Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

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    Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Simple concept: each post is about one song.  So why did it take me so long for me to get it going?  Well, I guess it’s because I have some deep personal issues about writing.  Some of them will become clear as I go along. I have one small favor to ask: please don't copy the posts as quotes.  At least not till they're a week old.  See, I may want to go back and change a word here or a sentence there.  That's one of my issues.

     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    The first song, which sort of inspired this idea, is one I heard on a Toyota commercial a few months back.  At first I couldn't identify it, because in the commercial they only used a small part of it.  It had a big, lush sound, a nice melody, and an ethereal choir slowly chanting the words 'Here...I...am'.  I knew that I’d heard it before, but it took a while to dredge it up from the depths of my memory banks.  It was from the ending of Simon and Garfunkel's The Only Living Boy in New York, a song whose meaning had long mystified me.

    Tom, get your plane ride on time
    I know your part'll go fine
    Fly down to Mexico
    Doh-doo-doh, doh-doo-doh
    And here I am
    The only living boy in New York

    What did it mean?  Why was Paul the only living boy in New York, and what was his relationship with Tom?  I wasn't sure if I wanted the answers.  Years later I found out it was all very harmless.  Tom was Paul's nickname for Art Garfunkel, and the part was Art's acting gig in the movie Catch-22.  As for the 'only living boy' part, I can only assume that it had something to do with Paul's prodigious ego, or, perhaps, a tongue-in-cheek mockery of the same.  Of course, one of the beauties of being a songwriter, especially a legendary one, is that you don't really have to explain every little detail of what you meant.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Why is it that some songs are destined to live in perpetual grace on the airwaves, while others, equally deserving, are summarily banished to the underworld?

    Kansas's 1976's Leftoverture album was an artistic high-water mark for the band.  Two songs from the album, Carry on Wayward Son and Miracles out of Nowhere, were big favorites of FM radio at the time.  35 years later, one of them, Wayward Son, is still a favorite.  And then some.  Meanwhile, Miracles has vanished.  Why?  In my opinion, it's the band's finest song, an uplifting mini-symphony of guitars, violin and keyboards that moves at a crisp pace and never gets boring.  As for the lyrics, well, if you're enjoying the music, you can forgive them their penchant for hippie-dippy philosophising.

    Here I am, I'm sure to see a sign
    All my life, I knew that it was mine
    It's always here, it's always there
    It's just love and miracles out of nowhere

    So what is the problem, programming dictators?  Do you think the song is too long to be radio-friendly?  Please.  At 6:28 it’s a minute-and-a half short of Stairway to Heaven.

    Actually, come to think of it, don’t change anything.  Just keep pummeling us all with the COWS, and keep the MOON in cold storage.  After all, you’ve already ruined enough great songs over the years.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    There was a cool FM station I listened to in the mid-70's.  It only came in on my TV, oddly enough.  They played the standards of the day, Born to Run, Night Moves etc.  But they also featured some stuff that was a bit further out on the margins.  One was the Tubes' gasp-inducing White Punks on Dope.  Another was a closet metal classic by Budgie, Napoleon Bona Part 1 & 2.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGVpRnblpEs

    Part 1 is a dreamy ballad that runs about 2.5 minutes, gradually building up in intensity before making way for the jackhammer riff that opens Part 2.
     It’s an epic riff, borrowing heavily from Deep Purple's 'Hard Lovin' Man' without doing so at the criminal level.  With the riff providing the foundation, Part 2 rocks steady for about 5 minutes, with some Sabbath-worthy riffing and effect-enhanced soloing, and also some sort of allegorical tale about Napoleon and urgent pleas of ‘hold me’.

    While never a big Budgie fan, I’ve always had a high opinion of this song.  After hearing it a few times I bought the Bandolier album (a special order no less), just so I could commit Napoleon to an all-guitar-hero mix tape.
     I still think it sounds great.  It delivers that special charge to my brain’s pleasure center that it seems I can only obtain from good heavy metal…or hard rock, if that’s what it is.  Also, I must confess, for me this is one of those songs that sounds even better after a few alcoholic refreshments. 


