Archive for May, 2007

This Sucks!…(Don’t) Try This: Lou Reed, “Metal Machine Music”

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

First things first:  Happy Birthday to Jefito!  Jeff is, as you know, my gay somewhat heterosexual musical lifemate.  He inspired this site, he designed this site, and he writes the entries for me serves as my creative consultant.  And what better way to celebrate the day of his birth than to highlight what a jerk he is?

A number of months ago,  Jeff started playing a game with me.  While I fully admit to starting this "game," I didn’t do it with bad intentions – and now I’m being punished for it.

Back in the Fall, Jeff had mentioned to me that Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide has given Paris Hilton’s debut (and hopefully only) CD 4.5 stars.  Jeff couldn’t believe it.  In truth, neither could I.  However, I had heard "Stars Are Blind" at the gym, and didn’t hate it, so I downloaded the album and sent it on to Jeff to see what he thought.  What I didn’t know at the time was:

1)  Jeff didn’t like Paris Hilton.
2)  Jeff didn’t want to listen to Paris Hilton.
3)  By sending the album, Jeff felt he was forced (forced!) to listen to Paris Hilton.

I agree with Jeff that if people send you music, you should do everything in your power to listen to it.  I do, indeed, listen to just about everything that comes my way.  However, I don’t force myself to do it immediately because I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to listen to everything in my queue, and I know I’ll get to it eventually.  I think the reason Jeff doesn’t understand this is because he’s a housewife.

Anyway, so Jeff listened to the whole album – I didn’t even listen to the whole album – got another great post out of it, and promptly informed me that he was going to "repay" me.

And thus the game began.  That was when Jeff sent me Only In America, Volume 2, which I posted – twice! – and most of you rightfully ignored.

Not long after, Jeff apologized to me.  "I just finished listening to most of "Only in America Volume 2," he said. "In terms of musical retribution, it may have been overkill."

So when I recently sent him Andrew Ridgeley’s Son Of Albert CD – a response to merciless ribbing – you’d think he would have kept the above apology in mind.

But he didn’t.  As you may have read over at his site, he retaliated by sending me Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.

I hesitantly opened up the Amazon packaging.  "Aw, Lou Reed?" I thought.  "Damn him!"  Of course, this was just based on me thinking this was Lou Reed in general.  I had no idea what Metal Machine Music was all about.

Plenty has been said about Metal Machine Music.  I don’t need to regurgitate it here (after all, that’s what my usual posts are for!).  Here are a few choice excerpts from the Wiki:

Metal Machine Music is generally considered to be either a joke, a begrudging fulfillment of a contractual obligation, or an early example of noise music. Reed has since contradicted popular sentiment, stating that "I was serious about it. I was also really, really stoned." However, as the last sentence in Reed’s liner notes to the recording would suggest, some motivation to release Metal Machine Music came as a reaction to restricting contractual obligations from RCA at the time; the sentence, "My week beats your year." Lou Reed claimed in the liner notes to have invented heavy metal music, and that this album was the ultimate conclusion for that genre.

According to Reed (despite the original liner notes), the album entirely consists of guitar feedback played at different speeds. The two guitars were tuned in unusual ways and played with different reverb levels. He would then place the guitars in front of their amplifiers, and the feedback from the very large amps would vibrate the strings – the guitars were, effectively, playing themselves. He recorded the work on a four-track tape recorder in his New York apartment, mixing the four tracks for stereo.

I read all of this and thought, "how bad could it be?"

Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music, Part I (don’t download)

I’m serious.  Don’t download it unless you are prepared.  Because I wasn’t prepared.  I waited until everyone left the office for the day.  Then, I put on Track 1.  All sixteen minutes and ten seconds of it.

In Jeff’s post on Andrew Ridgeley, he listened to the music and intelligently discussed its shortcomings from both musical and lyrical points of view.  I can’t do the same for Metal Machine Music.  I don’t think I’m qualified to do so.  Instead, I decided to go with my gut and just respond instinctually to the noises coming through my speakers.  Wouldn’t Lou Reed approve of my impulsiveness?  Don’t think, just emote.

