Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Archive for the ‘Request Line’ Category

Request Line: “No More No More,” “Change,” “People Who Died,” “Possum Kingdom”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 21, 2010

Reader __ wrote:

are you still doing these, they’re fun

aerosmith – no more no more
fleetwood mac – what makes you think you’re the one
deftones – change
steely dan – the boston rag

Then later amended to:

i take back the song requests i posted on your blog. feeling good about these:

people who died
tainted love
any associates song
possum kingdom

I told him I’d do two of each of these….so I’m gonna do that.

Not having listened to an Aerosmith album since high school, I gotta admit to having completely lost recollection of this song. In fact, all I remember off Toys in the Attic were the two monster singles (“Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” obviously two of the best rock singles of that decade) and the one piece of obvious filler (“Big Ten Inch Record,” which I hated at the time but would probably think was brilliant for some reason if I listened to it now)–don’t think I could have even named another song off the album if pressed. Listening to “No More No More,” though, I’m surprised that it didn’t make more of an impression–it’s probably the only Aerosmith song I’ve ever heard that doesn’t sound definitively and uncompromisingly like an Aerosmith song.

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Request Line: “Oliver’s Army,” “The Way I Feel Inside,” “Heart of Mine,” “I’m Always in Love”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 31, 2010

Reader Andrew (Not me! I don’t think!) writes:

Anyway, try these ones on for size?

Elvis Costello – Oliver’s Army
The Zombies – The Way I Feel Inside
Peter Salett – Heart Of Mine
Wilco – I’m Always In Love

I hate trying things on–it’s a socially and physically uncomfortable experience that I like to avoid whenever possible. I’ll just buy ’em straight up and get back to you about the receipts later.

I’m in on this song for its first two lines: “Don’t start me talking / I could talk all night.” After that, I’m totally lost. Wouldn’t be the first time in history that a punk song has confused me as to its real-life application–I did spend a healthy chunk of my youth rapping along to Rage Against the Machine, after all–but there’s just no entry point for me here at all. Oliver’s Army? The Murder Mile? Checkpoint Charlie? Costello doesn’t give a damn about stringing it together comprehensively, and just puts his faith in his overbearing sneer to get his point across. Maybe all this stuff made sense in 1979 (I’d hope so, since a Wikipedia cheat sheet wouldn’t be available for another 35 years), but even if not, a good punk protest song should at least make you feel like you kinda get the gist of what it’s going for as you’re singing along to it at the top of your lungs. I just feel kinda dumb singing along to “Oliver’s Army”–like I’m being patronizing and indignant about nothing in particular.  I dunno, replace it with some sly and cutting lyrics about love and maybe you’ve got “Cruel to Be Kind,” but as is I just can’t get into it at all. Shame, too, ‘coz that piano part had some obvious potential. The “oh-oh-oh-ohhhh“s, too.

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Request Line: “Photograph”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 30, 2010

Reader MBI Writes:

And just because I want you to have material to work on well into the 2020s:

“Photograph” – Ringo Starr
“Photograph” – Def Leppard
“Photograph” – Weezer
“Photograph” – Nickelback

Four different decades of “Photograph”! Or at least it should be. Stupid Weezer dragging their feet on releasing the Green Album. I say we count it as a ’90s song, dammit.

Works for me. Let’s do this thing.

The first time I saw the trailer for Funny People I had fairly mixed feelings–I was excited to see Adam Sandler playing a darker, slightly-fictionalized version of his real-life persona (and really all movie stars who spend their entire careers trying to be likeable should do this at least once), though it being in the context of yet another Apatow/Rogen/MANN trifecta wasn’t exactly setting fire to my loins. The one part that I was unreservedly excited about, though, was that it appeared to feature a prominent scene involving Sandler covering Ringo Starr’s “Photograph.” I figured the song, long forgotten by classic rock radio, could get that sort of Apatow-endorsed “Heat of the Moment”/”Panama”-style re-appropriation to introduce it to a new generation–which, in my opinion, it rather richly deserved. Yet for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, when the movie actually came out, it was The Beatles’ posthumous 90s hit “Real Love” that Sandler covered, not “Photograph.” Good song, but not the same thing, and clearly a rather sizable missed opportunity.

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Request Line: “Send Me on My Way,” “Changes,” “Tightrope,” “The Spirit of Radio”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 25, 2010

Reader Ken Kralie writes:

I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, and I really like the new request line thing you’ve been doing so I figured I would throw my suggestions out there.

You normally do four songs. But I came up with five. So you can pick and choose the four you want to talk about.

Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
Yes – Changes
Janelle Monáe – Tightrope
Toy Matinee – The Ballad of Jenny Ledge (there is a music video for this song but this clip has better audio)
Rush – The Spirit of Radio

Liking the four for five thing. Hate to balk on the most obscure of the bunch, but I’ve listened to “Jenny Ledge” a handful of times and still can’t pin down a conclusive opinion on it, so I’m afraid I’m using my free pass on that one. Onwards and upwards…

My younger cousin recently showed my family a film he made of his immediate family’s vacation to Africa–a relatively professional-looking montage of sweeping vistas and funny-looking giraffes and whatnot. It was set to two songs–the theme to the Lion King and “Send Me on My Way.” For someone in their mid-20s (shudder) like myself, these would be head-smackingly obvious choices–the former is anyone of our generation’s immediate pop culture reference point for African music, and the latter is the only hit song of the 90s with both a flute solo and that scrape-y instrument from the beginning of “Gimme Shelter” whose name I can never remember. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had trickled down to my younger cousins, especially the latter–they’re a fairly pop-literate bunch, but endurance was not Rusted Root’s strong suit, and I was starting to worry that memories of the H.O.R.D.E. generation would die off with me and my friends. (Wikipedia tells me it was used in the movie Ice Age–this seems like the most logical explanation for it being on their radar.)

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Request Line: “Annie’s Song,” “I’m Your Man,” “Water’s Edge,” “The Mighty KC”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 23, 2010

Friend of the Blog Leslie writes:

Hello, Andrew. It’s your #1 fan here. I’ve been thinking long and hard about my request line choices. I’ve tried to make them diverse and interesting while leaving plenty for you to mock, and I think I’ve done a good job, if I do say so myself, and I do. Here they are in semi-random order:

John Denver, “Annie’s Song”
Wham!, “I’m Your Man”
Seven Mary Three, “Water’s Edge”
For Squirrels, “The Mighty K.C.”

Thank you! I have a birthday coming up….

Had to come out of my recent semi-retirement for a birthday request. Here goes.

I’m tempted to make some sort of call for (or at least make the suggestion of) some sort of critical re-evaluation of John Denver. Admittedly I only know the most famous of his songs, but it’s hard to think of too many other popular artists who so thoroughly succeed at what they set out to do. When you listen to a John Denver song, you feel the Rockies–the chilly breeze, the crisp, thin air, the general awe-inspiring beauty of nature. In fact, it’s entirely possible that that’s not even what the Rockies feel like at all–I’ve never been, and neither have many of his acolytes I imagine–but Denver’s music is so evocative of all that that it’s basically supplanted whatever the actual reality is in the public consciousness. If you read that any other artist’s biggest hit was written during a ten-minute wait on a ski lift, it’d seem ridiculous, with Denver, it just adds a weird sort of authenticity to the song.

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Request Line: “No Ordinary Love,” “One Last Breath,” “The Wanton Song,” “America We Stand as One”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 29, 2010

Reader Garret Writes:

Because there’s no sense in waiting to give you my four songs, I’m just gonna plop them in this post’s responses section and see what happens:

Sade – “No Ordinary Love”
Creed – “One Last Breath”
Led Zeppelin – “The Wanton Song”
Dennis Madalone – “America We Stand As One” (song + video combo)

Well Garret, now this is happening.

Growing up, I never gave Sade a second thought. As far as I was concerned, she (and I know it’s technically a “they” but who the fuck cares and I’m not spending the next however-many words fretting about pronouns) was more of a musical punchline than an artist of any particular merit. At best she was the singer that the girls in my high school listened to feel deep or soulful, at worst she was the musical equivalent of Skinemax, or at the very least some very very sleazy late-night infomercial. “Sexual Healing” is my least or second-least-favorite song of all-time, and from the clips of it I heard in cheesy compilation commercials, “Smooth Operator” seemed not all that dissimilar. Eventually I heard “Operator” in full and realized it wasn’t so bad, but I don’t think it was until I discovered “No Ordinary Love” that I realized what short shift I had been giving Ms. Adu all these years.

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Request Line: “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Down at McDonnelzzz,” “Eenie Meenie,” “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 20, 2010

Reader MBI Writes:

Fuck it, I’ve waited long enough. It’ll be certainly years before you get to this, but here are my next four requests:

Gladys Knight and the Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
Electric Six – Down at McDonnelzzz
Sean Kingston & Justin Bieber – Eenie Meenie
Ben Folds Five – One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

I really like three of these songs, and if you try to guess which one I don’t, you’ll probably be right.


