Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hey, Ho for Halloween

When I think of Halloween, I think of four things:

1. The episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete when Little Pete wants to break the record for number of houses tricked or treated in one night but his friend, Nona, played by Michelle Trachtenberg who'd eventually appear on Buffy, won’t go because of The Pumpkin Eaters. They’re a group of hooligans who want to outlaw Halloween. But Big Pete gets sick of this and does his part to stop them.

I remember this episode because it’s one of the best episodes of Pete and Pete, and also because it’s one of the first (if not the first) episode to have Iggy Pop on it, who plays Nona’s father.

2. The cassette tape from the Bethlehem Public Library that my Dad and I would rent right before every All Hallows Eve, and play pretty much non-stop. On it was all the customary Halloween tracks: “The Blob,” “Monster Mash, “Purple People Eaters,” etc. It was a great way to get a child (and his father) ready for the night of ghouls and goblins.

3. The Treehouse of Horror specials on The Simpsons—especially “Time and Punishment” from Treehouse of Horror V. “Time” is the short about Homer going back and forth through time using a toaster.

Homer: Okay, don’t panic, remember the advice your father gave you on your wedding day
[remembers Abe with hair and a tuxedo]
Abe: If you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine.
Homer: Fine. As long as I stand perfectly still and don’t touch anything, I won’t destroy the future [a mosquito flies in] Stupid bug! You go squish now!

4. Last year, before going over to a friend’s place for a party (where I was dressed as JJ “Jake” Gittes), I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and Otis Redding came on. The song was “Trick or Treat.” Instead of the "classic" songs of Halloween, I now think of this one.

Five Best...Songs from Shot of Love

#5. "Heart of Mine"

Heart of mine so malicious and so full of guile,
Give you an inch and you'll take a mile.
Don't let yourself fall, Don't let yourself stumble.
If you can't do the time, don't do the crime
Heart of mine.

#4. "Shot of Love"

I don't need no alibi when I'm spending time with you.
I've heard all of them rumors and you have heard 'em too.
Don't show me no picture show or give me no book to read,
It don't satisfy the hurt inside nor the habit that it feeds.

#3. "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar"

East of the Jordan, hard as the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the page, Curtain risin' on a new age,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

#2. "Property of Jesus"

He's the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You've got a heart of stone

#1. "Every Grain of Sand"

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way, I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rock 'N' Roll Revisited, II

As appears in tomorrow's issue of The New School's newspaper, the New School Free Press:

It's tough to find creepy songs to play on Halloween. It's even harder to find ones that aren't just novelty hits with lyrics like, "I said, 'Mr. Purple People Eater, what's your line?'/He said, 'It's eatin' purple people and it sure is fine'." But toughest of all is finding a good greatest hits album.

Somehow, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' Voodoo Jive: The Best of Screamin' Jay Hawkins manages to accomplish each.

Hawkins was born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland, Ohio in 1929. He wanted to become an opera singer at the beginning of his career, but when that didn't pan out, he started singing the blues.

Before long, he was creating murky, swampy songs that, in concert, would be accompanied by on-stage props like snakes, shrunken heads and a cigarette smoking skull called Henry. Hawkins also made his roadies drop "worms" on the audience's heads (although the worms were really only rubber bands).

Although generally considered as a novelty act, Hawkins was actually quite talented. Try listening to "Alligator Wine," "Little Demon," "I Hear Voices" and, with all due respect to Nat King Cole, the best version of "Orange Colored Sky" out there, and you'll soon hear a fantastic mix of Paul Robeson and Fats Domino.

Outside of his eccentricities, Hawkins is sadly known mainly for his single, "I Put a Spell On You," which is included on Voodoo Jive. If you've ever seen Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, you know "Spell" because it's played nearly as many times as Bruce Springsteen has sung about cars in his career. The song has been covered or sampled by everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Notorious BIG.

The best track on the album is "Constipation Blues." If you can't guess what the song is about from the title, maybe this'll help: "Got a pain down inside/Won't be denied/Yeah, every time I try/I can't be satisfied." This song would be at the top of my list of "Songs about Poop."

