Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Baghdad for the kick-off to presidential favorite John McCain's I Don't Know a Shi'ite From Shinola Tour '08!. Of course, when I have a spare moment, Lindsey Graham (who has an absolutely exquisite fashion sense) and I will be doing a little rug shopping in an only moderately fortified bazaar; I understand there's simply bargains galore to be had. [BTW, is rug shopping a double entrendre? Oh, wait -- that's carpet munching. I regret the error.]

In any case, as a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:


This is, obviously, the flip-side to our next to last list about songs named after real places. But this time, equally obviously, the titular songs have got to feature totally made-up locales. That can't be found on any map. Like nowheresville, man.

So don't try to sneak any of that "Ventura Highway" or "South Street" crap past me, because those places actually exist, okay?. And for what it's worth, if anybody nominates "Rock n Roll Heaven" I will find you and rip out your spleen.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. Procol Harum -- Cerdes (Outside the Gates of)

A brilliant track from their brilliant first album. The above video, alas, is some crappy bar band doing a cover version at a sports bar somewhere; frankly, I'm so amazed that such a thing would even be on YouTube that I can overlook the fact that it's not terribly well done.

True confession: Back in '67, the first couple of times I heard this I thought they were singing "Outside the gates of Sardi's." As in the restaurant.

7. Roxy Music -- Avalon

Because nothing says "Arthurian legends" better than Bryan Ferry in a tuxedo.

6. Bob Dylan -- Desolation Row

I'm not a Dylan scholar, but it occurs to me this may be a Steinbeck homage, as in Cannery Row. That sound I'm hearing in the distance is probably the rest of the world going "Uh, like, duh."

5. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Green River

With the world smoldering, John Fogerty conjured up a homegrown equivalent of Shangri-La to escape to. A genius move, frankly, and I've always imagined that the barefoot girl dancing in the moonlight looks like a hippie Jane Wyatt....

4. Elvis Presley -- Heartbreak Hotel

Written by Hoyt Axton's mama. Something to think about the next time you rent "Gremlins."

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Thunder Road

The studio version of this may be one of the most perfect rock records ever made. Seriously -- after more than three decades, I have yet to be able to sit through it without getting all verklempt. Title cribbed from a vastly inferior Robert Mitchum movie and song, BTW.

2. Duffy -- Rockferry

The anti-Amy Winehouse, i.e. to our knowledge she doesn't have a substance abuse problem and a husband in the clink. I think she's great, actually -- kind of like Lulu and Dusty Springfield smushed together in a trash compactor.

And the number one, it isn't even a contest, hands down coolest song ever about a place that doesn't actually exist is ----

1. MC5 -- Shakin' Street

Pete Townshend's teenage wasteland, in the brief idealistic moment before the late 60s curdled into the 70s.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?


TMink said...

Don't Go Back To Rockville - R.E.M.
Big Rock Candy Mountain - Various
Coolsville - Rickie Lee Jones
Eldorado - Neil Young
Electric Ladyland - Jimi Hendrix
Fibber Island - TMBG
Franklin's Tower - Dead
Gasoline Alley - Rod
In The Land Of Make Believe - Dusty Springfield
Itchycoo Park - Small Faces
Neverland - The dB's
Paisley Park - Prince
Respectable Street - XTC
Return To Big Nothing - Elvis Costello
Rivers of Babylon - The Melodians
Shakedown Street - Dead
Strawberry Road - Sam Phillips
Sugar Mountain - Neil
The Valley of Malls - FOW


Mike said...

I suppose Atlantis is too easy...

Buttholeville - Drive-By Truckers

634-5789 (Soulsville, USA) - Otis Redding

Chocolate City - Parliament

Psycho Street - Richard Thompson

Shangri-La - Kinks

peter spencer said...

"Surf City" by Jan and Dean. I know there's a Surf City on the Jersey Shore, but I doubt that's the one they're singing about. Besides, "two swinging honeys for every guy/And all you gotta do is wink your eye" - it's gotta be fiction, right?

"Diddy Wah Diddy" by Bo Diddley. "Ain't no town/Ain't no city/But O! how they love in Diddy Wah Diddy" with a fond shoutout to Barry and the Remains - STILL the best band that ever came out of Boston, it says here - for their bitchin' cover in 1966.

