Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Songs that Shaped the Snrub

A series on ten songs and why I loved them, love them still ,or hate them now, but, loved them then, or how I love them now, but, hated them then....these are the songs that shaped my perceptions on things. If you read my stuff, you might gain a little insight into my brain. It's dark and frightening at times, but...hey, it's my blog. I get to write what I wanna....

#10 - Till The End of the Day - The Kinks (from the album Kinks Greatest Hits)

When I was a kid, my family had very little in the bank. To go out and buy any music would have been a luxury that, simply, wasn't in the cards. Not even a 45rpm single (for those young un's out there, that's a.....oh, never mind). So, I was relegated to listening to records that my parents had from THEIR teenage years.

My mom had a Kinks Greatest Hits album from around 1966. The first track was Till the End of the Day. I put the needle on the record, the first guitar chords intro the song....then, Ray sings "Baby, I feel good.... (skip!)... - - - ise..."

Yes, the record skipped right at the beginning.

I wasn't aware of that "..from the moment I rise" was the next part of the verse. And I didn't know that for, oh, about ten years because TTEotD wasn't exactly a song frequently played on radio. If you wanted Kinks tunes, you were limited to "You Really Got Me", "Lola", "Come Dancing", "All the Day..."., or "Tired of Waiting". All fine songs, but, nothing like Til the End...

The song has the "Things in Snrub's Wheelhouse for Great Songs" - great chords, harmonies, clear lead vocal, excellent middle-eight and terrific guitar solo. As is the case with many MANY Kinks songs, this one has that perfect blend.

I consider this the first song where I was conscious that the lyrics didn't match the sound. It sounded a gritty and mean, even though the lyrics were about "feeling good". It was dirty and not as well-produced as other bands records, and that, for me, was what made it great. I became a big Kinks fan from the age of seven and never looked back.

I've seen Ray Davies live twice now. And both times, he played Till the End of the Day. Each time I heard those first chords, it sent me back to my bedroom with my Fisher-Price record player, scratchy black album, tennis racket in my hands to simulate playing like Dave Davies and a broomstick for a fake microphone.

Did I mention the next song was "Dedicated Follower of Fashion"? I had to switch to the acoustic tennis racket for that one.

#9 - "5150" - Van Halen (from the album 5150)

I could actually consider the whole album as equally as important to me. Any guy who doesn't have his favorite album from when he was 16-years-old in his "All-Time Top 20", needs to just cash in his chips now, head to Florida and retire. You're dead inside.

When Van Halen changed from Roth to Hagar, I was excited. I had become a Sammy Hagar fan because, well, I was a white, 15-year-old male living in the Midwest with a penchant for buggery. Sammy was speakin' my language and so was Van Halen. I was bummed out about Roth leaving, but, ultimately, I knew the reason to listen to VH wasn't because of the lyrics or, even, the lead singer. It was the whole band.

When 5150 came out, I was immediately transformed. It just blew me away. Every track was my favorite song for a two-week stretch, but, the one that really made my ears prick up and take notice was the title track.

Even listening to the song 5150, today, I'm amazed at the guitar-playing of Eddie Van Halen. It's got elements of Brian May, which, of course, is ALWAYS a plus for me. That said, there is no other song like it. Let me repeat that - there is no other song that sounds anything even REMOTELY like it in rock music. And, for that, it stands up as my favorite Van Halen song.

There are tempo changes, heavy chord structure, solid lyrics (yep!), background harmonies, an incredible solo, driving drums (electric drums, sure, but, hey, it was 1986) and an ending that still, to this day, gives me goosebumps.

To my mind, this was Eddie and Sammy's finest hour.

The track is one of those tunes that I can play to music snobs and it may, just maybe, just perhaps, possibly, make them go "holy shit, now, that is something"....and, they'd be right.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Yeah, Get Back To Me When You Get a Karaoke Machine...


* This is the first year in about 20 years I haven't seen any of the movies nominated for the Academy Awards. Notta. I wanted to see True Grit, Inception and Kings' Speech, but, the other films...nah. I heard good things about The Kids are All Right and Social Network, but, to be honest, the stories just don't interest me. Especially when one of the movies is passing itself off as a biographical account that's mostly made up (Social Network). HUH?!? Reminds me of Oliver Stone.

I'm sure the Sorkin film is entertaining, but, if I know it's REAL people in a REAL setting, but, the story is half-true, then, you lost me. I never got into that type of film - real people in fictitious settings. It's like I'm watching something like "Abe Lincoln meets the Harlem Globetrotters" or something. Might as well be. It's just as full of shit.

I always root for the Coen's, so.....there we are.

* Had to go to the library computer room because...well, because. Wow...There are just some annoying people out there. Gum-smackers, pen-clickers, nose-whistlers, loud-talkers, headphones-up-too-loud-ers, inappropriate-content-viewers, keyboard-hammerers, coughing-attack-without-covering-their-mucus-covered-mouth-ers and librarians.

