Anyway, for the last couple of weeks, the radio morning show I listen to (as my alarm clock) has been doing this with the iPods of various staff members.
Most of it is completely depressing, because I don’t think I heard a single song that I recognized, nor any that I liked. Lots of artsy-fartsy plinky-plunking, or just a backwash of guitar noise, accompanied by atonal yowling.
Even at 51, I like my music loud. But folks, it’s gotta have a hook or some kind of recognizable melody. It’s got to have some musicianship behind it. So to show everyone how it should be done, I now present, “Doin' the iPod Shuffle, Part 2.”
1. “I Got the Six,” by ZZ Top, from “Eliminator.” Deep album cut from one of the best albums of the 80s. With a refrain that goes, “I got the 6, give me your 9,” ZZ Top has never been subtle.
2. “Take me in Your Arms (Rock Me),” by the Doobie Bros, from “The Best of the Doobie Brothers.” Not my favorite from them… sounds kind of AM Radio-ish to me now. (AM Radio-ish for the 70s, anyway.)
3. “Alone,” by Heart, from “Bad Animals.” Huge vocals from Ann Wilson on this 80s ballad. I don’t think I even have this album… I ripped the cut from a promo CD-single. It would be the perfect single for my line of work, with just a small tweak to the lyrics… “How do I get you a loan?” I should write this up into a full song parody. I used to love doing those, as a kid. I totally should have been Weird Al Yankovic.
4. “Cold Shot” (live), by Stevie Ray Vaughan, from “Live Alive.” Love this song, although I probably like the studio version better, because SRV bungles the verses on this live cut. He makes up for it later, though, when accompanied by his brother Jimmy, he rips through “Love Struck Baby” like the Free World depended on it.
5. “The Only Good Thing You Ever Said was Goodbye,” by Joan Jett, from “Notorious.” Kind of sounds like “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You,” turned inside out. It’s a great Eff-You song. “Notorious” was probably her best album that nobody heard… Hard guitar crunch, big fat hooks, sparkling production and meaningful lyrics. Should have been a huge hit, but there’s no accounting for taste.
6. “Blue and Evil,” by Joe Bonamassa, from “Black Rock.” My buddy John recommended Bonamassa to me, because he knows I like hotshot guitarists. And hey, it only took me 6 songs to find a cut that wasn’t from the 80s!
7. “Johnny B Goode” (live), by George Thorogood, from “Let’s Work Together.” OK, NOW we’re talking. In the introduction, George calls this the “Rock and Roll National Anthem,” and he’s right. Accompanied by Chuck Berry’s peerless piano player, Johnny Johnson, George tears through this rock classic with amazing passion. I get chills just imagining George up there wailing away on his big white Gibson, while a stately old black man in a captain’s hat bangs out the accompaniment on piano, as well as a solo or two.
8. “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” (live), by Meat Loaf, from “Hang Cool Teddy Bear” (bonus disc). This is another of those Meat Loaf CDs I have that most people have never heard of. It came with a bonus disc of live cuts and this is one. It’s a song that first appeared on Jim Steinman’s “Bad for Good,” back in the 80s. (That album was meant for the Loaf, but Steinman recorded it himself while Meat was having voice problems.
9. “Petal to the Metal,” by Roy Buchanan, from “Dancing on the Edge.” Guitar slayer Roy Buchanan gets down with the slide guitar in this instrumental. I’m always amazed whenever I hear a particularly wicked Buchanan cut, because I know that he was in his 60s when he recorded it. That’s the kind of senior citizen I plan on becoming. (Only I’m more likely to play the song on the stereo, as opposed to the guitar.)
10. “Monolithic Oil,” by the National Lampoon, from “That’s not Funny, That’s Sick.” It’s funny how this “mock” oil company commercial from the 70s holds up just as well today. Their conclusion: “Because the blame for today’s energy situation is on your shoulders, and your conscience, and not ours. Monolithic Oil Corporation… we want you to… pay.”
