365 Day Song Challenge: Day 31 – “Don’t Forget My Name”

Day 31. Your class song (or what you want your class song to be).

“Don’t Forget My Name”

I’m going to assume that by “class song” they mean “prom theme.” Because otherwise, I have no clue what to put here.

I barely remember my Senior Prom. And it has nothing to do with alcohol. It’s more that, much like a wedding, it’s there and then it’s gone. If you don’t actually remind yourself to take it in, it sort of happens in spite of you and it’s all a big blur. I have a few pictures, but given the cameras of the time (remember film?) most of those are even more blurry than my memories. I have one photo that’s so blurry you can’t tell if it’s my friend Kris or George Burns. It wasn’t like it is today where you can take 600 pictures. And video. And instantly post them on social media. And then instantly regret that you posted them on social media because of all the incriminating things you’re doing in said photos and videos.

On second thought, thank God it wasn’t like it is today.

I barely remember our prom theme either. You see, today’s post is a little difficult, because outside of the just-shy-of-500 people who graduated from Cathedral High School in 1989, there probably aren’t too many people who have heard this song.

We were given the “normal” choices. (I seem to remember “Angel” by Aerosmith and “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart being choices. There were others on the list, but damned if I can remember them.) But in a slightly different move, some members of our class wrote and recorded the song that became our prom theme.

There are pros and cons to this.

Pros:

Cons:

In this particular case, it’s too bad it wasn’t like it is today. The song would be available as MP3 and probably on iTunes. Which would be pretty cool.

Anyway, as a result of Facebook, I’m in contact with more people from my high school class than I ever would have thought possible even 10 years ago. In fact, there are people I’m in contact with on Facebook that I didn’t even talk to in high school. (I’ll count this as a good thing.)

So there’s hope. I recently got in touch with the composer of the song and asked about a digital copy. He didn’t have one, but he said it had been on his to-do list for some time, and that he would try to get me a copy. So maybe I’ll be able to revisit this post shortly. It’ll be like a little time capsule on the Internet.

Maybe it’ll make it on iTunes yet.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 30 – “Crazy On You”

Day 30. A song from a band/artist that you are planning to see in the next 6 months:

“Crazy On You” — Heart

Heart - Crazy On YouAh, to hear “Crazy On You” for the first time again. When the acoustic guitar starts, with Nancy Wilson plucking out those notes, you know she’s good, but you still don’t have a clue as to what’s coming. When she starts strumming the chords on the acoustic, you can start to feel where this might be going. And then the electric guitar riff kicks in. Brilliant.

Add Ann Wilson’s vocals and it goes to another level. It all becomes more frenetic and impassioned as the song continues. Until, by the last chorus, you feel a little spent.

“Barracuda” may be Heart’s signature song, but for my money, “Crazy On You” is the better song. I was 5 when this song came out, but thanks to my brother and myriad classic rock stations, I’ve known about it for a long time. I gained a whole new appreciation for it last year when we watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Heart (the entire original line-up) took the stage and launched into this song. It packs a punch on record, but it scored a wallop during that live performance. I get this thing when a song really gets me where my face flushes. Well, I don’t know if it actually flushes, but I can feel it in my cheeks. The second the electric guitar started, I felt it. I was blown away.

Ann Wilson has taken care of her voice. Nearly 40 years after this song first appeared, she can still hit the notes. It was amazing. (Compare this to Geddy Lee’s cringe-inducing performance —at around 3:40 at the same induction ceremony. I love Rush, but please, Geddy, hang it up.)

“Barracuda” followed and that was really good, too, but like I said, “Crazy On You” is the one that does it for me. Watching it we agreed that if Heart came around, we really ought to go see them. Which is saying something, because as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t go to a lot of live shows anymore.

And then in December I got the email saying that they were coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center. I didn’t hesitate. I promptly purchased tickets, even though it means we’ll be out late on a school night. (Oh, wait, we’re adults with no kids. We can do whatever we want!)

