The Great 28
28 Songs That May Or May Not But Probably May Be Better Than Songs on the New Album, Mannish Boys, Songs 8 - 14
Watch out na! Catfish got the second batch of his favorite tunes for you below. Play 'em and may they get right to you the way they get right to me. After all this music has done for me, it would only be right to spread it around. If you would like to support Brooks Long & The Mad Dog No Good's first album, Mannish Boys, please head directly to www.GoFundMe.com/BrooksLong. You folks are the ones making all the wheels spin. I thank you so much.
Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go
Yeah, you wanna do the nasty, but you ain't doin' the nasty tonight, brother. Fate has seen to this. All you can do is play one hell of a sexually frustrated guitar solo. By the way, Chuck is the king of Rock & Roll/R&B songwriting meter. This tune is in iambic pentameter for all you Shakespeare fans. And that's really a great guy to compare him to. The Bard's influence is so common that it's hard to even notice it. Same for Chuck. We're talking about two people who solidified languages here. And they both liked talkin' about doin' the nasty, too.
Aretha Franklin – Ain’t No Way
This is a perfect song. Music is melody, harmony and rhythm. Add words and you’ve got a song. This is a perfect song. And no, that’s not the great Queen of Soul doing an overdub back there. That’s Whitney’s mama, Cissy. You know what I’m talking about. As for the rest of the song? Well, sometimes it doesn’t have to be “The Blues” to have the blues all up in it. A song where your jaw drops, your heart beats like a hammer and your eyes are filled with tears. Written by Carolyn Franklin, so you know that damn family is talented.
Parliament – Mothership Connection (Starchild)
Imagine it. Just imagine cruising through the galaxy bumpin’ this. Just sounds right, right? George Clinton said his concept for the whole album was how cool it would be to see [negroes] in outer space. That chilled out “Swing down, sweet chariot” part with Bootsy Collins digging deep in his “Space Bass” and keyboardist Bernie Worell laying down some weird synth is genius. Even more so when you consider that it comes from a song slaves sang about a Biblical flying chariot as they secretly prayed for deliverance through the Underground Railroad. “Stop and let me ride,” P-Funk sings to the Mothership. “Comin’ forth to carry me home.” If my years of Sci-Fi study serve me well, Motherships take aliens back to their Motherplanet/Motherland, right? “We have come to reclaim the pyramids.” Can you dig it?
Van Morrison - Linden Arden Stole The Highlights
Van was asked once “Who is singing the song?” Morrison answered, “The question really might be ‘Is the song singing you?’” Vocal possession. That isn’t anything new. It happens to shamans when they sing about animal spirits. It happens to gospel singers when they sing about Jesus. It happens to R&B singers, usually when they sing about sex. It just happens to Van when he’s singing about the street and the people on it. This is a somehow beautiful song about man on the run who has to kill his pursuers with a hatchet, yet still loves “the little children like they were his very own” and… well, you just have to hear it. You can hear a whole life in here and a man's whole world. And in less than 3 minutes that whole world is gone and you’re left wondering “what the hell just happened?” Did you get healed?
The Drifters - Up On The Roof/On The Boardwalk
These two songs share a story. Rudy Lewis, a closeted gay man who sang with gospel great Clara Ward, took the lead on “Up On The Roof.” A song about finding the perfect place to get away from the world, it’s one of the best gems from husband and wife Carole King and Gerry Goffin, the powerhouse songwriting team Lennon and McCartney wanted to be like if they ever made it big. You and I understand the need to escape every now and then, but listening to his command of the tune, maybe Rudy understood a bit too well. To capitalize on the success, Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young wrote another great tune about a place to get away, “Under The Boardwalk.” Unfortunately, The Drifters entered the studio in sadness. Rudy Lewis had passed the night before from heroin use and former lead singer Johnny Moore was called in to do the heavy job. There’s only so much a songwriter can do. A great performance can marry a song to the needs of the moment and leave it vitally transformed. On that day in the studio, The Drifters, the studio musicians and producers made “a blanket with my baby” sound like some secluded place in heaven.
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – More Love
The Beach Boys – When I Grow Up To Be A Man
I’ve always been old, so I mostly don’t mind my age catching up with my personality. Even still, there is a reflective “What the hell is going to happen to me?” moment that everybody has. The Beach Boys -- unembarrassed by an embarrassment of melody, harmony and production -- tend to lay it on pretty damn thick with an innocent lushness you could definitely call corny. Except what’s so corny about questions like “Will I love my wife for the rest of my life?” Can I make a plea in favor of innocence and corniness when the artist comes by it with honesty and beauty? And how can we know when an artist has those qualities? That's up to you, of course. But it goes a long way when we give the artist, any artist, from your sister’s favorite boy band to the next one up on the open mic list, more than half a shot. Shit. I just laid it on too thick myself. My bad. I just know that one day we’ll be very old or very something else and we’ll regret the corny feelings we didn’t express. “26, 27, 28. Won’t last forever. It’s kinda sad.” God, I love pop.
Alright, alright. I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am. Stay tuned for the third batch of The Great 28. And don't forget to visit www.GoFundMe.com/BrooksLong, donate if you can and spread the word!