The Thirty-Day Music Challenge: Week Three

Continuing the list of songs and the remembrances they evoke from your humble columnist. Always going with live performances when I can, with the idea that it’s more fun to actually see musicians play the song. Part one is here; part two is here. And this week we pick up with….

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Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie.

Well, it’s stretching a point; but The Six Million Dollar Man started as a series of made-for-TV movies. Anyway, it’s an excuse to put this up. Our friend Pol Rua turned it up a while back and it just delights me. Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes covers jazzman Oliver Nelson.

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Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist.

I had to think long and hard about this one because I have so many; I don’t even really have a favorite genre. Beethoven? Johnny Cash? Jean-Luc Ponty? The Jam? It changes from day to day depending on what I am in the mood for.

But I always end up coming back to Patti Smith more often than any other artist. I guess because it feels like we grew up together. When I was in high school she was putting out stuff like Horses and Easter and she sounded as angry and out-of-place as I felt, her music resonated hugely with me. I wanted to write and do art, she wanted to write and do art, we both felt frustrated with the avenues available to us to do that. She was in no way a sex symbol like other rock star types and that was one of the things I always liked about her (though many of my high school classmates were grossed out by the armpit hair she displayed on the cover of Easter, I rather liked the fuck-you sentiment it clearly was meant to evoke.)

She always seemed fearless, willing to try anything when it came to her work, and if it flopped (even I have to admit that Radio Ethiopia is a dog of a record) she just picked herself up and went on to the next thing. Her take-me-as-I-am aesthetic was something I admired and aspired to myself.

Plus she was a writer. Not just songs; books too.

(Still is…. in fact today the books are her primary focus, though she still does the occasional concert.)

Eventually, she found true love with Fred “Sonic” Smith and in the eighties she married him and retired from touring to raise a family. Around that same time I got clean and sober and got my act together and again, it felt like we were running in parallel, both of us glad to leave the turbulent times behind.

Then in the early 90s she lost her husband, her brother, and her best friend to illness in the space of a few months. My first marriage blew up around then. She threw herself into her work to get past it, and I was doing the same. So yet again, it felt like we were paralleling each other: the rest of the 1990s were about rebuilding, for both of us. She started touring and putting out records again and I started to crack magazine markets as a writer. Our paths intersected, sort of, when I got my first columnist gig at WITH magazine on the strength of a particular piece I wrote; an appreciation of her career, with an emphasis on the resilience and artistic resolve displayed on her new record Gone Again.

The new stuff showed she hadn’t missed a step, and her voice has become a really magnificent blues instrument over the decades.

It was nearly impossible to pick just one song, but on the assumption you probably already know the hits, I went with a more obscure one from later in her career. You can see that she and her band– especially guitarist Lenny Kaye– were still capable of rocking hard despite all the miles they had on them. This is one of my favorites from the late-1990s/early 2000s rebuilding years: “Glitter In Their Eyes.” It’s from Gung Ho.

If you want a nice sampler without investing in the entire catalogue going back 30-plus years , this record is a good chronological greatest-hits compilation of Patti Smith’s career. It’s the one we play a lot in the car.

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Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born.

I was born in 1961. There’s not a lot from that year that interests me, certainly not on the rock-and-roll end of things. But jazz was having a renaissance. Here’s Dave Brubeck with “Take Five.” Dig the cool improv bits in the bridge, cats. That’s how you know it’s live.

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Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life.

I already told the story of my friend Anne-Marie who died far too young, and how thinking about that eventually resulted in the novel Silver Riders.

But what I didn’t mention is how this album, and particularly this song, Rough Night In Jericho, was my personal soundtrack for writing it. I even put the relevant lyric in the front of the book as an overture, sort of.

…I stood atop the ancient crumbling wall
And strained to hear the trumpet call
I leaned a bit too far and lost my hold

I fell into the unforgiving sand
Barely missed the saving hand
And I was crushed beneath the falling wall

Can you hear my heart beat?
Over the walls falling
Walls falling on me?
Listen to my heart beat

Let the cold wind blow
Rough night in Jericho
Let the walls fall in
Guess I’ll be saved by love again
Rough night in Jericho

Even though the walls are falling
I swear I hear the calling now

Anyway, here’s the whole song.

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Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom.

