Sunday, November 15, 2009

"And the shrieking of innumerable gibbons": Top 100 Songs of the '00s, Part Five #60 - #51

A strange November reaches its halfway point. I find myself in more strange situations than I ever thought possible. Let's just say that there was no reason for me to be watching the sunset from Ball Road in Anaheim - a road I hadn't been on in nearly 20 years while listening to a prophetic song from 1991. I should have been inspired by that set of strange circumstances. One wrong turn led to another. I should have been shocked by that movie. But those stories do exist. It's all not so surprising but still so important. I'm sorry for being mysterious. Let's get to the songs.

60. Big Friday – Bonnie “Prince” Billy (2006)
It doesn't take a lot for me to like your song. All it really takes is words as perfect as these:
You had light in your hands and your eyes closed
You had movement out of my sight
You wore no shoes and ate like a leopard
And slept with your legs apart every night
If BPB (same initials as this blog) sleeps alone every night, it's not for lack of effort.

59. Tribute - Tenacious D (2001)

It's been a long decade. I mean it's been a looooooong decade. It's easy to forget the early years. The prehistoric times. I made a point of making a point not to neglect anything from 2000-2001-2002. I scoured the old pre-blog mass emails in which I would praise and love. And there can be no forgetting this "tribute" to the "greatest song in the world." Full song available here (no embedding unless you want to see one of the many "tributes" to Tribute.)

58. Bro’s – Panda Bear (2007)

Let's figure this out. Is it Bros? Or is it Bro's? On my iPod it's Bros. On wikipedia, it's Bro's, perhaps determined by the song's actual CD/record cover from that linked page. But is that really an apostrophe? Or a symbol of movement from that guy's foot? One thing that is certain is that no song this decade has managed to sound so brilliant, so lush, so imacculately/richly produced, so warmly and lovingly performed AND so lyrically inane and high-school-yearbook-ish:
hey man what's your problem
don't you know that i don't belong to you
it's hard and hard enough
to keep it up when everything is so new
Luckily, the lyrics are impenetrable and impossible to discern. Enjoy all 9 minutes, 53 seconds:

57. Watch Out For the Man – King of France (2005)

They say this song came out in 2005, on an album by King of France that is nowhere to be found these days. They say the song whooshed in out over the prairies and toward the coasts, watching out for its own self and cursing the world for the bad timing that rendered almost non-listened. This is the John From Cincinnati of songs: Immediately memorable, infinitely cool, forever missed. So why is such a pivotal "lost" song ranked all the way down at 57? Like I said, it was a good decade. Also: this song once caused me emotional pain.

(Full disclosure: One member of KoF (Tom Siler) produced the first recording by Lock Up Your Daughters, the Minneapolis twee-pop-core-corn-post-samba band for which I was videographer/friend/temporary husband.) No link available. You will not find it. Do not bother looking. You will throw up your hands. Watch out for the man

56. Wave and Water – Gordon Gano and the Ryan Brothers (2009)

In the summer of 1985, I attended my very first ever "club" concert - the Violent Femmes at First Avenue in Minneapolis. I had been to a bunch of arena shows - Yes, Springsteen, Joel, The Jacksons (yep), Madness, Speedwagon, etc. But I'd never been to a major show at a small club by an important band like the Violent Femmes (yeah they really were important; they invented punk rock.. six years after the first inventors didn't quote get it right.) It was an awesome show. Gordon Gano, the band's lead singer, held court in that club like a mafioso Woody Allen. He made us all laugh when he introduced Girl Trouble (Up My Ass). After the show, my friend John and I were invited to go skinny-dipping on Lake Harriet by our friends Kaari S. and Sara(h) S. John and I declined. This is still considered the greatest mistake of our lives. What were we afraid of?

In the hot spring of 2008, I attended my last (as of now) "club" concert: American Music Club at The Echo in Los Angeles. Gordon Gano and the Ryan Brothers were the opening act. I remember spotting Gano standing alone to the side of the nightclub before the show started. I felt a little bad for him; the crowd was sparse on this hot HOT May night. Then, he disappeared. Ten minutes later he was up on that tiny stage with a bunch of guys half to twho-thirds his age and he nailed song after song after song after song. He was awesome. The songs were new. The songs were fresh. This is the second best one:

55. Forest Whitiker - Brother Ali (2003)

We share a name, yes. We share a some-time hometown, yes. (Yeah it's that goddamn magical place of infinite music - Minneapolis - where the kindergartens spawn songwriters and the water fountains spurt guitarist fingers... where the women wombs are equipped with equalizers and the heating ducts imbued with the spirits of young Dylan, young Prince, young Slug, young Finn, and young Matt Wilson (young Westerberg is an arrogant punk and needs to not rest on his laurels)). I'm losing control of my analogy. I will stop. I will start over.

He's albino and proud of it. He compares his looks to Forest Whitiker (sic). He knows he's "pink and pale... hairy as hell everywhere but fingernails." But I love this song mostly for these two reasons:
Reason 1: Opening lyrics: "Depending on the time of day, depending on what I ate, I'm anywhere between 20 and 35 pounds overweight." How precise! Not "between 20 and 30" or between "25 and "35." No, he gives himelf a 15-lb pound range and makes it flow so sweet.
Reason 2: Most songs employ the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus structure or something close to it. This song? ONE verse and ONE chorus. That's all. goodbye.

54. Nights of the Living Dead – Tilly and the Wall (2003)

If you were one of the 3 or 4 or 12 young women that I dated during the crazy post-separation year of 2006, you may have received a mix CD from me. If so, this song was on it, as was the previous song on this list. The other possibility is that I made you a CD but never gave it to you because you:
A. Not-so-secretly pined for my good friend and writing partner and I knew deep down that I couldn't compete with your pining perception of him.
B. Expected me to cut all ties off from my past and I just couldn't do that yet. And hey I'm sorry I kept those DVDs for so long. I avoid conflict sometimes. Good to see you on Facebook.
C. Created a persona for me that was close to being who I was but wasn't exactly who I am. Actually, you got your CD. In fact, you got two of them.
D. Brilliantly told me to never give you any mix CDs because you knew we'd break up eventually and you didn't want the memory of "us" to sully any songs you might like.
E. Refused to ever speak to me again simply because I broke up with you in close proximity to both Christmas and your birthday. Again, I'm sorry. Could I please borrow your Zombies box set?

53. Certain Songs - The Hold Steady (2004)
Really - are they this good? Is Craig Finn this prescient, this brilliant? He nails east coast sensibilities with the line "coaxed out by a certain perfect ratio... of the Meat Loaf to the Billy Joel." And he's not even from there, the Edina bastard. Sublime.

52. Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – Das Racist (Wallpaper Remix) (2009)

Wait, if this song saved my soul as I claimed this past June, shouldn't it be ranked higher? No. The soul-saving didn't really take.

51. Idylls of the King – Mountain Goats (2002)
And we reach our halfway point. Beautiful (sad) song.

Huge crows loitering by the curb
Our shared paths unraveling behind us like ribbons
And I dreamed of vultures
In the trees around our house
And cicadas and locusts
And the shrieking of innumerable gibbons

No comments: