Saturday, June 22, 2019

Six Months In A Leaky Boat

In December 2017 I put together a YouTube playlist of all the songs and lyrics I'd cannibalized for post titles that year. Then I made a post about it and called it "Superstar D.J."

In eighteen months that playlist has acquired an astonishing thirty-two views (!) which is an impressively tiny percentage of the 4000+ the post itself has managed, albeit most of those will have been bots. Even so, several hundred actual people probably saw the post and pretty much none of them followed the link to the playlist.

When it came time to repeat the process for this last New Year, in light of such an obvious and complete lack of interest I decided not to bother doing another. Another playlist, that is. That was hard work, anyway.

Doing a post, on the other hand, was a ton of fun, so I went ahead, putting all the links in the body of the text instead and calling it "I've Got A Little List". 

I've always used a lot of song titles and lyrics for posts but this year I've really doubled down. My aging brain tends to throw out the same snatches and suggestions, most of which I find I've already used. I have to google myself to be sure. These days I actively search for suitable phrases, both in my physical and digital collections and by trawling lyric search engines for matches.

I realized recently that, what with this extended effort and my enforced home-time this year meaning there's a strong chance my overall post count will be significantly higher than average, I'm going to end up in December with far more titles to cover than will fit into a single post. So I thought I'd split it into two.

Here's the first six months.

Girl Singing In The Wreckage - Black Box Recorder - I got the box set of all BBR's recorded output for Christmas. Can't have enough Luke Haines in your life.

Making Plans For Nigel - Nouvelle Vague - (Post title "Making Plans"). I love Nouvelle Vague's deeply inappropriate bossa nova interventions on po-faced rock classics (not that XTC were ever po-faced). They also once had some of the best comment sections on YouTube. Comments on their cover of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart used to be incendiary but time has eroded the hate, although you can still see references to the original reaction in the thread to this acoustic backstage performance from the Glastonbury Festival.

What Do I Do Now? - Sleeper - My favorite Britpop band, although Powder could have aced them out if they'd made more than one album before the drugs took over. I saw Sleeper third on the bill to The Blue Airplanes and A House. A few weeks later they were on Top of the Pops and never off the radio.

Hope Is A Dangerous Thing (For A Woman Like Me But I have It) - Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell is shaping up to be the best album ever made by anyone, always assuming the leaked tracks are actually on it, which is a very big "if" where Lana's concerned. Mariners Apartment Complex and Venice Bitch were the two best new songs I heard by anyone last year, by orders of magnitude.

Same Old Song - The Four Tops - Nothing wrong with a classic.

All Or Nothing - The Small Faces - Especially if Ronnie Lane's on it.

Twenty Years - Placebo - I tend to forget just how good Placebo are. They seem to fly under the radar a bit for such a long-running, successful band.

National Anthem - Lana Del Rey (Post title "Money Is The Anthem") I'd never seen this 68m view video until I came across it today, searching for a suitable link. It's stunning. I love Lana's monologues.

Same Same But Different - FXTRT - I actually got the name of this post from a sushi restaurant I used to walk past on the way to work. Whenever I use a title I think might also be a song, I run it past google in case it turns out to be something hyper-famous and really embarrassing. This is apparently the title of a movie but I also found the original, unrelated song by a Singaporean band called FXTRT (presumably pronounced Foxtrot). I don't generally get on with Math Rock but I like this, so here it is. I can't figure out if the drummer is disabled in some way or just deliberately trying to play in the most awkward fashion imaginable.

Funtime - Boy George - (Post title "All Aboard For Funtime") - I was obviously thinking of the Iggy Pop original but I just found this astounding Boy George cover with him doing Malcolm McDowell in a tunnel (in manner of speaking). How did we live before YouTube?

Small Wonder - TV Show Theme Song - I swear I never heard of this until today and the post certainly isn't named for it but I don't see why I should suffer alone. Did anyone ever watch this? If you missed it, looks like the entire thing is on YouTube - and it ran for several seasons. How?! And more importantly, why?!

Death Cab For Cutie - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band -  From the Beatles' ill-fated Magical Mystery Tour TV movie and the source of a well-known band's name. I was hoping Death Cab For Cutie might have done a cover of Death Cab For Cutie but try googling that...

Art House Director - Broken Social Scene - Canada fights so far above its weight when it comes to indie-inflected pop it's insane.

Here's Where The Story Ends - The Sundays - I really should like The Sundays but they always seem a bit obvious, like The Darling Buds without the snark or The Cranes without the sturm und drang or The Cocteaus without everything that made The Cocteau Twins iconic. This is cute enough, I guess.

Talking With Strangers - Miya Folick - (Post title "Talking To Strangers"). This is definitely the reference I intended but it appears I misremembered the title, or maybe I changed it intentionally. I should make notes.

