Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My Top Ten Bathtime Songs

Sam does love bathtime. It's the highlight of his day... after eating and pooping.

Here's ten songs to bathe in...

10. No Doubt - Bathwater

I did prefer Gwen Stefani before she became so big and full of herself.

9. The Wonder Stuff - 30 Years In The Bathroom

And you think your other half spends a long time in the bath! Imagine if you lived with Miles Hunt...
And now the time has come to share the joke
That the latch on the bathroom door is broke
And now it's time to let you know
That it's only the beat of my heart that is slow
Who's fault is this? I deny that it's mine
I been stuck in here since 1959
That's 30 good years in the bathroom baby
8. God Help The Girl - Pretty Eve In The Tub

Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch was found lurking outside this lady's bathroom making suggestive remarks through the steamed up window. 

7. The Beatles - She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

As part of the majestic opera that is Side 2 of Abbey Road, this is Lennon & McCartney at their most amazing. Doesn't really work outside that context though.

6. The Divine Comedy - Bath

Only Neil Hannon could begin a song with a quote from the bible, followed by a lengthy string quartet intro, the lines "Rub-a-dub-dub, it's time for a scrub"... before going on to tell us of Ophelia's last day on earth. If you call that pretentious, you don't understand genius.

5. Bobby Darin - Splish Splash

We sang this to Sam quite a lot to encourage enjoyment in his earliest bathtime adventures. The cheesier side of rock 'n' roll: good, clean fun.

4. Tindersticks - Bathtime

Stuart Staples, the world's greatest pub-singer, gets filthy in the city and needs to clean up his act. 

3. Harry Nilsson - Bath
I'm beginning to think there's hope for the human race...
Steady on, Harry...

2. The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom

Ska classic. Great beat, don't try to make sense of the lyrics.
Can I take you to a restaurant
That's got glass tables?
You can watch yourself
While you are eating
1. The Real Tuesday Weld - Bathtime In Clerkenwell

I think it's fair to say there's nothing else like this track on this Top Ten... or anywhere else in the known universe. No idea what it's about or where it came from, but it sounds like the best bathtime ever...

Which one makes you want to take a soak?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

My Top Ten Alone... Songs

There are hundreds of great songs about being alone. So I had to narrow down the running.

Here's ten that begin with the word 'Alone'... do play by the rules now.

10. The Strokes - Alone, Together

The Strokes are OK. I still kinda prefer their dad. (See last week's Top Ten.)

9. The Morning After Girls - Alone

One of the reasons I do this blog is because it forces me to listen to songs that exist in my record collection that I've never listened to before. This was ripped from one of those free magazine CDs a few years back... and it's pretty cool.

8. The Bee Gees - Alone

Because we don't get enough Bee Gees round these parts.

7. Spearmint - Alone In A Town

According to google, this song does not exist. Which is a crying shame because it's a tragic story of Shirley Lee's loneliest student Christmas. Track it down and share his misery.

6. King - Alone Without You

Do not watch the video. Remember this song without sullying your eyeballs with the worst excesses of 80s pop nonsense. No wonder Paul King ended up working for MTV.
Na-na Na nana 
Nana Naa Na na nana!
5. The Beautiful South - Alone
Half an hour is seven hours
One day is several months... alone.
Heato at his most heartbreaking.
He knows 'hello' in 18 languages
'I love you' in only one
By the time he's got his phrasebook
His chance is usually gone
4. The Broken Family Band - Alone In The Make-Out Room

A song about being feeling terribly alone in a "happy" relationship... gone very bad.
I wanna watch you drown in a lake
Or get stamped by a bull or bit by a snake
And there is not a single doctor who will come and help you

I want you to move to Australia
With me a success and you facing failure
And all of the friends you had ignoring your calls
3. Heart - Alone

All I need is to hear the opening line and suddenly I'm 15 again and no one will ever love me...

2. Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again, Naturally

First Gilbert gets dumped at the altar, then his mum and dad pop their clogs. No wonder he wants to top himself...
In a little while from now,
If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promised myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower,
And climbing to the top,
Will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it's like when your shattered
Left standing in the lurch, at a church
where people 're saying,
"My God that's tough, she stood him up!
No point in us remaining.
We may as well go home."
As I did on my own,
Alone again, naturally
Pure suicide anthem joy. No wonder Morrissey was a fan.

1. Love - Alone Again, Or

One of the greatest songs of the sixties, just mesmerising. Love that Spanish guitar.

Pretty damned fine 80s cover by The Damned too. (Although the video features possibly the worst moustache ever seen in show business.)

Please don't leave me all alone without a comment...

Friday, 14 February 2014

My Top Ten Southern Songs

I'm a proud Northerner through and through, but I don't have anything against any Soft Southern Jessies who might be reading this blog. And to prove it, here's ten songs just for you...

10. The Lucksmiths - Southernmost

You can't get much further south than the Lucksmiths, from Melbourne, Australia. This is a beautiful short story song of southern summer nights, swimming pools and falling asleep to the sound of a walkman.

9. John Murry - Southern Skies
The devil's paintbrush
Holds just one color
John Murry is one scary dude.

8. Crosby, Stills & Nash - Southern Cross

CSN sail south to Tahiti, perhaps searching for their erstwhile fourth member. (A clue: you'll find him higher up this chart.)

