Bobapalooza 2013: The World Is Not Enough


The time has come at last for the next installment of the greatest music festival that never was: Bobapalooza 2013! This year we’re throwing the doors wide open to allow ANYONE to nominate their favorite bands. World tour? Not even. It’s bigger than that. It’s the whole internet! THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH.

So here’s the deal: I’ve been sharing my musical past with all of you for a while now, and it’s time to broaden my horizons. I’m looking for new music, and I’m hoping you, yes, YOU will provide it. Specifically, I’m giving ANYONE the chance to get me to listen to the music you love.

Here’s how it works: imagine you’ve heard about a music festival coming to town, and on the list of bands is THE band. The one that makes you say, “I don’t care what the ticket price is, I will sell my own children if I have to, I MUST BE THERE.” Any band, any era, living or dead, still together or not. Pick your favorite song and post it to the Facebook event page for Bobapalooza 2013.

But wait, there’s more! Some of you may remember the Stage of Legends from 2011 and 2012. It’s back once again, and there are five brand-spanking new Legend spots up for grabs! That’s right, not only can you nominate your favorite garage band for the main stage, you can nominate your favorite garage band to be a Bobapalooza Legend!

Now the rules:

MAIN STAGE

1. You have to pick a band you would sit through the entire set. Not “I love this song!” I want “I love this band!”
2. Yes, you can post as many as you like, but really, how many bands are THAT good?
3. If you intend to post more than one, please don’t spam the feed (more than 10 bands a day from one person is a bit much. I do have a life. And see 1 & 2.)
4. If you post it I will listen to it, so please, be gentle.
5. Please note that this is a Main Stage entry.
6. Any band that made it to the show in 2011 or 2012 (main stage or Stage of Legends) will not be considered for the main stage this year.

STAGE OF LEGENDS

1. All of the rules for Main Stage apply, only even more. I mean, think about 1 & 2 especially. These guys are supposed to be LEGENDS.
2. Testify! Tell me (and the world!) why you think this band deserves to be named a Legend. For an idea of the sort of thing I have in mind look at the write up from Bobapalooza 2011 or Bobapalooza 2012.
3. Any band that made it to the Stage of Legends in 2011 or 2012 will not be considered this year, however, Main Stage acts may still be nominated.

And remember, just as Master Yoda told us, “Do, or do not; there is no try.” Once a band has been nominated for the Stage of Legends, they are no longer in the running for the main stage. The whole point of the SoL is to give a fair shot to lesser known bands. If you think your favorite band has what it takes to compete with the big boys, put ‘em in, but don’t hedge your bets. Go big or stay home.

Starting June 15 I will decide who the winners are, and I will post my fifteen favorite bands for the main stage and the five act Stage of Legends. I will also give credit to the first person who suggested them, so get in early for your shot at fame!

If you still have questions, please feel free to comment on this blog post or on the Facebook event page. Insightful questions will receive careful, well-thought out answers. Off-hand questions will get off-hand answers. Questions that prove you didn’t bother to read everything I already wrote will be met with shame and ridicule, not necessarily in that order.

For those about to rock: we salute you!

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The Official Bobapalooza 2012 Playlist ™


Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.
Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
Africa – Amadou & Miriram (feat. Knaan)
Timebomb – Rancid
Some Nights – Fun.
No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
If I Die Young  – The Band Perry
When Your Mind’s Made Up – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Someone Like You – Adele
Strobe – Deadmau5
Lullaby – The Cure
Let’s Dance – David Bowie
Changing – The Airborne Toxic Event
I Like It – Foxy Shazam
Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) – Silversun Pickups
Wrong Number – The Cure
Crystalize – Lindsey Stirling
I Shot the Sheriff – Bob Marley and the Wailers
The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Oblivion – Grimes
I’ve Got Friends – Manchester Orchestra
Uprising – Muse
Gangsta Gangsta – N.W.A.


Bobapalooza: It Became a Legend…


After the success of the first Bobapalooza, there was actually demand for a second. To my great surprise (and more than a little gratitude) I actually had friends asking me when I’d be doing it again, and some folks were even planning ahead. Who was I to say no? And so… _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Well, here we are at last. Like the man once said, “Let the battle cry go forth: GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.” You hoped for it, you cried for it, by the ones and twos you demanded it, and now at last it’s back: Bobapalooza! Only this time, it’s 2012, and that can only mean one thing – Bigger. Louder. Faster. (Okay, that’s three things. This is music, not math.)

