Friday, January 4, 2019

One More (?) Go Around: A Hundred Songs I Absolutely Must Have With Me on 1/48/50

 #353) "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed - One of those songs that's probably been stylish to say you like (even if you don't) since its release, I must state that until recently, I wasn't a fan. I appreciated it objectively, recognized how significant it was that a song like this, giving voice to something completely unknown or stubbornly unrecognized at the time, got recorded and released and made it all the way to #16 on the American charts in 1972, the year I was born. It was way ahead of its time, and pretty edgy, I'd imagine (in a year when The Brady Bunch was part of ABC's prime time lineup), without being repulsive.

And that's its greatest weapon, I'd say: the mysterious serum created with just a few musical ingredients: a spartan arrangement of alienated-sounding bass, horns and lightly brushed percussion paired with tired vocals that have trouble standing on their own (in critical need of help from the "colored girls", who totally step up). It just sounds like the streets, I think, sounds like everything it's talking about and everything going on around what it's talking about. I remember listening to this song years ago and hearing, but not really listening.  Now - I don't really know why - it's hypnotic, to the point of being a little unsettling. 

Doubtless, as intended. 

"Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she..."

#354) "Against all Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins - It's not often that a song written specifically for a movie soundtrack is...well, any good at all, much less superb. Written (by Collins) and named for the 1984 flick starring Rachel Ward and Jeff Bridges, "Against All Odds" ebbs and flows seamlessly between tender ballad and blustery power ballad, with Collins' vocals seaming to tie it all together for his ability to sing tenderly then, on a dime, pour it all out.  Heavy and brooding from the outset, it explodes suddenly with a clap of Collins' thunderous drumming (which I often think is overstated in his music, but not here...), then snaps back.  It explodes again...then snaps back, leaving a sense of uncertainty, of questions waiting to be answered. It's a really unusual experience when I listen to this song. Definitely not a garden variety soft rock 80s hit, "Against All Odds" is musical craftsmanship.

"You're the only one who really knew me at all..."