Playlist #100: Full Album Extravaganza!

Hello and happy Monday, folks! Today is not only the 100th playlist, but also my birthday! As a result, I’m changing things up a little. Instead of giving you a playlist of ten songs, it’s a playlist of ten albums, my (current) ten favorite albums of all time. Well, eleven albums. I can’t just play it straight. Let’s go:

  1. The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten: One of my absolute favorite bands from the past fifteen or so years, the Gaslight Anthem are always energetic and heartfelt and wear their Bruce Springsteen obsessions on their sleeves. While The ’59 Sound and American Slang are both brilliant, near-perfect albums as well, my favorite songs are all on Handwritten: “Howl,” “Biloxi Parish,” “Here Comes My Man,” “Too Much Blood,” and “Desire” are all-time greats, and the rest of the album doesn’t miss a shot.
  2. Tom Petty, Wildflowers: My love for this solo Petty outing is already well-documented, but I’d like to reiterate here that it’s still one of the most compelling, thoughtful albums ever recorded. I’ve only come to appreciate it more as I’ve grown older.
  3. The Beatles, Rubber Soul: The transitional albums for the Beatles – Rubber Soul and Revolver – have always been my favorites. They’re still putting out great pop music, but they’re experimenting with it more, trying new things, adding new instruments into the mix. It’s endlessly fascinating to listen to, and the songcraft and care they put into each song only grows on me year after year.
  4. Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon: I only recently gushed about this best of Pink Floyd’s albums, but it bears repeating: this is one of the best albums of that or any other decade, filled with daring experiments, soaring guitars, and the best damn wordless vocals ever delivered.
  5. Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself: It’s hard to pick a single Andrew Bird album as my favorite, as every one of his albums appears as a concise, well-mannered cosmos in and of itself, filled with interesting arrangements and beautiful violin. It was really down to this one or Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, and honestly the only thing that made Break It Yourself top Things Are Really Great Here is the inclusion of “Orpheo Looked Back.”
  6. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: The first and best of the Boss’s stripped down, acoustic-based albums. It features some serious subject matter and excellent songwriting, including some of my favorite Springsteen songs to play on guitar (including “Atlantic City” and “Open All Night”). It’s great to put on late at night with headphones.
  7. Bob Dylan, Love And Theft: You knew Dylan had to appear on this list. But did you suspect this particular album? Probably not. Maybe Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61 Revisited, or Blood on the Tracks, right? And while those are all amazing albums (and among my favorites, don’t get it twisted), my favorite is still Love and Theft. It’s Bob Dylan after he’s stopped caring what other people think about his music (which, admittedly, happened sometime around 1967, but I digress). He’s just making the music he enjoys, and damn does it sound good. His backing band is impeccable, his lyrics are sharp and incisive, and he even throws in a knock-knock joke.
  8. Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience: This one was a little out of left field for me. I didn’t listen to the Gin Blossoms back when they were popular in the ’90s. I was too busy listening to Pearl Jam and Pink Floyd. I totally missed their effective, heartfelt M.O.R. alternative rock. They just write good songs, songs that hold up even thirty years later (damn, New Miserable Experience came out 31 years ago. I’m dust). There’s not a bad song on this album (“Cheatin'” aside), and it’s one that I’ll throw on in the background for just about anything. It’s also great driving music.
  9. Wilco, A Ghost Is Born: While Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the one that received all the critical acclaim and success, and rightly so, Ghost is still my favorite. From the noisy opener “At Least That’s What You Said” to closer “The Late Greats,” it’s just a series of well-written, well-executed songs, covering the American condition as it was in the early 2000s.
  10. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood: Best Neko Case album, hands down. Sure, it’s got the megahit “Hold On Hold On” on it, but the rest of the album slaps just as hard. It’s moody and atmospheric and wistful all at once, full of sadness and hope and anger and so much more than I can ever even begin to describe here. If you haven’t listened to it, just go listen to it. You can thank me later.
  11. The National, High Violet: I knew I wanted to include an album from The National on the list, and it was down to between this one and Boxer. High Violet just barely edges Boxer out, though. From the opening strains of “Terrible Love” all the way through to closer “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” there is not a single bad song on this album. It is just . . . perfect. No notes. Personal favorites include “Sorrow,” “Anyone’s Ghost,” and “Bloodbuzz, Ohio.” And the entire rest of the album, honestly. It’s wall to wall awesome.

