Like seemingly everyone else on the internet, I’ve been doing the 30 day music challenge on Facebook. For posterity, here are all my entries in one place.
Day 01 – Your favourite song.
Comet Gain – You Can Hide Your Love Forever
I’ve been an obsessive music listener for more than 20 years. There’s no “one song” I could name as my favourite song, but this has been my most listened-to song from the last couple of years, by one of my favourite bands, Comet Gain. (It is also the song after which this blog was named, obviously.)
Day 02 – Your least favorite song
The Smiths – Death at One’s Elbow
There are millions of horrible songs out there, but the songs I hate the most are the bland ones by bands like Matchbox 20 and the feelers. However, here’s my least favorite song by my favorite band, ‘Death at One’s Elbow’ from the otherwise flawless ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’. It is, I think, the one weak song in The Smiths’ otherwise peerless canon.
Day 03 – A song that makes you happy
Bright Eyes – I Woke Up with This Song in My Head This Morning
This is a great song about the thrill/joy of loving music. I often wake up with ‘I Woke Up with This Song in My Head This Morning’ in my head.
Day 04 – A song that makes you sad
Okkervil River – Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel
Of all the tragic stories in the history of rock, the story of Jobriath/John Wayne Campbell/Cole Berlin is one of the saddest. The fact that Okkervil River wrote such a beautiful song about him at least partly rights some of the injustices he suffered at the hands of the music business. It’s a shame he never got to hear it.
Day 05 – A song that reminds you of someone
The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives
My wife hates The Decemberists – mostly because of Colin Meloy’s voice. (Ironic, because he’s the musician I most resemble physically.) So this song reminds me that, in order to keep the peace with my wife, I can only play The Decemberists in the car, on headphones, or when she’s out of the house. Or to annoy her.
Day 06 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
I heard this in UK the first time it was played on the radio, on a bus from London to Dover. A few days later I was in Barcelona, walking Las Ramblas. But not with real intent.
Day 07 – A song that reminds you of a certain event
Elbow – Newborn
This song is inextricably linked to the death of my grandmother in 2001. I bought Elbow’s “Asleep in the Back” a few days before she went into hospital, and was listening to it in my car on the way to the hospital the night she died. This is a song about growing old, and still reminds me of her.
Day 08 – A song that you know all the words to
Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone
Probably the song I’ve listened to the most number of times. When I was 16 there was a period of about six months when I listened to ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ (on tape) twice a day.
Day 09 – A song that you can dance to
Orange Juice – Rip It Up
I have no rhythm. But dancing to this song at Rachel Block and Patrick Connolly’s wedding in Virginia last year was one of the highlights of my life. (Also – one of only a tiny handful of songs that elicits the comment “nice sax solo” from me.)
Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep
The Bats – The Looming Past
Not in a boring way though. I often find it difficult to fall asleep, and listening to quiet music on headphones is usually the only thing that’ll calm me down and get me sleepy. This is a song I always come back to on sleepless nights – it’s calming and melodic, and it’s nice to know Robert Scott occasionally finds himself unable to sleep too.
Day 11 – A song from your favorite band
The Go-Betweens – Twin Layers of Lightning
I’m always torn over whether The Smiths or The Go-Betweens are my favorite band. I discovered The Go-Betweens in my early 20s, at a point in my life where I thought I was too old to be having band obsessions. The Smiths speak to my adolescent self but The Go-Betweens seem more “grown up”.
Day 12 – A song from a band you hate
The Police – Message in a Bottle*
I hate Sting and The Police. It’s possibly slightly irrational, but a twat with a mullet singing in a fake Jamaican accent just makes me want to wretch.
* Can be substituted for any other Police or String song.
Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure
Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman
I don’t really have ‘guilty pleasures’. I likes what I likes. I know, however, that for a lot of people this song is unmitigated cheese. I, however, think it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written and recorded.
Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love
Dexys Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen
A lot of people* are perplexed by my love of Dexys. It breaks my heart that they’re considered a “one hit wonder” in NZ. Sure, this song may be a staple school discos, but’s also the light at the end of a dark tunnel on the wonderfully misunderstood album “Too-Rye-Aye”, moving the listener from desperation to joy. Redemptive stuff.
