Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love Walks In

Some Hagar-era Van Halen rounding out the year for ya. If I wake up with a song tomorrow, I'll blog it. Otherwise, stay tuned for the statistics from 2010, coming at some point in the near-future at The Songs In My Head. You can peruse the summary from 2009 right here.

Artist: Van Halen
Year: 1986
Rating: Lukewarm

Happy New Year, all! Thanks for singing along these last two years, and for all your support and comments. May the songs in your head this coming year be enjoyable, whether sincerely or ironically.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Artist: David Cross
Year: 1999
Rating: Hot!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Song Against Sex

Wow. Waking up to an apocalyptic, necrophilic, suicidal, yet somehow upbeat dirge is kind of odd. And a welcome relief to all the classic rock of late.

Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel
Year: 1996
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, December 10, 2010


The guitar riff instantly registered in my head upon waking this morning. It came soon after a dream in which I was making a martini for an old high school classmate who I really never even knew in high school. One of the most recognizable songs in the rock canon, I never bother to listen to it all the way through anymore when it turns up on the radio, since it's been so ridiculously ubiquitous my whole life. But upon listening now, I realize that the piano outro is pretty much the best part of the song.

Artist: Derek and the Dominoes
Year: 1970
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Miss You

An example of a song that's been in my head probably hundreds of times during the course of my life, and yet, today is the first time it's been the *first* song in my head (since starting this blog, at least).

Artist: Rolling Stones
Year: 1978
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Do You Want From Life?

Amber and I have been having lots of conversations lately about what we both want from life. I have no doubt that this theme is what's springing up for me as this song floats through my head this morning. I'm not sure if a herd of Winnebagos or a baby's arm holding an apple are on either of our lists, but you get the idea. There's an absurdity in this song that I've always thought is so perfect for the subject matter: to what lengths will you go to achieve wealth and notoriety, and is that all there is?

Artist: The Tubes
Year: 1975
Rating: Hot!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Year's Day

May possibly be the only popular song ever written about the Polish Solidarity movement. Not sure why it's in my head, but up with the trade unionists!

Artist: U2
Year: 1983
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Another tune in my head from singing songs with my family last week.

Artist: Petula Clark
Year: 1964
Rating: Warm

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I think this is in my head because I was playing a song game with the family on Friday night, and it devolved into renditions of Disney tunes. Not sure if this specific song came up, or if the mental connection was from having sung Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Ha! Now they're in YOUR head! Mwah-a-a!

Artist: Verna Felton
Year: 1950 (From the movie Cinderella)
Rating: Warm

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Under the Milky Way

Wish I knew what you were looking for/ Might have known what you would find. Had a vague sense of lyric and mood dovetailing with this song this morning.* Artist: The Church Year: 1988 Rating: Luke Hot *I'll help you find it if you'll let me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Under Pressure

In my humble, this is one of the best songs of all time. Such complete passion, extemporaneous collaboration, such a strong message of love and so subversively queer-positive. Breaks my heart every time I hear it, thinking about Mr. Mercury's untimely death to AIDS/HIV.

I've heard it in a bunch of different contexts over the last couple months. I even saw this music video for it for the first time ever when visiting my friend Scott in San Diego in August. Also, naturally, heard a local guy belting out the Vanilla Ice riff on it recently at the Mint (does he still contend that he didn't steal the legendary bass line for that song?) Then I saw the Glee rendition of the Ice tune on DVD. And then I finally woke up with "Under Pressure," thankfully not "Ice Ice Baby," in my head.

Artist: David Bowie and Queen
Year: 1981
Rating: Hot!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fire and Rain

Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.

An old favorite, but a weird head space, nonetheless, to conjure up the calling out of one's own name in such a melancholy lyric.

Artist: James Taylor
Year: 1970
Rating: Luke Hot

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(Just Like) Starting Over

I did hear this song on the radio the other day, upon the occasion of John Lennon's would-be 70th birthday. It feels relevant to my emotional space these days, so filled as it is with dramatic endings and nascent beginnings. Artist: John Lennon Year: 1980 Rating: Luke Hot Note: Some of the old Jewish youth group crew might remember that I used this song for my intro-aisle walk when I delivered the State of the Region address in 1990. It's special to me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fuck and Run

Liz Phair - "Fuck And Run (LIve At Matador 21)"

Matador | Myspace Video

Had the privilege of seeing Liz Phair live on Sunday night at the Independent in San Francisco. The above performance is from the recent Matador 21 show, with indie fave Ted Leo doing backing vocals and a bitchin' tambourine. This song has been in my head constantly since Sunday. It's unique for me, as far as earworms go, because I actually know all the words to the song from endless replays during my college years. So when it's in my head, I'm usually running the song all the way through. I've been whistling it and singing it out loud on my bike, too!

