Garage-A-Rama 2, Garage-A-Ramier!

“20th Century Boy” — T. Rex
“Space Trucking” — Deep Purple
“Seven And Seven Is” — Love
“Making Time” — Creation
“Six Barrel Shotgun” — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
“Think” — James Brown
“Hello” — Oasis
“Communication Breakdown” — Led Zeppelin
“Love Gun” — KISS
“Watershed” — Foo Fighters
“You Could Be Mine” — Guns N’Roses
“Inaction” — We Are Scientists
“Lust For Life” — Iggy Pop
“Land Of 1000 Dances” — Wilson Pickett
“Mental Hopscotch” — Missing Persons
“At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet” — Head Automatica
“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” — The Monkees

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Garage-A-Rama

For the next few weeks I’m going to blast a playlist put together by my friend and bandmate Milhows. He calls it Garage-A-Rama. I would not consider all the bands to be “garagey.” However, all these specific songs fit comfortably into a garage milieu. Here it is:

“Riff Raff” — AC/DC
“I Wanna Know About U” — The (International) Noise Conspiracy
“Here We Go Again” — The Hives
“Get Loose” — The D4
“Neat Neat Neat” — The Damned
“I Gotta Move” — The Kinks
“Walk Idiot Walk” — The Hives
“The Reproduction Of Death” — The (International) Noise Conspiracy
“I’m A Lover Not A Fighter” — The Kinks
“Jenny Take A Ride” — Mitch Ryder, The Detroit Wheels
“Caught By The Fuzz” — Supergrass
“Dead Language Of Love” — The (International) Noise Conspiracy
“Can’t Stand It” — The Greenhornes
“Hold Tight!” — Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
“Evil Ways” — Jean Jackets
“The Rules” — Ben Kweller
“Helicopter” — Bloc Party
“My Generation” — The Who
“Heaven And Hell” — The Who, Andy Macpherson, Jon Astley


Gun Control

I got a 20-gauge shotgun for my 13th birthday. Before I could use it, I had to complete a class in hunter’s safety, offered one evening per week in the library of the junior high over the course of a winter. I was a member of the NRA for a few years as a teenager.

My NRA membership had no more ideological significance than my membership in Ducks Unlimited or the Sierra Club. Already as a teenager I was a flaming liberal, and unaware that the NRA had morphed from a sporting organization into a political advocacy group that championed a far-right agenda.

My first clue came in the 2000 election, an election in which I voted for Ralph Nader. During the fall of 2000, in the lead-up to election day, I received a newsletter from the NRA which told me to vote for George W. Bush. It claimed, with no apparent sarcasm, that if Al Gore was elected he would steal all the guns for his own private use, and the only people in America that would be allowed to hunt would be Gore and his wealthy friends. It was absurd and ridiculous, and I let my NRA membership lapse.

I’m in favor of gun control. I also think hunting is a worthy pastime. I see no contradiction between these two positions. You don’t need a semi-automatic rifle to kill a deer. You don’t need lead bullets or a magazine that holds 30 rounds, and it seems sensible to me that people with psychological disabilities or those on the no-fly list should not own firearms.

“No Killing” — Violent Femmes
“There Goes My Gun” — Pixies
“Shoot” — Sonic Youth
“Don’t Play With Guns” — The Black Angels
“Celebration Guns” — Stars
“The Big Guns” — Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins
“Shot Down” — The Sonics
“Shot By Both Sides” — Magazine
“Me And A Gun” — Tori Amos
“Murderer” — Low


Pinkerton

My wife and I had a cat named Pinkerton, a small orange Manx without a tail. We had her for 10 years. In September, a vet appointment revealed that Pinkerton had advanced cancer, and two weeks later we had to put her to sleep. I loved that cat. These are songs that I listened to over and over again during those two weeks.

“Used To Be” — Violent Femmes
“No Killing” — Violent Femmes
“Yesterday” — The Beatles
“You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” — The Beatles
“Not Ready Yet” — Eels
“Everything Reminds Me Of Her” — Elliott Smith
“Twilight” — Elliott Smith
“The Fox In The Snow” — Belle & Sebastian
“Butterfly” — Weezer


Total Eclipse

In honor of our recent eclipse:

“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” — Walker Brothers
“Sun It Rises” — Fleet Foxes
“Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” — Sparklehorse
“Ain’t No Sunshine” — Bill Withers
“I Don’t Believe In The Sun” — The Magnetic Fields
“Light Goes Out” — Ages And Ages
“Hide In The Light” — The Sunshine Fix
“Peel Back The Moon, Beware!” — Elf Power
“Ride Into The Sun” — The Velvet Underground
“Things Behind The Sun” — Nick Drake
“Darkest Day” — John White
“Hiding Behind The Moon” — Jeff Hanson
“Lights Out” — Angel Olsen
“There Was Sun” — Devendra Banhart
“Dark Center Of The Universe” — Modest Mouse
“Eclipsed” — The Shimmies
“You Want It Darker” — Leonard Cohen
“Here Comes The Sun” — The Beatles


Basslines

I have heavy opinions about the role of bass guitar in rock and roll. Deep, resonant, booming opinions, with lots of low end.

