November 2016


pink_floyd_wish_you_were_here_1975Pink Floyd – “Have a Cigar” – (1975)

I love the beginning of this song because it’s kinda bluesy and kind of funky, really. This is one of many Pink Floyd songs written about the world around them that they existed in, namely because it’s about the music business. But it doesn’t really matter what it’s about because it’s the best track from this album.

220px-theoffspringamericanaalbumcoverThe Offspring – “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” – (1998)

The second biggest single from Americana, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” is one of The Offspring’s better offerings. The video is interesting because it was shot on Universal’s backlot in California and features a lot of famous places from film and TV, like the square from Back to the Future

220px-the_phantom_menace_ostJohn Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices – “Duel of the Fates” – (1999)

“Duel of the Fates” is a seriously epic piece of orchestral music. With the choir, it has a very “O Fortuna”-feel to it. Originally featured in Star Wars:Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the piece has been a recurring piece of music throughout every successive piece of Star Wars film. It’s great – and, it actually appeared on TRL for 11 days. 

weird_al_yankovic_-_dare_to_be_stupidWeird Al Yankovic – “Yoda” – (1985)

Weird Al is the master of parody songs and he’s also great at writing songs about very specific things, like Star Wars. “Yoda” is a parody of The Kinks’ brilliant “Lola.” And, while Weird Al didn’t write the original music for this song, his lyrics are every bit as brilliant as the original. This song is weird because he had to get permission both from The Kinks and George Lucas. 

Mark Jonathan Davis – “Star Wars Cantina” – (1996)

Mark Jonathan Davis is known by the stage name of Richard Cheese, and he recorded this pretty good spoof of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” but all about Star Wars. It was originally aired on Dr. Demento’s radio show but it has never officially been released, thus the lack of an album cover above.

220px-americanivJohnny Cash – “When The Man Comes Around” – (2002)

We’ll stick with the “country songs from 2002” theme for this week, but we’ll ditch the link to terrorism and go with something awesome instead. You don’t have to like country to appreciate Johnny Cash, because he kind of symbolizes the rebel rock and roll attitude better than most rockers. This was one of the final songs Johnny wrote before he died – it’s simple, musically, and really dark, lyrically. It’s really, really good.

220px-drivealanjacksonAlan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – (2002)

Consider this the much subtler cousin to Toby Keith’s patriotic anthem. Country fan or not, it should be noted that Alan Jackson is a much classier singer than Toby Keith. Regardless, we still have the issue of a really long title… but while this might be standard fare as far as country songs go, there’s a big problem lyrically that makes this song seem incredibly dated “I’m just a simple songs, I’m not a real political man… I watch CNN but I’m not sure I could tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran.” Maybe in 2002. But nowadays if you can’t differentiate between Iraq and Iran, there’s a problem. But maybe this is just horrible foreshadowing of what would come a year after this album came out.

220px-keithunleashedToby Keith – “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – (2002)

This song is a victim of all of that patriotism that exploded after 9/11 and faded away in the years after. There was a weird phenomenon shortly after 9/11 where country singers recorded tacky songs about ‘Murica… and this is the prime example (side note, the song is partly about Keith’s dad’s death, which is fine and I have no problem memorializing him in song). But come on, the title is horrendous… and talking about putting a “boot in any country’s ass” just seems kind of… well, country. Which I guess is the point.

220px-thebeatles68lp#1 – The Beatles – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – (1968)

Yes, this is the inclusion from The White Album on this list. Why this one? Because it is beautiful – which should be obvious because George Harrison wrote it. The version below is not the normal version. Looking at the track list for this album, it’s pretty clear that this is the best, sorry “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”

simon_and_garfunkel_bookends_1968#2 – Simon & Garfunkel – “Mrs. Robinson” – (1968)

This was Simon & Garfunkel’s second #1 hit and its success owes a lot to its inclusion in The Graduate – though the version you actually hear in the film is quite different than the studio version that topped the charts and continues to receive regular radio airplay. Also, Paul Simon ever figure out where Joe DiMaggio went?

mi0000488311#3 – Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” – (1968)

Not sure I really need to say much about this song. It’s one of the prettiest songs ever recorded. Although originally released as a single in October of 1967, it didn’t appear on an album until 1970. Don’t ask why we’re included it in 1968. Armstrong rose to fame in the 1920s and to release this sort of landmark song in your late 60s is unbelievable. It doesn’t matter what genres you prefer, it’s hard to dislike this song.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

otisdockofthebay#5 – Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” – (1968)

Here’s one of the greatest soul recordings of all time. Unlike a lot of R&B records in the 1960s, Redding actually co-wrote his biggest hit. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash before it could be released (of the two recordings he did of this song, one occurred just days before he died). It was the first posthumous #1 hit on the American charts.