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News and Views for Authors. The primary voice of Booksquare is Kassia Krozser. She is a kind-hearted, gentle soul with a wealth of patience for the foibles of humani–wait, that’s not true at all. Kassia has never had an opinion she didn’t wish to express, nor has she ever been shy about telling the emperor that his clothes are, well, transparent. This is her way of expressing love, and she lavishes all of her adoration on the publishing industry because, like a child who needs firm, corrective guidance, publishers and writers need Booksquare.
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1. Certain Songs #526: Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind”

gordon lightfoot sit down young stranger Album: Sit Down Young Stranger
Year: 1970

With a melody line that instantly felt like it had been floating in the ether for thousands of years before Gordon Lightfoot tracked it down and harnessed it, “If You Could Read My Mind” is definitely in the running for the Prettiest Song Ever Recorded, Folk Rock Division.

It’s also a song that has always stopped me in my tracks, as I try to decipher how something so shamelessly beautiful could also feel so effortless.

If you could read my mind, love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost you can see

Hell. The way he sings “You know that ghost is me” in the first verse is so lovely and understated you might not even notice how totally fucking sad it is, as well.

And so it goes. There isn’t even really a chorus for “If You Could Read My Mind.” Because there doesn’t even need to be a chorus.

All it needs is the long and gorgeous melody line that underscores the second half of each verse, as well as this utterly devastating lyric:

I never thought I could act this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can’t get it back

By this point, the strings are soaring in the background as well, but they never feel syrupy or overkill. Instead, they feel totally natural, like they they weren’t even really recorded on purpose, but rather just appeared on the final master.

Though I would assume that the producer of “If You Could Read My Mind,” Lenny Waronker, would dispute that.

Weirdly enough, “If You Could Read My Mind” isn’t a song that totally emotionally devastates me, despite that is clearly its intention. I think I’m so enthralled by the beauty of the melody that it creates a shield where I’m immune to everything else about it.

“If You Could Read My Mind”

“If You Could Read My Mind” performed live on The Midnight Special, 1974

Every Certain Song Ever
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2. Certain Songs #525: Goo Goo Dolls – “Flat Top”

goo goo dolls Album: A Boy Named Goo
Year: 1995

The Goo Goo Dolls followed up the ragged glories of Jed & Hold Me Up with the too-slick-by-half Superstar Car Wash, which featured a few great songs (especially “Girl Right Next To Me” & “String of Lies”), but lacked the sense of bratty humor that suffused the early records.

Gone were the fun covers that had been sung by a local lounge singer named Lance Diamond (including the suddenly sadly relevant “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”), and in their place, a disappointing collaboration with Paul Westerberg.

Then in 1995, they dropped A Boy Named Goo, their attempt to replicate the pop-punk success that Green Day had with Dookie, and it totally stiffed.

Well, at first. I remember seeing them at Slims in San Francisco shortly after it came out, and I couldn’t for life of me figure out why Green Day had hit it big and these guys couldn’t.

Then “Name” came out, and somehow went to #5, opening the door to a string of huge singles and closing their door from their punk roots once and for all.

And while I liked “Name” as an album cut for six months before it became a huge hit single, I still think that if they were going to break through, it should have been with “Flat Top,” which is as good as punk-pop gets.

Starting off with a slow, anthemic riff, “Flat Top” suddenly takes off into the usual punk speed and featured Johnny Rzeznik’s actually perceptive lyrics about the mid-1990s media landscape, even referencing St. Joe Strummer at one point:

And conscience keeps us quiet while the crooked love to speak
There’s knowledge wrapped in blankets on the street
A visionary coward says that anger can be power
As long as there’s a victim on TV

Then it pulls up short, and with soon-to-be-sacked drummer George Tutuska emphasizing the end of each couplet with a “whack” of his snare, Rzeznik sings a chorus that’s never left my head:

And it’s fallin’ all around us
Is this some kind of joke they’re trying to pull on us?
Fallin’ all around us
I’ll turn my head off for a while

With the guitars crunching and jangling all around him, and the tempo speeding up and slowing down, “Flat Top” hammers its point home with a pair of long guitar solos in its second half. The first one replicates the melody line of the chorus, before speeding off into the stratosphere, and the second one just floats away into the fade at the end.

That said, I disliked “Iris” so much that I didn’t even bother with 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl, or any of the subsequent releases.

My gut was that once they tasted the sweet nectar of the mainstream, the things I loved about their early 1990s music were pretty much gone forever.

Official Video for “Flat Top”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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3. Certain Songs #524: Prince – “The One U You Wanna C”

prince planet earth Album: Planet Earth
Year: 2007

One of the things I loved most about Prince was one of the things that was most frustrating about Prince: his incredible prolificness. So while I really liked both The Gold Experience and it’s Contractual Obligation follow-up, Chaos and Disorder, I somehow lost the plot again, and pretty much missed everything he did until Musicology.

Which means I get to play catch-up — really looking forward to finding and listening to Emancipation and Crystal Ball, among others — but it also means that I’m really only writing about one song to represent the last two decades of his career.

Obviously, I’m not alone in this: most of the obits I’ve read focus on his 1980s, when he was truly groundbreaking, and not the 2000s, when he was running around in the huge construction site he had created.

Had I been playing along at home this whole time — the way I’ve been able to with the equally prolific Neil Young — there would be a few more songs to write about.

And maybe in a couple of years, when I finally get to where I would have naturally written about Prince, I’ll write about those other songs.

So figure “The One U Wanna C” as a stand-in for a bunch of great songs I’ve not yet discovered.

