My exclusive playlist, until I get the car stereo fixed

So one afternoon long ago I quickly tossed a few tracks together and burned them to CD, thinking they would be fun to listen to in the car. How could I have known the eject mechanism would go haywire, and we would not be able to remove the collection for weeks? And that due to other car stereo defects we would not even be able to skip tracks! I threw this playlist together casually, even disdainfully, how could I have known it would become the soundtrack of my life? My only other option is sports talk radio, and let’s just say I know enough about the Sedin twins to get me through most days.

Without prejudice:
* 1) The Guess Who, “Running Back to Saskatoon” – Even with the incessant repetition, my four year old son and I still love this song, we both sing along with every word every time we hear it. This is one of a trilogy of classic songs written with Saskatoon in the title, along with Johnny Cash’s “Girl from Saskatoon” and Sonny James’s transcendent “South of Saskatoon”… and really this is the only song actually about the place. I grew up thinking the Guess Who were goofy, because they were, but now that I’m old myself I also think they were the most talented rock musicians the Canadian prairies ever produced. I’d love to claim Neil Young, but he did his best work after leaving. This is a very rocking song about a city where “nothing much ever happens”, but there’s a lot you can learn in Saskatoon if you hang around the right places. You should download, or better yet find a $1 vinyl copy of the Guess Who’s Greatest Hits, Vol II.

* 2) The Beastie Boys, “One Song a Night” – Didn’t know that the Beastie Boys did a country album? Well, only Mike D. is confirmed on this vinyl-only fan club release that is some very fun trashy listening. This isn’t my favorite song on the album (I prefer “Sloppy Drunks” and “We Can Do This if We Try”) but my son really likes it, which is probably why I put it on the CD.

* 3) The Whigs, “Technology” – Solid rocker, sounds OK, I tired of it quickly, no offense.

* 4) Terry Manning, “I Guess Things Happen that Way” – He’s more famous for his work producing and engineering others, but I love the sound on his solo record. His killer version of “Savoy Truffle” would have been my first choice for a track, but it’s ten minutes long. This song is fun, but in retrospect I should have sucked it up and went for the truffle.

* 5) Richard and Linda Thompson, “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” (live) – this is an OK live version of one of my absolute favorite songs ever. This is a near-flawless album, if you like folk-rock and don’t have this record you must rectify your error.

* 6) Johnny Paycheck, “Hang On Sally” – This is from his George Jones-ish early period, long before “Take this Job and Shove It.” He was a solid second-rate roadhouse country talent, with some great tunes, and his singing carries a certain real psychotic resonance. He already sounds like a guy who would someday have a big hit, go into a coke-fueled depressive spiral, and eventually kill someone and do some serious time.

* 7) Matthew Sweet, “Sick of Myself” – Still not close to being sick of this track, even after countless repetitive plays. A brilliant distortion-saturated love song that manages to be an over-the-top rocker and a sweet ballad all at once. This dude was a serious hook-master, he got sound in a very deep way, and it’s a crime he never had a huge hit or two. I loved this song in 1995 and I love it now.

* 8) Journey, “Any Way You Want It” – It seemed like a good idea at the time. I dug the pained reactions when this came on, with me on air guitar. But the joke was on me.

* 9) Hot Butter, “Popcorn” – This early electronica pop hit (and for Canadians, one-time theme of ParticipACTION TV ads) is included only because I am try to conquer my early childhood fear of it. I have yet to overcome. And nobody else seems to like this song.

* 10) Eric Burdon & War, “Spill the Wine” – Another song immune to overplay. What a sweet groove.

* 11) They Shoot Horses, “Hiccup” – great track by a fine Vancouver band.

* 12) The Rockets, “Hole in My Pocket” – The Rockets were the band eventually discovered by Neil Young and renamed Crazy Horse. Though Crazy Horse are rightfully perennial frontrunners in the “luckiest bastards in rock” sweepstakes, this album shows they brought at least as much of their sound to Neil as vice versa.

* 13) The Who, “Much Too Much” – middling early Who track, hardly their best work, but sounds great.

* 14) Robert Wyatt, “Song For Che” – magnificent, soaring, anthemic. I have very strong positive associations with this song.

