The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #445…Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac.

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 #445: Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to ask this beautiful woman called, Keri, out on a date but, almost didn’t. The reason for my hesitancy had nothing to do with my level of interest (which was high), it was simply because of the potential for complications due to the fact that we worked together. It isn’t always the best policy to date someone you work with. The reasons are fairly obvious. It is all fun and games when things go well, as they did for Keri and for me. But, when things go wrong and you still have to show up each day and work together productively and professionally well, it is hard. It is awkward. In the case of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, it leads to songs like, “Go Your On Way”.

Fleetwood Mac was one of the biggest bands in the world during their heyday in the 1970s. The group consisted of five people: drummer, Mick Fleetwood and then, two couples, John and Christine McVie and then, Nicks and Buckingham. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had been together for several years and had just broken up. Even though they had separated, the members of Fleetwood Mac decided to keep the band together. “Go Your Own Way” was written by Buckingham about his feelings toward Nicks after the break-up. The lyrics to this song are pretty self-explanatory and reveal a man who was bitter and hurt by Nicks leaving him. To be honest, I am not sure why the band agreed to even record such a song nor, how they were able to perform it with passion and professionalism each night on stage. It is, obviously, a source of discomfort and awkwardness akin to ripping a bandage off of a wound that hasn’t fully healed. Nonetheless, the song became a hit.

When you watch the video, you will note the physical distance that Nicks keeps from Buckingham throughout the performance and, as well, you can note the intensity with which Buckingham plays his guitar. There is a lot of emotional baggage on view. Some people like to watch the suffering of others, I suppose, because it gives them a feeling of superiority; in that, their life may not be great but, at least, it isn’t as publicly bad as what is transpiring on stage. For me, I find this hard to watch. I can’t imagine ever getting to the point in my relationship with Keri that I would want to punish her in such a public way, night after night. For such a popular song, it is as disturbing as any song on this entire list could possibly be. Watch the video, if you wish. If you have your own wounds that haven’t yet healed then, may I kindly suggest, that you take a pass. Some of the biggest songs contain some of the saddest stories. “Go Your Own Way” is one of those songs.

The link to the music video for Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac can be found here.

Fleetwood Mac have their own website that can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for supporting good music since their inception as a radio station. A link to their great website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #446…Violet by Hole.

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 #446: Violet by Hole.

Courtney Love is a singer/songwriter/guitarist and actress. She came into musical prominence on the west coast of the US in the late 1980s/early 90s. She formed several bands but, the one she is most known for is Hole. Love formed Hole with mostly women; Melissa Auf der Maur on lead guitar, Patty Schemel on drums, Love, as lead vocalist and Eric Erlandson on guitar. Hole started out as more of a Punk band and were often mentioned in the same breath as all-female bands in the Riot Grrrl Movement such as L7 and Bikini Kill. The main thrust behind the Riot Grrrrl Movement was feminism, which manifested itself in the form of bands with strong female players, singing songs from a female point of view. Courtney Love is, definitely, a strong female player and she definitely had a strong point of view.

In 1994, the band released their second album called, “Live Through This”. This album spawned three huge alternative rock hits, “Violet”, “Miss World” and “Doll Parts”. At the time, many music critics viewed Hole as being on equal footing with male counterparts such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and, as such, the band was highly praised and respected. Hole have been nominated for several Grammy Awards in the Alternative Rock category. In addition to music, Courtney Love was, also, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie, “The People vs Larry Flynt”, which was directed by Academy Award-winning Director, MIlos Forman. There is no denying that Courtney Love was riding a huge wave of success in the early 1990s. Her fiercest defenders will always hold Love up as a strong, confident, talented woman who took no guff in industries that, traditionally, have not made life easy for females who tried to assert their own vision and blaze their own trail.

Where Courtney Love’s legacy becomes murky is that, just as she was ready to ascend to the throne as Queen of Rock, she fell in love and, subsequently, married Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana. At the time of their wedding, it was a union of music royalty. They were truly smitten; with Cobain exclaiming upon first falling in love with her, “I’ve met the coolest girl in the whole world”. But, not long afterwards, both Love and Cobain became addicted to heroin and Cobain, not long thereafter, died by his own hand. Love became the subject of much vitriol from fans for, what they perceived, as her role in the death of Music’s favourite son and the demise of his band, Nirvana. Love became a modern-day Yoko Ono. Her addiction was such that she lost custody of the child she had with Cobain. Her on-stage performances became erratic; characterized by angry clashes between Love and her bandmates, as well as, with audiences. In the years that followed, Hole put out several other albums but, none were met with the same critical acclaim as was, “Live Through This”. Gradually, Hole, along with Courtney Love, fell out of the public eye.

