Celebrity Skin

I once took a girl to prom who was a dead ringer for a blonde Melissa Auf Der Mauer, the red-headed bassist from the band “Hole,” and I reckon it was approximately around the time this song was first on the radio.  Courtney Love may be a complete train wreck of a human being who’s best known as the widow of Kurt Cobain, but her band rocked.  I’ve always thought Hole was underrated, and to this day I would argue that they had the single greatest band name of all time.  (Although my brother did have a band called “Boxfan” once, and that was pretty fantastic, too.)

Oh, make me over…
I’m all I want to be–
a walking study
in demonology.

Hey, so glad you could make it.
Yeah, now you really made it.
Hey, so glad you could make it now.

Oh, look at my face–
my name is Might Have Been…
my name is Never Was…
my name’s Forgotten…

Hey, so glad you could make it.
Yeah, now you really made it.
Hey, there’s only us left now.

When I wake up in my makeup,
it’s too early for that dress,
wilted and faded somewhere in Hollywood,
I’m glad I came here with your pound of flesh.
No second billing ’cause you’re a star now,
oh Cinderella, they aren’t sluts like you–
beautiful garbage, beautiful dresses,
can you stand up or will you just fall down?

You better watch out
for what you wish for.
It better be worth it–
so much to die for.

Hey, so glad you could make it.
Yeah, now you really made it.
Hey, there’s only us left now.

When I wake up in my makeup,
have you ever felt so used up as this?
It’s all so sugarless–
hooker, waitress,
model, actress,
oh, just go nameless.
Honeysuckle, she’s full of poison,
she obliterated everything she kissed.
Now she’s fading somewhere in Hollywood,
I’m glad I came here with your pound of flesh.

You want a part of me?
Well, I’m not selling cheap.
No, I’m not selling cheap.

Road to Nowhere

Heard a fun tune from the Talking Heads tonight and felt like sharing, because for the last long while I’ve felt a lot like the mini Muybridge-esque David Byrne awkwardly running in perpetual motion in the bottom corner of the music video.  I’ve always liked this song despite the strangely optimistic defeatism conveyed in it’s lyrics and melody.

Well we know where we’re going,
but we don’t know where we’ve been.
And we know what we’re knowing,
but we can’t say what we’ve seen.
And we’re not little children,
and we know what we want.
And the future is certain,
give us time to work it out.

We’re on a road to nowhere–
come on inside.
Taking that ride to nowhere–
we’ll take that ride.

I’m feelin’ okay this morning,
and you know,
we’re on the road to paradise–
here we go… here we go.

We’re on a ride to nowhere–
come on inside.
Taking that ride to nowhere–
we’ll take that ride.

Maybe you wonder where you are–
I don’t care.
Here is where time is on our side–
take you there… take you there.

We’re on a road to nowhere…
there’s a city in my mind,
come along and take that ride,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

And it’s very far away,
but it’s growing day by day,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

They can tell you what to do,
but they’ll make a fool of you,
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.

We’re on a road to nowhere…

The Stars Look Very Different Today

davidbowie

Rock legend and pop-music icon David Bowie died on Sunday after an eighteen-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Although I’ve never really been a fan of glam rock, I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with Ziggy Stardust. I considered myself something of an “alien” growing up– an outcast or a misfit who could never quite belong because I was just a little too smart and strange for my own good. Plus, I was born with dichromatic eyes, and people used to tell me I have “David Bowie eyes,” so I once had that going for me, too. But I hadn’t heard that comparison in a long while, as we’re living in an age where most people’s reference point for David Bowie is a Jimmy Fallon impression.

In an odd bit of prophecy, I heard the song “Heroes” this weekend, but it wasn’t Bowie’s version. Rather, it was a live recording from a long-since lost Blondie CD I found while cleaning out my car. Even odder is the fact that this live recording was from a concert held at the Hammersmith Odeon exactly thirty-six years ago today (January 12, 1980). I had forgotten how good the track was, and I must have played it four or five times in a row. One of the reasons this live track is so good is because joining Blondie onstage for that show was one Robert Fripp, the “pitched feedback” experimental guitar pioneer who just so happened to be the studio guitarist on the original record written by David Bowie and Brian Eno, and one could easily argue that Fripp deserves just as much credit as Bowie or Eno for giving the song its unique sound.

frippenobowieFripp, Eno, and Bowie being badasses in the studio

But what really makes “Heroes” such a good song is simply that it’s such a powerful piece of music.  The bittersweet lyrics tell the story of two young lovers and their doomed romance, and the beautiful music takes the lyrics to a whole other level.  With its hauntingly hopeful melody and musical progression, it’s almost an anthem of sorts– an uplifting and optimistic anthem to impossible and impermanent love.

I would argue that this is Bowie’s best song, but not only would you have to listen to his entire catalog to be able to debate the validity of my argument, you would also have to listen to his recording of this particular song, which I am not sharing with you today.  Rather, I am choosing to share Blondie’s live recording which is almost as old as I am because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I please with it. But do yourself a favor and listen to Bowie’s original, too.