Artist: Liz Phair
Year: 1993
Rating: Hot!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Captain of Her Heart

Cheesy McCheese. Followed somehow from Arcade Fire's Sprawl II, which had been lingering in my head for several days until I employed the good old Mozart reset trick.

Artist: Double
Year: 1986
Rating: Cold (though the melody on the refrain is indeed catchy).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Send in the Clowns

This might very well be the most random song I've had in my head since starting the blog. The melancholy '70s ballad floodgates are now fully open!

Artist: Judy Collins
Written by: Stephen Sondheim
Year: 1973 (original); 1975 (Collins)
Rating: Lukewarm

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Just the other evening, I was hanging out with my friend Michael, and he decried people who compare any female indie singer to Björk or Kate Bush. Though it pains me to fall into a cliché, I actually think the comparison to Ms. Bush is apt with Régine Chassagne's vocal performance here. I'm really loving Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, particularly their ability to weave an album concept so skillfully through lyrics and mood.

Artist: Arcade Fire
Year: 2010
Rating: Hot!

Note: This song is now the most recent release I've blogged about, inching out 2009's No You Girls.

Monday, September 27, 2010


My strongest association with the song "Jump" is an argument my friend Julie and I had the summer after our senior year of high school. It was about six years after the song's release in 1984, and thus, well into its influence on the rock radio canon. I had argued that the song paled in comparison to the brilliant music of Phil Collins. Julie contended that "Jump" was a better song from a musical standpoint than any Phil Collins song, hands-down.

I wouldn't argue that a Phil Collins song could beat up a Van Halen song behind the bleachers after school; my argument contended that Phil Collins's songs, including, naturally, the Genesis repertoire, were more robust from a sort of quasi-intellectual standpoint. I was basically just arguing against butt rock in favor of art rock. My argument, of course, was dashed from its inception, since by 1990, Phil Collins had long abandoned unconventional prog for soulless pop like Sussudio and insultingly vague altruism like Another Day in Paradise.*

Julie's argument, however, contained actual substance. A student of voice and music theory, she lectured me on the musicality of "Jump," the complexity of the arrangement, the layered instrumental elements, and the tonality of the entire composition. From her words emerged the grey scale picture of Collins's work placed next to the dynamically technicolored break out single on Van Halen's diamond-certified 1984 album.

I was bested.

Either that year, or a couple years on, Julie and I found ourselves at the same New Year's Eve party (at our friend Jen's place). We were listening to our local rock station's New Year's countdown of the "Top 100 Songs of All Time" (or perhaps the Top 105 Songs, or the Top 1,045 Songs). Imagine the cosmic comeuppance Julie felt when Van Halen's "Jump" was announced as the Number One song.

Julie was right: my esteem for Phil Collins only plummeted with the passing decades, and although I couldn't call it the Number One song of All Time, "Jump" has serious staying power. In my head.

Artist: Van Halen
Year: 1984
Rating: Luke Hot

* (Note to the earworm gods: please don't put either of those songs in my head now. Thank you.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

And We Danced

I've tried to avoid blogging about the songs that have made it to my head just because I've heard them on the radio recently, but I figured this one deserved attention. It's one of those '80s standard rock tunes that got lots of airplay back then but hasn't received lasting attention. I heard it on KFOG's 10@10 several days ago and can't get it out of my head. It's such a facile pop song, but so pleasing to my ears. Yes, The Hooters is an awful name for a band, but I like to think of it in the "hootenanny" sense as opposed to the "boobs" sense. I think that's what was intended, after all.

Artist: The Hooters
Year: 1985
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mr. Roboto

See the official video here. (Apologies for the awful "Japanese-featured" robots. I did not make this shit up.)

"Mr. Roboto" has always been one of the songs I strongly associate with my '80s roller skating days. It got tons of airplay at San Jose's dearly-departed Aloha Roller Palace when I was a kid. Also, see this song for more of my internal roller skating soundtrack.

Really, I just woke up with the outro lyrics, "Thank you, thank you/I wanna thank you..." I think it was 'cause Amber was on a logistics call for work and ended the conversation with "thank you" as I was entering consciousness this morning. I then almost veered into the "thank yous" from Natalie Merchant's "Kind and Generous," but the song only flashed through my mind and didn't stick. Styx stuck.