It is all too bad, really. When you watch the video for “Violet”, you are going to see a strong, powerful woman completely in charge of her performance. She owns the stage. Love possesses a deep, raspy voice (not unlike someone like Janis Joplin) and contrasts her loud, booming singing style with a physical posture that renders her stock still…..in total control of her body and the power it contains. She is mesmerizing! If you have never watched females rocking hard then, get ready for a treat. In their prime, Hole was as tight and professional a band as there was in all of music. This is clearly evident in this video.

The song, “Violet”, is actually about Love’s views on boyfriends and on women being in charge of their own sexuality. The subject of the song is BIlly Corgan, who was (and, still is) lead singer of the group, The Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan and Love were in a relationship, prior to Love meeting Cobain. The chorus of the song evolves from Love shouting, “Go on, take everything! Take everything! I want you to” to, “Go on, take everything! Take everything, I need you to”, to finally, “Go on, take everything! Take everything, I dare you to”. The final verse states, “Well, I told you from the start, just how this would end. When I get what I want, I never want it again”.

A strong woman in charge of her sexuality, her music, her passions…..it shouldn’t be unusual nor controversial. But, in the case of Courtney Love…she is nothing, if not, complicated. Addicitions of any kind are tragic. It is not possible to know how big a band Hole may have become had heroin not derailed its’ future. As it stands, we have a taste of the greatness of this band in the form of an album called, “Live Through This” and songs like “Violet”. Buckle up and get ready to rock!

The link to the music video for Violet by Hole can be found here.

Thanks 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 #447…Live Forever by Oasis.

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 #447: Live Forever by Oasis.

Oasis began in that hotbed of UK music: Manchester, in the 1990s. Their debut album, “Definitely, Maybe” spawned several hit songs such as “Supersonic”, “Cigarettes and Alcohol”, “Rock n’ Roll Star”, “Shakermaker” and today’s song, “Live Forever”. It was a massive debut and, for awhile, Oasis was the biggest band in the UK and one of the biggest bands in all of the world.

Oasis was fronted by The Gallagher Brothers: Liam, as lead singer and Noel as songwriter and lead guitarist. There are two things to know about The Gallagher Brothers….(1) They were heavily influenced by The Beatles. When you watch the video I will share at the end of this post, you will note that Liam Gallagher looks an awful lot like John Lennon (which is intentional on Liam’s part) and that Noel Gallagher sports a mop-top haircut, reminiscent of The Beatles in their early days. As well, if you watch the big screen behind them as they play live at Wembley Stadium, you will see a series of messages go by that relate to the theme of this song and, at the very end, they close with a photo of John Lennon. (2) The Gallagher Brothers were notorious for bickering publicly on stage while performing. They were very hard on each other which, after a decade of performing, wore on them both and caused them to stop performing together. Both Liam and Noel perform today but, they do so separately. Consequently, the entity known as “Oasis” no longer tours as a band.

The song, “Live Forever” is a straight-ahead rock n’ roll song about enjoying life and leaving a lasting legacy that comes from being a rock n’ roll star. While the human body may die, the memory of who a person was, how they lived and what they accomplished, lives on in the hearts and minds of those left behind. “Live Forever” was written, in part, to counteract the sentiments being expressed in some of the songs coming out of the Grunge movement in the US. In particular, Noel Gallagher viewed each day as a gift. He and Liam grew up in a working class neighbourhood in Manchester and didn’t have much in the way of material possessions growing up. So now that Oasis was a big band and the brothers had money and opportunity, Noel couldn’t understand why singers such as Kurt Cobain would write songs about being miserable and wanting to die. “Live Forever” is Noel Gallagher’s declaration of defiance in the face of Nirvana’s depression.

Noel Gallagher may, in fact, get his wish and “live forever”. Oasis had a brilliant run for awhile there; including having other big hits such as “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Champagne Supernova”. They have left behind as strong a catalogue of hit songs as any of their contemporaries in the last 25 years. The Gallagher Brothers are still fairly young so, there is potential for future hits as solo artists or, dare I say, as part of an Oasis reunion somewhere down the road. That may be wishful thinking. For now, Oasis has left us plenty to remember them by, including today’s song, “Live Forever”. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Live Forever by Oasis can be found here.

The link to the website dedicated to all things Oasis, can be found here.

Thanks 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 #448…Buddy Holly by Weezer.

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 #448: Buddy Holly by Weezer.

Sometimes a song becomes a classic because of the song, itself. Sometimes, it is because of external factors. “Buddy Holly” by Weezer makes the list of the greatest songs of all time for both reasons. It is a Pop-Rock gem that was released from Weezer’s debut album in 1995. The song was produced by Cars frontman, Rik Ocasek. Initially, Weezer singer, Rivers Cuomo didn’t think the song was the right fit for their album but, after recording the version that you will hear today, it quickly became apparent that the band had a hit on their hands. “Buddy Holly” became a Top Ten hit for Weezer and, along with, “Come Undone (The Sweater Song)”, helped establish Weezer as one of the most important bands of the 1990s and beyond.