So here’s the deal: I’m looking for new music, and I’m hoping Facebook will provide it. Specifically, I’m giving all my Facebook friends the chance to get me to actually listen to all the music they’ve tried to expose me to over the years I’ve steadfastly ignored up to now.

So here’s how it works: imagine you’ve heard about a music festival coming to town, and on the list of bands is THE band. The one that makes you say, “I don’t care what the ticket price is, I will sell my own children if I have to, I MUST BE THERE.” Any band, any era, living or dead, still together or not. Pick your favorite song and post it to my Facebook wall, and please note that it’s for Bobapalooza 2012.

But wait, there’s more! Some of you may remember the Stage of Legends from 2011. It’s coming back this year, with a twist: this time, YOU get to decide! That’s right, not only can you nominate your favorite garage band for the main stage, you can nominate your favorite garage band from Seattle circa early 1990’s to be a Bobapalooza Legend!

Now the rules:

MAIN STAGE

1. You have to pick a band you would sit through the entire set. Not “I love this song!” I want “I love this band!”
2. Yes, you can post as many as you like, but really, how many bands are THAT good?
3. If you intend to post more than one, please don’t spam the feed (more than 10 bands a day from one person is a bit much. I do have a life. And see 1 & 2.)
4. If you post it I will listen to it, so please, be gentle.
5. Please note that this is a Main Stage entry.
6. Any band that made it to the show last year will not be considered for the main stage this year.

STAGE OF LEGENDS

1. All of the rules for Main Stage apply, only even more. I mean, think about 1 & 2 especially. These guys are supposed to be LEGENDS.
2. Testify! Tell me (and the world!) why you think this band deserves to be named a Legend. For an idea of the sort of thing I have in mind [insert shameless self-promotion here] look at the write up from Bobapalooza 2011 (https://www.facebook.com/notes/bob-bonsall/bobapalooza-2011-the-lineup/10150218756477042)
3. Any band that made it to the Stage of Legends last year will not be considered this year, however, Main Stage acts may still be nominated.

“Do, or do not; there is no try.” Once a band has been nominated for the Stage of Legends, they are no longer in the running for the main stage. The whole point of the SoL is to give a fair shot to lesser known bands. If you think your favorite band has what it takes to compete with the big boys, put ‘em in, but don’t hedge your bets. Go all the way or don’t go at all.

Starting June 15 I will decide who the winners are, and I will post my fifteen favorite bands for the main stage and the five act Stage of Legends (yes, I am heavily influenced by the sadly departed HFStival. Sue me.) I will also give credit to the first person who suggested them, so get in early for your shot at fame!

If you still have questions, please feel free to comment in this thread or on my Facebook Wall. Insightful questions will receive careful, well-thought out answers. Off-hand questions will get off-hand answers. Questions that prove you didn’t bother to read everything I already wrote will be met with shame and ridicule, not necessarily in that order.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The response was, if anything, even more overwhelming than the previous year. But don’t just take my word for it when you can… well, you can still take my word for it:

Bobapalooza 2012: The Lineup!

First I want to thank all of my wonderful contributors: Chuck Stewart, Corey Carpenter, Erin Wendt, Janet Currie Konigsberg, Jenn Stevens Booth, Jennifer Bonsall Zetlin, Kae Bieber, Leigh Bonsall, Matt Foster, Micah Stromberg, Mike Reinemann, Myke Harryson, Nayden Hitchev, RL Mirabal, Scott Soper, and Yillah Natalia. With over 100 acts to choose from, this year was amazing and wonderful, in terms of both talent and diversity. The truth is I could have picked at random and still had a great lineup, I had so many great acts to choose from, and I thank you all for that.

But that’s not what you came for. You came to see –

THE BOBAPALOOZA 2012 LINEUP!!!

