Can't shuffle during the week these days, with electric drills and hammering going on all day every day. (I HATE this renovation.) Thank god for the weekend!
1. Mean Mr. Mustard / The Beatles
From Abbey Road (1969)
One problem with the shuffle: It's always jarring to hear one isolated section of the great Side Two medley on this album. (Read my You Never Give Me Your Money post for the full version of how much I love this "musical mosaic"). Every time I hear John sing that Mr. Mustard is a "dirty old man," I think of Paul's grandfather -- "such a clean old man" -- in A Hard Day's Night. And "his sister Pam" -- is that Polythene Pam, whose song we'll get next? (And is Polythene Pam the roommate of Lovely Rita Meter Maid?) Yeah, I know, I listen to too much Beatles music. But I love that Mr. Mustard "keeps a ten bob note up his nose" -- perfect Lennonesque detail.
2. Why Why Why Why Why / Brinsley Schwarz
From Nervous on the Road (1972)
Another throwaway Nick Lowe country rock gem, featuring one of his standard lonely losers. Miserable in love, miserable out of love, moping around the house -- sound familiar?
3. The Thrill / Alan Price
From Alan Price (1977)
The cynical side of Alan Price, the side that made his O Lucky Man! soundtrack so brilliant. "Oh I just love the thrill of rock and roll / It gives release unto the darkest soul / The thickest yob can get a job / Rock and roll can keep you off the dole." And is it sung like a rock anthem? No indeed -- it's a chirpy little music hall ditty, sung over a ragtime piano. So there!
4. Space Oddity / David Bowie
From Space Oddity (1969)
One of the great eccentric rock songs of all time, inspiring one of my earliest posts here.
5. I Wish I Felt This Way At Home / Dolly Parton
From Just Because I'm a Woman (1968)
Adultery, one of the great themes of country music. That tremble in Dolly's voice is super-saturated with guilt and desire; yet she still has an innocent, forthright quality. (This is from her first solo album, when she was still Porter Waggoner's "girl find.") She really does wish she felt this way about her husband, that's the kicker. She means to be good...
6. Pressure / The Kinks
From Low Budget (1979)
This album marked the Kinks' US comeback with a vengeance. Just to prove they weren't British Invasion fossils, here comes this proto-punk anthem, given Ray Davies' special fragile neurotic twist: "Pressure, pressure, I've got pressure! / Oh, yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah..." Was Ray mocking punk, or trying to keep up with the times? Both, no doubt.
7. You're Wondering Now / The Specials
From The Specials (1980)
Ah, the lo-fi charms of the Specials! That knock on the door, the muffled "You can't come in!" And then the mopey shuffling reggae begins, brooding over how he's going to get by now that he's on his own. At last the instruments pack up, and he's singing alone, still wondering how...
8. She's Going / The English Beat
From Special Beat Service (1982)
Perfect segue! So it's going to be a ska Saturday -- I can live with that. Hear how the English Beat jacked up the ska tempo, made it more frantic, more urban. Different drugs, I guess.
9. Take the Money and Run / Steve Miller
From Fly Like An Eagle (1976)
The tempo just got laidback again; we're far away from the Brixton streets, loping around in sunny Texas. Yahoo! I wasn't living in the US in 1976, so I missed the radio overload of this song, thank goodness. Remember all those anarchistic 70s movies about wild young couples on crime sprees? Badlands, The Getaway, Sugarland Express (with True Romance and Natural-Born Killers their 1990s offspring)? This song should have been the soundtrack for all of them.
10. Hey Jude / The Beatles
From Past Masters, Vol, 2 (compilation)
So we begin and end with the Beatles -- that's fitting. Does this song go on too long? Maybe, but I always, always, end up singing along with the "la la la la-la-la-las," which I'm sure was what Paul McCartney intended. My private theory: this is Paul's comeback to "All You Need Is Love"; he wanted the swaying crowds to be chanting along to his song, dammit. And now they are.