Friday, 13 August 2010

101. 101 Songs

I think it's only appropriate to finish as this blog began, 18 months ago, with a list of 101 great songs. If you can cast your mind back, the very first list was a studied attempt to employ my cold-hearted critical faculties to establish what ought to be considered the greatest 101 songs in the history of popular music - an utterly flawed idea, but interesting to try. I followed that up, in the same post, with a list of what were my favourite 101 songs of the time, trying to avoid too much crossover.

Both of those lists were without numbering, because that kind of numbering would be absurd - how does one establish what makes the 62nd best song better than the 63rd best? So this time around, of course, I'm doing a list of my favourite 101 songs of all time, but with numbering.

Although there'll be crossover, plenty of it, there are quite a few changes, my taste has changed somewhat in the last 18 months, how I've thought about songs, what I'm looking for in songs. I've been considering this list for the last few months, so it's not just spur-of-the-moment, flavour-of-the-month. Hope you like it and are inspired to buy every song on the list you don't know, so trusting have you become of my impeccable taste in the last year and a half.

Before I get to the list, I'll write a little bit about doing this blog, which I'm very grateful to anyone whose stuck with and made comments about. I'm pretty glad I've managed to get to the finish line and I think the fact that people have read it and at least feigned an interest in its continuation is what's meant it didn't peter out around No.23.
Having said that, I realised pretty quickly after starting it that I didn't really want people to read it, the whole thing was terribly embarrassing, so I didn't "publicise" it beyond a very small number of people. In a way that's a shame, i'm sure other folk might have enjoyed parts of it, but let's be honest, I could do without the hassle of lots of people reading my attempts at poems and knowing my thoughts on various matters. So, I think the balance was right in the end. You who read it helped it get to the end, but any more would probably have paralysed it.
Is it as I hoped? Pretty much, to be honest. I had no grand plan really - I formulated the idea that the blog should be like this very quickly, having initially thought I'd just do lots of lists of 101 things, which I then realised would be very very boring, I was thinking about the Spearmint song Sweeping the Nation, how it was both a song about the music industry and a song with a list in it, and so i started thinking about other songs about the music industry, and i remembered my comic poem The Turkletons - the name of my fantasy band - and thought that would be fun to include, and not too embarrassing, because it's a very light jolly thing and hardly a young man baring his soul.
So I thought, well there's lots of songs on themes, perhaps I can link things together and include some more of my poems, as an extra bonus (for whom?). I knew of course that songs were often listed together thematically but i wasn't actually aware that the Guardian did pretty much exactly the same thing every week. O well, that's what comes of reading the Independent.
And I knew I had to do 101, I knew that's how it had to be, though that seemed an awful lot ... and so it proved. There have been various impasses, where I just couldn't come up with anything interesting about anything. So, probably, I've included several posts which are inadequate even for my own low standards, but I just had to do them to keep the momentum going.
So do I think I could have done it better? Well, yes, obviously, but not so much with the poems. I have no illusions to writing genuinely good poems, so I'm pleased that a few of them I wrote especially for it have been satisfactory to my own level. I've probably got a fair bit better at writing them from actually having to think about people reading them and also from people commenting on them, so in that sense the blog has served its purpose. It shouldn't really be that embarrassing either - I've 99% managed to avoid including anything which reveals more about me than I'd like, which is drippy or prurient or indiscreet. But it's embarassing that some of them are just plain bad - because no one wants to be seen to do things badly. But basically i'm pleased enough with how that part's gone.
I'm more disappointed with the bit inbetween, the written sections in between the lists and the poems - too often, I settled for writing in a jokey, conversational style, rather than really making an effort to construct solid sentences and coherent thoughts. Some of my favourite posts are the ones where I had an idea and made an effort to explain it - particularly the one about left-sided Welshmen ...
Another minor disappointment, or rather consideration, is the density of the blog, the fact it's all words words words. That was a conscious decision, the luddite in me not to have links and pictures and all that. Having said that, as i've read more blogs in the last couple of years, I have seen what they can be all about, how full of different links and media and stuff to alleviate the boredom. The only link on my whole blog is to Bruce Springsteen dancing camply - go figure ...
Anyway, something I'm vaguely considering as a longterm project and monumental exercise in vanity is making each post a physical thing, a mix tape or CD with accompanying sleevenotes - that would be kind of fun, wouldn't it?

