365 Day Song Challenge: Day 17 – “Who Let The Dogs Out”

Day 17. A song you remember dancing in public to

“Who Let The Dogs Out” — Baha Men

These challenges seem to fall into two extreme categories: “What the hell do I pick?” and “What the hell do I pick?”

“Huh?” you say? Let me be more specific, they fall into “I can’t think of anything” and “How do I pick just one?”

Today’s challenge falls into the latter class. Most people have danced to any number of songs in their lifetime, even if it was “The Alley Cat” with crazy old Aunt Sally at a wedding back in 1982. (Modify as appropriate for your own life circumstance and crazy Aunt… or Uncle. Everybody has at least one.) How do you narrow it down to a single selection?

I have literally danced to “The Alley Cat” at more than one wedding (although I don’t have an Aunt Sally), as well as the other usual wedding suspects. “Chicken Dance.”“Old Time Rock And Roll.”Love Shack.”You know the ilk. And then there’s my favorite wedding dance: “Shout.” (The version from Animal House.)

I’m not much of the dance club type, but even so, I’ve been to a few. Even at Shelly’s (read yesterday’s post for an introduction to Shelly’s) I did some dancing, although the mix was way eclectic. It included things like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” John Cougar [Mellencamp]’s “Hurts So Good” and “Blue Sky Mine” by Midnight Oil, as well as dance tunes of the period like “Dizzy” and “Wiggle It.”

But I’m going with improbability and stupidity.

I missed the “Who Let The Dogs Out” bandwagon (as I typically do with hit songs, because I don’t listen to the radio). I knew of its existence, but didn’t really know the song. Although, when it was popular, I had a bizarre experience at a Hollywood Video store one night: I was the only customer in the place, and when I went up to the counter, the clerk, who I didn’t know from Adam, looked at my membership card, looked me straight in the eye and said: “Joe, I have only one question for you… Who let the dogs out! Woof woof woof woof woof!”

And yes, he sang it.

Up until my friend Pete’s wedding, that was the extent of my interaction with “Who Let The Dogs Out.” It was at that wedding that I first heard the dance mix of the song, and it immediately struck a chord with me. I’m not one who typically enjoys dancing that much (at least in public), but, for reasons I cannot explain, that one had me out on the floor, dancing like a maniac.

I have not had the opportunity to dance to the song in public since. To the relief of people everywhere. It sort of came and went from the playlist at most places.

And that, my friends, is why iPods were invented.

I really hope there are no secret cameras in my house. Because if that song comes on, I can’t help but start to jump around in whatever room I happen to be in. (This can be dangerous if I happen to be in our small bathroom when it comes on.) Cameras would capture this lunacy and the floodgates of blackmail would come rushing in. All hopes for my political career (if I actually had aspirations for a political career) would be over immediately.

Or would they? Dancing-like-a-maniac-to-Who-Let-The-Dogs-Out Joe has to be a better candidate for… well, anything really, than this guy, right? Right?
Please feel free to use the comments to tell me I’m right. And perhaps to tell me about your crazy Aunt Sally.

God, I hope you say yes.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 16 – “Run To Paradise”

Day 16. A song you have seen performed live:

“Run To Paradise” — Choirboys

As I mentioned yesterday, I was fortunate enough to go on a student exchange to Australia in 1988. I was even more fortunate to return in 1992 to work on a college project with two of my classmates. However, it’s not all wine and roses. For those who have never traveled to Australia from the East Coast of the United States, let me give you a brief description of the travel.

You arrive about 7AM Sydney time (3PM ET, 12 Noon PT). All in all, about 36 hours, not including the lack of sleep from the night before you left.

Now, it should be noted: I can’t sleep on planes, really. I might doze for 30 minutes, but then my cursed neck starts to hurt and I wake up in pain. You learn how long 14 hours really is when you’re cooped up in a coach seat that whole time, everyone around you is sleeping, and you’re trying to figure out how to pass the time. You start to ponder how something that big can stay aloft that long.

And yes, I’ve tried those airplane pillows.

And no, they don’t help me.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you: “Waaaah! You’re going to Australia ya whiner.” Point taken.

We finally land, get picked up, and, to make this part of a long story short, spend the next few hours getting settled.

“So what about the song?” you ask. Calm down; I’m getting there.

