It’s one more random than 10!
I am home alone this weekend, as The Lovely Becky and our little Libby have taken off to visit TLB’s parents in a place called Civilization. So my Halloween costume will be Grown Up Nerd Playing Video Games Until His Eyeballs Fall Out. Seizures, here I come! Although part of me would like to dress up as a dog and scare the hell out of our cats.
1) “Secret Touch,” Rush. iTunes must know that The Lovely Becky is gone and that means I can crank my Rush without any fear of reprisal, scorn, or withering laughter. As much as I do love Rush, I also would not want a secret touch from any of them. Our relationship is strictly musical.
2) “Atomic Power,” Uncle Tupelo. Remember how back in the early 90s it seemed like the fear of nuclear destruction was washed away with Boris Yeltsin’s Vodka of Freedom? That the only thing we had to fear was SKYNET sending a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to kill John Connor? Now, thanks to an unstable Pakistan and a Holocaust-denying Iranian cobag with a fear of neckties and the new Russia that looks a lot like the old Russia, the fear of mushroom clouds is hip again. You know the return of the “No Nukes” t-shirt can’t be far behind, which would likely foreshadow a Wham reunion...a far scarier fate than fallout.
3) “Madam Me,” Alkaline Trio. One of my workout favorites. It gives me the shot of adrenaline and anger I need to show that elliptical machine who’s boss, even if just for two minutes and twenty seconds. Bonus: video from a Halloween-night Trio concert featuring a ridiculous upside-down cross above the drummer. Takes me back to when I was a lad and drew pentagrams on my notebooks. I had no interest in worshiping the devil, I just thought pentagrams were badass. Amazingly, my parents and Catholic school teachers never said anything, but if I had been drawing penises, I'm sure I would have been shipped immediately into therapy.
4) “Blue Northern Lights,” Ollabelle. I think the pedal steel guitar is the Official Instrument of Relationships That Done Gone Bad. This song kicked in and I immediately wanted to go to the bar down the street, pull up a lonely stool, and sip a bitter beer while wondering how I let TLB get away. Even though she’s coming back on Monday. Sadly, only video I could find lacks the pedal steel, but you can feel it haunting the song.
5) “Kizza Me,” Big Star. Like someone took a great power pop song, cut it into bits, and pasted it back together. I mean that in a good way.
6) “Lost in Space,” Fountains of Wayne. Whereas this is a seamless piece of power pop, shaped out of one shiny sheet of rock. They sound like they’re covering a Cars song that you’ve never heard before. Again, I mean that in a good way.
7) “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around,” The Police. Apologies for another appearance from The Official Spokesman for Tantric Lovemaking, but old Sting is too good to keep locked out of sight behind bedroom doors. I didn’t go to the reunion concert a couple years ago because the only tickets I could get were $250 a pop, but I recently saw footage of them playing at some UK festival and wished I’d dug into the cookie jar to spring for the tickets. I know, that's crazy money to spend to see anyone unless they figured out a way to bring someone like Hendrix back from the grave and send him on tour. But there are few bands that could play an entire concert without playing a song I wish they skipped, and The Police are one of those bands—assuming they didn’t let Andy Summers sing “Mother.”
8) “Green Lantern,” The Mutton Birds. New Zealand jangle pop with the kind of pleasant, well-crafted sensibility that makes me like Nada Surf so much. Sadly no video, but worth seeking out.
9) “Swinging London,” The Magnetic Fields. I’ve had the rock band fantasy since I first started listening to music, and it always involves being in some sort of guitar-driven band, whether, metal, prog, punk, garage, bar, Rockford-based, etc. While I like synth-pop, I never visualized myself in a synth-pop band. Until I started listening to The Magnetic Fields a couple years ago. There’s so much deadpan humor and clever turns of phrase in their songs, it’s almost like a Friday 11 set to a Casio keyboard, only with the clever part added.
10) “Hard to Explain,” The Strokes. Super-fuzzy but still soft, like cashmere. I still don’t believe those drums are being played by a human.
11) “Rockin’ in the Free World (Live),” Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Two weeks in a row of live Neil awesomeness. He’s written more poignant songs, more touching songs, more creative songs, but this one is my favorite. Dare I say the most fist-pumping political song ever? (Dare, dare! as Cleavon Little would say in Blazing Saddles). Yes, most fist-pumping political song ever. The punks could rock louder and faster and snottier, and Bono could be more flag-waveier, but this just plows ahead with a steady beat, a lot of distortion, and lyrics that drip with anger while never moving into Screed County. Gets me every time with that’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool before that thunderhead chorus comes and shoots lightening into my ears. Bonus: all-star jam with Max Weinberg playing the drums like he was playing with a Ouija Board and got possessed by John Bonham.
Have a Happy Halloween!