It hails from 2007’s Planet Earth, which is my favorite of his post-millennial albums that I’ve heard. Planet Earth features an awesome album cover. I mean how hilarious is that shot of the god-like Prince looming over the world and clearly finding the rest of us — except for the smart & hot women — lacking.

In any event, “The One U Wanna C” is Prince in pure pop mode, right down to the come-on in the lyrics.

I got a lotta money
I don’t wanna spend it on me
I like pretty thangs
You’re just as pretty as you can be

So if you ain’t busy later
And you want some company
I ain’t tryin’ to be a hater but I’m the one
I’m the one, the one u wanna c, u wanna c

With its twin low-down, slightly psychedelic guitar hooks, disco bassline, call-and-response vocals, and random handclaps, “The One U Wanna C” would have slotted right in with his classic run of singles, and if radio — or anybody — gave a shit back in 2007, it could have been a huge comeback hit.

Either that, or it’s a complete throwaway. Just a dumb pop song by a guy who’d been tossing them off for decades and I honestly can’t even tell anymore.

I’ll let you know later, after I’ve used his death to fully purify myself in the Lake Minnetonka of his music.

“The One U Wanna C”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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4. Certain Songs #523: Prince – “Shy”

Prince The Gold Experience Album: The Gold Experience
Year: 1995

“Shy” is my favorite Prince song of the 1990s.

Disclaimer: the 1990s is the decade from which I’ve heard the least amount of Prince’s music, so I have huge knowledge gaps from both the beginning and the end of that decade.

Still, it’s an absolute tour de force of restraint and tension-building. Oh, and singing. Always with the singing.

Starting off with footsteps and chicken-scratch guitar that leaves entire universes of space between every phrase, “Shy” is one of Prince’s darker fucksong stories:

After a month of just bein’ alone, he said
“I wonder what L.A.’s thinkin’”
Streets he roamed in search of a poem amongst the wild and drinkin’
When he sees cool dark skin in hot virgin white
The search was over at least for tonight
When she co-signed and then told him she was

Shy
Cool dark skin in hot virgin white
Shy
Lips say won’t but her body say might
Shy
Looks like we’re gonna take the long way home tonight

After it hits that first chorus, the chicken-scratch guitar recedes, it’s place taken by an shimmering guitar that curlicues around the rest of the song, prodding and poking it, never quite ever getting comfortable, echoing the noirish lyrics.

After a look much louder than words she said,
I passed my initiation
A friend of mine, he got killed and in retaliation
I shot the boy, huh, twice in the head
No regrets, no sorrow, I’m goin’ back tomorrow to make sure he’s dead
‘Cuz if I don’t, they’ll call me a chicken, but you can call me

Shy
Cool dark skin in hot virgin white
Shy
Lips say won’t but her body say might
Shy
Looks like we’re gonna take the long way home tonight

That uncomfortableness is echoed by the vocal, because as Prince repeats the somewhat problematic “lips say won’t, but her body say might” over and over again he starts overdubbing himself with various vocal inflections cris-crossing each other.

Shapeshifting and restless, at one point he’s sounding like Sly Stone, at another, Stevie Wonder. And I swear there’s a moment where he’s doing an Axl Rose impersonation.

“Shy” is a deeply unsettling combination of beauty and darkness, and never once does it wink at you or let you have a moment to even breathe.

“Shy”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #523: Prince – “Shy” appeared first on Booksquare.

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5. Certain Songs #522: Prince – “Endorphinmachine”

Prince The Gold Experience Album: The Gold Experience
Year: 1995

After Sign o’ the Times, I had another Prince blackout, finally checking back in with 1995’s The Gold Experience.

Of course, I didn’t ignore Prince completely: that was impossible for any lover of music. And from 1988 – 1995, his music was only slightly less omnipresent despite — or because of– his ongoing battles with Warner Bros and antics like changing his name to an emoticon or writing “slave” on his face while performing in public.

And I don’t know why I decided to check back in with The Gold Experience. I guess I was just curious again. Which, in retrospect was good timing: The Gold Experience had a bunch of terrific songs, jams like the funky rap “P Control,” the wistful “Dolphin” and the foot-stomping “Endorphinmachine.”

Opening with a big rock riff that circled back upon itself while being powered by cowbells, “Endorphinmachine” turns out to be one Prince’s most clever fucksongs.

You’ll believe in somethin’ before this night is through
Press one for the money, press two for the dream
And get ready for somethin’ that you’ve never seen
The Endorphinmachine

And when he follows a wah-wah guitar solo with a breakdown rap which slams back into the main riff which stops again so Prince could scream “yeahhhhhhhhh” I suddenly remembered just how much fun Prince can be when he’s jamming a shitload of musical styles together in the service of fucking you all night long.

There’s also a now-chilling spoken word moment at the end of the song where a female voice intones “Prince esta muerto. Prince esta muerto.”

Of course, it had everything to do with the Warner Bros fight, and it’s quickly followed with “Long Live The New Power Generation” in Spanish.

At the time, it didn’t even cross my radar, because in 1995, it was obvious that Prince — no matter what he wanted us to call him — had too much life to ever die.

“Endorphinmachine”

“Endorphinmachine” performed live on French TV, 1994

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #522: Prince – “Endorphinmachine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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6. Certain Songs #521: Prince – “The Cross”

prince sign o the times Album: Sign o’ the Times
Year: 1987

I realize that nearly every one of the previous Prince songs I’ve written about were all huge iconic songs, so here’s a (relatively) deep cut for all y’all.

