08 October 2008

"surfin' bird" || the trashmen || 1964

Family Guy finally forced me to include this song in my blog. No complaints, though, because it was indeed a very important tune for rock n' roll music.

A glorious gem from the glorious era of surf rock, "Surfin' Bird" is just one of many examples of the genius thought put into pop music in the early 1960s. "Pop" was still a fairly new idea at the time, and I don't really believe that it was swallowed by other genres until the British Invasion happened in the mid-'60s. Really, before the boys from Liverpool came along to do their thing, pop music in the states was influenced by black jazz and r&b singers from the '40s. I once heard a record store clerk (who specializes in 45s from the 1950s) say that rock & roll was invented by black jazz musicians, and I agree with him.

Surf rock was a not-so-clear progression of that sound. I'm not just saying that because this song is the result of combining two '50s songs by The Rivingtons (a black r&b group from the '50s). Take a surf rock 45 and play it on the 33 rpm speed. You'll hear doo-wop music, the sound of which has a very clear correlation with early r&b music.

OK, enough of a music history / theory lesson.

Seriously, surf rock is really cool stuff. I also love that Family Guy's cultural influence extends as far as it does; as of this post, this tune is #9 on the Top Sellers in Rock on iTunes.


"everybody wants to rule the world" || tears for fears || 1986

This song is a bit mainstream for me to post about it, but it's earned its place here.

This is quite simply one of the greatest songs ever recorded.

Hearing this on the radio tonight totally took me to another dimension. It's one of the first songs that I remember listening to very intently as a little kid; I had it on a mixtape that my dad made for me in his studio/office and I listened to it on the bus and in my little tape player at home. I remember the lyric "Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down / When they're through I'll be right behind you" totally blindsiding me with imagery even at that very young age.

Lyrically this song is very important. Right from the opening lyrics of "Welcome to your life / There's no turning back," you know you're dealing with some serious material. There is no fucking around. Congratulations, you're in charge of your own destiny. Now wake up, and get to work. So indicative of the mid-'80s Wall Street era.

The song could be about so many things! It could be about those annoying co-workers who kiss ass and act snidely appropriate at all the right times to get noticed by the boss. It could be an outcry about how capitalism creates greed. It could even simply be about the fact that everyone has a natural inclination to try to take over their own little worlds.

What I love so much about the vocals is how they follow a rigid, almost corporate-like structure in the first couple of verses, and then suddenly erupt into an almost volcanic outpour of emotion at the bridge. It's like the anarchy that breaks down the existing, structured society and restores power to the people. The vocals tone down again for the last verse, but not completely, the singer maintains the edge in his voice for the rest of the song.

It's simply a brilliantly crafted piece of music, and it needs to find its way into your collection.