Ahem. Sorry about that. I get a little excited sometimes. Anyway, let’s start with THE STAGE OF LEGENDS. While I had a lot of great acts to choose from, in the end I decided to go with the five acts that, for my money, have most changed the way that we approach music. Either directly or indirectly, through their influence they have made a mark on the world of music that is as lasting as it is undeniable. They are:

Bob Marley (nominated by Leigh Bonsall) – How do you know someone is a legend? Well, it never hurts to have even Eric Clapton covering their work. As Leigh put it, “He’s Known worldwide and started not only a music movement but a lifestyle.”

David Bowie (nominated by Kae Bieber) – Who is David Bowie? What year is it? This man raised self-reinvention to an art form before most of us even knew who we were the first time. Kae nailed it when she said “he is a music and writing genius, gets hotter with age and he’s not a shabby actor either.”

Michael Jackson (nominated by Scott Soper) – The King of Pop. Over the course of a tragic and tragically short life MJ defined and re-defined pop music again and again. Like the legendary phoenix, he became even more renowned after his passing, and as Scott noted, ” if dying is the best thing he ever did for his career, is that not the definition of a legend?”

The Cure (nominated by Janet Currie Konigsberg) – They may not have created goth rock, but they defined it, mostly by refusing to be defined by it. The Cure have always had a distinct, unique sound, that Janet sums up best: “A band like the Cure often goes overlooked when speaking of legends, yet are loved by many and have often played a huge part in many Gen X’ers lives. They came on the scene over 30 years ago and honestly, you couldn’t suck cool air in the 80’s or 90’s without taking in some of their particles. The best part? They still sound amazing today! The Cure: the band that made you want to slice your wrists, yet kept you from doing it simply because you wanted to keep listening.”

N.W.A. (nominated by Scott Soper) – Ice Cube or Dr. Dre could make a run for the Stage of Legends all by themselves. Add in Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, as well as an album that changed not only the way we view music but arguably had a major impact on society as well, and this was an easy pick.

And now, the MAIN STAGE! I expect this one to be even more controversial than the Stage of Legends. I had to turn away a lot of great bands, some because they just weren’t to my taste (hey, it’s BOBapalooza), and others because there are only fifteen places on the stage and I couldn’t put everyone up there I wanted to. But enough hedging. Here’s the lineup you’ve been waiting for:

Gorillaz (nominated by Corey Carpenter)
Silversun Pickups (nominated by Kae Bieber)
Amadou and Mariam (nominated by Yillah Natalia)
Rancid (nominated by Jenn Stevens Booth)
Lindsey Sterling (nominated by Leigh Bonsall)
The Band Perry (nominated by Erin Wendt)
The Airborne Toxic Event (nominated by Matt Foster)
Manchester Orchestra (nominated by Janet Currie Konigsberg)
Grimes (nominated by Mike Reinemann)
Deadmau5 (nominated by Erin Wendt)
Fun (nominated by Leigh Bonsall)
Glen Hansard (nominated by RL Mirabal)
Muse (nominated by Matt Foster)
Foxy Shazam (nominated by Micah Stromberg)
Adele (nominated by Erin Wendt)

Thanks everybody, and we’ll see you again next year!

 

Come back tomorrow for the Official Bobapalooza 2012 Playlist™, and Friday for the big Bobapalooza announcement you’ve been waiting for!


The Official Bobapalooza 2011 Playlist ™


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
It’s The End of the World as We Know It – R.E.M.
What’s Left of the Flag – Flogging Molly
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Down Boy – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Palaces of Montezuma – Grinderman
Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons
Down by the Water – The Decemberists
Everlong – The Foo Fighters
Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Lewis Takes Action – Owen Pallett
No. 6 Von Karman Street – A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Price Tag – Jessie J (feat. B.o.B.)
La Se Foi Meu Verao – Marquinho China/Evandro Lima/Moyseis Marques
Grace Kelly – Mika
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles


Bobapalooza: It Started as an Idea…


Back in 2011, I was tired of listening to the same music over and over again on either my iPod or whichever music service I was leeching off at the time. I decided it was time to cave in and listen to some of the music all of my friends had been trying to get me to listen to for so long. Of course, I never do things the easy way. Here’s the original announcement from all the way back then…

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So here’s the deal: I’m looking for new music, and I’m hoping Facebook will provide it. Specifically, I’m giving all my Facebook friends the chance to get me to actually listen to all the music they’ve tried to expose me to over the years I’ve steadfastly ignored up to now.

