11.26.2009

So Thankful

Allison and I put this song together for thanksgiving. It came from a list of some of the things that we're thankful for. Enjoy!

So Thankful (Feat. Alli Rae)

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6.30.2009

MCM#2 Lip Synch or Sing Along

Month two, and it's a doozie! Thanks to Renata for the keen suggestion and thanks to everybody who participated - it's a fun one. The cover features Felix in a still frame from a video of him singing one of his favorite songs. Click here to download all of MCM #2 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

"Mony Mony" Billy Idol

Jennifer writes: I have pretty much always been a big fan of Billy Idol which dates back to his GenX days. In fact, I'd have to admit that the biggest highlight of 2008 was seeing him at The Venue and getting to sing a part of "Ready, Steady, Go" with him from the front row.

"Mony, Mony" is not my favorite (cover) song of his - but the category is Sing Along songs and you cannot deny this is a classic Sing Along song.

I also wanted to pick an artist that was as much of an icon of the early MTV days as Michael Jackson as a mini-tribute to MJ's music and the music of that era.

"Say It Aint So" Weezer

Juicy Justin Sid writes: Besides being one of my all time favorite songs and my karaoke instant go-to choice this Weezer classic holds a special place in my nostalgic heart. This track has always and forever been one of the only songs I can even remember how to play on my guitar. So when introduced into a group of people and forced to play my guitar at shiv point I always default to the age ol' goodness that is Weezer. This is most definitely a song that you do not play quietly. You must crank the volume knob and scream/chant/wail the epic chorus up into the heavens!

"Ticket To Ride" The Beatles

Allison writes: It's The Beatles, it's infectious, it's highly sing-alongable, and in my opinion, one of John Lennon's finer song-writing moments. Though the majority of Beatles tracks were always authored as "Lennon/McCartney" this one in particular was always attributed to him.

(One of his other fine, much later, song-writing moments was also penned by Christopher, below. Yay for semi-synchronicity.)

Anyway, the accompanying video, as excerpted from the 1965 Beatles movie "Help!", is also a barrel of fun. When I was 12 (and very obsessed with the fab four) I'd watch this segment on VHS every day during the summer... for months on end... it's still a total delight!

"Ego Trippin' [Part Two]" De La Soul

Ben writes: There was a period of time when I owned a run-down 1986 Buick Centry station wagon. It had a tape deck and De La's Buhloone Mindstate was constantly playing. Listening now, I can't believe how completely ahead of their time they were. It's old school, for sure, but some of the production and techniques they used in 1993 didn't show up in the mainstream for years. ANYWAY... Some 12 or more years later i'm still singing along and i know every word. Yeah!

"Diva" Beyoncé

Tracey writes: I picked this song because like me, it has much attitude! AND you get to say “I’m a Diva” like 50 times. So, it’s sort of like brainwashing you into thinking that you are one (You will take me to Jabba now). I have a mic and some sunglasses with bling, underneath the passenger seat of my husband’s car just for when this song comes on. He hates it, but is amazed at how quickly I can whip them out when the song comes on. Now all I need is an air plane, so I can deny passengers like Beyonce! “NO PASSENGERS ON MY PLANE!” (Insert evil sinister laugh here)

"In The Street" Big Star

Jane writes: It was the summer of '98.

I was settling down in my apartment in Wicker Park to work on a big project for which I'd already been up 2 straight days. Delirious and wired on coffee, I heard a familiar song coming from the TV. I zombily wandered into the living room to see the opening sequence of some new show where kids in a car were singing along to... this song... from one of my Top 25 All-Time Desert Island Albums... Though it was being covered by somebody and the lyrics were changed up, I stood in wonder.

It was most definitely a tune I never expected to hear on prime time – kinda like how T.G.I.Fridays is using that Tight Bros song in its commercials now – a jawdropper.

Though there are better tracks on #1 Record/Radio City by Big Star, "In the Street" from that point on was catapulted into synonymity with "sing-a-long”... at least in a cheesy sitcom sort of way.

Note: The TV program was the premiere of That 70's Show, and with a little research I found the person covering the song was a gentleman by the name of Todd Griffin. Season 2 sported a shiny, new Cheap Trick version, complete with "Hello, Wisconsin!" by Rockford's own favorite son.

"Time For Me to Fly" REO Speedwagon

Dan writes: When I was getting near the end of a not-so-fun 3 year relationship, this song helped me belt out a lot of pent up frustrations. Glad my apartment had really thick walls. Although I no longer have any of the feelings this song describes, it is still fun to sing along. Go ahead, try it.

"Summertime" Kenny Chesney

Mike writes: While Country music has been around for some time, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered it. The music just feels more "relatable" to me than most these days (for lack of a better way to put it) and there's a storytelling aspect to many of the songs that I also find very appealing. And lyrically, the songs tend to be pretty straightforward. Hence my selection: a sweet, summer ditty by one of the current kings of Country. One that I often find myself singing along to in the car, the office, on the train; when I’m shopping for cowboy hats, loading up my twelve-gauge, popping in a plug of chew or changing the oil on my pick-up...

"What's Up?" 4 Non Blondes

Renatá writes: The College of Business at UIUC is a huge fan of group projects. Sometimes such projects are incredibly boring … while others are actually fun. My senior Marketing Communications project (one of the fun ones!) encompassed building a team with other students, starting our own “agency” and creating an Integrated Marketing Campaign for FIJI Water. (FIJI had approached both UIUC and USC with this concept — and so the FIJI Bowl was born.) Hours upon hours upon HOURS were poured into the project by my team (Team Tabua). Touted as the group that enjoyed the work and each others’ company “too much,” we were of course the winners at UIUC. In preparation for our final presentation to the FIJI CEO and assorted executives out in LA, we really ran ourselves thin on sleep and fun. To remedy this, we all decided to go out, let off some steam and get super drunk together. I'm not really sure why What’s Up spoke to us on this particular night, but as soon as it came on at the random campus bar we were at, the six of us belted out the whole song at full blast. Random, really, but ever since we’ve considered it our team anthem.

A few weeks later, we trekked out to LA, dominated our presentation and won the competition. To celebrate our victory, FIJI treated us to a wild night in the clubs … and we very well might have belted out What’s Up a capella on a cab ride between parties. Now any time I hear the song, I really can’t help but sing along. Loudly. Good times!

"Oh Yoko" John Lennon

Chris writes: Oh, John Lennon. I could sing this song 1,000 times and never grow tired. Listen to that jangly piano, the harmonica solo, the double and triple-tracked vocals, the bouncy drum beat. The words are so simple, the sentiment so pure. This is a song about thinking of that special someone at any time of the day (in the bath, in the middle of a shave, etc.) and crying out with joy and love. I hope everyone can experience that feeling at some point, and I know I share Lennon's urge whenever I think of my lovely wife. It also happens to be one of the many songs Leslie and I belt out in pure adulation whenever it comes on the radio.

"Ain't Too Proud To Beg" The Temptations

Margaret writes: It took me a long time to master the timing of this song (especially the “beg and plead” lyric), but since I got that down this song has been a mainstay in my “songs that get sung at random” playlist. How can you not like this song? I know you do, because when I sing it at the office, y’all join in. It’s just one of those songs.

"Rise Above" Dirty Projectors

Sarah writes: Dave Longstreth (the lead singer) is the king of inserting R&B vocal runs into indie rock - and I love it. I’ve probably learned more about ear training from attempting to sing along with Dave Longstreth than from four years of music school. Rise Above is one of Dirty Projectors’ most straight forward songs, but that doesn’t stop him from ornamenting like whoa. Highly recommended solo sing along track here, folks - plus, if you’re too lazy to sing along with Dave, you can harmonize with the ladies.

Most people know how I feel about Dirty Projectors, so I’ll keep my proselytizing to a minimum. But, if you like this, let me know - I’m always eager to spread the Good Word.

"Life Is Shit" The Dead Milkmen

Ben writes: This is one of those great sing-alongs that I turn to when others might turn to booze or the crack pipe. There's something wonderful about joining in on this chorus when everything in your life is up in flames. Next time you get your ass kicked all day long at the job, crank this one up and join in.

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1.31.2009

Eighteen From 2008

This is not an FCM post, this is just me, Ben.

For the last several years I've created a list containing 20 of the best songs I heard first in that year. December of 2008 had me laid out sick, so I'm running a bit late. In addition, I am only including 18 songs this year. I want this list to be ABSOLUTE favorites and didn't water it down with two more tracks solely for consistency. I'm not a critic, just a lover of good sounds so don't do that ever-so postmodern critique-the-critic thing, please? If you see a little pink star next to an album name, it's one of my favorites for the year. Lastly, the list isn't in order of greatness - rather I tried to create a nice flow for listening. Click here to download the whole thing.

"Soul '69 (Part II)" A-ko
When I'm happy I sneeze all day
This jazz-funk, sample laden DJ creation would be fun and happy without the vocals, but the charming and ridiculous nature of the vocal performance makes Soul '69 (Part II) legendary. The melodies, both instrumental and vocal, are infectious. The horns, the swirling wah wah, and the woodwinds ride ever so lightly and tightly upon the beat and bass groove. I've spent countless weekends with this song on repeat in my head, letting out an occasional "Aah-Choo," revealing my madness.