I did this in a few different phases.  I tried not to subject casual readers to the entire thing in one long post, but for some reason, my "more after the jump" button isn’t working.  So too bad, folks, for Jeff’s birthday, you’re going to have to suck it up and read it all below.

For starters, I listened to the track at work.  I quickly typed out all my thoughts as I was listening to track #1.  Then, once my teeth stopped hurting, I popped three Advil and left for the day.

A few days later, I figured I’d let some friends listen to the track and videotape their responses.  This backfired on me; one buddy said it "sucked" but was uncomfortable with being filmed, so I wasn’t getting the appropriate looks of horror that I would have gotten had I not been holding a camera.  My brother was the other subject, and his response was "I have tons of full albums that sound like this!"

In the second stage, I came home, put on my headphones, cued up track #1, and set up my MacBook Pro to randomly take photos of me every few seconds.  Being a natural ham, I hid the camera window so I couldn’t see how or when it was taking photos of me, and tried to forget the camera was there.  (Note "tried."  I’m still a ham.)  It took about 60 photos; I picked out the best (or worst) of the bunch.

In both cases – writing and photo-taking – I went through Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages Of Grief:

Denial ("I’m not really going to listen to this whole thing; this is ridiculous!")
Anger ("What the fuck is wrong with someone that would send another person this album?")
Bargaining ("I’ll never send him anything again, so long as I don’t have to finish this album.")
Depression
("I hate myself for listening to Lou Reed.")
Acceptance ("I have yet to reach this stage.")

So enough talk.  Here are the two phases.  For better or for worse.

Phase 1: Live-Blogging "Metal Machine Music, Part I."

This isn’t so bad…
wow, that feedback is a little annoying.  hope that goes away.
it’s not going away.
This is hurting my ears.
how many more minutes of this?
SIXTY-FOUR MINUTES?
oh jesus christ.

I’m only 2:43 in.  Oh my god.
This is a reissue?  How can you tell?

(two minutes later)
It’s not stopping.

5:25: I almost heard a note!

Oh god, make it stop.
Please.
It’s so hissy.
I’m not even halfway through the first track.

Seven minutes left in track 1, and then I have to turn this off.  IT HURTS.  IT HURTS MY HEAD.

Sadly, though, this is like my favorite Lou Reed song.

Five minutes left.  I can do this.  I can do this!

I can’t do this.

I really thought I’d be able to listen to the whole thing.

Is that a girl screaming?

Or a cat?

I think I hear a guitar chord.

Oh wait, no, it’s just more feedback.

Oh my god.  My stomach hurts.

I’m literally pulling my hair, begging it to stop.

2:30 left.

I think my lower teeth just began to ache.

58 seconds left, the longest 58 seconds of my mother fucking life.

Is my face melting?

oh god, it’s done.  Oh, thank god it’s done!


Phase 2:  Live Photos During "Metal Machine Music, Part I"

This file is a little sloppy, but you’ll get the point.  This is also a good video to watch if you only want to hear the first 1:45 of "Metal Machine Music, Part I."

Anyway, the moral of the story is that Jeff is a bad person, and even though he tries to fool all of you into thinking he’s a thoughtful journalist with a soft spot for bad Bee Gees songs, he’s really got a mean streak that makes mine look like a mere outburst from The Tigger Movie.  But of course, the game didn’t end here:  I retaliated by sending Jeff a copy of The Glory (????) Of The Human Voice by Florence Foster Jenkins.  I picked it after I saw a review entitled "Florence’s voice caused my dog to shake in fear."  And so…the game continues.

Under The Influence Of Giants, “Mama’s Room”

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Under The Influence Of Giants – Mama’s Room (download)

Have you guys heard this song?  I heard it a week or so ago at the gym and was surprised to find that I kinda liked it.  (Most of the music at the gym sucks, which is a story for another post.)  Well, as luck would have it, only a few days later I was up in Albany, NY at The Tulip Festival, and who should be playing on the mainstage that afternoon but Under The Influence Of Giants?

I took a few photos of the band.  The lead singer really likes to pose.  I like them a little less now.

However, I spent most of my time looking at one specific fan near the back of the stage.  I don’t know who this guy is, but he fuckin’ digs this band.

CHART ATTACK! #32: 5/21/77

Friday, May 18th, 2007


Hi everybody, and welcome back to CHART ATTACK!  It’s true: I turned 30 on Wednesday.  (See my Pablo Cruise t-shirt??)  I thought it’d be fun to see what songs were on the radio as my parents were frantically racing to the hospital.  Enjoy as we attack the charts from May 21, 1977!

10.  Lucille – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
9.  Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Hotel California – Eagles  Amazon iTunes
7.  Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti  Amazon iTunes
6.  Dreams – Fleetwood Mac  Amazon iTunes
5.  Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1) – Marvin Gaye  Amazon iTunes
4.  I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & The Sunshine Band  Amazon iTunes
3.  Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band  Amazon
2.  When I Need You – Leo Sayer  Amazon iTunes
1.  Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder  Amazon iTunes

10.  Lucille – Kenny Rogers

Well, this week is off to a bad start.

In 1975, Kenny Rogers left The First Edition – the band that had made him a success with "Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town" but had rapidly declined, leaving Rogers $65,000 in debt – and ventured off to start a solo career.  His first attempt, "Love Lifted Me," made a slight impact on Country charts but peaked at a dismal #97 on the Hot 100.  It took him two years to reach major success with "Lucille," which reached #5 here and topped the Country charts.  And suddenly, Kenny Rogers realized he could climb aboard the scratchy-voiced gravy train from here to kingdom come.  Why did the country just fall in love with a singer who sounded like he was falling asleep standing up?

I covered "Coward Of The County" a few months ago, and this song is pretty much the same sound – just slower and with no drums.  It even has the key change (although sadly, only one).  Here’s what would have made "Lucille" a winner for me: an abrupt switch to double triple-time, or a loud, electric guitar chord right at the very end.  Sadly, the song fades out, so I consider it a failure.  I hate you, Kenny.  Unless you’re performing with Lionel Richie.  I really gotta do that post about Lionel and Kenny on CMT Crossroads.

9.  Southern Nights – Glen Campbell (download)

Awww, yeah!  I’ll tell the truth – right now is the first time I’m hearing this song, and I love it.  Love the beat, the banjo, and that guitar riff that almost sounds (for two notes) like it’s going to be Little River Band’s "Reminiscing."  (That riff, by the way, was reportedly influenced by Jerry Reed.)  Man, remember when Glen Campbell was just huge?  Because I don’t.  I’m not even sure how many people my age will know much about him other than his unflattering mugshot a few years ago.  But "Southern Nights" was yet another #1 smash for Campbell, following the unstoppable hit "Rhinestone Cowboy" two years prior.  Written by Allan Toussaint and introduced to Campbell by his friend Jimmy Webb, "Southern Nights" topped the Country charts as well (right behind stupid Kenny Rogers, I guess), and was the #1 jukebox hit of 1977.

8.  Hotel California – Eagles

Oh, man.  Why did I pick this chart?  I mean, it’s not that I don’t like "Hotel California."  I recognize that many people hate it, but I don’t at all (other than the fact that it goes on forever).  I just don’t know what to say about "Hotel California."  Blah blah blah, colitas, blah blah blah, steely knives, blah blah blah, Satan.  What can you say about the song that hasn’t already been said?  Plus, if you’re interested in the musical structure of the song, look no further than this page.  So, instead, I’ll tell you this: if you’re interested in the complicated history of The Eagles, check out To The Limit: The Untold Story Of The Eagles by Marc Eliot.  I don’t own it, but I imagine I read about 45% of it one day while in Barnes & Noble.  Couldn’t put it down.  Plus, there’s an awesome afterword where the author talks about how Don Henley essentially coerced bookstores not to stock the book, promising them he’d do an in-store performance in return.  I don’t know if it’s true, but I like any book that makes Henley look like a little bitch.

