Friday, July 04, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special The Right Tool for the Job! Edition

[I first posted this one in 2009, but given my attendance the other night at a concert by a certain piano guy who will remain nameless, I thought it was relevant enough to shake the dust off of it. I have, as is my wont, done a little general re-writing, and in one case sort-of substituted a new selection; you know -- just to keep my hand in, if not actually doing any real work. -- S.S.]

And so, without any further ado:

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Song or Record Referencing a Musical Instrument in the Title or Lyrics!!!

No arbitrary rules this time, except if anybody nominates "Piano Man" I will come to their house and taunt them mercilessly.

Okay, just kidding about that. Seriously -- no arbitrary rules. Anything goes as far as I'm concerned.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Jimmy Silva and the Goats -- A Tin Whistle and a Wooden Drum

I know very little about Silva except that he was involved with the whole Young Fresh Fellows axis of Northwest coolness and that apparently he died not too long after making the absolutely gorgeous 1991 album this particular ecstatically Byrdsian song appears on. The rest of the album's really great, too, BTW...if you're curious you can download the whole thing free right here.

6. Tom Waits -- The Piano Has Been Drinking

Waits in '77, toward the end of his initial Beatnik period, and pretty damned funny.

5. The Tokens -- I Hear Trumpets Blow

I must confess to having a soft spot for these guys that goes way beyond "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (get me drunk sometime and I'll bore you with my theory that their gorgeous Carole King-penned "He's in Town" is a major stylistic influence on the sound of Springsteen's E-Street Band). This one, one of the very best Brill Building blue collar romantic ballads of the 60s, is another of my real faves.

I should also add that if I ever run into Music Mike, whoever the fuck he is, in the flesh I will definitely be taking him as a hostage. Thank you.

4. Mike Oldfield -- Tubular Bells

Is it cool to admit liking this again? I've lost track. In any case, Philip Glass and all his subsequent minimalist stuff can frankly bite me.

4. Joni Mitchell -- For Free

A great song about a clarinet player, as unlikely as that sounds. Truly gorgeous, but it has much to answer for, perhaps, when you consider she later hired the appalling Tom Scott and the fricking L.A. Express to back her up.

3. The Aliens -- Theremin

Because, you know, we like to include a track recorded in this century. Seriously -- a pretty cool tune, even if it doesn't feature the titular instrument.

2. Cheap Trick -- Mandocello


Rick Nielsen's ode to the theoretically obsolete title instrument, and one of the very best songs on their epochal debut album.

And the numero uno "A Tinkling Piano in the Next Room" tune obviously is --

1. Roy Montrell-- That Mellow Saxophone

I first heard this song on a late 80s/early 90s album featuring the great Lou Witney and D. Clinton Thompson bass & guitar team doing business as The Morells; it's a great album, btw, although long out of print. You can find copies over at Amazon HERE, however, and I can't recommend it highly enough. You're welcome.

In any case, it's now fairly clear to me that the Morells version, which they learned from the original Fifties record above, was at least partly done tongue-in-cheek; Montrell's original, however, simply rocks like a mofo -- dollars to donuts, that's the great Earl Palmer on drums -- and I can't believe I never heard it till yesterday. (I'm informed the Stray Cats also did a cover version at some point in time, but as the guy says in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- there's no need for that).

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?


Uncle Smokes said...

For some reason, I've had Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" stuck in my head (if Donovan is too touchy-feely for you, perhaps the Butthole Surfer's version will work).

Of course, if I were making a mix tape, "Hurdy Gurdy Man" would lead right into Bread's Guitar Man.

Yeesh! When did I get so old that the best I can come up is ancient "Adult Contemporary" FM?

Oh well, let's reach way back for something that always brought a smile, Dave "Baby" Cortez and "The Happy Organ"!

Uncle Smokes said...

[I just realized that offering "Guitar Man" comes perilously close to earning me a house-taunting.]

steve simels said...

I forgive you.

cthulhu said...

A Who trifecta, from the sublime to the silly:
Won't Get Fooled Again, "pick up my guitar and play"
Long Live Rock, "the place is really jumpin' to the Hiwatt amps / till a 20 inch cymbal fell and cut the lamps"
Squeeze Box, self explanatory

Warren Zevon, "Piano Fighter", "Hula Hula Boys", "Desperadoes Under the Eaves" (ok, maybe an air conditioner isn't a musical instrument, but it's a great song anyway)
Traffic, "Dear Mr Fantasy" (btw, Steve Winwood's live versions of this song have been utterly fabulous lately)
Cream, "N.S.U." (I prefer the live version over the studio cut)

Anonymous said...

