#235 – Patsy Cline – The Ultimate Collection

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The sole listed album from Virginia Patterson Hensley, better known as Patsy Cline, is a compilation of her work.  Released in the year 2000, the album is composed of thirty-two tracks, mostly taken from her three studio albums.

Sara

I have been waiting for this one and it did not disappoint in the slightest.  One of the first mind-blowing numbers on this 32 track experience is track 4, ‘I Fall to Pieces.’ It’s a song I always loved but never listened to it quite as attentively as I did hear.  Cline’s melancholy vocals were a distinct departure from the style she had become known for at the time, and this song was inches from never happening in more ways than one. First of all, it wasn’t going to be given to her by writers Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard.  Producer Owen Bradley pitched the songs to many country singers before Patsy Cline, all of whom turned it down. Patsy Cline happened to overhear an argument between Bradley and an artist who declined to record it, and asked if she could record it herself.

 When production was set to begin, there were more problems. Cline resented the presence of the Jordanaires as background singers for fear of being drowned out, and also was deeply concerned about Owen Bradley’s decision to arrange the song specifically to appeal to the pop market. Composer Harlan Howard was against the idea as well, but none of the other alternatives seemed to work and the pop attempt won out. After the 4th take using Bradley’s arrangement, there was not a dry eye in the all-male recording studio and they knew they had a special song. The public, however, did not.  ‘I Fall to Pieces’ was released Jan 30 1961 and began the slowest ascent in history on the billboard charts.  It was too pop for the country crowd and too country for the pop stations. With heavy promotion, this classic first graced the charts on April 3 and peaked at #1 on Billboard country and #12 on Billboard pop, before beginning a notably slow descent as well. Rolling Stone named it 238 on The Greatest 500 Songs of All Time and they are spot on.           

            The sheer hopelessness and despair conveyed by Patsy cline is palpable and something most people can relate to in one way or another. It’s one of those rare songs that transports you to pain every single time you hear it

 

I fall to pieces
Each time I see you again
I fall to pieces
How can I be just your friend?

You want me to act like we’ve never kissed
You want me to forget (to forget)
Pretend we’ve never met (never met)

And I’ve tried and I’ve tried
But I haven’t yet
You walk by and I fall to pieces

I fall to pieces
Each time someone speaks your name (speaks your name)
I fall to pieces
Time only adds to the flame

You tell me to find someone else to love
Someone who love me too (love me too)
The way you used to do (used to do)
But each time I go out with someone new
You walk by and I fall to pieces
You walk by and I fall to pieces
 

I knew that Patsy Cline had been taken young, but I did not know just how young until reading about her while listening to this. Patsy was just 30 years old when she was killed instantly in the crash of a private plane, on her way back to Nashville after a performance. Her career was just about 5 years long in terms of being a known performer, and she almost didn’t make it even that long. Prior to her death from the plane crash, which incidentally took place after her initial scheduled flight was fogged in and she turned down a ride, Patsy Cline was almost killed in a horrible plane crash which landed her in the hospital for a month. Country singer Dottie West witnessed Cline insist that the driver of the other car, who later died in front of Cline because of her injuries, be treated first.  We’ll never know whether this inspired West to do the same when she was in a car crash 30 years later, but West’s postponement of treatment arguably did lead to her own death from her injuries. It’s one sad story after another with these country folk. Damn.

But on the positive side, in the very short time Patsy Cline was with us, she became the first female country music star to be billed above male performers touring with her and she paved the way for many women in the industry to follow. 

The other favorite of mine is the tune Patsy followed up the success of ‘I Fall to Pieces’ with, Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ This one fell into Cline’s lap via her husband, who heard it in a bar where Willie Nelson had played his own song on the jukebox (that’s where the booze and weed will get you, kids). Willie Nelson has since said it’s his favorite version of the song because it’s magical, which I guess counts because he wrote the song, but I also think we need to really ask ourselves how seriously we want to take Willie Nelson’s opinion of anything.

I feel like I’ve rambled enough here, so I’m going to end it but this was terrific. I don’t typically love the extended albums and collections on here because it seems like too much of even a good thing, but these are 32 quick tracks, almost all of them are beautiful, and it was just the Patsy Cline experience I didn’t even know I needed.  I”ll welcome more of Patsy on my playlist any day and appreciate her impact to music very much.

 Steve

This was a truly beautiful album to listen to.  Obviously I know the name Patsy Cline, but as country music isn’t really my thing, I had never listened to any of her music.  What an oversight on my part.  Patsy Cline was an incredible artist.

