"Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tennille, 1975

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

(I'm not sure if Carrie's repeatables thing is still happening, but I can't go back to the regularly scheduled alphabetical programming without focusing on this song.)

I had planned to highlight this song--written by Neil Sedaka, recorded by loads of people, a huge smash hit for Captain & Tennille, and parodied (sort of) by Joy Division--because it's the only song in my Top Hundred that is also a Grammy winner. How outta sight is that?

It's also the newest repeatable on this list. When I wrote Guy in Real Life, one scene in particular which anyone who's read that book will easily identify, I listened to this song incessantly. It stands out on a book-writing playlist filled otherwise with deathcore, Bjork, and Berlioz. After the book was done--like, done done: drafted, revised, copyedited, proofread--it is the only song on that playlist I can still listen to on repeat for an hour or more at a time. I cannot explain this, except that the keys are totally danceable and the bass line is a blast. Also it modulates I think, which is so fun sometimes. Shut up.

"I'm in the Mood for Love/Moody's Mood" by King Pleasure, 1952

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(Like yesterday, I've skipped ahead in the Top Hundred to the next selection that was at one time or another in my life eminently repeatable, as I'm joining my friend Carrie in her series on aural obsessions.)

This entry writes itself. Or, more accurately, I already wrote this entry a couple of years ago for the soon-to-be-resurrected (so sayeth Bryan Bliss) BoysDontRead.com. I'm going to paste the story here, but first, here's the song. It's not the exact recording that I listened to repeatedly as a young man--old King Pleasure recorded this thing like a hundred times--but it's close.

I’m a shy Boy. I always have been. Open-house parties—the local parlance for “keggers” where and when I grew up—were an intimidating prospect, but an appealing one just the same. Where else could I expect to expand my social circle, pee in the woods, and kid myself into thinking I might work up the bravery to smooch some girl?
            Anyway, aside from peeing the woods, those things never happened. But I did learn a little about what I could expect from myself, anyway. And beer helped a lot.
            Sorry, Mom and moms. Yes, I had beers. Beers aplenty, all before I was even eighteen, and that wasn’t even the drinking age anymore anyway. So you can imagine how many beers I had before I was twenty-one! Oh my word.
            Where was I? Oh yes. Open-house parties and social lubricants.
            I’d better back up a moment and tell you this: The Gap ran a lot of TV ads back in the early 1990s. I imagine they still do, but who the hell sits through commercials on TV anymore? Not this guy. Back then, though—sure. We had five channels. We watched whatever they hell they put in front of us. Anyway, one such ad featured a montage of black-and-white photos of models in Gap clothes, I think. The music, though, I’ll never forget, because it was tune that has become so a part of me that to this day I know every word, every shift in pitch, every breath. I even sang it at my brother’s first wedding in a duet with my aunt.
            The commercial didn’t feature the whole song. It merely featured the first thirty seconds—not enough to even reach Blossom Dearie’s vocal part. My father, though, had quite a jazz vinyl collection, and it included no fewer than three versions of this apparently hit jazz tune by King Pleasure and Blossom Dearie. So I listened to the whole thing—constantly. I forced the song and all its lyrics and its melody deep into my gut and my heart. I was one with the song.
            So. Open-house party. Kegger. I think I remember whose house it was at. I know this was the night I first heard of “Special K,” aka cat tranquilizer, aka Ketamine. And here, moms and Mom, you may rejoice, because I did not partake of that drug that night, nor ever since. But many people did, as I recall, which meant my social anxiety went absolutely through the freaking roof.
            Keg parties where I grew up were generally held in backyards, lest partygoers jostle or break something important inside the house, where parents might notice upon their return from Europe, for example. This time, though, a select few kids were invited inside. After a few beers on the patio, I think I probably grabbed a mutual friend’s coattails and hobbled in as well.
            The TV was on in a big, well encouched family room. Everyone in the room, including myself, had by this time relaxed, either through pill or joint or beer, and the faces in the room were nearly expressionless as what had to be Saturday Night Live flashed before our eyes.
            Then it happened. The Gap commercial. It happened.
            Now listen. I was drunk. I was really about as drunk as I’d ever been in my (I’m guessing) seventeen years. If I hadn’t been, I might hummed along under my breath, or lip-synced even. But sing out loud? At the top of my lungs? Even after the thirty-second commercial was over, and well into Blossom Dearie’s section—in falsetto, mind you—until the very last line of the song?
            I never would have done that.
            Not without beer. (This probably sounds like a pro-beer story. It’s not. It’s an anti-fear story. Which, to some degree, is the same thing. I am going to get in big trouble. Don’t drink!)
            With beer, though, I sang out loud, and I sang out clear. Or as clear as you might expect a drunk seventeen-year-old to be. And I sang every word, and probably quite well. I’m not too shabby on the vocals, thankyouverymuch. By the time I was done, all eyes were on me, slouched in a leather sectional with a warm cup of beer in my hand. Saturday Night Live was back from commercial, but all eyes stayed on me.
            I grinned and took a sip of that warm beer. I hated beer then. Who didn’t at seventeen, especially that swill we always ended up sipping—Coors Light or MGD or Bud?
            Now, no one clapped. No one even smiled at me. One girl said, “Woah.” Then we went back to watching TV. But to me, things had changed. No one would forget I was at that party—as they probably had with every party I’d ever bothered showing up at. And that was something for a shy Boy.
            A couple of weeks later, I crashed my car into another kid’s car outside of a kegger—I mean, just the tiniest bit—and then tried to flee the scene right down a dead end. I didn’t get far and took a punch in the face for my trouble. So no one would forget I was at that party either. Not as fun, oddly.
Don’t drink, kids.

