The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KTOM- Song #396 …Senses Working Overtime by XTC.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #396: Senses Working Overtime by XTC.

XTC formed in the mid-1970s and released numerous albums over the course of the next several decades. They are fronted by singer/guitarists Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. XTC were a funny band, in a way, because they seemed to defy placement in any particular music genre; instead, they moved fluidly from early Punk, to New Wave, to Pop and to more original combinations of all three. They had several hits from early in their career such as “Making Plans for Nigel”, “Ball and Chain” and “Senses Working Overtime”. Later on in their career, they hit the Top Ten with “Dear God”, “The Mayor of Simpleton”, “Grass” and “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”.

XTC songs are noted for the inventiveness with which the band approached the playing of their instruments and for the wittiness of their wordplay. For instance, when you see the video for “Senses Working Overtime”, pay attention to the small things such as to how they use the tambourine or the order in which the drummer hits what he hits. These small touches, added up over the course of an entire song, give XTC songs a unique sound and feel and, as such, their fanbase tends to be more of a cult-following of music nerds than it does a broad base of popular appeal.

The most telling feature of XTC’s career was something that developed as the band began touring in the early 1980s in support of their album, “English Settlement”, from which, “Senses Working Overtime” comes. As the band toured North America, opening for The Police, frontman Andy Partridge began to develop a sense of anxiety that, eventually, morphed into full-blown stage fright. Despite using medication for his nervousness, Partridge was unable to complete his tour obligations and, from that point onward, XTC have been a studio-only band. It is felt that the band’s inability to make public appearances has stood in the way of larger, more mainstream successs. But, whatever the case, it has not stopped XTC from producing inventive music. *In fact, we will meet XTC again in this list, for their most popular and controversial song, “Dear God”. For now, I will leave you with one of their best known hits from early in their career, “Senses Working Overtime”. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Senses Working Overtime by XTC can be found here.

XTC have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KTOM- Song #397 …Enter Sandman by Metallica.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTom: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #397: Enter Sandman by Metallica.

Metallica are one of the most successful Heavy Metal bands of all time. They have album sales of well over 100 million worldwide. The band has consisted of core members: drummer, Lars Ulrich, Singer/guitarist, James Hetfield and guitarist, Kirk Hammett; along with a rotating cast of bass guitarists, of which, Robert Trujillo is the current member. Metallica began in the early 1980s as a “Thrash” or “Speed” Metal band. They played fast and hard and loud. Their songs were often based upon dark themes. Their fan base was very loyal. Metallica rewarded their fans with a string of hits such as “Whiplash”, “And Justice for All” and “One”.

Not only did Metallica produce an impressive collection of Heavy Metal songs during the 1980s and 90s, they were one of the bands most responsible for the system of song downloading that we have in place today. Waaaay back in the day, there was a computer file sharing service called, “Napster”. Napster allowed users to share computer files with each other for free. Not long after starting as a business, members of Napster began sharing song files among each other. In essence, music fans were getting to have their favourite songs without the artists in question being compensated in any form. Metallica sued Napster. For awhile, Lars Ulrich, who became the spokesperson for the band during the Napster trials, became a hated future among music fans for seeking to deny them free access to their favourite songs. As it turned out, there was justice for Metallica and for all artists who place their copyrighted material in the marketplace. The judge in the case ruled in favour of Metallica. As a result, we have pay-per-download streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify that must compensate artists whenever their music is downloaded.

Meanwhile, as the Napster trial was going on, Metallica met a Canadian producer named Bob Rock. Rock had been a member of the Canadian band, “Paul Hyde and the Payolas”. Bob Rock went into the production side of the business and one of his first major clients was Metallica. Under Rock’s guidance, Metallica released an eponymous album called “Metallica” that simply became known as “The Black Album”. On this album, Metallica moved away from thrash metal and moved toward a more radio-friendly rock sound. Many of their original fanbase were outraged and accused the band of selling out. Many pointed an accusatory finger at Bob Rock, as well, for leading the band away from their roots. However, the album sales for “The Black Album” went through the roof. The first single released from that album was “Enter Sandman”.

