The Not Contractually Obligated Top Ten Of 2010

December 30, 2010

Almost every artist in the history of mankind has at least one title in their catalog that is a compilation, a stopgap collection meant to maintain interest between releases (often to boost holiday sales) or to fulfill a contractual obligation.

This is the former, a chance to make use, one more time, of a lot of wasted time over the past twelve months.

Two years ago, I reflected on the annual, childhood tradition of spending New Year’s Day with a half dozen blank cassettes as Q102 played back the Top 102 songs of the previous year.

So, as 2010 begins its fade into a speck in the rear-view mirror, here are the most popular songs that appeared here during the past year…

10. Paul Simon – Slip Slidin’ Away
from Negotiations And Love Songs 1971-1986
The Blizzard Of ’78

“Wikipedia is one site that, if I’m not careful, can suck me in for lengthy periods…”

9. The La’s – Timeless Melody
from The La’s
Bales Of Hay, Wheels Of Cheese And Liverpool

“The first time I visited the UK, it was with a friend, TJ, and another friend of his, Donna, whom I didn’t know. It was a memorable two and a half weeks in a rented Daewoo…”

8. The Call – I Still Believe (Great Design)
from Reconciled
Once The Future Of American Music…

“In late ’83. MTV wouldn’t be available to us for another six months or so, but we did have Night Flight on USA Network, which aired music videos on late Friday and Saturday nights and into the next morning…”

7. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Change Of Heart
from Long After Dark
The Colonel

“Growing up in a basketball-mad state and half an hour away from the school that inspired the movie Hoosiers, this time of year meant the culmination of the hoops season with the state-wide tournament…”

6. Jason & The Scorchers – Take Me Home, Country Roads
from A Blazing Grace
Cover Me

“These are the times that try men’s souls and cause them to sweat in places I wouldn’t have thought possible…”

5. The Brothers Johnson – Stomp!
from Light Up The Night
Little. Yellow. Different.

“Thirty years ago, my friends and I were still living in a pinball world – pay your quarter, release the plunger, and hope you didn’t watch the ball drain straight through the flippers as you furiously and helplessly caused them to pummel nothing but air…”

4. Elvis Costello – Days
from Until The End Of The World soundtrack
“They Shot Down The Satellite…It’s The End Of The World”

There’s a cool blog called The Song In My Head Today that I happened across not long ago. Recently, the subject was favorite movie soundtracks…”

3. Donnie Iris – Ah! Leah!
from Back On The Streets

“Even before I really cared much about music, I knew the name Peaches. I’d seen it on the t-shirts of the cool high school kids in my hometown…”

2. Stan Ridgway – Drive She Said
from The Big Heat
Pretty In Pink And The Ghost Of Iona

“Paloma and I watched about an hour of that wretched flick Mannequin in which Andrew McCarthy plays a window dresser who becomes amorous with a mannequin…it’s dreadful….”

1. Marshall Crenshaw – Cynical Girl
from Marshall Crenshaw
Bye Bye, 97X?

“I’ve noted on a number occasions what a wonderous discovery it was the day that I happened across the then-new WOXY in autumn of ’83…”

Are There Raisins In This?

December 24, 2010

Due to my non-use of condiments, a friend used to disapprovingly refer to me eating “communist burgers.”

(I appreciate the honesty of a burger that is willing to be presented with little more than cheese and lettuce or maybe some mushrooms and onions)

It’s true that I am often a minimalist with food.

It’s not that I haven’t been willing to take the palatte on a wild ride and toss something new down the gullet.

(haggis comes to mind)

So, I know from experience that I do not like raisins.

And for as long as I can remember – for as long as I’ve known I do not like raisins – people have been trying to get me to ingest them.

In bowls of breakfast flakes, in toast, in cookies, in chocolate…they’re everywhere. I don’t think there’s been a food group whose inhabitants haven’t been used in an attempt to dupe me into eating raisins.

I like grapes.

I have no palatable interest in the shriveled, desiccated carcasses of a once fine fruit and reject the raisin on not only principle but taste.

Yet they’re so ubiquitous I have to wonder if there is some sinister plot behind this reign of raisins.

(and who might be doing the plotting? – the government? the International Monetary Fund? aliens?)

And, at this time of the year, when baked goods are all the rage and Paloma is spending more time in the kitchen than Paula Deen, it is necessary for me to be more vigilant than usual.

I’ve drawn a line in the vineyard.

The first Christmas Eve on which I would have fallen asleep with the radio on would have been 1982. Here are four songs from the Billboard chart that week which I know I heard that Christmas night…

Toto – Africa
from Toto IV

Is there a more enduring hit from the ’80s than Toto’s Africa? It seems to have seeped into the collective consciousness of most of the planet, including that of a Slovenian a cappella group.

Men At Work – Down Under
from Business As Usual

Men At Work had dominated the radio during the late summer and early autumn of ’82 with Who Can It Be Now? By Christmas, Down Under had become the Aussie act’s second smash.

I do know that my friends and I had seen both of those videos on Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10 and been delighted by lead singer Colin Hay’s expressive antics and emotive nature. And, I do know that I received a copy of Business As Usual for Christmas that year which I wore out over the following winter months.

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon
from The Distance

One of my best friends in our neighborhood as a kid was a big fan of Bob Seger, so I was familiar with his music, but I wasn’t impressed. And, at the time, I wanted nothing to do with Shame On The Moon when it would come on the radio. It was far too rootsy for my tastes.

Then, somewhere along the way, I realized that I had a greater affection for the music of Seger than I had known. That included the loping and wistful Shame On The Moon, penned by Rodney Crowell.

Donald Fagen – I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World)
from The Nightfly

I knew a handful of hits by Steely Dan when Donald Fagen, half of the creative force behind that partnership, issued his solo debut in autumn of 1982. Their music bored me as did I.G.Y. (which usually prompted me to change the station).

In retrospect, the stuff was simply too sophisticated for my young ears which were more attuned to Journey and Missing Persons. Over the ensuing years, I’d begin to catch up to the wickedly twisted works of Fagen and Becker.

Listening to the lush, shuffling track now and its vision of the future, I can’t help but think of folks who wonder where the flying cars we were told would dot the skies are.

For Paloma…

December 23, 2010


John Lennon – Stand By Me
from Lennon Legend