For anyone reading this post who does not know who Buddy Holly was……Holly was one of the first wave of stars when Rock n’ Roll first became popular in the late 1950s/early 1960s. His signature song was called, “Peggy Sue”. Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash, along with singer, Richie Valens (of “La Bamba” fame) and another rising star called The Big Bopper. When the story of Modern Music is told, their deaths are often referred to “as the day the music died”. While alive, Buddy Holly was known for his clean-cut looks and his big, dark-rimmed glasses that gave him a bit of a geeky appearance. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, also, wears big, dark-rimmed glasses and has been compared to Buddy Holly in appearance his whole life. In his younger days, those who made comments, often did so disparagingly and Cuomo was the subject of bullying. The song he wrote called, “Buddy Holly” opens with the following lines that were drawn from his own life:

“What’s with these homies dissing my girl?

Why do they gotta front?

What did we ever do to these guys

That made them so vi-o-lent?”

His girlfriend at the time was Asian, which is noteworthy only in the fact that it served as ammunition for those who targeted Cuomo for abuse. Well, Cuomo had the last laugh because “Buddy Holly” became a hit and, suddenly, the geeky guy with the big glasses became an overnight sensation. In a perfect world, some of those guys who bullied Cuomo should have ended up working for him as roadies.

While “Buddy Holly” is a good song, in and of itself, it really became noteworthy for two external reasons. First of all, most people know this song because of the music video that accompanied it. The video was directed by famous director, Spike Jonze. It was groundbreaking at the time in that it seamlessly blended together live footage of the band performing the song with real footage from the hit TV show from the 1970s, “Happy Days”. The video takes place inside Arnold’s Diner and featured the cast of “Happy Days” reacting to, and interacting with, Weezer as they perform on stage at the Diner. In essence, a music video from the 90s, using material from a tv show from the 70s, depicting life in the 50s, was a huge hit and won many “Best Video of the Year” awards from various magazines and entertainment organizations. *Just a small note, in the video, Cuomo is not wearing his trademark glasses for “image” reasons.

A final item of note happened thanks to Microsoft computer software. Microsoft is best known for creating the computer operating system known as Windows. In the early 90s, computer use was mainly professional or institutional. Computers were used for word processing, book-keeping or for educational purposes. In 1995, Microsoft released a new version of their operating system called Windows 95. But, in addition to the operating system, Bill Gates had a vision for a world where computers were fully-integrated elements of every human’s life. So, along with the Windows 95 operating programme, Microsoft included a free “Entertainment bundle” that included copies of an encyclopedia (so you could use computers to look up information), free games (so you could use computers for recreation and play), magazine/book/newspaper articles (so you could get used to reading online) and, as well, they included a free music video (so you could get used to the idea of using the computer for entertainment). The music video that was included in the Windows 95 launch was “Buddy Holly” by Weezer.

So, the story of the song, “Buddy Holly” is a rich and varied one. It is a terrific pop song, a story about bullying, a groundbreaking music video and it was part of a paradigm shift in our society regarding the integration of technology into our lives. Please have a listen and a look at “Buddy Holly” by Weezer….if ever there was a song that was more than just a song, this one is it. Enjoy.

The link for the groundbreaking music video for Buddy Holly by Weezer can be found here.

The link for Weezer’s cool website can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post by creating their own great list of 500 of the best songs of all-time. A link to their great website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #449…Kid A by Radiohead.

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 #449: Kid A by Radiohead.

Of all of the songs profiled so far, this song is the one that is the most personal for me. Radiohead have been my favourite group for years, in the same way that Kate Bush has been my favourite female singer for years, too. I first came to be aware of the band in the 90s when I bought a compilation CD called “MTV: 120 Minutes Live”. On this CD was a song called, “Fake Plastic Trees”. In the liner notes, it said that this song was best enjoyed with headphones because the song was going to fill the air with sounds in a way that no other band was doing at the time. So, I put on my headphones and listened as “Fake Plastic Trees” built up and built up and built up and then, explode in a finale of sound, a cacophony, really. I was impressed. The song was from an album called, “The Bends”. On that CD was a song called, “Street Spirit” which remains one of my personal Top Five songs of all time. I came late to the party when it came to “The Bends” because, not very long after buying that album, Radiohead released a new album called “OK Computer”.

“OK Computer” is my favourite album of all time, bar none. I listened to it in awe. I love originality in Art and this entire album was filled, from start to finish, with the most original, thought-provoking, intelligent rock n’ roll music I had ever heard. “OK Computer” coincided with a time in my life when I was in transition. I was well into my teaching career, I had just bought my first house, I was hoping to find my soulmate but had not yet met Keri. So, “OK Computer” helped fill my empty Oshawa home with sound and helped to fill my mind with stories and images. I wasn’t the only person who thought “OK Computer” was a special album. It was ranked by many critics and magazines as being the #1 album of the entire decade of the 1990s!