I am not sure how Cline had her heart broken so many times in such a short period here on Earth, but every song is about heartache and loss.  While this may sound depressing, it is not.  If someone told me I had to sit and listen to thirty-two songs about lost love, I would be none to excited.  Patsy Cline’s voice transcends the emotional tone of her lyrics.  I found myself waiting for the next song, just so her voice could break my heart as her own.

Several of the tracks on this album are written by other country stars.  Cline covered originals from Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, and others.  One of my favorites of these covers is Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

Your cheatin’ heart
Will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry
And try to sleep.

But sleep won’t come
The whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you.

When tears come down
Like fallin’ rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name.

You’ll walk the floor
The way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you.

When tears come down
Like fallin’ rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name.

You’re gonna walk the floor
The very way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Is gonna tell on you…

 

The songs that weren’t covers were mostly written for Cline by Hank Cochran.  Easily one of the best examples of Cochran’s tracks is “Why Can’t He Be You.”  This is not to say that the other Cochran tracks aren’t excellent, they are.  I just liked this one the best.  I think that the matching of Cochran and Cline may be one of those happy accidents that happened to produce some great music.

He takes me to the places you and I used to go
He tells me over and over that he loves me so
He gives me love that I never got from you
He loves me too, his love is true
Why can’t he be you

He never fails to call and tell me I’m on his mind
And I’m lucky to have such a guy, I hear it all the time
And he does all the things that you would never do
He loves me too, his love is true
Why can’t he be you

He’s not the one who dominates my mind and soul
And I should love him so cause he loves me I know
But his kisses leave me cold

He sends me flowers, calls on the hour just to prove his love
And my friends say that when he’s around I’m all he speaks of
And he does all the things that you would never do
He loves me too, his love is true
Why can’t he be you

The fact that this album is so low on the list is kind of surprising to me.  I like to think that maybe that means every album that follows is going to be at least this good.  Sadly, I suspect this may not be the case.  I really don’t enjoy country music, but even I can’t see how this album didn’t at least crack the top 100.

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#236 – Jackie Wilson – Mr. Excitement!

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The sole list appearance from R & B legend Jackie Wilson is a three-disc compilation.  The 1992 release covers his entire career with its 72 tracks.  Wilson started his career in the 1950s with Billy War and his Dominoes.  Wilson went solo in 1957 and recorded 50 charted singles throughout his career.

Sara

In terms of the first song that made me dance and sing around the living room like a lunatic with my 1 yr old, that would be ‘Singing A Song.’ It particularly impressed me when I saw that it was the first song, and one of very few, that was written solely by Jackie Wilson.  It’s followed by ‘To Be Loved’ on disc one and they are a real one-two punch of vocal prowess. What ‘Singing A Song’ would be in a musical, ‘To  Be Loved’ would bring to a movie where Julia Roberts may or may not fall in love with someone.

After the first dozen or so songs, this became more about survival than excitement. It’s good, but no one in their right mind would want to listen to this in one sitting. 

Jackie Wilson was known for his showmanship and vocal range, and he consistently amazed me with the wide array of feats his voice could accomplish.  He’s basically what Bruno Mars thinks he is. On disc two, his cover of ‘Stormy Weather’ simply has to be one of the best ever. And that’s no half-assed compliment, as Stormy Weather has been covered by such legends as Sinatra, Etta James, Duke Ellington, and Judy Garland. It’s an incredible song and Wilson’s rendition is as powerful and moving a version as I’ve ever heard. 

On disc three, the hands-down winner is the Ghostbusters II classic ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.’ I realized that the Wilson version was not the one I knew and loved from Ghostbusters, so I did some digging. As it turns out, Howard Huntsberry is the singer on the movie soundtrack, and is ALSO the actor who portrayed Jackie Wilson in La Bamba.  Stalk much, Howie? Although Huntsberry is the one who made my love this song, Wilson was responsible for its original recording, release, and top-10 Pop, #1 R&B chart success.

Your love, lifting me higher
Than I’ve ever been lifted before
So keep it it up
Quench my desire
And I’ll be at your side, forever more

You know your love (your love keeps lifting me)
Keep on lifting (love keeps lifting me)
Higher (lifting me)
Higher and higher (higher)
I said your love (your love keeps lifting me)
Keep on (love keeps lifting me)
Lifting me (lifting me)
Higher and higher (higher)
Now listen

Now once, I was down hearted
Disappointment, was my closest friend
But then you, came and it soon departed
And you know he never
Showed his face again

That’s why your love (your love keeps lifting me)
Keep on lifting (love keeps lifting me)
Higher (lifting me)
Higher and higher (higher)
I said your love (your love keeps lifting me)
Keep on (love keeps lifting me)
Lifting me (lifting me)
Higher and higher (higher)

I’m so glad, I’ve finally found you
Yes that one, in a million girls
And I whip, my loving arms around you
I can stand up, and face the world

