Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Ain't It a Fwicking Shame Edition

[I first posted this one back in 2010, apparently at a time I was extremely depressed about something or other. The irony, of course, is that I now look back at that period in my life as a sort of Golden Age that will never come again. Heh. In any case, as is my wont, I have done a little re-writing and added a new entry. I should also add that yes, I am aware that there is a well-known George Harrison song that most normal people would probably have included. So sue me. -- S.S.]

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Record or Song With the Word(s) Sorrow or Pity (or Variants Thereof) in the Title or Lyrics!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, and no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much.

And my totally top of my head Top Eight are:

8. Richard and Linda Thompson -- Calvary Cross

"A black cat crossed your path
And why don't you follow?
My claw's in you and my light's in you
This is your first day of sorrow"

Absolutely spine-chilling on every level; frankly, there are some days when I think that's the most magnificent song/record ever made. And the whole fricking album is that great.

I should add that an intertube asshole I have had words with over the years is fond of saying that rock is what you get when white boys take out everything interesting from the blues. That is, of course, a spectacularly ignorant claim in and of itself, but obviously he never heard the above. As I said -- he's an asshole.

7. Otis Redding -- Mr. Pitiful

One of my favorite Otis records, and whenever I hear it I want to say to him -- I know the feeling.

5. Gene Pitney -- Town Without Pity

Here rendered as "Bleib Bei Mir," because frankly this one could only sound more over the top melodramatic in the original German.

4. Faith No More -- Last Cup of Sorrow

To be honest, I thought these guys were kind of overrated back in the day, and I don't much care for the song. But the homage to Hitchcock's Vertigo in this video has always kind of tickled me.

3. The Lovin' Spoonful -- Only Pretty What a Pity

An uncharacteristically nasty song from the group that practically invented the concept of Good Time Music. Written and sung by Spoonful drummer Joe Butler, who when I interviewed him about the tune allowed it was inspired by a real woman of the band's acquaintance. "Everyone except a baby/answers for the face they wear" has always struck me as one of the most chillingly poetic lines in rock history.

2. The Merseys -- Sorrow

The sadly better known David Bowie cover of this is one of the only things on Pin-Ups I can tolerate, but the original is still the greatest.

2. Weezer -- This is Such a Pity

Because, as you know, we like to have something recorded in this century. A pretty cool song in any case.

And the Numero Uno miserabilist song of them all, please let's not quibble about this, is --

1. Warren Zevon -- Poor Poor Pitiful Me

The live version from the fabulous Stand in the Fire, which, although spirited, omits the great line about the girl at the Rainbow Bar who asks Zevon to beat her -- "I don't want to talk about it." On the other hand, it compensates with the bit where he yells at his road manager to get up and dance.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR favorites be?


Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

My fave Pity song? Isn't It a Pity. Nothing else is even close.

But, in case anyone out there wants an alternate version of George's masterpice, try the Cowboy Junkies version:

Sidebar topic for Mr. Simels. Steve, didn't you say you were recently in the studio? On teh Junkies site, Mike Timmons writes about recording the Trinity Sessions:


buzzbabyjesus said...

I could't agree more about the greatness of "I Wanna See The Bright Lights". I've been a fan of that since it came out. Richard has written many sad songs, another contender would be "I'll Regret It All In The Morning".
I'm a Bowie fan and "sorrow" is the only track on "Pinups" that really works. Too much cocaine on that album.
I nominate one of the saddest songs I know, Kevin Coyne's "House On The Hill".

Anonymous said...

kudos to Burnett for resurrecting "Man of Constant Sorrow" for the Coen soundtrack, but Rod Stewart's version is my favorite.

I Pity the Poor Immigrant - partial to Judy Collins

The National - Sorrow (these guys go in the bin of artists whose popularity I don't get)

John Werner said...

A truly worthy resurrection in the bleakness of February. As I did not see it originally I'm particularly grateful for The Loving Spoonful's Only Pretty live version. It actually appears to be live (i.e. not lip-synced?)and it is an amazing blend of upbeat harmonies and downbeat lyrics with a little theater thrown in for good measure. A great list that we could all explore further.

Squints said...

I was listening last Saturday morning to Bill Kelly's show on the Underground Garage when he played the Fabs' "It's All Too Much." And for the first time ever I heard -- which is to say, noticed -- George's callback to the Merseys' "Sorrow" during the fade. I was going on nine when my pop took us to see Yellow Submarine in the theater, so I can be forgiven for not picking up on it then. But it only took me 47 YEARS? Yeesh. 8^)

Mark said...

