365 Day Song Challenge: Day 12 – “Let It Rock”

Day 12. A song you play when you’re getting ready to get your confidence up

“Let It Rock” — Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne

It happens without warning.

Sometimes it’s in the afternoon, sometimes just before bed. Sometimes it’s right in the middle of Downton Abbey.

You know what I’m talking about: that crushing blow of doubt that suddenly makes you wonder if you’re good enough, and smart enough, and doggone it, do people really like you? The slightest thing can trigger it: A bad review. A traffic light turning yellow when you least expect it. Sun spots. Pow! You’re a quivering heap of self-loathing. (Once it even happened when I didn’t get a trophy for participation in the softball league. No, we didn’t score a single run all season, but shouldn’t we all be winners?)

You know you can’t stay like that, so you have to nip it in the bud. You must stop it right then.

And here’s how. I’ve figured out the sure-fire cure. You see, after seconds of research (read: I saw some football highlights on SportsCenter), I determined that the only way to build up your confidence is by being part of a huddle of guys jumping up and down and chanting. (Sorry ladies, you’ll have to figure out your own solution.)

So I hired eleven guys. Because a dozen seemed too many and ten wasn’t enough. They’re on call 24/7 and are required—by contract—to drop everything and come to my house whenever I text them the message Feeling poopy! :-(

They have 12 minutes to get here. Once they arrive, we gather in… I don’t know, let’s say the dining room if you’re that bent on the details… and then huddle up.

First we pray. Then I start playing “Let It Rock.” The mood changes almost instantly. After a verse, we start swaying. By the first chorus we’re all head-bopping in unison. By the Lil Wayne rap section, we’re bouncing up and down and doing that whole Arsenio Hall woot-woot hand thing. When that’s done and the music starts up again we all bump chests and file out of the room, each one of us touching the quote printed above the door. (It’s from Rex Ryan and says “Put your best foot forward. Can you please put your best foot forward?”)

Mission accomplished, we slap each other’s butts and mutter “Good huddle, good huddle” and then I tell everyone to get the hell out. The entire process takes four minutes. Okay, sixteen if you count travel time.

Once again brimming with confidence, I can happily return to the couch, secure in the knowledge that I’m da man while I enjoy the Dowager Countess verbally bitch-slapping someone. (And don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean… You know.)

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 11 – “Hysteria”

Day 11. A song you indulge in shameless self pity to

“Hysteria” — Def Leppard

This is a tough one, because, outside of fantasy football (where I whine and wail until the cows come home) I don’t do a lot of self-pity.

At least not these days.

However, there was a time in the past (read: high school) when I seemed to be in a constant state of depression about my love life, or lack thereof. You see, high school is not kind to shy, introverted, geeky types. And for most of my high school career, I fell firmly in that camp. If I had a dollar for every “You’re so sweet” and “I just want to be friends” that I heard, I could… well, I could probably just about buy a nice dinner. But man, it sure felt like a lot more often back then.

At least I’m not bitter.

High school was also the era of Def Leppard. Sure, 1983’s Pyromania was pretty big, but in 1987, they released Hysteria, and after floundering a little bit in the charts, it caught fire and all hell broke loose. (Yes, if you can believe it, this 10-million-plus-selling, ubiquitous-for-over-two-years album actually took a while to catch on because their lead single, “Women,” just didn’t click with people).

Both Hysteria the album and “Hysteria” the song were released at the apex of my misery, so they are both a little bittersweet to me, even now. Someday I’ll write a post about my “Music as Time Machine” theory, but suffice to say, when I hear the song “Hysteria,” I still remember exactly how I felt then.

To be honest, I’m not really a “words” guy. I know the words to plenty of songs, but in a lot of cases, I’m much more attune to the mood of the music itself than to a song’s lyrics.

This is one of those cases. In fact, I barely know the words to the verses. (I just looked them up, and as it turns out, they’re crap. Thank God I never learned them.) But man, take those bridge & chorus lyrics, and the plaintive guitar from the verses and… Well, they sure got me. And I remember more than one instance of self-pity while listening.

Fast forward 25 years (can that really be?) and that shy, introverted, geeky teen is… yeah, still introverted and a bit geeky, but not nearly as shy, and certainly much happier about life in general. As it happens, I’ve got a good life and I’m thankful for that. And my love life turned out pretty well, too. Overall, I can’t really complain.

Except about fantasy football. Don’t even get me started about #%!&ing fantasy football.

At least I’m not bitter…

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 10 – “Someone To Love”

Day 10. A song from a band that you think should be more popular

“Someone To Love” — Fountains of Wayne

Someone+To+LoveOkay, first of all, can it really be 10 years since “Stacy’s Mom”?

