I always love an excuse to post a pic of Poly Styrene ( that’s an actual centerfold pin-up from Record Mirror magazine in 1978).
And so Rolling Stone published a revised version of their infamous “500 Best Songs of All Time” list this week (which you can check out here). A lot of people hate these lists and get upset at how predictable, pandering or deliberately contrarian they can be.Then there’s the generational divide, meaning depending on where you came in “there’s too much old stuff” or “this new stuff isn’t worthy of being on the same list as this established stuff”. And of course some people just plain take issue with the idea of ranking art.
But you know what, I like a nice, reasonably thought out list made by a bunch of passionate nerds (like me and presumably you). Even if I don’t necessarily agree with the rankings or choices (understatement), these “All-Time Whatever” lists are just good, geeky, absurdist fun. And of course they say more about the people compiling them than they do the music. On the negative side I do believe that the more people that contribute to the creation of a list, the more watered down and predictable they tend to get (kind of like The Grammys). They are always better and weirder when there are only a small handful of people or a solo soul behind their creation.
As for the actual Rolling Stone list some of the picks aren’t the first ones I would reach for if I wanted to listen to say Aretha, Joni Mitchell or Janet Jackson but it IS exceedingly nice to see X-Ray Spex, The Slits, Pulp, freakin’ “More Than A Feeling” and “Umbrella” on there. It makes the exclusion of songs like say, Diana Ross’s version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” or John Martyn’s “Solid Air” somewhat forgivable (but not entirely). I’m not gonna be mean here except to say RHCP’s “Under The Bridge” and U2’s “One” are big f-ing no’s. To have those taking up valuable real estate that SZA’s “Aftermath” or 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” could have been justifiably occupying is unacceptable. And where is freakin’ “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack ? What the holy hell is that about ??? Okay, see how easily I fell into the trap there? That’s why these ridiculously subjective, crazy ass lists are fun.
And now come meet some songs that will hopefully be on Top 500 lists of the future. Welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest, foxiest songs we’ve heard over recent days. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify.
I know we’re miles from Easter but this 1950 magazine illustration by Stevan Dohanos of a chocolate rabbit assembly line is perfect for every day of every year for every reason. Welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest new songs we’ve heard over recent days. It’s two weeks worth, is as big as a vintage milky candy hare and just as awesomely sweet. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify.
The other reason for sharing this wondrous piece of artwork is to let you know we’ve been toiling away at a very large and deranged pop music essay for the blog ( which is the reason there was no playlist last week for anyone who was wondering…also I’m sorry). Anyway, it’s a hyperbolic monster, involves teenagers, ’80s pop music, true confessions and general humiliation and is coming soon, soon, soon.
There is a fabulously fascinating new book about Nico out now I want to recommend ! You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (link here) is a warts and all dive into Nico’s life (understatement) with rapturously entertaining accounts of her relationships with Lou Reed (complicated), Jim Morrison/Brian Jones (mostly bad), Iggy Pop (free) as well as assorted sycophantic assholes (oh man). And it offers an especially enlightening look into her childhood and how it influenced her criminally underrated artistry. Iggy thinks that if there is any justice, she will follow the same trajectory as Van Gogh meaning at some point her work will be regarded with the widespread reverence and adoration it genuinely deserves. I love the idea of that but as any Nico fan knows, apart from her supremely tuneful and handsome first album Chelsea Girl (which she hated) and work with Velvet Underground, her music is something of an acquired taste. Yet it has to be said, her most fabled trilogy of albums,The Marble Index (’69), Desertshore (’70) and The End (’74) while not technically pop records are deceptively accessible for harmonium driven hymns of doom.
I hope Iggy is proven right, I mean it’s hard not to love the idea of emotive, hypnotic, dizzying epics like “Frozen Warnings” or “Janitor of Lunacy” becoming standards sung by demented and inspired children’s choirs the whole world over by the year 2075. Here’s hoping. Either way she was pretty incredible. Anyway, check out the book !
And now it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest new songs that have crossed our path over the past week. By some oddly synchronous coincidence, there is a darker slightly more rockin’ edge to this weeks gang and a couple of the tracks are downright Nico-esque. They are all beautiful too. Listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify.
