Seven Song Discoveries of Mine, Mostly Unknown But Great Music
It’s been a while since I wrote about music. Well, not really, if you follow my blog, but since music is a BIG interest of mine, here goes another. I was thinking today of songs that are fairly obscure to most mainstream people but are absolutely SO worth listening to – repeatedly if possible. I think of these golden nuggets on my playlist rotation as my own personal discoveries, because I am absolutely certain most of my readers know nothing about them. For me, when I find a song that is special like this, it is as if I have found treasure. Of course the world is filled with good songs by those who never hit the mainstream and stay mostly unheard. That’s a shame too. There’s so much uncovered musical talent out there.
It was tough selecting such a short list and I really wanted to limit it to five but it was impossible. There is a different reason to love each of these songs that never quite made it into mainstream consciousness, and I will attempt to convince you to at least give each one an honest and sincere listen. Maybe your taste isn’t as quirky as mine, or maybe not as eclectic, but my playlist contains many rarities that you won’t hear on radio, EVER. You will find that I pay close attention to guitar riffs and lyrics. Oh yes, and especially witty lyrics are the be all and end all.
My apologies to those of you who follow country radio and music as you may know the first one but I have never listened to a country station in my life, and the only way I found out about this song is due to my You Tube obsession with Kacey Musgraves, who is a singer so radical, country radio refuses to play her. And none of the rest are country so stay with me here.
So now without further ado, here are the songs YOU MUST LISTEN TO at least once in your life. These are my discoveries! They may change your life! And if you don’t like these instantly, then we really can’t be friends.( Just kidding about the last statement.) I know, that’s why they make so many flavors of ice cream – we all have different tastes. I happen to think my taste is superior, quirky, eclectic, but some may disagree.
1 –Mama’s Broken Heart by Kacey Musgraves – Let’s start off with the aforementioned Kacey Musgraves. I have a girl crush on her because her lyrics are so darn genius, quirky, rare, and smart-alecky, and she has a gorgeous voice and looks to go with it. If I was a songwriter like her, hers are the kind of witty and sassy lyrics I would want to write. So the first “hit” of hers, meaning she wrote it but Miranda Lambert put it on the country charts and scored a hit with it, SHOULD have been hers to sing and score the hit. Her version is sung with absolute conviction, not belted out like Miranda did to it. In fact, I did not hear the lyrics until I heard Kacey sing her own song HERE AT THIS LINK. Make sure you visit that because Kacey sings it best. It’s got a catchy beat but in case you need proof of witty lyrics, here they are:, and I highlighted my favorites:
” I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors
I screamed his name til the neighbors called the cops
I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver
Don’t know what I did next all I know, I couldn’t stop
Word got around to the barflies and the baptists
My mama’s phone started ringin’ off the hook
I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it
Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look
Chorus: Go and fix your make up girl it’s, just a break up… run an’
Hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady ’cause I
Raised you better, gotta keep it together even when you fall apart,
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart
I wish I could be just a little less dramatic like a,
Kennedy when Camelot went down in flames
Leave it to me to be holdin’ the matches
When the fire trucks show up and there’s nobody else to blame
Can’t get revenge and keep a spotless reputation
Sometimes revenge is a choice you gotta make
My mama came from a softer generation
Where you get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face
Powder your nose, paint your toes line your lips and keep ’em closed
Cross your legs, dot your I’s and never let ’em see you cry..”
I mean, where do I begin about those lyrics??? Talking about the Baptists and the barflies, numbing the pain at the expense of her liver? How clever. I just love this and also think this is a generational tale. My generation just had to suck it up when we were in pain, and put on a stiff upper lip. Girls now can let the drama queen out. (And if you need more proof of genius lyrics, check out Pageant Material of hers.)
2. Hackensack by Fountains of Wayne. This song was not a hit, and I can’t figure out why. It has a gorgeous melody, beautiful singing voices, hypnotic guitar hooks, and the lyrics are absolutely hilarious – ON PURPOSE. What makes this song so very unique is that the lead singer is singing it in a earnest, innocent, and sincere tone, as if he was the boy in the song, longing for the impossible. I mean how likely is a Hollywood starlet to come back to her hometown, and choose a boy she barely knew in high school who scrapes paint off of hardwood floors for a living?. Yet, that’s what he is putting out there. The beautiful melody is in stark contrast to the hopeless longing of the boy who holds on to his teen lust/love for a hottie from high school who he always worshiped from afar. Fountains of Wayne were known for their very sly and funny lyrics about the inner workers of a teen boy’s mind and the use of irony and sarcasm. Their big hit was Stacy’s Mom. This song, however, is ten times wittier and much prettier. I am totally obsessed with the guitar hooks that are prominent throughout the song. Note: one of my besties hails from Hackensack, New Jersey, which is where the song takes place. I promise you will love this one. Katy Perry loved this one so much, she covered it, with the same kind of faux sincerity which really cracked me up. LINK HERE.
3. With My Face on the Floor by Emitt Rhodes. If anyone remembers this great talent at all, and he does have a cult following and a documentary film (One Man Beatles) about his quick-blip rise to fame and then to total poverty and obscurity; then he is probably remembered for his one radio hit Fresh as a Daisy that hit the top 40 in 1971. This entire first album of his is absolutely brilliant – very Paul McCartney-ish and Beatle-esque. (Billboard called it one of the best albums of the decade which shows what great taste I had because how many others reading this had this album?? Probably very few.) His songs were not complex, and FRESH at that time and they still hold up. He played all instruments and echoed his own voice as a one-man band. Of all his songs, this one is a very favorite of mine (of several favorites) because I love that the singer is being honest as he lays out what a fool he was for giving up a girl, and now he is paying dearly for that bad move every time he sees her.
