Thursday, June 5

The Friday Not-So-Random Ten+5=15, or, uh, something . . . this is your life!

Just to give you an idea of how old 30 is, I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day and she mentioned that she'd run into one of our former next-door neighbors whose kids I used to babysit all the time. The younger of those kids is starting at Georgia Southern this fall; the older one joined the Marines, made it through Paris Island, and is currently headed off to California. It's always nice to know that the hyperactive six-year-old you watched after school is now more than capable of kicking your ass.

Anyhoo. This week's Random Ten+5 is going to be a little different -- it's not random, first of all, and I'm combining the Ten and the 5 into a Not-So-Random 15. This is the 15-Track Soundtrack To My Life, fifteen songs that made some kind of major impression on me at various points in my life and will be the starting point for the soundtrack whenever they make the Doug Gillett biopic. ("Doug Gillett: Chancellor of the Sexchequer," they'll call it.) Prepare to get video-tastic:

Lionel Richie, "All Night Long" (1983)
This is the first song that I can remember calling "my favorite." Don't laugh at me, I was five years old, and Lionel's career was pretty much hitting its peak.

Billy Idol, "Eyes Without a Face" (1984)
The first video I can ever remember seeing on MTV. It was also the venue through which I was introduced to the concept of the thong (at six years old).

Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (1985)
I remember hearing this song on the radio right after my aunt got me my very first Walkman (or generic equivalent) as a First Communion present; even then, at the tender age of seven, I knew the Pet Shop Boys were fricking geniuses. (Technically, this was the first rap song to hit number one in the U.S.)

My Bloody Valentine, "Soon" (1991)
Right after we moved to Georgia, I remember going up to Atlanta to go shopping and go to a Braves game, and as we were driving through downtown, my mom was flipping through radio stations and stopped for just a minute or two on WRAS 88.5, Georgia State University's student radio station. This was even a few months before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" had started taking the airwaves by storm, so hearing My Bloody Valentine for the first time at the tender age of 13 was basically a revelatory experience for me. If every child has a moment when they put aside bubblegum top-40 pop and start listening to grown-up music, that was mine.

U2, "The Fly" (1991)
Just a few short months after hearing "Soon" in the car on the Downtown Connector, U2 released the first single off Achtung Baby, which was another transformative experience. Achtung Baby was probably the first album I ever bought and listened to nonstop to the point where I probably started wearing the CD out; what little I knew of U2 at that point was basically limited to "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "With Or Without You," and this was entirely different, darker, delivered with a wink and a wicked grin. I still think this is one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Under the Bridge" (1992)
Everyone I knew liked this song back during my sophomore year of high school, and that was the problem. As alternative music started to take hold amongst me and my group of friends back around that time, we all felt like we'd discovered something new and groundbreaking with this song and the album it appeared on, but that only lasted for a couple months before WCGQ started playing it every five minutes. Thus were we introduced to the concept of being "overplayed" and a good song being done to death by corporate radio. (CGQ has since switched to an adult-contemporary format, which is another unfortunate metaphor right there.)

A Tribe Called Quest, "Award Tour" (1993)
The song (and the album, Midnight Marauders) that really got me started listening to hip-hop. Pretty much the only rap I knew up to that point (aside from "West End Girls," of course) was "Walk This Way" back in 1986, which may or may not count.

Pet Shop Boys, "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" (1993)
Still my favorite song, particularly the Beatmasters remix, and I still think Very is the single greatest pop album ever recorded. It has a lot to do with the fact that I had my first-ever actual girlfriend right around this time, and I got her listening to all this stuff too; she would later go on to be the only person to ever dump me twice, but some music is so good that it transcends even embarrassing memories like that.

R.E.M., "Nightswimming" (1993)
Contrary to most of my friends -- and most of the teenagers in the state of Georgia, probably -- I didn't like R.E.M. that much at first. The album that came out right as I was really starting to develop my own taste in music was Out of Time, which I still think is incredibly overrated; the only song I really liked on it was "Radio Song," and that was probably only because KRS-One was on it. But a couple years later, a friend of mine was playing this track off Automatic for the People, and I decided maybe it was time to give Michael Stipe a second chance. Automatic was a spectacular album, and I even became one of the few people who had anything nice to say about Monster.

Chemical Brothers, "Get Up On It Like This" (1995)
Underworld, "Juanita" (1996)
If my Friday Random Tens confound you on a regular basis with their obsession with electronic music, these two songs are probably to blame. I remember a classmate of mine taking me over to a friend's house shortly after I arrived at UGA in the fall of 1995, and his friend was a DJ who had crates full of CDs and promo 12"s all over the place; he put on a record by some group called the Chemical Brothers that he said was just about to drop its first album in the U.S. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard before, and I raced out and bought Exit Planet Dust almost as soon as it came out.