Artist: Styx
Year: 1983
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No You Girls

A testament to catchy, this song's in my head already, even though I only heard it for the first time a few weeks ago on the radio, and then once more on a friend's mp3 mix (the mind reels at the change in technology; where here I thought I'd gotten used to "CD mixes," we're now onto the next new thing). It's a cute but pernicious song reinscribing the gender norms that girls can't know how boys feel, and boys couldn't care less how girls feel. I like FF, but I'm giving this one a "meh" rating. Artist: Franz Ferdinand Year: 2009 Rating: Lukewarm Note: I think this is the "newest" song to appear in my head thus far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heavy Metal Drummer

I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands I used to go see on the landing in the summer She fell in love with the drummer She fell in love with the drummer She fell in love Artist: Wilco Year: 2002
Rating: Luke Hot

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of 2010 (So Far)

Hi there, Cats n Dawgs!

Time for another guest blog entry from our resident musicologist, Jon Schwartz, whose tweetage you can find here. Since the year is half over already, Jon has compiled for us what he feels to be the 50 best albums released so far. I will note that he submitted this list to me like a month ago, and if he did it today, it might be quite different. Also, he'd no doubt include Arcade Fire's latest, The Suburbs (though I really can't speak for him, I just kinda did. Mea culpa, JS.) So now, WoFA, The Songs In My Head proudly presents Jon Schwartz's Top 50 Albums of 2010 (So Far).

The Top 10:

1. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
I fell in love with this album before I found out it’s a collaboration between super-producer DJ Danger Mouse and The Shins frontman James Mercer. The album is immediately addictive. Songs are catchy without sounding forced. The production is crisp without sounding over-produced. This is Synthy-Indie-Rock at its finest.

2. Minus The Bear - OMNI
OMNI is a journey. Each track flows effortlessly into the next. Some may find this album too slick sounding. It is a little over-produced, but I just think it works so well with this particular album. Minus the Bear have released the best album of their decade-long careers.

3. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Dr. Dog is one of those bands that sound like they have genuine fun making music. Their brand of Jangly-Indie-Rock makes me think Wilco meets Cake meets The Teeth meets The Impossible Shapes. Shame, Shame is a group of well crafted, catchy, fun songs delivered with confidence and exuberance.

4. Efterklang - Magic Chair

5. Beach House - Teen Dream

6. The Black Keys - Brothers

7. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

8. Band Of Horses - Infinite Arms

9. Apples in Stereo - Travellers in Space and Time

10. Field Music - Field Music (Measure)

The Rest:

11. The Radio Dept. - Clinging To A Scheme
12. Ok Go - Of The Blue Color Of The Sky
13. Spoon - Transference
14. Wolf Parade - Expo 86
15. Foals - Total Life Forever
16. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer Of The Void
17. Jónsi - Go
18. Fang Island - Fang Island
19. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
20. Seabear - We Built a Fire
21. The Morning Benders - Big Echo
22. Tokyo Police Club - Champ
23. Midlake - The Courage Of Others
24. Caribou - Swim
25. Menomena - Mines
26. Massive Attack - Heliogland
27. Ratatat - LP4
28. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
29. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
30. Plants and Animals - La La Land
31. The Drums - The Drums
32. Harlem - Hippies
33. Ruby Suns - Fight Softly
34. The Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards
35. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
36. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo
37. Jon Spencer - Amsterdam Throwdown, King Street Showdown!
38. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
39. Neon Trees - Habits
40. Jagga Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit
41. MGMT - Congratulations
42. Eels - End Times
43. Delphic - Acolyte
44. Benni Hemm Hemm - Retaliate
45. Paper Tongues - Paper Tongues
46. The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers
47. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
48. Hot Hot Heat – Future Breeds
49. Liars - Sisterworld
50. The Hot Rats - Turn Ons

Did you like that? I hope so. Thanks so much, Jon, for putting this together for us. Sorry I ran out of juice to link each band and album, but I figure you readers can google it yourself. Rumor has it that Jon is also working on a Top Solo Albums of All Time list and that The Songs in My Head might have exclusive publishing rights. Or maybe Jon should start his own freaking blog, because he's a thoughtful music reviewer, great writer, and he's got stuff to say. Whadduyouthink?


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Odd Couple Theme

Watching The Odd Couple in endless syndication loops as a kid propelled this theme song to the infinite memory banks. Not sure what sparked its appearance this week, though.

