Monday, December 29, 2008

Walking Soundtrack # 11

1) I Don't Want To Wait - Paula Cole: This is one of those girl power songs, rock version, from the mid to late 90s. I don't really know what the message was, but I'm sure it was something important.
2) I'm Crying - Stevie Ray Vaughn: Standard blues from Stevie Ray, this song has exactly the same tune as "Pride and Joy" which is the most famous song from SRV's most famous album.
3) I'm Free -The Who, live in 1989: From the Tommy 2oth anniversary tour in 1989. It's hard to believe 20 more years have gone by.
4) Radar Love - Golden Earring: This song, along with Twilight Zone, are, I'm willing to bet, the only two songs from Golden Earring that 99% of music fans can name. Both are great songs, but I don't know of any others from this band.
5) Father and Son - Johnny Cash, with Fiona Apple: You probably couldn't pick two more disparate personalities to sing a song, and, appropriately, it sounds like they're singing two completely different songs. I can't decide if I like it or not.
6) Song For My Sons - Sara Groves: I can't quite identify with this song, so, even though it has an upbeat rhythm that is ideal for walking, it kinda drags me down.
7) Cryin' Game - Sara Evans: This song is pretty standard "girl country" (my name) - it's not a bad song, but not all that great.
8) Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks: The best song, in my opinion, from the Kinks in their long and distinguished history. I once read that this song was "impossibly perfect" and that seems an appropriate description.
9) Nightmare # 71 - Larry Norman: One of the best songs from "The Father of Christian Rock."
10) Eminence Front - The Who, live in 1989: One of the Who's last hit songs, Eminence Front has a funky beat that is perfect for a nice brisk walk.


Walking Soundtrack # 10

1) Under My Car - Mazzy Star: "Saw you laying under my car" - that's the first line of the song and one of the only lines I can understand. A lazy, sleepy song, but I like it, so it's good for walking.
2) See Me, Feel Me - The Who: Part of the big finale to "Tommy" with lots of repetition, which helps keep a good pace.
3) The Time of My Life - David Cook: Last year's American Idol winner, David Cook released, or was forced to release, this song, which is really just a string of cliches set to music. What can I say, it was free.
4) Dedicated Follower of Fashion - The Kinks: This is one of those weird '60s songs that you just can't help liking.
5) Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley: Umm, not much to say about this one.
6) Boy Who Wouldn't How Corn - Alison Krauss & Union Station: This is a great piece of Americana music, with a great story and some wonderful instrumental work by Union Station.
7) Fallen Angel - John Entwistle: A song about how society tears down the idols it sets up, I think. Being politically-minded, it makes you wonder how far our next president will fall in the public mind over the next few years.
8) Goin' Mobile - The Who: This is one of the best of the obscure Who songs, from Who's Next.
9) Why Can't This Be Love - Van Halen: Possibly the ultimate power ballad of the '80s, this song helped cement Van Halen's reclassification from Heavy Metal to Hard Rock. Any band that released this kind of song can't be considered heavy metal, can it?
10) Who Are You - Stereophonics: A cover of what has become the Who's theme song. The vocals are a bit strained, but otherwise it's not a bad effort.
11) I Shall Not be Moved - Johnny Cash: This hymn was appropriated by the civil rights movement, and it's politicization has caused it to lose some of its strength. Still, not a bad song.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Walking Soundtrack # 9

This one is short. From inside I could see the beautiful sun, warm and inviting, but I couldn't see the wind blowing 30 miles an hour from all four directions at once. I just couldn't complete my full walk, which proves, I think, that you can take the boy out of Chicago and take the Chicago out of the boy.

1) Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: I know it's not original to this song, but the line "rebel without a clue" has always made me smile.
2) South Australia - The Pogues: Festive and raucous, this song is a good one for exercise, even in the wind. Is it punk, is it traditional Irish? I don't know - sometimes they seem like they could be the same thing.
3) Feels So Good - Chuck Mangione: One of the most appropriately named songs of all time. I remember driving down Forest Hills Rd, an old fire road in the Nicolet National Forest, with my sister Barb when she put this cassette in the radio. Even on the most blustery days, this song will always remind me of blue sky, warm, fresh air blowing through the open windows, and those beautiful Wisconsin trees.
4) Stages - ZZ Top: Just good old fashioned, but not too old, rock and roll from one of my favorite bands. They just let it rip on this song.
5) Naked Eye - The Who, live at the Isle of Wight 1970: This is, in my 'umble opinion, one of the 'oos best songs. They never quite got it right in the studio, but this is one time they nailed it on stage. It's kind of a rambling song about something or other.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 76: The Mecklenburg Declaration

Also called, annoyingly, the Meck-Dec, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was, well, declared, in May 1775, in part of what is now eastern Huntersville. There's not much to the site - a sign, lots of trees, and swarms of biting bugs that'll leave you itching for days (a winter visit might be best). The history of the Mecklenburg Declaration is debated. Of course, people from this area will claim it helped spur the country toward the actual Declaration of Independence, but the facts seem to indicate its influence didn't reach very far, either inside or outside North Carolina. Either way, the Mecklenburg Declaration does give you a sense of the excitement of the Spirit of '76, even if it was a year early.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Walking Soundtrack # 8