With regard to Sorrow and Bowie's version on PIN-UPS, yes, the album's a vanity project passing as a contractual obligation if ever there was one, but I think Bowie's version is absolutely top-notch. And of all the twelve tracks on PIN-UPS, Sorrow's the only one that I can imagine Bowie being wistful about after the recording session for two, maybe three seconds before turning to Ken Scott, the PIN-UPS producer, and asking, "What crap did I agree to do next?"

side3 said...

First- thanks for that Spoonful clip. Joe Butler singing while John Sebastian is still in the band...Jerry Yester era? Never seen this lineup.

That said, I submit:

Ann Peebles- "I Pity the Fool"

cthulhu said...

The Prissteens did a good cover of "Sorrow" as well.

I nominate Tonio K.'s "H-A-T-R-E-D": Well I wish I were as mellow / as for instance Jackson Browne / but "Fountain of Sorrow" my ass, motherfucker / I hope you wind up in the ground

Chris Whitley's "Dirt Floor" comes to mind, as does Joe Walsh's "Song for Emma", both sad and beautiful meditations on death. Don't listen if you're already depressed though.

I'm sure there's more Zevon and Thompson worthy of inclusion, but it's not popping up this morning so I'll stop.

Alzo said...

I think you guys are way too hard on 'Pin-Ups." Sure, 'Sorrow' is the peak, but the versions of 'Can't Explain' and 'Where Have All the Good Times Gone' are quite fine, too. Okay, ditch the rest of the record, but at least it's better than 'Let's Spend the Night Together.' To his credit, Bowie always used his star power to champion his underappreciated favorites.

Anonymous said...

Neil Young - Down By the River
Bo Diddley/Captain Beefheart - Diddy Wah Diddy
Allman Brothers Band - Whipping Post
Nirvana - Lithium
Sade - King of Sorrow
Grateful Dead - Unbroken Chain
John Mellenhead - Each Day of Sorrow
Beatles - Let It Be
Buffalo Springfield - Rock and Roll Woman
Eric Clapton - Let It Rain
Them - Mighty Like a Rose
Jackson Browne - Fountain of Sorrow
I'd go with the Bowie version of Sorrow over the McCoys and Merseys. The sax makes it.

Vickie Rock - Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame, with the rain in Shambala

steve simels said...

I'd forgotten about Shambala. What a terrific song....

Anonymous said...

Scratch Lithium by Nirvana (as no literal mention of sorrow)

Add Marmalade - Reflections of My Life

Vickie Rock - If nothing else, Bowie's Pin-Ups sure made a nice billboard on Sunset.

Here's the oft seen photo from Spring 1974 with the Hoople and Mainman billboards between Larrabee and San Vicente/Clark.

Power Burger was the best! - Now long gone. Best pita pocket chili burgers ever! And within spitting from the Whisky. I used to change clothes in their back break room sometimes.

I used to park at the ARCO (also long gone) when frequenting the strip. The owner, some immigrant guy, loved me. I playfully flirted and teased and he always let me park for free.

Filthy McNasty's became the Central where Sandy and I once bumped into Keith Richards at the bar. Now it's the Viper Room.

The Classic Cat became a University Stereo and then Tower Video. Now it's a fuckin' Chase Bank. Nothing gold can stay!!

I danced at the Classic Cat twice on amateur nights with a fake ID. The place was highly over-rated. The Wildcat in Pomona had much better girls. The latter's manager got tired of the mediocre women the agencies were sending over, so he started recruiting girls from the local colleges. He was pretty lax on the ID's too, obviously. I danced there in high school. He got busted in 1973 for underage dancers (of which I was still one) and it made the local papers. But he managed to pull some strings and bribe his way out of it. After that, they left him alone. I think he had the goods on some "upstanding" city officials.

Seriously, the only time the Classic Cat really cooked was on the amateur nights. That's when the truly fine women showed up. What they lacked in skills, they made up for in beauty and effort.

Looking at that photo makes me wax nostalgic, but it also breaks my heart. Things used to be sooo cool. What the fuck happened?

Vickie Rock

M_Sharp said...

"Misery" and "Misery and Gin" by Merle Haggard

"I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)" by Ben Vaughn

"I'm Sorry I Can't Rock You All Night Long" by the Wild Seeds

"Little Girl Blue" by Nina Simone

Anonymous said...

A couple more kicked in during lunch:

Bee Gees - How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

Steppenwolf - Rock Me

Vickie Rock - Give me your loss and sorrow. If I show the roses will you follow?