Coming out of nowhere to open side four of Sign o’ the Times, “The Cross” is probably my favorite Prince song, despite (or because!) The fact that it’s one of his most overtly religious from the get-go, as over a whisper-quiet acoustic guitar, Prince sings:

Black day, stormy night
No love, no hope in sight
Don’t cry, he is coming
Don’t die without knowing the cross

As a bare, near-psychedelic guitar starts weaving its way through the song, he continues:

Ghettos to the left of us
Flowers to the right
There’ll be bread for all of us
If we can just bear the cross

Near the end of the second verse, a kick drum — a live one! — comes in on the 1’s & 3’s, every-so-slightly adding intensity.

We all have our problems
Some big, some are small
Soon all of our problems
Will be taken by the cross

And wham! A big crunchy electric guitar comes in, playing a rolling primitive riff over a suddenly full but still incredibly simple drumbeat and it’s like nothing else on any Prince album ever before. Somehow Prince has reconfigured The Velvet Underground’s “Jesus” as a, um, Velvet Underground song.

Worlds! Colliding! Meanwhile, as the rhythm guitar gets ever more full and noisy, the psychedelic guitar lead transmogrifies into what sounds like a sitar, but it couldn’t be a sitar? Though as tablas come in to play over the beat as well, it could actually be a sitar.

“The Cross” totally blew my mind in 1987. Not because Prince was doing a rock song, per se, but because he was doing a gospel song as indie rock. Or an indie rock song as gospel, as near the end, a huge choir of multi-tracked Princes gorgeously sang “The crosssssss” over (and after) all of the cacophony.

Obviously, I have no idea if Prince ever went down this musical path again — I certainly haven’t heard any other songs as rock raw as “The Cross”, but I would have loved a whole album of Prince doing garage rock with gospel harmonies.

For the longest time, I was conflicted about the fact “The Cross” was my favorite Prince song. That was because it was the Prince song that most sounded like a lot of my other favorite songs, and felt like a bit of an anomaly in his catalog.

But now I don’t think that matters: I’ve come to realize that Prince tried so many things that he’s probably written at least one song that crosses paths with pretty much everyone’s taste in music. Hell, I’m guessing that he’s even got a full-out country album somewhere in the vault. A good one!

“The Cross” performed live in 1987

Fan-made video for “The Cross”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #521: Prince – “The Cross” appeared first on Booksquare.

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7. Certain Songs #520: Prince – “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”

Prince I Could Never Album: Sign o’ the Times
Year: 1987

While 1999 broke him into the mainstream and Purple Rain was his biggest record, if there is a consensus “Greatest Prince Album,” it’s 1987’s Sign o’ The Times.

Not only did it feature aspects of everything that he’d done before, it added some new wrinkles to boot. It also spawned three massive singles and was also rapturously received by the critics. And nearly 30 years later, it sounds as much of a tour de force as ever.

I mean, look at “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man,” which starts out as a pure power-pop song with the keyboards and guitar playing call-and-response over handclaps, and then just builds and builds with noisy guitars and harmonies.

Lyrically, it’s ground-breaking as well, as Prince — for the first time in history — turns down a one-night stand. Growth!

And a bit of sadness:

She asked me if we could be friends
And I said, oh, honey baby that’s a dead end
You know and I know
That we wouldn’t be satisfied
No

And I said, baby don’t waste your time
I know what’s on your mind
You wouldn’t be satisfied (wouldn’t be satisfied)
With a one night stand (uh, uh, uh)

And I could never take the place of your man, oh
Yeah, yeah, the place of your man (uh, uh, uh)

But you might not even notice the sadness, because Prince so overloads the line “Oh honey baby that’s a dead end” with maybe his purest pop harmonies on record.

So instead of fucking, he’s gonna play his guitar!! Which might not have been as satisfying for Prince, but Prince playing his guitar always works for us.

So first off, a long fast conventional solo, and then a surprise, as the song suddenly breaks down, and Prince is left just playing almost jazzy notes over the straight-ahead beat. After filling up all of the space, he’s now leaving oceans of space between every little run, even as you start realizing that he’s now overdubbed a second lead guitar.

Of course, eventually the riff thats that started the song kick back in, but only for a moment, and it just kinda stops.

The video below is a live version from I don’t know when, and is heavy on the guitar pyrotechnics while downplaying the pop aspects of the song.

“I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #520: Prince – “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” appeared first on Booksquare.

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8. Certain Songs #520: Prince – “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”

Prince I Could Never Album: Sign o’ the Times
Year: 1987

While 1999 broke him into the mainstream and Purple Rain was his biggest record, if there is a consensus “Greatest Prince Album,” it’s 1987’s Sign o’ The Times.

Not only did it feature aspects of everything that he’d done before, it added some new wrinkles to boot. It also spawned three massive singles and was also rapturously received by the critics. And nearly 30 years later, it sounds as much of a tour de force as ever.

I mean, look at “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man,” which starts out as a pure power-pop song with the keyboards and guitar playing call-and-response over handclaps, and then just builds and builds with noisy guitars and harmonies.

Lyrically, it’s ground-breaking as well, as Prince — for the first time in history — turns down a one-night stand. Growth!

And a bit of sadness:

She asked me if we could be friends
And I said, oh, honey baby that’s a dead end
You know and I know
That we wouldn’t be satisfied
No

And I said, baby don’t waste your time
I know what’s on your mind
You wouldn’t be satisfied (wouldn’t be satisfied)
With a one night stand (uh, uh, uh)

And I could never take the place of your man, oh
Yeah, yeah, the place of your man (uh, uh, uh)

But you might not even notice the sadness, because Prince so overloads the line “Oh honey baby that’s a dead end” with maybe his purest pop harmonies on record.

So instead of fucking, he’s gonna play his guitar!! Which might not have been as satisfying for Prince, but Prince playing his guitar always works for us.

