For the last couple of weeks, I have been getting asked during my classes the same question a lot:
“What is your favorite song?”
Each time, it almost reduces me to a bumbling idiot. I need to come up with a great answer that sounds convincing if I am going to continue to teach music. Seems like something a music teacher should be able to do.
Usually, I say something like, “That’s a tough one. I love so many songs that it would be hard to choose just one, but here’s one I really like…”
I feel like there is some reasonable way of narrowing this down. I’ve done it with film. Jaws (1975) is my favorite movie. I have many other favorites, but nothing has supplanted Jaws for several decades now. Could something come along and take it from the top. It’s not etched in stone. I just haven’t seen anything that makes me as happy as Jaws.
Choosing a top five movies, though, that is painful. On any given day, that list would be different. Today, for example, I would have to go:
2. Local Hero
3. Full Metal Jacket
5. My Favorite Year
But then I think about Godfather (and part 2) or Lost In America or Animal House or Stripes or, you get the picture. I love the shit out of True Romance, too, and Brazil and Cable Guy and Death to Smoochy. Ileana Douglas’ Grace of My Heart gets me every damn time. Falcon and The Snowman? It’s almost perfect.
These are just distractions, though.
First question. Could I pick a favorite album? I don’t even know if I could do that. My first favorite album was probably Harry Nilsson’s The Point. “Me and My Arrow” and “Think About Your Troubles” could both be candidates for my favorite song. Both of those songs still do it for me, as does the record itself. If I had to narrow it down between the two of them, I would give the nod to “Think About Your Troubles.”
The next record that I fell in love with and still have not lost any of my love for it is Wall of Voodoo’s Call Of The West. I found them kind of fascinating when I saw them on Urgh! A Music War on ON TV where I first heard “Back In Flesh” but when “Mexican Radio” came out, I was completely hooked. The great thing about that record, though, is that “Mexican Radio” is not the best song on it. I love the song “Spy World” and “Lost Weekend,” too. I can’t pick one, though.
From there, I fell in love with a new band or album every week. Bands that have stood the test of time, and in no particular order, are Bauhaus, Butthole Surfers, Fugazi, Damned, Jesus Lizard, Who, Cramps, and PIL. That is the upper echelon of bands I love, but even as I type it, I think about other bands who didn’t make the list. This doesn’t include solo artists like Lou Reed and Gordon Lightfoot or Jonathan Richman, all of which make me happy to no end.
If I had to pick a favorite Bauhaus song, I’d have to narrow it down to a few: “Rose Garden Funeral of Sores” which is a John Cale cover. I love John Cale. He could have been in the solo list, too. “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” is a fave, too. “Dark Entries” would round out the top three. I’d probably give “Terror Couple…” the nod here, but wow. Some days it would be any of those three and probably “Crowds,” as well.
Butthole Surfers is easy. “Boiled Dove” is my favorite song of theirs. Any song that starts off talking about how you have just fallen through the ceiling into a room full of “soft, moist eyeballs” is okay by me. “P.S.Y” from Pioughd is a close second, though, and I do love me some “I Saw An X-Ray Of A Girl Passing Gas” and “Human Cannonball.” Picking a Surfers song is like picking one of my own songs.
Fugazi…well, I do love “Cashout” off The Argument. “Forensic Scene” from Red Medicine is a fave, too, and so are just about all the songs off 13 Songs. Probably “Cashout” for the win.
Choosing a favorite Damned song is also like choosing a favorite child. Like each of the predecessors, you may have noticed I didn’t mention a favorite album. This is because that choice would suck. “Melody Lee” off Machine Gun Etiquette still gets the little hairs to stand up on the back of my neck every time. Same with “Ignite” off Strawberries. The Black Album is also full of great stuff but “Drinking About My Baby” will always have sentimental value. My favorite song of all-time might just be a Damned song. I can say that with a fair amount of confidence.
There is a clear-cut champ when it comes to Jesus Lizard, for me, and that’s “Mouth Breather” off of Goat. I just love that song. There are many songs from that band that get me going, but none as much as “Mouth Breather.”
“Don’t get me wrong he’s a nice guy. I like him just fine but he’s a mouth breather.”
You just don’t get lyrics like that every day.
The Cramps…simple. “You Got Good Taste.” Done.
The Who…too hard to choose just one. They have so many songs that make me feel different things. “Behind Blue Eyes” can make me cry and “Tattoo” can make me sing at the top of my lungs. So can songs like “5:15” or “I’m One.” Quadrophenia has gotten me through a few interesting times in my life. I’ll have to go with the version of “Young Man Blues” from Isle of Wight. Another cover, but whatever. That song absolutely rules. Entwistle at the height of his powers.
For a long time, I would have said PIL was my favorite band, then the Surfers pushed them to second. I still love PIL. “Careering” off of Second Edition is probably my favorite. No, it is my favorite. “Seattle” and “Rise” are great, too, as is “Order of Death” and “Public Image.” So much good stuff, but I’ll go with “Careering.”
You have probably guessed there will be the first playlist in a while with this one.
And I’m still no closer to picking a favorite. I didn’t even get to the solo artists or my favorite local bands or just my favorite one hit wonders.
See you tomorrow.
Somebody got crafty with this one. I stole it, fair and square.