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.
* 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.