Rowling Along the Reading Rainbow

I never much cared for book learnin’ when I was a wee lad. I still don’t do much reading now, to be honest, but I at least have changed my stubborn, childish tune from “books are stupid and long and hard and I don’t want to read them!” (younger me really set myself up for ridicule from someone with a dirty mind). Today, I have put some literary miles behind me and have dabbled in just about every major genre of fiction, a fair degree of nonfiction, and I write a decent amount on my own (clearly). I owe a great deal of this to a good required reading list throughout high school and an excellent English teacher whose enthusiasm encouraged me to actually read the books I was assigned. Thanks Mr. H! His job would have been considerably tougher though were it not for the fact that I had already approached one book series with gusto where I had previously dismissed others with little regard. When I was in grade school, my mom came home from a weekend trip with some of her friends and I was pretty stoked to have her return; not because I missed her, oh no, but because she had some loot for me! She promised a present and delivered me… a book? What? What am I supposed to do with this? You’ve ruined me, mother. I’ll just go over here and lay face down in shame for the remainder of my life.

Yeah, I was a melodramatic youth, but aren’t we all? But hey, what was I to make of a book with a bespectacled British boy flying on a broom reaching out for a ball with wings? The book in question was of course Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s if you are American where we like alliteration) and today marks the 20th anniversary of its release on June 26, 1997.

Like many young readers of the late ’90s, once I took a look inside the book I was quickly turning pages, engrossed by the magical world within. This is interesting for me now as I never was one for fantasy outside of the realm of space until my teenage years when I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed The Hobbit in my aforementioned English teacher’s freshman class. I was an extremely devoted fan to cinematic space-based fantasy like Star Wars, and was easily more excited about the newest movie in that series that had come out a month prior to the book about the boy wizard. Now it is easy to say that absolutely Harry Potter is superior to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but young, developing in body and mind me was not at the same level I am currently. And for what it’s worth (nothing; it’s worth nothing) I did enjoy reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than watching Episode I. What is worthwhile, is that Harry Potter helped me change my stupid stance of protest towards leisure reading. In an historic occasion where the desires of a parent actually occurred after she actively encouraged it, my mom did get her wish of Harry Potter making me excited to read. Truly, all credit should go to another mom, Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J.K. Rowling – because unfortunately having your clearly female name displayed on your book can turn people away from it.

Thanks to the contemporary take on a magical world, it was easy for me as a non-fantasy fan to become engrossed in all Harry’s world had to offer, from Privet Drive to Diagon Alley to Hogwarts, I was onboard with the owls, monsters, spells, ghosts, and even a school that you live at. Ugh, it would have seemed like torture for younger me were it not for all the cool shit! Yet therein lies the grandest appeal of Harry and his world to a little boy about the same age as him. Harry was extraordinarily relatable to me as he was just like me, y’know, just without the parents I had. Even though he was a product of it, Harry was as new to the magical world hiding around the corner as I the rest of us were; we discovered everything with him. For me and others my age, we continued to discover the magic, both dark and light, not just within the ensuing series of books and movies but within our own bodies. This time I am intentionally referring to the sexy stuff, or more specifically the hormonal changes that arise throughout our teenage years to biologically drive us to reproduce with the avalanche of side effects that amplify our every emotion. The Harry Potter series will always be near and dear to my heart not just because of its rich fantastic lore, but mostly because of its incredible sympathy for my puberty. I have never read a book or seen a movie – not even the terrific adaptations of these books – that understands the natural growth of young people in mind, body, and society. Nowhere else has the development and deterioration of friendships, families, and world views been better captured.

At the crux of it all is the most difficult or frightening concept for us to tackle: death. Rowling has stated many times that the central theme of the story is dealing with death. Harry is an orphan whose parents are the first to die in the story, and he bears a permanent physical scar from their death that helps to accentuate his emotional scars that help define his character. Voldemort wants to avoid death at all costs to himself and others and hold dominion over it so that he is master of it. Throughout each book more characters meet their mortal end, and the frequency and impact of deaths ramp up as the series gets darker, just as Harry and his friends become impacted by the darkness of the world around them at an age where we begin to recognize how hard life is and how little we know, typically by blindly professing how we can do anything and know everything.

The Harry Potter series remains one of my favorite book series, with each book building more and more upon its world and most importantly it characters. I remember vividly finishing the first and last books of the series as they were similar situations. In both instances, I was up until about 2:30 AM and feeling tired, but nowhere near sleep because I was so close to the end of each text I was too excited and had to finish. I was exhausted after wrapping up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, not just because of the late hour, but because it marked the end of an era for me and at a critical time in my life. In the summer between my graduation from high school and my preparations to go away to university, I had Deathly Hallows‘ release to offer me the one constant I had for that summer. Everything in my world was changing quickly, but not simply because of the next step within my adolescence, but because of death. Throughout my high school years – when the released books in the series were growing darker – I experienced a number of notable deaths of loved ones. I lost both of my grandmothers my freshman year of high school, three great uncles over the next three, and most devastating of all, my father shortly before my graduation. My dad’s death was still weighing extremely heavily on me when I began reading the all the more fittingly titled Deathly Hallows and the sense of dread I felt while reading it was more real than with anything else I have read. J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter helped me to cope with the hardships of my youth by showing me that even in a fantasy world with a semi-snake psychopath and literal soul-sucking demons the most terrifying part of life is growing up.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com. If you have not already, I would greatly encourage you to check out the Harry Potter books, and after you cross those off your list go ahead and watch the films too to see one of the best complete casts ever assembled perfectly play their respective characters. R.I.P. Alan Rickman. You will always be my favorite professor at Hogwarts, even if you were a dick most of the time. Time turn your way back here next week for some more fantasy fun.

I Expecto (Patronum) to see you again,

Alex

Happy Birthday Walrus Man!

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four
It’s funny to think that the man who first started writing those words as a teenager turned 64 years old 11 years ago. Sir Paul McCartney was born James Paul McCartney in Liverpool, England on June 18, 1942 and celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (when love was such an easy game to play….)
What is there to say about the man who is a god among musical men and nothing short of the greatest living rock and roller that has not already been said? With all due respect to Ringo Starr and George Harrison, McCartney and John Lennon were the dominant creative forces of The Beatles, especially where the songwriting was concerned. Even though they had an agreement to to share credit for all the songs either one wrote and often collaborated on writing, there are some songs entirely or mostly written and performed by Paul that showcase his talent, personality, and charm. I have compiled a list below of these songs from each Beatles album for you to sample to hear from the birthday boy and his buds. I have included video links where there are some available. My top 10 are highlighted in bold.

