The Not Contractually Obligated Top Ten Of 2012

December 31, 2012

Now that I’ve wasted so much time here establishing a few traditions, I’d be remiss to honor not them…

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.

Four 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 2012 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. The Beautiful South – Everybody’s Talkin
from Carry On Up The Charts (1994)
If It’s December, It Must Be Christmas

“On one of the however hundred or so cable channels, NBC is airing It’s A Wonderful Life.”

9. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
from Emotions In Motion (1982)
October 2, 1982

“At some point last year, I started a semi-regular tradition of pulling up a Hot 100 chart from Billboard magazine and dissecting the debut songs for a given week in the early ’80s (when I was first listening to music and most familiar with Top 40 radio).”

8. Townes Van Zandt – Dead Flowers
from The Big Lebowski soundtrack (1998)
“Am I the only one around here who gives a @#%! about the rules?”

“I know that Walter Sobcheck does, indeed, give a @#%! about them. He was willing to send Smokey into “a world of pain” for a foot foul in The Big Lebowski.”

7. David Bowie/Pat Metheney Group – This Is Not America
from The Falcon And The Snowman soundtrack (1985)
February 2, 1985

“In early 1985, the shift in my musical interests, which had been evolving and changing in fits and starts for a couple years, was ongoing.”

6. Eye To Eye – Nice Girls
from Eye To Eye (1982)
May 22, 1982

“As I opt to periodically do – when I have no other viable or unviable ideas – it’s time to pull up an old Billboard magazine Hot 100 chart and note the songs that debuted that week.”

5. The Monkees- (Theme From) The Monkees
from The Best Of The Monkees (2003)
The Monkees And Me

“I suppose that for someone as fascinated by primates, both of the skyscraper-climbing and planet-ruling sort, as I apparently am, The Monkees should be a favorite band for, if nothing else, their name.”

4. Altered Images – I Could Be Happy
from Pinky Blue (1982)
Bagpipes

“I keep seeing some television commercial, touting some MMA bout. With bagpipes blaring over fight footage, some participant is in the frame spouting Irish proverbs in an accent that I’m not quite sure is Irish or Scottish.”

3. John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies (1979)
Andrew Burt – Or Someone Else – In 2012

“The candidates have not yet formally been nominated and I am already fatigued by the quadrennial excercise in slapstick that is the presidential election.”

2. The Nails – 88 Lines About 44 Women
from Mood Swing (1984)
Cheese, Crackers And The Voigt-Kampff Test

“Having had a reaction due to the ingestion of a certain plant-based substance, I once rampaged my way through several boxes of crackers, leading my housemates to dub me ‘Cracker Vacuum.'”

1. The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
from The Dream Academy (1985)
Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma…

“In the last few days, I’ve rediscovered the music of The Dream Academy, a band which I had loved and forgotten (despite owning all three of their albums).”

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Andrew Burt – Or Someone Else – In 2012

June 14, 2012

The candidates have not yet formally been nominated and I am already fatigued by the quadrennial excercise in slapstick that is the presidential election.

Ihe source of this indifference is not the coverage and pontificating pundits parsing a never-ending election cycle.

It’s the vacuum left by honest, intelligent discourse that has been filled by – at best – a din of white noise and – at worst – very ugly and ignorant rancor.

The older I get, the more people like Noam Chomsky and Bill Hicks make sense to me.

I’ve been considering writing in Willie Nelson this November and – damn it – I still might if for no other reason than so that I might honestly tell people that I wrote in Willie Nelson for president.

(and how cool would it be to have the Red Headed Stranger in office?)

Let’s spare ourselves the coming months of nonsense and pick a name out of a hat.

Seriously.

We could take the hundreds of millions of dollars – or more – that will be spent carpet bombing us with soundbites and, instead, make a giant hat into which interested citizens would put their name.

Your name is chosen, you serve a year as the leader of the free world.

Hold the drawing at halftime of the Super Bowl.

The construction of the giant hat would put innumerable people to work.

It would be a lottery where the winner would get a good-paying gig and nice package of retirement perks.

It would all be over in ten minutes, we all get on with life and it’s only slightly less silly than a mostly uninformed electorate using color-codes to choose their candidate.

(which is how Garanimals wanted us kids of the ’70s to dress)

As I don’t have luxury of a giant hat and a pool of applicants, I entered “random” into google, scanned the results for a first name, then for a last name and got Andrew Burt.

Under my proposed system, our next president might be one of several physicians from California, a marshall from Utah, a science fiction writer, or some fellow arrested for a DUI.