I’m pretty excited for this show. It won’t have the acrobatics of a Pink show, but that’s okay. I think we’ll be properly entertained anyway. Heart’s been doing  this since before Pink was born. That’s got to count for something.

I think we can pretty well rest assured that we’ll hear “Crazy On You.” We may have to wait a while for it, but we’ll hear it.

And I bet my cheeks flush.

The performance that directly led to ticket purchase:

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 29 – “You’re A Friend Of Mine”

Day 29. A song that describes a friendship:

“You’re A Friend Of Mine” — Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne

Today’s selection may be a bit on the nose. Oh well.

I’ve skied three times in my life. (How’s that for a non-sequitor?) The first time was during the winter of 1985-86. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I am sure of one thing: the whole time I was skiing that day, this song was stuck in my head.

The day goes something like this:

No, the irony of “You’re A Friend Of Mine” being stuck in my head while being virtually abandoned by my friends for the day is not lost on me.

In the end, I forgave them. Let it slide, really, because a) if I was a good skier, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to get held back either and b) it was far too late to go out and find a new crew of friends. (But I did sort of start to drift away from them over the next few years. Maybe this was the reason and I never identified it until now? Food for thought.)

The weird thing is, I didn’t ski for another three years after that (it took me that long to thaw out), but when I did, I still had the song stuck in my head the whole time. That’s a whole other level of wrong.

In the end, I never did really take to skiing. I’m not big on things that cost ridiculous amounts of money over and over again. Skiing. Golf. Things like that. Plus, I have a knee that likes to go out at unpredictable times, so visions of  a mangled knee with my lower leg dangling helplessly—attached to a ski—sort of keep me from trying it again.

And frankly, I never need to be that cold again.

 

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 28 – “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”

Day 28. A song you change the words to when you sing it:

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” — George Thorogood

1b1s1bToday’s song is a bit of a stretch. I don’t really change the words to songs when I sing them. I’m sure there are a couple, but I’ve been trying to think of even one for about a month now in preparation for this post, and I can’t come up with anything.

Which means that the second this is posted and becomes live I’ll say “Of course!” and remember exactly which song I’ve got a full, alternate set of lyrics for. Such is how my brain works.

The closest I could really come was a Christmas song, “Silver Bells,” which my father ruined for me many years ago. He used to sing, “Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmastime, and it’s s**tty.” My dad is gone now, but those words live on every Christmas season. His best-remembered Christmas “gift,” I guess.

But I didn’t want to do a holiday song, or a novelty song, so I went searching for something else.

I first heard “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (to be abbreviated OBOSOB starting after the next mention, because there’s no way I’m typing “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” a bunch of times) courtesy of my brother, who is almost 12 years my senior. I was probably about 16 and to be honest, while he loved the song, it was lost on me. I just didn’t know how to appreciate it at the time.

Fast forward about 20 years, and I start to think about it again. At just about the same time, I started dating Laura, and somehow one night our conversation came around to the song. She really liked it, so I tracked it down on iTunes and started listening to it a little more often. Being older, I could appreciate the flow of the narrative, the humor, and the music much more than my first go-round.

For those not familiar with the song, it’s actually an amalgam of John Lee Hooker’s version of OBOSOB and another Hooker song, “House Rent Blues.” The latter is a story about a guy who loses his job and can’t pay his rent, eventually tricking his landlady out of paying it. Thorogood uses the “House Rent Blues” part as a vehicle to get to the bar which is where the drinking comes in.

As an aside, you should know that Laura and I sort of have a language of our own. Over time we’ve come up with things we’ve laughed at, or talked about, or coined that we use to replace normal, everyday terms, items, or phrases. Parts of OBOSOB fit that bill. Especially the part where George goes to visit his friend and asks if he can stay there a while.

So I go down the street, down to my good friend’s house.
I said, “Look man. I’m outdoors, you know. Can I stay with you maybe a couple o’ days?”
He said, “Uh, lemme go ask my wife.”
He came out of the house. I could see in his face. I knowed [sic] it was “no.”
He said, “I don’t know, man. She kinda funny, y’know.”
I said, “I know. Everybody funny. Now you funny too.”