7. Albert Hammond - It Never Rains In Southern California

Albert Hammond's greatest creation... if you don't count his son, Jr., that guy in the Strokes. Despite all that, Al Sr.'s actually a Brit. He also co-wrote When I Need You for Leo Sayer. Is there anything he can't do?

6. Brad Paisley - Southern Comfort Zone

Never one to shy away from a cheesy pun or a comedy video, here Brad uses a tractor for percussion before running around the world in a single T-shirt, only to conclude "there's no place like Tennessee". Still my favourite contemporary country singer.

5. Glen Campbell - Southern Nights

Allen Toussaint's tribute to Louisiana. Not every classic Glen Campbell song was written by Jimmy Webb...

4. Boy & Bear - Southern Sun

More Aussies, from a little further north than the Lucksmiths. One of my best new musical discoveries of 2014 (so far), I'm currently saving up for their latest album, Harlequin Dream. (Money's pretty tight this month or I'd have already bought it.)

3. Tom Petty - Southern Accents

Florida's Tom Petty sings a romantic ode to the Orlando orange groves of his youth.

2. Luke Haines - English Southern Man

Oddly, the only Southern song in my list actually dedicated to the south of England. Luke Haines has spent a good part of his career taking good-natured swipes at us Thick Northerners, but I'll let him off... even if God's Own Country could never be on the south coast, Luke.

Luke's title, of course, was inspired by this...

1. Neil Young - Southern Man

Neil's vitriolic attack on Deep South racism, which may (or may not*) have inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd to fire back with Sweet Home Alabama. That surely earns it a Number One placing in any Southern chart.

(*Young himself claims that despite the reference to both himself and "Southern Man" in Sweet Home Alabama, Skynyrd were actually responding to the lyrics of another song, Alabama... which he no longer stands behind, anyway. So Neil & the Skynyrd boys ended up pals after all.)

Which is your Southern Superman?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

My Top Ten 'To Be...' Songs

Sorry I didn't post a Top Ten last week. I was too busy being a dad, being a teacher, being a constant pain in Louise's neck etc. etc. to be a blogger. Here's ten great songs beginning with the verb 'To be...'

10. B. A. Robertson - To Be Or Not To Be

Any song that begins:

"Now I'm a little shy
I like to stay homeo..."

...well, you just know that ain't gonna end well. Full credit to B.A. though: that sucker actually finds some even worse rhymes as this creaky 70s classic progresses. It's As You Like It, you know.

The Bard would probably prefer To Be Or Not To Be by Richard E. Grant & Orpheus which sticks to his classic text...but sullies it with a shabby, sub-Pet Shop Boys beat. 

9. Villagers - To Be Counted Among Men

A gorgeous acoustic ballad from the hugely talented Conor O'Brien, the closing track from his excellent debut album, Becoming A Jackal.

8. Mr. Big - To Be With You

Top cheesy early 90s tuneage. You think you're too cool for this: you're wrong. 

7. Belle & Sebastian - To Be Myself Completely
...I've just got to let you down.
Yes, you're dumped. But it's not you: it's me!

6. Idlewild - To Be Forgotten

Too Good To Be Forgotten... as Amazulu once had it. Though, shockingly, this one appears to have fallen off the radar completely. Not even on youtube! A crime.

5. Ryan Adams - To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)

Ryan's debut solo effort begins with an Argument With David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey... which is exactly what it says on the tin. Once that's out of the way, this song starts the album proper... and in many ways, Mr. Adams has yet to better it.

4. The Jam - To Be Someone

One of Weller's finest moments.
And there's no more swimming in a guitar shaped pool
No more reporters at my beck and call
No more cocaine it's only ground chalk
No more taxis now we'll have to walk
3. Billy Idol - To Be A Lover

I make no secret of my profound admiration for Mad Billy McMad. Here he covers (and changes the title) of William Bell's 60s soul classic I Forgot To Be Your Lover to the point that it's unrecognisable,  all the while doing his trademark punk-Elvis impression in a boxing ring with the cast of C.A.T.S. Eyes on backing vocals. He even ropes a human version of Rowlf from the Muppets in to play the piano. They don't make 'em like Billy anymore, and that's a sad loss to the entertainment industry.

2. Nils Lofgren - To Be A Dreamer

Sound advice from the E. Street axeman's pop...
He said: "Son, I brought you here to dream
Life's not what the world would have it seem
The call of the wild makes you a believer
I brought you into this world... to be a dreamer."
Been listening to this a lot lately, and it keeps making me cry. What a sentimental old fool Sam's dad is.

When I got the idea for this Top Ten, I figured Nils would be top dog. But, of course, I'd forgotten this... 
Another one that rarely fails to reduce me to a sobbing wreck on the carpet: particularly as featured in the movie it was written for, Winged Migration. (It's a documentary about birds, but you don't have a heart in your chest if it doesn't ache for what our feathered friends put themselves through every year for a "holiday".)

1. Nick Cave - To Be By Your Side

Another one that rarely fails to reduce me to a sobbing wreck on the carpet: particularly as featured in the movie it was written for, Winged Migration. (It's a documentary about birds, but you don't have a heart in your chest if it doesn't ache for what our feathered friends put themselves through every year for a "holiday".)

To be a commenter or not to be a commenter: that is the question...
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