This Peanuts comic is from the mid-’70s and unlike all of us, it will never, ever get old. No matter how many times I see it, it still freakin’ makes me smile. Any way, it is now time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the most lustrous new songs that have crossed our path this week. I think every playlist is supremely beautiful but have been especially digging this one. There are wistful tearjerkers and noisy anthems and I truly hope you find a special handsome, melodic animal amongst them to lift you. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify…
Right so that’s my late hound dog Daisy on our front porch back in the ’80s. She is rockin’ some disturbingly Cardi B length nails here whilst offering her most menacing look. Fun fact: She was on the old David Letterman show once as part of his ongoing “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment. Yup, my Mom fed her morsels while she sat up and ate them. That was the trick. The “novelty” was that she looked like a hydrant when she did it which is honestly the only way I can describe it. It just looked weird as hell in person. For years my Mom would pull out the video at parties to show everyone, always making sure to mention how cute she thought Letterman was. I found this pic recently and just wanted to pay random tribute to this basset hound superstar who I’m assuming is under a shady tree in heaven these days and will always be the most bitchin’ stubborn bitch I’ve ever been privileged to know .
And with that welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the best new songs that have crossed our path over recent days. They are all lustrous, melodic, weird and blue and currently tied for the number #1 spot over on earth 2.
This is a picture of the playground at my old elementary school on Long Island. And that small space you see is where we, the girls, played “bullet” i.e.dodgeball at recess every day (no idea how we came to call it by that name but there you go). One team stood on the fenced in side, the boundary line was where the fence ended, and the other team was positioned in front of the wall with the orange square on it. I know it looks terrifyingly small but at ten, eleven years old we weren’t all that big and strong honestly. Still, if you were on the brick wall side of the equation, well, lets just say you needed to be on extremely high alert if you wished to survive. To be clear, this was a voluntary activity, just something we did for fun after lunch. And despite my shy, sensitive and artistic nature I actually loved playing bullet. Could not wait for recess every day. My tomboy-competitiveness coupled with my desire to act out my irrational childhood anguish-anger by throwing balls at popular girls as hard as I could and maybe knocking one of them over meant I found the whole experience absolutely exhilarating.I freakin’ loved it. And maybe best of all, my athletic aggression ensured I wasn’t picked last. And so, it was kind of a win-win. Anyway, I went back to the old stomping grounds recently and as I passed by the old school decided to stop and take a look. And when I came upon the old bullet court, which I hadn’t seen for decades, I was a little bit stunned. Not only because it hadn’t changed (comforting) but because I couldn’t believe just quite how small it was…and how unknowingly brave-stupid we were to have been playing such a violent game in this concrete shoebox with no supervision or regard for our own personal safety. What the holy hell were you kids thinking? Head shake. Sigh. Oh children of the ’70s and ’80s, you guys were f-ing nuts…and know what, I love you. Just rub some dirt on it, you’ll be okay.
Hey how about some music ? I present to you the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the most gorgeous song specimens that have surfaced over the past couple of weeks. In these songs you will find lustrous heartbreak, downtown lights, warm tears and lots and lots of melodic beauty. Check ’em all out below…
Every day is a good day for some Aretha. She’s a healer and who doesn’t need at least 3 minutes of healing a day? She’s always got you covered whether you want to dance or roll up in a ball and cry with the lights out. With that in mind, if you are looking to read something nerdy and ridiculously idiosyncratic regarding how a besotted fan ( uh, that’d be me) listens to her, then I invite you to head over to Medium to check out this weird thing I wrote. It’s called “Aretha’s Greatest Bits” and is basically a descent into the sublime weeds of a few vocal performances of hers. You know how you have favorite lines in movies ? Well it’s kind of like that except Aretha herself is the movie. Check it out here !
And oh yeah, it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the absolute finest new tracks we’ve heard over recent days. It’s not a big list this week but it is, as they say, perfectly formed. Lush and dirty, sweet and sad, it’s just a concise, focused 7-pack of love. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify.