Artist: Neal Hefti
Year: 1968
Rating: Warm

Note: Hefti wrote the theme for the 1968 movie and it was later used for the TV series. He also composed the theme music for the beloved '60s TV show Batman.

Savoy Truffle

Last night, I was proselytizing to an old friend about my new no-sugar eating regimen. The Beatles will always be there to bite me in the ass.

Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1968
Rating: Warm

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eisler On The Go

"I don't know what I'll do." The refrain came to me the other day concerning personal matters, which led to the refrain from this Mermaid Avenue song. I doubt that what I was thinking about that day had the same gravitas as when Woody Guthrie was contemplating Hanns Eisler's HUAC trial, but it was heavy enough for me.

Artist: Billy Bragg and Wilco
Written by: Woody Guthrie
Year: c. 1947/1998
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, August 5, 2010

And Your Bird Can Sing

But you don't get me, you don't get me Artist: The Beatles Year: 1966 Rating: Luke Hot Note: This is the 10th Beatles song I've blogged about since the start of this project.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rock With You

Sigh. A good one from the late King of Pop.

Artist: Michael Jackson
Year: 1979
Rating: Luke Hot

Play with Fire

Fitting in with some of the roiling emotions of this week.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1965
Rating: Firey!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Talk To Ya Later, Redux

Last in my head on August 3, 2009. This isn't the first time a song has been in my head very close to exactly a year after I've already blogged about it. I wonder if cyclical memory has something to do with it. I'll need more verification...

Artist: The Tubes
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Earwormery Questionnaire!

Seems some researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, are conducting an online survey about earworms! I just filled out the survey. It takes a few minutes or several, depending on how dedicated you are to the subject. Needless to say, my answers were thorough. Check out their site ( and take the survey if you'd like! They are attempting to describe and to quantify some of the characteristics of earworms, measuring frequency and duration of songs that get stuck in our heads, determining the types of music, whether earwormy people are correlated with musicianship, etc.

Interestingly, they must be finding some correlation between people who experience frequent earworms and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, 'cause the portion of the survey dedicated to questions about "personality" tend toward the themes of how frequently you wash your hands, how often you count things, and whether you excessively check the lights and the doors. I wonder what that says about me...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Syufy Century Theaters Movie Theme

I'm so excited that someone captured this and posted it! Anyone else remember the promo music from the Syufy theaters in the 80s/90s? The audience took to clapping along. What a catchy score! It got stuck in my head about a week ago when I was en route to see Inception at the Metreon. I woke with it this morning.

Artist: Unknown
Year: c. 1980s
Rating: Warm

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy

This refrain kept playing over and over in my mind during a 4:00am heart-to-heart in bed with the woman I love.

Artist: Traffic
Year: 1967
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I impressed myself by figuring out that this was a Traffic song, even though I couldn't name it. I guess Steve Winwood's vocal timbre is imprinted in my brain but good.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beans and Rice/Conjunction Junction

Let's hear it for '70s/early '80s multicultural educational videos! Artist: unknown Year: '70s/'80s? Rating: Luke Hot ...and a couple days later, this classic ditty came to mind. Brought to you by: School House Rock Artist: Terry Morel and Jack Sheldon Composer: Bob Dorough Year: 1973 Rating: Luke Hot Noteworthy: To date, my April, 2009, entry about the song Hanker for a Hunk of Cheese gets the most search hits to my blog. I guess Saturday morning PSAs are in a lot of our heads.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This song represents ever more tainting of the songs in my head from my rock station-listenin' lately (though I do dig me some Rush). I'm fearing that my blog is turning out to be an unwitting advertisement for The Band, The Bone, and KFOG (though I don't mind supporting the latter, 'cause it's truly an awesome, home-grown Bay Area radio station, even though it's now owned by broadcasting monolith Cumulus).

I've actually considered just not listening to any music at all in order to devote my mental pathways to replaying only music I generate from internal memory, associations, and emotions, and the occasional replay of music input I receive from passive listening at the grocery store, ambient music in public, and the like. That would be kind of pathetic, though, to deprive myself of new musical input just to enforce some sort of artificially-imposed "purity" onto my blogging project. What do y'all think? Maybe it's time for another reader poll...

Artist: Rush
Year: 1981
Rating: Warm

Monday, July 12, 2010

Living On A Prayer

I blame my friend Dina, who alerted me to this "movement" recently:

I wonder if there really are people who want to rename their state for Jon Bon Jovi. I think naming Jersey in honor of Springsteen makes a lot more sense, just sayin'.