    Well, that’s it for the first instalment.  There will be a few more in the weeks ahead.  After a dozen songs or so this will probably burn out on me.  Or it might not, who knows.

     
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    My favorite FM radio station in the '70s was WBLM out of Lewiston ME. A buddy of mine told me about it, and the first time I tuned it in the first song I heard was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isIDc_pIPGU I think they might even have followed it up with Wayward Son, but then again it might have been http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLvMjPqCovM Of course, at the time, I thought LA was Lewiston Auburn, but what can I say? I really am a hick at heart. I can say unequivocally that the Blimp was my introduction to the dark side of rock 'n roll.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    "Jukebox Joyride" is a joy to read thus far; as far as concepts for blogs go, it's an A-plus.   I love the way you've derived the recollections of the songs from various avenues (a car commercial is a great one, and I can relate to it so well); it shows that you can learn and get curious about a song any time, any where.  

    Congrats on all counts, especially for getting out of your comfort zone and sharing your musings with a wider viewership that you ever have.   It was well worth the sweat, IMO.   Meanwhile, "The Only Living Boy" has always been a mystery to me, too -- despite how eerily beautiful I think it is --  thanks for solving it. 

    Glad you let the cat out of the bag, Hfx.  Very impressive.  :D    
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Mr. Soxnut,

    I guess you paid closer attention to many lyrics than I did.

    I know the Simon & Garfunkel song you speak about, but I never was one to dwell on Paul Simon's lyrics. The songs sounded great, but unlike many of Bob Dylan's songs I wasn't too hung up on the lyrics. I always took the "only living boy in New York" to mean he was the only one with feelings and emotions...at least he thought that way when writing the song.

    'Carry On Wayard Son' vs. 'Love And Miracles Out of Nowhere' ... I think it is simply a case of 'Carry On...' being more 'RADIO FRIENDLY'...so many great songs by groups we discuss often don't get played any more ( some never did). Example: 'Astronomy' by Blue Oyster Cult ...zero airplay...'Don't Fear The Reaper'...played to death. Is one a better song than the other . I think both are great.

    I'm not aware that any song by Budgie except 'Breadfan' was ever played at all on U.S. radio stations. I became a big fan of 'Breadfan' , it's a great song that most people do not actually know. I don't believe Budgie ever got the recognition they deserve in the states.

     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    nice thoughts, buddy.  keep them coming!

     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    In Response to Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs):
    "Jukebox Joyride" is a joy to read thus far; as far as concepts for blogs go, it's an A-plus.   I love the way you've derived the recollections of the songs from various avenues (a car commercial is a great one, and I can relate to it so well); it shows that you can learn and get curious about a song any time, any where.   Congrats on all counts, especially for getting out of your comfort zone and sharing your musings with a wider viewershhip that you ever have.   It was well worth the sweat, IMO.   Meanwhile, "The Only Living Boy" has always been a mystery to me, too -- despite how eerily beautiful I think it is --  thanks for solving it.  Glad you let the cat out of the bag, Hfx.  Very impressive.  :D    
    Posted by yogafriend


    Thanks yogafriend.  Your encouragement was a big help in getting motivated enough to follow through with this.  I've got some other tunes lined up which I hope will be interesting.  One thing I am going to strive to be is unpredictable. 
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    I am not a musician, but I have hung with some musicians in my time.  Okay, maybe I better rephrase that.  A good friend of mine played in some covers bands about thirty years ago.

    I’ve known him since elementary school.  He’s a good musician, but more importantly to our friendship, he’s a serious music fan and consumer.  I will concede that he knows more about music than I do. Not just because he plays it, but because of his appetite for it.

    In the glory days, we spent many evenings at his house playing albums and getting wasted.  (Sound familiar, anyone?)  We were a little competitive about how knowledgable we were about the best music out there at the time.  ‘Hey, wait till I play you this song, man.’ We would have debates on who was the greatest guitarist, the best solos, the best riffs.

