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Entry date: 8-12-2022 - Why can't I pick a song? - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

My quest for figuring out what my favorite song is continues.

In the 90s, I would play pool a lot at Click’s Billiards which is now a brewery, I think, on 40th Street and Thomas. I liked that the jukebox had a decent selection of classic rock hits, and it was cheap. It also had not yet gotten the setting that prevented you from playing the same song over and over.

I discovered this one day because I was messing with my pool partner for the day, which was my friend, Julie, and I played Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” back-to-back. It’s a long song and she hated it and I wanted to throw her off her game. She often kicked my ass, so any time I had the opportunity to get in her head a bit, I did.

This was even before we all knew what an outspoken person Mr. Nugent is and just thought of him as some wild man, rock star, hunter guy. To say I was delighted when “Stranglehold” played back-to-back is an understatement. The next time we got together to play pool, I left before she did and I played a dollars’ worth of “Stranglehold” on my way out which meant five consecutive plays. Apparently the bartender thought this was funny and said he couldn’t do anything to alleviate her (and all the other patron’s) pain.

If I had a few extra bucks, I would play “Stranglehold” on repeat for as long as I could when I was getting ready to leave Click’s. I do love that song. I even got to tell Mr. Nugent himself about my proclivity when I interviewed him a number of years ago. I really enjoyed talking to him. The guy has a encyclopedic knowledge of music and is a true fan.

“Stranglehold” is pretty much the only Nuge song I like, though. It’s a one-off favorite. There are many of those. Lots of great 80s new wave songs are ones that I love but don’t really care for much else from a band. Felony’s “The Fanatic” is an all-time favorite of mine, but the rest of their output was garbage. I have the cassette around here somewhere and taped over all of it but “The Fanatic.”

“Whisper to a Scream (When Birds Fly)” by Icicle Works is another one of those. I do actually like a few other songs of theirs, but not enough to put on a whole record any time soon. I am probably selling them short. Teresa and I listened to “Whisper to a Scream…” on the way back to Rangeley from Farmington a few weeks ago. She seemed to like it and I was happy to share it with her. Luckily, Stranger Things (The TV show) has opened up her eyes and ears to songs from the 80s.

I remember when my friend, Christine, turned me on to the song in high school. She shared a bunch of great post-punk, new wave stuff with me. I have to imagine that Teresa is something like what Christine was in high school. Sarcastic, took no shit, and guarded. Very, very guarded.

Songs are like nuggets that make our lives better. Certain ones just get in our heads and hearts and souls and bounce around forever. I mentioned Lou Reed yesterday. I always liked Lou’s music. “Walk On The Wild Side,” of course, is the one I remember the furthest back, but “Vicious” is one that I became fond of in high school. There was something about his delivery and the stabby guitar part that I really liked and still do.

When New York came out in 1989, though, it was kind of the perfect record for where my brain was at, and I would listen to it over and over. “Romeo Had Juliet” is one of my all-time favorite songs and I can listen to it anytime. It is definitely on the list. I do love the Velvet Undergroud, too, but I think I prefer both Lou and John Cale’s solo stuff to much of the Velvet discography.

Cale’s Fragments of a Rainy Season is a great compilation of his work. “(I Keep a) Close Watch” is such a wonderful song. Cale’s work is so full of beautiful words married to excellent phrasing that you kind of miss how great the music is throughout all of it. “Dying On The Vine” and “Cordoba” are faves off this record, too. And, again, he wrote “Rose Garden Funeral Of Sores” and his version is killer, too.


I’m suddenly struck by the fact that these last couple of days have been nothing but musical masturbation for me. What a treat for you, dear reader. If anything, though, I hope you can get a few things to listen to out of this.


My spotify list of potential favorite songs is up to 37 and I haven’t added a bunch. This is hopeless, really. I think I should just stay with the “I don’t really have a favorite song, but here is one I really like” answer when I am asked. It’s funny, though, because when I was my student’s age, I could have told them my favorite.

“My Sharona” would have been it in fourth and fifth grade. “I Love Rock and Roll” for a part of seventh grade. “Goody Two Shoes” in eighth grade, for sure. The Nilsson songs would have been there prior to 4th grade, and maybe a little bit from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I did love those songs for a while, too. “Break On Through” by the Doors would have been in there and maybe even “Light My Fire.”

After learning about punk rock, though, it gets murky. There were just so many songs I loved. “Lady Killer” by the Vandals was one of those. “Walk Together/Rock Together” and “99 Red Balloons” from 7 Seconds were faves. “Richard Hung Himself” was perfect to play loudly when my mom’s boyfriend, Richard, came over. That was by D.I., of course.

Damn. 1000 words come and gone and still no resolution.

The struggle is real.

See you tomorrow.

Here's 50 songs that are contenders....

ah, Click' many fun times there.

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