“Enter Sandman” is a creepy, suspenseful song about the fear that children may have about falling asleep and having nightmares. The song begins with the children’s lullaby, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”, which starts out sweetly enough but, as it goes on, the guitars and drums spring to life, rumbling and roaring and then, as the conclusion of the lullaby, they erupt into sonic life! It is a song that has become a staple of all of Metalica’s live shows. (As you will see in the video below….I should note that the live version does not contain the opening lullaby…only the album version does). As well, the song as been adopted by various sports teams as their entrance song. I will show one such instance where the song is used at a US College football game. It is something to see almost 100,000 people getting swept up in the fervour of “Enter Sandman”.

So, without further delay, here is “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. Enjoy.

PS: In the comments section, I am going to share a slightly-inappropriate but, very true story of what this song means to me when I hear it. I am not the main character in this story but, just the same, it affected me. Read the NSFW story below or not, if you would rather just stick to the musical facts in this post.

The link to the music video for Enter Sandman by Metallica can be found here.

Metallica have their own website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

The link to the video for Enter Sandman being used as a football hype song, can be found here.

Finally: here is my NSFW story of what Enter Sandman really means to me when I hear it being played.

NSWF: Ok, here is my story about “Enter Sandman”. Before becoming a homeowner, I lived in a series of apartments, in and around, Oshawa, Ontario. One of the apartments I had was in a house owned by a Dutch woodworker. He lived on the main floor of the house and had converted the upper floor into two separate apartments. I had one of the upper floor apartments and a good friend of mine at the time, Barb, had the other. Barb was a very tasteful, professional person and was very quiet. I didn’t even know she was across the hall most days. Eventually, she moved out to a house of her own and a new girl moved in. This is where “Enter Sandman” comes in.

The new girl was about ten years younger than me (so, barely 20 or so). She was a blonde, with a Lady Di-pixie cut. She wore long, flowing Laura Ashley floral dresses (when that was a thing). We were friendly but were never friends. However, every once and awhile, she would knock on my door and ask to use my phone (which, at the time, I thought was weird). After sitting on my couch for several times and chatting with her girlfriends, I imagine, and me not making any moves (Because I was STUPID that way), she stopped knocking on my door and, instead, started bringing a boyfriend around to her apartment. It was her life so I didn’t care what she was doing. Until, one day, when I was returning home from getting groceries, I entered the house to the opening notes of “Enter Sandman” blasting from her apartment. Prior to this, she had been a model tenant and neighbour as far as noise went. So, imagine me climbing the stairs to the landing that we shared as “Enter Sandman” begins to build in intensity. I stopped at the top of the stairs because, truly, I was taken aback that she was rocking out like that. It was really loud! I could feel the bass vibrating through her door. Anyway, as I stood there, surrounded by the sounds of drums and thundering guitars, a new sound joined the mix……moans and groans!!!!……timed perfectly to the rise and fall of the notes of that song. Once I realized that she and her boyfriend were making out, I quickly entered my own apartment, put my groceries away and then, left again to go for a walk. No need to be listening to that going on.

From that day onward, every time they made love, it was to the throbbing beat of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. And, every time I have heard that song since, all I can think about is that day, grocery bags in hand, when I heard the “Enter Sandman” remix version coming from across the hallway for the first time. True story.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #398 …Paid In Full by Eric B. and Rakim.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #398: Paid in Full by Eric B. and Rakim.

“Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim was one of the very first big Hip Hop hits in the 1980s once GrandMater Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and Run-DMC had laid the cultural foundation for this genre. Eric B. was a DJ in New York, Rakim was a young rapper in search of a partner. Together, they recorded some early demos which came to the attention of a man named Russell Simmons. Russell Simmons was head of the fledgling Hip Hop Production Company, “Def Jam Records”. *Simmons is, also, the brother of Joseph Simmons who, as you may remember, was “Reverend Run” from Run-DMC. Simmons signed Eric B. and Rakim to a contract and, from their debut album, “Paid in Full” was released.