Please Please Me

“I Saw Her Standing There”*

“Love Me Do”

“P.S. I Love You”

 

 

With The Beatles

“All My Loving”

“Hold Me Tight”

 

A Hard Day’s Night

“Can’t Buy Me Love”

“Things We Said Today”

 

Beatles For Sale

“I’ll Follow the Sun”*

“Eight Days a Week”*

“What You’re Doing”

 

Help!

“Another Girl”

“The Night Before”

“I’ve Just Seen a Face”

“Yesterday”

 

Rubber Soul

“Drive My Car”

“You Won’t See Me”

“Michelle”

“I’m Looking Through You”

 

Revolver

“Good Day Sunshine”

“For No One”

“Got to Get You Into My Life”

 

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends” -Okay, Ringo sings the latter half of this medley, but Paul still wrote it and these two songs are each part of a larger whole that is terrific together.

“Getting Better”

“Fixing a Hole”

“She’s Leaving Home”

“When I’m Sixty-Four”

“Lovely Rita”

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Ban – Reprise”

 

Magical Mystery Tour

“Magical Mystery Tour”

“The Fool on the Hill”

“Your Mother Should Know”

“Hello Goodbye”

“Penny Lane”

 

The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)

“Back in the U.S.S.R.”

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

“Martha My Dear”

“Blackbird”

“Rocky Raccoon”

“Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”

“I Will”

“Mother Nature’s Son”

“Helter Skelter”

“Honey Pie”

 

Yellow Submarine

“All Together Now”

 

Abbey Road

“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”

“Oh Darling!”

“You Never Give Me Your Money”

“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”

“Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” – Like Sgt. Pepper/With a Little Help, I’m counting this as one.

“Her Majesty” – Just a quick, funny tidbit from Paul to end the album.

 

Let It Be

“Two of Us”

“Let It Be”

“I’ve Got a Feeling”*

“The Long And Winding Road”

“Get Back”

 

Beatles singles:

“From Me to You”*

“She Loves You”*

“I Want to Hold Your Hand”*

“We Can Work It Out”*

“Paperback Writer”

“Eleanor Rigby”

“Lady Madonna”

“Hey Jude”

* – co-written with John Lennon

 

A bonus for you! The Best of Paul post-Beatles – Solo and Wings career:

“Maybe I’m Amazed”

“Band on the Run”

“Jet”

“Hi Hi Hi”

“Say Say Say” – with Michael Jackson

“Take It Away”

“Live and Let Die”

“With a Little Luck”

“Helen Wheels”

“Here Today” – tribute to John Lennon

Thanks for reading and listening! Happy birthday to Paul and thanks for the music! Be sure to come back here next week for some more something or other!

Happy Birthday,

Alex

Da na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na That Man!

Batman has always been and will probably always be my favorite comic book hero. There’s something about a man dressed as a bat who comes out at night to pow, wham, and biff criminals to serve up some hard justice that just appeals to little boys growing up in 1990s America, as well as so many others. Batman has consistently worked within the fringes of what is legal and moral in order to protect people from the (sometimes literal) monsters among them, all the while keeping to the shadows in a world as gray as his actions’ ethics. Except for the 1960s, when Gotham City was more colorfully kooky than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. This strange departure from the normally dark and brooding detective and his grimy Gotham that is as filthy as the bad guys within it may be looked at it with some disdain or at least annoyance from some Batman purists. However, while I too am more on the side of the Dark Knight being, well, dark, I also believe that taking into account the full history of a thing is essential for recognizing its impact over time and its probably bearing on our future. For example, early zoos began as menageries to showcase exotic beasts from faraway lands and frequently housed the animals in poor conditions with little to no idea of what was best for them in the way of food and social development, however now zoos have evolved into conservation organizations that provide a safe haven for endangered and threatened species to educate and expose people to them and their plight, all the while working to establish or restore habitat spaces that will be viable homes for the progeny of the animals in their collection, and in some cases directly rehabilitate species of this generation. Modern zoos are often upfront with the fact that their beginnings were not always graceful and that they have learned much from the mistakes of the past. Now they work to preserve bats all around the world, helping to save the winged wonders that make up roughly 20% of all mammal species for the future.

The environment and entertainment industry are not regularly similar, but in this instance, the world of comic book characters was brought into the forefront of American culture by ABC’s popular series Batman which ran from 1966-1968 and featured Adam West as the Caped Crusader. The television show started in January and a full length film starring the same cast was released later that year in July marking the first time Batman had been brought to each respective screen, and one of the first times any comic character did so in such grandiose fashion. It’s easy to forget in today’s comic crazed cinema that superheroes were not always such popular fare. The 1960s Batman series helped to infatuate America with heroic figures dressing up in costumes to battle bad guys for their well-being. It was colorful, it was campy, but most of all it was centered by a man who knew he had to own it and play the part as straight as he could, all the while embracing the silliness off-screen, which he did for decades after until his death just a few days ago. Adam West passed away last Friday at the age of 88 and left behind a legacy dominated by his time in the bat cowl, but there was more to the man than paving the way for superhero stories and being a role model for children.

Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington (which sounds like a jump rope chant), West played many a cowboy and cop before he was Batman, among some comedic roles. During his stint as the world’s greatest detective, West was a righteous figure not just dishing out boofs and bams, but also encouragement to be a good citizen, especially to children whom he preached the merits of healthy eating and living and responsible work ethic to.

West beat out Lyle Waggoner for the title role, apparently chosen after being seen in a Nestle Quik commercial where he played a caricature of James Bond. Waggoner eventually got into the DC universe in the role of Steve Trevor in the 1970s Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter. As it happens, West almost got to be the actual James Bond too. Executive producer for the Bond series, Albert Broccoli (not pronounced like the vegetable like I always assumed in my youth) offered West the role of the suave super agent in the film Diamonds Are Forever which saw Sean Connery reprise the role once more officially after the one-and-done by his initial replacement, George Lazenby. Think about that for a moment, Adam West could have been both Batman and James Bond, two of the most iconic and coveted roles in pop culture history, but he turned down the role because he felt Bond should always be played by a British man.

West’s career post-Batman was hampered by him being typecast, but he grew to embrace it, as much for laughs as for capital gain. My favorite of these is when he and Burt Ward (who played alongside him as Robin for those Batman years) voiced the younger versions of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in a SpongeBob episode.

