Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

Get Close
The Pretenders
1986

Pretenders (1980) is the kind of album that runs you over with a cement mixer then shoots you in the head five or six times for insurance. Bracing. Pretenders II (1981) is more of the same at a lesser pitch. Disappointed? Nah – that formula worked just fine for Led Zep I and II. On the Pretenders’ third at bat, Learning to Crawl (1984), they changed course and gave us a pop album with an edge. Though Learning to Crawl came nowhere near the sales of its contemporary, Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982), it’s aged a whole lot better. Keeping Vincent Price off your record always helps.

But by Get Close, Chrissie Hynde’s original bandmates had either overdosed, or were fired and then overdosed, or had simply walked away. The session musicians on Get Close are good but they’re not James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, or Martin Chambers. Ms. Hynde doesn’t give her best when she’s not pushed by independent talents. Eric Clapton has the same problem. I do, too. There. I just wanted to put myself in the same paragraph with Chrissie Hynde and Eric Clapton.

Get Close is listenable, but it’s not exceptional. And Hynde’s new tendency to produce leisurely, sonically bloated, overly dramatic songs results in “My Baby,” “Hymn to Her,” “Tradition of Love,” and “Light of the Moon,” which is a lot of territory to give to the leisurely, the bloated, and the overly dramatic. This is not, after all, a Yes album.

(I should admit right here that I really like “Tradition of Love” and “Light of the Moon.” I even like the synths-gone-wild Jimi Hendrix cover, “Room Full of Mirrors,” which Hynde turns into a song with big hair and shoulder pads.)

There was a hint of this tendency on Pretenders (“Lovers of Today”), but back then Hynde had a band that swiped like a scimitar. This band swipes like a credit card. Many of The Pretenders’ contemporaries could’ve recorded the songs on Get Close. The letter D alone gives us three candidates in Depeche Mode, Def Leppard, and Duran Duran. Get Close’s one hit, “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” would’ve suited The Bangles just fine.

Special D, in that way she has of concisely cutting to the bone, says Get Close sounds “blurry.” Special D should have her own music blog, but she’d never write more than 10 words per post.

Random 1986 Pick of the Day
Steve Earle, Guitar Town
Mr. Earle is a country Springsteen. Guitar Town, his first album, intersects at times with Nebraska, though Springsteen fans who don’t like Nebraska will be relieved to hear that Guitar Town is much brighter.

I almost like this album. That may read like an insult, but country music normally gives me the hives (and I don’t mean The Hives). Even I can’t resist “Hillbilly Highway,” “Good Old Boy (Gettin’ Tough),” and especially “Fearless Heart.” Mr. Earle’s guitar playing on this album evokes Tom Petty and Mark Knopfler. Those are worthwhile evocations.

Random 1986 Pan of the Day
The Housemartins, London 0 Hull 4
The Smiths with sleep apnea.

“I am what I am. Thank God.” – Jimi Hendrix, “Message to Love”

A co-worker entered my humble cubicle one day late in 2012 and said, “Flashback!” He was looking at the two shelves above my desk, which held a row of CDs, a display of old postcards, and the Pets.com Sock Puppet Spokesthing. While he gushed about these ancient cultural artifacts, I saw my possessions through his eyes. I realized that I could’ve decorated my space the same way at the job I had in 2000. In fact, I know I did.

I’m stuck in time!

In an email later that morning to this co-worker, after stating that I didn’t care what he thought of me, I wrote without even thinking “I’m through being cool!” and hit Send. Then I thought, Oh no, it’s Devo! I’m really stuck in time.

Rather than consider what all this says about me, let’s use it as an excuse to go back to the future. Welcome to 1986 Week, commemorating that stellar year when, as Paul Simon sang on Graceland, “I was single/and life was great!”*

Most of the artists I loved in the ’80s released nothing new in 1986. Echo & The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, U2, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen held off until 1987 (when Prince gave us Sign ’O’ the Times, his equivalent of The White Album, and U2 gave us their masterpiece, The Unforgettable Fire**).

The B-52s didn’t record again until 1989, but in 1986 The Rolling Stones dressed up just like them.

