Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One-Mind Tracks: Sinners

Here are a collection of songs about knowing you're a bad guy.

Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Since they're the quintessential "bad guy" band, it was tough to limit myself to a couple for AC/DC, but since this one is Hell-centric, it was an easy choice.

Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood
Another easy choice. This one seriously makes me feel like a cool, bad guy. And I'm a girl.

I'm Going to Hell by The Long Blondes
This was one of the songs that inspired the whole playlist. The Long Blondes have a few songs about questionable morals, and their lyrics are always pretty clever.

Bad by Michael Jackson
Is it cheating when the title makes the choice this obvious? Too bad. And does everyone these days realize that the video for this song was directed by Martin Scorsese? It also featured a younger Wesley Snipes. Originally planned as a duet between Michael Jackson and Prince, this song was actually based on a true story of a kid from the streets who tried to make something of himself by going away to school. When he returned home on a Thanksgiving break, his jealous friends ended up killing him.

Troublemaker by Weezer
Yes, Rivers Cuomo, you're such a troublemaker! Influenced by Eminem, this is the fictional account of a self-proclaimed troublemaker's rise to fame. Interestingly though, there's still an underlying isolation such as in the line "I'll party by myself because I'm such a special guy."

T.N.T. by AC/DC
Another AC/DC so soon! An explosive ladykiller who is ready to kill you with his bare hands.

Who Do You Love? by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
George Thorogood is really great at recreating that same song over and over, but that one song is pretty okay, so here's another one about how "bad" he is.

Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel
A songwriter sometimes tells stories, and this Billy Joel tale about a bad boy trying to convince a Catholic girl to go all the way is certainly an example. But this one sure did alienate a lot of Joel's Catholic fans, and caused many people to try to get it removed from radio playlists.

Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield
Turned down by Aretha Franklin, and later recorded by her older sister Erma Franklin, this was a big hit for Dusty Springfield. Aretha Franklin, a preacher's daughter, turned the song down originally because she thought it was disrespectful, but after hearing Springfield's version, she ended up recording her own version a couple of years later.

Missionary Man by The Eurythmics
Dave Stewart wanted to create more of an arena rock song, so they jazzed up this Annie Lennox poem and voilĂ !

Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
Some of the religious imagery in Modern Vampires of the City went slightly over my head, but this one is apparently about how everyone is an "unbeliever" to someone else, seeing as everyone believes something slightly different.

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett
Another song that always makes me feel tough. This one sprung from the fact that no record labels wanted to sign Joan Jett because of her bad reputation.

You Know I'm No Good by Amy Winehouse
The golden days of Mark Ronson drums and brass are over, but this soulful track by the late Amy Winehouse recounts the tale of a serial cheater in her own words.

Creator by Sanogold
The highly under-rated Santogold rap/sings of her unrelenting power.

What's your favorite "bad guy" song? I'd love to hear!

And if you live in the area of Marion, Ohio, be sure to catch most of this playlist Thursday night at 7 on One-Mind Tracks on 97.5 WDIF.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Concert Review: Paul Simon & Sting in Auburn Hills, Michigan

For my dad's birthday, my mother and I bought him tickets to see two of his favorite artists perform on stage together: Paul Simon and Sting. While I was never the biggest fan of Sting or The Police, I've always enjoyed the music of both Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, so I was excited for the possibilities.

We arrived at The Palace just before eight o'clock to find that our seats had been ungraded. However the reassignment table was such a mess that I was still standing in line when "Brand New Day" began to sound from the main stage. It sounded great, but I didn't get to see any of it performed, and in fact missed part of "Boy In the Bubble," in which Sting's distinctive voice joined Paul Simon's for the chorus. The first song I heard fully was a favorite Sting track of mine, "Fields of Gold," which was played as a gorgeous duet. 

Photos by Kenneth Sedam
Paul Simon left the stage, and Sting launched into some of his classics including "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Englishman In New York," and a very staying version of "I Hung My Head." He then played two more Police classics, "Driven to Tears" and "Walking on the Moon." "Driven to Tears" was really where the band began to show how great they were, with some impressive electric guitar and a killer violin solo. 

Paul Simon returned to the stage for the perfect crossover song with Sting, a performance of "Mother and Child Reunion" even more reggae-riddled than the original. Sting then left the stage, and Paul Simon played "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover." 

The intro to "Dazzling Blue" was another showcase for the band's talents. The drummer began to play a sitar-style slide guitar, and other percussionists came in to create a tabla feel. Nothing really does justice to "Dazzling Blue" quite like hearing it live with Sting and Paul Simon's band. 

After "Dazzling Blue," they played a slightly more country "Graceland" and "Still Crazy After All These Years." Paul Simon and band then played one of the most exciting tunes of the evening in terms of energy from both the performers and the audience. "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" was incredibly fun and high-energy. My only complaint was that Paul Simon opted for avoiding the high note in the "goodbye Rosie" line, whether due to the fact that his voice isn't as agile as it used to be or because he just wanted a different feel for the live song.

Sting returned to the stage for a joint cover of  "Fragile" and "America." Although I missed part of it, "America" was still as tear-jerkingly beautiful as the original Simon & Garfunkel version. 

Again, Sting was left alone on-stage to play "Message in a Bottle" and "Hounds of Winter."

He continued with "They Dance Alone" and "Roxanne." Finally, Sting and the band performed an impressive "Desert Rose." 

The duo rejoined yet again for "The Boxer." It wasn't a perfect rendition, but it was certainly a good one.

Minus Sting yet again, Paul Simon played a rousing "That Was Your Mother," followed by "Hearts and Bones." He then did two songs back to back, almost in a medley fashion; "Mystery Train" and "Wheels." He hailed them as his favorite songs before kicking off the acapella opening to "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." Simon closed his set with an energetic "You Can Call Me Al," the lyrics to which he altered slightly.

A very brief pause separated the encore, at which point Sting and Simon returned to the stage to do "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Every Breath You Take" and "Late in the Evening" together.

The band left the stage, but Paul Simon and Sting returned for one final encore, a duet cover of The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved." The audience then provided a standing ovation as the lights came up after the great show.

Paul Simon and Sting put on a very respectful, under-stated dual show. Both musicians still sounded near the top of their musical game, despite being past their respective heydays. It was a fan-pleasing show, loaded with big hits by both artists and their previous bands. The sounds managed to mesh better than I'd ever imagined, to create a great sound throughout the whole show.