Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Beat City

A one-hit wonder from 80's new wave band The Flowerpot Men. One of many gems from the Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack. I'm a sucker for a good arpeggiated guitar line.

Artist: The Flowerpot Men
Year: c.1985
Rating: Luke Hot

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Take a Chance on Me

As I alluded to the other day when blogging about "Bette Davis Eyes," I've had some Alvin and the Chipmunks covers in my head recently. (The 'Munks covered Bette Davis Eyes too, though it was the original in my head on Monday.) When I woke up with "Take a Chance on Me," it was actually the hopped up Alvin and the Chipmunks version, which then slipped into the original ABBA.

I think the 'Munks fare better on "Take a Chance on Me" than on "Bette Davis Eyes." Turns out Alvin does earnest better than femme fatale. Artist: Alvin & the Chipmunks Year: 1982 Rating: Luke Hot
Artist: ABBA
Year: 1978
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Spanish Inquisition

I gotta say, my timing couldn't be more perfect. To wake up chanelling my historic Jewish persecution on Christmas morning represents a real mother lode of psychological trauma.

Merry Xmas, all you sinners!

Artist: Mel Brooks et al
Year: 1981
Rating: Like a red hot poker up my ass

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bette Davis Eyes

Woke from a nap yesterday afternoon with this song in my head. Napping is very unusual for me, so this song came through in a very drowsy, disoriented state.

I have a vivid memory of being nine years old, watching the Solid Gold countdown for 1981 and my visceral disappointment that "Bette Davis Eyes" beat Olivia Newton-John's Physical for the number one song of the year. In retrospect, and with my adult mind, it's clear that "Bette Davis Eyes" is a way better song, but I remember thinking at the time something like, That Kim Carnes is just standing up there behind the mike stand, boring, and Olivia is rocking out all over the stage. This is so unfair!

The other association I have with this song is that it appeared on the cover album Chipmunk Rock that I owned and played obsessively at this time in my life. I'm blogging out of order here, but another song featured on Chipmunk Rock popped into my head a few days ago, and it will hit the blog soon as well. In the case of "Bette Davis Eyes," it was the original, not the Chipmunks' version, that entered my nap-addled brain.

Artist: Kim Carnes
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm

Note: For a song so obviously about sex, "Physical" is so euphemistic "Let's get animal?" that while I knew it was about, you know, doing it, the song really eluded my scandal radar when I was nine. "Bette Davis Eyes" is lyrically all the more sophisticated, and it's a wonder Alvin pulled off singing a line like, She'll take a tumble on you/Roll you like you were dice/Until you come up blue/She's got Bette Davis Eyes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

July Jones

This fan video of a kid removing layers of clothing is more mesmerizing than I'd reckoned for. (Don't worry, it's all about the outfits. Sorry to spoil the suspense, but do you think I'd re-post k*dd*e p*rn?)

Artist: New Pornographers
Year: 2003
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Tom Petty at his best, and probably one of the greatest rock songs of all time. I don't know if I was feeling kicked around some upon waking this morning, but it couldn't have been all that bad.

Petty (in his heyday) created straight-up rock, pulled from a mold cast by Dylan, the Byrds, the Stones. Most bands thereafter used the same mold, but pulled out chintzy plastic. There's a way in which I feel like I "shouldn't" like Tom Petty and the "heartland" rock he pumps out. But I dig him. R.J.'s review of Petty's 1979 album Damn The Torpedoes captures this quandary of tastes nicely.

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Year: 1979
Rating: Hot!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cheap Champagne

Sloan continues to dominate all bands in my head. This one from their last full-length recalls sweet '70s contemporary pop while staying true to writer/singer Jay Ferguson's clever indie rhyme schemes.

We said you've changed
She said, you've not
And that's when I realized
I should have connected all the dots

Artist: Sloan
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Monday, December 14, 2009

Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)

I blame Michael for this one. I almost didn't want to blog it, 'cause this will ensure that it stays in my head longer. But I will admit that the song in reality is far less irritating than my memory of it. It's certainly a representation of the Starbuckization of ambient music, but I can see why some people find it lovely.

Artist: Enya
Year: 1988
Rating: Cold

Note: The song also features a subtly clever reference to the music industry production process. The lyric "We can steer...with Rob Dickens at the wheel" is a reference to the WEA record label head at the time Enya was in the studio. Read about it here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Come On, Eileen

This has to be one of the most common earworm songs ever. Or at least of the last thirty years.

Artist: Dexys Midnight Runners
Year: 1982
Rating: Warm

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Strong Enough

I think I heard this in a café recently. That's usually how Sheryl Crow seeps in.

