Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All-Time, Pt. 5

10. "The Black Arts", Stereolab--An unusually erotic turn by the airy pop act, made all the more enchanting (and slippery sweet) by the back masking of Jim O'Rourke.

9. "I Love Her All the Time", Sonic Youth--An ode to a woman and a city. I put this on here over "The Diamond Sea" because this song directly acknowledges the nerve-twisting of any solid, effective relationship. The music then simulates said feeling.

8. "Waterloo", ABBA--If there was ever a gay Army division, they would have to have an anthem. This would be it. More than that, this is the type of "love is inevitable, let it happen" song that you can dance very badly to.

7. "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic", the Police--The hi-hat-and-piano slink intro sure makes up for that fake reggae part near the end.

6. "Get Ready", Rare Earth--White boys on Motown cover an rhythm and blues classic and do it better. Disproves further the myth that nothing good can come of the drummer singing. Way tight.

5. "Oh!", Sleater-Kinney--"It's all in my pocket/I call it my rocket". Oh, the innuendo! A great bands greatest song and an egalitarian call to arms.

4. "Shine a Little Love", ELO--Jeff Lynne started ELO to remake "I Am the Walrus" over and over. This is "I Am the Walrus" reimagined as love song, right down to the "woo"'s.

3. "God Only Knows", Beach Boys--From using the word "God" in the title, right down to the french horns, this is classic pop. Many people point out the first line as jarring ("I may not always love you") but come on...the rest of the lyrics call bullshit on that.

2. "Maybe I'm Amazed", Wings--The throaty proclamations of a man in real love, which means he's not exactly sure, but he's never fucking bored.

1. "Your Song", Elton John--Just the right blend of heartfelt sentiment and endearing self-deprecation. Straightforward. Timeless.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. 947

The upcoming 20th season of The Simpsons will feature a Great Pumpkin parody. This article is spoilertastic, so be forewarned before you click. I cannot wait to see it. Not feeling so enthusiastic about the political segment of the new "Treehouse of Horror".

What, a football story that references the football gag?

The Brett Favre saga will not die. It's driving me up a wall. Seriously, ESPN has turned into FavreCentral. So you know I would not link you to something Favre-related unless it was good.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

She's a Panic

Little interlude here before the fifth and final part of the lovely list...today I went for a walk around the block and lasted the entire way. That said, I still felt the panic wanting to overwhelm me. The feeling in my left leg and in my head. Not pain, mind you, just a feeling. An uneasy feeling. I didn't have a panic attack. I haven't had one in over a week, actually. What's funnier, I went 3 miles on my stationary bike today and didn't feel the least bit out of sorts.

The body...odd.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time, Pt. 4

20. "Burning Love", Elvis Presley--First put to tape by Arthur Alexander in 1971, then claimed for the ages a year later by the once-King. Hearkens to his salad days as heavenly messenger, with hellish imagery thrown in.

19. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", Queen--From Elvis to Elvis-influenced rockabilly. Done by English dudes. Flawlessly. And leave it to Freddie Mercury, Our Lady of the Eternal Ego, to drop a shout out to himself in a love song.

18. "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor--Written by Prince, but Sinead rented to own. Immaculate performance, indelible imagery, a minimalist joy. Perfect to bawl to.

17. "Sweet Love", Anita Baker--Modern R&B sucks. It has no heart, no soul, no brain, and an insane compulsion to seek the cred that only shitty pop rappers can provide. The sentiment of "Sweet Love" is cliche, sure; I'm not claiming that eighties music was straight outta Faulkner, crazy father-griever named Emily. But the vocalists then tended to emote (without vocoders, thanks) and the producers actually sought to compose.

16. "So Far Away", Carole King--Tapestry owned the collective heart and mind of the seventies woman. Intelligence, heart and playfulness--Carole King displayed all three traits in spades, enough to affect the lives of millions. For a song so utterly stripped of the joy of romance, I'm always happy to hear it, because the distance isn't eternal.