Artist: Bon Jovi
Year: 1986
Rating: Warm +
Shout out: Dina!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Emblematic song of my youth. Ubiquitous on the radio, in the roller rink, in my head. Another perfect pop song.

Artist: Earth, Wind, & Fire
Year: 1978
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Bring Me Down

Loud and clear this morning. Am I bringing people down with all this death, shooting, nostalgia, I wonder? Well, nuts to you. How can you be down with such a rockin' song in your head?

Artist: ELO
Year: 1979
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who Are You

Man, the Dyke March was awesome yesterday, but there was a shooting in the Castro during the Pink Saturday celebration, and I'm feeling so crestfallen today. We were a few feet away from the shooting, and after scattering away with the crowd, we made a beeline home. I can't believe people 1. have guns, 2. bring them to events with hundreds/thousands of people, 3. are willing to pull the trigger and potentially kill another human being.

Who the fuck are you? indeed.

Artist: The Who
Year: 1978
Rating: Hot!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I woke with the refrain: You do it to yourself, just you/You and no one else, after an intense dream about an ex-girlfriend of mine. It seems connected somehow, but I don't know if the indictment was meant for her or for me. Probably us both. Also, at first I wasn't sure whose song it was. The vocal sounded Billy Corgan-nasally-'90s, so I rolled over in bed and consulted Amber, my resident Smashing Pumpkins expert. She didn't recognize the lyric. Then I remembered it was Radiohead.

Artist: Radiohead
Year: 1995
Rating: Luke Hot

A Campfire Song, Redux

Last in my head on February 13, 2009.

Artist: 10,000 Maniacs with Michael Stipe
Year: 1987
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Tickets to Paradise

Monday, I was almost in Paradise, and then Tuesday, I woke up with this song in my head. I can't really say that life has been all palm trees and coconut cocktails lately. Probably just simple associations one day to the next with the key word, and a recent reference to Eddie Money's other hit song in my entry about the Ronette's Be My Baby.

Artist: Eddie Money
Year: 1978
Rating: Warm

Almost Paradise

In my head upon waking with a hangover in Santa Cruz on Monday morning. Hangover state is pretty much anathema to Paradise, but okay.

Artist: Mike Reno & Ann Wilson
Year: 1984
Rating: Cold

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Peace Of Mind

Been in my head for days. Shout out to the Geo-Rock!

Artist: Boston
Year: 1976
Rating: Luke Hot

Another great song from the Bicentennial Year!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jackie Blue

One of those songs I always thought was sung by a female vocalist.

Artist: Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Year: 1974
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, June 10, 2010

King of Birds

The lyric that hit me this morning was:

A thumbnail sketch, a jeweler's stone
A main idea to call my own

...though the rendering in this video, and most commentary on the web tells me the word is "mean" and not "main." Other fans have made the same mistake, and there is interesting commentary over at Pop Songs, as usual.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1987
Rating: Hot!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature

Another song in my head just 'cause I heard it on the radio. I've considered stopping listening to the radio in the car just because I think it's tainting the "purity" of songs emerging from my brain.

Artist: The Guess Who
Year: 1970 (still sounds like the '60s though, don't it?)
Rating: Warm

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses

Shockingly, this is the first U2 song to enter my brain since starting this project. And it's mainly here because I heard it on the radio the other day. But the opening lines do resonate with me emotionally this week, as does the final sentiment in the song, so I'm guessing I woke with it for a reason.

You're dangerous 'cause you're honest/You're dangerous, you don't know what you want (and) Don't turn around, don't turn around again/Don't turn around, and don't look back.

Artist: U2
Year: 1991
Rating: Luke Hot

I did invoke U2 in this entry previously.
Also, I've been driving more than I used to, since I now have a car. Commercial radio is seeping in big time. I can't reiterate enough that the Eagles are played too frequently on classic rock stations.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On and On, Redux

Last in my head on June 3, 2009 - interestingly, near to exactly a year ago.

Artist: Stephen Bishop
Year: 1977
Rating: Hot!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Be My Baby

Just like Ronnie said...* Artist: The Ronettes Year: 1963 Rating: Luke Hot Note: Co-written by the mighty Ellie Greenwich, of Brill Building-fame and later-to-be-convicted-murderer Phil Spector. *A Nod to Eddie Money.

The Ballad of Davy Crockett

In my head 'cause I saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox a while back, and it's used in the opening credits. I can't find much info about this version of the song out there, but it's a resonant tune, lodged in the brains of many of us born in the States in the post-WWII era through maybe my generation. I wonder how many Gen Y'ers and younger know it.