Dirty Work

By 1986 Romeo Void had broken up. David Bowie and Michael Jackson had left the bulk of their best work behind. Gary Numan had left all of his best work behind. Robert Cray debuted with Strong Persuader, though I prefer what he did later. Duran Duran released Notorious, which was notorious for being awful. I refuse to listen to Madonna’s True Blue or Boston’s Third Stage. I can’t decide which is funnier, The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill or Metallica’s Master of Puppets. I’ll get to Depeche Mode, The Pretenders, Paul Simon, Talking Heads, and Siouxsie & The Banshees as 1986 Week progresses.

What was the best song of 1986? Yo, pretty ladies around the world: Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care for Cameo’s “Word Up!”

Don’t expect 1986 Week to last all week. Don’t expect a comprehensive survey. Don’t get all army-foldy on me, either.

As we used to say in the peculiar slang we employed back in 1986: See you tomorrow!

* Special D is fond of quoting that line to me. Hey doll: “I sure do love you/let’s get that straight.”
** A tip of the critic’s pointy hat to my friend and fellow softball player Donald Keller, who put “mantlepiece” in my head whenever I want to say “masterpiece.” 

Random 1986 Pick of the Day
The Chills, Kaleidoscope World
1986 gave us albums from The Chills, The Cramps, and The Creeps. This reminds me of an evening I spent at Fenway Park in 1979 when we had three pitchers on hand named Clear, Frost, and Rainey.

I don’t know a thing about Kaleidoscope World; I just needed a Chills album from 1986 to fit my theme. The album I have heard is Submarine Bells (1990), which has two lovely pop songs, “Singing in My Sleep” and “Heavenly Pop Hit” (nice try, boys).

Random 1986 Pan of the Day
Stan Ridgway, The Big Heat
I must honor this man for rhyming “Tijuana” with “barbecued iguana” in Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio.” Sadly, on his solo debut he sounds like The B-52s’ Fred Schneider with really bad hair.

Sparkle and Fade
Everclear
(1995)

Sparkle and Fade was the album that made Everclear a success and Art Alexakis the voice of his generation, just as Born to Run did for Bruce Springsteen exactly 20 years earlier. The two albums are similar, with working-class characters and an outside-the-mainstream point of view. Their characters are trying to run away from the straight world and themselves. Springsteen, however, writes fiction. He’s an observer; he stands back and lets it all be. With Alexakis, it’s memoir. He’s a participant. Also, in Alexakis’ world they’ve gone way beyond drinking a few warm beers in the soft summer rain.

Sparkle and Fade (and its sequel, So Much for the Afterglow) underline just one of the many difficulties I would face as a contemporary rock star. Memoir? What would I write about, teaching chess? My life looks like Mr. Run-DMSteve’s Neighborhood compared with this joker. For example, it would be instructive to compare the women Alexakis has been involved with with the women I’ve been involved with. Instructive, but dangerous. Instead, I’ll compare and contrast all of his women with Special D.

Composite Everclear Woman: Enjoys heroin.
Special D: Enjoys a nice Chardonnay with dinner.

Composite: Walks around in monster boots.
Special D: Never underestimate the importance of comfortable shoes to a woman.

Composite: Sleeps with the lights on due to fear of what the dark might bring.
Special D: Don’t try that at this house!

Composite: Makes questionable life choices.
Special D: Married me.

Composite: Mysterious, unknowable past.
Special D: At this point, I am her past.

Composite: Leaves without warning.
Special D: Reserves the right to divorce my ass.

Although the comparison is close in a couple of areas, it’s obvious that I won’t be writing songs like “You Make Me Feel Like a Whore,” “Chemical Smile,” or “Electra Made Me Blind” anytime soon. I’ll leave this sort of thing to the experts. Though my life has followed a different plot, Sparkle and Fade is one of my favorite albums of the ’90s – it’s Screaming Trees with intelligible lyrics. I think of it as Born to Run +20.

I want to hear what the next generation has to say, which, if they keep to this schedule, will be right around the corner in 2015. It probably won’t be about chess.

Rock journalism of the ’90s

The Promise Keepers came into being two years ago, after mutating from an equally tumultuous local combo, Slappy White. “[Slappy White] were bad back then,” Perini confesses. “It was noisy and funny, but it was really chaotic. We’re trying to control our chaos more, make it a little heavier.”