“Paid in Full” was one of the first Hip Hop songs that expanded its lyrical message beyond being a mirror to events and emotions present from the local community. Hip Hop was born on street corners and local venues and often spoke to conditions found there. “Paid in Full” paid homage to that, to a point but, it also helped establish an internal dialogue that moved the narrator away from the streets into a fictionalized future. Some point to “Pain in Full” as the beginning of the Hip Hop “Thug Life” culture and, as such, it is a song that holds tremendous importance in the history of Hip Hop.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to “Paid in Full” being released. There are, actually, two versions of it. The first version is the one recorded by Eric B. and Rakim at Def Jam Studios. The second version is a remix by an English DJ-duo called Coldcut. The original version debuted to moderately-successful album sales but, the remix went straight to #1. If you have ever heard a song exhorting you to “Pump Up The Volume! Pump Up The Volume!” then, you have heard the remix of “Paid in Full” (whether you realized that this is what it was or not). The Coldcut remix is credited with being one of the very first mega-successful attempts at remixing an existing song. In the remix, Coldcut used a myriad of sampled voices including everyone from actor Humphrey Bogart, to TV announcer Don Pardo, to an Israeli singer named Ofra Haza. They sampled a variety of beats and brass instruments; looping and extending and repeating them as needed. The remix of “Paid in Full” is called “Seven Minutes of Madness” but, in reality, it is seven minutes of creative excellence. When asked to describe the process by which they were able to blend spoken words and beats and Rakim’s rapping so seamlessly, Coldcut replied that it was the ability to experiment with sounds from songs as they played in Clubs and in their own homes. It reminds me of the importance of “Play” for children and how so much of their creativity is derived from imaginative play.

Anyway, even if Hip Hop isn’t your thing, I am betting that you may have heard snippets of the remix of “Paid in Full” at one time or another. Regardless as to whether you have heard it or not, the song is well worth a listen. The mash-up of sounds is so well done and the message of Rakim’s rapping is such an important cultural touchstone in Hip Hop history. So, prepare to become the cool kid in your circle and have a listen to one of the most influential Hip Hop songs of all time, “Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim, remixed by Coldcut. Enjoy.

A link to the music video for Paid in Full by Eric B. and Rakim, remixed by Coldcut, can be found here.

Eric B. and Rakim have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Thanks to KEXP for supporting important artists and the music they make. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #399 …Don’t Go by Yazoo.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #399: Don’t Go by Yazoo (featuring Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke).

When I first moved from Cape Breton to go to university in Toronto in 1982, the school had an “orientation week” for new students. There are always a lot of social mixers involved in these weeks and, with these social mixers. came alcohol. One such party was held in the Common Room in the basement of my residence (which was called Neill-Wycik College). I had the first 8(!) beers of my life that night. I can still remember the amusement I felt at trying so hard to walk within a straight row of tiles on the floor and not being able to make it past tile #3 or 4 before staggering off to the side. I don’t remember how I got back to my bedroom that night but, just before I left the party, I do remember hearing this absolutely terrific song for the first time. The female singer’s voice was unlike anything I had ever heard. The synthesizer work was amazing to me, too. Even in the fog that was my brain at that moment, I could tell that this song was something special. The song turned out to be, “Don’t Go!” and the group was called Yazoo! This is the story of one of Synth-Pop’s signature songs. This is the story of Yazoo.

Yazoo consisted of two people; singer, Alison Moyet and keyboardist extraordinaire, Vince Clarke. Both of their stories are very interesting so, I shall discuss both. But first, I’ll talk about the band. Yazoo was formed in 1981 when Clarke answered an ad placed by Moyet, who was a singer in search of bandmates. Together, they formed Yazoo and ended up having a string of very successful, genre-defining singles such as “Nobody’s Diary”, “Only You”, “Situation” and “Don’t Go”. The combination of Moyet’s deep, soulful voice and Clarke’s wizardry with the synthesizer helped launch Synth-Pop as a genre. However, internal and external pressures conspired to break up the band, as it were, and, Yazoo ceased to exist a mere two or three years later. But, the story doesn’t end there. The experiences of both Moyet and Clarke are different and are noteworthy for their differences. Let’s take Vince Clarke first.

Clarke has long been associated with top-notch musical acts. Before answering Moyet’s ad for bandmates, Clarke was a member of an up and coming band that you may have heard of called, “Depeche Mode”. As “Depeche Mode” was sorting itself out after one album, beginning a career that saw it end up in The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Clarke sought newer, creative opportunities. He felt he had that when he paired up with Alison Moyet and began providing the techno-counter-balance to her earthy voice. For awhile, he was correct. Together, the partnership flourished and Yazoo were as popular as any band in the world. Eventually, pressures that had more to do with Moyet (as we shall soon find out about) caused the band to grind to a halt. Clarke left Yazoo and joined up with a man named Andy Bell and, together, they formed the highly-successful band, “Erasure”. *”Erasure” has had an incredible string of Top 40 hits and will be profiled on their own in the coming weeks. “Erasure” is still producing music today and Vince Clarke remains a respected musician throughout the world.

