30 Day Song Challenge #26

Day 26: a song that makes you want to fall in love.

a balladeer — When Dean Was the Man (And Monroe Always Smiled)

You see, I have this picture, all perfect and pretty, in which all is all that it seems. A white picket-fence home, away from the city, to live the American Dream.

But I know life ain’t a movie, no dime novel story …

And so many boys are so damn close to perfect, so many boys so much funner than me. But I’ll try my hardest to make us so happy, just like the good Lord meant it to be.

And it’s you girl, you girl, that I see beside me.
It’s you girl, you girl, I stare myself blind.
And it’s you girl, you girl, that I see beside me in time.
All of the time.

First Lines: 20th Century Ghosts

20th Century Ghosts is Joe Hill’s first publication, a collection of his early short stories. While I first learned about Joe Hill through his short story “The Devil on the Staircase” in Stories, I am not sure this bundle would have won me over.

It starts of fine, with “Best New Horror” and the titular tale, and then, well, there’s a couple of stories that are just there. Not good, not bad, just sorta kinda in the middle. In the middle of those, there’s another interesting one (“The Black Phone”) and then “Voluntary Committal” closes the book on a high note.

Seems to me that Hill was still trying to find his stride, and succeeding here and there.

Book read
Joe Hill — 20th Century Ghosts
First line
A month before his deadline, Eddie Carroll ripped open a manila envelope, and a magazine called The True North Literary Review slipped out into his hands. (from “Best New Horror”)

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.