It's one more random than 10!
What a weird week. Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and Michael all going in the same week? And mixed in, Iran has a near-revolt and a state governor just skips town for a few days to go end things with his Argentinean mistress. It's a good thing it's been sunny here, because if it was cloudy I'd say there was a 30% chance of raining frogs.
Jackson's death is one of those mixed bag situations, because even if you believe he was innocent of child molestation, he certainly had a very bizarre relationship with children. And most of his problems were of his own making. At the same time, the guy was predestined to be weird. His father is Zeus in the pantheon of Asshole Showbiz Parents, which certainly got him off on the wrong foot. He had the rare occurrence of being a huge child star and then having an adult career that dwarfed that stardom. A lot of child stars, if they avoid flaming out completely, often get a chance to sit back, come to grips with that fame, and make sense of it. Jackson's career got shot out of a cannon into a rocket that landed inside a starship taking off for another galaxy. He achieved a level of fame where even Jesus might go, "Hey, you guys are kind of freaking me out right now."
That story trumped the weirdest political scandal I've ever seen: Where in the World Is Governor Mark Sanford? Most political sex scandals, while sordid or sad, are not necessarily surprising. Let's face it, Clinton always looked like a horndog, and that's also a dominant gene in the Kennedy family. Meanwhile, with your Larry Craigs and David Vitters, it's always the guys yelling the loudest about family values who are reaching under the stall for a handy or paying someone to diaper them. However, they almost always either use their power for sex or keep their sexual escapades secret to preserve their power. Sanford walked off the job like he was a busboy quitting his night shift at Denny's instead of a 2012 presidential hopeful quitting his political career, all to see his mistress in another hemisphere. It's so strange I wouldn't believe it if it was fictional, although it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Russell Dalrymple quits his NBC job to join Greenpeace in order to impress Elaine.
Next thing you know, conservatives who previously demonized all Muslims as the enemy or joked about bombing Iran will be saying things like, "We're all Neda now." Oh, wait....
Okay music, take me away....
1) "The E Street Shuffle," Bruce Springsteen. I don't usually associate The Boss with "funky," but the burbling keyboards and jazzy horns make this song born to groove.
2) "Judy Is a Punk," The Ramones. No other band ever did more with less.
3) "Long Distance Runaround," Red House Painters. When Mark Kozalek does a cover, he really makes the song his own. This version is about as distant from the original Yes version as you can get without rapping or making it a country song. Couldn't find a video or audio, which is a shame.
4) "Gone for Good," The Shins. I used to hate country music, because like most people, I associated all country music with the Nashville sound, the ten-gallon, platinum blonde, sprayed bangs, consider-us-for-your-next-truck commercial sound that's a flatbed version of Starship. Then I heard Uncle Tupelo, who showed hipster doofuses like me that real country music has heart and feeling and is as American as dust bowls, illegal stills, and coal mining. Because of that, I can enjoy this fine slice of twangy Shins, with a steel guitar and lonesome lyrics that will make the hardest of hearts a little achy and/or breaky.
5) "Svo Hljótt," Sigur Rós. It never ceases to amaze me how much Sigur Rós move me, even though I have no idea what they are singing about. For all I know, they're singing, "Hey fatty dickface, you smell like a baboon's butt," but because they wrap it in Icelandic and reverbed guitars, I'm sitting here gushing about how beautiful it is. And let's face it, if I knew they were singing "Hey fatty dickface, you smell like a baboon's butt," I'd probably like them even more.
6) "Magic Man," Heart. They pack so much Seventies into five-and-a-half minutes: sex, sleaze, adolescent rebellion, drug use, hot guitar solos, and cheezy synths. It's like the musical of "Stuff White People Like: 1976." Speaking of which: can you imagine a time when someone makes a musical out of a blog? It will happen, but if it does, I think the musical should be really short, and borrow a bunch of ideas from other musicals, and then let the audience shout new lyrics in between songs.
7) "Pinball Wizard," The Who. The bridge between Old Who and New Who. It has the catchy spunk of the classic 60s Who singles, but with a sound that had hit the weight room on the way to becoming the buff Who of the 70s. Also a Top 10 Iconic Guitar Riff—which should be a VH1 Classic show, by the way. Sixty minutes of D-List nerds doing a capella renditions of the riffs while talking about how they used to air guitar these songs in their underwear. Tell me Judah Friedlander wouldn't leap at the opportunity to be on that. He could make a hat with each riff phonetically imprinted on it: Dum---dum---dum----dum---dum dum dum dum dumdumdumdum. Although he'd need some bigger hats.
8) "God," John Lennon. The last entertainment celebrity to get the level of death coverage that Michael Jackson will get. Definitely at the top of my Top Five Most Tragic Musical Deaths, because Lennon was still going strong and probably would have kept going strong for decades. He was one of those people who I don't think would have ever run out of creative juice or become maudlin or nostalgic in his old age.
9) "Sunshine," Alice in Chains. The least sunshiny song to ever use "sunshine" in the title or lyrics. Such a druggy and depressing album that my CD has track marks on it.
10) "End It on This," No Doubt. Talk about an album cover predicting a band's career arc: Gwen Stefani is plastered front and center, while the rest of the band are in the background. I imagine the photographer asked them, "Hey, fellas, could you move a little further back, like toward the horizon?"
11) "21st Century Breakdown," Green Day. The new album is American Idiot II: The Pretension Strikes Back, but they still rock enough that I enjoy them as long as I don't listen too closely. Which makes it a nice addition to the summer rotation.
Ah, that's better, and a pretty darn good dose of tunes, if I do say so myself. Have a good weekend.