"I Like It Like That" - the original was a honking classic and I'm deeply embarrassed to admit I don't know who the artist was, but the Dave Clark Five's cover was great, too. "Come On, let me show you where's it's at/The name of the place is I Like It Like That!"

Anyone mentions "Love Street" by the Doors I will personally kill their lawn.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Off the top of me head:

The Who - Armenia City in the Sky

David Bowie - Sufragette City

Small Faces - Itchycoo Park

The Move - Blackberry Way

steve simels said...

A few comments -- you guys are awesome, as always, of course.

First of all, I can't believe I forgot Electric Ladyland.

There's a real Itchykoo Park.

Dusty's "Land of Make Believe" is a cover of a song by my beloved Easybeats.

And the guy who did the original, Alan Toussaint produced version of "I Like It Like That" was Chris Kenner. Although the DC5's version was bitchen, too.

Cleveland Bob said...

First off, congrats to Dave for getting the Early Clue yesterday. I knew that someday, someway, someone would foil the genius that is Simels.

Secondly, tmink took all the good ones so I'm nearly stumped.

All I could come up with is:

Heaven--Talking Heads (a made up place IMHO)
Mayor Of Simpleton--XTC
Clubland--Elvis Costello
Garageland--The Clash


Youngstown--Bruce Springsteen

Trust me, There is no longer a "there" there in Y-Town.

Back me up on this KC.

TMink said...

Itchycoo is real? Who knew? I was worried it might be and Wikied it and they let me down!


steve simels said...

Trey --

I need to check on Itchykoo Park. I definitely remember reading it was a real London park where all the hippies/rock musicians used to sneak off to smoke dope. I believe it's actually on a rock tour of London...

steve simels said...

Okay, I was right -- sort of. It is real, but the name is unofficial.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Nashville Teens - "Tobacco Road"

Cannibal & the Headhunters - "Land of 1,000 Dances"

Gummo said...

Well, technically, Electric Ladyland and Paisley Park are real places in that they are the names of the studios where those respective artists recorded.

(Actually, did Hendrix ever record at EL, or was it still being built when he died?)

And nobody here mentioned the Planet of Weed by FOW?!

CovetedNOPrizeWinnerWithOakLeafCluster said...

Planet Claire by B-52's

Kid Charlemagne said...

Clevo Bob,

You are right. When I go back to Y-town for X-mas every year, Market Street storefronts are boarded-up a little farther down the street.

Trey, sorry I missed your pick of Itchycoo park-I was always under the impression that it was based on a composite of places. So, I'm sticking with it!

steve simels said...


I'm pretty sure both Electric Lady and Paisley Park weren't built until after the songs in question.

The Kenosha Kid said...

In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson

Misty Mountain Hop - Led Zeppelin

Atlantis - Donovan

also, I think the Green River (as in Killer) and Yellow (Yangtze) River are both actual places.

steve simels said...

I fucked up?


~*Neon Serpent*~ said...

Thunder Island - Jay Ferguson

MJConroy said...

REM's "Can't go Back to Rockville" imagines a Rockville that is not at all like the real city. But it is real - I live a few miles from it.

TMink said...

I cannot believe that I left our Planet Claire, a significant portion of the soundtrack for the unmade movie of my life!

That groove is so killer, the descending line, Fred's maniacal vocals, a perfect song.


RJ Eskow said...

Atlantis, Donovan.
Armenia City In the Sky, the Who.
Lonesome Town, Ricky Nelson.
Lonely Street, Carl Belew (later George Jones)
Sea of Heartbreak, Don Gibson
Funkytown, Lipps Inc.

And, pushing my luck in order to pad my list:

That place where flamingos fly, Van Morrison.

preznit said...

"One and a half way street"- Mitch Easter
"La La Land" the Go-Gos
"The Queen of Ur and the King of Um"- Wire

Noam Sane said...

"Derbytown" was recorded by the Clovers, among others, but who knows where it comes from. Think "Shaving Cream," stuck on a map:

In Derby Town, In Derby Town,
The streets are made of glass
And every time you take a walk
You fall right on your Maybe you think I'm foolin' you
Maybe you think I lie
But if you go to Derby Town
You'll see the same as I.

I bring the class around here, don't I?

TJWood said...

Steve stated:

I'm pretty sure both Electric Lady and Paisley Park weren't built until after the songs in question.