Not only did “OK Computer” arrive at a time of transition in my life, it arrived at a time just before the Internet really started growing into the all-encompassing entity that it is today. There was no social media back in the day when Radiohead was touring in support of this album. Therefore, I had no way of knowing that the members of Radiohead were miserable on tour and were actually contemplating breaking up the band. Unlike many band breakups, their desire to stop playing the music that was making them famous had nothing to do with internal band strife. Instead, they simply began hating the musical form they were playing. They began feeling constricted by the structure of rock music. At the time of their tour, they had a lead singer, Thom Yorke, three guitarists (Ed O’Brien, Jony Greenwood and his brother, Colin Greenwood) and a drummer, Philip Selway. That was a fairly common rock band configuration. But, by the time their tour was at the mid-point, the band (in particular, Thom Yorke) were sick of guitars and of songs with a chorus and of just about everything to do with music as they were making it. So, as I sat in my tiny home in Oshawa, Ontario, having my mind blown by their songs, Radiohead were making the very deliberate choice to abandon everything and completely re-invent themselves and how music is made. I knew none of this when news came out that Radiohead were releasing a new album called, “Kid A”.

There were no singles released from this new album. Usually, bands pre-release a new single in order to drum up interest in their new album. Radiohead did not do that. They simply created “Kid A” and sent it out into the world. I rushed out and purchased it, sight unseen. I raced home and immediately put in on. And, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seemed like all ambient sounds! It was nothing at all like “OK Comuter” or, even, “The Bends”. It seem like gibberish to me. I have never been so heartbroken and disappointed in anything in my life as I was with Radiohead’s new album. I played it a couple of times to see if it would grow on me but, the only thing that grew was my sense of revulsion. I hated it so much that, within a week, I took it to a used CD shop and sold it to the guy who ran the place for $2.50.

I didn’t listen to Radiohead for awhile after that. In time, the internet grew into an important part of all of our lives. As it developed, it began giving all of us increasingly greater and easier ways of accessing content of interest. For me, I began listening more to music, watching videos and reading articles about music from all manner of sources. One of the things I discovered while doing so were live Radiohead performances. I had only ever listened to them. I had never watched them before. I found their live performances mesmerizing. Some of the performances that I was most drawn to were of songs I was unfamiliar with. I conducted some research and discovered, to my embarrassment, that some of these songs were from “Kid A” and from the sister album, “Amnesiac”. I was watching/listening to “How to Disappear Completely”, “The National Anthem”, “Everything In Its Right Place”, “Spinning Plates”, “Optimistic” and so on with fresh ears and eyes. I was stunned at how completely transformative it was to watch the band live, as opposed to, listening to these songs at home, alone. I truly was not sophisticated enough to understand what Radiohead was trying to do with “Kid A” and “Amnesiac”.

Simply put, what they were trying to do was not only re-invent themselves but, in the process, re-invent how musicians made music. What Radiohead did was change the way sounds were used. They developed various technologies that isolated sounds in loops that could then be played in any manner the band liked; more quickly, on a slow reset, stretched out, condensed, played on offbeats, etc. They de-constructed their vocals in the same way. Some songs have actual vocals, some have snippets of words that are recorded in isolation and re-edited in a stream in whatever fashion they chose. They use traditional instruments but they don’t always play them in search of harmonies or having one instrument act as a means of amplifying the notes from another. Sometimes, they play rock n roll like jazz fusion is played; all discordant but, all producing sounds that lend themselves to new song stylings that work in the end. In short, Radiohead revealed themselves to be inventors and magicians all rolled into one. And I, in reply, revealed myself to be unsophisticated when it came to my own understanding of infinite number of ways songs can be made.

I am going to close by talking about the videos I am going to share with you. First of all, I don’t want the song, “Kid A” from the album, “Kid A” to be your first introduction to Radiohead, if you have never heard them before. The song, “Kid A” has been described as the most inaccessible song the band has produced. It was almost as if the band was challenging their fans to see who was really ready to follow their new directions and who wasn’t. I did not like the song then and I still do not play it very often now. So, instead, I will start you off with a live performance of another song from, “Kid A” called “The National Anthem”. This song has more vocal sounds than it does vocal words but, there is no denying that it is a real song. On stage, you will notice Jony Greenwood operating a computer-like box called Ondes Martnenot, which controls how some of the sounds in this song appear. Thom Yorke’s vocals are transmitted through a voice modulator. There is a jangle, discordant wall of sound that erupts out of this song that really gives it a sense of great energy and excitement. All in all, this is quite a performance. More importantly, it is quite a song.