Everything Old Is New Again: Revisiting The Deep Fork Sessions

Long ago, back in the far-flung year of 2011, before Covid and President Emoluments Clause, my brother and I had a dream: we were gonna be rock stars.

Okay, maybe not rock stars. Maybe folk heroes. That would be good. Or maybe even just halfway decent musicians. The bar was low, is what I’m saying.

We’d recorded a whole album several years earlier, you see. Delusions of Grandeur, we called it (we’ve always seen clearer than most when it comes to our own dreams, I guess). It was . . . a thing. It’s not good. There are maybe a dozen copies of it out there in the world. It’s not rarest Cross-Eyed Yeti artifact, though. There are two others that defeat it: our 2011 follow-up, The Deep Fork Sessions, and our initial demo/live show at the Mammoth Hot Springs Employee Pub cassette tape. Neither of those have ever seen the light of day, except for my brother and I having copies of the former and me holding the only copy of the latter. As far as I’m concerned, that tape gets buried with me so no one ever has to listen to our rendition of “Love is a Rose.”

But last night, after I finished recording an old song for my current album (the song is called “At The Finish Line,” while the album is tentatively titled Middle Aged Heartthrob, because, c’mon, I’m a hunk) and sent it over to my brother, he reminded me that we’d done a recording of this one before.

It had “my best guitar riff ever!” he texted.

I was confused. I hadn’t remembered a Yeti version of this one. I went digging, and came up with The Deep Fork Sessions.

Now, there are at least two completely different versions of this album out there. I somehow ended up with the one that has the messed up mandolin on “I Don’t Need You.” I’ve heard the actual, correct version of that one at my brother’s house, but it’s only saved on one iPod that he’s sort of afraid to plug into his computer, lest it wipe the iPod’s memory and leave us with nothing.

Anyway, going back through this old album is a little bit cringe-y. I’m sure most artists feel that way about their early work. I especially do, since I couldn’t really sing at all back then. We’re also not really particularly happy with how any of the drums sound, but we were working with what we had and what we had was minimal at best. The guitars all sound pretty good, though, and my brother’s burgeoning obsession with the organ is present. Let’s dive in.

The album opens with “Subterranean Dylan,” one of the first songs we ever wrote (and also the song that opened Delusions of Grandeur. If we ever release a third album, it’ll probably be the opener there, too). It’s actually pretty great, I think. The organ part fits well into the song, and my brother blows a little harmonica in between verses for fun. It swings a bit. My vocal delivery isn’t absolutely terrible.

Next up comes “Substance Abuse,” one of our early rockers written after a summer at Yellowstone National Park. There are lots of references to our time in Yellowstone in that one, from the out-of-tune toothbrush to Lester to “one-eyed crossbow.” The claps in this one crack me up. My singing is a little strangled in this one. I could easily do this song better now.

We tried really hard to turn “Nothing Matters” into a CCR song. I sang it way too high in my register. And nasally. But the guitars are fairly crunchy, considering our technological limitations. Drums, while still sound artificial, fit pretty well. And what I tend to think of as the guitar riff for this one started out as an organ riff. Who knew?

“Never Knew Joy” was originally a slow, quiet ballad, but of course Clyde had to up the tempo and add in some jaunty harmonica and electric guitar. I kinda dig it, though. I tend to write a lot of sad bastard songs, and they’re really only palatable once he kicks them into a higher gear.

Clyde’s intro for this version of “I Don’t Need You” was brilliant. An acoustic guitar/banjo/mandolin collaboration with our dad’s Cousin David, it sounds . . . well, professional. Like something you could hear on a real record, maybe. Then we goof around and I sing about how I’m totally fine with the breakup, no really, it doesn’t bother me at all. And Lord, did I need a pop filter for this one.

