Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fading into Obscurity

Probably the last post for 2011, making it an even 100 for the year. A self-aware song about a welter-weight pop star rapidly becoming a has-been. One of my all-time faves from Sloan, the boys still topping the charts in my head.

Artist: Sloan
Year: 2006
Rating: Hot!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)

Fitting song on the morning Amber goes home for Xmas with her family, and I stay here. Goddamn, my unconscious mind is hokey.

Artist: Journey
Year: 1983
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: Most unnecessary parenthetical in a song title ever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Workin' in the Coalmine/We Work the Black Seam

Straight-up random, as far as songs in my head go.

Artist: Devo
Year: 1981
Rating: Luke Hot

But then this song from Sting's first solo record came to me a couple days later, which seemed very much linked to "Workin' in the Coalmine."

It's less random to appear in my head, both because of the association with the previous song, and also because Dream of the Blue Turtles was one of the first albums I owned and listened to over and over again when I was a wee teen. Both songs' themes are timely, given the economic disparities they address. Virtual anthems for the current Occupy movement.

Artist: Sting
Year: 1985
Rating: Luke Hot

Thursday, December 15, 2011

White Christmas

The first holiday tune to enter my brain this season. Even being Jewish, I couldn't avoid Christmas music growing up, and I don't think anyone in the U.S. could avoid hearing this particular song, given it's the best selling single of all time. I don't much care for the usual onslaught of holiday music on the radio and piped into every last hardware store and corner market, but I will admit that I'm fond of this song. In particular, the rising notes in the line "May your days be merry and bright" and the complementary descent of notes in "And may all your Christ--mases be white" is one of the most sublime melodies in pop music, delivered perfectly in that Bing baritone.

Artist: Bing Crosby and Martha Mears, written by Irving Berlin
Year: 1942
Rating: Warm as hot cocoa sprinkled with nutmeg

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Golden Years

Two songs for the price of one today, lookathat! And, interestingly enough, both have a color and a measure of time in the title. The song I woke with yesterday, which I posted a few minutes ago was Blue Morning, Blue Day by Foreigner. Today's official tune is Bowie's Golden Years. I wonder if there's an internal juxtaposition here about my potential for healing over time, where once I was blue, now things are golden. Or somethin' like that.

Unfortunately, this amazing clip of Bowie performing the song on Soul Train was not embeddable, so you should view it at the YouTube.

Artist: David Bowie
Year: 1975
Rating: Luke Hot

Blue Morning, Blue Day

Unbelievable! This is the first Foreigner song to hit the blog. And it's way down the list of songs I'd think I'd think of.

Artist: Foreigner
Year: 1978
Rating: Lukewarm

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Movin' Right Along

Saw the new Muppet flick (so fun, and moving! I actually teared up a couple times). Predictably, a song from the original 1979 movie popped into my head the next morning.

Artist: Kermit & Fozzie (performed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, music by Paul Williams)
Year: 1979
Rating: Luke Hot

Monday, November 28, 2011

Within You Without You

And to see you're really only very small and
Life flows on within you and without you.

Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1967
Rating: Warm

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Untouchable Face

I presume that Ms. DiFranco came to mind because I was discussing her music with Scott the other day. This particular song seems suited to some mental tangents of late as well. The song is not analogous to what has happened between me and my recent ex-girlfriend, but certainly I've had some of that "Fuck you, and your untouchable face" feeling lately.

Also, I was at a post-Thanksgiving feast with a bunch of poly friends last night, and finding the company worthy of stirring several mild but burgeoning crushes. This song exemplifies the conflict in monogamy, in which someone is "taken" and therefore, "untouchable." This is not the case in my scene of choice. However, the combined factors of 1. a close-knit circle of friends wanting to maintain good boundaries with each other and 2. most folks in the circle seeming to have fairly full dance cards right now, leads me to assume that any number of those faces may very well continue to be untouchable. For now.

Artist: Ani DiFranco
Year: 1996
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: The main guitar line leads me right into The Who's Baba O'Riley. Funnily enough this is the second entry in which a song has strongly mingled in my mind with Baba O. The last time this happened was with REM's Supernatural Superserious. I guess this happens when your band is palpably influential over the course of decades.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yesterday Once More (Once More)

The third time I've woken with this song since starting the blog. Here's a better video for it this time. I think this was prompted because I was singing this tune with my family on Thanksgiving. It came up in the context of songs we remembered singing a lot as kids.

Last in my head on January 13, 2011.

Artist: The Carpenters
Year: 1973
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wild Sage

And when somebody asks if I'm okay
I don't know what to say
And along the highway
From cast-off innumerable seeds
Wild sage growing in the weeds.

One of my very favorite songs. Makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It names a lifelong conundrum of mine: am I okay, or am I not okay? Usually, the answer is both, simultaneously, just like wild sage growing in the weeds. But how should I answer the question today?

Artist: The Mountain Goats
Year: 2006
Rating: Hot!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil

What an eery, contageous, epic song, though I don't have a good reason for it to be in my head today. This being the eighth Stones song I've blogged about (in addition to mentions in other entries), they are a well-represented band in my head. It's probably the fact of their ubiquity alone that brought the song to mind. Or maybe it's all the political turmoil of late? (Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints)...but that would probably be a touch of revisionist history.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1968
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: Anytime this song is played, it should be announced by a proper Englishman wearing a tie.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Give Me The Night

This song must've been conjured by pure wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Cause there's music in the air
And lots of lovin' everywhere...