"As If Love Was a Sword" Steven Delopoulos (Straightjacket)
And the music above was a children's choir
A week after the great Iowa flood of 2008 peaked in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, I drove there to pick up my kids who had been staying with their grandparents. Because of the flooding I had to take local highways through Iowa, rather than my typical interstate route (290,88,80,380, if you care). A mix CD was left in the car and on it was this gem of a song. It's a waltzy 3/4 - for which i have a general weak spot. The arrangement starts with a straightforward folk approach and builds to a grand, bombastic crechendo complete with a choir and what sounds like tympani. I listened over and over and over, as much drawn to the imagery in the lyrics as to the odd musical trajectory of this short song. It seemed suitably apocalyptic for the moment, driving into the disaster that visited my hometown. "The orchestra roared."

"Damn I'm Cold (Feat. Lil' Wayne)" Bun B (II Trill)
Best to get you some sleeves
The swagger on this song is so thick it's impenetrable. Lil' Wayne and Bun B come together and take turns rapping about how absolutely great they are on this remarkably smooth production. This isn't a groundbreaking song, just a perfectly executed treatise on the coldness of these two rappers. Every time this song comes on, I get a little chill.

"Everybody (Feat. Kanye West, Sa-Ra & Andre 3000)" Fonzworth Bentley
Simple elegance looking better when you dance
Up late one night flipping channels, I happened upon a string of rap and R&B videos. At some point Destiny's Child and Sir Mix a Lot segwayed into Fonzworth Bentley. The video presents the entertainers in tuxedos on a soundstage doing dance routines like they're the commodores or something. It works because the music simultaneously throws me back and catapults me into the future. It's classy as hell, sensual, sexy, and fun. Andre's verse is immaculate, his tone is smooth and his cadence buoyant. Fonzworth's songs (see C.O.L.O.U.R.S. below) have a distinctly unique style that I can't get enough of.

"Camel" Flying Lotus (Los Angeles*)
...
It was hard to pick a song from Los Angeles because the album works so well as a unit, each track a twist or turn on a singular highway of sound. I don't even know what they call this music anymore, but it's essentially electronic DJ production with hip hop influence. Listening to this record reminds me of how I felt listening to DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... in 1997. The music sounds new but familiar. I can get sucked into it completely or live alongside it harmoniously, depending on my whim.

"Until We Bleed (With Lykke Li)" Kleerup (S/T)
If Cupid's got a gun, then he's shooting
I had an incredibly overwhelming panic attack in July. I was in World Market picking up some Malteasers and it hit me like a ton of bricks. If it weren't for my headphones and this song on repeat I would have certainly gone mad or been run over by a bus in the street. Maybe it's the beat, but for me this song manages to be incredibly soothing while giving me the distinct impression that the world may indeed be ending right before my eyes. Lykke Li makes a frail yet powerful performance and Kleerup turns out what just might be the sexiest song I've heard in the last three years.

"2 Becomes 1" Karl Blau (Nature's Got Away)
All the hardships sail away
I'm sitting in a mostly-empty barroom with wood panel interior. The bartender, a woman in her 50's, hands me another jar of Miller Light, and i swivel on my stool back toward Karl Blau and his band. The warm tones of the guitar and vocals offset the draftiness of the place. I'm staring at the linoleum where my mind is projecting a slideshow of images starring the two of us. This song could never be true without you.

"Holes In Our Heads" Retribution Gospel Choir (S/T*)
It was just like she said
I was pretty exited to get a hold of Alan Sparhawk's new album, especially after reading that Mark Kozelek produced it. At first, Retribution Gospel Choir was a big letdown for me. It seemed to neither embrace the fragility of his work as Low or the heaviness that these songs seemed to yearn for. But after a couple of weeks this summer in the painting studio with this record on repeat, I figured it out. Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power, used massively layered guitars and vocals to become one of the heaviest and powerful rock productions ever (IMHO). There's power in numbers but there's power in singularity too. A single, passionate voice and one or two electric guitars strummed with abandon can be just as moving as twenty. That's where "Holes In Our Heads" succeeds - it pulls us in with a finger and pushes us out with the passion of a single, determined man.

"C.O.L.O.U.R.S. (ft. Lil' Wayne & Pimp C)" Fonzworth Bentley
I don't wear sneakers, I wear slippers
This low-key, ultra-smooth track features some of the most over-the-top lyrical content since R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. By that I don't mean bat-shit-crazy, I only mean that when you hear a man talking at length about cashmere, cognac, and exotic animal furs and leathers... Ummmm... Fonzworth's verse stands out - for some reason I find myself believing that he's telling me the truth, that he actually has purple silk lining in all of his coats. Lil' Wayne and Pimp C are perfect choices for filling out the song - both have such interesting voices and tend to shine when the tempo is a bit slower. Best of all, the chorus spells out this wonderful acronym, and it's fitting - what we have here are Cool Outrageous Lovers Of Uniquely Raw Style.

"Mutha'uckas" Flight of the Conchords (S/T*)
He's gonna wake up in a smoothee!
Flight of the Conchords has been a highlight of my year. I've watched season one several times and the CD is in play at least once a week. I've probably spent hours laughing to Jemaine and Bret's antics. The magic here is that the songs work as songs but come to life as videos and get raised to art in the context of the show. It was hard to pick just one song, but I chose "Mutha'uckas" because it's catchy and stands well on it's own - but you should really watch the video.

"Mr. Carter (Feat. Jay-Z)" Lil' Wayne (Tha Carter III*)
I heard somebody say church, I'm-a need a suit
Lil' Wayne has been a highlight of my year. He's on 3 of the 18 songs in this list and only this one is from Tha Carter III. There's something about the combination of his wheezy flow, his outlandish rhymes, and his complete confidence that makes me want to eat whatever he's cooking. Jay-Z makes a solid contribution to this piano-plink ridden production. While musically it's not the most interesting track on his album - I love the samples and I'm particularly fond of the inventiveness of Wayne's rhymes.

"The Way We Ride" Fulton Lights (The Way We Ride*)
They were trying to take my land
Last year Andrew Spencer Goldman took us to the city, this year he's brought us out west. "The Way We Ride," is like a cowboy version of gangsta rap. It's brimming with bravado and unapologetic street (range?) cred. The dirty-muddy production that put me off at first kept bringing me back for another listen. It's a fighting song, but popping out from the plodding vocal delivery are some great melodies. "Six bullets says I don't give a good goddamn."

"The Vowels Pt. 2" Why? (Alopecia*)
Playing the wall at singles bingo
Vocals are clearly driving us through this song, but the vehicle we're riding in is one of those toddler pull-toys with wooden oval wheels. The punchy, lunge-release, lunge-release, of the track is relentless and powerful - giving way only when we recite the vowels. Every phrase of lyrical content is an image-inducing head scratcher, delivered swiftly and melodically in series. This song makes me smile and move - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

"Half Of Two Times Two (Newer Version)" Barr (Summary*)
So let's all be special art rebels together
On the train listening to Barr's Summary last month, a man near me interrupted to ask me what I was listening to, what kind of music was in my headphones. All I could think to say was that it was sort of like a guy talking. He said, "Like rap?" and I said, "No, not really." The truth is that on a basic level, this song really is a lot like a guy talking over a simple, repetitive bed of piano, drums, and bass. The value of this song and most of the brilliant work on Summary will not be separated from the lyrics. While these songs are certainly about the words, they are absolutely meant to be songs. Brendan Fowler's vocal delivery and approach to melody breaks up the stream of consciousness into distinct movements, emphasizing the most important phrases and infusing the words with passion. Please don't give this song one listen, listen five times in a row because I need you to see that this is so much more rich and important than a guy talking. "That's what i'm saying. Oh my god, there is soooo much!"

"Archangel" Burial (Untrue*)
...
Untrue is a sexy and nearly perfect electronic album. "Archangel" manages to be atmospheric and undulating without relegating itself to the background. The beat is gorgeous - but not just the beat - every tone and texture of every sound that creates the beat is immaculate. That apparent attention to detail is present in every aspect of this production. Each layered crackle and synth is absolutely meant to be. The vocal is repeated and manipulated with speed and pitch shifts and never comes off gimmicky or contrived.

"New Hollywood Babylon" Don Cavalli (Cryland)
And when I talk... Violence!
This quirky song could easily be tossed off as a novelty due to the vocal delivery and lyrical content but it's just too damned funky and unique. It's hard for me to pin down what keeps me coming back to it. Sonically, it's funky and weird and bouncy and joyful. I love the little wah wah guitar solo moments. This guy's accent and vocal approach makes hearing phrases like "Put your hands up, ya'll!" and "Cadillac cars, Pussycat Girls!" like eating little delicious desserts - perhaps it may be low in nutritional value, but it's pretty damned tasty.

"Bring It On Home To Me" Sam Cooke
Bring it to me
Seriously, how did I miss this song for 31 years? One night I was waiting for the blue line downtown and the trains were delayed. There was a subway musician who was playing soul music with an acoustic guitar with a crowd of delayed passengers around him singing along. I've never seen anything like it - with every song the crowd grew bigger and people around him were not just watching, they were actually singing and clapping along. At some point he went into Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me." While it certainly sounded familiar to me, I couldn't place it and quickly wrote down some of the lyrics so I could hunt it down when I got home. Sam Cooke's voice is amazing, and this type of soul music is rich and evocative. Thank you, infectious street musician, for bringing this song to my attention. Better late than never.