Anyway . . .

The bass player is the most underrated musician in any band that isn’t the Beatles or the Police. Guitarists and singers get most of the glory, obviously, and drummers have the reputation as hard-partying savages, though in my experience drummers tend to be the most reliable, mature, and domesticated individuals. Keyboard players are inconsequential.

But bass players determine whether a band sounds good or not. Bass is sort of a bottleneck that all the other elements of a song have to get through. A crappy bass player can muddy the best chord progressions and render the best lyrics indecipherable. Often times the best option for a bass player is to keep it minimal and play under the rest of the instruments, so bass players must exercise restraint.

Bass occupies more sonic real estate than any other instrument. That is, the range of frequencies coming from the bass amp take up the bottom third of the audible spectrum that human ears can hear. And because low-frequency sound waves are physically larger than high-pitched sound waves, they interact with their environment in odd ways. For instance, many clubs have hollow stages, just some sheets of plywood nailed over an empty enclosure, and certain notes on the bass will actually resonate with the entire stage, causing a booming sound throughout the club. So as a bass player, you have to concern yourself with tone and the settings on your amp in a way that you don’t if you’re a keyboard player, in which case you pretty much just turn the amp up or down. Even if you’re ignorant of acoustics, just know that a good chunk of the overall sound you are hearing from a live rock band is the bass.

Today I’m playing songs that have some of the most iconic bass lines of all time. I’d like to thank my friend Milhows, who listened to the show and pointed out that the ascending line on “My Girl” is actually played on guitar, not bass. I hereby publicly acknowledge my failure. Everything else is legit. Quick note that the punchy, repetitive bass stylings of Kim Deal in the Pixies were copied by Nirvana, so I put those back to back.

“My Girl” — The Temptations
“Stand By Me” — Ben E. King
“You Can’t Hurry Love” — The Supremes
“Taxman” — The Beatles
“Come Together” — The Beatles
“Sunshine Of Your Love” — Cream
“My Generation” — The Who
“Under Pressure” — David Bowie (with Queen)
“Another One Bites The Dust” — Queen
“Walk On The Wild Side” — Lou Reed
“What’s Going On” — Marvin Gaye
“The Lemon Song” — Led Zeppelin
“Town Called Malice” — The Jam
“Billie Jean” — Michael Jackson
“Monkey Gone To Heaven” — The Pixies
“Gouge Away” — The Pixies
“Lithium” — Nirvana
“Waiting Room” — Fugazi
“The National Anthem” — Radiohead
“Seven Nation Army” — The White Stripes
“Hysteria” — Muse*
“I Want You Back” — The Jackson 5
“American Life” — Primus
“The Guns Of Brixton” — The Clash

*by request


Garage Vs. Glam

Garage rock and glam rock are two sides of the same coin. Both genres rose to prominence in the early ’70s, both were guitar-centric rock music divided more by aesthetics than content. If you wore ripped jeans and leather jackets and made lo-fi records with buzzsaw guitars, you were garage rock. If you wore platform shoes, eyeliner, and glitter, and your records were overproduced with polished guitar sounds and perhaps layers of orchestral ambience, then you were glam rock. Some artists, like Iggy Pop, comfortably inhabited both ecosystems. Today we are A/Bing the two.

“Have Love Will Travel” — The Sonics
“Queen Bitch” — David Bowie
“You’re Gonna Miss Me” — 13th Floor Elevators
“I’m Eighteen” — Alice Cooper
“96 Tears” — ? And The Mysterians
“Psychotic Reactions” — Count Five
“Virginia Plain” — Roxy Music
“Kick Out The Jams” — MC5
“Vicious” — Lou Reed
“Pushin’ Too Hard” — The Seeds
“Clap Your Hands And Stamp Your Feet” — Bonnie St. Claire
“Psycho” — The Sonics
“Life On Mars” — David Bowie
“Gloria” — Them
“Cum On Feel The Noize” — Slade
“I Wanna Be Your Dog” — The Stooges
“Search And Destroy” — Iggy & The Stooges
“Trash” — New York Dolls
“All The Young Dudes” — Mott The Hoople