It has been a very busy few weeks of getting ready to move and working. May was just a blur. But we have sold our house here and had an offer accepted on a house there, and now I can relax a little and just enjoy some tunes to start off my weekend. I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a Random 11 as much as this one.
1. “Sixteen Blue,” The Replacements. No other band could write such a sincerely poignant song about teenage sexual confusion and get away with sequencing it right after a song called “Gary’s Got a Boner.” In other words, they were my kind of people.
2. “Cemetery Savior,” Son Volt. Hi, I’m Jay Farrar. I’ve made a career out of looking at the Midwest through a rust-colored screen door. I write songs that are so beautifully depressing, they make you want to slit your wrists with rose thorns. This next one's called, “The Mill Closed up After It Collapsed on My Baby.” 2-3-4...
3. “Intervention,” Arcade Fire. I love when the indie kids get proggy with it. This starts out with a pipe organ that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Yes Album. But before you can say “Rick Wakeman,” it transforms into a propulsive, earnest pop song. I guess you can have your cape and wear your eyeliner too.
4. “The Wind Cries Mary,” Jimi Hendrix Experience. Oh hell yeah. Hendrix is maybe the saddest of the great rock casualties. While all those young deaths are tragic, most of them died at the likely peak of their careers, before they became irrelevant and were dropped from their labels and started playing state fairs. Hendrix could have aged gracefully, I think. I could see him being 65 (!) and still making amazing music like this.
5. “Into the Heart,” U2. My friend Bob has one of the best I saw them before they were stars stories: he saw U2 very early in their career, opening for The J Giles Band(!). It’s quite a leap from “An Cat Dubh” to “Centerfold.”
6. “Girl’s Got Rhythm,” AC/DC. Hey, whaddya know, an AC/DC song about sex. Speaking of people who died at precisely the right time, Bon Scott would have aged even less well than a craggy Angus Young in schoolboy shorts. I could see Scott now, singing something called, “Baby, I Got a Lift for You” for a Viagra ad. So maybe it was for the best.
7. “So What’cha Want,” Beastie Boys. The first Beasties song I liked for beyond the “Hey, ‘Brass Monkey’ is kind of funky” way. Love the Rod Carew reference and the single bass note.
8. “Dinner Bells,” Wolf Parade. Great band, terrible name. It seems like one of those band names where they had a hat full of words and these were the two that got pulled out. I just flipped through my dictionary, back to front, and front to back, and came up with The Imperfect Impressionists. Okay, so that sounds like a sketch comedy group, but still, you have to choose these things with care.
9. “There She Goes,” The La’s. The guitar is just full of Southern California sunshine. A true pop gem.
10. “Saul Bellow,” Sufjan Stevens. I was hoping something from Greetings From Michigan would pop up this week. As I was jotting my notes, I wrote, “the world’s only song about Saul Bellow,” but Wikipedia says there are four pop music references to Mr. Bellow. I love Wikipedia. I am beyond the point of caring if it's true.
11. “Kick It Out,” Heart. They kick this off with a riff that reads, Property of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I have a soft spot for Heart in my heart. What can I say, I dig women who rock.
That’s all the time we have for today. Before we go, I highly recommend watching this video of Hall & Oates for “She’s Gone.” Blue Girl found it, and it is astounding in its craptitude. You will be tempted to stop it, but do not—I repeat, do not—stop before Oates picks up the guitar.