Sometimes, it feels like my life is simply following a long list of instructions. How to work the various equipment in our homes and offices, how to use transport, how to get somewhere, the recipes we follow. Weather warnings, travel advice, reminders about things to do from friends and partners. How to do our jobs.
/Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do
Many songs suggest actions or offer opinions or feelings. But quite a few offer directions or more to the point instructions. And that is what this week’s /Tuesday Ten is about. Songs where clear instructions are either made or discussed, no matter who the subject of the instructions are, and whether they follow them or not.
This was a bumper week – the most songs yet suggested for one single post. No less than 340 songs were suggested, 49 of which had been used before. 293 individual songs were suggested, from 120 different people, and it took some considerable work to whittle down a thirty-five song longlist down to the final ten. As ever, thanks for everyone who took the time to comment, suggest songs and get me thinking.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
It’s amazing to think it now, but around the year 2000, Limp Bizkit was briefly one of the biggest bands in the world, and Rollin’ became inescapable. By no means their best song, but it was without a doubt the most catchy, and it was also a sign of their commercial appeal at the time (the parent album – probably one of the worst album titles all time, now there’s a challenge for later – sold well beyond eight million copies) that the video for this featured then-Hollywood A-listers and was partially filmed on the roof of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The song itself is basically a list of instructions for a set of dance moves and little else, barely troubling the real world outwith the song at all.
/Shake A Tail Feather
/The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording
But if you want instructions for dance moves, is there a better example than this mighty song from The Blues Brothers? Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi wisely let the legend that was Ray Charles take centre stage on this song – frankly, he’d have upstaged them anyway, shoehorned into the plot as the band go to Ray’s Music Shop to ensure they’ve got the instruments to play the “gig” booked for them that night. Dealing with a young shoplifter and testing a piano ends up with a mass dance-off in the street as Charles instructs them on moves for this song, and then references at least three more routines from other songs too.
Instructions for dancing aren’t confined to novelty dance hits or old soul songs, as industrial dance music can do it too (maybe a song instructing the Goth Two-Step might be going a bit far), as this proves. Upon collating this week’s list, my first reaction was “Oh this” when I put it on. I recognised it, but I’d never paid attention to who this was – mainly as I stopped listening to X-RX a long time ago, and to be honest, was bored witless with them live back in the day, too. Basically, it’s aggrotech synths, metronomic 4/4 beats, and a robotic female voice giving dance instructions and a completely superfluous “fuck me” instruction, too. It’s really not aged well, this.
/Human After All
One of my biggest musical regrets is that I never got to see the eye-popping live shows from Daft Punk on the Alive 2006/2007 tour, something that both my wife and I felt, in retrospect, we really should have done more about attending – as it happened life got in the way, as it so often does. What was interesting, though, was that for many Human After All felt like a disappointment after what had come before, but it was still lapped up live. One of the highlights on the album was this snappy, incessant single, where the beats were really a secondary consideration to the robotic, rhythmic voices that almost non-stop issue a series of commands or instructions mainly (but not exclusively) themed around technology.
/1. David Jay 2. Peter Murphy 3. Kevin Haskins 4. Daniel Ash
The single most suggested song this week, and frankly it’s a pretty odd one. A B-side originally from The Passion Of Lovers single, it’s a song in four distinct parts, with it seems, each part by the band member named. The weirdest part – and the reason it was suggested so much here – is the second second, where Peter Murphy decides that his contribution will be a rudimentary recipe for fishcakes, complete with dramatic delivery and quasi-choral backing vocals. Well, I guess, at least you can’t say he didn’t commit, even on a throwaway B-side. Tool‘s Die Eier Von Satan didn’t make it this week, by the way, because I’ve used it before, and while I did also consider the Clutch recipe for crab cakes that is Hot Bottom Feeder, I only had room for one recipe…
/Dick In The Air
Let’s move things in a very different direction, as the ever-frank and sex-positive Peaches makes a point of being very direct indeed. Switching up the usual male gaze, with women looking great for male pleasure, Peaches wants men to get their dicks out and be subject to the female gaze. Needless to say, this song is really upfront – but you should expect that listening to Peaches, and the video is similarly a hoot as Peaches and a collaborator dress up in woollen body-suits complete with male genitalia…
/Three Steps To Heaven
/The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album
We now move back to a rather more innocent time. Cochran was another early rock’n’roll star with a tragically short career (he died in a car accident aged just 21), but he left a small body of work that includes at least three songs that pretty much everybody knows, it seems. This song was a UK number one just after his death, and suggests that the instructions for getting to “Heaven” are finding “a girl”, she falls in love with you, and then kissing her and holding her tightly. How marvellously chaste, to these modern ears, but maybe teenage courtship (and your hopes therein) hasn’t changed all that much, everyone is just more honest and open about it – something Cochran would never have been able to articulate on the radio in any other terms back in 1960!
/Start Wearing Purple
/Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike
One of the band’s oldest songs – and long a chaotic, drawn-out, messy and joyous affair live – it came to wider prominence thanks to Eugene Hütz starring in Everything Is Illuminated (and this song among others from the band), and the breakout hit that was the album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. The song combines repeated instructions on sartorial choices and musings on philosophy with an irresistible Slavic (fast!) waltz that, if you’ve not heard it before, becomes a recurrent earworm really quickly. I was wondering, though, if this was an instruction or not. But “start wearing (the) purple for me now” certainly counts, as far as I’m concerned…
/Do What I Say
/Use Your Brain
I suspect many of my friends that are parents, of young children in particular, will sympathise with this song – one of Swedish rap-metal band Clawfinger’s best-known and most-loved songs. Combining a bratty child’s voice insisting that one day they will be the one giving the orders, with Zak Tell’s barked instructions as an exasperated parent, perhaps suggests that Tell may well be speaking from bitter experience. The song absolutely blasts through – Clawfinger were rarely heavier or playing at as fast a tempo as this – and is awesome fun live, but the song’s smartest trick is the lengthy false ending (something stretched out to an insane degree live). Interestingly, amid the insane number of suggestions for this week’s post, this was one that went unmentioned by everyone.
I’ve written about this band extensively in the past (in particular on /The Rearview Mirror/010, a series that I’ll be picking up again soon), but this song makes it in for being the only one our collective minds could think of that references specific written instructions. Quite what they are instructions for is another matter, as this song is a searing tale of vengeance that probably is Toni Halliday’s finest vocal performance, and the instructions she makes are for the eyes of the target/subject and theirs only.
Anyway, enough of telling you what to do. More from me on /Tuesday Ten/397 next week – and a few other posts in between, too.