Saturday, April 23

Saturday Morning Cold And Rainy Edition

All right, then, I'll say it: Dante makes me sick.

-last words of Lope de Vega

For the last twenty-four hours I've been trying to think of something Michael Bérubé doesn't know more about than I do. I think Major Central Nervous System Depressants is one, and Sports Americans Are Actually Interested In is listed as possible.

I mean, the man comes up with a nearly perfect operant definition of the perfect pop song, comes up with choices I can't top (okay, not by much), and name-checks X-Ray Spex into the bargain. Probably tosses off Recuerdos de la Alhambra at faculty mixers. On a borrowed Kay guitar.

Since his comments on music topics run into the hundreds, and since I've embarrassed myself on several occasions in the past by posting three or four time (Oh! I forgot...), and since I now have what passes for a blog, my second thoughts are going here.

My official response was standard, for me. For the last twenty-five years my answer's been the same: Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" in a dead heat with Nick Lowe's "I Knew the Bride" (Dave Edmunds version). You simply cannot have more fun than either that's supposed to last for less than three minutes.

Of course I've been niggling this like a kid with a loose tooth ever since. Why didn't any R&B spring to mind immediately? (Short answer: though I found a couple, I think most great R&B performances lift songs beyond simple pop classic-ness.) And why, when there seem to be so many perfect little pop gems, have I never written one?

Oh! I forgot...

Odds, Satisfied
Sam Phillips, Tripping Over Gravity
Little Feat, Easy to Slip
Eddie Floyd, Knock On Wood
Skylighters, Since I Don't Have You
Prince, Mountains
Fountains of Wayne, Red Dragon Tattoo
Unit 4+2, Concrete and Clay
Carlene Carter, I'm So Cool
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, Moody Richard
Aimee Mann, I Should Have Known
Smithereens, Blood and Roses
Chuck Berry, School Days
Beau Brummels, Cry Just a Little
Crystals, He's a Rebel
Wall of Voodoo, Mexican Radio
Tanita Tikarum, Twists in My Sobriety

I'm glad there's too much of this stuff, rather than not enough.


SuzanH said...

Great blog (here via Corndog) and I must agree--you cannot possibly hear Mexican Radio without singing along with a smile on your face.

Nicely done.

And Michael Ber-who?

Anonymous said...

Now that I've unleashed my handful of readers on you, maybe you won't mind that I've tagged you with a "meme". Come by and check out the details.

By the way, do you know the Rubinoos? Are you aware of their fleeting greatness? Right on the edge between power pop and bubble gum. I thought I was the only one left.

And also, it's a little ambiguous above. Have you written a perfect little pop gem? If so, when do we get to hear it? I don't think any of my overly complicated, ridiculously wordy songs qualify.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

I saw the Rubinoos, opening for Todd Rundgren, as I recall it--if that's the show it's my 102º temperature that night and not the usual chemical imbalance that explains the confusion--and I own a copy of their EP Party of Two, with the terminally catchy "If I Had You Back".

And sorry for the ambiguity. No, I've never written anything like a pop gem. For someone who talks incessantly I'm completely blocked when it comes to lyrics. I still get hooky melodies in my head from time to time; with practice I could've been a third-rate Boyce and Hart.

Plus, I play mostly classical guitar, and a couple years ago I adopted the Spanish practice of singing pieces I'm trying to learn. So now my head's full of snippets of Giuliani exercises.