Tag Archives: Warren Zevon

Digging in the Garage – Episode 2

Time for a second episode of Digging in the Garage, where I feature some of my favorite garage tunes, as heard on Nuggets or Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  See here for the inaugural episode which has more background.  Let’s get digging.

First up, (We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet by the Blues Magoos.

The Magoos were a Bronx psychedelic rock band that was part of the NY scene in the mid 60’s, along with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Youngbloods. According to Songfacts, the Magoos were a huge influence on Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd.   Released in October 1966 on the album Psychedelic Lollipop, the song reached #5 on the US charts in February 1967.  The boastfulness of the lyrics about being on their way to massive success was apparently matched in their live performances, where they wore electric blue suits with flashing lights.  Ironically, it was their only hit.

 

Outside Chance – The Turtles

The Turtles are best know for their #1 single Happy Together, which famously knocked the Beatles Penny Lane out of the top spot in the American charts.  The vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later achieved fame as Flo & Eddie.  Outside Chance was a single released in 1966 that amazingly failed to chart.  Fun fact – the song was co-written by a young Warren Zevon.  I love the contrariness of the lyrics – rather than pleading with the girl to love him, the singer flatly states: Stone walls surround me I’m surprised that you even found me, And you don’t stand an outside chance.  Although perhaps there is hope, since the next line is: But you can try!

 

Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)The Swingin’ Medallions

This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  A classic example of “frat rock,” so called because the record sounds like it was recorded during a frat party (with party voices in the background).  The Swingin’ Medallions were from, of all places, Greenwood, South Carolina – which just goes to show you that great songs can come from anywhere.  Their 1966 cover of Double Shot (originally recorded in 1964 by Dick Holler & the Holidays) went to #17 on the charts.  It contains the all time time classic line It wasn’t wine that I had too much of, It was a double shot of my baby’s love.  Hilariously, it was banned from some radio stations (perhaps in the South?) for its mention of drinking and sex.  My how times have changed.  Anyway, I first heard of it on a Springsteen bootleg where Bruce mentions it while introducing Sherry Darling (an homage to frat rock songs).

 

If you have any favorite garage songs you think I should feature, let me know in the comments.

Til next time…

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts.

Creeps, Deviants and Psychopaths

So its that time of year – Halloween.  Traditionally its has been associated with ghosts, vampires, and monsters.  Spooky fun.  But in the US, especially in the last 50 years, the holiday has also become associated with slasher flicks, serial killers, and other psychopaths – blame John Carpenter’s classic movie Halloween.  Or maybe not – maybe this is just my excuse to do a blog on some of my favorite songs about creeps and deviants.  I’m sure there’s a whole subgenre of these songs that I’m not aware of – my picks are by artists that you’ve probably heard of and that I’ve always liked.  And one is probably the creepiest song I have ever heard.  So without further adieu:

More Than I Can Do- Steve Earle

From his come back album of sorts, I Feel Alright, this uptempo song seems at first to just be about a guy’s unrequited love for someone – but as it continues it definitely moves into stalker territory.  “You left me just when I needed you
So l ain’t even close to through with you.”  Definitely Creepy.

I Feel So GoodRichard Thompson

From Rumor and Sigh, this song is definitely not an endorsement for the ability to reform juvenile delinquents.  Again, a pretty uptempo melody but there’s no denying where things are going right from the start: “I feel so good I’m going to Break somebody’s heart tonight I feel so good I’m going to Take someone apart tonight.’ And it goes from there.  Definitely Deviant.

Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon

From the album of the same name, this darkly humorous little ditty from the incomparable Warren Zevon starts weird and moves straight to deviant/psychopathic.  Zevon’s tongue in cheek lyrics – “He’s just an excitable boy” also perhaps are a dark commentary on society’s penchant for making excuses?  Also love the sax solo.

Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones

From Let It Bleed, this classic song from the Stones is pure psychopathy and evil.  It was written in part about Albert De Salvo, aka the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the early 60’s Boston area. Keith Richards has called it a blue opera, or a blues in 4 parts, even though the chord sequence isn’t a blues one.

And the finale, the song that always creeps me out just listening to it –

What’s He Building in There – Tom Waits.

From the album Mule Variations.  Not really a song, as much as a spoken word performance with a montage of assorted random background sounds.  Is it about a misunderstood freak?  A deviant, or something darker?  That’s the beauty of it – you can only wonder.   If you listen to any of these songs, listen to this one – even in the middle of the day,  it’ll freak you out.

Ok I have to go turn on every light in the house right now – til later…… oh, and Happy Halloween!

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts

One List of the Worst Songs of all Time

Mike and Paul love music – all kinds of music.  That’s why we started a blog after all!  So we tend to have a pretty wide area of toleration, if not love, for all kinds of music.  We would never say we hate for example, all country music, or all hip hop music, or even all polka music.