Artist: Sheryl Crow
Year: 1994
Rating: Warm

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dream Away

This song and its nonsensical refrain (Oh-Ry-In-Eye-Ay?) has been creeping 'round in my head for nearly thirty years. I knew it was from Time Bandits, Terry Gilliam's indelibly entertaining epic about a band of dwarves traveling through time to steal the world's most wonderful historic treasures. I watched that movie on cable when I was a kid probably dozens of times. But I had no fracking* idea it was a George Harrison song! Holy smokes, how weird!

Artist: George Harrison
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm
Note: *Yes, I did just use the term "fracking."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Supernatural Superserious

The first single from Accelerate, R.E.M.'s most recent album, and their best to come along in several years. The main chord progression, and the thematic cultural mythos of teen angst, is reminding me of The Who's Baba O'Riley, so the songs are merrily intertwining in my consciousness today.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Do I Get?

This song is all about the enunciation. WhaT-do-I-geT? Think of how weak it would be if it were "Whaddu-I-get?" The Buzzcocks are having a welcome renaissance in my head lately.

Artist: Buzzcocks
Year: 1977
Rating: Hot!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Killer Queen

In my head while I was walking the dog through the Castro today. Perfect!

Guaranteed to blow your mind...

Artist: Queen
Year: 1974
Rating: Luke Hot

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Take It to the Limit

Not my fave Eagles song, but you can't always get what you want in your head.

Artist: Eagles
Year: 1975
Rating: Lukewarm

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heretic Pride

Title track from last year's album. Typical, brilliant John Darnielle - an uplifting song structured around a grim lyric: the character is proud to be alive even in the moments his body is being dragged across the town square and into a ditch.

Artist: Mountain Goats
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye, Redux

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm

Last in my head on September 6, 2009.

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Year: 1967

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's the Love

One of the best from last year's well-received Mountain Battles. Silly little video of Kelley, Kim, and possibly a couple other people tapping hands and feet.

Artist: Breeders
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Pat and band doing a drum/tambourine jam. Song starts at 1:30.

Not sure what mental associations conjured this up on Thanksgiving morning, but enjoy!

Artist: Pat Benatar
Year: 1980
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Specifically, I woke with the "So-do-la-fa-mi-do-re" line in my head. I had absolutely no idea that the Sing Along Sound of Music was playing at the Castro this weekend. I swear it!

When you know the notes to sing/You can sing most anything!

Artist: Julie Andrews & co
Year: 1959 (original stage production) 1965 (film)
Rating: Warmly warm
Written by Rodgers & Hammerstein

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Show Me

Welcome to the human race
With its war, disease, and brutality
You with your innocense and grace
Restore some pride and dignity to a world in decline.

Oh, Chrissie, you make rock 'n' roll mean something. In such a sensual way.

Artist: The Pretenders
Year: 1984
Rating: Hot!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Alex & Annie Theme

Oh god! This is hilarious. Anyone out there remember the very feely '70s Saturday morning advice of Alex and Annie, two fake teenagers keepin' it "real?" I remember so vividly the asides during the opening sequence, "I'm desperate!" and "What should I do??"

Stay tuned til the end: this segment wraps with a fantastic ode to one girl's slow "development."

Artist: William Bingham & Donna Drake
Lyric/Producer: Lynn Ahrens
Year: 1978
Rating: Warm

Note: Created by the prolific Lynn Ahrens of School House Rock fame.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Walt Whitman's Niece/Don't Pass Me By

From the wonderful Mermaid Avenue album, on which Billy Bragg, Wilco, Natalie Merchant and other artists bring to life the unpublished lyrics of the late Woody Guthrie. It's so amusing to think about Guthrie, author of This Land is Your Land,* writing the bawdy lines "As she read I laid my head (and I can't tell which head)/Down in her lap (and I can mention which lap)." Music/Performance: Billy Bragg and Wilco (1998) Lyric: Woody Guthrie (1946) Rating: Luke Hot And for a week or so, when "Walt Whitman's Niece" got in my head, it would lead directly into this quirky traditional pop/honky-tonkish Ringo song from the White Album: Artist: The Beatles Year: 1968 Rating: Luke Hot Note: * "This Land is Your Land," it should be acknowledged, is not the merely the milk-and-cookies version many of us in the U.S. grew up with. It's got verses that are usually edited out of traditional performances of the song. Check out the history of the verses, which involve a high degree of working class consciousness here. Yep, Woody was a proud commie sympathizer AND a perv! His guitar bore the mark "This machine kills fascists."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Oh, jeez, the holiday music has already started in my head! Here's a sampling of this innocuous Xmas tune from...