So first off, a long fast conventional solo, and then a surprise, as the song suddenly breaks down, and Prince is left just playing almost jazzy notes over the straight-ahead beat. After filling up all of the space, he’s now leaving oceans of space between every little run, even as you start realizing that he’s now overdubbed a second lead guitar.

Of course, eventually the riff thats that started the song kick back in, but only for a moment, and it just kinda stops.

The video below is a live version from I don’t know when, and is heavy on the guitar pyrotechnics while downplaying the pop aspects of the song.

“I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #520: Prince – “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” appeared first on Booksquare.

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9. Certain Songs #519: Prince & The Revolution – “Kiss”

Prince kiss Album: Parade
Year: 1986

It took Michael Jackson five years to follow up Thriller. It took Bruce Springsteen three years to follow up Born In The U.S.A. It took Madonna two years to follow up Like a Virgin.

It took Prince ten months to follow up Purple Rain.

That said, after I heard the underwhelming (despite the pure pop glory of “Raspberry Beret”) Around The World in a Day, I started a pattern with Prince that I’ve kept up for three decades: I started dipping in and out of his discography.

Basically, if the critical & cultural buzz was that I needed to check a Prince album out, I did. If not, then I didn’t. After all, there was always a new one right around the corner. For 30 years!

The good and bad news is, of course, is that there are two major swaths of Prince’s career I’ve never (or barely) heard. The Black Album Come. EmancipationN.E.W.S. And while Musicology got me interested again, and I flat-out love Planet Earth I’ve still missed at least half of his output from the last decade.

What all of this means is that I pretty much ignored “Kiss” during its heyday. To be slightly fair to me, the spring of 1986 was a relatively chaotic time in my life, so I didn’t have as much time to devote to anything musically but my core 1980s people.

So I didn’t even really hear “Kiss” until I bought The Hits, the crazy-making singles compilation that shoots itself in the foot by not being in chronological order.

In any event, I’m not even sure I was ready for “Kiss” in 1986. With its spare structure, super-funky guitar and throw-back falsetto, I’m not sure my reference points were there yet.

All these years later, after a couple of decades of digging into the classic soul and funk songs that clearly inspired “Kiss,” I totally get how awesome it is.

Combining one of his most melodic choruses with a free-flowing, slightly off-beat beat and a — for Prince — love > sex lyric, “Kiss” is the primary reason that Parade was the first of the Prince albums that I bought to start filling in the gaps.

Official video for “Kiss”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #519: Prince & The Revolution – “Kiss” appeared first on Booksquare.

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10. Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into they climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain” appeared first on Booksquare.

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11. Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into their climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain” appeared first on Booksquare.

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12. Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

Prince when-doves-cry Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

The utterly monster lead single from the quintillion-platinum Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” is the sound of Prince having it … I was gonna say “both ways,” but we all know that “both ways” was probably boring to Prince.

So let’s just say that Prince had it every single fucking way he wanted with “When Doves Cry.”

A dance song with no bassline? Check.

Insane lead guitar over funky electronic drums? Check.

A single that was #1 for over a month but also almost six minutes long? Check.

A massively popular video with homoerotic imagery? Check.

Bringing his bandmates for a video of a song where he played all of the instruments? Check.

A fucksong with incredibly sad lyrics? Check. And mate. Lots of mate.

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

And that chorus, with its massive overdubbed Princes all singing in perfect harmonies, and the momentum moving ever forward pushed by a single keyboard was so completely overpowering that nobody gave a shit what “when doves cry” actually meant.

Also: all of those vocal interjections, the “whoos” and the “doobie do wahs” completely gloss over the fact that the song is basically a single groove and a single melody repeated over and over and over and over driven by that damn electronic drum that sounds like random gunshots.

But Prince masks that fact by adding and subtracting instruments and vocals so masterfully that when he breaks it down near the end, it’s almost a shock.

“When Doves Cry”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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13. Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

Prince when-doves-cry Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

The utterly monster lead single from the quintillion-platinum Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” is the sound of Prince having it … I was gonna say “both ways,” but we all know that “both ways” was probably boring to Prince.

So let’s just say that Prince had it every single fucking way he wanted with “When Doves Cry.”

A dance song with no bassline? Check.

Insane lead guitar over funky electronic drums? Check.

A single that was #1 for over a month but also almost six minutes long? Check.

A massively popular video with homoerotic imagery? Check.

Bringing his bandmates for a video of a song where he played all of the instruments? Check.

A fucksong with incredibly sad lyrics? Check. And mate. Lots of mate.

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

And that chorus, with its massive overdubbed Princes all singing in perfect harmonies, and the momentum moving ever forward pushed by a single keyboard was so completely overpowering that nobody gave a shit what “when doves cry” actually meant.

Also: all of those vocal interjections, the “whoos” and the “doobie do wahs” completely gloss over the fact that the song is basically a single groove and a single melody repeated over and over and over and over driven by that damn electronic drum that sounds like random gunshots.

But Prince masks that fact by adding and subtracting instruments and vocals so masterfully that when he breaks it down near the end, it’s almost a shock.

“When Doves Cry”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry” appeared first on Booksquare.

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14. Certain Songs #516: Prince & The Revolution – “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)”

Prince Let's Go 12″ Single, 1984

With its gospel opening, punk rock speed and blazing guitar solos, “Let’s Go Crazy” was already my favorite song on Purple Rain even before it was released as a single.

But when I heard the extended “Special Dance Version” in the summer of 1984, “Let’s Go Crazy” became my favorite Prince song full stop, and with the possible exception of “The Cross,” it has remained so.