R.I.P., space oddity– you will be missed.


I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can beat them, just for one day–
we can be heroes, just for one day.

And you, you can be mean,
and I, I’ll drink all the time,
’cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact–
yes we’re lovers, and that is that.

Though nothing will keep us together,
we could steal time, just for one day–
we can be heroes, forever and ever.
What do you say?

I, I wish you could swim
like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim,
though nothing, nothing will keep us together,
we can beat them, forever and ever.
Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day.

I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can be heroes, just for one day…
we can be us, just for one day…

I, I remember, (I remember)
standing, by the wall, (by the wall)
and the guns, shot above our heads, (over our heads)
and we kissed, as though nothing could fall, (nothing could fall)
and the shame, was on the other side–
oh, we can beat them, forever and ever,
then we could be heroes, just for one day.

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes

End of the Line

Finally finished one of my favorite television shows tonight.  The final season of Parks and Rec originally aired during a really tough period in my life, and I neglected to watch it at the time.  Well, I managed to catch up on the final season over the last week, and tonight I got choked up watching the last episode.  It wasn’t a particularly good episode, but the writers successfully tugged at the heartstrings of all the longtime viewers whilst wrapping up the lives of the characters we’d come to love (including my personal favorite, Ron Swanson– arguably one of the greatest television characters of all time, up there with Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson).

parksrecfinaleThe gang on the set of the show’s finale

It’s an incredibly cathartic experience to come to the end of the line of a long-running show you’ve grown to love, as it’s truly a bittersweet moment when you invest years of your life following a narrative and suddenly that narrative is no more.  In a pleasant surprise, the series ended on a musical note I hadn’t heard in quite some time:  the song “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys.  The Wilburys hold a special place in my heart, as each and every band member (Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison… hell, even Ringo Starr) was a musical hero of mine in my youth.  Given, with the collective talent of the band, one might argue that they should have produced far better music than they did.  But they weren’t out to make revolutionary recordings– rather, each of the band’s members (some of the best singer/songwriters of all time) had already done that, and now they were simply being honest and trying to have some fun.  And I can’t say that I blame them.

Please to enjoy this simple but poignant song, “End of the Line.”


Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can–
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand.

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (at the end of the line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything (at the end of the line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (at the end of the line)
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong–
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong–
Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay–
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgment Day.

Maybe somewhere down the road aways (at the end of the line)
You’ll think of me, wonder where I am these days (at the end of the line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays (at the end of the line)
Purple haze

Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove–
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love–
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (at the end of the line)
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (at the end of the line)
It don’t matter if you’re by my side (at the end of the line)
I’m satisfied

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray–
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say–
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live–
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive.

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze–
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please–
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine–
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

S.O.B.

So I happened to catch this performance when it originally aired last year, but when I finally got around to posting it to my blog, NBC had already taken the video down.  And while the band also has an “official” video of this song, it isn’t half as good as the live performance from The Tonight Show, so I refused to post it.  Well, lo and behold, The Tonight Show video is back, and I’m happy to get to share it tonight.

As soon as I saw this performance, this became my new favorite song.  Nathaniel Rateliff is kind of like if Joe Cocker and James Brown had a country/western rockabilly baby, and his band is one part Blues Brothers Band and one part Village People.  But they’re all soul.  I mean, they’re on Stax Records, for God’s sake- it doesn’t get much more legit than that.

So without further ado, here’s a link to the video, followed by the lyrics:

nathanielrateliff

I’m gonna need someone to help me–
I’m gonna need somebody’s hand.
I’m gonna need someone to hold me down–
I’m gonna need someone to care.
I’m gonna writhe and shake my body–
I’ll start pulling out my hair.
I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you,
and nobody’s gonna give a damn.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night escaping me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

Now for seventeen years I’ve been throwing them back–
seventeen more will bury me.
Can somebody please just tie me down?
Oh, somebody give me a goddamn drink.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night, this can’t be me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

My heart was aching, hands are shaking–
bugs are crawling all over me.

Son of a bitch, give me a drink–
one more night, this can’t be me.
Son of a bitch, I can’t get clean–
I’m gonna drink my life away.

 

 

How Soon Is Now?

There are plenty of great rock anthems out there, but there are only a handful of nearly perfect singles in this world, and this gem by The Smiths is one of those tracks.  I’m old school, so I come from the line of thought that, much like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, you have to choose either The Smiths or The Cure– it’s theoretically impossible to like both bands equally, so you have to pick one.  Well, I choose The Cure because when it comes to emo angst, I’ll take Robert Smith’s sincerity over Morrissey’s any day of the week.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” as one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s and also one of the greatest recordings of the last thirty years.  With Johnny Fuckin’ Marr’s hypnotic reverb riff and Morrissey’s haunting vocals, this is a song that sticks its hand right into your chest and grabs hold of your beating, bleeding heart just long and tightly enough for you to fully comprehend the pain of loneliness.

“I am human and I need to be loved– just like everybody else does.” 

Yup.

I am the son
and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

I am the son
and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

There’s a club if you’d like to go–
you could meet somebody who really loves you.
So you go and you stand on your own,
and you leave on your own,
and you go home and you cry
and you want to die.

When you say it’s gonna happen “now,”
well when exactly do you mean?
See I’ve already waited too long,
and all my hope is gone.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

(apologies to The Smiths)

(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear

Feelin’ awfully melancholy and nostalgic tonight (Melanostalgic?) and stumbled upon this old tune by the venerable pop/punk band Blondie.  While the band will always be remembered foremost for “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” it was ethereal tracks like this one that made them my favorite band when I was a teen (helped in no small part by Clem Burke’s wicked drum fills which made it impossible to listen to Blondie without beating the hell out of everything in sight whilst air drumming).  And name me another rock band to use the word “theosophy” in a song, I dare you.

Was it destiny?  I don’t know yet.
Was it just by chance?  Could this be kismet?
Something in my consciousness told me you’d appear–
now I’m always touched by your presence, dear.

When we play at cards, you use an extra sense.
You can read my hand, I’ve got no defense.
When you send your messages, whispered loud and clear–
I am always touched by your presence, dear.

Floating past the evidence of possibility–
we could navigate, together, psychic frequencies.

Coming into contact with outer entities–
we could entertain each one with our theosophy.

Stay awake at night and catch your R.E.M.s
when you’re talking with your super friends.
Levitating lovers in the secret stratosphere–
I am still in touch with your presence, dear.

(apologies to Blondie)

Southern Accents

Had this song stuck in my head for a while the other day, and I just felt like sharing. “Southern Accents” is technically Tom Petty’s song, but as soon as Johnny Cash recorded it, it officially became his.

This is a wonderfully honest song with one of the most beautiful and haunting bridges ever sung.

“For just a minute there, I was dreaming…”

There’s a southern accent, where I come from–
the young ‘uns call it country, the yankees call it dumb.
I got my own way of talkin’, but everything is done
with a southern accent, where I come from.

Now that drunk tank in Atlanta, was just a motel room to me.
Think I might go work Orlando, if them orange groves don’t freeze.
I’ve got my own way of working, but everything is run
with a southern accent, where I come from.

For just a minute there, I was dreaming…
For just a minute, it was all so real…
For just a minute, she was standing there, with me…

There’s a dream I keep having, where my mama comes to me
and kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me.
I’ve got my own way of praying, and everything one’s begun
with a southern accent, where I come from.

We’ve got our own way of living, and everything is done
with a southern accent, where I come from.

(apologies to both Tom Petty and The Man in Black)

Do You Realize?

Listening to late night radio again and happened to hear a tune I hadn’t heard in a long, long time.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of The Flaming Lips, as they’re more or less a pyschedelic jam band (and I fucking hate psychedelic jam bands), but I can distinctly remember hearing this song for the very first time on the radio in 2002 and being so moved that I had to pull over my car to finish it.

So here’s a brutally honest and beautifully poignant song (both lyrically and musically) from an otherwise absurdist band.  The video’s a bit ridiculous, but the song sure as hell isn’t.

Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize… we’re floating in space?
Do you realize… that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Do you realize? (oh, oh, oh)
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?

Do you realize?

(apologies to The Flaming Lips)

Big Yellow Taxis (September 16th)

sinkingyellowtaxissunken yellow taxis (handiwork of Hurricane Sandy)

I’ve been humming the chorus to Joni Mitchell’s classic tune “Big Yellow Taxi” all week long now, so I guess it’s ironically fitting that I just happened to watch an episode of the early eighties sitcom Taxi containing a scene that proved to be at once both incredibly poignant and eerily timely to me:

 
When you’re a child, you tend to notice the good times over the bad in part because of your age. Your limited life experiences keep you from having enough of a framework in place to distinguish the good days from the truly bad.  When you look at a calendar as a child, it’s only the good dates you see– the birthdays and holidays and such.  But as you get older, you inevitably learn the feeling of regret, and there will eventually come a time when you realize that some dates on the calendar are harder to face than others.  Today marks one of those dates for me.

September sixteenth was once the happiest day of my life, and now it’s easily the saddest.  But as Joni Mitchell sang, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”   Yep, Joni, darlin’… I paved paradise to put up a parking lot.

“Big Yellow Taxi”

They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot–
with a pink hotel, a boutique,
and a swinging hot spot.
Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees
and put them in a tree museum.
Then they charged the people
a dollar and a half just to see ’em.
Don’t it always seem to go,
that you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot.

Hey farmer, farmer,
put away that DDT now.
Give me spots on my apples,
but leave me the birds and the bees, 
please!
Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til its gone?
They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot.

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam,
and a big yellow taxi
come and took away my old man.
Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone?
They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot.

(apologies to Joni Mitchell and to D.G.)