hundred times (it's the Beatles for Chrissake), but listen again with fresh ears if you can.

The Velvet Underground - Heroin... Actually takes strong nerves to sit all the way through it even today (at least for me). Released in the Summer of Love, but this one's not about the fun drugs. Lou Reed always thought the "sixties" and all that they stood for were bullshit. As he so often does and did, he writes and sings about something no one else had the balls or the brains to. The Velvets influenced as many if not more musicians than the Beatles, and here's why. Creepy and amazing.

The Rolling Stones - Street Fightin' Man....from Beggars Banquet, recorded when they were at their artistic peak (though they had a great rersurgence in the early seventies), this one has all of the venom and punk energy of the best Stones, but also reflects the turbulent street clashes of the time. Amazing production with the intro's supercharged acoustic and punding drums melding into electric guitar drones and reverbed piano of the chorus, trumpet blares and airborne arpeggios in the outrun. And Jagger sings his balls off.

Interlude...notice how each explanation is longer than the last? well, I'm not drinking scotch, if that's what you were thinking.

Love - Alone Again Or....interestingly, this is one of two songs on the famous "Forever Changes" record not written by Arthur Lee (Brian Maclean, the "other" songwriter in the band, managed to pen this classic). A mix of psychedelia, confessional singer-songwriter stylings, and lush orchestral pop unlike anything recorded before or since. Above all that, a truly beautiful song. Love was a rare inter-racial band, based in LA and the orchestral arrangements reflect their roots - with a strong feel of Spanish/Mexican in the horns.

The Byrds - Eight Miles High....still for me the coolest single of all time. The ominous modal intro of the bass, drums, and guitar, the unheard of atonal guitar lead, then the rich, thick, minor-key harmonies, almost humming rather than singing the murky, at times indecipherable lyrics that hint of disassociation, confusion, distance. The guitar break in the middle is Coltrane re-incarnated as a white pop star. 25 years after I started listening to this song I still hear new harmonic elements in it. The band plays passionately, never sounded as good again, really, and all of these disparate pieces come together in one 3-minute moment of uncompromising brilliance.

OK, I'm done. Sorry, I got carried away. Had to leave out Dylan, The Who, the Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors, The Zombies (damn!), Hendrix, Cream, and Motown. Plus tons of others. Fuckers weren't good enough - it's as simple as that. Have I won you over? Or do you now hate these songs with a white-hot passion? (or did you flip over to the Onion five paragraphs ago?)

I've abandoned all ambition to do the same for the 40's and 50's, but I will re-consider the seventies and onward along with CBC.
I’m still not sure what this list is supposed to encompass: the best, the most influential, the most evocative of said decade, the inspired choices that make the panel look clever (perhaps the most accurate in terms of intent, if not the effect).

Here are my lists, with reasoning/excuses/pathetic, self-important musings listed beneath each decade:


Satisfaction/Rolling Stones
I’ll Be there/Four Tops
She Loves You/Beatles
Blowing in the Wind/Dylan
California Dreamin’/Mamas and Papas

While it’s a fool’s game to come up with a list of the 50 best songs of the 20th century, it takes an astounding combination of idiocy and idealism to try to take a decade like the 1960s and make five picks. Working on the formula then that you need 1 Beatles, 1 Rolling Stones, 1 Motown, 1 Dylan and a pickem’. You could substitute a Byrds song for the Mamas and Papas or even a Beach Boys song (Good Vibrations—damn, that should be there) and the list would work.

Brian, for the record, I’m okay with ‘In My Life’ as one of the top 5; very sweet, with strings, and is a good middle ground between their early doo-way, scream-inducing appearances on American TV and later, more complex and to me, more interesting ditties. I included She Loves You because it is probably more ‘important’ but would never include it in my own list of favourites. Ditto Satisfaction, which I’d add to another list entitled “Songs I don’t need to ever hear again in my lifetime” (there are more than 5 so I’ll post at a later date).

God Save the Queen/The Sex Pistols
Goodbye Stranger/Supertramp
Heart of Gold/Neil Young
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road/Elton John
Stairway to Heaven/Led Zeppelin

Even though the Clash produced far superior music than the Sex Pistols, I’m thinking that Jian et al will give more weight to the contribution of the Sex Pistols. The Supertramp is a stretch but works for me so I’m picking it. Brian, I also had Queen's Bo/Rap but figured that was the one they'd be embarassed to include. I also contemplated James Taylor, Carole King, and Carly Simon but after shuddering for five minutes straight, decided it would be best for my health to leave them off; I suspect they may include a Carole King song but if it's 'Anticipation' I may have to go ballistic.