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Year: 1981


The Muppets with John Denver
Year: 1979

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The One That You Love

Wow. Complete with airbrushed playground scenes.

Ubiquitous music of my childhood, and the stated favorite band of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Ringsted. Bless 'em.

Artist: Air Supply
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm

Fly Me to the Moon

Holy shit! There's water on the moon! This song came to mind the day before, mind you, the historic announcement was made. I know, blogging about it after the fact really dampens my cred.

C'est la vie, et l'eau.

Artist: Frank Sinatra and Antonio Jobim
Year: 1966 (written in 1954 by Bart Howard)
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bus Stop

Cute tune, but it's never been a favorite of mine. And it's a bitch to get out of your head once it's lodged in there. Time for a Mozart Reset.

Artist: The Hollies
Year: 1966
Rating: Lukewarm

You're Beautiful

"It's one of those songs that's so inane, you already know the words to it." —Amber
Artist: James Blunt Year: 2005 Rating: Brrrr! We both much prefer the Weird Al rendition, though we are cautionary about the self-hating nerd attitude he portrays: Artist: Weird Al Yankovic Year: 2006 Rating: Luke Hot Question: Does it ever snow at sea level?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Visions of Johanna

Another song introduced to me on a mixed tape from a former lover (lifetimes ago). It captured the situation in multilayered ways.

Louise, she's all right, she's just near
She's delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna's not here

Artist: Bob Dylan
Year: 1966
Rating: Luke Hot

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Get Me Wrong

I see neon lights whenever you walk by.

Check out this awesome old-school fan site about the band if you're so moved. It's got an historical archive of tour dates, lyrics, and, of note, Chrissie Hynde's irreverent advice to chick rockers.

Artist: The Pretenders
Year: 1986
Rating: Hot!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Babylon Sisters

In my head in the wee hours this morning. An ode to illicit sex with multiple women. Good thing my illicit sex is actually licit.

For song interpretations, check out the chat on SongMeanings.

Artist: Steely Dan
Year: 1980
Rating: Warm

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Help with Edits!

Hey, all you Songs in My Head junkies! Since the nature of posting other people's music online can be rather dodgy, I'm finding that videos I post from YouTube and other sources are often subject to getting yanked by the major labels, leaving big ugly video-voids in my posts.

Be a dear - if you see something like this in a blog entry, please alert me so I can search for a replacement video to complement the post. Unfortunately, this usually means resorting to a live version where I want the studio recording, or a home-made vid when I wanted the genuine article, but beggars can certainly not be choosers.

Since I'm amassing hundreds of entries already, it's hard for me to scope the whole contents of the blog on a regular basis in order to catch these things. If you happen to come across a page that needs a new video, please leave a comment here or email me at soozzip at gmail dot com. Be sure to mention the name of the song and the artist.

Thanks a bunch! Hope to keep you reading, singing, and fist-pumping along!


Just the Way It Is Baby

This song is so ridiculous! Granted, it's been around for almost twenty years now, but I'd pegged it as seventies or early-eighties easy listening, not an early-nineties quasi-alternative tune. I'm floored. Evidently, it's seeped into my consciousness and become lodged where I file adult contemporary hits like Muskrat Love and How Much I Feel.

Artist: The Rembrandts
Year: 1990
Rating: Cold

Shout Out: to Kelle "Ambrosia" E. and to Maria, who hates muskrats.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hang On Sloopy

In my head while walking the dog this morning. I know this song is about a girl, but I've always associated it with a particular famous comic canine.

Artist: The McCoys
Year: 1965
Rating: Warm

Friday, November 6, 2009


Here Comes My Baby (original version) was on rotation yesterday. Last in my head on June 18, 2009.

Also, this morning, Good Night Saigon, over and over again. Last time was February 20, 2009.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Glory of Love

Amber and I are immersed in training our new dog this week. Behavior issues, peeing in the house; naturally, we did it all for the Dorrie of love.

Artist: Peter Cetera
Year: 1986
Rating: Lukewarm

Edit: Oh my god! It's Ralph Macchio's birthday today! What an awesome coincidence! Happy 48th, you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Girl, all I want right now is you!

Artist: Wham!
Year: 1984
Rating: Warm

Monday, November 2, 2009

I See No Evil

Television is one of those bands that it's hard to imagine even existed. Somewhere on the threshold between 70s hard rock and the indie post-punk that came later, somewhere between pop and poetry, there was Verlaine, his verse, visceral vocals, and vibrato guitar.