Sadly, with the self-serving, petty, visionless group of squabbling suits who serve our country, I’m beginning to doubt that it matters which Andrew Burt actually leads them.

Here are four somewhat random songs that caused my ears to prick up…

Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark (12-inch “Blaster Mix”)

So perhaps the protagonist of Dancing In The Dark is suffering some existential angst, but it’s also an anthemic call to action. Or that’s how the song was imprinted onto my DNA as a sixteen-year old kid when it arrived with the first weeks of summer in 1984.

I was surprised to realize that I have a copy of Arthur Baker’s 12-mix of the song. I suppose the song mortified Springsteen purists, but I heard it a lot that summer.

(I kind of dug it)

Hearing it for the first time in who knows, I still kind of dig it.

John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies (1982)

Stewart, the man who wrote Daydream Believer, was joined by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on the timeless-sounding Gold. It’s a pretty perfect pop song.

I always pictured this song taking place on some dusty, desolate stretch of road in Arizona, so if Paloma and I ever open up a bait shop in the Southwest, I’d insist this song be on the jukebox.

Sparks and Jane Wiedlin – Cool Places
from In Outer Space (1983)

My buddy Streuss introduced us to Sparks in high school, but the duo has had little commercial success in the States aside from their collaboration with Go-Gos guitarist Jane Weidlin.

Cool Places is typically quirky Sparks and the song actually became a minor hit during the summer of ’83 when it seemed like they appeared on Solid Gold every other week to perform it.

Lick The Tins – Can’t Help Falling In Love
from Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack (1987)

Director John Hughes made music an intrinsic part of the fabric of his films. For the close of Some Kind Of Wonderful, he opted to have the two social misfits walk off together to the energetic, playful take on Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love by the Celtic rock band Lick The Tins.


Baseball

July 16, 2009

For the first time in I have no idea how many years, I watched the MLB All-Star game the other night. It surprised me a bit to realize how rarely I’ve watched the game in the last twenty years.

I stared quizzically at half of the players during this year’s introductions as though I was trying to identify someone from a police line-up.

As a kid, the All-Star game was appointment viewing. We knew all of the players and most of us could rattle of a relevant stat or two.

In a world where summer had no internet, no mp3 players, only the most rudimentary of video games, and no cable television, baseball was often our favorite waste of time.

By ten o’clock in the morning, most mornings, the first pick-up game in our neighborhood would have already ended (usually in an argument, sometimes to steal strawberries from the patch out beyond our first base line).

The afternoon game that would come together (once tempers cooled and boredom set in) was like an Ironman competition and a test to merely endure in 95 degree heat.

Over the years, my interest in the sport has waned. I think it’s mostly due to the disparity in spending between the teams.

But it’s also football. Now, even in the middle of July, my focus is not on baseball but rather that my favorite team has signed some free agent linebacker and how that signing might affect a season that won’t really be underway for another three months.

It’s an onslaught of information that is, in the middle of summer, mostly empty calories. Even a dedicated fan doesn’t need to be so in the loop (and, if you do, you might have a serious gambling problem).

The first All-Star game that I vividly remember was 1979. Maybe it’s because my grandfather, a lifelong Pittsburgh fan, had passed away a few months earlier.

Almost every evening during baseball season, he’d sit on the couch with my grandmother. They’d hold hands and watch the Pirates on television or listen to them on radio.

(that autumn, the team would win the World Series in dramatic fashion)

Baseball was far more important to me than music in 1979, but perusing the Billboard charts from July of that year revealed a number of songs that, even as a casual listener, I recall hearing…

John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies

The man who wrote Daydream Believer, Stewart was joined by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on the timeless-sounding Gold. It’s a pretty perfect pop song.

If Paloma and I ever open up a bait shop in the Southwest (I always pictured this song taking place on some dusty, desolate stretch of road in Arizona), I’d insist this song be on the jukebox.

The Knack- My Sharona
from Get The Knack

I had little interest in music in ’79, but, like all of us, I knew My Sharona. I don’t recall the mania surrounding them or the backlash, but I’ve wondered if it was similar to Oasis a decade and a half later.

Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
from Look Sharp!

OK, I can’t honestly say that I ever heard Is She Really Going Out With Him? at the time. In fact, I’m positively certain that I didn’t hear it ’til several years later after Jackson had hit with Steppin’ Out.

Better late than never, though, and Is She Really Going Out With Him? is classic stuff.

Supertramp – Goodbye Stranger
from Breakfast In America

I’ve declared my affection for Breakfast In America before. But, as a non-music fan in 1979, I thought Goodbye Stranger was the brothers Gibb.