The Thirty-Day Music Challenge: Week Two

This is just a fun internet thing going around that I thought would make for an interesting set of columns. Week one is here, for those who came in late. For week two, we’ll pick up where we left off, with…..

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Day 9: A Song That Makes You Happy.

This may seem like an odd pick. This is one from Arthur Brown.

Most people, if they are familiar with Arthur Brown at all, know him for his one hit, “Fire,” an LSD-inspired novelty tune released in the late sixties (“I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!”) My college roommate West introduced me to his debut album, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, back when we were freshmen, and the interesting thing about it is that Mr. Brown’s backup musicians are frankly quite extraordinary. Pete Townshend co-produced it and he recruited a lot of his buddies to play on it. (Among them: Carl Palmer on drums, before he found Emerson and Lake.) And Arthur had a terrific voice, too… he was just nuttier than a Costco-sized bag of trail mix. The result is that the Crazy World album was actually a pretty awesome blues record, albeit one with some truly bonkers psychedelic lyrics. I fell in love with it instantly and for years afterward West and I used to sort of test people with it… we’d put it on as background and if they were startled or upset at how weird it was, they were clearly not cool enough to hang out with.

Arthur Brown is still touring, over fifty years later. Here he is playing one of my two favorites, “Nightmare.”

Not really a happy-go-lucky number, granted, though most of the songs I’ll be listing make me happy in one way or another. But this one, played in the car, used to amuse our five-year-old godson; he would ask for “Crazy Arthur” and sing along, and that made me enormously happy. Watching it now reminds me of those days and that makes me happy… and seeing old Arthur, still doing his Woodstock-era dance moves and rocking out with the wonderful Hamburg Blues Band, even though he has to be in his mid-seventies, makes me pretty happy, too.

Day 10: A Song That Makes You Sad.

Lisa Koch is a Seattle performer mostly known for her hilarious cabaret shows, but this is a heartbreaker. In the 90s a lot of our friends in the arts community were dying, of AIDS and dope and lots of other stuff (Back then, a musician friend of mine once remarked in baffled disgust,”I think we must be the only band in town not on heroin.”)

I got clean and sober with a lot of those folks; in the early 1990s we were going to funerals every other week sometimes, and this song really sums up what that felt like. Not just the loss but also the awkwardness, the families that didn’t know how to react, all of it. This particular song is partly about being gay and coming out, but it will resonate with ANYONE who has difficult family. I’m not gay but for me this song still painfully evokes how my brother and I have dealt with each other for most of our lives, and the utter lack of understanding there.

It just gets to me. I bet it will get to you too, unless you have a heart made of anthracite.

Lisa Koch is terrific, by the way, and hugely recommended. Most of her stuff is a lot funnier and you can find more here.

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Day 11: A Song You Never Get Tired Of.

I never, ever get tired of “Gimme Shelter,” originally by the Rolling Stones. But the original’s not my favorite. In fact, I’d be hard put to pick a favorite version or arrangement … because I love them all and never get tired of the song. I finally settled on two of them.

The first is a nice unplugged version from Puddle of Mudd.

The second is from Lisa Fischer, who actually performed the song with the Stones — that’s her killer backup vocal you hear on the version on No Security — but I think it turned out even better when she did it on her own.

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Day 12: A Song That You Love From 2011.

This was a horrible entry for me because I don’t pay any attention to current releases at all. I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking up what was actually released in 2011 and felt about a thousand years old when I realized I didn’t know any of the artists that put out records that year.

That said, I thought this one was kind of catchy.

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Day 13: One of Your Favorite 70s Songs.

70s music means different things to different people. Might be disco, or the ‘California sound’ of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, or the birth of punk rock, or the heavy metal renaissance of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple… but for me, when you say ‘seventies music’ it’s all about the pretentious art-rock types like King Crimson and Pink Floyd.

Here’s a fun one from that sub-genre of the seventies that might well be under your radar… a band called Camel. Their album Moonmadness was the first one I ever bought with my own money, back in 1975. This is my favorite track off that record, “Lunar Sea.”

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Day 14: A Song That You Would Love Played At Your Wedding.

We actually DID play this at our wedding. Julie gave her brother-in-law Wayne, a fine musician in his own right, a list of songs and he put together a mix CD of the list that played as background music in the church when the guests were coming in. Mostly sentimental favorites from albums that we played a lot and sang along with in the car. One of those was the Lounge-a-Palooza CD, and for our wedding Julie included this cut from that record.

We also love “Black Hole Sun” by Steve and Eydie, and “A Rose Is A Rose” by Poe, but they’re really not appropriate wedding music. We didn’t want my mother’s head to actually explode.

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Day 15: A Song That Is A Cover By Another Artist.