1) Everything a Heart Could Ever Want (Willow) - Roger Daltrey: A decent pop tune, quite opposite of the hard rock sound he became famous for as part of the Who, this one is a good representation of Daltrey's solo career - easy to listen to, and enjoyable, but eminently forgettable.
2) When Johnny Strikes Up the Band - Warren Zevon: Like the above, a fairly typical song from the artist's career. The problem with Zevon, for me, is that when he wasn't great, he wasn't much at all.
3) Watch What You're Doing - Larry Norman: Also a typical song from the artist's catalog. Not much here to get excited about.
4) Behind Blue Eyes - The Who: One of the Who's best, in the popular mind, at least, this song is three minutes of introspection, followed by thirty seconds of pounding anger. That type of song became somewhat popular among metal bands in the '80s, so, in that sense, it's kinda groundbreaking.
5, 6, 7) Medley of Join Together, Road Runner, and My Generation Blues - The Who: From the soundtrack to "The Kids Are Alright" this medley starts of with an annoying, screeching version of one of the Who's greatest songs (Join Together), but quickly evolves into one of the brilliant jams that made them the greatest live band in the world. My Generation Blues is a curious and way cool twist on the song that put the band on the map.
8) Can't Get You Off My Mind - The Lonesome River Band: Cool bluegrass tune, with an upbeat tempo to help you walk briskly.
9) (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman - The Kinks: See my previous post. Shuffle?????
10) Less Like Scars - Sarah Groves: I know Sarah is singing some powerfully true stuff in this song, but, quite honestly, I'm just not in the mood to hear it these days. I will say, though, that Sarah's songs are incredibly, but simply, profound. She has a way of speaking to every day life like no one I've ever heard before.


Walking Soundtrack # 7

1) So Sad About Us - The Who: Very early Who song, and it just might be my favorite. It's a song about a break-up featuring a restrained thunder of guitars, bass, and drums.
2) Guitar and Pen - The Who: Another of my favorite, but obscure, Who songs. I think it's about the frustrations of being a song writer.
3) Who Are You - Stereophonics: Cover of a late Who song that has probably become their representative song. It doesn't measure up to the original - the vocals strain too hard to be angry - but it's not bad.
4) Dublin In Vigo - The Chieftains: Medley of songs recorded in Havana, I believe, for the Chieftains musical study of the Celtic relations between the Irish and the Spanish. From the fantastic and beautiful album "Santiago."
5) I Am Weary, Let Me Rest - The Cox Family: From the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack, this is a tough song to walk to, what with all the weariness and resting.
6) Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone) - Johnny Cash: This one is a kind of love song about being anywhere, even the most miserable places, with your love. It's a nice sentiment, but the song is just okay and slows my pace down a bit when I'm walking.
7) Fly, Fly, Fly - Larry Norman: This is a Beatle-esque Larry Norman song. That is, it's upbeat and catchy, but not very deep or meaningful. Still, I like this song - it's one of my favorite Larry songs.
8) (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman - The Kinks: This is a great hard-driving but wonderfully humorous song about the desire to be great, but with the self-awareness of knowing you just don't measure up. The beginning of the song about the embarassment he feels looking in the mirror after stepping out of the shower is brilliant. Later, after listing some of the ugly things going on in the world, the singer laments, "I'm so weak, I'm so thin. I'd like to fly, but I can't even swim. I wish I could be like Superman." A perfect song for all of humanity, I think. I love it.


Walking Soundtrack # 6

I've fallen a bit behind so, in an effort to catch up, I'll bore you all today with the music I listened to on my last few walks.

1) Cocaine Blues - Johnny Cash, live at Folsom Prison: Great song with a lively beat to keep your feet moving
2) Long Black Veil - Johnny Cash, live at Folsom Prison: Why do they call my iPod the Shuffle? Out of the 2300 songs, I get two songs that are separated by about six minutes from the same album to start my walk. But that's okay, this is another great song - I've got several versions lost somewhere in my collection. Great story, too, packed into such a short song.
3) Mirror Door - The Who: From their last album, it's kind of a tribute to the artists that influenced them the most, including Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochrane and Elvis, among others.
4) Closing Time - Semisonic: When Tiffany and I decided to move to Charlotte back in 1998, this song was all over the airwaves. We drove to Charlotte via Oklahoma City and Vicksburg, so we heard this song dozens of times as we crossed Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and all the way back home to Chicago. Ever since, this has been the "Charlotte Song."
5) Mr Bassman - John Entwistle: It's a bit goofy - kind of a tribute to the old be-bop music - but it's appropriate coming from the Who's bass player, called by many the best there ever was.
6) Let's See Action - Pete Townshend: From Pete's first solo album ("Who Came First"), it has a raw sound suspiciously like a high-quality demo.
7) Leave It Up To God To Handle - Larry Norman: I think this is a tradition gospel song, and I really like this bluesy-rock version from the self-proclaimed poster child for Jesus Rock.
8) Rocky Road to Dublin - Gaelin Storm: A near perfect song for exercise, it's fast and fun.
9) Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison: A slow, dreamy song, not the best for walking, but, as I mentioned before, if it's a good song it gets me moving, no matter how slow the beat.
10) Free Me - Roger Daltrey, live in Boston in 1989: It's screamers like this, performed over the course of many years, that caused Daltrey's voice to age long before it should have. Free Me is an obscure song from the movie McVicar.
11) Revolution - The Beatles: Fantastic rock and roll song; one of the best ever, in my opinion. Too bad all those old hippies sold out.
12) Lawyers, Guns, and Money - Warren Zevon: I'll have to pay closer attention to this one, because I really have never listened to what it's about. It sounds pretty good, though.