So here’s how it works: imagine you’ve heard about a music festival coming to town, and on the list of bands is THE band. The one that makes you say, “I don’t care what the ticket price is, I will sell my own children if I have to, I MUST BE THERE.” Any band, any era, living or dead, still together or not. Pick your favorite song and post it to my Facebook wall as a response to the Bobapalooza feed.

Now the rules:

1. You have to pick a band you would sit through the entire set. Not “I love this song!” I want “I love this band!”
2. Yes, you can post as many as you like, but really, how many bands are THAT good?
3. If you intend to post more than one, please don’t spam the feed.
4. If you post it, I will listen to it, so please, be gentle.

Starting next week, I will decide who the winners are, and I will post my fifteen favorite bands (yes, I am heavily influenced by the sadly departed HFStival. Sue me.) I will also give credit to the first person who suggested them, so get in early for your shot at fame!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I got an astounding response and had a great time doing it, and it ended up looking something like this:

Bobapalooza 2011: The Lineup!

First, let me thank everyone once again for taking the time to make so many fantastic suggestions. I had a wonderful time discovering a lot of new music and new bands, as well as a few old favorites. Credit will be given to the first person to post each selected artist, but please know that I tried to pay attention to everyone’s thoughts and I did listen to every song that was posted, so your efforts did not go to waste.

So here it is, the lineup for Bobapalooza 2011!

First, the big surprise: I promised 15 bands, but after seeing all the amazing recommendations, I just couldn’t keep it to 15. Specifically, there were a few bands that got put out there that made me think, “Well, of course I’ll include them,” and how is that even a contest? When it goes from “15 bands” to “10 bands and of course“, there’s only one thing to do. So I present to you:

THE STAGE OF LEGENDS

There are certain bands that define their genre. These five bands, all suggested for Bobapalooza 2011, are to me so great that to ask any other group to vie against them just isn’t fair, and I’ll tell you why. Even better, I’ll let you tell you why.

1. The Beatles, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth. “Their entire catalog. Period. That’s it. Your festival is complete.” –Jenn Stevens Booth
2. Rush, suggested by Scott Soper. “Go on! Try to play it!” – Scott Soper (Sadly, that doesn’t narrow down which Rush song Scott was referring to. Which is why I love Rush.)
3. Led Zepplin, suggested by Sondra Fry Benoudiz. “They have a song for every mood and occasion.” -Sondra Fry Benoudiz
4. Iron Maiden, suggested by Scott Soper. If you love metal, you love Maiden. If you don’t love metal, go read the lyrics for most any of their songs, particularly “Aces High”, “The Trooper”, or “The Longest Day”. Pure poetry.
5. Pink Floyd, suggested by Scott Soper. As Barnaby Felton put it, “Band of all time is such a toughie, you are talking about someone that can take a listener through all parts of their psyche, and still maintain musical skill and credibility.” For me, Pink Floyd is that band.

And now, the lineup for the main stage, in no particular order:

Flogging Molly, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, suggested by Michael Reinemann
The Decemberists, suggested by Janet Currie Konigsberg
Mumford and Sons, suggested by Jocelyn Waite
Owen Pallett, suggested by Michael Reinemann
Regina Spektor, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth
Moyseis Marques, suggested by Yillah Natalia
R.E.M., suggested by Sondra Fry Benoudiz
Grinderman, suggested by Michael Reinemann
Foo Fighters, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth
Mika, suggested by Jocelyn Waite
Our Lady Peace, suggested by Janet Currie Konigsberg
Jessie J, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth
A Sunny Day in Glasgow, suggested by Michael Reinemann
The Beastie Boys, suggested by Jenn Stevens Booth

Be sure to check out all the winning bands, as well as all the submitted entries. There were too many great suggestions and not enough slots!

Thanks again, everyone! Hope to see you all for Bobapalooza 2012!

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Come back tomorrow for the Official Bobapalooza 2011 Playlist™, and all week to hear more about Bobapalooza!


I hope you’re ready…


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It’s almost time.


Brace yourselves. Bobapalooza is coming.

What’s a Bobapalooza? Come back Monday to find out!


The Soundtrack of My Life: Coming Around Again


“I know nothing stays the same, but if you’re willing to play the game, it will be coming around again.”

