Monday, April 30, 2007
Well. At long last.
Presented here for your amusement, befuddlement, irritation, or resentment: the first installment in The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs. The list was voted on by myself and a jury of your peers, and they did a damn fine job. Please extend a hearty toast to Kip, Kyle, Sean, Andy, and the Right Reverend Frost.
Whenever some magazine or another put out some defining "Best of" list, I would eagerly snatch up a copy, and then proceed to bitch and moan about the selections. Great things were left out, crappy albums, bands, or songs were included, the writers were obviously on drugs, etc. The point being that every list is subjective. It's one of the main reasons I requested outside help, solicited recommendations, and enlisted a panel of judges. I didn't want this list to reflect my taste only. I think we did a pretty good job of getting as fair a representation of great drinking songs as could be managed. As expected, certain styles and genres placed more songs than others. I have some thoughts about that which I'll address in subsequent posts, as we work our way through the list.
I not only encourage folks to disagree with the list, but I'd love to hear your reasons why. I'd only request that insults and death threats be aimed at me and not the judges, who worked their asses off and brought a lot of great tunes to the table. I made the parameters, and had final say over certain issues, so any blame or omissions lies squarely on me. We listened to over 400 songs, and 286 tunes got votes. That's a hell of alot of drinkin', and we've probably only scratched the surface.
With all that in mind, we are pleased, proud, and nervous to announce a new site, hosted by yours truly: Barstool Mountain. For the next two weeks, Barstool Mountain will be counting down all the songs that got votes, but didn't make the Top 100. After that, it will become the official home of the Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs, with individual posts about each song on the list. Sprinkled throughout will be posts on songs we missed, or didn't make the cut. It'll be your one-stop shop for all things drinking song related. And here's the catch: you can contribute. Disgruntled with the list? Was your favorite song left out in the cold? Not enough jake leg blues in the list? Well, you get to put your bottle where your mouth is, and test out your dt's with your typing skills. Anyone can contribute to Barstool Mountain. All you have to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment. I'll even host the mp3's. You just have to write the post.
More analysis and observations tomorrow, including a sneak peek at what artists placed the most songs on the list. And numbers 81-90.
Thanks for stopping by. We hope you enjoy.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs
100. "Green Beer" - Scrawl
(Sean says: "Though it's likely lesser known than many of the tunes featured here, Scrawl's "Green Beer" is an essential part of the canon. Alone among our Top 100, it depicts a key facet of contemporary American drinking -- the disorientation and frustration of "outsiders" who wind up at high school / college keg parties. (Not that we'd endorse underage drinking through this exercise, but...)")
99. "Too Drunk To Fuck" - The Dead Kennedys
(Typically hilarious preaching from the notoriously straight-edge Mr. Biafra. What should be a scathing commentary on drinking and frat culture ends up making me want to reach for a pint and test my, ahem, abilities.)
98. "Stomp Them Grapes" - Mel Tillis
97. "Blues Plus Booze (Means I Lose)" - Stonewall Jackson (Our first Country weeper (The Tillis song is a little more upbeat). Jackson visits the pathos of loss and forgetting, in a theme that has become synonymous with drinking songs of all genres)
96. "The Wild Rover" - Traditional
95. "Little Stream Of Whiskey(aka The Dying Hobo)" - Traditional
94. "Two More Bottles of Wine" - Delbert McClinton
93. "Wasted" - Black Flag
92. "Alligator Wine" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
(Hawkins gives us a recipe for a brew so toxic it gives me the shakes just thinking about it. Forget moonshine and Everclear, this stuff is dangerous. Hawkins' spooky delivery only confirms my fears.)
91. "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced" - Dropkick Murphys
Friday, April 27, 2007
Mr. Kucinich, you have my vote. 'Course I live in Illinois, so it really doesn't matter.
Unsurprisingly, I'm putting the Book Club thingy I mentioned last post off 'til after the Top 100 Drinking Songs extravaganza (Coming next week!). It was really just a book review anyway.
I normally don't cover "new releases" very often. I figger other folks cover those things pretty well elsewhere. But there have been some intriguing records hitting the aluminum or vinyl circuit over the last couple of months: Son Volt, Mavis Staples, Detroit Cobras, Dean and Britta, and Mary Weiss, to name a few. And it's a rare and wonderful occasion when we get a new Billy Childish and a new Holly Golightly record in the same month. Lucky us. I've made it my life's goal to expose as many folks of the world as possible to the genius of Billy Childish, and his new album contains a swell little pot stirrer of a tune where he takes the piss on the great pretender, and Michael Jackson lookalike, Jack White. Hooray, Billy.
