Friday, January 6, 2006

MUSIC: The Perfect Songs, Part III

Still more songs that make the world a finer place! You can find part one here and part two there. These are the songs that I will take with me in my space capsule when I go out and fly beyond the stars. Here are three more of my Perfect Songs for the countdown, in no particular order --

Image hosted by Photobucket.com7. "Down Under" by Men at Work. I've loved this song since I was 11 years old and "Business As Usual" was the very first album (OK, cassette) I bought with my own money. This kooky hit single may be oddball (a flute solo? Come on!), but it also evokes for me the mysteries of the sea, foreign lands and strange customs not your own. Colin Hay's amiable, jargon-filled patter amused and confused me ("chunder"? "vegemite"? huh?). Perhaps stretching the coincidence too far, in 1999 I married a woman from "Down Under." (OK, New Zealand, not Australia, but still...) One of the songs I never get tired to listening to, and it always makes me smile. "Lying in a den in Bombay / With a slack jaw, and not much to say."

Image hosted by Photobucket.com8. "Without Me," by Eminem. I tell you, when I'm in the right mood I do dig the Eminem, and this song is the perfect distillation of his essence — all rampaging id, quick quippery, profane and boastful, yet with undeniable humor. Eminem is like a rage-addicted Weird Al Yankovic with Tourette's syndrome, and the hooks that drive this song will move you unless you're a stone. A lewd, crude manifesto, but rapped with just the slightest suggestion of a wink, which makes it all go down smooth. The song to listen to to decide if you like or hate the man. "Now this looks like a job for me / So everybody, just follow me / 'Cause we need a little, controversy."

Image hosted by Photobucket.com9. "My Sexual Life" by Everclear. For about six months in 1996 or so, I listened to Everclear's "Sparkle and Fade" CD so many times I wore it out and had to buy a new copy. Power-chord rock with razor-edged lyrics, Everclear hit their peak with their second album, an ode to being down-and-out and trying to find the way back up, closely based on lead singer/songwriter Art Alexakis' own addiction past. One of the few post-grunge rock bands to make a dent in the ugly late 1990s, and the song "Santa Monica" from off this album was their biggest hit. But the one I listened to the most on this so sad, so gorgeous and angry album was the final track, "My Sexual Life," where all the hurt and frustration of the album boils over into a brokenhearted kind of lullaby. It's a song where the relationship is all but over, you're going through the motions and resentment is pretty much all that's left, but you just can't quite accept that yet. Alexakis went back to the same well a few times too often with his pain, as later albums started showing ever-diminishing returns to the Everclear "sound." But for an album or two, they were the best band in the world to me. "You always say you want a simple life / You and me both know that You are a liar."

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