While most “Dance Versions” of a song were often somebody extending a song by artifically repeating the chorus or the verses or an instrumental section, the extended version of “Let’s Go Crazy” was akin to the disco version of “Miss You,” the actual canonical version of the song, from which even the album version was an edit.

So what’s so different? For one thing, the unhinged piano solo that utterly comes out of nowhere. It’s akin to the piano solos in “Aladdin Sane” or Funky Dollar Bill in that it adds an almost free jazz element in a pop song.

The first time I heard it, it totally stopped me in my tracks, and for a long time, I wondered why he didn’t open the album with that full version. But of course, Purple Rain was designed to be exactly as huge of a record as it turned out to be, and a crazy-ass piano solo (and the later percussion break) would have possibly impacted that.

And in fact, according to the Wikipedia page on Purple Rain, the longer version of “Let’s Go Crazy” was going to lead off the album until they made the decision to go with the single.

Fine. But what it did do was give me a Prince song to play on KFSR. Obviously Prince was as original and groundbreaking as any artist we normally played — and his sui generis multicultural musical stew only made him more appealing — but, at the same time Purple Rain was exactly the type of cultural phenomenon we has posited ourselves to be the alternative to.

So there was always some tension as to how much Prince was played. Same for Bruce Springsteen. Some of the DJs didn’t give a shit how popular he was, because they loved him, and played him all the time. Others figured that since he was all over every other radio station, no point to play him on ours. That was the camp that I was in: I preferred turning people onto new things rather than playing them stuff they’d already heard.

Of course, both camps were right, and there was a pretty good balance of DJs who did one or the other, which definitely helped to both grow (and keep) our audience. And in fact, both Prince & Bruce finished in the top 15 of our 1984 KFSR DJ Poll.

So this Special Dance Mix was perfect: a great song, a popular song, but a version that was different and weird and pretty fucking alternative, to boot. So I played it a lot.

Of course, there’s no video for this, but a guy called the Analog Kid wrote a blog post about it, with an .mp3 link, so I’ll link to that.

Groovy Tuesday: Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” 12″ Single

“Let’s Go Crazy” Official Video (but for how long?)

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #516: Prince & The Revolution – “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)” appeared first on Booksquare.

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15. Certain Songs #516: Prince & The Revolution – “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)”

Prince Let's Go 12″ Single, 1984

With its gospel opening, punk rock speed and blazing guitar solos, “Let’s Go Crazy” was already my favorite song on Purple Rain even before it was released as a single.

But when I heard the extended “Special Dance Version” in the summer of 1984, “Let’s Go Crazy” became my favorite Prince song full stop, and with the possible exception of “The Cross,” it has remained so.

While most “Dance Versions” of a song were often somebody extending a song by artifically repeating the chorus or the verses or an instrumental section, the extended version of “Let’s Go Crazy” was akin to the disco version of “Miss You,” the actual canonical version of the song, from which even the album version was an edit.

So what’s so different? For one thing, the unhinged piano solo that utterly comes out of nowhere. It’s akin to the piano solos in “Aladdin Sane” or Funky Dollar Bill in that it adds an almost free jazz element in a pop song.

The first time I heard it, it totally stopped me in my tracks, and for a long time, I wondered why he didn’t open the album with that full version. But of course, Purple Rain was designed to be exactly as huge of a record as it turned out to be, and a crazy-ass piano solo (and the later percussion break) would have possibly impacted that.

And in fact, according to the Wikipedia page on Purple Rain, the longer version of “Let’s Go Crazy” was going to lead off the album until they made the decision to go with the single.

Fine. But what it did do was give me a Prince song to play on KFSR. Obviously Prince was as original and groundbreaking as any artist we normally played — and his sui generis multicultural musical stew only made him more appealing — but, at the same time Purple Rain was exactly the type of cultural phenomenon we has posited ourselves to be the alternative to.

So there was always some tension as to how much Prince was played. Same for Bruce Springsteen. Some of the DJs didn’t give a shit how popular he was, because they loved him, and played him all the time. Others figured that since he was all over every other radio station, no point to play him on ours. That was the camp that I was in: I preferred turning people onto new things rather than playing them stuff they’d already heard.

Of course, both camps were right, and there was a pretty good balance of DJs who did one or the other, which definitely helped to both grow (and keep) our audience. And in fact, both Prince & Bruce finished in the top 15 of our 1984 KFSR DJ Poll.

So this Special Dance Mix was perfect: a great song, a popular song, but a version that was different and weird and pretty fucking alternative, to boot. So I played it a lot.

Of course, there’s no video for this, but a guy called the Analog Kid wrote a blog post about it, with an .mp3 link, so I’ll link to that.

Groovy Tuesday: Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” 12″ Single

“Let’s Go Crazy” Official Video (but for how long?)

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #516: Prince & The Revolution – “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)” appeared first on Booksquare.

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16. Certain Songs #515: Prince – “1999”

Prince 1999 Album: 1999
Year: 1982

The inconification of Prince starts right here. While “1999” didn’t become a hit single until it was re-released in the wake of the success of “Little Red Corvette” it kicked off the album with an explosion of nuclear paranoia.

In 1982, 1999 was as far away in the future as 2016 was from 1999. So writing a song about partying on the edge of the presumed millennial apocalypse somehow felt both futuristic and fun. And “Tonight, we’re gonna party like it’s 1999” instantly became part the lexicon.

So when the actual 1999 rolled along, the fact that the Y2K bug presumably could have sparked a millennial apocalypse just made Prince into a prophet on top of everything else!