I'll do another blog now, one which I'll have far less problem with anyone reading. You could probably tell I was always gagging to just write about sport, so the next blog will just cut out the bullshit and be about sport. It has an idea behind it but not a central defining idea. It'll be less stressful than this one.

But more than all the stuff that I've written, the blog has been about the songs, songs as part of a cannon, songs written in reference to other songs, songs on cliched rock subject matters, songs on odd subject matters, mainly great songs, occasionally awful songs. None of the songs in the list below are awful. No indeed.

Here's a fun little coincidence - a month or two ago, as i'm a boring geek, I put together an iTunes playlist where I just selected my favourite 10 songs by band/artist after band/artist I liked, with the idea of doing it till I ran out of artists who I felt had 10 songs worth listening to. In a bit of a trance, I kept on doing it till I stopped with no bands left to include, and how many songs were there? 1010. 101 Bands. De La Soul, you erred. 101 is the Magic Number.
Anyway, recounting that little tale has put me in such a good mood that i'm going to, as well as just listing the songs, give you a little bonus - a sentence or two for each song about why I love it. I'll try to make it as plain and non-rock journalist-flowery-bullshitty as possible. Forgive me if I occasionally err.
Anyway, I hope you like my favourite 101 songs. You really should just buy all of them you don't own. How much will it cost you? Only the cost of feeding your children for a week. Do it.
They are


101. Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
It's so lonely, and stoical. The famous classic line in it is "And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time" but I just love the sound of the line "and if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain".
100. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
I've loved it so long. It's, with Born to Run, the definitive Bruce Springsteen car-girl-escape to victory song, but I prefer Thunder Road for its slow build-up and it's more romantic, less bombastic.
99. We Are Your Friends - Justice Vs Simian
'Cause anyone will dance to this. I remember this was sound of Benicassim 2006, coming out of every soundsystem everywhere, and back then I was even more indie not dance than I am now, but by the end of the weekend I'd danced more than ever before in my life.
98. Shining Light - Ash
Saved and shaped their career. I just love the way the verse has a great tune so you suspect there may not be a chorus and when the chorus comes it's twice as good as the verse.
97. Northern Lites - Super Furry Animals
This was their biggest hit (Number 11 - massive!) yet the song's almost over before you get to the chorus. It's about weather. It's just one of dozens of Furries songs of similar quality, but with particularly jolly memories.
96. Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem
It's a very sad song, beautifully written, with lots of jarring lines, and I think is key to why people (overly) idolize James Murphy. Cos he's cool, he's old, he's fat, he makes people dance and he's got heart. What a combo.
95. Smile - The Jayhawks
A small, sweet, elegant band who take a shot at writing a massive song with a massive chorus. It's so cheesy and if Westlife sang it would be Number 1 for 10 weeks.
94. England - The National
The National are my and many other people's band of the moment and this is the stand-out from their latest album. It's atypical in a sense, with the piano dominating, but typical in the way it builds, builds, builds.
93. Paper Planes - M.I.A
It's such an odd mixture, because her vocal is much sweeter than usual, but all the different musical elements are kind of unnerving. In different moods, it can be creepy, angry or joyful.
92. He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot - Grandaddy
I just love the bit in the first minute where it builds up to lift-off and it's like diving out from underwater into the open air. It's truly an epic song. and it's one of the great song titles.
91. Lit Up - The National
It's another National song. It's probably their most straightforwardly anthemic song. It has a massive chorus. People can pretend what they like but everyone loves a song with a massive chorus.
90. Moon River - Audrey Hepburn
It's funny with these kind of standards that one really does prefer to hear them sung in a small untrained voice like Hepburn's, rather than say Andy Williams or Frank Sinatra. There's such sadness and vulnerability when she sings it in the film.
89. September Gurls - Big Star
Big Star are a massively influential band to modern tuneful indie, this feels like one of the first modern pop songs - it's thin and perfectly imperfect. For bands like Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, Replacements, even B and S, this was a sound to emulate.
88. Save Me - Aimee Mann
The extended line that follows the words "Save me" in the chorus is always surprising. i always think it will stop before it is, but it's such very confident use of words.
87. Temptation - New Order
It's joyful dance music. I don't really like New Order and I couldn't believe when i heard it they'd done anything so good.
86. Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Obviously, the scene in Almost Famous. People should make more effort to create scenes like that in their own lives.
85. Saint Simon - The Shins
When he goes up an octave to sing "Mercy's eyes are blue when she places them in front of you, Nothing really holds a candle to the solemn warmth you feel inside of you." I mean, that's pretty distinguished stuff.
84. Somewhere - Tom Waits
I'd love this song by anyone, including Barbra Streisand, it's an amazingly beautiful song, but i guess it's the Tom Waits version for me. It doesn't feel like a joke at all when he sings it and the strings are impeccable.
83. Hummingbird - Wilco
For a long time, this would have been a lot higher, I just thought it was the prettiest song. It's the Wilco song to convert non-Wilco lovers.
82. Snow Is Gone - Josh Ritter
Beside the sheer lushness of the chorus, he includes the word migratory in this without even blinking. He's really very good at words.
81. You and I Are a Gang of Losers - The Dears
My love for this song was seriously dimmed by hearing it near the end of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but being on the outside of almost everything is definitely the place to be.
80. Piazza, New York Catcher - Belle and Sebastian
First time I heard this was Stuart Murdoch talking through the album of XFM - he said they'd given it a band treatment but then decided to just return to the "demo" version - a very good idea.
79. Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland
I suggested in my original list that this was the greatest song ever - hardly a revolutionary viewpoint. I don't know why so many modern versions of it see fit to change the tune. That's just stupid.
78. Us - Regina Spektor
Has somewhat suffered from over-exposure and tweeness overload, but it has pretty much come through unscathed. My favourite bit is "Our noses have begun to rust"
77. It's a Motherfucker - Eels
I never really liked the Eels, but this song turned that around pretty much. It's about as unfussy and unforced as a song gets.
76. To Ramona - Bob Dylan
I think this is the Bob Dylan song I would be most confident would convert Bob Dylan-haters and I can mosy confidently be sure displays superhuman lyrical ability. There's nothing not to love in this song.
75. Pictures of Success - Rilo Kiley
It's pretty ornate, pretty ambitious, contains all the things I like about Rilo Kiley - perhaps they've never topped it.
74. Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken - Camera Obscura
Songs like this and 'Us' you feel in a just world they'd be massive hits, they're pop songs, big choruses, easy listening, but they never really get much higher than No 122 in the hit parade.
73. You Masculine You - Lambchop
Although I've owned this album for 10 years, it's only in the last year it's become my favourite song from it. All their songs seem so full of humanity.
72. Cavatina (from The Deer Hunter) - John Williams
I do love the film, so really it just came from there. I think it's playing during the bit Robert De Niro returns to his hometown and drives past the party they're holding for him.
71. Find the River - R.E.M
Although REM are a massive band who've been successful on various levels for 30 years, you tend to feel that it's only Automatic for the People and songs like this that make people think them a great band. I know that's not what their indie fans think.
70. Be Not So Fearful - Bill Fay
I first heard this through Wilco and had the pleasure of seeing Bill Fay sing it with Wilco at Shepherds Bush a few years ago. It's like a hymn.
69. One Man Guy - Rufus Wainwright
Lucky to have a song by a father like this ready made to be sung with a ready made sister to sing it with.
68. Blue - Lucinda Williams
Sometimes I find her voice a bit too much, a bit too full of heartbreak and character, but this I love - like so many of these songs, it seems very simple.
67. You Broke My Heart - Lavender Diamond
It's a bit mental, almost menacing, at times seems kind of ecstatic, like she's possessed or something. It'll be a shame if they don't do another album.
66. Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade Fire
In some ways this is the anthem of the last 10 years, isn't it? There's so much indie that sounds like this now, though. I think it's been downhill for them since this.
65. Ain't That Enough - Teenage Fanclub
Another band who make it all sound incredibly easy. This song rewinds me of the beach at St Andrew, which is nice.
64. Halloweenhead - Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams seems more often to do whiny songs and country songs (which, don't get me wrong, I love) but when he does nasty, city songs, they're often his best. This rocks.
63. Burn Baby Burn - Ash
As does this. Over time, I've come to prefer it to Shining Light, and it has a well-deserved position as an indie floor-filler.
62. A Rainy Night in Soho - The Pogues
They should really have this at the karaoke bars in Soho - they're missing a trick there. I've heard it being covered in Soho - that were good.
61. Dinner at Eight - Rufus Wainwright
It's very much like a song from a musical, which is a good thing surprisingly often.
60. Lose Yr Frown - Electric Soft Parade
Once in a field in Dorset at 3am one morning I had the opportunity of congratulating its writer. I don't make a habit of such things.
59. Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
What a fascinating choice. My favourite verse is the third verse, which I wrote on my school yearbook page, cos i was supercool.
58. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
Another one where you know it was a minor hit but think it really ought to be a major hit. Iron and Wine's version is very nice, but I much prefer this.
57. I'm A Cuckoo - Belle and Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian of the last few years has had the thing where they're still lyrically whatever cliched terms music journalist described them, but musically they're seriously muscular and as far from twee as it gets. This is probably the best of B and S post 2000.
56. Slide Away - Oasis
Funny that there's two Oasis songs in this and no Blur. I do prefer Blur. You just can't knock this though. You understand what the fuss was about and how they never wrote another song like this.
55. Van Occupanther - Midlake
The moment of truth in this is the line "They told me I wouldn't but i found an answer. I'm Van Occupanther, I'm Van Occupanther." How is that the answer to anything? But it somehow is.
54. Debaser - The Pixies
This is about 'Un Chien Andalou' and still sounds utterly crazed. I think there's nothing in the world I'd rather dance to.
53. Yes - McAlmont and Butler