Artist: The Wellingtons
Year: 1954 (original)
Rating: Warm

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mellow Yellow

I'm just mad about Saffron/And she's just mad about me.

Could have sworn I'd blogged about this song before, but nope.

Artist: Donovan
Year: 1966
Rating: Warm

Monday, May 31, 2010

Black Dog

I've always wanted to play this song on kazoo.

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Year: 1971
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everybody Sleeps

At night we close our eyes/Until the morning creeps.

Artist: Joe Raposo and Daniel Wilcox
Year: 1972
Rating: Warm

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Before the End of the Race

Listen to the iLike sample.

I took the advice, afforded the price
and I woke up amused in the arms of another

Cavalier about love in such a pleasing meter. And a catchy guitar hook, to boot.

This is my 15th entry about my favorite Canadian indie rockers, Sloan. They show no signs of slowing down as the leader of the pack of bands firing off in the neural pathways of my long-term memory.

Artist: Sloan
Year: 2006
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Entertainer

One of those songs that is simply plucked out of the collective consciousness. I have no good reason for it to be in my head. I haven't seen The Sting recently (or ever, actually) and ice cream trucks are scarce in these parts.

Artist: Scott Joplin
Year: 1902
Rating: Warm

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pleasant Valley Sunday

Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don't understand.

Artist: The Monkees
Year: 1967
Rating: Hot!

Note: Written by King & Goffin!
Note 2: Today is Saturday.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beat On The Brat

It's just amazing to think about the Ramones putting out the punk attitude the same year that Engelbert Humperdinck was topping the charts. But that's the Bicentennial Year for ya.

Artist: Ramones
Year: 1976
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Purple Rain

Dreamed that Amber and I were going to rent Purple Rain. On my way to the video store, a former therapy colleague of mine ran down the street toward me: he'd been shot in the leg. I comforted him and ran to find help. I found my former clinic supervisor, but she wasn't able to hear my screams for help. I ran back to my colleague and futilely tried to dress his wound. I woke up.

It's been an intense week, people.

Artist: Prince & The Revolution
Year: 1984
Rating: Hot!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Stranger

Posting this from the hospital waiting room. This song's got an existential relevance that's hard to deny. It's amazing, the layers of love and loss, fear and fatigue I'm experiencing. It's an internal experience and one felt in ripples from the others waiting and praying for loved ones. Trying to take off the mask and meet my inner stranger.

Artist: Billy Joel
Year: 1977
Rating: Hot!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


This is a beautifully perfect song for today. I'm in San Jose with my family; my Mom's in the hospital, recovering from an emergency surgery on her leg. It's a long, complicated story. I'm sure I'll share more in another post.

From where I stand
You are home free
The planets align so rare
There's promise in the air
And I'm guiding you

All you out there reading: thanks for the love.


Artist: Olivia Newton-John
Year: 1980
Rating: Hot!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Down By The Old Mill Stream

This song accompanies fantasies of a love that will last til my girl's hair is silver. I'm in a wistful, melancholy mood this morning.

Written by: Tell Taylor
Artist: The Peerless Quartet
Year first recorded: 1910
Rating: Warm

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Of The Season

Popped into my head over breakfast with Amber. I'm no rich daddy, but it's always the season for loving in my book.

Artist: The Zombies
Year: 1968
Rating: Warm

Sunday, May 2, 2010

These Days

One of my all-time favorites from the boys from Athens, Georgia. We are young despite the years, we are concern/We are hope despite the times.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1986
Rating: Hot!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

So Into You/Superstition

This lost '70s mellow groove is in my head, 'cause I caught it on KFOG's Ten At Ten last night on my way home from San Jose.

Artist: Atlanta Rhythm Section
Year: 1977
Rating: Luke Hot

And this morning, the funky chord progression of the refrain of "So Into You" is leading me into Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." Here's a fantastic studio performance. Enjoy!

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Year: 1972
Rating: Hot!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baby Come Back

Wow. Baby come back to The Songs in My Head! I've been on somewhat of a hiatus of late, but I hope to get back on track in the next few days. Life has intervened in a major way in April, but I'm ready to explore my neural firings again, especially when they deliver such epic '70s cheese.

Nope, this is not Hall & Oates, even though the structure and timbre of this song is remarkably similar to the music of those contemporary hit makers. And the singer's voice is reminding me of an inferior version of one of the Brothers Gibb, which must have worked in the song's favor, since Bee Gees songs preceded and followed this song at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978.