7.  Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti (download)
    Bonus Rocky Download: Gonna Fly Now – Maynard Ferguson (download)

My wife and I consider "Power Of Two" by Indigo Girls to be "our song," but if you want to get technical, this one could also be considered "ours."  On one of our first dates, I took her to see famed trumpet player Maynard Ferguson, who was appearing on campus.  Now, I didn’t know a damn thing about Ferguson, but I knew that Jess played the trumpet, and that this move would probably make me look really classy.  Go to hell, Mark Morrison – this is the real return of the mack!  (Ohmygod!)

So we arrived at the show, and I read that he had a Top 40 hit in ’77 for "Gonna Fly Now" (oddly, his was a hit partially due to the fact that it was released before the official Rocky soundtrack), and all I could think was: when the fuck is he going to play the Rocky song?  So finally, the band played it (by 1997, Ferguson was only playing maybe ten notes a concert, and the rest of his time was spent waving his hands in the air like he just didn’t care), and I let out a sigh of relief.  Jess didn’t know yet that I was a complete dork, so it took every ounce of will in my body to not start singing along with the lyrics.

And speaking of the lyrics:  I can’t believe someone got credit for writing these.  Do you know what they’re saying?

Trying hard now
it’s so hard now
trying hard now

Getting strong now
won’t be long now
getting strong now

Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly…

I think I was singing something like "Gonna fly now….Rocky Five now…"  But is that so much worse?

As I mentioned, Ferguson’s dance-infused take on the song reached #30, but Conti’s version went all the way #1.  (Stealing the top spot away from it?  "Undercover Angel.")  But here’s the interesting thing about "Gonna Fly Now": it wasn’t originally the theme of the flick.  Bill Conti had been hired to score the film, but Sylvester Stallone’s brother, Frank, had written a song that was going to be featured prominently in the movie.  The name of the song – and I swear I am not making this up – was "He Had A Sunday Punch That Will Put Him Into Monday."

Suddenly "It’s so hard now/Trying hard now" doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Lyrics aside, "Gonna Fly Now" freakin’ rocks.  The bongos, the strings, and of course, the horns.  Oh, the horns!  And Ferguson’s version is actually better than Conti’s – but both rock.  I was going to say "it doesn’t get more iconic than this," but of course, it does.  This one’s up there, though, as one of the most recognizable themes in movie history.  And come on – you know you want to pump your fists to this one.  You probably even want to run up some stairs.  Go ahead, run up some stairs.  I’ll wait.

6.  Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Okay, put your fists down.  "Dreams", from the excellent Rumours, of course, was written by Nicks, and is about her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham.  (I’m shocked.)  Nicks wrote it in the studio next door to the band’s, where Sly from Sly and the Family Stone was recording using a basic, keyboard-created drum pattern.  I usually take any opportunity to mock Stevie Nicks, but I actually really like this song.  I didn’t realize how beautiful it was until I saw it being covered on the Classic Albums series, where they stripped the song down to just the vocals.  The harmonies by Buckingham and Christine McVie are beautiful.  Apparently it took Buckingham to convince McVie that the song was worth recording – after all, it’s all pretty much one chord – which she claimed he did by fashioning "three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing."

Here’s a particularly nice performance from ’77:

All these years, and "Dreams" remains the only #1 single for the group.  (I would have bet $5 out of Kurt’s wallet that "Little Lies" topped the charts, but it stalled at #4.) 

