I'm just back in from a swim, I've got some leffe blond on the go, and I'm thinking about opening a bottle of rioja to go with my sausages and mash. That's what Fridays should be about, isn't it? Well, perhaps not *all* Fridays, but it's nice to just kick back and relax once in a while, no?
This week's Guest Editor is making his record breaking third appearance in this slot, but he's a long-time friend of this blog, and I really couldn't think of a better person to be holding that particular record. Where's Norris McWhirter when you need him?
Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure..... prolific gentleman blogger, father and all-round nice chap.....
Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #67 - (Planet Me)
Earworms are a funny thing. Most of these songs have been sitting, at least partially, in my mental hard drive for ages. A fragment of a guitar solo, a keyboard riff, or even a line of a song have been floating randomly around my head for ages. There’s no particular reason for these choices or often they are neither that particular artists best work (or even near their best work), nor in some cases do I like or listen to them that much. But here we are.
1. THE STONE ROSES – “Breaking Into Heaven”
The first song on the much maligned and unfairly kicked “Second Coming”, “Breaking Into Heaven” is three bizarre songs rolled into one. The first part is a four minute ambient soundscape of running water, bird song, and ghostly guitar lines floating around a sleepy head. Sometimes when I try to get to sleep, I play songs I like back in my head and try to change the arrangements.. normally I get to sleep and forget all about it. It’s exactly this type of song, made of many different musical units that can be moved around, that works best. The particular section I am thinking of is in the songs final section between 9:45 and 10:27, a surprisingly non indulgent and melodic guitar solo (mostly on the left speaker for some strange reason)that seems to ascend to the heavens and absolutely drips in rhythmic wah wah. The song is a brilliantly aspiration hymn to suicide – “you can have it all, anytime you want it – the kingdoms all inside” – and, were it not so long, would be ideal funeral music. In the rare occasions I play air guitar to myself randomly whilst walking down the road, it is this section I take the lead on, mentally depressing pedals, pulling faces, gurning and rotating around as the music channels through me as I stand in front of a massive strobe light surrounded by smoke.
And then I open my eyes and realise that I’m in fact in my living room surrounded by toys. Life is cruel and beautiful.
2. METALLICA – “Master Of Puppets”
Sometimes you need a great big killer riff. Metallica have them in spades : tin openers, a friend used to call them. Raw, serrated edges of pure screaming-for-vengence METALLLLL! There is no reason this song is earworming me, aside from the fact that I don’t know all the lyrics, and occasionally my brain roars in my ear, in James Hetfield's metal tones “I’m the source of your self destruction! Chop your breakfast on the mirror! Dedicated to! Power! Killing You!”
This normally happens during meetings which is far from ideal. We all know this a drugs song, but if you take away every piece of music that was ever made by every musician whose ever taken drugs and you’d only have Cliff Richard left – and that will not do.
3. REGINA SPECKTOR – “On The Radio”
E has this album on in the car a lot, which means I hear it a lot. She has her music in the car, I have my music on the rest of the time. From the latter part of her most recent album ‘begin to hope’ (now, several months after release cheap in Asda, I believe), this is a simple, self-aware song that reads like a self-help manual, and is also the only song I know of to namecheck Guns N Roses at their most bloated – “We listened to November Rain twice, because the DJ fell asleep. The solo is quite long, but it’s a pretty song.”
4. BEN FOLDS – “Not The Same”
Under my sons incoherent instructions, I recently bought “Ben Folds Live” for E on her birthday. He insisted she know that he’d bought it for her and I had merely paid for it. The lyrics are brilliantly observed and funny snapshots of normal life that find the poetry in the absolutely mundane, matched with effective and memorable melodies. Being a collection of live recordings from a solo tour of one man and a piano, there’s no way that the complex and densely layered harmonies could be reproduced. Instead here Ben conducts the audience to sing all the accompanying parts of his songs(horns, multi-tracked vocals, drums) in wonderful, thousand strong harmony. It reminds me, as if I were there, right now, standing on the balcony with T at the Shepherds Bush Empire in late 2002, as the houselights went up and a thousand voices sang in unison and in tune . Listen to the song yourself and you’ll hear what I mean.All together now…
5. SYD BARRETT – “Love You”
“Honey Love You, Honey Little, Honey Bunny, Sunny morning, love you, more fun in the skyline baby, ice cream, excuse me, I seen you looking good the other evening. Oh you dig it. “ Syd ambles along over a jaunty backing from his former Pink Floyd bandmates and a deliciously off kilter piano solo. This is a great, strange, silly song from a man unfairly painted as a tragedy. The infectious catchy vocal, which sounds like a piano falling down the stairs in tune, is simply unforgettable and captures better than almost anything else, the sheer joyful abandon and unstoppable ambition of young love.