If that's not enough, Hawkins, who passed away in 2000, is thought to have 75 children and has an album called Black Music for White People—a number and title that are scarier than any Halloween outfit us non-Screamin' people could think of.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Five Best...David Bowie Looks

#5. Labyrinth Bowie

#4. Let's Dance-era

#3. Early Bowie

#2. Thin White Duke

#1. Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane

Friday, October 26, 2007

Five Best...Neil Young Videos on YouTube

#5. "Cinnamon Girl" has never sounded better than it does here.

#4. Young and Crazy Horse going wild on a live performance of "Like a Hurricane."

#3. I have an attachment to "Crime in the City," and on this version, Young plays it rougher than on any other cut I've heard before--and it sounds great.

#2. "Heart of Gold" acoustic from 1971

#1. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on some terrible TV show performing a fantastic cut of "Down By The River." Such great vocals and guitar playing from Young and Stills. You'll thank me after watching this.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Here's something I know you'll like:

Rufus T. Firefly: Now, what is it that has four pairs of pants, lives in Philadelphia, and it never rains but it pours?
Chicolini: Atsa good one. I give you three guesses.
Rufus T. Firefly: Now let me see. Has four pair of pants, lives in Philadelphia... Is it male or female?
Chicolini: No, I no think so.
Rufus T. Firefly: Is he dead?
Chicolini: Who?
Rufus T. Firefly: I don't know. I give up.
Chicolini: I give up, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Frankie (Lee) and Albert (Judas Priest)

For my discussion section of Greil Marcus’ course, The Old, Weird America, we were assigned to change around one of the folk songs we’ve been talking about, “Omie Wise,” “Pretty Polly” or “Frankie and Albert.”

I picked “Frankie” and decided to change the lyrics (which can be found here) and put in Dylan references throughout. See if you guess how many are there. I should also add that this was for fun, and you should never take my sad attempt at lyrics and/or poetry seriously.

Frankie Lee was a good guy
Everybody knew
For Judas Priest’s got a new set of clothes
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

Judas Priest said, "I'm leaving you for a little bit
Don’t you bitch and moan
Don't wait for me
Only a-worry about me when I'm like a rolling stone
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

Frankie Lee went down along the cove
Got a bucket of rain and beer
Said to the bartender,
"Has my Judas Priest been here?"
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

"Well, I ain't goin' nowhere,
I ain't gonna change yer way of thinkin'
I saw Judas Priest an hour ago
With a girl named Johanna Lincoln
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

Frankie Lee went down to 4th Street
Lookin' up to the sign on the window high
He saw his Judas Priest there
Lovin' up Johanna
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

Frankie Lee pulled out a pistol
Pulled out a fourty-four
Gun went off like a million dollar bash
And Judas Priest was knockin' on Heaven's door
He was his man but the times they are a-changin’

Frankie Lee got down upon his knees
Took Judas Priest into his lap
Started to hug and kiss him
But there was no bringin' back his sad-eyed man from his long nap
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

"Gimme a shot of love
Throw me into a cell
I shot my Judas Priest down
And now I'm goin' to Hell."
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

Judge said to the jury,
"Plain as a ballad in D,
A man shot his lover down
Murder in the second degree."
He was his man but the times they are a-changin’

Frankie Lee went back to the cove
Calm as a man can be
Turned his dark eyes to Johanna,
And said, "I'm your lover now” and away they did flee.
He was his man but the times they are a-changin'

(For an extended look at the rowing trip I went on this past weekend, please go to Green, How I Want You Green--if for no other reason than to see me with an apple in my mouth, a la Chief Wiggum.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

55 Favorite...Beatles Songs

Back in July, I posted my 55 favorite Bob Dylan songs and now I'm doing the same thing for The Beatles. The list goes by the US albums, not ones released in the UK, because the track listing is quite different. Disagree with a choice? Please comment.