Well, my man, all I can say is that for your sake, I certainly hope this isn’t the one song you don’t like. I remember back in my more-prominent webboarding days I took part in a thread where everyone mentioned songs they thought were unimpeachable, and saw if the song could go 24 hours in the thread without someone else mentioning that they either disliked or had never heard the song. I can’t remember what, if anything, ended up actually winning–I do remember Herb Alpert’s “Spanish Flea” having an incredibly long run at it, oddly–but I do wonder if anyone had the foresight to mention “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I’d be fairly surprised if someone I knew mentioned it as one of their all-time favorite songs (unless they experienced their formative years in the early-mid 70s, anyway), but if someone told me they didn’t know it or didn’t like it, it’d be a fairly Gas Face-worthy exchange. Everyone likes “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I’m not even sure what it would say about you as a person if you didn’t.

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Request Line: “Sacramento,” “Rasputin,” “What Do All the People Know,” “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hands”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 11, 2010

Reader Erick writes:

I’ll add to your backlog as well…

Middle of the Road – Sacramento (ed. note: Originally “Hotel Indiscreet” by Sagittarius, but changed by the requestor when YouTubes were unavailable)
Boney M – Rasputin
The Monroes – What Do All the People Know
Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

Nice mix here, certainly. Hope to run through a couple of these this week.

Does this actually sound like ABBA, or is this just what all 70s European pop groups with blonde, chipper-yet-dispassionate female lead singers invariably end up sounding like? Chuck Klosterman wrote a long essay in Eating the Dinosaur about how ABBA were, against most odds, able to remain consistently beloved for decades primarily because they were always entirely peerless in sound, and thus could not be traced back to any specific point in time as being “dated.” Perhaps this was actually just an extremely North Americanized view to take of things, and in reality ABBA had dozens and dozens of soundalikes overseas that were simply unable to make the jump across the pound. In any event, Middle of the Road were from the very beginning of the decade (debut single “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,” a UK #1 hit, was from ’71, whereas ABBA’s debut single was in ’72 and true breakthrough was all the way in ’74), so perhaps Anni-Frid, Bjorn, Benny and Agetha were just ripping them off the entire time.

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Request Line: “That’s What Love Can Do,” “Murder Reigns,” “Elvira,” “Life is Life”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 2, 2010

Reader Keith writes:

Hate to add to the backlog of requests, but I’d love to see what you do with an absurdly random song selection :)

Boy Krazy – That’s What Love Can Do
Ja Rule – Murder Reigns
Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira
Laibach – Life is Life

That is…impressively random. I’ll see what I can do.

It blows my mind a little bit that this was a hit in the year 1993. When listening to “That’s What Love Can Do” in preparation (I had it in my mp3 collection already so I must have heard it before, but had no particular memories) I assumed it was late-80s, or maybe from the very beginning of the pre-C&C Music Factory/EMF 90s. But 1993? I mean…this was the year of Ugly Kid Joe and Soul Asylum. Did we really still have room for these supernaturally chipper, synth-horn and cheesy piano-led dance pop tunes from the whitest of white chicks? Well, of course we did–Ace of Base was just around the corner, after all–but even still, Boy Krazy seems like they should have been one of the hundreds of acts whose faces were instantly melted, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, by the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” If only pop music was truly like it was in Behind the Music, I suppose.

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Request Line: “So Lonely,” “Devil Town,” “Road to Zion”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 23, 2010

I decided why not push my luck and hope that Andrew answers a second of my request

New request:

“Devil Town” – Bright Eyes
“Another Girl, Another Planet” – The Only Ones
“So Lonely” – The Police
“Road to Zion” – Damian Marley ft. Nas

Yeah, why not. Already took a shot at “Another Girl, Another Planet” though, so it’s gotta just be the other three.

Will admit–I had no idea this was a cover. The first time I remember hearing the song was during a montage in season one of Friday Night Lights (though Wikipedia tells me this was not the Bright Eyes version, but rather another cover by some folky scrub named Tony Lucca–they basically sound interchangeable so I’m going to talk about them as such). Heard it here and there for a little while, and again in the awful promos for season three, before looking into it before writing this article, where I found of course that the original was by cult hero Daniel Johnston. I don’t really know nothing about Johnston, aside from the awesome “Casper” off the Kids soundtrack and the fact that you’re contractually obligated to use the word “cult” at least once per sentence when talking about his music, but it seemed to make a decent amount of sense as being his song, and it made me wonder if hearing the original would diminish whatever respect I had for the Bright Eyes version.

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