Artist: George Benson
Year: 1980
Rating: Warm

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There Is A Mountain

Fun performance, though he's having a tough time rallying the crowd on the chorus. I have no idea why I was triggered to remember this song this morning. I can appreciate the spiritual simplicity better now than when I first heard it as a wily teen and had to mock it. It was still amusing to wake to, though.

Artist: Donovan
Year: 1967
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Three's Company Theme

I think this song is in my head due to my unconventional living arrangements of late. I live in a two bedroom apartment with my very recent ex-girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend. Hilarity ensues. And, y'know, awkwardness.

Artist: Joe Raposo (Composer), Ray Charles (not *that* Ray Charles) & Julia Rinker
Year: 1977
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fly By Night

My ship isn't coming, and I just can't pretend.

Unlike my last entry about a Rush song, this one has emerged spontaneously from my unconscious. ("Limelight" back in 2010 was a carbon copy mental image generated from listening to classic rock radio.) So, there Rush is, a bona fide presence in my neural pathways, one might say "crackling with life" in the "invisible airways" of my brain. Ahh, sweet prog geekery.

Artist: Rush
Year: 1975
Rating: Warm

Monday, October 31, 2011


She's the raw flame, the live wire
She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire

No band today could manage those lyrics in such a goddamned artful way.

Artist: Steely Dan
Year: 1977
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I'm still not recovered from the fact that my good friends Marck and Emily did not name one of their twin girls Aja.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Radio Song

The studio version with KRS-One is better, but Michael Stipe's voice is so sweet here on the bridges: I've everything to show/I've everything to hide/Look into my eyes...

Still so sad they broke up. It makes perfect sense, sometimes, that good things have to end.

Artist: REM
Year: 1991
Rating: Warm

Note: This entry has been updated. It now features the studio/KRS-One recording; the live unplugged video was removed from YouTube. --s

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ramblin' Man

Not sure what dusting the cobwebs outta my room has to do with "rambling," but that's when the song struck. When it's time for dusting, I hope you'll understand...

Artist: The Allman Brothers Band
Year: 1973
Rating: Warm

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)

This is perhaps the most cheesy and most appropriate song to pop into my head today. Amber and I have called it quits after more than six years together. She's been my lover and my best friend, and she's in my soul. Sigh.

Artist: Rod Stewart
Year: 1977
Rating: Warm

Monday, October 17, 2011


I had a dream that Madonna was my "lady-friend" and that I was buying her a pair of heels as a gift. It was all very butch-femme. Only, in the dream, I realized I couldn't possibly afford shoes that Madonna would actually deign to wear.

I woke up with "Vogue" in my head.

Artist: Madonna
Year: 1990
Rating: Warm

Note: Unbelievably, this is the first Madge song that's made it into the blog. I've had other songs of hers in my head over the span of the project, but none upon waking til now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Washington Post March

What's funny is the context in which I spontaneously started whistling this tune. It was on a notorious block of Mission Street dotted with pawn shops, divey Chinese restaurants, and ample drug distribution. A very regal march it was.

Artist: John Philip Sousa, composer
Year: 1889
Rating: Lukewarm

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Handle with Care

This tune stayed with me all day yesterday; I whistled it en route between destinations during my usual daily hubub. It gives me warm, fuzzy feelings. It's so simple, maybe even facile, but the melody and the pure, arpeggiated guitar lines mingle with the collective nostalgia of a band made up of '60s and '70s rock legends. The entire aesthetic experience produces a down tempo, porch-swinging tune that will forever be in my head.

Artist: The Traveling Wilburys
Year: 1988
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: As an aside, when this song came out, I was in high school, and I hated Roy Orbison's portion. It grated on me, and I found it schmaltzy. Now, his soaring vocal performance literally gives me chills. My arms are all goosebumpy. Maybe I'm tired of being lonely, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Never Knew Love Like This Before

Whistled this song on my walk to work this morning. The purest of idealized love songs have the power to make me extremely melancholy lately.

Artist: Stephanie Mills
Year: 1979
Rating: Warm

Note: Mash-up melodies with Ronnie Milsap's I Wouldn't Have Missed It For the World, which mingled with this song on the early-80s airwaves.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pure Imagination

While pouring myself my morning cup of coffee, the distinctive three-note intro and interlude sequence of this Willy Wonka song came to mind. It's a tense, cautious sort of musical theme carried throughout an otherwise optimistic song about seizing the moment, realizing the beauty that's all around you, creating your own reality:

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it. Wanna change the world? There's nothing to it.

Those three notes taunt me, dare me to wake from my insular repose, my holding pattern of not-doing. I drink my coffee and start my day, cautiously, optimistically.

Artist: Gene Wilder (music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley)
Year: 1971
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stay the Night

And I won't take "no" if that's your answer
at least that's my philosophy.

Wow, Peter, that's some liberated shit right there.

Artist: Chicago
Year: 1984
Rating: Cold

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jingle Jangle Jingle

Thinking about the sad but inevitable news of REM's breakup, I woke this morning with the term jangle pop in my head (examples here). This led to a playback loop of the above popular '40s country tune.

Here's to the boys from Athens as they go ridin' merrily along.