Artist: Television
Year: 1977
Rating: Hot!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Fear the Reaper

Couldn't wake with a more perfect Halloween/Dia de los Muertos song if I'd consciously tried to.

And, yes, this song really could use more cowbell.

Artist: Blue Öyster Cult
Year: 1976
Rating: Warm

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Charlie's Angels Theme

I realised for the first time this morning that my straight-to-voicemail ring tone sounds like the Charlie's Angels theme. Now it's playing over and over again in my head.

Artist: Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson
Year: 1976
Rating: Warm

Note: Another song from the Bicentennial year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This song brings my junior high school era back to me viscerally. The music, not the humiliations. Sweet song to wake up to.

Artist: General Public
Year: 1984
Rating: Hot!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Unrelated? Maybe...

Addendum to She Says What She Means from yesterday:

Sloanmusic, the band's official Twitter i.d., made the studio version of the song available on the web about eight hours after I tweeted my entry and directly alerted them to it. Listen to the track I intended you to hear here!

Coincidence? I dunno, but thanks guys!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

She Says What She Means

Frustrating experience today: the above performance is great, but I had originally wanted to embed a studio version of the song for the Sloan-uninitiated out there. It's hard to love the raucous frenzy of these guys unless you can properly hear their smart lyrics and hooky riffs. My hopes dashed on the YouTube, I attempted to create a simple still shot video with audio track in iMovie, which I've never used before. After a couple hours of effort, frames not synching, song cutting off at 30 seconds in, etc., I finally got my ultra low-budge vid to work properly. Then I tried uploading it to said video hosting site, and the upload failed every which way I tried it. It wouldn't take as a .mov file, nor as an mpeg. My entire morning, down the Tube.

But I don't know what I would stoop to
Have you got another jump I could hoop through?

Artist: Sloan
Year: 1998
Rating: Hot!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles have been ubiquitous in popculture for more than forty years; still, I wonder how much, or how little, the recent re-releases/Rock Band phenomenon have altered their frequency in my head. This is the sixth post about them; two songs from months before the marketing frenzy and three songs since. I don't think there's enough data to tabulate it. Hopefully, this'll be the last post in which I'm repetatively musing about this dilemma, and in the future, I'll just let the boys from Liverpool do their magic in my head, unfettered by marketing guilt-by-association.

Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1967
Rating: Warm

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight

Given that R.E.M. is one of my all-time favorite bands, it's surprising they've only made it into my head three times since the start of this project; this is the second R.E.M. song to come 'round in a week's time. In fact, it's been ringing in my head for days, ever since Barry and I listened to it on his ipod shuffle while on the road between Durham and D.C. last week. It's such a catchy, fun, inexplicable song amidst Automatic for the People's more down-tempo, reflective tracks. As usual, I'm happy to recommend the Pop Songs review for another perspective.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1992
Rating: Warm

Noteworthy: The Zep's John Paul Jones arranged the string section.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes When We Touch, Redux/Shades of Gray

As the result of an intense snuggle session this morning, the song Sometimes When We Touch revisited my thoughts. It was last in my head on February 11, 2009. The melody then melded into Shades of Gray by the Monkees.

As with many Monkees' songs, this one was penned by professional songwriters from the infamous Brill Building, in this case, by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. If you check out their discography of co-written songs, you'll be impressed.

Artist: The Monkees
Year: 1967
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

With Whom to Dance

Lovely gender-bendy video for this broodingly sweet song. The rest of life pales in significance I'm looking for somebody with whom to dance Artist: Magnetic Fields Year: 1995
Rating: Luke Hot

House at Pooh Corner

Yet another song etched into my mind from my Camp days. Fascinating that Loggins & Messina are on tour again - no idea whether this marketing angle played into the song arriving on my brain. It's a sweet ditty - give it a listen if you've never heard it before. Great to see the young Kenny Loggins singing so earnestly. It's Winnie the Pooh fanfic!

Artist: Loggins & Messina
Year: 1970
Rating: Warm

Note: Loggins penned the song, which was recorded first by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and just months later by Loggins & Jim Messina.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam
And no one in her right mind would make her home my home
My heart’s an autoclave

Only John Darnielle could make a potent metaphor out of medical equipment.

Artist: Mountain Goats
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, October 16, 2009


Listen to the last.fm sample track here.

