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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

100 Songs I Love: Reduced to Ash (143-146)

When I think of summer, I think of pop rock, and it doesn't get much pop rockier than the band Ash.  So, as soon as June 21st reared its humid head, I dug out my copy of Free All Angels, tossed it into my car's CD player Ultimate-style, cranked the volume to 11, realized that wasn't nearly loud enough--I mean, especially on the highway--spun the nob to 67 and RIPPED IT OFF!!!

If you are not familiar with Ash, they are a band from the UK that I'm not sure really hit it big in the States.  I base this solely on the fact that only one person I know is aware of their existence and I've never encountered anyone who has ever mentioned them, outside of the occasional confused conversation at a BBQ cook-off or on a camping excursion.

Here's a couple other facts about Ash and how they relate to me specifically:

1) I only own 2001's Free All Angels.

2) The Ash show I attended at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC is still the loudest show I've ever been to.

So, here are four Ash tracks guaranteed to make your summer not only tolerable, but totally rockin'!

143. "Burn Baby Burn"

It takes a lot of balls to set your music video in a high school gymnasium nearly a decade after arguably the most iconic high school gymnasium music video of all time.  I like to thing of the school in this video as the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" school's upbeat crosstown rival.  Probably more focused on sports too, since the basketball team can't seem to wait until Ash finishes their pep rally presentation to start playing.  Both schools have pretty sexy cheerleaders though.

Which cheerleaders are sexier?: "Burn Baby Burn."

Which school would be more fun to go to?: "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  You don't even have to wear a shirt to class if you don't want to!  And the janitor seems nice.

144. "Sometimes"

"Sometimes" is my summer chill out song this year.  Whenever I feel the need to "take it easy" or "slow it down for a second," I'm going to turn on "Sometimes" and let the stress slowly evaporate from my body, effectively "chilling out" for at least four minutes.

Favorite lyrics: "Cigarettes keep you skinny, and your mind off the rain."  So true.

145. "Walking Barefoot"

How many gems can one album contain?!?  "Walking Barefoot" specifically mentions Summer in its lyrics, so it would be tantamount to treason to leave it off the list.  Plus, it's just a really solid pop rock tune.

Favorite YouTube comment on "Walking Barefoot": "the song to my teenage life" -imcoolandreallynot

2nd Favorite YouTube comment on "Walking Barefoot": "free all bagels" -gemma worthington

146. "There's a Star"

If you know me, you know I listen to music, specifically albums, in a strange and, sometimes, irritating way, especially to others.  It can take me years to listen to an album in it's entirety.  It can be a CD someone copied for me or the latest release from my favorite band, it doesn't matter.  I listen at my own pace and that pace is glacier slow.  The thing is, I get hung up on certain songs, and once hooked, I can't and don't want to let go.  So, I'll listen to the same three songs over and over and over, leaving the remainder the album ignored, probably unfairly.

I heard "There's a Star" for the first time last Thursday.  It's the second-to-last track on "Free All Angels," so it really shouldn't be a surprise.  It's a fabulous little song, and it got me thinking.

A crazy idea I had while listening to "There's a Star": I'm a huge fan of the Broadway musical, and I've always had this nagging desire to write one.  Alas, I have very limited musical talent, not to mention absolutely no connections in the theater world and a severe lack of motivation to do almost anything, so this will probably never happen.  I do like to daydream though, and daydream I did the first time "There's a Star"'s opening orchestral flourish hit my eardrums.  I thought, "This would be a great opening number in one of them jukebox musicals you hear so much about bein' popular these days."  And an idea was birthed.

You know how movies are popular source material for Broadway shows right now?  I thought, how about a musical based on 1958's The Blob?  But not just a musical, a jukebox musical.  Now, jukebox musicals often use songs from one specific artists, but not all of them do (Rock of Ages, for example).  So, why not a musical based on The Blob featuring songs I like?  I would watch that.  And I have.  In my head.

The opening scene: Our hero sings "There's a Star" as he prepares for a date with the most beautiful girl in school.  He continues this song while walking to her house with a bouquet of flowers in his hand and a spring in his step.  On his way to her house, he sees a falling star in the sky and takes it as a good luck charm.   Unbeknownst to our heror, said falling star is actually that meteor that contains the terrifying and viscous blob from outer space, who will shortly be poked by a lonely old hermit (he'll sing a song too; something by Beck, prolly) and unleashed upon the town.

Guys, pick up a copy of Ash's Free All Angels and have a good summer for once in your life, OK?  OK.

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