No, Jackie Wilson did not perish on the plane with Ritchie Valens, but he was no stranger to tragedy himself. He lost a kidney due to being shot by a jealous ex-girlfriend (he was a known womanizer), he went broke due to mismanagement and fraud carried out by those overseeing his finances, and his son was shot and killed at a young age. Wilson also had some brushes with the law, including assaulting a police officer and ‘morals charges’ for entertaining some white women in a motel. In 1975, Jackie Wilson had a heart attack onstage at Dick Clark’s Good Ol’ Rock & Roll Revue, from which he never fully recovered. Talk about going out doing what you love. Wilson survived several years after the initial attack, but resided in a nursing home in a conscious-but-incapacitated non-verbal state for that time.  He died in 1984 broke and alone, and a Detroit radio station had to raise funds to purchase a headstone for his grave.

 Many artists have paid tribute in various ways to Jackie Wilson, but none with the impact that Michael Jackson did. In a Grammy acceptance speech in 1984, Michael Jackson dedicated his Grammy for Thriller to Jackie Wilson saying “In the entertainment business, there are leaders and there are followers. And I just want to say that I think Jackie Wilson was a wonderful entertainer…Jackie, where you are I want to say I love you and thank you so much.”  Although Jackie himself was for all intents and purposes gone at that time, his hidden legacy was reborn and a compilation album was released. Like the Oprah effect, Michael Jackson gave Jackie Wilson’s collection some life after death, and he was posthumously inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 2013.

Truth be told, this was an s-load to listen to in this format, but there were many highs, few lows, and overall I liked what I heard quite a bit.

Steve

Listening to this album felt like an endless chore.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good.  Hell, it’s excellent.  It just seemed to last forever, probably because it does.  The set is over three hours long.  I have a bit of ADD when it comes to music.  Listening to the same artist for three hours was really rough.

The other tough part is writing this reaction.  There are some excellent songs in a few different genres of music.  We go all the way from Irish classic “Danny Boy” to the graphic “Think Twice” performed with LaVern Baker.  In the space of two tracks we go from a timeless classic to a down and dirty R & B jam session that includes the C word and cunnilingus.  It was an interesting journey.

There was just too much going on to pick individual songs.  A majority of these songs are written by other people, and have been performed by several acts over the years.  One that stuck out to me, that Wilson wrote, was “You Better Know It.”  The song was also used in the movie “Go Johnny Go,” starring one Jackie Wilson.

Well I want you to run to me baby
Run with all your might
I want to love you pretty baby
Till the broad day light
Want to thrill you pretty momma
Till the sun don’t shine
Satisfy your soul before I loose my mind

You better know it cause its me and you
You better know it, this is what I do
You better know it for the rest of your life
You better listen to me and you better hear what I say

Why pretty baby can’t you understand
That I want to be your lovin man
Gonna love you pretty baby with all my heart
But tell me pretty momma that we will never part
You better know it
You better know it
You better know it
You better listen to me and you better hear what I say

A river’s a river, a sea is a sea
And I want you to belong to me
If they says it goes together like a road with bumps
Then I got the measles and you got the mumps

You’d better know it, yeah
You’d better know it
You’d better know it

You’d better listen to me and you better hear what I say

Come along, baby, come along
You’d better come along
I love you baby can’t you plainly see
Well, come on, come on, come on, come on,
You can love me, come on, you can hug me, come on
You can squeeze me, well come on
Come, come on come a right along baby
Just come on love me honey
Love me long, love me right, love me strong
Yes, come on, come on, come right along

Jackie Wilson was an amazing talent and could sing anything.  I understand why this was the album chosen.  I am sure there was no other way to showcase his versatility and all that he did in his life.  I just really wish they had chosen a normal length album, because I feel like an artist like this should never have caused me to be impatient for his time to end.

#237 – The Who – My Generation

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Next we have the third of seven listed albums from British rockers The Who.  The 1965 release is the band’s studio debut, and the band rushed to complete it shortly after the band’s first single of the same name reached the charts.  The band themselves called the album a “rush job,” but many critics consider this one of the greatest rock albums ever made.

Sara

To be honest, I was hoping for Tommy-level The Who and this fell a bit short.. Don’t get me wrong—I like them. But listening to this didn’t make me like them any more than I already did. I’m going to log it as a #mybad though because I think I set the bar too high.