Artist: Kay Kyser and his Orchestra
Year: 1942
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summer in the City

Not a big mystery why this song is in my brain. It's September: welcome to San Francisco summer, where it's been in the 70s and 80s all week.

Artist: The Lovin' Spoonful
Year: 1966
Rating: Warm (or, what's "hot" in San Francisco is just "warm" most other places)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Do It for Our Country

Time to get down in a nuclear fallout shelter!

Artist: Peter Frechette as "Louis" and Maureen Teefy as "Sharon" from the Grease 2 soundtrack
Year: 1982
Rating: Hot, or not

Note: This is the third song I've blogged from Grease 2; curiously, no songs from the original have made it into my head yet.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Long?

The refrain is playing over and over in my head, and that voice is so first thought was "is this a one-hit wonder band?" or could it be Mike & the Mechanics? No, this song is way older than the span of that particular Genesis offshoot band. Is it a smooth R&B singer like Luther Vandross, or a richly-timbered white-guy crooner?

Why, it's Paul Carrack, in one of his first bands, Ace. Who's Paul Carrack, and why have I never heard of him before? Listen closely...does his voice sound familiar to you? It's seeped into the collective consciousness, via his higher-profile projects. Are you tempted to google his name? And, yes, indeed, Mike Rutherford did hire him in the late-80s -- can you hear him calling you?

Will you join me in raising a collective, "What the hell??" when I say why hasn't Paul Carrack gotten the name recognition he deserves?

Artist: Ace
Year: 1974
Rating: Warm

Friday, September 16, 2011


Hey, out there in the blogosphere! What are your favorite music blogs? What do you look for in a site devoted to music? Is it good written content, visual design, free downloads or links to purchase new music? What sites do you visit all the time? Where do you get your heads-up for what bands to follow? Do you like hobby blogs like this one, or slick pro blogs with lots of commercial appeal?

Leave a comment with your hot tips right here!

Down In It

I dunno, two months ago or so, this song was featured in the music round at The Castle Quiz, and Carl, the Quizmaster, wrongly attributed it to Rage Against the Machine. Our team, the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, knew better.

Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Year: 1989
Rating: Lukewarm

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Boys

Some of my favorite lyrics ever:

So you take her to the pictures/Trying to become a fixture
Inch by inch trying to reach her/All the way through the second feature
Worrying about your physical fitness/Tell me how you got this sickness

So many double -- and triple! -- entendres in this song. Fucking love him. As to why it's in my head today: the perpetual vicissitudes of love, man.

Artist: Elvis Costello
Year: 1979
Rating: Hot!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Addams Family Theme

Maybe this is in my head 'cause I'm identifying with Thing at the moment. Or maybe it's random.

Artist: Written and composed by Vic Mizzy
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: Mizzy also wrote the theme to Green Acres. Classic!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

do ya think i'm sexy?

this is a supremely awesome theme song for today. today is a day i'm clammy, unshowered, and healing from a major dog bite wound. "do ya think i'm sexy?" ain't the first logical question that springs to mind...
...but it is the first song.

artist: rod stewart
year: 1978
rating: hottt!

note: excuse the no-caps and typos; typing is a bit of a chore at the moment. on the bright side, i'll probably be blogging more freqently the next week or two, since i've got a lot of time on my hand (sic).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Just the Way You Are

When I was a surly teenager, I thought Billy Joel was crazy not to want "clever conversation." Now that I'm an adult, and have absorbed a fair share of snark in my life, I have more appreciation for the simplicity and comfort of "just want(ing) someone I can talk to."

Artist: Billy Joel
Year: 1977
Rating: Warm

Note: For the last several days, I thought the only song that would EVER be in my head again was White Winter Hymnal (the song I blogged about on 8/31). I really like the song, but it was getting violently overpowering in my head.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

White Winter Hymnal

This live performance just brought tears to my eyes. I've never even understood what the song is about, but the imagery is so arresting, and the harmonies so emotionally evocative. Here are a few suggestions as to the song's meaning.

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Year: 2008
Rating: Hot!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sax Rohmer 1, Redux

Last in my head on June 13, 2011.

The lyric resounding in my head this morning:

Every moment leads toward its own sad end...yeah.

Artist: The Mountain Goats
Year: 2008
Rating: Hot!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August Wrap-Up

I've had a lot of songs in my head over the last few weeks, but haven't had time or sufficient mental focus to post them. A quick inventory of the backlog for August follows, with notes where I'm moved to write them:

Stacy's Mom by Fountains of Wayne arrived on my brain after hearing a review of the band's new album on NPR's Fresh Air. Aside from the inanity of this 2003 radio hit (a band's gotta have one to make the collective radar) I kind of dig them, and it occurs to me that this band is totally the American version of Sloan (not that that would mean anything to more than, like, two people reading this blog). Sadly, Sloan has no analogous annoying radio hit of their own (in the States).

David Duchovny by Bree Sharp (A rerun, last blogged on 8/31/09).

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, popularized by the Platters, came to me in a most ethereal way, a familiar tune I couldn't identify until looking up the fragments of lyrics I woke with one day. It seemed significant to me when I learned that the song originally appeared in an operetta called Roberta, which was my mom's name. When a lovely flame dies/Smoke gets in your eyes. The synchronistic throat lump supplied by the song's lyric shouldn't be lost on anyone reading who knows me. My mom died last year of complications of lung cancer. Smoke, indeed, gets in my eyes.

