Earworms of the Week
“Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
I was listening to both of these records this week, and two thoughts struck me. The first was that both still sound ridiculously good, twenty-five years after their initial release. The second was that it seems absurd now to think that a band like R.E.M. or a band like Nirvana could ever be the biggest band in the world…. And yet both of them were. It would be easy to think that it could never happen again, and that the charts now are mostly just filled with anodyne, disposable crap. But really, was it all that different in 1991? Maybe in a garage somewhere, the next Kurt Cobain or Michael Stipe are sharpening their act and getting ready to take the world by storm. We can but hope. If Miley Cyrus and 1D are the best that we have to offer, then we certainly need it. They are extraordinary records though, aren’t they? (although, clearly Smells Like Teen Spirit now makes me think of that guy with a shovel)
“Calm Like a Bomb” – Rage Against the Machine
RATM have a facebook page that occasionally throws out posts asking for people to nominate their favourite Rage songs. Some songs are obviously prominent in any poll like that, but when I had a quick look down the nominations this week, this song jumped out at me. I think it’s an almost perfect distillation of everything that made RATM a great band: it’s furiously angry and the lyrics are spat out over a wicked guitar riff. Listening to David Cameron this week, this is also quite a lot like how I’ve felt. Well done to the Great British public for showing with every old pair of shoes and tents that they take to their local collection centre, whatever the newspapers and the rise of people like Nigel Farage may have us believe, at heart we are a compassionate people. FEEL THE FUNK BLAST!
“Tied up in Nottz” – Sleaford Mods
Partly because of the lyric: “Weetabix, England, fuckin' shredded wheat, Kellogg’s cunts”, but also because Sleaford Mods are a breath of fresh air with every foul-mouthed line. I can’t remember the last time I heard lyrics this vital. Besides, who hasn’t woken up with shit in their sock?
“America! Fuck Yeah” – Team America: World Police OST
In my head, this is definitely the American national anthem. Rather worryingly, if you read the comments on YouTube, there are plenty of people who seem to seriously believe that this should *actually* be the US anthem, because it sums up their attitude to their country and the rest of the world. I think maybe this explains Donald Trump.
“Satellite of Love” – Lou Reed
A great song rendered divine by David Bowie’s sublime backing vocals.
“No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” - Sufjan Stevens
An album born out of the grief from his mother’s passing, “Carrie and Lowell” is compelling listening. There’s an article on the Guardian today talking about how music can ease grief, using this album as an example, with the writer explaining how it helped him enormously after the death of his father. I’m lucky enough that I haven’t had to deal with grief like that yet in my life, but the final “fuck me, I’m falling apart” on this song is emotionally devastating.
“Livewire” - AC/DC
Not one of their better known songs, but it’s one of my favourites. I don’t imagine that AC/DC are a band that get accused of subtlety very often, but this song is definitely subtler than their usual standard. Not a very high bar, admittedly……
“White Winter Hymnal” - Fleet Foxes
One of my favourite records and I was delighted to see that it was included in the list of songs we’re singing for the Autumn season at choir, which starts next week. It’s a beautiful record and works well in a vocal harmony (as Pentatonix do here)…. Although the bass part of that is mostly, “Dum dum, dum dum, dum dum, dum dum. Ooooh oooooh ooooh ooooh. Dum dum, dum dum.” Such is the life of a bass. We seem to do alright on “Stay Another Day” and the Wombles Christmas song though, so it’s all good.
“You Can Call Me Al” - Paul Simon
Someone at work was going on today about how they absolutely hated this song, and thought it was stupid and boring. Apart from immediately stimulating a conversation about how this was clearly nonsense, everybody in our immediate vicinity then started spontaneously humming the song…. As evidence that a song isn’t stupid and boring goes, that’s not bad. What lyrics too:
A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!
Also, can you name a song with a more memorable bass solo?
I’ll leave that thought with you and wish you all a splendid weekend………..
(oh, and look at what a thoughtful, balanced review Iron Maiden get for their new album... in the Guardian of all places! It really must be the end times.)