These are with instruments in the titles off the top of my groggy head:

Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine
Michael Nesmith / Linda Ronstadt - Different Drum
Neil Young - This Old Guitar
T. Rex - Bang a Gong (Get It On)
The Byrds - The Bells of Rhymney
John Mellenhead - Play Guitar
Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Rod Stewart - Mandolin Wind
Preston Epps - Bongo Rock
Steve Earle - Guitar Town
Jerry Jeff Walker - That Old Beat Up Guitar [a Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe, even]
Todd Rundgren - Bang the Drum All Day
Joni Mitchell - The Fiddle and the Drum
Boots Randolph / Benny Hill - Yakety Sax
Patti Smith - Elegy

and Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode - lyric reference - play that guitar like ringing a bell

Jimi Hendrix - Red House - It's alright I still got my guitar

Happy 4th of July. May it be multi-explosive. May all your fireworks be fleshly, unsafe and insane.

Vickie Rock

virgotex said...

Stroke it, Noel
Big Star

Tennessee Flat Top Box
Johnny Cash

"I went to Staten Island, Sharon
To buy myself a mandolin"

Joni Mitchell, Song for Sharon

Anonymous said...

Oh wait, there's more

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust - Ziggy played guitar
Grateful Dead - Ripple - references a harp unstrung
Grateful Dead - St. Stephen references a calliope
Eddie Cochran - Guitar Blues
Cream - Those Were the Days references golden cymbals and ocarina sounds
Grateful Dead - New Potato Caboose - "All graceful instruments are known"
Grateful Dead - China Cat - golden string fiddle
Grateful Dead - China Doll - references the hurdy gurdy
Billy Joel - Baby Grand
Johnny Cash - Tennessee Flat Top Box
Frank Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Little Feat - Roll Um Easy - references a concertina

Are there any Rolling Stones songs that make this list?

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Just thought of one:

Lovin' Cup: "I know a play a bad guitar."

There must be others.

Vickie Rock

edward said...

Phil Ochs Chords of Fame("I can see you make the music, cause you carry a guitar.")
Jonathan Richman:When Harpo Played His Harp
Jonathan Richman: Velvet Underground (all the instruments get mentioned)
Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention: Trouble Every Day ("Play your harmonica,son")
Bruce Springsteen: Thunder Road ("I've got this guitar and I've learned how to make it talk")
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: Ive Got A Capo On My Brain
Billy Bragg: This Guitar Says Sorry

edward said...

And now the percussion section...
Drums A Go-Go: The Hollywood Persuaders
Atomic Bongos: Lydia Lunch
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick - Ian Drury and the Blockheads
And, of course, The Intro to the Outro by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band ("Adolph Hitler on Vibes. Niiiice")

Anonymous said...

Freddie King - Me and My Guitar
Red House Painters - Song For a Blue Guitar
Loudon Wainwright III - Red Guitar

Vickie Rock barbecuing by the pool

Anonymous said...

Led Zeppelin - Four Sticks

Vickie Rock - does "Kissing cunt in Cannes" count as an instrument?

Anonymous said...

You may not know a lot about Jimmy Silva, but you do know one of his songs without realizing it. The Smitereens covered his "Hands Of Glory" on their wonderful 1986 debut album "ESPECIALLY FOR YOU" (a record to which, incidentally, I was turned on by reading your "BEST OF THE MONTH" feature in "STEREO REVIEW"). You can hear Silva"s own version Of the song on youtube; I listened to it earlier today. I prefer the 'Reens' version (it's a little more amped-up and rhythmically powerful) but Silva's has a certain jangly charm, and is still definitely worth checking out. Happy July 4th.

J. Lag

J. Lag

steve simels said...


I knew the Smithereens had some relation/connection with Jimmy Silva, but I didn't remember the specifics. And I should have....

Thanks so much for getting me back
to speed

Anonymous said...

Mott the Fuckin' Hoople - All the Way From Memphis

Forgot my six-string razor - hit the sky
Half way to memphis 'fore I realised
Well I rang the information - my axe was cold
They said she rides the train to Oriole

Well I got to Oriole y'know - it took a month
And there was my guitar, electric junk
Some spade said rock'n'rollers, you're all the same
Man that's your instrument. I felt so ashamed.