A year or so later, I saw the movie "Trainspotting" for the first time, and the song "Born Slippy" -- which is played at the very end of the film as Ewan MacGregor is abandoning his friends and making off with the drug money -- made an impression on me that was almost as big. I found out that the group that recorded the song was called Underworld, and I went out and bought their then-just-released second album, Second Toughest in the Infants. The opening track on that album, "Juanita," was a sixteen-minute, three-movement opus that almost left my jaw hanging wide open; it was amazing how they could take a song through so many twists and turns by making a subtle change here and adding another instrument or effect there, to the point where it sounded like a completely different song at the end than it did at the beginning. The version in the "video" above is cut down from the full-length version, obviously, but it's still pretty amazing, and after that I think it's hard to make the case that techno music, when done right, can't be beautiful in its own way.

The Police, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (1981)
A couple years ago, Chuck Klosterman wrote a piece for Esquire about how not even individual songs but parts or aspects of songs could have profound effects on a listener. I can't explain why, but the last minute and a half of this song, where the lyrics basically end and The Police just basically start rocking out all over the place, are 90 of the most exhilarating seconds of pop music ever. The song itself is sort of anxious and frustrated when you really listen to it, but you can't listen to it without getting a smile on your face or a twitch in your legs, even if you're sitting behind the steering wheel, stuck in traffic.

Dean Martin, "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" (1965)
First song I ever sang at a karaoke bar. And I kicked ass.

Nina Simone, "My Baby Just Cares For Me" (1958)
As Dave Attell says, the song that's playing when you lose your virginity is a pretty critical piece of music, 'cause if it's not good, it's going to haunt you. (A friend of mine who remembers handing over his virtue to the soothing sounds of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra" sometime in the early '80s can attest to this.) So I guess I was actually kind of fortunate in that regard, even if I didn't actually have sex for the first time until I'd almost graduated from college.

The Jam, "A Town Called Malice" (1982)
The first song I ever downloaded illegally off the Internet. Thanks for the memories (and the spyware), Kazaa!

Just short of life-changing status, but still important: Miles Davis, "So What"; Devo, "Whip It" (currently the default ring tone on my cell phone); Nanci Griffith, "Red Brick Floor"; Massive Attack, "Unfinished Sympathy"; Right Said Fred, "I'm Too Sexy."

Oh, and "Never Gonna Give You Up," of course.

All right, readers, your turn -- which 15 songs do you put on the soundtrack of your life? Don't hold back any bad or embarrassing songs that really meant something to you at younger and/or more naive points in your life; we're all friends here.


miller draft genuine said...

You did see this, no? Even as an Auburn fan, I find it hilarious and applaud the excellent UGA fans.

Anonymous said...

I may even have said this on this blog before, but Monster was a great album in my estimation. My thoughts are perhaps colored by the fact that several friends and I drove up to the Omni during our senior year to see the final US show of the Monster world tour at the Omni (with Luscious Jackson opening, ye children of the 90's).

It is still the best live show I have ever seen, besting performances by Dave Matthews (thrice), Robert Earl Keene (twice), a host of hippie jambands with absurd names I no longer remember, and a few other big name acts who turned in thoroughly underwhelming performances after I shelled out overwhelming cash to see them.

Universal Remonster said...

Yeah, I love Monster too. Another album of their, Up, was totally overlooked and I still listen to it today. Anyhoo....

Soundtack of my life-

1) Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel
2) Dear Prudence - The Beatles
3) The theme from the "Crossfire" toy/game commercial
4) Love Shack - The B52s
5) Beast of Burden - The Rolling Stones
6) Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
7) Happy Nation - Ace of Base
8) Pulling Teeth - Green Day
9) My Name is Jonas - Weezer
10) I'm a Loner Dottie, A Rebel - The Get Up Kids
11) Radio - Alkaline Trio
12) Clark Gable - The Postal Service
13) Fatal Tragedy - Dream Theater
14) Stockholm Syndrome - Muse
15) Jaws Theme Swimming - Brand New

and a bonus - The Walk of Life - Dire Straits

Reed said...

If you're gonna pick a non-Commodores Lionel song, you picked the right one, leather pants notwithstanding.

