Saturday, October 3, 2009

Is 20 a short list or a long list?

For me it's an impossible task to answer the question "What's your favourite song lyric?". It's right up there with "What's your favourite movie?" etc. There is no single definitive answer. It changes hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, decadely. So I have managed to narrow down a short list of 20 to take to bookclub this afternoon. We may be there for some time if everyone has had the same problem. I do believe we won't get through them all so I am burning everyone a CD that contains the following. It's focussed on popular song - no opera, no musical theatre etc. For that we would require a weeklong workshop. Also be aware if I were to make this list tomorrow it would probably be entirely different. There may have been a lot of Simon and Garfunkel, some Mamas and Papas, more Beatles, less Billy Bragg, more Beck and REM and much more. You get the idea. Here we go:

1. Four Seasons in One Day - Crowded House - Woodface.
Neil Finn writes perfect pop songs. Melody, lyrics, harmony are always beautiful, deceptively simple in sound. One day he will realise the error of his ways and ask me to marry him. Dream on Wendy.

2. Losing My Religion - REM - Out of Time
One of the first albums I ever bought on CD (and that ages me) and epitomises my first year away at uni as a 17 year old. This was the big radio hit, but the album is full of gems. Even now it takes me back to the residential college in Toowoomba. The mandolin sound makes it shine.

3. Sparky's Dream - Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix.
Scottish jangly guitar pop. What could be better than that? In the days when I still listened to Triple J it was all over the radio. The whole album is fabulous as is Songs from Northern Britain. I could have picked anyone of them.

4. A Foggy Day - George and Ira Gershwin - sung by Rufus Wainwright in his Judy Garland tribute show.
I have adored the Gershwin songs for as long as I can remember. Once I thought I had lost my big piano anthology of their songs so I ordered a new one quick smart. Now I have two. This is one of my absolute favourites to play and sing, pretending that I might be in a 1940s Hollywood musical. *Sigh* It's never going to happen I know.

5. Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards - Billy Bragg - Worker's Playtime
Oh Billy you're all very serious and political. But the lyrics of this song also make me smile. That's no bad thing. We're all still waiting I think. One day Billy Bragg will realise the error of his ways and ask me to marry him. Dream On Wendy.

6. After All These Years - Silverchair - Diorama.
You know I'm no Silverchair fan, but this song is stunningly beautiful, with an unusual chord structure, soaring melody which is pretty bloody difficult to sing and a poetry to the lyrics that is unexpected. One day Daniel Johns will realise the error of his ways and ask me to marry him. Dream on Wendy.

7. Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants - Flood.
SURPRISED? No I didn't think you would be. I can remember the first time I saw and heard this song. The ABC was running Countdown Revolution 6pm weeknights. My brother and I were watching it as the music video came on. It took me two years before I heard it again. Bundaberg was a backwater at the time so I don't think I was going to find it in Big W. First year uni a friend had the album on CASSETTE which they kindly loaned me. My tape player chewed it up. Ooops. Soon after I bought the CD. (I could have filled the entirety of my selections with their songs but decided that might be unkind on the others.) One day John Linnell or John Flansburgh will realise the error of their ways and one or the other will ask me to marry them. Dream on Wendy.

8. Frank Mills - The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray
I love the story in this short little song. If you've never heard it you need to. It's like a narration of an incident. Only in the last few years have I discovered that it's from Hair. Anyway, Evan Dando used to be very beautiful with shiny long hair. That may have been part of the attraction of the song? Surely not. One day Evan Dando will realise....etc etc

9. Between the Wars - Billy Bragg - from the Back to Basics compilation I have
It's sparse, it's politically direct and sung with conviction.

10. Son of Sam - Elliott Smith - Figure 8
No longer with us sadly, Elliott Smith wrotes beautiful lyrics and melody. Best known for having songs on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, every one's a winner on this album.

11. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted - Jimmy Ruffin
I adore the epic scale of this song, and love that I discovered through the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE. (That's an order by the way).

12. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The album that inspired the Beatles to pull their collective fingers out and write Sergeant Pepper I believe ( I may be wrong). I adore anything with harmony and this is classic. Plus, apparently they copped some flack for mentioning the word God when it was first released. Something in common with John Lennon it seems. I don't want Brian Wilson to ask me to marry him.

13. Bohemian Polka - Weird Al Yankovic - Alapalooza
Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against Queen. We studied Bohemian Rhapsody in High School music class. (I think they still do). I appreciate the genius etc. But this just makes me laugh at the portentous, earnest lyrics. And in a funny way, I enjoy them even more. Regarding marriage see the above as for Brian Wilson.

14. The Unwelcome Guest - Billy Bragg and Wilco
The project that resurrected previously unheard Woody Guthrie lyrics. Nuff said really. Sometimes I worry that there is a country music fan hiding inside of me trying desperately to escape. But this is a stunning song. And it's a waltz. I was going to choose Walt Whitman's Niece because it's funnier. Seek it out if you've never heard it. One day Jeff Tweedy will etc get the idea

15. Across the Universe - The Beatles
Put every Beatles song ever written into a hat and pull one out. It could probably be on the list. This one just happens to be taking my fancy this week. One day Paul McCartney....oh no wait...he's a bit creepy these days sad to say.

16.Devil's Haircut - Beck - Odelay
My all time favourite Beck album. I can still remember going into the little CD shop in Hervey Bay and buying it the day after he won a heap of awards. Myself and the red-haird gawky teenage shop assistant had a lovely little conversation about it. One day Beck will definitely realise the error of his di da.

17. Where is My Mind - The Pixies - Surfer Rosa
See comments as for the Beatles. I am forever indebted to my little brother for playing these albums non-stop as they gradually seeped into my subconscious and I recognised them for the all round wonderfulness that they are. One day Joey Santiago....*just stop it it's not funny anymore*.

18. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - Nevermind
Yes - I know - the Generation X cliche. Whatever. It's still good. I do not apologise for including it. So there. One day Dave Grohl will arrive at my front door with a big bunch of flowers.....No? Oh Well...

19. Australia - The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Joyful and comic!

20. Take this Waltz - Leonard Cohen
I am a shamefully late adopter to Mr Cohen. I was put off seeking him out earlier by the memory of a conversation with my aforementioned brother who disdainfully described as a "depressing kind of poet". (NB. that's probably not a direct was many years ago but you get the general idea). I'm annoyed that I let that influence me, because I don't find this music depressing at all. It's melancholy, but a peculiarly hopeful melancholy if that makes any sense. Uplifting, witty, sometimes violent imagery, thoughtful with a great beauty and sense of solace. But not depressing. Again, regarding marriage see same as for Brian Wilson and Weird Al. Leonard and I could be good friends though I think.

If that wasn't enough this afternoon's bookclub is significant for two other reasons:
1. It's most likely Anne M's last bookclub with us before she deserts us for the bright lights of Brisbane. Sad faces all round.
2. In honour of no. 1 Ann H is giving a Devonshire Tea. (Because it's not like I haven't engaged in a foodfest all week long in celebration of my birthday. No sirree. Just what I need are more treats!)


2paw said...

I know #1,2,4,11,12 and 15. For me, this is quite a good strike rate. Unless it's The Beatles I'm pretty poor at modern music, I like Frank and Dean and Doris etc!!!
Oh Devonshire Tea, hope it's a wonderful send off for Ann M.

Wendy said...

The Devonshire Tea was indeed delightful. We're going to miss Ann M. As we said we'll need three people at least to make up for her contribution.!

Wendy said...

We laughed ourselves sick at #13. I highly recommend you seek it out on youtube or some such.

2paw said...

I shall indeed search out #13. Let you know how that goes!!