“Yeah, it’s not so much like get up there and play drunk as you possibly can, make a bunch of noise and insult people,” explains Pineschi. “It’s more like, ‘Well, maybe we should try to like still insult people and drink a lot, but kind of make it more focused.’ ”

(The Rocket, Seattle, 1998)

Tomorrow on ’90s Week: Thank God I’m a country boy!

Bruce Springsteen says he learned more from a 3-minute record, baby, than he ever learned in school. I’m grateful to have graduated from a much better school system than the one Bruce was stuck in. I learned more in 3 minutes in any class at Somerset High, Somerset, Massachusetts (Go Raiders!) than I ever learned from Deep Purple, Three Dog Night, or Tommy James & The Shondells. But Springsteen was right to emphasize 3 minutes, and not just because “a 4-minute record, baby” doesn’t scan as well and anyway is too reminiscent of a 4-minute mile.

Three-minute records (which I take to mean 3:01 to 3:59) are still the bread and butter of popular music, even though the format they were created for, the 45rpm, no longer exists. This length gives you enough time to sink into a song but not enough time to drown. (In general. There are 2-minute songs that drag and 4-minute songs that fly. Anything by Coldplay is automatically too long.)

I’m guessing that most of the music I listen to (and you, too) is in the 3-minute range, with the next group following at 4:01 to 4:59, followed by 5 minutes, 6 minutes, etc. The number of recorded pop songs longer than 10 minutes thins out quickly, and for every triumph past that mark (The Door’s “The End,” David Bowie’s “Station to Station,” Love and Rockets’ “Body and Soul”) you trip over something like Mountains’ live version of their own “Nantucket Sleighride,” which weighs in at a hard-to-overlook 17:34.

I can only assume that back in 1972 the band performed their masterwork behind a screen of chicken wire to protect them from volleys of beer bottles. “Nantucket Sleighride” is a symphony as imagined by a quartet of metal-munching hippie delinquents. “Nantucket Sleighride” goes on so long that is has themes, movements, fugues, moods, tempos, lyrics, tides, a guitar imitating a triangle, a tugboat yearning for its mate, and what I think are wet blankets fired from a circus cannon.

The boys in Mountain, who did their best to out-bloat Wagner, produced a song that will never be included in any list of the 1 million songs you should listen to before the universe explodes. However, I took a lot of drugs to this album, Sludge Hammer*, and thanks to the miracle of nostalgia and disjointed synapses I still find “Nantucket Sleighride” to be audacious and irresistible.

What happens to pop music after 17 minutes and 34 seconds? That way lies “Tubular Bells,” Quicksilver Messenger Service, prog rock, Yes, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Phish, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, probably Yes again, motels, money, murder, madness, and today’s special guests, The Allman Brothers Band.**

The Allmans’ Eat a Peach (1972) is generally thought to be the band’s high point, though not by this critic. Give me the economy of Brothers and Sisters (1973) any day. I don’t care that Eat a Peach has all those live tracks because that’s where the problem is: “Mountain Jam,” which is not only 33 minutes and 41 agonizing seconds long, it was inspired by Donovan. Apparently, it’s impossible to keep Donovan out of a music blog these days.

I was bludgeoned by “Mountain Jam” at an Allman Brothers concert in 1975 and I didn’t even get a lousy T-shirt. The Allmans in those days packed enough amplification to sterilize everyone not wearing lead dirndls. I didn’t wear my dirndl that night and now you know why I’ve never had kids. Somewhere around the halfway point of “Mountain Jam,” my mind floated away and I could no longer hear the music. All I could do was stare at the band. If I had gone to a Bangles concert in 1985 and they had played a 33-minute version of “Walk Like an Egyptian,” I’m sure I would’ve lost containment then, too. But at least I would’ve been staring at The Bangles. The Allmans, even when they were flush with youth, were not stareable.

“Mountain Jam” makes the Allmans’ 22-minute “Whipping Post” from their At Fillmore East live set sound like a model of musical frugality. When I was 16 I thought the crescendo of “Whipping Post” was rock’s answer to the 1812 Overture. Now I just hear it as everyone barking at everyone else.

