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March 24, 2005

Greatest R&R Songwriters: guest posting [updated]

If anyone would like to write a guest post for ASV on the songwriter of their choice (in regards to this poll), especially if your choice of songwriters is one I wouldn't write about (Lennon/McCartney, Richards/Jagger, you can pretty much figure out who I like or not at this point) please let me know. I haven't had a guest poster on here since Christmas, anyhow. I call dibs on Bernie Taupin, though.

Also, for the AI interested, all the Idol bloggers have posted their predictions for tonight.

Anyone else having Blogrolling problems?

Also, Morty Seinfeld is dead.

Update: Paul Westerberg has been claimed by Adam.
Matt is taking Bob Gould. Excellent choice.
John is taking Tom Waits. John is also having a dork contest. Check that dorkiness out.
I'm also going to cover Trent Reznor.
Spd Rdr has Lou Reed.

And please. Stop with the Paul Anka and Neil Diamond and Hoagy Carmichael. WHAT PART OF ROCK AND ROLL DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

Update: Dave, bless his warped soul, writes an ode to Neil Diamond that must be read to be believed.

Ace begs off the Paul Anka thing.

NF is going to tackle David Byrne. Well, not literally tackle. You know what I mean.

Mark is going to take on Jagger/Richards

Joe is taking Mark Knopfler.

Greatest R&R Songwriters Part 3:
Waters/Gilmour

Now we're getting somewhere. I have enough nominations to make an actual poll, which I will do later on. Which doesn't mean you can't still nominate, because you can. I think I'll spend most of the morning (on a mini vacation until Monday) writing a few posts (and repeating a few posts) about some of the nominees.

Roger Waters got a few nominations and I did happen to mention Pink Floyd in this post yesterday (though my son was listening to The Wall at the time, DSOTM has been an overall favorite of his lately). The following is a repeat of my ode to DSOTM, followed by my reason for including both Waters and Gilmour in this poll.

floyd2.gifI was only eleven when DSOTM was released, so I didn't pick up on it until a couple of years later when rummaging through an older cousin's albums. Even then, I just listened to Money because I liked the cash register sounds. Oh yes, I also liked to say the bullshit line real loud because I was under the impression that if you were singing a song, cursing didn't count and God couldn't smite you.

Continue reading "Greatest R&R Songwriters Part 3:
Waters/Gilmour" »

March 23, 2005

Strummin' Along
greatest r&r songwriters, part 2

This is working out great. Today happens to be a really busy day, but this greatest songwriters thing is allowing me to break out old posts.

Part 2 brings us to a heavily nominated guy, Joe Strummer. Below is what I wrote after he died in 2002.

Continue reading "Strummin' Along
greatest r&r songwriters, part 2" »

Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
:greatest song writers, part 1

I need to have a lot more votes over in the Greatest R&R Songwriters thing before I make a poll for it. So don't forget to cast your nomination.

I said I would write about some of the nominees. I'm nominating these guys, so I guess I can drag out an old post I wrote about their band.

cfc.gif Surely you remember Squeeze? A band that is never given enough credit for their talents, Squeeze tends to get thrown into the slush pile of funny looking 80's bands that had a hit or two.

Unlike some other bands of that era that got famous because of their style or gimmick or just because they hit the right place at the righ time, Squeeze was oozing with talent.

Difford, Tilbrook, Holland and all those other guys who didn't matter as much as those three combined to make some of the greatest songs to come out of an era when great songs were not nearly as numerous as their overstyled, synth pop counterparts. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I loved the whole synth pop-new wave thing. I was just able to recognize that while most of the music of that genre was filled with fun beats that you could bop your head in time to after a few shots of tequila in a grungy-on-purpose club, Squeeze was different.

While a lot of people joined the Squeez fan-wagon when East Side Story (1981) came out (and some, not until Squeeze Singles in 1982), I had a head start on the band due to my employment at a radio station in 1980. Ok, I wasn't an employee so much as a phone volunteer, one of those people who answered the 24-7 request line and handled the contests and listened to a lot of heavy breathing and requests for sexual favors that were unheard of in my little, naive corner of the world.

Volunteering had its perks. Lots of free albums, meeting semi-stars, going on the air once in a while (I even made a few commercials) and getting a heads up on the up and coming bands, which proved to be a constant source of jealousy on the part of my friends when a band I predicted would become famous actually did and I could smugly say "I called that one!" Like I did with U2. But that's another story.

This one is about Squeeze and about a copy of Cool for Cats that made it into my hands in early 1980. The record had actually been released in '79, but New York radio was slow to pick up on it. The station I was working at, WLIR, went by the slogan "Dare to be Different," and they held true to that motto by daring to play the title song of Cool for Cats.

It was love at first listen. It was different, so far apart from anything I was hearing at the time. I grabbed a copy of the album and spent that night listening to it for hours, flipping the disc at least ten times. The lyrics to Up the Junction were simple, the rythmn almost monotonous. But somehow those two parts together formed a riveting song. Even Cool for Cats, with its machine-gun presentation of the lyrics (I give a little muscle, and I spend a little cash, but all I get is bitter and a nasty little rash) was just so out there that I couldn't help but love it. If I Didn't Love You (I'd Hate You). was the ultimate in relationship songs:

Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans .

Well, I thought that was pretty damn deep back then. In fact, I still do. And I still quote it.

I found a copy of U.K. Squeeze. - their first album and the original name of the band- in some dirty record story in the city. While it seemed to be made by almost a different band, it was still some good shit, as we used to say in the 'hood. Take Me, I'm Yours inspired many a late songwriting session on my part, trying to recreate that staccato delivery of passionate-in-an-odd-way lyrics.

Then along came East Side Story and Squeeze became a sensation. Tempted pushed them onto the charts and out of the dark, dingy clubs I had seen them in into Madison Square Garden. Elvis Costello worked wonders with the band, polishing their genius and creating a bigger, more diverse sound. Unfortunately, it was one I didn't love. I liked it, but I didn't love it the way I did Argy Bargy. I gave Sweets from a Stranger, their next album, a chance but was turned off when I found my mother singing Black Coffee in Bed.

Regardless of whether I liked them anymore or not, they were still damn talented. Jools Holland's piano playing always amazed me. Difford and Tilbrook wrote some amazing songs. And those other guys did...other talented-like things. In between the breakup of Squeeze and the reunion of Squeeze, Difford and Tilbrook released an album together, the highlight of which was a wonderful tune called Love's Crashing Wave's.

At one point, I pined for the days when Cool for Cats was considered exciting and new. When new wave finally crashed and burned, that was the one album I went to (ok, that and the 12 inch single of Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy's Kiss Me) when I wanted to sulk in my room and relive the glory days of night clubs, spiked hair and torn, black stockings.

[Go cast your votes]