5.  Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1) – Marvin Gaye (download)

Oh man, I’m going to embarass myself right now.  I first heard this song when it was used in Charlie’s Angels.  The movie.  I can’t believe I’m admitting it, but shit, I made it through last week’s Hanson admission relatively unscathed, and perhaps I’m just trying to see how much I can actually say before you all run away for good.  So yeah.  Heard this during Charlie’s Angels.  If I recall correctly, it started playing at the exact moment that Sam Rockwell’s character was revealed to be a villain.  Excellent placement, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that I didn’t hear this song until 2000.  Well, whatever, at least I finally heard it.

I dare you to listen to "Got To Give It Up" and not feel an undeniable urge to shake your booty.  The bass/percussion groove (a clang against a half-filled glass bottle of grapefruit juice), along with the hollerin’ crowd in the background, is so ridiculously funky that it’s not even funny.  (Sentences like this one are why I don’t do this for money.)  But here’s the thing: I never feel the need to get past two-and-a-half minutes on the track.  It’s like: I’m shakin’ my booty, I’m shakin’ my booty, I’m shakin’ my booty, BAM, I’m done.  Booty shaking is over.  Booty’s tired.  Booty wants to move on to Rick James or something.

I bet you’d like to know something about the song, wouldn’t you.  Well, hang on.  First I have to decide whether or not I have anything else to say about my booty.

Okay, I’m good.  So "Got To Give It Up" was inspired by Johnnie Taylor’s "Disco Lady," a hit in its own right (and the first certified platinum single by the RIAA – two million sold).  The track was almost an afterthought; a studio recording tacked on to the very end of Gaye’s "Live At The London Palladium" album.  The song clocked in at almost twelve minutes (and I complained before minute three!), and was edited down to a more manageable four-plus and renamed "Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1)."  The single was a simultaneous #1 on Pop, R&B and Dance, although only retained the top spot here for a week before being bested by "Gonna Fly Now."  That’s gotta hurt.

4.  I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & The Sunshine Band

If Kenny Rogers wasn’t enough, here’s another example of how the record-buying public loves a solid formula:  "I’m Your Boogie Man" is "Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)" is "Keep It Comin’ Love" is "Get Down Tonight" is…you get the point.  In fact, the only popular KC song that sounds different than the others is "Please Don’t Go," and as we pointed out back in December, that song sucks.  But you just couldn’t stop KC in the late ’70s: this song was the fourth #1 for the band, making them the second group to achieve four #1 singles in the ’70s.  Can you name the other group?

3.  Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band

You know, after this past week’s Mellow Gold debacle, "Couldn’t Get It Right" never seemed so appropriate.  Apparently I was the only one who thought the song had some Mellow Gold in it.  Mea culpa.  But thanks for cutting me some slack.  Good thing I posted it on my birthday – you guys were so forgiving!  Anyhow, scroll down to Mellow Gold #32 if you want to read about this one.

2.  When I Need You – Leo Sayer

Between 1974 and 1981, Leo Sayer made some impressive appearances on the charts.  "When I Need You," a pretty ballad written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, was his second #1 after 1976’s "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."  Not bad for a guy who initially got people’s attention by dressing like a clown.

Think of him as KISS, but with actual talent.  Sayer, who had his first taste of success co-writing songs for Roger Daltrey’s first solo album, adopted the Pierrot clown costume and found that people were flocking to his concerts to see what he was about. 

Great voice, huh?  Sayer was ballsy enough to drop the costume as soon as he became well-known, and audiences stuck around – unlike KISS.  They even stuck around to buy an album with this cover.

"When I Need You" came from the above album, Endless Flight, and although it only topped the charts for a week, Sayer gets much respect from me, simply based on the below clip.

I’ve watched this clip multiple times.  And this one, too.

1.  Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Well, whaddya know.  Here I was, all set to be depressed about the songs that were topping the charts during the week of my birth, and then we came upon the #1 song of the week – one of the most awesome Stevie Wonder tunes ever – and poof, my sadness is gone!