Artist: Player
Year: 1977
Rating: Warm

Note: You might hear a lot more about neural process and fancy musical terms like "timbre" in the coming months. I'm reading a fascinating book about the neurophysiology of our experience of music - how the brain is evolutionarily wired to perceive, process, interpret, and remember music. It's called This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin, a musician, former music producer and engineer, and professor of cognitive psychology at McGill University in Montreal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Welcome to Paradise

The first Green Day song in my head since the start of the blog. I'm not a big fan, but I appreciate 'em for their politics, localness, and staying power.

Artist: Green Day
Year: 1992/1994
Rating: Warm

I Understand

And again with the Sloan.

Artist: Sloan
Year: 2006
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I'll probably write about every song from Never Hear The End of It, eventually. (Hats off for tagline inspiration from Matthew Perpetua at PopSongs.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

(I Just) Died In Your Arms

Wow. While I appreciate the sentiment of equating death with orgasm and/or merger of Self-with-Other in the treacherous intimacy of love, I don't think this song merits a reading that deep. It's just a lock-step standard '80s pop-rock song. With none of the edgy appeal of new wave, its lyrics hark back to all the schmaltz of '70s love ballads dunked in a heavy dose of synth and cookie-cutter '80s guitar riffs.

Artist: Cutting Crew
Year: 1986
Rating: Cold + fondness for the catchy concept chorus = Lukewarm

Note: And oh, my word, what a perfectly corny fan video!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why I Cry

The melody and guitar riff, rather than the lyrics, were foremost in my mind on waking.

Artist: Magnetic Fields
Year: 1995
Rating: Warm

Note: This is the 12th entry 'bout The Magnetic Fields, fyi.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Even The Nights Are Better

This is always an amusing song, but truly so waking with it this morning. You'll just have to trust me on this one.*

Artist: Air Supply
Year: 1982
Rating: Warm

*You don't trust me? Okay, yes, it involves sex and alcohol. And Atari.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Groovy Kind of Love

Here's another situation in which a song came into my head in cover versions of the exact opposite chronology of original release. This also happened recently with Tom Waits's Downtown Train. Similarly to my experience with that song, it's likely that my memory lines default to the version I heard first or I'm most familiar with.

This trifecta of covers featured prominently at a Jewish youth group dance my junior year of high school, when Phil Collins's super-schmaltzy 1988 version was topping the charts.


My good pals Kama and Barry planned Beau-Sweetheart Ball: "A Groovy Kind of Love," and attempted to make brilliant use of the song. They carefully instructed the DJ to play music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, in roughly chronological order, kicking off each era with its version of "A Groovy Kind of Love." Unfortunately, the DJ wasn't compliant (creative differences, perhaps?*) The song was written by genius pop songstress Carole Bayer Sager ("Don't Cry Out Loud," "Nobody Does It Better," "Arthur's Theme," "That's What Friends Are For"...should I go on??) and Toni Wine, one of the real humans behind the cartoon band The Archies. Artist: Phil Collins Year: 1988 Rating: Cold Artist: Sonny & Cher Year: 1967 Rating: Warm Note: Okay, this version didn't represent the '70s, per se, but Sonny & Cher sure as hell did.) Also: I found this version of the song courtesy of Romanian video site Trilulilu. It wasn't on YouTube. Artist: The Mindbenders Year: 1965 Rating: Warm *A tip of the hat to Kama and Barry.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Villain's Theme

Well, the mystery has been solved, as least, it seems so. Once again, my friend Buffy has saved the day. You may remember her sleuthing skills from the mystery of the Infernal Gallup. Now, she's helped us figure out what the hell that spooky, sneaky cartoon music is. A ringtone of the song is listed as "Cartoon Creeping Music" at AudioSparx. The real title turns out to be an appropriately-named composition called The Villain's Theme, and Amazon.Com credits it to Al Weber (and his Repetitious 88 Keys). However, the packaging on the "Memories" collection "Silent Film Music" available at Amazon credits him as Al Webber (with two b's).

Thing is, I don't think that Mr. Web(b)er is the originator of the piece, since this album, released in 1995, features music from other composers, all credited to Al (I don't think he can take credit for the William Tell Overture, for example). I think Webber and his Repetitious Keys performed all the tunes in this collection, but the piece was penned by somebody else. We also don't know how old it is yet. It could have been published anywhere from the late 19th Century to the early 1930s if it did feature in silent films.