Stop Draggin' My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. Pretty typical sooze-fare, nothing noteworthy about this one.

Give Me Back My Man by the B-52s. I'm relating to Kate Pierson's plaintive wail, I'll give you fish/I'll give you candy/I'll give you everything I have in my hand!

And then there was a song snippet that entered my consciousness somewhere between dream state and waking that was a bit peculiar. At first, I thought it was the theme from the film Ordinary People, but when I looked for the music for the film on YouTube and heard Pachelbel's Canon in D major I had to probe a different area of my memory banks. Then it just hit me: this is the theme from The Incredible Hulk TV show, which I'm sure I hadn't seen in more than 25 years. The memory is indeed mysterious, and I wonder how I was able to make the leap between a classical composition from the 17th Century and a spare piano riff from 70's TV. The song may bear some similarity to the melancholy musical themes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I'm currently re-watching.

Song: Stacy's Mom
Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Year: 2003
Rating: Lukewarm

Song: David Duchovny
Artist: Bree Sharp
Year: 1999
Rating: Luke Hot

Song: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Artist: The Platters
Year: 1958 (originally recorded by Gertrude Niesen for the Operetta Roberta in 1933)
Rating: Warm

Song: Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
Artist: Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
Year: 1981
Rating: Luke Hot

Song: Give Me Back My Man
Artist: The B-52s
Year: 1980
Rating: Hot!

Song: The Lonely Man Theme (from The Incredible Hulk television series)
Artist: Joe Harnell
Year: 1977
Rating: n/a

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Border Song

An odd song - not one that immediately springs to mind, or one I'd think I'd have spontaneous recall of. Nevertheless, the lines "Holy Moses, I have been deceived/Now the wind has changed direction, and I'll have to leave" have some painful resonance for me. I don't feel I've been deceived, though; rather, my own perception or expectation of a situation has been uprooted, forcing me to change direction. In the vast scheme of things, in which I want to live authentically, the pain seems necessary to endure.

Artist: Elton John
Rating: Warm

Friday, July 22, 2011

Under the Boardwalk

Haven't a clue why this song showed up today. Maybe feeling wistful about love, but certainly not in that New Relationship Energy way. Maybe I need a trip to Santa Cruz?

Artist: The Drifters
Year: 1964
Rating: Warm

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

This is the song that's been stuck in my head since I saw the Monkees perform a week ago in Saratoga.

Artist: The Monkees (written by Neil Diamond)
Year: 1967
Rating: Warm

Note: the teen idol in the video is Mr. Bobby Sherman.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sentimental Lady, Redux

Last in my head on September 24, 2009. This episode of sentimental infection came after a really good dose of 70's mellow gold on the radio in my car the other day. In one short drive, I managed to hear Whenever I Call You Friend by Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, Jim Croce's I Got a Name (a great driving tune!) and Wild World by Cat Stevens. Loving the new Bay Area oldies station, though I take umbrage with their classification of 80's music as "oldies" (don't get me started).

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

To Love Somebody

Stick with this video til the end. Magnificent, heartbreaking performance.

Artist: Nina Simone
Year: 1969
Rating: Hot!

Note: I actually didn't know that this song was a Barry/Robin Gibb composition!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ballad of the Sin Eater

You didn't think they could hate you now, did you?
Ah, but they hate you, they hate you 'cause you're guilty

One of my favorite songs. It's hard to avoid clichés while rocking out about imperialism, but Ted hits the mark every time.

Artist: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
Year: 2003
Rating: Hot!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sax Rohmer 1

I am coming home to you
with my own blood in my mouth
and I am coming home to you
if it's the last thing that I do.

Artist: The Mountain Goats
Year: 2008
Rating: Hot!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

St. Elmo's Fire (Brian Eno)

Apologies to those who were expecting the John Parr song. Some might say Brian Eno is a man in motion, too.

Artist: Brian Eno
Year: 1975
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I wonder which song will get stuck in your head now...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sticky Shoes

The song in my head is about 20 seconds into this montage from The One with Joey's New Girlfriend. Phoebe loves her sexy phlegm.

Artist: Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
Year: 1997

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Middle

Damn catchy song. My mental jukebox is focused squarely on my emotional wranglings of late. I suspect it's true that everything (everything) will be all right, (ultimately). But it's indeed taking some time.

Artist: Jimmy Eat World
Year: 2002
Rating: Warm

Note: Wow, this video is douchey.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Case of You

One of the most perfect songs ever written about the beauty and the pain of love. Um, yeah.

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Year: 1971
Rating: Hot!

Note: was in my head right after "Waddaliacha." Strange combo platter.

Waddaliacha (sic)

Woke up with an ol' camp song yesterday.

Artist: Unknown
Year: Likewise
Rating: Warm

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)

What does it mean that this song popped into my head in the precise moment between setting a French press abrew and resigning to do a load of dishes?

Heaven helps the man who fights his fear
Love's the only thing that keeps me here.

Could doing dishes be any more epic than that? And what does Kevin Bacon have to do with it?

Artist: Kenny Loggins
Year: 1984
Rating: Lukewarm

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crocodile Rock

Elton's outrageous outfits are really showcased well on the Muppet Show, no?

