The Music Men put together another mixtape for ya, this time in honor of Memorial Day, as they talk about all the songs on their collection…
Archie Bell and the Drells– The Tighten Up: Ever wondered what it would be like to be conscripted into a dubious foreign war and hear your song become a massive hit, played over Armed Forces radio, while you are trying to fend off the Viet Cong? No? Well, Archie Bell can, and he’s a Houston product, to boot. Highly recommended.
Naked Eyes– Always Something There To Remind Me: First of all, did anyone remember that this was a Burt Bacharach cover? What the what? The video presents the torrid tale of the guy who loses the girl, the other guy (who just happens to be his bandmate) who gets her, and the weird scenario where the local newspaper prints the lowlights of locals’ love lives. At the very least, you’d think that would make you look out for paparazzi. But it’s hooky.
4 Non-Blondes– What’s Up: I picked this because I knew how much it would make Ryan squirm, not counting on the fact I would have to listen to it too. We couldn’t even make it all the way through. Truly one of the worst songs ever recorded.
Starland Vocal Band– Afternoon Delight: Some of my earliest musical memories are of hearing this carpet-bomb 70’s Top-40 radio, and, of course, having no idea of the (not-very-thinly-couched) subtext therein. It’s a song about doin’ it in the daytime. And I completely, unironically, love it.
Carl Douglas– Kung Fu Fighting: There’s a great story in a great book on comedy writing where Steven Seagal was hosting SNL & Rob Schneider wrote a monologue for him where he was supposed to come out and claim that he was really a musician at heart, instead of a martial arts movie star. And then he’d sit down and play an acoustic version of Kung Fu Fighting. That didn’t happen (because Steven Seagal), but it’s a testament to the staying power of this oddball classic.
Positive K– I Got a Man: This feels like a backyard barbecue when I get sprung from prison, except it’s a back-and-forth between a lusty gentleman and a reluctant female paramour. In an M. Night Shyamalan-like twist, turns out they’re the same person. Evidently, it takes all kinds. Still love this tune.
Terence Trent D’Arby– Wishing Well: A pretty rock solid way to make sure you’re ridiculed for years is to claim that your one hit song sets you up to be Bigger Than The Beatles. Also, if you’re Terence Trent D’Arby. But we all sort of sang it while it spun.
The Undertones– Teenage Kicks: This song may barely qualify for “hit” status, but it apparently affected the late, massively influential UK DJ John Peel so much that he’d play it twice in a row. And then had lyrics from it inscribed on his headstone. I don’t know if it can ever reach that level for me, but it’s pretty damn great.
The Knack– My Sharona: There’s a certain part of me that figures that in the quiet parts of the world, where you can’t hear anything, you can probably hear a little bit of My Sharona. But what’s weirder is that this song was based on an actual girl, who the author dated for four years, and who then had to spend the rest of her life presumably listening to people singing that track back to her ad nauseum. Sometimes the substance abuse problems come find you.