“Rational Thoughts On A Saturday Night” is another of my sad bastard songs. One I never really figured out how to sing well, I can admit. The acoustic guitar and banjo arrangement Clyde uses on this version sounds great, and he’s been telling me for years how he’s been working up a piano-based version that – from what I’ve heard – should end up amazing.

Another of our rockers, “The Twelve Lines That Didn’t Work” sounds different with so much banjo in it. Clyde’s latest version is much slower and piano-based (as with so much of his more recent output). At least we found a key that was within my vocal range. In hindsight, I do feel kinda awful for how gaslighty the lyrics to this song sound now.

I still like “Here In My Grave.” He managed to work an accordion into it. An accordion! I love it. This was a song I wrote completely by myself, but Clyde seemed to pick up exactly what I was putting down with it. Honestly, if we were to rerecord this one, I don’t know that we’d be able to do it better, just cleaner and with slightly-improved production.

If we were trying for CCR with “Nothing Matters,” that goes doubly for “Ain’t Crooked,” which here holds the parenthetical additive of “Swamp Boogie.” I tried to affect a bit of John Fogerty growl, but it does not work. Nope. I think the overall song is just too fast for the lyrics. That is a common problem with the two of us.

“Clyde’s Blues” is our theme song, if ever there was one. The song most fully formed from its very inception. I tried to affect a bluesy growl for this one, to varying degrees of success. It’s still fun, though I prefer the more sped up version we usually played.

Clif next offered up his take on “Complete Control,” which does exist out there on my Creature Comforts album. While he really gets his Eric Burden and the Animals on in this one with that organ, he plays the chords in the chorus in the wrong order, something that always threw me off and annoyed me. “They still sound fine,” he said. “They actually work better in this order.” Well, opinions still vary on that point, my brother.

“The Misfit Waltz” was a weird one. Not one I sang very well, I don’t think. The lyrics needed a second pass. I like Clyde’s music for it, though, with the acoustic and accordion taking the fore. Gives it a real off-kilter vibe that I dig.

Now we come to “At The Finish Line,” with Clyde’s “best guitar riff ever.” It is a pretty damn good riff. I sing it with conviction and don’t screw it up too bad, which is nice. Clyde shorted me on the chorus by a few measures, but he does that.

“As Shadows Lengthen” is another I’ve been working on for the current album. Here, it gets a laidback country vibe and lap steel. I like the lap steel. I like that we were reaching out well beyond our feeble grasp and taking a chance with something. I feel the newest version of the song could use some lap steel, too.

At some point, I want to do a new version of “Figure Something Out.” Clyde has a habit of giving all of his instrumentals titles, and then I tend to base the lyrics around that title. That’s what happened here. I dig the guitar part he came up with for this one, and I think with a little effort I could have the lyrics in good shape and maybe even be able to sing it.

Clyde was never happy with “The Closer (Here In Paradise),” in large part because it features a structural transition at two parts. It starts as a softly-picked acoustic ditty about being at the seaside, then transitions into an acoustic strummed ditty about being at the seaside, before transitioning back to the soft picking. That second round of soft picking never ends up sounding like the first, and is in fact done in a completely different style and tempo. We could probably do this one better now.

Amusingly, “The Closer” is not the final song on the album. That honor belongs to “The Folk Singers Blues,” one of my absolute favorite Yeti tunes. It’s built around a great guitar riff and features some of my best early lyrics, if I do say so myself. I think I’ve convinced Clyde to re-record this one but featuring the banjo in the place of the guitar. I think it’ll sound keen.

And that’s it. That’s The Deep Fork Sessions, the completed but never released second Cross-Eyed Yeti album. It features album artwork by Adam Askins, who did the cover for Delusions of Grandeur as well. Corner me somewhere sometime and I might be convinced to play you a track or two off it, but only if you’ve been a horrible human being and want to suffer some divine punishment.

