05 August 2006




14: Alice Cooper: "School's Out"
Not a great song, but my lifelong obsession with RADIO starts here. I was seven years old, and our family was about an hour into our road trip vacation to The Badlands and MT. Rushmore, and yes, school, first grade, had justed ended for the year, and this song came on the radio...It isn't my earliest memory of music, but it is the earliest memory I have of RADIO, and how it connected so many people...I remember imagining wavy lines moving through the air from the point of an antenna on the top of a tall building in downtown Milwaukee...Thousands and maybe millions of waves vibrating out from this single point to as many radios, and as many or more people sitting and standing and dancing in orbit around those radios...There I was in the backseat of our Plymouth Fury station wagon, and the DJ played "School's Out", and I fucking felt it...I remember my dad, behind the wheel, laughing when I tried singing along with the chorus. Seven years old, school was out, and we were going to someplace called "The Badlands". Yay!

13: Steely Dan: "Hey, Nineteen"
Steely Dan is a band that I would never turn off, or dial past, no matter what song might be playing...This certainly isn't my favorite Steely Dan song (it probably ranks about #8), but I like hearing this song in the car. The funny thing is - this really isn't a driving song. "Reelin' In The Years" is more of a driving song. This is more of a candlelight, fireplace, bottle of wine, bearskin rug, barely legal off-campus co-ed kinda song...But early in the evening, before the real sweaty stuff starts happening...I guess that makes this a hanging out in the kitchen drinking wine kind of song...Sly verbal seduction and making with the jokes kinda song.

12: Stevie Wonder: "I Wish"
Another song I heard on the radio in our family's Plymouth Fury station wagon...This time, I was eleven, and I was laying on my back looking out the back window, so that all I could see what was directly above...The sky, mostly, with trees and phone and power lines passing through my vision...I was playing a game that afternoon, a game that I used to play alot, where I would try to guess where we were in a trip based upon the turns my mom or dad made when they were driving, estimating distances, and what I saw through that window, from that perspective...Every few minutes I would sit up to see if my guesses were accurate...Anyways, I remember one particular afternoon coming home from my grandparent's house in Milwaukee. My mom was driving, and she turned this song off when it came on the radio, and I yelled up to her to change it back, and she did. This is the song that made me love Stevie Wonder. It's still my favorite of his.

11: Carole King: "So Far Away"
Carole King's Tapestry album was one of my mom's favorites, and I heard it alot when I was a kid...It really is a great pop record, and this is my favorite song from it...Does this qualify as Geezer Rock? Meh, why not? Such a bittersweet song of distance and longing that came to be a true heartbreaker after my mom died.

10: Lynyrd Skynyrd: "What's Your Name?"
Lynryd Skynyrd is another one of those bands that I'd probably not scan past or turn off, no matter what song it was. Even "Freebird". Anyways, I was pretty deep into puberty when this song hit the airwaves, and it's subject of groupie hotel sexcapades hit me right in my tender and fuzzy nuts. In fact, I lost my puberty the next summer to the strains of Cheap Trick's Heaven Tonight album, but that's another story. The story here is that this song taught my young, soft mind that being a rockstar was a good way to get laid and drink champagne. Very valuable hot poop.

09: Al Stewart: "Year Of The Cat"
This is one of those songs I really like, but I just can't explain why. Another fun fact is that I've always associated this song with George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace" for some unknown reason. A third fact is that I'm a "Cat Person". Supplemental Fact 3a: I have a cougar in the basement.

08: Steve Miller Band: "Jungle Love"
Steve Miller's Greatest Hits 1974-1978 is one of the finest greatest hits albums ever released. It should be in everyone's collection, and is available in about a million used CD stores throughout the world for about $4.99. I probably wouldn't change the station on any of the songs from that collection, but I'm picking this one cuz when that lazerbeam gunfire synth starts shooting at the beginning, and it fades into the chirping bird, I'm already hooked. "Jungle Love" is a cheesy song, but again, I was deep into puberty and my sexual awaking around this time, and you bet yr ass I fantasized about being shipwrecked on a deserted island with any number of different celebrity babes of the era. Around this time I think it was mostly Kate Jackson from Charlie's Angels, and Susan Saint James from McMillan & Wife.

07: Jackson Browne: "Doctor My Eyes"
What can I say? I've got a soft spot for Jackson Browne. He's always felt like a guilty pleasure for me, cuz if my friends back in high school woulda known, they'd a crucified me, but as I've said a thousand times, I don't believe in "guilty pleasures". OWN what you like. Don't make excuses for bad taste. Is it wrong to like Jackson Browne? You know, the old stuff, up through Running On Empty, or maybe the Hold Out album is damn solid west coast soft rock. I dunno. I cannot, for the life of me, tell you why I love this song. I know there is an event/story/reason that I do, but that memory is missing at the moment.

