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Monday, July 29, 2013

100 Songs I Love: Spin Radio Edition (147-151)

Long before I was a balding, happily married father with my own house and a spirit-crushing day job with the government, I was a teenager with a full head of hair, coming of age in the 1990's.  It was an amazing time to be young, wild and free.  Nothing bad was going on.  Nothing good was going on.  Nothing at all was going on.  And that's how we liked it.

I was then, as I am now, a huge music fan.  I especially liked that newfangled "alternative" sound.  There was an alternative rock station in Charlotte that I liked a lot, but they played a lot of what you'd expect. It wasn't a bad thing, but my ears longed for more.  That's where Spin Radio came in.

Spin Radio was an hour long program that played on Sunday nights (I think).  I assume it was associated with Spin Magazine, which was an actual magazine you could hold in your hands at the time.  It caught my attention one night when they played a They Might be Giants song.  "They Might be Giants?  On the radio?  Clearly this is a radio program that knows what it's doing!"  I was hooked.  I grabbed a fresh, blank cassette from the stack I kept on my desk at all times and started taping.  I didn't know most of the songs they played, besides the aforementioned TMBG track (it was an accordion only version of "Meet James Ensor" that would later appear on the Severe Tire Damage album) and a Phish tune from the only Phish album I have ever owned (Picture of Nectar), which a friend recommended because of my love of TMBG.  For the record, Picture of Nectar sounds nothing like TMBG.  It was OK though.  

Anyway, by the time my family took our epic trip Out West, I had a a cassette full of songs recorded at random off of Spin Radio.  It was the soundtrack to my trek through Yellowstone.  Spin Radio will forever be tied to Old Faithful, Jackson Hole, WY and my cousin's AC-less house in Colorado.  In fact, I made two fairly epic mix tapes using his CD collection the night we stayed with him that I should write about in the future.  But this is about Spin Radio, specifically the five songs that remain lodged in my brain to this day.

147. "I'll Be Back To Haunt You" (The Dylans)

I don't know anything about The Dylans aside from this song and the fact that they have a dumb name. I've also never really been that curious to dive deeper into The Dylans back catalogue.  This song is a perfect little nugget of dopey alternative rock that I would hate to have spoiled by any lackluster Dylans efforts.

The Dumb Lyrics: "I'm not alive/I'm dead/I'm dead/I'm dead/I'm dead"

148. "I Need Love" (Sam Phillips)

If you sat down with the lyric sheet for "I Need Love" without knowing who wrote it, you'd probably guess it was penned by a sullen teenage.  He or she is probably a member of the Poetry Club at school and watches a lot of black-and-white movies on the weekends.  He or she probably drinks a lot of coffee and pretends to like it best black.  The lyrics are kind of dumb is what I'm getting at.

But then you hear Sam Phillips voice and it all makes sense.  The words are undeniably sophomoric, but there's something beautifully sad about the performance that makes "I Need Love" one of my favorite tunes to this very day.

149. "Violet" (Hole)

Before Courtney Love was the worst person in the world, she recorded this song. Her growly vocals and the yelping chorus ("Go on take everything, take everything, I want you to") does something not unpleasant to my swimsuit area.

150. "For The Birds" (Juliana Hatfield)

Juliana Hatfield was one of my Top 5 favorite artists when I was a teenager.  Her album Become What You Are was very instrumental in my musical evolution.  And I sort of have Spin Radio to thank, I guess, because I first heard "For The Birds" on the show.  I've been going back and listening to some of her stuff over the past couple of weeks (Blake Babies stuff I totally missed, post-Bed songs), and I think it's time for a Juliana Hatfield Renaissance.  I am a fan.

Embarrassing Moments in Matt History: I met Buffalo Tom at a mall in Charlotte.  After a short performance, they hung out in the mall's record store to sign autographs and talk to fans.  I had them sign a golf-themed birthday card for my dad.  They were happy to do it, filling the card with golf puns and such, so, since they were so nice, I decided to ask a question.  Knowing they were from the New England area, I asked the following probing inquiry:

"Do you guys know Juliana Hatfield?"

"Oh, yeah.  We're friends with Juliana."

"Cool."  I had no follow-up.

They were so nice to answer my dumb question, but I was totally embarrassed.

Dawson's Creep?: I started college at the height of Dawson's Creek-Mania, a phenomenon to which I was not immune.  Dawson's Creek, as you probably already know, was filmed in Wilmington, NC, so it was not unheard of for cast members to pop up in various places throughout the state from time to time.  In fact, I think Joshua Jackson was arrested for fighting at Hurricanes games multiple times.  My sister was in a movie theater in Charlotte with the guy who played Jack (There was a guy named Jack, right?), when a trailer for Final Destination, a movie in which he starred, came on and remembers his friends giving him a gentle ribbing.  And I may have stood next to James Van Der Beek at a Juliana Hatfield show in Carborro.  I'm not 100% sure, but I do know it was a guy who looked very much like Mr. Der Beek and I know he was flanked by two huge dudes who barely moved the entire show.  Dawson, on the other hand, danced non-stop.  After every song, he'd throw his hands up and scream "Juliana!"  After performing this dance-and-scream move a dozen or so times, Ms. Hatfield looked over at him, shrugged as if to say, "What are you gonna do?" and continued the show.  It was pretty great, even if it wasn't James Van Der Beek.

151. "Let It Drip" (Failure)

Not unlike The Dylans' "I'll Be Back To Haunt You," "Let It Drip" is literally the only Failure song I've ever heard.  For years, it's felt like the only Failure song I'd ever need (It's awesome, right?), but I was recently listening to Tom Scharpling interview Matt Pinfield on the Low Times Podcast, and the legendary former host of my favorite Mtv show growing up, 120 Minutes, shared that Failure was his favorite band that never made it.  He guessed it might have been because of the their name.  Kind of setting yourselves up for it, I guess.

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