Carly Simon, “Coming Around Again”

By this point I’ve pretty well established I have eclectic taste in music, but there are some artists who I just can’t get enough of. Whether it’s because they have an iconic sound, their ability to weave an amazing story, or just because they captured my imagination and never let it go, these are the artists that tend to dominate my mindscape when I think about music.

Billy Joel – The Stranger: One of (if not the) most successful albums by Billy Joel, it actually took me a while to warm up to this one at first. There’s a certain complexity to it, both lyrically and musically, that he doesn’t quite have on Piano Man or Glass Houses, and I didn’t quite gravitate to it as much as I did those albums. I also didn’t really “discover” it until I was much older and had listened to the Greatest Hits Vol. I & II ad nauseum, so about half the album was old hat to me. All of that being said I think it’s worth noting that, as I just mentioned, about half of this album is comprised of songs Joel is famous for, including “Moving Out (Anthony’s Song)”, “Just the Way You Are”, “Only the Good Die Young”, and “She’s Always a Woman”. These are all great songs, but my favorites also include the slightly less well known “The Stranger”, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”, and “Vienna”. I think these tracks are a bit more complex, but they also bring a lot more to the discerning listener.

Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason: As I mentioned previously, this album was my first exposure to Pink Floyd, and as such it will always hold a special place in my heart (although in full honesty I’ve since become more a fan of the Roger Waters era; sorry, David!). There’s no denying the rich beauty and soaring magnificence of this album. While there is definitely the distinct “Pink Floyd sound” to it, this album is a clear change point from the earlier albums, and overall a fantastic work. In some ways I feel like it may have been the perfect entry point for a new Pink Floyd fan, and I might even recommend it to this day. While the lead vocals might not be quite comparable, there’s a certain optimism (or at least a lack of bleak cynicism) that’s not present on many of the Waters-era albums, while much of the storytelling and poeticism of the earlier works is still strong. Oh, and the music is absolutely brilliant. For my money the best tracks on the album are “Learning to Fly” (the first Pink Floyd song I ever heard), “One Slip”, “On the Turning Away”, “A New Machine (Part 1)”, and “Terminal Frost”.

Queensryche – Empire: Speaking of those surprising first albums, here’s another one that got me a lesson in music history. My first exposure to Queensryche was this brilliant, off-beat mélange of hard rock. Each song is like a vignette from a completely different book, complete in and of itself, telling a powerful and moving story that at the same time has nothing whatsoever to do with the previous, the next, or any other song on the album. Add to that the fact my initial introduction was through the power ballad “Silent Lucidity” (it was the end of the 80s, don’t judge me) and you can see why I was completely gob smacked when I heard the entire album. There is a brilliance at work here, a mad genius akin to Scheherazade’s one thousand and one nights, as each story captivates and spins a complete worlds before moving on to the next. Some of the most compelling are “Jet City Woman”, “Della Brown”, “Another Rainy Night (Without You)”, “Empire”, and “Silent Lucidity”.

Jimmy Buffett – Living and Dying in ¾ Time: This is the album I am most ambivalent about in my whole Jimmy Buffett collection (and I actually have quite a few). There are some songs on this album that I listen to because, eh, they’re okay, and there are other songs on this album that I think are so amazing they stop me in my tracks every time I hear them. Surprisingly, the couple of tracks from this album that appear on Songs You Know by Heart fall into neither category (they’re both good, but not that good). Where Buffett really shines on this album is when he stops trying to make music and starts telling stories (in one case quite literally). Some of the most powerful, moving, beautiful and heart-wrenching music I have ever heard appears on this album, along with what has to be one of the funniest comedic monologues ever recorded. There are no bad songs here, but the truly great ones are “Livingston’s Gone to Texas”, “West Nashville Grand Ballroom Gown”, and “The Ballad of Spider John”. After all that (each song is sadder than the next), help yourself to “God’s Own Drunk”. It’s a hoot and a half.

Related Posts:

The Soundtrack of My Life: Definitive Albums
The Soundtrack of My Life: Odds and Ends
The Soundtrack of My Life: One Shot of Greatness


The Soundtrack of My Life: Definitive Albums


There are some albums that for me not only define a point in my life but also define the artist or artists who made them. While there may be other albums I love by that artist, that specific album will always be the one I point to when I say “This is what they sound like.” Here are a few of those albums.