Round about 2PM (or in more applicable terms, 41 hours after I woke up), someone says “The Choirboys are playing at Shelly’s tonight. You want to go?” (Shelly’s is the night club at the Shellharbour Worker’s Club.)

“Are you crazy? That would be dumb. We’re tired. We’re not going.”

We were dumb. We went.

My recollection is that the show started at 9. And that there was an opening act (a band called The Tornados, if I remember correctly). And that it was at least 10PM (or in more applicable terms, 49 hours after I woke up) that The Choirboys hit the stage. For the uninitiated (read: almost everyone): they are an Australian hard rock band. Not quite AC/DC; in that vein but leaning slightly more in a pop direction.

Long story longer… As you might expect, I don’t remember a lot about that show, but I do know I enjoyed it and that they played this song. It had been their “big hit” a couple of years prior.

I don’t remember what time we got home or how many hours I’d been awake by that time. (The number 52 sticks in my head for some reason, but that may be the result of sleep-deprived insanity.)

As a side note, this song was also a favorite of my host sister Megan at the time. (This is not the same host sister that we bongoed the crap out of in yesterday’s post. Boy, that sounds dirty.) So even after the show, I heard it quite frequently over the next 4 1/2 months.

Outside of the sleep deprivation, the show was a fun way to start the trip. Until the flight home. Let me tell you about the flight home…

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 15 – “You Can Call Me Al”

Day 15. A song your parents played on road trips when you were young

“You Can Call Me Al” — Paul Simon

paulsimonchevy“Young” is a relative term. I’m 43 years old, and I still feel young. I’m assuming that the creator of the challenge meant “when you were a kid” but it’s vague enough to allow for some license.

I’m going to use that license, because, although we did a lot of road trips when I was a kid, I never remember us listening to music. My parents were not “The Wheels On The Bus”-type people (thank God). On top of that, we did a lot of overnight driving. The “if we leave at midnight the kids will sleep and we won’t have to listen to them” mentality. Of which I wholeheartedly approve as an adult.

When I was really young—the time when we did the most driving—we were still in the era of AM radio in the car. (Cue “AM Radio” by Everclear.) By the time we got to the era of the Power Wagon, and the capability to play tapes, most of those really long trips were a thing of the past (and a good thing, too, given the Power Wagon’s other “amenities”). So, as a kid, I got nothin’.

This is where the license comes in.

In 1988 I went on a student exchange to Australia, where, as it happens, we also did a lot of road trips. I saw a bunch of New South Wales from the back seat of a Holden Premier station wagon (which actually did have power and did have a tape deck). So I’m focusing on those.

In preparation for the exchange, I had taped a lot of albums, one of those being Paul Simon’s Graceland(with his first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits, Etc., now long out of print, on the B side). For one reason or another, we started listening to that tape every time we went somewhere.

I stayed in Kiama, NSW, which was some sort of weird focal point for exchange students. While I was there, we had at least six or seven students from other countries just in my class. I’m not sure why that was. One of those, a guy from Denmark named Janus became a close friend, and he began to spend a lot of time with my family, joining us on many of those trips.

Now, we were pretty goofy as it was, but when “You Can Call Me Al” would come on, the goofiness went to 11. During the song, we played air guitar, air bass, air trumpet (mimicking the moves from the video as much as you can while sitting in a back seat), air pennywhistle, air bongos… Anything “air.” Which must have looked really weird to anyone who saw us.

Cascading notes, starting on that last paragraph:

And now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like:

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 14 – “Dance With The Devil”

Day 14. A song you like that’s instrumental only

“Dance With The Devil” — UB40*

DanceWithTheDevilLet me start by saying that, on the whole, I like instrumentals. While some people may think that a song with no words is a cop-out, as if the songwriter is only doing half the work, I think that to write a song that holds your interest without vocals is a challenge. Well-done instrumentals are worthy of your attention.

Now that I’ve bored you with that (always a smart move when trying to keep people reading), I’ll move on to the rest of the post.

My introduction to UB40 was in 1985 when they released the cover of “I Got You Babe”they did with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. I didn’t pay much attention. Not really my thing.

In 1988 my friend Mark was my ride to school. Then he got a girlfriend and I got relegated to the back seat. Perfectly understandable, but I was nonetheless unimpressed to be stuck back there. I really don’t like riding in the back seat, even today.

