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Old 01-21-2012, 04:50 AM   #751 (permalink)
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Old 01-21-2012, 04:53 AM   #752 (permalink)
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Meh. It's a grey and rainy Saturday here in the Emerald Isle, the typical wet weekend. Let's rock things up a little, shall we?

Today's Daily Earworm has been brought to you by the letter F, with Foo Fighters, and “The pretender”.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:06 AM   #753 (permalink)
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The Pollys are coming!
Days To Go...
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:13 AM   #754 (permalink)
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Even though they're a band who have had some of the longest, most convoluted and intricate songs, Pink Floyd are, or were, a band who could still bring everything right back down to basics, and still pen a classic tune. From the complex interweaving of themes on songs like “Astronomy domine”, “Set the controls for the heart of the sun”, and of course “Echoes”, not to mention “Shine on you crazy diamond”, to the simplicity of a song like “Mother” and “Pigs on the wing”, Floyd knew that although sometimes big, deep, bombastic or meandering songs were what was needed, occasionally the very simplest, most basic ideas were best.

Wish you were here --- Pink Floyd --- 1975
Music by Roger Waters and David Gilmour, Lyrics by Roger Waters


This philosophy came to a wonderful head on the iconic title track from the album “Wish you were here”. The simplest of the simple, a lone twelve-string guitar opens the song, sounding as if it's recorded in mono, then it's joined by a fully “stereo” acoustic guitar, with David Gilmour singing the first verse, drums crashing in on the second verse, with Steinway piano and pedal steel filling out the sound before the sound drops back to acoustic for the leadup to the chorus, which is only sung once before the song fades out more or less as it began.

The song consists of only a few basic chords, and is a sad and reflective look back at one of the band's founder members, Syd Barrett. Though the lyric is somewhat obscure, it does refer to the regret that Barrett could not remain with the band, had personal problems and that they drifted apart. Apparently, when he once wandered in on a recording session, nobody recognised Barrett, he had changed so much. Very sad.
As if you needed to hear it, the song is below, but sure even if you know it backwards (and what rock fan doesn't?) it's a good excuse to give it another listen.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:16 AM   #755 (permalink)
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:19 AM   #756 (permalink)
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Let's upset the neighbours on this nice quiet Sunday, shall we? Well, maybe just a little! Here's Guns'n'Roses...

Today's Daily Earworm was brought to you by the letter G, with Guns'n'Roses, and “November rain”.
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:16 AM   #757 (permalink)
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Almost a month to the day that I started this section, it's time to again check in on some of the frankly amazing lyrics written by Tom Waits in his time. As in the first edition of this section, I'll be discussing the songs, what they mean, how they fit into Waits' catalogue and what makes them different to any other music you've heard before.

First up, a track from his 1983 album “Swordfishtrombones” (no, my spacebar isn't stuck: the words are run together that way!), the first album on which he had a go at production himself, and one that marked a pretty dramatic change in styles, both musical and lyrical. The song I want to look at here is the second on the album, and it's called “Shore leave”.

Shore leave, from “Swordfishtrombones”, 1983 (Island)

As you might possibly suspect, it concerns the thoughts and ruminations of a sailor in a foreign town, perhaps the gist of a letter he sends back to his loved one. Knowing that it'll be a long time before he gets home again, and possibly a long time before he has anymore shore leave, he immerses himself in the culture of the place he finds himself in, trying things out. He sings of playing ”billiards with a midget” and buying ”A new deck of cards, with girls on the back” as he tries ”Squeezing the life out of / A lousy two day pass.”

It's a lonely song, the alien nature and otherworldy strangeness of being in a foreign country far from home brought home by the odd instrumentation and almost drunken melody of the song, Waits singing it more like “Ninth and Hennepin”, which we featured in the first edition: more spoken word/prose than actually singing, other than the chorus, where he serenades his wife, thousands of mile across the ocean, and wishes he was with her. In addition to the usual piano and drums, Waits utilises such odd items as bass marimba, shaker, banjo guitar, chair (!) and metal aunglongs (whatever they are!) as well as of course trombone to make the song as off-centre and eceletic as possible, successfully bringing home the lonely feeling of being very much a stranger in a strange land.

Here's the lyric:

”Well with buckshot eyes and a purple heart
I rolled down the national stroll,
And with a big fat paycheck
Strapped to my hip sack
And a shore leave wristwatch underneath my sleeve
In a Hong Kong drizzle, on Cuban heels
I rowed down the gutter to the Blood Bank.
And I'd left all my papers on the “Ticonderoga”,
and I was in bad need of a shave.

So I slopped at the corner on cold chow mein
And shot billards with a midget
Until the rain stopped.
I bought a long sleeved shirt
With horses on the front
And some gum and a lighter and a knife,
And a new deck of cards (with girls on the back)
And I sat down, and wrote a letter to my wife.