I don't think there was any better single than this in the years we were growing up. Everyone you speak to loves it.
52. Is There A Ghost? - Band of Horses
Beginning to realise that this band is all about the voice. And here the voice is pretty awesome.
51. Kathleen - Josh Ritter
There often seems to be an undercurrent of menace in Josh Ritter songs. One can't help but fear that the fate of Kathleen ended up being a bit grisly.
50. Time to Pretend - MGMT
All you needed really were the seven notes. I guess they know that their career is going to be defined by the seven notes, which must be annoying.
49. Isis (Live Unreleased Version) - Bob Dylan
This version, captured on the Rolling Thunder Tour (I think it's on Biograph) is the most insane and rocking that Bob Dylan ever sounded, with the last two verses in particular reaching a pitch of sheer unhinged excitement which is the last thing most people would associate with Bob Dylan.
48. The Mercy Seat - Johnny Cash
I much prefer this to Cave's original, the piano driving it on and swelling and Johnny Cash's voice in its true rightful setting.
47. The Rat - The Walkmen
I'm quite a recent convert to this song, which seems to be building up considerable critical momentum as one of the great songs of recent times. I heard them playing it at ATP, the intro building the crowd to a frenzy, when suddenly the power went. That they were able to come back 15 minutes later and deliver the song with the same power was extremely impressive. This chap can sing.
46. La Tristesse Durere - Manic Street Preachers
This was the first Manics song I loved and has lasted the pace better than any of the others. Everything they do well is done to the best and all the things you wish weren't there with them aren't there.
45. No One's Gonna Love You - Band of Horses
This seems to be becoming some thing of a new American standard too, as I've recently heard covers by Cee-Lo and by an opera singer. It's pretty soppy, really.
44. Dreamy Days - Roots Manuva
The sample is MacArthur Park, it's grand and clearly an attempt to have a big hit, which it wasn't.
43. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
I have heard this described as ineffable, so I shall not attempt to eff it.
42. If the Brakeman Turns My Way - Bright Eyes
He does these big overwrought songs where words just pile up on top each other and sometimes it doesn't work and is pretty annoying, but this is great, like something on Blood on the Tracks in a way.
41. Sad Eyes - Josh Rouse
Josh Rouse had a period of being a great songwriter but too often seems to treat his gift lightly and just be arsing about - this is really a grand song, every early 70s, almost like the Eagles, but also ornate and musical-ly.
40. A Case of You - Joni Mitchell
Blue is one of my favourite 5 albums and i'd say this is the best song on it - I think it's one of those archetypal songs for me where i'm always searching for others which sound a little like it.
39. There She Goes, My Beautiful World - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I suppose it's about art and the circumstances in which folk create art, and it's very learned and very funny and a real pop winner.
38. With Arms Outstretched - Rilo Kiley
This is a campfire folksong singalong - you can guarantee that anything that finishes off with handclaps will win me over.
37. The Boy With The Arab Strap - Belle and Sebastian
Talking of handclaps. Would this song still be great without the handclaps?
36. Rise - Josh Rouse
This was in the Top 5 18 months ago. It contains the line "30 years old and nothing's changed" but that becomes less and less appropriate.
35. Mr November - The National
I'm getting the feeling I've written about more and more of these songs previously, and don't want to repeat myself. This is tremendous fun when they do it live. I think it's about meeting record company deadlines.
34. More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
I love the way it's sung, the way's it phrased, the way it barely has a chorus. And i love the phrase More Adventurous.
33. And the Racket They Made - King Creosote
Oddly, this reminds me of golf. Well, not that oddly.
32. Don't You - Micah P Hinson
Another song which builds and builds, putting layer upon layer, till it becomes something gargantuan. Has thoroughly failed to come anywhere near to this since.
31. A Matter Of Time - The Leisure Society
My favourite song on what i think is one of the best British albums for many years. Is even better live than on record.
30. Float On - Modest Mouse
I've heard someone say this is the song they want at their funeral. That was an odd and unreliable person, mark you, but it's a super song.
29. Live Forever - Oasis
Not sure what this one's doing so high up, but the numbers don't lie.
28. Grace - Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley's singing on this is just possessed, inhuman, but it would be a great song even without that.
27. All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
This is almost dance music and yet it's one of my favourite songs. How odd is that.
26. I See a Darkness - Bonnie 'Prince' Billie
So I heard the Johnny Cash version first. I wonder if he ever considered making it I See The Darkness. That would have been rubbish.