Many of you know I have an abiding love for R.E.M., but I actually never really liked this song. I enjoy the album Up as a whole, though a lot of fans divide over it. Many "old stuff" purists gave up after this first attempt sans Bill Berry. But among fans who stuck with them through this transition, I might be in the minority in my opinion of this song. When I initially heard it, the similarity in melody and lyric structure to Leonard Cohen's Suzanne really irritated me. They gave a writing credit to Cohen on the album, but the story goes that they had no idea they were so closely mimicking him, which I find impossible to believe, given that "Suzanne" is pretty much Cohen's most recognizable song, and that the band had appeared on a Cohen tribute album in 1991. I also never cared for the lyrics, which I found to be a compilation of popculture clichés.

I will admit now though, eleven years on, that the lyrics and the imagery in the song have really stuck with me, in a good way. So I guess in my experience, this song has aged well like a fine cheese, as we cliché-lovers would say. These words particularly stick with me:

You want to trust religion
And you know it's allegory
But the people who are followers
Have written their own story
So you look up to the heavens
And you hope that it's a spaceship
And it's something from your childhood
You're thinking don't be frightened

I wouldn't have a hard time now giving the song a better rating. The sheer amount of nerdy pop philosophy here makes me grin.

For another take, which is more detailed and thoughtful, see Matthew Perpetua's review at his sprawling Pop Songs blog, in which he writes about *every* R.E.M. song.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1998
Rating: Lukewarm (historical) Warm (Current)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It's such a lonely word.

Transparent mental process: I read a friend's Facebook meme yesterday, which was entitled "Honesty." The song was instantly evoked. I noted in her comments that I wouldn't be surprised if it were to stick til the morning, and lo and behold...

Artist: Billy Joel
Year: 1978
Rating: Warm

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mr. Blue Sky

Interestingly, it was blue yesterday, but started raining today.

Artist: ELO
Year: 1978
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chain Gang

I'm posting remotely from D.C., here for the wedding of a dear old friend. Weird to wake up the day of a wedding to a song about forced prison labor.

Artist: Sam Cooke
Year: 1960
Rating: Warm

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sweet Jane

Dating myself here as the youngin' that I am (though, at 37, approaching "middle age" I suppose), but the Cowboy Junkies' sumptuous cover of this amazing Velvet Underground song was the first one I heard, in the early '90s, when a dear friend put it on a mixed tape for me. It wasn't til a few years later that I started listening to, and loving, the Velvet Underground, when my roommate at UC Santa Cruz would play their self-titled album from 1969 nonstop.

Artist: Cowboy Junkies
Year: 1988
Rating: Hot!

There are a lot of versions of this song performed by Velvet Underground and Lou Reed solo. I present this one, 'cause it's got the "heavenly wine and roses" bridge that Cowboy Junkies included in their cover, and I love it.

Artist: The Velvet Underground
Year: 1970
Rating: Hot!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Star Wars - Imperial March

It would normally be pretty ominous for Darth Vader's theme to pound into one's head first thing in the morning, but I know where it came from. When I blogged about the spooky old children's tune The Hearse Song about a week ago, I cited the melody of the song's last lines to Chopin's composition Marche Funèbre. I thought at that time that the opening notes of the funeral march sounded similar to the Imperial March from Star Wars, but didn't think about it again until this morning when the evil Sith lord came a knockin' on my cranium. Turns out the "Imperial March" was somewhat based on Chopin's sonata, so the connection wasn't random at all. Fascinating, isn't it, how our brain can click right into a direct link even if we don't consciously know the connection?

Writer: John Williams
Original Artist: The London Symphony Orchestra
Year: 1980
Rating: Warm

Note: The March was introduced in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and has been used as a motif in all the following films. I'd attributed it in my mind to the beginning of the original trilogy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

These Eyes

The second Guess Who song on the noggin since I started this project. I thought this one might've been Blood, Sweat & Tears, actually, but I was mistaken. Both bands have this heavy sixties rock sound that also surprisingly borders on loungy pop. Especially on this track with the syllabically-crammed refrain, "These eyes have seen a lot of loves but they're never gonna see another one like I have with you."

Artist: The Guess Who
Year: 1969
Rating: Warm

If It Makes You Happy

I was in a pub a couple months ago, writing in my journal about bittersweet feelings (yes, I am the kind of geek who sometimes writes in pubs), when this apt song started filtering in over the sound system. It entered my mind again this morning after a similarly bittersweet Monday. Can't deny the catchy simplicity is emotionally resonant.

Artist: Sheryl Crow
Year: 1996
Rating: Lukewarm

Monday, October 5, 2009


Not sure why I can't find some video for this song - there are lots of covers out there, but not the original McCoy, so enjoy the last.fm track.

