30 Day Song Challenge #25

Day 25: A song you like by an artist no longer living.

Rainbow — Stargazer

As if it could be any other than Ronnie James Dio. Despite that he sung so many incredibly awesome songs, it was quite easy to narrow it down.

You see, that singing-frog hippie love-fest, and his pre-Rainbow-fame outings are not really my cup of tea. But I love large portions of his work with Rainbow, Black Sabbath (#teamWhoIsThatOzzyGuyAnyway) and his own band, Dio.

To start with the latter: the first four albums are stone cold classics, if you’re into that kind of melodic, nearly-hair metal with silly lyrics about strange, foolish rock and roll dragons who dream of dark rainbows. In the the nineties they were kinda lost for a bit (grunge was a thing, sadly), but at the turn of the century there was a return to form, but it wasn’t as fun as before.

So on to Black Sabbath. Dio sung on one magically awesome, one very good and a pretty okay album (again, in the 90s). “Heaven and Hell”, the title track of the first one, is my favorite Sabbath track ever, and the rest of the album is not far behind, with tracks like “Children of the Sea” and “Lonely is the Word”. The Mob Rules contains classics like “Sign of the Southern Cross” and “Turn Up the Night”, and Dehumanizer has a couple of decent songs, but over-all they do little for me.

(Years later, the Mob Rules line-up reunited and toured as Heaven and Hell, and made a pretty good album as well. I saw their show at the 2007 Fields of Rock festival, and it was fist-pumping, horns-throwingly ace.)

But to be honest, my favorite Dio-related album is the second he did with Rainbow, Rising, which is 33 minutes of perfection. The other two Rainbow albums and the various live sets Dio is on all have their highlights (Catch the Rainbow, Gates of Babylon and The Temple of the King to name a few), but none have the sheer magic of Ronnie James Dio belting out “Stargazer”.

30 Day Song Challenge #24

Day 24: a song by a band you wish were still together.

Skik — Alles gaat voorbij

I only saw Skik live once, and that was long before I really started to like them. Since then, their singer / songwriter Daniël Lohues has completely won me over with his solo work. While I don’t really miss them, I would have liked to see them knowing their music as I do now. That would have been something.

“Alles gaat voorbij” is not quite a typical song within their oeuvre — it’s rather sparse, with its seemingly programmed drums and that keyboard thing I don’t recognize but want to call a clavinet — but then again, they never really had a specific style. Throughout their career they went from punkish short songs to orchestrated ballads, and from surf– or Beatles-inspired tunes to some country-tinted folky stuff. Plus some blues rock, for good measure.

30 Day Song Challenge #23

Day 23: a song that you think everybody should listen to.

What Part of My Body Hurts the Most (Bat Out of Hell The Musical)

Without contest, everybody needs to hear the latest Jim Steinman classic, “What Part of My Body Hurts the Most”. Ever since I first heard a bootlegged recording back in 2005 or so (not actually the one behind that link, but you get the idea), I knew this was going to be a classic. I my head, I could hear Meat Loaf nailing it, I could hear the arrangement, the piano and pounding drums — every little thing. And then it didn’t happen. There have been several sanctioned live versions and tributes, but no official release. Until last year, when it appeared in Bat Out of Hell The Musical. As there is no official digital release of the cast recording, I cannot offer Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton’s final version, so a bootlegged promo mix is the best I can do.

30 Day Song Challenge #22

Day 22: a song that moves you forward.

Bad Religion — Punk Rock Song

Love this song. It’s short (hi John!), currently topical again, and it has a sense of humor to it. If you look at the verses, they pull no punches:

Have you visited the quagmire?
Have you swam in the shit?
The party conventions and the real politic
The faces always different, the rhetoric the same
But we swallow it all, and we see nothing change
Nothing has changed

And then the chorus pays off:

This is just a punk rock song
Written for the people who can see something’s wrong
Like workers in a factory we do our share
But there’s so many other fuckin’ robots out there
And this is just a punk rock song

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, we as concerned individuals may bust our asses trying to make something of it, but hey, whatyagonnado? And this is just a punk rock song that ain’t gonna change the world either.

I also love how in the video singer Greg Graffin looks just like your dad (ymmv) trying to be cool, rocking out in his red dad-sweater. This becomes even more apparent when you look at a couple of live versions back to back. (1996, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017)

30 Day Song Challenge #21

Day 21: A song you like with a person’s name in the title.

Opeth — Face of Melinda

A non-exhaustive list of names that I found in my collection: Adam. Albertine. Alexander the Great. Alice. Amadeus. Andries Knevel. Angie. Anna. Annabel. Anne. Annelie. Anniek. Asherah. Bambi Woods. Betty. Billy. Cain. Carey. Cecilia. Domino. Damien. Dante. Desirée Diana. Dianna. Diane. Dracula. Eleanor. Elisabeth. Elise. Elvis. Emily. Emmanuel. Escher. Esmee. Eva. Eve. Flash. Frankenstein. Grace Kelly. Hitler. Jack Kerouac. Jake. James Dean. Jamie. Jane. Janie. Jeanny. Jef. Jeremy. Jesse James. Jesus. Jillian. Jimmy. Johnny. Mr. Jones. Joni. Jolene. Juliet. Gaia. Henk. Hitler. Kayleigh. Kees. Kevin. Lazarus. Lena. Lenny. Louise. Lucretia. Madeline. Marieke. Martha. Mary. Mrs McGrath. Melinda. Mephistopheles. Miranda Holgersma. Michelle. Najade. Nemo. Nils Holgersson. Noah. Pamala. St Patrick. Penny. Randy Newman. Richard Manuel. Robin. Mrs Robinson. St Robinson. Romeo. Rosalita. Rosanna. Rosie. Rooooooooooooooooooxannne. Ruby. Sam. Sandy. Sarah. Shiva. Simone. Sinéad. Suzanne. Stan Meyer. Sylvia. Thor. Tom. Tom Joad. Tom Waits. Veronica Guerin.

There are so goshdarn many of them, I made a playlist on Spotify. Feel free to expand upon that.

My favorite among them is Opeth’s “Face of Melinda”. It starts of slow and nice and calm and acoustic, and then develops into this heavy thing. Not as heavy as what comes next (that chorus!), but still, pretty heavy for what started out as a folky ballad. Mikael Åkerfeldt also saves one of his best lines for last.

Endlessly gazing in nocturnal prime
She spoke of her vices and broke the rhyme
But baffled herself with the final line
My promise is made but my heart is thine …