(Apart from Mr Bowie’s instrumental, this batch could be quite easily titled “The Nineties Edition”…)
Morrissey – “Certain People I Know“ (1992)
Morrissey is a chap I’ve always been mildly annoyed with. I see him as a combination of arch, camp, and miserable (can somebody be those three things simultaneously?). His persona doesn’t appeal to me very much, which unfortunately puts an instant bias into anything of his I’m about to listen to. Before I press “play” I’ll try not to picture Morrissey flouncing in an open shirt and drawling in a world-weary way as he monotonises* about whatever he finds too dreary. OK. Time to press “play”…
Well, that was a surprise. As soon as it started, the syncopated guitar part reminded me of T. Rex‘s “Ride A White Swan“:
T. Rex – “Ride A White Swan“ (1970)
Then Morrissey started singing. Yep, that’s Morrissey alright. Still sounding dreary. But musically, I liked the song. Now, if there was a way to remove Morrissey’s vocals and keep the rest of the track…
(Update: I’ve listened to “Certain People I Know” five times now, and I’ve read the lyrics twice. Final thoughts before I go back to not paying attention to Morrissey’s records: I like the song. And I still find Morrissey annoying.)
Pete Droge – “If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)” (1994)
I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of Pete Droge before, but this song sounds very familiar to me. (Maybe it’s appeared on a TV music video program). The more I play this song the more I like it. And I’m sure I’ve heard it before. I like the guitar sounds (nice slightly distorted tone). The second thing I noticed about this song (after being convinced I’ve heard it before) is that Pete Droge sound a lot like Martin Plaza from Australian band Mental As Anything:
(Another non-Frank suggestion)
Mental As Anything – “Berserk Warriors” (1981)
But vocal similarities notwithstanding, I like “If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)”.
Elliot Smith – “Say Yes“ (1997)
I haven’t heard much Elliot Smith (translation: approximately two songs, and one of them was a cover of The Beatles‘ “Because” due to it popping up at the end of American Beauty). About the only things regarding Elliot Smith I’m fairly sure of are: he was a huge Beatles fan; he wrote songs that were beautiful but depressing (beautifully depressing? depressingly beautiful?); and after a while he wasn’t keen on living anymore. According to the Wikipedia entry on “Say Yes”, this song is unusually optimistic (well, unusually for Elliot Smith). Now to listen to it. I must say that I didn’t find “Say Yes” particularly optimistic. As I listened to the song over and over again, I kept thinking that for the instrumental backing I would prefer to hear a harpsichord instead of the guitars. (The song’s melody, chords, and structure sound like it’d make a great Baroque Pop ballad.) Oh, and if someone wants to record a cover version of “Say Yes”, two more suggestions: add a string quartet and remove the swearing. But, as it is, it’s a nice song. Apart from the swearing.
Robbie Fulks – “Let’s Kill Saturday Night” (1998)
Another country-ish song. I wasn’t especially keen on this one. I didn’t find it terribly memorable or noteworthy. This is yet another another “Saturday” song that reminds me of a particular Paul Kelly song that I think I’ve already pestered you with:
(And another non-Frank suggestion)
Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls – “Forty Miles To Saturday Night” (1987)
David Bowie – “Speed Of Life“ (1977)
Yay! David Bowie! I’m a huge fan of The Ever-Changing Artist. But I guess not every power pop fan loves Monsieur B. I know that Steve Simels over at PowerPop absolutely loathes The Bowie and thinks he’s a terrible poseur, so I suppose if I generalise in the most sweeping way possible I can recklessly assume that David Bowie has a fairly polarising effect on the power pop community. Nevertheless, I can’t get enough of DB (although I’ll cheerfully admit that I find just about anything after 1980’s Scary Monsters to be mildly to moderately dreadful). Incidentally, before listening to all of today’s songs, I was listening to Rooney’s self-titled debut (2003). Now that I’ve heard “Speed Of Life” again, all thoughts of Rooney have evaporated and I’m currently in the mood for “Station To Station”. Excuse me while I play “Station To Station”:
(Yet another non-Frank suggestion)
David Bowie – “Station To Station“ (1976)
Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.
I’ve only just noticed that with all songs on offer here, there seems to be a bit of a theme. Starting with Mopey-Drawers Morrissey, then moving on to Pete Droge saying that he doesn’t want to live without someone loving him, then Elliot Smith with his “life’s too beautiful for me to cope with” sentiments, and Robbie Fulks wanting to kill Saturday Night (good luck there, Robbie, because I think a lot of people would want to stop you – they like Saturday night). At least there’s David Bowie focusing on life, and discussing the speed of it (albeit instrumentally).
Were you feeling a little down when you chose those songs, perhaps?
(*I have a feeling that “monotonises” isn’t actually a verb.)