Fortunately for me, my favorite Who song, The Kids are Alright, is on this album. It’s also the best song we hear on this one with the exception of the stuttering elephant in the room, the title track. Who singer/songwriter Pete Townshend wrote this song about mistakes he made as a young spouse and parent.  One thing you learn pretty fast as a parent is how judgmental people can be (I’m looking at you, moms). People often have ideas of what parenting success looks like for them and can not-so-subtly let you know whether you measure up to their standards.  My first glimpse of this was when we had a very difficult time getting my oldest daughter to sleep through the night.  We cycled through several different sleep-training methods and nothing seemed to be working. In the meantime, we were getting increasingly more exhausted and frustrated with the whole situation.  During this time, several people told us to “just let her cry it out,” as if it wasn’t something we had tried, and we’d try to politely say that we had tried and it didn’t work. Then, more often than not, that person would begin to speculate as to how we had probably done it wrong in some way, and needed to go back to it.  Well, even good news is difficult to process when you are sleep-deprived, so this was quite the jagged little pill (an album which was wrongfully omitted from this list) to swallow. And you know what? She ended up alright and so did we (so far), but there were certainly days of madness and self-doubt mixed in there.  Anyhoo, here’s Eddie Vedder with a great cover:

Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away
Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don’t, I’ll go out of my mind
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright

I didn’t have another favorite here, but I liked what I heard.  An overall highlight was the variety, with the pop sounds of Legal Matter, blues of I’m a Man, the jam session that is The Ox and everything in between. A solid album. Not sure how it was determined that it’s #237, but here we are.  The Who is a great band, so I guess this album had to land somewhere. I’d listen again, but continue to favor Tommy or The Grinch if I am craving something from Whoville

Steve

I have loved this album for a long time.  It was great to listen to it again, because it has been years since I heard it in its entirety.  The Who is one of the truly great rock bands, and I’ve been excited to listen to all seven albums on this list.

This album has a couple covers that are really well done in my opinion.  The James Brown song “I Don’t Mind,” is one of my favorite tracks.  The Who also does a good job with Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,” but we’ll stick with James Brown for right now.  When Brown recorded the song, his producer told him it was musically wrong due to its unusual chord progression.  It’s a really good way to be wrong.

I don’t mind your love
I don’t mind the one you’re thinkin’ of
I know, I know
You gonna miss me

I don’t mind your love so sound
I don’t mind, it can’t go cold
I know, I know
You gonna miss me

I don’t mind, it’s the end of my song
I don’t mind, good-bye, so long
I know, said, baby I know
You gonna miss me

It will be interesting to hear James Brown’s live version of this song all the way up the list at #25.

One of my favorite The Who songs is “The Kids Are Alright.”  The single was not terribly successful commercially, only reaching #41 in the UK, and #85 in the US.  However, since the time of its release the song has gained popularity, and was also the title for a documentary about The Who in 1979.

I don’t mind other guys dancing with my girl
That’s fine, I know them all pretty well
But I know sometimes I must get out in the light
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright

Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away
Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don’t, I’ll go out of my mind
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright

I know if I go things would be a lot better for her
I had things planned, but her folks wouldn’t let her

I don’t mind other guys dancing with my girl
That’s fine, I know them all pretty well
But I know sometimes I must get out in the light
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright

Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away
Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don’t, I’ll go out of my mind
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright

The song has been a long time staple of The Who’s live act.  In more recent years they add in extra lyrics about life lessons the band has learned on their journey.  I really enjoyed this one live from Royal Albert Hall.

 

#238 – Howlin’ Wolf – Howlin’ Wolf

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The first of two appearances from blues legend Chester “Howlin’ Wolf ” Burnett is his second studio album.  The 1962 release is a collection of twelve singles released from 1960-1962.  This album is commonly known as “The Rocking Chair” album, due to it’s cover image.

Sara

I cannot get enough of this. This album is a straight-up sweep-you-off-your-feet-then-punch-you-in-the-face-with-its-awesomeness experience.

My first favorite was easily “You’ll Be Mine.”  It’s simple but beautiful, and the kind of song anyone would want written about them. The piano on this track really brings it home, and it goes without saying that Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar is second-to-none.

You so sweet, you so fine
How I wish, you were mine
Honey I’ll, be your love
You’ll be mine, you’ll be mine

You so nice, you so true
I’m so glad, I love you
Honey I’ll, be your love
You’ll be mine, you’ll be mine

Tell me, pretty baby
If you, gonna try
If you’ll, stay baby
Hang on baby ’til the day I die

Howlin’ Wolf is probably the person I’ve fallen in love with the most in this experience, with the exception of Tom Waits.  Wolf’s voice is so unique and powerful that I’d be swept away just listening to him sing Jesse and Joey’s jingle for Kitty Krispies:

One of the most famous songs of the album, which is also terrific, is ‘Back Door Man.’ Wolf recorded this tune about having an affair with a married woman in 1960 and it was covered on The Doors debut album. Spoiler alert:  The Howlin Wolf version is much better.   A super fun fact about this song is that it was referenced by Led Zeppelin in their monster ‘Whole Lotta Love.’  “Shake for me girl, I wanna be your backdoor man.”  If there’s a better way to gauge success than being quoted by Led Zeppelin, I don’t know it.