And I said Baby, I'm so far away from home:
I miss my Baby so.
I can't make it by myself ---
I love you so.

Well I was pacing myself:
Trying to make it all last;
Squeezing all the life
out of a lousy two day pass.
I had a cold one at the Dragon
With some Filipino floor show;
And talked baseball with a lieutenant
over a Singapore sling.
And I wondered how the same moon outside
Over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois
And find you there
and you know I love you Baby

And I'm so far away from home:
And I miss my Baby so.
I can't make it by myself ---
I love you so.

Shore Leave...
Shore Leave...”


The next song I want to concentrate on is the title track to his 1980 album, “Heartattack and Vine”. This song is semi-famous (or infamous) for having started legal proceedings on Waits' side against Levi Strauss, when they used the song without his permission --- albeit a cover version --- in one of their advertisements. Waits sued and won, getting a written apology from Levis (and who knows how much in damages?). Waits has always jealously guarded his intellectual property, and doesn't allow his music to be used in commercials, promos, ads or any other such media.


Heartattack and Vine, from “Heartattack and Vine”, 1980 (Asylum)


The song itself seems to be a general comment on the daily goings-on at Hollywood and Vine in California, the name of the street no doubt changed to avoid the very legal issues that prompted him to sue years later. It's again owes much lyrically to “9th and Hennepin”, which opened this section last month, although stylistically and musically it is a far different song. Whereas the former used minimal instrumentation and a spoken vocal, Waits sings on this track and uses standard instruments like guitar, bass, piano and drums, although also throwing in odd little touches like chimes or glockenspiel.

I feature this more or less really because it contains what I consider to be one of Waits' most important and quotable lyrics, when he drunkenly slurs ”Don't you know there ain't no devil?/ That's just God when he's drunk!” Absolutely classic.

”Liar liar with your pants on fire,
White spades hangin' on the telephone wire.
Gamblers reevaluate along the dotted line:
Never recognise yourself on Heartattack and Vine.

Doctor, lawyer, beggar man, thief.
Philly Joe remarkable looks on in disbelief.
If you want a taste of madness,
You'll have to wait in line:
Probably see someone you know on Heartattack and Vine.

Boneys high on china white, shorty found a punk,
Don't you know there ain't no devil?
That's just God when He's drunk!
Well this stuff will probably kill ya --- let's do another line.
Won't you say you'll meet me down on Heartattack and Vine?

See that little Jersey girl in the see-through top?
In pedal-pushers, suckin' on a soda pop?
Well I'll bet she's still a virgin
(But it's only twenty-five til nine):
You can see a million of 'em on Heartattack and Vine.

Better off in Iowa against your scrambled eggs,
Than crawlin' down Cahuenga on a broken pair of legs.
You'll find your ignorance is blissful every goddamn time:
Waitin' for the RTD on Heartattack and Vine.”


The last one I want to look at for, for now, is one from a collaboration Waits recorded with country super-songstress Crystal Gayle, for the soundtrack to the movie “One from the heart”. The movie itself is nothing special, but the soundtrack is. On the album, Waits sings most of the tracks while Crystal has four solo shots, but they're all written by Waits.



Broken bicycles, from “Original soundtrack to the film One from the heart”, 1982 (CBS)


It's a tender little ballad, played just on piano where Waits compares his broken heart and love affairs to the wrecks of bicycles left to rust in the garden. It's powerful, striking imagery, and typical of Waits --- who else would think to ally the two images to create such a metaphor? And yet it works brilliantly, in such a way that really, you'll never look at the skeleton of an old bike in a junkyard or in someone's garden shed in quite the same way ever again!

”Broken bicycles, old busted chains,
Rusted handlebars out in the rain.
Somebody must have an orphanage for
These things that nobody wants any more.

September's reminding July
It's time to be saying goodbye.
Summer is gone, but our love will remain
Like old broken bicycles out in the rain.

Broken Bicycles, don't tell my folks;
There's all those playing cards pinned to the spokes.
Laid down like skeletons out on the lawn.
The wheels won't turn when the other has gone.


The seasons can turn on a dime,
Somehow I forget every time;
For the things that you've given me will always stay
They're broken, but I'll never throw them away.”


So that's, once again, some examples of the lyrical genius of Tom Waits. Do yourself a favour and check out some of his albums. You won't regret it, I can promise you.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:34 AM   #758 (permalink)
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The Pollys are coming!


Days to go...
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:05 PM   #759 (permalink)
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:14 PM   #760 (permalink)
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Wow! Finding a decent song by an artiste whose name begins with H was harder than the worm thought! He came up with a good one in the end, though...

Today's Daily Earworm was brought to you by the letter H, with Bruce Hornsby and the Range, and “Mandolin rain”.
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