* 15) Tom Scharpling, “The Sleaziest Rocker of All Time” – clip from Scharpling’s WFMU radio show. 10) El Duce; 9) Marilyn Manson; 8) Tommy Lee; 7) Nico; 6) Sid Vicious; 5) Iggy Pop; 4) Gene Simmons; 3) Chuck Berry; 2) G.G. Allin; (Jerry Lee Lewis was supposed to be in there somewhere)… and the sleaziest rocker of all time is… [RealAudio Link – Scan 42 minutes in]

Not the best playlist of all time, but it may well be my last.

16 thoughts on “My exclusive playlist, until I get the car stereo fixed

  1. That Beastie Boys Country Album was pretty messed up. Still, it beats the endless loop of “Sesame Street Songs” that often gets stuck in our player… Tape player, because The Boy™ wondered what a nickel sounded like when played in the CD player…

  2. D’Arcy — I’ve gotten luck with my Boy, so far he hasn’t done too much damage to the electronics, just the occasional CD or DVD.

    Scott — I remember that Wham! story. 8 days!

  3. 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 14 are all songs I know or know well. 1 and 7 are particular favorites. The Guess Who are a vastly underrated band. I think “Rockin'” and “So Long Bannatyne” and “Live at the Paramount” are extraordinary albums by any standard. And Matthew Sweet–well, he’s channeling all the right stuff, and I can never get enough of his “Girlfriend” album. For true spookiness, you can’t beat his performance of “Something Becomes Nothing” on the second Golden Palominos album. My introduction to Mr. Sweet.

    Cool to see something from “A Quick One” on there. I’m taking the family to see The Who tomorrow night.

  4. Haha – we had an 89 Ford Probe in which the CD player would click incessantly UNLESS there was a CD in place. So to appease it, we fed it an album of nature sounds and left it turned off. But once in a while, maybe once or twice a year, it would suddenly begin playing, and out of nowhere the sound of birdsong would fill the car….

  5. Thanks Gardner — I’m a bit surprised you don’t know Terry Manning, he was part of the Big Star scene, and produced/engineered a lot of stuff that came out of it. (Chris Bell plays some guitar on the album referenced.) I hope you and yours enjoy the Pete and Roger show, if it gets over half as well as the last one you saw it should be quite a night.

    Kirsten – I don’t think I would be able to maintain that kind of music avoidance discipline in the car. But an interesting strategy.

  6. I have to go back to school, I know none of these bands, and like D’Arcy Miles put a quarter in the CD player making “Miles the Crocodile: the Jazz playing Reptile” my road trip music by default. I was struck by how little I know about music, and it just keeps becoming more and more apparent. Damn it!

  7. Jim — it ain’t a contest, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so given the way I carry on. I really lucked out with Harry, I’ve worked hard since he was born to orient him to a lot of music, so I’ve mostly been spared the kiddie stuff. And his tolerance for loud, obnoxious and dissonant stuff is amazing.

  8. I could never make Webjay swing for me, maybe I should try again.

    I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of “Song for Che”, which now that you mention it may well have been intended to evoke the funeral dirge. I find it quite the opposite of a buzz kill, a buzz enhancer I’d say, but maybe that’s just me…

  9. 5, 7, 10, 14 — A+

    and 8 too– I remember rocking out to this song playing air guitar when I was in Junior high, and I’m still not ashamed of my love for the cheese that is Journey, given that a couple of their songs were theme songs for an angst-ridden relationship or two.

  10. Lester Bangs: The Doors? Jim Morrison? He’s a drunken buffoon posing as a poet.
    Alice Wisdom: I like The Doors.
    Lester Bangs: Give me the Guess Who. They got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic.

  11. The Guess Who were nothing if not courageous. I didn’t mention that my mother claims to have been escorted one night to the palatial Winnipeg home of a member of the Guess Who (she’s pretty sure it was Burton) — or more precisely the home of a parent of a member of the Guess Who — back in the sixties, riding there on the back of his motorcycle no less. Whoever he was, or said he was, I’m assured he was a total gentleman.

    Great snag Boo, thanks.

  12. Next time for sure– I am a huge music fiend– I have a little bit of vinyl (2-300 pieces), 2500+ CDs, thousands of mp3 cds… lots of jazz, rock, funk, indie– almost everything except AM radio country 🙂

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