Is it possible to produce a 15-minutes-or-more recording that won’t put people to sleep or send them to their Kindles to read another chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey? Probably not, but one interesting attempt that I know of is The Byrds’ 16-minute go at their iconic “Eight Miles High,” from the album Untitled/Unissued (1970). It’s focused, it’s well-played, it crosses the line into jazz, and if I’d gone to that concert instead of to the Allmans’ I’d have 16 kids today. Oh, wait.

Reader challenge: I can’t think of any particularly lengthy songs (say 12-15 minutes or longer) after about 1990. If you can, please enlighten me. I have a hypothesis that song lengths have decreased since the hippie era, at least at the long end, but I need data. Phish, Widespread Panic, and Blues Traveler are disqualified. Come on, people, let’s move like we have a purpose!

* OK, the real name was Live (The Road Goes Ever On).

** Special D just raised her hand and asked where Pink Floyd is on this list, but I don’t see the point of her question.

When I reported that I’d found a job, I threw together a list of 19 songs about work to celebrate. Thanks to the educational efforts of Accused of Lurking, spinflipmag, Tttwitchy, Jerry Kaufman, mikenr, Special D, Mr. Seaside, Number 9, and further research by all of us here at the Bureau, I have expanded this list to 37 songs with some reference to working for a living in the title. And what a long strange trip it’s been.

The primary thing I’ve learned about songs about work is that almost no one who writes songs about work actually likes work. The secondary thing I’ve learned about songs about work is that work is usually a jumping-off point for something else. Heading the list: sex, parties, emotional misundertandings (see “sex”), and striving for a better life (“a better life” meaning a life that doesn’t include work).

I could easily have hit 40, but I had to draw the line somewhere, and that somewhere was anything that came too close to David Allan Coe’s “Take This Job and Shove It” (a hit for Johnny Paycheck). For example, I didn’t include Sam Cooke’s “Working on a Chain Gang” because, well, chain gang. “Work Song” isn’t any better, as it involves chain gangs whether it’s performed by Nina Simone or Paul Butterfield. I like my new job. Chain gangs are right out.

“The Working Man” by Creedence Clearwater Revival found itself in the no-fly zone, as the spare lyrics hold enough hurt for a lifetime. Ditto “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. (Why does Tennessee Ernie Ford always sound like he’s lecturing me? If ever a singer needed to be backed by bongos or an accordion, it was him.) “Working for the Man” by Roy Orbison stopped me with this line about the boss: “I oughta kill him but it wouldn’t be right.”

These were tough choices. I love Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Paul Butterfield, CCR, and especially Roy Orbison. But I get paid to make the tough choices. OK, I don’t get paid. Only Domino’s gets paid when they stick their stupid pizza ads in my blog. But I still gotta be tough.

Here we go:

“9 to 5,” Dolly Parton
I didn’t want to include country, but this one is obvious. “You’re just a step on the boss man’s ladder,” Ms. Parton wails in that voice that makes me want to push her off one.

“5 O’Clock World,” The Vogues
“Tradin’ my time for the pay I get/livin’ on money that I ain’t made yet.” The narrator is not on a promising career path. Fortunately for him, when he gets home “there’s a long-haired girl who waits, I know/to ease my troubled mind.” I can totally relate. Bowling for Soup does a good Smithereens-style cover of “5 O’Clock World.” You can avoid T-Pain’s similarly named “5 O’Clock.”

“A Day in the Life,” The Beatles
More about commuting than working. My commute is not as dreamy. Possibly the second-greatest song ever recorded, after “Rock Lobster.”

“Birth, School, Work, Death,” The Godfathers

“Business Time,” Flight of the Conchords
It’s about sex, not work, but too bad.

“Career Opportunities,” The Clash
“Career opportunities are the ones that never knock.” I’m not sure these boys ever had a job. They certainly take a dim view of employment.

“Clockout,” Devo
“Clockout” is code for sex. Starts in an office, at least.

“Dirty Work,” The Rolling Stones, Halestorm, Steely Dan, and probably others
The only thing notable about the Stones’ version is the photograph on the cover of the Dirty Work album (1986). They’re dressed up like they think they’re The B-52s. Halestorm’s “Dirty Work” is melodic hard rock with a tough woman singer. I hate to say anything good about Steely Dan, but their “Dirty Work” is by far the most mature song with this title. However, none are about actual work.