"Joe's Waltz" The Dodos (Visiter*)
YOU NEED HELP! YOU NEED HELP!
It's been a frustrating year for me. Maybe that's why this list has more fighting songs on it and less singer-songwriter material than years past. "Joe's Waltz" is a little of both. The first half is a good-but-harmless, folksy, melodic waltz. What the song morphs into at four minutes is something entirely different. Sweetly sung melodies give way to shouts, angst, distortion, banging drums, and energetic obscenities. There's conflict in the composition but there's continuity as well. "C'mon, this shit is real."

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12.05.2008

FCM #18 - Have A Very EI Holiday

FCM #18 - HAVE A VERY EI HOLIDAY Well... Happy holidays, folks. Do you feel that wintery cold outside and the wintery warmth in your heart's hearth? Special thanks to NickD who created this stunning cover. Click here to download the entire FCM #18 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's Theme - "I love this song because the video is awesome!"

"Fairytale of New York" The Pogues
Jane writes: One of my all time favorite holiday songs. A gorgeous tune with a devastating theme of how love turns cold over time -- just like the air turns bitter at this time of year. Oh, gentle fate, warm our toes this holiday season. Flush our collective cheeks with the comfort found only in the communal exchange of song. Dab our running noses with your inspiration, and quiet our unrest with cottony slumbers... What??! I don't know what I'm talking about. Happy holidays, gang.

"The Blizzard of '96" The Walkmen
Allison writes: This is a joyously wintry little tune from the Walkmen. Although I think lyrically it concerns a patched-up relationship, the music conjures storybook winter scenes: snowball fights, sledding down neighborhood hills, and my imaginary pet reindeer.

"Christmas All Over Again" Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Chris writes: Yes, it's Christmas all over again. It's hard to believe we've arrived, but here we are. Christmas was, at one time, a welcome distraction and a reason to be giddy. But with age comes pessimism and it's now more of an unwelcome distraction that reminds me how terrible I am at gift-giving and keeping in touch with family. Tom Petty's affectation is something I've always loved, but when he lends it to a Christmas song it takes on this sort of resigned sarcasm that I can really appreciate. He puts together a pretty remarkable hook that somehow makes Christmas's arrival palatable. By the end of the song I'm comfortable with my aversion but I also know why people love this season so much. Thanks, Tom Petty, for helping me tolerate another holiday season!

"Christmas In Hollis" Run DMC
Mark writes: The song I picked was Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC. I picked it because it has to be the best Christmas Hip-Hop song ever! Along with the fact that DMC's whole verse is actually how Christmas was in our house when I was coming up.

"Deck Five" Saturday's Children
Justin Step writes: I feel a little cheap for selecting another Office Naps track, but what the hey? It's a nice Christmas tune, and it's performed by a Chicago garage band. They mash up Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" with a splash of "Deck the Halls" with some nice, psych-folky harmonies.

"Place To Be" Nick Drake
TJ writes: This entire album (actually just anything from Nick Drake) makes me want to just walk around when there is snow on the ground and crank this up in my headphones. Personally it calms me, I love it.

Happy Holidays!

"King's Crossing" Elliott Smith
Brian writes: Let's face it...the holidays are equally joyous and depressing. And I don't know about you, but while I like my tunes a lot of ways I mostly like them sad. For whatever reason it's the sad ones, with a small sprinkle of hope, that make me feel warm and cozy on my insides. This, in turn, actually renders their depressing powers useless, and transforms them into uplifting songs.

When I first discovered Elliott Smith, I was still living in the 'burbs, but working full-time and going to school full-time in the city. I was in the process of selling my place that I moved into with my recently ex-girlfriend, and I had high hopes of moving downtown to start a new life. I vividly remember the train rides, late nights and early mornings spent listening to this song (repeatedly...especially in the winter months).

The Christmas references are clearly drug references in actuality, but those references, along with my winter listening habits have concretized the connection for me.

This song appears on "From a Basement on the Hill", which was the last Elliott Smith album. It was recorded before he threw in the towel, but released afterwards.

Merry Christmas!

"Christmas Song" Dave Matthews Band
Margaret writes: This is quite possibly my favorite song of all time - and I don't say that lightly.

I love the simplicity with which he tells the story, and the way he weaves the message of "love" throughout. Even if you hate Dave (which I'm sure most of you do), humor me and listen to this one - it's truly a beautiful song, and it sounds like a lullaby.

"Babylon" David Gray
Felix writes: Back when I first arrived in Chicago, fresh out of grad school, I worked my first real job at a small company in Barrington, IL, doing Flash work.

I spent a few late, late nights in the office (situated in a strip mall called The Foundry), meticulously and laboriously hand-updating Flash keyframes for a humongo project. I remember having this song on loop, and heavy snowfall out the window as my car gradually became the only one left in the lot.

This song makes me think of winter, and of being lonely. It makes me remember being the only one at the office, away from my grad school friends, a warm table lamp by my computer, and an expanse of white snowfall just outside.

"Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)" Vince Guaraldi
Tracey writes: It really isn't Christmas until you see the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I remember fighting my brother for a spot in front of the TV when this cartoon was on. However, that memory was overshadowed in the early 90's by an episode of the TV comedy show Martin Lawrence. On this particular episode, Martin was hosting a Christmas show, and had two little people ballet dancing to Christmas Time is Here, which abruptly switched to Kurtis Blow. Now, when I hear this song, I think of me and my brother dancing around the Christmas tree with little people.

"Still, Still, Still" Mannheim Steamroller
Renata writes: My most meaningful memories of the Holiday have always been music-related. I grew up in a Mennonite church where the congregation sang in 4+ part harmony every chance they had. Come Christmastime, there would be various music-based services held each week. I always took part in the impromptu choir that would "perform" one or two special Hymns during the services. One of my favorites we performed remains Still, Still, Still. Enjoy.

"Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming" Sufjan Stevens
Ben writes: This hymn is one that I remember from my childhood as tedious, yet enjoyable. Sufjan has transformed it into something different, a delicate, and beautiful tune where the beauty of the words and story can shine through. THere's something magical about the repeated phrase, "when half-spent was the night." Also, if you like this track, ask me for a listen to the rest of Sufjan's Christmas EPs.

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" Elmo & Patsy
Christine writes: You can ask Kisha and Margaret... I do not like Christmas music. I just find it irritating to the highest degree. But this particular song will always be welcome this time of year for me. I still remember us begging Dad to put on the album at Christmas-time and laughing over and over at this whole thing.

"I'm Giving Santa a Pikachu for Christmas" Pokémon
Nick writes: My contribution to the holiday mix CD is a song that always reminds me of the spirit of gift-giving and togetherness that pervades the holiday season.

"12 Days Of Christmas" Straight No Chaser
Margaret writes: This is a recording from the founding members of Straight No Chaser, Indiana University's a cappella group. One of the original members dug up some old videos from a 1998 concert and posted them on YouTube for the other members to see. Around the holidays, the video for this song received over 8 million hits. The group was then contacted by Atlantic Records, and they signed a 5-album deal, to which this album is the first.

Listen for "Africa" at the end - that's the best part.I have the whole album if anyone wants to upload - it's a great one for the holidays!

"Coldest Winter" Kanye West
Kisha writes: So I was obsessed with the new Kanye album and specifically this song. He repeats a lot on the entire album, but he was clearly working thru a lot of emotions. I love the new sound!

"Long Way Around The Sea" Low
Ben writes: Ever since this record came out, this song has been one of my Christmas favorites. As a kid, I loved "silent night," particularly at Christmas eve service when everyone lit candles. For me, this has the feel of that dark night and candle-light. There's magic in the harmonies, as well as the story told.

"Lake Shore Drive" Aliotta, Haynes, and Jeremiah
Walt writes: It could easily be argued that Alliota, Haynes and Jerimiah's superb Lake Shore Drive is a summer song but I think it works equally well in the winter. So much so, that it's my holiday pick. No, there isn't any snow in it and you won't hear any bells a jinglin' and Santa doesn't make an appearance. For me, however, it always reminds me of winter as I would play it on my way home after a long night of ushering at one of many of Chicago's fine venues. Since I lived on the south side of Chicago when I was a kid, I would drive home from Auditorium Theatre via LSD to I-55. I vividly remember the gray night sky with snow twinkling in the air from the light cast by the drive's light poles as the blustery wind buffeted my Ford Maverick -- all the while with LSD playing in the tape deck.

Hey, how about a Chicago-themed FCM where people pick songs that make them think about Chi-Town?

"Snow Days" Trip Shakespeare
Jane writes: It was Christmas Eve 1992, I had just finished my first semester of college and was returning to my hometown for the first time since I'd left. What was supposed to be a relaxing 2.5 hour drive through lazy, scenic roads straight down to the heart of Illinois turned into a 5 hour white knuckle adventure as horizontal snow gusts basically blew my car over a sheet of ice all the way home. I didn't even trust myself to take my hands off the steering wheel for a moment, so when this song came on, a relaxing little ditty about snow falling, I chose it as my theme for the remainder of my journey. I hit repeat, and it guided me safely towards my mother's pot roast.

Thanks, weird 90's band I never heard from again... thanks.

"Christmas with the Devil" Spinal Tap
James writes: "The elves are dressed in leather
And the angels are in chains"

The greatest fake band of all time-arguably better than many of the ultraserious NWOBHM bands of the day-are responsible for one of the greatest Yuletide songs ever. It's like, how much more red and green could this be? And the answer is none. None more red and green.