The internets don't seem to have anything on this Al Webber guy, nor his 88 Repetitious Keys. Searches yield results for "A.L. Webber," but I don't imagine that the high-profile Andrew Lloyd Webber had to do compilation CDs for extra cash in the '90s. If anyone has any feedback or more information on this composition, please leave a comment!

Artist: Al Webber (and his 88 Repetitious Keys); composer unknown
Year: c. 19th Century to 1930s
Rating: Warm

Thanks, Buffy, for your ever present diligence, curiosity, and mad research skills!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Got To Get You Into My Life


Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1966
Rating: Hot!

Spooky instrumental

Mystery song time again, kids!

This song was in my head about a month ago, but I just could not find a sample of it online. Naturally, that's hard to do when one doesn't know the name of the composition or the composer. It's certainly one of those songs that I know from cartoons; I'm guessing from a very old black and white one. If I told you it's the "spooky" music playing to the visual of a character tiptoeing, would you know the song I was talking about?

I found this nifty virtual keyboard site online and tapped out the notes there.

The sequence I'm playing is:

C D# G C1 G# G F D# D, then back to C.

Can anybody name that tune?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's Her Factory

Click here for the iLike link.

Gotta love a punk band with a good feminist-Marxist analysis. Although, I will problematize this by mentioning that I read an interview with their sometimes-bassist Sara Lee (swoon!) who said that she caught them overdubbing some of her bass lines while she'd stepped out of the recording studio for a break. Walk the talk, guys!

Artist: Gang of Four
Year: 1979
Rating: Hot!

Half Dead

One of the simplest, most relatable break up songs ever. Though I'm not breaking up with anybody (kenahora!*) I happen to be cleaning out a bunch of junk in my room today. As the lyrics indicate, the most effective way to manage such a task is to "act like a machine" while you're sorting through stuff. I'm not interested in being machine-like, but coming across my ex-girlfriend's house key was more of a mildly-amusing curiosity than a trigger for grief, which felt good. Artist: The Mountain Goats Year: 2006 Rating: Luke Hot *"kenahora" is the Yiddish equivalent of "knock on wood" - basically, an incantation to banish the evil eye. Pronounced "cun-a-HU-ra."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can't Get It Out of My Head

This is probably the patron saint composition of the entire enterprise of recording the songs that get stuck in one's head! Heard it on the jukebox at the Saturn Café in Santa Cruz about a month ago and supposed that it would worm its way back. Sho nuff, it did.

Artist: ELO
Year: 1974
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Country Feedback

This song was actually in my head a couple weeks ago, before "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" which I logged a few minutes ago. I'm still catching up on my mental queue. Sorry for the out-of-orderness.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1991
Rating: Luke Hot

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

I really enjoy the fuzzy guitars and loud rock vibe of Monster. This isn't my favorite song on the album, but it's got a lingering hook, for sure.

Explanations of the title of the song are here.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1994
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


You know it's a good day when you wake up feeling this confident!

Artist: Irene Cara
Year: 1980
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Burn For It

Something just doesn't ring true about Patrick, or any member of Sloan singing the lines:

I've got a barbed wire heart
And you can't handle it

I love 'em to death, but emotionally hardened they ain't. The very structured power-pop formula of this song belies the sentiment.
Artist: Sloan
Year: 2008
Rating: Warm at best

Pomp and Circumstance/The Riddle Song

So, I got the graduation march, Pomp and Circumstance, in my head, specifically as heard in a movie which I thought was Animal House. I've searched for a graduation scene online, but I can't find it, and the song isn't listed as in use in the movie at imdb. Anyway, here's some amazing footage from 1931 of the original composer conducting the song at the opening of the Abbey Road studios in London.

Artist: Sir Edward Elgar
Year: c. 1905
Rating: I'll pass

The thought that the march appeared in Animal House inspired another song from the movie to get stuck, an old folk tune that I thought was called "I Gave My Love a Cherry" (actually called The Riddle Song) which was performed in the film by my mental soundtrack staple, 70s singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop. View cliphere

This then lead me to get another filmed version of the song in my head, from one of my most beloved movies, Little Darlings. Armand Assante, as Coach Callahan, sings it 'round the campfire.

(The song is at minute 9:10, the very end of the clip, just after one of Angel and Randy's failed attempts at teen coitus!)

Artist (original): Unknown, English traditional
Artist (covers): Stephen Bishop and Armand Assante
Year (original): c. 15th Century
Year (covers): 1978, 1980
Rating: Lukewarm


This song will now forever be associated with Freaks and Geeks in my mind.

Artist: Styx
Year: 1972
Rating: Warm