We latched on to the “Everybody funny. Now you funny too.” part. We’ve replaced “funny” with all kinds of things.

Another aside. I have the facial hair of a 13-year-old. Or an 8-year-old Italian. Beards that most men could grown in week would take me… well, it would take me the rest of my natural life. I would need to start now to have anything respectable for Movember. My “beard” is scraggly and patchy. And that’s being generous. When I don’t shave, Laura describes me as “fuzzy.”

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

“Everybody fuzzy. Now you fuzzy too.”

Yeah, yeah, I can hear you saying, “well, you don’t really sing that during the song.” Or even, “that part isn’t even singing at all.” Deal with it. I told you up front it was a stretch.

Anyway, back to the song. We’ve mined this one for a bunch of other catchphrases, too.

“What you need?”

“That don’t befront me.”

“I said, ‘But I’m tired!'”

“And she was so nice. Lord, she was lovey-dovey!”

Check it out. Yes, it’s over 8 minutes long. It’s worth the listen.

I know you’re sitting there reading all that and saying, “Yeah? Okay?” But I’m sitting here typing them , smiling and laughing. Such is how my brain works.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 27 – “Back In Black”

Day 27. A song you like to blast on your car stereo when it comes on:

“Back In Black” — AC/DC*

When I made my tongue-in-cheek comment about AC/DC in my post a couple of days ago, it would have been easy to assume I don’t respect the band. But you’d be wrong. They don’t display a lot of breadth, ((like, none) but they know who that are, what they are good at, and who their customer is. (The answer, by the way, is Butthead. Or any adult version of Butthead. Or even people who related to Butthead even a little bit.)

Beavis-Butthead-p21And they rock. (Huh huh. Huh.)

Back In Black (the album) was the first release by the band after original lead singer Bon Scott died. The band replaced him with Brian Johnson (their former driver) and never looked back. The album has sold 22 million copies in the U.S. alone. And “Back In Black” (the song) was a top-40 hit, has been featured on countless “Best Song” lists and has been downloaded as a ringtone over 2 million times. That’ll pay for a lot of stubbies and sausage rolls. And school uniforms.

There were a lot of ways I could have gone with this post. I’ve cranked a lot of tunes in my time (and I have the tinnitus to prove it), but in the end, I found it hard to argue with “Back In Black.” To me it’s about the perfect “cranking” song, in the car or otherwise. Go ahead and listen to it if you don’t believe me. I’ll wait…

Welcome back. The count-in (which to me sounds like a combination of hi-hat and pick-on-guitar-string) gives you enough time to identify the song and raise the volume to ear-shattering levels just as the main riff kicks in. The chorus brings it to yet another level, and then the breakdown at about 2:50 just piles it on. I’ve been known to play it (loud, of course), and then immediately play it again just for grins. It’s that good.

I learned this in 1983. I received my first “quality” blank cassettes for Christmas that year, and immediately badgered my brother to make me a mix tape of selections from his collection. “Back In Black” was on that tape. (Which, again, I still have. I know. It’s a sickness.) Looking at the track list of that tape now, it really was a mish-mash of styles and artists, but somehow, it all gelled. It was the first of many, many, many (did I mention many?) mix tapes to follow.

But anyway, I’ve been cranking “Back In Black” for 30 years now. (Did you feel that? That was me shuddering.) AC/DC is one of those bands that if you have even a single hard-rocking bone in your body, you can’t help but rock along with them. Are they childish? Yes. Are their lyrics sophomoric and sex-obsessed? Yes. Does a single one of the people who purchased any of those 22 million copies of Back In Black care? Hell, no.

And that includes me. I’ll be blasting it until I can’t hear any more. And I don’t even care if the other residents of the old-folks home complain. (Because, y’know, I won’t be able to hear them anyway.)

* A very tough choice. So-o-o-o many options for this one. I could probably spend at least a week, and maybe a month, on this topic alone.