It's always weird and noteworthy for me to have a song in my head that calls out my own name. I've decided to create a new label for the phenomenon, even. There've been a couple over the course of the blog, but I suspect there will be more. I have one of those names, I guess.

Artist: Elton John
Year: 1972
Rating: Warm

Note: Also interesting - I'm turning 39 this week, and this song was released in the year of my birth! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hooked on a Feeling

I-I-I, I'm hooked on a feelin'
High on believin' that you're in love with me

Despite the soulful delivery of this ecstatic love message, there is a tinge of insecurity: high on believing that you're in love with me. Is it the belief in this affection desired that becomes such a reckless addiction? This song haunted me this morning. Good thing it's so buoyant!

Artist: B.J. Thomas
Year: 1968
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: Please do read what Holly Hughes had to say about this gorgeous ditty when it came back 'round into her consciousness about a year ago. As always, her reflections are thorough and useful, as well as a breezy read. PS to Holly: I'm turning 39 this month. I remember the song from radio play when I was a kid in the 70s; had no idea Tarantino used it in the 90s. And thankfully have been spared from the "ooka-shacka" versions being burrowed into my brain.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


An old Russian-Yiddish folk tune that only came into my life a few months ago. My sister Jodi requested it for our family songbook at the annual retreat in Monterey this year. I didn't get to adding it this time, but this mournful/hopeful love song still resonates. See a translation here.

Artist: The Barry Sisters
Year: Unknown, c. 1920s-1930s; Barry Sisters version, c. 1940s.
Rating: Warm

Sunday, April 24, 2011

After the Fire

Anyone remember this flash-in-the-pan single from Roger Daltrey's 1985 solo album Under A Raging Moon? This might be the most clichéd video ever filmed. At the same time, the heavy-handed refrain is choking me up. The heart grows older, but never ever learns.

What if it's true?

Artist: Roger Daltry (written by Pete Townhsend)
Year: 1985
Rating: Cold

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Wow! Haven't thought about this song in decades. And had no idea it was Jefferson Starship. I was thinking maybe Seals and Crofts...? Nevertheless, I'm so glad the '70s are lodged in my brain to the extent they are. It's a miracle, baby.

Artist: Jefferson Starship
Year: 1975
Rating: Warm

Sunday, April 10, 2011


How many of you out there have ever come across this amazingly insidious little tune? I always thought it was a pure product of the early '80s; I had no idea it was a composition originally written on a Moog, going back to 1969! I came across the above version (the one in my head currently) when my friend Ramee introduced it, along with an infectiously awesome line dance, to our group at Jewish summer camp, probably in about 1982.

Here's the original by Gershon Kingsley:

Learn loads more about the song at the site dedicated to all things "Popcorn," Popcorn-Song.Com. Unfortunately, I can't find any info online about the choreography of the dance we learned in the '80s.

Artist (in my head): Hot Butter
Artist (original): Gershon Kingsley
Year: 1969, 1972
Rating: Luke Hot

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time to Change

I've used the refrain as an email signature for the last several months, part ode to campy pop and part reminder to myself of the existential inevitablity of change. Those Brady kids can get deep.

Artist: The Brady Bunch
Year: 1972
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, March 25, 2011


Like a Stipean nigun.

Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1991
Rating: Warm

Here's a lovely review by Matthew over at Pop Songs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blue Bayou

Hit me suddenly after making a phone call on a job inquiry, sipping my second cuppa coffee.

Artist: Linda Ronstadt (original 1963, by Roy Orbison/Joe Melson)
Year: 1977
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ruby Tuesday

Ain't life unkind?

One of my all-time faves. Starting to amass a fine collection of Stones tunes here at The Songs In My Head. I just had to go back through the old entries and look for new video links, 'cause YouTube had yanked a bunch for copyright infringement. Gah.

Artist: Rolling Stones
Year: 1967
Rating: Hot!

Note: If you happen to be clicking about the site and see any more video links that have been pulled and are no longer working, please email me at soozzip at gmail dot com. See Help with Edits for details!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Over the Hills and Far Away

One of my favorite Zeppelin songs, probably one that many a high school boy back in the day would've said was one of their "girlie" tunes. In fact, the last time I heard it on the radio, several months ago in the car with Scotty, I believe his sentiment on the acoustic intro was, "Wow, that's gay!"

The above performance is great, though the audio level is low. Best with headphones!

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Year: 1973
Rating: Hot!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Someday Someway

It's those upbeat love songs with a tinge of anomie that get me every time. Thank you, Mr. Crenshaw.

Artist: Marshall Crenshaw
Year: 1982
Rating: Luke Hot

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wonderful Tonight/Stuck On You Mash Up

This morning, I woke up with a perfectly blended mash-up of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" and Lionel Richie's "Stuck On You." It was prompted by last night's re-watching of the Friends episode where Monica and Chandler get engaged; they dance to the Clapton song over the end credits. These songs have always been glued to each other in my head. Maybe it's the relatively similar tempo, key, and song structure, but whenever one of them enters my consciousness, the other one seamlessly follows.

In fact, I often play, in my mind's music studio, the intro guitar riff to "Wonderful Tonight," then go right into the first verse of "Stuck On You," then back into Clapton's riff unconsciously before my brain recognizes that I'm melding the two songs. You know, now that I'm listening close, the guitar riffs actually sound almost identical.