As for Alison Moyet…..she is one of those generational singers. Her voice is strong and powerful and utterly distinctive. The comparison that is often made with Alison Moyet is between her and Adele. At the time of the creation of Yazoo, there was no one with the stage presence of Alison Moyet. That was a good thing and a bad thing, as it turned out. A singer is a singer and a song is a song and a voice is a voice. That should be all that matters. But, in our world, there is one final layer added and that is appearance. When Yazoo was formed, Alison Moyet was a large, plus-size woman. She wore a severe, brush cut style of hair and was quickly declared to be “butch” and “unattractive”. It didn’t seem to matter that she possessed a singularly unique voice and singing style. What ended up mattering first was that she wasn’t Barbie. Needless to say, it isn’t easy to be constantly berated for how one looks. The debate that raged made it difficult for Moyet’s talent and creative ambition to come to the fore. Moyet had dreams of making Blues albums and Dance albums and Jazz albums but, all that her record company wanted was more of the same Synth-Pop……more albums/less personal appearances. In the end, Moyet refused to play the media/music industry game any longer and she stopped making music. Her record company took her to court to make her fulfill her contractual obligations. Yazoo disbanded. Clarke left to pursue his own career with “Erasure”, leaving Moyet to languish in creative limbo; unable to record as she wished, unwilling to record what was being demanded of her by the record company.

With the passing of time (and the Statute of Limitations, I suspect), Alison Moyet has been enjoying a bit of a musical renaissance. In 2016, she re-appeared in public as the centrepiece of the annual Burberry Fashion Show in London. Moyet sang her four hits from the Yazoo years, while models passed by on the runway all around her. Once again, it was her physical appearance that garnered all of the attention. For health reasons, Moyet had slimmed down and lost a lot of weight. She has adopted a softer, more flowing hairstyle, too. She looks happy and healthy and fit. Her voice remains electric. I will post the original video of “Don’t Go” below and then, I will post the Burberry Fashion video, for comparison sake.

I will close by returning to the comparison made between Alison Moyet and Adele. Moyet’s experiences as a female singer are instructive when watching how Adele is handling her career. In both cases, they have unbelievable singing voices that separate them from all others in their peer group. In both cases, each woman started their career being called, “Fat” and “Overweight” and having that focus detract from the beauty of the music they were making. That obsession with appearance nearly derailed Moyet’s entire career. Keep that in mind as we watch Adele attempt to conform to the media/public’s idea of what females should look like. I notice the changes in her weight. Being healthy is important, of course but, being happy is important, too. Adele doesn’t have to be anything other than who she is for me to be happy. I feel as honoured to listen to the magnificence of her voice as I did that foggy, drunken evening in 1982 when I heard Alison Moyet’s voice for the first time. Both women are completely unforgettable. We are all the richer for being exposed to women of such talent. That is all that matters. Here is “Don’t Go!” by Yazoo. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Don’y Go by Yazoo can be found here.

The link to the music video for the Burberry Fashion Show, featuring Alison Moyet, can be found here.

Alison Moyet has her own website that can be reached by clicking on the link here.

Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their wonderful website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KTOM- Song #400 …Best Day of My Life by American Authors.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #400: Best Day of my Life by American Authors.

Well folks, we are officially 100 songs in! The first hundred have come and gone. I hope that you are enjoying these posts. I know that not every song is as well known as every other nor, do you even know or like each song but, overall, I hope that you are enjoying having a bit of storytelling to brighten your day, with the added bonus of having a few good tunes to soundtrack your heart and your mind’s day. As you may know by now, every 25th song goes to one of my daughters so, today, with her #9 selection on her personal Top Ten list is Sophie’s choice of “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors.

You may know this song by its title and, if not, once you hear it, you will ALL recognize it immediately. It was all over the airwaves when it was released in the summer of 2014. It is a light and sunny Pop tune which was the intention when it was written. “American Authors” are a US group comprised of Zac Barnett, Dave Rubin, Matt Sanchez and James Shelley. They wrote the song in response to one of the most heart-wrenching tragedies in recent US History….The Sandy Hook School shooting. The guys in the band wanted to write something that was uplifting and happy and would help heal the wounds laid bare by Sandy Hook. The result of their efforts was “Best Day of my LIfe”. The message in the song is simply to keep plugging away no matter what life throws at you because, if you do, you’ll enjoy sunnier days and, maybe even, the “best day of your life.”

