Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Best Song of Alltime

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is officially over: almost two years from the date we started counting these down, here’s the best song ever:

The Church – Destination

Why did we pick this one? Because it so tersely and succinctly captures our era. Great art is timeless: this macabre rock epic hasn’t aged a bit since 1988, when released as the first track on the classic, platinum Starfish album. It starts suspensefully, Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper’s guitars playing a fifth interval, neither major nor minor. Then Marty bends a string, an eerie minor third and the procession is underway:

Our instruments have no way of measuring this feeling
Can never cut below the floor, or penetrate the ceiling

All we can ever know is what we perceive: trapped within our senses, there is no exit:

In the space between our houses, some bones have been discovered
The whole procession lurches on, as if we have recovered…

All is not well: an understatement. Yet we pay no mind:

Draconian winter unforetold
One solar day, suddenly you’re old
That little envelope just leaves me cold
Makes destination start to unfold

The “Draconian winter” is the one line that dates this song: global warming hadn’t yet rendered that phrase obsolete. Yet it still works on a metaphorical leve. “One solar day,” a phrase from Indian mysticism, meaning an eon. And the drugs don’t work anymore – in fact they might kill you instead.

Our documents are useless, all forged beyond believing
Page 47 isn’t signed, I need it by this evening
In the space between our cities, a storm is slowly forming
Something eating up our days, I feel it every morning…

A reference to a recording contract? Probably – Steve Kilbey’s written some of the best diatribes about the music business. But maybe also a passport, a visa? Which means nothing to the corrupt officials or the Halliburton subcontractors at the border.

It’s not a religion, it’s just a technique
It’s just a way of making you speak
And distance and speed have left us too weak
And Destination looks kind of bleak

That’s a reference to the band themselves. But it could also be a lot of other things – including torture.

Our elements are burnt out, our beasts have been mistreated
I tell you it’s the only way we’ll get this road completed
In the space between our bodies, the air has grown small fingers
Just one caress, you’re powerless…Destination…

And we’re left incapable of changing course. Of course, we aren’t really: apocalyptic art is cautionary, it reminds us that this will happen if we don’t heed the warning. It’s in our hands now.

Tomorrow we start counting down the 1000 best albums of alltime.

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Song of the Day 7/26/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is almost done. Thursday we’ll start with the 1000 best albums. Monday’s song is #3:

Mary Lee’s Corvette – Idiot Wind

Great lyrics don’t always get the benefit of a great voice to deliver them (and vice versa). Happily, Mary Lee Kortes and her band Mary Lee’s Corvette covered the entire Blood on the Tracks album live at New York’s Arlene Grocery in 2002 – and one of us was there. The show was transcendent. This is the high point: when Kortes, always at her best onstage, sings “You’ll never know the hurt I suffered, nor the pain I rise above,” she’ll give you chills.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/25/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is almost done. And when it’s over we’ll start with the 1000 best albums. Sunday’s song is #4

Bob Dylan – Idiot Wind

Probably the most vengeful kiss-off song ever written. And as a good a candidate as any for best rock lyric ever:

You hurt the ones that I love best, and cover up the truth with lies
One day you’ll be in the ditch, flies buzzin’ around your eyes
Blood on your saddle

Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb
Blowing through the curtains in your room
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot, babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

That’s Dylan on the organ by the way. It’s on Blood on the Tracks, from 1975. The link above is a live take from a year later.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/23/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is working its way through the top ten: six days left before we reach the greatest song ever. Friday’s song is #6:

The Dead Kennedys – A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch

Hang in there: the DKs open the song by running a whole verse without lyrics, East Bay Ray’s macabre surf guitar sounding like a guitar army. The song is on Frankenchrist, the greatest punk band’s greatest album. It’s a random series of observations that any relatively perceptive kid could have made in 1985: the idiocy of Elvis worship; how multinational corporations take their poison to the third world when the FDA bans it here (they don’t anymore); the sick and twisted world of CIA black operations. And how does the average person respond: “Turn on, tune in, drop out? Drop kick, turn in, tune out.” Bassist Klaus Flouride practically breaks his low string in disgust at the end.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/22/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is working its way through the top ten: just a week left before we reach the greatest song ever. Thursday’s is #7:

The Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap

In his autobiography, Bob Geldof explained that this song was inspired by his brief tenure working at a slaughterhouse, particularly the line “pus and grime ooze from its scab-crusted sores.” An apt metaphor for the dead-end blue-collar life he chronicles here, a Springsteenish epic filtered through the cruel prism of punk rock. With a killer bassline by Pete Briquette, and the most exhilarating outro in the history of rock, Garry Roberts’ and Gerry Cott’s guitars melting into a firestorm, Johnnie Fingers sharpshooting through it on the electric piano. It’s on the classic Tonic for the Troops album from 1978.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/21/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is working its way through the top ten: just a little more than a week to the greatest song ever. Here’s #8:

Richard & Linda Thompson – The Wall of Death

A bitter yet unapologetic, metaphorically charged tribute to living with intensity and passion no matter what the consequences. Which as the title indicates could be severe, to the extreme. But would you want it any other way? The link above is a characteristically amped-up version done by Richard without Linda (youtube didn’t exist when those two were playing). It’s the closing track on the awesome Shoot out the Lights album from 1982 – torrents for that one are everywhere.

July 20, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/20/10

Our best 666 songs of alltime countdown has finally reached the top ten: just a little more than a week to the greatest song ever. Is the suspense killing you? Here’s #9:

Randi Russo – Prey

A bitter, majestically epic anthem for any nonconformist surrounded by a hostile mob, literally or figuratively, the twin guitars of Russo and lead player Lenny Molotov swirling with eerie, Middle Eastern-inflected overtones. The version on the 2005 Live at Sin-E album is a tad fast; there are also bootlegs kicking around the web, look around.

July 20, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/19/10

Our best 666 songs of alltime countdown has reached the alltime top ten. When we started this countdown, in the fall of 2008, we had no idea that we’d last long enough to get this far! Here’s #10:

Elvis Costello – Man out of Time

Sympathy for the devil – one of Costello’s greatest achievements is how he can both demonize and humanize at the same time, as he does with the utterly evil character in question here. The best version we know of is on the long out-of-print three-cd live box set Costello & Nieve, from 1996; here’s one from before the original album version (on Imperial Bedroom) came out, 1982.

July 19, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 7/18/10

Just eleven more days til our best 666 songs of alltime countdown reaches #1…and then we start with the 1000 best albums of alltime. Here’s Sunday’s song:

Elvis Costello – Brilliant Mistake

Ironically, this lyrical masterpiece – a continuation of the scathing anti-conformist kiss-off theme he first honed to perfection on New Amsterdam – is the only remotely interesting track on the otherwise forgettable King of America album from 1986. The link above is a live take from Milwaukee’s Summerfest some 23 years later.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/17/10

Just twelve more days til our best 666 songs of alltime countdown reaches #1…and then we start with the 1000 best albums of alltime. Here’s Saturday’s song:

Joy Division – 24 Hours

As good a candidate as any for best bassline ever – Peter Hook’s octaves and chords perfectly channel the song’s breathless, manic angst. From Closer, 1981.

July 17, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment