Category Archives: Music

Come Together

This is kind of awesome: New Year’s Eve party at Mala Restaurant in Wailea, where the audience got to hear “Come Together” as performed by Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, and…you won’t see this coming…Weird Al:

Note that Weird Al is the only one who knows all the words.

There are worse ways to start the new year.

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Sunday Song Lyrics: Candy’s Room

I few weeks ago when I was driving to the Jersey shore it only seemed appropriate to dig out the old Springsteen albums. I had ripped his Live/1975-85 3-disc set to my iPod — if you’re at all a fan of his, it’s a terrific collection — and I enjoyed cruising through the mountains and blasting the Boss on the speakers.

One of the songs that stuck in my mind was “Candy’s Room”. Maggie McNeill had mentioned it in a post regarding songs about prostitutes. It’s one of those songs that I like because of the sound and shape of it, without necessarily listening to the words, so I hadn’t remembered that Candy was a prostitute, but it certainly makes sense from the lyrics:

In Candy’s room there are pictures of her heroes on the wall
but to get to Candy’s room you gotta walk the darkness of Candy’s hall
Strangers from the city call my baby’s number and they bring her toys
When I come knocking she smiles pretty she knows I wanna be Candy’s boy
There’s a sadness hidden in that pretty face
A sadness all her own from which no man can keep Candy safe

We kiss, my heart’s rushes to my brain
The blood rushes in my veins fire rushes towards the sky
We go driving driving deep into the night
I go driving deep into the light in Candy’s eyes

She says baby if you wanna be wild
you got a lot to learn, close your eyes
Let them melt, let them fire, let them burn
Cause in the darkness there’ll be hidden worlds that shine
When I hold Candy close she makes these hidden worlds mine

She has fancy clothes and diamond rings
She has men who give her anything she wants but they don’t see
That what she wants is me,
oh and I want her so
I’ll never let her go, no no no
She knows that I’d give
all that I got to give
All that I want all that I live
to make Candy mine
Tonight

Maggie contrasts “Candy’s Room” with John Entwhistle’s “Trick of the Light”:

Entwhistle has captured here one of the most common of client fantasies, that he is such a wonderful lover that he can impress a professional and thereby evoke emotions in her that will induce her to give herself only to him.  But while Entwhistle’s narrator seems to begin to glimpse the truth in the end (as evidenced by his plaintive “was I all right?” as she shows him the door), Springsteen’s narrator is completely lost in his fantasy that his inamorata will give up her money and freedom for him; he imagines he sees sadness in her face and that she values his poor clumsy affection over that of “men who give her anything she wants”.

With all due respect to Maggie, I think she has this one a bit wrong. The reference to “strangers from the city” suggests that the narrator is not one of them. I get the impression that he is someone who knew Candy from before she was a working girl, and that there is genuine affection between them. After all, he’s clearly not one of the men who gives her “anything she wants,” and yet she sees him anyway.

I’m not saying there’s going to be a happily-ever-after. The characters that fill Springsteen’s songs are people who lose at life, criminals and failures. But in order to fail, in order to lose, they first have to want to win, they have to have desire. And in order for it to be a tragedy, that desire has to be their downfall. And so the narrator of “Candy’s Room” desires Candy, he wants her all to himself, and that desire is the source of his torment.

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Know Any Good Protest Songs?

I’m trying to put together a music playlist, and so I’m appealing to you, my Gentle Readers, to help me find songs of a certain type. I’m calling them protest songs, but that’s probably not a very good description. I’m not talking about, for example, ’60’s anti-war chants, and I’d like to avoid an excess of Dylan.

The only way I can think of to explain what I want is to give a few examples of the kind of song I mean. Probably the defining member of this type of song is Old Crow Medicine Show’s “I Hear Them All”:

Another good example is the classic Jimmy Cliff song “The Harder They Come”:

For something a little more hard core, I’ll take “Guns Of Brixton.” But not the Clash version. I prefer this haunting cover by Nouvelle Vague:

That’s not to say I don’t mind a little anger. Or a lot of anger, as in Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”:

I don’t know if there’s really a common theme running through those songs, but if you know of other songs that you think I’d like based on this list — or even if these songs just remind you of some other songs — let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Song In the World

Well, maybe not for anyone else, but it is for me.

It was 1982. the Commodore 64 was the cool new thing, Britain and Argentina went to war over the Falkland islands, spymaster Yuri Andropov rose to power in the Soviet Union, and Vic Morrow and two chidren died in a helicopter accident while filming Twilight Zone. Disney opened EPCOT to the public, John De Lorean got busted for coke, the Unabomber narrowly missed killing people at Vanderbilt, and Larry Walters took his famous balloon flight in a lawn chair.

Ronald Reagan was president. I didn’t like him because he was a conservative, and conservative pricks like Jerry Falwell were trying to destroy rock music. Us kids thought that was a scary thing at the time, but of course he never had a chance: MTV had just launched, the Biograph theater on Lincoln was staging midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the airwaves were filled with songs like Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero“, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger“, the B52s’ “Rock Lobster“, and Golden Earring’s other hit.

(Follow the “Eye of the Tiger” link to check out what music videos used to look like. Yikes.)

There was also a hardrocking band called Axe, and they had just released their third album, Offering. The first cut on the album was “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party In The Streets.”

It was the end of my last year in high school. The hot summer was filled with good friends, fast driving, wild parties, and rock and roll. I was at the top of my game with the whole world ahead of me, and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party In The Streets” was the sound of freedom.

It’s a purely personal reaction, I’m sure. I don’t know anyone else who had that reaction to it. Heck, I’ve never even met anyone else who remembers the song. But to this day it gives me a rush like no other.