Radiohead remain my favourite band. I still think “OK Computer” is my favourite album but, my appreciation and admiration for the vision that Radiohead employs has grown immeasurably. If this is your first encounter with Radiohead then, buckle up! “The National Anthem” is not a pop song. I will post the song, “Kid A” in the comments, for anyone who wishes to give it a go. Thanks for hanging in until the end of this, my longest post.

The link for the music video for The National Anthem by Radiohead can be found here.

The link for Kid A by Radiohead can be found here.

A link to Radiohead’s website can be found here.

Thank you, KEXP, for supporting original and challenging music, such as that produced by Radiohead. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KTOM- Song #450…Sucker by The Jonas Brothers.

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 #450: Sucker by The Jonas Brothers.

***Just a quick note before I start today’s post: The first fifty songs are in the books now. Songs #500-451 are finished, which means that we are 10% of the way through this epic, musical journey. I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has come along for the ride so far. I really appreciate the interactivity of this project. Thanks for your comments, your personal connections and other songs that you have shared as well. Thanks to those who have pitched new songs with interesting back stories. Thanks to Leah and Sophie for contributing their Top Ten lists, too. It’s been a hoot so far! Can’t wait to see what the next 90% of the list brings. 🙂

That brings us to today’s song. As you may remember, my own daughters were challenged to contribute a list of songs that meant something to them, after they were less than enthused with the “old music” I was posting. We listened to Leah’s #10 selection, “That Power” by will.i.am and Justin Bieber twenty-five songs ago. Now, it is time for Sophie’s #10 pick. She chose “Sucker” by The Jonas Brothers.

Sophie is 11 and a half years old, as I type this. She has grown into quite an interesting person. She very crafty and creative. You may remember the post about how we give Christmas cards and a craft to everyone in our neighbourhood? If so, know that Sophie, on her own, created all of the crafts that we gave out. She has become the face of our family tradition and, as such, is making a difference in the lives of our neighbours. Sophie is accomplished in the kitchen. She quietly whipped up a batch of brownies on the weekend and, several times a week, she makes fruit smoothies for herself and her dear old dad. Sophie is mathematical. I don’t mean that in a business/number sense but, more in the sense of recognizing patterns and having excellent spatial sense (which, if you don’t know, is how objects are oriented in a given space). Sophie is a home organizer and has used her mathematical skills to organize her closet, her sister’s closet, our kitchen and our family storage room in the basement at a level of sophistication that would make Marie Kondo blush. When she turns 13 (if she is still interested in doing this) we have discussed putting out flyers and having Sophie come into classrooms or homes to organize cupboards for a fee.) When you see how incredible she is at organizing, you’ll happily give her $50, with a tip on top and still think you are getting a bargain! Finally, for the purposes of today’s song, what you need to know about my Sophie is that she is all about style! She knows all about trendsetters and influencers and fashion and fame. This is how she came to know about The Jonas Brothers.

The Jonas Brothers consist of three brothers: Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas. At a young age, they were “discovered” for their singing and were signed to a contract that eventually saw them become part of the Disney entertainment empire. If you know anything about Disney and their young stable of stars, you will know that they all cross-pollinate on each other’s tv shows, they tour together in summer concert series, they all appear in movies and have merchandise deals and so on. The Jonas Brothers came to national attention when they made a guest appearance on Miley Cyrus’ show, “Hannah Montana”. From there, the brothers released several songs that were hits with the teen crowd and which received airplay on networks dedicated to teens such a YTV in Canada. Sophie watched many of the Disney shows as she grew up and became familiar with the many stars that appeared. One star that she was drawn to was singer/actress Demi Lovato. When Demi appeared in the Disney movie, “Camp Rock”, she began dating co-star, Joe Jonas. Because they were a “couple”, Sophie did her due diligence, as she always does, and began looking up information about Joe Jonas, which led her to The Jonas Brothers as a group. From there she became interested in their music and would listen to it while crafting or organizing in her bedroom. Needless to say, when word began to spread that The Jonas Brothers were releasing new music in 2019, Sophie, along with thousands of other fans, was excited. The song that was released was called, “Sucker”.

“Sucker” is a slick pop song. It debuted at #1 on the charts, making it only the 34th song in History to do so. “Sucker” is about a man who is being ” a sucker” for the charms of a woman he has just met. All three Jonas Brothers are in their twenties and all are now married. No doubt, their experiences at falling in love were still fresh in their hearts and minds and had influenced the creation of this song. As public figures, The Jonas Brothers care about their image in the eyes of their fans. So far, anyway, they have yet to do anything controversial and remain relatively squeaky clean, as befits young men who grew up as part of the Disney Entertainment Empire. When I mentioned to Sophie that there was a line in the song about “stumbling out of bars” and wondered if she thought that was something cool to do. She replied by saying, “Of course not! If I stumbled, I might fall and hurt my knees and dirty my pants!” As a parent, that answer suited me just fine. 🙂

In a world where some carefully crafted public images turn out to be complete works of fiction, The Jonas Brothers appear to be the real deal…..at least for now. I am happy that my crafting, baking, organizing, trend-setting, style-following daughter enjoys their music. Hopefully you will, too. In the video you are about to see, the three main females leads are, in real life, the three wives of the brothers. Here are The Jonas Brothers with “Sucker”. Enjoy.