West did find other work outside of his bat-related fame, but most of it was in poorly-received films, some of which he acknowledged were not great, yet he always gave his best in his performance and addressed his true feelings toward the projects with humor. A great example is Zombie Nigthmare an 80s B-movie that is best known now for being the subject of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. West introduced this episode while hosting Comedy Central’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day on Thanksgiving in 1994 and made good-hearted jabs at himself and the character he played in the film.

Years later, West found a resurgence as he played a wacky version of himself who was certifiably crazy, but also the mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island, the town Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy is set in. MacFarlane helped West earn a new group of fans at Comic-Con and West helped a show that could easily fall (and has fallen) to be a derivative of the Simpson‘s to offer something more unique.

Whether you first saw him dressed as a bat dangling from a hot air balloon constantly asking your grandma how he and Robin were going to get out of this one while she smiled because she’d already seen them all, or if it was when he stabbed the ocean to avenge the sailors it had presumably swallowed up or when he rolled in toxic waste to gain superpowers to battle the gifted Griffins, chances are you felt a pang in your heart when you saw the news of Adam West’s passing. Cheers to you, Mr. West. Thanks for the funny and cartoonish moments always, both from your cartoon and live-action roles.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to send your questions, comments, and suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be extra sure to head back here next week.

Same Bat time, same Bat channel,

Alex

With a Little Help from My Friends

The recent shameful departure of my country on the Paris Agreement on global climate change is the dominant story in the news and the most pressing issue on my mind, but I just don’t have the energy (and that is not a pun) to restate the same facts about how we humans, and especially me and mine in America, are responsible for rapidly heating up this one habitable planet we have always known, and until the ignorance of greed consumed too many of us, has been a world we loved as well. I love it still, and the billions of humans and wildlife that live upon it, which is why I worry so much. In the interests of not wishing to belabor a point that needs to be repeated, but not so much to my audience who already understands its severity, and for the sake of not wishing to deviate from my original plan for this post, I will not personally cover (at least for this week) the Paris Agreement tackbacksies that my poorly-led nation idiotically enacted, however, my favorite late night host and his team have put together another fantastic segment this time covering just that:

Thank you, John. You make it easier to endure this madness, and though I’ve never met you, I feel like you could be a friend, which is precisely what we all need through hardships and celebrations, and as it happens, it was 50 years ago last week The Beatles taught the world to cherish friends, as well as to embrace the nature of change for the better and the mixing of culture and art in one of the grandest musical contributions of all time.

On May 26,1967 in England, and June 2 in America, the greatest band to ever play music released one the greatest records ever cut. The Beatles were already at the top of the musical world as they had been for a few years thanks to their tremendous popularity with young pop rock and roll fans. Yet the group felt tired of playing music for screaming girls and wanted to make some “serious music”. They stopped touring concerts to ease their exhaustion and focus on their music. Some people were pissed about this, but regardless of those frustrations from fans and the members of the band itself, all were rewarded with a masterpiece set into motion with about 11 seconds of orchestral warm-up and ambient crowd chatter eagerly awaiting a show that strikes out of the theater noise with drums and guitar that instantly grab our attention so that we are all ears when Paul McCartney starts singing in the fabulously fictitious Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s remains one of the most influential and unique albums of all time for a variety of reasons. It was pioneering, not just for rock and roll and pop music, but for all music, containing an assortment of instruments and musical styles that culminate in one of the most masterfully varied records, but one with a terrific flow, thanks in large part to the first time omission of the few seconds of silent space between songs. On Sgt. Pepper, Beatles producer George Martin was once again the man behind most of the technical effects that lend a certain feel to the album as a whole. The band had been experimenting with new sounds for their last few records, like Rubber Soul and Revolver, records that really allowed The Beatles to rise above the pure pop that many desired them to be. Sgt. Pepper’s was not the first instance of The Beatles breaking away from the mainstream – honestly, I’m not sure they ever were in the mainstream as much as they were paving the way for it – yet the discography of the band truly took off into an unforeseen level of the musical and cultural atmosphere with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles were essentially the first band to walk on the musical Moon. They had been approaching their desired destination with their previous work, but Sgt. Pepper’s was their Apollo program, and led them and many, many others to a new world of musical production.

One fascinating example of this is in the lively album cover that depicts a wealth of celebrities from many walks of life and eras. The Nerdwriter declares it to the “Holy Grail of album covers”, and he is not wrong as the artwork is multi-layered with meaning and references to the essence of the band and its members. He explains this in one of his excellent video essays:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is revolutionary in many respects, but chief among its merits is the quality of its songs and their arrangement. Rolling Stone considers it to be the best album ever made, and while its influence is undeniable and a major reason for their favoring of it, the great music and lyrics that defined The Beatles better than anything else ever could are exceptional throughout the record.

Starting off with the opening I mentioned earlier, the titular “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” provides a terrific introduction both as a song and the theme of the journey we are about to take. It also provides a bookended finish with a short reprisal of “Sgt. Pepper’s” as the penultimate song of the record. It was Paul McCartney’s idea to make the album’s premise be a concert sang by a fictional band. This fit his and the band’s characteristic whimsy, but also allowed them to push the envelope a little further with the safety of being able to let any controversy fall back upon the fictitious group in place of the real one. Oh that wasn’t us; that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.

The title track segues perfectly into what is probably the most popular song on the album, and is certainly one of the band’s best songs. I mean, I did name this post after it. After his alter ego Billy Shears’ introduction at the end of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Ringo Starr begins to sing the classic “With a Little Help from My Friends”. This is one of my favorite songs for its joyful melody, harmonious vocals, and encouraging message that friendship is the key to enjoying life through the good and bad. Despite their differences and the trials each of them were going through at the time, it is clear that The Beatles worked so well, not just on this record, but throughout the years because they were friends. This song is the epitome of that love for one another. It’s all you need after all – wait, that’s the next record.

From the epitome of friendship we roll on to the epitome of psychedelia with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. There are many references to drug use on featured within the album, including an overt one in the previous song, but John Lennon always maintained that this song was based on a drawing his son made of a girl in his class named Lucy. As one radio host on the newly launched Sirius Beatles Channel said, Lennon never shied away from discussing drugs and did write “Cold Turkey” in his post-Beatles career, so even though the nouns in the title begin with the letters LSD, drugs did not inspire this song. However, that does not mean they did not influence this song, which they almost certainly did, although not just in the trippy description of Lucy’s land as the song (an album entire) serves as an allusion to the flower power movement that saw the cultures of East and West blending together like a tie-dye T-shirt. This is certainly apparent on the one song on the album John Lennon and Paul McCartney did not write, George Harrison’s “Within You Without You” which is driven by Harrison’s sitar and other Indian instruments.