I am, a back door man
I am, a back door man
Well the, men don’t know, but the little girls understand

When everybody’s tryin’ to sleep
I’m somewhere making my, midnight creep
Yes in the morning, when the rooster crow
Something tell me, I got to go

I am, a back door man
I am, a back door man
Well the, men don’t know, but little girls understand

They, take me to the doctor, shot full o’ holes
Nurse cried, please save the soul
Killed him for murder, first degree
Judge’s wife cried, let the man go free

I am, a back door man
I am, a back door man
Well the, men don’t know, but little girls understand

Stand out there, cop’s wife cried
Don’t take him down, rather be dead
Six feets in the ground
When you come home you can eat, pork and beans
I eats mo’ chicken, any man seen

I need to listen to more blues and more Howlin’ Wolf specifically. Loved this whole album and it’s great as a top 250 album of all-time.

Steve

There have been many albums on this list that drag.  I find myself checking every song to see how many songs are left until I can be done, looking at you Merle Haggard.  This was the complete opposite.  It went by entirely too fast, because every second of it was excellent.  I actually let this one play for a few days.

This album opens with the other side of the Led Zeppelin homage that Sara mentioned, “Shake for Me.”  Right as this one starts, you realize you’re in for a great album.  Howlin’ Wolf is ridiculously talented.

Sho’ look good but you don’t mean a thing to me
Sho’ look good but you don’t mean a thing to me
I got a hip shakin’ beauty, shake like a willow tree

You went away baby, you got back a little too late
You went away baby, you got back a little too late
I got a cool shakin’ baby, shake like jello on a plate

What my baby want, you know she found in my arm
What my baby want, you know she found in my arm
Every time she stop, her flush hips shake like jello

Oh shake it baby
Shake it for me
Oh shake little baby
Shake it for me
Oh shake little baby, do that
Shake like a willow tree

The blues is one of those things that I keep coming back to.  Listening to an album like this reminds me why.  There is just something about this style of music that makes it so perfect to have on in almost any situation.

Again, Sara brings an unexpected element to this list with a random Full House reference.

 

#239 – Madonna – Like A Prayer

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Madonna’s second appearance (of three) on the list is her fourth studio album.  The 1989 release was dedicated to Madonna’s mother, who died when she was five.  Madonna co-wrote and co-produced the entire album, which is composed of songs about her family.

Sara

It’s been 100+ albums since we heard Madonna and I was starting to worry we wouldn’t see her again!

This album is a force to be reckoned with and the song of the same name is one of the greatest pop songs of all-time.

I love the song ‘Like A Prayer’ on so many levels that it’s difficult to conceptualize naming them all. First, it stirred the pot BIGTIME in a way that, in the late 80s, many would say only Madonna could do. The video’s use of stigmata and Madonna fantasizing about a saint made the Vatican next-level angry and even cost her a huge sponsorship from Pepsi (what with Pepsi’s operation of sweatshops in India and contribution to the diabetes epidemic being so righteous and all).

The video is also spectacular. It’s one many videos from the 80s that are impossible not to watch all the way through. If you lead a depraved life and have never seen it, Madonna witnesses a murder by white supremacists and seeks shelter and strength in a church as she tries to build up the courage to come forward as a witness to save the black man who has been wrongly accused of the crime. A huge controversy erupted when the video was released, leading to boycotts and protests. People called it blasphemous because of the romance scene with a saint (which was a dream), and said it glorified racist symbols because of the burning crosses (even though it depicted the KKK as murderers), and claimed that it was insulting to the Catholic church (even though she calls the church ‘home’ and in it she gains the strength to right a wrong).  Pope John Paul II himself encouraged folks to boycott Madonna. Hmm.  As Madonna has said about it, art is supposed to be controversial, and this piece of art landed itself in a heap of controversy and even scored number one on MTV’s 100 Videos that Broke the Rules in 2005. Rolling Stone Magazine awarded ‘Like A Prayer’ as the 300th best song of all-time, although I think top 200 would be more fair.

It’s also an amazing tune to sing and dance to with friends.. in a bar…in college. Or at least that’s what I”ve done to this song no less than 1,000 times. Madonna’s ability to create an infectious rhythm, timeless lyrics, but also a very powerful backstory that touches on complex social issues is just remarkable.  I’m with Rolling Stone on this one—not only is it a great song, it’s one of the best songs ever made. It’s still thrilling to me every time I hear it.