06: Queen: "Killer Queen”
I'll mention Brian May's unique guitar tone first, just to get it out of the way. Then I'll pay my respect to Queen's always inspiring vocal harmonies, so that I can get to the real greatness of "Killer Queen", it's lyrics. Whether you've heard this song only once, or a hundred times, you very likely have no idea what the lyrics really are. Check it...
She keeps her Moet et Chandon, In her pretty cabinet
'let them eat cake' she says, Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy, For Kruschev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation You can't decline
Caviar and cigarettes, Well versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice
She's a Killer Queen, Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laserbeam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Ooh, recommended at the price, Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try ?
To avoid complications, She never kept the same address
In conversation, She spoke just like a baroness
Met a man from China, Went down to Geisha Minah
(Killer, killer, she's a killer Queen)
Then again incidentally, If you're that way inclined
Perfume came naturally, from Paris (naturally)
For cars she couldn't care less, Fastidious and precise
She's a Killer Queen, Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind, Anytime
Drop of a hat she's as willing as, Playful as a pussy cat
Then momentarily out of action, Temporarily out of gas
To absolutely drive you wild, wild..
(She's all out to get you)
She's a Killer Queen, Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind, Anytime
Ooh, recommended at the price, Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?
You wanna try...

Now that’s a mouthful of Freddie Mercury.

05: Blue Oyster Cult: "Burnin' For You"
I can't say that I'm an enormous Blue Oyster Cult fan, but D. Boon and Mike Watt from the Minutemen were huge fans of BOC, and I truly do believe that BUCK DHARMA RULES, so I should say that I mostly love them. BOC are more of a singles band than an album band, to me, meaning each of their albums has anywhere from one to three good/great songs on 'em, and the rest are just kinda alright. "Burnin' For You" is a great driving song that I've always really loved to sing along with. And perhaps surprisingly, while I wouldn't turn off this song, I will turn off "Don't Fear The Reaper" sometimes, because as timeless as that tune is, I've heard it plenty.

04: Cheap Trick: "Surrender"
Most importantly, Cheap Trick's Heaven Tonight tape was playing on the boombox on the night I lost my virginity. This auspicious occasion occurred in a tent camper that was set up on the side of Steve T's garage. It was the summer of 1978 and I was twelve years old. Her name was Carrie, and she had watched me dominate on the mound AND at the plate in my Little League game earlier that evening, and when I met her at the camper, she was soooo ready to go. I was still in uniform, and when she put her hand down my pants, I was still wearing my jockstrap and athletic cup. Things progressed in an awkward manner from there, but it was still alot of fun. I still get a boner every time Bun E. Carlos' drum roll rocks head on into those thrusting power chords. "Then I woke up, mom and dad are rolling on the couch, rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my KISS records out!" Oh, hell yeah - What happened that night in that tent camper was a permanent pass into the adult world...That night I gained the same secret knowledge as mom and dad...And hell yeah, in 1978, I still loved my KISS records...Man, you'd think "Surrender" should be #1 on this list, but you'd be thinking wrong..."Surrender" still slays me, but there are other songs in heavier rotation on the dinosaur dial, and their grooves dig deeper than this...

03: James Gang: "Funk #49"
That stuttering guitar intro, that fucking tone...Joe Walsh, jerking his way into one of the great White Funk tunes of all time..."Out all night, sleep all day, I know what yr doing..." Oh, hell yeah! The sinewy groove of the bass, the call and response gang vocals…This is 4 minutes of Geezer Rock perfection.

02: Kansas: "Carry On Wayward Son”
The power, and grandeur, and riffage of this song cannot be denied. A stone cold staple of the air guitar set. I've heard this song five thousand times, and I'm still jamming along and singing along every time. The Reverend Screamin' Ben Jenkins and I even called our CountryFolkBlues band The Wayward Sons for awhile, and our first tape was entitled Carryin' On With The Wayward Sons. That's a fact.

01: Warren Zevon: "Werewolves Of London"
Quite possibly the perfect pop song. Not only is it a fantastic song to sing along to when yr driving around alone in yr car, but if you've ever been in a good ol' dive bar when this song comes on the jukebox, or on the stereo at a party, almost everyone in the place will start smiling, and plenty of 'em will howl along in the chorus. Bikers, bankers, sorority sisters, yr mom, they all know the words, and they all sing along. It's just so damn catchy, with that piano vamp and the subtle fuzz guitar stuttering in the background. Then Warren starts speak-singing about a vampire on the streets of Soho, looking for a Chinese restaurant in the rain, and you laugh, and you howl along in the chorus, and right as you realize how much fun this song is, Warren's in the second verse, telling us about little old ladies getting mutilated in the night, and you maybe start thinking about a killer's knife being no different than a vampire's teeth, and maybe it don't matter if vampires are real or not, cuz people are cruel enough. Yeah, howl along, babycakes, the joke's on Warren, dead from Pina Coladas and Winstons. But you probably don't really think about these things when you hear this song. Hell, I don't either, except this one time, right now, and that's the true power of this song. It's seemingly frivolous, and even silly, and that piano, it just hypnotizes, but really it's just another one of Zevon's paeons to Death and Celebrity...But no matter...We get to howl.

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