Posts tagged music
If you read my post that laid out the criteria for creating this list, you’ll recall that 80s music, in my opinion, were vital in some of the bet 80s movies ever. And #7 might be the biggest example of this. In 1985, John Hughes wrote and directed a movie about 5 teenagers, each from a different walk of life, as they spend a Saturday in detention at Shermer High School. What followed was a movie that, perhaps more than any other movie before or since, defined a generation. I know that for me at least, it felt like these people were me, and I was them, and they were speaking a language that I knew well.
The Breakfast Club gave voice to an entire age of kids as they struggled to come to terms with who they were. Two other artists, including Billy Idol, were offered “Don’t You Forget About Me” before Simple Minds agreed to record it. When it became the theme song for The Breakfast Club, they became stars overnight in the US. It would be their only #1 in the States.
I think that The Breakfast Club is one of just a handful of movies that can speak to a time in history unlike others. The Breakfast Club is the Gold Standard of Teen films – the film against which all other teen films are measured. But it loses it’s bite, it’s feel without this song, . The song’s become synonymous with a phenomenol film, recognizable within it’s first two notes, and stands the test of time, even without the film. And that’s why it’s #7 on my list (I’ve decided to include the original video as well as a great movie montage, if for no other reason, than to hear the monologue/letter that ends the movie).
Fun Fact: Simple Minds was actually a Scottish Band, and they had a second hit, albeit not as big, called Alive and Kicking. By the time Don’t You Forget About Me became a hit, the camaraderie of the band was already coming unraveled.
…and the montage….
There are just a few songs that, when played, instantly (and I mean instantly) elicit a frenzied response from every single person in the room. #8 on my list is one of those songs, and is also at the top of one of my other personal lists – My Top 10 Rock Guitar Licks of All Time. Try this.
1. Go to work
2. Turn up your computer speakers
3. Play the video below
4. Watch everyone’s reaction
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” was the 3rd single off the 1987 Guns N Roses debut album Appetite for Destruction. It followed “It’s So Easy” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” For my money, there’s not a better opening guitar lick ever. Some might argue for “Sweet Home Alabama” or another tune, but the simplicity of the tune is what makes it so perfect.
In 1987, GNR was on top of the world. I was in 8th grade and I don’t remember a single jr. high girl who wasn’t infatuated with Axl Rose or a single jr. high boy who didn’t want to be Axl Rose. In a sea of hair band pop rock music, GNR felt like the real thing – a true rock band that the teen crowd could love too.
This album was pretty solid. In addition to “Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” it included another huge hit in “Paradise City.” I wore mine out, but the truth is, I listened to the opening of this song over and over and over again.
All signs pointed to GNR becoming one of the biggest rock bands of all time, and based on their debut, everyone expected a string of hit albums. Although they’ve sold over 100 million albums and enjoyed moderate success with the follow up album Use Your Illusion, they never saw the same success of Appetite for Destruction and quickly faded as the grunge sound of the early 90s exploded onto the scene.
It isn’t often that band classified as “hard rock” develops a tune that sounds legitimately beautiful. The opening :30 of this song is mesmerizing and I could listen to it over and over and over. What’s cool is that I’ve never met a GenXer who doesn’t feel the same, more or less, and that’s why every time I hear it, I have to turn it up.
Fun Fact: Lead Guitarist Slash actually hated the song. He always thought it was simple because it was based in a basic “string skipping” exercise. Slash began playing it during a break of a VH1 special taping and when the rest of the band joined in. Axl heard them playing and wrote the lyrics in about five minutes.
I know I’m probably gonna catch it for this next pick. There are plenty of reasons I should I suppose, but I’m going to go with a pick that could be somewhat controversial for #9.
In 1988, Frank Farian, a record producer and songwriter, brought Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus together in Germany and formed the Duo Milli Vanilli. Right out of the box, they were an International hit. Their debut album, Girl You Know It’s True, exploded and was the source of hits like “Girl I’m Gonna Miss YOu” and “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” as well as the title track. The album went 6-time Platinum and the group won a grammy for Best New Artist in 1990.
But it didn’t take long for the train to com off the tracks. In late 1989, the band was performing live in a park in Bristol, Connecticut when they seemed to be repeating “Girl You Know It’s…” over and over, before running off stage, then returning moments later to continue the song. The cat was out of the bag, their lip syncing was exposed, and less than a week later, their grammy was rescinded.
Still, despite it all, I love this stuff. When I hear #9 – “Blame It On The Rain,” I’m instantly transported to a place in time. It’s not a specific place, but it’s some point in high school, in the passenger seat of Ken’s yellow truck, and he’s got those 10s banging with this tune. We’re probably cruise the Old Bay loop on a Friday night or headed to go fishing on a weekday afternoon. Either way, it makes me smile.
