There are many good things that come from France. Rock and roll is not one of them.
Times Union blogger Chuck Miller tried to convince me I was wrong, and even posted a bunch of examples of French rock on his blog. Thank you for proving my point, Mr. Miller, thank you.
Anyway, the only good French language rock song is “Ça Plane Pour Moi” — and that doesn’t actually count as French, because it’s from Belgium. Bands like Sonic Youth and Vampire Weekend have also taken a swing at it, making it the only rock song in French anyone’s ever bothered covering. We won’t get into the whole “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” thing here.
In what has to be the world’s most obvious segue, the best accompaniment for this song is Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died.” Taken together it’s a pogofest!
The death of Gerry Rafferty last week meant that “Stuck in the Middle with You” was being played all over the place. I always loved that song, and like everyone else, Reservoir Dogs changed my relationship with it forever.
Now it’s an iconic recording — but what better to cleanse the palate of torture and ear slicing than the song’s groovy younger cousin, Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do?”
The hand claps, the bass line, and most of all, the pedal steel guitar… it’s not just similar, it’s an homage.
I watched Coal Miner’s Daughter the other night. Thirty years after its release it still stands as a great film — especially on account of Sissy Spacek’s Academy Award winning turn as Loretta Lynn and the inspired casting of Levon Helm as her father.
Loretta Lynn, even while part of the Nashville music factory, took creative risks and did things her way.
In 2004, she released Van Lear Rose, a collaboration with Jack White of the White Stripes. It’s a swell album, but my favorite track is the duet between Lynn and White, Portland, Oregon. The boozy May-December hook up in the song, fueled by pitchers of sloe gin fizz, goes down well with Jack Killed Mom by Jenny Lewis, a decidely dark tune. Put them together and you have a witches brew of alcohol, sex, incest and murder. If that’s not a good time, I don’t know what is?
It’s funny, the memories music trigger.
I used to tag along with my dad when he went to pick up takeout. The best was going down to Napoli’s to get a pizza, because I’d get to choose a song or two on the jukebox.
There were two tunes I’d play over and over, Yellow Submarine, and Mary Hopkin’s Those Were the Days.
I’d slide up on a stool at the bar next to my father, stare at the bouncing lights on the Miller High Life sign, and sip a Coke while my father had a grown-up drink. While we waited, I’d imagine I was actually in the song:
Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do
I’d forgotten about it until listening to Gogol Bordello’s Start Wearing Purple. Both share the same gypsy roots, and while they couldn’t be more different, they really are oddly alike.
Ladies and gentlemen, now for the strange part:
Back in ancient days as a college radio DJ, there was nothing I loved more than finding two songs that were born to be played together. Either they sounded similar, were thematically linked, or shared some arcane thing that bonded them.
I’m sure that among my six listeners, someone got the point.
When I heard Man Man’s song Top Drawer yesterday it hit me: this is the twisted cousin of Paul McCartney’s Monkberry Moon Delight!
Both are insane rollicking carnivals of weirdness. McCartney’s mad howling on Monkberry is amazing — and I have to say, when I was a kid, this song actually scared me a little. It’s hard to say if Top Drawer’s song is an homage, but it sure sounds that way.