Oh, God. Well, without getting into all that troubled history, let’s just say this. Mom loved Burt Bacharach; Mom loved black singers that sounded whiter than white people; and Mom was a screaming vampire bat co-dependent married to an abusive alcoholic, so her ideas about love were pretty damaged.

Given all that, it’s no wonder I always think of her when I hear this.

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Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title.

“Gloria,” originally by Van Morrison and Them, is probably my favorite. The reason is because of the Patti Smith cover/remix version of it she did on her debut album, Horses. If you have a band that likes to rock it’s almost impossible to screw up and Patti and her band did it justice. I remember it vividly from my teenage years, driving around the pastureland on the outskirts of town with this song blaring from the car stereo and us all roaring along with the chorus.

Here is a live version of Patti and her band doing it in 2007, over thirty years after they originally recorded it, and you can tell they still love to rock it out. The best part of this performance for me is Patti occasionally grinning at her bandmates, just because it’s FUN to rock hard, man. The joy on her face always makes me smile; especially since Patti is not known for being joyous. Like I said above, she’s got some miles on her, but she’s still out there doing it for real.

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Day 22: A Song That Motivates You.

One more from Patti. I know, I know, but I really love this performance. It’s motivational for me mostly because of the energy she’s putting into it… Because she is seventy years old and still selling the defiance and passion and rage these songs had when they were originally recorded, when she was in her twenties. I hope to God I can still put this much into the work when I’m that age. This is a real rock concert, too, not some nostalgia fest or PBS thing. You go, girl. (And you too, Lenny.)

It kind of sums up everything I like about Patti Smith as a performer– not just the passion and the hard-rocking performance but the art-is-messy rawness… and even her willingness to look silly to sell the concept of the song. Speaking of, I suppose I should have warned everyone that the lyrics are offensive to some, but that’s kind of the point.

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Day 23: A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To.

Well, really, it’s that I think everyone should see the movie The Kids Are Alright with the Who. This is my favorite clip from it, from the aborted Rolling Stones special Rock and Roll Circus.

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And there you have it. As always, feel free to share your picks down below in the comments. Back next week with the final seven.

15 Comments

  1. Greg Burgas

    Man, these are getting harder. Let’s go!

    Day 16: My favorite song from a movie is “Scotty Doesn’t Know” from Eurotrip. Not only is it catchy, it’s hilarious, and it becomes an international hit and a Muzak version appears hilariously quickly. It’s too much fun.

    Day 17: Marillion’s best song is “Jigsaw.”

    Day 18: I was born in 1971, and there’s a lot of great music from that year. I think my favorite song from that year is “The Musical Box” by Genesis, but there are soooooo many.

    Day 19: I don’t know, man. That’s too hard.

    Day 20: I don’t listen to the same music that my mom does, so nothing does, really. She likes 1950s music, so let’s go with anything by Buddy Holly.

    Day 21: I like lots of songs with names in the titles. “All for Leyna” by Bill Joel is awesome. “Hollyann” by Boston is awesome. “Valerie” by Steve Winwood is awesome. “Elizabeth” by The Airborne Toxic Event is awesome.

    Day 22: I don’t really get motivated by songs. I don’t know why.

    Day 23: I don’t tell people what to listen to, man! 🙂 If I started listing songs I think everyone should listen to, we’d be here all day. Let’s just randomly pick “Flaws” by Bastille. That’ll do!

    1. Edo Bosnar

      *snort* Eurotrip. I’ve gotta watch that again, it’s been a while…

      And just so you know, I listened to “Flaws” because you told me to, so there. Not bad; not as good as my choices, but not bad… 😛

  2. Eric van Schaik

    Greg, this post is like a Marvel/DC series thats starts with a new #1. A lot of response to the first post, but quickly decreasing later on 🙂
    However I won’t let you down 😉

    Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie.
    I like scores from John Carpenter (The Thing, Prince of Darkness), Howard Shore (The Fly, with one of the nicest opening scores: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q1apmC0-tc).
    But a real song? Thats got to be Coupe Deville – Big trouble in Little China.
    It was the first movie that I watched with the woman that became my wife.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvYEdmW47gQ

    Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist.
    Man, it’s not getting easier. So many choices.
    When I go back in time I think about about of the first bands that brought me into hardrock/heavy metal. That was Kiss. My favorite member was Ace Frehley.
    Because of that the song I choose is Shock Me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DHbCYSu_w4

    Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born.
    31 october 1963 was the date I was born into this world.
    I could go with some horrible dutch music but instead I go with The Crystals – Then he kissed me. The clip stars Elisabeth Shue. A night on the town is still a great movie to watch.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFrecN_dsPc

    Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life.
    The title of the song says it all.
    Talk Talk – Life’s what you make it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upyrWwstEMY

    Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom.
    As you might know I have spent a lot of time with my mom lately.
    She told me ones that there was a song that made me cry as a little baby. They played it from time to time. Yeah my parents were cruel 🙂
    Tom Jones – What’s new pussycat
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG1c3Oasifc

    Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title.
    I go with a complete name 😉 It’s still one of my favorite songs from the band.
    They come to Holland for a concert in april, which makes me a happy man.
    And Also The Trees – Simple Tom and the Ghost of Jenny Bailey
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ur38vFM40k

    Day 22: A Song That Motivates You.
    A song that makes me realise that there is always room for happiness.
    Kaskade ft. Skylar Grey – Room for happiness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHDfCqrx-CA

    Day 23: A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To.
    I’m not a dictator man 😉 I’ve got about 1.000 songs on my phone that are great.
    But if some of you actually listen to the songs on my list, then here’s one of my favorites for the moment
    Mintzkov – the simple future

  3. Louis Bright-Raven

    Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie

    “Science Fiction Double Feature” From Rocky Horror Picture Show (sung by Richard O’ Brien, lip-synched by Patricia Quinn as “The Lips” in the films).

    Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist

    “The Walk” by Sawyer Brown. It’s about a father / son relationship that reflected both of my relationships with my grandfather and father when it came out in 1991. My grandfather had died about a year before the song came out and we had all spent several years caring for him, and when the song came out, it sort of reinforced the pattern and belief system that lead to my being the caregiver for both of my parents only a few short years later once they both became disabled.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4c9Iyu4feg

    Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born

    Well, MacQuarrie, here’s one for you. My Ding-A-Ling by Chuck Berry, from 1972:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXJEtUTRI1E

    Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life

    Another Day In Paradise by Phil Collins:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt2mbGP6vFI

    Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom

    Nothing really reminds me of my mother, musically.

    Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title

    Since I haven’t mentioned any women artists, I’ll go with I’m Not Lisa by Jessi Colter. Always loved the piano arrangement of this song. It’s like each note is a little tear as the woman is singing to her lover who cannot / will not let go of the memory of his lost lover. And even though many people have covered it, I don’t know if anybody really matches Colter’s original performance.

    Day 22: A Song That Motivates You

    I wish I knew the answer to this one, because I am so depressed and unmotivated in life these days I could use one of those.

    Day 23: A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To:

    Hole In The World by The Eagles

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24xzdr

  4. Edo Bosnar

    Excellent: Patti Smith and The Who are awesome.

    Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie
    If anybody even remembers the band Wang Chung now, it’s for that quintessentially ’80s top-40 hit, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” which is, frankly, a pretty crappy and forgettable song, or maybe “Dance Hall Days” which is a nice enough song, but nothing special. However, Wang Chung also produced what I consider one of the best albums of the 1980s: the soundtrack for “To Live and Die in LA” – an oft-forgotten but outstanding crime noir film from that same decade. Every track – a mixture of standard songs and moody instrumentals – is simply brilliant. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “Wake Up, Stop Dreaming”.

    Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist
    Can’t say I really have an absolute favorite artist; there’s so many musicians and bands I love. I really like Joan Armatrading, especially her album The Key, and probably my favorite song from it is “(I Love It When You) Call Me Names”. And here’s a wonderful, toned down solo acoustic live rendition.

    Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born
    1968 – lots of good songs came out that year, hard to pick, so I’ll just go with a really nice tune from the Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, an album released about a month after I was born: “Yes, the River Knows” (I like all the songs on that album, but I picked that one because it was written by the guy I consider the band’s unsung hero, guitarist Robby Krieger).

    Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life
    This is kind of tough; I guess a song that always kind of puts me in this existential mood for some reason is Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”.

    Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title
    There’s so many; as with the favorite artist category, I don’t know if I have an absolute favorite, but I’ve always loved this one, from 1980s Oregon’s finest party/ska band, the Crazy 8s: “Johnny Q”.

    Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom
    …passing on this one…

    Day 22: A Song That Motivates You
    A bunch of songs from Chicago when they were a cool band, back in the ’70s, like “25 or 6 to 4” or “Saturday in the Park” get me all pumped up and energized, but especially this one: “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day”.

    Day 23: A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To.
    Not only am I gonna tell everyone what to do, but I’m picking two here (’cause I skipped one above). The first is one that somebody, similarly, told me I had to listen to, and I’m glad that person did so. The title track to an excellent album by Funkadelic, which puts the guitar-playing virtuosity of the great (and, unfortunately, late) Eddie Hazel on full display: “Maggot Brain”.
    The second is just a random, but awesome, track from Croatia’s surf-band sensation, the Bambi Molesters, just because I think everyone should know about these guys. Here’s “Last Ride”.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Edo: How cool that someone else digs the Crazy 8s. I never got to see them; they broke up not long before we moved to Portland, but I still dig them. Mike Sterling, comics retailer extraordinaire, is a fan, too, so it’s cool to see another one! 🙂

      1. Edo Bosnar

        Oh, man, I love the Crazy 8s. Regrettably, I never saw them live either, because I didn’t really start going to concerts or shows until after high school, by which time I was living in California – a little far from the 8s’ usual Pacific Northwest stomping grounds. (Once, in the late ’80s, they were scheduled to play at some club in Santa Clara or San Jose, and I was all set to go with a few buddies, but then the show was cancelled at the last minute and never rescheduled…)

  5. Jeff Nettleton

    Favorite Song from a Movie-Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five.” Just a really great, bouncy song that encapsulates the drudgery of work, yet is still joyous. It’s used brilliantly in the film, which is just a masterclass of character-based comedy.

    Song Featuring My Favorite Artist-Well, for me, that is Concrete Blonde. “Joey” was their biggest hit; but, my favorite is “Ghost of a Texas Ladies-Man” Great vocals from Johnette Nalopitano and Jim Manke’s brilliant guitar work. Harry Rushakoff was back on drums, after missing out on the previous album, due to substance issues. Fun song, lively, and tells a story that would make for a great movie.

    Song from the year I was born- That would be 1966. Lot of really great music; but, one that encapsulates the period, for me, is Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man.” Great guitar and the song captures the spy fad well, and I love the spy films and tv series of that era.

    Song That Makes Me Think About Life-Again, Concrete Blonde, with “Wendy”. The song was written by Andy Prieboy, of Wall of Voodoo, and is about a woman with AIDS, who decides to make the choice of the time of her death and commits suicide. The song is filled with hurt and anger, from both the perspective of the woman dying and those left behind. Hearing it gets deep inside, especially after a good friend died of renal cancer.

    Song that Reminds Me of My Mom-well, not in personality; but, “Cecilia,” from Simon & Garfunkle. That is her name. A teacher of mine would sing it, when we would do weekly project presentations, when I was in an advanced class, in the 4th grade. My parents had both been teachers in the school system (my mom had left it behind, by that point) and the teacher knew them quite well. It used to annoy the hell out of me. However, it’s not a name you encounter often; so, when I hear the song, I think of mom.

    Favorite Song with a Person’s Name in the Title-That would be Concrete Blonde’s “Joey.” No special reason; just love the song, as it showcases Napolitano’s voice well.

    Song That Motivates Me-“Tubthumping,” from Chumbawumba. I went threw some career upheaval, over the past 4 years and I would play that song to keep the urge to fight. “I get knocked down/ but, I get up again/you ain’t never gonna keep me down!” Sometimes you just have to face life with that attitude. Then, sing the songs that remind you of the good times and sing the songs that remind you of the better times!

    Song That Everyone Should Listen To-two, actually: John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” “Imagine,” because of the idea at the center, and “Always,” because it pretty much sums up the absurdity of life and you might as well laugh at it. Eric Idle led the crowd in singing it at Graham Chapman’s memorial service and I think I would like it played at mine, someday. I like the idea of people singing a happy song. That, and getting everyone to sing “shit,” during a funeral service.