"Shooting Stars" Ozma
Justin Sid writes: While this is not very X-Mas themed it is cold weather friendly. Ozma is a band I fell into in high school one very cold winter, the same winter I saw them with Weezer shortly after the release of the Green album. Enjoy!

"Red Water (Christmas Mourning)" Type O Negative
Brian writes: "Let's face it...the holidays are equally joyous and depressing. And I don't know about you, but while I like my tunes a lot of ways I mostly like them sad. For whatever reason it's the sad ones, with a small sprinkle of hope, that make me feel warm and cozy on my insides. This, in turn, actually renders their depressing powers useless."

Can I add that I actually also really love Christmas music. My Dad put strict start/end dates on when my brothers and I were allowed to listen to the "Christmas with the Chipmunks". To my delight, my Mom plays John Denver and the Muppet's "A Christmas Together" every year. I had more than one VHS tape with Jon Bon Jovi's video of "Please Come Home for Christmas", and also that entire "A Very Special Christmas" album. The only time of year I really listen to any radio stations is during the Christmas months (maybe I should have left that one out)... Oh, and then there's, well...there's this...

"Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental)" Vince Guaraldi
Allison writes: This one's a bit of a nostalgic pick, from the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas (which also features "Linus and Lucy", the track most people recognize as THE Charlie Brown song). The vocal version more directly harkens the TV special, while the longer instrumental version makes me think of hot cocoa, a crackling fireplace, jammies, and cinnamon-scented candles at my family's house during the holidays.

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11.20.2008

FCM #17 - Songs About Buildings & Food

FCM #17 - Songs About Buildings & Food I was afraid we'd be all food when this came together, but it's not. Big welcome to Tracey on her first week here. FCM alumni Bryan is back for a visit too, shipping in his contributin from SF. Big thanks to Allison for creating the cover this week. Click here to download the whole FCM #17 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week we're off to be thankful. We'll pick it up after that.

"Savoy Truffle" The Beatles - 1968
Allison writes: Creme tangerine and Montélimar, a ginger sling with a pineapple heart! Cool cherry cream, nice apple tart!

"Savoy Truffle" is a cool little dessert-centric Beatles tune from their self-titled album circa 1968 (AKA The White Album). Apparently George penned this in honor of his buddy Eric Clapton's sweet tooth.

Bonus trivia: Montélimar is a town in the southeast of France known for being the birthplace of NOUGAT.

Bonus Bonus trivia: NOUGAT (soft white and hard black) comprises two of the Thirteen Desserts of Christmas in Provence, the other eleven being raisins, dried figs, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, dates, apples, pears, tangerines, melon, and the Pompe de Notel a l'huile d'olive (which I think is cake).

"Vegetables" The Beach Boys - 1990
Justin Step writes: Brian Wilson sings of life's simple pleasures: cars, sunshine, beautiful girls. Here, a simple ode to veggies, written with Van Dyke Parks and featuring Paul McCartney on celery-percussion. I absolutely love the innocence and naïve genius of this tune. He tried to kick the ball, but his tenny flew right off?! I sure hope the super 8 was running for that precious moment! The song was recorded in 1967, and originally intended for the (in)famous, lost-now-found Smile album.

It could be a fine theme song for the Grocer, don't you think?

"Sugar Shack" Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - 1963
Margaret writes: No great story with this one, I just think this song is a lot of fun and I love the hook. I wish he wouldn't say "expresso," though - that really bothers me.

"Coconut" Harry Nilsson - 1971
Ben writes: I first encountered this song during my first year of college at MCAD. My friends Anisa and Denise would often play it in their apartment while we were cooking or just hanging out or whatever. To me, it's just one of the fun-time songs that keeps the spirits high and brings back the lightness of my days at art school in Minneapolis.

"Cherry" Ratatat - 2004
TJ writes: I like this song... Its relaxing, and one of the first I could find related to food. Since there are no words, we'll never really know if it is supposed to or not, or if it was just a random name the tacked to it. Does it make you feel like a cherry?

"Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag" L.L. Cool J. - 1993
Tracey writes: This is LL Cool J, "Pink Cookies in Plastic Bags Getting Crushed By Buildings". I'm sure it's a metaphor. I wonder for what though. Anyway, I'm choosing this song, because it's a song about buildings AND food....or is it?!?! Moooooowaaaaaahh HAA! HAA! (evil laugh).

"Brick House" Commodores - 1977
Bryan writes: how do you not wanna get funky when you hear this track? if you say you dont, you're a liar and lying makes baby jesus cry.

"Kewpie Station" Kaki King - 2003
Justin Sid writes: I found this talented guitarist when I caught her performance on Conan O'Brien late one night in 2003. Her style was crazy unique and her performance was breath taking. I've been a huge fan of hers since then.

If any of you have caught the film "August Rush" the main character's bang/slap/tapping playing style was actually Kaki hands playing the guitar.

I also saw her live once when she came to Chicago and despite my attempts I wasn't able to track her down to accept my invitation for marriage.

"The Dishwasher" Ezra Furman & The Harpoons - 2008
Sarah writes: A few months ago my friend invited me to see his friend Ezra from high school play at Schubas. I tend to decline this genre of invitation based on previous experience, but he must have caught me in a good mood. Good thing I went because there's not much better than being genuinely pleasantly surprised. Ezra Furman carries that particular precocious gene of young uber talented folks - he's so good it manages to make you feel jealous and inspired at the same time.

The Dishwasher may not quite fit into this week's category, but it's in the general area - "people don't wanna eat their food off dirty plates." It's a classic ballad about work - and no, I am not passive aggressively complaining about dishwasher duties.

Regarding the category: I saw David Byrne when he was in town earlier this month and I think the US government should preserve his DNA for the benefit of future generations.

"House Where Nobody Lives" Tom Waits - 1999
Brian writes: I will spare you the sad story that led me here, but this is probably my favorite Tom Waits song.

"Love Lives Here" Faces - 1971
Chris writes: There's a buddhist principle that says, "Life is a bridge; therefore build no house upon it." It's a sentiment that relates to the ever-changing nature of our lives, the process of evolution and the idea that circumstances, no matter how lovely, will change and clinging to a certain stage along the way will only cause suffering. It's a principle that I learned and lived by when I first moved here to Chicago, and it's one that I found reflected in this song from The Faces. I played this song repeatedly as I busied myself around my apartment, returning to the terrible Caliphone record player I had brought up from Florida and resetting the needle for the umpteenth time to hear those opening guitar strains all over again. It reminded me of my past homes, it reminded me that tomorrow always comes calling, and it reminded me that all the homes we build in life -- at some point -- become old bags of lumber disappearing on a cart down the road.

"Chelsea Hotel No. 2" Leonard Cohen - 1975
Felix writes: Justin Step. introduced me to Leonard Cohen, and this ranks as one of my favorite tracks. Written about Janis Joplin, these are my favorite lines from the song:

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel / you were famous, your heart was a legend /
You told me again you preferred handsome men / but for me you would make an exception
.

In digging around online, I found this page that features both the lyrics and several covers of the song as well.

"Johnny McEldoo (Live)" The Clancy Brothers
Walt writes: This ia absoulutely my favorite song about food. I picked the slower live version of this because, quite frankly, in the regular fast version it's difficult to understand what the brothers are singing due to their thick Irish brogues -- but it's more fun. One can only dream about such a delicious repast.

"Put Me On a Plate" Gluecifer - 2004
Jane writes: Oh food... food and all of its metaphors. This song is ridiculous!! Ridiculous and addictive.

I'm a big fan of the Scandinavian cock rock, and Gluecifer (representin' Norway) definitely falls into that category. Much of what makes this music fun is their use of the English language, which you can tell they understand and speak well... it's just that sometimes idioms or cultural differences really shine through conceptually. It always leaves me scratching my head wondering if these songs are meant to be serious or tongue-in-cheek? Maybe a bit of both. Like "Trapped in the Closet" lite.

"Bring a big napkin... cuz it's gonna be a big mess!"

"Tower Of Song" Dax Riggs
Brian writes: This is originally a Leonard Cohen song. Hard as I tried to not post another Dax Riggs recording, this one was just too perfect for this theme, and (no offense to one of the greatest songwriters of all time, but...) I don't like the Cohen version.

"Punk Rock Academy" Atom & His Package - 2002
Christine writes: Ok, so it's a fictional building but hey, who wouldn't have wanted to go to High School here? It's listed as a release date of 2004 on iTunes but it's been around before then. My sisters and I spent our entire lives together (this happens with a set of twins and a sister whose only 11 months older) up until college. My twin sister, Lauren, decided to break the mold so to speak and went off to the University of Missouri in Columbia while my older sister Betsy and I stayed in town and went to Washington University in St. Louis. Up until that first week we were separated, my twin was, well, a bit difficult shall we say to get along with. We fought like crazy one minute and the next we would be in the car heading out to our favorite coffee shop together. I remember she called me after her first week away and was crying about how hard it was up there (she was a GDI at a very Greek school) and didn't have anyone to lean on like I did. Ever since then, our relationship has been a lot less volatile and more sane. I would go up to visit her as often as I could (somehow I won the battle on who got to keep the shared car) and we would go see bands together - including this guy. He is a one-man band and is hilarious and we would play this song all the time. We got in the habit of calling each other whenever a funny song came on like this one and, if you didn't pick up, the whole thing got left on your voicemail. This was before the advent of auto-delete so there were many a time I had to sit through all of "Informer" before I could erase.