This actually overlaps a lot of the previous categories. I never get tired of checking out interesting covers… just from the picks I’ve made so far, you can make the case that I almost always would rather check out the cover of a Rolling Stones song than the original.

But for a staggeringly genius cover version of a song you’d have thought they never could pull off, I give you the theme from “Shaft”…. as rendered by those well-known masters of funk, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

No, really. It’s genius. Check it out.

Honestly you should just check out ALL their stuff.

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We’ll let crazy Arthur play us out with my other favorite of his, “Child of My Kingdom.” Musically, it’s a tour-de-force; Brown turns in one of his best vocal performances ever and the keyboards on this from Vincent Crane are AMAZING. The fact that the lyrics are silly shit like “see the hand wiping tears from my brain” is beside the point. It sounds great.

Enjoy. As always, you can have at it with your own picks down in the comments. Back next week with week 3!

7 Comments

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Wow, learned some new stuff today that I now have to look into: I know I’ve heard those songs before, probably on some AOR or oldies radio station way back when, but I never knew they were by Arthur Brown. Also, Camel; I was, and am, totally into that ‘pretentious’ art rock – some of us call it prog – but I’ve never heard of them (although that song you linked sounds familiar).

    1. A Song That Makes You Happy:
    A lot of songs fit this category for me, but here’s one that not only makes me happy every time I hear it, but could also be an entry for days 5 and 6 (i.e., it needs to be played loud and makes me want to dance): Led Zeppelin’s “Hot Dog”

    2. A Song That Makes You Sad:
    “Brothers in Arms” by the Dire Straits, because it reminds of the early ’90s when I first came to Croatia, and the war was still raging here and, especially, in Bosnia. The song got a lot of radio airplay, and was often used as background music on longer television reports about the war. A thing that makes me additionally sad, because it’s a bit tragic, is that a lot of over here seem unaware of the fact that it’s basically an anti-war song.

    3. A Song You Never Get Tired of:
    I swear when I was looking over that list last week, “Gimme Shelter” was one of the first songs that came to mind. My favorite is still the original Stones version, with Merry Clayton belting out those vocals. I like a lot of the covers, too – Fischer’s is obviously great, and Clayton herself also covered it.
    Just so we’re not repetitive, I’ll pick one of my runners-up, another one from the Stones: Happy .

    4. A Song That You Love from 2011:
    Yeah, this one’s tough for me, and this isn’t necessarily a song I love, but I found it amusing then, and still do: CeeLo Green’s “Fuck You” (And yes, I know it was released in 2010, but it charted in 2011, and I’m pretty sure that when I first heard it anyway.)

    5. One of Your Favorite ’70s Songs:
    O.k. this is pretty much where I live in terms of music. So many of my favorite songs are from that decade, and I love all of the various styles you mentioned: the hard rock/heavy metal, the California sound, punk, prog, as well as funk, acid/psychedelic (which bled over from the ’60s), glam and so much more – heck, I even like a lot of disco tunes. Sticking with your theme, I’ll go with one of my favorite songs in general, which turned me into a lifelong fan of the band when I first heard it: “Roundabout” by Yes.

    6. A Song That You Would Love Played at Your Wedding:
    My partner and I never bothered getting married, and probably never will, so I never gave much thought to weddings. I suppose if we did have some kind of wedding party, I would want this one played, just to get everybody out on the dance floor to have some fun making fools of themselves: “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s.

    7. A Song That is a Cover By Another Artist:
    One that most people aren’t even aware is a cover, because it became such a signature song for Santana, even though it was first recorded and released as a modestly successful single by Fleetwood Mac: “Black Magic Woman” – of course, you have to listen to the version that smoothly segues into “Gypsy Queen.”

  2. Louis Bright-Raven

    Day 9: A Song That Makes You Happy

    “The Official Historian On Shirley Jean Burrell” by the Statler Brothers

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM3qb9a4q3M

    My parents had a Statler Brothers Greatest Hits 8 Track they played about 3 million times over in the 70s and for some reason this song clicked in my 6-9 year old mind. I think it was the quirky beat with the cowbell that caught my attention. Ironically, I could never get the lyrics right as a child and kept saying “Shirley Bean Purrell” and “Ones they don’t blame” instead of ‘claim’. When I learned the song correctly later a few years later in my early teens and I played music, I changed up some of the lyrics (“What’s she’s got for Christmas since 1972” instead of 1952 and one other line but I can’t remember my revision anymore).