Before writing this post, I asked Sophie why she chose this song as one of her Top Ten favourites of all time. She replied that “Best Day of my Life” was a song that was used a lot at her school by her teachers at end-of-term/end-of-year assemblies. At these assemblies, Sophie’s teachers would put together a montage of photos of the kids doing their thing and would pair it with the song, “Best Day of my Life.” The memories of those shared experiences with her school mates and teachers makes Sophie’s heart smile. That, in turn, makes my heart smile, too. Both girls have gone to the same, small community school. The staff there have been absolutely fantastic and have helped Leah and Sophie, with, get off to a wonderful start in life. As parents, we are incredibly indebted to them for what they have done for our girls.

While the Sandy Hook tragedy and our own experiences with Covid-19 are not exactly the same, they both share one thing in common and that is loss. Whether it is loss of life or loss of experiences, both have impacted us all in very fundamental ways. Many experts speak of the mental health aspect of the Covid pandemic. When I reflect on Sophie’s song choice for today, I think about the mental health of our children, too. They have lost a lot over the course of these past two years. As adults, we may view the pandemic in terms of lives lost, freedoms restricted or in economic terms. Our children view it in terms of losing their world. They have lost access to their friends, to their hobbies and recreation and, for many, they have lost the safe place in their lives that is school. Our children may not always come right out and express their inner feelings directly but, they may wax nostalgic about past experiences lost and leave you to connect the dots that lead to their heart.

These are tough times, to say the least but, according to Sophie’s song choice, by persevering, better days are possible. Let’s all hope that this is true. As I write these words, our neighbourhood, is green and our gardens, in bloom. It looks gorgeous outside at the moment. The world looks beautiful from our window. Here’s hoping for a good day for us all. Thanks for the terrific song, Sophie! You are loved.

The link to the music video for Best Day of My Life by American Authors can be found here.

American Authors have their own website which can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KTOM- Song #401 …Uprising by Muse.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTom: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #401: Uprising by Muse.

Muse is a band out of the UK that consists of singer/guitarist, Matt Bellamy, bass guitarist, Chris Wolstenholme and drummer, Dominic Howard. Muse has been releasing albums since 1999 and has released eight so far, selling over 20 million albums worldwide in the process. Muse tends to produce albums that have a concept or theme running throughout it. As a result, there is a theatrical bent to their albums, as they aim to tell more complex stories over numerous, inter-connected songs. Because of the dramatic storytelling narratives at play in their music, Muse have put much energy into their live performances and, as such, they have become well known for the visual spectacle that is a live Muse show.

Although, as band recognition goes, Muse can be regarded as an under-rated band, their fanbase is legion and are very devoted (as you will see in the video accompanying this post). The song, “Uprising” came from an album called, “Resistance”. That album explored the themes of autocratic government regimes and the restrictions they place of the lives of ordinary citizens. The song, “Uprising” depicts two young lovers seeking to fulfill their desires in an atmosphere of restrictions and oppression. The chorus is a rousing declaration of defiance from the young lovers:

“They will not force us,

And they will stop degrading us.

They will not control us

And we will be victorious!!!!”

The chorus is usually sung with fervour from the entire audience, in addition to Bellamy’s amazing voice, and is accompanied by much fist pumping and arm waving. It is theatre and pageantry on a scale that we don’t often see anymore in modern concerts.

So, buckle up and get ready for quite a show! The crowd is excellent in this video. Matt Bellamy can sure sing! As well, check out the rubber neck on Chris Wolstenholme, the bassist. If I tried to move like he does, I’d be in traction before the song ended. Finally, note that drummer, Dominic Howard is a rare, lefty drummer. His drum kit is built/arranged for left-handed drummers only. If you like songs with vision and broad intentions then, I think you’ll enjoy Muse and, in particular, the song, “Uprising”.

The link to the music video for Uprising by Muse can be found here.

Muse have a wonderful website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #402 …Brimful of Asha by Cornershop.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #402: Brimful of Asha by Cornershop.