This called for a trip to Wikipedia, of course. Paisley Park Studios opened in 1985, the same year the song "Paisley Park" appeared on the Prince album Around The World In A Day. There is no information I found as to whether the song or album were recorded at Paisley Park. Electric Ladyland, however, was recorded at the Record Plant well before Electric Lady Studios was completed. Hendrix himself only got to do one brief recording session at Electric Lady before his tragic death a few weeks later.

As for my own choices, I can't think of much, I'll go with a couple of "land" songs. I'm surprised not to see "Jungleland" (by Bruce Springsteen, of course), or maybe unbeknownst to me, it is a name for an actual place. The other one I'll take is "Shadowland" from the album of the same name by k.d. lang.

FeralLiberal said...

The best ones have been taken but I've got a few more:

"The Road to Hell" - Chris Rea
"Big Sky Country" - Chris Whitley
"Sea of Joy" - Blind Faith
"Our House" - CS&N
"Mansion on the Hill" - Neil Young as well as his whole album "Greendale"

And I can't believe no one mentioned:

"Strawberry Fields"

TuneLovinJacket said...

DeChirico Street - Robyn Hitchcock
The Valley of Malls - FoW
Asphalt Wonderland - The Brains
Wonderamaland - Dramarama
Respectable Street - XTC
Orpheus Beach - Go-Betweens
Garageland - The Clash
Fantastic Planet of Love - Marshall Crenshaw
Town Called Malice - The Jam

steve simels said...

Strawberry Fields is a real place, alas.

RJ Eskow said...

Funkytown, Lipps Inc.4/11/2008 1:01 PM

But I knew eventually I was going to kill somebody over this one..

steve simels said...

FOW's Valley of Malls seems to be the secret fave tonight, and with good reason...

Anonymous said...

Maybe a (slight) stretch but I think it fits

Nowhere Man

Marsupial said...

Trash City - Joe Strummer and the Lation Rockabilly War.

(and since when is Avalon (Catalina Island) not a real place?)

Marsupial said...

LATINO Rockabilly War, that is. sigh.

dave™© said...

No one's mentioned "Cherry Hill Park"?

Or "Terrapin Station"?

Or "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams"?


dave™© said...

Oh, and how can you mention "Surf City" without its doppelganger, "Drag City"?

"Burnin' up that quarter mile!"

dave™© said...

And finally, there's Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Street Rhythm Band's "Loveland," which I don't believe is based on any real place called Loveland, of which there are several, but is, rather, a state of mind...

Brooklyn Girl said...

Well, I doubt there's a real "Stairway to Heaven" ...

Gummo said...

Sea of Love.

Octopus's Garden.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Love Shack

Sugar Shack

Green Flower Street

Moonlight Mile

steves said...

Wow. All these comments already, and no one has mentioned "Gates of Eden."

Oh, just thought of one more: "Glitter Gulch" (Elvis Costello).

FeralLiberal said...

Strawberry Fields is a real place, alas.

Sure, Steve. Next you'll be telling me "Penny Lane" is a real place :)

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

So late as always … but.

I don’t know which I like better, this Dave Davies’ guided tour of Little Green Street, where the Kinks’ Dead End Street video was shot lo these many years ago, or this ancient tinny copy of the original B&W video itself. The two really go together. An extra cool touch in the Davies video: in a wonderful God Save the Village Green moment come to life, Dave finds a posted petition calling for the preservation of Little Green St. and directing us to this website.

Also, while there are many 56th Streets in the world & almost as many Wabashas, I’ve never been able to find an actual intersection of 56th & Wabasha where Dylan could Meet Me in the Morning.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Oops. 56th & Wabasha not only not existing in the material world but ALSO not existing in any actual song TITLE, I humbly withdraw that entry.

steve simels said...

who am us:

That Dave video is extremely cool -- thanks for posting the link. And thanks for the kind words over at your blog, which I am bookmarking from now on.

Do I know you, perchance?

Anonymous said...

Late to the party. I'd like to add a favorite of mine

Blue Blvd - Dave Alvin

I suspect that there probably is a real Blue Blvd somewhere but I have no idea if the song is based on a real place. I know for fact that it's a great song by a great songwriter (IMHO)

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Steve, thanks so much! But nah, I don’t think there’s any way you could know me (or even have ever heard of me!) (Definitely my loss, not yours!)