The highlight of the album for many is the closing orchestration that is “A Day in the Life”. I say orchestration because Martin and The Beatles brought in an actual orchestral arrangement to play the unnerving transitions between the two wildly distinctive tones of the song. The reason for these drastically different pieces from Lennon and McCartney is simple as they began as two different songs. Lennon needed something to connect his song that was inspired by stories in a newspaper, and McCartney offered a separate song he had been working on and they sandwiched it in and spread the orchestra to make it more cohesive. The final piano note was actual multiple pianos played simultaneously and then stretched out by Martin in the sound mixing booth. The end result is a slightly disturbing note of finality to a slightly disturbing song that perfectly punctuates the album.

The album has a perfect transition from song to song which is all the more impressive given its great variation of styles. This could have been a magnificent failure for a lesser group, but as I’ve said before and will say again, The Beatles are the greatest band of all time and they managed to make a clash of genres and technical trials (Paul McCartney is credited with playing a “comb and tissue paper”) into their defining work… until next year’s release of their best album, but we can talk about that next year. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a massive success from the start and continued to establish The Beatles as the master musicians they were and deserve to be recognized as. I encourage you to listen to this and all their other albums. It’s easy to call The Beatles great, and not hard to recommend such a well loved band, but these guys are in another league. Remember when I said Sgt. Pepper’s was like The Beatles landing on the Moon? Well, their continued career took them across the universe to places other musicians can only dream of. That pun was absolutely intended, but also absolutely true. The Beatles are not my favorite band – anyone who’s read my previous posts knows that honor belongs to another British rock band – but I will defend until my dying breath that they are the best band because they are. No one is more varied, talented, and has such an extensive body of work that is as high quality as The Beatles’ discography. Also, they are my second favorite band, so it’s not like it’s hard for me to admire them, but it helps that they’re really, really good.

Thanks for reading, watching, and listening! Be sure to check out anything you can from The Beatles even if you’ve heard it all before. They certainly are worth listening to more than once. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send them to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to revolve back here next week for more hopefully good news or fun topics. Whatever I write about, I promise I’ll throw in a joke or two.

I hope you have enjoyed the show,

Alex

Never Forget Our Heroes

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. This holiday may be the unofficial start of summertime in America that allows us an opportunity to get together with friends and family for burgers and beer, as well as the harsh realization that no, it’s not warm enough to go swimming yet, but while it is good that we can observe this lighthearted enjoyment in the company of loved ones, Memorial Day has a somber reason for its existence. Memorial Day was created to recognize those who lost their lives in America’s military.

While the exact date that Memorial Day was first observed is not easy to pin down, it is apparent that it became nationally prominent in the late 1860s following the American Civil War. Since then, Americans of all ages have paid their respects to their fallen military men and women in a number of ways. Typically parades, visits to cemeteries, and the aforementioned cookout with friends are common occurrences, yet today I am turning my focus to a specific group of aides to the American armed forces who deserve our thanks and are still living, although their lives are in serious danger and we need to help them to survive as they helped our service members to survive.

Since the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq began, there have been translators who have served as the necessary communicative link between soldiers and engineers working for the military and the native people. These translators have helped to save countless lives and now deserve to be returned the favor, however, this is far from the case as you can learn from this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Translators, even if they were not born or even set foot in the United States, are American heroes and deserve the easy opportunity to become U.S. citizens. We should be fast-tracking these guys and their families on that course of action if they desire it, especially considering the imminent danger most of them are in. It is inexcusable, criminal really, to force them to jump through bureaucratic hoops to realistically attain the goal of citizenship. They deserve to be recognized for their service to America by being welcomed into America. We should be raising a toast of honor to these men and women on Veteran’s Day, not a toast of remembrance on Memorial Day because the United States government did not act as valiantly to serve and save them as they did to serve and save our soldiers and engineers.

The truly frustrating thing is that this episode aired in October of 2014 but things have not vastly improved in the application process. In fact, they have only become harder. Perhaps this is something your local representative should hear about.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please send them to monotremadness@gmail. com.

Alex

Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – The Final Chapter

Oh boy! Have we got some good ones today awaiting us in the final six-line section of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s shirt from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this year. In case you’re new or you’ve been away for a while, I have been taking a look and listen to the artists written upon Ament’s shirt whom he and many others believe are worthy of inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can recap the first and the second and the third posts in this series if you so choose before we round out the last leg today in what might be the most fun quarter yet. Let’s rock to it.

The Jam – We begin the end with a good one I have not heard from previous to reading Mr. Ament’s attire. For 10 years in the 70s and early 80s, they dabbled in a few rock styles including punk, modern, and psychedelia, and helped form the new wave of 1980s rock. Let’s start this finale show appropriately with “That’s Entertainment”. These guys definitely know how to live up to their name.


The Smiths – Speaking of that new wave, The Smiths were at the forefront of the post-punk movement that shifted into early alternative rock and was one of the signature styles of the 1980s. Picking up during the same year The Jam spread out (1982), The Smiths were a force driven by background instrumentation and effects that are easy on the ears like a summer’s breeze coming off the ocean with more than a touch of melancholy, all the better to accentuate the haunting vocals of lead singer Morrissey. They have been in the voting discussion for Rock Hall induction for the last few years, and it is understandable why when you listen to “This Charming Man”, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, and “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. Yet my favorite will always be “How Soon Is Now?”


Descendents – Between the United Kingdom and southern California there have been a lot of punk bands making a lot of noise aimed at the government, teachers, parents, and other sources of authority preaching agendas the punk rockers don’t share. Descendents (yes, it’s spelled like that; even the English language isn’t safe!) hail from SoCal and on and off since the late 70s they have been protesting authority and hypocrisy while also embodying teenage angst and life well beyond their own teen years in an energetic punk style. I like “Clean Sheets”.


Kraftwerk -Oh those wacky Germans and their electronica! Kraftwerk helped lay the foundation of avant garde heavy synthesizer electronic pop and rock from as far back as 1969. You can hear pieces of their work sampled in many a hip-hop jam and it’s easy to see why with tunes like “Man Machine”. Daft Punk would not be around without the road these guys constructed, especially the “Autobahn”. Yes, that song is over 20 minutes long.