Queen – A Kind of Magic: It almost seems offensive to pick just one album to “define” Queen. Freddy Mercury was truly mercurial, reinventing himself (quite successfully) almost on a whim. And yet the powerful, soulful, and almost operatic performances that he and the rest of the band brought to rock and roll are undeniable, and the entire range and depth of their considerable ability is on display in this one compact album. Granted, I have a special love for it in that it encompasses not only the soundtrack for one of the greatest movies of all time (seriously, I once wrote a class paper on just one scene from this film), but also includes the themes song from one of the other greatest movies of all time. All that having been said though, this is still an amazing work of art on its own. To truly appreciate the range and scope of this album, check out “One Vision”, “A Kind of Magic”, “Who Wants to Live Forever” (one of the most beautiful and poignant songs I have ever heard), “Gimme the Prize (Kurgan’s Theme)”, and “Princes of the Universe”. You won’t be disappointed.

Genesis – Invisible Touch: The first Genesis album I remember being old enough to really appreciate, this one absolutely floored me. From the first time I heard “Land of Confusion” I was hooked. Granted the video was pretty cool, but that was just a bonus. When I listened to the entire album I became obsessed. I would literally spend hours listening to it (no, it wasn’t healthy, but this isn’t about me, this is about Phil Collins… and my obsession with him… shut up.) Three amazing musicians explored all kinds of new territory, including a practically unheard of (at the time) nearly 11 min. long song, as well as a nearly five minute long instrumental piece that is absolutely amazing. The best songs on the album for my money are “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”, “Land of Confusion”, “In Too Deep”, “Domino” (the aforementioned 11 min. song, so brace yourself), “Throwing It All Away”, and “The Brazilian” (the instrumental piece). Give it a try; it’s a lot more than just a pop rock fixture.

Jimmy Buffett – Last Mango in Paris: I first got exposed to Jimmy Buffett the same way lots of fans did: someone I knew (in my case my Dad) owned a copy of Songs You Know by Heart, and I listened to it incessantly. Eventually after several years I decided to take a risk and venture out into, you know, actual albums (instead of just the “greatest hits”) and this was one of the first I stumbled across. Johnny Loftus of allmusic nailed it for me when he wrote that “Last Mango in Paris’ host of high points make it essential for anyone enamored of Buffett’s live shows, or even the casual fan looking to expand beyond Songs You Know by Heart.” While the songs all had the same wry wit and fun I had come to expect from Jimmy Buffett, there was also something fresh and unexpected in some of them. In particular I recommend “Please Bypass This Heart” and “If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” for the sound and texture of them, “Gypsies in the Palace” and “Jolly Mon Sing” for the storytelling, and “Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)” just because it’s a fun, different sound from this versatile artist.

Billy Joel – Piano Man: As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been a lifelong Billy Joel fan, and it started with Glass Houses. The defining album for me when I think of Mr. Joel’s work however (I’m sorry, I just can’t call him Billy, it just feels too informal; we’ve never even been introduced) is Piano Man. It’s more than the storytelling that is evident not only here but throughout his career, and it’s not just the title track that (admittedly) had such a strong influence on my perception of him for decades to come. There’s a passion and theatricality to the songs on this album, as well as a certain gritty realism, that defies simple classification as “pop music” or “soft rock”. The soaring vocals are matched by Mr. Joel’s earnest and full-bodied compositions. The stand-out tracks on this album are “Piano Man” (obviously), “You’re My Home”, “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” (which I always silently dedicate to my family in Long Island), “Somewhere Along the Line”, and “Captain Jack”.

Oh, and Mr. Joel, feel free to call me Bobby.

 Related Posts:

The Soundtrack of My Life: Odds and Ends

The Soundtrack of My Life: One Shot of Greatness

The Soundtrack of My Life: Y2K Bug


The Soundtrack of My Life: Odds and Ends


Sometimes it seems as if my life is less a continuous journey from one point to another and more a disjointed, constantly interrupted bashing about through random stops in time. This is particularly the case when I look back on my teens and early twenties, when I managed to find every way to creatively screw up that I could that didn’t involve drugs, violence, or jail (although I may have flirted with all three at some point, Your Honor). Among the few signposts I have as I journey back through those tumultuous memories are the songs I listened to, the soundtrack that accompanied my foolish decisions and what seemed to me at the time to be heroic deeds.

