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30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30: Your Favorite Song at This Time, Last Year

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If you want to get technical, this is Day 35 of the 30-Day Song Challenge: I fudged and neglected posting on a couple of days. And no, I don't want to go out on Toto (see previous entry).

Close to this time last year, I was first discovering the joys of Cobirds Unite, the most recent solo CD by Seattle's best singer/songwriter, Rusty Willoughby. The title track, my favorite song on the album, sounds (to me, at least) like the Beatles and Neko Case waltzing through a dense forest together, under a bright but foreboding full moon. Or something like that. Gorgeous, eerie stuff; sung sublimely by Willoughby and Visqueen's Rachel Flotard.

Day 29: A Song from Your Childhood

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Some of my first favorite bands as a kid were incubated in the slick waters of AM radio. Before I discovered punk and new wave at age 15 I drank as deep from the well of arena-schlock as any child of the 1970's.

One of those AM-ready bands was Toto, whose big hits of the 1970's and '80's made for some reasonably tasty empty calories. One of the first LP's (vinyl, kids) that I purchased was Hydra, the band's sophomore release in 1979. The title track's combination of pompous prog rock keyboards, unicorn-piss fantasy lyrics, arena-metal guitars, and radio-ready gloss stroked my pre-adolescent pleasure nodes. I hadn't heard this song in ages, and it did take me straight back to being 11 years old. No, it's no damned good, but it entertained the hell outta me back in the day.

Toto actually made a 'video album' for Hydra, many excerpts of which can be found on YouTube. The 'Hydra' video is really damned entertaining pre-MTV cheeserificne…

30-Day Song Challenge, Day 28: A Song that Makes You Feel Guilty

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Still behind. Sorry. Took a day off yesterday from everything, including participating in this Facebook-rooted time-suck.

So what to make of today's Song Challenge? Are we back in Guilty Pleasure territory? Or are we talking about a song that triggers associations with acts of guilt and sin? Or are we talking about a song that really addresses issues of guilt in an eloquent fashion? This silly challenge yields as many nuances of interpretation as Shakespeare, I tell ya.

Well, I've already covered the so-called Guilty Pleasure turf (viva, Spice Girls!); and as an ex-catholic whose every breath and move induced guilt in his halcyon years (and sometimes today, for that matter), every third song I hear could probably trigger some guilt-induced association. And that's not particularly fun (though it is sort of funny).

So I go for Door #3: A great song that happens to address guilt. And as a bonus, I'll throw in two great ones.

The Arctic Monkeys are probably my favorite B…

30-Day Song Challenge, Days 26 and 27: A Song You can Play, and One You Wish You Could...

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So I got a little behind. When you're up 'til 3 in the am writing trivia questions, this'll happen. Fortunately, both of these categories are easy for me.

Like every third person in the Northwest, I play (a little; very little) guitar. For awhile in my halcyon days of youth, like every third person in the Northwest, I even kicked around the idea of, you know, doing it for reals. Played two live solo gigs at a Chinese restaurant in Ballard, even.

During this period, I practiced guitar pretty diligently and got to the proficiency of a pretty skilled twelve-year old. One of the things you learn when you first pick up the guitar is that some of (OK, MOST of) the greatest rock and pop songs on the planet are pretty damned simple to play. So it's kind of a rush to discover a great song, a song that you love, that you can play. One of my first such discoveries was this one. There's a terrific guitar tab for it that's right in my vocal key, and with some practice...I…

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25 - a song that makes you laugh

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There are a lot of songs that induce intentional laughter in this world. Hell, the entire catalog of Flight of the Conchords would fill the bill nicely. But picking between all of the Conchords songs would be like the Octomom picking her favorite octuplet, so I'll go with someone else entirely, namely garage rockers Electric Six.

Don't know about you, but any band that mixes fuzztone guitar with handclaps, cowbells, and Abe Lincoln in tight leather shorts makes me mighty happy.

30-Day Song Challenge, Day 24 - A Song that you Want to Play at your Funeral

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I hope that the necessity for this soundtrack doesn't come for a good many years, but when it does I'd rather have people having fun than moping about my recently-departed duff. Party up, all.

30-Day Song Challenge, Day 23 - A Song in a Foreign Language

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The initiator of this here list suggested a change to Day 23, and that suits me just fine, especially in light of the artist who comes immediately to mind.

Serge Gainsbourg's probably best known today as the dad of chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg. But for over twenty years, he was an honest-to-God superstar in France, cutting records that combined his sense of lackadaisical Gallic cool with a wide variety of musical influences--jazz, afro-cuban, disco, and rock. My favorite Gainsbourg track is "Bonnie and Clyde," directly inspired by the 1967 Arthur Penn flick and sung in duet with the exotic Brigitte Bardot. Some of Gainsbourg's work took a left turn into kitsch (not a bad thing); "Bonnie and Clyde," with its surging acoustic guitar, strange looped (or at least they sound looped) cymbals, and insistent strings, just sounds gothic and haunting and wonderful. And really damned cool.