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lists to starboard
2004-03-16 - 2:13 a.m.

Idea stolen from pure honesty. Uh, you start up your MP3 player of preference (what do you mean, you don't have one?) (mine's Zinf, naturally) and load up all of your songs in random order, and then write down the first twenty that come up. Uh, she explains it better. Anyway, here's what I got:


1. Leonard Cohen, "Don't Go Home With Your Hard On"

How about that, my favourite musician came up first. An interesting song about... uh... well, the title says it all, really. A lot of Leonard's songs are about sex or make passing sexual allusions, but on this album (Death of a Ladies Man, on which he collaborated with Phil Spector) he decided to be a lot more explicit than usual... it's occasionally crass but never, in my humble opinion, tasteless, but to understand what I mean by that you'll have to listen to the song. I'm not going to write long commentaries like this on all of these or I'll be here all night. Ok, next:

2. Loudon Wainwright III, "Hitting You"

Loudon, the most extreme of all the confessional singer-songwriters, hits us with his most extreme confession of all, a song about hitting his daughter. (He has several children, including Rufus who is now famous in his own right; I think the subject of this song is Martha Wainwright, herself a very talented musician, writer of such songs as "Year of the Dragon" and "Baby Love".) This song made me sob like a baby the first time I heard it, and I still find it hard to listen to without getting teary. If you were ever hit by your parents as a child, this song will bring all kinds of memories flooding back...

3. Gillian Welch, "Honey Now"

A minor effort from a major talent, this song is a... well, perhaps I'm still in the mood from listening to No. 1. but to me it sounds very much like an expression of urgent lustfulness. "Later won't do me no good anyhow, honey, now, now now..." Indeed.

4. My Younger Siser, covering Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts"

As a consequence of my computer being used to transfer data from my sister's mixer onto CDs, I have a whole bunch of WAV files of her singing (and me singing, for that matter) sitting in my computer. A charming cover of a charming song-story.

5. Massive Attack, "Weather Storm"

Uh, my best friend gave me a CD full of MP3s of stuff that he likes for my last birthday, and I dutifully copied them into the appropriate directory on my computer. Uh, but I don't really get this... I'm sure they grow on you with time.

6. Belle and Sebastian, "Photo Jenny"

A pun on "photogenic", get it? Like so many of the songs not on their two classic albums, "Tigermilk" and "If You're Feeling Sinister", this is pleasant but insubstantial.

7. The Cast of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "What You Feel (reprise)"

Yes, I have the soundtrack to the musical episode of Buffy on my computer, and I'm not ashamed of it. Uh, as to the song itself... it's pretty good but very short, and really only makes sense in the context of the whole musical, since this is the last or second-last song.

8. Randy Newman, "Baltimore"

Um. Not sure what to say about this one. Randy Newman is great, but this is kind of an album track... it plays an important role in setting up the context on "Good Ol' Boys" (at least, I think that's the album it comes from) but it's not really... it doesn't have a lot going for it as a standalone song. Sorry Randy, you know I love you.

9. John Hiatt, "I Can't Wait"

This song is totally the most rockingest song ever. If I ever have a girlfriend again, and we're separated by great distances for some reason I can't think of now (but would be terribly romantic, I'm sure) this is the song I'd sing to her over the phone, except I wouldn't, because there's no way I could do the brilliance of this song justice. It's a fairly straightforward lyric about missing your significant other, but the backing, and Hiatt's singing, perfectly balanced between longing and a kind of mysterious something-else, lift it above the mortal realm into the realm of... uh, non-mortal stuff. Yeah. It's awesome.

10. The Who, "Pictures of Lily"

A joke song about falling in love with a girl in a picture... aww, I won't spoil the joke for you. Then you wouldn't have any reason to listen to this song.

11. The Who, "Amazing Journey"

How about that, two Who songs in a row. Just today I saw an ad on TV for "Who" magazine, with a pathetic, limp cover of "Who Are You" by The Who as the background music. Time was when something like that would've made me explode with rage. Nowadays I'm much calmer, and simply vowed never to buy this magazine again, and also, if I see anyone buying it, I will punch them hard in the stomach. Stupid and violent, I know, but them's the brakes. Anyway. This song is very long and comes from the album "Tommy", which is also very long. It kind of rocks in a standard Who-rocking kind of way, but, uh, as seems to apply to about 80% of the songs listed so far, it doesn't make much sense outside of the context of the album. Um. I promise not to say that about any other songs.

12. Deborah Conway, "White Roses"

I like the way she sings this, but I've got no real idea what it's about, except that it's sad. Failed love, I guess?

13. Jim Croce, "Photographs and Memories"

Ah, Zinf, what good taste you have. Jim Croce is my hero.

14. Buddy Holly, "It's So Easy"

Who doesn't love Buddy? Well, I'm never speaking to you again. At least give this song a listen. It's so easy to like it, why are you resisting it?

15. My Younger Sister again, this time covering Bruce Springsteen's "One Step Up"

Uh, not much to say here. This is a sad song about feeling like you've failed to become the person you might've been, and I like to listen to it when I feel sad like that.

16. The Who, "Baba O'Riley"

Another Who song! Weird that we got three from The Who and nothing from Richard Thompson. Ah well, that's randomnity for you, I guess. Anyway, you've gotta love this song, for the weird insistent synth-part that it opens with to the even-more-rocking-than-usual rhythm section and the powerful if somewhat abstract lyrics about teenage wasteland. When you're feeling angry, put this on, turn it up to 11, and scream along. Nothing like it.

17. Bruce Springsteen, "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)"

Bruce displays his energy and enthusiasm on a standard three chord rocker. Not a bad song, but it's not going to convert you if you're not already a fan. Um.

18. Stevie Wonder, "I Ain't Gonna Stand For It"

Ooh, good choice! I've written about this one before - this is the song with the "naa aah!" bit in it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I insist that you immediately go back and read the last 200-odd entries so you can find out. Anyway. Some surprisingly shocking images in the lyrics here, especially surprising considering that this is late-period Stevie, after the accident and not too long before that telephone song that is hated by fans of his early work, as noted in the book and film, "High Fidelity".

19. Stephen Sondheim, "...lift your razor high, Sweeney..."

A song from the musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", this short track consists of an eerie chorus singing about how creepy Sweeney Todd is. Genuinely unnerving, but not as much as the best part of the musical, the song about human pies. Mmmm, yum.

20. Michael Jackson, "It's The Falling In Love"

Ah, Michael, I love you. Why did you have to go and turn your life into a circus freakshow? You're too good for all that rubbish.


Wow, that was long. Ok. Um. right, better finish up, I guess.


"The only break they take is to the bone

And they're waiting on a train to take 'em home" - Chris Smither

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