A New Career In A New Town - TourDeForce - Oh come on, Bhagpuss! Why this, not the classic Bowie original? Because I love the Synthwave scene (yet another rabbit hole I'd never have found without YouTube) and this is a magnificent assault on a the great man's work, with gloriously oversaturated visuals to match. Terrible band name, though.

More Than Shooters, More Than Looters - John Legend and The Roots feat. Common et al - A cover of a Teddy Pendergrass song but it's Common's great rap that gives the post it's title.

New Kind Of Neighborhood - Jonathan Richman - Wangetty Dangetty Dingy Dang Dangetty...

Service - The Fall - (Post title "This Day's Portion") - From the last Fall album I bought on release, The Infotainment Scam, although this is the Peel Session version. We miss you, Mark.

Low Rider - War - (Post title "Drives A Little Slower") - I went to see some movie in the 1980s, mid-afternoon, knew nothing about it, can't remember the title. It was all about low riding. Why it was even showing I have no clue. This might have been on the soundtrack but I bet it wasn't. The movie wasn't that great.

Riding For A Fall - John Holt - Not a big reggae fan but that voice, that timing, that bass...

Come Home Baby Julie, Come Home - The American Analog Set - (Post title "It'll Be Like Before You Were Gone"). Should have called themselves Lack of Affect. I've studied these lyrics for hours and I'm still not sure what he's talking about. I tend toward the "his wife stopped loving him after the birth of their child" theory but it could just be that she went off with somebody else, and who could blame her?

Fool's Gold - Graham Parker And The Rumour - One of the best live performers I've seen although you can't really tell from this plodder. Pretty sure he'd have been a much bigger star if he'd been about eight inches taller. Oh, you know what I mean!

Portions For Foxes - Rilo Kiley - (Post title "There Is No Mystery Left"). I just love this song. Insanely catchy, superb lyric, perfect sentiment. I had no idea for years it was Jenny Lewis's band. I just found it when I was searching for songs with "Fox" in the title or lyric, as you do. Well, as I do. Just wait for my "Pony" playlist. I really love the way she stands to play, too.

Right Now And Not Later - The Shangri-Las - Unparalleled genius.

Video Games - Lana Del Rey - There are a lot of covers of this on YouTube and most of them are terrible. Well, I'm guessing... obviously I haven't watched "most" of them. The Melanie Martinez one is sweet, though, and the Bombay Bicycle Club Live Lounge version is both hysterically overwrought and understated at the same time, which is some trick if you can pull it off.

Delilah - Dresden Dolls - (Post title "Seven Years In Advertising") - I admire Amanda Palmer more than I actually like to listen to her but this has Lene Lovich! Bit of a wait until she joins in but it's so worth it.

Hospital - Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers - (Post title "When You Get Out Of The Hospital") - Jonathan can be scary. I've always read this as the story of an abusive and violent relationship involving obsessive stalking. Actually, Jonathan's often scary, just it's usually harder to spot with all the supposed niceness layered over the top, but he never fooled me. There's a great Luke Haines cover of this, too.

Let The Good Times Roll - Slade - There must be literally hundreds of versions of this on YouTube but this is the one I remember. Well, this and Little Richard, naturally.

You Can Leave Your Hat On - Etta James - Almost every version of this ever recorded is literally unlistenable, or should be treated as such if you want to retain your sanity. Then along came Etta.

Mellow Yellow - Donovan - Oh, Donovan. What were you like? Can't really tell when this was recorded. He doesn't look that old, although it's hard to tell with video like that.

Me In You - Kings Of Convenience - (Post title "If You Squint It Looks The Same"). This really needs trigger warnings for depression and suicide. Be very wary of Swedes playing acoustic guitars, that's my advice.

Switzerland - The Shop Assistants - (Post title "Switzerland Is The Place To Be") - One of my favorite bands of all time. Seminal live footage.

50ft Queenie - P.J. Harvey -  (Post title "Fifty And Rising") - There's always one, isn't there?

Space Oddity - ASON - (Post title "Floating In A Most Peculiar Way") - Think yourselves lucky. I could have given you Puddles Pity Party or Korn and Marilyn Manson or even William Shatner, god forbid. Puddles' version is actually pretty good, as always, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Four Stars Out Of Five - Arctic Monkeys - From one of the best albums I bought last year, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.  A prog concept album about a space station. In 2018. David Bowie has so much to answer for.

Something In The Air - David Bowie - And here he is! The Thin White Duke, as I live and breathe! I confess I was thinking of Thunderclap Newman when I came up with the title, but we've all heard that one a thousand times.

Modern Art - Art Brut - (Post title "Modern Art Makes Me") - Possibly the best-known tune by the sorely underrated noughties Fierce Panda act. Main problem seems to be they think it's still 1995. Or wish it was. Then, don't we all?

