It's one more Brandom than 10!
I saw a disturbing bit of news this week. It’s not the economy or the Obama transition or Sarah Palin buying as much TV time as possible to prove she’s not an idiot (good luck with all that). It was this:
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” has become the first digital back-catalog song to sell more than two million digital downloads.
Now, as I have mentioned when they have popped up on Fridays, I have a soft spot for Journey. If “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on the radio or in my iTunes, you can bet I’m going full-throttle karaoke. They are cheesy, sure, but who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich (except maybe some lactose-intolerant readers)?
However, as much as I love a grilled cheese sandwich, I know it’s also not filet mignon (vegetarian readers, insert whatever is the filet mignon of non-meat). There are some notable artists missing from the digital domain, but still, there are a lot of great tunes out there to add to one’s collection, and yet this is what the people clamored for. Now I understand a little bit better how Barabbas went free.
What really confuses me is that, given the gazoodles of records Journey sold, two million people decided to rush out and pay to download “Don’t Stop Believing.” I am sure that 95 percent of the people who did this already had a copy of this song in their domiciles, either on a cassette rumbling around under the car seats, stuck behind the CDs they publicly display, in the box of stuff from the ex- including the mix tape you made to let him/her know you were going to forgive her/him for cheating just one more time. Not that I would encourage anyone to steal music, but let’s face it, if you’re going to give your money to artists, give it to some who need it.
Here's the true kicker: I literally just realized, as I came to the end of this rant, that the copy of “Don’t Stop Believing” on my hard drive was legally downloaded from iTunes. I am not making this up. I can even tell you where my copy of Journey’s Greatest Hits is: in my graveyard of cassettes (aka one of those big, black, vinyl cassette carriers) in the attic. I will now punch myself in the balls.
1) “The Loudest Sound,” The Cure. I caught a bit of a recent concert on TV last week. Robert Smith looks as if he took all his sorrows, baked them into a large and very caloric pie, and ate it all in one sitting. But beyond that, the man is in need of a serious makeover. I loves me some Cure, but it’s difficult for me to watch someone who looks older then me trying to look like he did when I first started listening to him. It would be like me walking around in tight-rolled white cargo pants, a neon green Gotcha T-shirt, and an acid-washed jean jacket with the collar turned up. Funny, but for all the wrong reasons.
2) “Blindman’s Bend,” Dave Dobbyn. A New Zealand musical legend I would never have known about were it not for the legendary husband of this New Zealand literary legend. Dobbyn is a terrific singer-songwriter, someone who, had he been born here or in the UK, would have been huge. Worth seeking out. In fact, there's no YouTube of this song, but here's the excellent “Loyal.”
Seriously, I had this song on a mix CD from my friend TMiddy called “Kiwi Music,” which included a very awesome bit of cover art of a Kiwi. The mix tape/CD is really an art that’s becoming lost in the digital age, so I cherish when I get a great one from someone.
3) “Pacific Theme,” Broken Social Scene. A little bit like Steely Dan’s rhythm section playing with New Order’s Bernard Sumner on guitar. And that’s before the horns kick in.
4) “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St.?” Bruce Springsteen. I moved to New York when TLB and I got married. She was already working in magazine publishing, and I decided to try and get into publishing myself. My very first day in Manhattan, after a day of interviews, I was walking back to the Port Authority with TLB after she finished work (we were living with a friend in Jersey while we got settled). I saw these two old, haggard guys arguing, right in the middle of the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue as we got near 42nd Street. One had a handful of money, and as we got closer, I heard him say to the other old guy, in an accent that sounded like Poppie from Seinfeld, “Oh yeah, well I fucked your mother!” The other man, without saying a word, hauled off and delivered an uppercut that lifted the money man off both his feet. It was like one of those exaggerated, slo-mo movie knockouts. The guy who was punched fell on his back and hit this head against the pavement so hard, I felt it in my feet.
And that was my first day in New York.
5) “Dudley,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I don’t like these guys (or, more specifically, guys and a gal) as much as I thought I would, mostly because I think they try to hard to sound hard by cocking up their melodic sensibilities with noise. Here they succesfully let their pop flag fly, with a nice vocal and some understated but energetic guitar playing.
6) “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” The Beatles. The most polarizing Beatles tune after “Revolution 9?” Personally, I’ve always thought it was one of the silly-yet-good entries in the Beatles canon, like “Yellow Submarine” or “Octopus’s Garden.” But over the years I’ve read or heard lots of people rant about this song, especially big Beatles fans who find it a fluffy piece of dung.
7) “Picture Book,” The Kinks. While commercials using classic rock songs can often been cringeworthy, I dug the Hewlett-Packard commercial that used this one. And hey, Ray Davies deserves all the money he can get, much more so than anyone from Journey.
8) “Hungry Like the Wolf,” Duran Duran. “Rio” is by far my favorite song of theirs, but damn if I don’t like this one. It’s a great song that manages to personify the good side of Eighties pop without overdosing on the bad stuff. Oh, and they new how to make videos then!
9) “Space and Time,” The Verve. Urban Hymns is in my top ten of 90s albums, and this is one of the best songs off it. The guitars wash over you while Richard Ashcroft’s voice finds a sweet spot between crooning and droning the complements the music perfectly.
10) “Even the Losers,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Classic singalong material. Petty has that great voice to imitate, with that nasally twang. Years ago, I read an interview with him about the difficulties musicians have remaining faithful to their spouses on the road. He said something like, “Yeah, it’s not that hard if you don’t fuck a lot of women.” Good point. It also helps if you look like Tom Petty.
11) “Dark Center of the Universe,” Modest Mouse. For all the hope and change floating around the airwaves—and I’m one of the people who voted that way—this song has captured my mood a little better these days. It’s angry and kind of chaotic, but catchy enough that I want to play it again and tap my foot along. Because even though the people I voted for won, they’ve been handed the keys to Delta House after the Deltas lived there for four years—with all the vandalism and destruction, but without any of the fun and humor. I’m glad they have the house, but pissed and, frankly, depressed, about how much shit they have to clean up. It helps if you have a song you can hum that doesn’t diminish the anger that keeps you going.
Have an awesome weekend. And thanks to Rotten McDonald and my own ham-fisted typing for inspiring this week's title change. I'm not sure if I'll keep it, but it made me laugh a little.