Friday, March 06, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Beat the Reaper! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental personal groinal area manipulator Gal Friday Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to the Florida compound of Republican party head Rush Limbaugh. Yes, it's March and apparently the Oxycontin harvest is in full swing. We'll also be modelling Rush's new line of Eastern European Casino Bouncer fashions -- could be a hot one!

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Most Memorable Post-Beatles Song Either About Death or With the Words Death or Dead In The Title!!!

Self-explanatory, obviously, so no arbitrary rules this time.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Seven:

7. Dead Flowers -- The Rolling Stones

This has nothing to do with anything, but when Charlie Watts hits the bell of his cymbal twice on the last line of the last chorus, I just go all gooey.

6. About to Die -- Procol Harum

They had a million of 'em, actually. In fact, I seem to recall they scrapped an entire album around this time until lyricist Keith Reid agreed to come up with something not so obviously sicklied over with a graveyard cast, if you know what I mean.

5. Death of Caroline -- Nelson Bragg

Bragg is a member of Brian Wilson's touring band, and this song, appropriately enough, puts a somewhat depressing spin on Wilson's classic "Caroline No." (In the clip above, it's the eighth song in, BTW). Included because I wanted something recorded in this century and because it's a gorgeous song from an album that deserves a wider audience. [I reviewed it here in 2007.]

4. I Walked With a Zombie -- Roky Erickson

Cheating on my part perhaps, but you have to agree the song is a sublime and perfect realization of the titular narrative.

3. Run For Your Life -- The Beatles

"I'd rather see you dead, little girl." I'm sure John regretted the sentiment later in life, but it's still a great song.

2. Life'll Kill Ya -- Warren Zevon

A haunting Aaron Copland-ish American plain song melody mated to one of its auteur's funniest and most mordant lyrics adds up to one of my favorite songs of the decade; ironically, it was NOT written when Zevon knew he was dying. "From the President of the United States to the lowliest rock n roll star...the doctor is in and he'll see ya now -- he don't care who you are."

And the number one song about biting the big one, there's really no argument about this remotely possible, obviously is --

1. Wall of Death -- Richard and Linda Thompson

Thompson's another one who's got a million of 'em, and actually I was going for "When I Get to the Border," which is a much subtler metaphor, but there was no video, alas. WOD, of course, is an equally killer (you should pardon the expression) song, and this unreleased version is quite gorgeous in a poppy folk-rock kind of way, no? Not sure where it's from...possibly from the legendary Gerry Rafferty sessions that produced the definitive "Shoot Out the Lights." Any Thompson afficianados out there have any idea?

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most erotic movie star pairings -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see it clear to go over there and leave a comment, it would help convince management I'm worth the vast sums of money they're paying me. Thanks.]


TJWood said...

Five off-the-top-of-the-head ones:

1. Dead Man's Curve--Jan and Dean

2. Death of a Clown--The Kinks, sometimes just credited to Dave Davies

3. Wake Up Dead Man--U2, one of those off-the-wall U2 tracks they seem to save for closing songs on albums

4. Sweetness Follows--REM, one of several death-themed songs from Automatic For The People

5. Death Is Not The End--a Bob Dylan song I can't say I've ever heard, but from one of his least-regarded albums, Down In The Groove

Anonymous said...

"Death May Be Your Santa Claus" - Mott the Hoople
"Slow Death" - Flamin' Groovies
"Licence To Kill" - Bob Dylan
"Freddie's Dead" - Curtis Mayfield
"Don Henley Must Die" - Mojo Nixon
"Love It To Death" - Alice Cooper
The immortal "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick" - Sonic Youth
"Death By Misadventure" - John Hiatt
And, of course, "Tonight's The Night," by Mr. Young - whole damned album - bill buckner

Anonymous said...

Even I'll admit that Dylan's version is pretty, uh, deadly. But Nick Cave does a decent take on it.

Other dead songs:

God's Comic - Elvis Costello
Cold Turkey - John Lennon
Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio

Hey, would "Art of Dying" count?

Anonymous said...

I Want My Baby Back - Jimmy Cross. I win!

Anonymous said...

Does Bowie's Rock and Roll Suicide count?


Or Knockin' on Heaven's Door?

Incidental info: Saw Dylan do that once live with Bob Seger making a cameo ... even the crew backstage was singing it.

Anonymous said...

Upon reflection, add Cheat Death by Dirty on Purpose.

Six minutes of heroin pop.

Or maybe just vicodin.

geor3ge said...

5. Death Is Not The End--a Bob Dylan song I can't say I've ever heard, but from one of his least-regarded albums, Down In The Groove

Nick Cave closes with that number on Murder Ballads. Come to think of it, that entire album works here.

TMink said...

But I Might Die Tonight - the artist formerly known as Cat


Noam Sane said...

Randy Newman, "I'm Dead, But I Don't Know It".

Wendy said...