    At one of those sessions, late, he played a song called Millionnaire, by someone named Randy Hansen.  It wasn’t a great song, but it did have its strong points.  There was a good, spacey, bouncy groove anchoring it.  Some okay vocals.  Above all, a riff that stuck firmly in the brain.   We both thought it sounded familiar, but we weren’t sure why.  Finally something came to me.

    Hopefully I will only have to do this once, but I have to quote one of the Youtube commenters because they said virtually the same thing I did.

    'this songs opening/etc riff always has me imagining a "cowboy western" feel with a 6 string gunslinger heading into the sun.' 

    Was it borrowed from the theme music for a western movie or a TV show?  Or was it something from a song played by the Ventures, like Apache, with the chords rearranged?I still don't know. 

    Hansen’s career in recording albums of original material lasted for only one.  He turned to his true calling playing Jimi Hendrix, and he’s been doing that ever since.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8KW06p31sQ&feature=related
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Without researching this very extensively, I'm under the impression that the prog-rock band Marillion had considerably less success in the U.S. than they did in their native U.K.  They have been recording steadily since the early Eighties, but I haven’t heard anything from them for a long time.  I only know them from their first few albums.  So I feel like I have to talk about them in the past tense.

    There was something distinctly British Isles about them, right down to the images of tragical jesters that keep popping up everywhere.  They seemed to be looking for a niche as a darker version of Genesis.  The lyrics were sad, or angry, or caustically satirical.  They were so gloomy that Roger Waters told them to cheer up (kidding). 
    The original lead singer, Derek Dick, or ‘Fish’, came across as a higher-pitched, more deranged version of Peter Gabriel.

    This song, Assassing, is from their second album, Fugazi.  And no, there is no such verb as ‘assassing’.  It must be some sort of band in-joke.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqqkR2vqUZ8

    There is a lot that I like about this song.  The slow-building dramatic intro, the hard-edged hooks, the elegant malevolence in the lyrics.  I don’t know who the song is directed at, but according to the writer they did some very bad things.
     
    I am the assassin, with tongue forged from eloquence
    I am the assassin, providing your nemesis
    On the sacrificial altar to success, my friend
    Unleash a stranger from a kiss, my friend
    No incantations of remorse, my friend
    Unsheath the blade within the voice, my friend

    In the middle there is a very nifty pair of solos, guitar and synthesizer .  Then a nice proggy section.  The last verse might make it run a bit too long, but all in all, it’s a butt-kicking song in my opinion.

    I thought highly of Marillion’s first three albums.  After Fish left (on bad terms) I lost touch with Marillion and went with Fish instead, purchasing his first two solo albums.  The first album is excellent, probably at least as good as any Marillion album.  The comparisons with Gabriel became even sharper because of some similarities in the material to Gabriel’s solo work.  And I think Fish compares well.  He’s Gabriel with a bit more passion, perhaps, and definitely more directness. The title of the album and opening song is a fair representation of his artistic viewpoint: Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors.

    Up next, three different takes on the After-Breakup Blues.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Hfx,
    I can certainly relate to (and have inferred it many times) the "hanging out with friends that know more about music than I do" concept -- in my case, musicians but also recording studio engineers and producers.   It's a great feeling to share but also to soak up what they (seem to) know and benefit from it --- worked for me.  Completely changed my perspective on music, too. 

    I can see more and more that the roots of progressive rock play a big role in some of the music I really like.  Your example above noted.   Progressive rock is so freaking interesting and intelligent.  I also really like the way we've acknowledged (more and more) that some of the bands we like, that were maybe cult bands in the USA, had major popularity in their native UK, and can appreciate that more, too.   I'll have to check out the other youtubve links you have later today -- my hours are a bit crazy lately --gotta run.  

    Nice resume builder you've got here.  And interesting reading.  :)
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    yf, thanks again for reading and for your interesting feedback.  I'm starting to actually enjoy writing this stuff, but it's nice to know someone is reading it too.  Smile
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    That Song was the second single from the 1997 debut album ‘In Loving Memory Of...’ by Big Wreck.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4F-Hb46tH0

    The members of Big Wreck met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.   They were fixtures on the club circuit of Boston and Cambridge for several years.  Maybe some of the folks on the forum here saw them play.

