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

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This one's in my head 'cause it was referred to in a Beth Lisick/Tara Jepsen sketch I saw last week in which our ladies of irony played douchey beer-drinking dudes who sang Pearl Jam's Jeremy and then bled unknowingly into Alive as if it were the same song. It was a pitch-perfect example of my historical like/meh relationship with Pearl Jam, which Sloan encapsulates in a line about Consolidated: "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans," though admittedly, we are probably talking about two very divergent fanbases, indeed.

Artist: Pearl Jam
Year: 1991
Rating: Lukewarm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Can't imagine why this dirty ditty came to me this morning...

Artist: Liz Phair
Year: 1993
Rating: Pant, pant!