Playlist #99: Elvis Has Left the Building…

No, don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind and finally made an all-Elvis playlist. No, this is a playlist all about rooms and buildings. It goes rather like this:

  1. John Hartford, “In Tall Buildings”: A rumination on giving up the wild, carefree days of youth to go work in tall buildings downtown. It’s sad and thoughtful and a little bit rueful.
  2. Counting Crows, “Perfect Blue Buildings”: “I wanna get me a little oblivion,” Adam Duritz sings. I think we could all use a bit of oblivion. Or at least a nice nap in a perfect blue building.
  3. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, “Our House”: Why are the two cats out in the yard? They’ll decimate the bird population! Is that what you want, guys? Huh?
  4. The Wallflowers, “I Am A Building”: Being the son of Bob Dylan must be hard. I’m pretty sure that’s why Jakob Dylan tried being a building for a while in the early ’00s.
  5. The Commodores, “Brick House”: She is mighty mighty.
  6. XTC, “No Thugs In Our House”: This seems like a reasonable thing to expect. Little Graham better be on his best damn behavior, that’s all I’m saying.
  7. The White Stripes, “Hotel Yorba”: Did you know you can still write a song that’s just G, C, and D? Jack White knows!
  8. Traveling Wilburys, “Poor House”: If there’s a song that’s more fun to play in a pickin’ circle, I don’t know it.
  9. Tom Petty, “The Apartment Song”: I, too, used to live in a two-room apartment where the neighbors were knocking on my walls. Tom Petty is the Everyman.
  10. Bruce Springsteen, “Mansion On A Hill”: However, I never lived in a mansion, hill-based or otherwise. So much for this man of the people!

Tune in next week, when I’ll do something completely different for Playlist #100!

Playlist #98: Commercial Break

Seems like everyone is cashing in these days, selling their soul to the highest bidder, trading their art for cash. I’m not against that, I just want my cut of the action. Here’s ten songs I’ve heard in commercials.

  1. Bob Seger, “Like A Rock”: Chevy trucks used this as their slogan for many years, as I recall. Here’s a compilation of their commercials featuring the song.
  2. Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”: Hey, counterculture hero and guitar god Jimi Hendrix, how does it feel to be shilling for Acura these days? Seems legit, right?
  3. Blur, “Song 2”: Known more colloquially as the “Woo-HOO!” song, it featured quite prominently in an Intel commercial back in the day. I wonder if they had to change any of the lyrics?
  4. Bob Dylan, “Love Sick”: Man, if latter-day Dylan doesn’t make you wanna go out and buy skimpy lingerie, I don’t know what will. Maybe that’s Victoria’s secret?
  5. The Black Keys, “Howlin’ For You”: Why are so many of these for car commercials? Does no one else sell anything anymore?
  6. Yael Naim, “New Soul”: Featured in an Apple campaign for their then-new MacBook Air. It’s a good song. Apple picks good songs for their commercials, which should probably surprise no one.
  7. Tom Cochrane, “Life Is A Highway”: Okay, this one actually makes sense in a car commercial. Maybe not a Hyundai commercial from 95, but still…
  8. Hem, “The Part Where You Let Go”: I guess this one also kinda makes sense? It’s for an insurance commercial, so who even knows anymore.
  9. Sarah McLachlan, “Angel”: ASPCA, baby! You know I had to include this one and make everyone cry and go adopt a thousand puppies.
  10. Violent Femmes, “Blister In The Sun”: This one is actually kinda…painful? Violent Femmes, helping shill for an HP laptop, of all things? I’m all for selling out, but at least sell out to a decent company with a solid product, man.
  11. Neil Young, “Rockin’ In The Free World”: Bonus! This song hasn’t been used in a commercial (at least, not to my knowledge), but the original music video for it was so obviously a send-up of commercial culture and the way we are all always shilling for someone somewhere that I had to include it.

Playlist #97: Songs About Songs

For years, I’ve wanted to gather enough songs to put together a playlist of songs about writing/creating/singing songs. And finally, here we are.