There's a further twist in this mental mash-up of mine: at certain points when these songs have appeared in my head historically, I have also searched my '70s/'80s mental catalogue of radio hits, always with the nagging sensation that there was a third song stuck to "Stuck On You" and "Wonderful Tonight." I'm realizing now, though, as I play these songs side by side, that this "third" song is probably just a mental creation, my brain explaining the cognitive mystery of why these songs also sound like some unidentifiable country tune that I want to attribute to someone like B.J. Thomas or Gordon Lightfoot. As Lionel Richie's image knowingly tips his ten gallon hat to us from the cover photo of his 1984 single, I'm guessing that my brain was just trying to explain why I'm hearing what is essentially a country-pop song written by an R&B legend. Kind of awesome how the brain compensates and creates "realities" that don't exist.

Artist (Stuck On You): Lionel Richie
Year: 1984
Rating: Warm

Artist (Wonderful Tonight): Eric Clapton
Year: 1977
Rating: Cold

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Mystery Song!

Hello, readers!

Mystery songs are always fun entries, 'cause you get to play along at home! Here's a tune that has been in my head on a regular basis for years; I have no idea what it is. My best guess (though this could be way off!) is that it infiltrated my brain waves at some point when I was in college or just after, so perhaps between 14 and 18 years ago. Because of that timing, or perhaps due to some other idiosyncratic memory association with the tune, I've long thought it may be a traditional instrumental that was repurposed by either Camper Van Beethoven or They Might Be Giants. I happen to know a founding member of Camper Van,* and whistled it for him recently. He assured me it wasn't one of their tunes. (Please do check out Chris Molla's excellent blog, by the way! It's full of fascinating discussions of music, composition, performance art, and politics and culture.)

So, if any of you out there wanna wager a guess about the origin of this song, please do! I'm so curious about it, as it is an integral part of my mental soundscape, and I whistle it, unconsciously or quite consciously, multiple times a week.

*This statement reminds me of the scene I am very fond of in Annie Hall in which the guy behind Alvie (Woody Allen) in line at the movies name-drops Marshall McLuhan, and then Alvie pulls McLuhan out of the wings to support his assertion that the guy is a pretentious nitwit. Does name-dropping Chris Molla now make me a pretentious nitwit, I wonder?

**NEWSFLASH** The mystery has been solved! Four years after posting this entry, I finally figured out how this song came into my consciousness. Check out my update right here!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Magic, Redux

Last in my head on May 9, 2010. It was just a few days before my mom died last year, and I felt the song to be quite poignant at that moment. Otherwise, it's just a plain old great song.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hankerin' Somethin' fierce!

Whoa, dude. I've long known that the Saturday morning ABC animated short Hanker for a Hunk of Cheese is one of the most popularly-searched songs on my blog. A quick glance at my blogger stats tells me just how popular it is!

Yep, seven out of the top ten key word searches refer to this post. Looks like I'm #3 on Google if you're searching the term hanker for a hunk of cheese and #6 for simply the word hanker. Weird. Wish I were higher up in the results for "songs in my head" or "earworms."

Marketing, schmarketing.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I don't usually mention songs that come into my head only because I've freshly heard them; that immediate mental link seems too obvious to me. But the version I heard of Coldplay's big hit "Clocks" the other day was a unique one: I heard it in a Chinese restaurant; it was a Musak version played on wood flute. There are several instrumental covers of the song on YouTube, but I can't find the precise one.

Artist: Coldplay (Musak version: unknown)
Year: 2002
Rating: warm

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Witch's Wand

Been nine months since my last Sloan entry. Still, somewhat surprisingly, the top band in my head. I have one of my favorite Canadians to thank for that.

Artist: Sloan
Year: 2008
Rating: Luke Hot

Monday, February 7, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I admit that this is a "good" song, and it's catchy as hell, but when it was at its commercial peak, it was ubiquitous, and it drove me fucking craaaaazy. Now, it remains a most pernicious earworm.

Artist: Gnarls Barkley
Year: 2006
Rating: Cold

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Three Stooges Theme

...'specially that very last part, "do do dee doo dee doo!"

Based on the traditional folk song Listen to the Mockingbird from 1855.

Era: 1930s Stooges movies

Friday, January 28, 2011

Show Tunes

A friend took a snapshot of this bumpersticker recently; thought it was appropriate to share with y'all.

Thanks, Rana!

Georgy Girl

Haven't thought about or heard this song in a long time. I love the exact moment of 60's pop it represents: whimsical and seemingly innocent music and lyric giving way to internal darkness.

There's another Georgy deep inside.

Artist: The Seekers
Year: 1966
Rating: Hot!
Note: I've never seen the film. Should put it on the queue.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine In

Whoa! When the lyric Let the sunshine in, face it with a grin... came to me this morning, I actually couldn't place it, though I knew the melody so well. I'm shocked and yet not at all shocked that I know this song from a Flintstones episode. And I'm also a little shocked that it's actually a song about not letting the devil in.

Artist: Pebbles Bamm-Bamm (voiced by Rebecca Page & Ricky Page)
Year: 1965
Rating: Warm

Note: John Waters used the original from 1954 in his recent movie, A Dirty Shame.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Unbelievably the first Buddy Holly song in my head since starting the blog.

Artist: Buddy Holly
Year: 1957
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Manic Monday, Redux

Last in my head on June 30, 2009. Wow, I can't believe I went the entirety of 2010 without waking up Manic Monday.