Day 15 – A song that describes you
Denim – The Osmonds
I was born in 1975 – my earliest memories are of the very late 70s/early 1980s when everything was brown, orange and beige, and the people in my neighbourhood had either a) long stringy hair and mustaches, or b) dressed like Alan Partridge. This song channels all of those early childhood memories.
Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate
Genesis – Home by the Sea
I’ve pretty much liked the same (kind of) music since I was about 13, and discovered Dylan, R.E.M. and The Pet Shop Boys. However, around this time I also had a (thankfully brief) flirtation with Collins-era Genesis. I have no idea why the 13 year old me liked this song/band. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they really sucked.
Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio
The Flaming Lips – She Don’t Use Jelly
I never listen to the radio any more, but when I was at University in the early/mid 90s they used to hear this song on bfm all the time. I kinda thought they were a bit of a “joke band”, like They Might Be Giants or King Missle, so hearing The Soft Bulletin a few years later was an absolute revelation.
Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Suede – Beautiful Ones
Any of the songs from Suede’s ‘Coming Up’ sounded like sure-fire hits, so I could never understand why, in 1996, NZ radio was still in thrall to all this incredibly bland, post-grunge American rock like Hootie and the Blowfish, Matchbox 20 etc.
Day 19 – A song from your favorite album
Scott Walker – The Seventh Seal
I’m not sure I have a favorite album. There’s probably a short-list of 20 or so albums that squabble for that title in my mind. But Scott Walker’s ‘Scott 4’ is one I always come back to. Walker is my favorite singer, and this is the album where the voice, the lyrics and the production all came together perfectly.
Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry
British Sea Power – Carrion
I’m pretty even tempered, and don’t really get angry very often. But this is a great, pounding song that it’s great to shout along to should the need arise.
Day 21 – A song that you listen to when you’re happy
The Phoenix Foundation – Going Fishing
A great song for a road trip, or for dancing ’round the living room. Euphoric stuff.
Day 22 – A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Galaxie 500 – Tell Me
You could put almost any Galaxie 500 song in this category. There’s something beautifully melancholy about this band.
Day 23 – A song that you want to play at your wedding
Belle & Sebastian – My Wandering Days Are Over
I wanted to play this as the exit song for my wedding, but chickened out at the last moment. If I was doing it again, I’d probably stick to my guns.
Day 24 – A song that you want to play at your funeral
Neutral Milk Hotel – Two Headed Boy Pt. 2
I love this song so much. ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ is the most emotionally engaging album – I often choke up a little when I listen to it. I honestly believe that this is the most heartfelt song ever written. (In their infinite wisdom, EMI have blocked all studio versions of this song in NZ. So here’s a live version instead.)
Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh
The Magnetic Fields – The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side
I love Stephin Merritt’s droll sense of humour. I have no idea who the kids who made this homemade video are (church youth group maybe?) but it’s a cute tribute to a great song.
Day 26 – A song that you can play on an instrument
Pixies – Gigantic
My bass skills are pretty rudimentary, but I can play the baseline to Gigantic. Probably because it’s only about two notes. Kim Deal FTW.
Day 27 – A song that you wish you could play
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead (live from “Rank”)
Johnny Marr. Not only one of the finest guitarists of all time, but also one of the most effortlessly cool. There’s no flashiness, no funny expressions, just an economy to his playing and his movements that leaves most other guitarists for dust.
Day 28 – A song that makes you feel guilty
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Guilty that turned down the opportunity to see Nirvana when they toured here in in 1992. On hindsight, a pretty dumb decision …
Day 29: A song from your childhood
SSgt. Barry Sadler – Ballad of the Green Beret
Yes. Actually. My dad had the 12″. It must be a Vietnam veteran thing.
Day 30 – Your favorite song at this time last year
The Divine Comedy – At the Indie Disco
I’m pretty sure this came out about this time last year – ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’ wasn’t the best Divine Comedy, but this is a lovely song and a cool video.