Many journalists (real ones, I might add) have discussed the majesty of "Sir Duke" in ways I could never hope to match, so I’ll be as simple about this one as I can:  Joy.  That’s it, really, "Sir Duke" summarized in a single word.  I don’t know if it’s possible to really listen to "Sir Duke" without breaking into a smile.    And as much as I love the song – I can’t listen to it on its own.  I have to hear "I Wish" immediately after, the way it’s tracked on Songs In The Key Of Life.  "I Wish" was the first single from the long-awaited album, and, like this track, flew to the top of the charts.

I guess the thing that really makes me dig "Sir Duke" is this:  in one song, Stevie takes a look at music, its impact on our lives, and celebrates the people who brought it to us and made us feel the way we do about it.  Not to be cheesy, but that’s kind of what I’m trying to do.  Except with really crappy music instead of good music.

Have a great weekend, and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Mellow Birthday

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I received many awesome, musical presents for my birthday yesterday (Jason Falkner CD!  A melodica!  Concert tickets!  My wife bought me a MANDOLIN!), but there’s one gift I got that I thought you guys would especially appreciate.  This one comes from Mike, who came up with the idea, and his wonderful girlfriend Colleen, who actually crafted it.

Colleen even said she’d make me more if I want.  I’m thinking about getting them in every pastel color imaginable, and ONLY wearing Pablo Cruise t-shirts on weekends for the entire summer.  I can’t even tell you how much in love I am with this shirt…but then again, if you’re a regular here, you probably understand completely.

Speaking of Colleen, she’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.  See her post on Mike’s blog today, and stay tuned for her own website, launching soon.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 32

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Hey, hey! Wednesday’s here! And that means that it’s time to review the wimpiest music on the planet! We do it every week here on Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! I can’t stop talking like a ’70s jockey!

Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right (download)

I know, I know: didn’t we just talk about these guys? We sure did, just a month ago. Why cover them again? Well, one answer would be that we need to recognize – and dare I say, worship – those bands that are capable of striking (mellow) gold twice. Another, more accurate answer would be that “Couldn’t Get It Right” is going to be part of an upcoming Chart Attack!, and my twitchy little brain goes nuts when I come across a chart featuring untapped mellow-y goodness. So, off we go.

Now, I’m sure you all have virtually memorized Mellow Gold #27, and therefore know the story of Climax Blues Band by heart. If not, have no fear. Here’s the Nine-Point-Recap!

1) Band formed in 1968.
2) Band had no hits that year.
3) Or the next.
4) Or the next.
5) Finally had a hit in 1977 with “Couldn’t Get It Right.”
6) Band had no hits the next year.
7) You get the picture.
8) Band has their next hit in 1981 with “I Love You.” Except for one member, entire band hated it. The guys refused to play on the recording, and never played it in concert.
9) Band changed members, still performs, and yet you continue not to care.

I know: if only I had offered this summary back in #27, you could have saved a good seven minutes! If you remember nothing else, just remember this: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.”

So although I ooohed and aaahed over “I Love You,” that song only reached #12. I do think it’s the more mellow of the two, but “Couldn’t Get It Right” certainly qualifies as official Mellow Gold. After all, it has the characteristic…uh…the unmistakable…um…the inimitable….wait, what the hell was so interesting about these clowns, anyway? Well, courtesy of Songfacts, let’s let Derek “Yes, I wrote ‘I Love You,’ what’s your fucking problem?” Holt explain what made the band – and this single – so darn special.

Colin Cooper used to sing the lead – the low vocal, and I used to sing an octave higher. And then, because 4 of us sang in the band, we used to harmonize. The fact that we had the dual singing the same line but with an octave split made the sound very unique, and it’s still very unique today. Whenever people use it I think it’s great. That was one of our trademarks, we just used to sing together in unison.