    Day 10: A Song That Makes You Sad

    “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jXrmAKBBTU

    Gill wrote it as a eulogy ballad for both the late Keith Whitley and his late brother Bob over the course of 4 years between their deaths. It was the song requested by a friend of mine, the late Edward Kammert from my old comics studio Constellation Studios for his funeral, and I had to perform the vocals. So when I hear the song, I think about him and how young he was (he was 27 and died from a brain aneurism caused by potassium buildup in his blood stream due to having terminal kidney disease and the same bone cancer that took comic artist Michael Turner’s life), and the sadness that the world never really got to experience his talent and that he never got to leave the kind of contribution to the world he wanted to.

    Day 11: A Song You Never Get Tired Of

    “Clumsy” by The Beaumonts

    The Beaumonts were an alt-rock college band that I knew in the early nineties comprised of lead singer / rhythm guitarist Jeff Bryk, lead guitarist Colin Longcore, bassist Christopher Norton and drummer Karen McBurney. I went to college with both Jeff and Karen (at two different colleges at different times no less). I don’t recall why they split up (they did so after one, maybe two studio album releases). It’s my favorite song by them, but “Clumsy” unfortunately didn’t make either album – I think you can only find it on a live performance cassette track. It has an early REM vibe to it. I’ll see if Karen’s got a version of it somewhere I can link you all to later. If you can come across their album INDIAN SUMMER from 1992 and you like the late 80s, early 90s college alt-rock scene, I recommend picking it up.

    Day 12: A Song That You Love From 2011

    “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtOvBOTyX00

    I know many people kinda hate this song because it’s A) Sappy Pop fluff romance junk, and B) It’s associated as the love theme for the TWILIGHT movies. That’s not why I love the song.

    For me, when I hear this song, I’m not hearing Christina Perri sing. Somehow, in my mind’s ear, I’m hearing the voice of my girlfriend Alexandra who I lost in 1990 when she was killed by a drunk driver (who I referred to back with the “We Belong” song last set). Somehow Perri sounds so close to Alex that it’s like I’m having Alex sing to me again, and so that is kind of special to me. It’s the only song Perri does that has that affect on me. But it also seems to affect Alex’s brothers and mother the same way, so at least I know I’m not quite off my rocker yet.

    Day 13: One of Your Favorite 70s Songs

    “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver, 1971

    First song I ever learned to play on guitar.

    Day 14: A Song That You Would Love Played At Your Wedding

    Well, had Alex and I been married as planned, it would have been Pat Benetar’s “We Belong”, as I inferred from the last set of songs last week. Since I have never been married and I don’t believe I ever will be, I guess I will leave it at that.

    Day 15: A Song That Is A Cover By Another Artist.

    Oh it’s gotta be Steve’n’Seagulls, the Finnish Bluegrass / Polka band who covers hard rock / heavy metal songs. I’m just not sure which one to pick! LOL I guess I’ll go with their cover of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”

    1. Louis Bright-Raven

      Well, Karen got back to me via Facebook and she says the masters are with one of two of the other band members and there are no digital versions online. Bummer. She said if she can find a live version on tape from a show in her stuff she might try to post it online sometime, but she just relocated from Georgia back to her home state of Michigan recently, so she hasn’t really unpacked yet.

  3. Eric van Schaik

    Man o man. A lot of hard choices again.

    Day 9. A song that makes you happy.
    When it comes to music I’m not a fan of happy music. It’s more metal and new wave.
    But from time to time there are song that give me a smile.
    This is one of them. The clip is from there last concert in Holland and I was fortunate to be there.
    Kaizers Orchestra – Det polaroid liv
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5JruBal_k8

    Day 10. A song that makes you sad.
    In more familiar teritory now.
    I could go for so much stuff. Anne Clark, The Cure…
    The pick of today is…
    Temples – Move with the season (a beyond the wizard of sleeve re-animation)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVgCHH3A7e0

    Day 11. A song you never get tired off.
    There are so many songs I could pick. I still like discover new stuff and this is recently new. I liked Emma Anderson when she played in Lush but this is great stuff too. One of the first records I found at Discogs (a great site for buying cd’s or records).
    Sing Sing – Tegan
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5bUonHg098

    Day 12. A song from 2011.
    For me it was not a difficult pick surprisingly.
    A band that I would to see in action. A college of mine thought it was kind of ABBA.
    I chose this one over the live version because of the concrete licking 😉
    Metronomy – The bay
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PnOG67flRA

    Day 13. One of your favorite ’70s songs.
    Also a difficult choice. Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, Uriah Heep, Kraftwerk… an endless list.
    Like Edo I go for a Yes song. My choice: Starship Trooper.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jhk5MEugJY

    Day 14. A song that you would love played at your wedding.
    When I got married way back in 1991 we had no favorite song. As you may recall when you follow some reactions (mostly when mister Burgas has a post) I had a divorce last year. If and when I find someone new I don’t think I will marry again.
    Or she would have to beg 🙂
    Which brings me to a song that should be played if it would ever happen.
    Frankie Valli – Beggin’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQgmyQFFQjo

    Day 15. A song that is a cover by another artist.
    Once again it was hard to pick a winner.
    I had to like the original, but also love the covered version too.
    The winner for today is Roycksopp – Go with the flow.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2cCONHsMfY

    I hope a lot of other people give there choices too. It’s nice to discover new stuff.
    Thanks again mister Hatchet for sharing this list with us.

