It was an intense week for The 500 this go around. One of the advantages of writing Beyond the 500 is I can pick and choose what I write about. I do engage in some research and have been listening to albums I haven’t heard in while, so it is not completely off the cuff. However, I did not have to listen to six plus hours of the Beach Boys. As Guitar George remarked recently, “If you have Pet Sounds and Endless Summer, that’s all the BB you need.” That said, this week’s selection is chock-full of good music, so let’s get started.
390. The White Stripes – Elephant
The White Stripe’s Elephant is outstanding, and “Seven Nation Army” is an amazing song. Those people who complain about it being chanted at sporting events need to get a grip. First the origin story of how it became an anthem in sporting venues worldwide is a good one. It was started in Italy, so blame the Italians and the Belgians who were there. Read more here, if you are interested. And Jack White himself thinks it is awesome as he tells Conan here.
You should too.
I think my favorite song on Elephant and perhaps by the White Stripes period is “The Hardest Button to Button.” The writers at the Simpsons also dig it, which led to Jack and Meg being included in an episode. If you can make it onto the Simpsons, you have made it (or something like that).
385. Bob Dylan – Love and Theft
I like this album plenty. “Mississippi” is probably my favorite track, but I don’t have a huge connection to it for whatever reason. There’s plenty more from Bob coming up, and that will change! I’m glad Kyle and Bennett enjoyed it. It was his 31st studio album, and they were impressed with the output after so many records. Well, I have them all (except Down in the Groove for obvious reasons), as well as all of the Bootleg compilations.
382. Modern Lovers – Modern Lovers
This album is important to me and is one of my all-time favorites. And Jonathan Richman, the singer, is one of my musical heroes. He is the only person I have written a fan letter to, and he replied!
Plus, he once danced with my girlfriend. I still need to write a song about that.
“Roadrunner” is my ringtone and I firmly believe it should be/have been the state song of Massachusetts. This album is irresistible, and Kyle and Bennett, as they are becoming more well-versed in the history of rock n’ roll music, recognized its greatness. That makes me happy. Here is my take on it as I go back to Marsh Hall, my freshman year dorm.
- “Roadrunner” is just an amazing, almost perfect rock n’ roll song. In this age of texting, I don’t get many actual phone calls but when I do it makes me happy hearing the first 30 seconds of this song. I also use it as a timer while cooking. You can’t tell me that isn’t punk rock! In a 2007 article, Guardian journalist Laura Barton retraces the route laid out in “rock’s most thrilling song.”
- “Pablo Picasso” is a hero and this is a hero song. It doesn’t deal with his painting genius, but how much of a fine gentleman he was. Well, some people try to pick up girls/and get called assholes/this never happened to Pablo Picasso/He could walk down your street/and girls could not resist his stare and/so Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole…not in New York (which is a great line). And Jonathan leaves the listener with these words to live by: oh well be not schmuck, be not obnoxious/be not bellbottom bummer or asshole …Alright this is it.
- How awesome is “I’m Straight” as a song asking the question, as Joe Jackson did six years later, “is she really going out with him?” The reason is because see, he’s stoned/Hippie Johnny/Now get this: I’m straight./and I want to take his place/now, look, I like him too,/I like Hippie Johnny/but I’m straight/and I want to take his place. An alternate version of the song, which you can hear in live versions, has Hippie Ernie instead of Hippie Johnny. I suspect Ernie is a real person.
- “Hospital” is such a sad song of longing. As the protagonist sings, I go to backeries all day long/there’s a lack of sweetness in my life/and there is pain inside/you can see it in my eyes …so when you get out of the hospital/let me back in your life/I can’t stand what you do/but I’m in love with your eyes.
- “Girlfriend” is the most straight forward song on a most straight forward album. The interpersonal details might be murky, but it is clear that this is an album about wanting to be with a person you can share your world with because if I were to walk to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston/well, first I’d go to the room where they keep the Cézanne/but if I had by my side a girlfriend/then I could look through the paintings/I could look right through them/because I’d have found something that I understand/I understand a girlfriend. Well, I am not completely sure he does, and that is what keeps us me listening and listening and listening all these years later.
- Bennett and Kyle correctly point out this is an album about modern love and ultimately it is a record about the “Modern World” with cars and rock n’ roll and pretty girls, who should put down the cigarette And drop out of B.U….and share the modern world with me.
Otherwise this week, I could’ve and should’ve written about Steely Dan, The Who and The Talking Heads. However, I am not a fan of Don Henley. On that note let’s see what Mojo Nixon has to say about the Eagles’ drummer. This is his song on the subject from 1990. Without further ado, “Don Henley Must Die.”
What’s currently on my iPhone: Body Complex by Heathered Pearls, Lost Tracks vol. 1 by Miss Kittin & The Hacker and American Drift by Elysia Crampton.