Am going back and forth on the 80s list. Will gauge the response to these before posting. If lauded, I will do something ballsy. If derided, I’ll do something ballsy. If ignored (most likely scenario), I’ll simply forget about the blog for a week or so.
OK, given the imminent shortlisting (when is that?) I'l l post my guesses for the Top 5 of the seventies:

The Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen
Marvin Gaye - What's Goin' On
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Carole King - It's Too Late
The Who - Baba O'Reilly

I dropped Stairway to Heaven at the last minute.....hoping everyone will be too embarassed to choose it. But then, I included Bohemian Rhapsody. I'm a mass of contradictions. No new wave (Costello, Cars, Joy Division, Talking Heads), but then, there's always the eighties, and no Hard Rock (other than The Who). We'll see.

The much-anticipated (and frankly, over-hyped) list of my personal favourites from the 40's through 80's will follow later this week.

I suppose if we are serious about picking 5 songs from the 70's we should really select them now prior to actually hearing the 8 choices from the radio show this week. So here goes for my guess at what the rather hit and miss panel at CBC will choose as the ultimate 70's tunes.

The Clash - London Calling
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
The Eagles - Hotel California
Rod Stewart - Maggie May
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Given last weeks affinity for selecting Motown numbers I was tempted to put Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder on this list (Inner City Blues and Superstition) but I'll leave it at the list above. Please note that no Bowie, Floyd, Springsteen, Stones, Costello, Who, or Neil Young made my list. Doesn't mean that I wouldn't have chosen them in my personal list but I'm just trying to fathom Ghomeshi and his gang.

I will follow up later with my personal choices for the best 5 of the 80's. Much more my home turf as it were.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

I've been following the Top 50 Songs Program on CBC, and after finding the early decades to contain mostly very good choices, I've been pretty perplexed by some of the choices and the omissions from the 40's on. Well, today was the 60's, probably the most challenging decade yet for this sort of format. Choosing 5 songs to represent such a song-rich decade.....I was quite curious to see where they landed.

The selections were, for me, extremely disappointing, almost embarrasingly so - The Beatles as the first choice, OK sure, but "In My Life", while a lovely melodic, sentimental ballad, is not their most impressive writing or performance, nor one of their really influential numbers (though well thought of by critics generally, in fairness). The Byrds I love of course, but I wouldn't have chosen Mr. Tambourine Man - I can only imagine that the panel thought they could "include" Dylan by choosing one of his songs (nice try, and come on, no Dylan in the sixties?), but the Byrds had far more profound musical moments - more on that later. Two Motown numbers, both great songs I agree, is at least one too many when choosing only five numbers, and "Born To Be Wild" as #5, well Christ I laughed until I peed myself (and I loved Easy Rider too). You want to show the best of hard rock, choose Hendrix, Cream, The Who, 100 spots ahead of Steppenwolf. Overall, a wildly unsatisfying combination of boring, weird, and badly informed, I'd say.

So, when the fuming, laughing, and peeing finally ended, I started throwing out a few favourites with V that we couldn't believe didn't make the list, and she suggested that I encourage y'all to post our own version of the top 5 of each decade. Or just one or two decades if you have particular favourites. I thought it was a Great Blog Notion (GBN), and am prepared to take the heat if it's generally considered gay and/or wanker-esque. I will give it some thought and post my top fives for the 40's 50' and 60's in the next week. I also think it would be fun to have a wager to see who can guess the most right for next week's 70's selections - the winner owed a beer or two from each other competitor. What say you?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I have a very small setting for the aperture on my mouse, which helps with my acad drawings,
but the all music website has a very small hot spot on the speaker icon. The result after much communication from very helpful staff at AMG is that I must be very precise when I click the speaker icon for it to work. I am getting used to the site and like it much. Yvette & kids are confirmed away for 5 days starting sat aug 14, so if any are around for music, patios whatever...

I have a very small setting for the aperture on my mouse, which helps with my acad drawings,
but the all music website has a very small hot spot on the speaker icon. The result after much communication from very helpful staff at AMG is that I must be very precise when I click the speaker icon for it to work. I am getting used to the site and like it much. Yvette & kids are confirmed away for 5 days starting sat aug 14, so if any are around for music, patios whatever...