The link for the official music video for Sucker by The Jonas Brothers can be found here.

The link for the live version of Sucker by The Jonas Brothers can be found here. They are pretty slick showmen, I have to say!

A link to The Jonas Brothers website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP-Song #451…The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff.

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 #451: The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff.

Music genres are nebulous things. They don’t not exist one day and then, because of one song or singer, suddenly a brand new movement with global reach exists the next day. That’s not how it works. Music genres tend to grow over time; starting as a fabric of a nation, a region or a Peoples and then, over time, when enough contribute toward it, it becomes engrained as a cultural tapestry. Such is the case of this post, Mr.Jimmy Cliff and the song, “The Harder They Come”.

Reggae existed in a myriad of forms on the island of Jamaica for many years. It was local, in style and function. Ska, Rock-steady, Dancehall are all just a few of the many variations of Reggae that were enjoyed over the years before Jamaica exported its’ musical heritage to the rest of the world. By the time Bob Marley and the Wailers gained fame on the world stage, it was not because they burst through the door unannounced. They entered the world stage via the door that was open previously by the man who came first…..Mr. Jimmy Cliff. This is his story.

While Jimmy Cliff had been a well-known as a singer on his home island of Jamaica since he was a teenager, it was a movie that brought him and Reggae music international recognition. While in his twenties, Cliff was approached to star in a semi-autobiographical movie about a singer from a small village who comes to the big city to make a name for himself in the music business, only to be confronted with shady characters and criminal enterprises. While filming one particular scene (where his character shoots one of the bad guys) Cliff uttered the line, “The harder they come, the harder they fall”. Once the line was spoken aloud for the first time, Cliff and the producer both thought it would make an excellent title for the movie. With that decision made, Cliff was asked to write a song, with the movie title in it, for the movie’s soundtrack. That soundtrack, for the movie, “The Harder They Come” is generally acknowledged as being the vehicle by which Reggae music was introduced to the world.

Jimmy Cliff is the only living musician in Jamaica to have been awarded the Order of Merit (which is Jamaica’s highest civilian Arts honour. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were the others). Jimmy Cliff still performs today. His last hit song is one that many of you will know and that might surprise you at the same time….”Hakuna Matata”, from The Lion King! That was Jimmy Cliff! He is a titan of Jamaican culture and proof of the old saw that says if you love something enough to put your whole heart and soul into it, then, good things will come of it.

The video that you are about to see is an interesting story, too. Once Cliff had written “The Harder They Come” for the movie soundtrack, the director asked him to sing the song in a scene which would become part of the film. Cliff agreed. The video to come is the scene that ended up in the movie. Apparently, Cliff assembled a group of his favourite session players together one evening. They hadn’t played together for awhile and were eager to renew acquaintances. The performance you will see was shot, all in one take. They played for twenty minutes and then, handed it off to the director who edited down to a more manageable level and incorporated in other segments of the film thus making one of the first music videos ever made anywhere in the world. For me, this video is a peek into another culture. The band is tight and the song is smokin’. All in all, a wonderful and important cultural performance is captured, packaged and, subsequently, presented as a gift to the world. Enjoy! This is “The Harder They Come” by Mr. Jimmy Cliff.

The link for the music video for The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff can be found here.

The link for Hakuna Matata, also by Jimmy Cliff, can be found here.

There is a website for Jimmy Cliff that can be reached by clicking here.

Thanks to KEXP for supporting music that has a global reach. There truly is good music everywhere. one just has to take the time to look. A link to their great website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #452…Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone.

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 #452: Everyday People by Sly and The Family Stone.

I have written this post several times now. Each time I begin, I find myself veering off on a rant about the endlessness of the suffering caused by racial and social injustice that exists throughout all manner of our society. Today’s song is the spark that has ignited my emotions today. The reason for that is because of the nature of the group doing the singing and the subject matter of the song being sung.

