Struggling Weekly, April 26, 2012
Regular readers of the Weekly Struggles will have gotten the impression that I like popular music of the rock ’n roll variety, particularly “album rock” of the late 1960s and early-to-mid ’70s variety.
But even for such an aficionado as I, there are songs that I have heard way too many times, and don’t particularly want to hear again. Which is why I avoid “classic rock” stations on FM, and prefer the Deep Tracks channel on Sirius XM to Classic Vinyl.
But in case the programmers of the former are listening, I will list my Hateful Eight — the songs I really don’t want them to play again, in less-worse-to-first order:
“Money” — I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan, and this number, the English band’s first real American hit, comes from “Dark Side of the Moon,” a milestone album in the genre, which still holds up pretty well going on 40 years.
But I get really tired of well-off artists going on about the evils of the filthy lucre. I prefer Van Morrison’s take, from “The Great Deception”:
“Did you ever hear about the rock and roll singer
Got three or four Cadillacs
Saying power to the people, dance to the music
Wants you to pat him on the back”
“We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You” — Queen owns the rare honor of having two — okay, maybe three, depending on how you count them — on my list. This one/two punch gets played way too much at sporting venues, and is pretty typical of the group’s bombast. It rates lower/higher than their other entry only because the other one’s longer.
“Taking Care of Business” — Theme music to too many business-products-and-so-on commercials, and one would be too many, if you’re going to argue about how many different ads it’s been used in. According to my “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts” theory of rock band organization, this wouldn’t have happened if Randy Bachman had stuck with Burton Cummings in the Guess Who, and not gone into Overdrive.
“Band on the Run” — The “Whole is Greater” theory also applied to the Greatest Band Ever. This is perhaps the best thing Paul McCartney ever did after leaving the Beatles, but he set the bar pretty low, it gets played way too much, and just reminds me too much of “Ooh, You” and “Monkberry Moon Delight.” The answer to Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep” song/question? By listening to the sound of Wings …
“Rocket Man” — Okay, the VW commercial — the point of which was that their car stereos made the lyrics finally intelligible — almost made this endearing, although you’ve got to wonder what’s the point with songs whose lyrics you can’t understand. Elton John’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin, wrote some great lines, but “The laws of science I don’t understand, it’s just my job five days a week” makes no sense whatsoever. The idea that even a lower level employee on a spaceship wouldn’t understand the laws of science defies logic.
Oh, and I could have nailed Sir Elton and Bernie for a two-fer, with “Bennie and the Jets,” but it’s only the first few bars of that song that get overplayed at the ballparks.
“Stairway to Heaven” — Somebody in Led Zeppelin liked J.R.R. Tolkien, because just about every album contained a “Lord of the Rings”-flavored song. Sometimes it worked — “The Battle of Evermore” comes to mind — but more often the lyrics made no sense, like “in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girls so fair.”
This over-extended attempt also has some really nonsense lines. And it’s problematic when you’re hard rockers and one of your songs gets used as the theme for a lot of Junior Proms — puts you in the same league with Three Dog Night and “Pieces of April.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” — Queen climbs to the top of the pile (of you-know-what) with what I consider to be their most wretched excess. A friend’s father once praised it as being like opera, which made me wonder just what was in his cocktails, and wasn’t exactly a good selling point for me.
Personally, I think that a lot of people that tell us we need to get cultured by watching stuff like ballet and opera, when they go home, put a “Jackass” or “Three Stooges” DVD in the machine, kick back and laugh at anybody who follows their advice.