Lovely song to wake to. In my head.

You know, it's quite interesting/eerie to think that even if any of us were never to hear actual music again, we have lifetimes of songs stored in our memory, accessible at any moment we choose. So as long as we remain cognitively agile enough to recall them (a hope for us all!) we can simply supply our own individually-tailored soundtracks at any time, in any circumstance (a super-power I hope we're never forced to exercise). Van Morrison's a welcome addition to the mental play list.

Artist: Van Morrison
Year: 1970
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I just learned that, though the album of the same name came out in 1970, Moondance wasn't released as a single til 1977. By today's hyper-marketing standards, that seems pretty weird, right?

Cool Rider, Redux

Last in my head on April 29, 2009.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Comfortably Numb

One of the most iconoclastic covers ever. Hard to imagine Roger Waters, David Gilmour and the boys anticipating that the dénouement of their masterpiece rock opera would manifest as a gay disco anthem at the turn of the next century, but there you are. My guess is that most Floyd fans hate it, but one has to admit the campy theatricality and pop hooks make this Scissor Sisters cover pretty special.

Artist: Scissor Sisters
Year: 2004
Rating: Warm

What I Got

The video is here. It's a tribute to dearly departed lead singer Bradley Nowell who famously died of a heroin OD just before Sublime's hit self-titled album release.

Not my favorite style of music, but I will say that I love that the line "I can play the guitar like a mother fuckin' riot" is followed by a mellow bluegrass riff.

Artist: Sublime
Year: 1996
Rating: Lukewarm

Note: I wonder if they acknowledged Lennon/McCartney for the ripped melody from Lady Madonna?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rain in the Summertime

Wow. The late-80s rocker mullet is in full-force on this U2ish tune from The Alarm. The song appeared in a dream, and I attributed it to an artist named "Donny Meast," noting to myself that his name was similar to Donny Most, aka Ralph Malf, from Happy Days. Dreams are weird.

Artist: The Alarm
Year: 1987
Rating: Lukewarm

Friday, October 2, 2009

Zest Commercial

A rude awakening this morning, with this cheerful '80s jingle ringing in my head. Anyone know who the actress is? She looks *so* familiar.

I couldn't imagine why a soap commercial would be on my mind, until Amber reminded me that I've been seriously dissatisfied with the soap we've been buying lately. Gotta change brands, but being a natch grocery shopper, Zest is definitely not in my future.

Year: 1987
Rating: Tepid

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mind Your Own Business

Fun montage of the Presidential visits of Nixon/Brezhnev and Reagan/Gorbachev. Has nothing to do with the song, really, unless you're going for a "communism vs. capitalism" metaphor with the lyrics. I take the song to be more interpersonal and perhaps broadly political, rather than specifically about Cold War diplomacy. Can I have a taste of your ice cream? Can I like the crumbs from your table? Can I interfere in your crisis? No - mind your own business. At any rate, I adore Delta 5, one of the most sadly overlooked post-punk bands from the Leeds scene in the late '70s. I so wish they'd reunite and tour. Til then, I'll be playing 'em in my head.

Artist: Delta 5
Year: 1979
Rating: Luke Hot

After the Lovin'

Oh, smooth schmaltz at its best. Did you know that Engelbert Humperdinck actually chose his name? He was born with the hum-drum Anglo name Arnold George Dorsey and decided to name himself after a German opera composer. Apparently, that's when his music really took off.

Artist: Engelbert Humperdinck
Year: 1976
Rating: Warm

Note 1: Another easy listenin' song from the Bicentennial year!
Note 2: The above video provides us with an apt circumstance in which to ask the question: Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hearse Song

This was a favorite old tune we sang–and loved–for years at Camp until some prudish parents complained that it was inappropriate for children. Kids are totally fascinated with death, morbid imagery, blood and guts. Nothin' wrong with that. It's us adults who repress our natural curiosity and perpetuate the taboo by avoiding the topics of death, decay, and the putrescence of bodily functions. Those JCC parents weren't alone though. The above version of this traditional tune appeared as part of the Alvin Schwartz book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which is one of the most frequently "challenged" books for banning in contemporary history, according to the American Library Association.

The version we sang was different, and I'm partial to it, naturally, though I do have to give props to the Schwartz interpretation for the final, disgusting lines:

Your stomach turns a slimy green
And pus pours out like whipping cream
You spread it on a slice of bread
And that's what you eat when you are dead!