“Everyday People” by Sly and The Family Stone was released in the 1960s…..almost sixty years ago! The song was written about racial harmony. It talks about the many similarities that exist within each of us, underneath our skin. It cautions us against letting our superficial differences blind us to the beauty that exists within us all. It is a song that is built upon a foundation of optimism and hope. But, what makes “Everyday People” stand out from among the dozens of other songs about empathy and friendship and respect among races is more than just the lyrics of the song. Sly and The Family Stone didn’t just want to sing words and hope that their message would be received. In addition to their message, they wanted it delivered in a manner that had meaning. The band, itself, was a collective of men and women; each of whom played important roles in the band. The band was, also, comprised of black musicians and white musicians. The idea behind the group was to show the world that different races and different genders could co-exist in harmony. The band was using itself as the example that they were singing about. They didn’t just exhort others to get along, they lived that existence, day-in and day-out and invited the world to watch it all unfold. A final layer of genius that helped, “Everyday People” stand the test of time is in how the song is sung. Many members of the band participate in the singing of this song; black males have lines, white singers have lines, females have lines but, when it comes to the chorus, “I am everyday people”, all band mates sing together as one. It is function and form uniting as one. Which is, after all, the message the band wanted to convey.

“Everyday People” was a #1 hit for Sly and The Family Stone. They had several others such as “Dance To The Music” and “Thank You (for helping me be myself)”. The group is credited with helping solidify Funk as a musical genre. In fact, it was Sly and The Family Stone who made common the guitar technique known as “Bass slapping”. It is a technique whereby the bassist makes a slapping, thumping motion when they hit their strings. A modern example of this would be the music used in “Seinfeld” as they transitioned from scene to scene. “Everyday People”, also, helped introduce two phrases into our cultural lexicon that hadn’t existed before….the phrase, “different strokes for different folks”, as well as, the nonsense line that ended up saying, “Scooby Doo”. The “different strokes” line was the inspiration for the TV Show, “Different Strokes” which, if you remember, was about the races learning to live together in harmony as a family. The phrase “scooby doo” was uttered well before there ever was a cartoon character of the same name.

What makes me sad about this song is that it is sixty years old. Sixty years ago, this band created a blueprint toward achieving racial harmony and then, went one step further, and created a song structure and a band structure that showed how racial harmony looked in action. And yet, here we are, sixty years later, still marginalizing those who look different than us. If you think that still isn’t a problem, ask yourself why Buckingham Palace was supposedly, so worried about the thought of a black baby being brought into the midst of the Royal Family. What a sad moment. What a missed opportunity. There remains as much work today, when it comes to racial justice, as there ever was back in the 1960s, when “Everyday People” was released. But, at least we have this song to guide us during those moments when people throw their hands up in despair and cry, “What can I do?!”, “How can we move forward?” Well, the answer is as simple as the lyrics of this song. We are all just “Everyday People”. All of us. And I am ok with that. Are you?

The link to the music video for Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone can be found here.

Sly and the Family Stone have a wonderful website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for inspiring me to create this post. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #453…So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen.

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 #453: So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen.

In 2016, Marianne Ihlen passed away from cancer at age 81. Those who knew her all say that Marianne Ihlen lived a full, rich and happy life and passed away without any regrets. Not everyone is so lucky as to be able to say that. Marianne lived a life that inspired her partner at the time, Leonard Cohen, to immortalize her in song. Not everyone can say that they were immortalized in song, either; especially, by someone with the grace and skill of a Cohen. Marianne Ihlen was loved and admired by all who knew her, let’s find out why.

I firmly believe that there is a core part of ourselves that is truly us. That part that forms what we believe our true identity to be. That part of ourselves that draws others toward us, too. Some of those who enter our orbit, stay. Those that stay lend us part of their essence and, in doing so, contribute a part of themselves to the tapestry of our own lives. We are enriched and lifted up by association and are changed for the better for the rest of our days. This is most true when the centre of this personal exchange is Love.

Leonard Cohen met Marianne Ihlen on the Greek Island of Hydra when he was still Leonard Cohen the man and not yet, Leonard Cohen the star. They met in the early 1960s. It was a very Bohemian time on Hydra. Artists and poets and philosophers explored the outer limits of their ideas there. Marianne Ihlen found herself, alone, with child, after being abandoned by her writer husband at the time. Leonard Cohen saw her and declared her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. I am not sure how pragmatic her attraction was to Cohen or how magical but, regardless, they joined together as a family. For most of the next decade, she and her son lived with Cohen; first on Hydra and then, after, in Montreal. She is widely credited with helping to encourage Leonard Cohen in pursuit of his creative endeavours, as well as, acting as his first editor and muse as he completed his projects, one by one. She was immortalized, not only in song but, also in image. She graces the back cover of his second album, “Songs from a Room”. The “room” in question was the bedroom they shared on the Island of Hydra. As she sits at a typewriter, wearing only towel, there is no questioning her beauty nor her influence.