Vickie Rock - Ribs or brisket? I already took care of the tri-tip.

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Cello Song by my beloved Nick Drake (spikes the football).


Dave said...

This is obvious. The correct answer is: "Bongo Stomp" by Little Joey and the Flips

There is no second choice. :-)

How can you resist a song that begins with these immortal lyrics?

Down in the jungle where no one goes
Oh, there's a dance that no one knows
The name is called the Bongo Stomp
Oh, oh, oh, oh, follow me
And do the Hop

Dave F.

Anonymous said...

Uh, .... Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan / The Byrds / William Shatner

Vickie Rock - winding this pool party down, hope your 4th was half as good as mine. The last taxi just left. California Police State sobriety roadblocks are the reason. You certainly don't have to be bombed to be "legally" drunk. Sniff the cork and you're already half way there.

"Things aren't like they used to be. This ain't the summer of love."

Anonymous said...

Oh... and the Move / Cheap Trick - California Man - "Get that real guitar boy shakin' I'm a California Man."

Vickie Rock - I don't care if my legs are achin', I'll dance right on till the floors are breakin'.

But now it's time to take a load off my feet and enjoy a little Billy Joel.

Would you like this last amuse-bouche?

salhepatica said...

John Hiatt's "Perfectly Good Guitar" belongs here, especially as the studio original is such an orgy of howling electric guitars. The winking lyrics are just a bonus.

buzzbabyjesus said...

The Clash "Jail Guitar Doors"


Anonymous said...

salhepatica: I love the guitar sound on that Hiatt track as well. Michael Ward is a mother. Saw John's band a bunch of times when he was the guitarist. Missed him when he left.

With regard to the subject at hand, I just flashed on a few more:
Creedence - Down On the Corner - references harp, washboard, gut bass, kalamazoo [?], and kazoo
Up Around the Bend - references a banjo
Commander Cody's remake of "Beat Me Daddy, Eight To the Bar"
Paul Anka / Raul Malo - A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine
Bette Midler's remake of the Andrews Sisters "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"
Blue Oyster Cult - Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll - Three thousand guitars they seem to cry ...Marshall will buoy but Fender control
Led Zeppelin - The Battle of Evermore - The drums will shake the castle wall
Alice Cooper - Be My Lover - I told her that I came from Detroit city and I played guitar in a long haired rock and roll band.
She asked me why the singer's name was Alice. I said listen baby you really wouldn't understand. [Times certainly have changed]
Merle Haggard - Sing Me Back Home - The warden led a prisoner down the hallway to his doom
I stood up to say good-bye like all the rest
And I heard him tell the warden just before he reached my cell
'Let my guitar playing friend do my request.' (Let him...)
Sing me back home with a song I used to hear
Make my old memories come alive
Take me away and turn back the years
Sing Me Back Home before I die

Gitarzan, he's a gitar man
He's all you can stand
Give him a hand, Gitarzan

Vickie Rock - Quite possibly it's the Adderall. Surf's up. I'm outta here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing:
John Prine - Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian -
Well, I packed my bags and bought myself a ticket
For the land of the tall palm tree.
Aloha ol’ Milwaukee,
Hello Waikiki
I just stepped down from the airplane
When I heard her say.
“Wacka Wacka, nuka, licka
Wacka Wacka nuka licka
Would you like a ……Lay

Hey, Let’s talk dirty in Hawaiian
Whisper in my ear
Kicka puka maka waawaa heenee
Are the words I long to hear
Lay your coconut on my tickie
Whata hecka mooka mooka dear.
Let’s talk dirty in Hawaiian
Say the words I long to hear.

It’s a ukulele Honolulu sunset
Listen to the grass skirts sway
Drinking rum from the pineapple
Out on Honolulu Bay
The steel guitars are playin’
While she’s talking with her hands
Gimme gimme oaka doaka
Make a wish and wanta poka
Words I understand.

Vickie Rock - headin' down the 55 very focused

Alzo said...

Chris Spedding's "Guitar Jamboree" doesn't just reference the instrument-- it's a showcase mimicking a dozen axemasters' styles.

Speaking of which: Be Bop Deluxe "Axe Victim"
Roy Wood "Saxmaniax"
Sparks: "Gratuitous Sax" and "Senseless Violins"
Johnny Thunders "Axe Me No Questions"

I keed, I keed.