“Don’t Bug Me When I’m Working,” Little Village
One of the perks of writing a music blog is that people tell you about music you never knew about. Little Village was Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, and Jim Keltner. Not a bad start! Their only album, Little Village (1992), is a bit reminiscent of Los Lobos, though Little Village doesn’t play at that level. Sill, they were a respectable unit and this album has some fun rock ’n’ roll moments. “Don’t Bug Me When I’m Working” is about a man who keeps bugging the narrator while he’s working, sleeping, and when he’s with his baby. Probably somebody calling from the Romney campaign. Also on Little Village we have a pretty stiff anti-work song, the Hawaiian-flavored “Do You Want My Job?”, which features this classic rhyme: “I hump the stuff, I take the cash/So my kids can wear Adidas.”

“Factory,” Band of Horses
For people who thought the film Up in the Air wasn’t sad enough. I like the line “It’s temporary, this place I’m in/I permanently won’t do this again.” The song sounds like it could’ve been recorded by Badfinger if they had stayed together for 40 years and gotten really slow. No factory, though.

“Factory,” Bruce Springsteen
The usual Springsteen concerns of the ’70s: Early morning, Daddy going to work, death.

“Factory Girl,” The Rolling Stones
One of the weaker songs on Beggars Banquet (1968), and that’s not a slam. Songs on this galactic landmark appear weak or strong only when compared to each other. Compared to most other songs, they spontaneously ignite. The singer on this one is waiting for his factory girl to come home, from work or from something more sinister, we don’t know. Bonus: Congas!

“Finest Worksong,” R.E.M.
R.E.M. gets on my nerves. I like this stirring call to arms, though in accordance with the R.E.M. tradition you don’t know what they’re calling you to. Plus Michael Stipe and his colleagues prove yet again that they don’t quite understand their native language (“Another chance has been engaged”). Anyway, “Finest Worksong” is not the sound of the men working on the chain gang.

“Found a Job,” Talking Heads 

“Happy Work Song,” Enchanted soundtrack
I’ve been informed by my alert readership that “Happy Work Song” is a parody of “Whistle While You Work”:

Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Lug a hair ball from the shower drain
To the gay refrain of a happy working song

I like Amy Adams, but on this number she sounds as if she’s gone running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper. I like my Stepford wives to be rebellious rather than snarky.

“Hard Work,” John Handy
The only words in this jazz tune are “hard” and “work.” It’s a souvenir of the jazz-fusion movement of the ’70s. “Fusion” as a critical term means nothing now, but “Hard Work” is a fine stretch of jazz.

“Heigh Ho,” Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs soundtrack
The Dwarfs cheerfully dig up diamonds and rubies all day long, but “we don’t know what we dig ’em for.” They don’t know what to do with Snow White, either. Tom Waits took a shot at this, trying to turn the song into a Dickens novel of working-class horror. Nope. Louis Armstrong also tried it; he’s barely awake. No one can save this thing.

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” composed by Frank Loesser
Though it’s plain that life in an office is like Europe on the verge of World War I, our narrator is enthusiastic and up for the challenge:

How to apply for a job
How to advance from the mail room
How to sit down on a desk
How to dictate memorandums
How to develop executive style
How to commute
In a three-button suit
With that weary executive smile.
This book
Is all what I need
How tohow to…succeed!

“I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” traditional
According to Wikipedia, this is several songs bashed together. All things considered, the railroad seems to be a good place to work, even though they make you rise up so early in the morn.

“Livin’ for the Weekend,” The O’Jays
“5 O’Clock World” updated for the disco era. Work sucks, but on the weekend you get to party with the people who really know how to get down.

“Manic Monday,” The Bangles
This is a song about commuting, about earning a living in tough times, about holding a job you don’t like, and about supporting your partner. So it combines most of the themes the men use plus housekeeping and maintaining an appropriate wardrobe all in one song. Bravo, ladies!

“Millworker,” James Taylor
I’m not a James Taylor fan, but I found myself moved by this song, perhaps because I’m from New England and my father worked in the mills for 30 years.