And I should mention again that these aren't necessarily The Beatles' greatest songs, just ones that mean the most to me.

Introducing…The Beatles (6)
“I Saw Her Standing There”
“Love Me Do”
“Please Please Me”
“Do You Want to Know a Secret?”
“There’s a Place”
“Twist and Shout”

Meet the Beatles! (4)
“I Want to Hold Your Hand”
“It Won’t Be Long”
“All My Loving”
“Hold Me Tight”

The Beatles’ Second Album
“You Really Got a Hold on Me”
“Please Mr. Postman”
“She Loves You”

A Hard Day’s Night (3)
“Tell Me Why”
“I’m Happy Just to Dance With You”
“If I Fell”

Something New
None (many of the tracks appear on A Hard Day’s Night)

Beatles ’65 (1)
“No Reply”

The Early Beatles (0)
None (all previously released tracks)

Beatles VI (1)
“Eight Days a Week”

Help! (2)
“Ticket to Ride”

Rubber Soul (8)
“I’ve Just Seen a Face”
“You Won’t See Me”
“The Word”
“It’s Only Love”
“I’m Looking Through You”
“In My Life”

Yesterday…And Today (4)
“I’m Only Sleeping”
“If I Needed Someone”
“We Can Work It Out”
“Day Tripper”

Revolver (2)
“Here, There and Everywhere”
“Got to Get You Into My Life”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
“Getting Better”
“A Day in the Life”

Magical Mystery Tour (2)
“Strawberry Fields Forever”
“All You Need is Love”

The Beatles (5)
“Back in the USSR”
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
“I Will”
“Helter Skelter”

Yellow Submarine (1)
“Hey Bulldog”

Abbey Road (3)
“Come Together”
“Oh! Darling”
“Abbey Road Medley” (Yeah, it’s kind of cheating but I’m including it as one song)

Let It Be (5)
“Two of Us”
“Let It Be”
“I’ve Got a Feeling”
“The Long and Winding Road”
“Get Back”

Singles (3)
“Paperback Writer”
“Hey Jude”
“The Ballad of John and Yoko”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Five Best...Cadillac Songs

This list is in honor of Bob Dylan's new commercial.

#5. "Cadillac Daddy (Mr. Highway Man)" by Howlin' Wolf

Look-it-here man, please check this oil
Look-it here man, please check this oil
Just a long Cadillac, bound to try out your soil

#4. “Big Black Cadillac Blues” by Lightin’ Hopkins

That Cadillac wouldn’t run for me,
And it won’t run for you.

#3. “Brand New Cadillac” by The Clash (written by Vince Taylor)

My baby rolled up in a brand new Cadillac,
Yes, she did.
My baby drove up in a brand new Cadillac,
She said, "Hey, come here, Daddy!"
"I ain't never coming back!"

#2. “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry

Pink in the mirror on top of the hill,
It's just like swallowin' up a medicine pill.
First thing I saw that Cadillac grille
Doin' a hundred and ten gallopin' over that hill.
Off hill curve, a downhill stretch,
Me and that Cadillac neck by neck.

#1. “Talkin’ World War III Blues” by Bob Dylan

Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
And there was nobody around,
I got into the driver's seat
And I drove 42nd Street
In my Cadillac.
Good car to drive after a war.

There are many great Cadillac songs that I didn't include on this list, but can be found here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Five Best...Quotes from The Simpsons' "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily"

[Rod shows Todd a headline: "Playtime Is Fun"]
Todd: [gives thumbs-up] Go with it!
Bart: Here you go, Todd: the city edition. [headline: "Extra Extra! Todd Smells"]
Rod: Bart, I don't know if this should be an "extra."
Todd: Is your source on this reliable?

Marge: Where are we going? Where are we going?
Homer: Ok, ok, don't panic. To find Flanders, I just have to think like Flanders! [thinking] I'm a big four-eyed lame-o, and I wear the same stupid sweater every day and--[aloud]The Springfield River!