By that time, of course, “1999’s” chorus had become part of our cultural shared experience, the subject of countless references, jokes & parodies:

Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over,
Oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999

And by spreading the lead vocals among members of The Revolution, Prince not only upped the ante by having the upcoming apocalypse claim more victims than just him, he was also telling us that he had a band! Even if they didn’t actually play on the song.

Of course, the “party” ethos would run through the rest of his career: many of the stories that people are telling about Prince in the wake of his death revolve around house parties, after parties, pajama parties, basically any time he could get a group of people together and just play music for them.

“1999”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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17. Certain Songs #514: Prince – “When You Were Mine”

Prince Dirty Mind Album: Dirty Mind
Year: 1980

In baseball, there is the concept of the “five-tool player.” That’s a guy who can run, throw, field, hit and hit for power. Guys like Mike Trout and Willie Mays.

I would argue that Prince was one of popular music’s five-tool players. He was a top-notch songwriter, singer, performer, producer and a masterful musician. I didn’t love everything he did, but I loved that he did everything he did.

And, of course, when he put it all together, he was a great as anyone ever.

For example, “When You Were Mine,” which came so early in his career that he was still spelling “you” out as a full word, but was also a signpost towards the future.

That said, compared to his later music, it feels skeletal, like he was just adding enough instruments to flesh the song out: a jangling guitar here, a swirling keyboard there. All of these are in service of his call-and-response vocals, which turn the chorus into an absolute delight.

I know (I knowwwww)
That you’re going with another guy
I don’t care (don’t care)
‘Cause I love you, baby, that’s no lie
I love you more than I did when you were mine

Because of its great melody and relative simplicity, “When You Were Mine” became one of the earliest Prince songs that anyone covered as well as one of the Prince songs that was the most covered as well.

It will shock noone that no video for this exists on YouTube.

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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18. Certain Songs #514: Prince – “When You Were Mine”

Prince Dirty Mind Album: Dirty Mind
Year: 1980

In baseball, there is the concept of the “five-tool player.” That’s a guy who can run, throw, field, hit and hit for power. Guys like Mike Trout and Willie Mays.

I would argue that Prince was one of popular music’s five-tool players. He was a top-notch songwriter, singer, performer, producer and a masterful musician. I didn’t love everything he did, but I loved that he did everything he did.

And, of course, when he put it all together, he was a great as anyone ever.

For example, “When You Were Mine,” which came so early in his career that he was still spelling “you” out as a full word, but was also a signpost towards the future.

That said, compared to his later music, it feels skeletal, like he was just adding enough instruments to flesh the song out: a jangling guitar here, a swirling keyboard there. All of these are in service of his call-and-response vocals, which turn the chorus into an absolute delight.

I know (I knowwwww)
That you’re going with another guy
I don’t care (don’t care)
‘Cause I love you, baby, that’s no lie
I love you more than I did when you were mine

Because of its great melody and relative simplicity, “When You Were Mine” became one of the earliest Prince songs that anyone covered as well as one of the Prince songs that was the most covered as well.

It will shock noone that no video for this exists on YouTube.

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #514: Prince – “When You Were Mine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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19. Certain Songs #508: The Go-Go’s – “We Got The Beat”

go-gos beauty Album: Beauty and the Beat
Year: 1981

The first thing you hear is kick-kick-snare, kick-kick-snare, kick-kick-snare, kick-kick-snare. Gina Schock just pounding it out, making good the claim of the song before anybody else has even joined her.

It’s really the simplest thing in the world, and maybe that simplicity is why every single time this song was played on the radio back in early 1982, I was stopped dead in my tracks and wondered “what the hell is this?” Every fucking time.

Then Kathy Valentine’s ominous bass and Charlotte Caffey’s twirling guitar came in, and just before Belinda Carlisle opened her mouth, I was like “oh yeah, this fucking song!”

If “Our Lips Are Sealed” opened people’s hearts and minds to the possibility of a band mixing surf music chops and girl group harmonies, then “We Got The Beat” proved why it had to be this band. “We Got The Beat” stormed the top 10, making Beauty and The Beat a must-purchase for every right-thinking American.

And why not? Every time Schock turned the drums around to build to the chorus, it was like bounding down the stairs into the arms of your lover. Pure bliss.

Which was topped only the the breakdown near the end, where everything but the drums and vocals drop out they chant:

We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat

And then, in one of the purest invocations of The Handclap Rule ever, they double down on their beat-having premise with a transcendent call-and-response:

Everybody get on your feet
(We got the beat)
We know you can dance to the beat
(We got the beat)
Jumpin’ get down
(We got the beat)
Round and round and round
WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

If there is a more joyful moment in American Popular Music than that “WHOOOOOOOOO!!!” I haven’t heard it. It’s the the perfect capper to a perfect single, and I can’t even imagine how many girls went and picked up guitars and drums in its wake.

Official Video for “We Got The Beat”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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20. Certain Songs #509: The Go-Go’s – “Can’t Stop The World”

go-gos beauty Album: Beauty and the Beat
Year: 1981

It’s hard to explain — and it seems so sexist and awful to even mention it — but the idea of an organic all-female rock band making their own even semi-popular rock & roll music was still so weird in 1982.

Rock & roll was made by straight white dudes, full stop. Just ask Sammy Hagar, who reminded us that there was only one way to rock. Sammy’s way.

Sure, there were all-female bands, but the ones aiming for the mainstream, like The Runaways, ran into the glass ceiling, and others, like Girlschool or the Slits, were too genre-specific to ever get big.

This was the world into which Beauty & The Beat exploded in 1982.

The beauty about Beauty and the Beat was that it wasn’t just hits-plus-filler, but rather an album full of great songs. You might have come for “Our Lips Are Sealed” or “We Got The Beat,” but you stayed for “How Much More,” “This Town” and the exuberant final track “Can’t Stop The World,” which finished Beauty and The Beat with a philosophical bang.