Anonymous said...

Good call on the Wild Seeds. Seems I heard those words uttered before. It's an interesting idea baby, but it would be wrong. But is sorry the same as sorrow. Judges?

Just thought of Fleetwood Mac's wonderful Closing My Eyes. Used to solitarily listen to it on reds, Ripple and ten dollar weed while pleasuring myself. It's a good song for that.

The Nina Simone pick made me flash on Janis Joplin so....

Get It While You Can

Vickie Rock - Gotta date with the Heartless Bastards tonight ... and a craggy old Bob Seger.

pete said...

I've read that "Mr. Pitiful" was a name given Otis by a radio DJ, because he made his reputation singing ballads. So it's kind of an answer song.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, did John Sebastian borrow Neil Young's threads for that performance of Only Pretty (What a Pity)? WTF. His face looks a little swollen and beered-out too. Not really into that tune and he doesn't seem to be either. Yester's singing into that hair dryer thingie is kinda cool though.

Vickie Rock - Save my love through loneliness. Save My love through sorrow. I'll give you my only-ness. Come give me your tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Youngbloods - Darkness Darkness

Metric - Twilight Galaxy

Vickie Rock - Did I ask you for attention? When affection is what I need? Thinking sorrow is perfection,
I'd wallow 'til you told me
There's no glitter in the gutter.
There's no twilight galaxy.

M_Sharp said...

Judges? We don't need no stinking judges!
"…the Word(s) Sorrow or Pity (or Variants Thereof)…"

Here's a few more variants-

"Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Percy Mayfield

"River's Invitation" by Percy Mayfield

"Blues On The Ceiling" by Fred Neil

Anonymous said...

I'm Sorry - Patsy Cline
Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word - Elton Duck
Jealous Guy - Ono O'Boogie
We're so sorry Uncle Albert

Vickie Rock ;-)

Anonymous said...

I forgot Roxy Music's masterpiece of sorrow, the gorgeous "A Song For Europe." Heard it in the car tonight and it sounded great. Brandy or Scotch with your Jack Terer?

Vickie Rock - The world is my oyster...

Then you love a little wild one and she brings you only sorrow. All the time you know she's smilin' - You'll be on your knees tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, er, that's "Brandy or Scotch with your Jack Herer?"

pete said...

I think that's the same road manager who would bring Zevon on in handcuffs at the start of the show, then unlock the cuffs.

Anonymous said...

pete and who ever cares:

George Gruel is the road manager's name. He used to live with Bob and Frankie Weir in Marin. I never cared for the handcuff schtick much. But seeing that fat bastard dance during Poor Poor Pitiful Me, sometimes under threat of death, was delightful.

Zevon had a great band for that tour (The Dog Ate the Part We Didn't Like Tour). Jon Landau's brother David was one of the guitarists. The rest had been members of a deservedly failed band called Boulder. You'd never guess from their album that they could burn like this with Zevon.

IMO Zevon never surpassed the first LP. I simply love that album. Never got off on Werewolves. That kinda borders on novelty. But I still saw all of his early tours through 1982. Then lost interest.

The guy liked his guns, as does Jackson, so he's alright by me. Wish I could have been there with him at the Chateau Marmont when he was firing his .44 out the window and taking potshots at the Richard Pryor billboard. But I was getting beat up at the Hyatt up the street. Just kidding.

Did see Zevon twice in the 1990's. The first time was with the Odds at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. That was a rocking show. He hardly did any slow numbers. The Odds also did the opening slot. I set up my D-5 and mics on the wall behind the sound booth so that Sandy and me could dance. The Coach House has small dancing areas with PA's on the right and left sides of the stage so you don't block anyone's view.

I also saw Warren at a benefit for Jorge Calderon's wife at the Palace in Hollywood. She needed a liver transplant.

He did about a 40 minute set at the benefit with an all-star backing band and was rapturously received. El Rayo X reunited for a long set to cap the evening. Prior to that were short sets by Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, Crosby & Nash, David Lindley and daughter Roseanne, etc.

It was a long night. I had to use three DAT's to capture it all. I had to send Sandy out to the car to grab the third tape in the middle of the show. She lied and said she needed to get her prescription medicine so that security had sympathy and let her re-enter. What a great show! Last I ever saw Warren other than on TV. Whatever happened to him:-)

For those who don't know, Poor Poor Pitiful Me is a song that deliciously mocks Jackson Browne.

Vickie Rock - Higher than high and lower than deep. I'll sleep when I'm dead. Cue: Monkees "Let's Dance On."