  1. Wilco, “Someone Else’s Song”: Sometimes we sing covers. Sometimes our own songs. Who knows.
  2. Elton John, “Your Song”: “But the sun’s been quite nice while I wrote this song” is just a nice sentiment and one that I, at least, could do with more of.
  3. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Wrote A Song For Everyone”: The song this whole list was built around! I have long loved this particular song and I especially appreciate the sentiment of it.
  4. Ben Folds, “One Down”: He was apparently once a professional songwriter, and they expected you to write 3.6 songs per week.
  5. Jason Isbell, “Songs That she Sang In The Shower”: Don’t we all sing in the shower? Aren’t the acoustics in there great?
  6. John Fullbright, “Write A Song”: It’s good advice. You should write a song. All of you. Like, right now.
  7. Dan Auerbach, “Waiting On A Song”: Sometimes songs just sorta come to you, fully formed and ready to go. Other times, you have to sit around and wait for them to arrive. And damn, do they take their sweet time.
  8. Jackson Browne, “Sing My Songs To Me”: Is it possibly the greatest display of ego to want to hear other people sing your own songs? Maybe, but I also have to imagine it’s the greatest honor you can receive as a songwriter: hearing someone else give their interpretation of your words and music.
  9. Paul McCartney, “The Song We Were Singing”: “And it always came back to the song we were singing/At any particular time,” is just one of the best lines you could ever hope to write. It’s so simple, but so evocative.
  10. Panic! At The Disco, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”: Do I know much of anything about PATD? No. No, I do not. Do I care when the song title fits into the playlist theme this well? Again, no. No, I do not.

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at 50

Fifty years ago today, Pink Floyd released an absolute masterpiece. There’s no other way to describe Dark Side of the Moon. Moody and abstract, creative and dense, it’s unlike any other record I’ve ever heard. I can’t remember the first time I heard a song off Dark Side – they’ve just always been around, in the air, like oxygen – but I remember when I first listened through the whole album in one sitting. I was a freshman in high school. Some friends of mine from the church youth group, the Souders twins, had gotten me into Pink Floyd just the summer before high school started. And I got Dark Side for my birthday. As I sat on my bed, the CD liner notes opened up before me, I heard the first strains of “Speak To Me/Breathe.” That heartbeat. So simple. So evocative. And that sudden swell of sound, the noise and chaos, the swirling voices emerging and submerging again and again in the tidal wave of music…its fair to say that album blew my tiny mind.

Dark Side of the Moon is, in many ways, the ultimate exploration of the key themes and concepts of Floyd’s music. Alienation, loneliness, the oppressive atmosphere of society, and mental illness all come up in the lyrics.

Dark Side is one of the first albums I ever listened to where I didn’t feel like there was a single song I could skip. While I may not necessarily enjoy “On The Run,” I understand its purpose in the flow of the album, transitioning us into the epic “Time,” with its cacophony of bells and whistles as the clocks all strike the hour and drummer Nick Mason’s tick-tock inspired drum introduces the song proper.

The songs that always impressed me the most on this album are the same ones that always impress everyone. “Time,” with its earthy, mundane realizations that life will pass you by while you’re busy waiting for it to start and its soaring David Gilmour guitar solos, remains a favorite. “Money,” with its unusual time signature and cash register sound effects, could have become a bumbling, goofy track, but manages to retain a sinister feel throughout its runtime. “Us And Them,” with its wartime metaphor and that great sax solo. The closers, “Brain Damage” shifting seamlessly into “Eclipse,” those triumphant keyboard and drum flourishes as “Eclipse starts up,” and the roar fading away to reveal what we started the album with: the heartbeat under it all.

Yeah, all of those songs are great. But, for my money, the best of the bunch is “The Great Gig In The Sky.” Vocalist Clare Torry understood the damn assignment on this one. Her wordless howls of anguish, longing, and fear convey the awesome majesty of the song. No words are needed. Keyboardist Richard Wright proved his metal in this song. It’s simply full of great musicians playing with everything they’ve got, pushing the limits of pop songcraft well past the breaking point.

