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Partly inspired by Prophet and his ongoing top 10 albums of 2008 series, and partly because I'm otherwise uninspired, I've decided to take a different tact for this week's questions: I am going to press shuffle on my IPod Nano and create a question somehow related to each of the first 10 songs that come up. I will also be giving some very quick commentary on the songs.
I am uncertain how well this process will lend itself to thought-provoking questions, and I will certainly be risking great personal embarrassment by exposing my music collection to the dagworld at large.
I reserve the right to skip any song that has no lyrics, has nonsensical lyrics, or is just too damn mortifying (even for me, who may be the most shameless person I know). Power on ... press shuffle ... and here we go ...
1) Gone Daddy Gone. Gnarles Barkley. A fine opener. Infectious, fun beat. Like almost all Gnarles songs, doesn't overstay its welcome. My rating 8/10.
2) Cry Baby, Janis Joplin. Has any singer been fiercer than Janis? Look at the lyrics alone, and it seems like she is playing the weak woman, basically begging a man to come back to her ... and yet with that voice, you can't help but also hear the implied threat - 'You want something to cry about, I'll give you something to cry about!' 7/10.
3) Circle Game, Joni Mitchell. Kind of funny that Joni comes right after Janis. They both have such powerful instruments with their voices yet use them in such different ways. I love songs - or any art, for that matter - that inspire melancholic, nostalgic thoughts, and this one does that for me. It's a simple, beautiful melody. The lyrics and overriding metaphor are a bit cliched, perhaps, but it doesn't bother me one whit. 7/10.
4) Handsome Devil, The Smiths. Some songs I'm not sure how they got on my IPod. The beat's OK but doesn't do much for me, and the lead singer's voice is a bit grating. But damn, the lyrics are nasty, so I have to give it some props for that. 5/10.
5) Believe, Cher. OK, this is one that comes very close to being too mortifying, and if I had any real shame, I'd never admit I had this song on my IPod. I sure as hell wouldn't admit that I can't help but wanna dance when I hear this song or that this ain't even the only Cher song I got. The computerized voice vibratto effects on this one are particularly gratifying. Really. 6/10.
6) Think I'm in Love, Beck. This may not be one of Beck's best songs, but it's definitely one of his more approachable, comprehensible tunes. Good beat. Like the violin transition about halfway through and at the end. No one does awkward, desperate romance better than Beck. 7/10.
7) Knocking on Heaven's Door. Guns n Roses. Axl & Co. do a fine job with their cover of this classic Dylan song, revving up the guitars and rockness factor while otherwise staying mostly true to the original. Could do without some of the bells and whistles, like the gun sound effects and answering machine message, but you gotta love the way Axl belts out 'Door-oor-oooor.' 6/10.
8) What a Wonderful World. Louis Armstrong. OK, it's treacly, and trite, and we know the world isn't always wonderful, or maybe even usually. But like Obama and his soaring rhetoric of hope and optimism, I believe in what Louis is selling. Especially on a beautiful 60-degree day in December. 7/10.
9) Let it be, Beatles. Just a beautiful song. Lovely piano playing, and god, Paul can sing. When I was in St. Louis for the Thanksgiving holiday, our family saw this Beatles retrospective at a local playhouse, and it was hilarious watching them try to recapture the Beatles' magic. Beatles cover bands should be banned but Beatles cover bands with a fat and old Paul should be fined and/or jailed. 9/10.
10) Black Acres, Elysian Fields. A sexy, sultry song to close out this little experiment. An entrancing bass beat, with beautiful violin and piano throughout. You can't help but feel a little Randy (or in my case, a little Keri ) when the lead singer raspily declares, 'Touch me now, Touch me, Black Acres are Claiming Me." 8/10.
OK, this was fun ... Will have to do it again sometime. Lyric-inspired questions in comment section.