Goodman: Whoa, would you look at this place?
Agent 2: [speaking into a tape recorder] Sink full of dirty dishes, trash not taken out, living room a mess, stacks of old newspapers--from twenty years ago!
[Abe is sleeping in front of the TV]
Announcer on TV: Get ready, gamblers, for the World Series of Dog Racing!
Abe: What the--?
Goodman: Hmm. A disheveled and malnourished man found sleeping in his own filth, seems confused and dehydrated.
Agent 2: Where's the baby?
Abe: Well that's her, ain't it? [Maggie drinks from Santa's Little Helper's water bowl] Kids love that water.
Agent 2: Oh my Lord! [Maggie has a "I'm a stupid baby" sign on]
Goodman: Stupid babies need the most attention.

Goodman: Okay, let's see if we've learned anything. I want you two to simulate a typical household problem. Go.
Cletus: [on Homer's knee] Uh, Pa, I cut my finger on the screen door again.
Homer: Why you cotton-pickin'--[strangles Cletus] [to himself] No, I gotta pass this class for my kids. [to Cletus] Son, let's stop the fussin' and the feudin'.
Cletus: I love you, Pa! [weeps]
Homer: I love you, Cletus! [weeps]

Homer: Kids! We're good parents now. Get your asses out here!
Marge: We've missed you so much. [they gasp at the "Gone Baptizin'" sign on Flanders' door] He's going to baptize our children?!?
Homer: Oh, no! In the eyes of God, they'll be Flanderseseses.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rowin' and Tumblin'

I’m not one for philosophizing but sometimes, it just happens.

Last weekend, I was at the bow of a boat finishing up a trip from Alpine in New Jersey to Pier 40 in Manhattan. It gets to be quite boring back there, and you’re left to your own thoughts a lot of the time—much like how I’ve been thinking a lot more while walking around the city because my iPod is broken, and I don’t have music to accompany me.

About 30-40 minutes after we went under the George Washington Bridge, passengers in the boat are treated to the sight of New York City in all its glory. In one view, you can see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, a scattering of hotels and other skyscrapers that, to paraphrase Wilco, seem to “scrape the sky.”

During a break from rowing, I sat back and just began to look at the city without any real concentration on any one particular thing. From the river, New York City seems almost quaint and not filled with the kind of hectic running around that its normally associated with.

And I was treated with this sight:

But then I began thinking about all the great music that has been recorded there: Bringing It All Back Home, The Ramones, Highway 61 Revisited, The Velvet Underground and Nico; and where the New York Dolls, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Duke Ellington, bebop, and the Talking Heads, among others, all either got their start or advanced their careers.

And the city didn’t seem so quaint anymore.

Here are some more pictures:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Five Best...Songs from The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

#5. “Incident on 57th Street”

Oh good night, it's alright Jane
Now let them black boys in to light the soul flame
We may find it out on the street tonight baby
Or we may walk until the daylight maybe

#4. “E Street Shuffle”

Sparks fly on E Street when the boy prophets walk it handsome and hot
All the little girls' souls grow weak when the man-child gives them a double shot
Them schoolboy pops pull out all the stops on a Friday night
The teenage tramps in skintight pants do the E Street dance and everything's all right

#3. “Kitty’s Back”

Now Cat knows his Kitty's been untrue
And that she left him for a city dude
But she's so soft, she's so blue
When he looks into her eyes
He just sits back and sighs
Ooh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?

#2. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”

My tires were slashed and I almost crashed but the Lord had mercy
My machine she's a dud out stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Hold on tight stay up all night `cause Rosie I'm comin' on strong
By the time we meet the morning light I will hold you in my arms

#1. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”

Oh Sandy the aurora is risin' behind us
The pier lights our carnival life on the water
Runnin' down the beach at night with my boss's daughter
Well he ain't my boss no more Sandy

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rock 'N' Roll Revisited I

As appears in tomorrow's issue of The New School's newspaper, the New School Free Press.