Anonymous said...

OK, let's start with the Beatles and the Stones:

Back In the U.S.S.R. - Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out

Starfucker - lead guitars and movie stars get their toes beneath your hook


The Hollies - Stop Stop Stop - See the girl with cymbals on her fingers entering through the door. Rubies glistening from her navel, shimmering around the floor. Bells on feet go ting-a-ling-a-ling, going through my head.

Zeppelin - In My Time of Dying - Oh Gabriel let me blow your horn.

Mott the 'Oople - Honaloochie Boogie - Now, my hair gets longer as the beat gets stronger. Wanna tell Chuck Berry my news. I get my kicks outta guitar licks. And I've sold my steel toed shoes

J.J. Cale / Eric Clapton - After Midnight we gonna shake your tambourine. It's all gonna be peaches and cream.

Dick Dale - King of the Surf Guitar
Drive-by Truckers - The Living Bubba - Don't give me no pity, don't give me no grief. Wait till I die for sympathy. Just help me with this amp and a guitar or two. I can't die now cuz I got another show to do.
Ronnie and Neil Ronnie and Neil. Rock stars today ain't half as real. Speaking their minds on how they feel. Let them guitars blast for Ronnie and Neil.
Blue Oyster Cult – The Marshall Plan [I know it’s embarrassingly awful, though hopefully tongue-in-cheek, but it may have inspired some twelve year old masturbators and stoners much like the Kiss Army]
White Stripes - Rag and Bone - Bring out your junk and we'll give it a home. A broken trumpet or a telephone.
Edgar Winter's White Trash - Keep Playing That Rock 'N' Roll - So I packed up and I made it up to New York, Where my brother was a great big star, He was doin' funky music, yeah, Singin' and playin' guitar.
Guitar Man - not the David Gates one but the Jerry Reed / Elvis Presley one.
Hearts & Flowers /Ray Wylie Hubbard - Rock 'N' Roll Gypsies - To the faraway places of France. Of the people and the places I've been. I'll sing you a song and I won't keep you long. For the tambourine's playin' and the carnival's callin' me home.
Guy Clark - Picasso's Mandolin

re: The Clash Jail Guitar Doors, Gilby Clarke also cut a version with Waddy producing. I was thinking about stretching the limits and including Gilby's wonderful "Tijuana Jail", but I'm pretty sure the Mustang referenced is a Ford Mustang not a Fender Mustang. - "Packing up my Mustang 'cause this city has no heart. It sucks you in and spits you out."

Gilby's a hell of a nice guy. He and my husband have a common love for choppers and vintage cars. His wife and I were both pregnant at the same time. We both had girls.

Mine's prettier. "No brag, just fact," as Walter Brennan used to say on some long forgotten TV western that I used to watch with my much beloved late uncle.

Vickie Rock - guitar tweekin' with my new Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail

may the rest of your Sunday be spiritually edifying, uplifting and rapturous

oh and what the hell

Anonymous said...

On Starfucker it's "get their tongues beneath your hood." not "get their toes beneath your hook," which is absurd.

The lyric website I copied it from had it wrong.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Flute Song

Sergio Mendes, Astrud Gilberto - Berimbau

no song, but artist and album title: The Bongos - Drums Along the Hudson

M_Sharp said...

"Space Guitar" Johnny "Guitar" Watson

"Big Guitar" The Morells

"I Play The Drums" The Del-Lords and The Skeletons

Anonymous said...

Bad Company - Shooting Star - Got himself a guitar, used to play every night. Now he's in a rock 'n' roll outfit and everything's all right.

Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs - Now it's guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music, lonely, lonely streets that I call home. Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music, it's the only thing that keeps me hangin' on.

Jerry Reed / Steve Gibbons - Tupelo Mississippi Flash - He said, Son my name is Beauregard Rippy. I come to you from Tupelo, Mississippi. I write songs that'll sing like a bird. I play licks on my guitar like you aint never heard.

Steve Gibbons - Eddy Vortex - He plays a fifties Futurama. Man he makes it mean. You can always find him ripping it up down at the local scene.

Vickie Rock - The band's still playing it loud and lean. Listen to the guitar player making it scream. All you got to do is just make that scene tonight.

Feral said...

I thought for sure someone would have mentioned The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away"


senormedia said...

Talking Heads - Electric Guitar