Thursday, May 5, 2011

Double Take

by Brendan Cavanagh

Some of my favorite musicians or bands were ones that I knew of or listened to half-heartedly, not fully opening my ears to the music. It's always quite a shock when you discover that your new favorite was resting just under your nose the whole time. The following is a list of songs and/or videos that triggered strong emotional response and incentive to pursue:

"Up On Cripple Creek" - The Band

Like everyone else, I already knew and liked "The Weight," except hardly anyone knows that that's the title. But one afternoon my mom told me to watch this video of The Band performing "Up On Cripple Creek" in concert, and I was smitten. The band members looked so mountainy, due to their innovative blend of country and rock n roll, but mainly because of their impressive facial hair.

"Who Killed Davey Moore?" - Bob Dylan

When I was a sophomore in high school, I used to nap daily. Like, long naps. I think I came home from school and slept for four hours on more than two occasions. Anyway, one night at about 7 or so I ambled downstairs in a fog, splayed myself out on the couch and turned on PBS, which was airing Bob Dylan Live at Newport: 1963-1965. Although I initially hesitated to change the channel because I was too damn lazy, I wound up sticking it out through "Who Killed Davey Moore?" and the rest of the program, enthralled by my first encounter with Bob Dylan. In this video especially, I admired how bare and raw his music came across.  Buuuuuuttttttt the video is not on Youtube, so I will post another one from the same program.  This was the first time I Heard "Like A Rolling Stone," and I remember sitting in Spanish class the next day, nasally singing the refrain over and over in my head, anxious to go home and listen to the song again.  This, incidentally, is the first live performance of "Like A Rolling Stone," and it was a very big deal because Dylan switched over from acoustic-folk to electric-rock.  Great move, in my opinion.

"Here Comes The Sun" - The Beatles

I liked the popular songs of The Beatles for years and years, but never felt any incentive to seek out and acquire more by them. I simply "didn't get" The Beatles. After suffering much verbal abuse from my cousin and forcing myself to listen to Abbey Road, I started to develop an appreciation for The Beatles, especially Abbey Road, but still could not understand what made them so amazing. Then fairly recently, something (no pun intended) about "Here Comes The Sun" knocked me out. I took into account the cultural context surrounding The Beatles fame, the artists they inspired and collaborated with and ultimately, how their music made me feel. It made me feel different. That's all I can say.

"Who'll Stop The Rain?" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence is the ultimate radio band, so I was always familiar with a handful of their most popular singles, but once I got a hold of my mom's portable turntable and her collection of records, I started playing Chronicle, Vol. One a lot. Well, mostly Side Three at first. But the song I always came back to was "Who'll Stop The Rain?" because I dug the sound as well as the subtle, political undertones. It was relevant in the 60s, and it's relevant today in this lousy mid-west weather.

"Gimme Shelter" - The Rolling Stones

I never really got into the Rolling Stones, save for a few singles, as with any other popular band I felt obligated to listen to, however begrudgingly.  Though I was sitting in my friend's car one night last year, and he played "Gimme Shelter" and told me to listen to it and understand how awesomely gnarly Merry Clayton's vocals are.  We listened to it a lot over Christmas Break, and one day as I zoned in on the guitar, it clicked.  I actually remember something in my head clicking.  The proverbial light bulb going off, if you will.  Later, I wrote on my buddy's Facebook wall to show how much I liked this song (and to show our Facebook friends how cool I am).  I believe my post sums it up:

"Top Four Moments in "Gimme Shelter":
1. Final gnarly, drawn-out note on the guitar before Mick comes in (listen to this part with Bill, he'll make it infinitely better)
2. Merry Clayton's "Ra-ape! Murder!" (her voice cracks twice)
3. Seamless transition into "Love, sister..." 
4. "Gimme, gimme shelter" (who doesn't love meta?)"

"The Lengths" - The Black Keys

Getting restless/lazy now.  Shorter descriptions.  Liked a couple louder songs by the Black Keys, falling asleep one night, heard this song, fell in love.  Depressing, guttural, induces strong nostalgia in my college friends.

"Sloop John B" - The Beach Boys

Knew plenty of Beach Boys songs, all the hits, but got particularly attached to this one.  Harmonies, odd instruments used, Pet Sounds is a fantastic album, especially on vinyl.

"For Lovin' Me" - Peter, Paul & Mary

Cover of Gordon Lightfoot, harmonies are solid, lyrics are somewhat misogynist yet empowering.

"A Quick One, While He's Away" - The Who

Gave me much new found respect for The Who.  Frontman Roger Daltry (vocals) calls it a "mini-opera" and the parent to the Who's subsequent album/movie/first rock opera, Tommy.  Blog post about this song/The Who/the awesomeness of rock operas pending.  But it's a medley of a bunch of little ditties which tells a story about a restless woman who gives in to another man and her ultimate confession to her lover.  So so good. Used in Wes Anderson's Rushmore, which makes it extra legit.  Best version is Live at Leeds, though the Rock n Roll Circus version is fun too.

"Pale Blue Eyes" - The Velvet Underground

Used twice in Adventureland, loved it ever since.  Made me eager to pursue the Velvet Underground, despite knowing nothing about them.  Sad, sweet, sincere vocals.  Listen to the bass kick in at the end of the second verse.  This should be played only at nighttime and if you're depressed.



  1. My dad tried to impress a girl by singing along to "Who'll Stop The Rain" on his transistor radio on the school bus. When the song was over he found out she didn't like the song. Young Joe McMenamin.

  2. Listen to the intro to "The Weight," and then to "The Lenghts."

  3. I would so do you. Also I just read about "A Quick One" somewhere and now I'm dying trying to remember where I read about it. Appreciate the tag (how is that the first one?) and yeah Youtube sucks.


  4. I only really knew the Rolling Stone songs beaten to death by classic rock radio until late high school/ early college, and then I discovered how amazing 'Exile on Main Street' and everything else in that unbeatable run of mid-career records was. I can't say which band is better (because that's retarded), but I definitely listen to the Stones more than the Beatles anymore. It is pure rock n roll. I wanna get shitcan drunk and catch a venereal diseases when I listen to the Stones. It accomplishes the thing that rock and roll does better than anything else: you feel like someone else when it's playing.