Second of all, it’s a shame that it’s probably the only song you know by Fountains of Wayne (hereafter referred to as FoW).

But now you’ll know at least two.

Feel free to tell me your opinion below in the comments, but in general, I think it’s a lot harder to discover and “get into” new groups that you really like after the age of 30. Maybe 35. Not only does life sort of take over and you don’t have the time you once did to just listen to music (and I don’t even have kids), but by that age your tastes are pretty firmly ingrained and it’s more difficult to branch out. Laura has to fight with me to throw away old shirts, much less find new music.

So I guess it’s a good thing that FoW are affirmed fans of The Cars. (In fact, if you listen to the opening strains of “Stacy’s Mom” it’s an obvious homage to The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”) Why is this a good thing, you ask? (Yes, I heard you ask, even from over here.)

It’s a good thing because, while it’s been clearly documented (here, here, and here) that Genesis is my favorite band, The Cars are second in line (and were first until about 1992). So the fact that the first song I ever heard by FoW was channeling my second favorite band boded (yes, I had to look that up to see if it was correct) well for me doing some investigation.

Now, I keep talking about “Stacy’s Mom” (from 2003’s Welcome Interstate Managers) like it’s today’s song selection, but it actually isn’t. I decided since this was about a band I wish was more popular that I’d try to force some exposure to other songs in their repertoire. Today’s song, “Someone To Love,” was the first single off their next album, 2007’s Traffic and Weather. It’s typical FoW: Catchy; upbeat; interesting, slightly ironic  story; and a chorus you can kind of bounce around the living room to when no one is looking. (I won’t tell if you don’t.)

Honestly, I can’t quite figure out why they haven’t gotten more attention. Well, on second thought, I suppose I can. They aren’t pretty, don’t twerk, and haven’t been in trouble with the law (that I know of), so they don’t get the media attention. And their music isn’t slick, produced-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life-with-copious-use-of-autotune pop, so Top 40 radio doesn’t take much notice. But their music is definitely pop (I’ve seen it described as power-pop, but I’m still not quite sure what that means); you don’t have to work hard to get into the songs. They are good musicians and songwriters. In fact, bassist Adam Schlesinger wrote the hit title song to the movie That Thing You Do!, as well as the theme song to Kathy Griffin’s talk show (the first probably being more important than the second for most people for some reason).

In short, their stuff is worth checking out. And check them out I did. I now have a pretty good collection of their stuff. But I can’t make them popular on my own. You need to pull your share of the load. So buy something, will ya?

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 9 – “On The Shoreline”

Day 9: A song that if someone said they liked it, you would like them a little bit more

“On The Shoreline” — Genesis

genesis-on-the-shoreline-virgin-csYes, three Genesis songs in five days. I promise this is the last one for a while. This will not be the “365 Songs of Genesis Challenge.” We now take you to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

As we determined in yesterday’s post, I am not of fan of “Hold On My Heart” from Genesis’ We Can’t Dance album.

That said (and I’d gladly say it again), my road to being a Genesis fanatic began with that album. Oh sure, I was a fan before that. I had liked Invisible Touch well enough, and in 1988 my friend “Woody” had introduced me to the rest of Genesis’ 80s output (namely Duke, Abacab and Genesis for those who are interested, and you should be interested. No one leaves here until they say they’re interested!).

Okay. Deep breaths.

Anyway, it was that 1991 collection where I decided I really needed to find out more about these guys, thus starting my journey down the slippery slope to fanatic.

You see, my serious collector bug kicked in and, not being satisfied with albums alone,  I started buying singles to get B-sides, rare edits, live tracks, and so on. (What? Six different “Jesus He Knows Me”singles with marginally different track listings to get different “I Can’t Dance” remixes? No problem!) Yes, it’s collecting. Not a sickness. I’m perfectly fine. Just leave me alone while I rock back and forth…

So one night Woody and I end up in a record shop in Wollongong, NSW after a radio station contest. I saw “No Son Of Mine” bundled with a new “I Can’t Dance” single. Of course, I already had a copy of “No Son Of Mine,” but I had to have that “I Can’t Dance” single! It had an unreleased B-side! I must have it!

Single verily purchased, we head home and frantically put on the new disc to hear the unreleased track, called “On The Shoreline.” Its intro has some interesting sounds (including a reuse of the “elephant” sound from “No Son Of Mine”) and then the music really kicks in. I was hooked after the first few notes.