"Eat The Menu" Sugarcubes - 1989
James writes: Long out of print and finally available digitally is this overlooked bizarro track from the Sugarcubes' 1989 release, "Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week."

I have to eat something otherwise I'll die.  But the choice is too great...

"The Cheese Song" Julie Wachter - 2006
Margaret writes: My friend Julie is a singer/songwriter, and for some reason decided to write an ode to cheese. I heart cheese, and therefore I heart this song.

She pitched it to Kraft as a jingle, but they wouldn't pick it up because they don't offer all the cheeses listed in the song.

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11.17.2008

FCM #16 - Songs I loved In Elementary School

FCM #16 - Songs I Loved In Elementary School Wow, I totally feel dated. I bet you do too! Big Welcome to Dan today, glad we've got the QA department represented. It's Dan's birthday today, so be sure to wish him well. Click here to download the whole FCM #16 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's Theme - Songs about buildings and food!

"Saturday Night" Bay City Rollers - 1977
Dan writes: I was a huge Bay City Rollers fan was I was a kid. Couldn't get enough. Even bought the 16 Prix fan magazine (I think that's what is was called) when I had saved enough money and mom wasn't looking. When they became the stars of the Saturday morning Krofft Superstar Hour back in the late '70s, I was a very happy child, even though the show didn't last very long.

"Wot" Captain Sensible - 1982
Justin Step writes: I got my first cassette player from Santa in first grade, but with no cassette to play! My uncle grabbed an unlabeled, white mix tape from his room for me, and that collection of New Wave songs formed the cornerstone of my musical identity. I clearly remember singing this song in a highly affected accent many times as a young sprout -- in the backseat of the Dodge Aspen en route to Burdette pool, in a call and response with my friends after watching WWF. I loved it, but unlike the B-52s and other artists on the mix, I never learned who sang it. So I searched for years and years, singing the chorus to all my most musically knowledgeable friends. Many recognized the tune but none could name the artist. Then, in a strange and frustrating episode, a pranker called my friend's dorm room phone when I was hanging there. He had been pranking the room frequently whenever people gathered, and would somehow always play a song that mattered to someone present, but would never speak. He played the Pogues one day, presumably for for Jeremy Allen, and I decided to sing a few lines of Wot! Into the phone before hanging up. The pranker called back, played my song and refused to speak. I had been taunted. Someone connected to my circle who not only knew the song, but owned it! Eventually, in my first days in Chicago, some guy at a record store counter recognized the lines straightaway, handed me the vinyl, so my lifelong quest to solve the mystery of Wot ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

"Pinball Wizard" The Who - 1969
Sarah writes: I'm not trying to get out of admitting that I had bad taste for a good portion of my life by choosing this one. In junior high I went through a boy-band phase and then a serious pop-punk phase - complete with Blink 182 fansite. In elementary school, though, I was still solidly under the influence of my parents. In the car we listened to either public radio or Dick Biondi. Before my sister and I started playing instruments the only time our house was filled with music was on Saturday mornings when we cleaned. My mom's record of choice: Simon and Garfunkle - Bridge Over Troubled Water. My dad's: The Who - Tommy. I knew all the words to both albums by the time I was 8. Not until I was much older did I realize how creepy Tommy really is, and how inappropriate it probably was for an 8 year old to be dusting and singing along to 'Fiddle About' and 'Acid Queen'…

"Hey, Mister Sun" Bobby Sherman - 1970
Walt writes: I'm not proud to say that I was a Bobby Sherman fan when I was a kid but as the years have gone by I'm no longer embarrassed by it. Sherman was a mainstay of Tiger Beat and 16 magazines when I was young and was also on a short-lived TV show "Here Come the Brides" with David Soul (Soul went on to play Hutch on "Starsky and Hutch"). Sherman had some hits like "Easy Come, Easy Go" and "Julie, Julie, Julie" but I've always enjoyed "Hey, Mr. Sun."

"Home on the Range" Vic Chesnutt - 1997
Jennifer writes: I loved this song in grade school because I had a strong affinity for the west due to too many readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. This song made me think of little Laura out on the plains.

"America" Neil Diamond - 1980
Ben writes: I spent A LOT of time at Super Skate when I was in elementary school. Almost every saturday morning (and some Friday nights) I would show up to wait in line and rent my skates. Anthemic songs like Diamond's "America" were so amazing to me - the perfect soundtrack for my deft maneuvers. I was never big on fancy skating, but I loved to skate fast, weaving in and out of traffic, avoiding certain colors of lights as they hit the floor of the rink.

"Photograph" Def Leppard - 1993
Jane writes: Fourth Grade was a music awakening for me. Mtv was now a household name, and they still played videos. The music coming out of the boomboxes at the park and the jukebox at the afterschool hangout had just reached this incredible level of relevance. I finally got it! I think I'd been a little young up until that year to begin to pick up on what music excited ME… not just listen to what music my big sister and her trashy boyfriend listened to (although he did introduce me to Ratt).

But the timing couldn't have been more perfect for my epiphany, it was bumpered on either side by what may have been the most important album releases of my youth -- Def Leppard's Pyromania in '83 and Van Halen's 1984. If I remember correctly, The Police and Duran Duran had ruled my world up until this point, but there was a different kind of passion and danger in this music that enthralled me. It's a funny thing to say now because listening to these today, they're so mellow & tame.

Does this mean I'm a jaded mess? …always.

"Casino Royale" Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - 1967
Walt writes: I was (and still am) a big James Bond fan, so it's only natural that one of the my favorite songs while I was in elementary school was the theme to "Casino Royale." Although the movie wasn't that good (and is not considered part of the movie canon), the theme by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass is outstanding. It was also the first 45 that I begged my parents to buy for me. I remember playing it over and over when I was 6 years old.

And yep, I'll be heading out to see Quantum of Solace this weekend.

"Slow and Low" Beastie Boys - 1986
Chris writes: As an elementary school student with friends who had wise, older siblings with infinite musical wisdom and interests, I had the privilege of being subjected to everything from Iron Maiden to Ice-T during my formative years. I didn't own much of my own music then, but I borrowed countless tapes and dug through my parents' vinyl for semi-relevant material. When I was about 8 years-old my mom, who was a skilled garage sale shopper, took me on one of her Saturday morning sojourns and it was amongst a pile of worthless items that I discovered the first vinyl record I would ever own: a bootleg rap compilation that included tracks from The Fat Boys, RUN DMC, KRS One, and "Slow and Low" by the Beastie Boys. This was the last track on the record and combined the shouting urgency of hair metal and the bass-heavy beats of Def Jam alumni. The music world opened a little wider and my love for listening (and crate digging) was just beginning.

"Whoomp! (There It Is)" Tag Team - 1993
Margaret writes: This was one of the first tapes I ever owned - I think I was 8 or 9 when I bought it. I have no clue how I even came across this song in the first place, but I listened to that tape pretty much non-stop, until I knew all the lyrics - which I can still recite to this day.

"…a party over here, party over there, wave your hands in the air, shake your derriere"

with lyrics like that, what's not to love?

"Chariots Of Fire" Vangelis - 1981
Allison writes: The 80s brought us a handful of one-named wunderkinds, musical stars whose cultural gravitas exceeded the trappings of a cumbersome surname. Madonna. Prince. Vangelis.

And just who WAS this Vangelis? Self-taught Greek composer. Pianist. Scorer of films, like Blade Runner (the soundtrack for which I came to love when I was much older) and Chariots of Fire.

Seriously, Chariots of Fire seemed like it was all over the place in the early 80s. I loved it with all the pure triumphant joy of a pigtailed girl running in circles around the backyard. Kid-faved music just feels more earnest than the teenage-faved tracks that are so often filtered through the self-conscious lens of social identification. It's just VICTORY! And JUBILATION! And RUNNING! What could be better at that age?

"Concerto for 2 Violins & Strings in D Minor" Perlman/Zukerman - 1986
Felix writes: The bulk of the music I heard as a kid was mostly classical (I was taught violin at an early age). I trained under the Suzuki Method (which involves a lot of memorization), with ten books total. Both parts of the Bach Double were in the Suzuki books (the 2nd part was in Book 4, the 1st part in Book 5). I've played both sides of the double, and it's a song firmly etched into my childhood.

One neat sidenote: I was at a music camp one summer where all the kid were Suzuki students. As an exercise, they grouped about 20 of us in two circles of ten. One circle played the first part, another the second… and the instructors had us walk in a circle as we played. After both parts were going, the instructors combined the circles, and made us do figure eights - as we moved from one circle to the other, we had to switch parts. For as nerdy as music camp can be, that was a pretty cool experience that I still remember fondly.

"Nothing Lasts For Long" The Samples - 1992
Christine writes: Is it bad when you have to pull out a calculator to figure out how old you were in a year gone past? Anyways, I was 13 when this album came out which puts me in 7th or 8th grade at the time. I remember my sister had this tape and it just captured my attention for some reason. I've always loved this song but was disturbed by his acceptance of the inevitable disintegration of his relationships. Makes a little more sense now, but it's still one of my older favorites.