Dire Straits – Making Movies: I love this album for a lot of reasons, some of which are personal memories from my senior year of high school (and if My Not So Humble Wife is reading this, let me remind you honey that was about fifteen years before I met you, so you don’t get to hold it against me), and some of it is because the song “Romeo and Juliet” was indirectly referenced by Douglas Adams in So Long and Thanks For All The Fish (it would be the song with the really good guitar bit when Arthur goes flying), or so I was told when a friend first introduced me to the album. Having listened to the song many times, I have no reason to doubt his word on this. It really is an excellent guitar bit. The album covers a fair bit of terrain artistically, more I dare say than on most other albums from Dire Straits (except possibly Brothers in Arms), and while the expected jazz-rock fusion is there for the entirety of the album they manage to find a lot of room to experiment. In addition to the aforementioned “Romeo and Juliet”, I highly recommend “Tunnel of Love”, “Expresso Love”, and “Hand in Hand”.

Bruce Willis – The Return of Bruno: This album will always hold a special place in my heart for two reasons. First because it’s one of the first real records I ever owned that I bought just for me. Second because it’s one of the first records I played so much that just the mention of it is enough to make My Not So Humble Sister want to throw something heavy at my head. Ah, memories. So why do I enjoy this album so much? Is it because Bruce Willis is a great singer? No. But let’s not kid ourselves; neither is David Lee Roth, and everybody howled for his return to Van Halen. What Willis does do is attack the songs on this album with a passion and an honest love that you just don’t find in most singers today. What he may lack in technical performance is more than made up for in his virtue of an indescribable fun and joy. It’s clear that this is exactly what he wants to be doing, and he has the charisma to transmit some of that sense of fun to the listener as well. In addition to that, as I’ve previously mentioned I really do enjoy a good bit of harmonica playing. He may not be a virtuoso, but just because not every guitar player is Jimi Hendrix doesn’t mean we say they are somehow lacking, we just enjoy what they bring as long as they bring enough, and Bruce Willis brings more than enough. This album would be enjoyable enough on its own merits, and it’s doubly so considering it came out in an era of vanity albums being produced on behalf of other actors who didn’t understand they should have stayed actors. The best tracks off this album are “Young Blood”, “Under the Boardwalk”, “Secret Agent Man/James Bond Is Back”, and “Jackpot (Bruno’s Bop)”.

Sponge – Rotting Piñata: This is another album that I love as much for the memories (good and bad) that it invokes as much as for the music. It reminds me of a time in my life when I made some of the worst choices and best mistakes, and I ended up with some great stories if nothing else. I also learned some of the most important lessons, although I didn’t appreciate most of them until much later. Things like who truly cared about me and who didn’t; who I could trust, and how to figure it out fast enough not to get burned too badly; and exactly how much my family really means to me, and just how much they’ll forgive. Vinnie Dombrowski’s vocals, which sound like he regularly gargles with straight whiskey, blended with the gritty post-grunge sound of the instrumentals on the album immediately bring me right back to that place, and the shadowy (or at best semi-bitter) lyrics remind me again of all the damn fool things I’ve done, enjoyed, survived, regretted, and come out the other end of, hopefully better than I went in. Top tracks on this album are “Pennywheels”, “Miles”, “Plowed”, “Drownin’”, and “Molly (Sixteen Candles)”.

R.E.M. – Out of Time: This is another album that was pretty big my senior year of high school. Ironically this album starts off with “Radio Song”, a song about music on the radio controlling the tastes of the masses, which is kind of appropriate, since I feel like a lot of the best music on this album never got the airplay it deserved. I also seem to remember most of the R.E.M. fans I knew at the time being disappointed (if not outright horrified) by this album, which I find to be rather ironic as well, since this is the first album of theirs I loved from start to finish. Despite the two biggest songs on this album being “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People”, I personally feel like those are the least representative tracks for the album as a whole. For my money “Low”, “Near Wild Heaven”, “Belong”, “Half a World Away”, “Country Feedback”, and “Me In Honey” are a better sample of what the album is about.

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