Eventually, Leonard Cohen the man transitioned into Leonard Cohen the star and the demands of fame ended his union with Marianne Ihlen of Norway. Marianne and her son returned to Oslo, where she lived out the remainder of her days. She found new love and contentment with a business executive there. She pursued Bhuddist philosophies and championed environmental causes. Eventually, late in her years, she developed the cancer that would later claim her life. But, as she lay dying in hospital, word of her condition reached Leonard Cohen who, himself, was not well. He reached out to his former Love in the form of a letter. His words to her were, as follows:

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart. I think that I will follow you soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And, you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom but, I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love. See you down the road.”

This was the reply he received shortly thereafter from her family.

“Marianne slept slowly out of this life yesterday evening. Totally at ease, surrounded by close friends. Your letter came when she could still talk and laugh in full consciousness. When we read it aloud, she smiled as only Marianne could smile. She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind her, close enough to reach her. It gave her great peace of mind that you knew of her condition. Your blessing for her journey gave her extra strength. Her friends and family, who all saw what this message meant to her, all thank you with deep gratitude for replying so fast and with such love and compassion. In her last hour, we held her hand and hummed “Bird on a Wire” *(A Cohen song that she inspired him to write based on her observations of life outside of their bedroom window on Hydra.), while she breathed so lightly. When we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window, on to new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words…… So long, Marianne.”

A link to the music video for So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen can be found here.

A link to Leonard Cohen’s website can be found here.

A link to a website dedicated to Marianne Ilhen can be found here.

KEXP is to be commended to their support of beautiful and important music such as So Long, Marianne. Thanks for inspiring me to write this post. A link to their website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP-Song #454…Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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 #454: Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

When the Punk Rock movement was in its heyday back in the late 1970s/early 80s, the biggest bands were The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks and so on. What was common among these groups, aside from snarling lips, angry songs, ripped clothing was the fact that most successful Punk bands were all-male. One of the only bands with a female at the helm was Soiuxsie and the Banshees. Soiuxsie Soiux (“Sue-see Sue) and the Banshees debuted as a Punk band but, unlike many of their peers, they evolved in to other musical scenes over time. Soiuxsie and the Banshees were as influential a band to those who liked Goth music or Alternative or Experimental music as they were to the Punk Rock scene. Because of the wide swath they cut through the musical landscape, Soiuxsie Soiux became a role model for numerous girls when it came for them to decide to follow their own creative muse and form a band for themselves. One such young girl who saw herself when she watched Soiuxsie Soiux was a girl from New York known as Karen O. Along with friends, Nick Zinner (guitar and keyboards) and Brian Chase (drums), they formed a band called The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This band formed in 2000 and is still going strong today.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are known as a one of a wave of bands that critics like to call, “Post Punk Revival” bands. Essentially, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, along with bands that I have profiled already like The White Stripes, MGMT, Interpol and The Strokes, all took that punk aesthetic from the 70s and polished it up, modernizing it in the process, to form a fresh new sound. The Post-Punk Revival bands weren’t fuelled by overt thoughts of anarchy but, they were emotive and often dealt with social commentary.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were the only one of these bands to feature a female lead singer. Like Soiuxsie Soiux, Karen O. cuts a very artistic and creative figure on stage. She is very energetic and passionate about her performances. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have sold millions of records and have enjoyed many Top Ten hits. In fact, their most famous song, “Maps”, is one that we will see in almost a year from now when we reach the Top 20 songs of all time on this list. “Maps” has been sampled by everyone from Kelly Clarkson in her big hit, “Since You’ve Been Gone” to the Queen Bee herself, Beyonce, who lifted the entire chorus from “Maps” for one of her songs. When it comes to female role models, Souixsie Soiux helped inspire Karen O. and now, it is Karen O. who inspires scores of young fans from all around the world.

In the video I will show today for a song called, “Cheated Hearts”, you will see the extent of the impact that Karen O. and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have on others. This video shows how fans today often choose to show their affection with their heroes. In this case, fans from all over the world have created a series of TikTok-like videos of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs performing this song; except, the fans dress as the band dresses and moves as the band moves and, in essence, re-create the original band video in tribute form. Watching this video makes me realize how great of an impact our actions have on others; from students imitating me when they played “school” at recess, to children imitating their parents when they play “house” at home, to fans imitating their favourite bands and drawing inspiration from them to express themselves. It is a wonderful, empowering uplifting cycle of positivity and gratitude. *FYI: the real Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the 4th “band” to appear in the video. Karen O. is wearing a brightly coloured top and pink tights. As you will see, Karen O.’s influence cuts across all genders and sexual orientations and brings happiness and courage to them all.

If you have never heard The Yeah Yeah Yeahs before then, get ready. They are terrific and full of talent and energy. They make me smile. I will post a live video in the comments so you can get a better idea of who they actually are and how they look. This is “Cheated Hearts” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Enjoy.

The link to the fan-created music video for Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be found here.

The link to the live performance video of Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be found here.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a neat website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

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