But it’s my life has been wasted
And I have been the fool
To let this manufacturer
Use my body for a tool

Kudos to Taylor for being the only person on this list who wrote his song from the point of view of the other gender.

“Minimum Wage,” They Might Be Giants and The Expendables
Does the TMBG version even qualify as a song? It only lasts 47 seconds. Someone yells “Minimum wage!” at the beginning, a whip cracks, and then we get about 40 seconds of roller-rink music. I guess we’ve all had jobs like that at one time or another. The Expendables turn in a pleasant, temporarily reggae tune with lyrics right out of the Jean-Paul Sartre playbook: “But it’s time to go to work now/Maybe I’ll call in sick/or maybe heaven will fall to earth/better make it quick.” God abandons the singer just as the song jumps into metal mode. He never does go to work.

“Money for Nothing,” Dire Straits

“Nice Work If You Can Get It,” composed by George and Ira Gershwin
This one’s about love, not work. Clever for its era, but today it’s a Republican rallying cry: “The only work that really brings enjoyment/Is the kind that is for girl and boy meant.”

“Takin’ Care of Business,” Bachman Turner Overdrive
BTO was a gang of idiots, but this song rocks. A band we knew in Seattle, The Way-Backs, turned this number into a Santana-style 10-minute slugfest. “Takin’ Care of Business” is actually a big bowl of smug from a band that was riding high when they wrote it.

“The Work Song,” Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Cannonball Adderley, and of course Cinderella
Herb Alpert knew how to make a song swing, plus he intuitively recognized a good tune buried under dumb lyrics. Cannonball Adderley turns in a blistering 7-minute performance on Bon Voyage – Live in Paris (2012, taken from concerts in 1960 and ’61). Disney is Disney.

“The Working Song,” Richard Stepp
I don’t know who this gentleman is, but he can boogie. His voice is adequate but his guitar is superb. The song is about perfect attendance and the importance of being punctual. Also, of course, making a living. “I work to pay my bills/keep my stomach filled” doesn’t quite rhyme, but it’s fun.

“There’s No Business Like Show Business,” composed by Irving Berlin
Oh come on. There are plenty of businesses like show business. All you need are egos and large sums of money.

“Wild Sex (in the Working Class),” Oingo Boingo
There’s just one thing that keeps our hero going while he’s “greasin’ the wheels in a noisy factory,” and you guessed it from the superlative title. Musically, this is second-tier Oingo Boingo. Lyrically, the title deserved better.

“Work to Do,” Average White Band
A workaholic threatens to torpedo his relationship by coming home late every night. Can’t tell how he feels about his job – he’s mostly irritated that his mate doesn’t understand what he’s trying to do for her. An unexpectedly adult topic from one of our dumber bands.

“Working Day and Night,” Michael Jackson
This song has aged poorly, but the whole Off the Wall album (1979) has aged poorly, except for “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” which still rocks all night and parties every day. Poor Michael is working around the clock because his lover has figured out that’s the best way to keep him occupied while she sees her lover. Kind of a bad love deal there.

“Working for the Weekend,” Loverboy
Loverboy: The lite beer version of Def Leppard. On this track they take the thematic material of The O’Jay’s “Living for the Weekend” and eliminate all mention of a job.

“Working on the Highway,” Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen sets up a song like he’s writing a short story for The New Yorker:

Friday night’s pay night, guys fresh out of work
Talking about the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt
Some heading home to their families, some looking to get hurt
Some going down to Stovell wearing trouble on their shirts

Even though our hero’s job offers no advancement, and even though his poorly planned romantic interaction with a “pretty little miss” ends in jail time, “Working on the Highway” sounds like fun all the way through. “Darlington County,” on the same album, is similarly joyous even thought the finisher there is “Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper’s Ford.”

“Working Man,” Rush
Working for a living ain’t easy:

I get up at seven, yeah,
And I go to work at nine.
I got no time for livin’.
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time.
It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am.
I guess that’s why they call me,
They call me the workin’ man.

Let’s review. The poor man has to get up at seven. Rough. He goes to work at nine and later in the song we learn that he’s home by five. That means he’s gone almost eight hours. OMFG! However, I do find this song interesting for sounding like Cream, Black Sabbath, and Alvin Lee all at once.