15. "Superstar", the Carpenters--Originally a groupies lament, Richard Carpenter changed a lyric (from "I can hardly wait to sleep with you again"), lacquered up the sound, and placed the rest in the dependable hands of his sister. One take later, a hit. Would probably be top 10 if Richard didn't insist on chiming in.

14. "Don't Change", INXS--The definition of "anthemic", and all other songs that would be labelled such must be held up to the lofty standards set by the hymnal to propulsive and back again structure, the ambulance wail of the chorus (one of the greatest hooks in pop music history) and the earnest, universal pleading of the lyrics. How did this not rule radio in 1982? Why were the airwaves saturated with the putrid likes of "Open Arms" instead? "Don't Change" still makes me want to punch cinderblocks into pebbles with all the joy of a child opening Christmas presents.

13. "Things We Said Today", the Beatles--One of the most underrated Beatles songs ever, and yes such a thing is possible. You never see this one on any top Beatles songs list, but meanwhile there's "Across the Universe" on every damn poll. You know how this song is better than that one? McCartney knew how to record vocals, for one.

12. "Magic", Olivia Newton-John--Sappy and simple guitar and synth over a mid-tempo slink that signifies glossy Aussie pop as up in here. Those strings? Uncalled for like extra syrup on a stack of waffles.

11. "I Feel Love", Donna Summer--Coke spoons and mirror balls replace wine and candlelight. Love as a hedonistic, paranormal experience.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time, Pt. 3

30. "I Want You To Want Me", Cheap Trick--Did you know Shonen Knife drummer Atsuko Yamano was in the audience at Cheap Trick's legendary Budokan gig? Circle of life, people. A nasty chunk of razz-pop, AKA the sound of adolescence.

29. "I Feel For You", Chaka Khan--The first of two songs on the list written by Prince, it stays lodged in pop culture consciousness thanks to Melle Mel on the intro, but this is an eternal voice rocking it over a Stevie Wonder-eque track. The video is pretty cool too, featuring the dance moves of Poppin' Taco and Lockin' Tamale.

28. "I'm Not In Love", 10CC--Technically legendary for the innovation of playing a chorus of multiple vocal overdubs as chords, and inspired by distaste at overuse of the phrase "I love you", the kick is the guy is totally head over heels, he just finds traditional ways of expressing said feeling inadequate if not downright insulting. As far as irony in songs from the seventies go, it sure beats piss out of "Cat's In the Cradle".

27. "Time After Time", Cyndi Lauper--The only thing more unlikely than Little Miss Unusual penning a positively aching love ballad? Miles Davis doing a cover of it. What the hell? Yes, it happened. Why? Likely, cocaine. But let's not forget that "Time" is a tear-jerking classic, an ode to constancy in an unreliable world that doesn't kill itself with aspartame.

26. "If I Can't Have You", Yvonne Elliman--Written by the Bee Gees, and actually recorded by them and slapped on the b-side to "Stayin' Alive", meaning no one heard it. In the context of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, it's like a box of chocolate covered pretzels in an ornate candy shop. On its own, the woozy strings and lush voices smell like summer breeze.

25. "Happy Together", the Turtles--Harmonies to inspire a thousand dolphins upward. Those "ba-ba"'s predated Stereolab by decades.

24. "Miracles", Jefferson Starship--The "dirty" version references cunnilingus, an act near the heart of any healthy relationship. A thoroughly convincing song, because everyone in the band was banging each other. It's mildly unsettling to consider, though--why doesn't she believe in miracles?

23. "Love Without Anger", Devo-- Tick-tock-tech eroticism, advocating the "have your cake and eat it too" open relationship. Regardless of your opinion on the values of monogamy, the basic principle of the song is correct: "Love without anger isn't love at all."

22. "How Deep Is Your Love", Bee Gees--I never went to a roller rink, but this song makes me think of a lot of dorky people falling in love at one. I'm a sucker for acts that actually make vocal harmony an art.

21. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell--Listen, baby, Tammi Terrell was a tragic case: superlative singer entrances another superlative singer. The pair team up, certainly as dual vocal powerhouses, allegedly as lovers. At only 24 years of age, Terrell was felled by a brain tumor. At her funeral, a distraught Gaye spoke openly to casket, as though she was still able to hear his voice. Some close to Gaye would later state Terrell was the love of his life, and that her premature death expedited his descent into sex-and-drug-crazed depravity. To hear this song, it's not hard to imagine they shared something so special that sudden, unjust extinguishing could send a soul spiralling out of control. Also shows that love don't gotta adhere to grammar.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time, Pt. 2

40. "I'll Be Around", the Spinners--So much about this song is just "around", from the strings and bongos that loiter around watching the traffic to the hero of the tale, who is taking defeat like a man while still keeping hope alive. I've always rooted for dude.

39. "With Or Without You", U2--This was back when Bono had a soul, and the good sense to rip off Michael Hutchence's "Need You Tonight" whisper. The Edge uses sustain to genius effect here.

38. "Have To Say I Love You In a Song", Jim Croce--Per Behind the Music (which taught me more than kindergarten ever did), Ingrid Croce was in bed after an argument with her husband when she awoken by the sound of him playing this song. Like the best of the late troubadours oeuvre, "Have To Say" is heartrending for being simple and sweet, with tasteful chords and plaintive sentiment. Who can't relate to being a blubbering ass?

37. "Dream a Little Dream", Mama Cass--A standard recorded by a woman who was anything but. Love is frequently most beautiful in reverie, and Cass gives the lyrics the sweet caress they deserve.

36. "Give Me Back My Man", the B-52s--A patented Cindy Wilson solo number, and arguably the best song on the B's woefully overlooked second album. Cindy sounds like a woman on the verge, with her big brothers guitar pushing her ever closer, whispering sour everythings into her ear. "I'll give you fish/I'll give you candy/I'll give you/Everything I have in my hand!" That's desperate, soul-stinging love.

35. "Supernova", Liz Phair--Liz gives her all in the alterna-hit that dominated my best friends tape deck in '94. Something 'bout the fuzzy-wuzzy riffage matched with iffy lyrics: "And your lips are sweet and slippery like a cherubs bare wet ass." But that's what happens when you're in love and searching for just the right way to express yourself; she compares her love also to an ethereal being, an automatic weapon, and of course outerspace phenomena, but nothing--as in, not a thing--surpasses: "And you fuck like a volcano/And you're everything to me." If I were a man, and on the receiving end of that line, I'd have papers drawn up and sign my dick over to the woman. Get it notarized.

34. "Right Back Where We Started From", Maxine Nightingale--All chorus. All stomp, clap and cheer. All belief. Gains crazed points for frequent use in Slap Shot, the best hockey movie of all time. Now there's a short list.

33. "More Than a Feeling", Boston--This one has it all. Acoustic guitars for the verse, electric for the chorus, a solo, soaring harmony vocals, and a masterful fade. You'd probably like to think that you have a Leonard Cohen song in your head to keep you company after a dire breakup, but you actually hear this. It's okay to admit it.

32. "Just the Two of Us", Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr.--The best efforts of Mike Myers and Will Smith aside, this song can't be diluted of its pure emotion. One of the greatest, most arresting intros in music, and the unwavering croon of one Mr. Withers make for a damn near perfect song. I say "damn near" because those female voices chiming in on the chorus are lightweight and superfluous.

31. "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", the Monkees--The acoustic guitar with slight electric flourishes, the clap-happy rhythm, the beach-ready chorus, the sensible lyrics that address the inherent personal responsibilities of a healthy relationship--of course Neil Diamond wrote it. A pretty slice of pro-perspective pop.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time, Pt. 1

Being in love for five years has done odd things to me. It's made me believe in myself. It's made me want to operate at optimum levels physically and mentally. It's made me appreciate songs that extol the virtues of amore and not feel like a donkey gazing longingly at a stable of Clydesdales, just like in those ads that invariably justify every Super Bowl.

I also love lists. So here for the enjoyment of many, the top 50 Love Songs of Ever, as chosen by me and only me. Today, songs 50-41.