It's easy to bash Eric Clapton for many reasons (can we begin with "Tears In Heaven"?) but as much as I dislike his solo career, the bands that he's been in have released albums that are required listening for anyone interested in rock—especially Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

Recorded in August and September of 1970, Layla would be the only studio album Derek (Clapton) and the Dominos (Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Duane Allman) would release together as a band. But if you're only going to release a single album, it might as well be as great as this one.

Even 37 years later, Layla sounds fresh. That's due partially to the timeless quality of the blues genre that they're emulating, but also because of how good they sound. In songs like "Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad?" and "Have You Ever Loved a Women?" Clapton and Allman seemingly both try to outplay one another—a kind of, as Rolling Stone called it, "an electric, brotherly love."

Along with "Woman" and "Sad," a trend develops on the album of songs detailing lost love or a love that can never be. Other tracks like "Bell Bottom Blues," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and "It's Too Late" continue this trend, because Clapton had fallen in love with George Harrison's wife, Patti Boyd—an affection that even his heroin addiction at the time couldn't cure.

In "I Looked Away," which leads off the album, you can clearly hear Clapton's broken voice—an instrument that's sometimes more powerful than even the loudest and complex guitar solo.

Unlike most of Clapton's solo work (especially "My Father's Eyes"), this is an album that's brilliant and, more importantly, memorable from beginning to end. Great lyrics, impressive vocals and amazing guitar playing are tough to find on the same album, but on Layla, they're all there.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Like Radiohead, But...

As appears in Tuesday's issue of The New School's newspaper, the New School Free Press:

The release of a new Radiohead CD is the closest thing our generation has to understanding what our parents felt eagerly awaiting the next Beatles album. The expectations are sky high and Thom, Colin, Jonny, Ed and Phil always have treated listeners to something great— even a flawed great like Hail to the Thief. In the case of In Rainbows, though, I couldn't help but feel let down.

Buying the album through their website for $5.25 (explained in further detail in "WTF, Thom?" on Page 14), I eagerly awoke the morning the album came out, downloaded it and was almost instantly let down.

Is it unwise to expect to hear another Kid A or OK Computer? Yes. Is it unfair? No. By that, I don't mean to say I want to hear "Subterranean Homesick Alien 2007," but I’m at least expecting to hear something solid, not the background music feel of Rainbows.

The album opens with "15 Step" and the lyric, "How come I end up where I started?/How come I end up where I went wrong?" The sound of the song seems to be Radiohead’s attempt at releasing a track that'll work on the dance floor. In whatever context it was meant to be, it doesn't work.

The guitar work of Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien, normally providing a stellar complement to Thom's voice, doesn’t add much to the feel of the album—the sound is too synthetic, and on songs like "Bodysnatchers," the listener is left annoyed by the vocals.

The highlights of the album are the final two songs, "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" and "Videotape." To get to those, though, you have to listen to eight other tracks that don’t do much to further Radiohead’s reputation as one of the great bands of our time. Or, as Yorke sings on “Nude,” “Don’t get any big ideas/They’re not going to happen.”

Update: Radiohead sold 1.2 million copies of In Rainbows through the download program. Wow.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Five Best...Beatles References in Homer's Barbershop Quartet

In the Simpsons episode, "Homer's Barbershop Quartet," Homer tells the family about he time he, Apu, Skinner and Barney were in a successful barbershop group, and of the group's eventual downfall. Much of the story is based around the Beatles, and there's references to the Fab Four throughout the episode.

#5. After arriving in New York City, the Be Sharps hold a press conference just as The Beatles did upon coming to America:

Reporter: I have a question for Apu de Beaumarchais. Isn't it true that you're really an Indian?
Apu: By the many arms of Vishnu, I swear it is a lie.
Reporter: Barney! How did you join the group?
Barney: They found me on the men's room floor.
[Everyone laughs, but a tear rolls down Barney's cheek]
Reporter: Principal Skinner, you've been referred to as "the funny one." Is that reputation justified?
Skinner: [seriously] Yes. Yes, it is.