Driven from the start by the superpowered drum rolls of Gina Schock and featuring a two-note Charlotte Caffey guitar hook that never stops ringing in your head, “Can’t Stop The World” is almost zen-like in its lyrics.

I gave up looking for a reason.
To live with things just the way they were
I came around, used to be easy to get to
So they, got to me in just about every way

And, of course, this is just he prelude to the chorus, in which we’re reminded of a simple, yet profound truth, sung in gorgeous multi-part technicolor harmony:

Can’t stop the world
Can’t stop the world
Can’t stop the world
Why let it stop youuuuuuuuu?
Why let it stop youuuuuuuuu?
Why let it stop youuuuuuuuu?

That chorus has been ringing in my head for nearly 35 years, reminding me that no matter how much I try, I can’t control or change everything. Hell, I can’t hardly change anything.

So instead of stopping the world, climb aboard this song and just keep on riding through it. It’s the best any of us can do.

“Can’t Stop The World”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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21. Certain Songs #510: Gomez – “Detroit Swing 66”

Gomez in our gun Album: In Our Gun
Year: 2002

Normally, I start thinking about the songs I’m going to write about a few weeks before I actually write about them. I’ve got a Google doc entitled “Certain Songs,” which is a list of potential candidates and often during my morning workout, I use it to go down a YouTube rabbit hole with those candidates.

So, for example, when I got to Gomez a few weeks ago, I was absolutely sure I was going to write about a few of their songs: things like “Revolutionary Kind,” “Get Miles,” “Drench,” “Silence” and “Nothing is Wrong” were all considered for inclusion.

But when it actually became time to write about Gomez, I really didn’t have much to say about them.

This bothers me: I’m constantly thinking about the balance between going from artist to artist to artist and focusing on a single artist for a long time. Now, obviously, when we get to my very favorite artists, we’re going to go for a couple of weeks or long. But it’s the in between ones that bedevil me.

You know, the artists where I like a couple of their albums and usually love one totally. They might have several songs that I love, but if I’m not feeling them, do I force it? Even though this is a song-oriented project, is there some connection between how many songs I write about a particular artist and how much I love that artist? And does it even matter?

I mean, I wrote about only two Aerosmith songs way back when this project started, and it really should have been a dozen.

I don’t really have an answer, but for some reason, the artists in the G’s have really brought these questions to the forefront, as nearly all of them have more than one song that could have easily been included, but none of them have ever made a whole bunch of records that I absolutely and truly love.

This will change when we get to Guided by Voices and Guns N’Roses, both of whom provide a completely different set of problems. But we’ll get there soon enough.

Anyways, where was I? Oh right, Gomez.

While their first album, 1998’s Bring it On, won the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Prize, and their second, 1999’s Liquid Skin was even better, for me they didn’t really put it all together until 2002’s In Our Gun.

Starting off with an acoustic guitar strumming over a bouncy beat with random synth wobbles, “Detroit Swing 66” was perhaps the catchiest of the weird, trancey songs that dominated In Our Gun, which somehow combined electronica-based song structures and with acoustic instruments.

As “Detroit Swing 66” progresses, the music gets disjointed and druggy and almost loses its form, then, about halfway, it somehow comes together, as they sing:

I’ve been thinking one thing
But doing something else in a daaaaaaaze, yeah
I’m trying to keep from getting uptight
I’m trying to keep from getting uptight

Over and over and over again, as all of the instruments drop out of the mix except for a horn section. And even that’s barely keeping it together.

I’ve been thinking one thing
But doing something else in a daaaaaaaze, yeah
I’m trying to keep from getting uptight
I’m trying to keep from getting uptight

What saves it is the “oooh yeaah” backing vocals, and the fact that it’s catchy as all hell, and how the music completely invokes the daze they’re singing about.

And of course, the repetition. While the chanting of that chorus over and over again might drive some people crazy, it’s catnip to me, and I spent much of 2002 with it stuck in my head as a result.

“Detroit Swing 66”

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22. Certain Songs #511: Goo Goo Dolls – “Road To Salinas”

goo goo dolls jed Album: Jed
Year: 1989

Because it was the 1990s, in light of their eventual mega-success, the Goo Goo Dolls ended up getting devalued critically, despite the fact that they made quite a few good (and one great) albums.

The first of those good albums was their second album, 1989’s Jed, which dialed back the paint-by-numbers bratcore of their eponymous debut and started adding some melody into the songs.

The result was a minor league Sorry Ma, I Forgot To Take Out The Trash, to be sure, but by the time I bought Jed in 1991, The Replacements themselves had slicked up for Don’t Tell A Soul and softened down for All Shook Down.

So I was looking for an album that at least aimed to capture some of that old ‘mats magic, and would argue that the Goo Goo Dolls got pretty damn close on things like “Up Yours,” “Had Enough” and my favorite song on Jed, “Road to Salinas.”

Sure, you’ve heard that rhythm guitar before, but when drummer George Tutuska starts double-timing halfway through the chorus underneath bassist Robby Takac’s agreeably rough vocals, it becomes irrestible punk-pop.

I don’t know why I drive behind the wheel
Sun’s the sky, and I was
On the road to Salinas
Down the road I thought could free us
Ordinary dreams would go
And I would always get back home

And after the third chorus, they punch in a lead guitar — you can practically hear the engineer sliding the fader up — and after meandering around a bit, the song stalls, threatening to fall apart, when suddenly Johnny Rzeznik uncorks a hell of a solo to take the song to its fade.