A very powerful track on this album that I had all but forgotten is ‘Oh Father.’ Madonna has acknowledged that this one is about her father and also a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel.  She was raised almost entirely by her father and paternal grandmother, as her own mother passed away at the age of 30 when Madonna was just 5 years old. Fresh off the very poorly received Broadway production ‘Speed-the-Plow’ and a divorce from Sean Penn (what a prize that guy is), Madge wrote and recorded this one in a very emotional state. Patrick Leonard, who cowrote and produced it, had this to say about ‘Oh Father,’ 

“My favorite thing that we ever recorded, ever—or wrote—is ‘Oh Father’… because we knew when we did it, that there was something about this that was in a way kind of the most *real* thing. [For] that song, the ‘record’ button was only pressed three times. That’s it. So it’s real. It’s something that I really wanted to do and she was kind enough to say ‘let’s try this,’ and it was not easy.

The realness comes through and makes this a very powerful tune and the vocals are incredibly moving.  

It’s funny that way, you can get used
To the tears and the pain
What a child will believe
You never loved me

You can’t hurt me now
I got away from you, I never thought I would
You can’t make me cry, you once had the power
I never felt so good about myself

Seems like yesterday
I lay down next to your boots and I prayed
For your anger to end
Oh Father I have sinned

You can’t hurt me now
I got away from you, I never thought I would
You can’t make me cry, you once had the power
I never felt so good about myself

Oh Father you never wanted to live that way
You never wanted to hurt me
Why am I running away
Oh Father you never wanted to live that way
You never wanted to hurt me
Why am I running away

Maybe someday
When I look back I’ll be able to say
You didn’t mean to be cruel
Somebody hurt you too

You can’t hurt me now
I got away from you, I never thought I would
You can’t make me cry, you once had the power
I never felt so good about myself 

This album is great but it’s not through-and-through. There are a few duds in the batch. It was wonderful to take this walk down memory lane with a childhood favorite of mine (and everyone’s).  The entire package isn’t Madonna’s finest work, but many of the tracks are and I’m glad it’s here.

Steve

I never know what to expect from Madonna.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the last album, but this is 80’s Madonna so I was more hopeful.  It was nothing that blew my mind, but still a decent listen.

The first track is the most recognizable song on the album.  “Like A Prayer” was Madonna’s seventh number one hit.  The song was a megahit and topped the chart in several countries around the world.  It’s a great track, but I always preferred the version by punk band Rufio, from the Punk Goes Pop album released in 2002.

Life is a mystery everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

I hear your voice,
It’s like an angel sighing
I have no choice,
I hear your voice
Feels like flying

I close my eyes,
Oh, God, I think I’m falling
Out of the sky,
I close my eyes
Heaven help me

When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

Like a child you whisper softly to me
You’re in control just like a child
Now I’m dancing

It’s like a dream,
No end and no beginning
You’re here with me,
It’s like a dream
Let the choir sing

When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

Life is a mystery everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

Just like a prayer,
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me,
You are a mystery

Just like a dream,
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer,
No choice your voice can take me there

[Repeat with ad-libs:]
Just like a prayer,
I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me

Just like a prayer,
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me,
You are a mystery

Just like a dream,
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer,
No choice your voice can take me there

Just like a prayer,
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me,
You are a mystery

Just like a dream,
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer,
No choice your voice can take me there

One of my favorite tracks was “Love Song.”  Madonna wrote and produced the track with Prince, and I think his influence is very clear on this track.  The funky bass line alone screams classic Prince track.

Je suis prete. Est-ce que vous etes pret, aussi?

Are you wasting my time, are you just being kind
Oh no baby my love isn’t blind
Are you wasting my time, are you just being kind
Don’t go givin’ me one of your lines

Say what you mean, mean what you say
Don’t go and throw our love away
God strike me dead if I did you wrong
This is not a love song

Are you just being kind
Am I losing my mind

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
And those who run seem to have all the fun
But are you wasting my time — she’s so fine
Are you just being kind

Nowhere to run nowhere to hide
That’s how I feel, don’t fog my mind

Mean what you say or baby I am gone
This is not a love song

Are you just being kind
Am I losing my mind

Love song, love song
Don’t try to tell me what your enemies taught you
I’m gone but I just want you to know
That this is not a love song that I want to sing

Like Sara I found this album had a few songs that just weren’t great.  It was decent overall, but I expected better.  We will see Madonna again further down the list, hopefully that one will be a better experience.