It starts with a keyboard intro that I instantly recognize, then the guitars come in with power chords to punctuate the rhythm, and then the drums and Bobby Barth’s strained voice: 

You know, I know, this ain’t gonna last forever
Let’s take advantage while we still can
I’m sure that you’ll find the days couldn’t get any longer
Day after day it’s gettin’ old fast

Let’s have a knock down, drag out rock ‘n’ roll party in the street
Get all the boys together have them tell everybody that they meet
Friday night at midnight we’re all gonna get what we need
Let’s have a knock down, drag out rock ‘n’ roll party in the street

You know, I know, we ain’t gonna show no mercy
To anyone that tries to get in our way
I’m sure that you’ll find we got to put the word out for certain
Once the party gets started we’re all here to stay

Let’s have a knock down, drag out rock ‘n’ roll party in the street
Get all the boys together have them tell everybody that they meet
Friday night at midnight we’re all gonna get what we need
Let’s have a knock down, drag out rock ‘n’ roll party in the street

Axe broke up after guitarist Michael Osborne died in a car crash. Barth worked on other projects and then in 1997 he put the band back together and they recorded new versions of many of their songs for the album Twenty Years From Home. I think this was a work-around for a sticky rights issue or two, allowing the band to finally release CD versions of the songs.

In many ways, the newer version of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party in the Streets” is a better song than the old one. Barth’s voice seems clearer and richer than it was in 1982, the guitar work is more crisp, and the whole thing has a more professional sound.

But the original version will always be my favorite. For most of a year, I lived my life to that song.

Axe – Rock ‘n’ Roll Party In The Streets – on YouTube

Sunday Song Lyrics – Tits On The Radio

I haven’t done a Sunday Song Lyric in a long time, but I just recently heard a cut off the Scissor Sisters’ debut album, Scissor Sisters , and I found an insight that I have to share:

Creamsicle sky while the sun sets in the west
Where are the queers on the piers, heard they gave it their best
Now they got jobs at a local fast food chain
Flippin’ tricks for the burger, since Lady M jacked their fame
Flippin’ tricks for the burger, since Lady M jacked their fame

Cause you can’t see tits on the radio
I’ll give you five fingers for a one man show
Fasten those pants for the lap dance
Take a shot now this may be your last chance

There ain’t no tits on the radio (Oh no)
There ain’t no tits on the radio (Oh no)
There ain’t no tits on the radio (Oh no)
There ain’t no tits on the radio (No no)

You can’t see tits on the radio.

There is still truth in rock and roll.

in Music

Michael Jackson, R.I.P.

Now that Michael Jackson is dead, I’m not going to miss him. I didn’t know him. I don’t think many people did. I do, however, miss the Michael Jackson I once thought I knew, back before it all got so weird. You see, there was a time…

I never really loved Michael Jackson’s music, but I loved his music videos. Back in the early 1980s, creating videos for songs was still a new and controversial idea. I liked the videos, but a lot of people, including a lot of artists, thought they were a distraction from the music. Record companies made videos, but they didn’t take them seriously.

Michael Jackson helped change all that. At a time when a music video might have a budget of $40,000, he spent about a half-million dollars on the Thriller video and got a major motion picture director to film it. Nowadays, many motion picture directors get started with music videos and think nothing of producing one for musicians they like, but back then nobody had heard of such a thing.

I admired Michael for taking this fledgling artform to heart and treating its fans with respect.

It may sound odd, but I also admired Michael Jackson for his willingness to let Weird Al Yankovic parody his songs. Musicians with considerably less fame and talent took themselves too seriously to let Al do his thing (I’m looking at you, Coolio!) but Michael Jackson was always willing.

That’s the Michael Jackson I miss. Something bad happened to him a long time ago.

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RIAA Strikes Again

Radley Balko tells us about yet another RIAA masterstroke:

[The] RIAA is suing a young transplant patient in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Nineteen-year-old Ciara Sauro has pancreatitis and because she needs an islet cell transplant, she’s hospitalized every week, a situation resulting in a huge accumulation of medical bills.

Now, “Because she didn’t defend herself against a copyright lawsuit, a federal judge in Pittsburgh ruled she’s a music pirate, and that could cost the Sauros almost $8,000 in fines,” says Pittsburg news channel WTAE.com.

As far as I can see, there are only two ways this trend can end:

  1. The RIAA gets permission to legally execute music pirates on sight.
  2. The rest of us get permission to legally exeucte RIAA executives on sight.

Write your congresscritters now, to make sure that vote goes the right way.

in Music

Why Music Downloads Suck

I hate Digital Rights Managed (DRM) music. For one thing, once I buy some music, I want to be able to move it to other devices or other computers without having to check with the rights management server every time.

The other reason to hate DRM music is this:

Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good–and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008.

So, if you bought music from Yahoo, won’t be able to transfer it to new computers any more. On the other hand, if you bought your music on CD, you could then rip it to any computer you want.

That’s what Yahoo suggests you do with your music: Burn it to a CD so you can rip it later. Of course, since you’re re-compressing your music, it won’t sound as good as if you ripped it from a factory CD, and you’ll lose all the catalogging information. On the other hand, if you’d traded ripped MP3s, you wouldn’t be having any of these problems.

Google cancelled their DRM video business a while back, but they had the good graces to refund all their customers money, and when MSN Music went out of business a few months ago, they at least agreed to keep the servers running for a few more years. Yahoo’s less-than-customer-friendly approach will probably be more common as more DRM business models collapse.

(Hat tip: Balko)

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