"I Can See It in Your Eyes" by Men At Work, 1982

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

(I've skipped ahead a bit, alphabetically, in order to post this with Carrie Mesrobian, who is revealing her list of oft-repeated writing tunes. When I'm done focusing on the most repeatable songs, I'll get back to where I left off. Read the first in Carrie's series.)

This song is kind of super important to me. I've never come up with a good explanation for why it completely devoured me when I was freaking eight years old. It makes no sense. It's a fairly mature love (end-of-love) song, lyrics-wise, by a band that, if not for a couple of (let's face it) novelty tracks, would have remained in relative obscurity outside of their native Australia.

But for some reason this track--at first just its ridiculously 1980s guitar solo, and eventually the whole song--leapt out at me as something different and special, distinct from the other songs on the LP, which I've had since 1982. (It still plays all right in spite of my tossing the paper sleeve inside the cardboard sleeve because when I was eight I thought you were supposed to throw that part out. I don't know.)

Anyway, in keeping with the spirit of Carrie's new series, I give you "I Can See It in Your Eyes," my first musical obsession and, without question, the song that has received the most repeated plays in my lifetime--and considering that the first thousand of those were on vinyl, please appreciate what a pain in the ass that was for an eight-year-old.

"Gypsy" by Suzanne Vega, 1987

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This might be the best song ever by anyone. I don't have anything else to say because I couldn't possibly say enough so I won't say anything. I really shouldn't have even included it on this list. It's not even fair to other songs or to my blog or even to me because I can't.

Suzanne Vega - Gypsy from Ryan B. on Vimeo.

"Groove Is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite, 1990

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's got everything: most danceable beat of all time, hot vocals, Q-tip rap, Bootsy and Maceo, and the maddest video on Mtv in 1990.

I drove with a friend of mine to Albany to visit the SUNY there in 1991. The only tape we had in the car was the cassingle of "Groove Is in the Heart" and we listened to it over and over. In 1991, you can believe that was waaaaaaay outside the box for me, since I'd been a classic rock fan and specifically a Dead Head for the last several years. Modern music seeped very slowly into my brain, and something featuring sampled beats and rapping was so out of my comfort zone . . . seriously I can't overstate how weird it was at the time.

Anyway it's obviously ridiculous and perfect so here's the mad video.