RL Rurnside – Goin’ Down South
RL Burnside is something of a blues legend. Playing acoustic Delta blues since the 50s, it wasn’t until the 90s that Burnside got the opportunity to record any records. And in the mean time, he actually killed a guy. Shot him in the back of the head and then uttered the line “I didn’t mean to kill him, your honour. I just meant to shoot him in the head. Whatever happened after that was between him and the Lord”.
By the time he got signed to a major label he’d pretty much ditched the acoustic guitar and embraced the electric (“Judas!”). The switch from acoustic to electric yielded effortlessly cool electric blues, like “Goin’ Down South”.
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
The story goes like this. George Clinton, tripping off his tits on LSD (as he was prone to do), gave guitarist Eddie Hazel the instruction to play as if he had just discovered his own mother had died but then found out it wasn’t true. The idea being that the first half of the song conveys sorrow and anger and regret and whatever other emotions one wishes to associate with the death of a loved one; while the second half is designed to wash over the listener like palpable relief.
“Maggot Brain” was intended to be recorded with a full band but when Clinton got back to the studio and heard Hazel’s guitar take, he didn’t want much else going on in the song that would take attention away from Hazel’s performance, such was its power. So what’s left is the simple arpeggio that runs throughout the track and every so often, the ghosts of a drumtrack that once played – besides that, the whole song is just Eddie Hazel’s guitar heroics.
Teen Daze – Let’s Fall Asleep Together
Does anyone still remember chillwave? I know, right? So 2010…
The problem with sub-genres like chillwave is two-fold. Firstly, this is music that sounds the way it does because of the restraints placed upon its creator. Got a laptop, a guitar, and a predeliction towards all things ‘retro’; but no bandmates and no money? Make a chillwave album! A lot of cats did just that in 2010 and therein lies the other problem. When something can be done quickly and cheaply, it’s done by many people (seeminlgy with the same shared record collection), and the genre reaches its saturation point and fizzles out before it has a chance to evolve. The end result is a lot of records that sound a lot like one another being released in a short period of time.
Teen Daze’s “Let’s Fall Asleep Together” is one of those songs that stick out. While most of their contemporaries were transparently informed by record collections that traversed the eighties and not much else, on “Let’s Fall Asleep Together”, Teen Daze find their roots in 60’s surf pop, trading bleeps and bloops for Beach Boys harmonies and shimmering, sun-soaked waves of guitar.
I’m gonna post a “song of the day” every day that I can be arsed (so it’ll probably wind up being a “song of the week” and then a “song of the month” before finally being forgotten altogether). The “song of the day” could be a new song, an old song, a well-known song, an obscure song – but it’ll always be a song I dig.
As this is the first “song of the day”, I’ll start with my favourite song of all time…
Bruce Springsteen – “New York City Serenade”
Taken from 1973’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, “New York City Serenade” is my favourite song (probably). It’s also – for my money – the most unflinchingly romantic song ever written. It does away with schmaltzy platitudes and twee declarations of undying love and all that jazz, instead telling the story of a love that’s imperfect, young and fleeting, coloured by honesty and not hyperbole and bullshit. It’s refreshing.