Dark Side of the Moon is a cultural touchpoint, even 50 years later. Every song on the album is fantastic. Every instrumental choice, every note sung, was carefully chosen for maximum impact. I’m honestly more than a little envious of people who get to hear this album for the first time with fresh ears, especially songs like “The Great Gig In The Sky.” If Pink Floyd had broken up after this album, never given us Wish You Were Here or The Wall, they’d still be considered one of the greatest bands of the 70s. Of all time, really. This album, more than anything else, is what solidified Floyd as a musical force. And all these years later, it still holds up.

Playlist #96

Gooooood morning, folks! Here’s this week’s playlist, for your listening pleasure.

  1. Andrew Bird, “Capital Crimes”: Is there even such a thing as a bad Andrew Bird song? I’ve yet to hear one.
  2. Pearl Jam, “Leaving Here”: The menfolk have done something bad, and the women aren’t having it anymore. They are out.
  3. The National, “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”: A song by The National with a guitar solo in it is a rare thing indeed, and hearing the solo in this song only makes me wish they did more guitar solos.
  4. Glen Phillips, “Revelator”: Who doesn’t love a Gillian Welch cover? No one.
  5. David Bowie, “The Next Day”: David Bowie at his late-career David Bowie-est.
  6. Jeremy Messersmith, “Ghost”: The craft and writing on this whole album (2014’s Heart Murmurs) is just phenomenal. This song is a standout even amongst that.
  7. Wilco, “Jesus, Etc.”: Speaking of albums made of standout tracks, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot remains one of my top ten favorite albums of all time.
  8. The Beatles, “For No One”: Revolver might be in that top ten, too.
  9. The Gaslight Anthem, “Biloxi Parish”: I think Handwritten is probably my favorite album by the Gaslight Anthem, though it’s a close race with the 59 Sound and American Slang.
  10. Jesse Malin, “You Know It’s Dark When Atheists Start To Pray”: I included this one primarily for the title, because that’s a pretty great title.

Playlist #95

Happy Monday Tuesday, everyone! I didn’t post yesterday because I was celebrating our President the way God intended: looking at mattress sales! Here’s a playlist for y’all.

  1. The Rolling Stones, “Flip The Switch”: Even on their latter-day albums (this one’s from back in 97, but that still feels very latter-day for the Stones), they could still be relied on to rip the doors off the joint on at least one song.
  2. Sigur Rós, “Untitled #3 (Samskeyti)”: I’d never listened to these guys before this weekend. They’re Icelandic, sing in a made-up language to avoid creating a single interpretation of the songs, and everything is very cosmic, very ethereal, rather ambient. I kinda dig it.
  3. Laser The Boy, “Overthrow Your Masters”: A song about being yourself and kicking ass in D&D. I can dig it.
  4. Echosmith, “Cool Kids”: I heard it while I was in a store the other day and I dug it.
  5. Talking Heads, “And She Was”: If you can’t start your work week with the Talking Heads, then what is the point of anything?
  6. Steve Earle, “The Saint Of Lost Causes”: Steve Earle covering one of his late son’s songs. Very excellent, and brings a tear to one’s eye.
  7. Rhiannon Giddens & Iron & Wine, “Forever Young”: A Bob Dylan cover? On a playlist put together by me? Who would’ve thought such a thing could happen?!
  8. REM, “Sweetness Follows”: Probably one of my absolute favorite REM songs. It’s just so damn good.
  9. Old Crow Medicine Show, “O Cumberland River”: Did you know they did songs other than “Wagon Wheel?” Well, now you do!
  10. Nirvana, “All Apologies (Home Demo)”: When they talk about “raw” recordings, this is the sort of thing they’re talking about. Messily played, terrible audio quality, but that vocal is already perfect. Just perfect.

Playlist #94: Love Is In The Air

Happy Monday and happy early Valentine’s Day! Let’s celebrate by being martyred to Christ, just for fun, and maybe listening to this list of songs while we do that.