I’ve written about Paul McCartney about 10 billion times at this point & I’m sorry but I have to do it one more time. Right so, there is a new 6 part series on Hulu called “McCartney 3,2,1”.In it Rick Rubin & Paul rumble through the Beatles & solo Macca catalogue analyzing isolated parts & reminiscing while air-drumming/bass-ing. Through it all Paul seems as mystified by the brilliance of what he’s created as the rest of us. Okay, they spend too much time talking about freakin’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”& Paul repeats some truly well-worn anecdotes but it’s engaging, intimate & genuinely moving ( yes, I did tear up a few times). You should definitely watch it ❤️
I actually met Paul once back in 2007 when I was working at Virgin Megastore in NYC. When we were introduced he took both my hands & smiled. It is at this disturbingly early point of our story that I officially lost my shit. I did not let go & “dragged” him forward into my own office to show him the picture I had on my wall of he & his beloved Linda. Me : “Paul, I have to show you something”. I then pointed to the photo. Why I felt the need to do this I still don’t know. Paul: “That’s my baby and me” I then babbled for several minutes telling him how much I loved his band & that I was psyched that he was including “Too Many People” in his live shows again. This is the solo track where he famously attacks John in one of the verses. He said “Oh you like that one do you ? “. He then hailed his photographer over to take a photo of us, his idea (holy jeezus) & so I got to hold onto him again. And then he was gone, downstairs to sign autographs for the fans. To review : I mentioned his late wife AND the song with the famously mean line about his deceased musical soulmate John Lennon in the space of a few minutes & may have set a new land speed record for complete inappropriateness when talking to a Beatle. Also once he left the office I had an attack of what I can only describe as “jelly legs” & almost fell down. And then when I got home I cried. Yes, I gave a truly full circle performance on this special day.
Basically IT WAS THE GREATEST THING EVER. And so yes, you should definitely check out the Hulu show okay ?
And now please join me for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest new songs that have crossed our path this week. They are all fabulous & beautiful & # 1 in this heart here ( and hopefully will be in yours too).
I wouldn’t normally do this but today is my Mom’s 81st birthday and I just want to pay tribute to her this week ! That’s a pic of her in our kitchen in the’80s with our diva hound dog Daisy (RIP girl) and her ever present (back in the day) Salem cigarette. Just want to send big blessings to this Brooklyn born hippie girl who throughout the ’70s drove a white Chevy Nova with a huge yellow sunflower🌻 painted on the side proudly through our conservative town, who worshipped Janis Joplin, referred to Bob Dylan as “Bobby”, Jim Croce as “Jimmy” and LL Cool J as “JJ Cool” (which even though it was a mistake I still find to be awesome). She’s the coolest and I hope I can grow up to be like her someday. She once told me the happiest day of her life was the day she stopped caring what people thought of her and yeah, here’s to that 😉 Anyway, Happy 18th Birthday Mom (not 81 as you reminded me), you rule forever ❤️ !
Thanks for indulging me. Now it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest new songs that have crossed our path over recent days. It’s a small one, easily digestible, sweet and lustrous and every track is currently occupying the #1spot in our heart.
That is a pic of Sinead O’ Connor when she was a teenager (love those gloves). Just wanted to recommend her new memoir “Rememberings” which is equal parts intense, indulgent, fascinating and weird-funny. In it you will find spirituality, shagging and yes nerds yes, an album by album breakdown (!). I’m old so I’ve seen Sinead play dozens of times over the years and she has never been less than staggeringly wonderful every single time. At festivals, in theaters, in tiny clubs. No matter what she sang. Originals. Traditional folk ballads. Obscure reggae covers. She’s just one of those artists where it doesn’t matter what songs she sings, she just has that ability to keep you in rapt attention and utterly awe-struck at the power of her voice for an entire show. It’s kind of amazing. When you see Sinead you aren’t obsessing over the setlist or waiting for just that one song, it’s always big picture powerful, cathartic and beautiful. And so yes check out the book in whatever format you can. I have to say the audiobook where Sinead herself reads and chuckles aloud while reeling off certain anecdotes is especially great.
And now for music! Welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest songs that have surfaced over recent days. Not sure if anyone has noticed but I haven’t posted a playlist for a couple of weeks which means this one is a little bit bigger than usual. I’ll be back to the normal routine this coming week. That said, there are some outrageously wonderful songs within this mega-list and I think you should listen to all of them. Do it in intervals, take breaks, listen to some today and some tomorrow but check them all out, they are all melodic, fantastic, sad and jubilant and surely taking turns occupying the #1 spot over on Earth 2 as we speak.