Of course, in no way, shape or form is any this essential, but it’s catchy and it’s fun, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

“Road to Salinas”

Every Certain Song Ever
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23. Certain Songs #512: Goo Goo Dolls – “There You Are”

Goo Goo Dolls There-You-Are-160024 Album: Hold Me Up
Year: 1990

I don’t remember where I read it, but around the time this album came out, there was an article in some music magazine where Goo Goo Guitarist Johnny Rzeznik listed his favorite albums, and they were all albums by The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and The Clash.

I remember reading it and thinking, “OK, I need to check these guys out,” and immediately bought Hold Me Up,, which turned out to be one of my favorite punk (or punk-influenced, you snobs) records of the post-Hüskers pre-Nevermind era.

Hold Me Up had just the requisite amount of bratty double-times, raggedy instrumentals, covers both tongue-in-cheek & sincere, and acoustic reveries to keep it moving from start-to-finish.

And in “There You Are,” a genuine anthem, which just jumped out of the rest of the album in the same way that “Within Your Reach” did from Hootenanny or “Diane” did from Metal Circus: a signal that their ambition was bigger than what they were doing.

Armed with a big, repeaty guitar hook that was more R.E.M. or U2 than anything else, “There You Are” dodged and weaved through its verses with George Tutuska’s drums building and freezing and double-timing as it sped to it gigantic chorus.

And I self destruct
I close my eyes and there
There you are
There you are
You are
There you are

After the second verse, Rzeznik takes a long solo where the third verse should be and the song just hits that chorus again and again, until all of my resistance was gone, and I would walk my apartment around randomly singing “Therrrrrrrrrrre you are,” scaring the hell out of my cat.

Maybe it was just that in 1990, there weren’t a whole lot of bands working this seam, which — as you’ve probably figured out — is one of the sweetest of sweet spots for me And Hold Me Up came along at just the right time for me.

Official video for “There You Are”

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(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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24. Certain Songs #513: Goo Goo Dolls – “You Know What I Mean”

Goo Goo Dolls Hold me up Album: Hold Me Up
Year: 1990

What makes a band decide to cover a song? Or, more germane to this post: what makes a band decide to cover a relatively obscure Goo Goo Dolls song.

In the case of Sedan Delivery, for the past few years, I’ve been positive it was because our guitarist Don really liked Johnny Rzeznik when they had a conversation about both being the door guys for their local clubs when the Goo Goo Dolls played the Blue.

This despite the fact that I don’t actually have a memory of the Goo Goo Dolls playing the Blue.

So, like I do when I bring somebody else into a post, I fact-checked this memory with Don, who told me that no such thing ever happened.

So I honestly don’t remember why we decided to cover “You Know What I Mean,” which was longer, slower and darker than the rest of Hold Me Up.

It’s been a long, dark, lonely haul
Between the cracks, I can read the scrawl
It’s written down in a crooked rhyme
You sold me out before my time, you know

It’s also one of those songs that takes a long time to get to the verse, as after that first verse, the drums go into a slow double time and a build, but don’t actually follow through into the chorus. It’s an effective trick, because otherwise the song would be just verse-chorus-verse.

And it adds tension to the reveal of the actual chorus as the drums build to it.

Cuz you don’t think about anything I think about

You know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean

The other cool thing they do with the song is after the second chorus. The song comes to a complete stop, and after a four-count, they play the chorus again as instrumental with just an extra rhythm guitar on top.

As you’ve probably figured out, because I had to play the drums on what was a very faithful cover of “You Know What I Mean,” I completely analyzed every single bit of it so when we actually played it, I was right there in the middle.

And while sometimes covering a song can make you sick of it, I never got sick of “You Know What I Mean.” You know what I mean?

“You Know What I Mean”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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25. Certain Songs #513: Goo Goo Dolls – “You Know What I Mean”

Goo Goo Dolls Hold me up Album: Hold Me Up
Year: 1990

What makes a band decide to cover a song? Or, more germane to this post: what makes a band decide to cover a relatively obscure Goo Goo Dolls song.

In the case of Sedan Delivery, for the past few years, I’ve been positive it was because our guitarist Don really liked Johnny Rzeznik when they had a conversation about both being the door guys for their local clubs when the Goo Goo Dolls played the Blue.

This despite the fact that I don’t actually have a memory of the Goo Goo Dolls playing the Blue.

So, like I do when I bring somebody else into a post, I fact-checked this memory with Don, who told me that no such thing ever happened.

So I honestly don’t remember why we decided to cover “You Know What I Mean,” which was longer, slower and darker than the rest of Hold Me Up.

It’s been a long, dark, lonely haul
Between the cracks, I can read the scrawl
It’s written down in a crooked rhyme
You sold me out before my time, you know

It’s also one of those songs that takes a long time to get to the verse, as after that first verse, the drums go into a slow double time and a build, but don’t actually follow through into the chorus. It’s an effective trick, because otherwise the song would be just verse-chorus-verse.

And it adds tension to the reveal of the actual chorus as the drums build to it.

Cuz you don’t think about anything I think about

You know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
You know what I mean

The other cool thing they do with the song is after the second chorus. The song comes to a complete stop, and after a four-count, they play the chorus again as instrumental with just an extra rhythm guitar on top.

As you’ve probably figured out, because I had to play the drums on what was a very faithful cover of “You Know What I Mean,” I completely analyzed every single bit of it so when we actually played it, I was right there in the middle.

And while sometimes covering a song can make you sick of it, I never got sick of “You Know What I Mean.” You know what I mean?

“You Know What I Mean”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #513: Goo Goo Dolls – “You Know What I Mean” appeared first on Booksquare.

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