  1. Aaron Neville, “Everybody Plays The Fool”: If this song doesn’t get your significant other in the mood for a little somethin’ somethin’, check their pulse. They might be dead.
  2. ABBA, “Take A Chance On Me”: So upbeat. How could you not take a chance on one of these Swedish sirens?
  3. ZZ Top, “Gimme All Your Lovin'”: The power of the beards compels you. And the blooze.
  4. Young Dubliners, “Last House On The Street”: I heard my uncle’s band, The Regular Joes, play this one throughout college and grad school. It’s still an endearing, sweet little song.
  5. Frank Turner, “The Way I Tend To Be”: True love takes you as you are and helps you want to be better.
  6. David Gray, “You’re The World To Me”: There’s something about the heavy-handed strumming at the end of the chorus on this one that just digs into my brain and won’t go away.
  7. The Magnetic Fields, “Epitaph For My Love”: I think this is probably my wife’s favorite song by the Magnetic Fields, who are one of her favorite bands. It’s a little dour.
  8. Ricky Nelson, “Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart)”: CCR did a cover of this song
  9. Van Morrison, “I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative)”:
  10. Old 97s, “Valentine”:

Playlist #93 – Charlie Loves the ’70s

Happy Monday morning, folks! Now, around here, we have a saying: “classic rock” is music from the 1970s. No, I didn’t make this saying up, it’s just a true fact of life. All of you folks who have added Guns ‘n’ Roses and Nirvana to the “classic rock canon” are just wrong. Those two bands are great (well, Nirvana is), but they belong to other genres. If we just go around expanding our definition of classic rock, what’s next? Nickelback counting as classic rock? I don’t think so.

This isn’t to say that some of those now-classic bands from the ’70s weren’t complete meatheads. They most definitely were. And the arena-rock stylings of a lot of ’70s acts just proves what I’ve also always said: the ’70s were bombastic and occasionally kind of awesome. Cocaine must be a helluva drug.

Anyway, here’s ten ’70s rock anthems for your listening pleasure. This list could have been ten times longer and still not have fully encompassed the meatheadedness of the ’70s. There’s no KISS on this list, for instance. I’m putting this one up on Spotify, where it will end up significantly longer, I’m sure. There’s still lots of ’70s meathead out there.

  1. Aerosmith, “Toys In The Attic”: The boys from Boston are pretty quintessential ’70s sleaze; it oozes out of every word Steven Tyler sings.
  2. Alice Cooper, “School’s Out”: The guy your parents’ parents were scared of, sorta the way your parents were afraid of Marilyn Manson (and probably for similar reasons).
  3. Bad Company, “Rock & Roll Fantasy”: When I think of bombastic, Bad Company is actually one of the first bands that comes to mind. Not because their songs are over the top glam or anything; no, far from it. This is straight-ahead 4/4 rock and roll, but it comes with all the trimmings and trappings of fame, that rock and roll fantasy of the title. What makes this band over the top is the earnestness with which Paul Rodgers sings every song. It comes off as goofy as hell to me.
  4. Foghat, “Slow Ride”: “Slow ride! Ban-nan-na-na, nan-na-na, take it easy!” Try not to sing along, especially with the guitar riff. You can’t.
  5. Deep Purple, “Smoke On The Water”: Speaking of guitar riffs…
  6. Boston, “Foreplay/Long Time”: Or just guitars in general. This band was two guys. Two! And all one of ’em did was sing! All the instruments were layered in there, one at a time, by a single guy in his basement studio. It’s awe-inducing.
  7. .38 Special, “Hold On Loosely”: The ’70s were especially well-known for their band made up of guys who could’ve just been a group of dads jamming in the garage and drinking beer on Friday nights. This is one of those bands.
  8. Grand Funk, “I’m Your Captain”: The ’70s were also known for their overblown, overlong story songs about boats and stuff. Pretty sure Kansas did a boat song, too.
  9. Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley, “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”: While we’re on the subject of overblown meathead songs, I’m pretty sure this is the epitome of that genre of music. Overdramatic, quasi-operatic, and all about teenagers gettin’ down and gettin’ nasty.
  10. Jethro Tull, “Aqualung”: I’m still not really sure who this Aqualung guy is, but he’s skeevy as all hell. “Eying little girls with bad intent?” Dude. Pedophile. Go sit in your aqualung, you’re on time out, mister.