    AllMusic.com describes Big Wreck as a ‘neo-prog hard rock outfit’.  To me this label says a lot.  If you’re ‘neo-prog hard rock’ it sounds like it would be difficult to write anything that resembles something original.   You’ve got 25-30 years of music to reference and influence you, but does that make the process easier or harder?  Big Wreck tried an approach that other bands in their position have used: utilize the influences, try to add your own personal touches. On this song, as well as the album’s strong debut single The Oaf, I’d say they succeeded very nicely.  Both songs charted in Canada and the U.S.

    That Song got my attention when I first heard it.  It was cool and different and it had some strong hooks.  I especially like the bold way the song opens, guitar chords crashing in like a midsummer downpour, warm and heavy.  Throughout the song there are atmospheric changes.  The slow, moody sections give way to aggressive riffs.  These guys may have studied at the Berklee College of Music, but I think the chops were actually learned from the Academy of Zeppelin.

    The lyrics tell a tale of the bittersweet aftermath of a lost love.  At first, the sentiments convey a wistful remembrance tinged with rueful humor.

    So I always get nostalgic with that song
    But in my room it’s forced
    It has to be in some car across the street
    And I always catch the back of your head in a crowd
    Just don't turn around
    It's never you and you'll ruin those memories

    And those photos are great if I catch ‘em with the side of my eye
    But if I stare
    It just turns into you and me
    We're just standin’ there

    Then the mood turns and the emotion sounds more like the angry surveillance of Every Breath You Take.

    And when you hold him
    Would you hear me
    Scream at the top of my lungs

    You love my whisper
    But did you hear me
    Scream at the top of my lungs

    Big Wreck’s lead singer and guitarist Ian Thornley is the lone Canadian in the band, from Toronto.  Thornley sounds a little like Chris Cornell.  I’d say he might even be trying to look like him.

    The band’s followup singles and second album did not chart and the band broke up.  Thornley started a new self-named band that did moderately well.  Very recently a reformed Big Wreck has cut a new album and single, Albatross.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Way back in my wild, misspent youth, I used to frequent this particular bar in Natick simply because they had Little Feat's Spanish Moon on the jukebox. I was in high school during what I call the Southern Invasion that saw brief periods of local popularity for middling bands like The Outlaws and Molly Hatchett and it always mystified me why Little Feat -- a legitimately superior band in the Lowell George incarnation -- never really caught on in the area.

    I remember I was at a Jackson Browne show at the Garden one time and Billy Payne was playing keyboards with the band, and when Jackson introduced him during the encore (which was always The Loadout in those days), he was amazed not to hear the familiar chant, and even mentioned it to the crowd. "In some parts of the country when we introduce Billy, everybody goes "Feeeeeeaaaaaaat."

    Anyway . . .   just thought I'd throw in a vote for Little Feat and their funky song about the bad things that can happen to good people in shady places.

     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Yeah, the aftermath of a breakup -- and the switcheroo from soft sentimentality and the acknowledgement that every moment with the ex wasn't "all that" to those feelings of "go shove it" (or worse, but it would be censored here) when you find out your ex is dating someone new.  Heh.  

    The rough garage sound is nice, and goes well with Thornley's voice, and he's got the right emotion without any histrionics at all -- if he looks like Chris Cornell, he's got that going for him, too.  Now that's luck, you see.  :)

    More decent music from the 90's.   Thornley really knows how to belt it out.  Good luck to him and his newly revised lineup.   It's nice when you latch on to some of the lesser known, more obscure bands.  
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Here's a pic of him yoga.


     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Very strong resemblance.   Thanks.  
    I honestly don't think much about looks in terms of the bands I like (and I can prove that by all of the bands I love from the 90's, if anything, not much hotness there), but I've always liked the "changing face" of Cornell, as he's had a number of looks over the years and he's pulled them off quite well.  
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Country music has always had a capacity for telling stories of heartache and betrayal with a clever turn of phrase and a rueful smile.  “Feeling single, seeing double.’  ‘Countin’ flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all, playin’ solitaire till dawn, with a deck of fifty-one.’

