"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" – Arlo Guthrie (Song of the Day)

r-3691533-1340551226-8819-jpegWith Thanksgiving day coming up, I had to put in a word for Arlo Guthrie's masterpiece, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree."

For me, "Alice's Restaurant" is a Thanksgiving staple, but fun to listen to any time of year. Every year, the classic rock station (KSHE) in St. Louis would play this in its entirety – no small commitment, even for AOR stations at more than 18 minutes.

The tune, repeated with minor variations for the entire song, is catchy enough. But it's the story and Guthrie's delivery that are so endearing. More than 35 years after I first listened to "Alice's Restaurant," the mere mention of 8×10 color glossy photographs (with circles and arrows on the back of each one) brings a smile to my face. If, by some unfortunate circumstance, you've never heard the tune before – set aside 20 minutes and give it a listen.

"Days of Swine and Roses" – My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (Song of the Day)

220px-kmfdmnaiveSorry for the break in programming over here, but work, life, and spending too much time obsessing over the election can put a crimp in your blogging.

Speaking of the election, I've been seeking out more punk and industrial tunes in the last week or so. Angry and abrasive music does a lot to soothe my soul when times are dark. And these are dark times, my friends.

I'm not a huge My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult fan, but "The Days of Swine and Roses" is one of my favorites. They knocked it out of the park on this single. The samples, the chorus, the creepy ass synths, and the sneering vocals all mesh together so nicely.

Comments and suggestions for similar music very welcome!

"You Are the Everything" – R.E.M. (Song of the Day)

Green album coverSuch a wonderful little song off the Green album. You might not have expected mandolin from R.E.M., but there it is. Peter Buck branching out to new instruments means new and interesting sounds for R.E.M.

Like a lot of R.E.M. tunes, the lyrics are a bit more poignant when sung than on paper. "Drifting off to sleep with your teeth in your mouth" puzzled me as a teen. Where else would they be? Perhaps he's talking about dentures, but that seems weird. The overall effect is lovely, though.

This is one of those quiet, unassuming songs that I tend to forget about until I listen to the album. Then it's like, "oh, right! This song is fantastic." Not that there are any bad songs on Green, mind you.

Song of the Day: "How Soon is Now?" (The Smiths)

45 cover for "How Soon is Now?"Not quite ready to let the posting streak die, so here's one from The Smiths that pairs nicely with "Not Too Soon" by Throwing Muses.

Perhaps not my favorite Smiths song, but it's certainly in the top 10. Maybe even top 5. Johnny Marr's guitar bit may not be particularly complicated, but damn it's satisfying.

Missed this song for the longest time because it's not on one of the studio albums.

Song of the Day: "Not Too Soon" (Throwing Muses)

Not too soon album coverNot sure if it's the Tanya Donnelly's singing, the drums, or the incredible guitar on this piece that keep me coming back for more, but "Not Too Soon" is not to be missed.

This was Donnelly's single off The Real Ramona, the last Throwing Muses album before Donnelly parted ways and formed Belly.

This song has some real buzzsaw guitar going on, right at home with the rest of alt-rock college radio in 1991. But the drums and chorus take me back to the sound of 60s girl groups. Check it at about 1:30 in, there's definitely a throwback there. But the guitar sound is totally modern and just completely delicious.

The Real Ramona is a fine album from start to finish, but "Not Too Soon" deserves special attention. If you want more like it, check out Donnelly's work with Belly. Not sure any of their songs quite match up with this one, but there's some solid stuff there.

After tackling the 100 Albums of All Time project, I didn't want to lose the momentum of posting daily. But I'm not quite ready for another major project. Instead I thought I'd just look at posting some amazing songs that I think other folks would enjoy. Suggestions? Post 'em in the comments!

My favorite 100 albums of all time: #1 ("Skylarking")

"Skylarking" album coverI'm not saying that Skylarking is the best album in the history of the universe, but I'm not not saying it either. Certainly it's the finest album XTC have produced.

I know precisely when my love affair with XTC began, it was May 3rd, 1987 when MTV played the world premiere of "Dear God" on 120 Minutes. While not on the original pressings of Skylarking, Geffen slapped it on the US version and omitted "Mermaid Smiled" to make room.

Once I finally got my hands on a copy of the cassette, I played it as much as possible – it's a miracle that the cassette lasted until I made the switch to CDs and was able to retire the poor thing.

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #2 ("Abbey Road")

album cover "Abbey Road"Abbey Road is more or less The Beatles' final album1, and it contains some of the group's strongest work – especially George Harrison, who finally gets his day in the sun.

I'm not sure when I got my first copy of Abbey Road. Might have been high school, or it might have been the first release of The Beatles' catalog on CD. This was back in the dark, pre-Internet, ages when knowing exactly what the "official" Beatles releases were was non-trivial.

The vast majority of Abbey Road was in heavy rotation on the local classic rock stations all through my formative years, of course, but it's best appreciated in its entirety.

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #3 ("Help!")

Album cover "Help!" by the BeatlesTechnically, it was the movie Help! that helped turn me into a music junkie, but we'll go with the album here.

Here's how it all started. When I was seven, I came home from Sunday school (yes, really) and turned on the TV. There was usually a movie playing on the local non-network affliate channel around Noon on Sundays, and on one day I cranked the TV just in time to catch Help!.

If you've seen the movie, you know it starts with an attempted human sacrifice that fails because the victim isn't wearing the sacrificial ring. Where's the ring? Cut to a shot of Ringo Starr's hand while he's playing the drums as The Beatles play "Help!"

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #4 ("Disintegration")

Album cover: "Disintegration" by The CureDisintegration is the album that really sold me on The Cure. Yes, I know, I was a bit late to the party.

Some of the singles off Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me were too good to ignore, but I wasn't a big fan of Robert Smith's voice initially. And then Disintegration came out, with "Fascination Street" released as the first U.S. single. I was hooked, no two ways about it.

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #5 ("A Night at the Opera")

"A Night at the Opera" album coverA Night at the Opera has some of Queen's best-known songs, including "Bohemian Rhapsody." But what if I told you that "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't even the best song on A Night at the Opera, or at least not the most epic?

A Night at the Opera has Queen trying on a number of musical styles, sometimes several in the same song. The 1975 release has a proto-power ballad, ragtime, quasi-operatic epics, Dixieland, and (of course) straight-up rock 'n roll.

It's worth noting that everybody gets some time in the spotlight here, with songs by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.

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