“Workin’ in a Coal Mine,” Devo
This song predates Devo by decades, but they had the hit. Mining coal is the most exhausting job there is, after motherhood.

“Whistle While You Work,” Snow White soundtrack
This one’s about housework – what Ursula K. LeGuin once called “the art of the infinite.” It’s not much of a song without the movie in front of it. Even then it’s still not much.

It’s Sunday. Tomorrow I go back to work, whistling or not. Found a job. Yes!

My loyal readers (all three of them) know that I’ve been looking for work for, well, a while. I’m sure it seems like forever to everyone who has had to endure my complaining. And so I’m happy to report that I’ve landed a job, as the copywriter at this fine establishment. Cue Etta James: “At last….My employer has come along…”

In honor of my new paycheck-producing enterprise, here are 19 songs for a new job:

“9 to 5,” Dolly Parton
“5 O’Clock World,” The Vogues
“A Day in the Life,” The Beatles
“Business Time,” Flight of the Conchords
“Career Opportunities,” The Clash
“Factory,” Band of Horses
“Factory,” Bruce Springsteen
“Found a Job,” Talking Heads
“Hard Work,” John Handy
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Frank Loesser
“Livin’ for the Weekend,” The O’Jays
“Manic Monday,” The Bangles
“Takin’ Care of Business,” Bachman Turner Overdrive
“There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Irving Berlin
“Work to Do,” Average White Band
“Working Day and Night,” Michael Jackson
“Working for the Weekend,” Loverboy
“Working Man,” Rush
“The Working Man,” Creedence Clearwater Revival

Compiling this list was more difficult than I thought it would be. Special D (“Manic Monday”) and Number 9 (“9 to 5” and “A Day in the Life”) were a great help. There were plenty of pop examples, obviously, but I only thought of one from jazz (“Hard Work”), two from musicals, and none from classical. Number 9 suggested Carmen, since she worked in a cigar factory. I can’t say close but no cigar, but even so Carmen doesn’t quite work. Same with her next suggestion, The Barber of Seville, which makes me think of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

The blues don’t work because if those guys had jobs, a health care plan, and paid holidays, they wouldn’t have the blues.

Got any more?

Random Pick of the Week
The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Take It From the Man! (1996)
The British Invasion reimagined.

Random Pan of the Week
Billy Joel, Turnstiles (1976)
“Run, you fools!”

Quote of the Week
“Forecast calls for heavy jazz this afternoon with high horns and deep double bass, with possible scattered Mingus.” (Loyal Boise reader Travis Dryden, via email)

RIP
Levon Helm, drummer with The Band, perhaps best known for his singing on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” The film Martin Scorsese made of The Band’s last concert, The Last Waltz, was the first concert film that was worth a damn. Sadly, Levon Helm was not related to Warren Zevon.

Adam Yauch, aka MCA of The Beastie Boys. Adam, I guess you finally got to Brooklyn. Sleep well. The Beasties summed up Special D in one line: “She’s crafty – and she’s just my type.”

I’ve been thinking of how I could suggest what each of these men meant to popular music. Here’s a rough approximation:

Gen Xers, if you haven’t heard of Levon Helm or don’t understand his significance, imagine losing Dave Grohl.

Boomers, if you haven’t heard of MCA or don’t understand his significance, remember how you felt when you lost George Harrison.

Run-DMSteve news
Besides gainful employment, that is. I’m back in The Nervous Breakdown with another day in the life.

Loyal reader Accused of Lurking is an expert in the music of the 1970s, so naturally he had a few things to say at the conclusion of ’70s Week here at Run-DMSteve.

Here are the links to ’70s Week:

ABBA
America
Queen
AC/DC
Disco
Some of my favorite songs of the decade

And here’s what’s on Lurk’s mind:

“Over the course of one week, you managed to disrespect The Cars, John Sayles, and Heart. I don’t mind very much about Heart, but you will pay for your unkindness to the other two.

“I realize that it is impossible for two people to agree on the Top 25 of anything, unless those two have exactly the same sensibility and exactly the same set of experiences. Maybe twins could do it, but certainly not the two of us.