25. Slaveship - Josh Rouse
This is one of the jolliest songs imaginable. Again, it's hard to believe how average Josh Rouse's early and later career have been, considering his golden period 2003-2006.
24. Scottish Pop - Spearmint
Coming up a trio of songs from 2001 happy-ish days. This is a fey indie pop song about fey indie pop and it's beautiful in every way.
23. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) - Ryan Adams
The first Ryan Adams song I heard and stil perhaps his career high, so easy, somewhat atypical, even the argument at the start is lush.
22. She Fell Into My Arms - Ed Harcourt
I don't know why I still love this song so much, but I do. I still stick by Ed Harcourt generally - he's had all but no success and not much in the way of sustained critical acclaim, but i reckon his time will yet come.
21. Northern Sky - Nick Drake
See what I wrote about God Only Knows. Same applies.
20. Au Fond Du Temple Saint - Jussi Bjoerling
From The Pearl Fishers by Bizet, I came to this through a Furries compilation - it's a great tune.
19. Danny Callahan - Conor Oberst
It's a very sad song with a jaunty tune, it really sucks you in. And all the words do really fit perfectly, which seems obvious but they really do.
18. St Patrick - James Yorkston and the Athletes
This was on a double-A side with a Lone Pigeon song, and it was the Lone Pigeon I was more interested in then, strangely. This is one of my favourite lyrics ever.
17. People Ain't No Good - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Again falling out of the Top 5, but not that far- strangely Nick Cave has just gone through his favourite 30 of his own songs in Uncut, and this wasn't in it. What a dick.
16. For a Dancer - Jackson Browne
It's just a cheesy, sad ballad really, but I don't think I've enjoyed listening to any song more over the last year.
15. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space - Spiritualized
Last year the intended original version which actually samples Elvis Presley was actually released, but i think I prefer the version I originally owned, from 1997. I think it was just the most beautiful thing i'd ever heard. It seems less unique now but still magical.
14. Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan
So this is my highest Bob Dylan song. I guess I prefer it to Rolling Stone cos it's got heart and bitterness and isn't smug, it's wretched.
13. Take Me Anywhere - Tegan and Sara
The chorus just explodes, like glass shattering in a good way. I've always loved this song but I'm actually loving this pair more and more each day. What a sound their voices make.
12. Lost in the Plot - The Dears
Sounds like Gene ... I can't believe there's no Gene in my Top 100. I think it's particularly the space-age guitars in the middle section that I love.
11. In California - Joanna Newsom
This is my favourite song on what I think could well be the greatest album. I'm interested in how it came together, how long it came to put together, whether it was already beautiful in the early songwriting process etc
10. The Trapeze Swinger - Iron and Wine
First heard this at Green Man and that'll never be topped. It's absence from iTunes also makes it reassuringly precious.
9. Sons and Daughters - The Decemberists
It's a marching song, I suppose, and it has gongs and bombs and is the perfect way to finish any album.
8. She's a Jar - Wilco
Another benchmark in my musical taste, such a crazily dark song, it suckers you in, this was the real starting point of my love for modern Americana.
7. Bring da Ruckus - Wu-Tang Clan
Have embarrassed myself many times by singing this in inappropriate places. I don't think there's anything better than this in hip-hop. The menace, the esotericism, the wit, the spare setting, the fact there's loads of rude words.
6. Listen, Listen - Sandy Denny
I think, along with Jeff Buckley on Grace, this is my favourite bit of singing. She had just the most perfect voice.
5. From the Morning - Nick Drake
Can be heard soundtracking adverts for something like butter, which is a little odd. The quietest song ever.
4. Dry the Rain - The Beta Band
I remember making a list of my 10 favourite songs about 10 years ago and I'm pretty sure this was at Number 4. That's pretty crazy. Again, where does a band go from here?
3. My Girls - Animal Collective
I've listend to this song substantially more than any other in the last year - this was a band I was fully ready to give the big thumbs down to after owning the album for a while and then seeing them be pisspoor , but this song is epic and exultant.
2. Ice Hockey Hair - Super Furry Animals
Everything that Furries songs should be - epic, silly, offbeat yet universal, I think no song makes me happier to listen to.
1. Bryte Side - The Pernice Brothers
Same as at the start of the blog really. It would be a shame if this wasn't still my favourite song. It's the fifth track on an album which probably sold no more than a few thousand copies worldwide, so probably passed a lot of its purchasers by, is probably almost entirely forgotten by everyone except me. I wonder if about 5 or 10% of all the times this song has ever been listened to are by me. That would be excellent.