Everything about the video says 80s. Acid washed holey jeans, electronic drum pads, slo-mo montages, It’s all so perfect. If you grew up in the 80s and haven’t had a listen in a while, do yourself a favor and download a few off the album, regardless of who really sang it, turn up the bass in your car and go for a cruise around whatever your old loop used to be. I’ll see you at #8
You might have heard of Amos Lee. He’s been around a few years, although his story is an interesting one. A friend of mine recently asked me to recommend some Amos Lee music, and so I sent him a quick Facebook Post. After posting I realized I’d created my Ultimate Amos Lee playlist. Here it is:
Supply & Demand
Seen It All Before
Shout Out Loud
Night Train (Amazing song)
Street Corner Preacher (Look up the Live Sessions on iTunes)
What’s Been Going On
Baby I Want You
Love in the Lies (Couldn’t find an actual video of this song)
Windows Are Rolled Down (Maybe the best/highest quality live recording I’ve ever heard)
Learned A Lot (This song is UH MAZING and I love the audience reaction to it)
I really think this guys is amazing and as you can see from the videos, he doesn’t disappoint live. His music clearly comes from life experience and I’m blown away by both his voice and the lyrics in his music. He gave an interview on NPR that gives great insight into who he is. What do you think? Did I miss a song? Do you have a one-and-only favorite? Share. I’d love to hear it!
I know I said I’d be discussing “A New Earth” and I will be. But today is a good day to talk about music, I think. Occassionally, I find myself catching a new song, or at least one I haven’t heard on the radio and down I go on this trip through music as I try to discover as much as I an about this new artist. Not too many years ago I’d have had to go to a music store and buy a CD and hope I liked what I heard. Now with itunes, google, xm radio, pandora and all the other goodies out there, i never have to leave my desk to go wander down a musical road that leads me who knows where.
I particularly like any tool that can let me immediately get from listening to a song to itunes. Both Pandora and StarlightXM on my Mac give me that ability. With one click, I go from listening to a song to itunes to cha-ching! It’s mine. At this point I have to plug XM Radio and channel 51 – coffeehouse. True, they do have a limited playlist and I hear quite a few repeats, but they genre and artists are just what I need for a nice little diversion.
XM is where I found my true favorite artist of the last couple of years – Amos Lee. If you’ve missed out, stop reading this now and look him up on Itunes. Seriously. Stop and search him. I’d suggest starting with “Keep it loose, keep it tight” and then follow it up with “Seen It All Before” then move into “Night Train” or “Black River.”
The latest I’m hooked on is Ben Taylor. He’s the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor, so really he had no choice but to be a great singer/songwriter. Again, I was listening to XM and on popped this song “Nothing I Can Do.” Wow. First of all its got a melody that’s really easy to listen to, and any time a song is led with an acoustic guitar, I’m hooked. But even more engaging are the lyrics. From the start you can tell it’s a love song and the lyrics and the tempo in which they are delivered are absolutely hypnotizing. Check this out:
First morning ever to have seen the sun
Must have run the other way
Until she found that it was only getting earlier that way
When she spun one-hundred eighty degrees
And beheld the sweet light rising through the trees
She fell to her knees and she began to smile, because
She had been in darkness for a long long while,
It’s clever and clear and meaningful and it’s got a great sound. If you want to see talent, watch the video below and keep an eye on his fingers as they make a pretty impressive reach. The lyrics go on:
And the first river to have met the sea,
I beleive he must’ve sighed, said
All this rambling I’m glad to finally find, that
After all I haven’t just been wasting my time.
Good stuff. I’m a bit fanatical about music. For me, it must be spiritual and special and somehow a language given to us so that we could communicate after all our words quit working. So I often find myself moved by music. I also continue to be impressed and in awe of talented musicians. There have certainly been times that I have depended on music to “talk me down” from emotional edges when I’ve been wound tight or completely wired.
I can’t imagine a world without music. As a matter of fact there are few moments throughout the day that aren’t filled with music in my world. Even right now I’ve got earphones in and i’m tapping my foot to the beat.
I hope you find a song, artist or genre that speaks to you, that moves you, that means something when you hear it. I hope you hear a tune that you can’t help singing along with. Do it. At a stoplight, in a parking lot, in the shower, on Friday evening, after work, in your kitchen with a glass of wine in your hand. Then share it. Because great music is meant to be shared, or it would never get written. Here’s one for you to enjoy.