Sonic Youth – Some people, including Juno and myself with some tracks, hear Sonic Youth as “just noise”. The American post-punk rockers do definitely have some good stuff though, and much of it is intended to be experimental noise. I heard one radio host on Little Steven’s Underground Garage refer to them as the greatest American rock band and one of the most influential music acts of their time. If enough people feel that way, then these guys deserve a spot in the Rock Hall. Listen to “Teenage Riot” and “Superstar” to see what you think of their noise.


Todd Rundgren – Another “oh that’s that guy’s name!” entries on Ament’s shirt, you have heard Todd Rundgren before but probably did not know exactly who he was, and almost certainly did not connect one of his most famous songs to him given its wildly different tempo and style from his other works. Aside from his solo song work, Rundgren served as a producer for albums for Badfinger, The Band (which he almost joined), Hall & Oates, and Grand Funk Railroad, to name a few. Yet, he will best be known for three songs: “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me” which fit within his more mainstream soft, easy style, but his most notable song is one of the most fun songs you’ll ever hear and has helped sell more than its fair share of Carnival cruises:


Ted NugentI have made this argument before, and I will make it again, but this time I’m not alone.  Ted Nugent is cray-cray to be sure, but he is a guitar god and a highly entertaining and influential musician. He deserves inclusion in the Rock Hall. I’d say more, but his music speaks for itself:


The Cure – One of my favorite bands not yet in, and more importantly, one of the best and blackest of the 1970s through today, but especially in the 80s and early 90s. Singer/guitar player Robert Smith has been the primary dose of The Cure since their formation in 1976, and he is the only original member of the band today. His gothic makeup and haunting lyrics can lead observers to believe The Cure are morose, and they can be, but mostly their work is a surprisingly varied blend of new age and alternative rock and roll that can be equally uplifting and devastating. There have been some masterful uses of The Cure’s songs in TV and film that serves a testament to their incredible emotional power. Plus, Smith is the key to stopping Mecha-Streisand when she gets her hands on the Triangle of Zinthar. Disintegration is one of the best albums ever, and these are some of the best songs ever: “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Lovesong”, “Pictures of You” (I was bawling when they played this in Season 1 of Mr. Robot after showing the flashback of Elliot meeting Shayla; perfectly used), “Friday I’m In Love”, and my favorite, “Just Like Heaven”:


MC5 – One of the earliest and most influential (I know that I’ve used that word a lot, but seeing as that is one of the two requirements for Rock Hall induction, it bears repeating for so many of these artists) garage rock bands that emerged from the Detroit-area like so many other garage rockers throughout the years, MC5 will always be remembered for their fanatical energy and “Kick Out the Jams”. One of MC5’s guitarists, Fred “Sonic” Smith is half the namesake of Sonic Youth.


Captain Beefheart – In my research on all of these artists, I cannot think of any other artist not already in the Rock Hall whose name I came across as frequently as Captain Beefheart; seems like he also has the influence box checked. Born Don Glen Vliet in Glendale, California in 1941, the man who would become Captain Beefheart and command his Magic Band, had a noticeably kooky style similar to his frenemy Frank Zappa, and like Zappa Dappa Doo, he dived into multiple styles of music and in the process contributed to making a few. I was not supremely familiar with him and his stuff prior to writing these posts – and I’m still not an expert now – but just like when I first listened to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, I can tell this guy and his group belong with the rest of the rockers already in Cleveland. Give a listen to “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do” which I like for its bluesy opening and flow and rocking pickup, but mostly for the mention of my oft-overlooked hometown!


Warren Zevon – Speaking of weird and wonderful, ain’t nobody fits into that category quite like Warren Zevon. Ever the showman, it’s no wonder that David Letterman was such a big fan of Zevon and had him on his show so often over the years before Zevon’s death in 2003. Like too many rock and rollers, Zevon struggled with addiction, and like a few others he translated his internal dependency struggles into his music, but not to the degree that his songs all focus on drugs and alcohol. In fact, it’s not always clear where his bombastic lyrics stem from, but I’ll be damned if they’re not poetic and beautifully sang and perfectly paired with a bevy of instruments to create some truly great music. You really can’t go wrong with Warren, but try “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”, “My Shit’s Fucked Up” (you can see where the drugs and booze may have influenced that one), his cover of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and “Night Time in the Switching Yard” – a funky take on a classic blues trope. However, his greatest and most popular is indubitably the gorgeously goofy “Werewolves of London”. Even if Kid Rock pulled a Vanilla Ice with the melody of that music, it only whets my appetite for the real deal from Zevon’s brilliant bodacious mind.


Link Wray – You may not have heard the name, but you sure as hell have heard his music. Wray was one of the earliest influences in modern rock music, playing guitar with distortion and tempo that could often classify as surf rock or rockabilly. With his band, the Ray Men, he crafted music akin to his contemporaries Dick Dale and Duane Eddy. Though you may not have heard it by name, you have undoubtedly heard “Rumble” before.


Weather Report – This may come as a shock, but they did not actually report the weather. They did, however, make some funky fresh jazz fusion that is a whole lotta fun. Take a trip to “Birdland” and let me know if it gets you flying.


DEVO – If Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a band it would resemble this band of brothers (and Alan Myers) from Kent and Akron. DEVO may be as famous for their unique outfits, stage showmanship, and videos as they are for their unique new wave music. They have a collection of sweetly strange songs, including one of my favorite covers with “[I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction”, but they will always be best known and beloved for “Whip It”. It seems certain that DEVO will secure their rock and roll legacy not far from where it began in northeast Ohio.


Flaming Lips – An inventive bunch from Oklahoma whose style is hard to peg down, but undeniably they are good. They sound reminiscent of The Pixies. Roll with the spacey sounds of their continued act with songs like “She Use Jelly”, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1”, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”, and mostly “Do You Realize??” which in 2009 was honored as the official rock song of Oklahoma. I guess they figured to follow the example of the superior “O” state. Shots fired. I do really like “Do You Realize??” though, and it has a message that just might be worth repeating at the end of the year.


Nick Drake – A brightly-burning musician who made some remarkable music in a short timespan before his suicide at the age of 26. A sufferer of depression, Drake channeled his strong emotions into his softly played guitar. I liked what I’ve listened to so far, including “Northern Sky” and “Things Behind the Sun”, but I really like “Pink Moon”.