I am going to make an assumptive leap and guess that most of you, like me, upon reading the title of today’s song said, “What song is this? I’ve never heard this before in my life!” Fair enough. Back in the Fall, when I first scrolled through this entire list of 500 songs, I stopped at #402. It struck me as interesting that someone who likes music as much as I do could possibly not know a song that was, purportedly, one of the best of all time nor, the group who sings it. So, I listened to the song. It is from the UK and is a rather peppy, catchy pop tune. I think most of you will like it when you listen to it. Then, I did some research. I am glad I did. What my research revealed serves as a reminder to me that I am not the master of all I survey. Sometimes, my worldview is coloured by the cultural experiences that shape my life. There is nothing inherently wrong with that except when one falls into the trap of thinking that your worldview is the only worldview. When you stop taking the time to realize that life on our planet is unfolding in myriad ways; some of which are completely different than yours. That’s when trouble begins or, in this case, you miss a special song like a “Brimful of Asha”. Let me tell you what I found out about it.

A “Brimful of Asha” is a song dedicated to a woman named Asha Bhosle. Asha Bhosle is affectionately referred to as “Sadi rani” or “our Queen” in India. She came to be known by that name because of her contributions to the culture of India through her work on Bollywood films. As you may be aware, singing and dancing are trademarks of many films originating in India. As people from India emigrate around the world, they bring aspects of their culture with them to their new homes. Bollywood films are a part of that culture and are, increasingly, becoming well known around the globe. Asha Bhosle is known in India as a “playback singer” which means that she is the actual singer of the songs that appear in Bollywood movies and that the on-screen actors merely lip-sync. Asha Bhosle has sung over 12,000 songs in Bollywood movies. She is revered as being a “queen” or “mother” of Indian culture, as a result.

The song, “A Brimful of Asha” was released in the UK by Cornershop in 1997. It did not do very well upon its release so, a few years later, it was re-mixed (and made faster) by a man named Norman Cook. The Norman Cook Re-mix is the version that became popular and went to #1 on the Pop charts. In the song, there are references to “bosoms for a pillow”. When asked about this, Cornershop claimed that there was nothing sexual being implied. Instead, they said that it referred to motherhood and to Asha Bhosle’s role as “mother of Indian culture”. The video for “A Brimful of Asha” is a mash-up of dancers dancing in the UK. It is not a direct take on Bollywood dancing per se but, instead, it is showing how the dance-centric cultural traditions of India are manifesting themselves in Britain. It is a fun song and a fun video. If you like those Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” mashup videos then, I believe that you will like “A Brimful of Asha”, too.

Sometimes, our eyes don’t allow us to see what is clearly there. Dance is a universal expression of happiness. This song reminds me (and, maybe you, too) that beauty and culture and skill appear in many forms and in many places. The trick is remembering to not always look where you’ve always been or else, you’ll only see what you’ve already seen. There is no growth in that approach. So, thanks, Cornershop, for creating such a boppy song and reminding me to expand my worldview. Because of you and your song, I have grown. Enjoy the video, folks! It is a good one!

The link to the music video for Brimful of Asha by Cornershop can be found here.

Cornershop have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Thanks to KEXP for your role in the creation of this post and, as well, for helping to expand my own horizons via your support of beautiful music from the four corners of the world. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #403 …Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #403: “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

Like many young adults, my university years were a time of personal growth and awakening for me. Being exposed to so many new cultures and opportunities was good for me in many ways. Musically speaking, being in Toronto afforded me the chance to experience new genres of music and to be introduced to bands and singers I had never heard of before. One of those new-to-me bands was Simple Minds. I first became aware of Scotland’s, “Simple Minds” when a roommate of mine handed me an album called, “Sparkle in the Rain”. On that album, I was introduced to classic Simple Minds songs such as “Waterfront”, “Up On The Catwalk”, “Book of Brilliant Things” and “Speed Your Love To Me”. That album led me to check out their previous work which brought songs such as “Love Song”, “Promised You a Miracle” and the very first 12-inch single I ever owned called, “Someone, Somewhere in Summertime”. I thought that Simple Minds were terrific! Lead singer, Jim Kerr, had an excellent, deep singing voice and the band, as a whole, had a greater bredth of sound than the usual synth-pop bands of the day. I was not alone in my admiration. “Simple Minds” had several Gold records in Canada and the UK. The one country that seemed oblivious to their charms was the U.S. That all changed with movie by John Hughes called, “The Breakfast Club”.

