Archive for the ‘36 Days of Adrenaline’ category

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 11 — “Life in the Fast Lane”

March 7, 2011

Artist: The Eagles

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: If there was ever any doubt that Joe Walsh is one of the most spectacularly gifted guitarists in the history of rock, the opening riff of “Life in the Fast Lane” should dispel said doubt.  And if there was ever any doubt that Walsh playing alongside Don “Fingers” Felder was one of the most potent two-guitarist combinations in the history of rock, the dueling break at the bridge of “Life in the Fast Lane” should kill that, too. Plus, the lyrics are classic L.A. cool.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

He said, “Call the doctor — I think I’m gonna crash.”
“Doctor says he’s comin’, but you gotta pay him cash.”

Fun factoids:

  • “Life in the Fast Lane” represented one of Joe Walsh’s first musical contributions to The Eagles, which he joined shortly before the band recorded Hotel California, the album on which the song appears. According to legend, Walsh improvised his signature guitar part during an Eagles rehearsal, and his new bandmates Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote the rest of the song around the riff.
  • Walsh replaced founding Eagle Bernie Leadon, who left the band in dissatisfaction with Henley and Frey’s changing musical direction, which gradually deemphasized Leadon’s preferred country/bluegrass-flavored style in favor of harder-edged rock. Leadon announced his departure from the band by pouring a beer over Glenn Frey’s head.
  • There used to be a roller coaster named “Life in the Fast Lane” at the short-lived Hard Rock amusement park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Although I’ve followed the common convention of preceding the name with “The” — because it reads awkwardly to do otherwise — the band’s official name for legal purposes is simply “Eagles.” All of the band’s album covers omit the article as well. (I’ve been a fan for more than 35 years, but I never noticed this until I read Don Felder’s memoir, Heaven and Hell: My Life With The Eagles.)
  • My friend Donna loves The Eagles more than life itself. She just wanted you to know that.

Other songs by The Eagles that I could have chosen instead: “Already Gone,” “Hotel California,” “Victim of Love,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Those Shoes.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 10 — “Da Butt”

February 22, 2011

Artist: E.U.

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: There are songs that make you want to dance, and there are songs that absolutely compel you to dance. This is one of the latter. Straight from the opening drum riff and horn blast, “Da Butt” lays down a groove that forbids you to sit still. Even if I’m driving in the car when this song comes on, my hips immediately start undulating. (If you have a problem with that visual, that’s on you.)

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

When you get that notion
Put your backfield in motion!

Fun factoids:

  • Contrary to popular assumption, the band name E.U. does not stand for “European Union.” Instead, it stands for “Experience Unlimited.” The band’s use of the initials precedes that of the political organization (under its present name) by nearly 20 years.
  • E.U.’s musical style, go-go, enjoyed a brief explosion of popularity in the mid-to-late 1970s, primarily in the Washington, D.C. area. Go-go can probably be best defined as a merger of funk/R&B with Latin rhythm and percussion instruments. The genre’s best-known practitioner, Chuck Brown, scored with “Bustin’ Loose,” which experienced a resurrection when Nelly sampled it for his megahit “Hot in Herre,” and when the Washington Nationals baseball team adopted “Bustin’ Loose” as their unofficial theme song.
  • “Da Butt” is prominently featured in Spike Lee’s second feature film, School Daze. Although Spike has gone on to direct some of the finest American films of the past quarter-century — including Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, 25th Hour, and Inside Man — the goofy, irreverent, and admittedly uneven School Daze was my introduction to his work, and remains a personal favorite.
  • For the record, here’s the roll call of girls who “got a big ol’ butt” in the song’s bridge: Tanya, Shirley, Irene, Theresa, Sonya, Melissa, Tammy, and little Keisha. If you answer to any of those (or any other) names, and you too “got a big ol’ butt,” wear it proudly, girlfriend.
  • And I don’t care what you thought you heard — E.U. lead vocalist Sugar Bear (real name, Gregory Elliott) never, ever utters the phrase “do it in da butt.” Shame on you.

Other songs by E.U. that I could have chosen instead: “Buck Wild,” “Gimme That Beat,” “Shake It Like a White Girl.” (Avoid E.U.’s later material, which found the band trying to expand its audience by pumping out flaccid R&B ballads. Stick to their earlier go-go records, which are guaranteed to launch a dance marathon in your iTunes.)

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 9 — “China Grove”

February 10, 2011

Artist: The Doobie Brothers

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: Are you kidding? Have you not heard those opening guitar chords?

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

But every day there’s a new thing comin’
The ways of an Oriental view
The sheriff and his buddies with their samurai swords
You can even hear the music at night
And though it’s a part of the Lone Star State
The people don’t seem to care
They just keep on lookin’ to the East…

Fun factoids:

  • There really is a China Grove, Texas, down around San Antonio. It is not, however, a Chinese-American enclave; only 0.08% of the population is Asian. I think that’s, like, maybe two Asian guys.
  • Samurai — and their swords — are Japanese, not Chinese. In case you were confused.
  • The game show Don’t Forget the Lyrics! used the “China Grove” guitar riff as its theme music. Rickey Minor, now the bandleader on The Tonight Show, played the theme.
  • The Doobie Brothers were one of the first — and one of the relatively few, to this day — hard rock bands to include both white and black musicians in their lineup. To the best of my knowledge, however, there has never been a Chinese Doobie Brother.
  • On the other hand, several of the Doobies have performed and recorded with Japanese pop star Eikichi Yazawa, who might own a samurai sword or two.