Maybe our version below was a bit tamer, but fascinatingly enough, the old-fashioned game of pinochle remains consistent in most versions I've found online:

Oh don't you laugh when the hearse goes by,
Or else you'll be the next to die
They'll wrap you up in a bloody sheet
And throw you down about fifty feet
You'll be okay for about a week
But then your coffin will start to leak
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
The ants play pinochle on your snout
The big black bug with purple eyes
Goes in your kidney and out your eyes
Your eyes decay and roll away
And that's the end of the beautiful day

Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you
Simply because there is nothing else to do
Pray for the dead.

[That last triplet of lines are sung to the melody of the third movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2, Marche Funèbre (click on it; I'll bet it sounds familiar). We always sang it by cupping our hands over our noses and flapping the fingers against one nostril so as to create a creepy vibrating effect to the words.]

Artist: Traditional, unknown. Interpretation by Alvin Schwartz, sung by the actor George S. Irving
Year: Unknown; recording c. 1980s.
Rating: Warm

Note: Chopin's funeral march, c. 1837.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The The Empty

Ah, a nice break from the smooth rock of the '70s and '80s - I've been on quite an adult contemporary run lately.

I love the frenetic energy of Le Tigre's first album, unbelievably released in 1999 (I didn't hear it til late 2000, and it screams "Aughts!" to me). Like on many of their tracks, the noisy emotion of the song takes precedence over the lyrics, but when you hone in on the words, there's always a payoff:

I went to yr concert and I didn't feel anything
I went to yr concert and I didn't hear anything
I went to yr concert and I didn't feel anything
I went to yr concert and I didn't see anything

(Oh baby) why won't you talk to me?
(Oh baby) you just want me empty!
(Oh baby) you don't say anything!
(Oh baby) why won't you answer me?

Artist: Le Tigre
Year: 1999
Rating: Hot!

Love Me Tomorrow

One of the singles from Chicago's pop revival album Chicago 16. This track is a bit too slick for my tastes, but I very much dig the proggy synth lines that emerge around the chorus, which I do believe are a product of the prolific musicians David Paich and Steve Porcaro (both members of supergroup Toto as well). It's noteworthy that Paich co-wrote yesterday's song Lido Shuffle with Boz Scaggs, but I had no way of knowing that prior to writing this entry. Maybe I absorbed the information from looking into Lido, and my unconscious mind produced another David Paich collaboration, though I don't think it's likely. Who can say?

Artist: Chicago
Year: 1982
Rating: Lukewarm

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lido Shuffle

This entry is a good follow up to my previous, Sentimental Lady by Bob Welch. Same era, similar genre, and like that last song, it's in my mind all the time, but I've had no clue as to the lyrics, artist, or how to find it. Thank god I've got a sister who had her finger on the pulse of '70s mellow rock while it was in the making. All I had to do was whistle and hum a few bars, and say, "I think it might be about a guy named Leo, or something," and bam, she's like, "Boz Scaggs." I never even knew I had a Boz Scaggs song in me, but evidently I do, maybe even a couple, now that he's on my radar in a more conscious way. Happy birthday, Jodi! And thank you, '70s FM radio.

Artist: Boz Scaggs
Year: 1976
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: Yet another classic tune from the U.S. Bicentennial year!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sentimental Lady

For a song I haven't heard in probably 20 years, this one is in my head a lot! The maddening thing about it is that I've never known the lyrics nor the artist, and so whenever it hits me - in the shower, while walking down the street, in the aisle at Golden Produce comparing nectarines - I just whistle the melody and remain ignorant. In my mind, I'm going "Sentimental blah-blah-blah/Blaaah, blah blah blah, blah-blah-blah..." When it wound up in my head upon waking recently, I searched diligently online for artists I thought might fit the bill, like Stephen Bishop, Dan Hill, and Dan Seals. No dice. Finally, I stumbled upon it at Last.fm after Googling sentimental '70s songs. Rejoice! Turns out, the artist is Bob Welch, an early member of Fleetwood Mac, and this song is essentially Mac with Mick Fleetwood on drums and Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham on backing vocals (Buckingham also plays guitar on the track). The song actually debuted on their 1972 album Bare Trees. So there's a little rock 'n' roll history lesson for us all. Viva the smooth pop of Bob Welch!

Artist: Bob Welch
Year: 1972/1977
Rating: Luke Hot

Second-Hand News, Redux

Rerun. Last in head on May 3, 2009.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

After the Love Has Gone

While I'm partial to more emotional or esoteric explanations for why a song comes to mind, this song is admittedly around just 'cause I was doing a 70's soft rock search the other day and it popped up in a montage video. It's a pleasant find, though I'm still searching for the mellow gold song for which I can't seem to conjure lyrics or an artist. Stay tuned...