#240 – Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill

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The second of three Steely Dan albums is the band’s studio debut.  The 1972 release peaked at #17 on the Billboard Pop charts, and was certified Gold in 1973 by the RIAA.  Not bad for a band named after a fictional dildo.  That album cover though…

Sara

Steely Dan is one of those bands I always wanted to like more but I just can’t get into. If I was following them in sequential order, I would’ve been really let down because this the debut album starts with their best song, ‘Do It Again.’ The jamming part of the tune goes on a little too long, but it’s a great song. Not quite rock enough for me to like it, but too rock for the dentist’s office. Put it this way—I like it, but I’d never want someone to put it on a jukebox unless the goal was to clear out the bar at closing time. 

In the mornin’ you go gunnin’ for the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in but they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all singin’ as they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn’t hangin’ and they put you on the street

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turinin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again

When you know she’s no high climber then you find your only friend
In a room with your two timer, and you’re sure you’re near the end
Then you love a little wild one, and she brings you only sorrow
All the time you know she’s smilin’ you’ll be on your knees tomorrow, yeah

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheel turinin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again

Now you swear and kick and beg us that you’re not a gamblin’ man
Then you find you’re back in Vegas with a handle in your hand
Your black cards can make you money so you hide them when you’re able
In the land of milk and honey you must put them on the table

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheels turinin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again

The thing that bothers me about this album is that it’s almost good. Steely Dan is almost good. There are some cool elements like alto saxophone and organ on the album, but it leaves you wanting more. I feel like if any other famous band went into a recording studio and made an album of Steely Dan covers it’d be better than the original.

One of the coolest things about doing this is that I’m often able to draw parallels between what is going on in my life or the world and the music we’re listening to, and tonight was no different. My wife came home from the grocery store with about a dozen cans of this soup we like and told me it was on sale. I told her I was going to get some more to stock up, which she took to mean about another dozen cans. Oh, sweet naïve Nicole. God love her.  Friends, I bought every can of this kind of soup that they had, which was just under 150 cans (for you thrifty moms and dads out there, my savings was $148!).  In addition, I forgot to bring in my own bags, which is basically punishable by public stoning in the DC area, so I just threw them all in my trunk. After the kids went to bed, Nicole and I went out to carry it all in, which is when I was listening to this album. That’s when it hit me: If music is food, Steely Dan is the soup. Don’t get me wrong—there’s some goddamn great soup out there, but it’s still soup.  Even the most lobster-bisque-like song that Steely Dan has on this album (which is ‘Reelin in the Years,’ by the way) will never be a main course.  

Definitely don’t get how they scored this high.

Steve

I was looking forward to listening to this.  I really thought it was gonna be this incredible album full of hits on the level of “Reeling in the Years.”  This was not the case.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the album.  I agree with Sara though, the band seems a bit underwhelming.

Obviously we have to talk about the best known Steely Dan song, “Reeling in the Years.”  The song was actually outperformed by “Do It Again,” which in my opinion is a better song, only reaching #11 on the Billboard charts to “Do It Again’s” #6.  For whatever reason this song has aged better than most of Steely Dan’s catalog.  Many would attribute this to Elliot Randall’s guitar solo, which Jimmy Page called his favorite solo of all time.

Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
You wouldn’t even know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can’t understand

Are you reelin’ in the years
Stowin’ away the time
Are you gatherin’ up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin’ in the years
Stowin’ away the time
Are you gatherin’ up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

You been tellin’ me you’re a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I’ve known you
I still don’t know what you mean
The weekend at the college
Didn’t turn out like you planned
The things that pass for knowledge
I can’t understand

[Chorus]

I spent a lot of money
And I spent a lot of time
The trip we made to Hollywood
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things we’ve done and seen
You find another man
The things you think are useless
I can’t understand

I was surprised to find out that I actually was familiar with THREE songs on this one.  Holy shit, I always thought Steely Dan was kind of a one hit wonder that never really went away.  Other than “Reeling” and “Do It” I knew “Dirty Work.”  This is what I think of when I think of the 1970’s.  The song is sappy, soft, and if I am being honest kind of annoying.  That being said, I love it.  I found myself singing it for the rest of the day, and it has been haunting me ever since.  I had not heard the song in years, and in the space of a week have heard it randomly on a few separate occasions at different bars.  Seriously, who plays “Dirty Work” at a bar in 2018?

Times are hard
You’re afraid to pay the fee
So you find yourself somebody
Who can do the job for free
When you need a bit of lovin’
Cause your man is out of town
That’s the time you get me runnin’
And you know I’ll be around

I’m a fool to do your dirty work
Oh yeah
I don’t wanna do your dirty work
No more
I’m a fool to do your dirty work
Oh yeah

Light the candle
Put the lock upon the door
You have sent the maid home early
Like a thousand times before
Like the castle in its corner
In a medieval game
I foresee terrible trouble
And I stay here just the same

So, looking ahead there is one more Steely Dan album coming down the pipe.  We have already exhausted the entire catalog of Steely Dan songs that I know, so I am very curious to see what that album consists of.  It’s still a ways off.