"Blood Money" Bon Jovi - 1990
Brian writes: Ah Bon Jovi … My guiltiest of pleasures. I was even embarrassed to admit I was a fan when I was 10. It's also when I was 10 that JBJ released his first solo album, "Blaze of Glory" (aka the "Young Guns II" soundtrack). One of my favorite songs from that album was "Blood Money". I used to, just barely, play it on guitar and sing it anytime no one was home (I was too embarrassed to do it front of anyone…Some things never change). That aside, I dug up the tablature recently, and I still love playing/singing this song. It survives on it's melody and simplicity. You just have to ignore the awful Pat Garrett and Billy "the Kid" themed lyrics. Please destroy this after reading it.

"Wannabe" Spice Girls - 1996
Renata writes: This one was a struggle … I was quite obsessed with the likes of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston from very early on. But, I've gotta give this one to my fifth grade graduation song: The Spice Girls’ Wannabe. Zig-a-zig-ahhhh! C’mon. Lyrics don’t get better than that! I have no idea how my fifth grade class managed to get this one through, but hey, it was worth it! (In case you were wondering, Hanson Bothers’ Mmm Bop was also one of our graduation songs. I want to say that one was played to appease the boys, though I can’t imagine their ever choosing it! “Girl Pow-ah,” as Posh would say.)

"Down" 311 - 1996
Justin Sid writes: This song, this album has huge nostalgia for me. I had just gotten my first portable player a very large and in charge Sony and I was ecstatic to have it. It came with far from noise canceling headphones and when played at high volumes everyone around you got a little concert too.

This was back when lived in South Bend, IN and I had just moved there with my family in the middle of the school year. Before school I would grab my CD player and this album and go wait outside our apartment complex with a few other kids for the bus. When the bus arrived I would plant my ass in the back seat and blast this 311 album on full volume. And because of the generic crappy headphones that accompanied the player everyone else got a little morning taste of rock. This was my morning routine for a long time. After awhile of this I was called the "311 Kid" by the other kids on the bus which actually went very well with my AOL screenname "A311Manic" that I had at the time. I even got in trouble with the bus driver for playing it so loud she could hear it all the way from the back of the bus. She even tried to ban CD players on the bus because of me! I grew to love this album and this band. Never loved the bus driver though.

"Coma" Guns N' Roses - 1991
Brian writes: Coma - Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion ITo celebrate the upcoming November 23, 2008 release of the new Guns N' Roses album, I've chosen a song from their last album ("The Spaghetti Incident" does not count). Released only 17 years ago, I was 11 years old when the "Use Your Illusion" double-album took over my life. I was already a huge GN'R fan from "Appetite…" and "Lies…", so I cracked open my piggy-bank and bought "Use Your Illusion" I and II the day they came out. I was pretty obsessed for a long time after. Not anymore though…Well, I start group therapy next week, so fingers crossed!

Anyway, one of my favorite GN'R songs then, and now, was "Coma". No verses, no choruses, just over 10 minutes of fantasticalness that I may or may not have (pretend) performed on occasion…From my stage (bed)…To my (imaginary) fans…When I was in elementary school (yesterday).

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11.07.2008

FCM #15 - Covers and (one) Mashup

FCM #15 - COVERS & (one) MASHUP This is our second round of covers, and I dare say that this one is even tastier than the last. Hats off to Chris, who provided the only real mash-up on this mix. Also, I forgot to welcome Justin (Step) last week, so i'll thank him for the excellent songs on this mix as well as the horrible delights he offered for FCM #14 Click here to download the whole FCM #15 - COVERS & (one) MASHUP or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Let's VOTE again for next week's theme! Vote in the comments for (a) Autumn, the season! (b) Songs I loved in elementary school (c) Songs about buildings and food

"Paint It Black" The Love Sitars - 1967
Justin Step writes: I downloaded this track from one of my all-time favorite blogs ever, OfficeNaps. DJ Little Danny, the guy behind the site, is a curatorial genius. He posts tunes ripped from his massive and massively impressive collection of 45s, generally on Mondays, and generally in groups of three. This gem was posted alongside other 60s rock songs employing that most psychedelic of instruments, the sitar - visit Office Naps.

"Many Rivers To Cross" The Walkmen - 2006
Ben writes: On a backdrop of bright cymbals, a simple rock beat, strumming acoustics and zum-zumming strings, three jets take off in the form of electric guitars to sing us the sweetest sliding riff. That's what I picture swirling around Hamilton Leithauser's head as he guts out this song. He was born to sing it, you see. The Walkmen take Harry Nilsson's cover of Jimmy Cliff's original to the next level - the music is crisper and more cinematic, the vocals more gutteral and desperate.

"This Land Is Your Land" Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 2006
Sarah writes: Folk/Funk = Best Genre Ever. I've been through both a Folk and a Funk phase over the past couple of years and this cover of Woody Guthrie's classic tune is a huge hit in my book. Even though "This Land..." has turned into the grade school theme song for all things wholesome, the lyrics aren't entirely shiney-happy:

"One bright sunny morning
in the shadow of the steeple,
down by the welfare office
I saw my people they stood there grumblin'
and I stood there wonderin'
if this land was made for you and me"

The change of key and tone totally emphasize the bittersweet, melancholic, introspective side of the song. And besides, who can resist those funky trumpet trills? You may recognize the Dap Kings from Amy Winehouse's album.

"What It's All About" Girl Talk - 2008
Chris writes: Girl Talk has become something of a phenomenon in the mixing/mashup world, finding a particularly fond audience in the indie dance crowd. His latest record, "Feed the Animals," condenses so many great samples and so many ridiculous mashups that it's hard to pick just one cut - this 4 minute track alone samples The Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes, The Police, Ini Kamoze, Argent, KRS-one, Living Colour, and Paula Cole, to name a few. Listening to the album as a whole is a joy for total music nerds like myself who's knowledge of hooks spans a number of genres - there's a "what?! no way!" moment every 30 seconds or so on this record. Pick it up if you enjoy this kind of stuff, though I guess I should also mention that this may be the cleanest track on the record (there are a number of awesome mashups the use some of the filthiest lines from modern hip-hop mixed over the top of innocent and catchy piano lines from, say, Billy Joel).

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" Devo - 1978
Jane writes: From their first album, and in my humble opinion, one of the finest examples of a complete rearrangement cover... or as Randy Jackson on American Idol would say "Makin' it your own, dude".

I know there was much gushing when Devo made a multi-album appearance in Friday Music last year, so I'll spare my own except to say, they were light years ahead of their time and one of the best live shows I've ever seen in my LIFE!

"You Really Got Me" Van Halen - 1978
Walt writes: I got into The Kinks relatively late — 1980, to be exact and grew to love their music. Ray Davies writes great songs and his first one out of the gate, "You Really Got Me," is a masterpiece that has not only been covered but copied by too many bands to mention. Van Halen covered "You Really Got Me" back in 1978 and it lead to a resurgence in the popularity of The Kinks and nudged The Kinks further towards arena rock.

My introduction to Van Halen's cover of "You Really Got Me" happened late one Friday night at St. Francis College in Joliet. I was down visiting some friends and we were all imbibing waaay too much and an 8-Track of Van Halen's eponymous album was in the deck. Everyone was sprawled all over the room and too blasted to either turn the music down or off. Every 10 minutes or so, the deck would loudly ker-chunk to switch tracks and every time that would happen happen, everybody would rouse and every fourth time David Lee Roth would start in on that classic Kinks hit.

"Take Me To The River" Talking Heads - 1978
Christine writes: I have always been a fan of Talking Heads and this is one of their best. I have much respect for the Reverend and think these guys did him justice in their cover.

"Eleanor Rigby" Thrice - 2005
Justin Sid writes: A punk-rock version of the Beatles classic. I hope I don't offend any true Beatles fans. Enjoy!

"Just Like Heaven" Dinosaur Jr. - 1991
Justin Step writes: In my book, this is a well-nigh perfect cover. Dinosaur, Jr. takes a played-out post-punk pop classic from the Cure. They juice it with their grungy, 90s flavor, but don't depart far from the original in the first verse. Then when you've been lulled into comfort, and your brain is hungry for the saccharine sweet chorus that burned itself deeply into your synaptic pathways long ago, your expectations get shattered and your wig flipped. With one stomp on the pedal, Dinosaur, Jr. makes the song their own.

By the way, this MP3 file isn't borked... the song actually ends abruptly like this. As a bonus, here's a lo-fi video I found whilst searching for a digital copy.

"Jump" Mary Lou Lord - 1997
Felix writes: I know precious little about the artist (Mary Lou Lord), but I somehow got a hold of this track via Ben... and it's been a little gem that I've kept in my library ever since. Doing some quick searching this morning, I found out that this track is part of a tribute album entitled Everybody Wants Some: A Loose Interpretation of the Musical Genius of Van Halen. This song makes me feel like I'm sitting in a bar at 3PM, or 5AM.

"Here's to the State (Live)" Eddie Vedder - 2004ish
Brian writes: Originally written by Phil Och, "Here's to the State of Mississippi" was the closing track on his 1965 release, "I Ain't Marching Anymore". The song has been re-worked and covered many times, including Och's own re-worked version, "Here's to the State of Richard Nixon".

This re-worked version of "Here's to the State" saw the light of day around 2004. The rest of the story is in the song. And as inspiring/soothing as I have always found it, it just got better.

"$1000 Wedding" The Mekons - 1989
Jennifer writes: It is a shame that the death of the CD means the death of compilation and tribute albums because I have a certain fondness for comps and tributes.