Artist: Earth, Wind, and Fire
Year: 1979
Rating: Warm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Find Your Way Back

Not quite the calibur of shark-jump as We Built This City from an even later offshoot of Jefferson Airplane; in fact, a decent single from the Mickey Thomas era of the band, on which Grace Slick played for the first time in several years.

Artist: Jefferson Starship
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm

Deacon Blues

Ever felt like the exquisite ruler of all things destined to fail?

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

So smooth, and yet, so steely.

Artist: Steely Dan
Year: 1977
Rating: Luke Hot

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do You Love Me Now?

Live performance here.

Sigh, a song I've included on at least one break-up mix.

Artist: Breeders
Year: 1993
Rating: Hot!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Songs that have been ringing in my head on repeat of late:

  • All the Old Showstoppers by New Pornographers, last blogged on July 19
  • The "Numa Numa" Song by O-Zone, last blogged on September 8
  • Solitaire by the Carpenters, last blogged on September 9
  • All My Loving by the Beatles, last blogged on September 11

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Billie Jean: Michael Jackson, in Memoriam

There have been a lot of Michael Jackson songs in our collective heads since his death this summer, and this isn't the first one that's floated into mine, just the first one that I woke up with. This footage is from the show Michael played in 2001 commemorating the 30th anniversary of his solo career. With every slight movement he makes on stage, he seems to confirm his status as the hugest pop icon on Earth. It's not the best vocal performance, but his moves and the energy of the massive audience give me chills.

Rest in peace, Michael

Artist: Michael Jackson
Year: 1982
Rating: Warm

Mama Told Me Not to Come

Such a fantastic song! Bridges rock, funk, and soul styles in a racy double-entendre fit for youngsters of every generation. The Three Dog Night version is definitely the best of this Randy Newman-penned song.

Artist: Three Dog Night
Year: 1970
Rating: Hot!

Newman originally wrote the song for Eric Burdon. Here's his twangy British Invasion and Motown-inspired take.

Artist: Eric Burdon & the Animals
Year: 1966
Rating: Luke Hot

For No One

Really sweet footage of Paul McCartney in the studio for the 1984 Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack, on which he re-released the song.

Artist: Beatles
Year: 1966 (original release)
Rating: Hot!

Note 1: This song came into my head a long time ago, before all the box set/Rock Band hype; I've got a backlog in my song queue right now. Trying to catch up!
Note 2: Read Chuck Klosterman's hilarious review of the box set.

Friday, September 11, 2009

All My Loving

In my head 'cause Amber's going away this weekend (pouts!) Also fits right into the cultural zeitgeist, since, as you all well know by now, the Beatles Rock Band and the Beatles stereo/mono box sets are out this week. All my money I will send to you...

Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1963
Rating: Warm

You Are

How weird! Can't find audio or video for this song anywhere online. Makes my life this foolish game...

Edit: Found it! I was looking under the wrong song title. Thanks Barry!

Artist: Lionel Richie
Year: 1983
Rating: Warm

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Starting the day with a lonely ache, I guess.

Artist: Carpenters
Year: 1975
Rating: Luke Hot
Note: Written by Sedaka/Cody

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dragostea din tei (the Numa Numa Song)

This true earworm song is almost impossible to get out of your head after just one listen, and you don't even have to know Romanian. Thanks to Amber (ahem), for introducing it to me after she discovered this massive international dance hit on her trip to Europe in 2004.

Artist: O-Zone
Year: 2004
Rating: Lukewarm

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oh Comely

Amazing song, full of wonderful, terrible imaginal imagery blending everyday vulgarities with the legacy of Anne Frank and the Holocaust. See the Pitchfork album review. The part that was in my head specifically starts at about 6 minutes in.

Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel
Year: 1998
Rating: Luke Hot

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye

What an amazing poet.

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Year: 1967
Rating: Luke Hot

I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues

Time on my hands could be time spent with you.

Artist: Elton John
Year: 1983
Rating: Warm

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome to the Boomtown

One of the chapters used this as their song for my very first BBG convention when I was a freshman in high school (modifying the lyrics to, I think, "Welcome to the Region"). No one else from my chapter came, so I was sitting alone on a bench crying and feeling left out. Hildy grabbed me and made me sing with them, even though I'd never heard the song before. It's stuck in my head warmly for 23 years now.

Shouts out to the El Al girls!

Artist: David & David
Year: 1986
Rating: Warm