The song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me) is a funny song, in a way. It was written by songwriters Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff with Jim Kerr and Simple Minds in mind. However, the band rejected the song when first approached. Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music) and Billy Idol were, also, offered the song, only to reject it, as well. The record company suggested a Canadian singer named Corey Hart might want the song but, before offering the song to him (just as “Sunglasses at Night” was reaching #1), the songwriters re-approached Simple Minds. Luckily for all concerned, Jim Kerr had started dating the lead singer of The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde. She thought that the song had “mainstream” potential and, if the band wanted a U.S. breakthrough then, this song might be the open door they had been waiting for. Turns out that Hynde was correct.

“The Breakfast Club” was a film that came to define the 1980s for many and the song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, bookending the iconic movie’s opening and closing credits as it does, served as the movie’s anthem. Even though “Simple Minds” went on to have more hits in Canada and the UK, such as, “Alive and Kicking”, “Sanctify Yourself” and “The Belfast Child”, “The Breakfast Club” Soundtrack was their only #1 hit in America. My beautiful wife, Keri, likes this song so she will be happy with today’s post. As for me, “Simple Minds” have always meant more to me than this one song. They are one of my “University bands”. They are one of the bands that took me in a lifelong direction toward Alternative music. As much as “Simple Minds” are best known for a movie soundtrack song, to me, they are part of the soundtrack of my entry into adulthood and, as such, I will never forget them.

In the video below, I will play a video that shows clips from the movie. If Leah (my eldest daughter) is reading this, I think she should watch this video because, in it, she will see so many iconic scenes that were copied on the show, “Victorious” when they did their “Breakfast Club”-themed episode. As well, in the comments section, I will post a video of the band playing live from their performance in 1985 at Live Aid. Enjoy.

The link to the music video to Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds, from the original motion picture soundtrack to The Breakfast Club, can be found here.

The link to the live music video of Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds can be found here.

Simple Minds have a wonderful website that is well worth checking out. A link to that website can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #404 …Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #404: Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney.

Has this ever happened to you? You have an event to attend (a new class at school, a public lecture, even someone’s private party) and you arrive a few minutes before the appointed time, only to discover that there is hardly anyone there? It is a weird feeling. You instantly stop yourself and start to question whether or not you are supposed to be there. Is this the correct day? Did I get the time wrong and I’m too early. Luckily, these instances have been infrequent and the strange feeling of disconnect that washes over me is temporary. I always end up going in and being welcomed and having a wonderful time in the end. I always end up where I belong.

Many people in our society experience that feeling of social disconnection. For them, the feeling of inclusion that comes so easily for me tends to be more elusive for them. I can only imagine how it feels to be Indigenous in a Colonial world or to be a person of colour in our whitebread society. I, also, will never know what it is to be female in a culture ruled by the Patriarchy. Today’s song and group are all about the latter. Sleater-Kinney are an all-female group comprised of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (vocals and guitars) and Janet Weiss (drums). They formed in the heyday of the “Seattle Grunge Scene” of the early 1990s. That was a time when bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, to name but, a few, were on the rise. Mainstream media were enchanted with these hard-rocking, literate, all-male bands. The Seattle scene was thriving……if……you were male and could play an instrument and/or could sing. But, what if you were female and wanted in? That wasn’t so easy. Female bands tended to be dismissed, outright or else, they were met with a chorus of misogyny or vitriol. No one really listened to their words or appreciated their musicianship.

So, in a case like that, a type of resistance emerged in the form of a political and creative movement called Riot Grrrls. The Riot Grrrl Movement consisted of mostly all-female bands whose purpose and intent was to play for an almost exclusively female audience. The content of their songs would be ones that these women weren’t seeing addressed in modern, patriarchal circles. Topics such as gender politics, sexual orientation, etc., were all on the table. Riot Grrrl bands tended to be fairly fluid in their composition; forming, playing for awhile, breaking up, reforming with new members of other bands and so on, repeating the cycle, again and again. One of the few bands that lasted over time was Sleater-Kinney.

The song “Dig Me Out” came from their third album, also called, “Dig Me Out”. Sleater-Kinney were gaining an underground following after albums #1 and 2 but, by the time “Dig Me Out” appeared, audiences and music critics really began to take notice. Just prior to its release, SPIN Magazine (who were big fans of the band) wrote an article outing Brownstein and Tucker as being in a lesbian relationship. Such a relationship was quite acceptable in Riot Grrrl circles but, even in the 1990s, the general public were still not so embracing of what would be deemed, an “alternative” lifestyle. The pressure resulting from the scrutiny that befell their private life forced the two girls to split up as a couple. But, instead of breaking up the band, Brownstein and Tucker poured their emotional energy into the songs that appeared on “Dig Me Out”. The result was an incendiary album of forceful and passionate songs from start to finish!