Harry Nilsson – Frequently simply referred to as Nilsson, he’s another one of the “that’s who that guy is!” artists. Predominantly a songwriter, he started his success by penning hits for other artists like the Little Richard, The Monkees, and Three Dog Night. Nevertheless, his own songs made even bigger waves, and like fellow “that’s his name” rocker Todd Rundgren, Nilsson had a trifecta of hits: “Without You”, “Coconut”, and  definitely “Everybody’s Talking” which won a Grammy after it was used in Midnight Cowboy.


NEU! – Oh those wacky Germans are at it again! In fact, it is the same wacky Germans I spoke of earlier, as NEU! was formed by Kraftwerk members Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother after that band’s breakup. Kraftwerk and NEU! each represent the epitome of krautrock, the German electronic experimental rock that they manufactured and helped to create future subgenres of rock and roll with. They were inspirational to many other rockers over the years, perhaps most notably David Bowie who was a big fan of their song “Hero” and reflected it in his own Berlin-made (with Brian Eno) album Heroes. I much prefer “Super 16” which will be familiar to any Kill Bill fans for its use in Volume 1 of that story, a choice that stems from the use of NEU!’s songs “Super 16” and “Super 78” (slowed and sped up versions respectively of their own song “Super” all off their second album) being used in the 1976 classic martial arts film Master of the Flying Guillotine which features a martial arts master who wields a mace of sorts with a razor blade encircled around it, the exact same weapon that is favored by sadistic schoolgirl Gogo.


Chad Channing – An interesting inclusion, and possibly one meant partly as a jab to Pearl Jam’s (superior) crosstown rivals, Nirvana. Channing was the fifth Beatle if you will of Nirvana. He was the band’s original drummer, and did most of the drum work on their introductory album Bleach, as well as “Polly” on Nevermind, an album he also helped lay the drumming groundwork for his replacement, Dave Grohl. Now I say it may be partly meant as a jab to Nirvana for eschewing Channing (a collective and civil decision made by the band over creative differences), however, I think Ament and the rest of Pearl Jam are including Channing more as a condemnation of the Rock Hall for not including him alongside Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Grohl when Nirvana were inducted a few years ago, especially considering his early involvement in the band – not to mention that he performed alongside of them when they were still called Bliss. Ever the good sport, Dave Grohl personally thanked Channing for his work with Nirvana at the 2014 Induction Ceremony which Channing (also a good sport) attended.

While Channing may be best remembered for his brief time in Nirvana, he has since played in bands called Fire Ants, The Methodist, and Before Cars, and previously with Tic-Dolly Row.


Sweet – Are you ready, Steve? Uh-huh. Andy? Yeah. Mick? Okay. All right fellas, let’s go!

Oh yeah, let’s get some glam rock up in this biotch. Not to say I’m not a fan of the predominantly punk and new wave bands this shirt list has contained, but it is nice to mix it up, and especially so when it such a fun group. Sweet turned more than a few heads with more than just their gaudy attire from the late 1960s to early 1980s, producing a few notable hits that are all worth a listen. “Fox on the Run” had a major chart revival last year after its inclusion in the first few trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and “Love Is Like Oxygen” has also received some love over the years, but nothing will ever match the wild energy of their oft played and covered classic “Ballroom Blitz”:


Raymond Pettibon – Similar to Hipgnosis, Pettibon, born Raymond Ginn, is an artist artist who created posters and album covers for a number of artists, including a few on this list, most notably punk and alternative bands on the independent record label SST, or Solid State Turners, an electronics provider turned music label founded by Greg Ginn, Raymond’s brother and frontman of Black Flag, another entry on this list.


Oasis -Originally led by Liam Gallagher and eventually featuring his older brother Noel who would become the leader after some of I-think-I’m-the-second-coming-of-John-Lennon Liam’s antics, Oasis was one of the preeminent bands of the 1990s, and one of the few that did not tap into the angst and anger of grunge to do it – not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is all the more impressive though, given the well-publicized in-fighting among the Gallagher brothers, that Oasis soared as high and long as they did. Easily the top of the Britpop bunch that included rivals of sorts in The Blur, Pulp, and Suede, Oasis kept ahead of them all with easy to listen to music that frequently delved deeper into human emotion than its poppy rhythm would lead listeners to believe. Find refreshment in anything from “Stand By Me” to “Supersonic”, or “Champagne Supernova”, but mostly in their two best: “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall”.


Bad Company – Finally we have come to the end, for better or worse, but as I promised, we round this lengthy list out with one of the best, and frankly one of the most shocking omissions yet. I have stated that Steppenwolf is the most heinous exclusion from the Rock Hall, but these guys are not far off, and personally I like them better, thanks mainly to a more expansive discography, some inventive guitar work mixed with a great medley of other classic rock instruments, and Paul Rodgers inimitable vocals. Previously I discussed Free, the band Rodgers and Simon Kirke left to join Bad Company, and if they ever get in (which they probably will) then Bad Company are a lock (as if they are not already) Rodgers and Kirke may be on the outside currently, but they very well may be placed in twice in the near future.

Bad Company played with power, even in their softer songs, and brought their heart and soul to every note. Their strong showings on stage and in the recording booth, coupled with their obvious influence on ensuing acts should be more than sufficient for inclusion, but their best argument is found in their excellent music with songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”, “Burnin’ Sky”, “Silver, Blue, and Gold”, “Run With the Pack”, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”, “Rock Steady”, “Ready For Love”, “Shooting Star”, “Can’t Get Enough”, and “Feel Like Makin’ Love”. However, their best will always be the song off their debut album that shares its name with that album and their band:

Thanks for reading and listening, and for rocking for rolling with my extended four-part series studying the names on Jeff Ament’s shirt more closely than their text. This really was a lot of fun for me, and I have discovered some new artists that I would not have otherwise, so thanks to Ament for helping to introduce me to those while also bringing awareness to other acts that may or may not have been known or considered for rock and roll royalty by most casual music lovers. I have no doubt that most of these guys and girls will get in, especially those who have been under consideration for voting in the past, but perhaps this small showcase of their names and others will spark the fuse that blows the walls of the Rock Hall open to them. Bravo to you and Pearl Jam for expressing your opinion, and cheers for crafting a list of candidates from a number of musical styles and countries not to represent diversity, but because they are worthy as contributors to rock and roll which is the most diverse collection of music that has ever existed.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to windmill swing your way back here next week for – oh God, what I am going to write about now!?! Eh, I’ll think of something; I always do.

Rock on,

Alex

R.I.P. Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave and his solo projects. Take small comfort in the thought that he’ll be inducted someday.