  6. Jeff Nettleton

    As an addendum to Song That Makes You Think About Life, I would add, one that makes me think of death and still smile: Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” A couple of years ago, my cat, Mr Man, was very sick, with failing kidneys. It had progressed to the point that he wouldn’t eat and wasn’t using the litterbox. Nothing could be done medically, except put fluids in him. I had decided to have him put to sleep, to end his pain. I made an appointment with the vet and we were saying our goodbyes to him, before I took him in. He would still try to move about and he crawled up on my wife’s laptop and settled down on it, to absorb the heat. We didn’t have the heart to move him off of it. he moved a paw and set off a music file. It was “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” We just had to laugh, through the tears. It was like his way of saying goodbye. Now, whenever I hear the song, I am back in that moment, and I smile, with tears in my eyes. He’s the guy you see in my avatar photo, on top of the computer. He never quite mastered “Getting onto the internet.”

    1. Edo Bosnar

      Oh, man. Great story about the cat, Jeff. Made me a bit sad but I also smiled.

      And not to go too far off on a tangent, but I have to say I agree completely about 9 to 5 – great movie. Saw it in the theaters as a kid when it first came out (with my otherwise conservative and not-really-into-movies parents – who loved it), and then a few more times on TV, most recently about 2 years ago. It’s a very fun movie and it really holds up pretty well.

  7. I don’t know that I have time to get all of these in (I missed last week’s), but here goes:

    Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie
    There are two choices I could go with here: Jessica Harper singing “Special to Me” in ‘Phantom of the Paradise’
    https://youtu.be/Z-NHNax5Bj8
    or Melora Hardin’s version of “Begin the Beguine” from ‘The Rocketeer’.
    https://youtu.be/88l05Rh9eIU

    Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist
    That would be the late Harry Chapin.
    Let’s go with something fun, and of course Harry was always better live, so here’s “Bluesman”:
    https://youtu.be/_wLtvgSxafQ

    Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born
    I was born in 1958 (yep, old AF), and there was a lot of really good music that year from the likes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Avalon, Ricky Nelson, Peggy Lee, and a whole lot more, landmarks of rock & roll, but I’ll go with this gem from Sheb Wooley:
    https://youtu.be/X9H_cI_WCnE

    Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life
    Back to Harry. “There Only Was One Choice,” all 14 minutes of it. Written for the US Bicentennial.
    https://youtu.be/_MI6HSICrE8

    Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title
    Springsteen. “Sherry Darling.”
    https://youtu.be/eU1cy81Qwyw

    Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom
    I could go with “Sherry Darling” again, but no.
    When I was a kid, my mom didn’t play a lot of music; usually in the car she played a muzak station, lots of “the 101 Strings” and bland vocal covers by boring groups like the Ray Coniff Singers, and I can’t inflict that on you. We had about a half-dozen albums, but the one that reminds me of my mom would be Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall.
    “Mama Look a Boo Boo”: https://youtu.be/DhsW4h3oNH8

    I’ll come back later for the others…

  8. John King

    Day 16: One of Your Favorite Songs From a Movie
    maybe “The Fall” by the Electric Light Orchestra (from Xanadu)

    Day 17: A Song That Features Your Favorite Artist
    I have many likes – not certain of any specific favourite
    maybe “Once upon a long ago” by Paul McCartney

    Day 18: A Song From the Year You Were Born
    I’ll go all the way and pick the number one (UK charts) from when I was born (it just seems appropriate)
    “I’m Alive” by the Hollies
    (one week earlier or later would be Elvis “Crying in the Chapel”)

    Day 19: A Song That Makes You Think About Life
    I’ve had McCartney – now it’s time for John Lennon “Beautiful Boy”

    Day 20: A Song That Reminds You of Your Mom
    My mother loves rock’n’roll era songs from Buddy Holly, Paul Anka, etc
    I believe her favourite to be Cliff Richard – so “Move It”

    Day 21: A Favorite Song With A Person’s Name In The Title
    lots to choose from (“Marie, Marie”, “Rhiannon”)
    maybe “Ana Ng” by They Might be Giants

    Day 22: A Song That Motivates You
    I’m not generally (to my knowledge) motivated by songs – though when I was at University I used Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” to motivate myself to get up out of bed

    Day 23: A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To.
    I’m a firm believer in individuality and doubt if there really is any song that eberybody should listen to. Maybe, the Beatles”Hey Jude” ?

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