    And now a bit of personal stuff that I would like to share.
    When I drove back from work last wednesday I got a call from the nursery home. My mom is dementia and being there every other week to take care for her got harder and harder. I thought I would get an update but it was great news for her AND me. There is a empty spot and she can go there very soon. Maybe even march 26th. When I told her 2 days ago she also jumped up with joy.

  4. Jeff Nettleton

    Song That Makes Me Happy-Amish Paradise, from Weird Al Yankovic. Al’s parodies are usually fantastic and that was an exceptional one. i especially like the lyric referencing the Gilligan’s Island theme.

    Song That Makes Me Sad-Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down, by the Carpenters. That thing is head-in-the-oven depressing; and, it isn’t helped by the fact that my local radio station, in the 70s, played it and Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, every time it rained. It’s bad enough to go through a grey, drizzly day, without that added to it!

    Song I Never Get Tired of-I Ran, by Flock of Seagulls. Make all the jokes you want about the hair, MTV, or anything else; but, they were a really good band and that song is awesome!

    Song That I love from 2011-ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………..I got nothing. The only new music I heard in 2011 was on our music department playlist and I rarely cared for that stuff.

    Favorite Song from the 70s-Cum On Feel The Noize, by Slade. The original! The heck with Quiet Riot’ they’d never have had a career if it weren’t for Noddy Holder. Quintessential Glam Rock.

    Song That I would Love Played at my Wedding-Let My Love Open the Door, 1997 E Cola Mix. I have it on the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack and my wife and I listened to it on our first dinner together, at my place.

    Song That Is a Cover By Another Artist-One Step Beyond, from Madness. Its was originally done by Prince Buster. Back in 1982, our town was wired for cable, which included MTV, who were finishing their first year. A good portion of the music featured was not on any local radio station, including One Step Beyond. Just love it, and the band.

    ps I second the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They also do a fantastic cover of Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Love their mash-ups, to, especially Ride of the Valkyries and Hawkwind’s Silver Machine.

  5. John King

    day 9 – Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder

    day 10 – Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word by Elton John
    (no personal reason)

    day 11 – hard to single out one (so many I haven’t tird of) ..maybe
    Games People Play by the Alan Parsons Project

    day 12 – hard to remember what was in 2011-songs I wondered if they may have been turned out to be roughly 10 years earlier. I ended up with
    Walk by the Foo Fighters

    day 13 – a very tough choice. but going for my personal tastes
    On with the Show by Sad Cafe

    .Day 14 -pass – I’m a bit old-fashioned and think choosing the bride is more important and (being shy) I haven’t done that yet

    day 15 – I’m not particularly into ukeleles so instead I’ll pick
    Blockbuster by John Otway (song originally by the Sweet)
    I saw him performing it and other songs including a “medley of his hit” Really Free* while I was at University (when he was the support act for Katrina and the Waves)
    (*note this was years before his fans got together to get Bunsen Burner to number 1 as a Birthday present for him)
    for people unfamiliar with John Otway he has a cult following and uses creativity and enthusiasm to compensate for his lack of conventional music talent.

  6. Day 9. A song that makes you happy.
    “Still Believing” – Midnight Well
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfFbEb_ANxs

    Day 10. A song that makes you sad.
    One of the saddest songs I know is Eva Cassidy’s “Penny to my Name”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD_RK7DCl1I

    Day 11. A song you never get tired of.
    “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” – Bobby Darin
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKvu-8Ac0x0

    Day 12. A song from 2011.
    I have no idea what came out in 2011. I’ll have to go look through a lot of sites and see if anything I like is from that year. Or I’ll just pass.

    Day 13. One of your favorite ’70s songs.
    The best songs are timeless. I’ll go with Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64Y1QEpkmlo

    Day 14. A song that you would love played at your wedding.
    How about one we actually had played at our wedding?
    “You’re My Home” – Billy Joel
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDH2E2wWjc0

    Day 15. A song that is a cover by another artist.
    I am unclear on what you’re asking for here; a famous song that most people are unaware is a cover? A lesser-known cover of a famous song? A favorite artist covering a favorite song? Should I just point you to the Coverville podcast?
    Here we go: Mary Black’s cover of Eva Cassidy’s cover of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGDp2fy-nR4

    Eva Cassidy’s version:

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