Friday, April 20, 2007

The Alphabet Project: C (Part Two)

With apologies to late cuts Leonard Cohen, Roseanne Cash, The Cuff Links and Glen Campbell, here's some of my favorite C shanties. Let me know where I went wrong.

1. Sam Cooke – "A Change Is Gonna Come" – A harbinger of social, cultural and musical change... time has not diminished its relevance. Plus if Otis Redding isn’t the greatest soul singer ever, then Sam Cooke is. And Otis worshipped Sam.

2. Ray Charles"Bye Bye Love" – Ray Charles lived at the intersection of all music and this song (from the fantastic Modern Sounds in Country and Western) just improves my mood 100% every time I hear it.

3. Gene Chandler“Duke of Earl” – I’ve dreamed of walking by a street corner and hearing this. Extra credit for providing a name for Steve Earle’s band.

4. James Carr“The Dark End of The Street” – This intense, desperate plea to an illicit lover is the perfect amalgamation of southern fried soul and honky tonk songwriting. It’s been covered about a billion times.

5. Jimmy Cliff“Wonderful World, Beautiful People” – As a bit of a pollyanna myself, this song’s marriage of a rock steady backbeat, top 40 smarts and wide eyed optimism never fails to delight. All hail 70’s top 40 AM radio.

6. Chairmen of the Board"Give Me Just A Little More Time” – If I could ever master the “bddddrrrll” tongue roll the amazing General Johnson lets loose at 2:16 of this song, I’d die happy.

7. The Crystals“Then He Kissed Me” – The story of the world in 2:37.

8. Petula Clark“I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love” – Lush, orchestral sunshine pop at its finest… dig the finger snaps throughout.

9. Crazy Elephant“Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” – Anonymous band with massive bubblegum hit… you know you love this song – “From Atlanta, Georgia / to the Gulf Stream waters”… come on, sing it with me.

10. Chicago “Make Me Smile” – The rare intersection of rock, jazz, melody and brevity, “Make Me Smile” features the soulfully unhinged vocals of Terry Kath. How did it all go so terribly wrong for these guys?

11. The Carpenters“Top of The World” – The 15 year old me would throttle the 49 year old me for including this one… but time has been kind to the Carpenters legacy. Karen’s sweet, crystalline voice carried the day – plus this was one of my Mom’s favorite songs. (Awwwwwww.)
12. Jim Croce“One Less Set of Footsteps” – I dig Croce. Wanna fight?

13. Marshall Crenshaw“There She Goes Again” – I could fill one thousand notebooks about the glory of Marshall Crenshaw and this leadoff track to his without-a-flaw debut, but if you don’t believe, it’d be “like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock n roll”. It'd be exactly like that.

14. The Cure“In Between Days” – I’m generally not one for the doom and gloom set, but this rhythm happy synth pop prototype bubbles merrily along despite its apologetic, yearning lyrics and classic sad sack opening “Yesterday I got so old / I felt like I could die”.

15. The Chills“Heavenly Pop Hit” – Like I can add anything to that.

16. Gene Clark“American Dreamer” – Gene Clark showed up on B, here he is on C and I expect to see him on D. Discovering Gene Clark is a journey any alt country fan should undertake… start with this spare, brooding take on great expectations.

17. Peter Case“Travellin’ Light” – Proffering an invitation to outcasts everywhere (“So you’re a mixed up kid / Come on and join the crowd”), Case empathizes with those drifting through life, shedding baggage as needed (“There’s a hole in your sole / Where the wind blows through”). Someday I’m going to invite all y’all to a Peter Case house concert chez Teek. It’ll be massive.

18. Kasey Chambers“The Captain” – A sweet ode to her musician brother, thanking him for helping her find her muse. Just a gorgeous melody, sung beautifully and played perfectly… one of the best pop songs of the last ten years.

19. Eddie Cochran“Summertime Blues” – A definitive anthem of teenage restlessness, Eddie Cochran’s fame was fleeting, dead in a car accident by age 21. Gimme some slapback..

20. Johnny Cash“I Walk The Line” – Bad boy professes the greatest love of all - “Because you’re mine / I walk the line”. The voice of God.

21. Cream“Sunshine of Your Love” – Along with “Satisfaction” and “Smoke on the Water”, one of the three greatest opening rock riffs… I had to include it after 10 year old Joey Edler tore the house down with his savage rendition at the Chestnutwold School talent show.

22. Crazy Horse“Downtown” – The Horse were more than just Neil’s greatest backing band, and they were able to pull it together for this alt country classic. No declaration has ever held greater promise for hitting the town than “Snake eyes, french fries / And I got lots of gas / Full moon and a jumpin tune / Now you don’t have to ask”.

23. Creedence Clearwater Revival“Travellin’ Band” – The archetypal band on the road tune, this 2 minute blast chugs like a speeding locomotive, propelled across one night stands by one of rock’s greatest rhythm sections. Add a couple of Fogerty screams and 10 second guitar freakouts, and being in a rock and roll band never sounded so exhilarating.

24. Elvis Costello“Miracle Man” – The greatest rock and roll seems to spring from sexual frustration, and Elvis Costello was no exception. When he tells that night’s prospective paramour “I could tell you that I like your sensitivity / when you know it’s the way that you walk”, I believe he only speaks for guys that have been born. And try not smiling, snarling, singing and pulling twitchy rock star moves as you sing along with this one.

25. Cheap Trick“Surrender” – The perfect mix of hard rock, bubblegum, songwriting brilliance and sartorial elegance… at least for those first three records. And “Surrender” stands at the pinnacle of all pop tunes; it’s as much a standard as “Stormy Weather” or “Georgia on My Mind”. I hope the kids are digging it 100 years from now.
26. The Clash - "Career Oppurtunities" - The only song that matters.

27. Jim Carroll Band“People Who Died” – An adrenaline rush chronicling the grisly deaths of some of Carroll’s lower east side cronies, this brutal mix of poetic brilliance and urban sleaze might be the defining moment of New York post ’78 punk. If you don’t get a rise when Carroll snarls “And Eddie, I miss you more than all the others / This song is for you my brother”… check your pulse.


Scott McClatchy said...

The beauty of blogs like this is that it will lead me to do two things:

1) Pull out records that I haven’t heard for a while and rediscover their greatness. Or;

2) Go in search of records that I never gave enough attention to and see what all the fuss is about (re: The Cars, Double Life).

But it’s also blogs like this that cry out for a round of beers at you favorite watering hole to ‘discuss’ what songs would belong on a ‘Best of Marshall Crenshaw’ – I, for one, would not let anyone leave that bar until there was 100% agreement to include “Some Place Where Love Can’t Find Me.”

So, with that in mind, I offer an open invitation to both Trip & Michael (and whoever they would care to drag along) to join me at The Gate – a great pub in Park Slope, Brooklyn that offers twenty separate beers on tap, a juke box that will rock your world and is in walking distance to many fine eateries.

The first round is on me,

Michael Atchison said...

The next time I'm within 1,000 miles of Brooklyn, you're on.