But I'm gonna focus on Miss Golightly and her new album, "You Can't Buy A Gun When You're Crying", performed under the moniker Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs. Essentially it's Holly and a feller goes by the name of Lawyer Dave.
Golightly has always flirted with a little neo-noir Country styling, and this record seems inevitable. It's a sepia-filtered affair, drawn from Southern Gothic that could only be imagined by a girl from a faraway land. Creaky and rattling, the tunes play from the back of a wagon, straw and hayseed clogging the amps. It's an eerie backwoods-styled album full of bad men and badder women, demons, devils,guns, and medicine water.
It's easily my album of the year up to this point. And it features my song of the year, "Devil Do".
Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: Devil Do (mp3)
Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: You Can't Buy A Gun (mp3)
Special Bonus: The Jack White piss-take, and second best song of the year.
Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire: Bugger The Buffs (mp3)
See you on Monday, where we'll raise our glasses.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The moment y'all have been waiting for is almost upon us. The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs will make it's debut next Monday. That's right, next Monday. It'll be a ten-day liver buster, so get yourself hydrated. A project so massive in scope that we had to go and do something rash just to house the overflow. The spillage, as it were.
And since we're a busy bee these days, this Friday we've got the very first Big Rock Candy Mountain Book Club entry. Good god, can he do it? Can the Mountain actually manage 2 posts in one week? Well, we'll see.
Where's the damn music, you say? Enough of these damn promises? Okey doke.
Eddie Bond is a man. I mean he's a man, man. Swaggering and full of piss and vinegar, a rockabilly Lothario, hellbent on love for the ladies and the sweet rhythm spot on wax. Bond was so cool, legend has it, he made fun of a young Elvis Presley, recommending he "stick to driving a truck..." decades before the King had his "dead on the toilet" moment. 'Course those decades in between favored Presley, but we favor Bond in the long run here at the Mountain. The man performed a song called "Raunchy". Really, could it get any better?
Embodying the soul of Memphis, Bond veered from Rockabilly, straight-up Country, and Gospel throughout his career, laying down some crazed tracks that still sound fresh today, especially in light of imitators and hep-cat rock'n'twang wannabes.
Raw Country boy gone wrong trash, then. The kind we love so dearly.
Eddie Bond: Raunchy (mp3)
Eddie Bond: Someday I'll Sober Up (mp3)
Eddie Bond: Big Boss Man (mp3)
Support your local, independent record stores. If there are any left.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I want to say thanks for all the kind words and emails y'all sent my way. Every time I think about hanging up the ol' Mountain, I'm reminded of why I started it in the first place. I rarely make personal posts, so I appreciate your patience. I apologize for the morbid nature of the tunes last time around. This post should be little more in line with what folks expect.
I missed a Baseball post on Opening Day. I'll get along to it soon.
Uncle Dave Macon is about as backwoods, old-timey sounding as you can get. Photos of him reinforce a sort of doughy, redneck, good ol' boy persona. It's apt as Macon served as the gateway from 1800's vaudeville tomfoolery to the more stringent picking styles of later followers.
Macon didn't get his professional start 'til after the age of 50, in the 1920's, having lost his wagon business to the horseless carriage industry. But he whooped it up, as it were, once his time came, earning the distinction of being one of the first two members of the Grand Ol' Opry when it was known as the WSM Barn Dance. All of this and more of his history you can read about at the above link.
Macon was a hell of a banjo player. I read somewhere that experts have identified up to 19 different picking styles on his recordings. His voice is pure hillbilly, and his songs are a rollicking meander through the humorous and the strange, at least by our modern estimation. It's pure hoedown and square dance music, so bone up on your do-si-do.
Important Note: I wrote most of this post several weeks ago, long before recent events involving a certain morning talk show host. In the interest of full disclosure, Uncle Dave Macon was by no means what we would now call "politically correct" in certain of his lyrics and songs. One could, I suppose, argue context and time (Nick Tosches addresses a similar issue regarding the persona of Emmett Miller in his fascinating book, Where Dead Voices Gather), but this is probably not the best forum or moment to do so. The Mountain certainly welcomes any comments and thoughts on the issue of Race in Country music, particularly the earlier sides. It's a tricky issue. All this to say that we recommend caution or discretion when purchasing and playing certain of Mr. Macon's records.