50. "Come and Get Your Love", Redbone--Joyous music made by the greatest all-Native American band in the history of ever. Great also for karaoke crowd participation. Which does cost it points. Maybe if I had been drunk when I made this list it wouldn't have, but sober Jenn knows what's what. Loves that dares is love indeed.

49. "Love and Happiness", Al Green--Selecting an Al Green song for a list of love tunes is like selecting a member of the Montreal Canadiens for the NHL All-Century Team.

48. "Brand New Love", Sebadoh--Indie rock lags behind classic rock when it comes to the art of the love song. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is a better album than any Rare Earth LP, but the genre of so-shy-they're-sly snarky boys and the girls who should know better than to love them is frequently too self-absorbed to write affectingly about the emotion that separates humans from hippos. Lou Barlow was always different. His heart was his sleeve. His bedroom anthems frequently dealt with bedroom feelings, specifically his relationship with longtime paramour Kathleen Bilius.

"Brand New Love" is the cautiously thrilled sound of a man who loses his girlfriend to his own lawyer than takes her back after a year and a half.

47. "One Love", Whodini--How many hip hop love songs are there? Most of them are just veiled odes to guns or cocaine. You got "I Need Love" by LL Cool J, arguably the most cited example of romance in the genre. There's also the largely-overlooked "Hey Love" by King Sun, a love story straight out of O. Henry over a sped-up sample of "Moments in Love" by Art of Noise.

Like much 80s hip hop, this Brooklyn trio keeps the lyrics simple and straightforward, dispensing "mother wit" over a motherfucker of a beat. "You're lucky just to have just one love." Illmatic.

46. "We Belong", Pat Benatar--Pseudo-gospel, jus' you'n me baby 80s balladry that soars like Pit. Loses points for that kiddie chorus, though. No need for that shit at all.

45. "Round and Round", Ratt--That bridge! So 80s metal, and a large part of what gives this song its legs. The larger part, of course, is the chorus. "Round and round/Well love will find a way, just give it time". Just give it time while I sniff some krell, guzzle back some Jack, and fuck a mother-daughter team.

44. "Sunny", Bobby Hebb--On November 22nd, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated. On November 23rd, the brother of Bobby Hebb was killed in a knife fight. From tragedy, joy; from despair, hope. One of the most covered songs of the past 50 years, "Sunny" is all that the title implies, with Hebb's voice the very sound of soul comfort, growing stronger with every passing second.

43. "Silly Love Songs", Wings--Go on and hate. This is one of the best answer songs of all time. Paul heard the accusations that he wrote too many sappy, happy love songs...so he turned around and wrote the sappiest, happiest one he could. And rode that shit to number one. The bass line itself pisses on Ringo Starr's career.

42. "I Love You", Climax Blues Band--Despised by everyone in the band save the bassist (who wrote it, after all). Despite having the worst lyrics of any song on my list, the chorus harmonies are too infectious to be ignored. Even the guitar sounds like it's about to break down in drunken sobbing.

41. "Everywhere I Go", the Call--It's true--my list features not Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes", a constant presence on love song lists thanks to Cameron Crowe's largely shit taste in music but non-shit knack for memorable movie scenes. Nor have I given space another 1980s "soundtrack classic", "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds. (And be honest, you think Bender would have picked that song?)

But don't interpret my willful omissions as proof of a heartlessness which guarantees my 21 grams permanent purgatory, cursed to cause airplane turbulence and acid rain for all eternity. Because I just picked a song that has Peter Gabriel and Jim Kerr on the chorus!

It's a Christian rock love song, meaning deep down it's about God, in the same way that "Hanging By a Moment" or "You Light Up My Life" is, except this one doesn't blow whale. It drives, it swerves, it sticks, it stays.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Peanuts Is Timeless, Happy Birthday Patrick Edition

I don't think you people appreciate the sacrifices Snoopy has to make as the mascot of MetLife. Shudder.

Not only do I wholeheartedly disagree with the sentiment of this article, dude can't even spell "Schulz".

