"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Natty Random 

Another week shot to hell - it must be time for a Random Ten! I'll be doing the "coolness self-audit" again this week, 'cause I feel like it. As always, feel free to comment:
1. "Marlene On the Wall" (Suzanne Vega): Some people think that Suzanne Vega is cool, and some don't. Personally, I see both sides of the argument. This is from her first album, however, which was produced by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye - who, I presume, we can all agree is hella cool. 7/10.

2. "Flesh and Blood" (Roxy Music): This is a surprisingly obscure song, considering that it is the title track from one of their more commercially successful albums (I know, it's no Avalon, but it was still fairly popular at the time). I like the slow, intentionally turgid guitar-and-synth grind that forms the structure of the tune, but the lyrics are likely to put some people off ("My friend's flesh and blood; night size, perfect ten. You'd nail her if you could..."). I dunno - I like it. 6/10.

3. "Brass In Pocket" (Pretenders): Tough to rank, because it gets points for being from an especially cool band but then loses points for being an obvious selection. If you ever saw the video, though, back in the pre-MTV days when this turned up between movies on HBO late at night, you would remember how cool that was. 8/10.

4. "Just Like Honey" (Jesus and Mary Chain): Same problem as the previous selection (cool band; obvious choice), but without the cool pre-MTV video. Still, I remember feeling vaguely afraid the first time I heard this album. That's cool. 7/10.

5. "Jackson" (Johnny Cash and June Carter): How cool is it? Maybe you weren't paying attention - it's Johnny Cash and June Carter! 10/10.

6. "Oh, Boy!" (Buddy Holly and the Crickets): "All of my love, all of my kissin', you don't know what you've been missin'." Cool is, after all, largely a function of swagger. 8/10.

7. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole): I bought this record on my one and only vacation to Hawai'i, because I was just blown away by it when I heard it over the in-store speakers at the hotel gift shop. The album, Facing Future, is a brilliant personal and political statement from a genuine Hawai'ian hero and is well worth hearing in its entirety. So this would be incredibly cool, except that inclusion in lame movie soundtracks and commercials have pretty much sucked the life out of this track since I first heard it. Too bad. 5/10.

8. "Serrated Edge" (Dead Milkmen): Another Friday; another Dead Milkmen track. I'm pretty sure this will never appear in a commercial. 8/10.

9. "Veronica" (Elvis Costello): It's hard to write a song where the feel of the music runs counter to the thrust of the lyrics. One good example of the trick being done well is Stephen Sondheim's "My Funny Valentine," where the sunny lyrics are set against a melancholy melody. This song, with its bouncy pop melody carrying some emotionally devastating lyrics, is another example. 7/10.

10. "Jack & Diane" (John Cougar Mellencamp): Question - where do watermelons send their children in the summer? Answer - John Cougar Mellencamp! I don't know why, but that just tickles me. 4/10.

Which comes out to a nice, round - and surprisingly hip - 7/10. Maybe I should go shopping for pants after work.

 

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