Blue Suede Goats: The Top Eleven Songs from 1:48 to 1:50


Mar 13 2009, 5:43

I'm fighting a cold and feeling mildly stunned, and therefore this post blows tiny goats. If you're new to this series, you should read one of the other ones first. Or not. If you read this one first, be prepared to share my mildly stunned condition.

I've been in a really fun early rock n' roll/garage listening phase recently, which probably influences this list a lot. On the other hand, this length lends itself to that era and genre.


The Top Eleven Songs from 1:48 to 1:50

1) Rave On--Buddy Holly
For reasons stated in the intro to this series, I don’t want to get into “big and important” lists like “top 50 songs of the 50s,” but if I were to make such a list, this rocker would be a strong contender for the top spot. If you were to tell me that "Rave On" is the greatest song in rock history, I'd think you couldn't possibly have considered all the alternatives (you don't have enough time!), but I'd also think that you made a pretty good choice.

2) Come On--Chuck Berry
Early rock n' roll had an open-hearted joy that seems missing from most music today. I don’t think it’s entirely that simple; I think it’s the way we (I) read it. It's likely that I miss the undertones of older music, stuff that would be obvious to contemporary listeners. This song is about a frustrated lover; the emotional tone of frustration certainly hasn’t changed—it’s the way we express and read it.

Chuck's Let It Rock could have pretty easily made this list, too.

3) Heat from the Day--Blood On the Wall
Stabbing guitar, throb bass, reckless momentum. Sounds like Sonic Youth sloppily covering Wire, which is a winning formula.

4) Fell in Love With a Girl--The White Stripes
One great riff all the way through, but it doesn't last nearly long enough to get annoying. A mid-70s producer would have insisted on stretching it to three minutes, thereby ruining its trashy perfection.

5) Blue Suede Shoes--Eddie Cochran
Sloppy, alive, and full of grease in a way that, after the late 50s, wouldn’t much be in evidence (outside of garages) until punk reached back to revive those virtues. Elvis’s more popular version is pretty happenin’ too, but it sounds slick compared to Cochran’s original.

6) Guess Things Happen That Way--Johnny Cash
When Hank’s woman does him wrong, he gets really sad, and hopes she’s going to be sad too. When Johnny’s woman does him wrong, he gets all stiff-upper-lip and fatalistic about it. Or shoots her, if he feels like it.

7) There Goes My Gun--Pixies
Spaghetti western taking place in a dorm.

8) Big Machine--The Minders
It's a pastiche of 60s garage psych clichés: funhouse organ and distorted blues guitar, topped with marshmallow-sparkle pop harmonies. While not really original, this kind of Nuggets-style revival hits my sweet spot.

9) The Tiny Goat--The Gothic Archies
If this song had been a hit, we would be referring to social misfits as “tiny goats.” I bet there’s a subset of a sliver of hipsters in Boston or someplace who do just that. “A sliver of hipsters”: new collective noun?

10) We're The Replacements--They Might Be Giants
John Flansburgh has explained that "The Replacements" is "kind of a pun" about how bands follow each other on the road, and isn't necessarily about The Replacements except by example. But I prefer to think of it as the theme song to The Replacements' Saturday morning cartoon show, which was a cult hit in my imagination.

11) Koka Kola--The Clash
This piss-take on advertising would be preachy if it wasn't so full of dumb humor (e.g., sending your snakeskin suit to the vet instead of the cleaners). I love the way Mick Jones's so-smooth backing vocals sound like a soft drink commercial.