Waiting in the Wings Of Rock and Roll – On Being the Third Part of Jeff Ament’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Shirt

Cry baby cry, make your mother sigh, we’re old enough to know better than the likes of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Induction committee, so cry baby cry… for the likes of the best rock and rollers and musical maestros who have not yet been welcomed in to the pyramid-shaped temple commemorating their grand contributions to the culture of the greatest music genre. I speak of course of the many bands and artists who are not yet inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, quite a few of whom were listed on Jeff Ament’s shirt when he and the rest of Pearl Jam were received in this year’s Induction Ceremony, and today I am continuing to take a closer look at the likes of the next quarter of the men and women Ament and others believe are worthy of making it in with them. If you so desire, you can reread the first and second six-line sections before continuing on here.

Hipgnosis – This is an interesting mention on Ament’s shirt in that it is not a musical artist, but an artist artist. Hipgnosis is an art design company that has created numerous album covers for many musical artists over the years, and let me tell you, their handiwork will not make you sleepy. They have helped form the face of some of the most iconic album covers from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, including most of Pink Floyd’s, each of Led Zeppelin’s from Houses of the Holy until their final Coda (with the notable exception of Physical Graffiti), a collection of Bad Company, Genesis, Styx, ELO, Peter Gabriel, The Police, and even post-Beatles Paul McCartney albums. Their name is a juxtaposition of “hip” and “gnosis”, the former being cool and current, and the latter being the Greek word for knowledge and a hearkening back to older exploration into the Divine as with Gnosticism. You are undoubtedly familiar with some of their stuff:

dark_side_of_the_moon       


Thin Lizzy – Believe it or not, there are other Irish rock bands besides U2. Furthermore, Thin Lizzy is one of them, a fact that is a bit more surprising. No matter where they hail from, it’s a safe bet we know they are going to be hanging out on the shores of Lake Erie someday, especially with songs like “Jailbreak”, “Cowboy Song”, “Whiskey in the Jar”, and of course “The Boys Are Back In Town”.


The Waterboys – This Scottish folk/rock group was founded by Michael Scott! Okay, he goes by Mike, and no, he doesn’t run a paper distribution office in Scranton, Pennsylvania. What he does do is play some of that Celtic influenced folksy rock and some that might be considered prog rock. Take a look at “The Whole of the Moon”.


Bad Brains – Talk about embracing a change in style, these guys have shifted their tonal focus in music and lyrics over the years, and have even changed their name from Mind Power after hearing The Ramones song “Bad Brain”. Punk became their jam until hearing Bob Marley jam led them to infuse it with reggae and go Rastafarian. They are truly eclectic, not just in complete discography, but within the length of one song! Listen to “I Against I” and enjoy the ride.


Dead Kennedys – Most notable punk rock bands in the early days of the punk movement came to United States from the United Kingdom, but these boys are American born and bred and made quite a splash when they hopped across the pond. It’s not hard to hear why when you listen to the likes of “Kill the Poor”, “California Uber Allies”, their twist on “I Fought the Law”, and most of all “Holiday in Cambodia”.


Bauhaus – Named after the German art school, these guys were part of the back end of the British punk roll where things dialed back a bit and got more modern. They churned out some signature songs including “Dark Entries”, “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything”, “She’s In Parties”, and a pretty great cover of “Ziggy Stardust”, but their best known is “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.


The Replacements – Punk/alternative from the far northern reaches of Minnesota, The Replacements were not necessarily replacing anyone, but rather taking what they loved of their favorite bands and turning out their own influential style in songs like “Waitress in the Sky”.


The Pixies – This is one of my favorite bands not yet in the Rock Hall, and probably one that does not need that distinction for my favoritism, and definitely does not need to be distinguished as not being in the Rock Hall any longer. Put ’em in the next class, Rock Hall! How can you not with hits like “Here Comes Your Man”, “Hey”, “Debaser” “Monkey Gone to Heaven” (man, Doolittle is enough to qualify them for inclusion in just one album!), and “Gigantic”? If their discography is not enough already, look at the likes of Nirvana, Weezer, Radiohead, and many more alt-rock bands to follow them that have been trying to master their mojo with The Pixies as their guide. Hell, Kurt Cobain said on more than one occasion that he was trying to “rip off” The Pixies, which is a major reason I first looked into their stuff. Another is bassist/backup vocalist Kim Deal whose other projects like The Breeders had previously piqued my interest.

My personal favorite from The Pixies is “Here Comes Your Man”, but I’m guessing most people are fans of their excellent song that ends that movie no one’s allowed to talk about:


The Black Crowes – One of the first bands I thought to list on my own “who’s who of who’s not in” post when I first talked about the Rock Hall a few years ago, these guys are also one of the more recent staples of classic rock stations, meaning that they have received near constant radio playtime since they started, so it’s not a stretch to suggest they also are bound for the Rock Hall. Hear it for yourself with the likes of “Remedy”, “Twice As Hard” “She Talks to Angels”, and “Jealous Again”. However, my favorite is their hard rockin’ cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle”.


Black Flag – Don’t Panic in the presence of this punk band from southern California because you might have a “Nervous Breakdown” the likes of their song, but perhaps some “Black Coffee” would bring you back up to speed. If not, a “Six Pack” or “TV Party” might be more what you’re looking for. Okay, enough punk puns, just take a look and listen to the moshy majesty of “Rise Against”.


Big Star – Another someday soon addition thanks to the lasting influence and a song on the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Check out any of Big Star’s stuff, from “Thirteen”, “Ballad of El Goodo”, “I’m In Love With a Girl”, “When My Baby’s Beside Me”, “Nighttime”, “Lady Sweet”, and especially that aforementioned featured song, “September Gurls”.


Billy Idol See, Billy Idol gets it, I don’t know why she doesn’t get it! My introduction to this bad boy of the ’80s was in his cameo in The Wedding Singer, still one of the best of Adam Sandler’s movies. Outside of Happy Glimore and Billy Madison that’s not a tremendously high mark, but they’re still worth a watch, and Billy Idol’s songs are definitely worth a listen. “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding”, “Eyes Without a Face”, “Rock The Cradle”, “Flesh For Fantasy”, and his cover of “Mony Mony” are all great, but my favorite is “Dancing With Myself”. Don’t worry, Billy, I’ll dance with you.


