Ranking David Bowie’s album openers

Here’s a fun list! I’m not asking about the best song, but about the best track to open one of Bowie’s albums. In many cases he followed sixties orthodoxy about best song first; in the case of Never Let Me Down, he had no idea what the best songs were. I wrote the following onContinue reading “Ranking David Bowie’s album openers”

BothSidesism Part #45965

I’ve been decrying reporters’ perfidious habit of assuming questions have “two sides.” A news outlet’s tendency to view dirty local drinking water, exaggerations of crowd sizes, withholding aid because a foreign country failed to do a president’s election year bidding, and viruses through the scrim of who’s up and down has bedeviled journalism for decades.Continue reading “BothSidesism Part #45965”

Ranking Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’

I gotta hand it to Bernie Taupin, for writing the most fucked-up libretto in the history of pop music double albums. On Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John recorded a series of myths and reveries: about Marilyn Monroe, The Wizard of Oz, lesbians and prostitutes, cowboys named Danny Bailey, and girls named Alice. Like theContinue reading “Ranking Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’”

On sleeping too well, Pearl Jam, and Key Biscayne: Coronavirus update #8

For the fourth consecutive night, I dozed for a full twenty minutes before bed. No nodding catnap either: a full zonk-out. I’m not drinking more than usual, nor am I, as far as I know, sick, so I wonder if intenser exercise is a factor. Two miles a day I walk, almost three yesterday. SoContinue reading “On sleeping too well, Pearl Jam, and Key Biscayne: Coronavirus update #8”

Ranking ‘Songs in the Key of Life’

The culmination of a remarkable hit streak, Songs in the Key of Life coalesced Stevie Wonder’s vaporous one-world banalities and funk touchstones in a double-album-plus that became a world-conquering smash. It’s not his best album, nor the album to which you’d introduce a skeptic, but the space allows him occupancy of certain corners of blackContinue reading “Ranking ‘Songs in the Key of Life’”

Singles 3/27

Almost three years since reminding the world they’re dealing with The Man, Brandon and his Flowers return with a sweet little lie called “Caution.” Escapist ersatz art at its meatiest until a re-listen (I note how male-identifying critics dominated its review). Better, though is Sauti Sol’s “Suzanna”. “A song about post-break-up denial and hopelessly, helplesslyContinue reading “Singles 3/27”

The fecklessness of Ron DeSantis

“The sorrows that befall Florida and soon other red states will be blamed on the symbolic capital of deracinated liberalism, New York city, with its immigrants, bad values and dirty ways,” Josh Marshall observes, trying to fathom the shallowness of Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ smeared glass of a brain. After all, does DeSantis imagine northeasternContinue reading “The fecklessness of Ron DeSantis”

Ranking Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’

A double album released when he had no expectation of mass success, The River established Bruce Springsteen as a songwriter-bandleader capable of terse Seger-length material. The un-sprawl was the point. So fervently do Springsteen and the E Street-ers believe in the courtship rites of “The Price You Pay” and “I Wanna Marry You” and “SherryContinue reading “Ranking Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’”

Ranking ‘Tusk’

To watch my nineties generation embrace this millionaire’s idea of a lo-fi album was quite something twenty years ago; it wiped out Rumours as a cultural force, this enthusiasm. I don’t savor Lindsey Buckingham’s genius like the rest, in part because McVie and Nicks come in so strongly, but the album deserves its kudos asContinue reading “Ranking ‘Tusk’”

Making happy memories: Coronavirus update #7

“Reading is an infection, a burrowing into the brain: books contaminate, metaphorically, and even microbiologically,” Jill Lepore writes in “What Our Contagion Fables Are Really About,” a New Yorker essay published this week. Several friends have admitted to a mild but overwhelming anxiety keeping them from concentrating on books since the beginning of our socialContinue reading “Making happy memories: Coronavirus update #7”

Ranking ‘Physical Graffitti’

I’ll swear New Order took heart from Led Zeppelin’s titling methods. “All the Way”? As vague as “In the Light”? “Broken Promise”? See “Custard Pie.” The second biggest zell-ing Zep album has more than its share of classics, but to glance at the sleeve is to wonder, “Oh, so which is the one with theContinue reading “Ranking ‘Physical Graffitti’”

Ranking The Beatles’ ‘White’ Album

Purchased after a summer of seeping myself in Beatles lore, The White Album didn’t incarnate what I wanted from the quartet. Y’all need to remember 1990 wasn’t a particularly fecund time for said lore, even with World Party, Jellyfish, Crowded House, etc, not to mention a huge Paul McCartney world tour, populating the landscape. ForContinue reading “Ranking The Beatles’ ‘White’ Album”