"Hey Joe" - The Leaves and Hendrix

"Frankie and Johnny" - done by a cast of thousands, including Van Morrison and (heh) Lindsay Lohan (I kid you not)

"i Would Die 4 U" - Prince

Wendy said...

And how could I forget U2's "Pride"?

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn Girl said...

"Frankie and Johnny" - done by a cast of thousands, including Van Morrison and (heh) Lindsay Lohan (I kid you not)

Nice one, but it's decidedly from the pre-Beatle era. According to Wiki: 'The first published version of the music to "Frankie and Johnny" appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"; the piece, a variant version of whose melody is sung today, was titled "He Done Me Wrong" and subtitled "Death of Bill Bailey".'

Anonymous said...

May I second "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" by Mott the Hoople?

Although I just checked YouTube, and there's no clip. Lots of interesting Mott, though.

Noam Sane said...

Early morning, April 4

Always struck me as a weird stanza. Even allowing for the 6-hour time difference between Dublin and Memphis, TN, Bono screwed the pooch on that. It was 6pm when shots rang out in the Memphis sky.

Wouldn't "early evening" fit just as well?

John Fowler said...

Saturday Nite is Dead - Graham Parker
isn't this the third week in a row for this song?
from the Day/Night, Day of the Week, & Death lists

Death or Glory - the Clash

I'll also second R.E.M.'s 'Sweetness Follows'

and, probably heretical around here, but there's also
The Supernatural Anaesthetist - Genesis, from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

complete with weird YouTube video of a Genesis tribute band, if you are brave enough:

Unknown said...

Junkie Girl, from Walter Becker's great "11 Tracks of Whack" album.

steve simels said...

I love "Junkie Girl." That's a great album, actually....

Anonymous said...

"Alison" by E. Costello.

Hey, Steve, "lyricist Keith Reid" is wrong. He wrote not lyrics, but "words", just like in the Anglican hymnal.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to see Richard Thompson tonight, I'll ask him to sing about death.

Anonymous said...

Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus

The entire oeuvre of the Dead Kennedys and the Grateful Dead

Dead End Street - The Kinks

Wendy said...

Nice one, but it's decidedly from the pre-Beatle era. According to Wiki: 'The first published version of the music to "Frankie and Johnny" appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"; the piece, a variant version of whose melody is sung today, was titled "He Done Me Wrong" and subtitled "Death of Bill Bailey".

The song is, but the performances aren't. :-)

Anyway, speaking of the Beatles:

"Live and Let Die" - Paul McCartney and Wings

Anonymous said...

Lucinda Williams: Pineola; Drunken Angel
The Kinks: Dead End Street
The Who: Glow Girl
The Broadcasters: Goodbye


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Disaster's getting closer every time we meet, going 90 miles an hour down a dead end street -- written by somebody else i think, but Dylan's cover is the one i know.

Anonymous said...

The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down:

Like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.
He was just eighteen, proud and brave, but a yankee laid him in his grave

Unknown said...

Other Lucindas: "Pineola" and "Too Cool to be Forgotten."

Wendy said...

Country Joe and the Fish: "Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag"

The Airplane: "Rejoyce"
War's good business so give your son
And I'd rather have my country die for me.

agitpropre said...

The Doors - The End

Alice Cooper - Dead Babies

Anonymous said...

Too many to choose from:
Dirt Floor, the late lamented Chris Whitley from the album of the same name

Another Zevon song: My Ride's Here, the title track from his penultimate studio recording (the ride in question is a hearse)

And another Zevon: Things to do in Denver When You're Dead, from "Mr. Bad Example"

And yet another Zevon: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, from his self-titled disc

And another: Keep Me In Your Heart, the last song on Zevon's final album; a lovely little song and still almost impossible to listen to without breaking down, over five years after his death

Tonio K.: The Night Fast Rodney Went Crazy, from "Amerika"

John Hiatt: The Wreck of the Barbie Ferrari, from "Perfectly Good Guitar"

The White Stripes, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, from "White Blood Cells"

A second to the Who's Glow Girl, a perfect power pop song. A related Pete Townshend song from his "Scoop" set is You Came Back, about (no surprise) reincarnation

The Tragically Hip: At The Hundredth Meridian, featuring the great line "Lower me slowly and sadly and properly / Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy"

Another White Stripes song: Death Letter, featuring some blistering slide guitar from Jack

And another Stripes song: 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues, with the killer line "you know, in that graveyard / I'll have the shiniest pair of shoes"

Mink DeVille: Lily's Daddy's Cadillac, from "Where Angels Fear to Tread", available through Amazon on a double bill with their classic "Coup De Grace"

I'll stop for now...

TuneLovinJacket said...

My wife and my dead Wife - Robyn Hitchcock
Sex, Drugs, & Rock n Roll Are Dead - The Loveless
Death Ship - Hoodoo Gurus
The Death of Big Ed Delahanty - the Baseball Project
The King is Dead, The Queen Is Beautiful - The Kavanaghs
Andy Warhol's Dead But I'm Not - EIEIO
The Death of Rock - The dB's

steve simels said...