This is damn-near impossible, but here you go - the 15 of my life:
1) Eddy Grant - Electric Avenue
2) Led Zeppelin - Ramble On
3) Jane's Addiction - Summertime Rolls
4) Red Hot Chili Peppers - Magic Johnson
5) Smashing Pumpkins - Hummer
6) Parliament - Flashlight
7) Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need To Get By
8) The Verve - New Decade
9) Tool - Aenema
10) Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
11) Archers of Loaf - Might
12) 12 Rods - Twenty Four Hours Ago
13) The Stooges - Loose
14) Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
15) Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
16) Andrew Bird - Tables and Chairs
17) Dinosaur Jr. - No Not You Again

Man 15 is not enough. I need like 60. Right now, there's no Stevie Wonder, no Fishbone, no Nina Simone, and so many others missing. But this is a great idea, Doug. I may go farther with it one day (maybe when I hit 40).

Holly said...

Fifteen remixes of Rocky Top would be bad form here, right?

1. Moody Blues - Your Wildest Dreams (the closing credits song of my first zombie movie)
2. Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation
3. Smashing Pumpkins - Tonight, Tonight
4. Weezer - Falling For You
5. Offspring - Come Out And Play (Confession! In high school, on a football field, I once twirled a baton to this song for reasons that were never entirely clear to anyone.)
6. BT - Never Gonna Come Back Down
7. Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
8. Pogues - Fairytale of New York
9. Crystal Method - Ten Miles Back
10. Wicked OST - Thank Goodness
11. Chingon - Malaguena Salerosa
12. Commitments - The Dark End of the Street
13. Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek (R3volve mix)
14. Better Than Ezra - Our Finest Year
15. BT - Ferris Wheel

Will said...

Doug, what's your take on Flight of the Conchords' "Inner City Pressure"?

A very early stab at 15:
1. Kenny Loggins - "Danger Zone"
2. Def Leppard - "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
3. Tone Loc - "Wild Thing"
4. Public Enemy - "Can't Truss It"
5. Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle"
6. Faith No More - "Epic"
7. Metallica - "Enter Sandman"
8. 311 - "All Mixed Up"
9. Silverchair - "tomorrow"
10. Fuel - "Shimmer"
11. Dream Theater - "Take the Time"
12. David Ryan Harris - "Me and the Leaves"
13. Marvelous 3 - "Every Monday"
14. Aesop Rock - "Daylight"
15. Augie March - "One Crowded Hour"

Anonymous said...

Standard disclaimer about 15 not being close to enough. Here's 15 that did matter though:

1) Wings - Band on the Run
2) Boomtown Rats - Rat Trap
3) The Police - Message in a Bottle
4) Ultravox - Vienna
5) The Jam - Town Called Malice
6) Flock of Seagulls - I ran
7) Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
8) The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
9) The Cure - Why Can't I be you?
10) Jane's Addiction - Mountain Song
11) Sonic Youth - Kool thing
12) Primal Scream - Higher than the sun
13) Goldie Presents Metalheadz - Inner city Life
14) Super Furry Animals - Wherever I lay my phone (that's my home)
15) Leftfield - Phat Planet

As for why, click through to my house - I oughtn't clog up Doug's comments with detailed nostalgia after all.

Anonymous said...

Nice call on "A Town Called Malice." Great scene from "Billy Elliot" with that as the background music.

Anonymous said...

1) The Sex Pistols; Pretty Vacant
2) Final Curtain; Tinglehoff Blues
3) The Who; Won't get fooled again
4) Marvin Gaye; What's going on
5) Arlo Guthrie; Alice's Restaurant
6) The Cars; Just what I needed
7) The Kinks; Superman
8) REM; End of the world as we know it (only because I impressed a girl by knowing all the lyrics)
9) Rolling Stones; Jumping Jack Flash
10) Kiss; The entire Destroyer album
11) The Beatles; Revolution
12) Velvet Underground; There she goes
13) Neil Young; Hey Hey My My (the electric one)
14) Bruce Springsteen; Born to Run
15) Glenn Miller; In the mood

NCT said...

Yikes. I'm old. Bear in mind I was born in the '60s, so the music starts with my childhood in the '70s, then high school and college in the '80s. So yes, the memories associated with each of these songs is from when they were new. I'll spare you the detailed commentary, but I had a great time with the memories.

So here we go, 15 selected with only a little bit of contemplation.

1. David Bowie, "All the Madmen"
2. Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight"
3. Eagles, "New Kid In Town"
4. Blondie, "Heart of Glass"
5. Utopia, "Feet Don't Fail Me Now"
6. Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'"
7. The Go-Go's, "Beauty and the Beat"
8. R.E.M., "So. Central Rain"
9. Elvis Costello, "Brilliant Mistake"
10. Depeche Mode, "Personal Jesus"
11. Madonna, "Express Yourself"
12. Cowboy Junkies, "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning"
13. Stone Temple Pilots, "Interstate Love Song"
14. Propellerheads, "Velvet Pants"
15. Dolly Parton, "Shine" (Collective Soul Cover)

Yeah, 15 isn't nearly enough. No room for NIN, PSB, Devo (pre-Whip It, thank you very much), Fleetwood Mac, The Producers, and all the musical theatre with which my mother "did this to me". Just kidding. I love you, Mom.

