PEOPLE! How is this possible? Hundreds of lists, thousands of listens—and nobody … not one of you … busted on me for skipping Roy “Mr. Crying/It’s Over/Only the Lonely Himself” Orbison in round one! I even threw everyone (myself included) a clue by including Van Halen’s lame cover of “Oh Pretty Woman” on their list! I’m embarrassed … for all of us.
The big shtick about the Residents is that the group members always wear masks or crazy headgear that covers their faces in public, so nobody knows what they look like. You can see the joke that’s coming: “If I made music that sounds like that, I’d …” Except I have no idea what their music sounds like, so I can’t comment. Check back with me after track 4 or so.
Quiet Storm Divas
The reigning queens of 90s quiet storm (anyone remember when that was a thing?) present a study in contrasts. On the one hand, I actually really like Anita Baker, although more than one person has pointed out that it often sounds like she is singing with a mouth full of pebbles. On the other hand … I once read a review of Sade’s album Stronger Than Pride that read, in its entirety: “… and faster than Sominex*.” I couldn’t agree more.
*For you youngsters out there: Sominex is what we used to help us fall asleep before they invented melatonin.
Here we have the whole Gordon Gano/Violent Femmes thing all over again. Richard Butler supposedly said he wrote “Love My Way” to celebrate gay people, but he supposedly isn’t gay. Come on now: Psychedelic Furs? That just sounds like a 60s lounge act named in honor of Joan Collins. No straight man would name his 60s lounge act in honor of Joan Collins.
Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word that means “life out of balance.” When I listen to Philip Glass’s score for the film Koyaanisqatsi—or any other Philip Glass music, for that matter—I feel that my life is out of balance, and I can’t wait for the song to be over so my life will feel normal again. The end.
Phil Ochs titled the very last song on the very last album he recorded “No More Songs.” As prophetic titles go, that’s right up there with the Beatles titling the very last song on the very last album they recorded “The End.” Except the Beatles cheated by following that with a hidden joke track, and then releasing an entire album of stuff they recorded earlier. So I guess Phil Ochs wins for consistency.
Peter Gabriel named his first three (or four, depending on where you live) solo albums Peter Gabriel. The music on those albums was very cool, weird, and original. Then he released a bunch of albums with actual titles. The music on those albums was increasingly bland and predictable. I guess he can only come up with interesting music or an interesting album title, but not both.
Back on my Horace Silver post, I dropped a (not) subtle hint for my kids that if they ever wanted to take a cue from Silver’s “Song for My Father” and come up with a musical tribute to their dear old dad, they should feel free (only completely voluntarily, of their own volition, of course … ahem). I hope they never find out that Paquito D’Rivera has a song called “Song to My Son”—I would hate for them to get the idea that there’s some kind of even exchange going on here.
I’d like to pretend I’m all badass and have been listening to Orchestra Baobab since I was six. But anyone who’s ever met my family knows it is unlikely that there was any Senegalese music coming out of the stereo when we were growing up (although, to be fair, my mother did own some calypso records). Instead, this list gives me a chance to give another shout-out to the awesome blog World Is Africa by Djibril, which continues to introduce me to many great artists from that continent.
Nine Inch Nails
In the early 90s, I was a pretentious snob who never turned on the radio and only listened to classic female jazz vocalists, “worldbeat” (does anyone remember when that was a thing?), and, of course, Joni Mitchell. Today, when I hear 90s radio acts like Nine Inch Nails, I am thankful that I was a pretentious snob who never turned on the radio and only listened to classic female jazz vocalists, “worldbeat”, and Joni Mitchell.