Weekly Top Ten (7/7/18): We’re Not Gonna Take It edition
I started writing this weekly Top Ten a few months back because aside from literature, my family, and my pets, Rock Music has been the one constant in my life ever since I realized that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was my pre-teen dream (and when I say “pre-teen” I mean seven year-old pre-teen). Songs get inside my head and stay there, and they transcend their own moment as well as the petty political world that sometimes tries to co-opt the music for different, nauseating ends.
I don’t want to rag on former President Reagan, whom I really didn’t like, but at least someone in his administration was a Springsteen fan even if “Born in the USA” wasn’t exactly a pro-Republican song. I mean, at least they were aware that they should like the Boss.
So here’s to the older days and newer, and what better way to start than right here, right now:
10. “Today,” Smashing Pumpkins. What were we doing in 1993? My younger daughter hadn’t been conceived yet, and my older daughter was three. We had just bought our first home, and that day was the greatest day — a dream come true. Not as good as either daughter being born, but when you can afford the security and comfort of your own place, all looks good. Especially when you know that not everyone will ever have/know that feeling.
9. “Get Back,” The Beatles. Maybe I’m still thinking of that “California grass,” but when I heard this yesterday (for the ten millionth time), it still sounded as fresh as ever. That guitar, and even Paul not sounding so much like Paul. Such weird days back in ’69. I might hear this song one minute and then be watching and listening to Buck Owens and Roy Clark on “Hee Haw” the next. I thought I did belong in my Alabama home, and I still haven’t been to Tuscon, Arizona.
8. “One Way Out,” The Allman Brothers Band. One of the great regrets of my life is that I never got to see the full Brothers when they were all alive. I was too young to travel to Tuscaloosa with friends for such a show back then, and truth be told, I wasn’t enough of a fan to have pushed anyone to take me. As I discussed the Allmans with a friend on the 4th of July, she told me that it took her into her 40’s to get them. But she did. They weren’t just a band. They were history unfolding.
7. “Fourth of July,” Lana Del Rey. Putting it all together, allusions to innocence and American subversion, Lana seems a compendium of all we are: innocence, sex, lushness, Elvis, Bruce, and a happy birthday to a country that can’t get enough of any kind of fireworks. “Your skin so golden brown…like an American.” Say what? Say who?
6. “That’s the Way of the World,” Earth, Wind, and Fire. On another 4th of July in a time and place far far away, I saw these guys at an old ball field. I was beyond stoned, and they played their guts out. But they were only the opening act for another band who, before EWF had finished their set, chose to cancel. That band was British, so…EWF was all-American, and maybe even five years before this set, they couldn’t have played this Southern venue to a racially mixed crowd. What was that again, Lana? Like an American?
5. “Humility,” Gorillaz. It’s in short supply today. Another from their brand new record. Damon Albarn’s voice sounds so weary sometimes, and so calming. Maybe I’m not so humble, either, but at least I don’t make fun of war veterans, afflicted reporters, and victimized women.
4. “Tell Me,” Lia Ices. Here’s a live version of this rocking tune, the CMJ mix. I love rooftop jams (see number 9). The whole album is great, if you can go all that way back to 2014, a much simpler time in America. I miss it.
3. “In the Presence of the Lord,” Blind Faith. This is about as religious as I get. In college, my little college town of Montevallo, Alabama, a guy named Robert Churchill and his band used to play this song, which was such a joy to hear, especially on those 25-cent beer nights. Just think of the song title, the band’s name, and the concept of rock supergroups. “Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score.” 2–1, Belgium.
2. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” The Who. Shit, except we did. I’m only going to say this once. My wife immigrated from a country that we fear today. She became an American citizen thirty years ago. She loves freedom, and she’s having nightmares now. Night fears, and a few day ones, too. Because the new Boss isn’t Springsteen, though I have known for a while that Bruce has a better feel for who we are than anyone in the DC compound today. Reagan did, too.
My thanks go to John Abdalla, again, for reminding me about this week’s number one song, which oddly enough, Robert Churchill’s band also played while we drank Busch or PBR, way back then, in 1975, So…
“Badge,” Cream. I think we are all being driven too far, and something is going to happen. The question is whether or not we’ll be able to pick ourselves back up and consider all the love we’ve had, some of us, from cradle to table. Short song, but that’s also why it kills me, always has.
“Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don’t you notice how the wheel goes ‘round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down,
Yes, before they bring the curtain down.”
George Harrison co-wrote this one with Clapton, so the Brits win out on this post-American birthday edition. Maybe that’s appropriate, too.
Keep listening like there’s still a tomorrow.