Sunday, 27 October 2013

My Top Ten Lou Reed / Velvet Underground Songs

It's a shame that the first Top Ten I've had time to compose since Sam was born (the last few weeks' were all prepared in advance) is commemorating a death, but I couldn't let Lou Reed pass without a little rushed Top Tenning...

10. Sunday Morning

Bitter irony: Lou died on a Sunday Morning.

9. Beginning Of A Great Adventure

A few weeks ago, I threw this into one of my parenthood Top Tens. I include it again here because:

a) It disproves all those folk who think Lou didn't have a sense of humour.

b) It's ace.

8. Who Loves The Sun

No, there's nothing from Metal Machine Music on this list. I must be a pop kid at heart.

7. Venus In Furs

And yes, if I were a muso, this would be much nearer Number One too.

6. Perfect Day

Hard to hear this without picturing that scene from Trainspotting... or hearing that patchy singalong charity cover from a few years back. Still... perfect.

5. Sweet Jane
I'll tell you something
Jack, he is a banker
And Jane, she is a clerk
Both of them save their monies, ha
And when, when they come home from work
Oh, sittin' down by the fire, oh!
The radio does play
The classical music there, Jim
The march of the wooden soldiers
All you protest kids
You can hear Jack say, get ready, ah...
It's a sex song, obviously.

4. Satellite of Love

Bong bong bong!

3. Oh! Sweet Nuthin'

Loaded is my favourite Velvets album (as you'll probably have guessed from the fact 4 out of the 10 tracks here hail from that LP alone). It's not the cool one that all the critics love, but it's pretty damned near perfect. This track that closes it, brilliantly.

2. Rock & Roll

Our lives were saved by rock 'n' roll...

1. Walk On The Wild Side

I fought this one, I really did. Tried to not go for the obvious choice at #1. Tried to be cool rather than populist. But... fuck it, I don't think Lou did better than this. Few have come close...

Do-dodo dodo do-dodo...

RIP Lou.

Which was your Perfect Day?

Monday, 21 October 2013

My Top Ten Bad Dad Songs

I've looked to a lot of pop songs for advice on fatherhood lately. Here's a few I won't be asking for help...

10. Morrissey - The Father Who Must Be Killed

A stepchild takes revenge against her abusive father... for the way he chews his food? I suspect there's more to it than that. Morrissey champions the underdogs once again. 

9. Genesis - No Son Of Mine

The darker side of The Living Years, which I covered in an earlier post, about a young man trying to reconcile with an abusive father... and not getting very far.

8.  The Indelicates - Be Afraid Of Your Parents

How to cope when your parents are pretentious arses... oh, the horror!

7. Kenny Rogers - The Coward of the County

On his prison deathbed, Tommy's late father tells him to always walk away from a fight. Tommy honours his dad's wishes... until the Gatlin Boys come calling. On that day, Tommy realises, "Sometimes you've gotta fight when you're a man".

6. Eminem - '97 Bonnie & Clyde

You have to wonder how poor little Hailie Jade will end up when she's got a crazy dad like Marshall Mathers. There were any number of Bad Dad songs I could have chosen from Eminem's back catalogue, but this one always makes me smile for its playful parody of an aforementioned Will Smith record...
Don't play with da-da's toy knife, honey, let go of it  
And don't look so upset, why you actin' bashful?
Don't you wanna help da-da build a sand castle?
And mama said she wants to show how far she can float
And don't worry about that little boo-boo on her throat
It's just a little scratch - it don't hurt, her was eatin'
Dinner while you were sweepin' and spilled ketchup on her shirt
Mama's messy ain't she? 

We'll let her wash off in the water and me and you can play by ourselves, can't we?
5. Martin Rossiter -  Three Points On A Compass

The lead track from the Gene man's long awaited debut solo album of last year is a hugely affecting 10 1/2 minute piano ballad aimed squarely at an absent father.
The only thing I got from you
Was my name
(This stupid name)
4. The Beautiful South - Your Father and I

A mother and father bicker over the story behind the conception and birth of their child... but who's telling the truth? Classic Heaton.
(Dad)  I'll remember the birth
For the rest of my time on this land
Your mother sweating buckets
And me holding onto her hand

(Mum) Well, your father was absent
He claimed he couldn't find the ward
Just tugging on mescal
Trying to eat the umbilical cord
3. Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue

Sue (aka Johnny) wants revenge on his pa for the cruel hand he dealt his son before doing a runner. But there was method in the old man's madness...

2.  Squeeze - Up The Junction

I almost included this on My Top Ten Songs About Becoming A Parent. There's no better song to chronicle the arrival of a new baby...
This morning at 4:50
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another
The only problem is that after that joyous event, everything goes bad for the alcoholic dad who's narrating this tale and he's left alone with only bitterness and regret.
And now she's two years older
Her mother's with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling
What makes this song even more impressive is that it's all verse, no chorus. Not many hit records can claim that.

1. Pulp - A Little Soul

One of my favourite Pulp singles, allegedly about Jarvis' relationship with his estranged father.
I'd love to help you
But everybody's telling me
You look like me
But please don't turn out like me.
You look like me
But you're not like me I know.
I had one, two, three,
Four shots of happiness.
I look like a big man
But I've only got a little soul.
I only got a little soul.

Any more bad parents I should be aware of? Feel free to share them with the class.

Monday, 14 October 2013

My Top Ten Daddy Songs

Still looking for songwriterly advice on being a dad, now I'm a daddy cool... 

10. Cliff Richard - Daddy's Home

I'd like to apologise... for having no shame. Seriously, though, if you can find another video that SCREAMS 80s camp more than this... while simultaneously being exceedingly creepy... I want to see it.

