The Not Contractually Obligated Top Ten Of 2009

January 1, 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.

A year 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 2009 was the first, full calendar year of this blog’s existence, here are the most popular songs that appeared here during that time…

10. The Motels – Shame
from Shock
Coming Soon To A Record Store Near You (Or Not)

“In a previous life, I did a bit of freelance music journalism. For the past several years, I’ve been engaged in far more lucrative albeit soul-sucking work…”

9. Guadalcanal Diary – Watusi Rodeo
from Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man
Dear Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas…

Any Major Dude has noted the search engine terms leading the masses to his blog often involve unrequited or impossible love…”

8. Fleetwood Mac – Sara
from Tusk
Maybe I’ll Have Fleetwood Mac Perform At My Island Coronation

“Inspiration strikes at the most wondrously random moments. The other day, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk popped up on shuffle…”

7. Big Country – The Storm
from The Crossing
If I’d Known He Was My Neighbor, I’d Have Brought Him Some Haggis

“For a band that had such minimal commercial success here in the States, Big Country made their one shot a memorable one. In A Big Country is a well-worn touchstone in the world of ’80’s pop culture…”

6. General Public – Tenderness
from Weird Science soundtrack
Adios John Hughes

“Last Thursday night, checking the news before going to bed, I read the headline that filmmaker John Hughes was dead. As I am of the age I am, it’s a passing of someone that had a rather measurable impact on my childhood…”

5. Los Lobos – Will The Wolf Survive?
from Will The Wolf Survive?
Even Rock Stars Need A Hug Sometimes

“It surely doesn’t suck to be a rock star…”

4. The Jacksons – Can You Feel It?
from Triumph
Michael Jackson

“Word spread quickly at our office on Thursday that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. Less than two hours later, while I was navigating rush hour traffic and dodging hobos on the interstate, the announcement came over the radio that Michael Jackson was dead….”

3. Mark Knopfler – Going Home (Theme For The Local Hero)
from Local Hero soundtrack
So Long, Little Friend

“Like most people, I would prefer the days to unfold like the colorful pages of a Dr. Seuss book, populated by the playful antics of furry, non-existent creatures and lots of nonsensical rhyming….”

2. The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
from The Dream Academy
Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma…

“I’ve mentioned how lately I have discovered that I possess a previously unknown interest in the music of Bob Seger. And in the last few days, I’ve rediscovered a band which I had loved and forgotten (despite owning all three of their albums)…”

1. The Pogues – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
from Straight To Hell soundtrack
Straight To Hell, Indeed

“For several years, I worked in a very large record store. One of the perks of the job (aside from cocooning oneself from reality) was free rentals from our video department…”

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Adios John Hughes

August 9, 2009

Last Thursday night, checking the news before going to bed, I read the headline that filmmaker John Hughes was dead. As I am of the age I am, it’s a passing of someone that had a rather measurable impact on my childhood.

In 1983, it was pretty much every line from Hughes screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation that my friends and I were quoting (especially on any road trip).

Years later, those quotes provided some comic relief when traveling through Thailand.

“I think you’re all fucked in the head. We’re ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out.”

“Roy, could you imagine if you had driven all the way to Florida and it was closed?”

“Perhaps you don’t want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?

The next thing from Hughes to catch my attention was The Breakfast Club which he wrote and directed.

(Yes, I’m skipping Sixteen Candles – didn’t see it in 1984 and have never seen it all in one sitting)

So, it was The Breakfast Club. And I have no doubt that if I came across the movie on cable tonight I’d be quoting most of – unedited, of course – almost involuntarily.

Like Bender, my friends and I would mouth off to people to “eat my shorts” years before Bart Simpson. Like Bender, we knew that “screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

Later in 1985, Hughes’ Weird Science introduced us to Oingo Boingo, Robert Downey, Jr., and Kelly LaBrock. Bill Paxton as an obnoxious, psychotic older brother Chet who had the lines we were spouting indiscriminately.

“How ’bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?”

“Chet. My name is Chet.”

“Do you think they’re having a good time being catatonic in the closet?”

The last movie of John Hughes that would really take up space in my world was Pretty In Pink in 1986. During the remainder of the ‘80s, I’d see most of his movies. Though I’ll stop channel-surfing immediately if I come across Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, Some Kind Of Wonderful, or She’s Having A Baby, none were as dear to me as those earlier movies.

I had gone off to college and saw less and less of the friends with whom I had shared those earlier films.

Pretty In Pink served as the transition. I saw it with a girlfriend at a midnight showing on a Tuesday night. The dialogue didn’t become a part of my daily conversations, but some of the music on the soundtrack became future staples.

I didn’t follow Hughes into the ‘90s, but movies made from his screenplays – the Home Alone flicks – must have made him a few ducats.

The guy made a pile of money, created characters and images that dominated the pop culture landscape, and was, based on the reactions I’ve read from actors with whom he worked, apparently a good egg.

Some songs from the movies of John Hughes…

Lindsey Buckingham – Holiday Road
from National Lampoon’s Vacation

I can’t hear Holiday Road and not want to cruise through a desert in the American Southwest in a station wagon with a dead aunt strapped to the roof on the way to a theme park thousands of miles from home.

Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)
from The Breakfast Club

If I’m a betting man, my money is on The Breakfast Club to be remade (I think it’s been rumored of such a thing).

My friends and I were the perfect age for The Breakfast Club in ’85 and Judd Nelson’s John Bender was one of our first anti-heros. It helped that the movie was eminently quotable.

As for Don’t You (Forget About Me) – it’s still catchier than bird, swine, or ring-tailed lemur flu.

General Public – Tenderness
from Weird Science

Some songs just make me smile when I hear them and Tenderness is one of them. The melody is irresistible.

Of course, the lyric is pretty angst-riddled.

Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work
from She’s Having A Baby

1988’s She’s Having A Baby had a slew of great acts on the soundtrack including Kirsty MacColl, Everything But The Girl and the great Kate Bush. Bush hadn’t released an album in three years and her next one, The Sensual World, wouldn’t arrive ’til the following year.

But the movie made fine use of her lovely This Woman’s Work and the song is arguably her best known song to the mainstream public.