This song comes from a tribute album for Gram Parsons. He was an amazing song writer from the Bakersfield scene that died far too early. The tribute album is great from start to finish so I suppose that is testament to what a great song writer he was. It was difficult for me to pick just one - but I like the way Jon Langford makes the song sound like a real bender.

"Across The Universe" Rufus Wainwright - 2002
Margaret writes: This song is truly beautiful, and I think Rufus did it justice for the "I Am Sam" soundtrack.

"Let Down" David Bazan's Black Cloud - 2007
TJ writes: This is a cover tune of Radiohead's "Let Down" from O.K. Computer. The entire cd has been redone by artists such as Doveman, Vampire Weekend, John Vanderslice, Cold War Kids, The Twilight Sad and more. So this is in a way a cover and a mashup contribution. You can stream it in it's entirety here - enjoy.

"Believe" Macha Loved Bedhead - 2000
Ben writes: This cover of Cher's "Believe" has been in my iTunes library since 2004, but at some point I deleted the ID3 tags and have never, UNTIL TODAY, been able to determine the artist that released it. Back-story aside, this is a clever and mopey version of a song that is so dramatic and over the top - the original makes me want to hide under a table. It begins with dial-tone phone beeps and just sort of sucks me in after that. A re-interpretation of the highest order. Remember when autotune was new?

"(Anew Hope) Star Wars" Meco - 1977
Walt writes: I've never been a BIG Star Wars fan, Star Trek was more my style but I'll always have a soft spot for the first film (really, the fourth chapter). At the time the film came out, disco was still quite popular and a guy named Meco came out with a bunch of disco inspired covers of the popular movies of the time. So it's time to put on your leisure suits and slinky cocktail dresses and dance on over to a galaxy far, far away!

And how about a disco-themed FCM?

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9.19.2008

FCM #11 - Dance Party

FCM #11 - DANCE PARTY I'm glad to see this mix come together organically and STILL include the "Cha Cha Slide." Admittedly, there are a LOT of different ways to dance and I'm sure you could go through most of them through the course of this mix. Don't miss Felix's link to "Partydance" which has been an office comedy favorite for some time. Click here to download the whole FCM #11 - Dance Party or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

We're voting again for next week's theme. Choose one or these. (1) Break Up Mixtape, (2) Planes, Trains & Automobiles, (3) Fight Songs

"Twistin' the Night Away" Sam Cooke - 1962
Felix writes: Really difficult time with this one. I don't tend to dance all that often (it's a rare thing for me, and usually only happens when I'm alone). While I was tempted to make my pick Ed Shepp's "Partydance", I decided to go with a more traditional pick: Mr. Sam Cooke.

"Genius of Love" Tom Tom Club - 1981
Sarah writes: I love funky dance parties! The first Wednesday of every month is Funk and Soul night at Danny's in Bucktown. The DJ duo Sheer Magic play the funkiest music ever recorded, and the tiny dance floor is packed with people who can't resist the beats! One of my favorite things - I look forward to it every month.

At first I had trouble narrowing it down to one song, but when I remembered 'Genius of Love,' the choice was clear. It speaks for itself. "Who needs to think when your feet just go?"

"Nobody Dances Anymore" Brandston - 2006
TJ writes: Well, this track is from the band Brandtson, a late high school/college fav of mine. This song is totally about people not dancing anymore so I figured it would fit perfectly. And it's always made my rump shake. Any for reals yo, please go check out the video. The whole thing is just people dancing to the song. Enjoy.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" Communards - 1985
Walt writes: Imagine a large ballroom dance floor with three dozen dancers in pink and champagne taffeta gowns with hoop-style skirts just rockin' out to this song ... well that's what I do.

"September" Earth, Wind and Fire - 1978
Margaret writes: I had never listened to funk music before I met Justin, but he's a big fan and now I'm hooked as well. We have a Saturday morning ritual where we blast funk music and dance around our living room like a couple of dorks, and this song is a standard on the playlist. It's impossible for me not to move to this song.

"Let's Pretend We're Married" Prince - 1983
James writes: Only Prince could pull off a line like this without taking a knee to the tenders:
"Excuse me but I need a mouth like yours
2 help me forget the girl that just walked out my door
Let's pretend we're married and do it all night"

"Paper Tiger" Spoon - 2002
Chris writes: I'm a big electro fan and there are a number of fantastic speaker-destroying tracks I thought I might like to include on this mix (see works from Justice, Boys Noize, Calvin Harris) but I decided to go with something more personal - hence this track from Spoon's Kill the Moonlight. When I first moved to Chicago I lived in a big, empty apartment in the Ukrainian Village for the first month and a half while waiting for a roommate. I had a chair, a desk, my computer, a bed, and a little TV stacked on a milk crate. I had no cable and no phone, and I didn't have a job either. I spent my time putting my portfolio together and doing a smattering of freelance work to keep myself alive. I didn't know a single soul in the city, but for that first month and a half it didn't really matter. I played my music loud, I became fascinated with Korean television (see: Age of Warriors), one of the few channels that I could get on my TV, and I sang and danced to break up the time I spent working away at my desk. I wore the grooves out (so to speak) on Kill the Moonlight, and Paper Tiger was the star of the show. I would stand up from my desk and shuffle around the bare living room whenever this song played, dancing a sort of soft shoe that seemed to perfectly fit the mood. Spoon have an acute minimalist's touch when it comes to instrumentation and they have perfected the science of finding just the bare essentials needed to create a beautiful song. Britt Daniel's closing lyric inspired daydreams of what the city might hold for me: someone to be with when I turned out the light.

"Strength Beyond Strength" Pantera - 1994
Brian writes: I was 14 years old when Pantera's Far Beyond Driven was released. I ditched school so I could get my hands on it immediately when the record store opened. My first listen was a magical one, and the thousands that followed were so inspiring and therapeutic to me in my youth. I still get chills when I hear it.

I was almost 15 when I saw Pantera live for the first time at The Aragon Ballroom in 1995. That was the first show I had ever been to like that, and I've never seen one like it since.

Just like the Far Beyond Driven CD, they opened up with Strength Beyond Strength. To this day, I have never seen a crowd move like they did at that moment. And I do mean the entire crowd...from front-to-back and side-to-side, that entire place was DAN-CING! I saw Pantera at least 5 more times after that show, and the reaction was nowhere near the same. Not your typical dance music I'm aware, but this is the dance music I grew up on.

"Cuttin' In" Chris Farlowe - 1966
Jane writes: Couples's skate time!! Oh my... hope I'm not the only slow dance in the mix this week.

Chris Farlowe is an incredible guilty pleasure of mine. Mostly known for very self-indulgent covers, it's a study in disbelief to listen to his music then find out that he LOOKS LIKE THIS!

"Beat Connection" LCD Soundsystem - 2002
Ben writes: Everybody here's afraid of fun. Dance-tastic. LCD Soundsystem opened their (2005) set in at The Metro with this song which (until that point) was never one of my favorites. The energy of that performance was like nothing i've experienced. I hear it in a different way now - and I LOVE it. I've listened countless times and nearly every time I bounce involuntarily, just like the crowd at The Metro and the drunk girl next to me who really wanted to grind... Yeow :(

"Wish" Ellen Allien - 2003
Allison writes: Ellen Allien is a kick-ass DJ from Berlin, and this super-danceable number, "Wish", is from her 2003 album Berlinette. The lyrics are at once oversimplistic and wistful, but the real star of the show are those shuddering, grinding (yet vaguely clinical) German beats. Yum!

"High Fidelity" Daft Punk - 1997
Nick writes: So I picked a Daft Punk song called "High Fidelity", which was featured on their first album, Homework. This predates their being robots by a few years. I picked this one because it seems like many people don't realize that Daft Punk had much of a career before Discovery beyond "Around the World". But their first album was and remains ridiculously influential in house music, especially among DJs, and it (along with, yes, "Around the World") gave them the popularity and money to turn into robots and record Discovery.

On Homework they called clicks 'n cuts with "High Fidelity" five years before Luomo and Akufen; they called progressive house with "Alive" three years before Sasha and Digweed; they recorded a synth line so ridiculous that they reprised it at the end of the album by playing it backwards, and it still managed to sound good.

This video of a rave in Milwaukee(!?) from 1994, three years before Homework came out, gives some good perspective. A few way-old Daft Punk tracks are duly chopped up and thrown in, but the majority of it is Detroit techno and acid house. Daft Punk have some interesting roots.

"21st Century Life" Sam Sparro - 2007
Justin writes: This Australian-Singer-Songwriter-Producer I discovered on one of my many internet surf-a-thons. Upon hopping website to website I fell upon this former child star's homepage and that's when I was entranced by this funktastic music video that immediately started playing without anyone's permission. Needless to say my ass began to shake. And then I got this stirring sensation in my legs and it quickly spread to my upper body. "My God!", I said to myself, "I can't stop the jive!"

That was a while ago, since then I've been plagued with the Chronic Jive. Every time this album plays my body is riddled with fits and vibrations. It's an overwhelming sensation that should not be under-whelmed. I recommend this song and album to everyone but listen at your discretion. You will not be able to stop the groove, funk, dance-pop, or jive. You know it, I know it, our asses know it. Enjoy!

"Whoo! Alright - Yeah... Uh Huh" The Rapture - 2006
Ben writes: This comes from The Rapture's second album, which is no where near as good as their first. I don't do a lot of dancing, but when this is on and I am home in my underwear I tend to gallop around a bit and enjoy myself.