It is important for aspiring female rockers to have role models. For Sleater-Kinney, they had musicians such as Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), Joan Jett and Patti Smith. But, more than just having role models, the girls of the bands that formed the Riot Grrrls Movement needed a safe place to play and to express themselves. As a result, we have terrific performances like the one you are about to see in the video for “Dig Me Out”. All three of these ladies can rock. They are all just as talented as any male band and play with just as much intensity and passion. If you watch this video, note the bond that still exists between Brownstein and Tucker as they play. They have such a natural, easy way with each other. Although they are not a couple, the affection certainly remains. It isn’t always easy to find that sense of belonging that brings about contentment and happiness but, Sleater-Kinney seem to have found it for themselves and are still bringing it to bear even today so that others may find their way, as well. Here is a ripping performance of “Dig Me Out” by the incomparable Sleater-Kinney. Enjoy!

The link to the music video for Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney can be found here.

Sleater-Kinney have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting important music and important acts like Sleater-Kinney. A link to KEXP’s website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #405 …Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #405: Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival.

“Fortunate Son” was written by singer John Fogarty and was released in 1969. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was in full swing at the time. In order to put together a fighting force to travel to Asia, the U.S. government re-instituted the Draft. For anyone unaware of what that means, it was a way of forcing civilians into the Armed Forces. If you received a letter stating that you had been drafted into the Armed Forces, you were legally obligated to report to duty. Failure to report when summoned could result in jail time and other related penalties. One of the most famous cases of “refusal to report” was by boxer, Muhammed Ali. When questioned by reporters as to why he was refusing to allow himself to be drafted, he replied that he had no quarrel with the VietCong. Furthermore, he pointed to the inequities of the Draft. He stated that it was predominantly the poor and the racialized who were being sent off to fight in Vietnam. Ali ended up being stripped of his Championship title because of his stand against the Draft. While Ali was holding his press conferences, a draft letter was delivered to John Fogarty. While Fogarty questioned the purpose of going off to a war he felt was more politically-motivated than it was a security issue, what bothered him even more was the seeming unfairness of how the Draft was unfolding. Not only were the poor and racial minorities filling a majority of the call-ups, the reverse was becoming true for the upper class. It seemed to Fogarty that if you had enough money and enough political connections then, “personal deferments” were easy to come by and one was able to buy his way out of active service. In particular, Fogarty was watching with interest as a political union was formed by the marriage of Julie Nixon (daughter of Richard Nixon) and David Eisenhauer (son of President Dwight D. Eisenhauer). It became the inspiration behind the line in “Fortunate Son” where Fogarty sneers, “I ain’t no senator’s son!”

One of the most famous men to acquire a “personal deferment” via his wealth and family connections was a New York Real Estate Developer named Donald Trump. While Trump was not the initial inspiration for “Fortunate Son”, he certainly became the poster boy for the song when he decided to use it as a “hype” song during campaign stops in the most recent US Presidential election. The song, “Fortunate Son” rails against the inequity of class when it came to serving America’s military interests abroad. The organizers of Trump’s rallies seemed oblivious to the idea that the song was, actually, against everything Trump stood for and was espousing. Eventually, Fogarty took out a cease-and-desist order and stopped Trump from using the song at his events.

“Fortunate Son” was one of the best-selling songs that Credence Clearwater Revival released. It sold millions of copies and has gone on to be one of the defining anti-war anthems of the modern era in U.S. history. C.C.R. was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Their song, “Fortunate Son” was enshrined into the U.S. Library of Congress because of its cultural impact. Despite the fact that the Draft was cancelled and recruitment into the Armed Forces is, once again, voluntary, the fact remains that membership in the U.S. Armed Forces is comprised primarily of those on the lower half of the socio-economic scale. What John Fogarty was quoted as saying when “Fortunate Son” was originally released in 1969, still holds true today, “There’s an old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them.”…..especially true if “you ain’t no senator’s son!” Ladies and gentlemen, here is “Fortunate Son” by C.C.R. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater Revival can be found here.

The link to a news interview regarding how Fogarty felt about Donald Trump using Fortunate Son at his campaign rallies, can be found here.

A link to the John Fogarty website can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.