#241 – The Replacements – Let It Be

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The first of two listed albums from The Replacements is the band’s third studio album.  The 1984 release was received extremely well by critics and appears on several greatest album lists, besides this one.  The band was critically acclaimed for showing a great maturity beyond their previous releases.

Sara

Full disclosure: I thought the Replacements were the band that sang the theme song from ‘Friends,’ so I was pretty shocked when I realized this was incredible. I was expecting stuff Ross would like, but I WILL be there for these guys.

 ‘I Will Dare’ sucked me into this one bigtime right from the beginning. It’s no surprise that it’s on The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The fact that singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg plays a mandolin makes it automatically awesome, but add to that the fact that REM’s Peter Buck is on the guitar and it’s a full package.

 How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Don’t count any of my advice

Oh, meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I might dare

Call me on Thursday, if you will
Or call me on Wednesday, better still
Ain’t lost yet, so I gotta be a winner
Fingernails and a cigarette’s a lousy dinner
Young, are you? Wo oo

C’mon meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare
Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

 My favorite song on this is ‘We’re Coming Out’ b/c it’s absolutely off-the-rails. It’s the heaviest part of  a heavy album and, as the third track, it’s where you start to realize you’re listening to something really special. eMusic called this album a cornerstone of alternative rock and I couldn’t’ agree more. ‘We’re Coming Out’ is so intense I could see it being a favorite of Kurt Cobain’s. If you haven’t heard it, it’s basically the exact opposite of Rent’s ‘No Day But Today.’

 One more chance to get it all wrong
One more chance to get it all wrong
One more night to do it all wrong
One more warning
One more warning sound
We’re comin’ out
We’re comin’ out
We’re comin’ out

One more day anyway
One more chance thrown away
One more night anyway
Anyway, anyway
We’re comin’ out

 Right after your heartbeat starts to return to normal after ‘We’re Coming Out,’ you’re swept into an almost euphoric state with ‘Androgynous.’  The vocals are top-notch and it’s truly a spell-binding ballad.  It will 100% be something I return to frequently.  It also struck a chord because of the prevalence of gender fluidity in society today. This song has been covered by The Crash Test Dummies as well as Miley Cyrus, but much more importantly, it was covered by Joan Jett on two albums.

 Here’s a live version of Joan’s cover and it’s terrific:

We took a break on this project for a couple months and this was an amazing way to come back in. this album has everything—hard rock, piano ballads and everything in between. Literally every song is spectacular and different from the one before it. There’s been a lot in this project that I’ve fallen in love with and this is WAY up the list.  Outstanding, outstanding album.  I’d like to thank this album for being nothing like the stupid Keanu Reeves movie of the same name.  PS., Keanu and I share a birthday

Steve

This was a great album to listen to.  For some reason all I could think of when I was looking them up was the Friends theme song, but that is The Rembrandts.  Thank god, I was not sure that I could handle an album of whatever else that dumpster fire of a one hit wonder put out.

This would have been a great album to listen to a few days ago during our February heat wave.  My favorite thing to do when winter is finally ending is drive around with my windows down blaring fun music.  This would have done nicely.  Don’t get me wrong, Black Sabbath worked well, but this would have fit a little better for my tastes.

This one starts off strong with “I Will Dare,” the album’s only single.  The song features Peter Buck of R.E.M. playing guitar, and front-man Paul Westerberg playing the mandolin.

How young are you
How old am I
Let’s count the rings 
Around my eye

How smart are you
How dumb am I
Don’t count any 
Of my advice

Oh, meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight 
If you will dare, I might dare

Call me on Thursday, if you will
Or call me on Wednesday, better still
Ain’t lost yet, so I gotta be the winner
Fingernails and cigarettes, a lousy dinner
Young, are you?

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings 
Around my eyes

How smart are you?
How smart are you?
How dumb am I?

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

Surprisingly my other favorite track on this one was a KISS cover.  “Black Diamond” was written by KISS guitarist Paul Stanley, and became a staple of their live sets.  I can’t recall hearing the KISS version, but this one definitely had me drumming on my chair.

Out on the street for a living
You know it’s only begun
They’ve got you under their thumb

Out on the street for a living
And it is only begun
Doing all that you can
And now you’re under their thumb

Oooh, black diamond
Oooh, black diamond

Out on the street for a country
And it’s only a dream
Got other people marching
And it’s only a way

Out on the street for a living
You know it is only begun
Regardless a street or a country
They got you under their thumb

I was glad to hear an album from a band I had never heard of that I enjoyed.  They show up again in another hundred albums or so.  I am excited to see what catapulted them that far up the list!