They had skipped over this to include “Hold On My Heart” on the album? What? Seriously, I had to have been thrown into an alternate universe where Mr. Spock has a beard and Phil, Mike, and Tony have lost their minds. (Yes, a Star Trek reference. The geekdom spreads…)

It didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense. But then, they’d done the same thing with “Feeding The Fire” and “Do The Neurotic” on Invisible Touch, too, so I guess they’re not infallible. (Seriously, try to track down those tunes, too. Great stuff.)

Twenty-two years later (ouch, I can’t believe I just typed that), “On The Shoreline” still ranks very high on my list of favorite Genesis songs. And, the fact that it never got a proper album release means that it’s virtually unknown outside of the serious Genesis fan community. So, if you randomly came up to me on the street and said “Hey, I really like this Genesis song called ‘On The Shoreline'” I would immediately have some affinity for you. (Assuming you truly liked it weren’t saying that only because you’d read this post.) And thus, its placement in today’s challenge post.

Incidentally, I learned later that it was left off because Mike Rutherford thought “On The Shoreline” sounded like something they’d done before. Mike has always been my least favorite band member, and that didn’t help his standing. Years after that I had an epiphany listening to “Another Record” from Abacab. I can’t confirm this, but the dual chord grouping in each song seems to suggests, at least to me, that Mike may have been thinking of that song.

So, to summarize: “Hold On My Heart” bad. “On The Shoreline” good. You are interested in 80s Genesis output. Find me on the street and make a new friend. Return tomorrow for another post.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 8 – “Hold On My Heart”

Day 8: Your least favorite song from your favorite band

“Hold On My Heart” — Genesis

When I mentioned in the Domino posting a couple of days ago that some people think Genesis sold out, “Hold On My Heart” may be the one song where I can go along with that. (All right, two. “In Too Deep”was a distant second for today’s song.) This song seems like a calculated ploy for an AC hit.

So as you may have divined, Genesis is, indeed, my favorite band. They’re a group that is on the receiving end of a lot of ire. Some fans say they never did a good song after Peter Gabriel left, or that they were no good after Steve Hackett left, or that Phil Collins made them too poppy and ruined the band. I even had one guy comment on a video I posted to YouTube from Genesis’ 2007 tour saying “No Gabriel, no Hackett, no Genesis, a**hole!” Yep, he called me an a**hole for liking a later-era song! (And no, he didn’t use stars.)

So you can see what we’re dealing with here. People are more split on Genesis than Congress is on ObamaCare.

I’m a fan of all eras, with the middle era probably being my favorite, but that can change on a day-by-day basis. So I never bought into the “Phil Collins made them write pop songs” theory. Anyone that knows anything about the band knows that after 1978, they operated as a trio and a pretty democratic trio at that. If the other two guys (Mike Rutherford and, my personal favorite, Tony Banks) didn’t want to go that route, it wouldn’t have happened.

That said, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t write some songs that were just a little too sappy (and poppy) for my taste. Not only is “Hold On My Heart” one of them, it takes the title.

Some fans who like the song claim it’s Banks’ chord progression and selection that makes it rise above the normal pop single. Sure they’re nice, but to me they’re not much different from your typical Phil Collins song. (I like Phil solo, too, but he did go the sappy route far more often than Genesis did.) Truth be told, this is the only Genesis song that I routinely skip when it comes on. It is, without a doubt, their worst. Over a 40 year career spanning 19 studio albums and a whole multitude of songs, that’s saying something.

The fact that they chose to include “Hold On My Heart” on the We Can’t Dance album is mind-boggling to me, since they left two other perfectly good (and, in my opinion, better) songs off the album entirely. (More on that tomorrow.) So it wasn’t like they didn’t have enough material for a whole album; they chose to include it. You can’t see me right now, but I’m shaking my head and trying to keep bile down.

Not only that, but they chose to play it on both the We Can’t Dance tour in 1992 and the Turn It On Again tour in 2007 (the first with Collins after ’92).

And it is here that empirical evidence shows I’m right.

I saw four shows on that 2007 tour, and without fail, most people didn’t move until “Hold On My Heart” came on. And then the bio-break exodus would begin. Every night, like clockwork. (Not for me, I waited too long to see them to miss a single minute of any show, even if it was the worst thing they’ve ever done.)  Perhaps when putting together the set list, they planned it that way. They did stretch the song out a bit live, giving Phil the chance to show off his vocal chops (or what remains of them) at the end. Maybe that was to make sure everyone got back to their seats before “Home By The Sea” started. But somehow I doubt it.

So, I’m taking that as proof there are a whole lot of fans that agree with me.

Or maybe I’m just an a**hole.