Happy Birthday, Bob
The Bob Dylan Rankings have been on an extended hiatus, but they’re back today—in honor of Dylan’s 70th birthday— with “Down the Highway,” from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It’s something of an odd selection: In addition to not being a particularly memorable song, it’s also incongruous with Dylan hitting an age so neatly associated with old age. “Down the Highway” is a playful and undeveloped song, and in some ways immature.
Nevertheless, “Down the Highway” allows us to delve into one of the most ubiquitous motifs of Dylan’s now seven-decade-long life: the road. What, after all, is Dylan’s obsession with highways? Continue reading
Your first reaction to the latest Radiohead album will be based almost entirely on what you expected from it. This is true to some extent for every album (and every movie, television show, novel, meal, etc.), but it’s particularly the case for Radiohead. The band has built a reputation as the most daring and innovative band on the planet, and it has now gone over three years between albums twice in a row. In other words, these guys have a lot to live up to.
I suspect that Radiohead knows this, and that it at least partially motivated the quick release of The King of Limbs. Just over a week ago the album had no official name or release date; then last Monday the band announced not only that the album was complete, but that it would be released in five days. To top all that off, the band released the album on Friday, a day before they had initially planned.
The general effect of this was both to preempt any long, anticipatory buildup to the album, as well as to shift focus from The King of Limbs itself to the manner of its release (something Radiohead has done before).
Not that fans need or ought to be “distracted” from The King of Limbs: The album is quite good. Continue reading
In yesterday’s Pretty Little Liars recap Tim called the opening line of The Outfield’s “Your Love” his favorite opening line to any song ever. He even dared me to come up with a list of songs topping it.
Well, in the immortal words of Barney Stinson…
And I have bad news for you, Tim, “Your Love” doesn’t even crack my Top 50.
Of course, the topic raises several tricky questions: What constitutes an opening line? The first complete sentence? The first rhyming couplet? Until the first pause? And what criteria should we use to evaluate “the best” opening line? The catchiest? The most memorable?
I ended up being pretty flexible on both questions. Some of these lyrics were chosen because they are legitimately great lyrics. Others were chosen because of how they’re sung. Others are chosen because they are the most iconic moments of great songs. I’m sure I’m forgetting some great ones (I had only one day, chill out!), but here is an initial draft of the Top 50 opening lines in music history: Continue reading
Much of the music I listened to this year was not from 2010, but there were plenty of standout tracks from this year. Below are my top five songs and top three albums of 2010:
Top Five Songs of 2010
5) “Deep Blue” — Arcade Fire
- It may be a simpler song than many of the others on the The Suburbs, but Win Butler’s falsetto shines on this ballad, as does the acoustic guitar and violin play.
One of the (many) great things about Christmas is getting the chance (and the social leniency) to listen to Christmas music. Like most Catholics and Christmasphiles and unlike most everyone else, I love Christmas music.
I understand the complaints about Christmas music. I even agree that, for the most part, it sucks. Like, nine out of 10 Christmas songs played on the radio and in malls and other stores are indefensibly terrible.* Nothing promotes lazier “creativity” in music than Christmas, with popular artists knowing that an album of a dozen shoddy covers of public-domain classics will sell tremendously, since everyone knows someone who likes Christmas music and thus thinks buying that person a Christmas CD is a great and thoughtful gift.
*To be fair, this isn’t much different from the usual ratio on the radio these days.