Every day, our best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. After that we’ll start with the 666 best albums of alltime. As we creep a little closer to #1, Friday’s song is #48:
The Go Go’s – Forget That Day
Ostensibly this uncharacteristically epic, ornate art-pop masterpiece of a breakup ballad also broke up the band: guitarist Jane Weidlin, who wrote it, wanted to sing and Belinda Carlisle wouldn’t let her. From their gorgeous first-time-around swan song, Talk Show, 1984. Here’s a bootleg from a reputedly legendary show, Portland, Maine, summer 1984; here’s the band twenty-five years later, more propulsive and more poignant.
Artsy pop tunesmith Elaine Romanelli transcends any label you might be tempted to peg her with. She’s a tremendous singer – her soaring high soprano is sometimes poised and playful, sometimes brooding and bitter. Her songs are vivid, aphoristic, often metaphorically charged; many of them have an indelibly urban, New York-centricness about them. The inspired backing unit on her latest album, The Real Deal includes Josh Fox on guitar, Andrew Fox on piano, Clay Wilson on bass and Dave Gluck on drums along with lush, rich arrangements from the “Screaming Strings,” Patricia Cole on violin and Larry DiBello on cello.
“The salt you pour each day has left its sting,” Romanelli admits on the cd’s opening cut, Song About the Trees, but she’s insistent on pulling herself up out of misery. The evocative Iraq war wife’s tale, aptly titled Lament, packs a wallop: “Now the tours are longer and they happen every year…pray the chopper sets him down, pray that he can still walk,” the poor woman pleads over a machine-gun drumbeat. Merry Go Round, with a choice string arrangement, is wryly metaphorical:
Take off the training wheels
Try not to be afraid
Go for a test run
Go back and think some more
Go into hiding
Curl in a ball on the floor
Or stay on the merry-go-round…
Romanelli follows that with the 6/8 piano ballad Faust Revisited, a subtly caustic, insightful look at what some people might consider while contemplating plastic surgery:
And I yearn to be perfect
But I wonder if maybe by now it’s too late
‘Cause I grew up with this face
Which never was beautiful
So there’s years of old feelings
They’d have to replace
With a jaunty, wickedly catchy janglerock bounce, Not a Love Song is not the sneering Public Image Ltd. broadside but a soaring, Sharon Goldman-style pop hit. Stupid Boy, like its storyline, begins sultry and goes bitter fast, all the way into a killer chorus. Fly picks up the pace, revisiting the treadmill theme of the third cut but more optimistically this time, its narrator trying to nudge a bedraggled friend out of her comfortably sad routine. The rest of the album includes Naughty Lola, which blends a sultry lounge feel with janglerock; the scrambling punk-pop shuffle Unapologetic like something off the Go Go’s comeback album God Bless the Go Go’s; a Celtic-tinged a-cappella ballad, a bouncy piano pop number and finally, after all that, the crazed vaudevillian romp Pour Me a Drink – she and the band have earned it. Elaine Romanelli plays the cd release for The Real Deal at the Bitter End this Thursday, May 20 at 8.
This weekend the nucleus of the Lucid Culture crew are going to Beefstock, the upstate New York 3-day music festival. We’ll be back by Monday. Because we won’t have either internet or phones – wow, the old days! – here are another three which comprise a small section of our Alltime Top 666 Songs list, as we count them down all the way to #1.
481. The Go Go’s – Here You Are
Jane Wiedlin at the absolute top of her game as a songwriter, this time with a gorgeously haunting, atmospheric, Beatlesque ballad:
So if you lose control
And burn a bridge too far
No matter where you go, here you are
From the band’s triumphant 2001 comeback cd God Bless the Go Go’s. The link above is a download.
480. The Coffin Daggers – Besame Mucho Twist
Some claim that the original is the most widely recorded song of alltime. The Ventures’ surf version was good but nothing like this. By a long shot, the New York surf punks’ savagely macabre cover, a staple of their live set circa 1999-2004, is the best, bringing out every menacing chromatic in the old 1940s Mexican bolero hit. Never officially released, but there are bootlegs kicking around.
479. The Fixx – Driven Out
Songs like this just make you shake your head and wonder, if the band could write something this great, why didn’t they do it again? But they never did. In this fiery, apocalyptic backbeat anthem from their now-forgotten 1988 lp Calm Animals, they finally let the guitars roar free, with a bitter, angry lyric: “Castaways have silent lives with a strength to rival you all.” There’s also a nice acoustic version by the wonderfully named Lenape Fire Turtle.