11. “The Rising,” by Bruce Springsteen, from “The Rising.” Title track from one of the best albums, ever. “The Rising” was Bruce’s 9/11 album. I remember avoiding it because I didn’t need another reminder of that day. But then I saw a Springsteen concert on TV where they were playing songs from it. A couple of them, namely “Into the Fire” and “You’re Missing,” brought me to tears. I bought the CD online that night. It’s still hard to hear sometimes, but I never tire of “Further on Up the Road,” which was Bruce’s “revenge” song. The theme of that one is like, “Watch out, motherfuckers, ‘cause we’re coming.”
12. “Sodomy,” from the “Hair, the Original Broadway Cast.” Yes, this is the one that my mom swears she heard her little children loudly singing on the front steps. I still claim that we didn’t really know the words, (and certainly didn’t know what they meant,) but I’m sure it was alarming, none the less. I mean, this is the first line (of a 2-line song)… “Sodomy, fellatio cunnilingus, pederasty… Father why do these words sound so nasty?” Can you imagine YOUR little angels harmonizing to that one?
13. Sound byte from Ghostbusters about “crossing the streams. Classic definition of “bad.”
Bill Murray: I’m not clear on that whole good/bad thing… what do you mean, “bad.”
Harold Ramis: Try to imagine all life as we know it, stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”
I love mixing movie dialog, comedy bits and other random nonsense in among my music.
14. “Wild Thing,” by Sam Kinison, from “Have You Seen Me Lately?” This was a song stuck on the end of Sam’s 2nd comedy album, and was backed by an all star team of rock guitarists of the 80s. Sam took a few liberties with the lyrics though:
“Wild thing, I think you move me / But I wanna know for sure
Every time I kiss you I taste what other men had for lunch
The only thing that can get you off it to see me in pain, but I think I love youuuuuuu…”
15. “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” by Bonnie Tyler, from “Faster Than the Speed of Night.” I also have a version by a group called The Dan Band, where they do the version from “Old School,” with all the F-bombs included. I only have the Bonnie Tyler version on my player to compensate for songs like Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing.”
16. “The Elements,” by Tom Lehrer, from “An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer.” This is simple, but brilliant. Lehrer plays a song that he calls, “completely pointless,” but is deceptively tricky. In it, he sings the names of all the elements on the Periodic Table, set to “The Major General’s Song,” from "Pirates of Penzance." It’s a real tongue-twister. My favorite line is at the end:
“These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
And there may be many others but they haven’t been discaaaahvered.”
17. “Piece of my Heart,” by Melissa Etheridge, from “Greatest Hits.” Etheridge is the only one I know of that can reasonably cover this Janis Joplin classic. Like in most of her songs, she totally sings her ass off.
18. “Go Home,” by Joan Jett, from “Pure and Simple.” Another Eff-You song from one of her later albums.
19. “Money for Nothing,” by Dire Straits, from “Brothers in Arms.” Remember how huge this song was when it came out, with its new-fangled computer-animated music video? That was all fine and all, but just I loved that rough guitar sound (and that wild-ass drum intro). In an interview, guitarist Mark Knofler said he was trying to get the sound that ZZ Top had on “Eliminator.” He even contacted ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons for some advice, but Billy wouldn’t tell him anything. Trade secret...
20. “No Man’s Land,” by Billy Joel, from “River of Dreams.” Billy Joel’s best song that no one knows. It’s uncharacteristically hard-rocking for Billy Joel, but he made it Track 1 on “River of Dreams,” and opened his show with it during that tour. And I should know, because I was there. It was really something…
Lights are out, the band comes on the stage and starts up this pounding, rocking song, and you’re thinking, “Am I at the right show?”
Then there was the Piano Man, wearing dark 50s sunglasses out at the end of the stage, in a single spotlight, in front of a mic stand, stomping his foot with the music and just bringing it. He had this black female percussionist whose backing vocals on the chorus cut through the hall like a knife.
The song is about the suburbanization of his Long Island home, with all the local color getting washed out by malls and parking lots. He practically spits out the words as he laments the loss. Here, see for yourself…