Monday, 19 September 2016

Music That Saved Me--Letters U and V

OK, I lied about the U. I can't really think of a U band I like. I mean there's Ultravox, but I am not a huge fan. I don't hate them. I have been known to sing It means nothing to me ohhhh Vienna just to be irritating. But I don't go out of my way for Ultravox.

So let's push on to letter V which has a band that was a HUGE influence on me in my teens.

Violent Femmes
Image result for violent femmes

When I used to go to camp at The Mountain in North Carolina I would learn about what all the latest trends were (one long earring and one short earring--remember that one--yeah i was rocking that look a whole YEAR before anyone else!) as well as bands I had never heard of. At one of the dance nights this song came on and everyone and I mean EVERYONE else starts screaming and dancing wildly and singing along. I had no idea what I was listening to, but the opening riff of bah duh duh DUH duh, duh duh duh DUH duh duh, duh DUH duh duh duh duh (bang bang, bang bang) was so infectious and then the bit where he gradually gets softer and softer only to then sing really loudly again nearly made me want to explode. I had to rush over to the DJ and ask what it was. He showed me the album cover (pictured above) and I knew as soon as I got back to Louisiana I would be buying it from Peppermint Records. This song was Blister in the Sun. 
Listen to it here:

Then the DJ played this one and everyone and again I mean EVERYONE else was counting along with it and I wanted so bad to be able to be able to count along with it. So i did go home and buy it and the next year where it was (thankfully) still popular I could count along with the best of them as we sweated and slamdanced into each other on the dance floor. This song was Kiss Off.
Listen to it here:

I had to listen to parts of the album with headphones (mostly due to the lyrics of Add It Up which said:
Why can't I get just one f*ck?
Why can't I get just one f*ck?
I guess it's got something to do with luck.
Eventually I played it for my Mum as i was tired of headphones and she declared it the dumbest thing she ever heard so that was that. No more headphones.

At school when i was listening to it on my walkman and declaring my love for the Femmes everyone and I mean EVERYONE sneered and turned up their noses........until a full year later when their popularity reached the Deep South and suddenly everyone and I mean EVERYONE was declaring them the Best.Band.Ever like it was their idea. No, I'm not bitter.

But I continued to love the Femmes for several albums. Their first album was quite rough around the edges. Their second album Hallowed Ground had a slightly more country influence and an interesting juxtaposition of songs. Lead singer Gordon Gano was a PK (Preacher's Kid) and there is a gospel song called Jesus Walking on the Water on this album as well as one called I Dig Black Girls (I dig white boys) so as i said--strange bedfellows. My first pick from Hallowed Ground is I Hear the Rain with its strange monotone and xylophone. I love the singing over each other with the two sets of lyrics.
Listen to it here:
   Interesting fact: In my high school speech class we each had to lip sync to a song for extra credit as we were hosting a Putting on the Hits lip sync contest to raise money for speech and debate. I chose this one. My teacher was *not* amused.

My second choice was a murder ballad written by Gano when he was in 10th grade study hall. It is based on a true event in  1862. It is called Country Death Song  and their is a cracking video made a fan for an animation class.
Watch it here:
Trivia: Gano was a devout Christian but the other band members were both atheists  and really hated the Christian songs he wanted on Hallowed Ground, but they eventually relented. Gano eventually formed a gospel punk band called the Mercy Seat.

Their third album The Blind Leading the Naked had a few more country sounding songs but also experimented more with --loud and soft volume and echo effects as well as use of unusual sounds from instruments like jaw harp, slide whistle, daf (a type of Persian drum) and inexplicably--tortoise. I swear, that's what it says in the liner notes--tortoise. There were many outstanding songs from this album including a great cover version of T-Rex's Children of the Revolution (which i didn't realise at the time was a cover version because I didn't know who Marc Bolan was) but I am going to choose other songs.

My first pick is the sexually ambiguous song I Held Her in My Arms. It is a jolly song with some sad lines like I was with a girl, but it felt like I was with a boy and I held her in my arms but it wasn't you. 
Watch it here: (be prepared to be dizzy from all the spinning)

My second choice is No Killing. In this time of violence all over the world this is as relevant as ever.
We don't want no killing Lord
I don't want to see my sister cry.
We don't want no killing Lord
I don't want to see my brother die.

Listen to it here:

Lastly, I leave you with a short 30 second song called Old Mother Reagan.
Listen to it here:

Old Mother Reagan went to Heaven and at the Pearly Gates she was stopped. 

Were there bands you adored in high school that nobody else loved?

1 comment:

  1. I love the VF! There is a U band, U2, though for me, mostly the older stuff! Another V...Van Halen! Yes I love me some Van Halen!