Hit Somebody

I play my music stash on “shuffle” most of the time, although I often use shuffle to choose albums for me—a track comes up on shuffle and I cue up the whole album it comes from. I rarely shuffle from the whole 13,440 songs on it (at the moment), except when I need ideas for a blog post.

So I hit “shuffle” the other night and the first thing that came up was “Waldo P. Emerson Jones”  by the Archies, another Jeff Barry/Andy Kim confection found on the band’s greatest hits album, about the sort of guy thinks he’s too cool to hang out with the Archies—“he rode his chopper up to Woodstock and he wormed his way backstage.” Searching for information about the song, I discovered that a band I read about just the other day at WNEW.com with the remarkably stupid name Everybody Was in the French Resistance . . . Now has recorded a song called “(I’m So) Waldo P. Emerson Jones.” It is apparently some sort of half-assed update of the Archies original, because it would be too much of a coincidence if it wasn’t.

Here’s the next nine songs that came up on on shuffle:

“Two for One”/Grant Green. Another fine groove by the jazz guitarist who is frequently heard with the greatest organ players in jazz, from Jack McDuff to Big John Patton. (No organ on this track, though.) Green claimed that his greatest inspirations were horn players like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, and not other guitarists, which is why it’s so easy to imagine his solo lines being played by horns.

“2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten”/Lucinda Williams. An extraordinary tune from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, with a lyric full of strange and striking images.  If you’re unfamiliar with Lucinda, this is the album, and maybe the song, to start with. This particular version was recorded for a radio broadcast on WXPN in Philadelphia.

“Show Me the Way to Go Home”/Emerson Lake & Palmer. This is the song I used to play at the end of record dances I DJed in high school. It’s thematically appropriate, and it had the added bonus of chasing people out the door, since not everybody was quite as crazed by ELP in those days as my friends and me.

“Time Waits for No One”/Ambrosia. Despite a handful of great singles and another handful of worthwhile album cuts, the most interesting thing about Ambrosia might be that they share a songwriting credit with novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., on the song “Nice Nice Very Nice,” which is taken mostly from Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle.

“Lonely at the Top”/Van Morrison. Morrison tends to improvise songs on the fly, in the studio, with the band in place and a tape machine running, which may be why he seems to revisit a lot of the same themes in the same terms. Here’s a pleasant-enough song about wanting to be left alone, which is one of Van’s main preoccupations—and this was recorded in 1986, on the album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.

After the jump, one of the most astonishing jukebox finds I ever found, and three more songs.

“Here Comes the Night”/Nick Gilder. If you ever hear anybody call Gilder, of “Hot Child in the City” fame, a one-hit wonder, remind them of this, which made Number 44 around the turn of 1979. I was shocked to find it on a jukebox at a little mom-and-pop saloon in Argyle, Wisconsin, on a box otherwise loaded with country tunes and that 45 with “Happy Birthday” on one side and “The Anniversary Waltz” on the other.

“Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)”/Warren Zevon. Released as a single in 2001 and eventually included on the 2002 album My Ride’s Here, “Hit Somebody” is about a hockey goon who dreams of scoring goals. It was co-written by Zevon and sportswriter Mitch Albom and features a guest appearance by David Letterman yelling “hit somebody,” with backing from the whole Late Show band.

“A Hard Day’s Night”/Beatles. From the 2009 mono remaster. Every music fan should be required to sit down and listen to these versions, particularly those who assume without thinking that that two channels are automatically better than one. Fact is, the stereo mixes of the Beatles’ records, at least at the beginning, were afterthoughts; it’s the mono mixes that were slaved over first to get ’em right. It’s surprising how much you can hear that you’ve never noticed before. (A YouTuber has put up the whole mono remaster of A Hard Day’s Night in three parts. Listen here, while you can.)

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”/Charles Earland. In shuffle mode, it never takes very long for me to get to the Hammond B3. A Philadelphia native, Earland played saxophone originally, and in high school, the first jazz band he was in featured a trumpeter named Frankie Avalon, well before he hit the beach with Annette Funicello. Earland took up the organ only after playing sax in organist Jimmy McGriff’s band for three years in the early 1960s, eventually earning the nickname “The Mighty Burner.” Which he was.

“Everybody Was in the French Resistance  . . . Now”? Getting close to the absolute stupid of zero . . . now.

“2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten” (live at WXPN)/Lucinda Williams (buy Lucinda here)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.