So, those are my songs, that was my blog. Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

100. 13 List Songs

Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem
12 Reasons Why I Love Her - My Life Story
I Wanna Go To Marz - John Grant
They Can't Take That Out Away From Me - Frank Sinatra
My Favourite Things - Julie Andrews
Faster - Manic Street Preachers
You Get What You Give - The New Radicals
Thou Shalt Not Kill - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
Destroy Rock'n'Roll - Mylo
America, Fuck Yeah - Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Scottish Pop - Spearmint
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon
How To Fight Loneliness - Wilco

Ha! I've done 13, just to show I'm not regimented, I'm not tied to a number, not 10, not 100, not 101. Well, I am tied to 101, actually - this is without doubt the penultimate post of this blog, and in a way the last true one, as you shall see. Freedom awaits!
This list here is here to show that lists are cool, lists are art, these are cool songs, sometimes beautiful songs, and they're lists, so if people think lists are for losers, they are wrong wrong wrong. They're not all entirely lists, but they all are strongly list-based, and I feel their emotional heart lies in the list. What Manic Street Preachers lyric is better known than "I am stronger than Mensa, Mailer and Miller, I spat out Plath and Pinter."? "We don't talk about love, we only want to get drunk" - Yes, that one's better known, and about twenty others, but you get the point.
The most joyful list here is in Scottish Pop by Spearmint - they a band who rather mastered the list song - if i'd been short of numbers I could have included another couple by them - they are a very geeky band.
I'll say more when I get to the last post about lists and this whole big list, but here is a list, as inspired by something said by TV's MB one cruel day:

Number of hats owned - 16
Number of GCSEs - 10
Number of grams of chocolate eaten this week - 720
Number of wickets taken for School 1st XI 1995 season - 30
Number of Films in Empire's Greatest 500 Films of All Time list seen - 301
Number of Status Updates per month - 14
Number of poems catalogued in old notebooks - 2668
Number of birthdays passed - 32
Number of Songs on my iPod - 21568
Number of quizzes run - 308
Number of Facebook Friends I like to think suggests someone is trying too hard -300
Number of Facebook Friends - 139
Number of Facebook Friends whose activities and thoughts on the world I'm the slightest bit interested in - 12
Number of Lists made in the last 10 months of the 10 Best Footballers of the Last 10 years - 10
Number of milligrams of Warfarin taken per week - 58
Number of haircuts paid for in the last seven years - 0
Number of miles training completed for Marathon Number 2 - 828 (an arbitrary number)
Number of minutes satisfaction gained from completing Marathon Number 2 - 0
Number of Big Lebowski t-shirts owned - 6
Number of people who could give a flying fuck - ...

Monday, 9 August 2010

99. 10 Songs About Jim, James, Jimmy, El Jimirino if you're not into the whole brevity thing

Jimmy Mack - Martha and the Vandellas
Oh Jim - Gay Dad
Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
James - Camera Obscura
A Man/Me/Then Jim - Rilo Kiley
Jimmy Jazz - The Clash
Jimmy - MIA
Jimi - Martha Wainwright
Jimmy Jimmy - The Undertones
Jim Cain - Bill Callahan

I could also have included Little James by Oasis. It's funny that some music journalists must have been so in fear of Liam Gallagher at that time that they didn't say it was the most comically bad song of all time. And my original list had the theme to an 80s TV show which I really don't want to think about now (2012 edit).
Anyway, I had an old, longer list for this post, but can't find it, so you'll have to make do with this, though I thnk this is pretty much what was meant to be there and if not, I'll change it if I find the other list.
So, I've already done David, which is me, so now James which is another common name, indeed the name of my brother. When we were growing up, James was top of the boy's names charts, but it's far from it any more. Still, we all know a lot of Jims or Jameses don't we? I don't think the Jim/James debate is as crucial and feverish as the Dave/David debate, but i certainly know plenty of Jameses who've generally balked at any kind of shortening or nicknaming. Funny that the French for James is Jacques, cos that sounds like Jack, which is a different name.
Anyway, I thought there were lots of goods songs about Jimmy, so i did the list, and it's turned out pretty well - i think this is the first mention of Gay Dad in the whole blog - better late than never.
This is a companion piece to an earlier little thing about football you may recall - it also dwells on the profound effect happenings to do with left-sided sportsmen in the early 90s had on not just themselves, not just the people around them, but THE WHOLE FUCKING COSMOS.