"Casper Cha-Cha Slide (Live Platinum Band)" Casper & Col'Ta - 2000
Renata writes: I cannot dance. At all. Except to this lovely track. And by this track, I mean this exact version, which has played at every Junior High and High School dance I can remember … and almost every wedding I've ever attended. And I'm good. Real good. See you on the dance floor …

"Closer" Nine Inch Nails - 1994
Brian writes: I think it's pretty imperative that this band/song be in the mix.

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9.11.2008

FCM #10 - From the Movies

FCM #10 - FROM THE MOVIES Turn your cell phones and pagers off, we're headed to the cinema. We've got everything from Superman to Rosemary's Baby represented in this mix. Click here to download the entire FCM #10 - FROM THE MOVIES or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's Theme - Dance Party! That's right, bring out the most danceable tracks you've got. Doesn't have to be "dance" music, but it MUST be danceable!


"Superman - Prelude and Main Title March" John Williams - 1978
Walt writes: The theme to Superman - The Movie is one of my all time favorites. I still get chills every single time I hear it. I love the majesty and joy of it and its ability to get the blood pumping. And when I watch the movie, I'm amazed that a 26-year-old unknown actor was so completely able to master the duality of the Superman/Clark Kent relationship and portray two believable and distinct characters. So here's to you Christopher Reeve, you never gave up!

P.S. I have a photo of me with Christopher Reeve from 1980. I'll try and dig it up tonight.

"Going Up The Country" Canned Heat - 1968
Christine writes: Appears in: Woodstock: The Movie (the original one - Margaret) and in Meet The Fockers (1994). The song was also used in the "Northern Exposure" episode when Dr. Cappra was travelling to replace Dr. Joel Flieschman as the town doctor (thank you google!). Anyways, this is one of those songs that I remember listening to when I was a kid and it just made you feel good. I was recently reminded of it when my sister put it on a comp CD for me. The singer has a really interesting voice that you can't help but try to imitate (poorly) and it is one of the few songs where I really appreciate the addition of a flute to the musical lineup... if only there were cowbells too...

"Ain't No Sunshine" Bill Withers - 1971
Ben writes: From "Notting Hill." Yes, I love the Julia Roberts. This fantastic song is used in a great scene where a year passes while Hugh Grant walks through Notting Hill. I love that scene, and the song is just perfect for it.

"Kaze Wo Atsumete" Happy End - 2003
Felix writes: Though I've seen "Lost in Translation," I never really heard this song until Liz played it for me. It's one of her favorites and she can sing it all the way through, word for word (despite the fact that she has no idea what the lyrics mean). Personally, I love the key changes and the slow, rolling tempo throughout. For some reason, in trying to figure out how to best describe the happiness this song elicits: it's like having someone hand you a large sum of money, but in slow motion. Good stuff.

"Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?" Gleaming Spires - 1984
Jane writes: Wha wha WHAT??!!! This incredible song just happened to be nestled inside the most pivotal movie from my pre-adolescent years?? The one that convinced me it was not only OK, but COOL to be in Scholastic Bowl??! It's true. Not only nestled in, but MADE FOR. You can tell by the brainstorm-style lyrics that someone involved with the movie said "OK, so we need a song about the Omega Mu's coming over for their first mixer at the Nerds' frat house... Riff on it!"

This is a splendid work of art. A bit long, but just try to keep its catchy chorus out of your head for the days to come.

"Dead Already" Thomas Newman - 1999
Masha writes: Here's an arrangement by Thomas Newman for the American Beauty score. I first heard it on a mix tape (remember those?) played in the background of an hs art class. Enjoy!

"I'm Shipping Up To Boston" Dropkick Murphys - 2005
Ben writes: From "The Departed." I was so completely blown away by the film, the anxiety and energy of it, particularly in regards to DiCaprio's character as he gets deeper and deeper undercover. This song was just perfect for the film and it was also my ringtone for some time. My kids and I used to run around the house like crazies with this song blaring.

"Big Bad Wolf" Bunny and the Wolf Sisters - 1985
Justin writes: I had to include this classic. It is probably one of the most ridiculous songs ever created for a film. And one of the catchiest. I inspire you to drop what your doing and do the "Big Bad Wolf".

In case you need some inspiration...

"Less Than Zero" Glenn Danzig & the Power and Fury Orchestra - 1987
Jane writes: If you're ever playing "8 Degrees of Separation" and get stuck trying to connect 80's Brat Pack chump Andrew McCarthy with Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, never fear because this sweet tidbit is the missing link that will save your hide. Believe me. That situation happens more than you're probably thinking it does.

Boasting over-production, female backing vocals, and general syrup, I'm positive that this concoction remains the ugliest of stepchildren in Danzig's catalogue, but MY GOD it's a guilty pleasure.

"Tommib" Squarepusher - 2001
Nick writes: Squarepusher's "Tommib" was featured on Lost in Translation. It's a short song, but very good - it doesn't need to do a whole lot to get the point across.

"Child Psychology" Black Box Recorder - 1999
Margaret writes: I am a huge Gilmore Girls fanatic. I love the quirky characters, the rapid dialogue and witty banter, and getting bombarded with hundreds of pop culture references in each episode - on a good day I'll catch about 1/3 of them. I got the soundtrack as a gift, and this has got to be one of the most obscure songs I've ever heard in my life - but totally fitting for the show. It surprises me that I like this song, but I find myself listening to it fairly often.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Theme" Jon Brion - 2004
TJ writes: Jon Brion has made some very awesome soundtracks to some of my favorite films including this theme for the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also did the "I Heart Huckabees" soundtrack. Check it out. Hope you like it.

"Hide and Seek" Imogen Heap - 2005
Justin writes: This is a song off the soundtrack of the film, The Last Kiss. For those not familiar with Imogen Heap she is one half of the group Frou Frou. And Frou Frou is well know for their song that was featured in another Zack Braff film, Garden State. Because I was a huge fan of the Garden State soundtrack, and Frou Frou it was easy for me to spot Imogen's track in The Last Kiss.

I saw her live around a year ago and she had an awesome performance. She talked a lot with the crowd and shared some of her stories, methods, and ways she made her music. This track is also featured on her album "Speak For Yourself" which is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love it, and I hope you do too. :)

"Mad World" Gary Jules - 2001
Allison writes: Is the end of the world nigh? Is the tangent universe near collapse? Hell if I know. Rent the Donnie Darko DVD for more on that note (however abstracted). More to the point, however, this is a Gary Jules heart-swelling cover of the Tears for Fears 1983 track "Mad World". The lyrics are gripping, sad, and -- especially these days -- immediate.

It's one of those three-minute gems I wish was twice as long. It plays and I wish it was playing me just a little bit longer.

"Simple Man" Graham Nash - 1971
Renata writes: I stumbled upon Graham Nash's Simple Man semi-recently while renting the movie Reign Over Me. As the opening scenes played, I remember being overcome by the song … it really spoke to me that day, having struck my mood just right. I was moved. I immediately jotted a few of the lyrics down on a Post-it with the intention to later Google them in hopes of finding the song title so I could then download the track.

I ended up watching the movie for a second time a few weeks later with my mom. As the song played, I told her how much I enjoy this song and, because of this movie, had downloaded and now play it regularly. Her smile widened. She was very familiar with the song and even had a few records from the various guys’s attempts at solo careers (which she immediately whipped out of storage from the family room)—one of which had Simple Man on it! It would up being a really neat bonding experience as mom shared stories of her various concert-goings and reminisced over her favorite artists and albums.

"Ben" Michael Jackson - 1972
Chris writes: Ben was a horror film released in 1972. Here's the synopsis:
A police detective investigating the death of a young man named Willard makes the shocking discovery that the victim was attacked and mutilated by a pack of rats. Ben, the leader of the pack, was Willard's pet, and now the nasty rodent has a new master.
The synopsis neglects to mention that the "new master" is actually a 10-year-old kid with an upper-register voice who cries when the pack of killer rats is decimated by the townspeople. (SPOILER ALERT! Ben survives.) Despite a dismal showing at the theaters, Ben managed to come away with an Academy Award Nomination. Why? Because Michael F'ing Jackson sang the theme song. A young, silver-tongued Michael Jackson who melted hearts with a song about a killer rat and sung for a horror film's end credits. It's a touching song and it makes me think of our very own Ben - Ben, you've got a friend in me.

As a final note, the fairly recent Crispin Glover film "Willard" was set up as a prequel to Ben. Here is Glover's video from the Willard DVD, featuring him singing the title song. It's a gem (and slightly NSFW, but whatever).

"Rosemary's Baby" Fantômas - 2001
"Experiment In Terror" Fantômas - 2001
Brian writes: Named after a super-villain from a series of old French crime novels, Fantomas are an endlessly unique and interesting band, featuring members of Faith No More, The Melvins, Slayer and Mr. Bungle. How could a lineup like that possibly go wrong? The answer is, it can't. In 2001, Fantomas released one of the greatest albums of all time, The Director's Cut. The Director's Cut is a 16-song album consisting of various movie theme songs. They are covers, but just barely. They really took the originals and put their own insane twist on them. I slowly narrowed down my selection from 16 to 2, and I just can't decide. So, I'm including 2 songs. These are the themes from "Experiment in Terror" and "Rosemary's Baby". Also, the band will be performing this album in it's entirety for the Don't Look Back series in December of 2008. For more info on that and a full track-listing, click here.

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