Other songs by the Doobie Brothers that I could have chosen instead: “Listen to the Music,” “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me),” “Long Train Runnin’,” Jesus is Just Alright.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 8 — “The Boys of Summer”

February 8, 2011

Artist: Don Henley

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: Henley is one of rock’s best songwriters, as well as one of its most underappreciated vocalists. He’s in his element in both respects on this song, his most effective single outside of his work with The Eagles. (Coming up on Day 11, in case you were curious.) That insistent synthesizer riff, coupled with the stinging guitars by co-writer Mike Campbell (better known for his work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), perfectly support Henley’s plaintive vocals. It’s one of the greatest summer anthems ever recorded.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

Out on the road today
I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
Little voice inside my head said,
“Don’t look back — you can never look back”
Thought I knew what love was; what did I know?
Those days are gone forever; I should just let ’em go, but…

Fun factoids:

  • Mike Campbell originally wrote this tune for a Tom Petty project. When the music didn’t fit into that album’s thematic sensibility, he shopped the demo track to Henley, who wrote the lyrics.
  • Henley based the lyric line quoted above on a vehicle owned by his Eagles bandmate, Joe Walsh.
  • The punk band The Ataris recorded a remarkably faithful (albeit three times faster) cover version.
  • Baseball fans know that the song’s title comes from a legendary 1972 baseball book about the Brooklyn Dodgers, penned by sportswriter Roger Kahn. Nearly 40 years later, The Boys of Summer remains one of the most powerful books ever written about America’s national pastime.

Other songs by Don Henley that I could have chosen instead: “Dirty Laundry,” “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” “I Can’t Stand Still.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 7 — “Word Up!”

January 27, 2011

Artist: Cameo

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: Sometimes, you just gotta rock the funk. “Word Up!” rocks the funk. Plus, how can you not love a dance number that samples spaghetti Western soundtrack music by Ennio Morricone?

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

If there’s music, we can use it,
We need to dance
We don’t have no time for psychological romance.

Fun factoids:

  • Larry Blackmon originally dubbed his band the New York City Players. To avoid confusion with — and potential legal action from — another already popular funk group, the Ohio Players, he changed the name to Cameo.
  • Steve Carell’s character sings “Word Up!” in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
  • In what has to be considered one of the weirdest cover choices in the history of popular music, “Word Up!” was covered by the alt-metal band Korn in 2004. And you what? It works.

Other songs by Cameo that I could have chosen instead: “Candy,” “Back and Forth,” “Shake Your Pants.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 6 — “I Want Candy”

January 25, 2011

Artist: Bow Wow Wow

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: Two words: tribal drums. Two more words: Annabella Lwin.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better
But I like Candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater
Some day soon I’ll make you mine…
Then I’ll have Candy all the time!

Fun factoids:

  • Annabella Lwin was 14 when Bow Wow Wow recorded their version of the Strangeloves’ classic 1965 hit. Her mother was reportedly not amused that Annabella appeared nude (albeit artfully posed) on the cover of the single, and the accompanying EP, The Last of the Mohicans. The latter photo was based on Manet’s painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass).
  • Percussionist Dave Barbarossa developed his signature sound by listening to tribal drummers from Burundi.
  • “I Want Candy” has also been covered by acts ranging from Aaron Carter to Sporty Spice (okay, Melanie C) to Good Charlotte.
  • The Strangeloves, incidentally, didn’t really exist. They were a studio creation, like the Archies.

Other songs by Bow Wow Wow that I could have chosen instead: “Louis Quatorze,” “Aphrodisiac,” “Do You Wanna Hold Me?”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 5 — “Holding Out for a Hero”

January 20, 2011

Artist: Bonnie Tyler

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: I loves me some Jim Steinman. Who’s Jim Steinman, you ask? He’s the songwriter-producer behind the seminal Meat Loaf album, Bat Out of Hell, as well as such hits by other artists as Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler’s other major single besides this one. Steinman’s drama-laden, overblown, hyperorchestrated style — his music is often referred to as “Wagnerian” — strikes a chord deep within me.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Larger than life…

Fun factoids:

  • “Holding Out for a Hero” first appeared on the soundtrack for the film Footloose. This means that Jim Steinman has a Bacon number of 1.
  • The song has subsequently graced the soundtracks of numerous other films, including Shrek 2 and Nacho Libre.
  • Steinman turned down the opportunity to cowrite the songs for the musical Phantom of the Opera. I’ll bet he’s kicked himself a time or two over the years for that career move.
  • When Meat Loaf thrashed his voice on the Bat Out of Hell tour in the late 1970s, he was unable to record the songs Steinman had composed for the follow-up album, which would have been called — predictably enough — Bat Out of Hell 2. Steinman recorded the album himself, now retitled Bad for Good, using his own lead vocals. This album proved one immutable truth: Jim Steinman cannot sing.

Other songs written and produced by Jim Steinman that I could have chosen instead: “Bat Out of Hell” or “All Revved Up With No Place to Go” by Meat Loaf; “Tonight is What It Means to Be Young” by Fire Inc. (from the soundtrack of the film Streets of Fire).

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]