This isn't about if though, this is about when -


When Jimmy missed the black I knew
that nothing I'd been told was true -
however well you strike the white
nothing will ever turn out right.

I knew no God was in his heaven
when Jimmy failed to gain that seven
which meant he'd have too much to catch
that would have given him frame and match
and Vs to all who'd said "That White'll
never win Snooker's World Title."

When Jimmy missed that simple pot
I knew this spinning world was not
a spinning ball of hope and glory -
though we'd been fed a different story
of the whey-faced boy from Tooting
for whom each man on earth was rooting
against the pock-faced Scottish robot
who earned no love and messed up ... no pot.

Each year, the same tale would be told -
It's Jimmy's year, he's not too old,
and as he sailed through round on round,
we told ourselves our faith was sound,
but learnt, each time he spurned the chance
to disregard that fine romance.

When Jimmy blew it that last time
his sweat, his twitch was mine, all mine,
his incapacity to seal it,
I did far more than merely feel it.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

98. 10 Songs about Friends

See My Friends - The Kinks
Old Friends/Bookends - Simon and Garfunkel
All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
We Are Your Friends - Justice vs Simian
Good Friends Are Hard to Find - Ed Harcourt
Thick As Thieves - The Jam
I See a Darkness - Bonnie "Prince" Billie
You've Got a Friend - Carole King
Thank You Friends - Big Star
We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful - Morrissey

I said this one would be the next one last time, though I wish I hadn't. Though the songs are excellent, with particular recommendation for the third and fourth - and special mention for gallant runners-up like the theme tune to 'Golden Girls' and those two friendy songs by Queen - the idea of writing about something worthwhile about friends beyond that seems more ridiculous than most.
In particular as the phrase that has been stuck in my head for the last month is "musical statues", so i felt dutybound to shoehorn musical statues into a post about friends, which hasn't been easy.
Anyway, I haven't written something about friends so much as the dirty word that is nostalgia - I'm nostalgic for a time when people used to, in all seriousness, ask each other question like Who's your favourite out of 'Friends' and Which one of 'Friends' do you think you're most like? I'm like a combination of Gunther and Tom Selleck, people would say, and we'd laugh, how we'd laugh.
I think our age-group, specifically, is slightly lucky to have made our friends before the internet redefined what friends were. I'm all for having hundreds of friends I've never met or if i have met them I'd cross the street to avoid, but it's just a little different from the old days, isn't it, when one solitary person to call a friend was hard-earned gold dust.
Having said that, my friends are a bunch of bitches who've all secluded themselves in their mansions with big plants and little babies, so don't have time to do fun, youthful things like putting firecrackers in postboxes anymore, so maybe it's time I used the internet to find a new brigade of cool kids to hang out with.
Anyway, this is called

I miss the summers of tarmac and gold dust -
I knew I'd miss them before they began
when friends hid in corners and never unravelled.

We made a pact not to talk about blackboards,
Bravestarr and shit and whatever else
people pretend makes them kindred spirits.

But something has given, ticked over, repeated
and i'm right back playing at musical statues,
now cracking and crumbling when the song ends.

I miss your blacklists of dull words and concepts
but i'm too tired now not to swallow whole those
mist-covered mountains ands smoky top decks.

I swear I've kept my half of the bargain
'cos i heard us talking - I think it was us - about
how hard it is making friends after thirty.

I miss the summers of vomit and chocolate
though I'm almost sure I was boring and awful,
so just let me control these shrinking circles.