You know, the Tragically Hip are one of those bands I've always filed under "Lord knows, I've tried."

But The Tragically Hip: At The Hundredth Meridian, featuring the great line "Lower me slowly and sadly and properly / Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy"

...has caused me to try again. Damn, that's good.

Anonymous said...

Neil Young - Powderfinger
Richard Thompson - The Woods of Darney
Patti Smith Land; Redondo Beach


Libby Spencer said...

Late to the game and I overslept. I'm not awake yet. Off the top of my head.

Roger Waters. That one about Tiananmen Square. Think it was called Watching TV.

Traffic - John Barleycorn must die

And she was a country singer, but this was sort of crossover hit.

Bobbie Gentry - Ode to Billie Joe.

Anonymous said...

Steve -

I'm actually with you about the Tragically Hip, EXCEPT for two discs from the mid-90's: "Fully Completely", from whence the marvelous At the Hundredth Meridian referenced above comes; and its successor, Day for Night, which, come to think of it, has a pretty good song on it called Inevitability of Death. I bought two or three of their releases after those two, was underwhelmed, and finally gave up. But these two CDs are worth it.

MJConroy said...

"Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road". (Got to experience one today.)

Interesting that REM covered 2 of the posted songs - #1 and #4.

Dave said...

When I think of the subject, Neil Young's Tonight's the Night album is numero uno.
A few more obscure tracks:

The Kingsmen's triumph, "Death of an Angel" --

and the Buoys' Timothy:

Laura Nyro's (NOT BS&T's) And When I Die:

and one of Brian Wilson's most beautiful, 'Til I Die. Here's the original mix and Stephen Desper's remix:

steve simels said...

The Kingsmen's Death of an Angel?

Say what?

MBowen said...

Here's a particular favorite, from the second French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson album Invisible Means. It's called "Now That I Am Dead" and it sounds like an RT song, but it's actually written by ex-Magic Band percussionist John French along with a D. Blair. Here's a video from Bumbershoot in 1990.

Now that I am dead
My agent finally said
He wanted to have lunch with me
Now that I'm deceased
My record sales increased
I'm making lots of royalties

I'm a composer decomposing
I'm on the rockers roll of fame
My songs the critics are praising
Yes, they've even learned to spell my name

Now that I've expired
My picture's in Enquirer
Psychics claim to contact me
Now that I have kicked
The Rolling Stone has picked
My albums as the best that be

They all say that I was over-stressed
Since the break-up with my wife
But their payment plan was not the best
The check was in the mail all my life

Now I'm pushing daisies
Lawyers who were lazy
Are negotiating deals
Now that I've been boxed
They say my music rocks
It's taken on a new appeal

Too bad my genius was discovered
After my coffin had been covered
But I'm forever grateful till eternity
Now that my video's on MTV

Death always seemed so rash
But now I have lots of cash
Now that I am dead I can finally start earning a living

I am Mr. Dead!....

MBowen said...

Oh, yeah, that version of Wall of Death was definitely from the Gerry Rafferty version of "Shoot Out The Lights".

I don't know how many times I've had to put down the "SOTL is a divorce album" meme by pointing out that it had been written and recorded the first time almost two years before Richard Thompson ever met Nancy Covey, the woman he left Linda for.

ms. rosa said...

"daddy died on saturday" by the outsiders (dutch)

'spose i coulda submitted it last week too!

preznit said...

Even As We Speak- "Sailor's Grave"
Pulp- "She's Dead"
Los Campesinos- "Death to Los Campesinos"
My Teenage Stride- "Theme from Teenage Suicide"
Double Dan- "Dead in December"
Andrew W K "Ready to Die"
Magnetic Fields- "Zombie Boy"
The Besties- "Zombie Song"
Sprites- "George Romero"
My Favorite- "My Life With the Living Dead" and "The Suburbs Are Killing Us"
Tullycraft- "If You Take Away the Makeup (Then the Vampires They Will Die)"
Manhattan Love Suicides- "Thinking is Killing Me"
Stars- "Your Ex-Lover is Dead"

agitpropre said...

How could I have forgotten Loudon Wainwright's "Unrequited to Nth degree"?

Oh when I die & it wont be long
Oh you're gonna be sorry that you treated me wrong
You're gonna be sorry that you treated me bad
And if there's an after life I'll gloat & I'll be glad

Might be a plane crash, or some sort of OD
Might be a photograph in my obituary
You might see it & you'll cry a lot
Might want to wear black
Oh, I'd be dead but you can bet your life, I'm gonna get you back

I'm tired of being stuck up on your shelf
Might not wait around, Might kill myself
Not only would you miss me, you'd feel guilty to
Oh I'd be dead but it'd be too late the joke would be on you.

Ha ha ha ha, ho ho ho ho
Chuckle chuckle chuckle chuckle
Snigger snigger snigger snigger
Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw
Yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk

So you better take a warning & start treating me good
Start doing the things that I think you should
You better not pout & you better not cry
The grim reaper is coming to town & I just might die