Can we all just act like we're in public when, ya' know, we're IN PUBLIC?!? I blame the social media and blackberry crap. We're losing social grace and boundaries. I know this is a tired, well-worn theme and I'm not the first to complain about it, but....GAH! Just...stop. Pay attention!

As Costanza once said, "We're living in a society!!!"

* Baseball can't get here soon enough. I don't know if I've ever been more eager for a season. Not because I think the Sox are going to be great (even though, I do think they will win the division), it's just.....winter. Getting old. I didn't mind winter so much before I had a dog, but, now, having to walk him is becoming a chore. Chores suck. Yep, I said it...I'm 12 years old now....or 82. Either way.

* I'm going to play Euchre this weekend for the first time in ages. It's a party being thrown by my friends from Iowa. I think it's in the Iowa Handbook that you have to either play Euchre or have family members that play it. There's no way you can go through life there and not know about that card game. But, go across the river and hardly anyone plays it that I know.

And, if she were able to make it to the party, my grandmother would whip everyone in the room. Hands down. Sometimes, I wish she would have taken up Texas Hold'em or poker back in the day. I truly think she would beat half the field and I'd have a hell of an inheritance. I've never been around a better card player. I don't care WHAT the game is, she'll beat your ass...Canasta, Euchre, Gin Rummy, Spades...fucking UNO.

Forget it. You're toast the minute you get the cards dealt.

* Watching Larry Sanders on IFC....Still, in my opinion, the greatest non-animated comedy of the past 30 years. The Simpsons will always be number one with me, but, there is no beating the holy comedy trinity of Hank, Artie and Larry.

The episode where Hank dictates "Hank's Thoughts" was on the other day. It, indeed inspired today's blog post.

Hank's thought: "If I had my druthers...there would be no world hunger".

.....absolutely genius comedy and my favorite comedic character in television history. Jeff Tambor is just so underappreciated. Arrested Development and Larry Sanders ALONE should have put him on the Walk of Fame, but.....those are reserved for Rin Tin Tin and the like.

So, there you are. Larry King, eat your heart out. I can tidbit with the best of them.

Monday, January 03, 2011

2011: Time to Retire Some Words & Phrases

I Don't "Do" Resolutions, but.....

Time to end the overuse and abuse of the following words and phrases in 2011. They've long outlasted their welcome. Here's a few:

1) "the hot seat" - Where did this even start? It's running rampant. Sportscasters like to say "Coach "so-and-so" is on the hot seat". CNN used "Piers Morgan puts Anderson Cooper on the hot seat"....

What in the hell is the hot seat? I've been fired from jobs. I don't recall my seat being particularly hot beforehand. If you're on the verge of being fired, why would it have anything to do with your ass being warmer than usual? If anything, wouldn't it be getting colder?

2) "..at the end of the day". Boy, am I tired of this one. Managers looooooove to use this one. "Guys, your sales numbers haven't been great and AT THE END OF THE DAY, that's what is important..." Former jock commentators, too. "Michael Vick may be a worthless piece of monkey spunk, but, AT THE END OF THE DAY, he wins football games..."

Again, not sure where this started. Why are things judged always at the end of the day? What about the evening? How about monthly results? Annual returns? What if you live in Alaska and daylight carries on for 60 hours straight? Is that still a 'day'?

3) "Bro" - if you're a white guy, this has to stop. Now.

4) "Two-party system" - first of all, this doesn't exist anymore. It's the same party with different haircuts. There is just "Congress" now. For kicks, take a look at a group picture of our elected leaders and see if there's any hint of color in there. Sorry, 'pink' and 'ruddy' doesn't count. Also, calling it a 'system' is dubious, at best. Systems work. Time to just refer to Republicans and Democrats as "marketing reps and lackies for the corporations that paid them".

5) "Amaaazing" - I know I'm not the first to nail this one, but, it seems to have gathered strength. We need more ammo.

6) "...my child" - this is only used when parents want to make their kids sound more precious and important than they really are. For instance, can you see the difference between these two sentences: "My kid needs a better teacher." vs. "My child needs a quality education". A "child" is far more important than a "kid".

and finally...

7) "..the American People" - oh, glorious God in the sky, please end this shit! Politicos and talking heads LOOOOOOOOVE to use this when they want to stress an important point. "Public", "people", "Americans", "folks" are all fine alternatives to this afront on my intelligence. "What the American people want is a Congress that cares about the American people. If not, the American people won't stand for it!"

Why do we keep voting these walking blast furnaces with teeth into office? I stopped watching Meet the Press and the Sunday morning shows because of it. It's the same as the overuse of the word "football" on sports broadcasts? "This football team needs to run the football...", etc. But, I've been railing on that for five years, thereby, ruining the viewing habits of several friends.

Sorry, fellas...I mean, sorry, bro.