#4. This interaction:

Skinner: Only one question remains, gentlemen...what do we call ourselves?
Nigel: How about, "Handsome Homer Simpson Plus Three?"
Barney: I like it!
Apu: Wait, I do not.
Skinner: Er, um, we need a name that's witty at first, but that seems less funny each time you hear it.
Apu: How about, "The Be Sharps?"
[Everyone laughs loud at first, then less, then the laughter tapers off]
Skinner: Perfect!

#3. Just as Brian Epstein tells John Lennon to not let the fans know he's married, so to does the Be Sharps manager, Nigel, tell this to Homer:

Homer: Wait till I tell Marge!
Nigel: Oh, yes...Bouffant Betty. Well, I would prefer if we kept your marriage a secret. You see, a lot of women are going to want to have with you, and, er, we want them to think they can.
Homer: Well, if I explain it to Marge that way, I'm sure she'll understand
[scene change to the Simpson home]
Marge: [cries loudly]
Homer: C'mon, honey! It'll only be until we finish our tour of Sweden.

#2. One of the greatest lines in Simpsons history:

Lisa: I can't believe you're not still popular.
Bart: What'd you do? Screw up like the Beatles and say you were bigger than Jesus?
Homer: All the time! That was the title of our second album.

#1. "Where'd you get that brownie?!?" and "It's Been Done."

This is in the episode and has nothing to do with The Beatles, but it's hilarious:

Barney: David Crosby? You're my hero!
David: Oh, you like my music?
Barney: [Surprised] You're a musician?

(Different episode, but here's a clip about Marge's obsession with Ringo Starr)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Five Best...Overrated Albums That Are Still Pretty Good

#5. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols by The Sex Pistols

I love the album as much as the next person, but is it the greatest punk album ever as many lists would clam it to be? Um, I’ll take The Clash any day, thank you very much.

#4. Tommy by The Who

There are some many better Who albums (let’s start with The Who Sell Out) but much of the time is spent talking about this album. It’s good and interesting, but it’s no “A Quick One” or “Substitute.”

#3. The Joshua Tree by U2

I never miss the chance to make a good U2 joke (or at least cracking on Bono) because of their “epic” status, but when I listen to Tree, I can't help but think how good of a band they are. Also the fact that it has my name in the title and came out the year I was born helps too…

#2. Nevermind by Nirvana

Not their best album (I’d give that honor to Bleach), but the one that everyone talks about and listens to. Still, for any other band, it’d be the greatest thing they could ever hope to release—after all, it is a really good album.

#1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

I know the album is beyond influential and I do think some of the tracks are great (“A Day in the Life,” “Getting Better,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”), but there’s no way this is better than Rubber Soul.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

Five Best...Rock Operas

(Working off the Wikipedia page for "rock opera albums" because if you try hard enough, you can make nearly any album fall under the title of being a "rock opera.")

#10. Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution

#9. American Idiot by Green Day

#8. Frank's Wild Years by Tom Waits

#7. Greendale by Neil Young

#6. Quadrophenia by The Who

#5. Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

#4. Tommy by The Who

#3. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie

#2. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by The Kinks

#1. "A Quick One (While He's Away)" by The Who

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Five Best...Pickup Lines from Weird Al's "Wanna B Ur Lovr"

#5. Your eyes are even bluer
Than the water in my toilet

#4. Your face is real symmetrical
And your nostrils are so nice
I wish that I was cross-eyed, girl
So I could see you twice

#3. Say, has anyone ever told you
You've got Yugoslavian hands?
No, of course not, that would be stupid
Just forget I ever brought it up

#2. I wanna be your beef burrito
Am I making this perfectly clear?
I wanna be your love torpedo
Are you picking up the subtle innuendo here?