NCT said...

Holy crap. So all this prompted me to do a little surfing through musical memory lane, and I came across an album with a Crystal Method remix of "Bizarre Love Triangle" and a Way Out West remix of "Lips Like Sugar". Past selves ... colliding in head. This is dangerous.

What's next? Soundgarden does Dreams So Real?

Anonymous said...

HA! "Eye's Without A Face" was one of the first videos you remember seeing on MTV. At 6 years old "Cradle of Love" was the first video I was introduced to and it made me feel funny.

Anonymous said...

I've always argued with friends about how certain music frames certain periods of your life. I can't really pin it down to songs but I can with albums.

1. Alabama - Forty Hour week - first concert I ever attended and a tape I played over an over in my first Walkman. I was a small town country kid and Alabama was my first favorite band. Still the all time best selling group in all of country music I believe.

2. Michael Jackson - Thriller - mom gave it to me as a Valentines Day gift not long after it came out. It's still laying around somewhere.

3. Lionel Ritchie - Dancing on the Ceiling - First tape I bought with my own money. Our lists merge here.

4. INXS - Kick
5. REM - Green - These two albums were purchased by me in 8th grade the day after I received my first CD player that Christmas. I remember decorating my locker with the old CD boxes they came in back in the day.

6. U2- Rattle and Hum - great rock album and one I still enjoy today.

7. Nirvana - Smells like teen spirit
8. Pearl Jam - Ten- My senior year of high school I was working in the record store at a local mall. I liked all sorts of music and bought Top 40, Rap, Country, Metal and all sorts of stuff. (still don't regret my employee discounted purchase of Kris Kross "Jump" single) All the "weird" kids started coming in and asking me for Nirvana "Bleach" and we never had it in stock. One day we got the first few tapes and CD's in of SLTS. I opened one up, fired it up on the store sound system and voila, I was hooked on alternative for the next few years. When the weird kids started asking for Pearl Jam I snatched up the one and only tape that came in on it's release date and flat wore it out in the two weeks before we got CD's. Those two albums were played seemingly non-stop my first couple of years at UGA.

8 Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes - Discovered her at the same record store in some promo stuff. She played a concert at UGA the week I moved in in '92 and I couldn't covnice a single person to attend with me so I went myself and spent 2 hours mesmerized listening to her in the hall in the performing arts building. Her work and this album started my female vocalist kick and really helped me realize how much a good CD can help the ambiance when you're "wooing" a female

9. Mazzy Star - So Tonight that I might See - a girlfriend at UGA further turned me onto the sensuality of female vocalists and this album and the song Fade Into You is one I'll always remember

10. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream - smashing chords, cellos, great lyrics - really one of my favorite all time bands and their greatest album imo.

11. Sarah McLaughin - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Had this in my old school 5 disc player at my house for 2 years in Athens. No telling how many times I let a girl borrow it to never have it returned.

12. Dave Matthews Band - Live at Luther College - incredible artistry and the vocals are out of this world. Take the pop out of Dave Matthews and this is what you get. FWIW got to see Dave play frat houses and the Ga Theater many times in my early UGA years.

13. Widespread Panic - Everyday- first album that got me into enjoying Jam Music and led me to attending more live shows with Jupiter Coytoe, Allgood, and WSP while in Athens.

14. Patsy Cline - Greatest Hits - had to pick one that represents my love for Old school country and this one holds a special meaning for me and my wife. But list is too short so I don't get to put all my Willie, Waylon, etc down.

15. Jerrry Jeff Walker - Live at Gruene Hall - has a lot of his standards and is the representative album of the Texas Songwriter kick I've been on for the past few years with JJW, Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wyle Hubbard, Kevin Fowler, and others.

Anonymous said...


+1 on the Utopia - what an album.

Didn't think I'd see the Producers here, either. Best bar band ever.


NCT said...

The Producers were a fairly significant part of my freshman year at UGA. I saw them at a bar whose name I can't remember.*

Clearly, catchy pop tunes speak to me.

*Ok. This would have been '84-'85. The bar was on the east side of downtown, along about where the Classic City development is, not far from Rockfish Palace (later Boneshakers, later something else). It was warehousey. I went to a sorority crush party there, too. I think the bar had a guy's name. The names "Harry's" and "T.K. Hardy's" keep getting in the way. Gr.

NCT said...

um ... should have been "Classic Center" development.