Three Of A Perfect Kind

February 8, 2010

I wasn’t sold on the whole iPod thing. Oh, I’d had an mp3 player by 2003 and embraced the small device. It held about 500 songs and I would almost daily change out some tracks while drinking coffee.

But, the iPods were pricier items and seemed to be overkill to me, clashing with my minimalist nature. Then I earned one as a bonus at work and quickly took to having 20,000 or so songs at my fingertips.

It allows me to pull up a playlist of early ’80s pop or ’70s light rock to keep things calm on the morning commute. And it provides a means of escape from work for short bursts during the day.

I manage to grab a handful of smoke breaks and I throw the headphones on as soon as I reach the elevator. Depending on the songs that shuffle up, I might be able to hear almost three songs before returning to my assigned spot.

I usually skip songs until I settle on one. Of course, it is my music, so I am quite fond of most of the stuff in there, but whatever pops up in the limited time span of a cigarette isn’t always the song I want or need.

So I surf.

But, sometimes, the first three songs that play are exactly what I want to hear at the moment. It’s like dropping a token into a slot machine and hitting three…what are the good ones? Cherries? Gold bars? Koalas?

Well, whatever pays out, I hit today. Three songs, not necessarily related in any obvious way, that made me smile as I enjoyed twelve minutes of blessed solitude…

Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio
from Call Of The West

I’ve always loved Wall Of Voodoo as a band name. It simply speaks to me.

As for the band, it’s too bad that Wall Of Voodoo is only known to most listeners for Mexican Radio. The quirky song is an undeniable ’80s classic, but their first couple records are worth seeking out (and, to my delight, I happened across several last autumn on vinyl).

The Posies – Dream All Day
from Frosting On The Beater

In college, I received a promotional CD that was a sampling of Geffen acts and amongst the tracks were a pair from The Posies including the gorgeous Suddenly Mary. I fell in love with their flawless power pop immediately.

Through the years I haven’t always kept up with the band, but I have snagged a few of their releases and they haven’t failed me, yet. Frosting On The Beater arrived in the wake of grunge and as mainstream radio was beginning to embrace more modern rock acts. Dream All Day got some radio play, but the band criminally remained underappreciated.

John Hiatt – Shredding The Document
from Walk On

When I am at my work, it would be impossible for me to spit in any direction and not hit someone. Inmates have more space.

This claustrophobic situation makes those smoke breaks – and some music – such a glorious escape.

And being within earshot of so many folks who feel compelled to constantly perform makes Shredding The Document by the very talented John Hiatt a bit of gallows humor to me.

(and the closing lines where he “reveals” what his father said is a brilliant payoff)

When An Ex Is Revealed To Be An Interstellar Overlord…

October 29, 2009

kirk_martaThere’ve been a number of commercials for a series called V. It’s a remake – I guess the kids call it a reimagining these days – of a series from the ‘80s.

I never watched the original, but a friend at the time was a devotee, so I knew that the premise of V involved visitors from space arriving on Earth and the hijinks which ensued.

And while the friend came to mind when I saw the commercial for the new version the other night, I was more struck by the apparent alien leader bearing a resemblance to an ex-girlfriend.

It made me think how odd it would be if, when the aliens take a wrong turn and finally land here, their form is not like bulbous-headed creatures from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, but, instead, indistinguishable from humans.

And, consider the drag it would be if the alien ambassador looked like an ex, especially if the end of that relationship had been contentious. Humankind’s first encounter with alien life would receive continuous televised coverage. It would be a carpet bombing from all media.

Friends who you hadn’t spoken to in years would contact you – “Have you seen that alien chick that looks like [name of ex]?”

“No, no I’ve been in a coma and missed the whole alien thing, but it’s nice to be reminded of unpleasant times.”

Of course, then I thought it would be even more disconcerting if the extraterrestrial leader not only resembled but was, in fact, that ex.

It would be a rather jarring reveal and undeniably some kind of feather in one’s cap.

To be someone that had slept with some alien uber being –

You’d get a book deal.

You’d end up on Oprah.

You’d likely need a lot of therapy.

You’d have to consult the one man who could relate to the situation – William Shatner. I didn’t watch much Star Trek growing up, but I do know that in one episode he hooked up with some green chick.

I mean, you’ve bedded an alien, why not up the absurdity quotient and seek the wisdom of Capt. Kirk.

According to online sources, V aired the first week of May, 1983.
Here are some songs from that time…

Tony Carey – I Won’t Be Home Tonight
from I Won’t Be Home Tonight

Tony Carey might not have been a household name with most music fans, but, in our corner of the Midwest, he got plenty of attention from the radio stations with songs like A Fine, Fine Day, The First Day Of Summer, and – as Planet P Project – Why Me and What I See.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about I Won’t Be Home Tonight. It’s just a straight-ahead rock song, but it sounded good on the radio. Also, the cover for the album – Carey, standing outside a UFO with a backpack – fits the subject matter of this post well.

Billy Joel – Goodnight Saigon
from The Nylon Curtain

I’ve noted before that I’ve never considered myself to be a Billy Joel fan until I realize that I own a fair chunk of his catalog and I usually don’t skip his songs when they pop up randomly on the iPod.

Goodnight Saigon is one of his more serious efforts, a rather dire take on the Vietnam War, and I song that I’d rank as one of his most compelling.

Robert Ellis Orrall And Carlene Carter – I Couldn’t Say No
from Special Pain

I don’t remember hearing the breezy I Couldn’t Say No aside from a few times on American Top 40. It’s a pleasant little number, unassuming but endearing, and it always causes Paloma to perk up and ask “Who’s this again?” when it comes up on shuffle.

Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio
from Call Of The West

It’s too bad that Wall Of Voodoo is only known to most listeners for Mexican Radio. The quirky song is an undeniable ’80s classic, but their first couple records are worth seeking out (and, to my delight, I happened across them on one of our last hauls of vinyl).

Also worth the search is the solo stuff from lead singer Stan Ridgway, who got a recent nod over at Any Major Dude With Half A Heart when his song Camouflage popped up on a recent Halloween post.