#1. Girl, you must be Jamaican
Because Jamaican me crazy

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Music

I always come into Wes Anderson films knowing that I’ll get a good plot, beautiful cinematography, excellent music and amazing music. In his past movies like Rushmore, we’ve gotten The Who’s “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” from Live at Leeds, “Here Comes My Baby” by Cat Stevens and the Faces’ “Ooh Ooh La; while in his other masterpiece, The Royal Tenenbaums, we hear “Police and Thieves” by The Clash and two of Bob Dylan’s more “interesting” songs, “Wigwam” and “Main Title Theme” from Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

All of those artists I had heard and was quite familiar with the songs before viewing the movie, so it’s always a nice surprise when something new and unexpected comes along. That was the case of Hotel Chevalier.

Last week, in SoHo, the Apple Store was having the world premiere of Chevalier, a 13-minute prequel to what was then the soon-to-be-released The Darjeeling Limited. After only hearing that they were doing this nearly two hours before the event was to begin, my friend, Kayley, and I hopped on the subway and were soon waiting on a huge line.

Shortly after 9 pm, they started letting the nearly two thousand waiting into the store and it wasn’t long before the store was totally packed. Kayley wasn’t able to see all the screen that was to be showing Chevalier, but due to my height, I could.

At about 9:15 pm, the lights dimmed and the mini-movie began. It tells the story of Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and an unnamed women (Natalie Portman) meeting in a hotel in France, with the rest of their life a mystery to us. It would, of course, make a lot more sense after viewing Darjeeling.

While Jack is waiting for Natalie Portman to arrive, he puts a song onto his iPod:

“You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there's diamonds and pearls in your hair…”

I had no idea who this song was by or when it had been released. When I returned home later that night, I would find that it’s by Peter Sarstedt, called “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” and released on the album of the same name.

I was instantly captured by the song—although I didn’t understand many of the French references. In fact, the only pop culture clue I really got from the song was when Sarstedt sings, “…Where you keep your Rolling Stone records.”

But it wasn’t really the words that captured me; it was the sense of urgency Sarstedt was singing them. Or, more correctly, the lack or urgency. It sounds like he’s outside of the girl’s apartment, attempting to woo her.

“I want to look inside your head.”

The song begins with a guitar and accordion overwhelming your hearing, and the singer comes in 15 seconds later. For the next 4 minutes or so, you’re left forgetting about the accordion and only think about the guitar when Sarstedt stops singing.

“Lovely” is featured prominently in Chevalier (and, as I would later find out, Darjeeling too) as it becomes more of a vocal point than the words coming out of the character’s mouths.

After the movie was finished, after talking about how much I love Natalie Portman, Kayley and I kept talking about the song. The next day, I found it on a blog and, between the two of us, we’ve listened to it at least 25 times—all in about a week or so.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever shared headphones while walking down the street was when two days ago, Kayley and I really wanted to listen to the song, so we put it on. And looked like idiots.

But that’s the great thing about a song that finds unexpectedly; you don’t care if you look like an idiot because you’re just so overwhelmed by this something you’ve discovered.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Five Best...Goodbye Songs

(As appears in today's issue of the New School Free Press)

#5. “Never Say Goodbye” by Bob Dylan and The Band

This is not a perfect Dylan love song like “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” because the lyrics are a tad corny (“Time is all I have to give/You can have it if you choose”), but the way he sings makes it sound like he really means it. And with Bobby, that can be a rare quality to come by.

#4. “Say Goodbye” by Dave Matthews Band

One of the best songs on one of DMB’s best album, Crash, “Say Goodbye” shows why they’re so popular amongst the 18-25 crowd: “So, here we are tonight, you and me together/The storm outside, the fire is bright/And in your eyes, I see what’s on my mind.”

#3. “Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch

If you watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll know why this is here. If you don’t, watch Buffy.

#2. “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson Five

Everyone knows “I Want You Back” and “ABC,” but it’s the lesser hits like “Goodbye” that make the best band from Gary, Indiana still worth a listen to over 30 years later

#1. “Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles

You say goodbye, I say hello...to a new column! It’ll appear in the next issue of the New School Free Press

(Don't worry, this only affects people who read Five Best in the newspaper. They'll be getting a new column, which I'll post here once it comes out.)