Look, it was this or more Eminem: My Dad's Gone Crazy (which, after choosing Cliff, you probably think I have). Eminem fans - come back next week.

9. Johnny Cash - Daddy Sang Bass

The Man In Black had a lighter side.

On a similar note, see Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice by Mozzer.

8. Naomi Bedford - Daddy's Got A Gun

I picked this up as a free download on Amazon a while back. I must investigate Naomi Bedford further... this is a cracker!

7. Prince - Daddy Pop

Let's all celebrate a Prince song that's actually on youtube! Hooray!

6. The Lemonheads - C'mon, Daddy

A song about confused parenthood. As is this...

5. Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy

 I love the 80s. See also Billie Jean, obviously. "The kid is NOT my son!"

4. The Divine Comedy - Your Daddy's Car

 No, son, you can't borrow the car keys.

3. Nilsson - Daddy's Song

Fathers who desert their children feature heavily in another Top Ten I'm compiling. The experience obviously had a powerful effect on little Harry N.

2. Elvis Presley - Don't Cry, Daddy

On his own recent compilation of Daddy-related tunes, Deano claimed that "this song makes you realise how good Elvis’s voice actually was". I couldn't agree more. And whenever I hear it, I get a little bit sad that we live in a cynical, post-ironic age that might laugh at a song written from the perspective of a child who's lost his mum, trying to cheer up his broken-hearted father. This is a beautiful record.

1. Loudon Wainwright III - Being A Dad

Rufus and Martha have had much to say about their father's incessant need to chronicle their childhood in song... not always positive. This is the guy who famously wrote Rufus Is A Titman, about his baby son's penchant for breastfeeding (did that put Rufus off tits for life?), and Daughter (you ask me, Martha got off lightly!) But Being A Dad must surely be his crowning glory...
Bein' a dad isn't so bad
Except that you gotta feed 'em
You gotta shoe 'em and clothe 'em
And try not to loathe 'em
Bug 'em and hug 'em and heed 'em

Bein' a dad can sure make you mad
Man, it even can drive you crazy
It's as hard as it looks
You gotta read them dumb books
And you end up despising Walt Disney

Who's your daddy?

Monday, 7 October 2013

My Top Ten Party Songs

To celebrate our new arrival, we're having a party at Top Ten Towers... and you're invited. My son Sam is 4 weeks old today and 1 calendar month on Wednesday. This is his party.

There are, of course, thousands of "party" songs. To narrow that down, the first rule is that the song has to have "party" in the title. There are, however, lots of songs that mention parties in the title but are actually anything but party songs (Party Fears Two, It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To). Those will get their own Top Ten one day. Basically, to get in here... you've gotta make me want to hit the dancefloor. (And that takes some doing.)

So... let's party!

10. The Blackout - Start The Party

Welsh rockers The Blackout swap Merthyr Tydfil for Ibiza in the title track from their latest album. Loses points for the cry of "Wuzzzaaaaaappp?" right at the end of the video. Does anybody really still say "Wuzzzaaaaaappp?" in 2013? Or am I just out of touch?

9. Gretchen Wilson - Here For The Party

Nobody parties like a redneck queen...
Well, I'm an eight ball shooting, double fisted drinking son of a gun
I wear my jeans a little tight
Just to watch the little boys come undone
I'm here for the beer and the ball busting band
Gonna get a little crazy just because I can

I'm here for the party
8. Queen - Party / Kashoggi's Ship

The opening tracks to Queen's late 80s album The Miracle segue together for a party full of excess... just like Freddie's life.
No one stops my party!
7. Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes - We're Having A Party

Written and originally recorded by Sam Cooke, but Johnny's version is more likely to fill the dance floor.

6. Pulp - Party Hard

The darkest song on this list, dealing with the death of the Britpop party (as the whole This Is Hardcore album portrayed in exquisite detail), yet it still rocks. Plus - Jarvis plays dominoes with a squadron of cheerleaders. The man is a god.
I was having a whale of a time until your uncle...
Your uncle Psychosis arrived.
Why do we have to half kill ourselves just to prove we're alive?
I'm here whenever you need me
and whenever you need me
I won't be here.
And have you ever stopped to ask yourself?
If you didn't come to party, then why did you come here?
5. Pink - Get The Party Started

As we've already established, I'm a huge Pink fan. This is the kind of dancey pop racket that, were it recorded by anyone else, I might not give much time to. But I do like Pink... and this tune does exactly what it says on the tin.

4. The Divine Comedy - I've Been To A Marvellous Party

Neil Hannon covers the Noel Coward classic. It begins as a crackly old gramophone recording before going all techno-Prodigy in the middle. That really shouldn't work. But, by jove, it does.
On Wednesday night, I went to a marvellous party
With Nunu and Nada and Nell
It was in the fresh air and we went as we were and we stayed as we were which was hell
Poor Grace started singing at midnight and she didn't stop singing til four
We knew the excitement was bound to begin when Laura got blind on Dubonet and Gin
And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin - I couldn't have liked it more!
3. Elvis Presley - Let's Have A Party

Back in high school, I played Little John in our Sixth Form Robin Hood pantomime. At the beginning of the second half, the Merry Men had a party... and I performed this song with as much Elvis swagger as I could manage. (It was mimed, sadly, but I gave it my all.) Hearing it always reminds me of my moment in the spotlight. 

2. The Beastie Boys - (You've Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)

Thank god for those brackets - I couldn't have left this one out.

Top video - "I hope no bad people show up!"

1. Andrew W.K. - Party Hard

I don't know what to make of Andrew W.K. You can read all kinds of wild conspiracy theories about him over on iffypedia and I don't think any of his other records have stayed on my radar for more than five minutes. But if you're going to go down in history as a crazy one-hit wonder... you can do much worse than this belter.

Which one makes you want to party like it's 1999?
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