I recently participated in another installment of Splotchy's Green Monkey Project, which was based on an idea from Chris. The theme this time was "Geography Pop Quiz--" songs with geographical places in their titles.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Charlotte Street
When I first got out of college in 1985, I lived on the south side of Chicago, not far from Oak Lawn, where my friend Tim, who'd also recently graduated, lived. I ended up in his very cool circle of friends (which included the guys in Naked Raygun). One of these friends was a guy named Dave Flores. Tim had met Dave when they worked together at the Southtown Economist newspaper. Davey, as we called him, was a unique guy. One time, when he had a two week vacation from work, he packed a small bag, went to O'Hare airport with his passport and walked around until he saw a destination he liked (I remember that he ended up going to London).
In any event, Davey used to make these mix tapes-- a mix of music, snippets of movies, interviews-- and give them to all his friends. It was on one of these tapes that I first heard Charlotte Street, the first Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song I ever heard. I just fell in love with this song, with its sad tale of a broken romance-- it's almost a rewrite of the Rolling Stones "Beggar's Banquet" classic No Expectations:
Here comes my train
I'm on my way, will you not see
I don't need your sympathy
I won't read your poetry, oh sweetness please...
I was hooked on Lloyd Cole for life, especially after I heard Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?.
R.E.M. - (Don't Go Back to) Rockville
Simply one of the greatest songs ever. It has one of the greatesst lines ever:
At night I drink myself to sleep
And pretend I don't care that you're not here with me
I mentioned this one recently-- that it should have been both the #1 pop and #1 country hit of 1984.
Brook Benton - Rainy Night In Georgia
Yet another song of romantic longing. This song is just gorgeous, filled with imagery. It reminds me thematically a lot of John Hartman's Gentle On My Mind.
When I was trying to track down the 45 of this when I was in college, it took a while to find-- I'd always thought it was a Ray Charles song.
Another of my favorites of Benton's is the duet he did with Dinah Washington on Baby, You've Got What It Takes.
Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska
Okay, this is not a song of romantic longing. It's about Charles Starkweather, who went on a killing spree across Nebraska, Missouri and Wyoming in 1957 and 1958. It's the first dark song on the dark, yet ultimately hopeful Nebraska album, a masterpiece.
The story of the Nebraska album itself is fascinating. It was intended to be a demo. Springsteen was running around for months with the cassette tape of the record, which he'd recorded at home on a Teac 144 four-track recorder. People who heard it convinced him that the stark power of the songs was on the demo. He brought into a studio, added minimal keyboards onto a couple of songs with a cheap Casio keyboard, cleaned it up a bit, and released the album. After Born To Run it's my favorite Springsteen album.
Red Rockers - China
I posted recently about this song-- a favorite from the eighties. A gorgeous little gem. The video is one of the first videos I remember liking, though in retrospect it's funny watching it-- it was obviously done on the cheap.
John Griffith of the Red Rockers is now a member of Cowboy Mouth.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Born In Chicago
I grew up listening to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's self-titled first album, which my father had. When I was a kid, my family lived in Chicago's then-bohemian Lincoln Park neighborhood, and my parents loved to walk over to Big John's, a popular blues club in the Old Town section of Lincoln Park that is where Second City is now housed. You could see James Cotton, Muddy Waters, and of course Paul Butterfield.
Their original guitarist was Elvin Bishop, who was a student at the University of Chicago (he later had a big hit in the seventies with Fooled Around And Fell In Love, with Mickie Most, later the Jefferson Starship's vocalist, singing). They recruited Mike Bloomfield, the "Blue Jew," who was the hot guitarist in town, to play lead guitar on the record, relegating Bishop to rhythm guitar. Bloomfield played guitar that same year on Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album, providing the distinctive guitar sound on that record.
The Pixies did an interesting cover of this song on the Rubaiyat collection that celebrated Elektra Records' 40th anniversary.
The Blasters - Hollywood Bed
I love this tawdry tale of an illicit love affair:
What's that you say?
You've got a rich old man?
I live on the streets
Doin' the best I can
Well he can call his friends
He can call the cops
He can call 'em all but they won't find us
Rockin' in this Hollywood bed..."
A lot of the Blasters' material was unavailable for years until the good folks at Rhino Records released Testament, a collection of everything the Blasters did for Slash records.
It was nearly five years ago, in November of 2002 that I saw the reunited Blasters at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn-- one of the best shows ever. It was there that I became Dave Alvin's favorite person.
Thanks to Splotchy and Chris for another edition of the Green Monkey Mix!