Artist: The Bangles
Year: 1986
Rating: Luke Hot

Noteworthy: I don't feel particularly manic this morning, nor is this a Monday. In fact, this is the fourth entry for "Manic Monday," and never once thus far has it been in my head on a Monday. This is the third straight Tuesday. Amber made reference to the song a few days ago, and I think that's why it's on the brain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2010 Review: Ratings

Okay, all you in the earworm gallery. This is the last installment of my review of 2010, in which we take a gander at whether I even like the songs that are constantly, mercilessly stuck in my head. Turns out, yep, I tend to like 'em:

While the peak of 2010's graph is in the warmish-hot category and not just warm, as in 2009, the songs I was truly hot for took a bit of a dive. Overall, it's clear that the songs that really annoy the crap out of me or songs that I can just barely tolerate don't make up a big percentage of the songs I tend to wake up to. The percentages of all the songs I've blogged and rated look like this:

4.3% Cold
9.2% Lukewarm
29.5% Warm
31.4% Warmish-hot
25.7% Hot!

The caveat about the probable data skew I made last year was simply that, since I don't blog every song that gets stuck in my head, only the songs I wake up to, it's possible that the curve of all my earworms goes more toward the cold/lukewarm end in "reality." However, I'd also like to acknowledge here that I don't even blog every song I wake up to, only some of them. Often it's a time issue, but sometimes it's because it's a rerun I've just written about or it's a song I just heard on the radio and therefore am less interested in blogging about. Sometimes it's 'cause the song doesn't compel me in any way to write about it. It's arbitrary. So if I were actually diligent enough and had enough time to blog every single song I wake up with every single morning, we'd probably have a more accurate ratings curve here, one likely to skew toward the cooler end of the love/hate spectrum. Also, this blog would be beyond boring. Trust me on that one.

If you'd like to delve into the rest of the 2010 Review entries, or take a look at 2009's data, please help yourself to the handy links below! 2011's well under way now; the data just don't stop!

Peace and love,

Related entries:
2010 Review: Eras
2010 Review: Whatnot
2010 Review: Genres
2010 Review: Artists
2009 Review

Cherry Bomb

Hello, Daddy, hello, Mom...

Artist: The Runaways
Year: 1976
Rating: Luke Hot

Another song from the Bicentennial year!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Every Time You Go Away

I love how the YouTuber who posted this video is fetishizing their sound system! But you have to admit, that's some awesome audio! Props!

Also, I had *no idea* that this was actually a cover of a Hall & Oates song from 1980!! Now that I hear it, totally, totally.

Artist: Paul Young
Year: 1985
Rating: Luke Hot

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Campfire Song, Redux

A song I've blogged twice before. Last in my head on June 22, 2010. Incidentally, this song also makes me think of Barry, whose birthday it is today! Happy birthday, you.

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Say A Little Prayer

Gave myself a fright waking up with this song this morning, and quickly looked for any new news of Aretha Franklin's pancreatic cancer. I don't exactly think that I have psychic abilities, but it's hard to explain how any of us can tap into the cultural zeitgeist at any moment. I hoped beyond hope that my earworm hadn't portended a turn south for Aretha's condition.

A quick web search yielded results that she's now denying that she had cancer and that the health problem is resolved. I'll say a little prayer for her anyway.

Artist: Aretha Franklin
Year: 1968
Rating: Luke Hot

Note: I wasn't sure at first whether it was Dionne Warwick's original that matched my mental image of the song, or if it was Aretha's. My first impulse was that it was Aretha's, and that's indeed what it turned out to be. Unless you've studied the neuropsychology of music and memory, or unless you're an earworm nerd like me, you might be suspicious about the idea that I had any one particular version of a song in my head, but this phenomenon is very real. Check out the McGill University Laboratory for Music, Perception, Cognition, and Expertise.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

This is exactly the sort of song lodged in the collective consciousness that makes writing this blog worthwhile! Why I woke up with it, I've no right idea. A look at the lyrics reveals a serious genderqueer narrative in the song that I'd never noticed before: not only is the girl described as "handsome" by the narrator (I know, not an uncommon description for a woman in those days) but at length, the daring young trapeze artist has purloined the singer's love away, trained her for the trapeze, made her "assume a masculine name" and by the last verse, she's wooing the girls in the audience who take her for the daring young man. Handsome, indeed!

It's possible (though I can't say for certain) that my first encounter with "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" was in the Popeye short from 1934, which of course I didn't see til I was a kid in the '70s, some 40-odd years later, and more than a century after the song was first published in 1867. If, in fact, my neuronal association with this song connects to Popeye, then perhaps this earworm manifested itself due to some references my pal Scott and I made several days ago to Popeye, the Robert Altman movie. Songs from said movie are also still stuck in my head from its debut thirty (gulp!) years ago. Music and memory: kind of awesome.

Artist (original): Gaston Lyle, Alfred Lee, George Leybourne
Year: 1867
Popularized: 1930s, various artists
Performed above by Henry Hall and His Orchestra, Len Berman on vocals, c. 1930s
Rating: Warm

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010 Review: Eras

The eras to which my earworms belong are probably the least surprising set of statistics among all this ephemera. The curves from 2009 and 2010 are nearly identical, with the great bulk of songs that get stuck in my head firmly planted within my lifetime on Earth, or close enough to it. The 1970s and 1980s still rule my mental airwaves, making up nearly 60% of all the songs I've blogged about in the last two years.

