Tuesday Tunes (flashback): December 8, 2009

Another one from the archives of Music Memoirs, this one from December 8, 2009.

Let’s do a winter word association, music style: I give you some words and you tell me the artist, song etc that you first think of.

snowflake:  This is going to sound weird, but the first thing I think of is that my friend Donna (one of my inspirations for starting this online journaling thing before it was called blogging; another reason this is not a blog) chronicled her very long struggle to conceive.  When she went through IVF, the little fertilized eggs they implanted in her were her “snowflakes,” and for the early stages of her pregnancy, she referred to her soon-to-be daughter as her snowflake.  And when I think of Donna and music, I always think of Stryper.

bitter:  The bitterest song I know is Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen.”

cold:  “Cold Gin” by Kiss. Ace Frehley wrote this, but in the early days of Kiss, Ace wasn’t very confident in his singing, so Gene Simmons sang it, even though Gene doesn’t drink. Ace re-recorded it for this year’s covers album, Origins, Vol. 1, maybe the last album I bought in 2016 before I had to switch into austerity mode. It’s a pretty dang good album, and Ace’s cover of his own song is a highlight. What an infectious riff.

snuggle: “We’ll snuggle close together like two birds of a feather would be.”

kind:  “Cruel to be Kind” by Nick Lowe.  A very very good song.

tree:  Wayne and Wanda, of course.

dark:  One of the greatest albums of all time, The Dark Side of the Moon.  I’ve waxed poetic about it in this space before.  Its greatness really cannot be overstated.

long:  Huh.  I wouldn’t have predicted this, but the first thing that pops into my mind is Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Long Time Gone.”  I can think of twenty songs with this word in the title, but this is the one I think of first.  Not really going to complain about that.  David Crosby’s lead vocals on this are some of his best.

candy:  I can’t think of anything once I think of Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy.”

special:  I have this 80s playlist in Spotify, and I spent some time adding stuff to it last night (it’s up to about 160 excellent songs).  Somehow, when I first created the playlist three years ago, I’d forgotten to include .38 Special, a band I totally loved when I was in ninth grade.  So I added some of my favorite songs by them while riding home on the bus last night.

I may have written about this before, but I got my first paying job in ninth grade, so I thought I might be able to go to my first rock concert, now that I’d be able to pay for it myself.  .38 Special was going to play, with Golden Earring opening, and I wanted so much to go!  I presented my case to my father, but I knew I was going to get a no.  It was on a school night.  My dad said he respected that I was trying to pay for my own entertainment, and all the details were in order except that he couldn’t let me go on a school night.  My parents had been consistent my whole life about school nights, so this wasn’t a shock, and I actually kind of understood.  I was prepared for no and no is what I got.  It was fine.  I saw Rush in concert a year and a half later, and I’m still proud to say that was my first show.  I think of .38 Special as almost my first concert.

The Ten Best Pink Floyd Songs

Ten Best Pink Floyd Songs
I like this list because unlike similar bands with large discographies, Pink Floyd can say that their best work is the stuff that gets played on the radio. I like a lot of their deeper cuts, but I have to admit that their very best work is familiar even to casual listeners of FM radio.

1. “Comfortably Numb” — from The Wall (1979)
Some of my favorite slow guitar soloing (especially in the fadeout), and probably Pink Floyd’s best lyrics, which certainly plays a part in my liking this song.

2. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” — From The Wall (1979)
Anyone who knows only one Pink Floyd song knows this one. I used to dislike the slow disco beat, but now I love it. When I got my first cell phone ten years ago (or however long ago it was), the first ringtone I got, back when you had to purchase ringtones, was a tinny, electronic sound of the riff from this song. This is my favorite Pink Floyd guitar solo, too.

3. “Wish You Were Here” — From Wish You Were Here (1975)
Almost surely Pink Floyd’s most-covered song. Several years ago, Rodrigo y Gabriela started playing this in their concerts. Since they don’t sing, audience participation can be tricky for them to pull off, but the opening notes of this song always get their audiences excited and the audiences just sing the song while Rodrigo y Gabriela play the instruments. I’ve seen the same thing happen at late-night campfires on the beach.

4. “Welcome to the Machine” — From Wish You Were Here (1975)
“It’s all right; we know where you’ve been!” I have no idea what this song is about, but that adds to my fondness for it. I love the eeriness of this song.

5. “Brain Damage” / “Eclipse” — From The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
It’s two songs, but they’re connected on the album, and radio stations never play them separately, so it’s no foul to count them as one song. This was my favorite song of theirs all through my high school years. I even took my senior yearbook quote from it: “You lock the door and throw away the key; there’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.” As the conclusion to one of the greatest albums of all time, it’ll always have a special place in my heart.

6. “Sheep” — from Animals (1977)
This album is kind of recent discovery for me, and this is the only song on my list that never gets played on the radio (the others get played pretty regularly). Like most Pink Floyd songs, it’s much better in context, but it does stand out on a great album as an especially mind-blowing track.

7. “Learning to Fly” — from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)
I didn’t care much for this song at all when it was an MTV hit after my high school graduation — I didn’t care for the video, and still don’t. It’s grown on me in recent years, enough to move it ahead of the other really good song from this album. I really dig the rhymes at the end of the chorus: “Tongue-tied and twisted: just an earthbound misfit, I.” I also like “Ice is forming on the tips of my wings / unheeded warnings, I thought I’d thought of everything.”

8. “Hey You” — From The Wall (1979)
My love for this song comes mostly from the lyric “Hey you / don’t let them bury the light / don’t give in without a fight,” and I love the way it’s sung. End of the first verse.

9. “On the Turning Away” — From A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)
Probably their preachiest, most positive song. I like it anyway.

10. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI – IX)” — from Wish You Were Here (1973)
This whole album is just so sad.

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I was sorry to leave out “Time,” which includes my favorite Pink Floyd lyrics ever (“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way” got me through my final two weeks of undergraduate study), “Have a Cigar,” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which is their best song title. I limited myself to ten, though, so of course certain favorites were going to have to be left off the list.