Remember when Snoopy surfed? As usual, he did it well at first, then it ended in catastrophe.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tamper This

Dear Minnesota Vikings,
Hey, how be it. Longtime fan first-time caller. What is this I hear about you guys wanting to be the team that wins the stroke-Brett-Favres-mammoth-ego-one-more-year sweepstakes? Are you joking?

I understand, the team is full of promise. Bernard Berrian can catch passes, thereby making him better than the undearly-departed Troy Williamson. Adrian Peterson is Purple Jebus. The offensive line is unworldly. And awww, we went to Jared!

What do the Packers keep saying? It's time to move on, to give our young QB a chance to win for us. It's what y'all should be saying too. Give Tavaris Jackson more time. Don't go for the quick fix. 'Cause Favre plus Purple does not equal Lombardi Trophy. Erase that silliness instantly. He's a key interception in the conference championship waiting to happen--AGAIN.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not Safe For Breakfast

People really should put NSFB when they send you links like this. Although most likely curiosity will end up besting my common sense and I'll find myself in Good Stuff one day.

First day of intensive outpatient treatment went well. Part of me is grateful to not have to undergo inpatient, but the writer in me can see the benefits both ephemeral and lasting in rooming with a depressed drunk. Ah well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Milton Bradley Made the All-Star Team?

Do I need to rethink my general distaste for modern R & B?

Forget the State Farm "gold ball" or clearing Yankee Stadium...I kept waiting for Josh Hamilton to hit the Snoopy MetLife ad.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My New Partner in Crime

After 11 days I can tell some difference, although these medications can take a few weeks to get in your body and impact you to the utmost. The only side effect is drowsiness, which is okay by me really.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Today I Discovered I Am a Loon

Actually, I already knew; the "MD" in the blog name stands for "manic-depressive" as well as being the abbreviation for my home state.

My MRI came back today, with the only notable result being that I, like virtually my entire family, have sinusitis. No multiple sclerosis, no tumors. All the physical symptoms I've been experiencing have been the result of a bipolar/panic disorder I have stubbornly insisted on leaving untreated for extended periods.

I've now been on Symbyax for a week and feel improvement in increments. I'm still getting attacks, but am learning to control them best I can. As soon as I get over thinking I have a heart problem when no evidence of such exists (in fact, two separate EKGs over the past two months have shown no abnormalities), I'll be cool. Gimme a couple days on that one.

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Psychosomatic Illness

Better late than never...Deadspin goes 'Nuts.

I need this.

I know I told you I wouldn't pull the troops out this time, Charlie Brown....

Oh, to live in Santa Rosa.

Monday, July 7, 2008

That Thing's Goin' Cuckoo Ga-Ga!

An MRI sounds like Einst├╝rzende Neubauten (both the band and the meaning of their name). There are machine guns, power drills and sledgehammers hitting scrap metal.

An MRI feels like preparation for space travel.

An MRI also sounds like the beginning of Metallica's "One", which is an awful damn cheery thought during the exam. Peace to Dalton Trumbo.

I had a panic attack 20 minutes before the scan, while watching Derek Jeter being interviewed on ESPN. See how much negativity the Yankees foster?

The results...tomorrow.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Jesse Helms Has Died

I don't celebrate death. Ever since my father passed, I've become more sensitive to the suffering of others. I used to haphazardly wish death on people I didn't care for (you know, FOD) until someone close to me left my life forever.

So I can't be gleeful even over the passing of a man who held such reprehensible views. A man who seemed to suffer an absolute dearth of redeeming qualities. Surely, I realize, this man had people in his life who knew and considered the man as someone other than a racist, sexist, hateful fucker. Surely he did.

I've decided, instead, to be grateful over the extinguishing of hate.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Ephemeral Nature of Retirement, Pt. 46

Amazing, but not unbelievable. There's no reason to believe that even the most down home cornpone, fart-joke-telling, old-lady-mooning yeehaw knows when enough is enough.

Go back to Green Bay, Brett. They won't be mad.

The last NFL pass he ever threw was a game-blowing interception. That's gotta sting. So he's got to have one more chance. To gunsling. To have fun out there. To make Joe Theismann's career-ending injury look like a sprain.