Wednesday, November 15, 2017

On Repeat: Songs I Can’t Stop Playing, Both In The Then Times And the Now Times.

EDIT: I started writing this blog post two years ago, and I never bothered to finish it. Life got in the way, I guess? I recently met a really cool random person on the internet because my blog exists- and since I’m recently seaparated/divorced, I now have the “sitting and thinking” time to revisit. I decided to publish this old draft that I’d saved, even though it was unfinished, and add some new content. I had completed my rambling about one song here, but judging from the title I had saved, I must have meant to write about two more songs, clearly. I don’t remember what those were. So, in the interest of finishing the post, I wrote about two more songs that I’ve been spinning here in the now times.

THE SONG: the greatest form of communication ever invented by humanity. I would be willing to bet you, Sonny Jim, that the song was invented by some desperate caveman who just couldn't speak to his cave lady without a decent back beat. Something about the form of the song lets you say things that you would never be able to utter without that 3 chord security blanket to make it all OK. I have dedicated my life to the song, and in return the song has paid me possibly 2,000 dollars over the course of a 20 year "career" in "music". Maybe more, I'm no good at math and the money's all gone. Still, I love the song and the song loves me, and I doubt this not one second of any day. Writing, and hearing, and understanding good songs is what my life has been about, no matter what I'm forced to do for money. Or for a "living".

Everyone knows a few songs that for whatever reason, at whatever particular time, they could not stop listening to. In fact, you listen over and over until you can't stand the song anymore. Then you wait a few days and listen again. I do that kind of thing very frequently.

As a person who would prefer to get a root canal than drive a car, I take a lot of busses, and I walk a lot. This allows me to get closer to The Song. More time, you see. Maybe you listen to a lot of music in the car. Whatever. It's usually those times when you feel isolated and "in your own head" that a song can really speak to you.

There are certain songs which will ALWAYS speak to me, no matter how old I get, how many times I've heard it, or what's going on with me. The Replacements' "Bastards Of Young" is one. Redd Kross' "Stay Away From Downtown" is one. Elvis Presley's "Tryin' To Get To You" is one. The Manic Street Preachers' "Found That Soul" is one. Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" is another. For a music geek like me who has heard many, many, many songs, the list is endless.

Right now I want to showcase three songs that I have been listening to on repeat lately, just this past week. All newer artists, none of which are "classics"...yet.

The Bellfuries- Lovin' Arms (Hi Style Records)
These guys are RIDICULOUS. It's almost as if I dreamed up my perfect rockabilly band, and they came to life. But GASP--- "are they rockabilly??" Because, as you know, it's REALLY important to categorize music and have the right pants on for the genre you choose, regardless of artistic merit or creativity, because what IS that shit, anyway? Nobody knows, just words. What's really important is: are these Bellfuries guys gonna toe the rockabilly line and put their barre chords where their cuffed jeans are, or what? Thankfully, they don't give a shit about that. These guys see the connection, the great narrative, the big lineage of the SONG, which is always the same song, dressed up in different leather trousers...from Bill Haley to The Beatles to Slade to the Sex Pistols to Joy Division to Slayer to the Stray Cats to JD's all the same thing. The riff, the song, the interesting hair cut. and the Bellfuries have effortlessly (?) thrown their songs in that ring, and you know what? they hold up. Two brilliant albums ("Just Plain Lonesome" and "Palmyra") that were really different in tone and scope have led to this third album, "Workingman's Bellfuries", which is finally a crystallization of the semi- disparate ideas presented on the first two. This song I speak of, "Lovin' Arms", is the lead off single from the new album.

EDIT: Below is the new section that I just now scribbled.

THE TRIPWIRES- Nothing Of the Kind (House Frolic)
When I first came to Seattle in the much better days of three years ago, my walking and bussing journeys around this gorgeous city were all soundtracked by the Tripwires’ perfect album “Get Young”. The first band I ever saw in Seattle was the Tripwires. I’ve seen them probably five times now. Eventually, my band got to open for them and that was a proud moment for me.
I can’t understand why these four veteran Seattle legends aren’t more known in other parts of the country. “power pop” has become a better understood and known term in the international underground “rock community”, if there is such a thing. You’d think the songwriting of John Ramberg would be celebrated far and wide, and in a sense it is....but not to the extent that it should be. This song, like a lot of John’s best stuff (listen to “Maybe Now” by his old band the Model Rockets) can either be perceived/felt as melancholy or happy go lucky, depending on the mood of the listener. His lyrics are usually vague enough as to not interfere with this, but interesting enough to pull you in with very vivid imagery. The band’s playing is energetic and sparkling but never thrashes or crashes. While “power pop” is a catch all term that could catch this song as well, I can’t think of any other band that sounds remotely like the Tripwires. If anyone asks, I tell them “The Beatles meets Television”. This is a great, great song that will burrow it’s way into your psyche forever on first listen. I have listened to it probably a hundred times, and no matter what mood I’m in it seems to echo that feeling. I can’t think of many songs that do that, but I know that Lennon and McCartney wrote most of them.

MORRISSEY- Spent the Day In Bed (Etienne)
Opening with a strikingly fresh sounding electric piano riff, this is one of Morrissey’s best singles in ages. He still manages (along with his eternal songwriting partner Boz Boorer Of Polecats fame) to write instantly memorable tunes on every album he does, but I don’t know if he’s had a great single in awhile. Having said that, “Kiss Me A lot” from the last record just popped into my head and won’t leave. As a classic Moz single, STDIB will do nicely. His lyrical voice is strong as shit here, unfortunately the same cannot always be said of him these days, as he tends to over indulge in sloganeering to promote his sometimes questionable political beliefs. He does slip into that a little here with the lines “stop watching the news/because the news contrives to frighten you...”, and “spent the day in bed while the workers stay enslaved”, but these are well turned phrases that don’t distract from the melancholy message here. The message? Media over saturation, depressing and frightening world events, and personal isolation drive many of us straight to the couch (or bed in Mozzer’s case)after work each day, numbed my meds or alcohol and sore from the battery of the outside world. As usual Moz just wants you to see this in yourself, and take solace in the fact that most of us feel the same way in this modern world. No solutions or suggestions are given, other than “stop watching the news”. Typical Morrissey. Still, it’s a great song, and will no doubt turn into a shut-in anthem live.

WELL, that was that. Weird to have started writing something two years ago, only to forget all about it-and then finish it in the now times. Some weird shit. Some spooky business. Am I better off now than I was three years ago? Not as far as I can tell. But I soldier on, ya know? Speaking of, I’m going to try to update this blog more often. I have the half-finished rough draft of a book I was working on, and I think I will start publishing those chapters as blog posts. The book was meant to be about my investigations into wacky rock and roll novelty records of the 50’s and 60’s. Lots of talk about aliens, tattooed ladies, and people who just don’t like people. Check back often, or something.