To her credit, however, she introduced him to some new music, including Bob Marley. That was my first real introduction to reggae, and I kind of liked it.

One morning we were listening to something that, in my ignorance, I thought was Bob Marley. Turned out it was UB40. “Red Red Wine”was climbing the charts, no doubt to the simultaneous joy and dismay of UB40, since “Red, Red Wine” was five years old at that point and they’d recently released a new album that wasn’t getting much attention at all.

Because of that, I started paying attention to UB40. That year they toured, with one of the stops being Springfield at the then recently reopened Paramount Theater. We went to the concert, even though my only exposure was still only Labour Of Love.

After Ipso Facto (the opening act) finished, we waited. After what seemed like a very long time, some music started. The riff repeated for, again, what seemed like a long time before the band actually took the stage and the horns started. I like horns. So despite the wait, the band got my attention, and kept it throughout, even though I didn’t know many of the songs. It convinced me I needed to get more of their music.

Shortly thereafter I got their recently-released UB40album. (The one I mentioned before that hadn’t been getting attention.) I immediately recognized the first track on the album as the song that had started (and ended) the concert. If you’re paying attention (and if you’ll recall I told you to pay attention way back on Day 1) you should be able to figure out that song was today’s entry, “Dance With The Devil”

It’s a horn-infused instrumental (with reprise at the end of the album) that may very well be the best song on UB40. It was the start of a journey that culminated in my acquisition of a dozen albums, a bunch of singles, and a bootleg or two. (Ssshh. Don’t tell.)

So after all that, can I say that relegation to the back seat was worth the discovery of a band that has provided me who-knows-how-many hours of enjoyment?

No. No it wasn’t.

* Another change from the original choice last year. The original was “Charm” by Tony Banks. I love that song, but since no one but Genesis fans know that Tony Banks exists, I decided to go with an artist that was at least a little bit mainstream. I’m also trying to use songs and artists that you can actually get easily, thus the links to Amazon, and Tony Banks doesn’t fall into that category. Most of his stuff is available on CD, but not digitally. That said, if you still use CDs, I’d encourage you to check him out.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 13 – “Right Here Waiting”

Day 13.A song that reminds you of a past love

“Right Here Waiting” — Richard Marx

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the transition from high school to college is a big one.  Especially when you leave home to do it. Nothing against those people who live at home during college, but it’s not the same as packing up, being away from your parents and getting that first glimpse of what it’s like to live life on your own.

Granted, I was only an hour away from home, but it was far enough away that going home at the drop of a hat wasn’t really an option. Especially with no car. (Why is it that an hour drive in 1989 seemed so much longer and more difficult than an hour drive does now?)

The transition is that much harder when you’re in a relationship. There are so many things changing in your life, and yet there are so many things (like, say, a girlfriend) that you want to hang on to. As we know, that’s not the easiest thing to do for a variety of reasons. I’d be interested to see statistics on how many relationships that are underway when people head off to college actually survive. I’m not saying it can’t happen, because I know people who have done it, but it’s tough without a doubt. The odds simply aren’t good.

In my case, my girlfriend was an underclassman, so I was off to college and she was staying put.

When she handed me the tape of this song, I had never heard it, despite it being the week after it hit #1 on the charts. I was a Top 40 snob at the time (I guess I still am, pretty much). As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’m not really someone who always pays attention to the lyrics, but with this song, it’s pretty much impossible not to.

Talk about songs that rip your heart out. Given the situation, she couldn’t have picked a better (or worse, depending on your point of view) song. Even though it was Richard Marx’s voice, it was her saying these things to me. It was like he knew exactly what we were going through, albeit with the roles reversed. And I guess, since he wrote this song as a message to his wife while she was filming a movie in South Africa, he did.

Long story short, the relationship couldn’t handle the distance and the changes we were both going through. By the following spring we’d broken up. (Richard Marx and his wife still appear to be together, though, so that’s nice.)

These days I rarely think about it, but when this song does pop up, I’m reminded of those days. It’s a snapshot piece, perfectly summing up that point in time. You get those sometimes.

Okay, having said all that, I hope we’re coming to the end of all these sad, doom and gloom topics and getting into something more lighthearted. Sheesh! Songs that rip your heart outShameless self-pity. “Hold On My Heart.” (Well, that last one doesn’t make me sad, it just is sad.) The person who put this list together might just need therapy…