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.