    Dwight Yoakam is a country artist who has been true to the classic tradition of the hurting songs and the influences of Hank Williams and Buck Owens.  On A Thousand Miles From Nowhere, he employs one of those turns of phrase to convey one of those feelings of lonely regret.

    I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
    Time don’t matter to me
    ‘Cause I’m a thousand miles from nowhere
    And there’s no place I wanna be

    I got heartaches in my pocket
    I got echoes in my head
    And all that I keep hearing
    Is the cruel, cruel things that you said

    The sorrowful lament of the lyrics is offset by the sweet melody it’s delivered in.  The guitars cry beautifully and the rhythm section grooves gently.  There seem to be other voices assuring us that things aren’t quite as hopeless as they seem to the bereft lover.

    The interplay of the voices is one of the things I enjoy about this song.  Another is the visual it brings.  It sounds like something rolling endlessly down the road.

    So that would make the video that accompanies it here perfectly fitting.  The image of a train rolling through the wide open spaces of thinly populated lands, equally tranquil and desolate.  

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLprAUar11U

    This song appeared on the soundtrack of the noir thriller Red Rock West, directed by John Dahl and starring Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper.  Yoakam had a small role in the film as a tough trucker who finds Cage trying to steal a ride on his truck and puts a gun in his face.  He wasn’t on screen long, but Yoakam was convincingly scary.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    Great read.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    In Response to Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs):
    Great read.
    Posted by jesseyeric


    Thanks jessey.  I enjoy writing this stuff.  But it's surprisingly hard work-for me, anyway.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    This is the last of a trilogy of songs of romantic wreckage.

    A Thousand Miles from Nowhere told a story of how heartache can keep you moving but feeling like you’re going nowhere.

    Heard You Wrong, by Vancouver’s Odds tells a story of how it can keep you rooted to the spot.

    This is a subtle, insidious song by one of my favorite Canadian bands.  I say insidious because the lyrics take a while to sink in.  At first it sounds like just another sad, pretty pop song with a touch of cleverness.  But if you listen closely, the story is not merely sad, it’s also funny and a little creepy.  With sad/funny/creepy lyrics, and a lovely soundscape of acoustic guitar and synthesizer, this song reminds me a lot of one of my favorite bands from the Seventies, 10CC.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riwC0v-b7Jg

    It's early morn
    The birds are gone
    No need to wake up
    The bed's so warm
    And open wide
    There's no one sleeping
    At my side

    It was the break of dawn
    I thought I heard you wrong

    The body's here
    But the soul's not near
    I'm hiding out and yet
    I'm still here
    It's afternoon maybe
    You're OK bet you'll
    Be home soon

    It was the break of dawn
    I thought I heard you wrong
    Now you've been gone so long
    I hope I heard you wrong

    If I could go on sleeping
    For the rest of the year
    Stare at the ceiling
    Till there's nothing there
    Avoid my life and unplug my head
    And never ever leave this bed

    By the end of the song it’s nightfall and the guy is still in bed with the covers pulled around him like Brian Wilson.  Will he be able to get up and face the world the next day, or the day after that?  The song provides no clue.
     
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    Re: Jukebox Joyride (Random Thoughts on Particular Songs)

    The Dwight Yoakam song is a knockout, I agree.  Despite how classic country it is in all its glory, it's irresistable, even for some of us non-country Western fans. :)

    Are you thinking of 10CC's "I'm Not In Love" with the Odds' song?   That song by 10CC -- what a classic song of denial, toughness and tenderness.  Both songs, hauntingly sad, especially (of course) because they're from the perspective of a guy(wringing emotions out of a guy like that?), at least I'll admit that's true for me.  

    These 10CC lyrics? Beautiful bitterness.  You could do a whole entry on this one, too, you know?

    "I keep your picture
    Upon the wall
    It hides a nasty stain that's lying there
    So don't you ask me
    To give it back 
    I know you know it doesn't mean that much to me"

     
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