Things feel weird right now, so it maybe feels out of step to be celebrating anything. But while we begin to start isolating away to reduce the spread of this virus, one thing I can do is keep writing. So maybe this period might increase my writing output, we shall see. But the /Tuesday Ten series will certainly continue as long as I have something to write about.
Almost thirteen years ago to the week (27-March 2007), what became this /Tuesday Ten series started with /Tuesday Ten/001 – although it wasn’t numbered to start with, I introduced numbering in 2010, after I’d passed the one-hundred mark. This week, what was initially meant to be an occasional series reaches the 400 mark.
Needless to say, the series has evolved over the years. Initially intended as just a monthly wrap-up of the best songs of the month, I started to think of songs that might apply to certain subjects (the initial few being very personal, now I look back, but necessary to get my thoughts in order), and eventually, I settled to thinking of more detailed subjects, often with input from others.
That input from others has perhaps given my writing a new lease of life here. It has widened the songs I cover, the styles I cover, and the songs I consider. The first time I asked for general input on a Facebook thread, asking for suggestions on a particular subject, was back in 2015, which became /Tuesday Ten/231/Medication, and while I only asked a few times after that, it became a regular thing in 2017 and I’ve asked for new suggestions on a subject every few weeks since. As well as those, I’ve had a tiny handful of reader takeover posts, where they’ve suggested songs or artists themselves.
A few stats, as ever. Over the course of 400 posts (at an average of 30-31 per year since they started), there have been 4,330 entries (bands, songs or albums – some have been much more than ten in a post!). 151 of these have been /Tracks of the Month posts, and the series has featured 1,702 different artists. There have been 80 suggestion threads since 2015, too, with 11,051 songs suggested by 767 different people over that time – and a fair number of them are earmarked for future posts as I’ve not used all of the threads yet.
Thanks, of course, to all of you. Whether you’ve suggested one song or one hundred, whether you’ve read one post or been reading since I started doing this, thank you. This site is a labour of love, if you will, in that I write and maintain the site myself (the site having long been hosted on Dreamhost), I carry no advertising, and it is entirely my own views on the music (and sometimes wider culture) that I encounter. Those views aren’t always positive, but I do my damnedest to be positive these days.
Anyway, what’s /Tuesday Ten/400 about? It is about hundreds. Songs that feature hundreds in one way or form (but they must be multiples of one hundred and say hundred, which counted out thousands), and yes, one song includes four hundred. It involves mostly songs suggested by others, but also one or two I wanted to include myself.
Perhaps not a “cool” entry point into Sonic Youth, but I don’t give a fuck. I love this song – the sharp, snappy opener to their seventh album, that Geffen had rather hoped would catapult them to stardom in the wake of their labelmates Nirvana. But it didn’t really work like that, follow-up Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star was a bit of a mess, and later albums saw them retreat into experimentalism again – and nowadays Thurston Moore is running a record shop in Hackney. This song, though, was a tribute to their friend Joe Cole, who was killed in a robbery the previous year, and it is a savage, unexpectedly anthemic song that is a great way to nod to him.
/One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
/Whatever and Ever Amen
I heard Ben Folds Five thanks to the snarky kick of Underground, and then by chance ended up with a friend from Uni at a live show of theirs in November 1996 – which was one of the most entertaining shows I’d seen as a teenager up to that point (and still have vivid memories of Ben Folds playing a guitar solo on top of a mini-grand piano, in a stupid wig, to Satan Is My Master!). This album was rather the point where he and his band broke through to the big time, and this furious opener sees him kick back at those who bullied and belitted him at school (the two hundred solemn faces are no doubt his school year). It also has an amazing, extended piano solo, too. One more time: “Kiss my ass, goodbye…”
/Fields of Fire (400 Miles)
Apparently composed of thoughts while travelling between Edinburgh and London on the train (398 miles, or 400 if you’re rounding up, is the distance between Edinburgh Waverley and London King’s Cross), this was this band’s breakthrough hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and is a rousing, foot-stomping anthem that uses some interesting guitar effects to make them sound like bagpipes (which I’m sure is probably simpler than I think it is to do, but it certainly sounds distinctive). This, of course, has also been used here as the also suggested Scottish earworm that mentioned 500 miles was used a while back…
/100 Ways To Be A Good Girl
/Paranoid and Sunburnt
Skunk Anansie were one of the first bands I ever saw live – twenty-five years ago this July, at the Heineken Festival in Leeds. Back when they had just one single out (the still all-too-relevant, snarling Little Baby Swastikkka), and were a force of nature live at the time. I saw them a few times more in the following years, but I must confess that I haven’t really followed them since they reformed a few years back. But dial back to that debut, and Skin’s lyrics dripped with fury, defiance, and at the time a relatively rare black voice in British Alternative music – and here, she considered her place in the world, and the expectation of her to fit in while being pushed back at every turn.