6. KILLERS – “Read My Mind” (PSB Stars Are Blazing Remix)
Las Vegas indie alt. stars go disco with their modern retelling of Bruce Springsteen fables about the good old days, the honest man, the restless heart, and the promised land. “I’m on the corner of main street…never really gave up on breaking out of this two star town,” whilst the sometimes stodgy rock backing is thrown away in favour of sweeping chords of electronica heaven, repetitive piano motifs, and occupy that strangely effective space where guitars meet state of the art drum machines to become dance music for people who don’t go to discos anymore. Add the garbled conversation of air traffic controllers, Neil Tenannt’s falsetto vocals, and great big synth stabs on top of a relentless disco beat and you have a classic of camp indie – a genre that there can never be enough of, by the way. All the while Brandon Flowers asks “Can you read my mind?” like some cheap end-of-the-pier psychic.
7. FLAMING LIPS – “Spongebob Squarepants And The Psychic Wall Of Energy”
Taken, rather obscurely, from the soundtrack to the Spongebob Squarepants movie, this is a rarely heard, and thus, unknown song from the finest Oklahoman export of all time. It’s a quirky, playful song that juxtaposes the life of a middle manager – “Spongebob, being a manager’s a tough job,I hope you’re picked to be the best Spongeboss they’ve had” – with cod-philosophy, “Maybe we’re just young and won’t know until we’re old, too young to free ourselves from this lonely fishbowl” – and the manliness of moustaches. Underpinning all this is a daft video with The F’Lips dressed as pirates YAAAAAAAAAAAR, and the bubbling sound of Spongebobs underwater home sitting underneath the entire song as an ever present oxygen. It also has a flute solo. Ever since I first heard it (on the band’s website), I’ve been looking for a copy and finally found one on the VOID DVD.
8. PRINCE – “Lemon Crush”
Prince, the purple wonder, is back in the headlines for playing 21 shows in London that seemed to sell out in the click of a finger. I’d quite like to see him, but, truth be told, I won’t, and instead have to live in the knowledge that a pile of CD’s is the nearest I will ever come to the perverse pint sized pop genius. This is taken from 1989’s ill-advised “Batman” soundtrack (which sounds just like every other Prince album, but without the crap bits) : the soundtrack album is, barring the sample laden hit-by-committee that is the bolted together “Batdance”, absolutely nothing to do with the film. “Lemon Crush” is the type of song Prince does in his sleep, a four minute pop thrill about sex, love, and esoteric consumer products that’s spotwelded to a irresistible groove, sprinkled with geetar, and bizarre 80’s synth stabs. Primarily it’s the section where he sings the chorus about thirty times in a row that’s stuck in my head ; “Everytime you kiss me – Lemon Crush! Everytime you do me – Such A Rush!”
It’s daft, it’s juvenile, and sex-obsessed rubbish that is, of course, magnificence.
9. PINK FLOYD – “Any Colour You Like” (live)
Sitting deep on side two of the gazillion selling “Dark Side of The Moon”, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is a extended four minute guitar/keyboard duet that surely has soundtracked approximately 33,000,000 stoned conversations about who would win between Batman and Spiderman. There’s again one small section from, a rotating squelchy riff (starting 1.11) that slowly evolves from fractured notations and explorations into full notes of a simple, escalating looping guitar drone (at approximately 1.26-1.36 on the live version which then collapses into free form explorations of the riff) that you can only find on various live versions of the song that has been earworming me for decades now. About two weeks I had the unforgettable experience of seeing the Floyd’s Roger Waters perform the whole of the “Dark Side” album at Earls Court in London whilst a massive rotating laser pyramid hung above my head and beamed out a rainbow of colours.
As far as gigs go it was probably the most impressive I have seen since The Flaming Lips. The instrumental descends into an organised chaos and a surprisingly not rubbish synth solo...
10. PIXIES – “Gigantic”
Because it’s a great, silly song that manages to combine innocence and absolutely filthy lust in one great joyful jump up and down racket. You can practically see skinny indie girls and children of all ages jumping around to this one in a field in Reading or a big room in Brixton shouting “Gigantic! Gigantic! Gigantic! Our Big! Big! Love!”. The live version I have been ear worming comes from the “Acoustic Live In Newport” DVD, and features the band, Walton-style, talking to each other. “Goodnight Kim! Goodnight Joe! Goodnight Frank! Goodnight Dave!”.It’s quite sweet and a nice way to end a show.
Spider-Man would win mate. Easy. I know Batman has taken down Superman before, but the boy scout makes himself an easy target by always fighting fair. Sucker. Spidey is smarter than that. Bruce Wayne would be swinging from a lamppost before he knew what had hit him.
Oh, and thanks for your earworms too! Completely coincidentally, I was listening to "Master of Puppets" whilst sat at my desk in the office this afternoon. My main reason for picking it up was to listen to "Orion" after hearing Rodrigo Y Gabriela do it last night, but it's a damn fine album all round.
As for playing air guitar -- you've got to get yourself "Guitar Hero". But you know that already, right?
A splendid list.
There may not be any earworms for the next couple of weeks as I'll be in Vienna.....
The Podcast is here.
[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C]
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