Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top 5 Songs with State Names (or Similar Approximations) in Their Titles (East of the Mississippi River Edition):

Tim's Top 5:

1. Simon and Garfunkel – The Only Living Boy in New York – Ok, its association with the movie Garden State does take some joy from the song, since it’s lost all its obscurity value to people of my generation, but it's a very beautiful song that captures simultaneous youthful optimism and bitter sorrow.

2. Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Ohio - In my opinion, it’s hands-down the best song CSNY ever did, and it captures both sides of Neil Young really well, while having bitter and cutting lyrics about the inexplicable murder of four Kent State students by the Ohio National Guard.

3. The Strokes – New York City Cops – The best track off an album I’d never been all that into was left by the wayside when September 11 made it inappropriate to write a song about how New York City cops ain’t too smart. There’s not much to the song, and one could make an argument for leaving it off an album in any event…at least until they listened to it.

4. Elliott Smith – Georgia, Georgia – It’s a shame that New Moon was released only after I’d transferred all my music listening onto the shoddy IPod dock in my office, because Elliott Smith just doesn’t work on the system, because he’s ambient in and of himself. So I’m only discovering this song as a matter of research, but it warrants mention. The frantic pace and clear guitar work (you can practically hear his fingers on the guitar) would have made it a superb inclusion on Either/Or.

5. Rolling Stones – Sweet Virginia – It’s one of the more intriguing tracks on Exile on Main Street, which makes it emphatically worth including in this list. They do a good job in producing this to remove Mick Jagger’s from the rest of the track by a good distance, but the chorus really captures a Let It Be sort of feel of the Rolling Stones just being in a studio and working something out live. It sounds a lot like Springsteen’s work on The Seeger Sessions – very authentic. I really don’t listen to Exile nearly enough.

Honorable mention: R.E.M. – Leaving New York – It’s really literal, I know, but I’m okay with being the only person in the world who likes this song; Arrested Development – Tennessee; Countless artists, including Chuck Berry and The Beatles – Memphis, Tennessee; Neil Diamond – Kentucky Woman – yes, I like Neil Diamond.; The Jayhawks- Somewhere in Ohio

Ryan's Top Five

1. "I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" - Harry Nilsson - This is probably one of Nilsson's best, and one of his first hits from 1969. Incidentally, it's one of my favorites and it exemplifies what Nilsson's so great at: simple, happy pop songs done to perfection. (See: Me And My Arrow, The Puppy Song, Good Old Desk, The Town, Poli High, Down To The Valley, etc. etc. etc. etc.) Marry the cheeriness and simplicity of the song with Nilsson's vocals and you have a perfect pop song.

2. "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!" - Sufjan Stevens - One of the best songs, and maybe the best song, from one of the best and most complete albums of this decade. Sufjan uses a wide array of instruments and here crafts another cheery song with poignant lyrics that belie its happier exterior. "I sleeeep last night..." Man, I love this song.

3. "Piazza, New York Catcher" - Belle and Sebastian - Here's a textbook band that I should be more into than, regrettably, I am (or rather, have tried to be). In any event, I love this track.

4. "Mississippi Queen" - Mountain - A great hard rock/proto-metal song from the 70's. Gains bonus points for its association with the Homerpalooza episode of The Simpsons.

5. "Tennessee" - Arrested Development - This was probably my favorite song of 1992, when I was 9. Arrested Development in 1992 could do anything, I'd dig it. A great song from a great album.

Dan's Top 5:

Wow, there's a lot of Georgia in here.

1. Ray Charles – "Georgia on My Mind" – Ray Charles' first #1 song, and for good reason. Forget that it became the state song of Georgia in 1979, or that Ray Charles didn't even write it. Sometimes, certain recordings become immortal. I even included this on one of my mix CDs, which was otherwise populated by rock tracks. Should be noted that it ranks #44 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

2. Frank Sinatra – "New York, New York" – Sure, this song may be a bit cliché, but for me, it's synonymous with the character that's unique to the city. I don't know about anyone else's opinion, but I always enjoy going to New York. Also the only Sinatra song I really like.

3. Brother Bones and His Shadows – "Sweet Georgia Brown" – Harlem fucking Globetrotters. I rest my case.

4. Charlie Daniels Band – "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" – It's rare that a song tells a story this complete. Gains massive points for being a Southern Rock song that's actually known by people who aren't Southern Rock fans (which is because most Southern Rock sucks.) But at the same time, it loses points because, as many people agree, the Devil's band actually rocks harder than Johnny's "winning" performance.

5. Brian and Stewie – "Road to Rhode Island" – I decided to include this song for a number of reasons. First, it reminds us of a time when Family Guy didn't suck ass, or at least not nearly to the degree it does today. Second, it's a decent parody of the classic Hope and Crosby numbers, lest they be forgotten. Third, it makes fun of Rhode Island, and successfully ("like a group of college freshmen who were rejected by Harvard and forced to go to Brown.")

1 comment:

Roughly Speaking... said...

I actually like Dan's #5, and it really is a great use of the song from Road to Morocco.

"Like two masochists in Newport, we're Rhode Island bound".

Man, that show is awful now.