/One Hundred Days
Mark Lanegan has been extraordinarily busy with his solo work over the years – having released no less than eleven solo albums, not to mention a host of collaborations with others, and of course his work with his old band Screaming Trees too. This album, though, remains his high-water mark for his post-ST work for me, a combination of bleak ballads, some grungier work, flirtations with electronics, two extraordinary duets with PJ Harvey… This song is one of those bleak ballads, a musing on seemingly endless time (and, I suspect, a tale of a heroin addict, possibly awaiting their next fix).
/At The Hundredth Meridian
Now here’s a band that couldn’t be more location-specific. A legendary Canadian band, whose lead singer Gord Downie’s death was widely mourned in Canada a couple of years back, appeared to dig into the Canadian condition, writing songs that had relevance. This song, then, deals with the 100th meridian west, a line of longitude and something of a marker of the divide between the vast Great Plains of Western Canada, and the Central, most-populated region of Canada. Presumably, some equivalent to the north-south divide in the UK.
/Welcome to Sky Valley
100°F, in understandable numbers to this Brit, is 37.7778°C, and appropriately this week, is just below the general advice that a fever is when your body temperature passes 37.8°C. This track, though, from stoner pioneers Kyuss, doesn’t appear to be referring to fever though, perhaps instead the gates of hell awaiting a sinner. What it is, though, is a kick-ass, dirty rock tune, full of awesome riffs, breakdowns, and a distinctly sunburned, dusty feel that could only come from the Californian deserts, frankly. Listening back now, too, you can rather see the lineage into Queens of the Stone Age…
/Hundreds of Sparrows
/Good Morning Spider
It’s been a long time since I saw Sparrows in very large numbers, and the RPSB note that numbers have dropped precipitously over my lifetime, which perhaps explains why. These noisy little birds are thus a joy to see in gardens, even now. Quite what the late Mark Linkous is on about in this song, though – one of the prettier songs on this bleak album – I’ve never quite worked out, and perhaps I’ll never know. That was, and is, one of the things I love about his work under the Sparklehorse name – the odd wordplay and imagery that largely obscured what he perhaps really wanted to say, and maybe he was scared to reveal.
/The Future’s Void
Songs from this exceptional album by EMA have featured in this list before – it was a stark, electronically-enhanced album that dug into the way that our relationship with technology has changed in the modern age, and how it has begun to dictate how we live and interact. As a result, much of the album is relatively pessimistic, particularly around the rise of social media, but this piano-led ambience is an interesting about-face. Here, Erika M. Anderson takes a different approach, taking herself back in time by one-hundred years and looking at just how much has changed in such a comparatively short space of time. It is, thus, one of the few hopeful moments on an album that rather foretold the darker days yet to come when it was written.
/Symphony #13 (Hallucination City) for 100 guitars
The avant-garde composer Glenn Branca was certainly unique. Coming from the same kind of background that many of the No-Wave scene in New York came from – including Sonic Youth, as I bring this post full-circle – he’s closely associated with it and certainly some of the music he composed nods toward it, but perhaps takes it to crazy extremes. This piece – which as far as I can tell is at least partly improvised – is the first part of four, lasts seventy minutes in total, and is like listening to a tidal wave of song, the legion of guitars swept along by a powerful drum pattern and making what is a really interesting, unusual sound. Albeit one that does have links to music I’m familiar with, in vague respects…