Hey! What a coincidence – this was one of the trademarks of my high school band, too! I mean, it’s not that we couldn’t harmonize, we just, uh….didn’t want to! It’s called “dual singing,” you morons! Or have you not heard of “dual singing” where you live? That’s the problem with you people today – you have your fancy computers, and your “Internet,” and your Twitter, and you don’t take the time to learn about important rock techniques! YOU create something! Like dual singing! Always naysaying! You’re out of the band.

Where was I? Oh yes, dual singing. These guys thought dual singing was an actual technique, and remember: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.” Dual singing gave this song a lot of its mellow groove, but to paraphrase that chick who sang with Don Henley, sometimes wusscle just ain’t enough. Not only that, there really aren’t any keyboards, and a whole lot of funky, crunchy guitar. What the hell’s going on here? This isn’t Mellow Gold!

But there’s something else. In fact, I think Holt meant to talk about it in his above paragraph. Here’s the quote he leaves out of this interview.

Also, as a group, we had a collective boner for the cowbell. Seriously, we would have had sex with it. We tried to have sex with it. What? The ladies weren’t around, okay? Don’t judge us. Few people know the truth: “I Love You” is actually sung to a cowbell.

I’m trying my best here not to make any “more cowbell” jokes. They were really funny in 2000, and have decreased in humor exponentially each time some douche exclaims “I got a fev-ah!” (Exception: unless it’s me or Mike. Then, it’s hysterical.) The truth is, though, that the famous Saturday Night Live sketch would have done just as well, if not better, if they had gone with “Couldn’t Get It Right” instead of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” There’s cowbell on every beat of the song. Every. Single. Beat. And you know that shit wasn’t looped; some Climax Blues Bozo was prancing around the studio, hittin’ a stick against that cowbell like his life depended on it. I’m seeing Will Ferrell, aren’t you?

Let’s look at some of these lyrics. For starters, how do you get more Mellow Gold than a title like “Couldn’t Get It Right?” Jesus, that’s like the Mellow Gold Motto right there! The Boy Scouts had “Be Prepared,” the Wusses had “Couldn’t Get It Right.” Unfortunately, this song isn’t about what you think it’s about: it’s not about endless attempts to get a woman to appreciate your sensitivity and subsequent pathetic, whiny self-loathing. Again, Mr. “No! No! I am not going to defend ‘I Love You’ again!” Holt:

The song is about being on the road in America. “Looking for a sign in the middle of the night” being about the old Holiday Inn signs, really, because the moment you saw the Holiday Inn sign, that meant you got a bed for the night.

Their biggest hit is about a Holiday Inn, and remember: these guys eventually turned down “I Love You.”

Well, okay, maybe that’s just part of the song. How does it start?

Timeless drifting, this rock had got to roll

“This rock had got to roll?” You guys turned down “I Love You” but were okay with “this rock had got to roll?” What the fuck is wrong with you people? I understand that “Couldn’t Get It Right” was your biggest hit, climbing to #3, but were you really that far above the simple message of “I Love You?” If Climax Blues Band could defend themselves right now, I’d bet they’d do it with one guy talking in an octave above the other one. Idiots.

I realize that I’m coming off like a little bit of a hater of this song; it’s really not the case. I think the song is solid, with a great, funky groove, but I just find it a bit silly that the guys thought that it was so awesome that it was the new Climax Blues Band standard (and where was the blues, anyway?), and their other mellow hit just wasn’t meeting their expectations. Sorry, guys: when your most prevalent instrument is a cowbell and you’re talking about how happy you are to find a Holiday Inn in the middle of the night and you’re bringing in Robert John to sing octaves above your lead singer, you don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Oh well. It is what it is, right? So maybe these guys hated the more mellow of their songs, but what they had forgotten was that with “Couldn’t Get It Right,” they were already members of the MG crew; perhaps they should have embraced it. Had they learned nothing from Ambrosia?

Enjoy your week, everybody, and see you next time on Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!