I was so sick of trying to figure out what people wanted to hear. One day I just woke up and said, “I’m not gonna play that game. I’m gonna write whatever the heck I feel like. Whatever comes out is whatever comes out, and that’s gonna be that.”
The foundation has got to be a solid platform that you can stand on and speak to these kids and say, “This is the way you build yourself. If you build yourself this way, and handle yourself this way, and have character, you get to play football.” And winning will take care of itself, because young men of character and discipline and commitment end up winning in life, and they end up winning in football. Well, when you flip it, and the foundation of what you’re doing is football, and then you hope all that other stuff follows, well then you think football builds character, which it does not. Football reveals character.
Bill Courtney, Manassas High School head football coach 2002–2009, Undefeated
At the Drive-In - "Proxima Centauri" (Vaya, 1999) Vaya is my second favorite ATDI release, and this song is one seven reasons why. It has the polish of their follow-up Relationship of Command combined with all the raw punk energy of their earlier releases. But heaven help me if I can make any sense out of any of Cedric Bixlar-Zavala’s lyrics:
I can’t believe
The feeble recipe
Civilization tastes so good
Nero has conquered the stars
No one ever saw the spacesuit togas
Wreaths around the head like Saturn’s rings
The Beatles - “Money (That’s What I Want)” (With the Beatles, 1963)
A Barry Gordy song covered by many artists, including the Beatles. Apparently this version was a big deal back in the day while today it seems fairly tame.
Devo - "Fresh" (Something for Everybody [Deluxe Edition], 2010)
Lead-off track of the first studio album in two decades (with a funny tongue-in-cheek video to boot), “Fresh” gave Devo super-fans—as well as casual fans—something to get excited about. While it didn’t garner the same attention as “Whip It,” it contains many of the same elements that made its predecessor a mega-hit back in the day. Funny how that works.
These are nights I’ll never remember with friends I’ll never forget
Genius. This is from a 6-track recording of a live acoustic session (betcha figured that out already, huh?!) the band sold as a limited edition CD during a 2008 acoustic tour with Ginger Wildheart and later released on iTunes.
Tsar - "Punctual Alcoholic" (The Dark Stuff - EP, 2012)
Tsar is another band whose lyrics can sometimes lean toward the obtuse, although this little nugget appears straightforward enough:
I wanna waste my time and waste my money
And do stupid things that get me in trouble
There’s been a lot of pressure on [the Rock Hall] to induct us over the years, and they resisted. We could’ve been inducted 15 years ago. You’re eligible after 25 years as a band, but they waited 40. Sooner or later, it doesn’t matter to me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a big honor and I plan to have a good time.
Ace Frehley on KISS’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Noisy interview
The Mob - “I Will Follow” (The Mob, 2005)
Decent track from a Doug Pinnick (King’s X) one-off “supergroup” side-project with Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Whitesnake), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Timothy Drury (keyboard-for-hire most known for stints with Whitesnake and the Eagles), and Kip Winger (duh!). The focus here was more about fun, 80s-influenced hair metal (and way too much guitar wankery from Beach) than anything serious, and unfortunately much of the album suffers because of it. This song is one of the exceptions, but it’s still pretty forgettable despite having one of my all-time favorite singers on it.
R.E.M. - "Pilgrimage" (Murmur, 1983)
Jangly alterna-pop from one of my favorite 80s “alternative” bands. Yeah, yeah, I know, but I try to forget about everything after 1991’s Out of Time, not being a big fan of the band’s direction from Automatic for the People onward.
Alice in Chains - "Angry Chair" (Dirt, 1992)
I can’t say I ever understood this song much (and likely neither did Layne Staley, who was high as a kite during the recording of it if the mostly-reliable Wikipedia is to be believed), but I don’t think that was ever the point. I’ve never been a fan of Staley’s vocals on the spooky-sounding verse sections, but I absolutely adore the “chorus” section with Jerry Cantrell’s harmony vocals and the “I don’t mind/Lost my mind/Can’t find it anywhere” lyrics.
Collective Soul - "Reach" (Hints Allegations & Things Left Unsaid, 1994)
Jangly alterna-pop from one of my favorite 90s “alternative” bands.
Transatlantic - "Spinning" (The Whirlwind, 2009)
We end today’s Five the same way we started—with a supergroup of sorts, although I’m sure most people would be hard pressed to name a single member other than Mike Portnoy or be able to identify the bands from which the members hail. The difference here is that Transatlantic was never intended as a one-off project, and these guys were always pretty serious about bringing prog to the people. As a matter of fact, they very nearly lost me when they cranked the prog knob up to 11 for 2009’s The Whirlwind, a one-track progfest with 12 parts. “Spinning” is special-edition bonus track with a country swing despite the classic prog keys opening and is unlike most of the album proper. Still, it’s a good song that features Roine Stolt on vocals (and the prog kicks in at about the 5-minute mark just in case you’re interested).