Almost Made the List

Love You More--Buzzcocks
Franks Theme--Tom Waits

If the trepanning gets the snot out of my sinuses, the next entry may be better. But I make no promises. Dude says he's never trepanned anybody before, and I'm like, whatever, man.
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  • masto65

    Okay, just shy of 2 minutes is quick. Which means, as you pointed out, it works good for 50's rock n' roll. But I would like to point out it also works well for punk rock. Your list was heavy on the former mine will be loaded with the later. Let's do this. 1. Jelous Again 2. Caught 3. You Think Your Comin' 4. Sand in My Joints 5. #1 Hit Song 6. I Don't Care About You 7. Deadly Skies 8. You Don't Understandling 9. Machine Gun Etiquette 10. All Hell Breaks Loose Okay so I went with a theme here. There where some really good songs by Elvis Costello, Pavement, GBV, and the Zombies to name a few. But they seemed to kind of mess with the vibe of this list. I started to make some comments about each of these songs and that seemed to monkey it up too. Then it struck me that out of all the lists I have posted here this one makes a pretty good statement as a whole. As a kind of testament to the short, sharp, shock that so much prevailed in the earlier years of punk. These all come from different places and make-ups but the gut aesthetic is still the same.

    Mar 14 2009, 4:24
  • masto65

    Damn it! I forgot to put the band names with the track. What an ass. Okay here goes. 1. Black Flag - Jelous Again 2. The Descendents - Caught 3. The Plasmatics - You Think Your Comin' 4. Wire - Sand in My Joints 5. The Minutemen - #1 Hit Song 6. Fear - I Don't Care About You 7. Husker Du - Deadly Skies 8. Youth Brigade - You Don't Understandling 9. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette 10. The Misfits - All Hell Breaks Loose

    Mar 14 2009, 4:30
  • rockrobster23

    Welcome back, masto! Been missing your comments. I considered some punk songs for this list: Bad Brains "How Low Can a Punk Get," the Husker Du you mentioned plus two more (their cover of "Sunshine Superman" is good), The Dicks--but ultimately none of them really stood out for me, either against the rest of the band's catalog or the other songs on my list. Lots of your list I don't have, though.

    Mar 14 2009, 7:05
  • masto65

    Half that list is typical L.A. scene. Guess when you grow up in the same place it's being created you have a tendency to have it. I also had tracks filling the time by T.S.O.L., Blood on the Saddle, and Gun Club.

    Mar 15 2009, 7:52
  • MyBlues

    guided by voices should dominate this list

    Mar 23 2009, 21:59
  • rockrobster23

    My GBV collection is far from complete; I have Lanes, Bushes, Bee, and some assorted strays and EPs. But from what I have, there's only one song at this length ("Take to the Sky"). What tracks did you envision dominating the list?

    Mar 24 2009, 2:15
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    Wanted to write some commentary on these, but struggling to find the time.. so, to be going on with - here's my top 10:- 1) Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Tonight Was A Disaster 2) The Cramps - The Crusher 3) Built to SpillTwin Falls 4) Le Volume Courbe - Papillon De Nuit 5) Super Furry Animals - God! Show Me Magic 6) Pere Ubu - I Will Wait 7) William S. Burroughs - A New Standard By Which To Measure Infamy 8) The Mountain Goats - Fall Of The Star High School Running Back 9) The Monochrome Set - The Jet Set Junta 10) Kevin Coyne - Marjory Razor Blade

    Mar 25 2009, 23:45
  • rockrobster23

    Wow--I didn't know The Cramps did a version of "The Crusher." Not that it's hard to square with the rest of their ouevre. I had only heard the original, which if I recall correctly was by an actual wrestler. Also: how is it that I have never heard of The Monochrome Set before? Love it!

    Mar 26 2009, 5:18
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    I think the original of "The Crusher" was about a real wrestler, but by a group called The Novas. I know a few people who've worked with the Monochrome Set one way or another so have seen quite a lot of them. Played in a football team with 3 of them once. All the early stuff is great imo (and much of the later too).

    Mar 27 2009, 19:18
  • rockrobster23

    I am seriously digging *Eligible Bachelors*, so it's pretty likely I'll develop a taste for more. You played football with them before or after they were a band? Next up is 3:11, with some thoughts on film soundtrack strategies.

    Mar 31 2009, 6:26
  • rockrobster23

    Sounds like you need to gimme gimme gimme that story! (Or did you already write about it in one of your journals?) I should probably pick up the Repo Man soundtrack. Love "Hombre Secreto."

    Apr 2 2009, 2:56
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    rob: You played football with them before or after they were a band? james: while they were an active band (football for a Cherry Red Records team)

    Apr 2 2009, 17:09
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