Uncle Dave Macon: Whoop 'Em Up Cindy (mp3)
Uncle Dave Macon: Bake That Chicken Pie (mp3)
Uncle Dave Macon: Man That Rode the Mule Around the World (mp3)
Uncle Dave Macon: The Bum Hotel (mp3)
Monday, April 02, 2007
Please pardon this post if you're looking for the usual Big Rock Candy Mountain flippancy or songs about sin and salvation.
A dear friend of mine has just died, and this post is for him.
His name was Jeremy. He had a heart attack at the age of 34, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. I hadn't spoken to him in a couple of years,but he never let me disappear from his life, or the friends we had created when we were in college. A card or note was always in the mail.
When we met, Jeremy was a fan of KISS and The Eagles. I was into Pavement and Sonic Youth. We should never have been friends if either of us had followed the vague rules of hipsterism. But neither of us was particularly interested in rules. Both of us were passionate about the music we loved, and we argued often. Somewhere within the argument we found a common ground. We agreed on Uncle Tupelo. We agreed on Country music. They were good arguments, and I owe a sense of parity to Jeremy. He kept me honest, and taught me the value of music "for the people", whatever that is. And at the end of the day, a drink would be raised, usually Jack Daniels, a song would be played, and we would sing lustily along. I miss those days. I will never have them again. I will sing alone, with his voice a distant memory. It is the nature of things. The dead sing in our heads, and we can only give them voice through our weak warblings.
Once, a few days before I left Ohio for good, Jeremy "kidnapped" me, and took me out to his father's house. We sat on lawnchairs, in the late August heat, and drank, talked, and watched bats flitting around the light above the garage. We talked about what had been, and what we would be, the dreams and hopes of the young. We were amazing in what we would be, what we would become. We went so far as to "invent" a drink, years before the advent of Red Bull. Mix Cherry 7-UP and Jack Daniels and you've got a "Red Handed Jack." I'm drinking one now. We were invincible that night. We would live forever.
Jeremy attended my Mother's funeral. He had never met her. He went for my sake, to be a friend in a time of loss.
It shouldn't have been difficult to pick up the phone. Make a call. Hear a voice through the static on the other end. I did not do this. Funerals are for the living, to make amends for a lifetime lost.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Jeremy loved Shakespeare. It was one of his great passions. He directed me in college, playing Shylock, in "A Merchant Of Venice." Shakespeare was one of the things we could always agree on.
I've always thought of Jeremy as Puck, The Gate Keeper, the Grave Digger, or Falstaff. Ultimately he was The Trickster from mythology. His was the laughing voice behind the tragedy, drawing you away, rooting you. He was wily, mad, the giggling fool, and often the only ground you could find on this too-trembling earth. He was maniacal, hysterical, and all too human.
As is often the case for music junkies like myself, and like Jeremy, we go to music to inspire us, to move us, or to soothe us. I could post a hundred songs that make me think of Jeremy. But I have shirts to iron and a plane to Ohio to catch. A funeral to attend. Lost in details, and without a net to catch the falling stars around me. That net is gone. I don't believe in God. I don't have the comfort of religion to promise me reunion.
I'm sorry to have bothered you with this. I know you were expecting something a little more facetious from this site. But we're all human, and even Mountains can mourn.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
So, then, for those who have gone before, a brief and incomplete farewell:
Jay Ungar: Ashokan Farewell (mp3)
Nick Drake: Time Has Told Me (mp3)
Uncle Tupelo: No Depression (mp3)
Richard Buckner: Song Of 27 (mp3)
Townes Van Zandt: To Live's To Fly (mp3)
Townes Van Zandt: Rex's Blues (mp3)
Son Volt: Windfall (mp3)
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Notes From A Waiting Room (mp3)
Tom Waits: Cold Cold Ground (mp3)
Tom Waits: On The Nickel (mp3)
Tom Waits: Bottom Of The World (mp3)
Tom Waits: Home I'll Never Be (mp3)
Spend your money on a phone call to someone you love today. Music can wait.