My Other Life - Lloyd Cole - One of my favorite Lloyd Cole songs, which is to say all of them, so that doesn't help. He's one of the very few performers where I would hesitate to link to a live version. I think he's a bit better in his later years, now he pretends he's a folk singer, but really his songs need the full studio treatment - he flattens them out live and not in a good way.

Two Weeks In Another Town - The Lemonheads - (Post title "Two Weeks In Another Camp") - A bit convoluted, this one. I was thinking of the movie, then I changed the title, then I discovered there's an entirely unrelated Evan Dando number of the same name. 

Barabajagal (Love Is Hot) - P.U.M.P. - It's bloody Donovan again! Well, some of it seems to be. It's hard to be sure. What in the name of sanity persuaded this lot, whoever they were, to cover this? Don't care, it's great!

Saw Red - Sublime Feat. Gwen Stefani - (Post title "Makes No Sense At All") - I had nothing particular in mind when I used this but it crops up in any number of songs, some of them by people already represented on this list. Let's have this one. I'd never heard of Sublime until the Lana cover. I didn't think they'd look like that, either.

Never Satisfied - Future (Feat. Drake) - This is another of those generic phrases that turns up in dozens of songs. I'm sure I was thinking of  Prince's When Doves Cry but I found the Future/Drake collab when I was searching and it's too good to miss.

My October Symphony - The Pet Shop Boys - (Post title "Rewrite or Revise?") - What a weirdly stretched video. Worth it for the visuals alone.

Up On The Roof - Carole King - I had The Drifters hit in mind but Carole wrote it and she really brings out the melancholy. Plus that Laurel Canyon sound is so in right now.

Days - Kirsty MacColl - (Post title "Those Endless Days") - Killed by a speedboat. Is that a rock and roll death? No, it's just stupid. And a tragedy. Let's have the Kinks original to cheer ourselves up.

Car's Outside - Head - (Post title "Car's Outside, Engine's Running") - Head was one of Gareth Sager's many, many bands, several of which I saw live and the first - and latterly most celebrated of which - The Pop Group - my own band twice supported at tiny venues back in the post-punk feeding frenzy. I love all Head's albums but unfortunately, the only time I saw them play, before they'd released anything at all, the sound was terrible and they were lackluster.

Ocean - Roland S Howard - (Post title "Down By The Sea") - A roiling, rolling, brooding cover of the Velvets classic by the former Birthday Party guitarist, who I know best for his collaborations with Swell Maps' Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. (That's his name, although I very much doubt it's what his mother called him). They're all dead now, of course, along with just about everyone who ever played with them.

After The Fox - The Hollies - (Post title "I Am The Fox") - I don't much like Peter Sellers and I never thought much of The Hollies, but this is a curious, timestamped sixties artifact with a line that just fitted the post perfectly.

I Can Fly - Lana Del Rey - Well, here's a surprise. It's Lana again. From the Tim Burton movie I haven't seen but would like to.

You Need To Calm Down - Taylor Swift - (Post title "Now We All Got Crowns (Ok, Bunnies...)" - I think I used this quote on the very day Tay released it. I saw it on Pitchfork with a lyric video and it made me smile so hard I knew I wanted to share it somehow. I kind of shoehorned it in but I'm glad I did. And the official video that followed is just legendary!

Ride Your Pony - Lee Dorsey -  (Post title "Get On Your Pony And Ride") - One more for the pony playlist.

Blank Generation - Richard Hell - (Post title "I Belong To The Beak Generation") - I had to check to see whether Richard Hell's still alive. He is. He's 69. He doesn't seem to have recorded anything since the mid-90s and that wasn't much.

Second Hand NewsMatthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs - Let's go out on a low note, why don't we? This is a Fleetwood Mac cover. I used to think Fleetwood Mac were the devil but I've mellowed a bit on that. Matthew Sweet has one of my favorite voices in rock and he's a great songwriter but he's the very definition of a wasted talent. He and Susannah Hoffs, who's voice I also like a lot, seem to have settled on a strange career of performing and recording bland covers of every song they ever heard and mildly liked. I made the mistake of buying one of their many collections of these. It doesn't get much play.

And there we go for now. We're not quite at the end of June but if I try to restrain myself from using any lyrical quotes in post titles for the next week that'll be a neat half-year.

Oh, who do I think I'm kidding?


  1. I really love Lana Del Rey's version of Blue Velvet, even if it was done for a TV ad originally. I normally describe my musical tastes as eclectic, but seeing this list I have a long way to go it seems ;-)

    1. Funny you should pick out Blue Velvet. I do think Lana does a great job with it but it's a song I have always disliked. It works in the movie but other than that I always find it a bit of a dirge.

      I've been listening to music fairly obsessively for almost half a century now and about the one consistent factor I've noticed is that there's *always* something new to discover that's as good as or maybe even better than almost anything you've already heard. I firmly believe that the "best" music I'll hear lies somewhere in the future. That said, music isn't milk: it doesn't go off as it gets older.

      Raid the archives and watch the radar!


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