Having said that, we have to admit that there are some songs that just don’t cut it.  Inane melodies, pointless embarrassing lyrics, some songs are just bad.  Even artists with songs we love can over the course of a long career reach a creative nadir.  So without further ado, here is, in my opinion, a list of the worst songs of all time.  Disagree?  Have suggestions for additional songs?  Leave a comment below.

 

Beach Boys  Kokomo

Ok the Beach Boys are a legendary band, revolutionizing rock and roll in the early 60’s with their classic surfer sound.  But 25 years on, they had sunk to this annoying piece of pop drek. Pointless chorus, and it goes downhill from there.

 

Starship – We Built this City

This one makes most lists of all time worst songs.  What began as Jefferson Airplane, the influential late 60’s psychedelic folk/rock band, had morphed in the mainstream rock band Jefferson Starship, which descended by 1985 into Starship, which produced this.  The pretentiousness of the lyrics, combined with a bland melody is just too much. Extra rotten tomatoes for the cheesiness of the video.

 

Lou Ree – Metal Machine Music

In 1975, Lou Reed released this album of, let’s be honest, noise.  There are no melodies, no lyrics, no rhythms, just an hour plus of guitar feedback and other effects.  Some have hailed it as the forerunner of industrial or noise rock.  There is speculation it was a big middle finger to his record company.  Either way it is un-listenable.  If you ever want to clear a party, just put this on.  Here is a mercifully short clip.  The entire album is over an hour of this.

 

Van Halen  – Why Can’t This Be Love?

Sometimes its not the song melody that makes a song the worst, but the lyrics.  This 1986 song, the first with lead singer Sammy Hagar, gets the nod for  utterly inane lyrics.  One choice example: “Hey only fools rush in and only time will tell, If we stand the test of time.”  Seriously guys, this is the best you could come up with?

 

Kid Rock – All Summer Long

I have to say up front that I have never been a Kid Rock fan, which doesn’t make me particularly popular with my in-laws who live in Michigan.  What annoys me about this song is the complete rip-off (some would say appropriation) of the melody structure of  Warren Zevon‘s ‘Werewolves of London’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’  I know that there are few original ideas in music (everyone is always recycling new ideas for new creative purposes) but in my opinion this crosses the line into desecration of two classics.

 

USA for Africa – We are the World

Ok so yes, this song was done for a noble purpose (to raise money for famine victims in Africa).  And yes it brought together the best of mid 80’s American pop and rock stars to record it (watching the video is a kick in that sense).  But the song itself, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richtie?  Not so good.

 

Lou Bega – Mambo #5

This one is emblematic of any number of one hit wonder songs that become massively popular in a short amount of time.  I’m thinking the Macarena, Who Let the Dogs Out, Gangnam Style.  They may not necessarily be terrible songs themselves, but they get played over and over and over and over and over…again on the radio to the point where you want to destroy your radio.

 

Dionne & Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager.  Ok.  Covered in this version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder.  Granted.  And it also was a charity song for AIDS research and prevention – a noble purpose.  But it makes my list for a very specific reason.  At the 1986 Grammy Awards, this song beat out the following songs for Song of the Year – Steve Winwood – Higher Love; Paul Simon – Graceland; Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer.  Stop for a second and read that list again.  Enough said.  I guess its not the song’s fault it won, but if it hadn’t been written it wouldn’t have won.

 

Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch

This 1977 song by songwriter Dan Hill is the perfect example of overly earnest lyrical sentiments that quickly collapses into annoying tripe and cheesiness. As one song lyric goes, “The honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes, And hide.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself, Dan.

 

Extreme – More than Words

A hair band trying to show its sensitive side.  The message to the girl in the song is to show her love for the protagonist with more than words.  Maybe its just me, but this one creeps me out.  Reminds me of the archetypal scene in the backseat of a car on a Saturday night where the captain of the football team is trying to get the cheerleader to give it up by showing his “sensitive side.”

 

Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight

This 1986 hit by Wang Chung is a good example of how bad some 1980s music became.  Pointless, self involved, new wave cheesiness.  They even refer to themselves in the song lyrics.  Bonus rotten tomatoes for the music video – enough to induce a seizure from all the rapid fire jump cuts.

 

Stevie Nicks Silent Night

Covers of Christmas classics by contemporary artists could be its whole own category of worst songs.  Why does every artist who has more than 2 albums feel the need to do a Christmas album?  Easy money I guess, since you don’t to write the songs, just sing and record them and put it out during the holiday season.  Most of these covers are just plain boring, nondescript, or bland.  Every once in a while a new classic is born.  But the flip side is this selection off A Very Special Christmas Vol. 1, which has Stevie Nicks completely ruining Silent Night.  Completely misguided pairing of artist to song.  And the backing vocals from Robbie Nevil don’t help.

 

So that’s it for now?  Violently disagree?  Dumbfounded that I forgot your favorite selection?  Leave a comment below!