It's one more random than 10!
Yesterday, the Chicago Bears pulled off a trade for Denver quarterback Jay Culter, a Pro Bowl quarterback and the first good one the Bears have had since a punky QB known as McMahon.
The cultural significance of this for Chicagoans (current and expatriate) is that we just lost one of our great unifiers: complaining about the endless stream of shitty quarterbacks that have started for our football team. In fact, the only greater conversational unifier is complaining about the Cubs, and they are considered World Series contenders again this year. Yes, I'll believe it when I see it, but the fact that such talk can be said with a straight face is significant.
Of course, this is all well and good, but also a little sad. As my brother Tickle put it"What are we going to text about during the games when the Bears don't throw for three yards on 3rd and 8?" Just like that, a huge amount of our identity was taken from us, and worst of all, for our benefit. I can only imagine what Red Sox fans went through when Boston won two World Series. Because while winning is awesome, complaining about not winning is a lot more entertaining.
Thankfully, for conversational purposes, the Bears still have at least a half tank of suck left, and the Cubs will likely find some way to rip my heart out and feed it to me while it is still beating.
On to the tunes...
1) "Bicycle Race," Queen. "Bohemian Rhapsody" naturally gets a lot of sing-along attention, thanks in part to Wayne's World and the inherent ridiculous charm of this song. But for my money the most entertaining Queen line to sing is, "I want to ride my bi-cy-cle!"
2) "Living After Midnight," The Donnas. A cover of the classic Judas Priest song, and unfortunately a cover that brings nothing to the table. When you cover a song, you have to do something with it to make people appreciate why they are listening to your version and not the original one that they love. This sounds like the kind of cover played at the end of the night when the band's run out of songs and the drunks are demanding some Judas Priest. It doesn't even get much of a change from the gender-switch of the singers since they both are into guys.
3) "No One Knows," Queens of the Stone Age. They have really crunchy guitars with sweet riffs, like trail mix with M&Ms in it. I think that's a big reason for their success because everyone likes trail mix.
4) "Here's Where the Strings Come In," Superchunk. From the album of the same name, and a great album title for a punky band. Any time a band plays straighforward rock, whether it's of the bar/punk/hard rock variety, they have to eventually change things up a little (otherwise they become stagnant like the Ramones or redundant like "new" AC/DC). Ergo, that almost always means broadening the sound and things like, "string arrangement by the bass player, who was free that day," and "say hello to our new horn player!" I appreciate that Superchunk recognized this, made fun of it, and then went ahead and added the "strings" anyway.
5) "Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live)," U2. As someone who grew up smack in the middle of the heyday of MTV, the image of Bono waving a white flag during this song at Red Rocks Amphitheater is probably the most iconic music image of my life. For all of Bono's faults, there's something so electric about it: the marching guitar riff and drums, the almost religious revival reaction of the crowd, and Bono's complete conviction. I am convinced that, at that moment, he truly believed that music could make a difference. Even though I currently am not just a product of the Age of Irony, but also a client, I have to admit I miss that kind of conviction a bit.
6) "Like Dylan in the Movies," Belle and Sebastian. I imagine Dylan in the movies would need subtitles for all his lines.
7) "I Will Always," The Cranberries. They eventually went the route of "Am I buggin' ya" Bono, becoming a tad shrill and serious. There's such a fine line between "socially conscious lyrics" and "harshing my mellow with your haranguing Irish brogue." However, their first album is a blueprint for delicate, jangling pop. I will now go kick my own ass for using the phrase "delicate, jangling pop." I feel like I just auditioned for the role of Ben Fong-Torres in Almost Famous.
8) "Sleep Spent," Death Cab for Cutie. They are one of my stealth favorites. If I were to have one of those discussions about my favorite bands, especially the kind that involves drinking excessively with other music nerds, it's quite likely Death Cab would not come up. Maybe because they are so unassuming, forgoing musical Molotov cocktails like The Clash or 20-minute hard-rock space dystopias like you-know-who. But every time Death Cab comes up on the Random 11 (or just randomly), I'm a little happier for it.
9) "Tender," Blur. The chorus is really tailored to being sung by thousands of people in Wembley Stadium while they clap in unison to the drum beat. In another life, I'd like to be on stage for that, just once, even if it means my next concept album about reincarnation tanks and I'm washing dishes at a fish 'n' chips joint within 18 months.
10) "The Electric Version," The New Pornographers. For a band that creates such catchy songs, they are surprisingly difficult to play on drums in Rock Band.
11) "Fight for Your Right," Beastie Boys. It's so hard to reconcile the juvenile amateurism of this song (and album) with the idea that the Beastie Boys became musical pioneers with their next album. It's like Thomas Jefferson writing a pamphlet called Liberty 4 Evah, Motherfuckers before writing The Declaration of Independence. It's also one of the most perfect songs to lead into a weekend. Kick it!
Have a good one.