Coming up next: Ratings! And that should be the last of it!

Related entries:
2010 Review: Whatnot
2010 Review: Genres
2010 Review: Artists
2009 Review

Diff'rent Strokes Theme

Everybody's got a special kinda story.

Artist: Alan Thicke & Gloria Loring
Year: 1978
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 Review: Whatnot

Alright! Whipping these suckers out now! Here is a—wait for it—horizontal stacked bar graph! illustrating the non-genre categories I use in my blog, the tags I affectionately refer to as the Whatnot. If any Whatnot tag is puzzling to you, please refer to the lovingly crafted Glossary to the More Arcane Categories within the "Whatnot" Tag (2009). New to 2010: the super-fun Mystery Songs tag, marking entries I've written about songs that popped into my head that I couldn't identify at the time I blogged them.

Click chart to embiggen!

More to come!

Related entries:
2010 Review: Genres
2010 Review: Artists
2009 Review

2010 Review: Genres

Okay, so here's the breakdown of the genres in my head, all neatly encapsulated in these two fancy stacked bar graphs. The first graph shows a condensation of the top 17 genres in my head for 2009, 2010, and the totals for both years of blogging. All 17 top categories are condensed into just three über categories: the "indie/alternative" category includes genres such as punk, post-punk, new wave, etc. The "rock" category includes classic rock (which I take to mean '60s and '70s rock), standard rock ('80s and beyond), hard rock, mellow singer songwriter fare, and so on. The "pop" category encompasses commercial pop, adult contemporary, and traditional pop.

Note that I only blogged at about 49% of 2009's rate in 2010, so the numbers, on the whole, are lower for last year. Still and all, it looks like the indie and rock categories fared at much the same proportions to 2009's numbers, and the pop category took a dip. Now, math is not my strong suit, so if anyone wants to offer a deeper analysis of these numbers, be my guest.

In the next chart, I've broken down the top 17 genre categories so that you, too, can geek out on the labels I attach to the various and sundry songs in my head. Whether you can discern a "commercial pop" song from a "contemporary pop" song, or care if there's a difference between new wave and synth-pop is really between you and your god. It's helpful to note, however, that most songs are tagged with multiple genre categories, so there's a lot of overlap. In addition to that, the total numbers for the genre tags way exceed the actual number of songs I blogged about for this very same reason.

*Click chart to embiggen!*

Coming soon: the stat's on ratings, eras, and who could forget the Whatnot of 2010! Woot, I say, woot!

Related entries:
2010 Review: Artists
2009 Review

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tzena Tzena Tzena

No idea why this Israeli folk song was in my head this morning. Its melody is most familiar to me, because it was repurposed as the Camp Shalom alma mater that I sang on an almost daily basis every summer of my life from age five til my early twenties. The above version is by the Wellingtons from 1964.

The most popular version of the song was the Weavers' spin, in which the simple Hebrew lyrics (encouraging the girls to go find a good army man) were replaced by English words with an entirely different narrative (about dancing and celebrating in the city square). The web search for this song yields some surprisingly wonderful results, including an Arlo Guthrie rendition in which he riffs, in signature trickster style, on the "Gaelic" language in the song, and even a cover of the Weaver's version by trashpop icon Mink Stole and L.A. drag queen Vicky Boofont! Enjoy 'em.

Artists: The Wellingtons, 1964; The Weavers, 1950; Arlo Guthrie, c. 1978; Mink Stole/Vicky Boofont, 2005.
Written by: Issachar Miron, c. 1941; English lyrics by Gordon Jenkins
Rating: Warm

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2010 Review: Artists

Hey kids! Wanna know which artists dominated my mental air waves in 2010? Here's a couple handy-dandy pie charts for ya. More statistics might follow in subsequent entries. I don't have the wherewithal to post one long detailed entry this time, but you can read the 2009 Review for shits 'n' giggles, and, you know, scientific inquiry (snicker).

A quick summary of 2010:

Number of entries: 143 (about 49% of the 292 entries from 2009). I'm averaging about 2.75 entries per week or roughly 12 per month, which is a reasonable clip, methinks.
First song blogged in 2010: Magic Dance by David Bowie
Last song blogged: Love Walks In by Van Halen
Oldest song: The Riddle Song, the origins of which go back to the 15th Century.
Newest song: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire. Definitely an up-and-coming artist on my mental jukebox.

So here are the top artists in my head, 2010:

And here's a compiled pie chart for 2009 & 2010, together. As you can see, REM made the biggest jump in numbers last year (they went from 4 entries to 11), but our boys in Sloan, so far, are still way on top. Historically speaking, their lead can't hold more than another year or so.

Keep tunin' in for more stats on 2010's ratings spread and other ephemera that you absolutely need to know!

Yesterday Once More, Redux

I had this song in my head a year ago, almost to the day. This has happened a couple times before, as well. Not sure if it's some sort of cyclical memory, or just a coinkidink. It arrived on my mind the night before I woke with it, because of hearing a certain Belle & Sebastian song that reminded me of the melody.

Happy New Year, y'all!


Artist: The Carpenters
Year: 1973
Rating: Luke Hot