Bjork – I love Bjork and I love Jeff Ament for rightfully including her in this discussion. In between Madonna and Lady Gaga we tend to overlook the gorgeous vocals belted out and wild outfits belted up on Iceland’s wonder. Remember that swan dress at the Oscars? It doesn’t matter if you do or not, because what you should remember is her incredible music, a unique blend of styles that highlights her unbelievable singing range and helped move forward rock and rolls many subgenres. Starting with The Sugarcubes in the late ’80s, Bjork went solo in 1993 and became Iceland’s best selling musician ever. I’ll go so far as to say she is not just the best selling but the best from there altogether. Her voice is filled with power and passion, her music videos are fucking balls to the walls bonkers, and I love every second of both. Check out her album Post; you will not be disappointed. Give a listen to “Army of Me”, “Hyperballad”, her cover of “It’s Oh So Quiet” (the best version of that song), “Possibly Maybe”, and “I Miss You” (all off Post), as well as “Human Behaviour”, “Venus as a Boy”, “Violently Happy”, and my favorite, the Fluke Mix version of “Big Time Sensuality”.


Bon Jovi – One of the biggest eyebrow raisers of “really, these guys aren’t in the Rock Hall?” They will be, if for no other reason than “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Just don’t forget “Runaway”, “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Bad Medicine”, “It’s My Life” and my fave “Wanted Dead or Alive”.


Smashing Pumpkins – I’ve never been the biggest fan of these guys, but I cannot deny their influence and popularity over the years. The one I do like is probably their most popular, “1979”.


Blue Oyster Cult – I got a fever! And the only prescription is… inclusion into the Rock Hall for a band that truly deserves it. Hear for yourself with the song in that famous SNL skit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, or any of their other hits like “Burnin’ For You”, “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll”, “Fire of Unknown Origin”, or my absolute favorite:


Public Image Limited (PiL) – After The Sex Pistols broke up, Johnny Rotten formed this band and is still making music with it, although he has been the only steady member over its existence. Listen to “Public Image” a song he wrote when he was still with The Sex Pistols.


The Melvins – This Washington (state) based band was a precursor to grunge and undoubtedly helped create the Seattle Sound of the late ’80s and ’90s. No wonder Jeff Ament and Pearl jam thought of them. Listen to “Lizzy” for a sample of their stuff that blends soft and hard rock elements.


Fugazi – Like Minutemen, Fugazi makes a lot with not a lot, playing punk rock on the cheap in a do it yourself kind of way, that helps reflect their disgust with the corporate side of music management. My favorite from them is “I’m So Tired”.


Dio – Ronnie James Dio belongs in the Rock Hall for one simple reason. Sure, he performed as the lead singer of many metal bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne left and its reworking into Heaven and Hell, and the eponymous Dio. Yeah, he was the guy who rocked that dance at South Park Elementary and sent Jack Black’s Jables on his quest to form the greatest rock band of all time. You bet he was the man who sent spines down Ritchie “Smoke on the Water” Blackmore when he sang with their band Rainbow. Yet most importantly of all, Dio was the man who made the metal horns gesture that resonates around the world at every rock show now and forever. His best known songs are “Rainbow in the Dark” and my fave “Holy Diver”.


Elliott Smith – Smith fits within the least desirable yet not uncommon category of blossoming musician who died too young. He was only 34 when he died probably at his own hand. In his brief career, he channeled his pain and depression into his music including in “Miss Misery”, a song that was nominated for an Oscar for its inclusion in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. Yet I prefer “Between the Bars”, the sad song of perspective that reawakens Old Rick from Tiny Rick in season 2 of Rick and Morty.


Psychedelic Furs – This British band scored some notice with songs like “Dumb Waiters”, “Love My Way”, and “The Ghost in You”, but I personally like the song “Pretty in Pink”, which John Hughes evidently liked too as he named his movie after it and featured the song in it!


X – There were actually two punk rock bands named X that formed in 1977, one in America and one in Australia. I feel safe in assuming the one referred to on Ament’s shirt is the American band from Los Angeles considering they have a couple of albums on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, including Los Angeles which features the song “Los Angeles” that is also on the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list that I keep bringing up. It just so happens that this is also my favorite song from them:


Free – Before he was in Bad Company (stay tuned for the final band in this series’ final post), lead singer Paul Rodgers was the frontman for Free. Free did not play together for many years, with Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke leaving to form Bad Company, and guitarist Paul Kossoff and Andy Fraser also going off to form their own bands. While they were together though, Free cut one megahit that still receives a ton of radio playtime on classic rock and some oldies stations alike in “All Right Now”, which, yes, is on the 500 Songs list.


New Order – Formed out of the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis’ suicide, New Order carried on the electronic infused rock scene Joy Division had been such an integral player in. The song “Blue Monday” encapsulates their essence, and is also the best selling single ever put on a 12-inch record.


As I stated before with my annual Rock Hall Induction post, Ament’s shirt had one name that is already written on the spiraling hallway in that funky structure on the shore of downtown Cleveland. Tom Waits was inducted in 2011’s class, but he is certainly worth a special mention, so I’ll invite you to take a taste of “Chocolate Jesus”:

Truly a poet of inventive means and music, who has also composed and acted, Waits has reported on the world in a creative and carnivalesque manner that never fails to entertain. Watch this interesting entry in PBS’ “Blank on Blank” series that brings to life one of Waits’ interviews that in turn brings to life his humor:


Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Let’s end this segment with some prog rock and one of the most important bands of the genre. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake each had their own bands in 1969 (Lake’s was King Crimson, one of the earlier discussed bands on Ament’s shirt). They left their respective acts and joined together with the likes of drummer Carl Palmer and embarked on a journey of electric fantasy that helped rock and roll evolve and inspired many artists to follow. Only Palmer is alive today, as both Emerson and Lake died last year a few months apart, but their legacy lives on in their music, especially in songs like “Lucky Man”, “Still…You Turn Me On”, “The Gambler”, their inventive cover of “Peter Gunn”, “Tiger in a Spotlight”, and everybody’s favorite overly titled track “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 2:

I was contemplating saving that last one as the beginning of the next and final post in this series so that I could open with “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!” Oh well, we’ll still have some fun with the last leg of rock and rollers on Ament’s shirt, and I will end on one of my favorites, and every great story needs to have a great ending, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. It’ll also be nice if you stop on back here next week to see the end of this rockin’ show. In the meantime, send any questions, comments, or requests to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading and listening!

Alex

 

Making Mondays a little less Mondayish for all with words to educate, inspire, and try out my stand-up routine with.