“As I read through your list, I bounced violently back and forth between ‘Of course!’ and ‘What the f$#k?!?’ With artists that I am particularly fond of and familiar with (Springsteen, Costello, Zeppelin, Guess Who), I disagree with your choices, but would enjoy the conversation about why you chose them. With artists whose oeuvre is less familiar to me (Bowie, Clash, Harrison), I don’t even know the songs. When I then listen to the songs, I wonder how they could have been chosen over songs by these artists that got more airplay.

“The upshot is that I am now trying to compose my own list (which will certainly include The Cars and a whole bunch more women than you). As I re-read your list, I am left with the strong feeling that Run-DMSteve is even more complex than the already complex individual I know, with musical proclivities that may not be mainstream, may not be FDA-certified, and may not be Oxford-comma-worthy, but are certainly proclaimed loudly, with verve, and in almost complete sentences.”

That’s great, Lurk. Now let’s look at the facts.

John Sayles
I’ve never written a word about John Sayles. Until now. David Denby once wrote that John Sayles “doesn’t trust the camera.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that Sayles’ movies don’t look like anyone else’s movies. When I watch one I always feel that I’m sitting farther back in the theater than I actually am.

I enjoyed The Brother From Another Planet and Lone Star. I used to believe that The Big Chill was a cynical rip-off of The Return of the Secaucus 7, but after re-watching both I decided that it didn’t matter because The Big Chill is the superior film. Though if I’m going to watch a movie about a group of like-minded people brought together under stress, I’d rather see The Breakfast Club or Aliens.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1, Accused of Lurking 0. W00t!

The Cars
I saw Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr at a club in Harvard Square in the late ’70s. They were a folk act and they knew how to work the room. The one bon mot I remember came when someone in the crowd asked if they had a record deal. “Almost,” one of them replied. “Arista wants to hear our disco stuff.” I wish they had ventured into disco, but they didn’t and it’s still not feasible to travel back in time and shoot their grandfathers.

I confess that I enjoy two of their songs, “Since You’re Gone” and “A Dream Away,” both from Shake It Up. I would also like to state that, as much as I dislike this band, The Cars at their peak could have disintegrated Hall & Oates with a look. Lastly, Benjamin Orr died recently. He was a huge part of the Boston renaissance in pop music. So I’ll judge this one a tie.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 0.5

Bruce Springsteen
I was kidding when I said that “Backstreets” was one of the few times that Springsteen surpassed “Wild Billy’s Circus Story.” I love The Boss, particularly Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and about half each of The River and Born in the USA.

I’ve also come to hear The Rising (2002) for what it is: Springsteen’s great achievement of his late career. Magic (2007) pales next to this. There are 15 songs on this disc and I only like seven, but those seven are solid. “Worlds Apart” and “The Fuse” are particular standouts; they’re very different for him, and really haunt me. The Rising isn’t going to make anyone forget Born in the USA, but as uneven as it is I like it better than anything since that album. It packs a punch, even though some of these cuts pull their punch. Actually, the album reminds me of The River, which was a mess but still had “Independence Day,” “Point Blank,” “Cadillac Ranch,” etc. The Rising is a much more focused mess.

I’ve misled my readers. All three of them.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 1.5. Looks like we got a real pressure cooker going here.

“A whole bunch more women than you”
Accused of Lurking promises us a ’70s All-Star list that redresses the female imbalance that was so apparent in my list. I can’t contest this one at all.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Pain train’s comin’, baby!

“May not be Oxford-comma-worthy”
Accused of Lurking, you are witty, incisive, and perceptive. You are fair, principled, and one might even say funky. But on this point you are mistaken, or misled, or possibly deluded. I’ve always believed in what is called the Oxford comma, or the serial comma, or in some quarters the Harvard comma. If in reading this blog you’ve discovered a list of terms, items, or proper nouns that are missing a comma, please bring this lapse to my attention. I’ll fix it tonight, tomorrow, or certainly by the weekend.

Final score: Run-DMSteve 2.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Thank you for playing, Accused of Lurking. Too bad you didn’t win a lifetime suppy of Rice-A-Roni or even a lousy copy of our home game.

As for incomplete sentences. What?