I think it is kind of brilliant to describe that sinking feeling and downcast demeanor of seeing a former love who you have major regrets over, as “face on the floor,” especially for such a young songwriter. I love how contrite he is as he says he “got what he asked for” – a sign of major regret. It is a very visual song for me, as I have witnessed this “face on the floor” look by an ex-boyfriend a time or two when he ran into me while I was dating others, and also by my ex-husband, and so it rings quite true for me. (These guys always regret their know-it-all behavior when you have already moved on.) Plus it has a lovely melody and a great piano intro and beat Some of the great lyrics are: Well, I’m down with my face to the floor, I got what I asked for and more, well the moment she walked through that door, I was down with my face on the floor. Now I’m standing with my back to the wall, praying the ceiling don’t fall, well I once thought that I knew it all, now I’m standing with back to the wall. HERE IS THE LINK. I think it is very contagious.
4. Here’s one that I guarantee you have never heard in your life. The title is Pale Moon by the Carper Family and it is about a Native American girl pining for her young first love, whose name is Pale Moon. She is about to be married off to another man, in an arranged marriage, and she pleads with her true love to come and get her and take her away. I love the beautiful melody and the poignant lyrics of a young girl longing to be with her true love. The instrumentation is old-timey which is also very appealing and makes it very different, even though it was put out on a CD just a few years ago. I first heard it, though it is a song that has been covered many times since the 1940’s or maybe even before that, sung by a trio called the Carper Family at a fabulous small music venue that has fabulous, but mostly non-mainstream and unheard of Americana acts, called The Bugle Boy in La Grange, Texas. We go to this venue with our friends when we visit their home in Hill Country near there and we are always thrilled with the acts. I usually buy a CD of the acts, that’s how much I like them. Songs about first love always rate high with me, but this one is quality PLUS. At any rate, if you want to hear a simply beautiful, pristine sounding love song that may bring goosebumps, give a listen HERE AT THIS LINK.
5. Cajun Song by Gin Blossoms. I was obsessed with the Gin Blossoms and bought two of their CDs in the 1990’s when they were the IT band. Then mental illness struck and the band fell apart. They brought pop music of the sixties into the 90’s and I loved them for it. Their guitar riffs were always completely lovely and haunting. (such as in their biggest hit Found Out About You which I played approximately one million times back then) I ADORE good guitar riffs – and it is a shame they were but a flash in the pan as their music is really great. The song I selected of theirs is not known, unless you bought the album in the 90’s and remember this one, but it is full of fantastic Cajun and Zydeco guitar and accordion riffs which makes it as unique as they come. I can’t think of more than a handful of pop songs that had accordions in them, but I think they work really well in certain tunes, (such as Squeeze Box by the Who) and I think the instrument gets a Lawrence Welk-ish unnecessary bad rap. Plus, this is 60’s pure pop music if I ever heard it, even though it was made in the 90’s. The lyrics are a bit elementary, but the music is so great, and especially cool on the fade-out at the end, it is on heavy rotation of my personal play list. You MUST check it out at THIS LINK.
6. and 7. I know many of you do not share my passion for The Monkees. I understand that you base your opinion on their big radio hits and the fact that they were a bit bubble-gum, as if something is wrong with that, but if you DELVE DEEP in their music catalog, you come up with absolute GEMS that you would have never heard or given a thought to in your life, written by the greatest songwriters of all time. And THAT is what I base my love of their music on – their deepest cuts on their albums. There are absolutely wonderful pieces of pop music, some quite sophisticated, that you would never in a million years guess as a Monkees song. I tried to pick just one song that people absolutely do not know as a Monkees song, written by a brilliant songwriter. I came up with four, but then narrowed it down to two. I could not break the tie, so here are two songs that are unique, psychedelic, and such a specimen of the late 60’s music, that they should be better known. The first, written by none other than Carole King and Gerry Goffin, is Take a Giant Step. It’s got sophisticated musical work in it that reminds of Morocco, with a middle eastern wind instrumentation, and great tom-tom drum work. It was the B side to Last Train to Clarksville and you know how little heard most B sides are, so maybe that is why this great one was totally ignored. Maybe it was too sophisticated for the pre-teen audience at the time. Micky Dolenz, a GREAT pop voice of his time and underrated as such I think, does a perfect job setting the mood on this one. The link is HERE but you can also search for a Carole King version on YouTube that is really great. The second Monkees tune (it’s a tie!) is Early Morning Blues and Greens It is written by Diane Hilderbrand and Jack Keller. (award winning song writers) It is adult contemporary in sound, rather than pre-teen pop, and that is why you have never heard of this one about a very lonely man and sung perfectly by Davy, not doing his usual Broadway Musical kind of voice. HERE IS THE LINK. And if anyone is interested, the two others that should have made this cut are Daily Nightly, (with the VERY first mainstream use of the moog synthesizer and very psychedelic and written by Mike Nesmith) and Auntie’s Municipal Court (with the worst title ever that has nothing to do with the content of the song, but is a catchy, great 60’s hippie song and ALSO written by Mike Nesmith.) Neither of these songs is in Nesmith’s country style at all and both are sung absolutely brilliantly by the smooth-voiced and great vocal range of Micky Dolenz. You absolutely wouldn’t think of any of these four as a Monkees song.
Okay folks, I have gone on enough here, and there are about ten other runners-up, but my intention is not to overwhelm, just entertain. Hope you find at least one above to your liking and add it to your playlist. Let me hear from you.